Money Pit Update

Our ‘cracked tiles’ turned out to be a collapsing chimney, which is extra awesome because it makes the job twice as expensive and it gives our home insurance and our home warranty a reason to weasel out of paying. At least the roofers’ repairs survived this weekend’s biblical rainstorm. Now we can finally think about whether to fix the caved-in guest bedroom ceiling, or (my preference at the moment) just brick over the room and tell guests that it’s haunted. Our water authority has a line insurance plan that will cover major subsidence problems caused by a broken sewer line out front (awesome!), except for replacing our broken concrete stairs, which are expensive and apparently not covered (less awesome).

One the plus side, if our sprouting herb garden continues to grow at its present rate then in two or three years it will cover the surface of the Earth. Bwahaha.






62 replies
  1. 1
    Ash Can says:

    And I suppose, on top of everything, it’s too early in the day where you are to start drinking.

  2. 2
    wvng says:

    You shoulda bought a house boat.

  3. 3
    Face says:

    Caved in guest bedroom ceiling, eh? I hope all your friends are midgets (is that the current PC term?)

    Also, broken sewer line? Yikes. From the smell, to the sight, to the effect (no flushing for days!), you’re in for a world of hurt.

    Go halvsies on a Port-O-John with your neighbor.

  4. 4
    Brian J says:

    @Ash Can:

    Unless you start acting like a fool, it’s never too early to start drinking. It just might not be appropriate to drink everything. I wouldn’t have a mojito now, but I would have a mimossa or a bloody mary.

  5. 5
    Punchy says:

    This is all very, very good news for John McCain.

  6. 6
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Wait, so if your chimney falls on the house it’s not covered by insurance? Dang, that’s been my hoped for backup plan for a while now on my own house.

  7. 7
    Ash Can says:

    @Brian J: Sure, but a caved-in bedroom ceiling and a busted sewer line in front of the house call for at least a double martini as far as I’m concerned. For starters.

  8. 8
    Persia says:

    My condolences, Tim. Home ownership is not always fun, and pretty much always potentially expensive.

    In Open Thread news: Salon is ‘down for maintenance’ on a Monday morning. I can see no way this will end well.

  9. 9
    4tehlulz says:

    This kind of thing only reinforces my determination to rent 4eva.

  10. 10
    Brian J says:

    @Ash Can:

    You’re probably right. Rules were meant to be broken, after all.

    As for Tim F., I can’t specifically relate, since I don’t own a home, but from what I’ve seen of family members, it can be a nightmare. As a middle of life birthday present to herself, my mom remodeled our house when I was just starting high school. It’s still not completely done. Part of that is certainly her fault, but other problems have made it even worse.

  11. 11
    dr. bloor says:

    Condolences. On the other hand, I welcome our new Basil and Rosemary overlords.

  12. 12
    The Moar You Know says:

    Jesus. Burn it down and just walk away. You’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars to fix, and unless you live in a high-dollar neighborhood – one where fixing the house would make economic sense – it sounds like this might just be worth the risk of getting nailed for arson and insurance fraud*.

    * I am not a lawyer and have a long track record of making really stupid decisions.

  13. 13
    Kirk Spencer says:

    I have, over the years, become less and less impressed with insurance. I understand the desire to quash fraud. I get the fact that at least some limits must exist.

    But every time I have something major happen I hear, “Oh, that’s not in YOUR coverage.”

  14. 14
    cleek says:

    that sucks.

    we’ve got some problem with our bathtub where sewer gas comes up through the drain (we think that’s where it’s coming from, anyway). so, we hired a plumber to come out and fix it. he replaced the trap in the drain – which took five holes in the ceiling in our kitchen (only way he could get to the pipes). that didn’t work. then he got on the roof and blew out the vent pipes. that didn’t work.

    since there’s no smell coming out of the shower drain, which is like two feet away from the bathtub drain, he’s out of ideas. but we’ve still got five (big) holes in our kitchen ceiling, and the bathroom still stinks.

    this is going to lead to a lot of suck.

  15. 15
    The Raven says:

    Just a quick comment: I cancelled my home warranty after two years. They weaseled out of every problem I called in.

    The kicker was the refrigerator – they wouldn’t repair the ice maker. “We only insure the refrigerator,” they told me, “not the ice-maker.” Then there was the matter of the leaking of the leaking skylight: “We only insure the roof, not the skylights.”

    I regard the home warranty business to be a total scam. Save the money on premiums and bank it away to just pay for the repairs yourself – because you’ll have to, anyway.

  16. 16
    jwb says:

    @cleek: What a great country! No one can find a decent plumber but you can easily find someone to sell you toxic financial assets. Win-win all the way around.

  17. 17
    Brian J says:

    @cleek:

    Hearing stuff like that makes me determined to either (a) move into an apartment–maybe one like this, although right now I am roughly $28 million short–or (b) build one fresh and just make sure everything is done right. I understand the process of wear and tear, but man oh man, I don’t know if I could stand the constant fixing.

    But who am I kidding? The building where I work now was built in the last three years, and it’s nothing special, but on one side, it still leaks if the rain is too heavy. Apparently, the contractors decided to just stop putting in some of the required materials and patch it up. It was fixed, sort of, but then it still seems to leak every now and then.

  18. 18
    Punchy says:

    The wife’s house (see that nice trick? see what I just did there?) came with a 1 or 2 year warrantee on pretty much everything, and a 10-year on major shit like the foundation, roof, etc. We’re pretty damn impressed.

    All that means, of course, is in year 11, the roof collapses and the foundation cracks into 3 pieces.

  19. 19
    jwb says:

    @The Raven: The thing you have to realize about insurance and extended warranties is that they are supposed to be losing propositions from the customer’s side. That’s how the companies make money on them. Therefore, if the premium is good, either the coverage sucks or you are insuring against a very unlikely event.

  20. 20
    Brian J says:

    @Punchy:

    I see what you did, and it makes sense. It’s not your house. It’s the wife’s and always will be. You just live there and, you know, tend to it every so often.

  21. 21
    mistermix says:

    I take it you have mint in your herb garden. I spent a little time ripping out about half of mine. That stuff is pernicious.

  22. 22
    Citizen_X says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I am not a lawyer and have a long track record of making really stupid decisions.

    I have a new motto! May the gods bless you.

  23. 23
    DanF says:

    Tim F. – Sounds like my first house. It was a hundred year old farm house (now in the city) that my wife and I spent about ten years fixing up. I learned a lot and had an excuse to buy whatever tool I needed, but on the balance, I wish I had a few of those weekends back. Collapsed plaster walls, drop ceilings hiding all kinds of crazy, curved floors, drooping porch, collapsing chimney, wet basement with bowed walls, wood flooring with indoor/outdoor carpet glued to it, split clapboard, odd shaped doors, aluminum wiring, etc… My wife loved that house. On the other hand, I have a recurring nightmare that we buy the house again.

  24. 24
    Montysano says:

    We live in a 60 year old house, and very much like my dad, I have a hard time paying someone to do something that I can muddle through on my own. Luckily I’m fairly handy I’m cursed with being handy, so most every weekend involves a has-to-be-done-now project.

    But a collapsing chimney is definitely outside of my skill set…

  25. 25
    Svensker says:

    Major sympathies. We’ve got something weird happening with the plumbing, a rock kicked up from the lawn mower and broke the kitchen window, the front end on the car seems to be giving out and my husband just found out that an 8-year-old root canal was done improperly and he’ll have to have dental surgery and new crown. None of these things was in the budget, let alone all of them. Ho hum.

  26. 26
    Montysano says:

    @DanF:

    I …. had an excuse to buy whatever tool I needed .

    This.

  27. 27
    Brian J says:

    @Montysano:

    Did you ever end up finishing any projects?

  28. 28
    SGEW says:

    Houses? Bah!

    Renters, unite! We have nothing to lose but our herb gardens!

  29. 29
    MikeJ says:

    Weigel is funny:

    Gabriel Sherman’s sprawling New York magazine cover story on “Palin, Inc.” is actually a fast and breezy read. It being an article about Sarah Palin, there’s no policy to slow it down.

  30. 30
    DanF says:

    @Montysano: Yeah – I did end up with an enviable collection of tools. Sadly, some of them are destined to sit idle and mock me as a reminder of my pain.

  31. 31
    Brian J says:

    @MikeJ:

    Normally, I’d say the lack of attention to policy could help her. If she’s not married to any one idea, it can be fairly easy for her to appeal to many different groups, even if she shifts in a rather obvious and blatant way. I believe that’s how Mitt Romney remains as the front runner. But the difference between someone like Romney and someone like Palin is competence. Say what you want about Romney, but I don’t think he’s dumb. All of the various groups that want his ear about this or that know this and have confidence that there’s a chance they could see their preferred policies enacted. They almost certainly feel the opposite about Palin.

  32. 32
    BenA says:

    I have a huge list of things to fix and do to my house… it gets longer every year.

    Your herb garden comment reminds me of the original Creepshow where Stephen King becomes a plant.

    On a semi-related note. I just bought a new lawn mower.. I got an old fashion reel mower, which is actually easier to use than my old gas mower, plus it’s all green and stuff. It’s a joy to use now… but boy are my kids gonna hate me in a few years when they’re old enough to mow the lawn and the thing is old and rusty-ish.

  33. 33
    2th&nayle says:

    Ahh, broken sewer line…bumper crop of herbs? You might want to take a little extra care when washing those herbs.

  34. 34
    Morbo says:

    As someone moving into a house this week, I wish you would stop posting these…

  35. 35
    Cain says:

    I’m not particularly handy. It comes down to the fact that I can’t do anything in a straight line or be able to measure. Amazingly, I have a hard time with a lot of things. We’ve done a couple of remodel type stuff, but I won’t do big things because I know I’ll just screw it up. Our current project is to build a planter box.. we bought a skil saw. Wish us luck.

    Tim F: I feel for you, I’ve never had that kind of problem, and I’m glad for that. The worst thing that happened to us was that the water line from the street into the house broke and I had to get it replaced. That sucked.

    cain

  36. 36
    jibeaux says:

    I see that someone beat me to the “mint” comment. The trick is to grow it in pots only. It is the kudzu of the herbs.

    Have you thought about taking the home warranty company to small claims court (if it meets the jurisdictional limits and seems like a good case that it should be covered)? Some friends of mine successfully got a new furnace that absolutely should have been covered that way, and the magistrate mocked the home warranty company’s attorney for his idiotic arguments.

  37. 37
    Martin says:

    Dude, this atheist will be praying for you. I can do most home repair items but big structural issues would have me weeping.

    I like the haunted room idea, though. My wife wants to remodel the final bathroom (I’m still gutting out the last details of the last bathroom remodel) and ‘haunted’ is a theme she might get behind.

    As for the herb garden, my 12 year old son is trying to raise money to replace his computer and is an avid gardener. Wife and I agreed that if the November pot voter initiative goes through, he’ll have a new crop to grow and we’ve already got a list of buyers lined up for him. Ah, parenting…

  38. 38
    Jackie says:

    I discovered after a storm that my homeowners policy would pay to remove the 1/3 of the tree that fell and all the damage it caused. The remaining 2/3 was manifestly unsafe but they don’t pay to remove it before it falls. I asked if they would pay for it and the damage it did when it inevitably fell, even if I knew it was unsafe ,and they said sure. Now after it fell and killed a few people I’m sure they would have tried to avoid paying but I did have the agent on tape telling me they would still cover and yes he agreed it was a bit penny wise and pound foolish.

    Since one of the people in danger was me, and I am not a sociopath, I paid the 3 grand to remove it. Which I bet they count on.

  39. 39

    All I can say that as the proud purchaser (last June) of a house that had endured the better part of three decades of zero maintenance at the hands of its prior owner, I feel your pain.

    We are simply hoping that the rotting cast iron plumbing in both upstairs bathrooms hold until we can accumulate enough green stamps for the repair.

    Hang in there. I recommend Baker’s, applied internally, repeated as necessary.

  40. 40
    Martin says:

    @BenA: I’ve used a reel push mower for 8 years now. It’s great, not hard at all, and still works like new. You’ll notice when the blades get dull, however, so keep it well serviced. Hose off any clippings that get stuck to it, the water will evaporate quickly but the clippings hold moisture against the metal causing it to rust faster.

  41. 41
    Montysano says:

    @Brian J:

    Did you ever end up finishing any projects?

    Yes….. with qualifications. For example: I put bamboo flooring in our kitchen/dining room, installed all new window and door trim, painted, and put in crown molding. But I’ve yet to go back and fill the nail holes and truly finish the thing. Drives the wife crazy, but when the hot water heater quits working or the car needs work, the fine details take a back seat.

  42. 42
    David in NY says:

    @The Raven:

    The kicker was the refrigerator – they wouldn’t repair the ice maker.

    Um, nobody will ever insure an ice-maker.

  43. 43
    Montysano says:

    @Martin:

    I’ve used a reel push mower for 8 years now.

    After going through 2 or 3 reel mowers, I realized that they are a grass cutting device. What lives in our yard is not at all limited to grass, so the reel mower just wouldn’t cut it.

    I use a corded electric mower, and I love it.

  44. 44
    PTirebiter says:

    Have you thought about taking the home warranty company to small claims court

    Jibeaux’s suggestion is sound. An attorney/friend once told me that Judges hate car dealers and insurance companies as much as the rest of us do. Other than your time, there’s very little downside. I’ve filed two claims and won both. Unfortunately, I was only able to collect on one of them, but the personal satisfaction I felt made it well worth it.

  45. 45
    Brian J says:

    @Montysano:

    Oh, absolutely. I’m not particularly handy, except when it comes to pools, but I am not a complete idiot, either. I just don’t decide to undertake a lot of projects, in large part because I don’t want to devote the time to learning how to do it right, but also because I am just lazy like that, so I know how low the chances of me finishing it are. I only wish my old brothers felt the same way.

    Last year, one had a bunch of mulch and dirt delivered to my mother’s house. He half assed actually putting the crap out, which was annoying enough, but the dirt itself was dumped on the side street instead of in the backyard because they didn’t want to have to take down one of the fence poles (which, by the way, will be taken down this year as she get’s a new fence). I get that, but the dirt sat there for weeks on end. Who’s the asshole who had to shovel it, by hand, into a wheel barrow and then dump it in the backyard before patching up the fence? (We’re talking at least 1000 pounds, if not more, or so my rough estimate says.) Me, that’s who, even though I insisted I wouldn’t. What’s worse, this brother didn’t even bother to use it to level out the yard. It’s still sitting in a pile, although slightly eroded.

    I just asked my mother to remember this before I end up having to execute the grand plans of one of my brothers this year.

  46. 46
    BenA says:

    @Montysano:

    After going through 2 or 3 reel mowers, I realized that they are a grass cutting device. What lives in our yard is not at all limited to grass, so the reel mower just wouldn’t cut it.
    I use a corded electric mower, and I love it.

    I might have the same issue you do… but I’ll give it a try. My yard aspires to have grass. I have also noticed, living in a fairly wooded area, that sticks aren’t quite as fun with the reel mower.

    My yard is a bit to big for a corded mower to work effectively. I’m thinking if the reel mower experiment fails miserably I’m either going to go with a cordless mower with a spare battery or two… or just pay someone to do it. :-)

  47. 47
    BenA says:

    @Martin:

    Hose off any clippings that get stuck to it, the water will evaporate quickly but the clippings hold moisture against the metal causing it to rust faster.

    Good advice… hadn’t even thought about it that much.

  48. 48
    Allan says:

    It appears we won’t be hearing from BoB anytime soon

  49. 49
    Martin says:

    @Montysano: Depends on the mower, too. My first kinda sucked. My second is awesome. Brill makes the best push mowers, IMO.

  50. 50
    Shinobi says:

    Hey Guys, Don’t forget to run out today and pick up your ObamaPad

    It is perfect for watching crappy attempts at satire from the right.

  51. 51

    Well, I know the money-pit is not a major source of joy for you, but for me, that made my bleak Monday morning so much nicer. I’m, ummm, sorry, yeah, that’s it, for your troubles, but keep sharing, okay?

  52. 52
    Cain says:

    @jibeaux:

    I see that someone beat me to the “mint” comment. The trick is to grow it in pots only. It is the kudzu of the herbs.

    I have mint growing and it’s fine. What’s a real pain is lemon balm. Holy crap, I can’t seem to get rid of the damn thing. I should just collect them and the mint and make tea with it.

    cain

  53. 53
    Montysano says:

    @BenA:

    I’m either going to go with a cordless mower with a spare battery or two

    Exactly. A spare battery or two… or four. My in-laws have a cordless, and IMHO it’s 3 times the hassle of dealing with a cord.

  54. 54
    BenA says:

    @Montysano:
    The issue I have with a cord… is that the chance of me running over the cord with the mower is nearly 100%. Especially with the distance I have to go from the plug.

  55. 55
    Montysano says:

    @BenA:

    The issue I have with a cord… is that the chance of me running over the cord with the mower is nearly 100%. Especially with the distance I have to go from the plug.

    I put out a 150′ extension, then start mowing closest to the power source and working outward. Running over the cord has never been an issue.

  56. 56
    trollhattan says:

    @TimF.

    My condolences. Old homes are an endless source of…adventure, seasoned with doses of horror and the very occasional burst of pride (suburban sprawlers lauding your home’s “character”).

    Of many, many stories I’ll cite extracting handfuls of soggy redwood from our bathroom floor and wall systems a month after completing a six-figure home addition-remodel project. A discovery that lead to a five-figure bathroom remodel.

    Yay for us.

    I have friends who refuse to buy “used” homes, instead always insisting on newly built. And what could possibly go wrong with that?

    http://www.dallasnews.com/shar.....97a4d.html

    Here’s hoping things start improving for you.

  57. 57
    JSD says:

    Tim,

    Didn’t you just buy the home? If the broken chimney was known by the previous owners and not disclosed, you can sue them for the cost of reconstruction.

  58. 58
    ruemara says:

    Sitting here on top of my own money pit, that we’re a few months away from losing-fuck you gwb-I sympathize. Supposedly, it get’s better.

  59. 59
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Brian J: Fascinating. Why can you drink one at a certain time, but not the other?

    @ruemara: So sorry to hear that. Sending you vibes that it gets better.

  60. 60
    birthmarker says:

    Tim F.-I missed the beginning of the house drama. Can you create tags for your entries so we can read and catch up? (I love all things house related-good, bad, ugly.)

  61. 61
    frosty says:

    @Montysano:

    But I’ve yet to go back and fill the nail holes and truly finish the thing.

    This. Looks like every house (and car) repair I’ve ever undertaken.

    I am the King of the Jury Rig, and have been cursed for a lifetime with my high school motto “Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more.”

  62. 62
    frosty says:

    @frosty:

    Pretend this was in the blockquote above:

    “But I’ve yet to go back and fill the nail holes and truly finish the thing.”

    I’ll figure this out yet.

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