The appraisal for damages to a property: main cases and methods of execution
The importance of correctly assessing the value of a property
Determining the right value of a property is of fundamental importance, not only for the start of sale-purchase negotiations, but, albeit according to different parameters (the reconstruction value is calculated), also for the activation of an insurance policy that covers the risks to which civil buildings may be exposed. Our sense of security and peace of mind, as well as our environmental well-being, can sometimes be affected by damage or actions caused by third parties, for which there may be grounds for possible financial compensation, based on an appraisal.
Property insurance and the main types of damage covered
The insurance on a property is a particular type of policy that allows you to obtain reimbursement of any expenses incurred in case of damage to your home or its contents, according to the damage or risk coverage subscribed at the conclusion of the contract.
Damage from infiltration, flooding and condensation
Among the main types of damage are those caused by infiltration and flooding due to leaks or breaks in plumbing systems or malfunctioning of household appliances, the most frequent being washing machines or dishwashers. Water damage, in addition to affecting walls and wood paneling – such as parquet flooring – can, in the most severe cases, even extend to building structures such as floors and foundations. If the flooding or infiltration was caused by leaks or broken pipes, it will be necessary to intervene first of all on the hydraulic system, using techniques such as video-inspection or thermography, now commonly used in the course of technical expertise aimed at identifying the exact cause of damage and, where necessary, the person responsible for the accident.
Another typical damage is that of condensation which, in addition to the degradation of plasters, generates health problems due to the formation of mold. Excessive moisture in the air, lack of proper insulation from the outside, moisture that rises from the ground, can generate the formation of condensation that in the long run can cause damage to the structures of the building. Moreover, mold, which prefers humid, hot and poorly ventilated environments, besides determining an olfactory problem as well as an aesthetic one, makes the rooms of the house unhealthy with consequences – in the long run – on the health of its inhabitants.
Both condensation and infiltration can occur in cases of incorrect design choices, or from work not carried out in a workmanlike manner at the construction site, whether at the expense of insulation, plumbing, thermal and electrical systems. Again, the appraisal will be used to determine if the damage was caused by a break or failure, or by an inadequate insulation system. In the second case, should the damage occur within the time limits provided for by the law, the person responsible for carrying out the work will be liable for the damage, either through direct compensation or through the redoing of the work.
Fire is also one of the most insidious phenomena, it can be caused by a variety of causes, among the most frequent are electrical shorts, the malfunction of heating appliances, faulty electrical systems, stoves, chimney flues defective.
The fire may be accidental, but it could also be arson. Identifying the causes or those responsible requires a particular commitment of the appraisers, who are often assisted in these investigations by other professionals such as fire-investigators, who use particular methodologies and techniques useful in identifying the ignition of the fire, as well as by the Fire Brigade, who provide elements necessary for the activity of the appraiser.
Damage from natural phenomena
Other damages to be taken into consideration, unfortunately more and more frequent depending on the geographical location of the property, are those caused by natural events such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, hail, snowfall, tornadoes, avalanches.
Damage from theft or burglary
We should also mention damage caused by theft or burglary: in the event of a break-in by thieves, in addition to the goods removed, the owner often has to bear the cost of broken windows, frames and locks.
Compensation for property damage: operational phases and methods of carrying out the real estate appraisal
When you want to ask for an economic compensation for damages suffered as a result of events attributable to other subjects, you can turn to an expert, who assists the injured party in the search for the person responsible for the damage and in the evaluation of the damage. If an insurance policy has been stipulated, it is possible to contact the insurance company directly, which will provide a qualified technician (architect, engineer, surveyor, industrial expert, building expert, etc.) with the necessary qualifications and skills for the case entrusted to him.
The appointed professional must initially carry out an inspection, evidenced by a technical report correlated with photographs, and – depending on the case – validated by video inspection, and the necessary documentation attesting to the state of the property before the damage and after.
The appraisal is a process of evaluation, which aims to define, through careful investigations and inspections, the extent and causes of damage. The results of the appraisal and the conclusions of the appraiser are contained in a technical report drawn up on behalf of the Principal, which may correspond to a private subject, company or insurance company, for the purposes requested by the same subject.
The appraiser, therefore, will have to ascertain the type of damage, its nature and origin, ascertain who is responsible for it, its level of seriousness and consequences. The evaluation of the damage in these three macro aspects will allow to quantify the eventual economic compensation to be paid to those who have suffered the damages.
The appraiser, in developing the appraisal, shall consider the following steps:
- define the operations to be carried out for the assessment of the damage and its characteristics with inspections, photographic surveys, video inspections, static checks, analysis of various kinds
- define the damages detected and their extent
- calculate any financial compensation due to the injured party,
- identify the person responsible, be it an individual or a company, from whom compensation can be sought.
When the appraisal is carried out on behalf of an insurance company, to these activities must be added the examination of the insurance contract, the margins of operativeness of the policy guarantees and the negotiation of the damage with the Insured and/or the damaged party.
Each appraisal report will therefore be accompanied by all the elements and attachments useful for the purpose for which the report is intended (e.g. plans of the building, results of technical investigations, documentary evidence of damage, etc.).
The importance of relying on experienced and knowledgeable property insurance adjusters
Relying on experts in the field is definitely the first step to take when deciding to seek an expert opinion for damages. The specific skills of the Appraiser/Adjuster will be important in determining which technician is best suited to survey damage, whether it involves plumbing, technological systems, structures, etc.
Depending on the purpose of the report, whether it is ordered by the insurance companies, or requested to private technical experts, or even lawyers, the report can also official, or sworn.
Given the complexity of the various cases of accidental events, it is important to rely on expert appraisers able to carry out the task with accuracy, carrying out all the necessary investigations to ascertain the damage occurred and verifying the cause, identifying, if necessary, the types of interventions to be taken to return to the property its initial functionality and aesthetics.