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Sinkhole may Cancel 2008 Show Print E-mail
Monday, 18 August 2008

Being a homeowner in FL means dealing with many perils.  Everyone knows about the damage a hurricane can do to a home.  Unfortunately my damage is coming from under ground - about 60 feet down.  It's name:  the sinkhole.

Repairing the sinkhole means a lot of work needs to be done to my home and much of this work will be outside using heavy machinery.  I was hoping that the work would be completed long before the decorating season.  However, right now it's not looking good. 

If the work can't be completed in time there likely won't be a show this year.  Since decorating is my year round hobby, words can't express how disappointed I am.

In late January/early February I began to notice large cracks on the house.  These weren't your normal settlement cracks, these were large and many were vertical - the first signs of a sinkhole.

(FYI:  Some of the information I give here is based on my personal observations of my home and the process to this point.  Since I'm not a geologist or engineer, my conclusions or observations may or may not be correct.)

You may not be familiar with what a sinkhole is.  First, we need a little bit of geology:  Most of Florida is nothing but a sand-bar that sits atop a layer of clay that is atop a limestone 'cap'.  In some areas, the limestone is a couple hundred feet below the ground.  In others (like mine), the limestone can be much closer to the surface.

The sand in FL is naturally on the acidic side (due to decaying plant material), and pollution adds to the acidity when it rains.  The rainwater percolates through the sand and clay until it reaches the limestone.  There, it begins to eat away at the underlying rock until it can no longer support the weight above and it collapses.  For more information, take a look at the FL Department of Environmental Protection site.

So in February, my journey into making a homeowners claim began.  At the onset, the insurance company as well as others who have dealt with a sinkhole warned me that it would be a long and time consuming practice.  And it has! 

It took nearly 6 months for a team of geologists to determine that I did in fact have a sink hole.  The geologists drilled 5 separate test holes (some to a depth of over 70 feet), scanned my entire 1 acre property with ground penetrating radar, drilled for samples inside my home, and did 3 separate floor level studies (to see if my slab is cracking I suppose).

In July, the restoration experts came out to give a preliminary estimate.  These are the guys who are responsible for fixing my walls, driveway, patio, etc.  They in turn called out a structural engineering company to see what needs to be done to physically make the house safe.

Today (mid August) the insurance company let me know that 3 grouting contractors need to come out and give them more estimates.  In case you didn't know, 'grouting' is the repair to the actual sinkhole.  Typically the grout is a hydraulic concrete, and it's pumped under pressure.  The contractor drills holes down to the level where the sinkhole is and then pumps this concrete into them.  Once the hole fills up, the sinkhole is full.  I've read that some sinkholes have taken close to 900 cubic yards of grout!  That's a cube with sides 30 feet long, or basically enough to completely fill 2 normal houses from floor to ceiling.

The insurance also let me know that the engineering report as well as the initial estimate for repairs would take another 2 or 3 weeks before they are complete.

So, that puts me into September before I'll even have all the reports at my disposal.  At that point I need to determine if the estimates are good, or if I need to have a public adjuster take a look at them.  Once the insurance company and I agree, then the scheduling of work can begin. 

I typically need to start putting up the show in mid October (things like security lights, cameras and other 'infrastructure' type things), so you can see this would be cutting it close.

As I get more information, I'll post it here.  If I do have to cancel the show this year, you have my apologies. 

 
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