When my husband and I bought our first home, the first thing that came to mind after we held our new keys was that we were now responsible for an entire building. If anything went wrong, resolving it would no longer involve a call to the front desk of an apartment complex. We were our own front desk and maintenance department.

We have been very lucky and have not experienced any major home disasters (so far, knock on wood), but we are in the minority. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 97 percent of home insurance claims made in 2016 were related to property damage.

So, if you arrive home to find that your water heater failed and flooded your basement while you were away, or if an unattended pan catches fire and damages the cabinets surrounding the stove, what do you do?

Your first call should be to a disaster restoration company. And if you live in the Atlanta metro area, you can’t go wrong with a call to All South Restoration and Remodeling.

Established in 1999 by Mark McClure and David Abbey, All South Restoration and Remodeling has nearly 20 years of experience helping Atlanta homeowners restore their homes and their peace of mind following major disasters. And to make their services even more comprehensive, All South also offers general contracting work, managing residential remodels and renovations.

I sat down with Mark and David to learn more about the company’s early days and what they do differently than others in the industry. Scroll to the end for their best advice on how to avoid major home disasters!

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All South Restoration’s Beginnings

Mark’s background in insurance and David’s experience in home inspections make them uniquely suited to the disaster restoration industry. In fact, the company got its start when David’s house flooded, prompting him to call the dehumidification and drying company operated by Mark and his family.

Once their 3 a.m. adventure was under control, Mark and David began discussions about starting their own company.

All South has remained a small business through its tenure, and Mark and David prefer it that way. “We are loving having a small business,” Mark says.

“We get to have better customer contact this way, and we don’t have levels of bureaucracy where we’re just looking at a smaller part of the business. By being owners of a small business, we feel every level of it—from the initial customer contacts all the way to final billing,” David adds.

Both owners genuinely enjoy the home restoration and construction industry, too, which makes coming to work every day a little less like work.

“Every day is a different challenge,” David notes. “It’s not the same thing every day, and each job has its own new challenge to overcome and figure out the solution to.”

Creating Reliable Teams

bathroom before and after disaster restorationEvery business runs better with reliable, conscientious employees, but the construction and restoration industries are especially dependent on timely team members. “Reliability is key. One person can throw your whole schedule off because he may not realize how he’s affecting the next three [people] coming in [to do work],” David says.

Restoration and reconstruction work following a flood or other catastrophe rarely involves just one type of service. The supply hose to your washing machine may have failed, for example, but a plumber won’t be able to fix all the damage caused by the water.

Instead, you’ll need the help of at least four (and possibly five) contractors: a drywall expert, a flooring contractor, a painter, and a plumber (and perhaps an electrician).

Sound a little overwhelming? It is! And that’s why companies like All South are so important.

Mark and David know how to coordinate the different trades on every one of the 20 to 30 jobs their company handles at one time, but in order for all of the jobs to go as planned, everyone must stick to the schedule. If the drywall crew arrives before the electrician, for example, an entire job can be thrown off schedule.

To avoid these types of problems, Mark and David work with tradespeople they know and trust. “We’ve found it’s best to partner up with longstanding vendors that we can work with year in and year out,” David says. “We get to know their business, and they get to know ours.”

Standing Out in the Crowd of Fire and Water Damage Restoration Companies

With water damage restoration and more general damage restoration services such a necessity in every community, disaster restoration companies aren’t too difficult to find. The challenge is finding a reputable firm that will respond promptly, do the work correctly, and stick around until you’re completely happy with the job.

This commitment to high-quality work and unmatched customer service is where All South sets itself apart from competitors. “One of the keys to our success is that we’re owner operated, in the truest sense,” David notes.

David and Mark have intentionally kept the company small so that they can be involved in every job to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that the customer is happy.

“We have kept our size, scale, and scope manageable, so problems don’t roll and grow out of proportion. We stay in touch with our customers, our employees, and our vendors—we have our hands in every job,” David adds.

Avoiding Home Disasters: Advice from the Experts

living room before and after disaster restorationOwning a home involves a lot of upkeep. Home automation systems can make the process easier, but keeping your house in good shape is never going to be a completely hands-off job.

And even when you maintain your home meticulously, accidents do happen. As Mark and David reminded me, “It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.” The important thing to remember is that these hiccups don’t have to be catastrophes.

Here are Mark’s and David’s recommendations for how to avoid major disasters at home (and what to do if they occur):

1. Don’t skimp on home insurance coverage.

If you have a mortgage, you most likely don’t have too many options about the extent of your home insurance coverage. If you’re tempted to try to reduce the coverage at any point, however, don’t.

“You need to be prepared—you need to have the coverage in place [before anything happens],” Mark says. “And you need to know what your policy covers and what it doesn’t cover.”

Read your policy thoroughly, and contact your insurance agent with any questions you have. You might be surprised by the small details your policy stipulates, especially regarding your liability and the types of work you can expect your insurance company to cover.

2. Prioritize home maintenance tasks.

Procrastinating on regular maintenance tasks around the house is easy—and almost everyone does it to an extent. But don’t let things get out of hand. “A lot of the stuff we see is due to lack of maintenance, and if it’s a lack of maintenance, then you run into insurance questions as well,” Mark notes.

Remember that your home insurance carrier has a vested interest in the condition of your house. When you notice issues that need to be fixed—an area of damaged roofing, for example, or a water heater that has surpassed its predicted lifespan—don’t put off the necessary repairs.

If your roof develops a catastrophic leak or your water heater fails and floods your basement, your insurance carrier could refuse to pay the claim because of your negligence in fixing the problems when you first noticed them.

3. Look to the experts for help with home disasters.

Saving a few dollars by DIYing around the house is tempting, but when it comes to cleaning up after flood, fire, or storm damage, let a qualified, experienced restoration company take the reins.

“You’re going to have a better experience with a restoration company that can assist you with the claims process,” Mark says. “A lot of times, a builder who can do the same type of repair doesn’t have the inside knowledge, doesn’t have the estimating software, doesn’t have the pricing knowledge of working with an insurance company.”

Insurance companies are not the simplest organizations to deal with, but disaster restoration companies know how to navigate them. And with a company that doubles as a general contractor, like All South, you’ll also get top-quality construction. Make sure you get the best, most knowledgeable help to process your claim and return your house to the home you love.

The Bottom Line

Home disasters are incredibly stressful, but they aren’t that unusual. The important thing to remember is that when a problem occurs, you’re not alone. If you’re in the Atlanta area, call All South (and if you’re not, call a reputable disaster restoration company near you).

Your home insurance company can help too, but that part will be easier with an experienced contractor working with you to get the immediate damage under control. And be sure to keep these important recommendations in mind:

  1. Know the details of your home insurance policy, and don’t reduce your coverage without talking to your agent.
  2. Stay on top of home maintenance tasks—even the seemingly small jobs, like fixing damaged shingles here and there or having a noisy furnace checked out.
  3. Don’t try to DIY the cleanup and restoration in the aftermath of a home disaster. You’ll likely do more harm than good. Let the experts do their jobs.

All South Restoration and Remodeling is a Water Damage & Mold Remediation Best Pick in Atlanta. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.