Florida Sinkhole Dangers and Signs of a Sinkhole

Florida Sinkhole Dangers and Signs of a Sinkhole

Last Friday, a sinkhole swallowed two Florida homes and a boat. Like most sinkholes, this particular one started out relatively small and spread quickly. This sinkhole is considered the largest in at least 30 years in Pasco County and spans 250 feet in width and 50 feet in depth. So far, the impact and sheer sizeof this sinkhole has impacted 11 homes including a couple of septic tanks.

To date, Florida leads the nation in the amount of sinkholes, according to The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

One silver lining to this story is that no one was harmed or injured and the homes with the most damage reportedly had homeowners’ insurance policies.

Sinkholes can happen quickly but there are warning signs. Look for the following signs of a potential sinkhole:

  • Slanted foundations
  • Unexplained drainage from nearby ponds
  • Other sinkholes nearby
  • Trees that tend to lean or fall
  • Cracks in the interior walls that continue to widen
  • Dips that change or deep slopes in or around your house

There are many other signs that may be dismissed because they seem like normal wear and tear of a home. Still, if you see one or more of these signs don’t continue to dismiss it and be sure to double check your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you are covered for sinkholes.

How to Plan a Successful Yard or Garage Sale

14051701_10210342720233031_30152940379798167_n

They say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and that clique couldn’t be any truer when it comes to yard sales. So, are you ready to earn a little spending money for an upcoming vacation this summer and tired of the clutter that requires acrobatic skills to maneuver?

Currently, the weather and timing are right for a successful yard or garage sale. We’ve put together some tips to help you maximize getting your home organized and your earnings.

If you are lucky enough to have a garage, I highly recommend setting up shop inside your garage so that you can literally open for business over the whole weekend.

Let’s get started with these tips!

*Plan your dates.   You will want to decide how much stuff you want to sell and whether you want to advertise your sale the entire weekend. Saturdays are the most popular day to hold a garage sale so may decide to just have it for one day.  Check the weather and make sure it’s not ridiculously hot or the forecast indicates it will be filled with non-stop thunderstorms and rain all day.

*Create a plan of attack for decluttering and what you will be selling.   Personally, I like to tackle this Herculean task by going room to room. Set aside a pile to keep, to throw away and to sell. For instance, toss out broken toys and severely stained clothing.

*Order the necessary permits for your yard/garage sale and be sure to ask if the permit also includes any free ad space.   Then, place your ad in the newspaper for your upcoming sale with a start date(s) and time. Most bargain hunters like to start early in the day to try not to make it a start time later than 8:30am. Additionally, don’t waste your time going past the hour of 1:30 pm. Don’t forget to

*Organize your goods to sell.   It’s a good idea to use tables but clean blankets work just as well. Just make sure you have your electronics, clothing, kitchenware, gardening items, books, toys, etc.. in separate sections. Pro tip: Put out toys and stuffed toys where they will catch the eye of children and hot times such as furniture, electronics or lawn mower where anyone driving by will see it and stop.

*Supplies.   Neon poster boards, balloons, ribbons, neon pricing stickers and large black magic markers are standard staples. Create pricing stickers for your items so that you can maximize your sales and avoid haggling on certain items. Especially, the big ticket items such as furniture. Display your poster boards with large letters and attach balloons. Again, certain neighborhoods have rules so be sure and check first before hanging any signs. You will want a sign leading them from the busiest intersection to your house and at least three more with arrows to your home.

*Last-minute prep.   Sometime the morning of or the night before, make sure you have plenty of change and single-dollar bills. Keep the money close in a money back or fanny pack or use a lock box to that you can protect your till. You will also want to hang your yard sale signs the morning of your sale approximately one hour before it kicks off.

Why your Homeowners Insurance Might be Higher

trampoline-tricks

If you are paying a higher rate for your homeowners insurance policy these factors might be the reason.

Trampolines, Tree Houses Pools:    Also referred to as “attractive nuisances” by insurance agents, they are also a liability and can lead to injury.  Additionally, the liability extends to injuries by people outside of your home. For instance, if someone gets hurt on while jumping on your trampoline, the homeowner is liable. Netting around trampolines and pool fences that are at least 4-feet high can help curb injuries.

Claim history:    The amount of claims and the amount of those claims can impact your homeowners insurance policy rates as well as the risk of having your policy not renewed.

Wood-burning stoves:    For obvious reasons of fire risk with the use of a wood-burning stove, your homeowners policy can get dinged with a higher rate. However, if you any documentation that you can present that would show the age, condition and a licensed contractor that built it, you can get your rate lowered. Make sure that your smoke detectors are in good working order.

Dog Breeds:    Your pooch might be the reason your homeowners insurance rate might be higher. Many insurance companies have a list of dog breeds that are considered dangerous and more aggressive. In fact, some insurance companies will deny coverage based on fidos breed. The breeds that are most commonly blacklisted include: Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Presa Canarios, Chows, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, Wolf-hybrids, Mastiffs, Cane Corsos, Great Danes, Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.

Looking to lower your homeowners insurance? Check out these tips to get started.

Easy Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

techumbre-25761281825689hLnT

It’s official: Spring is here and while it might not be in the air just yet, it’s a good time to for Florida homeowners to prep their yards for the summer months.

Here are some tips to get ready:

-Get your A/C units inspected, checked and if needed, cleaned. Reach out to a certified heating and cooling contractor. Most reputable HVAC companies offer deals around $80 -100 bucks to clean and make sure your A/C unit is ready for the Florida summer heat.

-Inspect outdoor hoses and outdoor faucets for any damage done during the winter. Florida has experienced some wonky temperatures including some freeze and freeze warnings. If hoses show any signs of rot replace or repair and check faucets for damage by putting your thumb over the opening while water is running. If you are able to stop water flow—your pipes might have sustained some damage.

-Look for any cracks in concrete in and around your home. Exterior slabs with any cracks should be filled in with a silicone caulk of a filler made for concrete. It’s also a good idea to power-wash any concrete cracked or not and seal to prevent any future damage. FYI: these tips DO NOT apply to pool decks.

-Clean and remove all debris from gutters. Repair any leaks or re-attach any gutters that have detached from the home. Downspouts should be pointed away from the foundation of your home as well.

Have your roof shingles or tiles examined and repaired by a certified and reputable roofing company. Summer heat in Florida shows no mercy, so if you are a Florida homeowner its especially important to make sure your roof is up for the challenge. If you have a skylight, make sure there are no potential leaks that could pop up during May’s showers.

Lower Your Homeowners Insurance With These Tips

254-1213310305kimo

It is still possible to lower your Florida homeowners insurance premiums even as rates have increased in some states.

Here is a list of some simple ways to lower your homeowners premiums that you may not know.

-Increase your deductible.  This works in a similar way to auto insurance. The higher the deductible, the lower your premiums will be. However, this being a gamble, you should assess your risk level as well. Consult with an insurance agent to find out if your home is at a higher risk of loss.

-Stay loyal.  Constantly switching from one carrier or agent to another can actually raise your homeowners insurance premiums. This is not to say that you shouldn’t comparison shop, but jumping ship could cost you more in the end. In fact, ask your insurance agent for additional discounts that you may qualify for.

-Bundle up.  It pays to bundle your insurance policies. Add your auto insurance under the same provider to get a deeper discount. It’s not just easier to your insurance carrier to manage, but allows them to assess your risk and track all losses.

-Lock and key.  How old are your door locks? Simple expenses that cost very little but can add up to a savings of anywhere from 2% to 4% include installing 3 brand-name locks on exterior doors and adding a home security system. The locks are a good place to start. A good brand name to go with is Schlage.

-Location, location, location.  Believe it or not, proximity to a fire hydrant or fire station factors into homeowners insurance discounts. Again, this is why you need to ask your insurance agent for eligible discounts.

Florida Among Top 10 Environmental Risk Zip Codes

abandoned-tanks

Recent data released by Environmental Hazards Housing Risk Index and conducted by ATTOM Data Solutions found that 10 zip codes in the United States were susceptible to four major environmental hazards.

Those hazards include: Poor air quality, polluters, brownfileds and Superfunds. If you’ve never heard of brownfield sites they are essentially areas where the presence of pollutants or hazardous substances have been found. The biggest difference between brownfield sites and Sunperfund sites are that Superfunds are typically abandoned and where toxic pollutants have been located.

The recently-released data impacts approximately 17.3 million single family homes including condos. These homes account for a whopping $ 4.9 TRILLION in approximate market value.

Based on risk factors and the aforementioned four hazards a list was complied of the top 10 environmental risk codes. Florida homeowners should take note that Tampa made the list at number 10.

Top 10 Environmental Risk Zip Codes:

1. Denver, Colorado: 8021

2. San Bernardino, California: 9240

3. Curtis Bay, Maryland: 21226

4. Santa Fe Springs, California: 9067

5. Fresno, California: 93725

6. Niagara Falls, New York:1430

7. Saint Louis, Missouri: 63133

8. Mira Loma, California: 9175

9. Hamburg, Pennsylvania: 19526

10. Tampa, Florida: 33619

Window Safety and Buying Tips for Homeowners

new-home-construction-1445546485bip

Windows are not the just for aesthetics, they help thwart burglaries, reduce accidents and lower the energy costs in your home. We’ve compiled a list of knowing when, how and what kind of windows a homeowner should buy.

Windows play an important role in heating and cooling and homeowners shouldn’t waste any time replacing them when they become less effective. First, how old are your windows? If they are more than 15 years old, it might be time to take a look at replacing them. It doesn’t matter the brand of windows or if they were constructed of kryptonite windows can only stand the elements for 20 years—tops.

It’s important to buy windows based on weather conditions where you live. Most importantly, your windows need to do their job of insulating your home. For instance, if you are a Florida homeowner living near hurricane winds, your windows need to also weather the storm.

Remember those scenes in older movies where a kids hits a baseball and shatters the window?  Well, laminated windows are not bulletproof, but they will help prevent the glass from shattering and spreading pieces of glass from going everywhere. Instead, the lining will hold the shards of broken glass and shatter in place. The technology is very similar if not the same for car windshields.

Low E glass or double pane windows will help prevent UV rays from heating up the inside of your home. Oh, and fading the carpet or curtains from sun damage.

For floors upstairs, pop for double hung windows so that they can be opened at the top and closed at the bottom of the sash. This will keep pets and children from falling out of a window.

Lastly, if you do replace your windows, look into rebates from your energy or power company. Rebates and the amount offered vary by state and energy providers.