July 13, 2009

The "Or Else" List

I suspect that anyone who has ever bought an older home has gotten one of these from their homeowners insurance company, a list consisting of everything that needs immediate attention to avoid the "or else." Ours contained no surprises. In fact, the same things were on our own to-do list. Even so, there is something fundamentally annoying about the idea of having someone standing over our shoulder, arms akimbo and foot tapping, demanding that we do things we are in the process of doing anyway.

Now, to their credit, I have to commend our company for not doing what my in-laws insurance company did, i.e. simply canceling the policy with no prior warning because of x, y, z. Ours at least asked us to send them a "what we plan to do and when we plan to do it," response within 20 days thank you very much.

Our "Or Else" list looks like this:
  • Back steps lack a handrail
  • Roof has curling/lifting shingles that need repair
  • Trees are overhanging the home that need to be cut back in order to prevent loss
  • Siding has peeling paint, needs repair
Fortunately we can write back that all these items are either in the works or imminent. And at least one thing was already taken care of, the handrail. Of that, here is a "before" photo:

The "original" handrailwasn't very sturdy, nor aestheticThis was one of the real estate photos. Pretty sorry hand rail, huh? It was a 2x4 nailed to two posts. Obviously our insurance company didn't recognize this as a valid handrail. Actually, we had to replace it pretty quickly because DH cut that one down order to get some of our furniture into the house when we moved in.

Here's the one he made and I painted. The "after:"

Ours is both.We've discussed ideas for this area. We already charcoal grill out here. So should we create a patio? Expand the porch with decking? We're not sure yet. So for the time being I'll probably just repaint the concrete, and get on with the rest of our "or else" list.


Life Looms Large said...

I never knew insurance companies did that! (Although I do know that we couldn't get an occupancy permit for our house without handrails on exterior stairways.)

I'm sure you'll do all that they want and more. Bringing your house back to life is a wonderful thing that you're doing!


Theresa said...

Oh my! I don't think we have ever gotten an or else list from the insurance company, but we built new and got the "if this isn't done you can't move in" list from the county! I think my favorite thing to do with odd areas you want to use is level, put down flagstone or slate and let grass grow between them all. Easy to mow, pretty and defines the space.
If it's sunny you can plant creeping thyme between slates and it will smell yummy too.
Nice job on the hand rail!!! Looks so pretty now.

Renee Nefe said...

We've never owned an older home before...in fact this is only our second home.

I don't think that list is too bad...course I need a roof now too thanks to the hail. Will you be able to hire someone to do the roof or have to do it yourself? I've done roofing in my much younger days, but DH will hire someone.

Sharon said...

Their requests are obviously reasonable, it's just that they want them done yesterday. And you are lucky that they're working with you, instead of against you. Keep these posts coming. It's so much fun to see your place become "yours."

Anonymous said...

What a lovely new handrail - this house clearly needs you two!

I'm interested that you got your list from the insurance company. We got our to-do list from the surveyor before we bought: the mortgage was conditional on our doing a surprisingly small number of things given the state of the place. And, as you say, they were all things we would have done anyway.

Leigh said...

Sue and Theresa, I suppose a certificate of occupancy and a to-do list from an insurance company would accomplish the same basically, but (except for a new home, which of course needs a permit) I wonder why it isn't a more consistent practice. Regional way of handling things perhaps?

Theresa, I love the idea of using creeping thyme! We've been discussing using the old bricks around the place as pavers. Will have to let it all percolate in the brain for awhile.

Renee and Sharon, I agree that the list really isn't too bad. Sadly, we'll have to pay for the roof ourselves. Fortunately, we set aside enough savings to do this and a few other major repairs.

Renee, I would love to do the roof ourselves, but DH's work schedule can't cooperate this time of year. :( We're having someone come out to do it for us.

Sharon, thanks!

Cally, at one time it was the mortgage companies who required inspections and repairs as contingencies to obtaining loans. Somewhere along the line, they dropped that so that inspections aren't required for conventional loans. I think this is a sad symptom of a change in philosophy and attitude regarding homes and mortgages. It all started when the banks were de-regulated back in the 80s. Mortgage companies started getting riskier and riskier in the type of loans, as well as what they loaned on. That was back when they didn't realize that the sky wasn't the limit. The government never said anything because it was enabling folks who really couldn't afford mortgages to get into homes. Then the mortgage system collapsed and the government tried to "rescue" the mortgage companies with the "bail out" money. But that's another story and this isn't the place for that rant.