Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Moving to a rental house

This weekend we will be moving into a rental house. We will be there for at least 4 months. The hotel is nice but it seems like it gets a little bit smaller everyday. We've been in a hotel for three and a half weeks now.

The insurance company hired another company to find us temporary housing. They arranged for the hotel and started looking for a rental house. Our original plan was to let them look and they would send us what they found. Helen got a little impatient and started looking on Zillow and we forwarded what we found to them check on the details.

After forwarding one house to them we went and looked at it. Helen and Rachel both thought it smelled funny and we all thought it was too small. They insurance company gave us a little grief when we turned it down because they said it was comparable to out house. I told them that while they owner claimed it was 1500 square feet, it was much smaller. In fact, the city records said 1100 square feet.

After that,  I just started calling the landlords directly. We went and looked at two houses on Sunday. We forwarded the information to the housing company once we decided that we liked them. Only one of them was willing to do a short term lease so that is where we will be staying.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Still Lucky

On Thursday, we changed hotels. The Residence Inn in Richmond Heights was nice, but the floor plan did not work well for us. The second bedroom was a loft so light and noise from the kitchen and living room would reach you.

Helen was very sick on the day that we moved. She called in sick for the second time in 4 years.

Now we are at the downtown Residence Inn. The layout is much better. The bedrooms are on opposite sides of the living room. Both bedrooms have actual doors. On the day we moved in, there was a leak in the kitchen sink. I called to the front desk and they had a maintenance worker there in about 5 minutes. He ended up replacing the garbage disposal.

On Friday, we got the dogs from the kennel. They have never stayed in a hotel before so there may be an adjustment period. No accidents so far!

Through all of this I am reminded how lucky we are. Insurance is paying for the hotel and will pay for a rental house once we find one. They will also be paying for the damage to the house and to clean or replace the contents of the house. My son's school offered to provide him with new clothes to replace what he lost (we turned that offer down so they can use that money for someone who really needs it).

A friend of mine used to be a firefighter. When I told him about the number of doors and windows that the firefighters had to break, he told me that when they worked a fire in the poorer areas, their chief would yell at them if they broke windows unnecessarily. he knew that a lot of people did not have insurance and doing too much damage could make them homeless.

All of my problems are first world problems. I've always considered myself lucky and the fire didn't change that. Nobody was hurt. No animals were hurt. We have insurance. There have been and will continue to be annoyances, but no tragedies.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Conspiracy Theory

What is the government trying to hide? Everyone knows that a normal house fire doesn't burn hot enough to melt vibranium!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Damage Report

The fire happened in the laundry room in our basement. The washer and dryer, clothes, and plumbing were all destroyed. There is some damage to the beams but I don't know how extensive it is yet. The kitchen, which is directly above the laundry room, suffered a lot of damage as well. The kitchen appliances all seem to be a to be a total loss and the walls suffered a lot of damage. The fire department had to break many of the windows and force their way through 4 out of 5 exterior doors. I expect the entire repair process to take 2-3 months.

The rest rest of the house seems to have suffered only smoke damage. Smoke seems to seep into everything and the odor is very difficult. The typically process seems to box everything up and ship it somewhere else to have it cleaned.

I am considering hiring a public adjuster. A public adjuster works on behalf of an insured person and negotiates the settlement with the insurance company. They do this for a percentage of the settlement.

Like most policies, my insurance covers ALE. This does not mean beer; it means alternate living expenses. That means they pay for the hotel that I'm staying in right now and the kennel where my dogs are staying. They will also pay for the rental house that I will probably need in the future.


Spoiler Alert: Everybody's OK. Even the animals.

Early Saturday morning I woke up to the sound of smoke alarms and dogs barking. I grabbed my phone and the dogs and got out of the house and quickly as possible. Helen and the kids were staying at a hotel in Collinsville for Archon so I didn't have to worry about them.

I tried to call 911 but between the adrenaline and trying to hold the dogs I couldn't get my phone to work. I ended up banging on a neighbor's door and having them call. Later I discovered that my phone was on airplane mode.

The fire department showed up and put out the fire. As a side effect of this they also broke a lot of windows and kicked in some doors. One of the firefighters asked me if I had tried to put out the fire myself. When I said no they replied "I asked because the water in the kitchen sink was running." I tried to imagine myself putting out a fire with the sprayer attachment from my kitchen sink.

Actually I never even saw the fire. The fire department said it started in the dryer. They eventually let go in to get a few things. The water in the kitchen sink was still running. My guess is that one of the firefighters knocked into the faucet.

My neighbors were really supportive during all of this. We put leashes on the dogs so that I didn't have to keep holding them. Someone gave me a bottle of water.

I called the insurance company and got that process started. They arranged to have someone come out to board up the house. They also made hotel reservations for me. For a few days we'll be staying in the Resdidence Inn. There were no vacancies for a 2 bedroom on Saturday night so I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. This worked out okay because Helen and the kids still had the hotel room in Collinsville.

I changed out of my pajamas into some smoke infused clothes. Once it was lighter I looked round the house some more. Water was leaking from the pipes near where the fire was so I turned off the water. I was a little surprised that they didn't shut off the water when they shut off the gas and electricity.

I waited around for the house to be boarded up. Later I checked into the Holiday Inn Express and took a shower. I tried to take a nap but couldn't really sleep. Since all of my clothes smell like smoke I went to Walmart and bought some clothes.