Tell me about your house!
I started looking for my first house when I was 28 in the summer of 2014. I consider myself handy but didn't have a ton of time to spare- so I was in the market for a house with “optional cosmetic fixer-upper” status and that's what I bought.
I heard you had a wall with water leaking out? How did you first notice?
One day there was a particularly large storm that made me worry, so I left work early to check on my house. I got home and began inspecting it and then discovered what I feared might happen − water was coming out of an electrical outlet and had created a large puddle on the floor of my dining room.
What were your next steps to dealing with it?
I went to my utility closet and shut off the circuit breaker to that part of the house. As the storm went on, the paint on the wall near that area and one of the walls nearby began to form a bubble. My roommate at the time pointed out that there was also water coming out of the ceiling in my living room. I went into the attic/crawl space and discovered that the outside wind was so strong it was pushing the rain through the ventilation opening in the roof vents, which is supposed to keep out the elements. To cut off that path of entry, I got some plastic sheeting and bricks and climbed onto my roof (not fun in heavy rain and wind). As soon as I got on the roof, I discovered that the shingles above my master bedroom had literally been peeled back on a corner section about 4 feet long on either end. All this roof leaking was really surprising as the roof was only 1-2 years old and had passed the pre-home inspection.
First, I placed the plastic sheeting over the roof vents and pinned it down with bricks. Second, I grabbed my hammer and some roofing nails, climbed back up onto the roof and folded the shingles back into position and nailed them down. Unfortunately, the high heat on the roof-top had made the shingles brittle, and this caused a crease along the folded part. As I pounded in the nails I realized that each nail I put in was creating a hole that went straight through the shingles, tar paper and sheeting causing a chance for small leaks to go directly into the attic. Nothing could be done now. At least the nails had broad heads and kept most of it out, I thought. I also had to hope that the gaps in the shingle crease would be enough barrier that the tar paper could hold out the remainder of the storm without letting the rain into my bedroom.
I called some friends to help me out. We started troubleshooting the water coming in through the wall of the dining room and electrical socket by taking off the drywall that was already ruined. This was when I discovered that there were termites in my wall. I kept removing sheet rock trying to get an idea of where it was coming from. Eventually, I found the corner of the wall where I saw that the water was coming down through the second story and flowing along an old telephone wire to the slab foundation − where it ran across the top of the foundation and then down the vertical hole molded for the electrical socket. My friend was outside and realized that there was water spraying out the side of one of the gutters onto the wall just below the deck at the point where the deck met with the stucco exterior. Water was able to get in behind the stucco, getting caught in the wall, and finding its way out through the inside wall of the house. We wrapped the leaking gutter with plastic sheeting and duct taped it into place. This didn’t stop the water all together. We were finally able to stop the water by putting a tarp on the deck above the leaking area of the wall.
Did you have insurance at the time?
Did your insurance help?
No. The next day I called my insurance company to find out what coverage they would provide. I figured that the company would cover the damages and fix the issues that caused the problem. WRONG!
The insurance company explained to me that each of the issues would be handled separately, meaning that I would have to pay my $1,000 deductible for each--the leaky ceiling, shingles, termites and the damage done to the wall in the kitchen / living room. And that was if they determined the damage was covered. Additionally, I was told that the insurance company would only cover the cost of repairs from the damage but not the cost to prevent further damage from occurring. They also told me that since I had taken steps to stop the water from coming in, I had removed some of the evidence they would need to determine coverage. In the end, I was on the hook for $4,000 worth of deductibles.
How has the situation been resolved?
If I was going to claim all of these, it was likely that my insurance payments would go up. All that, and I was still on the hook for making meaningful repairs to prevent future damage from occurring. I didn't file the claims, because I realized at that point that it would be cheaper to take care of it myself.
Final thoughts on having insurance or having the right insurance?
It’s good and necessary to have insurance to cover the extreme situations in which a tree falls on your house or a car is driven into your living room but that doesn't fix everything. In addition to the insurance you pay for, it is also important to make sure you have some money in savings and good credit. These two forms of insurance cover even the smallest issues and require less paperwork.
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