Friday, December 30, 2005

Nothing happens

I am posting to report that no progress has been made whatsoever. We haven't heard if our SBA loan has been approved. We haven't gotten anyone from FEMA to come document the damage. We haven't gotten a key to the trailer that's been in our yard for over a month. Our request for a second insurance adjuster was denied, so we're waiting for the same guy who lowballed our claim the first time around to give us his second offer. Every month, my mortgage balance gets a thousand dollars higher, since our payments are deferred but the interest isn't.

That banging sound you hear is my head against the wall.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hilarity ensues

A couple of weeks ago I got a bill from the electric company for an unusually large sum of money, especially considering we've never lived in the house we're being billed for. Upon reading the fine print, I discovered that in lieu of sending people out to read the meters, which is understandably impractical, our friends at Entergy are billing customers for August based on prior years' use during that time of year. Never mind that we didn't live in our house last year and for all we know the previous owners air conditioned it to 60 degrees all August. I could understand their method, but that due to the renovations going on before Katrina, there hasn't been electrical service at the house since June.

I tried to get through on the customer service line to explain that the estimated billing is not appropriate to our case, but every time I called the message said there would be a minimum of a 30 minute wait, and I'm just not that patient. Finally I emailed them my info, and surprisingly enough, got a reply the next day. Here it is:

Thank you for your inquiry. Because we are unable to get a reading, the billing will remain the estimated amount. If you are able to provide a reading, we will be more than happy to adjust the billing per your reading. The bill below shows we only charged 59.00 for usage incurred. The billing appears extra high due to the increase of the fuel adjustment rate due to the high market cost of fuel. Entergy does not profit in this line item.

Soooo. $59 for what I allegedly used, plus another hundred-something for fuel adjustment? That doesn't even make sense. More importantly, my Entergy friend could probably have seen in my file that our house has a DIGITAL METER. That means if there is no power I CAN'T READ IT.

WTF? There isn't even a line connecting the meter to the house. I just hope they don't report me to TRW, because I am so not paying this bill. What are they going to do, cut off the power to my TRAILER? I'm ][ this close to going off-grid and buying some solar panels to put on the trailer, if we ever get a key to open it, that is.

In other news, we took advantage of Louisiana's sales tax free weekend today to buy a couple of new refrigerators for Chateau Danneel. Our tenants will be able to chill their beers amply when they come back for the spring semester.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Those wacky FEMA guys!

As I posted a week or so ago, a FEMA trailer appeared in our yard in the night filled with goodies like a coffee maker and a trash can. Oddly, they didn't leave us with a key so we could lock up our newfound treasure. Repeated calls to the guy who reportedly left the trailer were never returned. Anyway, I was at the house on Sunday to look for our Christmas stuff and found that the trailer, mysteriously, has been locked up. We still don't have a key.

I'm really looking forward to stringing some lights on the thing and maybe putting an inflatable Santa on top.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lawyerin' up

We met with a lawyer today to talk about our insurance issues, and it looks like we have a good case against our agent for not selling us adequate coverage. With any luck at all, we can file some paperwork and their malpractice insurance will settle with us. Without going into the intricacies of LA law, it's the duty of the agent to make sure the customer knows what level of coverage is recommended and what types of policies are available.

We've been trying to get a quote out of Lafitte the foundation guy for weeks on elevating the house and putting it on a new foundation. This more than anything else will determine whether it will be more expensive to renovate or to rebuild. Even though they just levelled the house before Katrina and already have all the info, I guess they're just so busy they don't want to deal with this one. Tomorrow I'll take a shot at finding another reputable foundation repair company.

While I'm at it, I guess I need to get a structural engineer out to give us an assessment of whether the thing would hold together if we raise it. It's in pretty rough shape. I also want to know - will I ever be able to get level floors, or will they always have a rolling hill effect? Mr. Nola thinks we could salvage the old oak floors and refinish them. I would far rather pull them up, lay a level subfloor, and put down new wood. The question is whether the framing itself can be levelled enough to allow a flat floor.

In general, I'd rather rebuild altogether. I love the look of the old house, but I don't know if it can be fixed to the extent that the walls are plumb and the floors flat. That's not too much to ask for, is it? Cost-wise, it all depends on the difference between pouring the foundation with the house elevated above it, and pouring a foundation on an empty lot and building new framing on top of it. New windows would probably be the biggest single expense after the foundation.

Those of you who've already done this - what did windows cost you? We would have to have real divided-lites or simulated divided lites (like Pella's architect series) rather than fake plastic mullions over a sheet of glass. The surrounding houses were not as badly damaged so they will still be there - fake mullions would stand out like aluminum siding on our street.

I'm really into these windows. I imagine they're incredibly expensive though.

The house has, um, 20 windows on the main floor, and about 10 smaller ones upstairs.