Almost a month ago, on March 6th, I called our insurance guy.
Thursday, a few days before, we had been to dinner with dear friends, and Sam mentioned the neighbors, and then said "Hey... why don't you call your home owner's insurance, and see what they'll do?"
I had a kitchen floor problem.
As in 'planks coming up and knocking you in the face, as seen on The Three Stooges'. Okay--not that bad, but close. The dogs tripped on them, the babes tripped over them, Eric and I physically, mentally, and emotionally tried our best to avoid them...
When it first happened, it was one of those things that seem so incongruous.
I mean... a (however mild) disaster? What? Sure we knock things around, things get broken, things need tending... but this?
No. No. No.
When the dishwasher first flooded --water came pouring -pouring!- out from under the dishwasher door, water went everywhere. There was either a clog in the sink, or a clog in the dishwasher drain. And it all had to go somewhere. Most of it went under our lovely laminate planks. Into the 3/4 inch particle board.
We figured it'd dry, and the hills (think the size of mole hills) would recede, and we'd get back to some semblance of 'acceptable', if not perfect.
It got to be months, and those hills were not going anywhere. And so, we lived with one end of boards up five or six or eight inches up off of others... eventually, not even remotely staying in place.
Aaargh. It sucks to loathe walking through your kitchen. For months.
We just didn't know what to do.
Finally, my dad said "If you can wait 'til I come out, I can help you fix it."
And a friend was going to help by coming to take a look, to see what our possibilities were.
Ah! Now we're getting somewhere.
So the friend, Nate, comes over, we go to dinner, and Sam mentions Home Owners Insurance.
We have a $500 deductible. It's a possibility. (Never, in the twelve years that we've owned this house have we utilized our insurance. Just didn't think of it.)
I called on Monday, the water-disaster people showed up soon after, they took samples of our many layers of flooring --two layers of 3/4 inch plywood, and five layers of linoleum-- and mentioned 'send these off to the lab, for asbestos testing'....
One of the layers, the top linoleum, the one between the two uppermost layers of particle board, contained asbestos.
Ah. Definitely an insurance claim, here, folks. The water clean-up disaster guy says "Get a claim number, tell him 'sudden and accidental damage', and that I'm sure it will be over your $500, as well as the insurance's initial $500.
So the cupboard that isn't built in (and under the white tile) gets moved to the living room, the dishwasher gets moved in there, too, the junk drawer and decorations go to the laundry room, the kitchen table and all of our food get moved to our bedroom.... you get the idea.
In one day, the asbestos folks come in, tape everything off, put a giant air hose/purifier out the window, and strip my kitchen down to the subfloor.
Excellent. It's all easy, from here.
So, so glad that it turned out this way.... can you imagine if my dad or a friend came in, and cut out the 'bad' flooring -removing the asbestos linoleum underneath- in order to 'patch' and even out our floor? What a disaster and mess that would have been.
So now we're in stage two. The floor is gone. We're down to original wood 1x5 diagonal wood planks.
Insurance guy says "I'll come on Monday." So things sit, as they are, until Monday.
I look around my bare kitchen, and think "Uh.... no better time to paint, Steph, than now!" And so begins my living at Home Depot, eying flooring possibilities, and buying paint and supplies.
He comes. Surely he won't deny my claim, right? I mean... he did say that if the dishwasher 'drips' then it's not their problem, but ours.... and I was rather vague on when it actually happened (I really have no idea of the exact date, he suggested one and I said "Sure... we'll go with that.")... was he going to deny a claim at this point? The asbestos fee was $1000... certainly I didn't have that.
"Did you have linoleum in here for your floor?" "No, we had wood laminate." "Oh--I didn't know that. Do you have a photo?" Of course I do. : )
So he puts his numbers and measurements into his laptop --he has a podium-type stand for his computer, and is standing in the middle of my kitchen-- and after an hour or so, he says, "Okay, here are my numbers. Come over here, and I'll go over it with you."
So he figures in 5 inch baseboards (ours were three inches, but we lost a full two inches of flooring, so have scarring at the bottom of our walls), the flooring, a general contractor, a plumber to come out and set our dishwasher -at $100- the construction of our cabinets --again, we lost two inches so our cabinets that were movable are now going to be two inches lower than the original cabinets, that has to be remedied... caulking, toe-kick skins, flooring, paint, a 1/2 inch particle board layer (yeah, right--I'll surely be doing That)... "Here's ($$) what I've figured. Now this isn't final. If your general contractor finds something that I didn't see, or if he runs into problems -such as things that are not up to code- this number will be rectified. This is just for now, the things that we can see that need to be fixed. Here's the total, and then we minus your $500 deductible." "Okay." "This should be deposited into your back account within 48 hours." "Okay."
I called two friends, asking if they wanted the work. I figured I'd pay them around $400 ($500?) for the day's work. I could do much of it, like the painting and the baseboards, I just needed someone to do the floor and build up our cabinets, to match the height of the other ones.
I happily carried on, painting, firmly deciding upon my flooring -a beautiful click-hardwood- generally getting ready for flooring. Scraping glue off the bottom of the walls, painting, window shopping.... then it's new cabinetry hardware.... and two glass cupboard doors....then new canisters and bowls.... and a few other kitchen pretties..... went shopping for a new countertop (mine had been stained, and would NOT be acceptable in my newly bright, white kitchen), eventually had to just paint mine with a specialty paint, as white is not a current color of choice (no one currently carries white).... Oh no! The floor I'd chosen was special order only.. that wouldn't do... bought two kinds, brought them home, didn't like them, took them back, tried Lowes instead.... found one.....
During all of this, I figure that my friends just don't have time for this--they have their own home projects, after all.
I figure how much Home Depot would cost to install it for me...and somewhere along the way comes the very hesitant and quiet question "could you do it, yourself?"
I don't know.
And so, as when I usually just don't know, I call Daddy, to see what he has to say about it.
He says he's never done laminate flooring, but it shouldn't be all that hard.
"Get a skilsaw. And a speed square."
"Will I need some sort of table? What could I cut it on?"
And so an hour later, after many questions and much brain humming, I am quite firm in my decision to Do It Myself.
I talk it over with Eric, and he immediately tells me "I knew it all along. I always figured you'd do it, yourself. I can't believe it took you this long to figure it out." : )
And so. With hubby's permission, my dad's backing, and the four or five hundred dollars that I would have paid someone else to buy Tools, there I went. (Even though we had a deductible, the insurance guy figured in things like $100 for a plumber to hook up our dishwasher--psh.)
And so the kitchen floor -and paint- job eventually become counter repair, new cupboards, new hardware, building cabinetry Up, new trim on the cupboards, a pretty stained chair rail... I can comfortably say, a kitchen remodel!
And now, in four days under a month (since I called the insurance agent), I am near done. There is one corner section of baseboards calling me, one drawer to be sanded and repainted (smeared it last night while it was wet), and a couple of baseboards that want a few more finish nails.
And I am the proud owner of all sorts of wondrous things, like pry bars, spacers, a speed square (with a level), a skilsaw, a new drill, three new clamps, finish nail sets, a miter saw... and I know how to use them!
So it's all settled, now.
That initial "No, no, no!!!" has, naturally, (of course!) been turned into a "Yes, yes, yes!!!"
I'm gonna go put my paint shirt on, now, and finish up my kitchen.
Then I'm going to go cut some gorgeous lilacs, and little blue flowers for my little blue kitchen.
All is well.