Water Damage, Demolition, and Where We Go From Here

Over the weekend, while Robert and I were in the living room folding laundry, we heard Olivia yell from the front of the house, “Mom! Dad! There’s water coming out of the walls!”

We ran to find the drywall in our stairway bubbling out with water pouring down the stairs.

I immediately felt my stomach drop as Robert ran to shut off the HVAC system that was leaking all the way up in the attic.

We just had 90% of our HVAC system replaced a few weeks ago and knew immediately it was the culprit. So we called our HVAC company and USAA homeowners insurance to see just how bad the damage would be, crossing our fingers that we caught it in time.

No such luck.

Our house is now partially ripped down to studs, but we’re so thankful Olivia noticed it or else it could have been much worse.

Yesterday, the water mitigation company showed up with fans and dehumidifiers, and we’ll have to navigate where to go from here.

Originally, back at the start of the New Year, we had our master bathroom renovation on our house goals list. We’ve been chipping away at a lot of home improvement projects that we’ll share more about here soon (like our backyard, a few components in our living room, and our dining room).

But then, as Murphy’s Law would have it, our old HVAC system failed, followed by foundation issues that could only be fixed to the tune of an accumulative $26,000 we financed. (Insert loud gulp.)

Thankfully, the damage is being covered by the HVAC company and our homeowner’s insurance. But a full bathroom renovation? Not so much.

Last summer, we did this quick bathroom refresh to tide us over until we felt prepared to do a real reno.

Now, we’re faced with the questions, do we just put the bathroom mostly back the way it was without paying out of pocket? Or do we go ahead and do the bathroom renovation we’ve been wanting to do even though that will be a heavier financial hit but cheaper now than if we waited until later?

So we’re going for it. We don’t really see a way around it.

It’s scary and overwhelming, and I’ve definitely shed a few tears amidst all of the unknowns. But we’re excited and thankful… oh so thankful for a mostly intact house, our family that is safe, and loved ones showing up with so much support when we’ve needed it most.

I am so grateful for all of you, for every comment on Instagram and Facebook, for every message in my inbox. In a time like this, I want to curl in a ball and hide to process everything, but I feel so unbelievably blessed by y’all.

It might be more quiet than usual here as we try to sort through our next steps, but we’ll be back. And we’ll be able to see those silver linings in hindsight one day soon.

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84 Comments

  1. Let me echo one of your followers, “ you are handling this with such grace.” Water always seems to be our enemy. I hope it all workout for you and your family. I have faith in your decision making, so I know you will make the best decision that works for you. Whatever you decide, I know the end results will be breathtaking

  2. Dear Robert and Lauren, I am so sorry to hear about your HVAC disaster, but believe me there are some good things to think about. First, you were there to address the problem as soon as possible rather than being out of town for days pre-discovery. Second, you have each other to lean on when it feels heaviest. The Lord works in mysterious ways, so now you can look for things that you can inspect and repair, replace or re-do better. I used to be the in-house interior designer at a Houston TX architecture firm. I am supposedly retired now, but designers’ friends never let us fully retire. May I recommend a couple of things you might want to do or think about during your “remodel?” First, inspect very system inside your walls while they are open. Now is the time to anticipate trouble and deal with it. You live in a hot and humid climate much like here in Houston. Put down powdered Boric Acid on top of every wall bottom plate inside every space you can reach before the dry wall goes back on. This will address any potential bugs that sneak inside your house down the road. It is important to put reinforcement inside bathroom walls where you may want grab bars in the future. As the go-to ADA person at my old firm, I assure you that nobody is more than a heartbeat from an injury or illness that will make you or whomever eventually owns your house glad you did. If you can figure out how to put in a curbless, roll-in shower while you have everything torn up, it will make your bathroom look bigger and more luxurious. Of course, it goes without saying that you want concrete backerboard behind your tiled walls and Dietra or a similar product under your floor tiles. Best of luck; I know it will turn out gorgeous.

  3. AH shoot. Murphy’s law indeed. As the wife of a contractor, we had to carry aLOT of insurance against potential situations like this one. And on occasion, we did have cause to utilize such coverage (note: ALWAYS make sure a circular saw is done circulating before setting it down on wood floors and 2nd note: countertop manufacturers/installers are NOT plumbers)!!. It seems if the HVAC folks caused the wet issue, they would also be prepared to help offset the costs of putting the bathroom back to order. Not so much as making it brandly new, but certainly reclamation should be covered.

    Meanwhile, hang in there. And while this stinks in the short term, particularly if you indeed do have something fun coming up with concrete and piers and well, thousands of dollars (‘fun’ is the operative word), the long term will be a stunning new bath, given your talents for making everything beautiful.

    Blessings from another soaking state – Kentucky!

  4. Sounds like one day at a time with a lot of faith that things can and will be restored to your wonderful home again soon.

  5. Lauren , courage , la maison est sauvée grâce à l’ enfant.

    vous allez surmonter cette épreuve et nous étonner, nous charmer par vos talents
    j’ aime votre style, le choix des couleurs et la simplicité d’ exécution

    j’ habite en France, sur une île qui a connu une submersion de nuit ..
    un ami a été réveillé à 4h par un bruit bizarre , c’ était les voitures qui se cognaient portées par la mer qui envahissait les rues du village , après évacuation des gens en pleine nuit
    même hélitreuillage ( hélico) pour certains
    notre maison n’ a pas été touchée, mais le bateau oui

    j’ ai donc vu beaucoup d’ appartements et maisons dégradés par la mer
    sur + d’ 1 m de hauteur

    tant qu’ il y a de la vie , il y a de l’ espoir ..

    avec Vous Lauren , j’ ai confiance que ce sera encore + beau

    compliments pour ce blog et continuez surtout .

    je ne peux pas acheter les produits UK , mais c’est Brexit

    à bientôt , pour les nouvelles photos de l’ escalier ..

  6. This is what a lot of us here in Bay County Florida are STILL dealing with 2 and a half years after Hurricane Michael OCT 10, 2018! 🙁

  7. Oh man, I would be in tears for sure. We too have been hit with bombshells lately. We try to take them in stride, it it does sometimes get the best of us. The only thing is that
    U kily you were covered by the insurance, because things could of been a whole lot worse!
    I loved the floor you had in there though. Was that tile or linoleum? I’ve seen versions in both. Wondered how the general wear and tear was with it minus the Niagara Falls!
    Hope things are better for you soon. In the meantime dream of a happy place bathroom that you will be getting out of this mess!

  8. I am so sorry to see the water damage to your home. We have been renovating for months just to get ready for sale. It is so frustrating to be thrown off track by emergent problems such as yours…Working and repairing puts so much stress on relationships as well. Just put a hour of the evening limit and know that tomorrow is another day. Our old bodies need Aleve or generic. Sore bodies make for cranky disposition. Be well and patient. God Bless, Lee

  9. Not too many years ago we were packing up in preparation for a cross country move. My husband was home recovering from knee surgery. As I walked into our bedroom the floor was covered in water. The pipe from the toilet to the wall for water had broken. It was a major mess indeed and my husband couldn’t physically help me at all. He spent his time on the phone calling a recovery company, insurance company, etc. In the meantime I got the shop vacuum and started to work. Our beautiful wood floors were a total loss as were my favorite leather handbags. Insurance came through for us though as they found the toilet to wall connection faulty. Everything got replaced quickly. It was a hot mess but with God’s grace we got through it all. We just need to relax and put these things in God’s hands and He will take care of us. My prayers are with you at this time. Just keep in mind that it could have been so much worse.

  10. Oh goodness! What a mess! This puts my tiny basement leak last week, repaired to the tune of $160 (I was shocked at how little it was!) in serious perspective. Praying you make great decisions under pressure.

  11. You can do this. Just hang in there, and next year you can laugh about how ***T happens when you least expect it and show us all your new master bath. You got this girl.

  12. When our youngest was three, he came tearing up the stairs yelling “Daddy, Daddy….” Then stood in front of us speechless and finally said ” It’s raining in the basement.” It was the dishwasher and hadn’t been “raining in the basement’ long. No damage done to the house. Dishwasher was unfixable.

    1. “Raining in the basement”, it isn’t funny except that kids choose funny ways of explaining things. 🙂

  13. From personal experience (living in a MAJOR hurricane zone) I can tell you–ONE. STEP. AT. A. TIME. Just start with one small thing, then another will follow and then another. Take pride in small goals accomplished and just thank God you found the leak quickly.

  14. Hang in there….it’s gotta get better 🥰. Luckily you have your family and a wonderful support network. Reach out to them as much as needed ❤️ Give yourself and your family hugs 😊

  15. My heart aches for you and Robert. I know you will get through this because you’re both strong and blessed with a loving family/friends and many online friends as you can see by all of these posts. I know you made the right decision to go ahead with a bathroom renovation. Costs are now driving up so best to do it now. Continue to focus and you will get through this….A special nod to Olivia for being so alert!!!

    1. Thank you, Diane. Yes, there are so many things through all of this that have shown to be hidden blessings. We are definitely thankful for Olivia coming to notify us.

  16. You are so lucky to have a partner there to do this job together. And of course the kids, too. Dealing with something like this, alone, is overwhelming. I can’t wait to see the results!

  17. I hear ya sister. we too have had some very trying circumstances happening. however you and your husband are very resourceful and skilled in tackling projects and updates. Prayers
    1 Thessalonians 5:18, hard to do sometimes but oh the blessings.

  18. Oh Lauren, So sorry to hear. Water is the worst! Hoping that insurance will cover all you need plus maybe a bit more to help with the master reno. You are a wonderful spirit and I so enjoy your posts. Hang in there with the chaos. Prayers for patience and positivity! All will be well.

  19. Lauren, we had two major leaks happen to us, and BOTH discovered at midnight on hot summer evenings when we’d put up the last of the hay in the barn! We had a water heater leak first and got that damage fixed ourselves. Then a couple years later, there was a pipe in the attic that decided it was time to go (we think as a result of some repairs during a re-roofing when a stray nail was shot into the pipe, but no way to prove it.) Yeah, all that……and I will tell you we were already working on the kitchen end of the house to re-do it. The disaster company got walls and floors stripped out and dried without mold forming. That was expensive and the high insurance deductible chewed up our small reno budget. Since we were totally stretched to the max, we’ve had zero dollars to finish and we’re down to one bathroom that functions in our 41 year old house. The master closet, bedroom, bathroom and major hall closet are still out of commission a couple years later. Furniture is still all over the house in the wrong places. We’ve gone through pet surgeries and their deaths, and a personal health crisis during all this too–more dollars. Can’t have friends over either. It’s embarrassing and too much disruption. Our king bed is in a tiny bedroom. I comprehend your daily stress my dear lady! If you can possibly bite the bullet and redo everything at once now, you’ll be glad for it later. It’s not possible in our case, as one of us is retired. We’re just limping along but praying God will help us provide for our needs and eventually nickel-and-dime get this done. I share all my hardship with you so you can see there is a jewel in this crown of thorns. God is always good, always there, and is always sustaining us. Your blog name is “blesserhouse” and it truly is when the Lord is at the center of it. Continue to trust Him to give you every kind of help you need to endure through till the end of this major chughole of life. (Loving you with a big hug!!) — Cindy

    1. Ohmygoodness! Cindy, thank you for sharing. And thank you for all of the encouragement. Through your share I can still sense your gratitude and meekness. It is inspirational to read. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to follow along and send kind words.

  20. So sorry this has happened. But, as you probably know, God has a way of taking the dismal and making His glory shine in us. Prayers for peace and great outcome.

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