No one ever expects the house next door to go up in flames. Your first concerns center on the safety of your neighbors and their property, but you worry about your own home too.
It can all happen so fast. The first responders do their job, the fire is extinguished, and everyone’s in good shape. That sense of relief is so welcome, but it doesn’t last.
As things settle down, you begin to wonder, “Has the neighbor’s house fire damaged my house?”
It’s a disturbing situation that impacts property owners more often than you might think.
As Chicago’s leading fire damage restoration company, we’re positioned to share important information that can help you be prepared for this homeowner’s dilemma.
7 Signs Your Neighbor’s Fire Damaged Your Home
On average, fire departments across the country respond to a call every 23 seconds. Damages total more than $15 billion a year, but that doesn’t take into account damages to adjacent properties.
If a fire breaks out at the neighbor’s house, you want to be sure it hasn’t affected your home. Over the next several days, check your property for these signs of damage resulting from the fire next door.
1. Fire Damage on the Roof
Airborne embers and debris from a nearby fire can cause extensive damage to your home’s roof. Inspect it for scorched shingles, warped flashing and loose vents.
2. Foundation and Basement Flooding
The volume of water necessary to extinguish a house fire can quickly flood surrounding yards. Check your basement for signs of damage from heavy runoff.
3. Exterior Siding Damage
Be on the lookout for exterior wall problems, including warped vinyl or blackened wood siding, cracked stucco and any other water-damaged materials.
4. Fire-Damaged Windows
Discolored glass can indicate exposure to extreme heat. Check window panes for cracks and frames for blistered wood, melted vinyl or damaged hardware.
5. Exterior Plumbing Problems
Plumbing pipes and components are also vulnerable to the intense heat generated by a house fire. Inspect the condition of exterior fixtures, including lawn sprinkler systems.
6. Your Home’s Structural Integrity
Heat transferred from a nearby blaze can affect iron and steel structural components in your home. Check attics and basements for potential problems.
7. Lingering Odors
The soot and smoke damage from a neighbor’s fire often spreads airborne contamination to surrounding properties.
Unpleasant odors throughout your house indicate this type of secondary damage.
Who Pays When Your Neighbor’s Fire Damages Your Home?
You know the soaked exterior and scorched shingles on your home are a direct result of the fire at the neighbor’s house.
You may wonder who’s considered liable for those damages. In most cases, your neighbor is considered responsible.
Check your homeowners insurance policy.
It should cover information about accidental property damages caused by another party, including:
- Secondary damages
- General liability limits
- Specifics about smoke and soot damage
- Temporary loss of residence due to fire damages
How Do I Address Damages to My Home Resulting From the Fire Next Door?
When a neighbor’s house fire leaves behind problems on your side of the property line, you need to take action. Most neighbors want to do the right thing, so start with a positive attitude. These steps can be a big help.
1. Call Your Insurance Company
Outline what happened, and include as many details as possible. Share any contact information you have for the individuals next door.
Express your concerns about liability issues, and ask your agent for directions. He or she should arrange an adjuster’s inspection right away.
2. Talk to the Neighbors
The neighbors are dealing with a different set of problems, but inform them of the damages to your home.
Tell them that you’ve spoken to your insurer and that you both need to confirm and exchange current contact information between your carrier and theirs.
3. Call Fire Damage Restoration Professionals
Secondary fire damages quickly spread through a property, so call an experienced, industry-certified restoration company as soon as possible.
For example, our teams here at ServiceMaster by Zaba can be at your door within 90 minutes to assess the situation and develop a plan for addressing your home’s fire damages, including interior smoke odors and soot contamination.
4. Follow Up With Documentation
Document the fire damage to your home, but also include pictures of the property next door where the fire originated. Save all receipts for repairs and replacements made necessary by the fire.
5. Let the Insurance Companies Handle Liability
In most cases, each party is represented by their insurance company as well as each agency’s legal team.
Your insurer should be able to work out a satisfactory settlement so that you’re compensated fairly for fire damages resulting from the neighbor’s house fire.
Has Your Neighbor’s Fire Damaged Your Property in Chicago, IL or the Suburbs? We Can Help!
It’s difficult to deal with property damage after a house fire. It’s even harder when you have to consider liability issues and navigate the insurance process. You don’t have to do it by yourself.
Our staff works with insurance agencies all across the city, so we understand the details that develop with different circumstances. We’re also Chicago’s leading fire damage restoration professionals.