Rebuilding information for those who lost homes in the fires

  • Should I rent and rebuild, or buy?
    • The decision to rebuild may be tied to the benefits from your insurance policy.  You will likely have a limit to benefits for rental reimbursement so the time to rebuild may be an issue. Please contact your insurance company and CPA for guidance.
  • I got my insurance check - now what?
    • Your check will be payable to you and your lender. If Redwood Credit Union is your lender, please mail to: Redwood Credit Union – Lending Operations, P.O. Box 6104, Santa Rosa, CA  95406 or deliver the check to one of our branches and it will be sent to our lending operations team.
    • Once you have received your insurance check, RCU must endorse it. You then have two choices, depending on your choice to rebuild your home or not:
      • You may pay your loan in full, or
      • Continue to make your mortgage payments as usual, and we will hold the balance equal to your loan or loan(s) in an escrow account until you’re ready to rebuild your home.
        • If you choose to rebuild your home, your insurance proceeds (funds) will be held in an escrow account until you are ready to rebuild.
        • The escrow account will pay a 2% return on the funds in the account until you start the rebuilding process. 
        • Any balance in excess of your outstanding loan amount(s) will be returned to you, or you may choose to deposit the excess into the escrow account to be used for rebuilding.
        • You have up to 24 months to rebuild or pay off your loan.
  • Can I deposit my insurance check at an ATM or with the mobile app?
    • No -- if the check is made out to both RCU and you as payees, RCU must also endorse the check, so insurance checks payable to you and RCU must be mailed to our lending department or taken to a branch. (If taken to a branch, the check will be forwarded to our Lending Operations department for processing and cannot be deposited directly into your account.)
    • Please mail to: Redwood Credit Union – Lending Operations, P.O. Box 6104, Santa Rosa, CA  95406
    • If you are the only payee listed on your insurance check, you can deposit it at the ATM or via mobile deposit.
  • Can I put all of my insurance money in the escrow account?
    • Yes, if you choose to rebuild and have an escrow account, for a period of up to 24 months. 
  • Can I add money to my escrow account while I am waiting to rebuild?
    • Yes, if you choose to rebuild and have an escrow account, you can add money to it. 
  • When will the rebuilding start?
    • Once you have your approved plans completed, a building permit, final cost breakdown, an executed construction contract, have hired a licensed General Contractor, and have all the funds to pay the full amount of the construction contract, contact RCU to begin the funding verification process.
  • Does RCU do construction loans?
    • RCU does not offer construction loans. However, for Members with a first mortgage with RCU whose homes were lost in the fires, we will assist with the rebuilding process.
  • If I buy a new home to live in while I rebuild, will that be considered my primary residence?
    • Yes. We recommend you contact your insurance agent to find out if/how this will impact your living expense reimbursement as provided in your policy.
  • Can I build an ADU or granny unit on my property?
    • Please check with your city or county of residence to obtain the necessary permit.
  • Can I place an RV on my lot where my house burned down?
    • Please check with your city or county of residence to obtain a permit.
  • I have money to rebuild, do I just deposit that into my RCU account?
    • If you still owe on your mortgage loan(s) with RCU, you should deposit your insurance proceeds for rebuilding into an escrow account with RCU
    • Funds in excess of your RCU mortgage amount can be deposited in any RCU account.
  • How can I pay people working on my home with my RCU account?
    • To pay from your mortgage escrow account, funds are disbursed by our mortgage servicer once inspections are completed and approved and appropriate lien releases have been received.
  • Are the escrow accounts insured?
  • What if my insurance money is not enough to cover rebuilding?
    • If your insurance settlement is not enough to cover rebuilding costs, you can keep your first mortgage as is, and RCU can provide a HELOC (up to 85% combined loan-to-value) to cover the additional costs.
    • Contact your insurance company to confirm rebuild value vs. the policy limits, or contact RCU Insurance Services at 1 (866) 477-4225 for additional information.
  • Additional resources:
  • The State of California offers numerous resources for clean-up, housing, rebuilding, and other services here: http://wildfirerecovery.org/
  • California State Contractors License Board has great resources for consumers including general contractor look up: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/ 
  • North Coast Builders Exchange offers resources and information for all four affected counties:
  • City of Santa Rosa Resources for Recovery and Rebuilding: https://www.sonomacity.org/fire-recovery/ 
  • County of Sonoma resources: https://www.sonomacountyrecovers.org/