It's hard to believe that we will be selling this house that we've enjoyed. Well...this house has brought us huge ups and downs because of the devastation that we endured with Hurricane Ike. If our insurance company had been honorable with sticking with our contract, the experience would not have been so traumatic, but we had to go to mediation and to court TWICE before the insurance company would FINALLY pay what they owed for damages. The second time in court, the judge decided to slap a few extra thousand on the judgment to help pay our attorney's fees...but we struggled for TWO YEARS to complete almost $100,000. in structure damage to our house because we could not just let it dangle in ruins and we needed a place to live, after all, we still had a mortgage.
It was a sad time. Other people in our hard-hit neighborhood also had insurance woes. House after house could be seen completely abandoned. I guess the fight wasn't worth the effort for many of these people and the damage was too severe to rectify with an insurance company that wouldn't pay up, so people had to walk away from their hurricane destroyed house. So many houses sat in our neighborhood for over two years with the blue tarps on their roof.
We struggled through these two years while trying to go through the legal system to get the insurance company to pay the agreed upon settlement. It was certainly a time of building character. During that time, there were still gatherings at our house, even though we had plastic sheeting hanging down our walls, stapled to the 2x4's instead of sheetrock. We didn't have any flooring in several rooms, just plywood upstairs and downstairs, in the areas not already tiled, we had the foundation concrete exposed that was splattered with the construction paint, etc., from the time the house had been built. It wasn't pretty, but at least we had a roof over our head.
The tough part of being hit by a hurricane and tornado in the same night is that the destruction is worse to deal with rather than simply going through regular construction. I think about building our cabin the woods and how the construction process will be a pain, there's no doubt about it. However, after we've experienced the loss and agony of watching the majority of our household belongings be subjected to ruin because the house is being torn apart by high winds, I will be glad to deal with the simple task of building.
Having to go through each room in your house that is a soggy mess, as if you had no roof at all to block the incoming torrential rains...all of your clothes, the contents of every drawer, your closet full of belongings...all of it destroyed and you can't go through it fast enough to prevent the sour smell of rot filling your nostrils as you try to salvage the few things you can.
If we didn't have to deal with the destruction, I can confidently say that the construction and rebuilding would have been almost effortless. That is the joyful part...rebuilding. But having to stand in the middle of your lifelong memories that have been destroyed by the swift, indiscriminate hand of Mother Nature, you realize that it is detailed agony to get to the happy part of being able to start the construction process.
After our house was destroyed, we had a crew come from Florida (none were available in Texas because of widespread devastation) and this crew came through our house and removed all wet sheetrock, which took our house back down to the studs, as if it had just been framed. They removed all wet, stinking carpeting and padding that had reeked so terribly that it actually caused me to run outside and to start vomiting in our yard. It was bad.
And the plastic chairs are laying in the street on purpose because there were unfortunately idiots in the neighborhood who continually parked their vehicles in front of our house which prevented the large debris pick-up truck with its huge claw from being able to remove the curbside mess. The city with their large trash-truck had made two passes on our street and were unable to remove our things because some dummy kept parking against our curb to block access for removal. You'd think people would have common sense in this world! Deputy Dave put out the chairs and it worked. On the third trip around with the large debris pick-up, I stood outside with arms crossed, waiting for them to remove the junk. It created a huge hazard on our street, especially for the kids in the neighborhood...it needed to go. It had sat there for almost one month before it was removed by the city.
The crew piled all our household belongings, the wet and putrid things that we still had to sift through, they piled it high in the center of each room. It would take a long time to go through it all. It was physically and emotionally draining.
So, it is rewarding to see our house looking so great. We've worked hard and had tremendous patience to get to this point. I can say that remediation for our house and the destruction process took well over 3/4ths more time that it did to rebuild.
It may have been crazy, well, it WAS crazy, but we were here during the hurricane and it's the awful truth, but being here enabled us to save the things we had been able to rush and drape heavy duty plastic sheeting over to protect it from the falling sheetrock as it began to be weighed down with incoming rain until it filled and swelled to the point of sagging and falling. Do you know how heavy sheetrock is? Do you know how heavy it gets when it is swollen full of rainwater? It's very dangerous to be around falling wet sheetrock. Of course, it began falling from the upstairs ceilings first and we'd hear huge thundering crashes as it slammed to the ground. It was slightly terrifying.
But, the scariest falling pieces came in the foyer as the two-story height brought the sheetrock crashing to the first floor with smashing attention.
Wow. Let's avoid THAT area!
These days, I look at our house and feel a bit sad that we haven't been able to live in this house for the entire time, with it being a "normal" house. For a huge chunk of time, for over two years, we lived with this house being ruined waiting for the Insurance Man to pay their dues.
But, we've come a long way baby! Here is Stefie's room after the storm hit --- I can't convey the smell and the squishing sounds as we walk on the soggy carpet, but here it is.
And here is her room right now. She repainted it with her dad, you can't see in this picture, but the black stripes on the bottom half are slightly different shades of black, one stripe is matte finish and the next is a glossy black finish. In person, it looks rather cool.
Yes, Stefie LOVES hot pink and black. She probably will until she's 100 years old. She's spunky like that.
Anyway, I guess all of this might help explain why we don't mind the patience that will be required with building our cabin. Actually, we know that our "master-plan" for our acreage will take years and years. It certainly won't happen overnight, but that doesn't stop us from tackling it.
After all, as my mother used to wisely say, "TIME PASSES ANYWAY...so you might as well be working on something you have passion for."
And the "For Sale" sign goes into the yard this week.