I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since the last blog post. The good (read: great) news is demo has started! Walking into the house and finally seeing that our possessions have been removed – some for disposal, and some for cleaning – was cathartic. At first I admit I felt sad seeing a lot of our prior progress essentially erased – but there was also a feeling of excitement knowing this was truly the beginning of a new start. I have so many posts planned for the month ahead – some detailing the insurance claim process, others shedding light on the design/architecture component of the project, but I wanted to get the ball rolling again on this site with a brief update.
As it stands now, we have agreed to the Building Portion of our insurance claim – with the caveat that at the end of the initial remediation, the house will clear mold testing. The kitchen and bathroom were both discluded from initial mold testing based on the insurance company’s contention that they were not near the area of loss. However, water did get into the ductwork and the house also sat for essentially 4 1/2 months festering mold in every other area. There is a strong chance that mold could exist in these areas. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this is not the case, as we had almost just finished renovating these spaces before the loss. This mold testing will be taking place sometime in the next couple of weeks. The results will also be a huge indicator on when we can expect to be back in the house.
Our temporary lease at the apartment has been extended through the end of September. If the kitchen and bathroom fail mold testing – this will likely extend the process by 2-3 months. Even if they pass – we are thinking the more accurate timeline will be that we will back in the house by the end of October. Our contractor can only begin work when the remediation is finished and passes testing, plus when the bank distributes the funds.
When a homeowner is dealing with a larger insurance claim in a mortgaged home, the bank has an interest in the satisfactory completion of construction work. The argument is that the house in its current state is depreciated past the value of its mortgaged value. Because of this, the insurance company issues the claim check in both the insured’s name and the bank’s name. This means more paperwork and dealing with yet another large corporation – so fun! You can declare yourself or your contractor as General Contractor, and the bank is in charge of distributing payments. These payments are distributed at the discretion of the bank, often after satisfactory inspection of the job site at progress points. We are hoping this process goes smoothly – as always, we will document and report our findings.
The other two portions of the claim that we are still contending with are the Contents and ALE (Adjusted Living Expenses). The Contents is exactly what you think – all furniture and items that are not part of the building that were considered a loss. This is an intensely tedious task. You essentially are presenting the insurance company with a spreadsheet detailing each item, it’s age, it’s value, and image of the item, a link to the item or similar item, and it’s perceived rate of depreciation. Obviously much of this is subjective, which is where you get into arguments with the insurance company. We have just submitted our spreadsheet – so we are getting ready for the fireworks – pray for us!
ALE has been something we have been struggling with for the past few weeks – I will detail the process and intricacies once we have it settled and have some more clarity.
On the architecture front – the final plans were submitted to the Mount Pleasant building department last Thursday (6/30). Our architect and contractor had to present some pictures and existing conditions to explain the remediation situation as well as the proposed addition, and they will be doing a formal presentation to the Zoning Board at the end of this month. Our house is one of the many in Pleasantville that inherently does not meet town setback requirements – this means anytime construction is proposed, a variance is required. In the meantime, the contractor’s work can proceed on the first floor and basement if necessary.
In spite of all the anxiety, I’ve been having a lot of fun planning and designing the new spaces. I will show some of my work and ideas in posts to come.
As always, thank you for following along and taking an interest in our journey. We appreciate the support and having a place to outlet and share.