Friday, July 6, 2012

... not to mention dealing with extreme weather here

I haven’t even mentioned the problems I’ve had with DnB Insurance. How do you run a guest house when, 18 months after the damage was reported to DnB insurance, what toilets still work need to be filled with buckets and where there used to be toilets with an s bend keeping the smell from the septic tanks from entering the house there are only now pipes leading to the septic tanks stinking out the house in the warm summer meaning, even when they’re muck spreading nearby, when you open the window, flies, fly IN to your house, not out of it?

I should point out this is the first time I have claimed on any insurance policy since I was knocked off my bike when I was 17, 34 years ago.

In December 2010, I returned to my house to find the whole house frozen from the coldest November on record in Norway (the extreme weather experiences nearly everywhere is something anyone thinking of moving to Norway should consider, more of that later).

As I got the house up to a habitable warmth, leaks appeared and there was some water damage. I dealt with the immediate emergencies and reported the damage to DnB insurance. After a while (there were a LOT of houses with similar problems) an assessor came to the house and stayed for 5 minutes, a plumber came a few weeks later and assessed the damage, I waited for details of when the repairs could take place, made a few calls, sent a few texts, heard nothing. messages, texts and emails were ignored. Eventually, in September 2011, 6 months after the plumber had been to look at the damage, I got an email from the case handler who said he was waiting for a report from the plumber. My reply to the case handler got no reply but was bounced. It seems it was one of last emails he sent before he left DnB insurance. The bounced email suggested I send the message again to (or something like that). I did this and got no reply. I took a job working on a boat in December 2011 and phoned DnB from there telling them I was getting sick of being ignored and wanted an email from the case handler explaining what they were going to do. There was no point in calling me since there was no mobile signal in my cabin aboard the boat. I heard nothing (typical of DnB incurance's reluctance to reply to you at all let alone put anything in writing). Eventually DnB insurance gave the case (which HAD been "lost") to a new case handler who promptly went on "father's leave".

In 2012, the whole charade started again with the same assessor ordering the same plumber to come and assess the same damage they’d assessed a year earlier. In May 2012 a plumber came with 3 new toilets. Three broken toilets were removed, one was replaced, two not, leaving two open pipes leaking air from the septic tanks into the house. The whole house has lower water pressure meaning the one toilet that DID, over time, refill itself now needs filling exclusively using buckets of water. There IS HOT water in the kitchen now so I don’t have to carry THAT in buckets into the kitchen as was the case for 15 months and I now know the dish washer wasn’t wrecked by the extreme cold (though I’m not sure if I’m damaging it running it on low water pressure and still handwash). I also have taken away the garden hose run from the cellar up the stairs through which water entered the washing machine (on a good day). That’s progress but living like this is exhausting and time consuming.

So, I’m camping in my own house facing my second summer with no income from renting rooms to tourists. Thank god I have a normal 13 year old son who hates showers as much as he hates Hotel Caesar! He’s still happy to come here but obviously, I'd like it to be nicer for him and am scared he won't want to come as much.

It was the same plumber who came to re-assess exactly the same unrepaired damage a year later who said the report had been sent to DnB April the previous year. In may 2012. just over a year after the plumber first came to look at the damage, a plumber came and got hot water into the kitchen again and removed the broken toilets whilst fitting one of the replacements. 18 months later, I have holes into the ground where there should be toilets with an s bend stopping the smell from the septic tanks coming into the house.

The extreme weather bit. You’ve seen what the UK is like with extreme weather. Norway’s already extreme climate is now even more so. The winter of 2009 was the coldest on record. The water used to drive the hydroelectric plants was frozen so electricity was expensive. This is one problem you can’t mitigate for. Very cold weather needs heat which needs wood burning or electric heating. The colder it is, the more heat you need, the more demand, the higher the price per Kw produced by less water as more of it is ice.

2010 had the coldest November on record. A month that is normally not that bad became a very early cold snap. There has also been record snowfall and for many people with flat roofs, keeping the roofs free from snow became a daily job. A neighbour’s workshop roof collapsed and many other people had similar problems. On top of the roof clearing, there was also the issue of being offline after a snow-plough drove through the broadband and phone connection by the road. There was no sign of it under the huge amount of snow that was being cleared around the clock. Around twice a year or more you can expect to have the broadband cut off due to events such as these or strange ice on the wires, poles being flattened etc. or having your modem fried when the power goes off momentarily then comes back on with a vengeance. Printers last about 2 years in such conditions and if the electricity goes off whilst your desktop PC utilities are defragging the hard drives over night when you’re asleep, you find you spend days becoming a data recovery expert.

In December 2011, Hurricane Dagmar caused even more damage locally. Electricity was off for days, I had no broadband for about 3 weeks then went away to work for about 18 days. When I came back I had broadband but the reality is the amount of time you have, at "home" with a functioning PC, electricity to drive it, broadband to connect it to, an ADSL modem that hasn't been fried, a wifi that works and all the servers on all the web sites are also online and not down because of natural disasters makes trying to run any business in the provinces of Norway a farce and, of course, with Oslo being one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live, the provinces may be the only place in Norway someone from the UK could afford to settle bearing in mind how badly their Sterling is performing against the Norwegian kroner.

Norway's beautiful, the weather is dramatic, the people are marvellous but, only for quite a small minority of foreigners does trying to settle here make any sense. It's a shame but that's the way it is. Anyway, if you have enough "get up and go" to contemplate coming to Norway, stay where you are. Your own country needs you!!

Sorry if this post is a bit disjointed. I'm not in the mood to proof read it. Maybe when I'm less stressed.

No comments:

Post a Comment