In June 1990, we moved into our dream home. Two story on a acre lot with a country setting in the middle of the big city. Lost world of Mother Nature not touched by humans. We had the only gravel road in this world of tar and cement. Over a long 10 years we built and groomed our home to be ours. Every room touched with our hands. Many foster neighborhood children and friends lived with us over the years. I worked in our gardens and added three man made ponds, water falls and mesh lands for the wildlife to come in and live. I awoke sometimes to rescue a living being in a crate on my doorstep with a note, “Please find me a home”. May it be a turtle, duck, cat or dog, we always had room. No one was turned away….. Much laughter came from around the campfire while potatoes cooked (they were cheap and feed plenty). Friends would come and we would play their music as we sang till daybreak.
It Was a Fun and Very Happy Place. Now Only Horror and Fear Lurks.
Sept. 28th, 2001- A fire started in one of the third bedroom ceiling, wall and hallway ceiling which is located upstairs. It was started by electrical wiring behind a wall plug and traveled to ceiling wires, causing the wire to burn and smolder. My husband attempted to put out fire from roof vent, as I called the fire department. Firemen came to our house and used their ladder to climb up on back part of the roof and climbed to upper roof air vent with the fire hose and started to put out the fire through the roof vent. This did not put out all the fire, so the firemen went to the front and back doors and upstairs, bringing the fire hose through the bedroom window. Then they broke holes in the ceiling. The first hole was in the ceiling of the third bedroom, under where the roof air vent is. They still could not reach all the fire. There was a little hole in the front room of third bedroom. They could see more flames in the ceiling, so they broke one more hole there in hallway. At last the fire was out.
At this time, our homeowners insurance had lapsed, due to lack of work. During that time our mortgage company placed an enforced insurance policy on our home through their insurance company. We paid $500.00 for the year with our taxes and impounds. The plan was dated July 7, 2001 to July 7, 2002. We called them to find out what this policy covered the next morning. I was told this plan was if my house burnt down, it would pay off our mortgage. I had no coverage for replacement on this fire. We finally had to accept it. We started to build our house back, starting with the roof vent, then to our son’s bedroom.
It was a mess and the house was flooded with water. Water leaked from upstairs to the downstairs. Firemen left black ash everywhere. We tore out our carpets throughout the house, and started to replace all the fire damage with what money we had or made over the next eight months. We put over $2,000.00 in repairs (carpet, paint, etc). We had to stop the work on our upper floor breezeway to fix fire damage, which we had started before the fire happened, as we were going to re-mortgage our home to finish repairs in April 2001. We sent a copy of of the current appraisal on our home, appraised for $107,000. Then, on July 20, 2001 we received a letter from insurance company. It had the insurance company number on this letter. We had previously tried to get the number from my mortgage company prior, but had no luck. We called the insurance company and they told me what they covered us for that time that we had fire coverage. They told us that they would send an adjuster out right away and could not believe this happened to us.
The Insurance Nightmare!
Aug. 2002 – We heard from insurance company adjuster and we made an appointment so he could survey the damage. He met us with a repair & mold testing company at our home. They went through our house, top to bottom and estimated $9,470.62 for the repairs from the fire. $2,000.00 was to reimburse us for what we had already done to our home and $7,470.62 was to fix what still had to be done to repair the fire damage (paint, carpet, patch downstairs ceiling cracks where water came through, etc.). They would not replace the roof on the back part of the house that the firemen walked around on with the hose and it has leaked ever since. They also would not replace our new drywall in our breezeway that bad black Mold from the roof leaks. Our tarps wore out or blew off a lot up there, which is where water would leak in. We were told by insurance company that our personal belongings were not covered. That was fine as long as we could get our house done. The contractor that we were going to use told us the mold in our upstairs was not enough to make us ill, but should be removed and replaced soon. They were booked up for months and that we would be better for us to take the cash out and hire smaller companies so we could get more work done for our money.
We suffer from many symptoms including headaches, coughs, flues, IBS, body aches, chronic fatigue, runny noses, bloody noses and eye infections for almost a year now. Our pets were also affected. We ran an animal rescue and a small cattery/kennel out of our home and had to endure a series of mysterious pet deaths, illnesses, deformed kittens, including a c-section in a dog and two cats. Therefore, we contacted a few contractors and they told us if we removed all our stuff (furniture, carpet, knick-knacks, pictures) and we could move into one room while work was being done. We could get the work done faster in this manner so we started to empty out or home into the dining room and one bedroom.
They started with the kitchen; this room was to have the ceiling repaired and painted by insurance company. The water from the fire hoses came from the upstairs bedroom on the other side of home and ran across to the upstairs floor and into our kitchen including the ceiling and wall. The water cracked the ceiling in a line to the outside wall and water ran out of the ceiling fan. I started to empty out my cupboards beginning with the bottom ones. As I was cleaning out my bottom cupboard under the sink, I found my paint was chipping on back wall. I had shown the adjuster that my cupboards were falling from ceiling and that my counter top was warped a little. He said there must be an unrelated problem. This just happened not long after the fire, so I looked for leaks under the sink and found none. I pushed on the cracks and my hand went right through the rotted wall. I pulled my hand out with a black cloud of dust. My hand, up to my wrist, was black so I pulled out a piece of the inside wall and it was also covered in black mold. The adjuster called and he said he was sending out a mold testing company to test in our house. They came out on August 28th and ran what they conducted an air test and found high levels of mold spores in the upper breezeway and in our kitchen and dining room. But I was never told. This testing company told me these levels were not high enough to harm us. Our adjuster filed a new claim at this time with my insurance company. They would not cover this mold with the fire claim and stated that the fire didn’t cause this mold to grow, so they filed a claim for mold.
Sept. 2002 – The insurance company replies later that we had no mold coverage in our plan. Sorry, they could not help you but we will look into the mold report to make sure of this. A check for the fire damage was sent to our mortgage in our names and Mortgage company’s name for the amount of $9,470.62.
The Mortgage Mess
Jan. 2003 – I received a letter from the mortgage company on 1-02-2003, stating that they received the check. I called the mortgage company to see what was going to happen next. The mortgage company told me on the phone that they were keeping our check for our fire replacement and putting it towards our Mortgage principal. They told me the reason was that we are not keeping our home up to code and felt that we would not apply this money towards repairs and told us they still hadn’t made a decision on the mold claim. I finally received a letter, 1-04-2003 from my mortgage company stating that they took $8,470.62 off my mortgage principal effective 12-31-02 (I like to know what happened to the other $1,000.00, too).
Feb.3, 2003 – Our insurance has not settled this claim for mold nor did they give us copies of our mold testing report. All my insurance company could tell me about this claim is that it is at their headquarters being investigated.
Sept. 28, 2002 – We found out that a factory had a boiler leak close to our home. This put black smoke, ash and carbon monoxide into our outside air and it came into our home which had made us all ill for many years. When we found out what the factory was doing to our myself, my family, and pets, our lawyer told us to move out until we had a clean outside air test done. EPA came and tested. Three months later we returned to our home Dec. 26, 2002.
Nov. 2002 – A representative from our mortgage company came out to our home. I was there getting some clothes for my son. We walked around the house and I showed him what was wrong and what still needed to be done. At that time I had our belongings piled up in the front room to have room for the contractor to work. He asked me if we abandoned our home. “No,” I said. We had been ill and were in recovery at a friend’s home. The mortgage company representative jumped at me with hatefulness.
Dec. 23, 2002 – We moved back to our home. The mold test results showed small amounts of mold in few rooms. Not to worry, mold illnesses were all in people heads, as we were told, so we moved back home. From that moment we were all ill like we never left the home. I was bedridden. The coughs and nosebleeds started all over again, along with body pains. We moved back out finding mold growing on our food which had been left out on counter all night. Over ripe tomatoes that cracked grew black bumps as they sat only few days on window ledge.
Feb, 7, 2003- I receive a letter from solutions. It stated that we are being paid $447.30 supplemental payment for damages for mold repair and that was it at our first home!
The New House
Oct. 12, 2003 – My parents bought us a home to live in and rent from them. It is a tiny two bedroom for all five of us. We moved out of our friend’s home in Detroit and are now paying $675.00 a month for rent. We still own our moldy home and continue to pay the mortgage on that home also. The new rental home is in Roseville, Michigan.
Dec. 15, 2003 – We began to become ill again.
Dec. 25, 2003 – We all spent Christmas in bed. We are so ill we could not get up for 4 weeks.
Jan. 15, 2004 – We decided to have a mold inspection and test done on our current residence.
Feb.2, 2004 – Test results came in and this house tested positive for three types of Mycotoxin producing molds.
Feb. 3, 2004 – We finally moved into our garage to keep my family safe from the mold.
Feb. 20, 2004 – My husband’s parents took out a home repair loan and gave us the money to fix their home for them. We were only given enough to do all the work ourselves. We paid some friends to gut the inside of the house to rid it of the mold. All of the floors had to come out as well as the drywall halfway up the walls. Once they removed all the old rotted wood and replaced it, my husband and I began to build it back together with the amount of money we had left.
Just When We Thought It Was Over
March 15, 2004 – We had a little money left to put a doorway in our tiny kitchen looking out the back of our home. When tore off a few pieces of the vinyl siding we found more mold!!
March 17, 2004 – We removed all the outside siding and found asbestos siding hiding under the new siding. The attic vents were covered over and water leaked in all down both sides of the home rotting all the wood. So, we had to strip the home of all the moldy wood and replace it.
April 10, 2004 – Our 21-year-old son broke his hand and could no longer help to finish our home.
April 13, 2004 -Our son moved back home. He couldn’t work for 12 to 15 weeks due to his hand injury so he was not be able to make his rent payment on his apartment.
April 29, 2004 – We are still living in the garage. Hope to be all back in our home by May 10, 2004.
May 9, 2004 – We found more mold hiding under our basement steps. We had to remove all stairways and now we hope to move back into home soon.
May 24, 2004 – We are still living in our garage.
May 13, 2004 – We did an air test and found mold spores still in our home. We will never move back into it.
In conclusion, we still have two homes and now a repair credit line bill to pay. The total amount in mold repairs on a 550 sq. ft. home with basement was $21,000.00 (out of pocket expenditures), and we still cannot live in it.
We Want to Go Home!!!!
Please help us all be together in a house we love and lived my whole life in. We hope we can get back the years we lost running around homeless! We would like our home to be demolished and a new one built someday. It doesn’t have to be that big, Just nice and safe for all of us, including our pets. Now, I run a mold pets support group to help others whose lives have been destroyed by mold.
Thank you. Sherri