How to Safely Document Storm Damage

Storms can cause a great deal of damage to your home, as well as create emotional and financial chaos for you and your family.

Hail damage create leaks and cracks, and later lead to cracked and chipped siding. Wind damage can lift the shingles on your roof and cause cracks. It can also push weak or dead trees into your roof, punching a (very expensive) hole into your home. Water damage can affect every area of your home and cause certain health hazards such as mold and mildew.

None of that stress compares, however, to the stress of dealing with a windstorm damage claim. Where do you start? How do you make sure all the damage is accounted for?

We’ll tell you!

Today, our blog dives into the simple and practical steps for documenting home damage after any disaster. By following our guide to the end, you’ll have a thorough and organized list of information about everything the storm touched in your house.

Here’s how to do it.

Start with One Room & Don’t Move On Until You’re Finished

To safely document storm damage, taking an organize approach will ensure success. For example, start with one room at a time. Assess each room one at a time, and do not go to another room until you are sure that you have covered everything in that room.

This also gives you clear stopping points if you’re interrupted or need to document over the course of a couple days. Going room-by-room ensures that you’re not accidentally skipping a major problem.

Keep a Detailed List

Create a list that documents everything you observed after the storm. Keep this list with you as you go from room to room. On this list, include what is in the room and a description of the damages. Keep your list, and anything relevant to the storm, in a file folder. In addition, keep your insurance claim form and bills from the storm all together in the folder.

Caution: don’t throw away any damaged items before talking with your insurance company first. Add the items to your list, photograph them, and leave them until your insurance company has verified the damage. Otherwise, you may not have proof if they dispute it later.

Take Photos

After writing down each item/instance of damage, take photos. Photos are necessary for proving the claim and will show exactly the damages that occurred from the storm. Save these photos in an easy-to-access location, and make sure it’s backed up to an external hard drive or cloud-based account.

File a Claim with Your Insurance Company

The next step is to file a claim with your insurance company. This should be done quickly because many insurance companies help those who contact them first. Let your insurance provider know in detail the extent of the damage and that you have an inventory of your possessions.

By documenting your home piece-by-piece, you’ll be able to tackle the project with less stress and fewer distractions. It’s not only easier on you, but it creates a better, more thorough document at the end.

We hope you find this  guide helpful, and good luck with your future projects!

 

The Best Home Improvement Projects for Your Dollar

Many people mistakenly think that whatever project they complete on their home will increase the selling price of the home, but this is not always the case.

When remodeling or repairing your home, there are certain projects that are much more worthy of your paycheck than others. For savvy homeowners, they don’t just want a project that will make their home look better—they want a project that will pay for itself over time. Unfortunately, homeowners don’t realize that a flashy home improvement project is not the same as a financially-sound one.

Getting a Gazebo vs. Clearing the Weeds

A homeowner can spend $10,000 on high-end landscaping—complete with a water garden and a gazebo—and see no appreciable increase in the value of the home. This can be especially true if it is in an area where these things would not be of any interest to a potential buyer. While it can beautify the landscaping and be enjoyable for the homeowner, it probably offers little value to the home itself.

By contrast, clearing the front yard of overgrowth and adding beautifying plants could cost as little as $1,500 when complete. If the yard has some overgrowth and had not been maintained from a previous owner, homeowners can see a return of twice the cost of the finished project. In this case, a $1,500 investment could reap a $3,000 increase in value.

Thinking Like a Bank

Anytime you improve a home, it is wisest to look at what projects will be an investment that a future buyer (and a bank) would consider to be something of universal appeal.

In general, the best types of home improvement projects include:

  • Updating appliances
  • Remodeling bathrooms
  • Building room additions
  • Finished basements
  • Replacing old roofing or siding
  • Remodeling and updating kitchens
  • Replacing outdated or damaged flooring
  • Building a garage
  • Basic landscape beautification
  • Driveway repair and resealing

By contrast, projects that do not typically add value to a home and are not cost-effective include:

  • Stylistic landscaping projects
  • Swimming pools
  • Unusual wall or flooring choices
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Fancy recessed lighting
  • Exterior gazebos and sheds

When researching what home improvement projects to invest in, always start with basic improvements. These should consist of broad-appeal beautifications that anyone would enjoy, instead of things that are more suited to your taste. Not everyone wants exotic flowers in their garden path, but everyone wants updated plumbing and insulation.

If homeowners follow this simple rule, they can be confident that their investment will pay off in the future and increase their home’s value.

How Homes Protect My Retirement Account (& My Future)

Owning your home is a wonderful investment. In addition to having the many years of enjoyment to live and thrive in a home, people that own their own homes have the benefit of knowing that the money they put into their home is also a sound financial investment.

But not all people who own homes see an increase in the value of their home. There are critical reasons why homes do not always appreciate in value.

For a home to see a value increase over a period of years, there are a few important things that must be considered. The location of a home is a critical component of the property’s value. If a home is in an area that later becomes urban, the value of that home is likely to decrease.

By contrast, if a home is located in an area that later becomes a high-end housing development than the property owner will likely experience a higher than normal appreciation in property value.

The Secret to a Secure Home (& Secure Retirement)

The greatest way to protect the value of your home and experience a good solid value appreciation is through taking good care of the home. Most homes in decent neighborhoods will see a sizable appreciation over time. If the home is maintained well with upgrades to the home being done over the years it is occupied, the value should increase.

The best way to ensure the investment of your home stays on solid ground, there are important areas of the home should be maintained and updated.

The following projects ensure home value appreciation for your retirement years:

  • Home care projects
  • Home maintenance
  • Updating the kitchen
  • Updating the bathrooms
  • Replacing flooring as necessary
  • Maintaining the roof
  • Maintaining the electrical and plumbing
  • Updating the painting and wallpaper as necessary
  • Adding to the square footage of the home
  • Maintaining and improving the house’s siding
  • Maintaining and improving the curbside landscaping

Each of these focus areas are critical components to ensure that the value of your home remains intact and grows as you enter your retirement years. Doing this will ensure that your home will not only be a great place to live, but will be a great investment in your future as well.

How Home Warranties Differ from Homeowner’s Insurance

Are you thinking about getting a home warranty? In celebration of National Home Warranty Day, we’re going to be going over how home warranties differ from homeowners’ insurance to help lead you in the right direction.

What you need to know about homeowners’ insurance:

Homeowners’ insurance is what will cover you in the event of accidental damage that occurs to your home and personal belongings resulting from fires, storms, theft, and even possibly natural disasters.

The four main areas covered under homeowners insurance:

  • Loss or damage
  • Personal property in case of theft
  • The interior and exterior of your home
  • General liability that may surface when a person is injured while on your property

In general, it is mandatory to have homeowners’ insurance, and it is usually required by a bank prior to obtaining a mortgage on your home. The average annual cost can range from $300 to $1,000, and all policies provide a deductible.

What you need to know about home warranties:

A home warranty is a service contract that will cover you in situations where your appliances or system components stop working properly because of wear and tear or age.

Components covered by a home warranty include:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Washer and dryer
  • Pool and spa

Unlike homeowners’ insurance, home warranties are not required to obtain a mortgage for your home. Contract terms for home warranties typically last 12 months and are usually around $75 per month for coverage on systems and appliances. Although having homeowners insurance isn’t required, it is one of the smartest purchases you can make for your home because it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

If you have appliances that are high-value (or a plumbing system prone to breaking down), warranties are a way of regulating your budget to account for life’s big disasters.

And who doesn’t want a more predictable budget?

Benefits of Modern Roofs vs. Roofs from 100 Years Ago

The roof of your home is one of the most important features of any home. If you want a new roof, or you want to renovate the one you have, you need to understand the different roofing materials. Keep in mind that this is a decision that will affect your home and those living in it for years to come. New roofing is a high-value but expensive investment, so take your time before making a commitment.

Over the years, different materials have been used to roof houses. What are the benefits of the materials used to roof today over those used a century ago? Here are how today’s roofing materials have the edge over older roofing materials.

Uniqueness

About one century ago, clay tiles were the premium choice for roofing “modern” homes. Clay tiles were preferred over other materials because they were fireproof. This gave home owners some comfort. However all the roofs looked similar, so it was monotonous to look at. In addition, clay tiles were prone to shattering and requiring replacement every few years.

Today, there are various roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, wood shingles, and others. They all come in different colors as well as types, giving homeowner a choice of what they prefer.

Lightweight

Materials used in the past were quite heavy. The building structure must have been able to handle the weight of the roof. They therefore had to spend more money ensuring that their building was stable and could handle the weight or they risked crumbling of the roof.

Today’s roofing materials are quite light. For example, take an asphalt roof—which weighs anywhere between 225 to 325 pounds per square.

Durability

A century ago, they did not have the technology to manufacture tiles that were as durable as today’s options. They used to use materials that were brittle and more likely to need replacing within a few years. Today, there are many roofing materials that homeowners can use.

You are not limited to just one kind of roof—whatever you’re looking for, JM Roofing & Siding is happy to help you create a beautiful and long-lasting result.

The Factors That Will Drive Your Remodel’s Cost Up (or Down)

When a homeowner finishes a remodel, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings they’ll ever experience. At the same time, remodeling can be a drain on us—both physically and financially. Common issues like delays, the cost of equipment, and structural changes will drive the cost of your remodel through the roof (so to speak).

If you want to make sure your project stays within your means, here’s what you need to do:

#1: Research Research Research!

First and foremost, do your research! Know exactly what you want before lifting a hammer, and stick to it! Research the various qualities of products involved and select the best you can afford. Shop around for the highest-value pricing (which doesn’t mean “most expensive”). Talk to more than one vendor to see if any are willing to make deals on cost, and be very cautious when you hear the words “refurbished.”

Occasionally, you can get lucky and find a great product, but it may not have a warranty. Be sure if you purchase “as-is” that you are comfortable with the cost of replacing it earlier than you expect. Take advantage of yearly sales (such as Black Friday sales) for major purchases, even if it means putting them in storage for a while until needed.

However, don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Making sure you’re only buying what you need is why you’ll want to know exactly what you want before you start.

#2: Build a Specific Budget

Second, compartmentalize your spending based on when each phase of the remodeling is to be done. When remodeling the kitchen in your home, normally the first stage in rebuilding will be your cabinetry, second will be appliances, and the last stage will include new flooring. Set up your budget based on the quality you want at each stage.

#3: Keep the Budget Balanced

If you overspend in one area, make sure you cut back in the next. In our experience, this is where most people stress out. They opted for custom cabinets instead of pre-made, which is what was budgeted. Then they chose high end appliances for their kitchen after having budgeted for mid-quality.

They were so pleased with how it looked and wanted 3/4″ hardwood planks to finish it off—but could only afford laminate. If you overspend throughout, by this point you have only two choices: opt for overspending altogether or buy inferior quality for your last items. Neither choice will make you happy.

If you can do these three things, you’ll finish your project with “complete” satisfaction. Stay focused and good luck!

How Often Do I Need to Replace the Insulation in My Attic?

If you notice your heating or cooling bill skyrocketing, it may be time for you to change your attic insulation. There are a few different signs that tell it’s time to have your insulation replaced.

Standard insulation starts to degrade and start peeling from walls after about 15 years. If you have an older home, chances are the attic insulation is the same insulation that was installed when the house was built.

Insulation should also be replaced, in some cases sooner than 15 years, if it is no longer doing its job properly. You’ll know it needs to be replaced if there are insulation leaks or if it is peeling from the walls.

Signs My Attic Insulation Needs to Be Replaced

If you don’t know how old your attic insulation is, there are a few signs that can tell you it is time to have your insulation replaced.

  • Issues With Heating Or Cooling – If you have to blast the heater or the AC at all times to keep your house at comfortable temperatures, this is a good sign that the insulation is failing to trap the cold or hot air and should be replaced.
  • Drafts – If you notice cool drafts, this means your insulation isn’t properly keeping the air outside from entering the house and needs to be replaced.
  • Mold or Wet Insulation – If your insulation is continually damp or you have noticed mold on your insulation, you should have the insulation removed, your attic inspected and repaired, and then new insulation installed.

Types of Insulation

There are a few different types of insulation you can choose from.

  • Batt Insulation – This is probably the most common type of insulation. It is made from fiberglass or natural fibers and reliably captures (or keeps out) heat.
  • Spray Foam Insulation – Spray foam insulation is insulation that is sprayed into an area and then expands to fill the area. It is very effective at insulating, especially if you are insulating hard-to-reach areas.
  • Reflective Insulation – This type of insulation reflects heat or cold and is usually made from reflective materials or cardboard.

If your roofing is allowing cold air in or allowing warm air to escape, JM Roofing & Siding is happy to check out your roof and diagnose the problem. Contact us today for a consultation on your home.

The Early Warning Signs of a Crumbling Foundation

Even the sturdiest foundations need some TLC. The rock upon which your house is built is one of the sturdiest parts of residential construction. While paint, plumbing, or roof shingles are meant to last 10 years at most, a good foundation will last for 20, 30, or 40 years at least. Even so, your foundation requires maintenance and attention if you want your home to keep it’s value!

The signs of an aging or crumbling foundation are easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. However, today’s blog is for those who are paying attention—who want their homes to last for decades (or want a high asking price when they sell).

Aging Foundations: What to Look For

The #1 enemy of your foundation is moisture. A leaky pipe or poor drainage can erode the strongest, sturdiest foundation in the world. If the Grand Canyon was made from the flow of water, then water can certainly destroy your foundation.

Signs of moisture (and other issues) include:

  • Being able to chip the foundation with a screwdriver
  • Cracks in ceramic flooring above a concrete surface
  • Misaligned doors that jam or fail to catch
  • Windows that no longer close or close incompletely
  • Puddles forming in your crawl space
  • Cracks in the walls coming up from the floor

Foundations should be straight, so your walls should not be leaning. If you use a level and find that your walls are sitting at an angle, your foundation may have shifted beneath your home. The foundation itself should be absolutely solid—if you can chip or alter it in any way with a hand tool, then the foundation is likely already eroded in other spots.

If you see signs of erosion, call a contractor as soon as possible! As a roofing and siding company, we’re more than happy to answer your questions and help you protect your home’s value.

How Much You Need to Budget for Home Maintenance

Hands-down, the absolute best way to protect your home’s value is regular maintenance. Researchers have found that homes that received regular maintenance were able to add an additional 1% of their home’s value every year. On the other hand, homes that received little-to-no maintenance prematurely aged, taking 10% off of the value when it came time to sell.

Here’s the thing:

Maintenance costs add up, and maintenance by definition is not immediately urgent. Families all over the U.S. are burning their earnings and value because they’re fixing home emergencies instead of preventing them.

So what’s the big change you need to make in 2018?

You need to start a maintenance budget.

How Much You Need to Set Aside for Home Maintenance

There are three schools of thought about saving for home maintenance: the House Price rule, the Square Foot rule, and the Combo rule.

The House Price rule is simple: your annual maintenance budget should be 1% of what you paid. So if you paid $450,000 for your house, you should save $4,500 a year.

The Square Foot rule is also simple: your annual budget should be $1 for every square foot of your house. So if your house is 2,400 square feet, that’s $2,400 a year.

The Combination rule takes two steps because it’s the average of the two amounts above. So if you paid $450,000 for a 2,400-square foot home, your annual maintenance budget is $3,450. Keep in mind that no matter what rule you end up using, you’re not going to spend your budget every year. Instead, you’ll save it in a fund for when you need it.

Factors to Add to the Mix

Not all homes need the same amount of maintenance. Weather, climate, age—these all affect how much you’ll spend on repairs and upkeep. On top of the rules above, there are some factors you’ll need to consider (and add to your budget).

Add 10% to your annual budget for each of the following items that are true for your home:

  • Is in a floodplain or at the bottom of a hill
  • Is over 20 years old
  • Was not well-maintained by prior owners
  • Is in a place that reaches freezing temperatures
  • Is a single-family home (not a condo or duplex)

So if your home is local to us (Norwalk, CT), then you should already tack on an extra 10%. That would make the total annual budget for our imaginary home $3,755 (using the Combo rule).

If there’s one thing you should know from following JM Roofing & Siding, it’s that we care about protecting every home’s value. It’s not only good for you—it’s good for your neighbors and for the local economy. When your house wins, everyone wins.

A Short Guide to Maintaining Your Home’s Siding

Our mission is to help homeowners save money while increasing the value of their houses, so we want to help by equipping you to clean your siding. Just a few minutes of vigilance (and a couple hours of hard work) once a season will protect your home from damage and maintain its curb appeal! Learn how to clean and inspect your siding below.

How to Spot Siding Damage

The worst thing that can happen to your siding is moisture getting inside and behind it. The water (which isn’t visible at first) freezes in winter, expanding and damaging the joints and connections of the siding. Spotting the signs will help ensure that repairs can be made quickly (and cheaply).

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Cracked caulking
  • Expanded caulking pulling away from gaps
  • Wood: peeling paint and cracking boards/trim
  • Stucco: cracks and chips
  • Brick: deteriorating mortar

Once you’ve inspected your siding or had the necessary repairs completed, it’s time to clean.

How to Clean Your Siding for Cheap

Here’s what you’ll need to buy from the nearest hardware store:

  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Soft-bristle brush with a long handle

First, mix ½ a cup of trisodium phosphate with a gallon of warm water. Once soapy, you’re ready to go.

Second, mentally divide your siding into 10-foot sections. Focusing on one section at a time helps ensure that you’re cleaning thoroughly (and allows you to take breaks and pick up where you left off).

Third, dip the brush and clean from the bottom to the top. Once done, move on to the next section (and repeat until finished).

How to Clean Mildew Off Your Siding

Mildew looks like black, spotted stains that won’t go away no matter how hard you scrub. To see if it’s mildew, dip a cotton ball in some watered-down bleach. If the black spot disappears after touching it with the bleach, it’s mildew.

Mix four parts water to one part bleach, put on a mask and gloves, and scrub the mildew with the soft-bristled brush. Make sure you don’t get the bleach mixture near any plants you want to keep.

With this short guide, you’ll be on your way to protecting your home’s value and appearance for years to come! If you have any questions, call a roofing expert at JM Roofing & Siding today: (203) 299-0716.