Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Building your own 24'X24' garage and save money. Steps from concrete to framing

Step by step pictures of me building a 24X24 garage. If you're interested in building one yourself, check it out. Clip shows steps involving how to pour footings, walls, floors and framing. Installing trusses, etc. Just for the home builder. I also have "part 2' online that shows a lot more detail than the original. Check it out if you'd like, and thanks for watching.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How to Lay Sod in a Backyard

This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook helps a homeowner lay sod in his backyard. (See below for a shopping list, tools, and steps.)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Build your own MAN CAVE

I decided to turn half my garage into a place to jam or just work on the computer.

I have had this video up for about 2 years now and I am blown away with the number of views! With the count about to cross 100,000 I thought I'd answer a few comments.

First of all, I believe it cost me about $2,000 to build I didn't really keep track but that was the ballpark. It took me about a month to build after work and on the weekends.

The entire room is framed inside half the garage without touching any of the outside walls, so a room within a room. This allows the sound waves to dissipate without travelling outside, it is truly astonishing how loud I can be in there with a full band and it sounds like just a small radio is playing in there.

Don't worry, I have a bar fridge in there, that is always stocked full of beer and hard cider. I also keep a selection of aged Irish Whiskeys and Spiced Rums :-)

Some of the comments on my mudding and taping are correct, this was me learning, I am much better now. These days I hardly have to sand at all, and certainly wouldn't need a sanding machine, although it was fun to use and looked cool in the vid.
I should mention that it is really, really dry here in Calgary, so I was a little sloppy with moisture concerns, but it really doesn't matter here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Flashover: the power of fire

Flashover is the point in which everything in your home catches fire -- no one can survive. See how quickly flashover can occur and how it can be prevented. Home fire sprinklers save lives and property from fire. They act before the fire department is even notified. In this video, produced by the National Fire Protection Association, we show what happens while a house is burning and the local fire department is on its way.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Inspections | The Lexington Colonial House, Episode 7

Norm and Tom install reinforced fiberglass columns. Richard and plumbing inspector Duke LaConte talk about rough plumbing inspections. Fred Lonardo discusses rough mechanical and framing inspections. Progress continues on the screen porch with a storm window system and radiant floor heat. Norm, Tom and Fred Lonardo discuss insulation value.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dan Doofus - "Exit Strategy"

Meet Dan Doofus, star of NFPA's series of video public service announcements about fire safety. Dan has to learn the hard way how to prevent home fires the correct way.

Topics of the videos include home fire safety checklist, home fire escape planning, and proper use of smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers.

Learn more about staying safe at

Monday, December 7, 2015

How To Hang Christmas Lights - The HomeDepot

Home Depot associates Dave Orosco, Ken Allender and Michael O'Shea show how to hang Christmas lights, both indoors and outdoors, including the tools and materials you'll need, products to make hanging holiday lights easier, and how to do it safely.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Winter Holiday Decorating Ideas

We always get excited for the winter holiday. In fact, we prepare decorations that will reflect the mood of the season. There are several ways to decorate your home. This all depends on how you want it to look.
Draw a plan:
How would you want your house to appear? You can sketch out your thoughts. As you do, think of the materials you will use. You can draw inspirations from online images. You will surely have fun while you browse through the different images. After that, you can start putting your thoughts together and finalize how you want your home to look.
Play with colors:
White is the common color of the winter, but you do not have to limit your decorations to this. You can play with reds, yellows, green, gold and silver. You can use more colors and add a little sparkle to it. Choosing the color to use should be done carefully too. Make sure that you consider the color of your interiors. This will be easier if you have a neutral backdrop.
You can purchase home decors or use the old items you have. With a little DIY project, you can easily turn it to new decors. To make the decorating process easier for you, see to it that you follow a plan. You should have an idea of how your décor will look. You can have flowers, wreaths, leaves and lights. You can also use ribbons to your design.
You can also hang artworks that depict the season. You can purchase several inexpensive artworks. Have it framed and hang it for the season. What is great about it is that you can remove and store it once the holiday is over. You can also reuse it multiple times.
DIY holiday decorations:
You do not have to purchase all your decorations. You can create your own. You can even ask your children to help you with the project and this can be a great bonding moment for you. You can use glass jars and fill it with red Christmas balls or artificial snow. After that, you can arrange them around your house. You can also make your own cranberry holiday beads. Since you will be using needles in this project, it is not a good idea to involve your children.
Creative centerpieces:
You can purchase all sorts of centerpieces suitable for the season. However, you can get creative and personalize your own. You can arrange red flowers with green leaves. You can also fill a large glass with water. Light small candles and let them float. Place Christmas tree leftovers around it.
You can do other decorative projects. You just need to be imaginative. You can draw inspiration from a lot of things. You can go back to your childhood and reflect on your favorite things about the Holidays. Magazines, movies and shows can also be sources of your inspiration. You do not have to create all the details though. There are multiple choices available in the market. You can have a plan, list the things you need to bring your plan to life and start shopping.

Article Source:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Illegal and Unsafe Wiring in Older Homes

This video shows unsafe wiring at the house at 507 7th Street. All this wiring will be removed and replaced with correct safe wring that conforms to current NEC or better!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Florida Wind Mitigation Inspections... Significance for the Realtor Community

Six out of ten Florida homeowners already qualify for a discount on their homeowner's insurance policy without doing anything other than having an inspection and filing a Wind Mitigation Certificate with their current insurance company... What does that fact mean to the Realtor community?

Simple... You can improve your relationship with your clients by helping them save up to 40% on the cost of their homeowner's insurance policy.  Lower insurance costs on homes you have listed can be used as a unique selling point to attract buyers, while wind mitigation inspections performed in conjunction with a standard home inspection can over the lifetime of the certificate return much more than the cost of all inspection procedures performed.

Information gleaned from a wind mitigation inspection report performed during the listing process could alert the savvy Real Estate agent to conditions which could impinge the easy sale of a home and help screen the best listings, thus saving precious marketing resources.

Today the Realtor who is seeking every edge in an attempt to gain market share and provide the very best service to their clients would be wise to incorporate wind mitigation inspections into their checklist for both buyers and sellers.  It is a win-win solution you can't afford pass up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How to Use Ladders Safely

This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and TOH TV host Kevin O'Connor show the proper techniques for using all types of ladders.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Cost of Poor Workmanship | The Cambridge House, Episode 5 (2005)

Master carpenter Norm Abram shows Host Kevin O'Connor the newly discovered problems at the project house, most of them caused by the poor workmanship of a previous contractor. In the living room, one structural fix is already underway as general contractor Tom Silva prepares to install a flush frame beam made from LVLs that will carry the load of the second floor. Pest management expert Dan Fleicher shows Kevin the extent of the termite and carpenter ant damage, and suggests possible treatment options. Landscape contractor Roger Cook reveals the anatomy of new landscape walls; they'll be natural stone veneer over reinforced concrete. Kevin visits Six Moon Hill, a utopian neighborhood of modern houses created by The Architects Collaborative in 1948. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Kevin one of the challenges he's facing in this minimalist modern house: no place to hide necessary ductwork.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Solar power generation

Solar power is a versatile means of generating electricity. It can be used for such purposes as heating water, heating and air conditioning homes and commercial buildings, and powering streetlights. Because sunlight is readily available almost everywhere and doesn't require fuel or a connection to a power grid (an interconnected network used to deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers), solar power is particularly useful for supplying power to remote areas and to some portable devices.

Solar power is used to generate large amounts of power on a utility scale and to supply individual residences and businesses with electricity. This report focuses mainly on utility-scale, commercial, and residential solar power.

Utility-scale solar power plants supply large amounts of electricity to the power grid along with traditional sources of power, such as coal and natural gas plants. Solar power plants typically generate several megawatts of power, comparable to small or medium coal- or gas-fired plants. Plants only now in the planning stages are expected to produce several hundred megawatts,[7] which would be comparable to a medium to large coal plant or nuclear plant.

Commercial solar power is used by business establishments, such as office buildings, warehouses, and retail stores, which are able to install large groups of solar panels known as photovoltaic (PV) arrays, on unused land, rooftops, or parking structures. These panels supplement the building's power supply, and, at times, may generate more electricity than the building consumes. Often, this excess power can be sold back to the local utility company.

Residential solar power is generated by homeowners who have solar panels installed on their roofs in order to provide power to their homes. This form of solar power is increasing in popularity. Residential solar power usually must be supplemented by traditional electricity from the power grid to provide additional electricity when the solar panels cannot meet energy needs, such as when it is nighttime or extremely cloudy.

Although some areas of the United States are better suited for solar power than others, solar energy can be harnessed in any geographic area because of the sun's vast reach. In 2009, California had by far the most solar power capacity at 1102 megawatts, followed by New Jersey with 128 megawatts.[8] Nearly all states in the United States receive more sunlight per square mile than Germany, the world's leading producer of solar energy.[9] Manufacturing of solar power equipment and components is located throughout the United States, with large plants in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas. Other large solar panel manufacturing facilities are planned to begin construction over the next few years in many states.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Wiremold: How to Install the Flat Screen TV Cord & Cable Power Kit

The Wiremold Flat Screen TV Cord and Cable Power Kit is easy to install. No electrician or hard wiring is required and installs in under 30 minutes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Building Without Nails The Genius of Japanese Carpentry

We've heard of the genius "technology" used in ancient times to build towering monuments with nothing more than primitive tools like stones and ropes. The Egyptian pyramids of old is a great example.

Back in the far east, Japan had plenty to offer the ancient world as well when it came to resourceful inventions and crafts. Traditional Japanese Carpenters built houses, temples, and castles, without the use of nails, screws, or bolts.
In a documentary interviewing one of the few remaining practitioners of this seemingly lost art of carpentry, an old Japanese master craftsman exclaims "No bolts, no nails. It lasts longer!". Proudly claiming its effectiveness that no one would be able to argue against its success in the form of several majestic towering temples all over Japan still standing to this day.
After being subjected to harsh weather and clashes of changes in civilizations for well over a thousand years. But with the bold statement comes a clear understanding that the success to this art isn't because they designed it to withstand "against" nature, instead, it is all about being "with" nature.

Moving his livelihood to New York and sharing his art form of old Japanese wood working to the world, Isao Hanafusa, co-owner of Miya Shoji, has carved himself a unique niche in the competitive market of the furnishing industry.
Sought out and revered by New Yorkers wanting that embrace with nature in their interior decor with a style and durability in craftsmanship that can't be rivaled by most factory produced alternatives.

All furniture selections in Miya Shoji showrooms are hand crafted, even the types lumber used in all his crafts are hand selected by Hanafusa himself. Isao Hanafusa was a graduate of Industrial Revolution studies of which he states has produced countless wonders for the modern world, but its cold machinery has also tragically killed off individual talent that is supposed to reside in craftsmen.

To this day, he rejects criticisms of his methods being unnecessarily old fashioned, because with all the bold talk of technologically advanced tools and methods used in modern day construction work, the Hanafusa family believes a thousand years worth of talent refinement and mastery should not be thrown away in exchange for mass production convenience.

Nor is it going to back down from the contest that their crafts will last even longer than rigid concrete and metal structures for the simple fact they are not designed to resist against the force of mother nature, but to live with her.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

IKEA Hack Platform Bed DIY

his video shows you how to turn seven standard kitchen cabinets from IKEA into a platform bed with storage underneath. It's a perfect solution for anyone with limited closet or attic space. PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THIS ENTIRE DESCRIPTION BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION. I will do my best to answer every question that wasn't answered in the content.

The approximate cost of this project was $480, roughly broken down as follows:
$355 - Cabinets
$85 - Lumber
$40 - Paneling, carpet, knobs

I've had a number of questions about the specific cabinets used. Keep in mind, you can do this project with any brand or style as long as they are wall cabinets. For my cabinets, go to and look at their SEKTION wall cabinets. The cabinet sizes are shown in the video at 0:34. I selected the cheapest doors (Häggeby white).

NOTE: The smallest step is actually a TUTEMO open cabinet (IKEA article #802.783.53) laid on its side. This cabinet measures 9 x 14 3/4 x 15. It's not the exact size shown in my design, but it's the closest I could get.

The bed has been tested with three full-size adults and two dogs so I'm not worried about weight capacity of the bed, but please feel free to add support if you feel it is needed. The "steps" are a different situation, however. The cabinets alone are probably fine for pets or young children, but they will not last with the weight of adults and require additional support not shown in the video. I recommend doubling the thickness of the tops by sandwiching a solid wood or melamine shelf across the "step" cabinets, screwed from inside the cabinets into the shelf above using 1.25" screws (be sure to drill pilot holes). You can then lay paneling or carpet on top of that double-layer sandwich.

If you live in a rented apartment and are worried about drilling holes in the walls, think hard about building this bed. If you can't (or don't want to) spackle holes before moving out, should you really be considering such an aggressive DIY project?? You can certainly adapt my design to be free-standing; just make sure it is well-supported underneath. Keep in mind that the entire structure will need to be disassembled to move (so don't glue everything together!).

One minor detail that I omitted from the video: I installed four plastic furniture glides under every cabinet (one in each corner) to keep them off the floor by approximately 1/4". These will prevent the cabinets from scratching the floor, and prevent the doors from rubbing on the floor. If you have carpeting, you may need to build up the cabinets even higher to prevent the doors from rubbing on the carpet.

Several people have asked if this could be made free-standing so they don't have to attach it to the wall. If you want to structurally incorporate the cabinets in the design, as I've done here, I recommend attaching it to the wall because the wall provides a huge amount of stability. If you want to build a bed like this without attaching it to the walls, start with a freestanding bed frame such as
­waste-platform-bed/ and add the cabinets to enclose it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Toll Brothers CEO: Housing comeback in 5th inning

With the four-year housing recovery in just the "fourth or fifth inning," the real estate market may take longer than expected to really fire on all cylinders again, said Doug Yearley, CEO of homebuilder Toll Brothers.

"Four years in, I would think the housing market would be further along. I think it means we're going to have a longer, slower recovery," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday. He described the 2007 to 2011 period as the "worst housing depression we've ever seen."

While characterizing current housing conditions as "healthy," he said factors such as an improving economy and extremely low interest rates should be providing more juice to the real estate market.

Low borrowing costs have translated into historically favorable mortgage rates for homebuyers.

"[But] we don't worry about the Fed raising rates as long as it's done intelligently and slowly," Yearley said, adding the real estate market can handle mortgage rates of 4.5 percent. "I'll take a 4.5 percent rate in a better economy any day."

Appearing with Yearley on CNBC, Home Depot Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said the housing market has been more robust this year than he had expected, and that's leading to additional residential renovation and improvement projects.

"We're getting a tailwind from the housing environment that helps our business in terms of home value appreciation and housing turnover. Those are two key drivers of projects," said Menear.

"Both of those have been a little bit stronger than how we thought about as we planned 2015," he said, estimating turnover at about 5 percent and appreciation 4 to 5 percent.

With housing doing better, Menear said homeowners see improvement as an investment rather than an expense, which makes them more likely to take on projects or hire contractors.
Millennials want suburban life later: CEOs

Besides talking about housing as it relates to the economy, both CEOs said the notion of the "death of the suburbs" has been greatly overstated.

"Certainly more and more people are living in cities. But [in] the American Dream when you settle down and your kid hits kindergarten, most people are moving to the 'burbs," said Yearley.

Millennials, loosely defined as people born in the early 1980s through the late 1990s, "absolutely want to buy homes" in the suburbs, Menear agreed, saying his company's research shows it's "just a delayed purchase."

The trend of young people shunning the suburbs in favor of the hustle and bustle of city life has been well documented in dire predictions about the "reurbanization of America" from real estate billionaire Sam Zell and others in recent years.

But Yearley said millennials are getting married later and having families later. "Therefore they're moving to the 'burbs later."

Find out more about Toll Brothers at:


Thursday, October 29, 2015

How to Install a Bathtub and Shower Surround with Tile - The Home Depot

Learn how to install a bathtub and shower surround with tile. Ceramic tile is great for shower and bathtub walls because it can stand up to the constant moisture that showers receive. In this video you will learn the steps to properly install ceramic tile in a tub and shower space. For more information, visit

Monday, October 26, 2015

Concrete Resurfacing

This video shows all the steps involved in resurfacing concrete with a stencil pattern.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thnigs To Know About Home Security

When discussing Home Security there are a lot of different factors to talk about. We will try to touch on the most common and the most important aspects of your Home Security. The most common are door locks, alarm systems, the door itself, internet security, Wi-Fi security, social media security. There are more but these are the most important. You should consider all of them when taking your Home Security inventory.

Locks: Your door locks should be at least a grade 2 lock. You should take inventory of your keys, do you know how many you have and who has them. If not consider re-keying your locks to a new code. Deadbolt locks should be on all exterior doors and don't forget the door from your garage into your house.

Alarm Systems: If you have an alarm system it does you no good if you don't use it. Alarm systems can get very complex. You should have at least these basic options: your system should have an audible alarm at your house, it should be monitored by a central monitoring station, and have a cell backup. Your windows and doors should be monitored and you should have motion sensors. You should use it every time you leave your home as well as during the night.

Doors: All exterior doors should be solid either wood, steel or fiberglass. You can have great locks, but if someone can kick in the door they do you no good. Any solid doors should have a view hole so you can see who is at the door before you open it.

Garage Doors: Don't neglect this door, make sure that your garage door opener has the latest revolving codes. Don't leave your remote control in an unlocked vehicle. When you leave for vacation disconnect the garage door opener.

Internet and Wi-Fi Security: Make sure that your computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones have some type of internet security protection. This is especially important if you do any type of internet banking or investing. Any Wi-Fi connections should also be secured with the latest WAP2 protection and make sure that you use strong passwords.

Social Media Security: You shouldn't advertise when you are not home or away on vacation. Your children should be told the importance of this. The last thing you want is to tell the burglars when the best time to break into your house is. Also monitor your children's online activities; there are a lot of people waiting to take advantage of them.

George Uliano is a security professional with years of law enforcement and security experience. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and Business graduating with honors. George holds three U.S. patents on different locking principles. This combination gives George and His Company Locking Systems International Inc the unique ability to provide its customers with the correct security at an affordable price. For additional information or to purchase Locks go to
Article Source:

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Home / Builder's Warranty Inspections by SitePro

The Panhandle area continues to grow. As a result, home builders continue to scramble for more and more land and seem to be building homes at a record pace. Owning a home is the American Ideal, but building a home is the Dream of a Lifetime. Unfortunately, for some new homeowners it can become a nightmare.

As a result of extraordinary growth in the Panhandle over the last few decades, builders have grown to rely upon subcontractors who are continually looking for qualified labor. Most of these subcontractors are exceptional and well trained. However, with the record pace of building, it is possible to have workers who are tired, overworked or not as qualified as they should be. As a result, some new homeowners have found that these subcontractors have maybe forgotten to insulate portions of attics, have not installed electrical or plumbing components correctly, or have failed to finish their work such as not installing all the roof tiles needed for a roof. If they do not document these items or catch them before the end of their warranty, the homeowner, not the builder, is responsible for repairing these items down the road when they sell their home and the buyers have an inspection performed.. As a result, these homeowners are faced with hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in costs that could have been avoided with a comprehensive inspection.

By working with SitePro, you can provide your builder with a thorough, detailed written summary of defects that need to be corrected while your home is still under warranty. It's a good idea to have an independent authority conduct your home inspection. That way you have the peace of mind knowing you have a complete and accurate account of your home's condition.

There are many local inspection companies who perform these types of inspections, but only a few are as thorough, experienced, or professional as a SitePro inspector. Understanding that a new home can be overwhelming and sometimes fearful, our inspectors take extra time to ask you what issues you are concerned about. We encourage you to be present during the inspection and in some cases follow us so you can see what we see. Whether you follow us or not, we take time at the end of the inspection to walk through the home identifying issues. Additionally, inspectors from SitePro take extra time to point out maintenance issues. Our inspections not only cover the basic items in a normal inspection, we spend extra time looking at systems and structural components to ensure potential issues caused by substandard workmanship are identified and corrected before they become an issue. SitePro inspectors are not only highly qualified in construction trades, building and zoning and real estate, we have an acute understanding of the process as well as typical mistakes that are made over and over by some subcontractors.

Why not REQUEST AN INSPECTION today and have the PEACE OF MIND you always wanted for a fraction of replacing/repairing/installing items in the future?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Things You Should Know for a Floor Tile Installation Project

Watch our How to Install Ceramic and Porcelain Floor Tile videos and learn the steps needed for a successful installation. You'll see how to complete each step and work the required tools, such as trowels, manual snap cutter, wet saw and tile nipper.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spray foam insulation nightmare: What can happen if it's not installed correctly (CBC Marketplace)

Canadians are installing spray foam insulation in their homes in ever-expanding numbers. It’s sold as energy-efficient, easy-to-apply solution, but when the job goes wrong, it can be a nightmare for homeowners. Tom Harrington takes you inside the walls and up into the attic to explore a home renovation horror story, a foul-smelling foam job that’s driven a family from its home.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fill out the 2015 U.S. Needs Assessment Survey!

The U.S. Needs Assessment Survey identifies the needs and gaps of the fire service. Find out from leaders of national fire service organizations (IAFF, IAFC and NVFC) why it’s critical for fire departments to fill out the survey, and ensure that their needs can be heard and met.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Protect Your Home from High Wind and Earthquakes

Learn what mitigation measures can strengthen your home against both earthquakes and high winds.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sparky on the Street - Smoke alarm placement

When Sparky the Fire Dog® asks people where in the home smoke alarms should be located, he gets quite a few answers. Learn where smoke alarms should be installed in the home (and where they don’t belong).

Visit Fire Prevention Week for more information and free resources on smoke alarms.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Paint Interior Walls - The Home Depot

Find more information and the materials needed for this project here:

A coat of paint can give your home a new look and feel. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive. In this video, we'll show you how to get the best results when painting your interior walls, and explain the importance of primer.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tips to Hire a Commercial Property Inspector

Hiring a commercial property inspector is an important part of buying, selling, or owning a building. Having relevant and accurate information regarding the state of a building can be helpful in each of these circumstances:

1. When an individual is preparing to purchase a building and wants to know the true state and value of their investment.

2. When an individual already owns a building, but wants to know the condition of their building, enabling them to take preventative care measures or reevaluate their investment.

3. When an individual is preparing to sell a building and wants to know the true state and value of their investment.

In each of these circumstances, the property-owning individual requires information that can only be provided by a commercial property inspector, making the process of hiring a commercial property inspector rather important. The tips included in this article are therefore intended to help commercial buyers, investors, and owners gain an accurate evaluation of their investment in order to protect and grow their investment portfolio.

Six Tips:

1. First and foremost, it is crucial to make sure that your commercial property inspector is licensed, whether by National Property Inspections, the International Code Council, the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the state, or another reputable and trusted standards association.

2. Do your research. Social media sites like Yelp and Google Reviews provide unfiltered reviews of commercial property inspection businesses. Though business owners can control the reviews that appear on their company website, they cannot control the reviews posted about their business on social media sites like the examples above. These are the best places to get a feel for the businesses you're considering; however, don't let one bad review rule out a company - look for a general consensus.

3. Do more research! Follow up on the company's references. Of course the references that any business owner provides you with will have a positive review to share, but they may be able to answer specific questions that you have regarding work styles, principles, and other miscellaneous concerns.

4. Make sure that your commercial property inspector's equipment is updated and conforms to current standards of practice. Advances in technology, such as thermal imaging systems, have bettered an inspector's ability to identify water and air leaks, and should be on your list of requirements. Further, make sure that your commercial property inspector has adequate training to use advanced equipment - ask for credentials!

5. Discuss payment options. Some commercial and home inspectors are small, often family-owned, businesses and may not have the ability to take credit cards. If you plan on paying by credit card, make your intentions known early on so that you may decide to choose another company or another payment option.

6. Communicate effectively. Be clear about your expectations for the commercial property inspection and discuss obstacles. Inspectors are not expected to move potentially harmful objects, such as heavy machinery or hazardous materials.

If you are unsure of whether to hire a commercial property inspector or not, make the smart decision and move forward with an inspection. For property owners, preventative maintenance is always more cost effective than repairs, which may also stall productivity. Additionally, whether you are interested in buying or selling commercial property, an inspection will give you the information you need to accurately assess your investments.

By Brandon Arthur Lobo
Article Source:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tips for Taking the Squeeze Out of Bank-Owned Home Purchases‏

With many novice buyers jumping into the market to take advantage of great deals on bank-owned foreclosure properties, many are unprepared for the time-squeeze imposed by the bank’s custom real estate contract, which lacks a number of buyer-favored terms found in a standard real estate contract.

Offering the buyer a maximum of 17 days to complete inspections and remove contingencies means the buyer, who is already quite overwhelmed with the intricacies of the home-buying process, must act quickly or risk ending up with a home fraught with unseen problems that could have been avoided.

While it may seem impossible to comply with such a short contingency window, which often doesn’t allow enough time for home inspections, there are a number of important tips home buyers, whether new or seasoned, should follow:

1. Work with a real estate agent experienced in purchasing bank-owned properties.
2. Request the full 17-day period for removal of contingencies determined upon receipt of signed contracts.
3. Have the seller pay for a termite inspection and ask that it be scheduled as soon as possible.
4. For vacant properties, personally make sure all utilities are on before scheduling a home inspection. It is the seller’s responsibility to have gas, water, and electrical services on and all pilot lights lit (verify by flipping light switches and turning on a faucet until the water runs hot.) A home inspector cannot perform a complete inspection without utilities, nor can an inspector light pilots.
5. After confirming utilities are on, hire and schedule the services of a qualified home inspector.
6. Following the home inspector’s report, immediately seek work estimates from the relevant experts for any problem areas turned up in the home inspection, such as cracks in the foundation, water or gas leaks, faulty wiring, termite damage, mold, wood rot, etc.
7. Go back to the seller with quotes in hand to renegotiate the final contract terms.
8. For a condo/townhome purchase, request all your HOA documents, including meeting minutes, financials, and CC&Rs, prior to removal of contingencies.

“The bank’s tight window means home buyers can’t afford to lose a single day. Neglecting something as simple as making sure the utilities are turned on can result in a false start for the home inspector, who cannot complete a proper inspection without them, causing the stressed-out buyer to lose precious days,” explains Will Johnson of Inspection Perfection.

About Inspection Perfection
Founded in 2002, SitePro offers complete residential inspection services, serving the entire Florida Panhandle. Services are available for all types of residential properties, pools and spas, as well as FHA and 203K construction inspections. The reports, provided digitally, include images, a summary, and detail sections. For more information, please call 850-934-6800 or visit

Friday, September 18, 2015

Preparing for a SitePro Inspection

A SitePro Inspector has been scheduled and On The Way!


There are routine steps that sellers can take to help ensure that a SitePro inspection goes off without any issues. 

Most steps are part of your regular maintenance and quite easy and inexpensive. Some of the remedies are obvious but could be overlooked by an anxious sellers. Above all, sellers should not try quick, inexpensive repairs, this could cause questions and concern to SitePro inspectors and prospective buyers.
  • Provide at least 6" of clearance between grade/ mulch and siding. Decks should be properly graded.
  • Dirty gutters and debris should be cleaned from the roof and basement entry drains should be cleaned out as well.
  • The property grade should slope away from the home so that water is diverted away from the house.
  • Downspouts, condensation drains, and the like should all drain away from the home.
  • Trees, roots, and bushes should be trimmed away from the home's foundation, roof, siding, and chimney.  
  • All weathered exterior wood should be painted. Caulking should be placed around the chimney, windows, and doors.Exterior repair
  • Rotting wood and/or firewood should not be in contact with the house.
  • If the asphalt driveway is cracking, it should be sealed.
  • Masonry chimney caps should be sealed or pointed up. Metal flue caps should also be installed on chimneys.
  • Any faulty mortar joints in a home's brick or block should be pointed up.
  • The home's HVAC filter should be cleaned or replaced, if needed. Dirty air returns and plenum need cleaning, too.
  • All doors and windows must be in proper working condition.
  • If windowpanes are fogged and/or broken, sellers need to have them replaced, or repaired if possible.
  • Make sure any burned out light bulbs are replaced before your SitePro home inspection.
  • Ensure that all smoke detectors are working.
  • If a home's attic is not ventilated, it needs to be.
  • A professional should clean the chimney, fireplace or wood stove and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.
  • Plumbing fixtures, including toilet, tub, shower, and sinks, should be in proper working order. Any leaks must be fixed, and caulking should be done around plumbing fixtures if necessary.
  • A sump pump should be operating properly.
  • GFCI testingAll GFCI receptacles need to be tested to make sure they are operating correctly. 
  • Masonry walls in the basement need to be sealed. (yes there are some 
  • basements in Florida.
  • Make sure that vapor barriers, if applicable, are installed in crawl spacesand that the crawl spaces are dry. Moisture needs to be removed, as moisture levels in wood should be below 18 percent to prevent dry rot and mildew.
  • Remove any paints, solvents, gas, and similar materials from crawl spaces, basements, attics, porches, etc. Access to the attic, crawl space, heating system, garage, and other areas the SitePro home inspector will check must be clear, with nothing blocking the way.
  • If the house is vacant, all utilities must be turned on, including gas, water, electric, water heater, furnace, air conditioning, and breakers in the main panel.
Sellers who follow these steps should have no problem with a SiteP home inspection, making themselves, their Realtor®, and their prospective buyers very happy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

About Garage Doors

Garage doors are large, spring-supported doors. Garage door openers control the opening and closing of garage doors, either through a wall-mounted switch or a radio transmitter. Due to the strain that garage door components and openers regularly endure, they may become defective over time and need to be fixed or replaced. Defective components may create safety hazards as well as functional deficiencies to the garage door assembly. The following facts demonstrate the dangers posed by garage doors:

Garage doors are typically among the heaviest moving objects in the home and are held under high tension.

Injuries caused by garage doors account for approximately 20,000 emergency room visits annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product

Safety Commission.
The majority of the injuries caused by garage doors are the result of pinched fingers, although severe injuries and deaths due to entrapment occur as well. Sixty children have been killed since 1982 as a result of garage doors that did not automatically reverse upon contact.

Inspectors cannot fix or adjust any garage door defects they may encounter. They should call out defects in their reports and recommend that the door be examined by a trained garage door technician. The following components should be present during inspections and devoid of defects:

Manual (emergency) release handle. All garage doors should be equipped with this device, which will detach the door from the door opener when activated. It is vital during emergency situations, such as when a person becomes trapped beneath the door or when a power outage cuts electricity to the door opener. Inspectors should activate the handle to make sure that it works, although they will have to reset the handle if it does not reset automatically. In order for the handle to be accessible and obvious, it must be…colored red; easily distinguishable from rest of the garage opener system; and
no more than 6 feet above the standing surface.

Door panels.
Both sides of the door should be examined for the following:
fatigue; cracking and dents. Aluminum doors are especially vulnerable to denting; and separation of materials.

Warning labels.
The following four warning labels should be present on or around garage door assemblies:
a spring warning label, attached to the spring assembly;
a general warning label, attached to the back of the door panel;
a warning label attached to the wall in the vicinity of the wall control button, and; a tension warning label, attached to garage door’s bottom bracket.

Brackets and roller shafts.
Brackets. The garage door opener is connected to the garage door by a bracket that is essential to the function of the door opener system. Placement of the bracket where it attaches to the door is crucial to the operation of its safety features. It should attach 3 to 6 inches from the top of the door. This bracket, as well as all other brackets, should be securely attached to their surfaces.

Roller shafts.
Roller shafts should be longer on the top and bottom rollers. The top rollers are the most important. Without longer shafts, if one side of the door hangs up, the door may fall out of the opening.

Door operation.
The door’s operation can be tested by raising the door manually, grasping the door’s handles if it has them. Inspectors can make sure that the door:
moves freely; does not open or close too quickly; and opens and closes without difficulty.

Note – Inspectors should not operate the door until they have inspected the track mounts and bracing. Doors have been known to fall on people and cars when they were operated with tracks that were not securely attached and supported.

Extension spring containment cables. Older garage doors may use extension springs to counter-balance the weight of the door. These require a containment cable inside the spring to prevent broken parts from being propelled around the garage if the spring snaps. Most new garages use shaft-mounted torsion springs that do not require containment cables.

Wall-mounted switch. This device must be present and positioned as high as is practical above the standing surface (at least five feet as measured from the bottom of the switch) so that children do not gain access. In addition, the button must…be mounted in clear view of the garage door; and
be mounted away from moving parts.

Important Note – SitePro inspectors always make sure to disable the manual lock on the garage door before activating the switch.

Automatic reverse system. As of 1991, garage doors are required to be equipped with a mechanism that automatically reverses the door if it comes in contact with an object. It is important that the door reverses direction and opens completely, rather than merely halting. If a garage door fails this test, inspectors should note it in their reports. A dial on the garage door opener controls the amount of pressure required to trigger the door to reverse. This dial can be adjusted by a qualified garage door technician if necessary.

Methods for testing the automatic reverse system:
This safety feature can be tested by grasping the base of the garage door as it closes and applying upward resistance. Inspectors should use caution while performing this test because they may accidentally damage its components if the door does not reverse course.

Some sources recommend placing a 2×4 piece of wood on the ground beneath the door, although there have been instances where this testing method has damaged the door or door opener components.

Supplemental automatic reverse system. Garage doors manufactured in the U.S. after 1992 must be equipped with photoelectric sensors or a door edge sensor.

Photoelectric eyes. These eyes (also known as photoelectric sensors) are located at the base of each side of the garage door and emit and detect beams of light. If this beam is broken, it will cause the door to immediately reverse direction and open. For safety reasons, photo sensors must be installed a maximum of 6 inches above the standing surface.

Door edge sensors. This device is a pressure-sensitive strip installed at the base of the garage door. If it senses pressure from an object while the door is closing, it will cause the door to reverse. Door edge sensors are not as common in garage door systems as photoelectric eyes.

Safety Advice for Clients:
Homeowners should not attempt to adjust or repair springs themselves. The springs are held under extremely high tension and can snap suddenly and forcefully, causing serious or fatal injury.

No one should stand or walk beneath a garage door while it is in motion. Adults should set an example for children and teach them about garage door safety.

Children should not be permitted to operate the garage door opener push button and should be warned against touching any of the door’s moving parts.
Fingers and hands should be kept away from pulleys, hinges, springs, and the intersection points between door panels. Closing doors can very easily crush body parts that get between them.

The automatic reversal system may need to be adjusted for cold temperatures, since the flexibility of the springs are affected by temperature. This adjustment can be made from a dial on the garage door opener, which should only be changed only by a trained garage door technician.

In summary, garage doors and their openers can be hazardous if certain components are missing or defective. Take all recommendations for repairs very seriously, particularly if you have children.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Installing a Hot Water Recirculating Pump

Hot water recirculating pumps make hot water available more quickly in your home by getting heated water where you need it before you need it. They save you time, money and water. Here are the step-by-step instruction for installing one.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Wiremold: How to Install the CordMate III Cord Cover Kit

CordMate III High Capacity Cord Cover Kit is perfect for hiding larger bundles of home entertainment cabling, speaker wires, TV/video cabling and home office wiring. Peel and press backing makes for easy installation. White/Paintable.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cool Shipping Container Homes, Awesome Homes made from Shipping Containers

Shipping container homes, offices and buildings offer low cost, efficiency and flexibility.
Modular metal homes are an excellent and convenient living ingenious solution. Today, building metal type houses from shipping containers has become increasingly common.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Maintaining Your Home in the Summer

                                 Home Inspection Summer Solid State

Finally, it is the middle of summer. All the summer activities are in season, and the weather tends to be more predictably ‘nice’. Now we can kick back and relax on our days off, spend a little extra time at the beach, and just enjoy living in paradise.

For our homes, summer is a hard working season. The heat of the sun causes a lot of additional stress on building materials and finishes. Our yards (which we now want to enjoy) have grown in the spring and are now getting less water. Our lifestyles also change in the summer to spending more time outside and trying to keep the building cool inside. Here are a few simple things to consider helping yourself and your house in this season.

Keeping Cool
  • Ceiling fans are an excellent way to circulate air in your home. You can run them in either direction depending on where you want to pull or push air towards (hot air wants to rise). Dust them as needed and make sure to balance any wobbly blades by tightening screws. If you can’t fix a wobble, it is time to replace the fan completely.
  • Screens in windows can help you keep out pests and allow more air flow in your home. Screen repair tools and kits are available at your local hardware store. It can take a few tries to get doing this right but anyone can learn how (YouTube video’s are great for Do-it-yourself info)
  • If you are fortunate enough to have an air-conditioner, change or clean the filter regularly (every few weeks at most). Even most portable and in-window air conditioners have an air filter.

Yard and Garden
  • A great water conservation technique in summer is to still cut grass frequently but cut it a little longer. This provides more shade for the roots which helps to keep them from drying out as quickly
    • If you do need to water, do it in the cool of the morning. 
  • Trees can provide excellent cooling and shade around your home. Make sure to prune branches so they cannot damage your home in any high winds. Also look for any signs of rot or damage that may indicate something unhealthy with the tree.
  • If you are planting any new trees or shrubs, consider the plants size as it matures and if roots may damage driveways, walkways, or underground pipes. These repairs in the future could be very expensive.

House Exterior
  • This is a great time to wash the outside of windows and siding. While it may be tempting to use a pressure washer, a garden hose is best to avoid driving water behind surfaces and damaging the finish of your home. Apply paint or caulking to siding, trim, windows, and doors as needed to maintain a water tight exterior in the coming winter rains.
  • Grab a can of lubricant and make sure your door hinges, gate hardware, and garage door components are well lubricated for the coming year.
  • This is also a good time to make sure your roof, gutters, dryer and kitchen exhausts, and chimneys are in good condition. If you are not comfortable with inspecting these areas, consider calling in a handyman or professional for help.

The biggest tip I have for summer is for you to take some time and enjoy it with your friends and family. Keeping our homes well maintained can potentially save us thousands of dollars in emergency repairs but summer memories are priceless. Contact SitePro for a pre-sell inspection.

SitePro, LLC
Van Hibberts

362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
850.934.6800  (Office)
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
Florida-State Certified Master Home Inspector Lic. #HI89
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
203(k) FHA/HUD Consultant #A0900
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
NACHI #10071802
"Looking Beyond The Obvious"

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Small Gardens - Beauty and Relaxation

After all a small garden requires more privacy, a thoughtful design, a lot of creativity that can create sufficient outdoor living space and last but not least enough planting space for flowers, veggies, beauty and colour.

Read more:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Answers to your Home Insurance Questions

Why You Need Homeowner's Insurance

The largest, single investment most consumers make is in their homes. The consumer can protect their home, possessions, and liability with a homeowner's insurance policy. The homeowner's insurance policy is a package policy that combines more than one type of insurance coverage in a single policy. There are four types of coverages that are contained in the homeowner's policy: dwelling and personal property; personal liability; medical payment; and additional living expenses.

Property Damage Coverage

Property damage coverage helps pay for damage to your home and personal property. Other structures, such as a detached garage, a tool shed, and any other building on your property are usually covered for 10% of the amount of coverage on your house.

Personal property coverage will pay for personal property, including household furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings. The amount of insurance coverage is usually 50% of the policy limit on your dwelling. The coverage is also limited by the types of loss listed in the policy. The coverage only pays the current cash value of the item destroyed, unless you purchase "replacement cost" coverage. Your homeowner's policy also provides off-premises coverage. This means that the policy covers your belongings against theft even when they are not inside your home.

Personal Liability Coverage

Homeowners' policies provide personal liability coverage that applies to non-auto accidents on and off your property if the injury or damage is caused by you, a member of your family, or your pet. The liability coverage in your policy pays both for the cost of defending you and paying for any damages that a court rules you must pay. Liability insurance does not have a deductible that you must meet before your insurer begins to pay losses. The basic liability coverage is usually $100,000 for each occurence. You can request higher limits that are available for an additional cost.

Medical Payment Coverage

Medical payment coverage pays if someone outside your family is injured at your home, regardless of fault. This includes payment for reasonable medical expenses incurred within one year from the date of loss for a person who is injured in an accident in your home. The coverage does not apply to you and members of your household. The medical-payments portion of your homeowner's policy will also pay if you are involved in the injury of another person away from your home in some limited circumstances. Medical payments coverage limits are generally $1,000 for each person.

Additional Living Expenses

If it is necessary for you to move into a motel or apartment temporarily because of damage caused by a peril covered in your policy, your insurance company will pay an amount up to 20% of the policy limit on your dwelling for these expenses. If you move in temporarily with a friend or relative and do not have any extra expenses, you will not be paid any addditional living expenses by your insurance company.

Home Business

If you operate a home business full- or part-time, you might be uninsured and not realize it. Many home business owners believe that their homeowner's insurance policy covers all of their home business needs. You should not assume that your homeowner's insurance policy will cover your home business. Your homeowner's policy may provide coverage, but probably only a maximum of $2,500 for business equipment in the home, and $250 away from the premises.

The price you pay for your homeowner's insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the insurance company you buy your policy from. Here are some things to consider when buying homeowner's insurance.

1. Shop around.

It will take some time, but could save you a good sum of money. Ask your friends, check the Yellow Pages, and contact your state insurance commission. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has information to help you choose an insurer in your state, including complaints that are filed by consumers. States often make information available on typical rates charged by major insurers, and many states provide the frequency of consumer complaints by company. Also check consumer guides, insurance agents, companies, and online insurance quote services. This will give you an idea of price ranges and tell you which companies have the lowest prices. But don't consider price alone. The insurer you select should offer a fair price and deliver the quality of service you would expect if you needed assistance in filing a claim. So, in assessing service quality, use the complaint information from state regulatory agencies and talk to a number of insurers to get a feeling for the type of service they provide. Ask them what they would do to lower your costs. When you've narrowed the field to three insurers, get price quotes.

2. Raise your deductible.

Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay a claim, according to the terms of your policy. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premiums. Nowadays, most insurance companies recommend a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25%. Remember, if you live in a disaster-prone area, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage. If you live near the coast in the East, you may have a separate windstorm deductible; if you live in a state vulnerable to hailstorms, you may have a separate deductible for hail; and if you live in an earthquake-prone area, your earthquake policy has a deductible.

3. Don’t confuse what you paid for your house with rebuilding costs.

The land under your house isn't at risk from theft, windstorm, fire and the other perils covered in your homeowner's policy. So don't include its value in deciding how much homeowner's insurance to buy. If you do, you will pay a higher premium than you should.

4. Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer.

Some companies that sell homeowner's, auto and liability coverage will take 5% to 15% off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them. But make certain this combined price is lower than buying the different coverages from different companies.

5. Make your home more disaster-resistant.

Find out from your insurance agent or company representative what steps you can take to make your home more resistant to windstorms and other natural disasters. You may be able to save on your premiums by adding storm shutters, reinforcing your roof, and buying stronger roofing materials. Older homes can be retrofitted to make them better able to withstand earthquakes. In addition, consider modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.  Even small measures, such as keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, will often qualify you for a discount on your premiums and save you money in the long run.

6. Improve your home security.

You can usually get discounts of at least 5% for a smoke detector, burglar alarm and dead-bolt locks. Some companies offer to cut your premium by as much as 15% to 20% if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire or other monitoring stations. These systems aren't cheap, and not every system qualifies for a discount. Before you buy such a system, find out what kind your insurer recommends, how much the device would cost, and how much you'd save on premiums.

7. Seek out other discounts.

Companies offer several types of discounts, but they don't all offer the same discount or the same amount of discount in all states. For example, since retired people are at home more than working people, they are less likely to be burglarized and may spot fires sooner, too. Retired people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you're at least 55 years old and retired, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10% at some companies. Some employers and professional associations administer group insurance programs that may offer a better deal than you can get elsewhere.

8. Maintain a good credit record.

Establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance costs. Insurers are increasingly using credit information to price homeowners' insurance policies. In most states, your insurer must advise you of any adverse action, such as a higher rate, at which time you should verify the accuracy of the information on which the insurer relied. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don't obtain more credit than you need, and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Check your credit record on a regular basis, and rectify any errors promptly so that your record remains accurate.

9. Stay with the same insurer.

If you've kept your coverage with a company for several years, you may receive a special discount for being a long-term policyholder. Some insurers will reduce their premiums by 5% if you stay with them for three to five years, and by 10% if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. But make certain to periodically compare this price with that of other policies.

10. Review the limits in your policy and the value of your possessions at least once a year.

You want your policy to cover any major purchases or additions to your home. But you don't want to spend money for coverage you don't need. If your five-year-old fur coat is no longer worth the $5,000 you paid for it, you'll want to reduce or cancel your floater -- defined as extra insurance for items whose full value is not covered by standard homeowners' policies, such as expensive jewelry, high-end computers and valuable art work -- and pocket the difference.

11. If you are in a government plan, look for private insurance.

If you live in a high-risk area -- say, one that is especially vulnerable to coastal storms, fires or crime -- and have been buying your homeowner's insurance through a government plan, you should check with an insurance agent or company representative, or contact your state commission of insurance for the names of companies that might be interested in your business. You may find that there are steps you can take that would allow you to buy insurance at a lower price in the private market.

12. When you’re buying a home, consider the cost of homeowner's insurance.

You may pay less for insurance if you buy a house close to a fire hydrant or in a community that has a professional rather than a volunteer fire department. It may also be cheaper if your home’s electrical, heating and plumbing systems are less than 10 years old. If you live in the East, consider a brick home because it's more wind-resistant. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, look for a wooden frame house because it is more likely to withstand this type of disaster. Choosing wisely could cut your premiums by 5% to 15%.

Check the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report of the home you are thinking of buying. These reports contain the insurance-claim history of the property and can help you judge some of the problems the house may have. Remember that flood insurance and earthquake damage are not covered by a standard homeowner's policy. If you buy a house in a flood-prone area, you'll have to pay for a flood insurance policy that costs an average of $400 a year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides useful information on flood insurance on its Web site at A separate earthquake policy is available from most insurance companies. The cost of the coverage will depend on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area.

If you have questions about insurance for any of your possessions, be sure to ask your agent or company representative when you're shopping around for a policy. For example, if you run a business out of your home, be sure to discuss coverage for that business. Most homeowners' policies cover business equipment in the home, but only up to $2,500, and they offer no business liability coverage. Although you want to lower your homeowner's insurance cost, you also want to make certain you have all the coverage you need.

Questions Asked by Homeowners About Insurance

If a fire, flood, earthquake, or some other natural disaster were to damage or destroy your home, would you have the right insurance coverage to rebuild your house? Based on the questions consumers ask most frequently, this list explains what is and is not covered in a standard homeowner's policy. Where gaps in coverage exist, it tells you how to fill them. To simplify explanations, assume that you have a policy known as Homeowners-3 (HO-3), the most common type of homeowner's policy in the United States. Find out what type of homeowner's policy you have. If you have a different policy, you should review your options in question #17.

1.  Am I covered for direct losses due to fire, lightning, tornadoes, windstorms, hail, explosions, smoke, vandalism and theft?

Yes. The HO-3 provides broad coverage for these and other disasters or “perils,” as they are called in the policy, including all those listed in the question. You should check the dollar limits of insurance in your policy, and make sure you are comfortable with the amount of insurance you have for specific items. Also, if you live near the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts, there may be some restrictions on your coverage for wind damage. Ask your agent about windstorm/hurricane deductibles. In areas prone to hailstorms, you may have a specific hail-damage deductible.

2.  Are my jewelry and other valuables covered?

The standard policy provides only from $1,000 to $2,000 for theft of jewelry. If your jewelry is worth a lot more, you should purchase higher limits. You may wish to add a floater to your policy to cover specific pieces of jewelry and other expensive possessions, such as paintings, electronic equipment, stamp collections and silverware, for example. The floater will provide both higher limits and protect you from additional risks not covered in your standard policy.

3.  If my house is totally destroyed in a fire and I have $150,000 worth of insurance to cover the structure, will this be enough to rebuild my home?

If the cost of rebuilding your home is less than or equal to $150,000, you would have enough coverage. The HO-3 policy pays for structural damage on a replacement-cost basis. If the cost of replacing your home is, say, $120,000, then that is all the insurance you need. On the other hand, if the cost of rebuilding your home is $180,000, then you will be short $30,000.

If you live in an area that is frequently hit by major storms, ask your insurance company about an extended or guaranteed replacement-cost policy. This will provide a certain amount over the policy limit to rebuild your home, so that if building costs go up unexpectedly due to high demand for contractors and materials, you will have the extra funds to cover the bill.

If you choose not to rebuild your home, you will receive the replacement cost of your home, less depreciation. This is called "actual cash value." You should make sure that the amount of insurance you have will cover the cost of rebuilding your house. You can find out what this cost is by talking to your real estate agent or builders in your area.

Do not use the price of your house as the basis for the amount of insurance you purchase. The market price of your house includes the value of the land on which the house sits. In almost all cases, the land will still be there after a disaster, so you do not need to insure it. You only need to insure the structure.

4.  Am I automatically covered for flood damage?

No. If you live in a flood-prone area, it may be wise to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is provided by the federal government under a program run by the Federal Insurance Administration. In some parts of the country, homes can be damaged or destroyed by mudslides. This risk is also covered under flood policies. Contact your agent or company representative to get this insurance, or call the FEMA at 1-800-427-4661 or visit

5.  If a pipe bursts and water flows all over my floors, am I covered?

Yes. The HO-3 covers you for accidental discharge of water from a plumbing system. You should check your plumbing and heating systems once a year. While you are covered for damage, who needs the mess and hassle?

6.  What if water seeps into my basement from the ground -- am I still covered?

No. Water seepage is excluded under the HO-3. And if the water seepage is not due to a flood, you will not be covered under a flood policy. Seepage is viewed as a maintenance issue and is not covered by insurance. You should see a contractor about waterproofing your basement.

7.  Am I automatically covered for earthquake damage?

No. Earthquake coverage is sold as additional coverage to the homeowner's policy. To find out whether you should buy this insurance, talk to your agent or company representative. The cost of this coverage can vary significantly from one area to another, depending on the likelihood of a major earthquake.

8.  A neighbor slips on my sidewalk or falls down my porch steps and threatens to take me to court for damages. Does my policy protect me?
Yes. The policy will pay for damages if a fall or other accident on your property is the result of your negligence. It will also pay for the legal costs of defending you against a claim. Also, the medical-payments part of your homeowner's policy will cover medical expenses if a neighbor or guest is injured on your property. You should check to see how much liability protection you have. The standard amount is $100,000. If you feel you need more, consider purchasing higher limits.

9.  A tree falls and damages my roof during a storm. Am I covered?

Yes. You are covered for the damage to your roof. You are also covered for the removal of the tree, generally up to a limit of $500. You should cut down dead or dying trees close to your house and prune branches that are near your house. It's true that your insurance covers damage, but falling trees and branches can also injure your family. Ask your InterNACHI inspector about problem trees during your next inspection. 

10.  During a storm, a tree falls but does no damage to my property. Am I covered for the cost of removing the tree?
Your trees and shrubs are covered for losses due to risks such as vandalism, theft and fire, but not wind damage. However, if a fallen tree blocks access to your home, you may be covered for its removal. Decide if you need extra insurance for the trees, plants and shrubs on your property. You may be able to purchase extra insurance which will not only cover the cost of removing fallen trees, but will also cover the cost of replacing trees and other plants.

11.  If a storm causes a power outage and all the food in my refrigerator and freezer is spoiled and must be thrown out, can I make a claim?

The general answer is no. However, there are a number of exceptions. In some states, food spoilage is covered under the homeowner's policy. In addition, if the power loss is due to a break in a power line on or close to your property, you may be covered. You should check with your agent to find out whether you are covered for food spoilage in your state. If not, you can add food-spoilage coverage to your policy for an additional premium.

12.  My children are away at college. Are they covered by my homeowner's insurance?

If they’re full-time college students and part of your household, your insurance generally provides some coverage in a dorm, typically 10% of the contents' limit. If they live off-campus, some companies may not provide this limited coverage if the apartment is rented in the student’s name.

13.  My golf clubs were stolen from the trunk of my car. Does my homeowner's policy cover the loss?
Yes. The HO-3 covers your personal property while it is anywhere in the world. However, if your golf clubs are old, you will get only their current value, which may not be enough to purchase a new set. Consider buying a replacement-cost endorsement for your personal property. This way, you will get what it costs to replace the golf clubs, less your deductible.

14.  I have a small power boat. If it is stolen, am I covered? What if there is a boating accident and I get sued? Am I covered for that?
Whether or not you are covered for either theft or liability depends on the size of the boat, the horsepower of the engine, and your insurance company. Coverage for small boats under homeowners' policies varies significantly. Ask your insurance representative whether you need a boat owner's policy.

15.  My house is close to the ocean. I’ve heard that if it is destroyed by the wind, the town's new building code requires me to rebuild the house on stilts. This will add $30,000 to the cost of rebuilding my house. Am I covered for this extra cost?

No. The HO-3 excludes costs mandated by ordinances and laws that regulate the construction of buildings. You can purchase an ordinance or law endorsement. This will cover the extra costs involved in meeting new building codes.

16.  Am I covered for “acts of God”?

Sometimes. The term “acts of God” is not specifically mentioned in homeowners' insurance policies. It usually refers to natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, as opposed to man-made acts, such as theft and auto accidents. Some natural disasters, such as damage from windstorms, hail, lightning, and volcanic eruptions, are covered under homeowner's insurance. Damage from floods and earthquakes is not.

17.  What should I do if my policy provides less coverage than the HO-3?

Review your coverage with your agent. Some older policies provide less coverage than the HO-3. They may not provide coverage for water damage, theft or liability. They may also provide coverage for the house on an actual cash-value basis, rather than a replacement-cost basis.

"Actual cash value" means replacement cost less depreciation. For example, if your roof is destroyed in a storm, the insurance will pay only for the cost of a new roof less the amount of depreciation of the old roof. If your roof was in great shape, this deduction will not be large. However, if the roof was old and worn out, the deduction for depreciation may be significant. You should try to get an HO-3.