Project Review: Multi-Family Fire Restoration Project in Humboldt Park

A house fire is any real estate investor’s nightmare. Between the financial burden of restoring the property back to pre-fire condition, ensuring the displaced tenants are accommodated, and dealing with the blowback of filing a large insurance claim, fire restorations can be a major headache for investors.

ETI is no stranger to fire restoration projects, says President Ivan Tello. “We’ve performed a few fire restorations on multi-family units. Each of them have their own unique challenges.” The latest fire restoration project that ETI undertook was at 1533 N Maplewood Ave in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

The building, a 3-unit multi-family apartment building, sat untouched for nearly a year after the flames were extinguished. “It took quite a while to get the insurance issues worked out and settled before we were contracted for the work,” says Tello.

Because the building went so long without being repaired, there was a large interior mold issue that also needed to be mitigated at the start of the project. “That’s what I mean about unique challenges with these kinds of projects,” says Tello.

After completing the mold remediation, the next big challenge was the roof, which was heavily damaged. The firefighters had to open up holes in the roof to allow for ventilation and smoke removal, which damaged the trusses. In addition to structural repairs, ETI also replaced much of the building’s framing and replaced all of the drywall, finishes, flooring, and cabinetry. They were also tasked with replacing all of the appliances in each unit.

“Fire restorations are very involved projects,” commented Tello. “There’s always more to be done when you start to peel back the onion and get beneath the surface.”

The project, a 4-month endeavor, was completed in August 2021. Like any multi-family restoration project, time was of the essence – but especially so in this case. “The building is actually owned by a non-for-profit organization that specializes in housing for low-income families,” says Tello.

“Getting this project wrapped up in a timely manner was the top priority,” says Tello. “We wanted the organization to get people back into the house as soon as possible – people who really needed it.”

Tello says that working with the non-for-profit and helping people who have been displaced from their home was a pleasure. “These are the kinds of projects that are really rewarding,” says Tello. “The ability to do what we do best and simultaneously help someone in need – what can be better than that?”