Rebuilding Wineries: A Post-Fire Checklist

October 1, 2020

 

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The past two months have left many Sonoma & Napa County residents wondering, “Why us?”  How many times can we continue to go through this traumatic experience of wildfires? When we start to assess the damage caused by the most recent Glass Fire, we are reminded that there are many items that must be carefully examined and thought through in order for all of us to successfully navigate the fire rebuild process. Looking into the future, there is a natural desire to get back to a state of normalcy. As an accomplished leader in the wine industry, Nordby Winery Advisors has played, and will continue to play, a critical role in helping our community get back to the life we once knew through rebuilding efforts.

We do not claim to be experts in overcoming disasters, but continued success in helping clients get through the process over the past four years shows our leadership ability in these times of need. We have, and continue to seek, knowledge and networks for assistance on how to approach current and future situations. In our experience and research efforts, we felt it would be helpful to provide an outline of the information we’ve accumulated. As we discover new information, we will provide an update to our readers. It is our hope you’ll find this information valuable and share it with your families, friends, colleagues, or anyone who can benefit.

Our team realizes that for some of you feeling the current impacts of the Glass Fire this information may seem premature, however, our experience tells us that if you act early and prepare, the sooner you will see results and be back up and running.

Who to Notify of Loss

Insurance Agent:

  • File claim with insurance carrier
  • Learn what your insurance does and does not cover
  • You may be able to receive an Additional Business Expenses advance from your carrier to cover daily necessities
  • Keep ALL receipts
  • Start writing lists of everything you lost and keep updating as things come to mind
  • Bank and credit card statements can be used as back-up for purchases that need to be replaced
  • Ask agent whether or not you need to continue making insurance payments if building is a total loss
  • Do not settle or sign any final paperwork with an insurance carrier until the entire claim is resolved and/or have an attorney review all documents
  • If underinsured, contact FEMA
  • If required, ask your agent if your insurance will cover septic system repairs/building code upgrades due to fire

Mortgage/Lending Company:

  • If you have a mortgage, determine whether you need to advise your lender of the loss
  • Request to defer mortgage payment (lender may defer for 90 days)
  • Continue paying your mortgage and property taxes during the rebuilding process

County Assessor:

  • Submit an Application to the County Assessor’s Office requesting an adjustment of the assessed value of your property as a result of the fire damage (Calamity Provisions of California Rev. and Tax Code)
  • Click to download the forms for Sonoma County, Napa County and Solano County

Calamity Application 2017 WC Fires - Napa-1 Calamity Application 2017 WC Fires - Napa copyCalamity Application 2017 WC Fires - Solano

Utilities:

  • Cancel or suspend PG&E service
  • Cancel or suspend cable service
  • Cancel or forward landline (Ask for them to wave fee)
  • Cancel or suspend garbage service
  • Cancel or suspend satellite TV service
  • Cancel or suspend internet service
  • Cancel or suspend water service
  • Cancel or suspend water main back flow inspection/test (notify city, town or county)

General Notification Items:

  • Get a PO Box and forward mail
  • Notify yard maintenance contractors
  • Stop water filter/softener service
  • Cancel or suspend pool service
  • Cancel or suspend pest control service
  • Update mailing address with all accounts
  • Cancel or suspend annual septic inspection/maintenance

Document Replacement (If destroyed)

  • Auto registration
  • Vehicle titles (pink slips)
  • Bankbooks (checking, savings, etc.)
  • Insurance policies
  • Credit cards
  • Titles to deeds
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pensions, retirement accounts and annuities
  • Medical records for employees
  • Warranties
  • Income tax records
  • Mortgage papers

Property Clean-up

  • Engage Nordby Winery Advisors
  • Do not access property until authorities assure it is safe
  • FEMA will most likely take 30-60 days to implement clean-up plan
  • Residential properties will have the option of letting the county/city clean-up the property for free
  • If using private clean-up, that will be paid by owner (maintain record of costs to submit to insurer)
  • Private clean-up can expedite the process to permit submission but coordinate timeline with architect and builder so you do not waste money paying for private clean-up if the design process will take longer than waiting for County/City to clean-up
  • Up to 6″-12” of soil may need to be removed form site; this could require importing soil after hazardous cleanup is complete
  • Clear property of hazardous material and debris
    • Use certified abatement company
    • Do not attempt to clean-up yourself

Original Design Documents

  • Do original Winery plans/specifications & related reports exist?
  • Have Nordby Winery Advisors generate a rough budget on original plans
    • Issue budget to insurance company for review
      • Break-out code upgrade items
      • Soft cost to be figured (i.e. architect and other design consultants)
    • Learn how much insurance will contribute
    • Understand how your insurance is structured and what limits are allowed for property items versus building items
    • Move forward with new design documents
  • Do not assume you can re-use the existing foundation. Have it inspected/tested by licensed engineer

New Design Documents

  • Engage Nordby Winery Advisors to help you find the right architect to start coordinating with on rebuilding plans & procedures
  • Develop a conceptual plan with architect
  • Develop budget based on conceptual plan
  • Review plans and budget with architect and Nordby Winery Advisors
    • Determine whether to continue with plan to submit for permit
    • Or, if over budget plans will need to be revised and repeat the budget process
  • Proceed with Permit Plan Set
    • You will need some record of a septic & Processed Waste system or building permit that shows these systems on it
    • A Findings Report will be required for ALL septic & Processed Waste systems to ensure they are functioning
    • Check out http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Eng-and-Constr/Well-and-Septic/ for more information on septic & PW Systems
    • Generate soils report or update existing
    • Develop civil plans (grading & drainage)
    • Develop architectural plans
    • Develop structural plans
    • T24
    • CalGreen requirements
    • Septic plans & Processed Waste System
  • Fire Resistant Materials:  California Building Code requires that wood products and other exterior building materials are selected from a Cal-Fire approved list called the Building Materials Listing Program (BML) Visit: http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/strucfireengineer/strucfireengineer_bml

Building Department

General Notes

  • Do not get wrapped up in completing entire process quickly adding undue stresses and costs to your project.
  • Winery rebuild process on average will most likely take at least 2 years to complete.
  • Be cautious of working with builders/contractors that require payment of advance deposits.
  • Be sure that your builder is licensed in the State of California and properly insured.

Resources

 

If there is anything we missed, please feel free to share in the comments section below.


*This outline is being provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any legal advice or direction. In preparing this outline, we have sought input from resources and individuals in our community with background experience and knowledge needed to begin the process of rebuilding our communities. We have posted this outline to send to our families, associates, friends and colleagues as a checklist to help begin the rebuilding process and will continue to update the checklist as new information becomes available. Should you have any legal questions, we strongly urge you to consult with an attorney to discuss your specific legal issues.