Renovation & Design

MIKE HOLMES: Call the pros for a flood rebuild

Postmedia/Qualified professionals should do flood cleanup, especially when mould is present.

With all the extreme weather lately, flooding is on a lot of people's minds.

I've been visiting flood zones in Alberta to help with the recovery, but flooding isn't always Mother Nature's fault.

A drain can back up, the sump pump could stop working or a pipe can burst. Or, just leaving a tap on and forgetting about it could cause a flood. And where does that water end up? In your basement.

In the past, when basements were left unfinished, a flood wouldn't be so devastating. You drain the water, replace anything that was damaged -- which wasn't much since there weren't any finished floors and walls to worry about -- decontaminate the area and then let the space dry out. But today, things are different.

If you have a basement, it's most likely finished or you want it finished. And if you ever have a flood, or even a leak, a finished basement can turn a bad situation into a nightmare.

Being quick to rip everything out and replace it sets you up for bigger problems -- and expenses -- down the road.

Before you start rebuilding your basement, make sure you resolve the source of the flooding and ensure your basement is completely dry.

Mould is a huge safety hazard. If you don't clean it properly, mould spores can become airborne, contaminate other areas and end up in your lungs. That's why you hire only qualified professionals for the cleanup and rebuild.

For example, a professional company can remove all the water and saturated contents from your basement, and decontaminate the space. Floodwater often contains backed-up sewage. Make sure everything is free of bacteria before rebuilding.

If your electrical panel was under water it needs to be replaced -- every receptacle and switch. Any corrosion in your home's electrical panel can lead to fire safety issues. A licensed electrical contractor must examine your home and sign off on it before the electricity can be turned back on.

Also, get rid of all the flooring in your basement, including the subfloor, along with damaged drywall and insulation.

Most contractors will remove only one foot of drywall above the flood line. But moisture can creep up behind the surface. I'd rather have it all removed and replaced. Then let the wall cavity completely dry before you install new insulation and drywall. A moisture meter can tell you when it's dry enough to start rebuilding.

Before you do, call your insurance adjuster and explain the situation and what you need. You might want a structural review depending on the severity of the flooding. Hire mould-remediation contractors and make sure your indoor air is safe. An IAQ (indoor air quality) meter, measures spore counts in your home -- something every flood victim should know.

Patience is key when it comes to rebuilding, especially after a flood. Take your time and do it right, or you'll be paying for it again and again.

-- Postmedia News

Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit



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