Progress Report

Sorry I haven’t been updating much lately (or at all, in fact) – what with the crisis at work, starting a new paper at university, and preparing for the imminent visit of MrPloppy‘s parents, plus the remains of that cold I caught in Dunedin hanging on and sapping any energy I had left after all that lot, I just haven’t been inspired to sit down at the computer and write stuff lately. But I promise the diary-writing situation will improve soon… probably…

Anyway, I thought it was time for a progress report – not on my cross-stitch, which hasn’t had a lot done to it lately, but on the damage to our house and garden. Things were going swimmingly well at first – the insurance company quickly arranged for builders to come in and fix the fence on the alleyway side and replace the broken bricks in the front of the house:

The repaired fence. The house on the other side of the alleyway is rented, and I suspect their landlord has decided not to bother losing his/her no-claims bonus, because they just roughly patched up the hole with the broken bits of fence, and there’s still no sign of them fixing it properly. But doesn’t ours look nice and tidy now?

Stage 1 of the house repairs – they removed the section of damaged brickwork, and salvaged the few undamaged bricks.

George was fascinated by the hole where the grate had been removed, and spent a lot of his time exploring under the house. We had visions of him being bricked up in there… (don’t worry, we would have been able to get him out if he had been, because there’s a couple of loose floorboards in the bottom of one of the wardrobes that can be lifted to get access under the house). Oh, and for those of you who live in countries where they use brick for the structural parts of the house, don’t worry about the fact that it looks like the window hasn’t got anything holding it up in this photo – in New Zealand, because of the earthquake risk all “brick” houses are actually wooden-framed – the flexible wood holds the house up and the brick is just cladding. So the window is still fully supported by the wooden frame below it (hidden behind the builder’s paper) even though the bricks are gone.

The next day they came back and put new bricks in (and left the lawn covered in brick dust), then a couple of days later came back and pointed the bricks (i.e. put a layer of finer mortar over the joins between the bricks – that hasn’t been done yet in this photo, which is why the mortar in the new part is grey instead of white) and put a new grating in (much to George’s disgust!). I never did get round to taking a photo of the completed wall – I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

Now, the observant among you might notice that there’s something missing in the above description of the building work. “What about the other fence?” I hear you cry. Good question. The builders left, and nothing more happened. We weren’t too concerned, because the assessor had told us that because it was a shared fence it might take a bit longer to be sorted out. But then we got a letter from the insurance company, with a form in it for us to sign saying that we’d accept a cheque for half of the remaining damage, less $250 excess – which left a very paltry figure. I don’t know a lot about insurance, but this didn’t seem right to me, and didn’t seem to match up with what the assessor had said. Grrrr.

Luckily, I happen to know someone who does know a lot about insurance, so I rang him, and he said that for a start, we definitely shouldn’t have to pay any excess, because our insurance company would be claiming the cost back from the driver’s insurance company, and that third-party motor vehicle insurance (which is what she would have to cover the damage) normally doesn’t have an excess (for precisely this reason). So our insurance company would be able to claim back the entire amount and shouldn’t be asking us to pay anything. He also thought it was pretty unreasonable of our insurance company to just give us the money for the fence and expect us to negotiate with the neighbours about getting it fixed and to arrange a builder etc – there was no reason why they couldn’t do all that for us (I mean, isn’t that why you have insurance, so you don’t need to worry about that sort of thing???). So armed with this advice, MrPloppy rang the insurance company, with mixed results – they kind of agreed that we shouldn’t pay the excess (although he couldn’t really pin them down on that), but were still insisting that we’d have to negotiate with the neighbours (or rather, the neighbours’ landlord, because that side is rented too) and arrange our own builder. The woman he spoke to had the cheek to suggest that they were doing us a favour this way, because we might be able to find someone to give us a cheaper quote!!! Anyway, I’ve spoken to my insurance friend again and he’s helping us to write a letter to the insurance company (which might have more effect than a phone call) explaining again why we think they’re being unreasonable, so watch this space…

And now a couple of gratuitous photos, just because I like them. I found this monarch butterfly sitting on the road, and I managed to get it to crawl onto my finger so I could take it to a safer perch on our lemon tree (yes, I know it’s probably going to die soon anyway, seeing as autumn is closing in, but I still didn’t like the idea of it getting squished). Anyway, I took the opportunity to play with the macro setting on my camera:

Currently reading: The Cat Who Came for Christmas 2 by Cleveland Amory and Cuentos en español (I’m on the last story – only a couple of pages to go!)

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