Water leak leads to unexpected renovation project for Chatfield couple
Monday, September 30, 2013 4:34 AM
Pat and Jan Lawler blame it on the bathroom.
Jan Lawler shows off the newly refinished downstairs bedroom. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
"It was a little end off a flexible pipe from the water under the sink," said Chatfield resident Pat, as his wife recalled the afternoon of June 29, 2012. "We'd gone to Rochester...we left here at 10 that day to have lunch with friends who'd come from Tennessee for my birthday, and we got home about 2:30, and as soon as we came in the door, Pat said, 'You forgot to turn the faucet off.' I said, 'I didn't leave a faucet on', and then we went to the lower level and saw that the ceiling tiles were coming down."
The Lawlers' four-level, five-bedroom, two-bath home was nearly floating away, thanks to that little flexible water pipe in the master bathroom on the top level. The leak, in turn, caused three bedrooms to be flooded, the bathroom to require new fixtures, sheetrock to buckle and sag, ceiling tiles to fall, furniture and clothing to become a health hazard and the Lawlers to be displaced from their home for almost four months.
Jan said, "The first thing Pat did was call the insurance man, and then the plumber and Servicemaster, and he turned off the water main. The electrician and plumber came, but since it was Friday, the insurance adjuster couldn't come until Monday, so everything was held up."
The couple started slogging through their sodden home, sorting through furniture and other personal belongings that needed to be rescued and then they set up camp in the living room.
Jan said, "Everybody in Chatfield thought we were having a yard sale, with piles of furniture in the yard."
The Lawlers had antique dressers downstairs, they moved them outside and they took their bedroom set out, which eventually had to be replaced as well as another from an extra bedroom.
"We came back to this room and slept here because we knew that people knew we were moving stuff around, and we didn't want someone to come and take it, but the insurance man came and told us that we couldn't stay here because of mold," Jan explained. "They wanted to put us up at the Val-A Lodge when it was still here, but we have a daughter who lives four blocks away, so we went to our daughter's house on July 4 and got back here two weeks before Christmas."
All of the sheetrock, carpet, flooring and subflooring had to be replaced and the Lawlers' possessions had to be cleaned or discarded.
Jan said, "I have 386 hangers that came from a cleaners in the Cities, and I had to find a new bedroom set because we had to get rid of ours. We had 350 boxes of loose stuff, and we're still not done sorting through it."
Pat marveled, "I don't know where all this stuff came from, either."
The couple had to go shopping for replacement bedroom sets and clothing. This was, according to Jan, perhaps the hardest part. It was just as difficult as enduring the comings and goings of carpenters, plumbers, electricians and cleaning crew staff and having to move out for a third of a year. Buying a new bedroom set was hard as Jan had especially liked the set they'd had and some of the clothes they'd had to toss. The search was on for their new bedroom set at numerous Rochester furniture stores, until she found the one at Quality Wood and had it delivered to her newly-refurbished home.
While the couple's household has yet to completely resettle and be taken out of boxes, Pat actually found a moment of enjoyment in the renovation process in spite of the hassles the Lawlers had to deal with.
He and Jan have five children and their twin daughters were only four years old when the family built their home on Chatfield's Main Street.
"The funny part is that we drew up the plans for the house...started in 1979, and the twins helped pound nails into the floors," Pat recalled. "They were only four years old when we built the house in 1980 and I'd draw a chalk line and give them instructions to put nails in along it. When the carpenter took up the flooring, he found that there were nails doubled up under it, and he asked why they were there, and apparently, when one of the girls put a nail in, the other one went back and put one in there, too."