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Water, fire, smoke, or mold damage? You may need a certified restorer

Choosing the correct specialist to fix a problem is just as important for your house as it is for your health.

Certified restorers are trained to handle the worst disasters. If your house suffers damage from a flood or fire, water damage from wind and storm events, or a burst pipe that ruins a finished basement, you may want to hire an expert.

Certified restorers specialize in repairing homes that have suffered water damage, sewage backflows and fire damage. They are trained to properly clean up your house, possessions and furnishings – as well as remove mold and odors. Because of their continuously upgraded level of training, certified restorers are able to handle damage to a wide variety of materials, according to the National Institute of Disaster Restoration (NIDR), a member group of the Restoration Industry Association (RIA).

Who you gonna call?

The NIDR is an authority on the restoration of residential and commercial property after damage from fire, smoke and other disasters. Members adhere to code of ethics and stay abreast of the latest technology in the industry, providing expertise for the restoration of valuable contents and structures, in addition to professional cleaning of carpet, rugs, upholstery and window coverings.

The RIA and The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) both issue certifications to home restorers. Candidates must have a minimum of three years experience with damage-restoration work. They also must be of "good character" and have a good credit history. Good character is determined through a criminal background check, references and comments sent by other restorers.

Perhaps the most important step in the certification is their promise to adhere to a code of ethics. While the codes of the ASCR and the IICRC differ a bit, the intent is the same: Make the best repairs possible at a fair price.

To keep the certification active, a restorer must take classes to keep current with new trends and technologies.

Certified restorers and insurance companies

While home insurance companies usually don't have formal relationships with certified restorers — in some states they are prohibited from having any relationship — claims adjusters often have a good idea of who they are and what they do. But rather than relying on your insurance claims adjuster, be your own advocate in requesting a certified restorer if your home suffers significant damage.

Something else to keep in mind is that certified restorers are impartial in insurance claims. They aren't an advocate for the insurance company or the property owner. Instead, they provide an independent opinion on the work that needs to be done.

You can find a certified restorer in your area through the IICRC's Web site.

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