This is the third in my series of home renovation tales. The first two are available here:
Once we returned from our wonderful two week vacation to Washington DC and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, we knew it was time to figure out what our next steps would be. Rueben from Dalworth had called us on the Saturday after we had left to let us know that they had removed all of the fans and dehumidifiers. We were thrilled that the house was in great condition with no lingering smells from the water. Everything appeared to be dry and solid. We did continue to find things in the garage that were still wet that we had missed before, but certainly nothing major. We were also very happy to come back home to our 3 cats who had been boarded at our vet for two weeks. I think they were very glad to see us.
Jan began in earnest securing a settlement from Matt, our insurance agent. He had previously told us that since the floors would need to be refinished upstairs, that we would need to move out of the house for a couple of weeks and all of the furniture in those rooms would need to be moved to storage. In addition, the garage and office would also need to be empty for repairs to be done. He returned during our first week home to take more measurements and make adjustments to the claim. We had prepared a spreadsheet of items that had been damaged along with their replacement cost. It included things such as my desktop computer and monitor, books, an iPod, the camera Jan had been using and some items we had purchased to store things in. Though it took over a month, we had checks reimbursing us for the cats’ boarding, the damaged items, Dalworth reimbursement and finally the check that paid for the house to be put back to its former condition. Unfortunately, two of the checks were made out to us and our Mortgage Company. Jan spent most of two days getting CitiMortgage to endorse them so we could deposit them. She had to produce documents such as the Dalworth bill, to secure that. At least Citi was nice enough to offer to cash the $11,000 check for Jan. She kindly refused as that branch was located in South Oak Cliff; definitely not the best part of Dallas.
The next job was to find a contractor to put our house back together with a few upgrades we wanted to do. Although there was no damage to the master bath, we wanted to do some major changes there that included a larger shower with glass and new cabinets and vanities. For the bathroom that had the original plumbing leak, we wanted to keep its “50’s” style and redo the cabinets and remove the tub glass sliding doors, keeping the blue ceramic tile.
Jan sent out inquires to 6 contractors/remodelers that she had collected information on over the past year. Of those, only 2 returned her call. The first, Jim and Beverly Johnson, came by one Saturday afternoon. They had recently completed a flip of a house down the street from us. We met them when they had a neighborhood open house at that location prior to the new owners moving in. They walked around the house with us as we discussed our hopes and dreams of what our house might look like. They immediately gave us some great ideas and solutions. After touring the upstairs, office and garage, we were standing in the kitchen and Jim asked if we had any other upcoming plans. We said that we would eventually remodel the kitchen as well. He warned us that if we went through a remodel once, we would likely never do it again, and that we should consider doing everything at once if we were able to do it. We totally agreed even without realizing what all we would be getting in to. In all, we were very impressed with the Johnsons.
The second contractor to call us back was a lady that remodels houses for fun only. She was excited for us to see some of her work and invited us to her house. It was a huge, beautiful house in Oak Cliff. Unfortunately, the inside of the house was not very impressive. I immediately noticed things like seams in the middle of the kitchen countertop and substandard cabinetry work. She told us that she has some guys that regularly work for her when she has jobs for them. Other times they worked for places like McDonald’s and the city of Dallas on a contract basis. It seemed the more she talked, the worse it got. Jan did have her come to the house to at least do an estimate, but we were pretty sure that this wouldn’t work.
We had decided to use the Johnsons. But before we signed anything, we wanted to talk to the girls down the street who now lived in the house that they had worked on. Jan had seen numerous repair trucks in front of their house and wanted to make sure that the remodel job was not the problem. We had trouble contacting them and finally saw on Facebook that they were in California getting married! We were very happy to hear from them upon their return and even more thrilled to learn that they were very happy with their house and would use the Johnsons again. They did offer Jan a tour of the house and a few suggestions. So we happily called Jim and told him to get the process going! After several more meetings that included Bob Agar, his business partner, we set a start date of November 17th.
Only two more issues to solve before everything could start. We needed a place to live for 2-3 months, and we needed a place for our stuff to live for the same period as well as a way to get it there and back. Jan thought that Pods would be the best choice for storage. So she called our very good friend from church who worked for a moving and storage company, Atlas. Dutch said that they didn’t work with Pods, but gave us contact information for another company that did. After calling the other company, it became clear that Pods would not work, but that they could move and store our entire household. We checked back with Dutch and she said that is what they do, too. Jan had both companies come out and give us bids, and we chose Atlas. So she set them up for packing on November 14th and moving on the 15th.
Metlife said they could help us get a hotel that would take pets. They would pay for the first two weeks and the rest would be on our dime, but at the insurance rate. We tried to see if a furnished short term apartment lease would work, but they were ultimately too much, especially if they were furnished. We found the Extended Stay America on Stemmons that is very close to my office. They let Jan see a unit before we booked, and she was quite impressed with the amount of space. It is a suite with a full kitchen, sofa, desk and bed. Metlife booked it for us and we extended the booking until January 31st, which was the expected move back date.
This catches us up through the end of October. The next installment will cover the fun of design choices!