Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Another weekend, and a lot more of nothing. The drying equipment has migrated to the first and second floor. That's about it.

I asked for an update from Richard Who Hands Me Money as well as asking if the delay was normal. Here's his response:

Unfortunately yes it is. I called last week and emailed him again this morning. I'll copy the email to you.

And here's the email he sent to Traveler's:

I received your message last week and returned your call. The insured is anxious to get repairs done but is hesitant without at least an agreed scope. Is your estimate completed?

And that's where we are.

Friday, July 23, 2010


No crazy updates for you today.

The electrician put in a few more outlets.

Christopher Cleanup added a few more red plastic machines.

Richard Who Hands Me Money was supposed to chat with the Traveler's adjuster, but didn't, as the adjuster didn't call him back.

The End.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Letter From Traveler's

I received a letter in the mail from my insurance company. Here is an excerpt:

We are canceling your policy because the dwelling does not meet our minimum underwriting requirements as described below and the unfavorable physical condition of the property as revealed by a recent inspection as described below.

Dwelling is vacant and extensive repairs and boarded windows

After reading this, I pooped my pants, removed said pants, showered, then scanned the document for an effective date.

Effective Date of Cancellation: 8/20/2010


Awesome. After an inspection of the property, the insurance company has let me know that as of 8/20, I won;t have insurance anymore. The house would have easily passed an inspection by 8/20, but, you know, the thing caught fire. I can't wait to call them and find out what's going on.

The good news is, it was still insured when someone set it on fire.

In other, less pants-pooping news, my electrician went in yesterday and installed some outlets in the basement. These were needed because, while there is electricity going to one meter on the house, that meter is only in charge of the shared spaces in the building. Hallways, basement, etc. There were no outlets in those spaces. Obviously.

I found this out during a nice chat with Christopher Cleanup. He said he and his workers had gone in and done what they could (removed some insulation in the basements/third floor), but they needed some outlets to run their equipment on. I called my electrician thereafter, and he put some outlets in. See:

Off of these outlets, Chris Cleanup is running a few dehumidifiers, and something he called and "air-scrubber". It sounds like a waste of money to me, but whatever. Here's his big and plastic equipment in my damp basement:

Oh, and when I pulled in yesterday afternoon to check on things, I was greeted with this:

A mountain of garbage. Given the new tire pile, I immediately started swearing in my car. Luckily, I quickly realized that they are garbage bags from Christopher Cleanup, and not the neighbors.

Lastly, still no word from Traveler's on the estimate. Richard Who Hands Me Money had a call scheduled with them this morning, so I'll hopefully have an update today. Color me excited.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Last Two Days Have Been Great

Over the weekend, nothing was done. Not one measurable increment of progress could be tallied. No one works on weekends I guess.

After last Friday, and my conversation with Incompetent Ben Cormier from National Grid, I thought that maybe the meter had been installed that day. He did, in fact, let me know it was at the top of the technician's list. On Monday morning, before work, I went to the house to check on things. Here's what I saw when I rounded the corner:

Just great. National Grid is top notch. If you look closely, you can see that the cardboard that was once there has been removed and some work had been done. If you then do any rational thinking, you will surmise that National Grid started to work, then quit. Mother effword.

I drove to work and immediately called Ben up. He told me it was definitely going to be finished Monday. I laughed at him and told him I didn't believe him. He apologized to me and I said that there's obviously nothing that he can do, so don't worry about it. I hoped he got the actual meaning (he is incompetent and can't do anything), and hung up.

Later on in the day, I received a hilarious email from Richard Who Gives Me Money. It was his estimate, to send to the insurance company. Now, I mentioned before that it's Richard's job to represent my wife and I during this process. He is on our side, thus, he is looking to get us the biggest check possible. The insurance company, is obviously trying to do the opposite, as it's their money.

This in mind, please take a look, and laugh at, the total amount that Richard is submitting (edits mine):

Holy crap indeed. That is enormous. Super duper extra enormous. I cracked up when I saw it. I had no idea what kind of number to expect when I opened it, and I knew it would be high, but Jesus Christos...

I can't wait to see what the insurance company's estimate is. It will likely be equally hilarious, especially given what Richard came up with.

I thanked Richard and asked him to keep me informed. I also laughed again.

This morning, I woke up and again traveled over to the house before work to check, once again, on the meter installation process. I rounded that same corner and found this:

Huzzah. The meter is there and, in theory, there is electricity flowing through at least a couple of outlets in the house. Killer.

I walked back to my car and dropped my camera in it, with the intention of going into Dan's Guest House to grab a few things we need. I took a few steps, looked to my right and immediately went back to the car for the camera. Here's why:

Thanks neighborhood. I really appreciate you dropping off a bunch of old tires in my driveway. I can't wait to pay to have these removed. When I saw them, I said, out loud, "thanks a lot you phalluses." I hope at least one person heard me.

Also of note: I called up Christopher Cleanup (I am now using his full first name, because I think it sounds better) and he should start this afternoon. Measurable progress. Finally.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Still no electricity. It's been great. I talked to Incompetent Ben Cormier, from National Grid, yesterday and he said he would push to get it done that day.

He has no influence.

I called again this morning to check on it, and the meter is still not in. Ben called me back a few minutes ago and told me it's at the top of the technicians list. It will, ahem, "likely" be installed today.

I asked him what the problem was, and he said the technician assigned to the job is also assigned to emergency work. Basically, if something else came up, he dropped my property down his list and helped someone else.

Let's hope that there are no emergencies today, so maybe, just possibly, that place can start drying out artificially.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meter Maids.

That title was too easy. I apologize.

It was pouring rain last evening when I left work. Since it was pouring rain, I didn't feel like getting out of my car and walking to see if the electric meter had been installed, as National Grid promised yesterday. Instead, I swung by on my way to work this morning. Here is what I saw:

Immediately, I swore out loud and my shoulders slumped. Making matters worse?  I then went to work.

I called up Ben Cormier, my apparently incompetent National Grid contact and he said, "uh, well, it looks like it wasn't done yesterday."

Ur, dur.

He went on to tell me that he didn't know why it wasn't completed yesterday and said it was rescheduled for tomorrow. I let him know that that's relatively unacceptable and that mold was growing steadily in the house (I don't know if it is or not) and we needed to get some fans and whatnot in there. He said that he would try to get it done today. I am not hopeful.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Forgot A Title. I Put This Title In Way After Writing This Post. Now It's Too Long.



We'll see!

I have spent the last two days attempting to get through to the City Inspector and National Grid. I need electricity. Fans and dehumidifiers need to be running in there. Mold is probably growing.

For days, I've been talking to the electrician I hired about getting the electricity turned on. He has said that he had calls in to the city as well as National Grid. The Inspector was saying that it was up to National Grid while National Grid was saying that it was up to the Inspector. Just awesome work by everyone.

I finally called up the City yesterday morning myself and talked to the Inspector. He was kind of upset that I called, not only because the electrician is supposed to handle it, but because he's tired of talking about my house. He angrily told me that the house has been passed for weeks and he is sick of talking to me, as "he told me the same thing last week."

I let him know that I didn't call him last week and that things had changed. I told him my house caught fire and I need electricity to keep mold from taking over. I also let him know that I have been talking to my electrician and hearing how everyone is blaming everyone else, and I just need the stupid essword turned on as soon as possible, since my house had caught fire.

After that, he changed his tone a bit, and was kind of shocked that the house had caught fire. Apparently, my stupid electrician, Daniel Costa (must be the last name) hasn't mentioned it to him. Awesome.

After that, he calmly explained that it's up to National Grid now, as he had approved the place three weeks ago. I thanked him and called up national Grid.

After going through their long and almost infuriating (if you're in the right mood), phone menu, I finally talked to a human person. I explained things and she let me know I had to call someone else. She gave me the number and I called one Ben Cormier who works in some department doing something, presumably not installing electric meters.

I left a message. Hooray.

I called again this morning and talked to Ben. He said that the folks are heading out to my building today to install a meter. Will it happen? I have no idea. I will be checking after work fo sho.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Teeny Update

Not much to add today. Last week, I hired Chris Cleanup to dry some things out. In order for him to start, we need electricity. Dan the Electrician is working on getting National Grid and the City to turn it on. No luck yet.

I got a copy of the report from the Fire Department and it's boring. The only thing of moderate interest on it is they called the old gross furniture that was set on fire "combustibles". How is that not a movie title yet?

Lastly, I got my new laptop last week and spent a lot of time over the weekend adding completely legal software to it. That includes Sony Vegas. Hopefully work will start up there again so I can take and edit some video footage with it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


It's been a weird few days. I'll recap them for you:

Tuesday - On Tuesday morning, I opened up my gmail account to this email from Richard Who Gives Me Money:

I just saw the news about the fire. I've been a HUD consultant for 13 years but I've been an adjuster for 31 years.

Don't trust the insurance company. If you need help, call me in the morning.

*phone number omitted*


Intrigued, I emailed him back with some questions, which he answered. I had further questions, so I called him and we spoke about what the hell that email meant.

In short, he is licensed by the state to represent insured people when their house catches fire. Apparently, these folks, who I didn't know existed, are called 'Loss Consultants'. You sign a contract with them, and they represent you in the process of extracting money from the insurance company (for 10% of the final insurance check, Richard cut his fee in half, since we work together. What a sweetheart).

I asked some more questions about the process, and he explained it to me as best he could. I am new at this insurance stuff, but here's the gist of it: The insurance company shows up and takes pictures/measurements. With this info, they will come up with a number to repair the damage very low number). While they are doing this, the homeowner (and/or his representative) will assess the damage and come up with an estimate to repair things (very high number). These two estimates will fight each other (using the adjuster/consultant to fight through) and eventually a compromise should be made. Once that compromise is agreed to by everyone, the insurance company cuts a check for that amount and hands it over to the homeowner. The homeowner then uses the check to take a long vacation. Or he fixes the house. I will decide when the time comes...

Also, on Tuesday, I gave a Fire Remediation/Restoration company a call, as everything was pretty wet. They began to sell me all kinds of crap immediately and tried to get in there that morning, without even a meeting, but I talked them down to a meeting yesterday, as that's when I was meeting Richard and the Traveler's Insurance adjuster.

Lastly, a sad duty on Tuesday: Calling all kinds of people to cancel services. I put in phone calls to Plumber Joe Merritt, National Grid (who planned on turning things on, ugh), Venture Windows (who were installing windows that morning and were already at the house wondering where I was), and probably some other people who I've forgotten about. It was a busy day.

Wednesday - Not much in the morning, just some phone calls with the insurance company, Richard Who Gives Me Money, the Fire clean-up guys and Al Medina, General Contractor.

At 12:00, I met with Richard at the house so he could go through it before the insurance agent got there (fun fact, I still don;t know what the insurance agent's name is. I have a terrible memory for such things, but in my defense, he sounds like he is gargling marbles with the voice of an 87 year old smoker on the phone. in his defense, he said it clearly when we met more than once, but I just forgot). Richard and I walked through and he jotted some notes down. During the walk through, the clean-up fellow, I'll call him Chris Cleanup, showed up and took the tour as well.

On the tour, Chris Cleanup had this sweet little meter that he jammed into the floor boards to test for moisture. Basically, it measures how much water is in the sub-flooring. In the first floor, with the exception of a corner of a bedroom, the meter was going crazy. That entire floor was saturated. Poop.

He did the same thing on the second floor, and while not throughout every room, most of the floor boards were soaked. Crap.

This means that almost every board, all original to the building, will likely be torn out and replaced. That will be costly for sure.

Also, a funny note, while Chris Cleanup was testing and trying to sell me things, Richard would jot things like, 'Don't sign anything' and 'Trying to take all of your money' on his notebook and flash it my way. Richard is an OK guy.

A little late, but no big deal, the insurance adjuster showed up. I will call him Nameless (as Hero is my favorite movie). He looked hilarious. Pre-torn fashionista jeans, black, square toed dress shoes, Ed Hardy sunglasses resting on his brow (above his eyes), and a boring red Traveller's Insurance polo shirt. Oh, and his hair: super close cropped on the sides (the same length as his Miami Vice stubble), with longer hair on the top, greased into, and I'm not kidding, an S-shaped faux-hawk. I've never seen anything like it. It was, and probably remains, hilarious. I didn't spot any tattoos, but he likely has something tribal somewhere, as he works out too much and definitely smokes.

That said, I hope he doesn't read this blog, because he will likely take offense to this and try to bone me later on. Oh well.

After the tour, Nameless and his haircut did some diagraming of the layout and took measurements for an hour. I stood around and answered questions as sweat poured down my body. It was about 100 degrees yesterday here in Providence, and it was probably 110 inside the house. I was a disgusting mess.

After we parted ways, I went back to work. It is air conditioned at work.

Thursday Morning - I gave Chris Cleanup a call this morning to get him started on DRYING ONLY. He tried to get me to let his crew do all kinds of demo and spraying and etc. I don't want to pay them to do that. I told him that. He basically begged me to let him do some stuff other than drying floors/walls, and I told him that if he didn't want to do just drying (and remove the vinyl tile from the first floor bathroom floor) I would look elsewhere. He reluctantly agreed and will meet me at the house tomorrow morning.

In other news, my laptop was delivered this morning. I am pumped.

Thursday Afternoon - I have to call the Police and the Fire Department and track down the reports of the fire and send them along to Nameless.

Also, I have to watch the crap out of this video:

Oh goodnight. Crank that car up girl.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Holy. Guacamole.

I spent a lot of time before purchasing this house planning for things. I budgeted and estimated and researched and et cetera. What transpired over the weekend is something I didn't plan for. It was kind of poopy.

Friday - After work last Friday, I headed over to the house because a huge, 75 gallon water heater was being delivered. The Home Depot truck showed up on time (!) and dropped the thing in my driveway. After that, I enlisted the help of some of the painters in the house, as well as Plumber Joe Merritt to drag the thing down into the basement. We succeeded, after a twenty minute struggle:

Notice the much smaller, regular sized tank behind it. It is probably lighter.

Saturday - After breakfast, Amanda and I made our way to the house to attempt finishing up the third floor. Amanda cleaned the bathroom and I painted the living room walls and attempted to fix the subflooring in the bathroom (to put down stick tiles). We then tag teamed painting the bathroom and called it a day. Pretty lazy day, but not much else could be done, as the bathroom floor needed to set for 24 hours.

While we were working away, Jeff Doors was finishing up the kitchen counter and hanging some closet doors. The third floor, while without electricity, was starting to come together.

*Jeff Doors Aside* - Jeff does not have his lisence. This is because, presumably, of his DUI conviction(s). When his whale-partner doesn't drive him to jobs, he rides his bicycle. Big deal. A lot of people ride their bicycles. But not everyone rides a bicycle that they've modified with a weed whacker engine that propels the bike at 30 miles per hour. Behold:

*Jeff Doors Aside Over*

After we were finished up the painting, we headed into Boston for some delicious Penang dinner. It was super great.

Sunday - With the subfloor in the third floor bathroom set, I drove to the house, from the lovely Ramada, to lay the vinyl tile. On the drive over, I thought to myself, "I wonder if anyone has broken in there. It was a rowdy night in the city, what with the holiday and all. I hope my appliances are still there..."

That said, it's not like this is a new thought. Every time I pull into the driveway, I half-expect everything to be missing. I didn't have any strong feeling or anything, just the usual leariness.

When I arrived, I immediately noticed this (2):

I sighed, thinking everything I paid for would be missing, and reluctantly got out of my car. I walked up to the door (freshly painted by the way) and confirmed that the broken door and lock combination was in fact removed from the side door (2):

Dismayed, I listened to make sure that the house was free of criminals (or at least loud criminals) and pushed the busted door aside. This is what I saw (2):

I thought that it was strange that the appliances were still there. Those are worth a decent amount of money, but maybe the burglar didn't have the means to steal them? I made my way into the first floor and noticed a bunch of water on the floor. It led me to the galley area of the kitchen. Can you spot what's missing? (2):

I am not a stupid person. I am no genius, but I am also not a dummy. Since I already had 'my house has been burglarized' on my mind, the realization that my window was missing baffled me. Who would steal a window?

Dumbfounded, I went up to the second floor, where Jeff has kept his tools and saw another nice puddle in the kitchen (2):

And another missing window (2):

It still hadn't dawned on me. While I was primed for a robbery, the evidence was mounting. I still wasn't putting it all together.

In my stupidity, I checked around the second floor for any items that may have disappeared. The appliances were still there, and I checked the back bedroom for Jeff's tools. They remained (2):

After that, I obviously hustled up to the third floor to check on things and saw this (2):

It was open and broken a bit, but I didn't notice the glaring sign of what actually happened. Unlike the windows in the first and second floor livings rooms, the third floor hallway should not have smoked glass. I am a retard.

I then walked into the back bedroom on the third floor and got to see this (2):

And this (2):

I looked around, yet again for things that may have been stolen and found that, once again, everything remained in the house. I was very confused. I slowly made my way down to the first floor again, a little in shock. All of our stuff was still there, yet the door was broken and there were windows missing. Crazy.

Once I reached the first floor again, I took another look into the galley kitchen and then noticed a faint odor of charred carbon in the air (2). The light bulb moment hit me and I went from complete and utter idiot, to just a regular stupid person. I finally put 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 together* and headed outside to see what the problem was. I was greeted by this:

*Joke premise stolen from Dan Riley

And this:

Awesome. My house had caught fire somehow. Mother effword.

After checking the damage out a little bit, I called my insurance company and the Fire Department. Neither were terribly helpful and I went on with my day by calling Amanda and enlisting her help to board up the damage. Here it is, nice and boarded:

I will continue with this story as it develops. I have been in touch with all kinds of folks over the weekend and this morning. Work has stopped at the house until the insurance fun is settled. Hooray...

On the bright side, the insurance company is now paying for our hotel and meals, so we're out of the crappy Ramada, and back into the less crappy, but still stove and oven-less Courtyard Marriott in downtown Providence.

So I guess this is where I announce that this blog, as you know it, has died. Not forever, but it's frozen. It will become, instead of a home rehabilitation blog, a 'what happens when your house catches fire' blog. You are up to speed on what has happened so far, and I will update this space as the process unfolds. I have little idea how the 'your house caught fire' insurance process works, but rest assured that in the following days/weeks, I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh, and at work this morning, I found this. We're famous. Our house is at 66 Candace Street, which is called out and shown in the story's video. Apparently, we were arsonisted (not a word; yet), as were other houses in the area. Apparently, the arsonist piled up a bunch of crap behind my house (crap which was already back there, but not stacked neatly to ensure a nice burn) and lit the garbage on fire. That garbage then caught the house on fire. Thanks a million arsonist.