The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Insurance (another ill omen overcome?)

Sorry the posts have been light this week. I’ve been preoccupied with getting homeowner’s insurance for the Devil Queen. In short, no one wants anything to do with this old whore of a house. I can’t even remember how many agents I’ve talked with over the last couple of weeks.

Our original homeowner policy was cancelled after the underwriter sent out one of their inspectors (not to be confused with the independent insurance agent that issued us the policy) to look at the Queen. They were upset because:

1) The house was clearly vacant & unoccupied (we’d been living there for nearly two months at the time).
2) The house was unpainted.
3) There was construction debris in the yard (this include several stacks of bricks and a pile of rocks for landscaping, several leftover bundles of shingles on a pallet, a pile of concrete blocks, one old dishwasher, two old vanity tops, and some scrap wood. Oh, and an old AC unit, a sand pile, and a gravel pile).

To them this meant: 1) we are liars, 2) the house was going rot & we’d file a claim to have our insurance fix our siding, and 3) everyone who came within 1000 feet of the Queen would be hideously disfigured and/or die (this may be true but not for the reasons they allege).

It never occurred to me how many obstacles there are to getting an old, distressed house insured. I figured that I might have to pay more for the policy, but I figured getting one won’t be too hard. The funny part is that I had the money for once but couldn’t get anyone to take it.

I thought that I might mention the two most grievous ones for your information; I was blind-sided by these and wished someone would have told me about them prior to this experience so I’d know what I was dealing with.

First, a lot of underwriters have issues with a house that needs a serious paint job. Apparently, 60-80 year old paint (half of which had fallen away before we got the house), doesn’t count. Their assumption is that your siding will rot and you’ll file a claim to have it repaired.

Second, if you live more than 5 miles away from the nearest fire station, you are screwed. This isn’t a universal caveat, but it was an issue for a couple of insurers (Nationwide and I forget who else). And, it’s 5 miles as driven, not “as the crow flies.” The Devil Queen is 5.8 miles from the nearest fire station. Since we live outside the city limits, I’m thinking about writing the County Judge to see if we might get something (volunteer fire department or a sub-station) out this way.

Anyhow, last night I went to the insurance office in Russellville, signed the paperwork, and gave them a fat check for the first quarter.

I guess I’ll have to start on my insurance underwriter voodoo doll so I’ll be prepared for the next time around.


Anonymous mindy said...

Glad to hear you got insurance, we had a hell of a time too. Weird things scare them off. Just pray they don't ever find our blogs or we'll all be canceled for sure!

11:29 AM  
Blogger John said...

Funny, I had that same thought too. Good help us if they find the blog.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I live in north Florida (80 miles from the coast) and the insurance industry are legalized extornists. I am restoring a 1947 shotgun and know of the pain, They always tell me the newer houses meet todays codes, hell, the heart pine in this house is solid. Better than that soft yellow spruce and press board siding installed today!

3:01 PM  

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