Recently my house was pretty severely damaged in Hurricane Michael. Luckily myself, and my family are temporarily living overseas, so we already have other living arrangements. It looks like the insurance company is going to deem the house a total loss. The settlement they quoted me will be significantly more than what is owed on the house (basically my mortgage+equity). I'm not sure what stipulations there will be, but if we can, we are leaning towards just paying the mortgage off and keeping the land.
Now to my dilema: What should I do with the house?
I could just let it rot, which will be a liability concern if anyone decides to squat there in our absence. We would then just deal with it ourselves when we return in about 1.5-2 years.
I could spend $10k-20k to demo it.
I could sell the property as-is and maybe get $30k for it.
Or, I could attempt to have the roof tarped to minimize further water damage and attempt to salvage what I can in the house when we eventually move back. This is what I'm struggling with. Even though the house was "totaled", the permie in me feels like it is such a waste to just throw the whole house away. I could salvage some of the gables and use them for a barn. The toilets were brand new, all of the ceiling fans were new, etc. Am I being ridiculous? Some of this may also be me holding onto nostalgia value. It's the first and only house I bought with my S/O and where we had our first child together. There's a lot of memories there.
I know this isn't terribly permie related but I figured you guys have the same mindset as I do regarding most things. Any input/advice would be greatly appreciated!
As a side note, one of the things we have discussed doing is creating a little campground type place. Build a few cabins and have people take "permie" vacations where they can experience a bit of permaculture and get to see how we grow food and whatnot. Or even just start a community there. If we did return to Panama City, this would be a lot more achievable without a mortgage and 9 acres of land to build whatever we want. However, I don't know how many people will want to vacation near Panama City anytime soon as the place is kind of a wreck if you haven't seen the news...
The local "Authority Having Jurisdiction", long words meaning the inspectors from the city or county, may require that it be repaired or razed - not left in a state of dangerous disrepair. Or not. It depends on the locality, but before making actual decisions, it's good to know what the rules are.
It takes some serious skill and experience and imagination to recognize what is possible with an old or damaged building. That skill can be hard to find. Also, until you visit the site in person, it will be hard for you to bring your own feelings and smarts to bear because you just _don't know_ the whole real story. Long distance analysis is a real crap shoot. And you have to factor in what resources are actually available locally in terms of skills and prices - which might be hard to determine at a distance.
Might want to check with your insurance co, regarding the demo costs. When we lost structures in a wildfire our ins co paid a separate amount to clean up the remains as required by the county. With any luck your ins will have similar coverage.
Thank you for your responses! I did actually go back, briefly, to see it in person. To me, half of the structure looks ok, besides some water intrusion. The other half, doesn't look so great. For about a quarter of the roof, all that is left is the gables. You're right though, I don't think I have the skill to determine what is good and what isn't. Even if the wood looks decent, the whole place is bound to be contaminated with mold. I suppose the best option would be to demo it and just start over. I guess the next thing I need to decide is what to build in it's place. Thinking of maybe building with something like SIPs panels, or something that will hold up in a hurricane next time!
Mold doesn't necessarily destroy buildings. Drying out and keeping dry prevents mold from continuing. But what options present themselves depends on who you can find to talk to locally.
There have been some problems, very serious problems, with modern building innovations - including SIPs. Do some real research before considering stuff like that. The builders and manufacturers all were wildly enthusiastic - for about 5 years when the mold and insect damage started coming to light. The newest whiz-bang methods are touted with equal enthusiasm. That's why it's not just tree-huggers that choose to build the "old" way, that has 100+ years of track record.
Yea, if I was able to do something with it now, mold probably wouldn't be an issue. But I don't know what I could do to stop it until I can get back and possibly do something with the place. I almost feel like if I were to get the buidling tarped, the moisture that is already there would just be trapped and would make it an even better place for mold. And it's ridiculously humid and rainy there as it is, it will never dry out without some serious intervention.
I would absolutely do a ton of research on what our best building options would be. SIP was just the first thing that came to mind. We have talked about building a log cabin, but I'm not sure that would be that great in that climate. I have at least a year or so to research and come up with a plan...
We've gotta get close enough to that helmet to pull the choke on it's engine and flood his mind! Or, we could just read this tiny ad: