It all started as a joke. One of my agents challenged me to “write it down and make it happen.” So I did. The first thing on my list of goals to complete? A home remodel. Little did I know at the time that I would get my wish granted (along with some serious education), through a series of unfortunate events that not even I could have planned for.
August – October
The fire started, thanks to a candle lit near my mattress late at night on August 1. I suffered from second degree burns on my arm, as well as severe smoke inhalation that landed me in a burn unit for two days after the initial blaze. The recovery was rough, to say the least. Loaded up with Percoset and having to try and move my arm made working, driving and even day to day life complicated, let alone trying to navigate a homeowner’s insurance claim to repair the damage. Between my medical bills, doctors’ appointments and waiting on insurance adjuster files and checks, it was October before I was able to get my home cleared of the smoke damage.
As I healed and regained my long lost mental focus, I began hiring contractors for my rebuild. The insurance company sent checks that had to be forwarded to my mortgage company, who in turn, would disburse them to me at different stages of construction, after an inspection was done at each phase. My total claim? $26,000 for reconstruction.
At first, it seemed as if things were going well. The contractors completed the demolition, removed floors and began painting. It wasn’t until mid-December that things really began going downhill. After paying this company over $8,000 to complete the bathroom, painting and flooring in my humble 2,200 square foot home, only a few things were done, and of those, even fewer things were done correctly. Once February hit, I also hit my breaking point, and fired the dishonest contractor who did little more than take my money and run, essentially leaving me to start (once more) from ground zero, after only receiving two of my three disbursements.
February – March
Now, after having tapped into my personal funds in order to continue construction with a new (and far more professional firm), my house is nearing the 95 percent completion mark, meaning I can get my final disbursement and close out my claim, eight months after the fire.
What I Have Learned
From this experience, I have taken many learning experiences, with probably the most important being to understand the insurance process, claim process and not be afraid to ask questions as they come up. I also learned the importance of vetting contractors a little more decisively and the importance of using the network and resources I have readily available to me, before branching out on my own, with the arrogance of believing that I always know best. This experience has taught me a lot, and while it was a trial by fire, I can say that I am approaching the upcoming year with a renewed zest for life, a lot more understanding of my homeowner’s insurance policy and a trial by fire that I am (ultimately) grateful for, if for no other reason than I can now help my friends, family, clients and the real estate agents I train pass on the knowledge I gained from this experience.
The lesson? Even after eight months of grueling, stressful experiences, the light at the end of the tunnel can make it all worthwhile. Very soon, I will have a completely remodeled, repainted home, thanks to the insurance settlement that I will be quite proud to live in – or put on the market to sell. It’s been a catalyst of forward motion, and a kick in the pants that I probably needed. So, if you can take anything from my misfortune (aside from the importance of flameless candles), know that there is potential to turn any financial catastrophe into a blessing, if you adopt the right mindset.
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