Friday, May 6, 2011

When it Rains...

And you thought I was gonna start this off with ' Pours!' or something, didn't you? C'mon, admit it. It's OK. I almost did. But then I decided to wave off the catcher and go with the change-up.

Because around here, when it rains, IT FREAKING LEAKS.

And that's a problem. A big one. And one that we have to try to figure out how to solve without spending a fortune doing it.

Because like most situations in the past couple of years, we've had to bend over and take it up the poop chute on this one so a lot of the 'getting this solved' is up to us.

Some backstory.

Sometime this winter, I notice some water next to the front door. I wondered where in the world it was possibly coming from. Checked everywhere for the leak, could not find any evidence anywhere, and I scoured. I wiped everything up, and figured 'OK, since we live in one of these McMansion style dwellings with the Uber-Wasteful Super-Foyers with the Giant Window Wall and Open Greeting Area, which I will now call UWSFGWWOGA for short, maybe the door frame has a leak of some kind.'

So my Mom comes out with my StepDad (again...clarification, this is not the abusive StepDad from my youth who eventually introduced himself to a .357 Magnum...this is the super-cool, ultra-amazing high-school sweetheart who happens to also be named Ken that my Mom married after that asshole) and we caulked the framing and everything else.

We never saw water there again.

Later on, as Spring approaches, I see some buckling in the floor near the door. I step on it, and the floor starts to GIVE. HOLY FREAKING SHIT. I start pushing more, it's almost spongy. Oh no. I decide to cut a slice into the floor and pull up some of the cheap linoleum, and sure enough, there is rotten sub-flooring from water damage that is tearing the floor apart.

I get the number of a contractor and set up a meet. He comes out. After several visits, one with a thermal imaging gun, he determines that not only do we have a big problem with water leaking in around the door frame and into the floor around the front door, but also the roof. The roof is missing several key components that the builder did not install when they built the home.

Total estimated amount to fix all the problems? Between $25,000 - $30,000.

I'll pause while you all clean up your keyboards.

OK, so I call up the insurance company and start the process of filing a claim. We break it into two parts. Roof overall and UWSFGWWOGA. This entire process was STARTED in February. Today, finally, the claims adjuster came to finalize the review of the roof section so that we could get answers to both parts of the problems.

Both claims have been denied.

The roof one I actually KIND OF understand. The roof was built according to local code in 2005-2006. The didn't HAVE to put in those elements I mentioned, so the builder didn't. I just wish someone, ANYONE, would have fucking TOLD us this when we were buying the home. How the fuck am I supposed to know this? I'm just saying, you would THINK that it would have at LEAST been presented to me, as a home buyer, as an UPGRADE or something? I mean C'MON...I'm BUYING A NEW GODDAMN HOME I EXPECT IT TO BE IN PERFECT CONDITION.

I should tell you about my first day in this 'new' home and how the house nearly killed me, but that's another story.

Anyway, I can really ALMOST understand the denial on the roof. I really can.

But the denial on the UWSFGWWOGA? I really think it is unfair. The insurance company considers it not covered because it happened over a period of time. They consider it, therefore, a 'maintenance' issue. OK, but how can it be a maintenance issue if I couldn't even see it happening?

But the insurance companies want an 'event', a 'cataclysm' I guess, something to tie everything together in a nice, neat bow. This does not have that. To them, this was an ongoing issue that is not covered according to the language of their policy.

In other words?


So...why is this leak even occurring? I have no idea, but I would not be surprised if it was bad design or poor workmanship. This is a VERY common problem with Maronda Homes, which apparently has some quality issues across the board. I know what you're thinking. 'Um...hey Lilly...if you know that Maronda Homes has quality issues, why did you buy a home from them?'

Because I'm stupid.

I bought the house while I was living in Maryland, I did not do enough research at the time, I bought the house too quickly, and in a rush, and I should have pushed my wife much harder than I did to move into a rental property in Ohio first when we decided to move from Maryland to Ohio and take our TIME searching before we bought a home.

Hindsight? 20/20. I've used the image before but I do love it so.

But holy shit I should have been smarter with that one. The housing market turned to SHIT a year or so later, and our house plummeted in value. Just THINK of what we could have gotten into for a LOT less money had we actually rented and waited and taken our time?

Instead we ended up in a Maronda Home. And now, we are paying for our error in judgment.

I hate being trapped here. I hate it with a red hot passion.

It affects everything. Especially my career. Not being able to sell this house has put such a chokehold on my ability to get back heavily into my career, and soon I fear I will probably be unable to get back into it at all. Unless something drastic changes in the housing market and we can get out of here.

I would give anything to win the lottery so I could walk away from this fucking house. I want something older and smaller. Not to mention safer for Bennett. How the hell I am going to figure out how to keep him from falling off the open spaces on the 2nd floor that are above the UWSFGWWOGA?


And get this...the Homeowner's Association here? You can't have a wooden fence. ONLY wrought iron. How cheesy is that? Not to mention how unsafe is that for my disabled son? How in the world can I have him run around outside in the back yard and feel secure unless I shadow him like a Secret Service Agent?

I dunno...iron fences just don't seem that 'safe' to me anyway. Not to mention the fact that I hate the fact that there is no privacy to them, the potential danger issues are pretty significant as well. Who comes up with this crazy shit at these meetings?

But I wasn't expecting to have a disabled child when the home was purchased either. might be asking yourself...'Hey Lilly...why not go after Maronda for the money to for these repairs?' Not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all. We might. I may at least investigate the idea.

But you gotta remember the following:

1. I can't WAIT for that to happen. The damage is occurring even as I type this. The damage must be fixed. NOW. This type of thing will just keep getting worse. And I am very concerned of late about the air quality inside my home. Moisture, possibility of mold, excessive dust, lots of things that I need to address better and I can't ignore this problem.
2. It could take years and I could lose and I am not sure I can afford it.
3. Maronda Homes filed for Chapter 11 on April 20th of this year because guess what? A LOT of people have sued them and they are in deep shit...might be hard to get a dime from them.

I'd much rather the insurance company step up to the plate and meet me in the middle. I even told the adjuster...look, the estimate included a lot of things like paint, flooring and all that. I don't NEED to have all that stuff included in the contract work. What I need help on is the stuff I CAN'T do. Can't you guys help in some way, meet me in the middle somewhere?

Can I have the contractor revise the estimate to just cover finding and fixing the leak, repairs on the outside, replacing the door frame, the sub floor and stuff like that and all the other stuff, anything cosmetic, I will do myself?


Thanks for nothing. Insurance companies really are evil, evil, evil things. This woman, this adjuster? Nice as could be. Really liked her. It isn't her fault. I was not angry with her, I was not mean to her, I took nothing out on her. It's the company itself.

It's like my Mom's situation I mentioned a few weeks back. Her house is BROKEN into, shit is stolen, she files a claim and her rates go up. HOW IN THE HELL IS THAT JUST? Do your auto insurance rates go up if someone hits YOU with THEIR car and the accident is THEIR fault? A few weeks later, a survey, a questionnaire of some kind was sent to her, and she filled it out online, and she expressed her extreme dissatisfaction over the situation.

Someone called her within about five minutes of her filling it out.


I told her that she should have said this to the woman calling her, and she wished she had, but we both admitted that sometimes you just don't say the things you want to when you are 'in the moment':

'Look Miss...I appreciate you taking the time to call me, but this call is a meaningless attempt to placate my feelings, a half-assed gesture to talk me out of any possible effort I might make in switching insurance companies. The bottom line is that you are calling me to offer me nothing. Now, if you are calling me to tell me that the president of the company is on the line to apologize to me and let me know that my rates are going back to the way they were, then I'm all ears, otherwise there's nothing you have to say that will make me re-evaluate the way I feel about how badly the way your company has treated my loyalty to you. Period.'

Anyway, that's what's going on with our house. Fun, huh.

Now...there is one possible Hope here. One thing that might actually save our asses from having to have the house foreclosed on and lose our retirement and file for bankruptcy ourselves.

That Hope has a name, and its name is Steve.

Steve is a good friend of mine I met WAY back in the days of working at Palisades Toys. He started volunteering for us at conventions, but that soon changed from volunteering to actually being paid to work the shows. The guy has tools I have only ever heard of or seen pictures of, and he knows how to use them. He's been doing construction and contracting for years, and he knows his 'S'. That's 'shit' for those of you who don't understand. Yet it also could be Superman. Or Star Wars.

He knows a lot of other stuff too, like comics, toys, movies, inking, etc. but I'm not telling you the life story of Steve. Suffice it to say that he's a good friend and as luck would have it, he will be here next Tuesday. I'm transporting some stuff for another friend from Maryland to here and Steve is helping us do it.

Steve is going to assess the situation and see if maybe we can do the work ourselves, he and I. Well, he'll be doing most of it, I'll be handing him stuff most likely. I'm a pussy, remember? But if that can happen, it might be just what we need to keep us out of bankruptcy court.

And that's NEVER a bad thing.

I've been there once before in my life. It sucks the big one.

I do NOT want to go back. fingers hurt. Yeah, I may only be good for 12 posts a month...but at least they are some HEARTY posts. Probably too long. I'll bet none of you even made it this far.



  1. You underestimate me sir. I totally made it to the end.

  2. I made it too…

    The way you describe you possibly helping out if it's fixable is how I've always imagined how it might be if I ever needed his help on a home project.

  3. I made it too! hehe....I am keeping my fingers crossed that Steve can help you fix the problems with the house. Home repairs are a bitch and unless you put money away before you even buy a house for those unforseen problems, you are pretty much screwed. And with everything you guys have been through the last couple years, it is totally understandable why you may not, or obviously do not have any savings available.

  4. I'm really glad Steve is swinging by. He's amazing-man!

  5. Me too! Sitting on the edge of my seat to see what was gonna happen. Insurance - homeowners or medical all SUCK in my eyes! :?

    I hope things work out for you guys, the whole time I was thinking was perhaps doing the foreclosure route, although not what you'd want to do - it would get you out of the house, without having to try to sell it later, and get to a safe place with a better fence for kiddo!

  6. Everybody needs a 'Steve'. Btw, you lost your bet, I did make it to the end. And speaking with inside information I'd have to agree that Maronda sucks. Don't let the Chapter 11 filing slow you down, according to my sources Maronda is in no real trouble, just using to restructure long-term financing after pissing off Hunington's somehow or another. Good luck and good 'Steve' to ya.

  7. Yup made it to the end :) Totally agree that insurance companies are evil and not really there to help you. I know of VERY few stories where they actually come through for people unless it is a really cut and dried case. I sure hope your friend Steve can help you out. It's always good to have friends that have "real" skills.

  8. I'm so sorry about your house troubles. it really sucks on top of everything else that you are dealing with. I'm very glad you have a Steve though, and I'm hoping that you guys can take care of all the repairs.

  9. "I'm transporting some stuff for another friend from Maryland to here and Steve is helping us do it."

    If this "stuff" is what I think it is you'll be buying a mansion soon. Or go into solitary confinement :-)

  10. I am so sorry to hear this -- what a nightmare is right. I don't know what to say other than bad times, particularly financial, abound. My husband and I are in deep financial shit as well, despite working our asses off. I've started baking and decorating cakes at night, when the kids are asleep, to help pay for caregiving help for Sophie, so I don't really go insane. I don't know what the answer is, but I do hope you get a break soon.

  11. I know this sounds far-fetched but have you thought about Extreme Makeover? It would be worth a shot especially with having Bennett.

  12. I've been the accountant for not one, but 12, companies that filed Chapter 11. File a claim against them now. A dollar amount will be necessary, but that is even not cut in stone. If you don't file by a certain date from their filing date, you will be out of luck. We paid off all our creditors 100 cents on the dollar. Those who didn't file a claim got nothing.

    But you must file a claim with the bankruptcy court in a timely manner or you will be out of any further recourse against the company. You really don't even need an attorney at this point, the court should be able to send you forms or you might find them online. Its all in Federal Court, but different districts.

    You can dot i's and cross t's a bit later. Just get your claim filed with the bankruptcy court while you are still assessing what you want to do.

  13. I'm not entirely sure what that means, to 'file a claim' against them. I have the two written denials by the insurance company, and I can get written documentation by a professional that both realistically were caused by builder error, but I'm not exactly sure what I am doing beyond that as far as what kind of claim I am actually filing against Maronda.


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