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Flood victims can invite Builder to insurance assessment

11 February 2019

faster, accurate insurance assessment for flood affected

As if the emotional and financial toll of the initial monsoon and resulting flooding was not enough, thousands of Townsville residents are now facing the stress and uncertainty of the insurance process.


This is an unprecedented event and we are all continually learning how to best navigate the recovery from this disaster. The sooner our residents can return to their homes and lives, the faster our city will get back on track. 

Martin and MLH team are focusing on assisting our clients and family network before taking on jobs throughout the wider community, so as to ensure we have the adequate capacity to provide the highest quality and timely remedial work.

However, we can share some helpful learnings from our experiences so far which other Residents, Builders and Trades may be able to benefit from.

Due to there being so many variables from case to case, it would be greatly appreciated if others would also share their experiences for the greater good.

1. invite your builder to the insurance assessment 

It is absolutely your right to contact a trusted Builder or professional trade to be on site with you at the time of assessment. Martin has been personally attending with the Assessor and says so far, his experiences have been positive, and the insurance companies have been greatly appreciative also.

Having an experienced, knowledgeable person you trust on site a the time of assessment could save time down the track. It means the Assessor can develop an AGREED SCOPE OF WORKS which can then be used by the home owner to seek quotes from their preferred Builder.  Your insurer may also invite one of its builders to attend the assessment.

Having your builder attend doesn't necessarily mean they will undertake the work, but the agreed scope can then be used moving forward to ensure there are no hold-ups, contention over what is to be done, or differences between work one builder or trade is expecting to undertake compared to another.

Things to do ASAP:

  • Keep your policy & case details handy - your Insurer name and Claim Number.
  • Assessor details: Try and get the details of the Assessor who will be coming to site i.e. mobile number and email. Your builder can then touch base with them directly if required or in the event the assessor is running late.
  • Confirm the day and time you Assessor will attend if you haven't already.
  • Let your insurer know that you have a builder representative who will be in attendance with the Assessor. They should be very happy with this.
  • Ensure you have had your main electrical switch board attended to by a qualified electrician and a certificate provided.

2. two Stages For Recovery works

There are two distinguishable phases in the process:

Stage 1: Make Safe & Remove Bacteria    

It is imperative that this stage is carried out as soon as possible. We have seen an army of service personnel, residents and volunteer organisations rally to help with the initial clean out of mud and stripping out of furniture, but there may be more to do to fully make your property safe and remove any dangerous bacteria. MLH does not have the capacity to carry out this stage of works however, in the cases we have seen the Insurer's builder has been asked to complete these works immediately.

Tiles - pull them up or not???

The main area of contention so far with Stage 1 has been around whether the tiles should be replaced or not. In the MLH cases so far half of the insurers have said they will be putting that down immediately as part of the Stage 1 works. The other half have said they are awaiting instructions from higher authority

The QBCC has confirmed to us that wet area (bathroom/laundries) tiles 100% need to come up as waterproofing may be compromised.

In many cases though the tiles flow throughout the home, and if an insurer says to not pull up living area tiles, an issue of matching tiles will be a problem. There is also the issue of bacteria being through your home, as grout lines in particular are very porous.

Martin has found it beneficial to be there with the Assessor and discuss this with them at the time, again the main aim is to get an AGREED SCOPE OF WORKS. If your home has had contaminated water throughout, Martin believes they should be pulled up now.

Stage 2 – Renovation/Reinstatement of your home

The thing to remember here is that you do have a choice. When seeking quotes for your insurance work, we recommend checking the provider is a certified professional individual or business and that they are QBCC registered. 

We also believe you should do all you can to ask your insurance companies to use local trades and suppliers who share a sense of community. Also try and use the same builder who built your home, especially if it is still under warranty with that builder.  In situations like these, it may be the case that local businesses cannot take on the full load of recovery work, however we believe they should be offered first option of refusal if at all possible.  

It's also important that local builders and contractors don't take on too much work for them to handle. This not only impacts on their business but it will slow down our city's recovery and prevent our flood impacted families from returning to normal for longer.

Martin believes there must be a clear and ‘certified’ process from Stage 1 to Stage 2. Certificates from appropriate organisations will be needed to be produced from the Stage 1 contractor to the Stage 2 contractor (or to owner/insurance company if same builder) to ensure the moisture and bacteria levels are to the required levels PRIOR to any walls being re-sheeted or flooring put down.

In our recent experience the process is as follows:

  • The Assessor meets on site with your chosen builder representative and the insurer's builder representative.
  • The Assessor will draft a SCOPE OF WORKS which is then sent to the home owner to agree on.
  •  Once agreed, the insurance company builder/s will provide a quote/s to the insurance company.
  • At the same time the resident can seek their own quote from their preferred builder.
  • Should your preferred builder’s quote come in cheaper, the insurer will be looking to cut you a cheque and they are no longer involved. You then engage your preferred builder to complete the works.
  • If your preferred builder is more than the insurance company's builder, then you have a choice to make. Choice 1: You agree to accept a cheque for the amount of what the insurance company's builder's quote is, and you pay any difference up to what your preferred builder's quote is. Option 2: You go with the insurance company's builder and deal direct with them. It is unclear at this stage how pricing will compare, there has been feedback both ways so this is an area MLH will be keeping a close eye on.

Timeframe & Accommodation

For those who have rental assistance included as part of their insurance policy, it is highly recommended you look NOW for rental accommodation for the next six months.

The extent of the damage to homes, plus the increased demand on skilled tradespeople could mean you may need to vacate your home for an extended period of time, well in excess of one to two months. 

Depending on the works required to fully restore your home, there are stories of other cities that have experienced these same type of events taking over 12 months to complete home restorations.

This is especially true given that every home damaged requires tiling, plastering, painting, and custom joinery, these ‘finishing trades’ have a big shortage of high quality tradespeople and you do not want to settle for a second-grade finish of YOUR HOME.

Other Builders may be approaching this situation in a different way and if there is any further advice or updates to the information provided above Martin and the team will be happy to discuss.  

This recovery is about working together to find the fastest, most practical and most efficient way back from the devastation of the floods. 

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