From the first moments of racing through the house to make the water stop overflowing, to the heart-dropping-to-the-pit-of-your-stomach call with the insurance company, to the search for a remediation company that could come over right away to start drying things out, to updating a husband on his way home from an appointment, the discovery and reporting of potential damage to the house felt like a continuous loop.
The two weeks following the event did little to dispel that sense. As we closed the doors behind the cleanup crew that left our house in the very early hours of the next morning, we began a first step in recovery: dry out. This meant regular visits to measure moisture in the walls, move around dehumidifiers and vents, and surgically remove more parts of the house to facilitate a faster drying process. We also had a couple visits from our insurance representative, who helped outline what would need to happen to bring us back to roughly 7:30 a.m. on August 22.
Before those details, a quick blessings count: what wasn’t damaged.
On the first floor the living room, dining room, first floor bathroom, front foyer and much of the hallway were unharmed. On the second floor the bedrooms, master bath, hallway and hall closet were dry. More of the house was livable than not. We were extremely fortunate that we could continue inhabiting our home. The thought of relocating to a temporary place while keeping pace with life as usual and pushing recovery and restoration along was overwhelming to say the least.
Damaged areas, though, would still shift around life for a little while.
Laundry room: our ground zero, the floor was removed down to subfloor. Baseboard was taken up and much of the movable contents were relocated to the upstairs hallway. The washer and dryer, while technically still operable, would be discarded for newer models. #trustissues
The bathroom that shares a wall with the laundry room showed no visible damage. The remediation team did remove baseboards and punched a few holes along the base of the wall to promote airflow and faster drying. Repairs would be needed.
The rear foyer was a goner. There was little left of the original space. Miraculously, the closet where off-season coats, light bulbs, grilling supplies, bike helmets, etc. were stored stayed dry. Much of the personal items that got wet were built to get wet – rain boots, wind breakers, sun glasses. They could dry out.
In the hallway leading from the rear foyer to the rest of the house, carpeting was soaked for about a foot and a half into the hallway. No wet ceiling, no wet walls that we could immediately see, but measurements showed lingering dampness between walls so portions were removed to help speed drying.
From this tiny corner spread some of the most significant to-dos. The wallpaper in the hallway runs continuously from the first floor, up the open stairway to the second floor, and up again to the attic door. “Holy crap,” is what our insurance representative uttered as he followed the wallpaper up…and up…and up. It would all have to go. The 2 square feet of soaked carpet was part of a larger piece that ran continuously through the hallway and living room. All to be replaced.
The kitchen was more like the walking wounded. Wet in some spots, dry in others, the remediation team took a much more conservative approach to removals. The ceiling, part of the wall, those were the first opened up. After a couple more days, when moisture levels in the wall cavities were still too high, a bank of cabinetry and pantry units were removed. Putting everything back together as it was is the order here – but complicated a bit by some damages to a pantry face frame that will need to be repaired or replaced.
The next challenge was finding a contractor we could not only entrust with this work, but could also start before the new year began.