Is Your Home Insurance Policy Up to Date?

Many homeowners do not know what is covered by their insurance company until they need to file a claim.  Property damages done by a pipe bursting is covered by most insurances, groundwater damage may not be.

For many homeowners, damages done to the roof and basement of the home may not be covered by their insurance company, and they find out their deductible has to kick in before the company makes any payment to cover the damages.

Ask yourself these three questions about your home insurance policy and see if you know the answer without looking at your policy.

  1. Does my insurance company cover groundwater damage? Most insurance companies will cover damages done to the dwelling of your home if the water damage was sudden and accidental. If the groundwater damage was due to the aging of the home, most insurances companies won’t cover it. You must purchase a different kind of coverage with your standard policy to cover any damage done to the property due to groundwater damage.
  2. If my sewer backs up, is that covered? Most insurances policies won’t cover sewer backups, but once again you can purchase additional insurance to cover these eventualities.
  3. Is flooding covered by my insurance policy?  Most companies won’t cover flooding with your regular policy, but through the federal government, you can purchase flood insurance coverage that will protect you against such disasters.   

Most disasters related to flooding come unexpectedly and many homeowners are not prepared.  Personal belongings, appliances or other types of electronics stored in the basement can be lost in a blink of an eye and can cost you thousands of dollars to replace.  The structural damage done to the basement can cost you much more than a few thousand and can put a strain on your finances if not covered by insurance.

Now that you know the type of policy you have, you need to take these three steps to ensure your property is safe and will be safe in the future.

  1. Call your insurance agent and ask whether you can purchase flood insurance through them.
  2. Shop around to see if your agent is giving you the best option. Check the United States Government website concerning flood insurance. https://www.floodsmart.gov/ and make a decision to purchase it as soon as you can.
  3. Make sure to inspect your basement, foundation, and roof for any signs of damage.

Many disasters occur when we least expect them, and even when we want to be prepared, it is impossible to predict when we will suffer one devastating disaster.  What can we do to protect ourselves from such eventuality? The best advice is to buy the right insurance coverage to protect your assets and your families as soon as possible.

Exterior and Interior Basement Waterproofing Systems

Homes in the North part of the country deal with a lot of weather changes throughout the years. From rain and snow and everything in between, the roofs and basements of our homes have to withstand much wear and tear due to weather.

Water damage due to improper grading or drainage systems can play havoc with the basement of your home and can cause the foundation to suffer structural damages that cannot be visible right away.

If you own a home and can see water damage in the basement, chances are the water problems have been there for longer than you suspect.  The structural damage to the foundation may not be there yet, and that is one of the main reasons to call a professional to take care of this issue.

There are different methods to deal with a wet basement.  Depending on what your basement problem is, there are two types of basement waterproofing options for you.

Exterior Basement Waterproofing Systems

What are the basement waterproofing systems that are commonly used to treat and solve your waterproofing problems?

If your contractor has advised having an exterior waterproofing done, then that requires:

  • a full excavation
  • A waterproof coating that is applied to seal the cracks and pores of the foundation
  • A waterproof membrane that is installed after the seal is applied

If a contractor has advised you that an interior basement system can solve your problem then the solutions are a bit different and the cost can be a lot smaller than a full excavation.

Interior Basement Waterproofing System

  • A pump system can be a recommendation you will get from a professional
  • An Interior drain installed 

When calling a contractor and asking for a free consultation, make sure you understand the problem and the solutions they are giving you.  Research their findings with your own findings and consult at least three different contractors before making a decision.  A good, reputable firm will stand by their work and will offer you time to decide and consult with your spouse.  DO NOT sign anything right away, and make sure you research the company or contractor of your choice before agreeing to any work or payment exchange. A lower price does not mean better work. Compare, research, and shop before signing a contract.


Basement Waterproofing and Financing

Storms affecting the Northeast part of the United States are not over, and with the warm weather just around the corner, rain accumulation for many homeowners is not something they are looking forward to experience.

Basement waterproofing companies are busy during this time of year because this is the time when water accumulates around the foundation and find its way to the basement and the walls of your home.

What are some of the signs that you need to see to call a professional instead of procrastinating?

  • Wet spots on the walls,
  • Cracks or shifting
  • Have water sitting on the floor of your basement

If you have problems with any of these issues happening in your home, it is time to call a waterproofing company to inspect it.There are many “quick” solutions you can try before making that call, but eventually, you will need to call a professional to inspect the home.

Are you afraid you cannot afford the basement waterproofing your home needs?

If you do your homework and call at least three trustworthy companies, and compare prices, you will learn that basement waterproofing is not as expensive as you might think.  Some of these companies will provide companies where you can get the financing available, or you can always talk to your personal bank representative to see if their loan offer is better for you than going with the banks the basement waterproofing guys provided.

What loans can you get?

  • A Home Equity Line of Credit is a good choice for you if you have a first mortgage with the bank already.  This kind of loan lets you pay it back at your own pace as long as you pay the minimum payment on time.  You can get a good interest rate for this kind of loan if you shop around.
  • Home Equity Loan lets you borrow a fixed amount with a fixed payment over a period of years.  It can be a 15 or 30 year home equity loan if that is what you wish.  Take into consideration the interest you will be paying over that amount of time, if the interest rate is too high, shop around.
  • Credit Card charges to pay for home remodeling or home repairs is something that we personally do not recommend.  Many people pay for the remodel or materials with credit cards because they want to acquire “points”, but at the end of the day, that is not a solution we recommend.

Whatever route you want to take, talking to the basement waterproofing company for solutions to your basement problem and then for financing available it is the recommended route many homeowners take.  Do your homework first, and you will see great results.


When To Hire A Professional For Your Home Projects

According to a Consumer Report’s article, “Americans will spend about $200 billion dollars this year fixing up their homes—nearly a fifth in the form of DIY projects.”  Many homeowners are handy, but a great deal of them only believe they are handy.  There are many home projects that it’s better to have a professional do them.  There is a huge difference between wanting to do the project and actually making it look good or professionally made.  Not everything in your home needs to be done by you, the homeowner, especially if you are thinking about selling the home.

Top 3 home projects that pay to have a professional do them:

  1. Roof – This is a big project that needs many hands and experience to accomplish. And depending on the shape of your home, it can be dangerous for you to do without help, or without the necessary protection.
  2. Basement Waterproofing and Foundation repair – These are projects where a professional it’s not only recommended but need it.
  3. Kitchen and Bathroom remodeling –  The experience and quality of hiring a contractor or company to do these projects for you cannot be emphasized enough.

When deciding to hire a contractor for your basement waterproofing and foundation repair problems, roofing or kitchen remodeling, what are some of the qualifications you have to consider before making a decision?

  1. Experience – An experienced basement waterproofing contractor or foundation repair company has seen many of the problems affecting wet basements and faulty or damaged foundations.  If they have not seen the problem affecting your basement, the experience and knowledge they possess will help them find and fix your problem.
  2. Reputation – A new company has not had the longevity to have an old list of satisfied customers, but if they have been in business for any number of years, they have a history and it is your responsibility to find out whether it’s a good or a bad one.
  3. Insured Contractor – Having workers on your property without insurance is asking for trouble.  If a contractor is not insured, have no permits, or is just “winging it”, he or they should not even be on your radar as prospective companies to hire.
  4. Price – Having at least three different quotes from contractors is a good place to start if you want to compare prices.  Do not sign a contract with the first prospect.  Wait for at least two more prices to compare and then make an informed decision.

There are many home projects you can do without the help of professionals, but the major home projects you might want to do may require the help of experienced professionals in your area.


Tips For Homeowners and Potential Home Buyers

For many families in the United States, paying the mortgage on their home is already a tremendous effort. Research has shown that more than half of Americans bought too much house, to begin with, but also the interest rates, taxes, and the house upkeep was not taken into consideration by many of these first-time buyers when applying for a mortgage loan.  Now, when the payments and property taxes are becoming too much, many homeowners realized they bought a house they cannot afford.

If you are buying your first home this year, these are 3 the things to consider:

  1. Don’t buy too much house – The purchase price is not the only thing to consider when you are buying a home.  Consider the bank rate, closing costs, property taxes, homeowner association fees, and the upkeep of the home.
  2. Consider your other debts – If you have student loans or credit card debt, these debts can put a considerable dent in the income you bring home.  Don’t forget to take into consideration the payment you will be made to pay these loans.
  3. Do you have children? – If you have no children but are considering having them, taking into account the expense children bring into the home can be very helpful in deciding whether you can afford the home you are considering buying or not.

If you are a homeowner now and want to make sure things are in order, these are some of the things many homeowners fail to do.

  1. Draft a will – According to research, 60% of Americans do not have a will.  A will is not only for the people that are sick or old, a will is a document that protects your children and their well being.  In case of a tragedy happening in your home, you want to make sure your children and your assets are protected.
  2. Health Care Power of Attorney – This important document is a document protecting your well being while you are alive.
  3. Homeowners Insurance – After buying a home why not protect it? Homeowner’s insurance is a necessity that you should never be without.  A home is one of the most expensive assets a family will ever own, why not protect your investment?

Now that you have owned your home for several years, have you kept up with the home maintenance? Are you thinking about selling?  According to many experts, to add value to your home or even if you  are ready to sell the home, you need to consider this:

  1. Declutter and clean your home – A home loses its beauty if it’s overflowing with junk.  Painting the walls if the rooms need it, or throwing away items that are no longer used nor wanted can clear a home pretty quickly.
  2. Staging your home- There are businesses that their entire income comes from the clever notion of staging the home to have it ready to sell for you.  You do not need to do this if it will cut into your profit, but having a home staged it’s a clever notion that you can do by yourself.
  3. Curb Appeal- If the front of your home is not clean, the bushes are overgrown, the flower beds are full of dead flowers, chances are your home won’t be appealing to many home buyers and the price they may offer won’t be what you are expecting.

These are some of the advice you need to consider if you have children, are a homeowner, or thinking about buying a home.  Due diligence pays and it can save you lots of headaches later on. Enjoy your home!


 

Flood Insurance Coverage; Do You Have It?

 

If hurricanes Irma and Harvey have taught us anything is the fact that natural disasters can occur quickly, and with disastrous consequences.  Hurricanes in the United States are commonplace, specially in Florida and the coastal regions of the country. 

With the hurricanes or heavy rains, flooding is a natural disaster that can occur to any of us.  Flooding can affect people in  every state, and is one of the most common natural disasters in the country.

As homeowners, we cannot control the occurrence of hurricanes, nor  predict the severity or the financial implications that come along with those disasters, but we can help our homes and our financial stability  by ensuring that we do have flood insurance for our homes.

If you have homeowners insurance, it does not mean you have flood insurance.  Make sure you buy it separately through your home insurance agent, so you know you are protected.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) one inch of water in your home can cost you more than $20,000 in damages, why risk not having flood insurance coverage?

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


What Flood Insurance Does and Does Not Cover

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey puts renewed attention on the policies. Here’s what you need to know.

The devastation from Hurricane Irma is far from over, but property owners in Florida—as well as those who faced Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana—are already facing the daunting task of rebuilding.

Beyond the human tragedy, the widespread flood damage caused by the storm serves as an important reminder to homeowners in the region—and around the country—about what is covered by insurance and what you need to know about protecting yourself.

As most property owners know, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. But even in Florida, Texas and Louisiana—where many people live in coastal areas—only about 20 percent have flood insurance, according to a study by the Washington Post.


About 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims do not have flood insurance, face big bills

NEW YORK – Homeowners suffering flood damage from Harvey are more likely to be on the hook for losses than victims of prior storms — a potentially crushing blow to personal finances and neighborhoods along the Gulf Coast.

Insurance experts say only a small fraction of homeowners in Harvey’s path of destruction have flood insurance. That means families with flooded basements, soaked furniture and water-damaged walls will have to dig deep into their pockets or take on more debt to fix up their homes. Some may be forced to sell, if they can, and leave their communities.

All these people taken out in boats, they have a second problem: They have no insurance,” said Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America.


Home Inspection: What to Expect and What to Look for Before You Sign

Everyone I know is a bit skeptical when it comes down  to signing documents for home contractors, inspectors, insurance agents , etc. One of the reasons is that everyone is a bit afraid to sign.  Unless you know the contractor or home inspector, chances are you are dealing with a stranger you know nothing about.  You don’t know if they are trustworthy or competent, or whether they belong to an association where they have to follow a code of ethics. 

Asking some basic questions before you sign a contract can truly save you a lot of headaches later on.  You are the paying customer, ask them questions to make sure everyone is satisfied before the work begins.

For more about home inspectors, follow the links below.


Top home inspection deal breakers

A home inspection can be stressful for both parties. Almost every inspection comes back with at least some sort of repair and, most often, those problems are minor and easy enough to negotiate. However, there are some deal breakers that can cause buyers to run for the hills.

Mold

Erin Craft, home inspector with Destination Bay Home Inspections, says this is one of the biggest problems that can potentially kill a deal.

“We see this issue in attics, basements, or crawl spaces,” he said. “There is a lot of fear when it comes to mold, and we’ve had buyers stop us right in the middle of the inspection and say they are walking away. They see it as a huge risk, both to their health and their wallet.”

However, Craft says before ditching the deal, consider doing a bit more investigating, especially if it’s a home you really love.


Make sure you understand terms of service before paying a home inspector

I was buying a house and hired a home inspector. We went through the whole inspection, and I even paid him his fee. Then he gave me a form that indicated that he would not give me the written report unless I signed a document.

The document stated that I agreed that I could only get back the $400 I paid him in case there was a problem with the inspection or his report, or I could pay him an extra $1,500 and the cap would be eliminated. Don’t you think that he should have told me this before I hired him? He’s a member of ASHI.

We think it is highly questionable that a home inspector would spring those terms on you so late in the game. ASHI stands for the American Society of Home Inspectors, and they have a code of ethics. Among their code is a requirement for the home inspector to “act in good faith toward each client” and that ASHI inspectors should “avoid activities that harm the public, discredit themselves or reduce public confidence in the profession.”


Dear Monty: Agent tells home seller not to attend home

Q: We accepted an offer on our home. The contract is subject to a satisfactory home inspection. Our agent called to set up a time for the inspection and asked us to vacate the house. My thinking is that if there is some discovery made during the investigation that both parties observing will aid in understanding the issue. Do you agree with her suggestion?

A: Most of the states that regulate inspectors are seeking inspections that reveal “significant” material defects that negatively affect the value of the property or create a concern for safety that is not apparent at the times the buyer viewed the home. The customer can overlook the fact this is a pre-owned home. They sometimes compare a pre-owned home inspection with the “certified” used car. Most every home has a wart somewhere, which is the buyer’s responsibility unless the seller agreed to remove the wart as part of the contract. Education of all participants, which requires investing time, is a key to ensuring a home inspection goes smoothly.


 

Home Improvement Checklist

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have programs that help people renovate and repair their homes with the assistance of the U.S. Government.  They received many complaints of contractors that do shoddy work, and because of the financing, these contractors believe they can do the shoddy work with impunity.

The Ohio Attorney General’s website provides a list to follow for all people living in Ohio that want or need to have home repairs.

The list includes among others:

  1. Checking the contractors references
  2. Not signing anything without making sure you have read everything carefully
  3. Not signing with the first contractor you talk to
  4. The contractor has shown you proof of Licenses, insurance, and bonding
  5. You have checked with the Better Business Bureau for the company’s credentrials

At Pioneer Basement Waterproofing, we pride ourselves with the work we do, the commitment to our community, and the customer satisfaction history we have worked for since 1979.  We are a locally owned and operated company that is fully licensed, bonded and insured for the protection of our customers. We treat our customers the same way we treat our friends and family; the way we want to be treated.

If you are thinking about a home repair or improvement, inform yourself before starting any big or small project.

To read more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


7 Explosive Ways to Increase Customer Satisfaction

Follow these seven strategies to keep customers coming back again and again.

Customer satisfaction is crucial for any business to succeed, but satisfying increasingly demanding consumers can become a challenge. Poor customer experience is a catalyst for customer churn, and the damage of one unhappy customer is the 9-15 people they will tell about their encounter. Customer satisfaction is priceless when acquiring new customers—a process that’s 4-5 times more expensive than maintaining an established customer base.

So, customer satisfaction is important, but what can businesses do to drive their customer satisfaction up and keep it there? Below are seven effective ways to improve your customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

Respect Your Consumers

Just as a bad experience can have a dramatic effect on your business, so can a positive one. Word of mouth packs a punch in the buying world, so treat your customers with respect and watch your customer satisfaction flourish. The secret to building a loyal customer base is creating respectful experiences for your consumers to share with their friends and family.

It all sounds pretty straightforward. However, finding the right balance and approach to respectful interactions can be tricky for both you and your customer. Respect your customers by providing them with tools to help themselves. Ensuring that your consumers can easily access frequently asked questions and information about your product on your user-friendly site is one simple way to create a respectful customer experience.


5 major tips to measure Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to mobile app customers, there is no better friend and foe for a mobile app business, especially in the current market conditions. Earn the customer’s trust and they would be devoted to your brand but if you treat them poorly then the tables can turn towards you. In addition, the major issue is that only 5% of unhappy customers really express their discontents. And sometimes it might happen that some of them won’t even come back. So what can you really do to determine the satisfaction of your customers?

The most effective way to measure that is using feedback surveys and communicating directly with the customers. Being cautious regarding the customer experience and its influence on your business conversions is vital to the business’s success. Consider the following tips to measure the effectiveness of your app’s customer experience.

 


Do Your Customers Promote You?

Getting the right information about how satisfied your customers are with your services is the first step toward getting them to recommend you to others.

Few would argue that satisfying customers is a “must” if a company hopes to grow and prosper. Most companies even have some established means for measuring how satisfied customers are with their products and/or services, and they take these measures seriously. Too often, however, these internally developed measures do not provide a true picture of how satisfied customers really are. In fact, I would argue that many of the measures used by companies tend to skew results to be artificially favorable. This can lead to customer service complacency based on a mentality of “we haven’t heard otherwise, so things must be OK.”


Taking Care of Your Home

Remodeling the basement is not a top priority for many families.  Their budgets do not allow the expense of remodeling a whole basement, or the upper stories offer all the space they need.  But regardless of what your situation is, having a waterproofed basement is a necessity many families need to have.

If your basement is wet, has too much humidity, has mold, or has crack on the walls, you need to have your basement check by a knowledgeable person to determine the damage and to find a solution. 

The many illnesses associated to mold found in basements across the country are many; From eye, nose and skin irritation for those allergic to mold to respiratory system problems that are very dangerous to people’s health.  Wet basements are not a very nice place to be in they are in disarray, but offer the much needed space for a growing family.

Taking care of your home does not begin or end with the basement.  But, the basement and foundation of your home are very important parts of your home that you need to take care if they have problems before looking to fix something else.  These are some other things you can do to protect your home.

  1. Make sure the gutters and downspouts are properly connected, and free of debris.  Make a conscious effort to clean the gutters after the fall to ensure they are free of leaves and make sure the downspouts are taking the water away from the foundation of your home. From 5ft. to 10ft. ensures the water won’t find a way to the basement of your home.
  1. The mulch on the flower beds around the home should not reach above the sealant of the foundation. Flatten the mulch on the flower beds making sure there is no stagnant water anywhere near the foundation.
  1. Have you checked the grading around your home? The cement driveway can over time become unleveled and allow water to sit around the foundation, and inadvertently find a way to the basement of your home.
  1. The roof of your home is an expensive home repair you have to keep in mind.  Many homeowners overlook this simple maintenance home inspection check that can save you thousands if you find the problem quickly. Checking the roof of your home every year allows you to catch a problem before it gets too big.  Loose shingles or curling shingles are some of the first signs you need to check to see if you have a problem with the roof of your home.
  1. The moulding around your exterior windows should be checked periodically to make sure it’s in good condition.
  1. Have you checked your shed? How is the roof? A good quality shed at one of your Home Depot or Lowe’s stores can set you back close to a thousand dollars.  Why not check the roof, walls and doors to make sure they are in good condition, and if not, make the small necessary fixes to prolong its life?

For many of us, our home is the biggest asset we have.  By taking care of our homes, we increase its value while allowing us to live in a place that we can truly call home, and live comfortably ever after.


Humidity Control Gadgets For This Holiday Season

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For an allergy sufferer, clean air is not a commodity, but a need.  Allergies in the spring and fall, are a very trying time for many people.  Children with allergies  seem to have a hard time during this time, and school work and play time or exercise seem to be more of a chore than normal.  Humidity control in your home becomes a necessity, and here are two gadgets that are sure to help you control the humidity and clean air in your home.  Before you go out and buy things you do not need for christmas, think about these two choices for your home.


The Importance of Protecting Your Home from High Humidity

Homes that are subjected to high levels of humidity over a long period of time can suffer serious damage, which often requires expensive repairs. There are other times when repairs just aren’t possible if the humidity is left unchecked for years without taking precautions to keep the air within a range of less than 60%. 

While there are countries that have high rates of humidity due to warm, tropical air, the UK sees more than its fair share of rain each year, which is also a factor in the amount you will need to counteract in your home. Whether you intend to live in your home for many years or would like to sell it in good condition to get a decent asking price, there are some very important things you need to know about how humidity can impact future plans.

Why Is Excess Humidity a Problem?

Most people know that mould and mildew can be the ultimate cause of a huge number of physical ailments, typically in the respiratory system, but an equally large number of homeowners don’t understand exactly where that mould and mildew comes from. Over time, if left to accumulate, moisture in the air will provide the breeding ground for mould and mildew. This is where it comes from. However, most people have it wrong!


ecobee3 ‘lite’ Offers Same Smart Thermostat Features for $169 Price

In 2016, everyone wants to have a smart home, and one of the first places to start is with your thermostat. A smart thermostat can lead to savings on your electric bill, and who would argue with that? According to ecobee’s findings, running a smart thermostat can save you an average of 23% on your annual heating/cooling bill, so while these devices do have upfront costs, they should pay for themselves in the long run.

If you are already convinced on this technology, but were waiting to find a more affordable option than Nest’s latest or the standard ecobee3, ecobee has a new unit called ecobee3 lite. The lite model is priced at $169, which is a solid $80 cheaper than a Nest. With the lite model, you still get a digital touchscreen with readouts for your weather forecast, control over vacation modes, as well as alerts and reminders that only a thermostat should provide you. These alerts typically show up only when something isn’t working in the system.

I have been running an ecobee3 in my home for a few months now, and I must say, it’s quite nice. One feature I use in the colder months (which is now, sadly), is an automated feature that uses my area’s weather forecast to set my house’s temperature accordingly. For example, if it’s going to be a high of 54 degrees today, ecobee3 reads that information, then cranks the heat to make sure the inside of my home is never colder than 69 degrees. It’s very basic, but it works, and that’s all you can ask for from something called a “smart” thermostat.


Netatmo Healthy Home Coach review: This indoor climate monitor reports the obvious

This gizmo monitors indoor air quality, temperature, humidity, and noise, but it won’t tell you much you don’t already know.

Everyone from the EPA to the American Lung Association has stressed the importance of indoor air quality. Indoor pollutants don’t just impact personal comfort, they can often cause or exacerbate health conditions. Some researchers have even called for greater effort to monitor indoor air.

Fortuitous, then, that Neatmo has released the Healthy Home Coach ($100). This device monitors your indoor climate in real time to help you create the optimum environment whether you have particular health requirements, such as allergies or asthma, or just want greater comfort.

What you get

The Healthy Home Coach follow the same design cues as the Neatmo Welcome home security camera and the Netatmo Home Weather Station. It’s a 1.77 x 1.77 x 6.1-inch cylinder with a champagne-colored aluminum finish. There’s a single vertical light bar on the front that illuminates when the device is taking a reading. The Healthy Home Coach is easy on the eyes—certainly more so than your typical home hydrometer or thermometer—and can be placed inconspicuously on a shelf or end table.