A cold Wisconsin winter, a fully furnished house with absentee owners and a moderate water leak left unchecked for days spelled disaster for one home. However, as the restoration specialist in charge soon learned, proven procedures don’t change just because the job is larger than first thought.
Feb. 16 dawned clear and cold in south central Wisconsin, and Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning franchise owner Ken Bowers was looking forward to another day. Little did he know that one phone call would send him to the largest restoration job of his career, one that would test the skills, equipment and procedures of himself and his team.
Neighbors noticed a stream of water flowing from under the front door and down the steps into the yard. Concerned, they called the real estate agent listing the home, who in turn contacted the homeowners and fire department. Once the water was shut off and the house opened, the destruction waiting inside surprised even Bowers.
The two-story house was in near total disarray. Extensive mold growth coated virtually every potential host surface. In fact, mold growth was so heavy on some surfaces it had begun to grow downwards, like stalactites in a cave.
The first floor ceiling had mostly collapsed, with all accompanying fixtures, fans and decorations crashing to the floor below. All glued surfaces had delaminated. The kitchen cabinets had wrenched loose from the walls and fell to the floor, shattering dishes, glasses and other items.
Bowers met with the insurance adjuster representing the claim the next day and began preliminary work. First steps included arranging for the required equipment and manpower. Temporary labor was hired to assist with the demolition.
“Our first big job was to clean the air of micro-toxins caused by the extensive mold growth,” Bowers said. “We brought in air scrubbers and required all workers inside the house to wear M-95 full face respirators to tackle this challenge. Using aggressive methods, we had the air clean in a matter of 24 hours and were prepared to move on to the next phase, structural drying.”
Bowers and his team also earned the repair work to be done after restoration. “For a 15-year-old house, it looks as good as new now,” he said.
The next task involved rebuilding the interior of the restored home. However, the homeowners were in Oregon, and the distance posed a number of challenges. Bowers was ready to meet them, however, by taking advantage of national brands and material availability.
“I actually met the homeowners only once,” he said. “Everything else, including the selection of rebuild materials, was handled long distance.”
“The homeowner was able to rebuild the house according to their specifications and never set foot in it,” Bowers said.
The silver lining is that both homeowner and real estate agent agreed that after Bowers’ restoration and rebuild, the home is more marketable and an easier potential sale than before. “We were able to go in and modernize the house after the restoration,” Bowers said. “In the end, it all worked out for the best. The homeowner was happy, the insurance adjuster was happy and we were, of course, happy to have the business.”
Despite the imposing initial challenges of the job, Bowers and his team were able to successfully complete both the restoration and rebuild aspects to the satisfaction of the homeowner and insurance carrier. Using aggressive and proven methods, the home was taken through the cleaning and drying process with efficiency and thoroughness. And Bowers’ initial thought proved true: sound procedures do not necessarily change simply due to the size and scope of the job at hand.