Wolgast Restoration Blog Page

Fire Resistant Building Elements for Business Owners

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Oct 05, 2020 @ 02:24 PM

Forty to sixty percent of businesses that face disaster, such as a fire, never reopen according to FEMA.gov. To prepare for Fire Prevention Week the beginning of October, we have compiled information about making a business structure more fire resistant.

In 1922, the NFPA originated Fire Prevention Week was a small organizational observance. President Coolidge adopted it nationally in 1925 to be recognized every year during the week of October 9. That date coincides with The Great Chicago Fire, which happened in 1871, killing 250 people and leaving 100,000 homeless (nfpa.org).

This yearly reminder to building inhabitants whether end users or owners is a good practice to help save many lives, homes, and businesses, and we feel that knowing what causes the most fires in a commercial or industrial setting will help business owners protect themselves from hazards, see graphs.

Commercial Building Fire Causes         Industrial Building Fire Causes

Sources: nfpa.org: U.S. Structure Fires in Office Properties, Aug 2013     nfpa.org: Fires in Industrial and Manufacturing Properties, Mar 2018

For commercial buildings, the majority of fires are started while cooking, so having flame retardant materials and furniture is important in the kitchen area. It’s also important to know that intentional fires are commonly arson caused by a disgruntled person either in the bathroom or an exterior dumpster, therefore, it’s good to be aware of who is in a building when there has been an altercation, empty trash daily, install motion sensor cameras, and keep the dumpster away from the building.   Additionally, most unintentional fires are commonly started by cigarettes in the landscaping or space heaters placed against the wall. Having designated disposal units for cigarettes and a policy about the use of space heaters are great, low cost means to protect from everything going up in smoke (smokeguard.com).

Depending on the size and use of a building, a sprinkler system may be required by code. For example, an office or medical building, AKA light hazard, over 12,000 s.f. is required to be “sprinkled”, but a restaurant only needs to be 5,000 s.f. to require a sprinkler system. I interviewed Bernie with Jimco Fire Protection, Inc. about what materials building owners should use to be more fire resistant and he suggested, “Metal trusses with fire retardant sheeting is the best way to go on a roof.” By using these materials, an attic doesn’t need to be sprinkled regardless of the size even if the rest of the building needs to be. Another option that Bernie doesn’t readily recommend is instead using wood trusses and installing a dry suppression system. It may be less upfront cost, but there will be regular ongoing maintenance of the system that will likely add up to cost more and cause more risky down time. According to sciencedirect.com, other material selections good for fire protection of a building envelope (i.e. walls, ceiling, floors, columns, and roof), are heat resistant materials and/or metal choices, such as concrete, coated steel, brick and mortar, treated wood, glass, and other metals to name a few.

Also, depending on the size and use of a building, an owner may be required by code to incorporate the following into the structural design, fire curtain, a minimum number of fire alarms, emergency lights and exit signs, and a minimum number of fire extinguishers. Bernie reminded us that if adding on to a building, it could trigger the additional expense of some of these requirements.

Low cost ways to protect staff, customers and assets from fire damage include good housekeeping inside and out of the building, maintenance, having a disaster response plan, and a contingency plan. The best practice is to take the time to train staff on fire safety and how to use an extinguisher, and discuss a disaster plan with staff including where to meet outside the building to be accounted for in the event of an emergency.

I asked Bernie what was new in the fire protection industry and he said, “Sprinkler heads are the only thing changing. In the 70s there were only 4 options, now there’s an unknown number of options.” He shared that on the market are single heads that can reach 30 ft. one way and 30 ft. the other way, essentially covering entire rooms with its spray. A head of that strength of spray requires only one main line in a room, rather than using more materials to branch out with piping through the space and also needs less labor saving on cost.

Wolgast Corporation and Wolgast Restoration are in a unique position to be able to assist business owners to rebuild during a disaster. We have the insurance restoration expertise to help with clean up along with the design and construction expertise to rebuild the structure if it’s needed. In the event of an emergency call 855-WOLGAST for our 24-Hour emergency hotline, or 800-WOLGAST for other building needs.

Topics: commercial, fire damage, business preparation

The Primary Natural Disasters Threatening Michigan Structures

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jul 06, 2020 @ 11:20 AM

Property owners of Michigan, this map, credited to redcross.org1, suggests that Michigan has insignificant threat of any natural disaster compared to all the rest of the states.  Sure, we aren’t much effected by earthquakes, although we have felt aftershocks from time to time, and it’s unlikely that we will ever have hurricane force winds hit us, but the rain and lesser significant winds of hurricanes do reach us causing damage.  Though someone looking at the map may pat themselves on the back for choosing to live in the Great State of Michigan, there are definitely natural disasters and other mayhem for which we need to be prepared.

DisasterMapAccording to michigan.gov2, Michigan’s primary natural threats include floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, wild fires, and of course winter weather.  Knowing a few details and statistics can help us prepare for disasters, even though most disasters are completely unpredictable.

Thunderstorms are the “primary source of summer rainfall” in Michigan according to (weather-us.com)3.  They are a heavy hitter possibly bringing heavy rain, flash flooding, wind, hail, tornadoes, and/or lightning.  Each of these hazards bring their own havoc to property, which we will discuss more below.  They occur mostly from May to September.  Michigan averages 28 – 40 thunderstorms per year in the Lower Peninsula and 20 – 30 in the Upper Peninsula (michigan.gov)2. Building owners also have to be prepared for power outages during these storms.

Ninety percent of damage caused by natural disasters in the US is from a flood event (iii.org)4. There is not a “flooding season” per say, but they historically have happened in the spring and summer in Michigan.  Additionally, Michigan’s potential for early spring flooding is higher because of the thawing of winter ice and snow makes lake and river levels rise.  Floods cause damage to foundations, drywall and contents within a building, and if not cleaned or dried properly can result in microbial growth that makes inhabitants sick.

In Michigan, most tornadoes occur between April and July.  Experts have even predicted that a tornado is more likely to occur between 3PM and 7PM.  An average of 16 tornadoes occur in Michigan each year (michigan.gov)5.  Tornadoes can cause massive damage to property through heavy winds and force.  Depending on the strength of the wind a tornado can break heavy branches or uproot trees that land on a building, push mobile homes off their foundation, tear off roofs, level well-constructed walls, or lift homes off their foundation.  Power outages are prevalent during tornado storms due to tree limbs and debris falling on power lines.

Hail is common in the spring season in Michigan (weather-us.com)3.  Most Michigan counties see an average of 2 hail events per year.  Hail can cause costly property damage to roofs and siding, resulting in insurance claims and restoration construction.

Wild fires have happened historically between March and October, and most commonly “during the driest part of the year”.  More than 75% of Michigan is covered in forested land in Northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula.  We see an average of 550 minor wild fire events a year (michigan.gov)2. Most people think that lightning is the main cause of the fires, but it is actually more commonly caused by debris burning.  The Michigan.gov document “MHA 2019 Full Update Natural Hazards” discusses creating a vulnerable structure to be “Firewise” to protect it from wildfires, which includes non-flammable exterior materials and removing vegetation surrounding the building to provide a barrier from wildfire flames and ash.

Winter weather is more hazardous to automobiles and the health of individuals driving or walking/recreating in Michigan.  However, our winter weather causes damage to property through ice dams, frozen pipes and heavy snow on roofs.  The Lower Peninsula averages 90-180 days of below freezing temperatures (michigan.gov)2.  Insulating pipes near outer walls and keeping the heat above 55 can help prevent the pipes from freezing.  Flooding from frozen pipes only occurs once the pipe starts to thaw creating quite a mess causing restoration of your pipes and the water damage remediated.  Ventilating your attic will help regulate the temperature and moisture in the space to prevent ice dams and water infiltration at the roof barrier. And flatter roof styles will need to remove snow built up on their shingles to protect from the weight, ice, thaw, and damage.

DisasterScheduleThe unpredictable behavior of Mother Nature makes it difficult to prepare your structure in some cases and still live daily life, so it’s most important to have a plan to protect yourself and have phone numbers ready to call your insurance provider and restoration contractor immediately after.  It’s a good practice to have needed items ready in case the power goes out, for example: a light source, charged energy source(s), communication device(s), food, drink, and important papers in a safe place.  Call Wolgast Restoration when a disaster hits your property.

24 HOUR HOTLINE: (855) 965-4278

Sources:

1 www.redcross.org

2  https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/MHA_2019__full_update_natural_hazards_653708_7.pdf

3 https://www.weather-us.com/en/michigan-usa-climate?f,in,in,mi#climate_text_4

4 https://www.iii.org/article/facts-about-flood-insurance

5 https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp-tornado_tips_8781_7.pdf

Topics: wind damage, roof damage, disaster plan, fire damage, spring floods, frozen pipes, prevention

Keys to Establishing a Fast & Accurate Restoration Estimate

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Mar 19, 2020 @ 02:50 PM

EstimatingRestorationWhen a client is displaced from their home or business, time is critical to get them to pre-loss condition, quickly.  Each project starts with an assessment of the loss and a restoration estimate.  There are three key things that make us fast and accurate in our estimating. 

First, we are systemized, so each project is handled the same way and steps are not missed.  Our Project Managers (PMs) know what is needed because of their expertise and an established and comprehensive guide, so they record needed information, such as measurements and materials that are being replaced during their initial site visit. 

Second, the PMs are involved at the start of the project and visit the loss site to evaluate the size of the loss and what needs to be replaced.  PMs have the relationship with the client throughout the process and know the means necessary to complete reconstruction, so they are the best option to be the eyes and ears onsite with the client.  Then the PM collaborates with our expert Estimator who works in Xactimate, an industry standard software for estimating, to provide the most accurate cost for reconstruction.  It is the same software that the adjusters use, so we are comparing our numbers apples to apples with them.  We’re also able to provide our estimates more quickly, accurately and efficiently than many of our competitors because we use a 3D camera to take a walk-thru image of our properties.  This visual allows us to make future measurements and verification without costly travel time spent back to the site. Additionally, our Estimating team has been Xactimate certified and has years of experience to know how to code for accuracy. 

Third, we’re a Division of Wolgast Corporation, a 70+ year old construction company that supports us in our estimate planning when necessary (i.e. a total loss).  We know construction and are able to provide accurate estimates quickly as to keep the restoration momentum going and satisfy our client faster.

 

Topics: restoration, Estimating

Dedicated Restoration Team to Clean Valued Contents after a Loss

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Nov 25, 2019 @ 12:37 PM

ContentCleaning2Contents are a substantial part of a property insurance loss.  Not only the cost of replacing, but also an owner’s emotional attachment to items can be significant.  Being able to clean or salvage 80% or so of a building’s or house’s contents after a flood or fire is beneficial to reducing the loss for the owner.  Years ago, insurers didn’t think it was worth taking the time or effort to clean the contents, but with modern practices and equipment, the quicker turn-around time and success has proven to save on restoration costs.1

Content cleaning is a job of precision for dedicated and compassionate technicians to restore another’s personal items.  We’re one of the few Restoration Companies in Michigan to provide this service in-house with an Ultrasonic Machine.  Our Employee-Owner Cleaning Technicians are well trained with the knowledge of the right process, temperature, PH levels, and settings for the Ultrasonic Machine to really get into the cracks and crevices of the items being sanitized.  The machine uses sound waves and water to also remove soot and rust from many types of materials.  We’ve been able to restore old style floor grates from older houses that are hard to find for replacement and we can also use the Ultrasonic Machine to clean ceiling diffusers that are impacted by restaurant fires.  Its versatility and ability to remove difficult to reach dirt from tiny crevices of knick knacks and other intricate or hard to clean items really surprises our clients.  Recently, we were able restore a widow’s collection of old hand tools that had been her husband’s.  She’d suffered a fire loss at her home and the Ultrasonic machine had the precious items looking better than they had in a long time.

Secondly, we offer the Ozone Generator that uses O3 to take out the smells associated with smoke damage or other unpleasant odors.  Restoration companies that have their own content cleaning staff and equipment can deodorize many items that wouldn’t be expected to be restored.  As part of our Content Cleaning Service, we have trained professionals in house to run the equipment and see that impacted materials are cleaned effectively and safely to be returned to the insureds home or place of business, toxin free.  Additionally, we’re able to use the Ozone Generator on site, which speeds up the restoration process and gets business owners back in business faster.

1 https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2014/07/01/the-perils-of-pack-outs/. “The Perils of Packouts”, 7/1/14.

Topics: Contents Restoration

360 Degree Walk-Through Technology Saves on Restoration Time

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 @ 09:23 AM

MatterportWolgast Restoration has added technology to make their service even more efficient. The Matterport 3D Camera is a high resolution scanning device that lets us take 3D photos to turn into a high quality, precise, 360 degree, walk-through, interactive image online. The qualities and capabilities of the scan have many benefits that are useful to Insurance Companies, including quicker estimating and more efficient management of restoration activities. By scanning a building interior with the camera on an initial site visit, we can use the software’s capabilities to do follow-up measurements or verification if needed, get additional/outside input via email without subsequent site visits, and keep high-quality documentation of the state of the property.

Speed is everything in the restoration business and we continually invest in technology and equipment to better serve our mutual clients in order to get them back to a pre-loss state as quickly as possible.  The time saving aspects of the Matterport camera allows us to take on more claims in a shorter time frame, which is beneficial during a wide spread loss in our coverage area. 

If you’d like to know more or have a client that needs our expertise, please call us today.

Help your clients find us in their time of need at 855-WOLGAST

Topics: Contents Restoration, Technology

On-Site Precautions Make Wolgast Restoration Sites Safer and Completion Dates Quicker

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 @ 02:57 PM

Safety-Director-1Properties that have been impacted by a fire, flood or other related weather loss, pose extra safety cautions.  Wolgast considers it as important, if not more, than you do to keep everyone who enters the site safe.  Property Owners, agents, workers, friends and neighbors may come and go during a restoration project, so explicit communication, signage, teamwork, proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and sometimes sanitization stations need to be available to protect site occupants.  Wolgast Restoration factors this into our project planning.

On any given site, we need to be prepared for a variety of issues that are associated with a loss, such as structural issues, airborne or water contaminants, sharp metal or exposed electrical wires to name a few.  Once restoration activity starts, there are additional safety impacts to prevent involving elevated spaces, trip hazards, construction equipment and tools, etc.  Our Field Employee-Owners have been OSHA Safety Certified as well as IICRC Certified.  Additionally, we have a safety incentive program whereby the monetary pool is funded by completing safety behavior and practices that our Safety Committee has determined will result in increased protection for all.  Daily safety planning, meetings, communication, documentation are among these actions.  The better the safety behaviors, the better the safety culture and the bigger the pool of money.  The money is used to supply staff members with gift certificates for steel toed boots, coats and gloves of their choosing that further protect them from elements on a construction site.

The point of this blog is that you won’t have to worry about further issues on your customer’s property when any loss already creates high stress.  And that is important when choosing a Restoration Company.  Additionally, being safe speeds up the restoration process, which is good for all of us.

Topics: prevention

Having a Restoration Company and a General Contractor on the Same Team

Posted by Rich Droste on Tue, Apr 09, 2019 @ 10:47 AM

Wolgast Corporation        Wolgast Restoration Logo RGB 72dpi

Having a Restoration Company and a General Contractor on the Same Team

The team of  Wolgast Corporation and Wolgast Restoration was created to be a high level provider of full-service restoration services to deal with all of your challenges when mayhem strikes your building.  Wolgast Restoration specializes in residential and commercial restoration when it comes to structural damage from water, fire, wind, or other mishaps.  And Wolgast Corporation is a commercial contractor who has specialized in buildings of all shapes and sizes since 1948.

So, what are the benefits of having your restoration company on the same team as a general contractor?  The communication and actions to start planning the reconstruction portion of your project (if it’s needed) flows fluidly through the company as the experts in charge of your building talk freely and regularly.  Also the strength and resources that Wolgast Corporation has developed over the past 70+ years provides a solid foundation for Wolgast Restoration to handle projects of any size. 

During the clean-up portion of a project, project technicians can assess the situation and keep the construction staff informed of what’s needed and the construction staff can be estimating budgets, planning for materials, obtaining permits and organizing team coverage.  All this is done without much effort on your part, because when you have endured mayhem, the last thing you want is to be burdened with is making phone calls and searching for an unknown company to preserve your building.

Wolgast Restoration is providing its services through the same systemized approach that Wolgast Corporation uses to provide its construction services.  We find that having this systemized approach allows us to provide the most uniform and quality service for each unique job.  It helps us move quickly to the next task rather than pause to determine what to do next, all to the benefit of our clients through time savings.

We have offices in Saginaw and Kalamazoo areas.  If mayhem strikes you, please don’t hesitate to strike back with Wolgast Restoration.  Call 855.965.4278 to take immediate action.  In the meantime, if you have questions, please visit www.wolgastrestoration.com or call 989-790-9120 when it isn't an emergency.

 

water damagefire damagewind damage

Topics: Water Damage, residential, wind damage, Wolgast Restoration, structural damage, commercial, fire damage

Top Credentials to Help Provide Risk Management for Property Restoration

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Apr 08, 2019 @ 08:01 AM

RestorationSoda-BlastingFor insurance carriers and building owners alike, risk management should be a coveted aspect of their relationship with an insurance restoration company.  There are several means that successful restoration companies contribute to risk management on a project and those are a combination of experience, great customer service, resources, wide coverage area and training/certifications.

The more credentials a restoration company and its employees have, the higher the probability that they’ll do the job right the first time, and therefore minimize risk.  By following IICRC protocol, damage gets stopped quicker, materials get cleaned to the level needed to stop further damage, and expectations are met.

Wolgast is an IICRC firm with employee-owner, staff members that have a variety of certifications pertaining to their area of expertise.  We have obtained these top credentials to be recognized by Third Party Administrators (TPAs) as an expert in microbial, fire, smoke, and water remediation since insurance carriers rely on the TPAs to provide a qualified insurance restoration company to fulfill whatever is their present need.  We actively train to be prepared for each project that a TPA deems is a fit for us so that we can minimize risk, and create a positive experience and rating within each system.  That is very important because it’s expected of us and effects future opportunities, so we complete our continuing education and have sought out additional training opportunities for our staff. 

We’re dedicated to being at the top of TPAs’ lists with a good track record, vast resources, wide market area, great customer service and the appropriate training.  Therefore, our credentials include: Certified Subrogation Recovery Professionals, IICRC Certified, HAAG Certified and Residential Roof Inspector, Water Damage Restoration Technician, Applied Structural Drying Technician, Applied Microbial Remediation Technician, Fire & Smoke Restoration Technician, Contents Processing Technician, Commercial Drying Specialists, and many others that involve flooring, textiles, and trauma situations.  Furthermore, we’re backed by a 70+ year, licensed and insured construction company to rebuild a structure if needed and be considered your complete restoration and risk management solution regardless of the size of the loss.

Topics: Restoration Contractor

How Third Party Administrators Have Shaped Our Restoration Services

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jan 21, 2019 @ 02:14 PM

Third Party Administrator Programs Provide Excellent Framework for Restoration Customer Service

Restoration ConstructionLove them or dislike them, our insurance restoration business model has been molded by Third Party Administrators (TPAs) from the onset of our business plan.  This was intentional to simplify our new restoration service division in a complex industry to satisfy all end users, i.e. insurance companies, and policy holders. 

We recognized that the TPA programs as a whole offer the frame work for high levels of customer service for all entities that we serve.  Our systems are based on the TPA frame work, so whether we are involved under one of their programs, or work that we do as directly hired by an insured, our service will be the same consistent level of quality.

What we have gleaned from TPA models:

  • Cost Efficiency and Predetermined Pricing – One of the reasons TPAs were originally developed was to help make claims more cost efficient. We use the same estimating software as the insurance carrier, so our pricing matches.  This takes out any discrepancies or a source of discontent with the insured.  It also eliminates the need for a policy holder to waste precious time shopping for a restoration company based on the price.
  • Improving Service Time – TPAs have strict reporting requirements to track response times and work progress. Our parent company, Wolgast Corporation, a 70 year old commercial contractor, has a reputation for getting buildings built quickly.  We draw from their experience and processes to set milestone dates and ensure that we’re efficient and meet deadlines established at the start of the project.
  • High Level Customer Service – In our program work by TPAs, we are regulated as to how quickly we respond to a claim, how quickly we provide estimates and how quickly we complete our work; all things that are important to the affected policy holder. This has helped us to provide excellent customer service to policy holders, many of whom have sent us letters of goodwill stating their appreciation during their time of need.  We have taken this a step further with sensitivity training for our first responder staff members to help instill in them that they don’t just need to quickly expedite critical restoration processes, but also that they need to provide emotional support to the insured during a highly sensitive time.
  • Maintaining Qualified and Well Trained Staff – Each of our staff members have been trained and certified in their area of expertise, as well as have had background checks prior to entering an insured’s property. This is how we can confidently comply with TPA programs as well as reduce risks of deviation from our reputable service.

We continually hone our processes to continue to improve our speed, efficiency, customer service, and staff development, as we speculate that TPAs will continue to expect more.  This is how it’s been since the inception of Wolgast Restoration and how we set ourselves apart.

Check out these blogs:
How to Meet Expectations of Property Insurance Customers after a Disaster
Being What Agents and Adjusters Seek in a Restoration Company

How to Solve Your Biggest Problems with Property Content Recovery

Topics: customer service, business preparation, restoration

Supporting Insurance Carriers through a CAT Loss

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Nov 26, 2018 @ 03:55 PM

In a high stress situation of a Catastrophe (CAT) Loss, it’s easy to forget that insurance carriers and restoration companies are working toward the same goal: restoring a property to a pre-loss condition while satisfying the policy holder efficiently.  Meeting the customer’s needs can be taxing for both ends of the spectrum whether it’s matching coverage expectations or the speed and manpower expectations, all while numerous other customers are also calling to notify you of their needs.  Wolgast has a plan in place to support insurance carriers during this harried time.

ServiceMapWe know the importance of moving quickly to reach the optimal number of policy holders and following through with quality service to keep them happy.  As a systemized company, we use a carefully constructed and laid out CAT protocol/process and are prepared to reach a wide variety of property owners in a short amount of time, plus we have the capacity and resources to effectively handle their restoration needs by drawing from our general construction division and its staff when necessary.  This system guides us to know the manpower that we will need, the responsibilities of each staff member and the communication necessary to remain responsible, accountable and organized.  Also, with two locations in Michigan, one near the center of the state in Freeland and one in the southwest in Kalamazoo, we’re ready to cover a large portion of Michigan to readily help you serve your clients.

Our specialty restoration services for quick reference:

  • Board-ups
  • Content Clean-up and Storage
  • Restoration of water, mold, fire, smoke, wind, vehicle, and/or vandal damage
  • Rebuilding (General Construction Division)

We are specialized handle any size claim for both commercial and residential property owners.  Please contact our 24-hour hotline at 855-WOLGAST in the event of an emergency.

 

Download our White Paper, “Reduce the Effects of a Disaster on Your Business” at: www.wolgastrestoration.com/reduce-the-effects-of-a-disaster-on-your-business to learn the details about how we do this for Businesses.

 

Topics: Water Damage, wind damage, Wolgast Restoration, structural damage, fire damage