Seven years ago, we bought the worst house in the best neighborhood "“ just like all the real estate guides suggest. It's an older home (circa 1970) but built solidly. The rooms are large and sunny, and the view "“ the view is amazing.
From any room in the front of the house, which faces east, we can see all of Boulder valley, Denver, and whatever is between us and the curve of the earth.
We have been working on renovation, piece by piece, since we moved in, doing as much as we can on our own and learning as we go.
For two kids from New York City, our 1.5 unfenced acres seems like it extends forever and our three-year-old rescue dog, Bear, loves to romp around it, while our 15-year-old rescue cat, Gus, lies in the sun or near the fire, and makes sure Bear knows who's in charge around here.
Here is Gus making himself at home on the dining room table - and yes, he knows he is not allowed up there.
We have spent a lot of time working on things on our own, and were making progress in a number of areas. The old tile in the kitchen is gone, new insulation and sub floor are down, and we were ready to tackle putting down a new floor when it started to rain. It rained and it rained and it rained and, well, you know what happened in Boulder County Colorado in September 2013.
As we move swiftly toward November, the notoriously changeable Colorado weather is becoming a concern. One day it can be 70 degrees and sunny and the next day "“ or later that same day "“ we can have three feet of snow or a serving of rain or hail.
The house today:
Our dirt and gravel driveway has a series of deep gouges running its approximately 260 foot length, and it now practically requires a four wheel drive vehicle to ascend to the garage.
One wall in the living room has to be completely rebuilt. It's a load-bearing wall, about 18 feet high at the top of the vaulted ceiling and about 15 feet wide, with three large, arch-topped windows, all of which must be replaced, which requires new framing. We can live with replacing the windows with standard rectangles (the arches were custom, which is triple the price, and we are trying to be realistic).
We have taken down the wet moldy wallboard and removed the soggy insulation, leaving nothing between us and winter but a piece of fiberboard covered with stucco.
Of course, the carpet in the living room got soaked when those lovely arched windows leaked. It has to be replaced.
Over our living room fireplace there is cracking from brand new leaks, and that water traveled down to the kitchen. En route to the kitchen it created a leak that ran down the chimney to the wood burning stove. That needs patching and resealing before it rusts the beautiful stove that heats the main portion of the house.
The sliding door to the back yard has shifted approximately a quarter inch off level, causing a crack to run from the top of it to the ceiling. It will have to be taken out, the bottom leveled, and a new door put in.
Several windows in the master bedroom need replacing. These are large picture windows that were installed when the balcony was enclosed, long before we bought the house. We have been told that taking one out will cause them all to come crashing down, because they were not properly framed during installation, which makes this a much bigger job than just purchasing and installing one or two replacement windows.
The wallboard around these windows got soaked as well, requiring us to remove and replace it and the insulation beneath it. In addition, the carpeting in the master bedroom got pretty wet. Luckily, it didn't mold so we are holding off on ripping it out for now.
The finances today:
The damage to the driveway was caused by flooding, unlike the damage to the house, which was caused by wind-driven rain, so it's not covered by our homeowners policy. Never did it occur to us that we'd need flood insurance "“ we live at 8,200 feet!!! Maybe we need "climate change insurance"?
Lucky for us, there's FEMA, who initially granted us $841 to fix the driveway, but was here today to look again and may find a few more dollars for us to put toward a total cost, which according to the lowest estimate we have had so far, will be about $3,000.
Adjusters from the insurance company said we are "fortunate" since the damage to the house is not from flooding, which would not be covered at all, but from wind-driven rain, which is covered - a little.
To date, they have graciously given us $1,800 (after our $1,000 deductible), an amount that is just a few hundred dollars more than our annual premium.
And we have already been notified that, as of November 1, our premium will increase by 25 percent.
Based on the estimates we have received, the living room wall alone (with rectangular windows) will be at least $10,000. And the total cost for all the repairs will be about $45,000. Because there are many things we can do ourselves, and even more that we can accomplish with the assistance of friends with tools and expertise, we feel that we can do it for less.
We realize that we have been luckier than many others "“ at least we had a house to come home to after our one week evacuation due to the road being washed out, and we had family who took in both of us, as well as Bear and Gus.
This is Bear in the car with our son Jordan on the way from the shelter to his new home with us about three years ago. (Today, Jordan goes to the Colorado School of Mines, where he is studying engineering. It's about 50 minutes away, so he comes home and helps out whenever he can.)
While we, and our entire community, recover from the wrath of nature, we are offering the two bedrooms and bath to someone whose home was more damaged than ours, in the hopes of helping out and bringing in a little extra cash at the same time. So far, no takers, but there are many people who have not even seen the state of their homes yet, so, if you hear of someone, please send them our way.
Another way we try to give thanks is by continuing to volunteer on Sunday evenings with Colorado FriendShip, as we have for the past four years, serving a hot meal, and giving out warm clothes and other essentials to the local homeless population. Knowing that we can go home after a freezing hour or two serving dinner in an uncovered parking lot reminds us of all that we have and are fighting to repair.
With this crowdfunding project, we are hoping that each one of our friends and family will be able to help a little, and that they can then spread the word to their contacts who might want to donate a little, so that by adding up all those individual contributions we can collect enough to purchase the materials and have some professional help with the things (like a whole new wall with windows in the living room) that we can't do ourselves.
For those of you we have not met in person, here is a picture of Wayne, followed by one of Lisa.
Thank you in advance for your donation and for sharing our link with your connections. We appreciate it more than we can say, and we will keep posting updates and pictures of the various projects as they are begun and completed so you can see what you are funding.
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