Recently we had over 11 inches of rain in a 48-hour period. There was widespread flooding, and many homes were damaged. For the first time in 16 years, our home was one of those. Water backed up into our basement. (Side note: They make an expanding drain plug that costs about $4.50 that you can stop your floor drain with in case it looks like water might back up.) Luckily, compared to many other people, our damage was very limited. The water never ‘stood’, it just fanned out in a thin layer. A third of our basement is carpeted, and the outer 3-4 feet of the carpet became wet. I planned on putting some fans out, but the power went out for about 6 hours. When the power came back on, I was able to put out several fans, and a dehumidifier. All of this happened Friday night/Saturday morning.
I knew that my insurance was not going to cover whatever it was that I would need done. I do not have flood insurance, so all of this would be directly out of my pocket. Sunday morning I called Servpro because, well that’s the first name that pops up in a search. I asked around on Facebook and talked to my insurance carrier, and the consensus was that they were good, but pricey. Monday evening a guy stopped by to look at our basement. Even though Servpro had ‘local’ franchises, they guy that came by was from Lexington, Kentucky, which was 300 miles away. By this time, we had been soaking up water with towels, had fans going, and a dehumidifier, and had moved anything that was getting wet. I reiterate, we did not have standing water, just a wet perimeter. The water was not even ‘over’ the carpet. The guy looks around for about 30 minutes and says ‘it should be about $4600, worst case scenario’. He said he would send me a detailed estimate the next morning. My wife and I were in shock, as we tried to make it clear this would be all us-not insurance. He was talking about taking the baseboards off, putting in air movers and dehus (the cool short term for dehumidifier I guess), and removing some drywall. He said the carpet should be salvageable and would not need to be removed. My wife and I decided that in the morning we would get a second opinion.
So as we waited for our detailed estimate, we called another contractor, Servicemaster. At this point everyone was slammed, as there was much flooding in about a four county area. Servicemaster called back that day (Tuesday by now), and said they would try to get over to look at it on Wednesday. So I waited all day Tuesday for the estimate from Servpro that was coming that morning. The estimate finally came Wednesday afternoon. Now we were up to $5100! They had decided that the carpet needed to be removed. They were also charging for ‘furniture manipulation’ of $110 to move around the sectional we had that was in a dry area. We had already moved everything else. They wanted to put 15 air movers in a 860 square foot area for 3 days, at $25.36 each (that’s 15 x 3 x$25.86)!! They also had 3 dehumidifiers for 3 days at $114.72 each (3 x 3 x$114.72)!! They were going to remove all of the baseboards, charge for carpet AND pad removal separately AND charge for water removal from the carpet they were ripping out! Again the total was over $5100. By this time, our floor was 99% dry anyway, and I checked the drywall and there was no water soaking into it. But I was about to tear out the carpet myself to save a few dollars. My wife convinced me to just wait on the second estimate from Servicemaster.
Later that evening, two brothers from Servicemaster came by. Their office was about 3 miles away. They looked around, took moisture readings in the air, carpet and walls, and showed me each reading. They said that I didn’t need to remove anything because quite frankly, it wasn’t wet. If it isn’t wet, it wont grow mold. They explained the acceptable ranges for moisture content and nothing needed to be torn out. They suggested that we continue with our fans and dehumidifier, and they would comeback next week and shampoo the entire carpet for $110. Yes, I’m not missing any zeros! On Tuesday of the following week, they came and totally cleaned the DRY carpet. They took some moisture readings to make sure. After they were done, they praised us for being patient with them because they had been so busy. I know there were many people with FEET of standing water in their basement, and what we had to endure was very minor. They said how much they appreciated our kindness, and said ‘how does $60 sound?’. I was shocked! They even did our stairs, which we had not asked for. These guys were very professional, and I really was impressed by how they walked us through every detail when they were taking readings.
Maybe we just got a Servpro representative who needed to meet a quota, but I cannot imagine whey they would charge if someone has flood insurance. That would be borderline insurance fraud in my opinion. But from this experience, I would definitely recommend Servicemaster the next time someone is in need of any kind of restoration.