To the uninitiated, insurance companies seem to have bottomless pockets and limitless work for willing contractors. The reality is a bit different. While insurance restoration can be a lucrative source of steady income, it's competitive and tough to break into, and the builder or remodeler who jumps into it blind can get into trouble fast. If you're interested in this business, you need remodeling and estimating skills, along with the resources to handle messy cleanups and respond to calls on short notice. You also need the temperament to stay calm in a crisis, and to deal tactfully with homeowners who are often anything but calm.

JLC wanted to get some advice for contractors thinking of branching out into insurance work, so we spoke with Kevin Dietmeyer, partner at Minute Men Construction, a Phoenix firm that does about $200,000 per month in insurance work, most of it residential fire, smoke, and water damage. Before joining Minute Men, Dietmeyer spent three years as an...

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