Home Renovation: “Beware of Water”
If someone were to ask me a month ago if we were going to meet our deadline of moving in AND finishing our renovation, I would reply with a cautious “yes.” But as luck would have it, disaster struck and it came in the form of water.
When Jim Nichols and the rest of the Bolt Flooring crew started removing the existing carpet and laminate flooring to replace with the carpet and laminate we’d carefully hand-selected, they found water. Under the kitchen and pantry floorboards was a thin layer of clean water— and it extended to all the surrounding walls. While that may not seem like a lot, it appeared to have been there a while; some of the baseboards had signs of mold.
Panic struck Paul — and, of course, me, fielding these panicked calls from work — and all renovation progress was stopped cold.
Where did the water come from? How long had it been there? Is it still actively dripping?
Paul’s initial reaction was to call the plumber to have it (whatever “it” was) fixed immediately, and I consulted with our realtor who suggested that we call our home insurance.
What followed is really just a brief rundown over what happened over three, stress-filled days.
The following morning, our home insurance company sent out a plumber to diagnose if it was from any active leaks. From the process of elimination, he (and well as a few other people) determined it was due to the water line hooked up to the previous owner’s refrigerator ice maker. Here’s what we know: when the previous owner moved out, the movers she hired inadvertently left the ice maker line on the floor, where it continued to drip from for several hours up to possibly several days. The water collected under the floor boards and was ultimately discovered by our flooring guys a few weeks later. With the water stagnant under the floor boards, it did quite a bit of damage.
Our insurance company determined that the kitchen walls, the pantry and adjoining bathroom wall needed to be dried out, demolished and replaced. And say goodbye to the bottom cabinets and counter tops— they all had to be torn out and some of which were destroyed. Instead of prepping to move in on schedule, we had to deal with the aftermath.
All the hard work we put into painting the kitchen and pantry and lining the drawers was flushed down the drain. Installation of carpet continued upstairs and in the stairwell, but downstairs has to wait until reconstruction of the kitchen, pantry and bathroom has been finished.
The monetary damage was $1,000 deductible per our insurance company, who has picked up the tab for lead testing, asbestos testing, demolition of water-soaked walls and cabinetry, and several days of drying. They’re also taking care of reconstruction and painting of the walls and reconstruction/replacement of cabinetry and pantry. And, of course, we’re staying at our current residence another month, courtesy of the insurance company.
Some take-away lessons from this incident:
- Walls-in insurance is your friend. In many states it’s a requirement during escrow. It covers you as soon as you close your home.
- Always have a home inspection AFTER the previous owner has moved out. We had our inspection while the owner was still living here, and his moisture meter read “bone dry” everywhere in the house. The day we discovered the water (about 3 weeks after the home inspection) the moisture meters went off the chart along all the kitchen baseboards, cabinetry and tangental drywall.
- As stressful as this was (is), always maintain a cool head and sense of humor. It goes a long way toward making the days more bearable.