Reuben shares a recent water disaster with his kitchen water heater. He tapped 24Restore, a service company that specializes in emergency damage caused by water, fire, biohazards, and storms. He then shares the process and his full experience with the dispatch team of Jesse and David.
Jesse Jackman shares that their company’s primary goal is to help, to secure the property and belongings, and ensure team and customer safety. They assess and recommend what to do, then restore and reconstruct the affected area. 24 Restore also works with insurance companies which makes claims run as smoothly as possible.
The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Bill Oelrich: Just last week, Reuben had a small water event at his house which got a little messy. Welcome, everyone. You’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman, the three-legged stool coming to you from the Northland, talking all things houses, home inspections and anything that kinda comes into our head. But on today’s episode, we’re gonna talk to Reuben, and we have special guests on the episode from 24Restore, and I’m gonna let Reuben introduce everybody here. But just last week, Reuben had a small water event at his house, which his world intersected with 24Restore, and they were able to come out and help Reuben remedy a situation that got a little messy. So Reuben, why don’t you tee everything up here for us?
Reuben Saltzman: It did. Well, I get up first thing in the morning, and I go down to get my coffee and my floor mat is all wet in the kitchen. And I just went, “Oh great, I made more coffee without emptying my coffee maker again.” And that wasn’t the case. As I started digging around underneath the kitchen sink and it’s filled with water. So I clear everything out of there, and I’m looking at all my connections like, “What leaked? What the heck is going on?” Finally figured out… I talked about this on a podcast at some point. I was bragging about my point-of-use water heater. It’s a little 2 1/2-gallon water heater you put under your kitchen sink. Bill, you’re giving a thumbs down on the video. Knock it off. It’s awesome.
BO: For making a mess. [chuckle]
RS: You know what? Anything can make a mess. You can do that to dishwashers, Bill, okay? Anything can fail and leak. But I put this thing in and instead of taking a full minute to get hot water, you turn on your faucet and you got water coming out instantly. It was a piece of cake to install, it costs like 150 bucks, a couple of water lines and plug it in… It’s a five-minute install, couldn’t be more delighted with it, but it failed. My water heater, less than two years old, and the thing failed. It started leaking right out of the connection for the heating element. And there’s a tiny little panel on the front, there was water streaming right out of the front of the panel.
RS: So this is just straight up product failure. And I thought, “Great, so I’m gonna have to take my dishwasher out now.” ‘Cause it’s adjacent to the kitchen sink. I thought, “I’ll pull my dishwasher out.” That’s where most of the water ended up. I might even have to kinda wedge up the flooring a little bit and stick some fans underneath there to dry out the sub-floor ’cause I’m sure there’s some water that’s gotten out. I figured I’ll check into this later.
RS: So I do my morning routine, I head downstairs about an hour later to my workout room in the basement, and I take one look at the ceiling and I go, “Oh shoot, this is not a quick little put some fans on it. This is a destroyed ceiling.” It’s like a lot of water had come through. It’s a 5 x 5 patch of my ceiling that’s just yellow, and there’s water still dripping out of it, there’s water all in the floor. I’ve got laminate flooring in that room, and it was just… It was everywhere. So right then I knew I’ve got an insurance claim on my hands, this is not a homeowner clean-up.
RS: And my insurance deductible… I think it’s a $1000 deductible. And it’s like instantly I knew, “Yeah, this is way over a $1000, so I gotta call some professional help.” And that’s where 24Restore comes in. I met Jesse… Gosh, what do you think it was Jesse, maybe five, six years ago or something?
Jesse: I don’t know, at least five, six years because it took you a little while for… To actually come and see our facilities, so we were looking at that… It’s been at least four years since you’ve been able to come over and tour our facility.
RS: Yeah, that was a fun tour. And I think you’ve moved facilities like a couple of times, even in that time, haven’t you?
Jesse: Yeah, we have. So we actually started out with about… Well, the story goes way back to how it started. Derek West, the owner of our company started out with literally a station wagon that he bought for $250. And he had a little carpet cleaner that he was able to fit in his back seat. And that’s how actually how everything started. And so I guess you weren’t at the the beginning stages of, but you were at one of our first buildings. And it was about 1400 square feet. And now we have all together combined, we have over 70,000 square feet between our three buildings that are right here in the same area.
RS: Wow. And how long have you been with 24Restore, Jesse?
Jesse: So I’ve been here for eight years.
RS: Okay, alright. And now we’ve also got David on the show. David, how long have you been with 24Restore?
David: 20 years.
RS: Okay, alright, cool. And what do you guys do there?
Jesse: Well, I am a Network Development Partner with 24Restore. So again, I’ve been doing this for eight years, and my day-to-day roles are number one, I am first response for fire for our company. And so that’s kind of my main baby here is when we get calls from fire departments, insurance agents, plumbers… We have cities that call us, and schools that call us, and hospitals, all different sources of referrals that will bring us in, in the event of a catastrophe, such as a fire. And so that’s kind of my first baby, is I show up in a hurry to help… That’s our company motto, is that no matter what happens at someone’s home…
Jesse: Typically when somebody’s calling us, they’re having a bad day… So it’s not like they just inherited a bunch of money and they’re excited to do a remodel at their house. When they call us, they’re having a bad day. And especially when it comes to a house fire. We have everything from a washing machine that was overloaded and put smoke all over the house, all the way to houses that are completely charred on the inside. And we show up in a hurry to help. We are typically there within a couple of hours of a fire.
Jesse: There’s never a convenient time to have a fire. If it does happen, they’re either at work or it’s an after-hours thing. And oftentimes, they’re not able to necessarily get ahold of their insurance agent right away. And if they do, the adjusters aren’t showing up for two to three days. That’s where us showing up in a hurry to help being first response for fire comes in to play because we can show up there right away, we can help secure the property, board the house up and secure their belongings to make sure that nobody goes in there and gets hurt or steals anything. We can also set them up in hotels. We can provide emergency laundry and all kinds of good stuff. So that’s kind of my main baby every day, but then we also do marketing to insurance agents and plumbers, schools, property managers and home inspection companies.
RS: Well, I can say your marketing works. Yeah, I know you’re reaching insurance companies because once I decided this was a claim… I can’t remember who I called first. I don’t know if it was you or the insurance company… It was probably you guys. And I just said, “Hey, you know, I need you guys out here. I’ve got a flood, I’ve got some water. I need it cleaned up.” And you guys said, “Yeah, did you file an insurance claim?” “No, that’s my next call.” “Alright, great, well, we can have Will out at your house at 9:00 AM, does that work?” “Heck, yeah. Send him out.” My next call was to my insurance company, filed a claim with my insurance agent, Tim Molgren who we have had on the show before. Shout out to Tim.
RS: Good guy. And he said, “Yeah, where are you at? Have you contacted a restoration company?” “Yep, I called 24Restore.” And he’s like, “Awesome. Perfect. That’s exactly what you should have done, and we’ll have an adjuster get in contact with you.” So, Will comes out to my house. I’m figuring you guys are sending a sales person out or somebody to kind of give a bid and figure out how this is all gonna work.
RS: So he goes through and he takes all his pictures, he assesses all the damage, he documents a lot of stuff, he sits down at the table with me and writes it all up and says, “This is kind of what we’re looking at, this is what we would do. Here’s all the stuff.” I’m like, “Alright. Yeah, so can you guys get started on it? That’s wonderful. Who you gotta send out?” He’s like, “I’m ready to go.” [chuckle] And I’m like, “Oh, you’re doing it?” He’s like, “Yeah, I got my truck I’m ready to go. You just give me the word.” I said, “Go,” and he got to work. And it was just like that. It’s so weird because I’ve had so many different contractors come to the house and it’s always like you got a sales person who comes out, but then you got the other people who come out to do the work at some other time. But Will is like an all-in one package. Is that how you guys always do it?
Jesse: Yeah, so I appreciate you bringing that up because that is one thing that we definitely… We really pride ourselves on is that we’re not sales people… We are people that show up every day in a hurry to help. And again, it’s our company motto, so… The next time you come on over, I’ll have to have Tessa, Bill all you guys over here to kinda take a tour of our facility. I mean, it’s plastered on all of our walls, our company core values, is that we are in a hurry to help. We do understand that everybody needs to go to work in order to earn a paycheck to pay bills, but end of the day is if you ask anybody who walks through our doors, what makes you show up to do this type of work? Because to be honest with you, the work that these guys are doing that are front and center going up to your house, it’s not the easiest job. It’s dirty work.
Jesse: And so they’re showing up there to suck up water… Again, every customer they deal with, they’re having a bad day. So they’re dealing with them at some of their worst times. Or they just had a fire, they’re sucking up water, sucking up crap, if you will. We have the state biohazard contract, so a lot of times these guys are cleaning up murder scenes and blood scenes. And again, they know that their job is not to show up and try to sell a job, their job is to be in a hurry to help. But you brought up a really good point. He sat down to go over things with you before moving forward.
Jesse: One thing that we always recommend is going over what we’re gonna do with the homeowner to make sure that everybody’s on the same page before we get in there and just start tearing apart people’s houses. I’ll let David talk a little bit more about this, but there are so many companies that… They’re known as a cut-and-gut company where they cut stuff and gut it out and then kinda get to work and then give you a bill after. But I’ll let David chat a little bit more about that.
David: One thing I can speak to is… And I’ve worked for other restoration companies, you know? One of the pieces of the puzzle that’s been very impressive and understanding a little bit better about the company that I’m working for is how much depth and how thorough they are. A lot of contractors maybe measure to the foot, to the yard, we measure to the inch. And if you’re gonna hire a contractor and you wanna work with one of the best contractors, you want a guy that can measure to the inch because you know they’re detailed, and you know they’re thorough. So if we’re building a scope of work for you for your property, put everything back together, it’s a pretty involved process. There can be some frustration because we’re gonna take our time and build a scope. We’re building a scope of work for every inch of things that needs to be done there, we cover everything on the front-end, so that way when we talk to the adjuster, we go to that adjuster with, “This is everything that needs to be done.” We’re not coming back to you on the back-end of the project and saying, “Oh yeah, we’re gonna supplement.”
David: We’re saying literally, “This is everything that needs to be done. Do you agree with this price, yes or no? No? Great, well we’ll fix it. Yes? Great, then we can go to work.” But we don’t touch work, we don’t start work before we have that scope of work though. Because again, we don’t have arguments with adjusters because we’ve already agreed upon pricing and we’ve already agreed upon what needs to be done. So, it’s a big part of the process.
RS: Yeah, that’s good stuff. And when I told my insurance company, when I did get in contact with the adjuster and he said, “You got in touch with the restoration company. Alright, who is it?” “24Restore.” He’s like, “Alright, great, well then… ” And this happened on a Friday, he’s like, “Alright, I’ll come out on Monday and check it all out.” I’m like, “So just have him go to work.” He’s like, “Yeah, we work with those guys all the time. They’re good, whatever it is, it’ll be fair.” It felt good to hear that, to know that they’re not gonna be fighting with you guys and I’m stuck in the middle over what it’s gonna be. Having said that, he did come out on Monday… Wait, let me back up, I just gotta talk about the process of what it looks like to dry all this out. He was there all day. He had another guy Hunter come out to help him about an hour or two later and they took the dishwasher out, they cleared everything out of that area, they go down to the basement, they cut the sealing all open, they cut the wall open where there’s water inside the wall.
RS: They tore all the flooring out of that room and took the mat out. There’s a heating mat down there, they took that up and took the mat out from underneath it and they put these dryers in. All these fans and these heaters, and these de-humidifiers and they had that stuff going. And just the heaters that you guys use, I was in love with these super heaters ’cause, and I was like, “How the heck is my house 80 degrees?” I mean, literally, my house was 80 degrees all weekend. I was walking around in shorts, I kind of enjoyed it. Tessa, you would have hated it, right?
Tessa Murray: Yes, yeah, too hot for me.
RS: Yeah Tessa doesn’t care for that, but I was loving it and my furnace did not kick on one, and it was a cool weekend. But I was like, “How the heck is this thing kicking out so much heat?” And you take a closer look at it, there’s four inputs for extension cords, so it’s gotta run off of four different circuits to generate that much heat. And I’m like, “I need to get one of these. This is awesome.” They had the fans, the dryers, the de-humidifiers going non-stop, super warm in there, and by Monday, it was definitely like toasty warm and everything was bone-dry. I felt really good about that. It was a great job they did and then I had the insurance adjuster come out and he said, “Alright, well go ahead and send me the bill from 24Restore.” And that’s all done, and you guys send it directly to the adjuster and then I just got an email later this week from the adjuster saying, “Well, it should really be this,” and then I know that you guys kinda go back and forth with them, and I don’t really have to be in the middle of it figuring out exactly what the cost for each service is gonna be. And… Both of you guys, both the insurance adjuster and you guys assured me that you guys just come to terms on this stuff, and I don’t have to be stuck in the middle. So I love that.
Jesse: One thing that’s really great about our company is, we’re basically one of the only companies in Minnesota that has a dedicated claims department. So you mentioned a couple of things where you had called the agent, and the agent said, “24Restore? Yes, use them.” Called the agent, they said, “Oh, we’re using, 24Restore? Yes, use them.” There’s a few things that we do that make it really, really easy for the insurance agent and the adjuster to wanna work with us, such as, we’re not a gut company where a lot of companies, they come in and they don’t necessarily have moisture readers and infrared cameras and ATP test, which is bacteria testing, things like that. They literally come in, they have little prong meters where they are stabbing holes in the wall trying to find out where the water is. And what happens is, that’s kind of the old school way of doing it, it’s just the cheaper way to do it, and a lot of people still do it that way. The problem is that, as they’re stabbing holes in walls, when they find places that aren’t wet, they’re still stabbing holes in the walls.
Jesse: And so they have to literally come in there and cut everything out, gut everything out, get rid of it. David had mentioned how we cut down to the inch. We use moisture readers basically like a stud finder. We can put it on the wall to the precise inch where exactly that water starts and stops. And a lot of adjusters, they know that we have that technology, and it’s, again, it’s like a stud finder, so it’s non-invasive. And so they really trust us that we’re gonna be able to go in there and cut out or dry out only what we need to take out, because we can get down to that exact inch. We also have infrared cameras, which they are expensive to own, but once you have them, it makes life so much easier for adjusters, because we can come in, we can literally scan the wall and figure out what’s going on behind that wall. If there’s wet insulation behind the wall or in the ceiling or what have you, we can figure out where the damage is and how much there is without opening that wall up.
Jesse: And so, I believe it was Travis who was at your house originally, where he was able to sit down and go through all of those details with you before he started digging in to stuff. Adjusters, they know we have that technology, and most of them, they don’t invest into it, ’cause it’s 50 to $100,000 worth of equipment that we have, and adjusters will trust us to be able to go in there and get a detailed scope of work for them before they even show up. That’s why if they do hear, “Hey, 24Restore is on the job site,” they’re okay with not showing up that Friday. They can show up on Monday and know that everything will be taken care of. And then we also have a program called Moisture Mapper. So every single day our guys are monitoring equipment, they also monitor moisture levels within the home. So oftentimes restoration companies have gotten a bad reputation, because they’ll come in on day one and set 10 de-humidifiers and they come back a week later and go, “Well, it’s dry.” And the next thing you know, they’re sending a $10,000 bill to your adjuster, and your adjuster goes, “Well, whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Why am I paying this high of a bill?
Jesse: What if it was dry on day three?” So that’s really unique is that we have this moisture mapper program where we can monitor the moisture levels every single day, so if the moisture level starts at 10,000, and day three, the moisture level’s down to 3000, we can actually take more equipment out, and then when we’re done with that claim, we can send that moisture mapper report directly to your adjuster, so it makes it a lot easier for them to just go ahead and write out a check, pay for that damage.
BO: Let’s talk about this drying out process. Obviously, it’s very important to get the home dry. How much time do you actually have to work before things go from, “Yeah, that was wet and now it needs to come out, or it was wet, but we can salvage it, because it dried within a certain period of time.” Can you guys speak to that?
David: Yeah, I can speak to that. So one thing to think about, and I’ll just give you a couple of thought processes. So one of the things that we track is, where the leads are coming from, and we get leads from plumbers, we get leads from insurance agents. So if a plumber calls us, they’ve got something wet, the average mitigation goes about $1500. Alright, so if an insurance agent calls us, it’s about $2500. The only difference in that job is when was it called in, and how fast do we get out there. And that’s literally it. So it could be a $1000 worth of damage that’s additionally done by waiting a day, two days, three days, or whatever. So you leave a drip of water on a hardwood floor for 12 seconds, it’s no big deal. You leave a drip water for 12 minutes, 12 hours, 24 hours, it becomes a bigger deal every minute, and those funguses and bacteria, all that stuff starts growing essentially immediately, but takes a little bit to start showing, but it does not take long for a claim to double and it can go up by 20-50% in 12 to 24 hours. It does not take long at all.
David: And water is a nasty animal, as we all know, we’re in Minnesota, so you let it sit for too long and then you get frozen pipes. You let it sit for too long, and you get mold. So it’s a big deal for us. In our world, if we hear water on the floor, or water in the basement, water of any sort, our techs and our dispatches, we’re dispatching immediately, that’s an immediate emergency for us, so we’re gonna start dispatching our guys out within an hour. That’s our policy. ‘Cause again, we understand that every minute that we’re there sooner, we’re gonna mitigate the cost. And again, our main clients are insurance agents, so when we tell an insurance agent, “Hey, we’re helping mitigate some of your cost,” they go, “Oh great.” You know what I mean? When we can talk to an adjuster and say, “Hey listen, the moisture mapper program specifies five to seven days, where we had our equipment pulled out five days,” they like that kind of stuff, and that’s given us a really great reputation, it’s given us a lot of cred, if you will, just because we do things according to the plan and according to the book, and they can trust us for that, so that’s a big deal.
BO: Yeah, that was a really cool report that you guys gave me with all that. I appreciated seeing it.
David: One of the other things too, and this is not a side note at all, but just in terms of what we’re talking about when we talk about building scope, the program that we use is called DocuSketch, so a long story short, if you guys have ever seen any of these virtual tours for real estate, where the camera goes in and it’s, you can take a walk around the house. We have the same technology that we use for measuring. So the guy, our project manager goes in there, sets the camera down in the middle of the room, takes a complete 360 scan of the entire room, so now we’ve got a computerized document that’s showing you every single thing in the room. We document everything with that, so adjuster could see, “How much contents did we pull out? How big of a room is it?” But again, we’re accurate with our measurements and with our programs. And again, we’re down to the inch. If we need to do an inch worth of work, we charge you for an inch worth of work. That’s how things get done properly.
TM: So what would you guys recommend? With Reuben’s situation, that was obvious. There was a lot of water sitting on the floor, water dripping through the ceiling, water that went all the way down to the next level. Obviously, you got a problem there, but I’m just thinking from a home inspector perspective. The times where I have found small leaks, like plumbing leaks, where I’ve run water in the tub and I’ve splashed some water at the overflow, and maybe there wasn’t a plumbing access, so I went down below and scanned the ceiling with an infrared camera and maybe saw a little water stain or water spots show up with the IR camera. Nothing actually showed up visually on the ceiling, no stains while I was there, but you could see with the IR camera. So is that something that could really cause a lot of damage or mold or anything like that? Would you come out to fix something like that? Where do you draw the line between, this could be a big problem, we need help from 24Restore, or this is something that’ll just dry out on its own, it’s fine?
David: Where do we draw the line? Well, that’s usually with how comfortable are you with the issue? But at the same time, is it an ongoing issue? Is it still getting wet? Is it the leak’s been stopped? Have we stopped the issue? Or what are you willing to live with? That’s again, how wet is it? How… Whatever. But here’s the thing again, if you call us, and one of the big pieces of our program, especially when we’re dealing with insurance agents, if you call us, we’re more than willing to come out there and tell you what we think is going on and give you an overview of that. And that’s a big piece of our puzzle, as we call it, pre-loss inspections. So long story short, our technicians will go out there, bring our cameras, bring the meters, bring whatever, and go, “Look, yeah, this is this, this is that. This is what we think is going on. It’s just on the sheetrock. It’s dry. It’s not gonna expand too much further than that. It is what it is.” Or maybe there’s a bigger deal, but either way, we’re able to speak to that, and that is a big plus for our clients and customers, because they know they can trust us. Hey listen, if those guys go out there, understand that we’re driving a vehicle out there with a 100 grand worth of equipment, two trained technicians. They’re gonna go out there and spend a half hour digging around and figuring out…
David: What needs to be done, pull out their moisture cameras, meters, and so on and so forth, and say, “You got a problem,” or you don’t, one way or another. But that’s what we do. That’s a big part of our push, especially for the insurance agents because if you’re one of their clients, they want you to sleep well at night. So if you think it’s a problem and you’re worried about it, then we go out there and we tell you it’s not a problem, or if it is, then we deal with it. One way or another, we wanna give you that peace of mind.
BO: I do understand what you’re saying though. I have four little boys at home, and there’s oftentimes where I just hear my wife screaming upstairs, and I come running up the stairs and she’s like, “There’s water everywhere.” Okay, imagine my boys, they’re in the bathtub, they’re splashing, there’s water hitting the walls, there’s water hitting the floors, so I run with towels, kind of wipe things down. I always have to remind my wife, “Hey, listen, remember time is of the essence. So as long as we’re getting this stuff cleaned up right away, it’s been dried up, and you don’t see it necessarily coming through the ceiling in the basement, or you know the boys didn’t necessarily overflow, leave the water running and overflow that tub, I think we’re gonna be okay.” So we definitely don’t want people that if they splash a little water on the floor, to panic and think that they always need to call us out there. But you do make a great point. I had the instance at my house where, this was a couple of houses ago, but back when I had a bachelor pad, there was a slop sink here, and then the washer and then the dryer. Well, one of my roommates took his stuff out of the dryer and turned like this, and dropped a sock into the tub, the drain tub, and he went downstairs and he was doing his laundry, and the washing machine went to empty.
Speaker 1: Well, the sock got caught in the water, which got sucked down into the drain, and lo and behold, it ended up overflowing, and then he looked up and there was water rushing through the ceiling. He thought he was in a thunderstorm. Came running back upstairs only to find out everything was flooded. So in that type of event, I definitely recommend that you call 24 Restore. We make kind of a joke about this, but we have so many plumbers that will call us and they’ll go, “Hey, we know we need to call you when we show up to our customer’s house and their bathtub is filled with about six wet towels, and they have a fan blowing at the back of their toilet.”
BO: Yeah, so let me ask, now you guys are a Minnesota company. It’s not like this is a national franchise or any of that. If there’s people in other parts of the country listening and they’re thinking if they have an issue, who would they call? Is there some type of national certification or some type of credential that people could look for to know that they’re working with somebody who knows the ins and outs of water damage and restoration, and is good at dealing with insurance companies, and will document everything just the way they should? What could people look for to find somebody like you outside of the Twin Cities?
Jesse: I think one of the biggest things you wanna look for is people that are IIRRC certified.
BO: Say that again.
Jesse: IIRRC certified, and that means that they’ve gone through the certification process to become a professional in the industry. I will say that one thing that is different about 24 Restore versus a national franchise, we are here and we are building our empire here in Minnesota. So a lot of people ask us oftentimes, “In the event of a national catastrophe, like there’s a hurricane down south, do you guys just pick up and run down there?” ‘Cause that’s what so many people do, the hailstorm chasers, most of these restoration franchises, things like that. Our answer to that is no. We are a Minnesota company. We’re here to help the customers that are here, that are in our area and need help right now. If we were to just pick up and go down south every time a catastrophe hit, then we would be leaving all these customers up here to kind of fend for themselves.
David: A couple of pieces to add into that question about how to find a company out there. Number one, we have connections across the country through all of our groups. So it’s a pivot group that brings together a lot of restoration companies. So that’s one way we can help you find other companies out there. Number two, one of the things that we’re the most proud of is how many reviews, and we’re the number one restoration company that we find in the world. So we dare you to prove us wrong. So if you can find somebody else, we’re happy to have you figure that out, but if you go onto Google, we’ve got 700 reviews at this time, so we think just Google.
Jesse: That’s just Google, yeah, so that’s a massive deal. So do your research, do your homework, vet the companies. That’s a big part of Jesse and I’s job is we go out and we introduce ourselves and make connections to other companies. So find their reps, find out who’s working for them, and figure out what they’re all about, find out what their core values are and what they believe, and how willing they are to work with you and so forth, ’cause we put a lot of effort into how we work with inspectors.
BO: In the world of disaster recovery, or relief or restoration, we’ll call it disaster restoration, what’s worse? Water, blackwater, soot, fire? Where do you guys find the job is the most difficult?
Jesse: With fire doesn’t just come fire. We did a 23-story building in downtown Minneapolis. Fire was on the 17th floor. Well, fire goes up, but water goes down. So water hit 17 floors down, fire hit 17, 18, 19, 20 up to 23rd floor up. With fire comes water so again, you got kind of a loaded question, but there are definitely different types of… There’s different categories of water; so we’ve got category one, category two and category three water. And category one is clear water, so if you were to have a toilet back up, I bring that up, I have four boys, they’re constantly backing up the toilet by throwing a toy in there, or whatever the case is. If the toilet just backs up and you’ve got clean water, that’s category one. Category three is where you’ve actually got sewage water, raw sewage. And again, different categories, if you got category three, you’re talking about you’ve gotta go in there with the full Tyvek suit, as booties on, gloves on, taping your arms shut to your gloves, so definitely a lot of different categories there.
BO: Is soot one of those things that is just an endless problem? Is water or soot worse?
Jesse: Again we talk about, time is of the essence. Water obviously left by itself, it can turn into mold, and we all know what mold is called, the silent killer. So over time, it can be deadly. If you inhale too much soot, it can be deadly. If you have smoke that backs up into your home, it has carcinogens in it, so it could be very harmful for your lungs and stuff. But at the same time, you can live in soot as well, for many years.
S1: One piece of that too, I was out at a fire this morning that the source was in the garage. Quite frankly, there was soot, well, smoke damage, which is soot damage throughout the entire house, so the entire house was gonna have to be remediated, encapsulated, and dealt with. Depending on how you’re asking the question, smoke is a very funny business because it will penetrate all the openings. Again, if we get a fire that runs up into the attic space, again, imagine the whole run of the attic is gonna have to encapsulated. Smoke goes everywhere, and it’s a big deal ’cause we have to clean it, we have to encapsulate it one way or another. If you don’t get to all of it, and then a year later, if they don’t do a very good job, a year later, 85 degrees and all a sudden you get a smoke smell in your house because they didn’t do a very good job encapsulating. Depending on how much, right? They’re both nasty animals and water does a lot of different things too.
TM: Does encapsulation look like, almost like a white… I’m just curious, ’cause I’ve been up in attics before and I’ll see this white stuff and it looks like it’s over darker roof decking areas, and you can’t tell if it’s like a mold treatment or maybe a fire treatment?
Jesse: That’s a great question. And again, one thing that separates us from most of the other restoration companies in Minnesota is that a lot of companies, they go in there and they literally paint over mold with a kills paint. They paint over these soot particles to encapsulate them and hold them. But one thing that we do differently is we actually go in, we scrape everything, deodorize everything, lots of times we are ozone-ing attics and homes and things like that to bring it down to a negative air pressure. I call them “Smell cells,” kinda funny. If you imagine there’s little soot particles that are floating around in people’s houses, that’s what causes the smell for the soot. And when we bring it into an ozone, the ozone goes down to a negative air pressure, so when there’s no air pressure it basically depletes any smell cells that are around, kind of like pops them. And once we ozone it and deplete that smell, we then cover it, but we don’t put a white paint over it. Because as a home inspector, you pop your head up there, typically if a customer is buying a home, they see that there’s a fire claim or a water claim, they go, “Oh my gosh, we don’t want anything to do with it,” and then they pop their head up there and see it’s white shellac, is what it’s called, all over the roof decking, it freaks people out. We don’t just paint over it…
Jesse: We actually, we scrape it, we ozone it, and then we do a clear sealer over the top of that. So if you ever look back up there, you’d never really know that there was a fire up there aside from what’s on their home report.
S1: I like it, I like it.
David: Pollution is a big… It’s a fancy word for a lot of stuff for sure.
BO: One other thing I wanna touch on that you guys offer, we’ve talked only about cleaning up messes so far, but there’s another side of you guy’s business I wanna mention here, is that you guys also put stuff back together. It’s almost like it’s part two of the entire project, where I had another guy, I had Will come out to my house to give a bid on putting all the damage back together, like fixing the ceiling, re-texturing the ceiling, putting the drywall back on the walls, repainting, and then replacing all the damaged flooring. And that’s more like a general contractor type of thing. I was thinking, “Well, I got a good handyman I know. Maybe I’d have him put this back together,” but I was like, “Nah, I’d rather just keep it under one roof, I’d rather have you guys do this part of it too.” And after he came back with the bid, I was so glad I did that. Because it is detailed, line item by line item, exactly what it’s going to be. This many lineal feet and inches of trim and all the little details, and sent that over to the insurance company, and when I saw what he was sending over, I was like, “Oh my goodness, I’m so glad I went with you guys for this, because this is your bread and butter, you know what the insurance company is gonna want.” And they’ve got their exact numbers for all this stuff that they’re willing to pay.
BO: And if it’s not detailed and line item, if you’re not working on this stuff day in and day out, it’s gonna be a losing battle trying to fight the insurance company with this.
David: There’s a whole other piece to our business, and quite frankly it is the insurance business and the insurance piece, that’s… For restoration, it is more expensive to go down that direction, but again, we don’t set the prices. The industry sets the prices in terms of how much they’re willing to pay for that lineal sort of countertops, cabinets, whatever it is. We work within those parameters, but a big difference, like you say, is that scope of work, because our scope of work’s down to the inch. Not gonna be, again, measuring to the foot, and hopefully, and maybe to some of this and maybe some of that. I’ve worked for contractors like that before, and I’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of that kinda stuff. So again, that’s a big deal to me and that’s a big deal for our process. Again, in terms of our company and the reconstruction, that’s kinda where we started this piece of the conversation, our company can handle everything from a board-up, bio clean-ups, all the way through to clean up the mess, all the way through the reconstruction. And we handle all of that as one company, so you’re gonna be… We’re submitting bills to your insurance company and they go, “Oh yeah, it’s 24 Restore. Okay, it’s the mitigation part. Great Okay, it’s three. Construction part. Great.” We’re one of the only companies in the state…
David: That does full service from top to bottom, soup to nuts. Long story short, again, if we’re cleaning your contents, we can clean your contents all the way through the final nail, all the way through, quite frankly, the final billing. And your regular handyman that just does, or your regular contractor that’s not familiar with that process, I assure you is gonna get washed out quick. It’s no place for anybody that doesn’t know that language. We have that conversation with people all the time, we’re like, “Oh, I got a buddy who’s a contractor.” “Great, does he deal with insurance paperwork?” No. Then he’s not the one for you.
Jesse: We do get that often. People will have a, they’ll have a grilling accident. Now, ’tis the season to have a cold brew in your hand and be grilling, most people do it on their deck which we don’t recommend, but oftentimes people will be grilling on their deck with a propane tank that’s got a leak in it. Next thing you know, you’ve got a fire on your deck, starts the deck on fire, starts the siding on fire. And they go, “Well, you know what, don’t worry about it, “Mind you that their whole house smells like smoke inside, but, “Don’t worry about it, we’re gonna leave ours windows open, we’re gonna air this bad boy out. Oh, I’ve got my cousin or my buddy who is a roofer and a sider, and you know what, I have another buddy that builds deck. And don’t you think we could just get away with having those guys do it?” And we just all shake our head because the people don’t understand there’s a big, big difference between restoration and reconstruction. New construction, constructing something and then restoring something. It’s a whole different ballgame. So we always recommend people have us go in there, take a look at it. Because oftentimes, there’s so much more, as David said, smoke goes everywhere. Soot can get up into the soffit of your home, of the roof line, and then all of a sudden, next thing you know…
Jesse: You’ve got a soot up in your attic, you never even knew anything about it. I just had a customer yesterday, the DNR did a controlled burn in a development, they did a controlled burn across a dried-out swamp, there’s houses all in a circle around the swamp. People were so frustrated because their houses reek like smoke, and they have no idea when their air conditioning and stuff is running on a hot day, how much of that smoke that actually, they’re sucking into their house and putting those soot particles all over the homes, people just have no idea.
S1: As a home owner, it’s a major blind spot. And even a slight accident, and it’s a good thing there’s people who are willing to educate because you get one shot at this. Otherwise, if you sign off to the insurance company, it’s game over. I know through the one that my mother-in-law went through, they said we can re-open it for a year if something pops up, but the clock starts ticking, you get busy and all of a sudden you don’t remember to do it. It sounds like a complicated business. From how long can water sit there, to how do you get the smell of fire out, to I didn’t even know I had the smell of fire until things warmed up and the whole environment changed.
David: As a company, and our company policy is that we work independently of insurance companies and adjusters and everybody else. So we show up to a fire and maybe that adjuster has already got a relationship with his preferred vendor, his preferred contractor, and that can become a thing real quick. Just to give you an example of a story, the preferred vendor and the preferred contractor, the adjuster told one of my clients, “Hey, this is $3500 worth of cleaning, painting and so on, so forth. Our construction manager went out there and said, “No way. This is a way bigger deal than that.” We found $15,000 worth of stuff, including all new cabinets, painting the entire house. So again, had that person been willing just to work with that program contractor, they would have been in their program, they would’ve got $3500 worth of work done and that would’ve been the end of it. And that’s not the way we do business. We’re very independent of that, we take a lot of pride in that.
S1: So everybody can find you at 24restore.com. Read all the reviews. Yeah, I mean, hey, listen. Don’t listen to what I have to say. Listen to what other people have to say about me. I think that’s the most important thing.
Jesse: The insurance policy reads that you must bring the homeowners home back to like, kind and quality. Oftentimes, we feel that there’s adjusters that come in and they wanna bring your home back to kinda like quality. And we really just pride ourselves on standing firm and saying, “You know what, it’s always right to do what’s right,” and we are going to do whatever we can as long as the homeowner and the adjuster are acting in good faith to bring this home back to like, kind and quality, ’cause that’s exactly what it says right in your homeowner’s policy.
BO: Awesome. Thanks Jesse, thanks David. I think we’re gonna put a wrap on today’s episode. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. Thank you so much for listening. Check out 24 Restore Online if you ever run into any troubles and we will catch you next time. Thanks everybody.