Sump Chump: Part Two

Read Sump Chump: Part One first, if you haven't done so.

Picking up where I left off...

We had decided to get insurance involved and also a company or companies to come and tear out the old and put in the new. We went through the insurance company's recommended mitigation company to get things started. A crew of two was able to get to our house around four-thirty that afternoon and got to work on assessing the situation. Not before long, they were tearing out the carpet, padding, and trim.

My wife and I were busy trying to watch the kids and haul the rest of what we had in the basement out. We hadn't been home for long before they arrived, but we at least had a head start moving items out of the basement. The garage continued filling up, and we were putting some stuff in the kitchen and dining room as well.

To make things much easier at the time and also later, I kept the brains to my studio wired together. I was able to slide my studio desk along the carpet and into the utility room. It was a pain to access the already small utility room, but considering how much work it would be to undo and then redo everything, it was worth it. Besides, I had to have a place to put it anyway, and hauling it up the steps wasn't really an option. We were also able to pick up and carry my electronic drums into the bathroom downstairs along with some speakers. The bathroom was unusable at this point but the premise behind it was basically the same as the desk and brains I slid into the utility room.

When six o'clock rolled around, I knew I couldn't wait until the two-man-crew left before we ate—at least the kids. I got them started on dinner so that they could still get to bed on time. About a half-hour after that the crew was done and left, and my wife and I could eat as well. I don't remember what we all ate, but I'm certain it doesn't really matter.

sump, Minnesota, basement flooding, heavy rains, blog, September 2016
We felt like we did about as much as we could do that day. The crew left snail fans running along the bottom of the walls to ensure they dried out. They sprayed a non-toxic solution in areas they felt were necessary to combat the potential of mold. And lastly, they left a giant dehumidifier to pull moisture from the air. What was there left for us to do but wait?

Those same two workers came back that Saturday (two days later) to check on the progress and to see if the basement had been thoroughly dried out. Luckily, it had. They took their fans and dehumidifier and went on their way. We still weren't able to do anything as the insurance adjuster wasn't able to make it to our house until the following Thursday. Frustrated by this, I wondered how long the process was going to get drawn out. The fact that the mitigators started their work a week after the heavy rains was our fault. We thought we had it under control. Then, we had to wait almost a whole week for the adjuster to do his part. Not being able to do a damn thing about making progress on our basement was NOT a good feeling.

In hindsight, we could have contacted a construction company earlier than we did to get an estimate. We were considering going through the same company that did the mitigation. We were also hesitant because they had done some work for us a year prior. It wasn't an insurance claim, but we had to have the upstairs door, frame, and casing replaced due to mold. The high humidity in the bathroom, due in part to an exhaust fan that doesn't have a lot of power, got into the cracks of the paint, caused it to bubble, and allowed mold to thrive. Apparently, mold loves to eat the glue in compressed wood. We weren't really happy with the finished job, and they came back out and corrected some things, so we could come to an agreement that it was completed. We've never really been completely satisfied with the job and have always felt it could have been done better.

sump, Minnesota, basement flooding, heavy rains, blog, September 2016
In our defense for waiting, the guy we were in contact with at the mitigation company said that he would be assigning us a project manager. That was the last we heard from him. We felt the ball was left in his hands and he dropped it. Considering our experience with them in the past, we decided to get an estimate from a different construction company. But, we didn't do that until after we met with the insurance adjuster.

Fortunately, we were able to work pretty quickly in finding another contractor to get an estimate. We took the advice of our sewer and drain guy, Ben Smith of Marvel Sewer and Drain, and called a company he recommended. This company was so busy due to the recent flooding that they weren't taking on any new work. They recommended us to another company that came out the Monday after the insurance adjuster visited us.

My wife and I were anxious to get the process moving. Two days after the reconstruction estimator visited the house, I sent an email checking in on the progress. He DID say that it would only take him a few days to easily plug the numbers into software. It took until the following Monday to get a response, and from what we could tell, he didn't plug the numbers into the software until then. That's what the estimate's time stamp told us. Considering the luck we've had, his lack of response and punctuality were bothersome. We decided to overlook this for two reasons: we wanted to move forward with getting our basement fixed, and we understood that people get busy and get behind. We couldn't let our past experiences COMPLETELY dictate our outlook.

Between studying and amending the bid, studying and signing the contracts, and getting the first round of checks from insurance cashed to pay for the work, another two weeks went by. We were able to get some things removed from the bid to save us money as they were simple things we were planning on and capable of doing anyway. Does it really cost $75 to remove and then reinstall a hand rail? That's going in MY pocket. We essentially payed ourselves to do it. After negotiating the bid and cutting out things like that, we saved ourselves very close to one-thousand dollars. That's our deductible.

We had to get our mortgage company involved as well. The high amount of mitigation and reconstruction costs warranted it. We had to get their endorsement on any check we got with all of our names on: my wife, me, and the bank. Documents were getting emailed back and forth and the flurry of paperwork we were coordinating between us and the bank and the reconstruction company was circulating at a rate not for the weak of mind. Fortunately, the check cashing went well once all of the pieces started lining up and the process could move forward. Once all documents were signed and aligned, we got a project manager assigned to us. Finally. It had been a little over a month since the rain-pocalypse, but it felt like so much longer.

We were able to get in contact with our project manager, and he wanted to set up a time to meet. He wanted to get his eyes on the job and talk to us. He wanted to feel out the situation. Of course, planning meetings are never next day. Within about a week, he stopped by and we had our meeting. It was a pretty short one. Other than a few quick questions, we learned that it would be at least a couple of weeks before they would begin work. However, he said that once they begin, they would have it done within five days. Once they start, they don't finish until it's done. That sounded promising and reassuring.

blog, total gym 1000, exercise, basement flooding, Minnesota, heavy rains, September 2016
We had been trying to view the entire experience as an opportunity. As much as it had sucked, we had tried to take advantage of the situation. We decided to move forward with some shifting of space usage within the house. We had planned on waiting until a later, unknown date. The end result was essentially my wife and I sharing an office area on the main floor, the bedroom in the basement still serving as a guest bedroom (and my work-night bedroom) but now also her craft room, and the large room in the basement becoming even more so my music studio. We may move our unused TV to the large room, and we'll still have our Total Gym in there as well. Our Total Gym is from the nineties. It's "dated" but very functional still. I think that it's a "1000" means it's the first edition.

We also decided to go with a different color scheme for the basement. Our house was flipped before we bought it. The whole house has a similar theme running through it. Rather than just choose the same paint and carpet color, we decided to go with grays instead of browns. The trim, ceiling, and doors would still be the same off-white. We are also going to paint the downstairs bathroom the same color as the rest of the basement to have continuity. There was no damage in there, so that's on us.

You might have forgotten that I mentioned that I had been working on the sound booth for my studio before the flood happened. Due to the garage getting filled up with contents from the basement, I had no space to continue working on it. Plus, the work going into getting the basement back to normal—on top of other obligations—made it really hard to continue. At some point, I hope to have a post(s) about the construction of the booth. (Here's that post.) I may not get back to working on it until spring. My plans for working on actual music this fall have been destroyed as it's only a couple of weeks and some change until the official start to winter (No Game of Thrones reference? You're welcome.) So it goes with me, it seems.

Eventually, we heard back from our project manager and he gave us a start date: Wednesday, November 16th. Even though we knew we had to wait another couple of weeks, we finally had a date. We could finally see the end coming. This also meant that they would be finished just in time for Thanksgiving, and we could have some people over for the holiday. According to the schedule, they would be done after Tuesday. We would have a whole day to get the main floor of our house back in order and ready for company. Things were finally starting to look pretty good. Everything was on track. 

The carpenter came out the first day and did his part: attached trim, replaced the door casing and frame for the basement bedroom closet, and shaved down the closets bifold doors. The next three days (Thursday, Friday, Monday) the painters did all of the painting. Our project manager had already confirmed with us that the carpet guy was set to install on Tuesday. Things were looking good. We were happy.

The carpet guy didn't show up. I was at work. My wife let me know that about midday through a text, and so I called our project manager. He had tried calling him in the morning to see how it was going—what a good project manager should do—but he didn't get an answer and figured the guy was busy working away the morning. Now that I had called, he was wondering what was going on. Apparently, the carpet guy is very reliable and this is completely unlike him.

I received a call from our project manager around three-thirty that afternoon. He still couldn't get a hold of the carpet guy despite repeated calls and texts. He said he would keep trying. I don't think either of us really knew how to move forward at that point. Just wait and see, I guess.

My wife and I were concerned something bad had happened. The carpet guy and his helper had showed up Monday to take measurements. He had asked my wife how early they could arrive the next morning. The roads were a little slippery Tuesday morning from the sleet we had been getting since sometime Monday. It wasn't similar to a skating rink, but slippery enough for someone to lose control. So, we thought, maybe that had something to do with it.

Either way, we weren't terribly happy about the hiccup. It had been a long process getting our basement back to normal. We were so damned close to being done and now this. Based on the construction schedule, we had decided to have a small group of people over for Thanksgiving. We had planned on moving stuff from our main floor to the basement so that we could clean and be ready for people. The stuff in the garage wasn't even on our radar.

It came down to one person doing their damn job.

Read Part Three.

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