Monday, June 28, 2010

When Bad Things Happen to Good Real Estate

What you are looking at is furniture on blocks, a stack of bifold doors, an extraction machine, and fans.  What happened?
At our house it’s safe to say that when the phone rings at 8:30 on a Monday morning, it’s not a good sign.  At least it wasn’t today.

Our realtor, Ms. Speedy was on the line, trying to sound calm.  The neighbor next door to our for-sale, vacant condo, had called her to say that water was coming out from under our front door, and that her carpet was soaked.  Both units are built on the same slab. 

We live just two minutes from this property, and our realtor’s office is even closer to it.  Gotta love life in a small town. 

By the time we arrived, Ms. Speedy already had the water turned off at the main tap, and had rounded up the president of the homeowners’ association and a handyman friend.  We stepped into the unit, onto wet and floating squares of parquet flooring, and squishy carpeting.  An inch of water covered the kitchen and bath floors.  It was not a pretty sight.

The good news was that it wasn’t sewage water, river water or rain water.  It was clean water.

Within an hour we had a team of fire and water damage specialists on site.  In another hour our plumber was there.  By this time Mr. Lucky and I had already sucked up over 50 gallons of water with our own big, wet/dry, shop vac.    

The plumber determined that the source of the water was the water heater.  Its safety valve had given out, spilling the contents onto the condo’s floor.  The tank kept filling up to replace the lost water.  What’s strange is that we had turned off the water heater because it made no sense to be heating water while the place was vacant.  The plumber said he had never seen this happen before. 

If you have ever been in a situation like this, you know that all you want is for things to be normal again.  All I can tell you is that if all damage repair specialists are as together as the local franchise owner, Mr. Make-it-right, there’s nothing to worry about.  As we inspected the various problems – wet vinyl flooring, wet baseboards, wet drywall -- his words were downright soothing. 

“I can take care of that”

“We’ll fix that.”

“That’s not a problem.”

The padding under the carpet was the kind that could be dried, so instead of ripping out all carpeting and padding, all of it would all be dried on site.  The baseboards would have to be discarded, but the wet two inches of drywall behind them could be thoroughly dried.  It would take all week, but the place would be clean, dry, disinfected, and out of trouble.

All my precious staging was topsy turvy!  I stripped the beds and relocated to closet shelves pillows, books, lamps, and any small stuff I could.  I brought home to wash curtains and a bed skirt that had wicked up water.        

The work is done by giant extractors, fans, and dehumidifiers.  And four men.  By the end of the day, baseboards were outta there, carpets were elevated, furniture was piled in safe places or elevated on foam blocks.

My philosophy is that every misfortune has a flip side -- either a lesson to be learned or a greater reward down the road.  Let's just see where this soggy road leads!  

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