Friday, August 24, 2007

Weathering the storm...

It's Mother's Day - May 14th, 2006. Ryan had a couple days off of practice, so he flew home to Dallas to check on our new home (we'd only owned it a little over a year) and have some furniture delivered. Ryan was so excited to be heading home - he was going to watch a movie for the first time in our state-of-the-art media room. Excitement turned to horror when Ryan walked in the front door. There was water everywhere. Ceilings had collapsed. Insulation from the attic covered the floor. Mold covered walls, furniture, and clothing. The toxic fumes in the house had set off the carbon monoxide detectors. Our home was ruined. Remember how the homes looked after hurricane Katrina??? That's what the inside of our house looked like. It was just devastating.

Ryan could hear water running, so he careful went up the stairs and found the culprit - a toilet right off of Will's room was overflowing. Ryan quickly shut off the water and stood there in horror. Ryan discovered that the valve in the toilet broke - it literally snapped. Normal folks would discover a problem like this right away, thus minimizing any potential damage. Because we were in Buffalo, we had no idea what was happening. We later determined the the toilet was overflowing for 7-14 days - we're not sure exactly how long. Approximately 1300 gallons of water came out of that toilet - enough to fill a swimming pool. When all was said and done, we ended up gutting approximately 75% of this massive 4300 sq. ft. house.

For several months, we tried to deal with the builder, DARLING HOMES, about a possible buy back of the home since it was so new. Our hope was to turn over the insurance check to Darling, let them fix it and eventually sell it. We just wanted out. At one point, Darling had agreed to do so, and then they backed out. With all the legal wrangling, we didn't start the actually home repairs until 8 months after the flood.

Here we are almost a year-and-a-half later and I'm happy to report that our house is almost done. We received pictures from the contractor of the progress and I was just floored. The house is better than I ever could have dreamed. It's absolutely beautiful. I can't believe I finally have my home again.

We learned so many lessons over this past year. We will now have someone going into our house every day to check on it while we are in Buffalo. We know to shut off all the water to the house while we're gone. We got rid of all the toilets in the house - the valve in the toilet was made by a company named FLUIDMASTER. We found out that FLUIDMASTER uses a highly corrosive plastic - if there are elevated levels of chlorine in the tank (say, from one of those chlorine tabs - don't use them), the plastic will begin to erode. FLUIDMASTER has so many claims against it that our insurance company has it's own department that deals just with these claims.

Speaking of insurance companies, we're insured through Travelers. I cannot tell you how awesome our experience has been. Our policy covered all the damage. We've not had any problems whatsoever since the flood. If you're looking for a good homeowner's policy, I highly recommend Travelers.

Lesson learned, albeit an expensive one...

No comments: