Monday, March 3, 2014

Yesterday (March 2) marked one month since the flood in our home.  I owe you an update!  It has been a most harrowing and frustrating month!  We finally started ripping out a bit more of the cabinets in the kitchen.  The insurance adjuster (independent contractor) has told us that he feels the cabinets can be pulled out, the walls, floor etc dried and the replaced.  This is what we found:
 Moldy boards.  This is what happens when wood is left wet for several weeks in Houston.
I don't know how you feel about it - but rest assured this stuff is NOT going back in a home I plan to live in!  That's just nasty right there! The boards are not intact but I am not surprised.  Our home was built in 1985 so they are nearly 30 years old!  
Our beautiful Santa Cecelia Dark granite broke when they pulled it.  Our contractor warned us that it was a strong possibility.  He was careful but it is the thicker granite (good stuff) and the weight was just too much for the thinner pieces.  I am hoping some of the larger pieces can be re-purposed to use in one of the bathrooms.
This is what our kitchen looks like now. The water meter that Service Master uses to tell them how wet the walls and floors are underneath, still pegs out when placed on the travertine tile in the kitchen, and the ceramic tile in both the master bath and the boys bathroom upstairs (the scene of the broken pipe).  Insurance assures us a good cleaning is all that is needed!  Ummm....NO!!!  I don't want to deal with the mold growing under there in a few months!  This is what the crown molding looked like before they tore it out of the formal dining room.  That finished molding consists of  FIVE pieces of hardwood that have been hand milled on site to make the finished piece  - our contractor has told me this - I'm not really that savvy on building design!  I can count though and I know that five individual pieces came down not counting the corner columns.  The insurance has allowed .87 per linear foot to put MDF back up there.  Needless to say, I saw red when I read that!
This is what the same room looks like now.  All that beautiful molding came down and then the walls, ceilings and insulation came down.  You can see straight through into the kitchen. 
 This is what I was referring to on the moldings.  This piece is the chair rail that came out of the formal dining room.  No MDF here!
This is the master bedroom.  The floor is out and you can see the shoe shelves from the master closets laying on the floor.  
I could show you other photos of large, empty, echoey rooms but I think you get the idea.  The rooms that were effected are: formal dining room, kitchen (with attached pantry), breakfast area, great room (with attached wet bar), master bedroom, master bath, two master closets, office, two upstairs bedrooms and the bath that lies between them.  The unaffected rooms are: guest 1/2 bath, one upstairs bedroom, upstairs hallway and game/media room upstairs.  Insurance is completely stalled out.  They say things that should be ripped out could be simply scrubbed down and kept in place.  They say we can replace hardwoods with MDF.  We are not interested in their way of doing our repairs.  So this is how the house has looked for nearly two weeks.  

Tomorrow we have another walkthrough with the insurance adjuster.  He is not happy to have to come back out.  I do not care!  He needs to do his job correctly!  Our home is our largest investment and we are not interested in a patched together mess of a home.  We have several people coming to assist us in protecting our interests;  our realtor (Karen Cline) is coming to speak up about the fact that if the kitchen cabinets or the ceilings are simply patched it will decrease our home value, a different building contractor is coming to let the adjuster know that the work cannot be done for the $38k that they are offering, Chris - the awesome guy from ServiceMaster is coming with his amazing water meter to prove that there are still wet boards behind the bits that the insurance guy wouldn't let us rip out.  We have hopes that things may go a bit better tomorrow than they have in the past but they aren't very high.  We fear that our next step will be to contact an attorney and the Texas Insurance Commission.  Any prayers you could send our way would be greatly appreciated!

We are plugging along okay in the tiny little apartment.  It is a tight fit and I am most eager to go home but it works for now.  I think I  will be able to cope much better once they start rebuilding.  While it just sits there in this state, it is very hard for me to deal.  As I mentioned, prayers are greatly appreciated!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Yes, it's very atypical for me to put two posts up on one day but I wanted you to see some of what I am seeing as we start tearing out the wet materials...

 This is the baseboard in Jamison's room.  This is the opposite side of the house from the leak.  This will give you an idea of how far the water travelled.  Wow!  I just started three sentences in a row with the same word!  I'm just that tired...

Close up of the water damaged baseboards in Jamison's room.  The other side of this wall is Randy's closet in the south end of the master bathroom.

This shows the baseboards in the pantry.  We had hoped to save the travertine marble tiles on the floor of the kitchen but whatever the stuff is that had them stuck to the concrete has already released all around the edges - they have popped up.  You can see the water damage on the back wall - all of the sheetrock is saturated in here.

Around the corner from the pantry - this is what the baseboards look like in the kitchen.  They are all warping and pulled away from the wall.  This area is directly beneath the water leak.

As hard as he tried to preserve the tiles, they come popping up.

All of the woodwork in the kitchen is custom made.  This is the spice rack on the inside of the pantry door.  You can see where the seams are all separating.  This wood is warping from the water.

More of the seams on the pantry spice rack.

More water shows up as the shelves in the pantry come down.

All of the sheetrock on the inside is still wet.  This is after almost a week of water extraction equipment going constantly!

This is the wood in the bar area of the family room.  The crown molding is separating and warping as it dries and pulls away from the ceiling.

Water damaged baseboards as we pull up the carpet in the bar area. 

This is around the corner from the bar inside the living area.  You can see the corner of the grandfather clock in the right side of the picture.  The water was up pretty high in this area.

You can see the water line on the grandfather clock.  This clock is almost 21 years old - it was our first anniversary gift to each other!  Not an antique - but a treasure to us!  They tell us they can repair it.  I certainly hope that is true!

The cabinets in the kitchen are framed out in plywood.  They layers of wood are separating and fanning out as the wood dries.  You can see where the water streamed down on the inside of that cabinet door.

The sheetrock in the ceiling of the kitchen just crumbles to a doughy mess when Larry pulls it out.

This is just the beginning.  We have stopped all work until Monday.  That day will be absolutely crazy for us!  The furniture specialists are supposed to come to pick up the rest of the furniture that was damaged.  The furniture rental people and the internet people are coming to the apartment that morning.  The packing crew will be back to finish up the last bit of packing.  To give you an idea of what is going on:  with the exception of my sewing/craft studio and Melissa's bedroom and bathroom, the contents of our ENTIRE house is now either in storage or at one repair shop or the other for damage assessment and restoration.  Now that's the way to do spring cleaning!!
In the meantime, my classes are continuing and I am dragging back to the hotel to study and take exams or write papers.  I am hoping things will settle a bit in the coming days so we can gain some semblance of normal...thank you all for your well-wishes, thoughts and prayers.  They are all so needed and appreciated right now.
Please excuse what will likely turn out to be a long rant.  The rant of a frustrated woman!  It has been a very long week.  I think maybe the weeks I was on bed rest before child #3 (about 16 weeks) and child #4 (26 weeks) were longer but those weeks were a different kind of long.  And I will spare you the details of those weeks!  You are thanking me, trust me!  You will however, get details of this week.  Maybe more than you like, but this is my decompression chamber so I have to share with someone!  Thank you for reading!  
Still with me? asked for it!  This is my kitchen.  Okay, NOT my kitchen literally - those boxes contain the contents of my kitchen!  A crew arrived to pack up everything on Wednesday morning.
 They have very carefully taken a meticulous inventory of every item in each box.  While this looks very nice, I am worried about two things:  1.  Are any of the items in those boxes wet?  2.  WHO is going to put all this stuff BACK?!
 This is a ceramic pie dish that came out from under the BOTTOM cabinet.  Most things in this half of the kitchen are soaked and at least half full of water.  I may never use this food processor again.  I shudder to think what is in that water...

 This is what I get for leaving my Commanders Commendation laying on top of the fridge!  I you have a commander's commendation, please take it today to get it framed!  That's my public service announcement for the day.  You are welcome.
 Much of my music library is soaked.  Don't you just love what paper does when it's wet.  Every piece of this has to be documented on a personal property form.  I have music from the early part of last century here.  We are talking antiques, people!  How in the world will I ever sort out what is cost?  The front of the books say anywhere from $.54 to $1.25 but they are worth far more to me than that and I'm thinking it won't be that cheap to replace - if I can even find replacements!
This is a photo peeking into the cabinet above the fridge.  That box holds my "good silverware".  It is gold plated to hold my china...
 And the box will certainly never be the same!  Wonder where the rust came from?  This cabinet only contained glass vases and this box...weird!

This is just a small tip of the huge iceberg we have had sail into our home.  I won't bore you with more details or photos.  The contractors are still a constant stream in here.  They almost have the entire first floor packed up.  The first floor includes the kitchen, breakfast area, great room (I'm not kidding on that one - that room is 24 feel long and 18 or 20 feet wide!) wet bar,  (this is one thing I have hated since we moved in - it looks very "80s") master bedroom, master bath, Randy's closet, my closet, Jamison's bedroom (really the office but we needed it for a bedroom so it has had bedroom furniture in it pretty much since we moved in) and the formal dining room (we use this for a den).

The adjuster came back out yesterday to take more photos and assess more damage as we dig deeper. The contractor is supposed to come out today to start ripping out walls and cabinets.  This will be very tedious.  The insurance company has only given permission for us to tear out so far and then we have to document damage at that point and go back to get permission to go farther.  I understand this is a necessary process but it slows down the whole deal and it is VERY frustrating.  One issue we have had is the tear-out deal.  The contractor is reluctant to tear out until he gets permission from the insurance company.  The insurance company won't give permission to tear out until they know how much damage there is.  We won't know how much damage there is until we tear stuff out.  The contractor is reluctant to tear out until he gets permission from the insurance company.   It's a vicious cycle!!

I am past the shocked, numb, this-isn't-really happening stage and am in a very weepy stage.  Everything makes me cry.  A dear friend from Spring, Texas (about an hour away) drove all the way to Katy on Wednesday evening to bring dinner to us.  It was delicious and we were so grateful - it made me cry.  Thank you, Debbie!  One of the band mom's texted me to see what the band kids could do.  That made me cry.  Our church family has supported us beyond belief - rides to church events for the kids, offer of food and assistance.  Yep, you got it!  It made me cry!

Hopefully the weepy stage will be over soon.  I will update you again as I know more.  Prayers are greatly appreciated as we head into the next day.  Please pray particularly for the committee at the insurance adjuster's office in Omaha as they sit down to crunch numbers.  We want all of them to have a great day and be merciful!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No, my front "den" (really the formal dining room but we use it as a game room/second living area) is not typically under water!  Randy heard water running around 6 am on Sunday, February 2nd.  He thought it was likely Jamison (our 13-year-old) up taking a shower before church.  This is not necessarily atypical behavior for him.  He seems to need very little sleep.  He has learned to be quiet about his nocturnal wanderings though!  Randy says he drifted back off to sleep but woke up again around 6:50 and then thought it was not typical for Jamison to take a 50 minute shower!  He is a clean kid...but he is  still a kid.  Enough said.  Randy thought he would give Jamison five more minutes and if he wasn't out of the shower by that time, he would go check on him.  Five minutes later, Randy walked out the door of our bedroom and realized immediately that something terrible was wrong!  He sloshed through water out our door, across the great room and into the kitchen...all covered in water.  When he got to the front den, he saw...
 water raining down from the ceiling.  Really.  It looked like a rainforest indoors!  You can see this chair is thoroughly saturated and if you see the silk lampshade peeking in to the photo on the right, it is also soaking wet.

This is the door leading from our kitchen into the "den".  Water was pouring from this area.  Randy ran upstairs to see if he could figure out the problem.  His first thought was someone left the tub water running and it had overflowed.  (His first thought is always that the kids done it somehow...wonder why?)  When he got to the boys bathroom (which is directly over the doorway you see in this picture, he realized that there was a hefty spray coming from the pipe leading from the wall to the toilet.  He shut off the water at the source and this is what we finally figured out was wrong...

It cost around $5 to replace this with a much better quality product.  Now the insurance company is telling us that we will need to replace all of them in the house with a type that monitors the flow of water and if a large amount suddenly starts rushing out, it will shut off.  Happy to do it.

We called the insurance company immediately.  Whoops!  Immediately after he came bursting into our room sounding more panicked than a new father in labor saying something along the lines of "the house is flooding, get up quick!"  THAT'S the way to wake someone up, folks!  You go from dreamy, sleepy to slap-you-with-a-cold-skillet awake in .4 seconds.  The words weren't so bad as the panic I heard in my very-stoic husband's voice.  I hate remembering that part.

As the hours and days have passed, we are starting to realize that the damage is far worse than we ever could have imagined.  When I was growing up, if we had home insurance, I wasn't aware of it.  If something like this had happened, we would have rolled up our sleeves, grabbed a bucket and gotten to work!  I keep looking at the huge mess and feeling like I need to start ripping out walls and mopping up the mess.  Then Randy reminds me that we need to do things in the proper order and the insurance company drives that - not us!  

Since every room in the lower floor was wet, we will be pretty much gutting out first floor.  This means, some walls (not all - some of them they will simply replace the bottom part of the sheetrock and repair), all flooring, kitchen cabinets, and the ceilings in the kitchen and the den will all come down and be redone.  

Yesterday we spent many, many hours with our wonderful friend Larry Schwing - he's what I call a "Grandaddy Contractor".  See, my grandfather (and subsequently my uncles and my brothers) are master carpenters.  I mean The. Best. In. The. Business!  If my Grandfather or one of his progeny made it, you can rest assured it was done right and it will last for centuries - or until the termites come!  Larry is that kind of carpenter.  I have seen his work and wished we could afford a makeover so I could have him fix some of our "issues".  We are thankful now to know him and to have him drop everything (he is very busy) and come help us.  

We also spent even more hours with the insurance adjuster.  Our insurance company is based out of Omaha, Nebraska.  They hired an independent adjuster to come assess our damage.  He specializes in water damage and so far has been extremely helpful.  He said he hopes to have his report of all of our damage in to the Nebraska office today so we can move forward.

Water extraction experts have been here and left behind a flock of very noisy fans and dehumidifiers.  They are noisy. And big. Did I mention noisy?  I mean, you have to shout to be heard in all but two rooms of our house (my sewing room/jewelry making studio/craft room and Melissa's bedroom and bath are unaffected - except by the noise and smell.  Did I mention the smell yet?  I am seriously worried that we will start to effect the neighbors!  The smell is BAD and getting worse!  It smells like old gym socks...and a boys locker room and something else gone bad.  Truly wretched!  They say it will get worse until they get all of the carpet and wet sheet rock out.  

For now we are housed at the Comfort Inn.  When they told us last night that it will be several months before we are back in our home.  We were told they will likely move us to a furnished home for that length of time.  My head is spinning.  So many things all need to be done at once.  We need to get kitchen cabinets ordered ASAP - we are told they take 4-6 weeks to come in once ordered.  For today, demolition will start this afternoon.  That will be rather hard to see but if the smell starts getting better, I will be good with that.

This has been hard.  It is absolutely devastating.  There have been God-sightings though!  When I was picking up a stack of paintings (Painting 101 in college many years ago for me!), I found both our wedding photo album and an album of professional portraits of the children as babies.  The were all standing on the floor leaning against the wall.  The paintings in front and behind the albums were wet.  The water was several inches deep in that spot - and the albums are totally dry!  God shows Himself in the unexplainable!  I know that might not mean much to you - but those albums were priceless to me!  

So many friends have supported us beyond our imagination.  Theresa McLellan lives a block or so down our street.  She saw my post on Facebook Sunday morning and came immediately with hot coffee and donuts.  Our dear friends from church Tim and Teresa Griffin offered their home for us to stay in.  Rosie Lynch came right over and let me cry on her shoulder - and then took our dogs to her house to get them out of the chaos.  My BFF Sandie McCurdy has taken Timothy the chinchilla in so he doesn't have to breathe construction dust.  Friends and acquaintances have been wonderful.  Please know that if you left a word of encouragement or called, we appreciate it.  We feel loved and supported in this very trying time!  I will try my best to keep you updated and current.  For now - I must open the door and face the stink to get some packing done!