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.


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!


 

Basement Waterproofing For The Spring

One of the best parts of owning a home is that you are in total control of it.  Certainly, you do have a mortgage, and you do need to make the payments, but the upkeep, the additions, and the remodeling are all up to you. 

Basement waterproofing is a great way to make sure you can enjoy the basement of your home if that is your desire.  Using it for storage, or to have extra rooms to enjoy, the basement of your home can provide a lot of extra space for you and your family.

One of the most important factors for providing a dry basement for your home, it’s the drainage system you have outside the house. It is true that to have a dry, mold and humidity free basement, the proper drainage has to be in place first and foremost.    

The drainage system of your home includes many things many homeowners sometimes oversee. The gutters, downspouts, eaves, and the slopping and landscaping around the foundation of the home are all critically important to keep water from sitting around the foundation and eventually find its way to the basement as well.

According to many waterproof basement contractors, the surface water is one of the many concerns and problems that homeowners have.  Groundwater can be a problem as well, but surface water is the one that causes the most problems that can become costly.

How can you avoid surface water from entering the basement of your home?

Gutters: You have to start with the gutters.  A heavy rainfall can leave you with hundreds of gallons of water hitting the roof of your home and looking for a way to the ground.  If the gutters are clogged or your home doesn’t have gutters, water will undoubtedly remain around the foundation.

The gutters have to be free of debris so they can let the water runoff without difficulty.  To make sure the gutters are clear of leaves or other types of debris, clean the gutters from leaves or small twigs right after the fall season ends.

Downspouts:  Downspouts are your next item to take care of when dealing with surface water.  The downspouts should be directing the water away from the foundation of your home, and many experts believe 5 to 10 feet away from the foundation is the best distance to ensure the water does not linger close to the foundation.

Shrubbery:  The landscaping of your home is important to make the house look more appealing, but make sure the shrubbery, mulch and the slopping of the ground do not let water sitting around the foundation, and eventually the basement of your home.

Do you have questions about basement waterproofing and foundation repair? Call us, we will be happy to talk to you and offer a solution to your problem.


Mold in The Basement

Mold and mildews are both common problems indoors and outside your home.  Humidity in your home can be an indicator that you have water seeping into the walls and floor of your basement.  Humidity is a key component to the mold growing in your basement and causing eye irritation, stuffiness, and more serious respiratory problems.  If you have a family member suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems, the mold growing in the basement could be making their symptoms much worse.

What are some of the reasons you have water sitting on the floor of the basement of your home?

Clogged gutters

If the gutters of your home are full of debris, the water may not be finding the correct pathway and overflowing.  Ensuring the gutters are unobstructed to allow the water to flow to the right spout is just common sense, and can save you some headaches along the way.

Cleaning the gutters of your home does not take long if you do them every year.  Try to have someone to help you with the ladder and make sure you follow safety precautions before you start climbing.

Drainage

If water is just gathering around the foundation of your home with no place to go, it may be a major reason why you have water on the basement floor, and seeping through the walls.   The drainage should be taking the water about ten feet from the foundation of your home.

Flower Beds

The flower beds should have the soil sloping away from the foundation to ensure the water doesn’t find a way to your basement.  Bushes and other types of greenery should be kept trim and away from touching the walls of your home as well.

Mulch

Mulch should also be laid flat close to the foundation to avoid gathering water pools and eventually seeping into the walls of the foundation.

Driveways

Even if this is not as common, unleveled driveways can allow the water to run towards the foundation instead of away creating pools of water to seep into the walls and basement of your home.

Leaking Pipes

Indoor water leaking is also a problem if you have leaking pipes without knowing where they are. Before this problem gets any bigger, replacing those leaking pipes can be the solution to the humidity and water problem in the basement.

If you need to find a solution to the water in the basement of your home, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you and offer a solution to your problem that makes sense.


Basement Waterproofing and Other Home Repairs You Can’t Ignore

It is difficult to budget for a home problem when you don’t know if you have one.  An emergency fund can help you solve that problem, but if you have a basement waterproofing issue you may need a bigger emergency fund than you thought.

How do you know if you have a basement waterproofing issue? One of the first and most obvious ones is whether your basement has damp walls. If you have marks around a  specific area on the walls, that may a sign water is getting into that area. If you notice mold or mildew growing on the corners or any other part of the basement, that means you have a lot of moisture and possible water leakage in some parts of the basement.

Don’t wait too long to take care of those problems.  Ignoring them can bring you bigger more expensive problems in the future.  Call waterproofing companies to give you an estimate, and find out whether they have financing available.

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


Ask the Carpenter: Tips for dealing with a wet basement

Q. I get water in part of my unfinished basement. I can’t determine whether it is coming in from the outside or up from the water table. I installed a dehumidifier, but I’ve been told that this actually draws in more water if the problem is the water table. What are your thoughts?

A. You may be getting water in your basement for any of the following reasons: lack of gutters, improper ground sloping, clogged perimeter pipes, or hydrostatic pressure.

Your dehumidifier is not causing the water table to rise. Water is seeping in at the wall and floor joint, and oftentimes that can mean hydrostatic water pressure is present. During wet weather, the soil outside your basement becomes saturated. Exterior footing drains aren’t very effective at relieving water pressure, because they usually become clogged with silt or plant roots. With no place to go, hydrostatic pressure continues to build up, and the water will eventually seep in. You have options:


8 Home Repairs You Should Never Put Off

Or you might have a bigger problem in the future.

Hate to break it to you, but ignoring that ugly water spot on the ceiling is the wrong move. Lingering issues around the house can get worse—much worse—if you don’t address them ASAP. Here’s how to identify and fix seemingly small problems before they morph into expensive repairs.

The basement is damp. A musty basement can lead to mold and mildew. Plus, it stinks. Many times, grading the yard encourages the water to run away from the house, rather than leaking into the basement. Installing gutters and downspout extensions channels rain water away from the foundation, which can help keep the basement dry. The worst case scenario is you’ll need to place drain tile around the footings. This job typically requires a pro and costs several thousand dollars.


Three Ways to Ensure Effective Repair Management

After the hottest July on record for the Salt Lake City area, during which my air conditioning unit worked overtime, I noticed a performance slump along with wet carpet in my basement. So, I turned off the AC and called a repairman. He showed up Monday afternoon and simply removed an internal panel, cleaned the drip tray that captures the condensation from the evaporator coil, and unclogged the ¾” drain pipe. I paid a $120 service fee and realized: Had I taken a few extra minutes, I could have saved myself $120, multiple phone calls, and two days of no air conditioning.

Of course, effectively managing repairs for numerous homes across different cities, counties, or even states is much more challenging than doing so for one’s own home. That’s why many lenders and investors hire a vendor partner to develop and execute a successful repair program for their REO or SFR assets. So, what should you look for in a repair management vendor to ensure your repair dollars are maximized?

Understand the Scope of the Repair

Had I really understood what it took to repair my AC unit, I could have done it myself. Similarly, many lenders and investors want to fully understand the scope of repairs, including all the deficiencies of the asset compared to the comparable properties that are available in the neighborhood. Having dedicated, trained vendor partners in the field that are in tune with the local market is essential. Without their input, including photos, descriptions, and their commitment to the best strategy for the asset, you won’t be nearly as effective as you could.


 

What To Ask A Contractor

Are you planning a home project that requires you to hire a contractor?  Do you know what to ask before you begin?

Five questions you must ask a contractor:

  1. How long have you been doing this kind of work?
  2. Are you Insured?
  3. Will you provide a written estimate and warranty?
  4. Are you a licensed and registered contractor with the state?
  5.  Can you provide references I can contact?

Many honest, long time contractors won’t hesitate when you ask them these questions.  They probably expect them and would be more than happy to answer them.  A long history in the community doing the job you are hiring them to do speaks volumes and build trust between the parties.  If the company you are trying to hire has a long history in your community doing great work, the references request you are supposed to ask won’t be a problem for them.

Now, if you call the references they provided, what are some of the questions you may ask?

  1. Are you satisfied with the work they did?
  2. How long ago was the job completed? Is the job holding up?
  3. Was the price agreed upon the final price, or were there other expenses not specified in the contract?
  4.  Were they clean and orderly? Did they arrive on time?
  5. Would you work again with this contractor or company?

The secret to finding a great home contractor

Right now, renovating a home is much, much easier than it was during the real estate bubble. So how do you pick a contractor?

I recall back during the bubble how often I’d get calls from homeowners complaining they couldn’t get a call back from contractors. The frenzy around housing values going up and up and up drummed up plenty of business for contractors at that time.

During the bubble, I even heard of contractors who were so successful that they wouldn’t even give price quotes. The price would just be whatever it would be and you’d have to be in a position to pay it when the bill came due.


 

 

 

 

 

How to Look For A Good Contractor For Your Home Project?

Children are in school now.  Yes, they do bring homework and projects and other chores we sometimes help them to do, but we do have a bit more time to do those chores the summer months were too short to let us do.

The autumn is a season where there are many chores we must do to prepare for the winter months. from putting away our gardening tools to preparing our home for the winter, the fall months can be very active.  And , if you are thinking about tackling a more serious project, where do you need to start?

You need to first find what project you really want to do and a budget you are allowing yourself to have. If you need to do a project that is indispensable to the well-being of your family – A new roof, or a basement waterproofing project- then you need to first start choosing the best contractor you can find.

If you are doing a home remodeling project for purely aesthetic reasons, then, you still need to follow the steps of how to choose a contractor for your project.

How to choose a good contractor

If you have no family’s references and no friends recommendations of a good contractor, then you will probably google it to get a list.  Here are some of the things you should be looking out for:

  • Contact contractors that are locally owned and operated-make sure they have been in the business for a long time
  • Check their Business Bureau Status
  • Ask for references that are not from friends or family members
  • You Must call those references and talk to the homeowners and ask them about the craftsmanship and other related issues concerning the job they did.
  • Make sure that they are fully bonded and insured
  • Ask for an estimate in writing
  • Ask them about the form of payment they require

For more about home remodeling projects and other news, follow the links below.


Contractors swamped with home remodeling projects in central Ohio

Central Ohio homeowners are spending a record amount of money building additions, updating kitchens and renovating bathrooms.

Fueled by a robust economy and rising home values, which allow homeowners to pull cash out of their homes to fund improvements, Americans are expected to spend more than $300 billion on remodeling this year.

“I’ve been doing this since 1981 and have never seen it this busy,” said Todd Schmidt, owner of the Grove City remodeling firm Renovations Unlimited.

While the remodeling boom is good for contractors, it means longer waits for homeowners eager to polish up their properties.

Bill and Marcia Miller tried for two years to get a contractor to update the laundry room of their Dublin-area 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.