It’s all over but the getting people paid

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November 1, 2011 by falcon7204

Well, our six week ordeal is finally over. Actually it ended about two weeks ago when we moved back into our house. The plumbing and kitchen restoration work is finished, and I must say I’m impressed. We have almost all new cabinets in the kitchen … new vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms … new carpet in fully 1/2 of the house … and brand new sewer plumbing underneath.

To recap, back on June 25 we discovered a leak under our kitchen sink. Actually it was under the cabinet under our kitchen sink. To make a long story short, over 100 feet of sewer pipe had to be replaced underneath our house; a 17 foot trench was jackhammered into our slab; tunnels were dug underneath our house (which could have threatened the foundation); and we stayed in a hotel for six weeks.

It may sound like fun – staying in a two-bedroom suite where breakfasts were free – but in one month I put over 3,000 miles on my truck driving back and forth between the hotel and the house. (Tip: if you find yourself in a similar situation and insurance offers to put you up in a hotel, make sure it’s closer to your home.) Plus the daily driving more than 50 miles can take its toll on your back.

But it’s over now, and it’s nice to have a working kitchen again, as well as new carpet (which I consider a bonus, even though insurance is paying for it). The only thing left is to make sure the contractors all get paid, and I think the main reason this job took six weeks is because the mortgage company insisted on being in the middle of it.

The insurance company was required to have the mortgage company’s name placed on the check as a co-payee. I was required to endorse the check and send it to them. And they were apparently required to hang onto it as long as they th0ught they could get away with it, meaning my contractors didn’t get paid on a timely basis. The only saving grace was the fact that, since it was insurance money, my contractors didn’t get too uptight about it. And the checks are in the mail, as the saying goes, so with any luck they’ll get their money soon.

A tip: If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, make sure you get all the information you can prior to having any work done. Make sure you know what your policy covers – if you don’t have it, get a copy of your policy jacket and make sure you have the proper endorsements. If you don’t, don’t despair; many policies will still cover repairing water damage from such a leak, but they may not pay for getting to the leak and repairing that damage without an endorsement. (And no insurance policy will pay for the actual pipe repair.) Talk to your plumber; make sure you understand the scope of the work he’s suggesting, and realize he’s going to tell you that he’s going to start small but probably finish big. Talk frankly with the insurance adjuster, and realize they’re going to try and convince you to go with a cheaper alternative (they’ll want to do a second “opinion,” which is really a second estimate). But they’ll also tell you that you can choose whichever contractor you want. It’s a bit of a contradiction, but it becomes clear when they balk at wanting to pay the plumber’s estimate. And don’t be afraid of standing over your contractor and asking questions, because how else are you going to learn? If the contractor gets irritated or upset, then ask his company for a new repairman.

But be aware that, if you live in the south you probably have clay soil that shifts, and if your house is 30 years old or older it will probably have cast iron pipe that may have corroded out. If you see water spots on your floor where there were none before, or soggy carpet, or lots of grass growing in a particular area outside of your house (like by the drain cleanout), then you may have a leak. And the longer you wait to get it repaired, the worse it’s going to get.

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