Insurance troubles plague Grand Forks couple

Harry and Lois Kimmel lost their home to a fire last May and a year later, they’re still waiting for the house to be completed.

Harry and Lois Kimmel

Harry and Lois Kimmel

Harry and Lois Kimmel lost their home to a fire last May and a year later, they’re still waiting for the house to be completed.

While the senior couple could move in at the end of December, for most of the summer they lived in their camper trailer.

The contractors had originally told them the home would be finished by Oct. 1.

The Kimmels spent a few months living in their fifth wheel on the property as construction progressed and then moved into a motel when the temperature dropped in the fall.

The trouble didn’t end there. Just recently they received a bill for the footing (the base of the house) which was more than four times what a local contractor’s bill would have been, they said.

“Then they turned a bill in for $53,000 just for footings, and we called in a contractor and he came in here this morning and he went over the blueprint. He can build the footing for $12,000,” Harry Kimmel said. “That’s unreal.”

The estimate allowed for extra money for cement as well, he added.

Lois said that the delays have been stressful

“This sort of thing went on and on and on,” she said.

Harry is just worried that their house may not be as valuable as before, given that there are some problems that he has seen with the building.

“We end up today with a bathroom, a kitchen and with a laundry room; absolutely no access, no crawl space, no way to get under there if something goes wrong at all,” he said.

They’re worried that if the house isn’t up to code, it will have to be rebuilt, which brings them more worries over who will pay for that.

The Kimmels felt that after their house had burned, the adjuster had not given a fair chance for local contractors to bid.

Harry said the contractor in Trail put in a bid of $155,000, which was well under the next lowest bid of $205,000.

Harry said that as work commenced on their home, they had a few of the local contractors wondering why they had been excluded.

After talking with them though, Harry said that they understood the situation.

The Kimmels were also disappointed to have lost personal possessions, many of which they felt could have been restored, since the fire had only burned part of the house.

The rest was covered by heat and smoke.

Lois has a framed knitted picture that a friend made for her, seen as destroyed originally, after removing the soot-covered glass and frame the knitting underneath is unharmed.

One positive note is that the Grand Forks Fire Rescue was incredibly quick at reaching their home after the department was called into action the night of the fire.

“This community is indeed fortunate to have such a fine group of dedicated firemen. They arrived on site exactly seven minutes after we made the call,” Lois said.

“Their help was greatly appreciated,” she went on to say.