I was so super excited for my friend and her retired mother who bought a house together. They planned to live in it as their primary residence. The 1,566 sq. ft. home was “move-in ready.” Real estate listings are notorious for trite phrases like, “must see to believe” or “will not last.” Another one is “move-in ready.” But what does “move-in ready” really mean, anyway?
In the most basic sense of the phrase, a move-in ready home is exactly that — a residence that you can move into, unpack, and start living in immediately. At the very least, it means the space is clean, the appliances are in working order, and the layout is already configured in a way that makes sense for a new homeowner’s lifestyle.
If there were a list of some of the most exciting times in your life, the event of buying a home is going to be way up there. A new place offers excitement and new beginnings. On September 2, 2022, Tammy Rickards, excitedly moved into the new-to-her home in Punta Gorda, Florida. Sarah, Tammy’s mother, moved in shortly after. The 2003 built home has an exceptional floor plan with plenty of room to roam. It was the perfect property for the mother-daughter duo. The layout of this home had been perfectly planned. It offered 3 generously sized bedrooms, 2 full baths, and a large “Florida room.”
Tammy and Sarah were just getting situated in their new home. Then along came Ian. It was uncanny, but a mere 26-days later, a large and destructive hurricane took place. The storm was originally predicted to make landfall as a category 3 or potentially a category 4 storm near Tampa. But unfortunately, as Hurricane Ian strengthened, it shifted toward southwest Florida. So Mother, daughter, 2 cats, and a dog sheltered in place in a walk-in closet. “It was terrifying,” Tammy said. The sound and fury of Hurricane Ian’s 150 mph winds on the back side of its eyewall was frightening. The back side of the hurricane was worse than the front.
After the storm finally passed and it was safe to come out of the closet, mother and daughter were stunned to see so much water inside their new home. “It was everywhere,” Sarah said. Here, there, everywhere, so Tammy scattered bath towels all over to help absorb the water. But things became much scarier when the homeowners saw signs of water damage in the walls. In fact water from inside the interior walls was pouring out! I can only imagine their first reaction was being freaked out, followed by panic.
However, Tammy and Sarah are very smart women. The mother-daughter duo used to own a cabinet company years ago. They have knowledge and skills that most of us don’t. They have renovated every house they’ve ever lived in. Tammy knows it’s probably one of the more disheartening experiences a homeowner can face, is when you don’t receive enough money from an insurance claim to make all the necessary repairs. She knows that after a traumatic storm event such as a hurricane it can leave your home in shambles. That’s why she hired a public adjuster without ado.
When an environmental agent arrived at Tammy and Sarah’s home, he used a moisture reader to detect moisture in the structures and to identify any potential problems. He used an electromagnetic sensor pad, which is specialized equipment for detecting and measuring moisture. When the moisture tests came back positive and they were certain the walls were wet, it was recommended that some of the drywall and wet insulation be removed.
The house was declared uninhabitable. Tammy and Sarah were devastated. The Florida room that originally gave the new homeowners additional living space is where Tammy currently stores all of her furniture. The new homeowners knew they needed someplace else to live while their home was being repaired. So, for temporary housing, mother and daughter are currently living in a small camper trailer in the driveway.
Meanwhile the public adjuster recommended a “pin test.” A pin moisture meter has two metal prongs at its head, which must physically be inserted into the wood to get the required readings. The day I arrived to take pictures, the pin tests hadn’t been taken yet. Unfortunately, when the pin test results came back, they were positive. Therefore, nearly ALL the drywall in the house has to be removed!!! You see this water inside the walls isn’t everyday tap water. Category 1 water damage (clean water) poses no health risks beyond possible mold growth. However, Category 2 water damage (“grey water”) and Category 3 water damage (“black water”) introduce contaminants into a home. The professionals determined that the water damage in Tammy and Sarah’s home stemmed from wastewater, storm water, or sewage. Yuck! This meant dangerous materials could have been lurking in the walls. Disgusting! The home was no longer habitable.
It breaks my heart knowing Tammy and her mom have to experience such a nightmare. Our homes are supposed to be the one place in the world that we feel our safest, most private, and comfortable. This disaster of a storm violated and severely damaged my dear friend and her mom’s safest place. It’s going to take some time before things can get back to normal. Waiting on insurance money, renovations, moving things back in, rearranging furnishings, picking out paint colors, cabinetry, countertops, flooring…a home disaster happens in a flash but its impact can reverberate for months or even years after. But knowing Tammy, after the new flooring and drywall gets installed; she will make the house more beautiful than what it was before! Their home will be a blank canvas for Tammy to turn it into an awe-inspiring envy of their new neighborhood!
Check back later for an update on Tammy and Sarah’s rebuilding progress.