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Couple who bought home before Marshall Fire still fighting with insurance

By Shaun Boyd,


Couple who bought home house before Marshall Fire still fighting with insurance company 03:22

A Boulder County couple, who bought their dream home hours before it was destroyed by the Marshall Fire, is now fighting their insurance company to cover all the losses.

Gabe and Tamara Bodner moved into their home in unincorporated Boulder County the morning of the fire. By that night, all that was left of the house was ashes. In shock, they called their insurer only to get a second jolt.

Gabe Bodner says the insurer told them it didn't consider their claim the loss of a primary residence: "Because you hadn't actually slept in the home and occupied the home, we can't, and we're not considering it your primary residence."

Coverage for contents and living expenses, Tamara Bodner says, has been an everyday battle: "They're not willing to put anything in writing to give us any assurances that the money that we're spending we're going to get reimbursed."

On top of that, they say, their mortgage servicer - which has their dwelling coverage - is refusing to reimburse for other expenses like architectural and engineering fees until they break ground.

Gabe Bodner says they've already spent nearly $200,000 on architectural and engineering fees: "We tried to explain we need plans and permits before we can get a builder."

"It's exhausting. I'm trying to have a job on the side, trying to take care of my kids, and everyday I'm fighting."

And Boulder County Public Health, they say, has made it worse yet. They lost a five bedroom home in the fire... And decided to rebuild a four bedroom home along with a one bedroom accessory dwelling unit.

But the health department, they say, is now requiring them to add 11-hunded square feet to their leach field -- at an estimated cost of $35,000 -- simply because the bedroom is in an ADU. If it were in the house, they say, they'd be fine.

Tamara says the county gave the green light for the ADU a year ago, "We spent all this money designing it thinking we'd be able to do this."

After three months of fighting the leach field expansion, the couple is giving-up on an ADU and, Tamara says, they would give up on the home too if they could afford it, "We have tried to figure out, can we just buy another property and walk away from this, we can't so we just have to fight the fight."

The Bodners may also need a new septic system and Tamara says the Health Department has refused to discount permitting: "We are not rebuilding because we want to but because we have to."

Boulder County Planning and Zoning, the couple says, has also thrown up one roadblock after another, requiring an estimated $350 thousand in upgrades on a house that was built in 2006.

"The county said, out of one side of the mouth, it would make this process easy for fire rebuilds and they have not," says Tamara Bodner.

She says the county is so difficult to work with, builders tack-on what she calls a "Boulder County surcharge" to projects.

Of 11 homes in their cul-de-sac, they say, only one is rebuilding so far. Gabe Bodner says, "everything is a fight."

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