Don’t Buy a House That Caught on Fire Before You Read This

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 20, 2024

If you’re in the market for a real estate bargain, it’s hard to resist buying a house that caught on fire. Low selling prices make you wonder just how undervalued these properties might be. Whether you’re buying to flip or scouting a new home, saving money always makes sense.

When you’re looking at fire-damaged homes, are you considering all the potential problems and solutions?

Repair and reconstruction costs add up quickly in a fire-damaged property, but you’ll often find room for a solid ROI too. Go into the project with a clear overview of what to expect. Be sure you’re ready to make the investment.

10 Things to Look for If You’re Buying a House with Previous Fire Damage

fire damaged kitchen

Buying a house renovated after a fire can be a smart investment. Start by finding out as much as possible about the fire. How long ago did it occur? How much of the property was affected? Have there been any repairs?

Arrange for a home inspection professional to examine the property. Spend the day with the technician as he or she assesses the house, and be on the lookout for these 10 fire-damage problems.

1. Cracks in Exterior Materials

Intense heat generated during a house fire can crack exterior brick walls and veneers. The damage allows moisture to seep into wood framing, drywall and insulation. Plan on sealing exterior wall cracks, replacing water-damaged materials and addressing mold growth.

2. Damp Basement Walls

It’s not unusual for a basement to take on water during a home fire. Damp basement walls can be a source of mold in fire-damaged properties. Allow extra renovation time for drying the downstairs, and arrange for professional mold removal and remediation services.

3. Extensive Structural Damage

If you think the fire affected load bearing walls, don’t take any chances. Have the house inspected by a structural engineer. Badly fire-damaged homes often need framing, floor joist and roof truss reconstruction. Part of your investment in the property might have to cover its structural integrity.

4. Warped Frames, Floors and Trim

Putting out a large residential fire soaks interior wood surfaces. The resulting water damage warps window and door frames, buckles floors and twists trim. In most cases, warped wood requires tear-out and replacement.

5. Hidden Plumbing Damage

Extreme heat generated during a home fire can damage soldering on copper plumbing and melt PVC pipes. These hidden problems show up as damp spots, stains and mold on drywall. It’s always a good idea to have the house checked inside and out by an experienced plumber.

6. Dangerous Electrical Wiring

During a residential fire, electrical wiring, fuse boxes and circuits burn and short out. High temperatures scorch switches and plug outlets. Make sure the property is safe from electrical hazards by bringing in a licensed electrician.

7. Contaminated Duct Work

First responders extinguish fires with a combination of water and chemicals. When these compounds contaminate a home’s duct work, interior air quality becomes compromised. Professional duct cleaning ensures a healthier environment throughout the entire house.

8. Asbestos in Older Homes

Typically, home inspectors don’t test a property for asbestos. However, it’s smart to arrange for testing in fire-damaged houses built before 1980. The material must be removed by asbestos abatement technicians.

9. Soot, Smoke Stains and Odors

It’s hard to take care of this type of fire damage with DIY techniques. Soot exposure can cause serious health issues. Smoke stains are difficult to remove, and untreated odors linger indefinitely. An experienced restoration contractor addresses all three problems.

10. Toxic Black Mold

Water damage resulting from a fire creates ideal conditions for a mold outbreak. Unhealthy fungal growth quickly invades damp walls and moist crawl spaces. Toxic black mold thrives in these conditions and spreads airborne spores throughout the property. Leave mold testing and removal to certified mold remediation specialists.

Buying a House with Previous Fire Damage in Chicago? We Can Help.

With a little time and money, a fire-damaged house can become your new dream home. You might decide to fix it up and turn it into a residential property with solid earning potential. Whether you live in it, rent it or flip it, the success of your investment depends on expert renovation services. We’re here to help.

As the city’s most trusted restoration contractor, we handle large and small residential fire restoration projects in Chicago and the suburbs. From floors to ceilings and basements to air ducts, we take care of everything. Just give us a call here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.