How to Repair an Old House After a Fire

Correcting the damage of a house fire will require that you engage a builder to help assess the damage.
Inspect every crevice of the home's foundation, living areas and attic spaces. Never cover up damage, but strive to cut away all damaged wood and other materials before you begin renovation. Use the reconstruction as an opportunity to upgrade the home's wiring and other features. This type of major repair project requires hands-on assistance from experienced carpenters and other professionals.

Step 1

Hire a professional builder to be onsite as you inspect the damage. Ask your local fire department to assist as well. Your insurance company will have key personnel to work with you, since they will have criteria for paying for it. Gain an overview of how much damage will need repair and how far your budget or insurance coverage will stretch. A major repair is not a do-it-yourself project, but you should take on the responsibility of watching the work unfold. No one will watch after your interests more than you in such a project.

Step 2

Get a renovation building permit and talk with the power company about safety issues. A construction supervisor should oversee cutting away damage at each entryway. Never go inside and start removing walls or framework. Start by tearing off sections from the exterior. This may require having a contractor use a jackhammer, or even a bulldozer. Masonry siding may require nothing more than a sledgehammer and a crowbar. Hire workers to help you saw away minor pieces of charred wood or haul off debris, but leave major wall removal up to professionals. Hire a master carpenter to build both temporary and permanent support framework as you tear away burned materials.

Step 3

Examine the home’s foundation. Replace any foundational materials such as cinder blocks and concrete footings before you start to repair the living areas. Move into the interior of the house and inspect attic spaces above rooms. A master carpenter will need to build overhead support beams and side support beams in damaged load-bearing walls, which hold up the weight of the building.

Step 4

Repair the exterior of the house first. Replace all roofing materials and windows to protect the interior of the home from rain. Ask all building professionals involved to inspect the interior before you begin removing drywall, insulation and electrical wiring from burned areas. Pay a master carpenter to build wall framing, floor joists and attic support framework to replace burned materials. Offer to provide labor in installing drywall, painting or installing flooring if you are competent in those areas. Ask your insurance company if you can provide these services to save money. Every insurance agency works differently.

Step 5

Carve out room in your budget for a new breaker box and new wiring. Never leave old electrical materials in a home that has caught fire. Hire an electrician to replace all light fixtures and electrical outlets and reconnect all wiring. New roll-type fiberglass insulation will need to be placed in exterior wall framing and attic spaces. Reduce expenses by trying to salvage kitchen and bath fixtures and cabinetry, if your budget is tight. Pay professionals to do all upgraded electrical and plumbing connections.

Things You Will Need

  • Fire inspection
  • Insurance paperwork
  • Master carpenter
  • Licensed electrician
  • Construction supervisor
  • Hand saws
  • Various electric saws
  • Hacksaw for metal
  • Crowbar
  • Sledgehammer
  • New breaker box
  • New electrical wiring
  • Electric outlets
  • Light fixtures
  • Lumber boards
  • Plywood
  • Particle board sub-flooring
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Paint
  • Drywall
  • Joint compound
  • Wood flooring
  • Tile
  • Baseboard materials
  • Metal flashing
  • Bricks and stone
  • Cinder blocks
  • Mortar mix

About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.