As you might be able to tell by my fine coffee picture, I’m currently sitting in a hotel. There’s quite a lot of story that leads up to this. It starts on June 1st, a crazy rollercoaster of a day filled with alternating good news and bad news. I’ll split this into two sections, family and house, and forewarn you that this post will be LONG.
My last post mentioned that my uncle was very ill, possibly within days of death. He’d just found out he had cancer (some kind of leukemia) a week beforehand. They started chemo at the VA hospital in Houston, and he went into kidney and liver failure, and stopped being lucid. We were told a couple days max. We all rushed up to see him, thinking that he wouldn’t recognize us or even know we were there. I went with my mom and stepdad. We were the first to arrive, and Jim (my uncle) was out having a bone marrow ultrasound. After half an hour, they brought him back to his room, and as he came down the hall, he called out to my stepdad, “John! Hey, finally, some family is here!” My mom and I looked at each other wide-eyed – this was not what we were told to expect.
Over the next few hours, Jim laughed and joked with us, told stories, and generally interacted with everyone who arrived. Many doctors came by, and one gave us more information about yesterday, because apparently Jim wasn’t lucid yesterday. However, the brain issues were related to the byproducts of lying in a hospital bed for a week, and with the proper treatment, he was feeling much better. There was talk about the various upcoming chemo treatments and a family meeting for Jim and his children scheduled for later that day. The bad news is that despite the regained ability to function, his blood work is still alarming, and he has multiple organ failures due to multiple conditions, all of which the hospital is trying to treat simultaneously. I don’t have an updated prognosis or timeline. However, the good news is that Jim was able to have all his family nearby, and the he was awake, alert, and in good spirits, able to enjoy it, and if this does have to be a last goodbye for some of us, it was about as hopeful and happy as that sort of thing can be.
While all this was happening in Houston – and while we sat in Houston rush hour traffic at 2:30 pm for HOURS while trying to make it back to SA – there was a saga happening at home. Our contractor friend, James, came to start repairs on the damage from the Mother’s Day flooding. Only I’d noticed in the past week that another spot in our kitchen ceiling was showing signs of water damage. There was no connection between this spot and the Mother’s Day flooding spot, and this new area was the exact area that James had repaired when our roof leaked and was replaced a few months ago. With that worrisome thing in mind, I asked James to look into the source of the new water damage, hoping it had just seeped along a joist or something from the flooding and took longer to show. Fat chance.
Long story short: When our roof was replaced, we asked the roofing company to check if the one tiny spot of siding on our house also needed to be replaced. If there was rot behind it, then we said go ahead and replace it, we’ll pay the extra cost. If there wasn’t – if the damage was all exterior and cosmetic – we didn’t need to worry about it. Somewhere between the roofing company and their subcontractors, the instruction about checking the siding went awry. The subcontractors knew the siding was bad, that there was rot behind it, that the exterior part wasn’t connected correctly to the house, and they just attached roofing to it anyway. Apparently they told the roofing company about the situation, but the roofing company didn’t bother to tell us, or to fix it. In comes several violent storms over the past few months. The loose, improperly connected siding starts banging around. It hits the rotten underlayment behind it, which hits the stuff behind it. And what’s behind it? The supply pipe to the main upstairs bathroom sink. All that banging created a pinprick hole in the pipe, causing a tiny, slow leak for the last three months.
Have you ever wondered how much damage one tiny hole can cause over a long period of time, all without ever showing signs that anything is wrong? Well, let me tell you. After an entire day of exploratory demolition, the list of crazy goes like this:
- The ceilings in the kitchen, dining room, and consequently the connected living room (shared ceiling) all need to be repaired or replaced due to water damage
- The wall between the kitchen and dining room is wet through on the inside and rotted at the bottom. The entire structure will have to be jacked up and rebuilt.
- Also, pest control will have to come out and deal with the fact that due to moisture, ants were living in that wall. Thankfully not termites or carpenter ants!
- Several sets of cabinets in the kitchen are completely ruined, which means that all the cabinets and countertops will have to be replaced.
- The floor in the dining room got water in it and began to bow behind a shelf we have in that room. So the floor in the dining and living room will have to be replaced (shared floor, interlocking, can’t fix just a few planks).
- To further that last point, when James began to pull up the bowed laminate, he found black mold. It had spread along the underlayment of the laminate halfway across the room, so that the entire dining room area and some of the living room floor is completely ripped up and sprayed with bleach. (And hence, why I’m in a hotel, because I cannot be around mold!)
- The mold spread to the back wall of the dining room, so part of that will also have to be replaced, and the entire living/dining area will need to be repainted.
- The linen closet in the upstairs bathroom is spongy to the touch along the bottom and back wall. A big chunk of that will have to be replaced.
- The bathroom cabinet is likewise a wash due to water damage.
- Also the bathroom floor, which rotted under the tile.
Um…I think that’s all, at least that I remember off the top of my head. Add to this that all the siding banging around caused the roof in that area to separate from the house again – you can see the sky from inside the kitchen now – and we’re basically going to have to replace half our house. Which is going to cost many thousands of dollars. Think 30-50k.
So all this is very, very bad news. The good news? This falls entirely on the shoulders of the roofing company. Our homeowner’s insurance is through USAA and the roofers they sent were guaranteed quality roofers, no risk for us. They messed up on their end, not disclosing the siding damage and fixing it like we asked. They’ve already been out to take pictures and been in contact with their insurance (also through USAA). They’re reporting in about the mold and the fact that we can’t use our kitchen to cook, so in the end, hotels and meals should be covered as well. It’s possible the whole family is going to get put up in a long term hotel while all the damage is dealt with. We don’t know yet. We do know that the house is going to be insane for the next month or so – a prospect I’m not looking forward to, I admit. I’m also not looking forward to the fight with the roofers, because they’re trying to find any way to say that this isn’t their fault. Sigh. But our contractor friend has been working on this from the beginning, and taking really, really good pictures, notes, and details. Not to mention we’ve already found parts of the roof where the underlayment should have been replaced and wasn’t (only visible from underneath, now that our ceiling is down in the kitchen), so that again falls on their shoulders and strengthens our case.
Anyway, I’m once again at a point where I may be absent a lot this summer. Like I said to Jason, it wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t have to replace half our house! (For those who haven’t known me that long, major damage has occurred each of the last three summers in different houses, all with months of repairs to deal with.) Depending on how everything goes, I’m not sure how high up on my priority list blogging will be. I’ll do my best, though, and if I don’t see any of y’all in awhile, I hope you have wonderful summers, and I’ll be back soon. 🙂