Monday, July 4, 2016

House Leak, Insurance, and Hotel Living

I have several blog posts that need to happen in the near future. Lots of updates and thoughts here. But I think what most people want to know is why exactly we are living in a hotel and what is happening at our house, so I'll begin there.

At the end of May we started hearing an air-like noise in our kitchen, and we could not figure out what it was. It sounded like it was coming from near our air vent, so we sorta figured it was an issue with that and hoped we would figure it out soon enough. Probably four days later, Brendon went into the kitchen on a Sunday morning and could hear water running - under our house. (Our house is built on a pier and beam foundation.) When he went outside, near the wall adjacent to the water sound, he felt steam. So we finally knew the culprit - a pinhole leak in a hot water pipe under the kitchen.

The next day a plumber came out to fix the pipe. He said it was humid under the house, due to the steam, but he seemed to think it would dry out fine. However, over the next two weeks we had a ton of rain and humidity - humidity like that of Houston, which is way more humidity than is normal for Dallas. Needless to say the crawl space did not dry out, and within three weeks we started to feel our subfloors pop up. 

I had our adjuster and mitigation guy come out together. Our mitigation said subfloors would need to be replaced, and our adjuster went along with it. (They DO need to be replaced, as many are incredibly warped, but apparently insurance likes to just do new flooring most of the time, not addressing the underlying issues of subfloors.) So as of now we are replacing most - possibly all - of the subfloors and floors in the living room, front room, and kitchen. Our entry does not seem to be affected. I'm holding my breath next week as they start to rip up kitchen subfloors. If they look as bad as the front room subfloors (which surely they do?), then we will getting some "expert opinions" on the matter, as well as bids, and using them to petition insurance to take out our cabinets too. 

Another side note: I'm learning to back everything up with expert advice and bids, taking matters into my own hands, BEFORE going to insurance. I have to be ready to make my case.

Back to the demo. Honestly since our kitchen is updated and it's a galley kitchen, with a fireplace on the other side, making it difficult to open up the living room, I don't really care to have them demo and try to put back together my kitchen. I like it the way it is. The few changes I would make wouldn't be covered by this insurance claim. (Though if anyone has genius ideas, do send them my way. I'm open.) I'm learning insurance loves to only cover half of a project. For example, let's just remove two cabinets and replace the granite counter top for that portion. Matching granite like that isn't an easy task, nor is matching cabinets when they only take out the bottom portion. Yet many insurance companies don't care if it all matches in the end, if they replace the damaged portion, they call it a day, whether it matches or not. So unless my whole kitchen were destroyed and they are redoing the whole thing, I'm not sure I want insurance redoing my kitchen if that makes sense.

One update to the kitchen we do want to make, pending cost of this whole project, is to widen our doorway between the kitchen and living room. Currently it's standard doorway size. Since our kitchen is not open at all, we would love to widen it to about 5 feet, and obviously this is something to do before flooring goes in. At some point we may also swap the fridge and computer work station (which is currently in the kitchen, along the wall to our washer and dryer), putting a window to the living room in (or maybe half height wall, pending a support beam) behind the fridge. The window can be done after this project is over, and since we are still sorta pondering it, we may hold off there for now. The questions always arise - how much value will this add, and how long will we be in this house? Will we add on, or eventually just move?

So that's sorta where we are at the moment. We really love our travertine in the entry and kitchen and wood floors in dining, so the only change we are wanting there is wood in the living room. That carpet has been used and abused by spills, multiple rounds of potty training, and kids and a dog. So there IS a silver lining in all this. New living room floors! We did contemplate doing wood all over the main areas (entry too), and a lighter wood tile (meant to stand apart) in the kitchen. (I have talked to others with engineered wood, but honestly I just don't trust engineered wood as the kitchen floor. And our house is too old and the foundaton in North Texas too wonky to have a seamless wood tile in all of the main areas, per talking to neighbors with it and seeing their tile cracking.) So basically we have contemplated flooring a lot, and until we sign on the order form, we probably still will. But ultimately, we do still love our travertine after 8 years, and we do feel travertine and wood are timeless. And since we are a little more timeless in taste than we are trendy, though I do love trendy, that's where we currently are. Again, if you have a genius idea, speak now... like beginning of the week, before floors are ordered... or just smile say how lovely you think it looks when it's done. :) 

We know a family from church in our exact situation this summer, though they have six kids, so they took the money insurance gave them for hotel accomodations and food and hit the road to Colorado for six weeks. That's pretty brilliant in my opinion. Or that's what I thought at first. Except now that we are in the midst of this project, I'm glad to be here and popping daily to manage the project and see the work being done. Contractors are inevitably slow in making progress and not giving as much detail to my house as I would. And who can expect them to? No one cares about your house the way you do. Needless to say, while I would love for this to be a nice staycation - and it some ways it is - it's also filled with a full part-time (?) job, managing contractors, making phone calls, and picking out floors. We've had sweet friends offer to babysit the girls, so the girls have had lots of play dates while I've been busy spearheading this project. (Side note: Since I'm always the one saying we should get into doing rent houses, and realistically I'm the one who would be managing them, I'm the one tackling this project, getting a feel for if we really want to own more houses. Ha. Time will tell.)

Here's some pics of our house currently. 


Every time I walk in, I want to leave running. I'm told eventually my house will be pieced back together. I keep reminding myself of this.

So where are we living? Insurance is actually paying for us to live just a few miles away, still in Richardson, at the Hyatt House. We have a one bedroom suite, which is essentially two separate rooms with a pull out couch in the living room. It's getting a little crammed with all four of us, all of our stuff, and the dog, but it works. We are on the wait list for a two bedroom suite, but we shall see if that happens. 

We did look into VRBO and staying with friends also. There are definite pros and cons to a hotel. 

The pros:
-Having our own space
-Free wifi
-Free hot breakfast... It still tastes like it's made in mass, so it's okay. But there is an omlette station. 
-Daily housekeeping
-Apparently they'll run my grocery errands for me... I really need to start using this service because I haven't yet, and it's not like I don't have enough on my plate. Ha.
-Pool
-Work out facility

The cons:
-Small space
-Have to keep the girls quiet because there are other guests. So we are pretty much gone every morning till naptime and then again after naps.
-No yard for the girls or the dog
-Having a babysitter is tricky. Still figuring that one out.

Overall, the trade off seems to be worth it, but of course, we will be so eager to get back into our house once it's done! 

As for food, we are eating out a ton. If you know us well, you know we eat out maybe 2-3 times a month, so eating out 1-2 times per day is quite the change! Our hotel does have a kitchen, but not an oven, making cooking tricky. Thankfully insurance pays for all food expenses above what we normally spend in a week. Since our budget is generally low, I can't complain there.

So that's the update here! More updates to come. Hopefully the rest of this hotel/ demo/ mini (?) remodel will be uneventful... ha!



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