Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Le Feu, Part Deux

Today was a flurry of meetings and contractors and business cards and epic unyielding cold. We got to the house promptly at 9:30am to meet the cause & origins expert, who showed us a most startling thing: the fire started not necessarily by original 1973 aluminum wiring, but by a fascinating bundle of totally not-up-to-code wiring that included:

  • At least 2 14-3 in-wall wires, possibly aluminum
  • several low-voltage wires, including at least 2 for the alarm system and one phone line
  • an orange outdoor 10A or 13A extension cord, used as proper wiring
All of this was zip-tied together.

To make things even more interesting, this bundle of bullshit was draped over a joist and rubbing against a nail. Seems it's time to have a talk with both the home inspector and the home warranty folks...

The other fascinating revelation was that the abandoned home security system did not, in fact, save our lives. Of all things, it was the doorbell. That bundle of low-voltage wires also included a line from the side door buzzer, and when the wires all melted into one, what was coming out of the speaker was the 60Hz hum of standard household current. So there ya go, folks: don't bother with fancy smoke detectors, just lay wiring for your doorbell all across the crawlspace of your house (I kid--don't do that).

After the cause & origins guy got started, the electronics cleaners came and cataloged all of my fun toys. They also did me the courtesy of writing off every appliance we weren't in love with in our kitchen, from the dated refrigerator to the slapdash cheap-o dishwasher to the 15-year-old microwave oven I've dragged along on every move since I first paid a rent. Those guys, bless 'em, were there for almost 9 hours. We evidently had a bunch of crap. They even took the washer & dryer.

Then while they were going the structural adjustor showed up with her crew and the fire restoration guy, and they gave me an overview of what will be replaced, what options I have in selecting my new stuff, even telling me that any structural upgrades we want to pursue can be done at the same time. Yay!

Finally the property adjustor showed up and wrote off some damaged furniture and estimated the amount of food we will have lost.

All that's left is for the temporary housing company to find us a home to live in for the next 3 to 4 months, and demo should begin just about immediately.

It's weird to walk into the house now. With all the fabrics and electronics removed, it looks kind of like either we were fleeing Chernobyl, or we're in the process of moving out. Plus it's only about 42 degrees in there, so interesting other things are happening, like the floors are becoming uneven. Crown-molding is separating from the ceiling. It looks really sad. Alastair went in on the first day--it was important for him to see that the house and his stuff were ok--but I don't think I'll take him back in unless he really needs something specific until reconstruction is under way. He misses the house dreadfully, but he's hanging in there.

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