It’s funny — even…

It's funny -- even though there was no damage and no one got hurt, I was actually shaken by what happened last night. I got home and my stomach was churning; I hadn't had dinner yet, but I couldn't bring myself to eat anything for hours. After I wrote that entry, I felt compelled to go wash the smoke out of my hair; the scent of it was making me crazy.

I kept picturing exactly what would have happened if I hadn't come by -- how that bucket would have started to burn, and the wood floor would catch, and then all that newly-painted drywall. And there were cans of stain and paint around, which I'm guessing would heat up and then explode, acting as accelerants. I have great neighbors, and it wasn't that late -- maybe someone would have seen the fire and called the fire department. But I'm guessing it would have been very difficult to put out, given all the raw materials and chemicals on-site. I finally fell asleep on the couch, wrapped in an old flannel nightgown, with Kevin's arm around me. He got me into bed, but I kept waking up all night, and still feel a bit shaken this morning. Nothing happened. But it could have.

I talked to Pam this morning, and we now know exactly what happened last night; one of the painters had collected the stain rags (not tung oil, as it turns out -- they haven't started that part yet) in a bucket as he does at the end of every day, prior to taking them out to the big metal dumpster in the backyard. And then he put the bucket down for a minute, got distracted by something else, and forgot them. Just a simple mistake. He takes full responsibility, which is nice -- I hate arguing with people about whose fault a problem is. And Pam apologized to us as well. Among other new safety measures, she's going to be walking the house every evening from now 'til the end of job, which I actually don't think is necessary, but it certainly won't hurt.

Someone asked in comments whether we're going to be taking out the builder's risk insurance at this point. Honestly, I'm not sure. It's fairly expensive, and you have to buy six months' worth, and we're so close to done. Pam isn't sure she'd recommend it at this point, since we're well past the point at which you normally see major, expensive, problems -- when you're doing the structural, plumbing, electrical work. This fire was really kind of a fluke. And of course, everyone's going to be extra on their guard going forward through the finishing stages. And she has insurance, and the sub-contractors have insurance, so as long as a problem is clearly someone's fault, we're covered. The problem would arise if something happened and no one was willing to take responsbility; builder's risk insurance would cover us while we were in the midst of legal battles, for example.

What do you think? Extra insurance at this stage or not?

6 thoughts on “It’s funny — even…”

  1. What kinds of things does whatever insurance you have now currently not cover? If everyone involved had said “nope, that’s not our bucket, we have no idea how that got there”, and you couldn’t prove anything, do you have some sort of general insurance against accidents?

    (It would’ve been totally heartbreaking if that had happened, of course, but insurance doesn’t cover heartbreak. :^p Would you have been ruined financially if that had happened?)

  2. I am not an expert in builders risk insurance, so don’t think I have any special knowledge. I don’t. My question for you, though, is whether you have insurance coverage any other way for the building? I have a vague recollection that homeowners insurance will generally NOT cover a building under the type of renovation you’re under. If so, then unless you have another kind of insurance, you are potentially not covered for any of the normal insurance perils like lightning/fire/tornado/vandalism/etc. If you currently have no insurance coverage on the building then you should probably buy the builders risk insurance. You’ve got too much money sunk into this to go uncovered.

    Think of it this way: you would have bought it in the beginning even though you didn’t expect to need it, so it isn’t really costing you anything to buy it now. You’ve just received free financing for 4 months.

  3. I meant to reiterate: if you already have some kind of insurance that covers the normal homeowner perils, then I’m not so concerned.

  4. Yes, get it. I wouldn’t think of it as extra, but as standard; it might useful to think of it the way that Kirsten has framed it in her second paragraph.

    Seriously, if you cannot afford to lose the house and the money put into it, get the coverage. Even if seems expensive, it is much cheaper than not having it and then running into trouble. That whole penny-wise, pound-foolish thing.

  5. Mary Anne,
    You have had a very close call and been very lucky. Feces occur and this was a perfect example.
    I would start lining up your homeowners insurance now so you have negotiated, had all inspections and have a proposal in hand. You need to be insured the minute you move in so all your belongings are protected.
    I think the painter has been reamed out after having the s**t scared out of him. I’m sure Pam was distressed also. The event is a contractors worse nightmare.
    Before retirement our office had several similar incidents over the years. The worst was when a welders torch sent sparks into a crevice which then flared up hours later causing serious damage that put the project back many months.
    I would give thanks your event wasn’t worse.

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