Small leak, huge problem, 3rd party insurance?

kksmamaOctober 27, 2007

I've posted on the flooring and A/C forums and tried to avoid acknowledging that what I really have now is a home disaster. It seems like such a big word, and I know others have it much worse when they've had water or fire actually in their houses. This was just a little leak under the floors, but now my house is gutted and full of grime and I'm living down the street!

10/1 New A/C installed

10/7 HVAC company discovers drain line clogged and emergency shut-off didn't - water has leaked through the walls of the house and under the wood floors which are now buckling

10/9 HVAC company puts me in contact with their insurance company

10/9 Some wallboard cut away, dehumidifiers brought it.

10/22-10/25 Family is packed up and moved to rental house

10/25 Wood floors taken up, wood is still wet and floor guy reports moldy smell. More wallboard cut and baseboards removed, some mold on backs of base boards. Laundry room is gutted, cabinet is wet and has mold.

10/26 Dehumidifier set up, mold guy scheduled for 10/29

So far, the HVAC company's insurance is handling all these expenses - the emergency work, the packout and move, rental house, etc. I'm worried, however, about the quality of workmanship when it comes time to put everything back. The contractor was selected by the insurance company. They seem to have a good working relationship, the contractor doesn't seem worried about getting the insurer to cover all necessary expenses. Should I be worried about that? Should I be talking to the adjuster myself?

Is there some way I can get the paint and tile work pulled out of the contractor's bid so that I gain some control over the quality of the workmanship? Should I be hiring my own mold expert?

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You absolutely need to get your own contractor and possibly even lawyer involved - why would you take the word (or anything else) of the guy who's probably trying very hard to do the most work possible to get what he can out of the insce. co., but will the work be up to standards that you want, and what assurances, warranties, etc. will you end up with? And come to think of it, IS all that work actually needed or are they tearing your house apart for nothing?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 10:32PM
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Thanks for the reply. I'll likely to continue to debate this with myself, but for now things are going well with the contractor and I have pulled out the parts that are very important to me (the hardwood floors, perhaps the tile, also)with regards to workmanship.

I'm not sure all this work is necessary, but if we didn't do it then we might find out two years from now that we should have - and I just don't want to take that risk. I guess that the contractor has a bias towards doing more work - but if I hired my own contractor then he would want extra work, too.

I know this sounds crazy naive and I promise to come back to the board and report on the final outcome - even, or especially, if I have to say "you were right." But for now, things are going okay and this isn't an adversarial process - the HVAC company made a mistake, the insurance company is doing what they can to make me whole, the contractor is responsive and diligent. Even the mold guy was very reassuring, has good credentials and longevity in the business, says that he "fails" this contractor when necessary and isn't beholden to them. So just call me "Rose" (as in colored glasses) and hope for the best, please?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 9:44PM
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kksmama-you use to be on a few years ago when I needed help with furniture and decorating...I am more a lurker now that things are pretty finished but did see your post. SO SORRY! that all of this happened to you. 1 1/2 years after we moved in we found a leak that the drywaller caused (a nick in a copper pipe. It only effected a wall between two rooms. The builder worked it out with the drywaller and we did insist on a mold specialist which they also paid. I suppose it would make sense to get a second opinion from another mold company but I do know what you mean --that you do not want or need to make it adversarial. People make mistakes and they can take responsibilty and make it right. Overall, I would say it sounds ok-I would not want to sign anything that releases them though just in case something else turns up in the future. One thing we made the drywaller agree to-which was probably overboard-was to have the mold folks (actually ours was a woman) do air tests-even in the storage room where we had moved our mattresses and clothes-in case the mold had become airborn. Mainly, we wanted a BIG amount of paperwork for the day that we might decided to sell the house to prove all was done well. Hope this helps and hope you and your family are adjusting to your new "home" for now. Do I remember right that you have small children?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 3:15AM
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Hi noodlesportland! Glad to "talk" to you again! Yes, I have young children, though two of them are getting VERY tall, lol!

I agree about the paperwork and future sale - not that I think I'll EVER move out of that house (again). Since this happened I'm quite surprised by how many people have said, "oh, the same thing happened at our house but we just let it dry out". I know I'll never see water in quite the same way again - I may call in the dehumidifiers after my kids' baths, LOL!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 8:23AM
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I personally think the mold remediation concern is overblown. I know that mold can be toxic and mold/mildew causes odors and mold can harmful to people, yada, yada, yada. But with that said, I also believe a huge, giant, gargantuan sum of hard earned money is being collected annually by this relatively new industry---and my belief is that well more than half of the time, the work is unnecessary. Craziness like mold being found in a library---then every page of every book needing remediation, or all books needing replacement. That defies common sense and it's just a way to make money for some well placed people. In terms of a home---we recently had (and are still working through) a water problem that caused minor water damage in the basement and first floor coupling of a section of hardwood flooring. Contractors putting on new screened porch didn't have flashing properly installed and it rained for three days. It was probably 6-8 gallons of rainwater that got in and caused havoc. We're renting an industrial dehumidifier at $125.00 a day and have used a smaller dehumidifier and fans (and Lysol) to try to work things out before the carpeting is put back and floor repaired. I will take common sense precautions. I spoke with a carpeting guy who has been doing it for 40 years and he told me the Service Pro type companies who bring in 6 foot fans and fancy equipment overcharge and scare people, in his opinion, only to raise the stakes and make more money. I agree with him to the extent that in 1972, Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania was flooded. Houses were literally covered to the second floor eves with muddy flood water, dead fish, mosquitos, frogs, etc. It was June of '72, a hot, humid Summer followed. Guess what? The walls were built back on the damp frames of the homes, mother nature dried things out before new floors and carpet were installed---no one was talking about mold or worried about it. I'm pretty confident that the vast majority of these homes pose no health risk today, 35 years after the event. Most of the homes have the same siding and framing as they did the day before the flood.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 3:52PM
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angelmom-sorry to hear that you have to deal with this. I am sure you have probabaly done a web search for your remedy. It did take 6 days with the fans blowing on our wet wall (but it had been wet for a very long time) to finally dry out. They sprayed some type of solution that she said they use in surgical rooms to kills germs and bacteria and whatever. I did know that we were going overboard but our concern was mainly resale and -yes, absolutely

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 4:35PM
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It seems to be improving at my house, slowly but surely. The concern I have is that my porch gets under roof and gutters replaced before we get more substantial rain. They claim they addressed the cause of the leak...and hopefully they have. The dehumidifiers have done a nice job of drying things out so provided I don't get more new water, I should have things back in order by next week. Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 4:29PM
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