Irma victims may not have home rebuilt for another year
Like thousands of Southwest Floridians, Hope Daley and Matthew Dykes got out of town before Irma rolled ashore.
They weren’t expecting to come back to the amount of devastation they found at their Golden Gate home; but the damage wasn’t the worst of their worries.
A year later, they are paying a mortgage on an empty lot where their house once stood, rent at a temporary apartment, and a storage unit fee.
The long road to recovery started when the couple says the insurance company and contractors seemed to disagree on exactly how the couple should rebuild. According to Daley and Dykes, contractors said the structure should be torn down, but the insurance company wanted to spend money on mold and water remediation.
Insurance paid out more than $50,000 to two mold remediation companies. Emails provided by the couple show concerns were raised about wasting the claim money.
Eventually, they say Tower Hill agreed to consider their home a total loss and by April they were able to tear it down.
For months, payments from insurance slowly trickled through their lender before their contractor could be paid.
In June, the couple contacted WINK News for help with a dispute with their bank to cash a check to pay their contractor. But that wasn’t the only snag they’d face: the cost to rebuild was going to be over $100,000 more than the full payout from their insurance policy.
Daley said much of it came back to the money that she feels was initially wasted on remediation.
“When the insurance company got the bill, they themselves said it was price gouging, but they still paid it,” she said.
The biggest chunk of change went to a 1-800-Water-Damage franchise based out of Central Florida. Another $5,000 went to CRDN Clean of Southwest Florida.
Neither company has any complaints of price gouging filed against them with the Florida Attorney General.
No one from 1-800-Water Damage returned requests for comment from WINK News.
Aubrey Stout, of CRDN Clean, wrote in an email,
“We have complete signed documentation and correspondence from the Daley’s giving us direction as to what they wanted us to do. In the event they want this to be played out in court and not through the media, we will be more than happy to produce all of the above in court.”
Tower Hill Insurance denies any allegation of mishandling of the couple’s claim.
The money the couple feels was misspent was only one hurdle: their builder claimed building materials and building code regulations would create a high cost to rebuild.
Even if they went and borrowed the $50,000 spent on remediation, they’d still end up short.
By late August, Dykes said he wanted to walk away.
“We have enough right now to go ahead pay it off, sell the property and walk away without owing the bank anything,” he said.
But then, they finally got a little bit of good news. A friend referred them to a different home builder who claimed it could rebuild their home at cost.
The catch: it will take another year before that home is complete.
“Until we have the keys I’m not going to believe that it’s our house — but that will be a heck of a day,” said Daley.
In the meantime, the couple is considering hiring a public adjuster to see if any of their insurance claim money spent on remediation can be recovered.