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Posted by on Jun 24, 2013 in Featured, Personal, The House | 0 comments

Lightning Strikes Twice

Figuratively and Literally.

We went into last week wondering if we’d hear back about the appraisal by the end of the week.  Tuesday, we got an email from the bank about some documents they thought they were missing.  We took that as a good sign that they were still working on our loan while waiting on the appraiser.  I replied that they should already have those documents and we got another reply from the bank Wednesday morning.  He said he had found out that they could only finance 85% of the appraisal, not the 90% he had told us all along because of our loan amount.  We were extremely irritated because we had told them from the first phone call what our loan amount was and the whole reason we chose to apply with them was the extra 5% over the previous bank.  Now they were going to be the same.  We just had to hope that the appraisal would come back high enough to make up the difference.  But, David ended up talking to the bank several times that day.  The bank guy talked to the appraiser and she hadn’t started on ours yet, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to appraise it for more than X dollars per square foot.  Her number was only $2 more than our first appraisal which was way too low.  She said she is “very familiar” with ICF construction and knows that ICF houses are selling for the same price as regular stick built.  I’d love to see those numbers because I don’t know of any existing ICF houses that have sold in the past year.  Almost all ICF houses are custom built like ours would be and are rarely sold.  Regardless, there was no point in paying her or wasting the time for her to give us the same number as the first appraisal.  I was numb.

We are running out of options.  We could wait another year to save up the difference, but interest rates and construction costs will likely continue to go up in the meantime.  There’s no guarantee we could still afford the house in year if those go up too high.  Meanwhile, we are living in a house that isn’t ours and throwing money away on rent.

We decided to see if not building with ICF would get the budget down to the appraised value.  We had the builder revise the budget, removing the ICF and making all the exterior walls 6″ studs with spray foam insulation.  That is how the 2nd floor walls were going to be built anyway.  (Most houses are built with 4″ studs).  We kept the ICF and concrete for our master closet since we really don’t want to lose the storm shelter.  We shouldn’t lose much insulation-wise building it this way, but we will be losing the structural benefits of the concrete walls.  In the end, we won’t have the ICF we wanted, but we still have an extremely nice, energy efficient house.  I just emailed the new budget and spec list to the bank and he is going to forward it to the appraiser.  The new budget, plus what we paid for the land, equals exactly what the first appraisal was.  It wasn’t planned that way, it’s just how it worked out.  We didn’t save as much as we hoped by removing the ICF, but hopefully it will be enough.

Meanwhile, a strong storm popped up to the northeast of us Thursday night.  The lightning was pretty bad compared to what we’ve seen in a while.  I was watching tv and sitting with my laptop on the couch.  David and The Kid were in our bedroom with that tv on.  It started raining and blowing like a tropical storm outside.  All the sudden, we saw a big flash and heard a big “POP”.  I saw huge sparks fly by the kitchen window.  Our power and TVs never flickered or went out though.  I thought the new bug zapper I just bought had been hit by lightning since it was plugged in and hanging on a shepherds’ hook near the back corner of the house.  We immediately ran around unplugging everything before it hit again.  David tried to go outside to figure out what was happening, but it was raining and blowing too hard.  We know we aren’t crazy because all our neighbors turned on their outside lights and were looking outside too.  I also went up in the attic to make sure there wasn’t a hole in our roof and/or a fire.  The bug zapper wasn’t lit up anymore, so I figured that was it.  We left everything unplugged since it was still storming and went to bed.

I got up Friday morning and the internet wasn’t working (not a great way for me to start a morning ;p ).  I figured out that the modem wasn’t working.  It was completely dead.  I wasn’t terribly surprised because the thing didn’t have good reviews to begin with.  I just hoped I could find one in stock because I didn’t want to have to wait through the weekend for one to be shipped.  At the same time, The Kid was trying to watch the TV which also wasn’t working.  I was busy messing with the internet problem, but it became apparent that something was wrong with all 3 TVs.  I wanted to get the internet back up first, so we left in search of a new DSL modem.  I went to the only Walmart that showed having any in stock.  They also showed having 2 in stock, but they couldn’t find them.  I did some searching on my phone to find anyone else who might have them in stock and we ended up having to wait until 10 when Best Buy opened.  2 hours later, we finally got back home with a new modem (different model this time) and I had the internet back up by noon.

Now, on to the TVs.  It took almost 24 hours to figure out what exactly wasn’t working and how.  I’ll try to spare you some of the details, so here’s a summery:

  • The modem was dead and the router and one of our Airport Expresses wasn’t working correctly anymore.
  • I had my laptop with me on the couch at the time, but the cord was plugged into the kitchen wall.  The cord no longer worked at all – wouldn’t charge or power my laptop.
  • Living room TV wouldn’t recognize any inputs.  Screen stayed black except for the 3 “Video” inputs which were now a bright green mess (see picture above) regardless of whether anything was plugged into it or not.  The satellite DVR seems to work, but the HDMI output doesn’t work – only the component, RCA or other jacks.  The AppleTV was completely dead.  The blu-ray player was ok, but wouldn’t play or eject the disc that was in it.  I was able to fix it after following the troubleshooting steps in the manual.  
  • Our bedroom TV wouldn’t do anything but pulse the red power light.  Screen stays black and it doesn’t respond to the remote or actual buttons on the side.  Satellite DVR has the same problem as the one in the living room – the HDMI output doesn’t work.
  • Upstairs TV works, but the HDMI input doesn’t work.  That satellite receiver is ok along with everything else up there.

We ended up needing 3 new TVs, 2 new Satellite DVRs, a new AppleTV, new laptop cord, new modem, router and Airport Express.  Fortunately, our renter’s insurance is going to cover all or most of it.  We’ve replaced or ordered everything already and the satellite guy is coming out tomorrow morning to look at the receivers.  We originally thought the dish and/or wiring was damaged, but it’s working ok now with the 1 receiver we have left.  It’s been a mess, but it could have been worse.  We’re still not sure exactly what happened since the TVs were working when we unplugged them that night after the lightning hit.  We’re wondering if it came in thru the satellite wiring from another strike later since that’s the only thing that was still hooked up.  I did some searching and it’s apparently a common problem for lightning to damage the HDMI jacks on electronics.  The bug zapper ended up being fine, but it tripped that GFI outlet and the breaker.  David reset the breaker, but that GFI outlet won’t reset now and/or work.

Here’s to hoping this week goes a little smoother 🙂




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