I ended up being very thankful for my public adjuster and how everything turned out. What I definitely would have done differently, was not use the contractors they suggested. To put
it bluntly, they sucked. My experiences with contractors, prior to my fire had always been good.
I had my only bathroom totally remodeled and it took four days. A total kitchen remodel took seven
days. I never guessed, between fighting with the insurance company, fighting with the contractors and then fighting with the city, building a garage and fixing a living room wall would take almost a year.
I would find out later that the contractors who were working on my home, had several other projects going on and so they were very rarely the actual ones doing the work. They used “subs” and the “subs”
varied from good to totally clueless. Halfway through the ordeal, still fighting over what would be paid for by me and what would be paid for by the insurance company, I found out the company I was working for had been acquired and I was being laid off. A few months before the fire, I had my dog put to sleep after a battle with cancer, so I figured I had finally become a full blown country song. You know. “Lost my dog, lost my house, lost my truck, lost my job,” (cue the pedal steel.)
My savings was pretty much non-existent, so the day after I got laid off, I went to Bank of America and managed, with no job and no roof on my house, to get a home equity loan. I know everyone likes to hate on B of A, but they came through at the time I needed them most. Even if they had no idea what they had done!
With money not being quite so much of a worry, not working actually became a plus. I could go over to the house every day and check on what was being done or most of the time not being done. I had always wanted a sink in my garage and now with some money available, I decided to pay for it myself. It took the guy my contractors sent over one week under the house and he was never able to make it happen. I finally brought in the contractor who had worked with on my bathroom a couple of years before and he got the sink in, connected, running and built a cabinet around it, in two days.
I remember calling, because for the fourth day in a row, the people who were supposed to be putting up my gutters had not shown up.
“The gutters are done,” my contractor said brightly.
“Really? I am at the house and they never showed up, “I said sternly.
“Oh no, they are done!”
“I am standing in front of the house and there are no gutters on it!”
“But they said it was done today!”
This is why, but the time we got near the end, the phone would ring, I would pick it up and answer, not by saying “Hello”, but by saying, “What?!”
They had officially driven me crazy.
The city inspectors didn’t help matters. When we tried to get the electricity turned back on, the inspector said we needed a back porch light put in. A porch light that had never been there. Ever. Not since 1948 when the house had been built.
“Why?” I asked.
“It’s code,” he replied. “You could fall going out the back door.”
Let’s remember I was insane at this point and having thoughts of throwing the inspector out the back door. The contractor must have seen what I was thinking and he stepped in, saying, “Yes, we will get that in. When can you come back to sign everything off?”
“Oh, probably another week.”
I never thought I could take someone’s life, but at that moment, I wasn’t too sure.
He returned a week later, when no one was there and left a citation saying the whole breaker panel would need to be upgraded. A breaker panel that was on the far side of the house. A breaker panel that had not even gotten an ash from the fire on it. A breaker panel that was perfectly functional. The cost of this little idea? Somewhere around two grand.
I went over the edge. Trying to get a hold of the inspector was impossible. Trying to get a hold of his supervisor was impossible.
I finally pulled every number of every local television station and newspaper I could find and called the supervisor’s voicemail.
“If your inspector does not sign off on my house so I can get the electricity back on by the end of the week, I am calling every newspaper and television station in this town to tell them how the city is keeping a single, helpless blonde woman with two cats out of her home after a devastating fire. Here are the phone numbers I will be calling…….”
I proceeded to read them all until the message ran out. Then I called back a second time and left the rest of the numbers. He never called me. The inspector never called me, but by some miracle, we had the signature to get the electricity on two days later.
Once it came on, we had to turn it back off because the alarm system kept going off. We got the alarm company to send somebody out and he offered to disconnect the fire alarm portion since it seemed to be causing an issue. REALLY? When I said, under the circumstances that wasn’t quite acceptable, he got some help. They were crawling around in the attic when one of them, probably the one named Einstein, called out, “Hey these wires are melted. Think that’s why it isn’t working?”
The good news was, I got a new alarm system, paid for by my insurance company. The bad news was, that I had lost faith that there was intelligent life on any planet, including this one.
Up next, finally moving back in and a very special Christmas present!