Rebuilding after fire needs special care

RANCHO SANTA FE — When Bill Schultz lost his home in the 2007 Rice Fire, he never imagined it could be rebuilt, better than ever, in only eight short months.
“We found out that Jim (Leising) built the original house in 1990, so we contacted him for a quote,” Schultz said. “The thing that impressed me in my first meeting with Jim was his competence in dealing with both the county and insurance claims.”
Leising, a third-generation builder with 35 years experience in the industry, had some quick, effective advice for Schultz — make sure the rebuild plans are submitted to the county of San Diego before the end of 2007. That said, he assured Schultz he could have the 3,500-square-foot house rebuilt within eight months after the foundation slab was poured, and he would complete the project within the stipulated insurance coverage amount.
“You need someone who knows what they are doing, someone with experience and good (subcontractors),” Leising told Schultz. Schultz authorized Leising to handle the project and Leising drew the plans for the house himself.
“This way, there is no second- or third-hand miscommunication,” Leising said. “I am able to make changes for my clients overnight and have something to show them the very next day.”
“We approved [Leising’s] plans and they were in the county office by mid-December,” Schultz said. “We received approval in late January, the concrete was poured in early February and we moved in late September, eight months after the concrete was poured.”
Schultz believes his home was the second one completely rebuilt after the fire.
With the first goal achieved — getting the family back in their three-bedroom, two-bath home — it was time to review the final costs of the rebuild and reconcile all with the insurance company.
“You need to work with your insurance company and get a clear understanding of your coverage amount,” Leising said. “The most important thing to do is to design within your budget or coverage limits. An experienced contractor will know before (he or she) even draws the plans if he can rebuild within your budget.” Reconciliation with the insurance company was easy for Leising, as all costs were on track.
“Our insurance company was delighted that we came in under what we were insured for,” Schultz said.
Not only did the Schultz’ have their home back in a few short months, it was updated with today’s styles and had more amenities than ever. Built originally as a traditional Mediterranean with white stucco, white windows and a red tile roof, the new version reflects the warm tones of today’s Tuscany style with earth-tone hues and stone accents.
Leising also made sure the new structure was built in accordance with new energy conservation measures and in line with recent fire and safety code revisions.
“(That) includes energy-efficient windows with low E glass, two-by-six-foot walls to allow for more insulation, additional insulation in the attic areas and energy-efficient furnaces, air conditioning, water heaters and appliances and lighting,” Leising said. “Safety upgrades include enclosed roof overhangs and patio covers, fire sprinklers throughout the house, wider driveways for better access and fire-resistant landscaping.”
“Jim’s many upgrade suggestions made our old house easy to forget,” Schultz said.
Known for building handcrafted custom homes, Leising has a reputation of skill, high ethics and dedication to quality. His portfolio of completed projects contains an array of designs that feature appointments and testimonials from customers who speak highly about his honesty and courteous manner.

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