Well, it has been a few days since I wrote about the little bathroom problem we had in our house. And we have an update and some good news.
So just a bit of a recap. About 2 weeks ago Mrs. ROB noticed some white powdery substance on a wall near our bathroom. It turns out that powdery substance was mildew/mold that was caused, we suspected at the time, by a water leak. We didn’t know where the leak was coming from and how extensive it was, but we suspected a water leak.
We called a couple of different plumbers to come over and diagnose the problem. Sure enough there was a water leak from inside the wall. I gave permission to one of the plumbers to break open the dry wall and it was a mess. Apparently, the water leak had been going on for some time. After I found this out I immediately called our insurance company to set up a claim.
After we broke open a small portion of the drywall we called a mold remediation company to come out and they arrived the next day. The proceeded to rip out the sheet rock, some of the framing, and some of the subfloor, along with tile because the mold damage was fairly extensive.
Here are some photos that I took after the walls were opened up:
Initially, we thought we might be able to stay in our house because we thought the pipe leak was fairly small. Nope. It was actually pretty big. So until about Thursday of this last week we were in a hotel. Our dog started with us in the hotel, but constantly barked at people in the hallway and the like. So we dropped him off with a friend until Thursday.
As this is going on I was in contact with my insurance company. The claims adjuster explained to me what was covered and what wasn’t. He gave me the standard insurance spiel that they would have to figure out what was mold damage vs. water damage because we only carried a certain amount of money for damage from mold ($10,000).
Apparently, that isn’t bad because a lot of homes don’t even have this as part of their homeowners insurance policy. And I will make sure that it is part of any homeowners policy I get in the future.
So what was covered? That is what we are still working on, but I am getting ahead of myself.
We have a $2500 deductible. And let me just say that it is my fault for having such a high deductible. I thought it was only $1000 and it was my negligence and lack of due diligence (I will change that in the future).
When I was speaking with our insurance adjuster he felt that it was easier to just take the deductible from one specific item, presumably the actual repairs to the bathroom, which will be a little bit of money.
I didn’t have a problem with that as I kind of knew this whole thing was going to cost more than $2500.
So the mold remediation cost is being handled by the insurance company.
Over this week I got three bids on the bathroom. I was expecting the cost to be over $2000, but was pleasantly surprised by the estimates. One estimate was for $925 (and we would have liked to use these guys), another was for $1400, and the final one was for $1285. We decided to go with the plumber who gave us a $1285 estimate.
Now you maybe wondering why?
I actually really liked the guys who gave us the lowest estimate. In fact, they were the ones who broke open the wall and recommended the mold remediation company we used. However, they couldn’t fix the problem until this coming week. That meant we would have to stay in the hotel for another week basically AND we wouldn’t see our dog much this week.
The one plumber said he could start almost immediately. So we decided to hire him instead.
The plumber actually cost us $1785. And that wasn’t a cost overrun, but like a lot of houses we have old cast iron pipes in our house. You could tell that they were blistering. Part of those pipes had been replaced with PVC pipes, and others had not. So instead of dealing with another potential problem from leaking cast iron in the future we decided to have all of it removed and use more modern technology.
I am ok paying the extra cost because 1) I don’t want to have to deal with this again and 2) it seems like we are updating this house so why not continue.
The Bathroom Repairs
So the plumbers came, repaired the pipes and we are now back in our house. The claims adjuster also came out, took a look at the damage, and I am waiting for his report. Finally, I have had 2 contractors look at my bathroom to give me an estimate. I am waiting on at least one more if not two more.
Our claims adjuster actually made a pretty good recommendation and stated we shouldn’t hire until we get the money in hand. That is fine with me. But it could mean that we have use of only one bathroom for a couple of weeks.
That is fine, but I would like to have use of it before Halloween.
In terms of the repairs, we are looking at basically building a new subfloor, some new framing for the bathroom, drywall, tile and a new toilet (we were going to replace the old one anyway). I am not sure what the total price will be, but I believe it will be more than our $2500 deductible, which means more out of pocket costs.
As I think back over the last couple of weeks there are some interesting lessons I think I have learned (you would think that I know some of these things by now).
First, we have realized that if we were to ever take our dog on a trip that we need to rent a house or apartment. Mrs. ROB and I have actually talked about doing some long road trips to some historical places and/or scenic parts of the United States or Canada. We have also discussed bringing our dog with. Currently, we leave Spooner with some friends of ours, but I also don’t want to burden them all the time. Based upon our little experience here if we were to take the dog with us we will need to do an AirBNB or get some kind of rental house for our dog. He just does better when there isn’t constant distractions around him.
Second, I need to be much more aware of our homeowners insurance policy. I knew the basics like for a fire or whatever, but I never really considered a problem with a water leak or something of that nature. That is probably why I didn’t pay attention to the deductible. I mean if we get robbed or our house burns down most of that would be covered. However, problems like pipes bursting, mold and the like I never really thought of filing an insurance claim and the specific costs. I should have known better. I should have been more diligent and it would have saved us a little money in out of pocket costs.
Third, I am really glad to have an emergency fund and I didn’t use it. Currently, our out of pocket expenses are about $1800. That will probably increase with repairs to the bathroom (at least $2500). I have the money to cover it. Emergency funds are essential. At the most basic I would have enough money for the “four walls” emergency fund. How much you put in an emergency fund is up to you. At the same time, I also admit I don’t like money just sitting there. I want it to do something (e.g. pay down debt, earn interest, etc). I have even liquidated our emergency fund before to pay off debt. That was a mistake. I should have worked through the debt. I should have just paid it down over time. An emergency fund is insurance. That is what I have to look at it like. It may not make a lot of money for us, but it is insurance. And the truth is I want to create an even bigger insurance policy for the future. So I might increase our cash emergency fund. If we ever needed to I can tap our own equity through a HELOC, credit cards, my retirement accounts, or make some adjustments in my take home pay. But all of that involves some potential debt. And going debt for an emergency is not something I want to do.
Finally, I have learned that I really like a home base. While staying in a hotel can be fun and moving from place to place has its appeal I don’t think I am that kind of person. I don’t mind being away from home for a couple of weeks, but I like sleeping in my own bed, with my own food, neighbors, and the like. I admire personal finance bloggers such as the folks at Millennial Revolution or Go Curry Cracker (two of my favorite blogs) who travel the world and only stay in places for about a month or so at a time. I guess I like a little bit more stability. I hope to travel a lot more, but I really like a home base.
That’s it for now. The water leak was a pain to deal with, but we have the money to cover it and compared to others who have deeper financial problems it could have been worse.