Fire Damage Recovery Cost

In this guide

Procedure
Types of fire
Extent of the damage
Extinguishing method
Restoration solutions
Costs
Enhancements
Additional Considerations

How much does it cost to recover from fire damage?

Fire and smoke recovery after a house fire can be a stressful process. It’s essential to have an idea of what it entails and the costs involved in the process to ensure it gets done properly, as well as efficiently as possible.

Fire damage recovery projects are complex jobs that require specialized professionals to get your home back to its original state, and therefore can’t be done as DIY projects. The total fire damage recovery cost depends on the extent and location of the damage, and ranges from as low as $800 to as high as $12,000, or more. However, the majority of Americans spend an average of $4,000 for home fire recovery. Insurance coverage also reduces the out-of-pocket amount that a homeowner pays for fire damage recovery.

Procedure

When a fire occurs in your home, or a section of your home, it is advisable to ensure the safety of anyone in or around the area first before calling for assistance from your local fire department. Acting quickly can help minimize the amount of damage by allowing the firemen to get to the sight as soon as possible.

Once the fire is over, your insurance adjuster will need to take photographs of the damage before you can move or clean anything. The photographs will be used to evaluate the extent of the loss incurred for compensation. However, ventilation can help to draw smoke and dust out before any cleaning is done.

Once fire and smoke damage to a home has been reported, and claims issues have been discussed with the insurance company, the restoration of the home may begin. This is usually done by a fire restoration company. A representative typically inspects the premises to establish the type and extent of the damages and determine how much cleaning and restoration is needed before they begin.

Types of fire

Home fires fall into two categories:

  • Simple fires: these are fires that burn pure fuels such as dry grass to produce complete combustion. They produce smoke with relatively low amounts of soot.
  • Complex fires: these fires are more aggressive and consume complex fuels such as synthetic materials. They can result in incomplete combustion, producing smoke with a lot of soot. These are the most common types of fires in homes.

Restoration costs depend heavily on the type of smoke damage, which should be determined before the commencement of the clean-up.

Extent of the damage

A home that has been damaged by fire and smoke over a large area costs more to restore, while a home where fire and smoke damage was restricted to a small part costs much less. Once fire and smoke damage has occurred, the restoration process needs to start as soon as possible, as in some cases water used to put out the fire may lead to further damage if left alone too long.

Extinguishing method

The cost of fire damage recovery is also affected by the method of fire extinguishing employed, as they also cause mild to severe destruction in the process. Water from hoses soak materials and destroy walls, but its damage can be reduced by up to 90% if sprinklers are used. Other methods such as chemical extinguishers cause deposition of toxic residues on objects that need to be cleaned. Fire extinguishers which normally use carbon dioxide are available for around $200-$500, and cause the least damage as they don’t have leave residue, while also being less toxic.

Restoration solutions

There are several damages associated with a home fire for which restoration is required. The table below shows the common damages, causes, solutions, and their associated costs:

Type of DamageCausesProblemsSolutionsCosts
Fire damageFire

Burnt down parts

of home

Structural repairs and replacements

$2,000 -$5,000
Water damage

Water mist extinguishers

Extinguishing water sprinklers

Soaked carpet

Dry walls

Other materials

Dehumidification

Structural dying

Deodorization

$1,000 -$4,000
Smoke and soot damageFire

Soot on surfaces and materials

Soot-removal film

Air duct cleaning

Odor removal

Structural repairs and replacements

$2,000 -$6,000
Chemical damagesFire extinguishers

Chemical residues on surfaces and materials

Contaminated interior air

Ozone treatment

Application of chemical sealers and additives

$1,000 -$2,500

Costs

  • According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the average cost of fire damage recovery in a house without fire sprinklers is $45,110 and $2,170 with sprinklers, with factors like type of the fire, size, duration of the fire, and value of home being even.
  • The cost of rebuilding, cleaning up, and deodorizing a single-family home (1,500 sq.ft.) after a fire ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 by a restoration company. This cost covers a fairly straightforward restoration within a limited area. More extensive damages by kitchen fires might require extensive rebuilding and cost around $10,000-$30,000 for average kitchens and $50,000-$70,000 or more for upscale kitchens with custom countertops and cabinets. Restoration costs depend on the method used to extinguish fire (whether chemical or water); how hot the fire was, as well as its duration; what kind of materials it burned; amount and acidity of ensuing soot, the type of objects in need of cleaning (floors, drapes, walls, and countertops) and how they were affected by soot.
  • Fire damage falls under homeowners' insurance, but the value of claim depends on the terms of each individual insurance contract. If the policy covers the “face value” of the home, the insurance company compensates the homeowner only up to the original value of the damaged or lost item. Homeowners can be compensated for the cost of repair/restoration of salvageable, damaged goods or parts of the home, or the cost of replacement of completely lost items.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Sprinkler system 1

Home fire sprinklers can reduce the destruction potential of a home fire by up to 90%, which in turn may reduce your homeowners’ insurance premiums. They work by preventing the fire’s spread to other parts of the home by spraying it with water. They also lower the water usage in putting the fire out as they use 8.5 times less water than conventional fire horse reels. Nationally, on average the cost of installing home fire sprinkler systems is $1.61 per square foot of space under sprinkler.

Smoke detectors

Smoke detectors 2 trigger alarms that alert occupants of a fire to escape safely. There are two basic types of smoke detectors 2; Ionization smoke detectors 2 which use a small amount of Americium-241 in a chamber to detect smoke and cost $15-$60, and photoelectric smoke detectors 2 designed with a light-sensitive, electric sensor 2 costing $20-$80. A qualified $65-$85 electrician can install any of the smoke detectors 2 in around one hour for.

Fire extinguisher

Fire extinguishers help in fighting fire before the fire department arrives and can help reduce destruction. Multi-use home kits cost $35-$75 with no additional installation cost.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Ideal periods for starting restoration exist for two reasons:
    • Starting the restoration process early enough saves you further costs arising from things like stains forming on items.
    • However, you also need time to let the dust and smoke settle to avoid respiratory problems.
  • 24-48 hours after a fire are referred to as “the golden hours” within which restoration can be done.
  • Forest or wildfire may affect nearby homes with smoke and ash. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) outlines these guidelines for the appropriate restoration.
  • Several costs may arise as a result of wildfires passing near your home including: costs of alternative accommodation elsewhere until authorities say it is safe to return to your home, varying from few hundred dollars to over $1,000 or more depending on size of the family and the duration of fire.
  • Other costs can arise from paying someone to keep a “fire watch” for several hours after a fire. His work is to check and re-check for sparks, smoke and hidden embers anywhere in and on the house. However, the owners can do this by themselves and save from $20 to $50 per hour.
  • When returning to the house after a fire, occupants are advised to wear masks like the ones that a painter would use to avoid breathing dust and smoke particles.
  • Some improvements to a home can deter fire spread and destruction thus reducing the cost of fire damage recovery. This includes clearing all combustible vegetation within a distance of 30 ft. from the house.
  • It is not advisable to attempt to clean carpets, draperies, upholstered furniture, or other textile household goods as this will only smear them with soot and spoil them further.
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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Sprinkler system: Set of equipment used to irrigate lawns
2 Detectors: (Also known as Sensor) Device that responds to a physical event or change in the environment by emitting an output signal

Cost to recover from fire damage varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Altamont, KS
-20%
Arlington, TX
+6%
Athens, GA
-9%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bellevue, WA
+13%
Belvidere, IL
+18%
Bethlehem, PA
+12%
Bloomington, IN
-4%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Cambridge, MA
+40%
Carrollton, TX
+14%
Cherry Hill, NJ
+21%
Chesapeake, VA
-6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Corpus Christi, TX
+4%
Covington, GA
-12%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Dearborn, MI
+16%
District Heights, MD
+16%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Myers, FL
-7%
Frankfort, IL
+25%
Frederick, OK
-55%
Glendale, AZ
-2%
Hillsboro, OR
+15%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntington Beach, CA
+24%
Jacksonville, NC
-35%
Lebanon, MO
-48%
Little Rock, AR
0%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Matthews, NC
-4%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Mission, KS
+16%
Myrtle Beach, SC
-22%
Oroville, CA
-14%
Panama City, FL
-20%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Portsmouth, VA
-2%
Revere, MA
+36%
Rio Rancho, NM
-15%
Round Lake, IL
+36%
San Diego, CA
+11%
San Jose, CA
+33%
Sarasota, FL
-8%
Seattle, WA
+9%
Smyrna, GA
+10%

Labor cost in your zip code

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Methodology and sources