What You May Not Know about Fire Insurance

Fire caused by nature, or a natural pest like squirrels chewing through wires, or even a pack of teenage boys carefully ignoring warning labels on fireworks, is never pleasant. It takes on a life of own and can be extremely dangerous to life and property. Fire is considered in the insurance industry as a “peril.” With the extensive menu of insurance options available to homeowners and renters, make sure that your policy covers fire damage as a peril or you might have trouble getting the company to pay the claim.

Also note that in addition to your living quarters, fire insurance policies can cover buildings other than your main dwelling. If you have an “other structures” clause, you can have fire insurance coverage for buildings such as garages, barns, pool houses, or storage facilities.

Help Yourself and Your Policy

These simple installations might help you qualify for a discount as well as protect you from severe loss:

  • smoke detectors
  • carbon monoxide detectors
  • a sprinkler system
  • heat detectors
  • fire escapes
  • fire extinguishers
  • storage of flammable substances outside the home

A simple way to help protect your valuables is to have appraisals (in a fireproof safe, or off-site) for high-ticket items like jewelry or artwork. If you don’t have an itemized list, you could receive a much lower payout for the insurance company’s standard value of such belongings. Insurance companies will only pay so much, and often have caps or limits, on replacement values for luxury items.

Keep paying your insurance premiums even after a fire. Although this seems counterintuitive, paying to keep coverage current will cover anything related to the incident, including pets. So, if you’re staying somewhere else while the property is being repaired or rebuilt, your insurance will cover any incidentals while in transition, for example, a kennel for Max. You can even use the policy to cover the place where you are staying for liability purposes.

Included in “incidentals” is temporary housing and essentials. If clothing and necessary items like toothbrushes were destroyed, you can get an advance from your insurance company to cover those types of expenses. Keep every receipt for your, and their records.

Replace or Cashout

Actual cash value (ACV) can differ significantly from replacement value. Actual Cash Value is related to market value, the amount a buyer would have paid for the property had the home not been destroyed.

Replacement value is probably the best route to take, vs. ACV, as it makes the property as it was before. ACV is subject to the fair market value of the home, which is based on comparables in the area. There could be a considerable gap between fair market and the value of replacing all the home’s contents.

Create a Welcoming Outdoor Space with These 6 Steps

The exterior of your home is what visitors see first; it’s the key to the much-important first impression. Why not make it shine just as much as the interior? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a welcoming outdoor space both in the front of your home and in the back.

With some DIY work and simple tools, you can create an inviting outdoor space that has your family – and your guests – feeling welcomed. Here are 6 steps you can take this weekend to spruce up these areas:

Maintenance. One of the best ways you can make guests and your family feel comfortable is by having a clean yard, free of debris, trash and obstacles. This makes people feel as though your outdoor spaces are extensions of your indoor living areas. Maintenance is particularly important in creating the best first impression. Show that you care for your home by ensuring it’s kept tidy, neat and welcoming!

Seating areas. An outdoor rocking chair or even a simple bench provides a place to sit and watch the sunset, have a glass of tea with a neighbor or even wave to people passing by. Maybe you create an outdoor seating area complete with firepit in the backyard. Doing so can create a welcoming atmosphere where guests feel they can relax and kick back.

Lighting. A dark yard area is not somewhere people will venture. A backyard full of soft nighttime lighting and walkways that are well-lit and visible is an open invitation for visitors. What’s more, lighting can add a wealth of ambiance to a backyard and should also be considered for lighting up your front door or street number so guest can find you easily.

Yard décor. Do you cheer for a particular football team or enjoy celebrating holidays? If your HOA permits, try some simple lawn decorations in the front yard and definitely in your back yard. These can provide great conversation starters as well as showcase a common bond you may have with others in your neighborhood.

A welcome sign. As simple as that may seem, a sign that welcomes people to your yard, front or back and the lack of a scary dog bark or other type of deterrent, gives the impression you want to be hospitable.

A backyard oasis. Even if all you have is a grill and two chairs, use them. Invite friends and family over to your home for a cook-out and keep it simple. Drag a cooler out to the patio, put up an inexpensive patio umbrella and gather your friends and family for a fun time.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to achieve these simple goals. Use what you have to make others feel welcome and try projects on your own. These are just some of the ways that you can make your home inviting. And, if you’re selling your home – these are great ways to show potential buyers how welcoming your home can be!

3 Top-Priority Home Improvement Projects

Olympic-paintTackling home improvement projects can make the experience of homeownership even more personal and rewarding. Many of us have grand plans for DIY projects, only to put them off for months, and even years, as we try to find the money and time. So if dollars and hours are strictly budgeted, we suggest you start with these.

There are a number of value-adding projects you can start right now – even in the first year of homeownership – that will pay dividends in the long run. Keep these projects in mind:

#1: Painting

It is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a dramatic change to the look and feel of your home: painting. Whether you are painting indoors, outdoors, or both, this is a DIY project you don’t have to put off because of the money.

However, you don’t want to skimp on the quality of the paint. You may end up spending hundreds of dollars on extra gallons of paint and primer just because the quality of the paint was lacking.

#2: Kitchen Updates

When it comes to kitchen updates, little changes go a long way. You may have planned an enormous renovation for the kitchen but after researching costs, you realize your plans exceed your bank balance. That’s fine. Take a look at these affordable DIY kitchen updates that you can start right now.

  • Refinish or Replace Cabinet Doors
  • Upgrade Using a Low Cost Granite Countertop
  • Add New Light Fixtures
  • Install New Shelving in Empty Nooks
  • Embellish the Walls with Backsplashes

#3: Easy Landscaping

Finally, why put off improving your landscaping? It doesn’t take a professional landscaper to tackle any of these easy landscaping jobs.

  • Lay fertilizer and grass seeds for a beautiful spring lawn.
  • Line your walkway with natural plants and flowers to accent your paths and driveway.
  • Install path lights around your garden, patio, and outdoor staircases to add safety and charm to your exteriors at night.
  • Make your front doorway more dramatic by adding elegant edging or fancy millwork around the archway.

These are just a few of the many projects that you can tackle during your first year of homeownership that will not only be rewarding personally, but can add value to your new purchase. Looking for more ideas? Your real estate agent can be a great source of information and can help you determine which projects add more value in your particular area.

5 DIY Projects Under $1000 You Can Do This Weekend

Your home is your refuge, and it’s important to take stock occasionally and consider some improvements, even if you are not planning to sell.

Home improvement projects don’t have to break the bank or take weeks of your time. There are plenty of projects you can handle yourself in just a weekend. Here are 5 suggestions that are all smart improvements and will not cost more than $1,000.

No. 1: Freshen Up Your Entry

If the first sight that meets your eyes when you arrive home is a tired front door with zero curb appeal, it’s time to freshen things up. An inviting entrance makes the whole house better, and it’s not hard to create.

Decide whether you need to replace your front door entirely. It’s often enough to apply fresh paint and hardware to your existing door. Consider putting your house number on the door, and adding an attractive, updated light fixture. Depending on the space, you might consider adding some flowers or greenery in an attractive planter, some comfortable seating, or a colorful doormat.

No. 2: Update Lighting

Changing out light fixtures is a quick DIY project that instantly improves the look of a room. Create a harmonious feel by selecting fixtures that complement each other and your home’s overall style.

For under-illuminated areas, add a handsome table or floor lamp. Overhead lighting can be too harsh for most rooms, so make your home comfortable and functional. If you’re on a really tight budget, try spray-painting some of your existing fixtures.

No. 3: Modernize the Bathroom

The bath is a great place to look for a quick project, and modernizing this small space can be easy and fast. Even if you need to hire a plumber for some jobs, you can still get a lot done for under $1,000.

You can put in a beautiful new vanity within this budget. Or maybe you just need to update the hardware. Put sleek stainless pulls on drawers and cabinets, add a wonderful new showerhead for your morning drench. These small improvements add up to big impact.

No. 4: Replace Kitchen Hardware

You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make in your kitchen by just changing the cabinet and drawer hardware. The cabinetry makes up the bulk of your kitchen space, so this change is really dramatic. You’ll find hardware in a huge range of styles and price points. Look at your favorite home store, or shop online.

No. 5: Add Storage

As George Carlin famously said, your home is a “place for your stuff.” So this weekend why not create an attractive place for your stuff? Adding shelving is a very doable DIY project that will come in well under $1,000. You can create your own shelves or buy them ready to hang for under $100. Then choose some of your favorite “stuff” and put it on display!

These improvements will make your home a little sweeter and give you a satisfying sense of accomplishment. Give yourself the gift of better surroundings, and enjoy your home more every day.