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After Harvey – Countertop removal

So we just had our first day back in business after Hurricane Harvey, and from the sound of it people are getting back to work.  A few neighborhoods are still flooded or in danger of flooding, but most have moved on to assessing the damage and figuring out what to do next.  We have fielded a bunch of calls about removing peoples countertops, so here’s what I recommend:

First of all, take tons of pictures of everything. More pictures than you could ever imagine.  If you want the insurance company to pay for it, take pictures and add notes. 

Get all wet stuff out of your house immediately.  Especially carpets and soggy sheetrock. Cut above any wet sheetrock. I think 4′ is the height of most sheetrock panels, so cut way higher than you need to.

For countertops, don’t assume you can remove them without breaking some pieces.  And even if you can save them, don’t assume you can reuse them.  We have trained professionals that have a better chance of removing countertops without breaking them, but sometimes they still crack. Also, matching pieces is very time consuming and difficult.  Even with quartz tops, different batches don’t usually match, which makes for bad seams. Do not plan on being to match something perfectly just because you know the original name.

So for insurance reasons, if your cabinets have to come out, then you should plan on buying new counters too.

And our final piece of advice, be very careful about contractors.  We will eventually hear about lots of people whose contractors disappeared with deposits without doing the work, or people whose remodels took way longer than expected because the contractor was too overloaded. Be very careful about vetting these companies to make sure they are legit.  Sometimes you have to pay a little more for the good ones. Check Angies List, BBB, or the GHBA for references.  Companies with physical locations tend to have leases and equipment that are expensive to abandon. Businesses with longstanding ties to your community tend to be trustworthy.

Once you have a contractor, realize that all upgrades are out of pocket, and as you go through the process you will want upgrades.  Whether it is design details like nice countertops or a mosaic backsplash, or functional items like a nicer cooktop or faucet, unexpected expenses will come up. And you will probably have to pay for these up front, so keep a little cash put to the side to keep your project moving forward. Most things cost more today than they did 5, 10 or 25 years ago, so be careful valuing the stuff in your house by old receipts.

I am going to try to get some opinions from insurance companies and contractors we deal with often to update this post with better information.