The cold, wet weather is coming and Chris and Janet Weeks are ready.

Five weeks ago, it was a different story.

They had discovered the plywood sheathing, 2-by-4-framing lumber and sill plates under the vinyl siding of their 14-year-old, $250,000 house on Snow Pond Road in Oakland were wet and rotted and the insulation soaked and covered in black mold.

They called the contractor who built the house, expecting he would fix it, but were surprised to hear he would take no responsibility for it.

The insurance company the couple had had for nine years since they bought the house determined the damage was the result of faulty workmanship and longterm exposure to water or moisture and their policy did not cover it.

The Weeks also called the Office of the Maine Attorney General but were told the statute of limitations on reporting such a problem is six years from when the house was built, so there was no recourse there.

Janet and Chris, both 57, thought they were out of luck and would have to pay out of pocket the $7,000 to $10,000 they estimated it would cost to fix the damage.

But then Mark Winters came along. Winters, owner of H.T. Winters Co. in Winslow, restored the family’s faith in humanity, according to Janet.

Her brother, Paul Jacques, is a friend of Winters, and Jacques had told him about the house situation. Winters took a look at the damage, said he’d take care of it, and within two days, a subcontractor he hired, Binette Homes Inc., of Oakland, had everything fixed right and ready for new vinyl siding.

“Mark Winters did us a huge favor,” the Weeks’ son, 30-year-old Christopher, said. “He pulled two people off a job to do this. They took all the debris and disposed of it. When they left, you wouldn’t have known they were here.”

Chris and Janet said Winters did the job at a reduced rate. Another man who was to have installed the vinyl siding is sick, so Chris will do the work with guidance from another of Janet’s brothers, Brian Jacques, a former contractor who is disabled but can guide Chris in the work.

The couple also got some good news from an insurance company they have had for about three months — that it would pay for part of the cost of the repair. With Winters’ help, family members doing some of the work and that insurance payment, the Weekses will end up paying only about $1,000 to repair the damage and replace a rotted front door, they said. Chris, who works 75 hours a week at two jobs, had to take a few days off to help with repairs.

“It’s solid again,” Chris said of the house. “I know I’m going to get through the winter. I won’t have to worry about this again.”

While the family is relieved the house is fixed, they continue to worry about others who buy large, Colonial-style houses that may have similar damage. Before they bought their house, they had an inspector scrutinize it and he did not detect any issues.

“We had five different contractors and two insurance companies look at the damage at different times, and they all said the same thing — it was bad craftsmanship,” Janet said, holding the couple’s 1-month-old granddaughter, Mikaela.

She said she is grateful for good people like Winters and lucky to have a close-knit family who can pitch in to help.

“I do feel 100 percent better,” she said. “I feel better that my grandchildren aren’t exposed to mold anymore, and our house will be the way it should have been 14 years ago.”

But Christopher worries his parents’ insurance premium will increase because of their claim and thinks the house builder should reimburse them at least for the materials.

“I know my parents can sleep good at night knowing they are both good people,” he said. “I believe you put good out there and it comes back to you. Karma comes back to you, I believe.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 27 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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