Two years ago this month I wrote a post about a building fire here in San Francisco. These events are statistically unlikely in any given year or for any individual household. But when they do happen – to you – they’re devastating. It’s the little personal disasters like this that concern me most. Civilization carries on. Your old life? Not so much.
I poked around this morning and chatted with some of the contractors. The engineers were there reviewing the particulars. The building is just shy of a hundred years old. Most of it didn’t conform to modern codes to begin with and time only made things worse: termites, a failing foundation, antiquated plumbing and electrical systems. The fire damage is only one small part of what’s being done to rehabilitate this place.
There’s at least another full year of work scheduled – and when a contractor tells you a year you better be prepared for longer. The city’s endless permit and inspection process plays a role in all this. Finding qualified and available workers in a super heated economic bubble doesn’t help. Workers routinely van pool in from two or three hours away, stay in motels, then commute back to their families on the weekends. That all costs extra and is folded in to the price.
I reminded myself that the building I live in could go away at any moment. Fire. Earthquake. Financial troubles. The older I get the harder it will be to start over from scratch. I have other options to fall back on, but they’re vulnerable to forces of their own. This is a good time to review insurance coverage, think hard about where to live for a few years if things go south, and perhaps celebrate good fortune while it lasts. I’m beginning to think physical security is only part of the puzzle. Keeping liquid, flexible, light, and mobile has its advantages.