Friday, February 17, 2012

# 205 - Real Estate Sign is Here!

Today is a BIG day! My friend brought over her real estate sign for us to stick in the yard this coming week. First, we have to lay out the pallet of St. Augustine grass in the backyard and that won't be delivered until this Sunday. Our backyard, with all of this constant rain and hardly any sunshine has made a mucky mess out of the yard. The quickest way to solve the problem is to lay new sod.

Instant beautification!

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 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 you might as well be working on something you have passion for."

And the "For Sale" sign goes into the yard this week.


Dreaming said...

Selling a home, with all of your family 'history' in it (both good and bad) is an emotional thing - at least it was for me. What's great is that you get to move on to something you are so excited about putting together! Wow! Life is going to be an adventure!

LindaG said...

Good luck! :-)


After what you've been through you and the Deputy can weather anything. You should be so proud of yourself.
Just what the doctor ordered. A cabin and some land of your own, where you can stretch and grow. God bless and good luck too.

Vickie said...

Lana, I know of what you speak - yours was of a greater nature - we had a tornado come across our neighborhood where we used to live. It tore up not the house, but the tall pines around it. They all came crashing down on the house, through the roof, and fell into the house - torrential rains, lightning, and my husband and his best friend were on top of the house in the lightning and rain with chain saws cutting up the trees so we could even GET tarps on top of the house. Split the center beam of the roof right in half. It destroyed the front half of the house. Sheetrock, insulation - exactly what you had in your pictures. It completely ruined my kitchen, the appliances, laundry room, the playroom, the formal dining room. It took 6 months to get it all redone and cost about $50,000, but at least our insurance didn't give us any hassles. Your situation was much worse as there were SO MANY claims at the same time. Your house is gorgeous now, but I know you'll be ready to leave and get to your place in the country.


Clint Baker said...

May God grant you a quick sell!

luckybunny said...

Good luck and that is absolutely amazing. Quite the story and pictures and I love Stefies pink and black room! Love the stripes too :)

Also wanted to let you know I'm passing along the versatile blogger award to you :) said...

Dreaming --- I am so thrilled to be starting over in a new setting. Life is full of excitement. We've been fortunate enough to move around and experience different parts of the world and The Big Thicket will probably be our most exciting challenge to date!

Linda --- You've been with me basically from the start of me blogging about everything, I hope it will bring some smiles to your life as well as mine! I think you will be such a natural on your land with the chickens you will be raising one day. It's great to keep rooting for each other!

Barb --- I do think that if the doctor would be brave enough to order living would be the first prescription he'd write!! I have a feeling that, on a daily basis, living in the country will be healing for the soul, mind and body. Every time we're out there, I feel so relaxed and at peace in the middle of the woods. The environment is definitely a great connection for me to savor nature and just enjoy life more. For me, being surrounded by nature is a dream come true.

Vickie --- even after all we went through, we did't have trees come through the house!!! So many people in the hurricane had trees fall on their homes and the scene was always terrifying. Our house is near the bay, so we don't have a lot of trees in this area, at least not large enough to do any real damage. However, our land is nothing but trees. I can't imagine having one land on the house so perfectly as to break the center beam, but I've learned that Mother Nature sure has her ways of doing things in a BIG way! I'm sure you do relate to how I feel then...just needing to get away from the city. I know we could still have a tornado or such on our land, but at least we'd have the opportunity to zip up another metal building or something substantial for us to live in for the duration. I feel so bad for people who must lose everything through a least the things that could make it through a soaking were not destroyed! And I do think that the biggest part of our misery was having to deal with the insurance company; it was a rather "small" insurance company and they were crooks, plain crooks who LOST in court because they were known for scamming their claimants. I am thankful that justic served our needs, but we had a few thousand go to attorney fees that should not have been necessary, if the insurance company had done their job. I think they were delaying paying us for so long because they were trying to replenish their funds.

Clint --- thank you, blessings being put over us will ALWAYS be accepted!!!!!!!!!!!

Luckybunny --- I love Stefie's room too, simply because she has no fear with decorating and goes to her heart's content. I don't know what the Versatile Blogger Award is...What do I do????