Sunday, June 30, 2019

There's a Funny Story in Here Somewhere - Part 3 - The Remediator Problem

Not the actual "Inspector" but close. Image by MetsikGarden from Pixabay
At first, it appeared that remediation was the solution. The sump pump in my crawl space had failed — it was ancient, after all — and all that was needed was a pump out and clean up. The Inspector for the Remediation Company donned a head-to-toe clean suit, complete with a respirator and a hood, then descended into the crawl space. When he resurfaced, the news was dire. The entire crawl space was flooded, wet insulation was hanging from the rafters, and the place was rife with bacteria and mold. I wasn’t to worry, they had all the certifications to do the work, and they would commence pumping out the water right away. They’d spray a “harmless” solution into the air to kill mold and bacteria, and no, I didn’t need to have a mold test. They explained that cleanup was Phase 1, and that Phase 2 would involve removing the waterlogged insulation and replacing it, and other unspecified work they would only know about after the cleanup.They gave me a price, which made me feel like vomiting, and said Phase 2 would "probably" be less. With all my resolve to control the situation, the mention of the trigger word “mold” pushed my skeptism away, and I signed the clean up contract, ran up my credit card to the limit for the down payment, and started the process to withdraw money from the only source in which I had “liquidity.” (no, it wasn't selling a kidney.)

Red flags appeared immediately. Instead of running a hose to the street to pump the floodwater into the storm drain, they put the hose in the middle of my back yard. It would take several days for this action to become significant. I heard the workers — who only wore surgical masks, not respirators like The Inspector — talking about they could not reach all the areas of flooding. I heard them tell each other to pull down the insulation that was hanging down. No one told me, no one showed me what they were removing (water logged? moldy? I saw no evidence of this), no one admitted that they couldn’t reach all of the water. They pumped water for two days to the back of my already saturated yard, then set up a fan to "dry things out." In the meantime, I had to get a plumber to replace the sump pump. While I was waiting for that, the crawl space filled up with water again. More pumping. This time, I came home to find them pumping the water over the side of my deck, and directly against the foundation of the house. I told him the water had to go to the street, not right back into my crawl space. He said that wouldn't happen(as if I was saying something stupid) and that he was done for the day anyway. The next day, I caught a different worker doing the same thing. Pumping water over the side of my deck. When I told him to stop, he and his coworker said they would pump it into the back of the yard then. That was someone saying something stupid — but I was not having any more pouring water onto everyone's waterlogged properties. Needless to say, they were soon scurrying to find enough hose to reach the street. The pumping ended with the end of their work day and when I asked if all the water was gone, they said "no."

They again left me with two fans running to “dry things out.” It kept raining, and raining. Water came back in. Or so they said. After all, they never said they had gotten all the water out to begin with, shown me any pictures, etc. At this point it became obvious they were relying on a 64 year old woman not climbing down into the crawlspace herself. That fear of exposure to mold would also keep her from allowing anyone else without a cleansuit and a respirator down there either.

The Remediators continued to say they couldn’t figure out where the water was coming from, and it was still coming in. They were, after all, a clean up crew, not a waterproofing company. Then, they came to my house to announce that Phase 1 was finished. They proceeded to propose Phase 2—treating for mold, the existence of which had yet to be shown to me. Fees were added in for the “extra work” already performed. This included the removal of all insulation, and the disposal fees incurred. Again, nothing had been shown to me, I did not authorize any "extra" work. They stated the weren’t “even” charging me for the multiple time they came to pump out the water.

I asked where in the contract it said they would only come once to pump water. I asked at what point was the crawlspace free of water, especially since I had heard that there wasn’t enough hose to reach all areas. Then I told them that they may be a contributory factor in the re-flooding, as they pumped the water into my yard and against my foundation instead of into the street. This they denied doing. To my face. Suddenly they "knew" where the water was coming from. The mainline to my house, under my driveway, was broken, and my responsibility to fix. I told them we were done. 

Without batting an eye, they said my floors were going to collapse because of the moisture issue. They said they needed to “encapsulate” the crawl space with plastic. I asked them where the water, which was still coming in, would go. They told me, with no sense of irony, “under the plastic.”

I again said we were done. They continued to protest. I thanked them for telling me I now had a $20,000 main line replacement to finance. I’ll give them credit, they still continued to try and sell themselves. I think it was because one of them was driving a big, black, shiny, Mercedes van. (Who knew there were such vehicles?) A van, into which, he was not going to put all that dirty equipment I told him to take with him. He also wasn’t getting any more van payments out of me. Because now, I had to Start from Square One, and nothing was funny yet.

… to be continued

No comments:

Post a Comment