BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Many people who lost homes in the Marshall Fire are eager to start the rebuilding process. But it may take longer than they had hoped.
“It’s going to be a tremendously involved deal for everyone,” said Alan Ferguson as he looked at the twisted I-beams that once supported his home sitting in a burned-out basement. “We think we fall into the category of the easy decision to make.”
Ferguson and his wife Deborah Cave had only completed the building of their home in the Panorama Park neighborhood three years ago. It had a stucco and stone exterior and a sprinkler system inside in addition to energy-saving technology like significant solar panels. The fire was so hot, almost nothing is salvageable.
Having the means to get going, and loving the design they had, they would like to make it easy.
“What we intend to do is build the exact same home that we had,” as soon as they can get approval.
Ferguson says the county building department has been helpful and sympathetic so far. His architect says the home’s design is still within the current code.
“We’ll probably do things over and above what the county may ask for. For instance, we probably will put a metal roof on our house.”
The question remains, will they be able to fast-track it and get started?
“We think there may be skilled tradesmen, more available right than there will be in another six months or a year, year-and-a-half and you know even things like materials might be more readily available soon.”
With over 1,000 homes lost, local leaders know the housing must be replaced quickly. In 2013, after flooding, the county made it easier for people.
“We have set up a streamlined process with one-stop shopping and have a case manager to help them,” said Michelle Krezek, Chief of Staff Boulder County Commissioners.
While the issue will have to be voted on, she says she believes it’s likely to happen in the case of the Marshall Fire as well.
Many others are concerned about slow approval processes in the affected cities and the county.
“Yeah, I’m concerned,” said Rob Lousberg, a landlord with several properties.
Two of his homes burned in the Sagamore neighborhood. He was especially concerned for people who lost towns in Old Town Superior around a place he owned that survived.
“I don’t think they’re going to be able to rebuild. Especially if Superior makes them go through all the new regulations and everything.”
Old Town had older, smaller homes not up to current building codes in their design. Energy codes continue to be revised in the county noted Krezek. The cities are the same.
“It gets more complicated all the time,” said Lousberg. But higher standards raise rebuilding costs.
“They need something where these people can build back and have a reasonable home. You know they’ve got to be able to live,” he said. “These people are 70 and they rebuild with solar and they’ll never recapture, I’m not being mean, before they’re dead, they’ll never recapture their money back.”
Some are on limited incomes that may have allowed them to buy or build years ago, but if their home was paid off asked Lousberg, how could they carry a loan?
Delays noted Krezek, are not always local government. Often it takes a long time to settle with insurance companies to get the money to do so. All questions that remain as communities try to move forward while many remain in temporary housing, which can also be costly. Three weeks after the Marshall Fire, there is a lot to be done.