It’s difficult to comprehend the incredibly vast scope of rebuilding that needs to be done in California.
Northern California lost more than 14,700 homes, with several neighborhoods being entirely wiped out. Sonoma County alone lost around 5,000 homes, with 1,300 of those homes destroyed in the Coffey Park neighborhood alone. In Southern California, the Thomas fire destroyed 1,000 structures in Ventura County; one neighborhood lost more than 400 buildings.
Homeowners are, understandably, very eager to overcome this destruction and get their lives (and homes) back. But they face daunting challenges to rebuilding:
- Many of the homes that were lost were underinsured.
- The scale of cleanup that needs to be done before rebuilding is vast.
- Local, State and Federal funds and regulations can hamper the process.
- Northern California was already in the midst of a severe housing crunch.
The good news is that many private contractors and the Army Corps of Engineers are already heavily into the cleanup process.
Local and state governments are also working hard to adapt regulations and normal building processes to accelerate the ability of contractors, and even groups of contractors to get in and start working on “production-scale” rebuilding.
In fact, one of the main concerns for homeowners struggling with the mess of the Northern California fires is that there simply aren’t enough local builders to get the ball rolling.
For a rebuilding effort of this scope to succeed, it will be critical that outside contractors get outfitted and enter the rebuilding process. But an ancillary concern, even with the desperate need for outside contractors, is where are those contractors and workers going to stay when the housing situation here is already beyond dire?
Fortunately, Sonoma County supervisors are lifting some regulations to allow more emergency housing to open up on local farmland now. So, it’s clear that everyone in the area is doing their best to accommodate and help get the rebuilding efforts underway.
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3 Things Contractors Need to Take Part in Rebuilding
There are three critical things that every builder entering the Northern California rebuilding project will need, particularly if they plan to join the “production-scale” rebuilding projects that are starting to line up:
- A valid California contractor license
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Contractor bonds
The Contractor’s State Licensing Board website is an excellent resource for understanding and obtaining all of the requirements you need to earn a license to build in California.
Time is of the essence.
Now is when you should determine your contractor insurance needs. In order to get started on the building process, you’ll need to have your contractor license, bonds, and insurance lined up as quickly and thoroughly as possible so you can get to work helping the people of Northern California back into their homes.
Is Production-Scale Rebuilding the Answer?
It’s no secret that California has been dealing with a major housing crunch for years, and the devastating fires that ripped through the area have only exacerbated the problem.
California’s multi-layered permitting process hasn’t helped, but officials, stunned by the devastation themselves, are working overtime to simplify matters to help builders rebuild and homeowners come back home. Local governments understand that this is essential if people are to return and the area is to recover.
One of the primary solutions rising from the ashes is “production-scale” rebuilding: Having neighborhoods of families come together to agree on a few basic, good, code-ready home designs.
This would allow groups of contractors, who are desperately needed in the area now, to combine to create economies of scale that will let new homes rise while also helping lower the costs for homeowners grappling with insufficient insurance coverage.
Because so many homeowners had insufficient homeowners insurance coverage and may not be able to entirely recover the costs, this is going to be an essential strategy in rebuilding.
The production-scale building concept isn’t new; there is a precedent for it right here in California.
After the Scripps Ranch fire tore through that community near San Diego, burning down more than 2,300 homes, the community and a group of contractors came together to do a production-scale re-build for a large number of those homes there. Similar processes were used again after wildfires in 2007 and 2008.
Some of the contractors who joined the Scripps Ranch fire rebuilding effort have already expressed interest in joining the rebuilding effort.
However, many more contractors and builders are desperately needed. The sheer scale of homes lost will require massive participation from both local and out of area contractors. Be sure you have your license, bonds, and insurance ready to go so you’re prepared to join the rebuilding effort.