Home Owners Insurance

Do you have the right coverage? Are you paying too much for insurance? Your house is your home which includes your family and their health and happiness. are you covered for contents?  Your furnishings, your tools, your family car or your weekend toys? What happens if we endure a weather related tragedy or a homeowner error causing loss. All this can be taken care of ahead of time. Remember, you can never predict but you can always prepare. Checking yearly and comparing quotes can save you money.

Another way to save money is yearly maintenance. Keep up with conditions and you will save money. Keep your Wind Mitigation Verification reports up to date for qualifying discounts. Older homes over 25 years will need to maintain the 4 major components in order to insure their homes, a yearly 4 point insurance report can provide you and your agent with the condition and age of your Roof, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), Electrical and Plumbing components. Your homes roof should be checked yearly to ensure for weather tightness.

If you have had any work or remodeling done and used proper permits, you may be eligible for discounts. Have you recently purchased new furniture, computer equipment?

It is important to keep in mind that insurers have made major changes to what risks are covered and the costs required to insure against them. The costs of rebuilding your home typically increase from year to year. The amount of homeowner’s insurance coverage you have now may not cover the cost to rebuild your home at today’s prices.If you haven’t updated your coverage recently, you could be under insured.

Keep in mind, protect your investment.Only you can assure your home will maintain it’s integrity and value. Stay on top of maintenance and check to make sure you protect you and your family. Need help, Just ask.

Yearly home maintenance

I know, home maintenance, not your favorite topic. But, without it, it becomes house maintenance or worse, the banks issue. Actually, home maintenance shouldn’t be a chore, rather a way to mindlessly block out the normal day to day. Don’t look at it as a challenge but a goal. Most homes here in sunny southwest Florida are a one story ranch style with not more than 10′ to the gutter. Others may need more ladder and nerve , otherwise, maintenance covered here is the same.

If you had the mindset to have a home inspection and your report is still available, use it. The inspection has every aspect covered and, if you go section to section you can spot trouble areas before they get worse or perform the basic maintenance needed at that time. A visual inspection can save you time and money in the long run. Neglect costs money, isn’t your time valuable?

A typical 30 minute walk around the house inspection can make you aware of potential failures just by sight. Many are cosmetic, some only by sound and still others that just fail. You can usually spot the warning signs of failure before deficiencies make the checklist.

  • Look at your roof and roof components such as vent pipes and ridge vents
  • Check your trim boards and soffits, look for loose damaged sections
  • Exterior walls, chalky paint, damaged siding, cracked stucco, dirty surfaces
  • Windows, doors and trim. Any damaged glass, rusty doors, missing caulking?
  • Gutters and downspouts, clean and seal. Extend diverters where needed
  • Landscaping, cut and remove if close to structure. Trees 20′ and bushes 2′ away from structure which will help keep moisture away from home.
  • Grading. If water is pooling against structure, regarding and more drainage is needed
  • Driveways/walkways/patio surfaces. Clean all surfaces, seal cracks or reset pavers
  • Screen cages or enclosures. Check anchor bolts and screening, replace as needed
  • Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical components, if visual looks like it needs attention, consult a licensed professional for advise on repair or replacements.
  • Pools, seawalls, docks and decks all require annual maintenance. Check each component and repair/replace as needed
  • Pests such as ants, termites, rodents and bees can all be spotted and deterred if caught in the early stages.

Keeping the exterior will help ensure the interior will stay dry and comfortable for many years. As always, many components of your home will require proper permits and/or a Licensed contractor to perform some of your annual maintenance. Pay a little today or pay a lot later, your choice.

Questions to ask your Home Inspector

How does it work?

Most Inspectors will show you where the main components are and how to operate them. Typical items such as the main water shut off valve and the main electrical shut off and breaker panel. HVAC systems require maintenance as well as the plumbing and roof systems. Your inspector can point out these items and explain typical maintenance requirements.

Is it really as old or bad as it looks?

Inspections are based on facts. If it looks old, it probably is. Many mechanical components in homes have data plates or tags that may or may not be readable or legible. Now it becomes the “opinion” of the inspector as to its age. What may look like a major costly repair to you could be just a cosmetic issue in the inspectors mind. Many items have life expectancies and your inspector may call it out just based on age, sometimes, that straightforwardness makes it hard for you, the home’s buyer, to understand what a big deal is and what so much isn’t. All this information is what you need to know whether to move forward with the deal, whether to renegotiate and what to plan ahead for.

Can you show me?

During the inspection your inspector will be busy collecting data, crawling through spaces and doing laps around the perimeter. You take this time to visualize where your new sofa will go and wonder will it be too big for this room. Soon you realize somewhere the inspector is inputting data and you had a question. If the inspector is finished he/she should take 10 or 15 minutes and walk you through the place, pointing out all the items they’ve noted need repair, maintenance or further inspection.  When you get the report, then, you’ll know what and where the various items belong. Also, choose an inspector who takes digital pictures and inserts them into each section of their reports!

If you were to buy this, what would you do first and how soon?

Our job as inspectors is to point out all items in need of upgrade or repair to include maintenance and routine time lines for future inspections and possible failures.

But, no home is perfect.  What should you do if something is at the end of its useful life? My opinion may be “Do nothing until it breaks”. That could be today or 6 months from now. Point is, we can’t predict a failure, but we can prepare. We can give you a better understanding of what does and doesn’t need to be repaired, how to repair in order of importance, and how a home warranty can be a big help during the buying process to protect your money in the long run.

Can you refer me to someone to fix it?

Most home inspectors will probably tell you that you can fix some things yourself. This may help minimize the laundry list of repairs at the end of an inspection report to know that a number of them are really DIY-type.  Even uncomfortable Buyers feel empowered to either (a) watch a few YouTube videos that show them how it’s done, or (b) hire a handyperson to do these small fixes, knowing they shouldn’t be too costly.

And even on the larger repairs, your home inspector might be able to give you a few referrals to the plumbers, electricians or roofers you’ll need to get bids from during your contingency period, which you may be able to use to negotiate with your home’s seller, and to get the work done after you own the place. And same goes for any further inspections they recommend – if neither you nor your agent knows a specialist, ask your home inspector for a few referrals.

 

When do I need a Home Inspector

When do I need a Home Inspector? Do some research. While you may have already decided on looking for a new home, why not start your search for a home inspector as well. Referrals work well, I still recommend checking credentials as well as experience. If you can not get a referral, many sites offer services you may need and, they already did your homework and checked the credentials.

If your buying a home, once you have reached an accepted offer, you can now get your inspection scheduled. Most contracts give you a 10 day inspection window where others may only have 7 days. Check with your Realtor agent.

Pest inspections or Wood Destroying Organism Inspections may be required by your lender.

If you need one of three insurance inspections as per requirement, before  a new policy or renewal, contact an inspector right away to get on the schedule. Most inspection companies can accommodate insurance inspections within 48 hours. These inspections are as listed; Wind Mitigation Verification reports, Four Point Insurance Inspections and Roof Certification reports. All must be performed by a qualified Licensed Inspector on approved forms.

Anyone wishing to put their home on the market would benefit from a pre sale inspection. A pre sale would give you the edge, knowing what the issues are before listing. Many items found during a pre sale inspection could be corrected and minimize the repairs or conditional requests from potential buyers. Most buyers who purchase a home with a pre sale inspection will waive the inspection period, resulting in a quicker sale.

11 month warranty inspections can be ordered within the 11th month. These inspections cover all aspects of the home 11 months after build to avoid an out of warranty issue.

 

4 Point Insurance Inspection

What is a 4 point Insurance Inspection?

Usually, a four point will be required if the home is 25 years or older, regardless if it’s a new policy or one that may be up for renewal.

What the Inspection Covers

This type of inspection covers four basic areas: Heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC, Electrical, plumbing, and roof. Any of these components could be a potential source of a home owner’s insurance claim. If they’re in good condition, the insurer can feel more confident about issuing a policy. Otherwise, the Insurer can request failed components be updated prior to issuing the new policy.

What can be a red flag during a four point inspection?

Over the years, building techniques and materials have changed. What was once a new and innovative product 25 years ago may now be todays problems.

What is a 4 point Insurance Inspection?

This type of inspection covers four basic areas: Heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC, Electrical, plumbing, and roof. Any of these components could be a potential source of a home owner’s insurance claim. If they’re in good condition, the insurer can feel more confident about issuing a policy. Otherwise, the Insurer can request failed components be updated prior to issuing the new policy.

What can be a red flag during a four point inspection?

Over the years, building techniques and materials have changed. What was once a new and innovative product 25 years ago, may now be today’s issues.

HVAC Systems; Older systems may still be in use but not energy efficient. Many HVAC systems will last 15 to 20 years. What I find is the a/c component was replaced but the air handler was never serviced or upgraded.

PLUMBING; Polybutylene, usually a gray or white plastic is a form of plastic resin that was used in the manufacture of water supplies from 1978 to 1995. A series of reports have suggested that increased use of choloramines inhibit corrosion to not only the polymers in the plastic but to the metal connections as well. It isn’t inherently bad. It does not make you 100% uninsurable. It will not definitely fail. It does, however, put a homeowner at a potentially higher risk for serious plumbing leaks.

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM; Most homes today are up to date and have approved panels and wiring. This is not the case when it comes to some specific panels and manufacturers.

Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) was one of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker panels in North America from the 1950s to the 1980s. Millions of their panels were installed in homes across the country. Yet, as the years passed, electricians and home inspectors often found Federal Pacific Electric panels failed to provide proper protection to homeowners and their families. Experts now say that FPE panels can appear to work fine for years, but after one over current or short circuit, they can overheat and become fire hazards. I advise upgrading.

ROOFING; There are many options for roofing. Many types have a life expectancy averaging 25 to 40 years. Most problems associated with inspecting for a four point is that the roof has not been updated and many have reached the life expectancy. Here are some life expectancies;

asphalt shingle (3 tab) = 15 to 25 years
asphalt shingle (architectural) = 20 to 40 years
roll roofing = less than 10 years
built-up roofing = 10 to 20 years
single-ply membrane roofing = 10 to 20 years
metal roofing (shingle and sheet) 25 to 50 years
clay and cement tiles = 25 to 50 years