Let me begin by outlining how an insurance policy works in the case of a house fire. First, there is an initial "get-by" check, just to give you some money to get the bare essentials like toiletries, some clothing, food, etc. They will deduct that from the final settlement amount. Then, in my case, you have a "loss of use" clause that will pay for a place for you to stay until your house is once again habitable. They do not pay that amount until you are done renting or leasing, then you will be reimbursed. The next check for monies should be after you have submitted a listing of all your worldly possessions that were lost in said fire. At first, the check will be for what the value of said items were at the time of the fire. The "depreciation" amount will be disbursed when receipts for replacement items have been submitted. You have two months to submit the list of lost items and two years to purchase replacements. After that two year time frame has passed, you are out of luck for recovering any additional monies for replacements.
That leaves the big item, the house, to deal with. Now, in my case, the house was a pretty basic ranch, which was all I could hope to afford on Martha's Vineyard. I bought it just before the whole market exploded and skyrocketed out of sight. I had always hoped to renovate the house and put on an addition. I even spent a few thousand dollars having plans drawn up. The fire changed everything. I did not want to have anything to do with the house that was left. Instead, I chose to start from scratch, from the foundation up. Now, while the insurance money for the pre-existing house would in no way come close to covering the expense for the house that I wanted to build, I would finance the additional costs in whatever way I could manage. That was my downfall.
I must say that when I face a challenge, I weigh my options, take into consideration what is realistic, and set a course that would be most likely to provide a successful outcome. The budget for the new house that I had designed came in at "X" amount, which I pooled my resources to total "X", with very little margin for error.
The plan was put into motion and the first phase was the foundation. While the foundation was not actually factored into the projected budget for the house, per se, it ended up being much more than I anticipated. Additionally, the execution was flawed in that the company had not properly "set-up" the layout for the pour. This was an ominous sign of things yet to come, as I would soon find out.
After finalizing the design and construction details for the modular part of the house, there remained the period of waiting. When it arrived two months or so later, it was surprisingly "finished", with outlet and switch covers installed, stairs in place, and most of the windows in working order. Then the details began to tell the tale, where wiring had mysteriously gone to different switches, if at all, walls not "matching up", and a few other design miscues. All said, the problems were relatively minor. This before the on-site issues began to crop up.
Opting to go with an exterior that was as maintenance-free as possible, cement fiber board siding proved time-consuming to install, but the AZEK trim boards helped, as they were screwed on, rather than the nailing with traditional wood trim. The siding labor costs skyrocketed to more than 200% the estimated cost. Additional cost over-runs ate up all of my budgeted funds before I knew it, as the invoices ran weeks behind the work. Work done in June was not billed to me until September, when other work had been begun. Needless to say, all I had left was some credit on my credit cards. Not good.
Well, it was not long before the whole over-budget project screeched to a halt. I was $50-60 K over budget and nowhere near a certificate of occupancy, which was where the budget was SUPPOSED to get me. Meanwhile, the housing collapse sent the entire banking and finance industry into a tailspin, effectively cutting my legs out from under me. With no money, no credit, and no work left for me on the island, I set out to NYC.
That brings me to where the Brooklyn Chronicles began. I have, however, made progress in many different ways. In October, there were days I did not have $10 in my pocket, yet I managed to pay $8 K in mortgages, bills, and expenses. Don't ask me how, because I really do not know how I did it myself… I just did.
I managed to turn a corner in late December, as I re-financed most of the real estate debt and finagle a construction loan to finish the house enough to obtain a certificate of occupancy, which will facilitate renting the basement apartment, thereby increasing my income to afford the new, costlier mortgage. The goal is about six or seven weeks away and appears to be attainable. In the meantime, I continue to commute to and from NYC each week, eking out enough to stay ahead of the expenses. If I'm lucky, there will be enough money left over to buy some furniture for the house, provided I do not spend the insurance money allocated for furniture and personal belongings on the plumbers. I have already paid them more than $35 K, so far.
To think, there had been years that I had not left the island more that a dozen or so days in an entire year. Now I'm lucky to spend more than 48 hours there at a clip. Still. The warmer weather will arrive soon enough and with it, the summer season. The days in Brooklyn will be but a volume of memories, chronicled in these very words.