Under normal circumstances, your yard looks gorgeous, but a recent storm knocked down tree limbs and that lovely oak onto which you installed a tire swing. Now, you need to make repairs because you can’t let tree damage to roof and yard go, or it will develop into worse damage.
Don’t worry because this guide walks you through the needed steps to accomplish your home repair goals. Count on this guide to help you make it through the repair process from the 911 call you need to make to the final landscaping touches that restore your yard’s beauty. Let’s start with the moment the tree falls.
Call Emergency Services
Before you dial up local tree services, dial 911 to report the tree damage to the roof and yard. Note where the tree fell and if it took down any power lines. Also, note if the tree’s remnants stand near any power lines.
If you suffer tree damage to roof and it extends to the power lines, 911 will typically have you also report the downed tree and electrical lines to the appropriate utility department. While 911 responds if people become injured when the tree falls, the utility company deals with the live wires and restores the power. Some utilities will trim the remaining branches to ensure they don’t touch the house or the electrical lines anymore.
Scope Out the Damage
After your two emergency services calls, you need to determine the extent of the tree damage to roof and home. If the tree merely dropped branches or limbs onto your roof, you may only need local tree removal. If it penetrates the roof, you need to relocate to a safe place after snapping a few photos and phoning your homeowner’s insurance agent. Renters should phone their landlord to let them know they need to contact their home insurance, then contact their renter’s insurance agency if their property inside the home becomes damaged.
Read any home or renter’s insurance policy you purchased well before any storm hits. You need to know your coverage because some policies provide for roof and yard repair, personal property damage, and an emergency place to stay. Some policies even provide you with per diem for food. If you choose the barebones policy when insurance shopping, you could find yourself paying out of pocket for a lot of items, so compare rates and coverage to get the best deal.
Your insurance agent assigns an insurance adjuster to your case. This individual visits your home, usually within the first few days following the storm. Adjusters know damage and how much it costs to repair. If you can arrange it, have the professional tree services and roof repair services visit while the adjuster visits.
Adjusters sometimes try to reduce the amount that the insurer would pay, so having a professional repair technician there to point out damage and discuss repair needs can help you get a fair insurance payment for the tree damage to roof and yard.
Maintain Proper Maintenance
The above theoretical situation doesn’t need to happen. Every homeowner has options that can prevent tree damage to roof and yard. Think tree maintenance. Yes, your yard’s trees need love.
You don’t have to hug your trees, but hiring an arborist or tree trimmer to visit your home before storm season can remove dangerous situations from your landscape. Keeping trees trimmed and healthy reduces the danger they pose to your home. Having an arborist trim the branches near the power lines so they cannot fall on them and knock them down keeps everyone safer.
Have Trees Removed
As hard as it is to say goodbye, trees do get sick and die. When this happens, the tree may still stand in your yard, but rotting in place. Preserve the tree’s dignity and your curb appeal by calling an emergency tree service to remove it.
Try to walk your property at least once per week to examine and admire your trees. As goofy as that might sound, when you give them a weekly once over, you notice bugs, mold, or other fungal growths as soon as they spring up. That quick notice lets you hire an arborist to treat the sick tree, potentially saving it and stopping the spread of the problem to other trees.
Maybe you did not have time to remove problems in the yard and trim trees. Perhaps you read this article after the tree damage to roof and yard happened. Let’s consider your options among roofers local to you.
Review the quotes you obtained while meeting with repair crews. Use the quotes you gave to the insurance company to determine who to use. Most of these roof repair quotes probably cost about the same. If one comes in remarkably lower than the others, use a different company.
All labor for the trades costs about the same. Construction trades have unions that negotiate their pay. If one company provides you with a remarkably lower bid than all the others, they cut corners somewhere, and it has to come from materials. They legally must pay their union workers the union rate.
Bargain shop for rugs, drapes, even your kitchen table, but not your roof. If your insurance covers it, consider replacing the roof instead of having it repaired if it incurred severe damage. Choose a heartier material that stands up to rough weather. Consider copper or metal roofing, which last up to 50 years, a major improvement over asphalt shingles that last 15 years.
Call Window Companies
Every storm damage event differs. Perhaps your home also incurred tree damage to windows.
local window company. If so, consider this your opportunity to improve your home’s insulation and energy efficiency by installing double or triple-pane Low-E windows.
If your windows didn’t break and they’re of a newer design, consider contacting a glazer. These tradespeople install panes of glass to existing windows and doors. Only replacing the cracked or broken glass of a window saves you money.
Interior Damage to Your Home
Sometimes, a tree passes through the roof into the home. If this happens, quickly cover any items in the area with a tarp and get out of the house. After the roof undergoes repairs, you may need to have interior areas repaired. These repairs might include replacing drywall, flooring, ceiling tiles, or furnishings.
Water can enter a home when the roof gets damaged. This moisture causes damage to drywall that can erode the plaster’s strength. Mold and mildew can grow on the drywall. Once you have a solid roof again, hire a drywall contractor to remove the damaged wallboards and replace them with new ones.
A hole in the roof means rain inside the house. This leak causes water damage to the flooring, including warping, buckling, and rotting. In some cases, only the floor covering, such as tile or wood laminate needs replacing. In more serious instances, the subfloor also must undergo replacement.
Post-roof repair, decide how you want your ceiling to look. Perhaps you had it painted, but now want tiles. A talented drywall installer can help with these projects.
Repair Your Yard
Finally, you get to rebuild your lovely landscape. If your home escaped tree damage to roof, but sustained yard damage, we offer this section for you. Start by walking your yard and writing down all of the damage. You will need to show each item to the landscaping service you use for the cleanup and restoration.
Gardeners may want to pick up the loose limbs themselves. This activity can help you connect with your yard and garden and provide a sense of healing. Many of those who garden consider their plants in the same way others consider their pets, so storm damage creates a significant sense of loss for them. A prize rose bush or orchid grown from a cutting from their grandmother’s garden may have taken years to properly cultivate and thrive.
Incurring tree damage to roof or yard offers options for expansion. After completing the portion of the cleanup you want to do, refer back to your list of things to fix. Try to think of the storm cleanup and repairs as an opportunity for improvements. Add to the list any projects you have wanted to install or build but have not had time to do so.
Yard repair offers a time to install the mock moat you want next to the rock wall or a new, raised garden bed. Because storm repair often includes some earth moving, if you want a koi pond or fountain, explain this to the landscaper you hire. The right landscaping contractors can re-sod your yard, patch your garden wall, and build new hardscapes that connect areas of your yard and home in new ways.
Besides repairing tree damage to roof and yard, add the little touches to your landscape now that make you forget a storm ever happened. This beautification includes a deck, a climbing trellis for ivy or roses, and landscape lighting. Combine deck lights, yard lights, and hanging lights to create a sunny glow in your yard at night.
Tips on Choosing Tradespeople
In urban areas, you have many choices in tradespeople, but that may not be the case if you reside in a rural setting. Ideally, you check a roofer or landscaper’s education, certifications, and references. You may not have those options in a rural area where people do odd jobs to earn money for their hobby. They may or may not have done the work professionally, so rely on references more heavily and ask to see examples of their work.
What If You Lack Home Insurance?
Tree damage to roof can create a huge repair bill, and without insurance, a person pays out of pocket for the repairs. In the U.S., many agencies provide assistance to those without insurance with low incomes. Consider contacting any of the following government and non-government (NGO) agencies:
- Community Action Agency
- Habitat for Humanity
- Rebuilding America (formerly known as Christmas in April)
- Local churches.
Some locations of Habitat for Humanity provide home repairs along with building new homes. Rebuilding America repairs the homes of elderly and disabled low-income individuals. Community Action Agency does not directly repair homes. This quasi-government agency administers federal and state grant programs that assist low-income households with home repairs, home improvements, and food safety issues.
Local churches administer independent programs funded by their congregations and their affiliate denominations. You’re not limited to only contacting the church you attend. In many areas, churches share information about their programs, so one may refer you to another church that provides the type of program you need.
Some programs, like Rebuilding America, require participation by the charitable recipient. Although they provide professional tradespeople to work on homes, they also ask that any recipient of their services who can help on the work day does so. It also asks their family and friends to join the work crew. This process gets the family involved and allows them to learn new repair skills from professional tradespeople, which helps them make DIY future repairs.
What if you earn a middle income, but lack home insurance? How about if your insurance did not cover the damage because a peril that isn’t named in your policy caused it? You may still qualify for some federal programs to help with repairs. If you reside in a rural area, contact the local USDA extension office for information on agricultural and non-agricultural repair programs.
Otherwise, options for funding repairs include dipping into savings, taking out a loan, or putting it on your credit card. The USDA sometimes offers non-farm, low-interest loans. A home equity line of credit can provide quick funds, but you must pay it back like a loan, and you reduce the equity in your home until you do so.
Getting It All Done
Recovering from home damage from a fallen tree or limbs takes time. Expect to rough it for about two weeks before everything gets fixed. Stay in a hotel or motel in cases of severe damage. Start by getting the hole repaired, then move back into your home and finish other repairs.