House Fire Update

I’ve had a lot of friends reach out to me asking how things are going since our 1886 Victorian was struck by lightning and caught fire. So I thought it would be best to give an update! I had previously decided not to share photos of the damages, however, today I’m going to because the pictures will help you understand the extent of what we’re actually dealing with.

House Repair

We are now 46 days past the fire and quotes are still being put together on the repair costs that will then be approved by insurance. Yes, you read that correctly, 46 days!!! This rebuild/repair is no joke, especially because we have an “intricate” house. With this said, no work has begun on our house…so those 10-12 months until we can move back in, haven’t started yet….wahhh!!!!

Major repairs we know of already, however, at the end of the day, every last thing in our house will be touched.

  • Roof: has to come off, be rebuilt and be replaced
  • Attic: all has to be taken off and rebuilt at well. An architect is working on drawing up blue prints for our house so when all of this is ready to be rebuilt, they know what to do! Remember, we had an AWESOME attic!! Remember how awesome the one was in Home Alone…yeah, ours was that cool! However, ours was FULL of everything and anything because we had just moved in 3 months prior.
  • Second Story: All lath and plaster walls and ceilings are to be torn out (insert a big ugly cry!!! This make me more sad than anything!) So, the walls and ceilings will be taken down to the studs, which will then be sealed with a special paint to make sure no smoke smell ever comes out. Then new plasterboard walls will be put up. The kid’s bathroom is going to be fully replaced …and our master bathroom is a “we’ll see how it is when we start gutting it” as the ash water may have gotten behind the subway tile in our shower (it definitely came down on the front of the tile)
  • First Story: Most of the walls are going to be ripped out and replaced in addition to all of the ceilings are being torn out and replaced.
  • Basement: The basement was the furthest from the fire … but… water has to come down. The firefighters only sprayed 2,000 gallons of water (which they really took it easy because they were trying to preserve as much of our house as possible) but, 2,000 gallons of water has to go somewhere. So the basement was soaked and was destroyed by ash water. The light fixtures filled with water, the rooms with drop ceiling tiles, came down, and the brand new carpet we just installed was soaked and ruined. So, it all has to be replaced. Same with our furniture, pool table, air hockey table…and so much more!
  • Kitchen: The water was dripping out of our recessed lights onto the floor and all over the kitchen. The cabinets have to come out to be cleaned. However, since buying the house, we had planned on changing the configuration of the kitchen. This will involve moving two sets of stairways (1 to the basement and 1 to the kitchen from the mudroom). So we will most likely have this done while everything is torn out. Then my super talented hubby will then do a full kitchen renovation like we did at our North Carolina house, house #3). All of this would be at our own expense of course. But honestly, this has me the most excited, because I absolutely love the work my hubby does! (The funny thing is, he is the designer in our family and he has so much fun designing our spaces!)
  • Floors: I believe that all of the original wood floors on the 2nd story are being quoted as being ripped out and replaced as well…however, if they can be saved, you know I’ll be all over that! First floor is a case by case basis as a lot of the floors down there are actually ruined because of the water warping them, etc. (yep, remember right before we moved in (3 months prior to the fire), we had alllllll of the wood floors in our entire house sanded, stained and refinished?? yep! this sucks!)
  • Electrical: Basically all being ripped out and replaced. I think this picture explains why, lol
  • Plumbing, HVAC, etc: I don’t really know the extent of this yet, but it’s all being quoted for repair/replacement. Clearly a lot of it has been damaged…
  • Woodwork: Our house has some pretty sweet woodwork throughout, so it has been quoted to attempt to take off the woodwork, re-stain it, and put it back up. We will see how this goes. Same goes with the windows and doors. In this picture below, a lot of our moulding is coming off due to the water damage. It’s hard to tell, but our baseboards are almost 1 foot tall!
  • Exterior: Our wood siding is damaged from the fire on every side of the house, whether it be from burn marks or holes, or broken windows and woodwork. In addition, water may have gotten behind the wood slats from the inside when the firehoses were spraying, so this is a “we will see as we go” type case what the true damages are once the demo starts.
  • Other Things: things that you just don’t even think about necessarily like all our light fixtures will be replaced and the items that will remain in the house such as a few toilets, built in bookshelves, etc all have to be cleaned a certain way.

Items We Own

Before I explain this, I’m going to take a minute to climb up on my soap box and explain how much of a headache this aspect of the fire is. We were sitting outside in our pajamas on an early Friday morning when all of a sudden we were struck by lightning and had to evacuate. There was no time to grab anything except ourselves (heck, we didn’t even have shoes!). Watching our house be attended to by firefighters and police and then not being able to go back in and get what you would need for the next year is super frustrating. In the end it is all just stuff, but lets be real, who would be OK with this situation? I’ve of course had my few moments of “ugh!!!” for a few items (my camera, computer and data…so I can blog!!), but overall, I think we’ve all been pretty easy given the fact that we don’t understand the way any of this “restoration” process works.

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Soft Goods: aka clothings, stuffed animals, shoes, towels, bed sheets, bags, etc were all taken from our house back around the 4th of July and are being stored in bins at an industrial cleaning facility (the same kind of facility that cleans restaurant table linens, workers uniforms, and hospital gowns and sheets). The facility is 1 hour and 15 minutes away from our house, but after all this time, there were things we needed (like my hubby’s motorcycle helmet and kid’s book bags!) so I went there and dug through what I could and brought them back to our hotel. Unfortunately, because we don’t have a place to keep all of our goods, we can’t have them back.

Electronics: Just like the soft goods, a company came in around the 4th of July and took all of our electronics: our computers, cameras, TVs, remotes, sewing machines, appliances (fridge, oven, dishwasher, washer & dryer), hair dryer, curling irons, etc. All of these items are a little over an hour away in a totally different area of the state. The items are to be tested and cleaned and whatever isn’t deemed a total loss will then be reinstalled at our house when we are able to move back in.

Other Goods: Anything else in our house that wasn’t considered a total loss was then taken by another company and they will clean them and bring them back when we can move in. This awfully includes everything that you don’t even know you have or need…like my daughter’s recorder that she needs for school next year, our important papers (birth certificates, vehicle titles, passports, etc) and the few pieces of furniture that could be saved.

Total Loss: This past week, a company came out for two days and totaled up our total loss items: anything that can’t be saved. Everything from the attic, our furniture on every level, all kid’s toys, pillows, most of our decor items on every level of the house, and a billion more things. It’s crazy, I can look at an item and see that it wasn’t touched by fire or water but yet it’s considered a total loss…because of smoke damage. Darn that smoke!! Ugh!

Every room is full of “loss” items. Here’s just a sampling.

Temporary Living Situation

First off, if you guys are still reading, thank you. This is a long and boring post I know…maybe go check out my recent 21 best pumpkin recipes or my most popular post for DIY barn door!

As far as our temporary living situation is going…we are still living out of a hotel. We have had to change hotels several times and rooms several times, all 20+ minutes from our house. We’ve also gone camping because they couldn’t find availably for us. Right now, we actually have two rooms because they don’t have a room with big enough beds for our family of five. It’s getting pretty old, obviously. But we are trying to make the most of everything…and I’m getting super fat because I don’t have a way to make a home cooked meal! lol. The dogs are doing well, but they are dogs, and of course are happy anywhere with us. The cats…well, they are cats, and they don’t like totally love all of the moving around. The rabbit…we took her back home and are keeping her in the garage to help makes our lives just a tad bit easier!

Insurance is really struggling finding us a long term rental. So our time in hotel rooms is still unknown. But I mean, who wouldn’t love to stay 50+ days in a hotel?!?!?!…bahahaha!

So, this is where we are at. Super fun!! ?????Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers! We truly appreciate them!

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Fire Updates:

Update #1: House Fire, Struck by Lightning

Update #2:  Update

Update #3: Frustration

Update #4: The Beginning of Demo & A Few Hidden Surprises

Update #5: Demo of the Downstairs

Update #6: 

Update #7: Silver Spoon

Update #8: Trick-Or-Treat; Victorian Style

Update #9: New Joists

Update #10: Roof

Update #11: Roof Demo

Update #12: Roof Demo & Rebuild

Update #13: Beginning of Rebuild

Update #14: Secret Bookcase!

Update #15: We Have Roof Shingles!

Update #16: Heart Hunters & Easter

Update #17: Butler’s Door

Update #18Hometalk Segment & Video Walk-Through

Update #19: Beginning of Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Update #20: Garden & Bunnies

Update #21: Choosing An Exterior House Color

Update #22: Treasures Hidden In The Ceiling

Update #23: Insulation

2 Comments

  1. Hello, my name is Sean I live sort of in the neighborhood. I Just want to start off by saying how sorry I am for your loss and how the excitement of moving into (an absolutely beautiful house) has turned into such a nightmare. I never knew of the tragedy that has happened. I drive past your house everyday on my way to and from work to get to the highway and often enough when not at work just because the houses in that area are so charming. As I said, my wife and I hadn’t heard or read anything about the lightening and we don’t live that far that we wouldn’t have heard sirens and stuff but maybe I just don’t recall.

    As I drove by a couple times early on I noticed your kids outside playing and I saw moving in taking place and then all of the sudden there was nothing. No action. The house was dark at night. There were no kids playing outside. No lights on. I noticed a patched roof in late fall but I figured that was just maybe a patch to hold until It was warmer out to receive full attention. It seemed like you moved out. My wife and I couldnt imagine what had happened. We aren’t nosey people but that house is such a beauty and we were happy to see that it sold. It wasn’t until about a week ago I noticed the sign out in front of your house with the web link. At that point I figured you were doing a remodel and documenting the progress. I had no idea.

    I do home remodeling myself so I can relate to the “fun” that your hubby must have with redesigning and renovating. Our first house here in Plymouth we redid all of the hardwood floors throughout as well and renovated with a new kitchen and new bathrooms. We moved out less than a year after we bought it when my wife gave birth to our daughter. We needed a bigger house lol. It’s such a reward to accomplish things like that, especially in an older home.

    I just wanted to comment, offer my sympathies. It’s truly a great feeling to experience the community here in Plymouth. I’m not surprised at all by the attention that you and your family Have received. People are so nice and giving. We have lived here only 3 years and just love it.

    I wish you and your family well. I hope the hotel situation gets better. We have rental properties east of here in the city of Sheboygan but are full at the moment otherwise I would offer anything I could to help your family out. You seem positive and that’s great. Take care.

    Sean

    1. Hi Sean, thanks so much for your nice comment! Nice to “meet” a fellow neighbor. The lightning/fire was June 28th…it’s been a long process getting to where we are now. I don’t think it was in the paper or anything, but it was put on Facebook by the Sheboygan Scanner (because the police were also called in) so we had constant traffic for days, lol.

      Very thankful that the timing has finally come for the roof. Right now just the back portion of the house has been taken off…but the entire roof/attic is coming down and being replaced. The inside is fullllly gutted, so the road is still very long ahead of us, but such is life when you have a fire! 🙂

      We certainly do love Plymouth. Even though we had only been here 3 months prior to the fire, we were very thankful for such a great community and amazing neighbors!

      We hope to be back home by the end of the summer – we are in an apartment now…so we are very anxious to get back!
      Take care!

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