How to Handle Water Damage Caused by Contractor Work

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 25, 2024

You’re happy with the contractor’s progress on your home improvement project. Repairs look solid, and new work meets your approval. Just when you’re ready to call the job a success, you realize the contractor caused water damage.

What do you do when a contractor damages your house? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, will you be ready?

How Can a Contractor Cause Water Damage?

water damage behind wall

Let’s start with the good news. The majority of contractors do a great job. From plumbers and roofers to general contractors, they earn professional respect and customer loyalty.

There is some bad news. On occasion, the work isn’t done properly and results in property damage. These are a few examples of the countless things that can go wrong.

• The roofer’s crew falls behind schedule and tries to rush the job. Their poor workmanship leaves you with badly installed shingles and a leaking roof.

• The HVAC contractor misses pinholes in your air conditioner’s drip pan. By the time you see water seeping through the ceiling, your attic is a soggy mess.

• The plumber doesn’t properly connect your dishwasher’s intake hose. It leaks overnight, and the resulting damage goes all the way down into your basement.

If you’re lucky, you spot water damage before it spreads. Unfortunately, it often goes unnoticed until you see damp spots in walls, bulging ceiling tiles or soaked cabinets under the sink.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage Caused by a Contractor?

Whether the water damage is sudden and accidental or doesn’t appear right away, your home insurance should cover cleanup, repairs and restoration. If you’re not sure about your insurance policy, check it now.

Talk with your agent about coverage limits. Ask for details on exactly what type of water damage is covered. In most cases, your policy should cover damages resulting from a contractor’s work.

How Do I Handle Damage Caused by a Contractor?

Most homeowners want to start cleanup as soon as they see water damage. It’s important to address the water source and make sure affected areas are safe. However, this type of property damage requires more than general cleaning.

1. Start With Your Insurance Company

Call your agent, and explain the problem. Give him or her the contractor’s contact information. If you haven’t worked with an IICRC-certified restoration company in the past, ask your agent to recommend someone experienced with the water damage inspection process.

2. Call the Contractor

Call your contractor, and explain that you’ve already talked to your insurance company. Ask the contractor to reach out to his or her insurance carrier too.

With both insurers involved, you have a better chance of addressing gradual damage that might show up later like mold in the walls or subflooring problems.

3. Keep Cleanup to a Minimum

It’s important for your insurance adjuster and restoration contractor to see the extent of your property’s water damage. Leave as much in place as possible until the adjuster and restorations teams have made on-site assessments.

I’m a Contractor Who Caused Water Damage, Now I’m being Sued

As an independent contractor, liability insurance is a critical investment. Things can go wrong on the job leaving you in a vulnerable position. Often, an unhappy customer can be open to working through his or her insurance company and yours to address damages instead of filing a lawsuit.

Ideally, you want to work things out before a client takes you to court. If that’s not possible, let a lawyer handle the situation. He or she can help you understand the filed complaint and the extent of your liability.

Always respond to court filings by designated deadlines. You may have to produce documentation pertaining to the original project. You may be required to give a deposition. Discuss your position with your attorney, listen to his or her advice, and try to work on a settlement out of court.

As a Homeowner, How Can I Protect Myself?

Your house is more than a real estate investment. It’s your home. You do all you can to protect it. Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with water damage caused by a contractor.

These simple steps can give you real peace of mind before your next home improvement project.

• Check a contractor’s reputation online and through friends and neighbors.

• Ask if he or she carries contractor liability insurance as well as workman’s compensation insurance.

• Verify information through state licensing boards or the Better Business Bureau.

• Review your homeowners insurance at least once a year, and update water damage coverage as needed.

• Partner with an experienced restoration contractor who knows how to navigate the insurance claims process.

We’re on Your Side

Over the years, we’ve helped Chicago homeowners deal with all types of water damage. When it’s the result of a bad experience with a contractor, the situation can be very frustrating.

chicago contractor
At ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, our team works with the utmost care and attention to address water damage.

We’re here for you with our restoration expertise, and we’re ready to help with your insurance claim too. When you call ServiceMaster by Zaba, you have the city’s best on your side. We’re just a phone call away at 773-647-1985.