Unplanned Renovation

You know how life is going along just fine and then one day you look down and there’s water on the floor and you blame the kids and wipe it up and then it’s there again the next day and you blame the cats and wipe it up and then it’s there the next day and you think, Maybe there is a problem? The ceiling looks fine, so you go down to the crawl space and…yep, there is definitely a problem.

Water and mold everywhere.

No wonder Silas and I have had the sniffles.

It turns out that the dishwasher drain hose came undone and was dumping water into the crawl space every time it ran. Because it didn’t start to puddle in the kitchen until the subfloor was seriously saturated, we don’t know how long this was going on. Maybe a couple weeks?

We had to bring in disaster remediation specialists. My insurance adjuster, with Rockingham Group (which, by the way, we’ve been really happy with), asked me if I wanted recommendations for this. Since I have been lucky enough to never have needed this service, I said yes. She asked, “Would you prefer a business that is owned by a woman or minority, or does that not matter to you?” Honestly, my jaw dropped. I don’t expect a question like that in Rockingham County. She recommended Rainbow International, and they have been fantastic to work with. Great communication, clearly they know what they are doing, and very kind and friendly. Strong recommend, if you ever are unlucky enough to need their services.

One of the industrial-strength dehumidifiers Rainbow put in our house.

The machines to dry out the space are very loud. Some of the water went into Silas’ room, so he couldn’t sleep in there for several nights. The kids moved up to the den until we were given permission to turn them off at night. Silas is also prone to anxiety and resistant to change, so the fact that his room is affected (albeit, probably in a very minor way) has been very hard for him.

Rainbow sent a very nice person to pack up everything in the cupboards. I was glad not to have to do it, I spent the whole week following going, “I think I’ll make a smoothie. Oh, wait, the blender is…in a box.”

And then, as if that wasn’t enough disruption, they found asbestos in the lower layer of linoleum (what you can see in the picture with the dehumidifier). So now we have to be out of our house for at least a week while they safely remove that.

Asbestos containment…it’s like the end of ET, but in my house.

Honestly, it’s a good news/bad news story. As much of a hassle as this is, that kitchen was awful and hadn’t been updated since the mid-1970s. We replaced the major appliances, but the floors, counters, sink, cabinets, and Masonite fake-wood walls were as they had been for decades.

The kitchen: A “before” picture

I would have kept using the kitchen as-is for another decade because it was functional. This event is forcing me to change it, and that is a good thing. Bethany, Laura, and Miriam have all weighed in on various kitchen options, and dreaming a new version of this space is honestly exciting.

The insurance is covering the asbestos removal, since it is part of a covered incident, and that’s the only circumstance in which they would cover it (and they don’t always, even then). JC and I were ultimately going to renovate the kitchen, and we probably would have chosen to DIY the demolition. What would have happened is either that we would have not thought to test for asbestos (I had no idea it was used in linoleum!) and just torn it out, endangering everyone’s health, or we would have had it tested and then had to pay for the very expensive removal process.

The insurance is putting us up in a hotel while our house is unsafe to be in. It’s a little more cramped than we are used to, and nobody has solo space (I told JC yesterday when he got home from work, “My ears are tired. It’s like when they were toddlers all over again.”). But, it is safe and clean. It has a crazy looking mirror.

Pretending to ride the infinite subway

There’s also a pool. Petra has insisted on swimming 3-4 hours a day since that’s the best thing about being here, and her ability has grown by leaps and bounds. Silver linings.

I am really proud of how the kids are handling all of the disruption. I worry sometimes that their lives are too sheltered and easy—will they be able to handle the difficult or frustrating things that come at everyone? But they are showing me, over and over, that they can be flexible and find joy even in the rough spots (also, hotel + pool in a hot week…it’s not that rough).


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