05 January, 2009

Well, $#&*#$. We don't need problems with the foundation.

Today was supposed to be a happy day.

Mom's tenants moved into her other house this weekend, and Ted and I were over there this evening to pick up the last of our possessions: a desk, a dollhouse, and an old file cabinet. After more than a year of moving stuff (we had rented out our condo, moved to Mom's, put some of our stuff in storage, closed on The Box House, moved our stuff from storage to Evanston, and moved Mom's stuff here) we were done. Now we had tenants for both the extra properties, and could wait out the housing crisis and bad economy until we could sell them.

We were actually in high spirits as we drove to the Western suburbs, knowing that we wouldn't have to make the trek out there as frequently. I was even okay this time having to ring the doorbell to be let in.

And then I made the mistake of asking how things were going, and if they were all settled in.

They were settling in nicely, they assured us, but wanted to let us know that there was water in the basement.


The only time there was ever water in the basement was when the sump pump failed, and we didn't have a battery back up. The sump was working now--our handy man we sometimes use when we can't get out to the house had even checked it a few days before--but there was a small amount of water pooled in the middle of the basement and along all the edges. We could actually see it seeping in on the western edge, where wall met floor. My mouth literally dropped open, I was so surprised.

Seriously, what the heck?

The best we can figure, since the sump was working, is that the rapid freeze and thaw of last week, in which the temperature went up forty degrees and then back down within 12 hours, had somehow shifted or nudged or did some damage to the slab.

In more than 30 years of occupying the house, we had never had water seepage. What are the odds it happens on the weekend we get new tenants?

I broke the news to Mom as gently as I could, but it's a bitter pill to swallow. And checking the insurance policy yielded little hope. It doesn't look like they cover this type of damage, or, as clause 12 puts it, movement, settling, cracking, bulging, shrinking, heaving, or expanding, whether natural or otherwise. And clause 36 says they do not cover loss from extremes of temperature, including freezing.

It is speculation on our part regarding what exactly is happening in the basement, and we won't know more until we can call the insurance company and a few contractors to come out and look at it. But gee whiz, this sucks.


modernemama said...

That's awful for you but really what does insurance cover?

Joanne said...

After reading all the fine print, I think tornado, earthquake, or fire--that's about it. It's just as bad as health insurance.

Andy said...

Yeah, I've had a few new-homeowner friends learn the hard way for me that floods are never, ever covered unless you buy flood insurance separately, and even then, it gets sticky.

Good luck with the cracks...I still have to figure out what I'm going to do with our seeping "cold storage" room underneath our front porch...which created a river across the family room to the drain (thankfully after meandering across the room, touching nothing but right to the drain).

Karen Anne said...

Earthquake damage (like flood damage) isn't normally covered under homeowner's policies, you need separate earthquake insurance for that.

(ex-resident of near San Francisco speaks.)

SmilingJudy said...

And even if it was covered, NEVER file a claim unless the cost of repair would cause significant financial hardship.....like thousands. Your premiums will triple even for the smallest claim. Learned that the hard way.

Jennifer said...

YUCK! I hope it's quick and easy. Or, at least relatively inexpensive. OR, that the insurance covers it. Good luck!

Joanne said...

Well, insurance has confirmed they won't cover it unless it's discovered that the water is coming from a broken pipe. We have four or five appointments scheduled with contractors on Monday/Tuesday to get some estimates.

One guy gave us a "quote" on the phone based on half a dozen question he had for us, which I found ridiculous. How can you diagnose the source of the water with any certainty unless you examine it in person? His solution was to inject some sort of epoxy into all the cracks. In my mind, that will just push the problem to another location.

Ms. P in Jackson said...

I too have a property in Texas that did not sell and I ended up being a long distance landlord.
The entire first year I did nothing but put the rent money back into fixing everything, from a $7600 foundation repair (Texas, land of the shifting sands...), all new electric to the tune of about $1500, new water heater $650, new drain pipe from the tub $600, removal of back porch and funky-ass hot tub $500, and of course annual amputation of the mini forest that surrounds the house. the list went on and on. But finally, I have a good tenant who rents for years at a time and things have been quiet (knock on wood).

I wish you the best on your estimates and hope it's nothing major. My foundation quotes caused heart palpitations...but I did survive and my house is better for it now. Plus, I have a lifetime guarantee for the work. Be sure to hire a good company for this type of thing, I'm sure you will.

Joanne said...

Mrs. P.

Thanks for sharing your experience! The foundation issue turns out to be a pricey one, but we're looking at it in a positive light; at least we have tenants whose rent will pay for the repairs.

us said...

Oh rats!