Friday, October 26, 2007

Safety Tips For Halloween

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This report brought to you by the Louison Team of RE/MAX Real Estate Services. All information is deemed reliable, however not guaranteed. Each RE/MAX Office is independently owned and operated. For more information on our services call Raymond at 714-925-5361. or visit our website at

Remodeling? Check Your Insurance!

You've hired an electrician, selected new tile, countertops and appliances, and have the home improvement loan in order. You're all set for your remodeling project -- or are you?

As you embark on any type of home improvement endeavor, be sure you make a call to your insurance agent to determine whether additional homeowner's insurance coverage is needed. And, if contractors or sub-contractors are involved, you'll want to be sure they have the proper insurance so you're not liable for any accidents or damages that may occur while they work on your project.

Check your insurance coverage BEFORE the work begins. If the new work is damaged or destroyed before additional coverage takes effect, you could be responsible for repair costs, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Home insurance policies typically require that you insure your home to at least 80 percent of its replacement cost. About 25 percent of remodeling projects result in a home value increase of at least 25 percent, according to the Independent Insurance Agents of America. In such cases homeowners insurance needs to be increased to provide adequate coverage.

Owners should be careful when it comes time to projecting renovation benefits. A renovation will usually increase the value of the home, though not always by the amount invested in the improvement. However, some improvements are justified because they create a better lifestyle, because they make a home safer, or because they make a home easier to sell. To see which improvements work best in your community, speak with local real estate experts.

Even smaller projects like decks and home offices -- which might include custom cabinets to include a desk, a computer work station, storage, as well as rewiring to accommodate faxes, computers, cable modems and DSL lines -- should be considered for increased insurance coverage.

The IIAA reports that nearly 60 percent of homeowners who recently made significant improvements have not updated their homeowner’s policies.
"The investment is considerable, in most cases more costly than a new car. While few people would question the need to adjust their auto insurance if they were to go from a compact car to a luxury sedan, many fail to see the importance of safeguarding a significant investment in their home," said Madelyn Flannagan, IIAA assistant vice president of research and development.

The IIAA and the III offer these insurance tips for your remodeling projects, including some suggestions for working with contractors:

* Contact your insurance agent before work begins on your project. He or she will help you determine appropriate coverage for your addition or improvement.

• Find out if the contractor has workers compensation, which covers any medial-related expenses and lost wages if any injuries are sustained.

• Request a copy of the contractor's certificate of insurance. Let your agent look over the certificate to determine if any exposure exists.

• Check with the Better Business Bureau. Follow up with references provided by the contractor.

• If your project involves tearing down walls or chimneys, review your policy for theft and weather damage liability.

• Establish responsibility for uninstalled appliances, cabinets and other items in advance. Your contractor will likely have a builder's risk policy or installation floater to cover such items.

• If you plan on leaving your home during the remodeling, check with your agent about terms of your policy. Vacancy clauses vary from company to company. In some cases, you may not be covered under your homeowners policy if you are gone for more than 30 days.

• If friends or family members will be helping out with the project, you may want to consider a personal liability umbrella policy to cover any potential medical bills.

• If you are working with a contractor who is subcontracting to builders, electricians, and plumbers, make sure they all have adequate coverage.

The need to stay on top of your insurance coverage with each new remodeling project doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. The National Association of Home Builders has reported the remodeling market to be upwards of $150 billion, fed by ongoing prime interest rate cuts and low mortgage rates, which fuel home improvement projects for those aiming to sell.

Meanwhile, another thing to keep in mind as you increase your homeowners coverage is that any additional furniture, home office equipment, electronics, grills for the deck, or other personal effects, should be added to your home inventory, and if necessary, additional contents coverage or a separate rider should be considered.

This Report Posted By:
Author Unknown!
The Louison Team,

Raymond & Stephanie Louison, Real Estate Consultants

REMAX Real Estate Services, Http://

Each office independently owned & operated

Raymond: 714-925-5361 or Stephanie: 714-307-2934

Toll-Free: 800-546-4821, ext. 2444

All information deemed reliable, however not guaranteed!

Conquering A Cluttered Garage

By Leona Laurie, Professional Organizer

It’s a great time of year to tackle your garage! The holidays are coming, which means an influx of guests will probably inspire you to hide your current clutter in the garage during their visits, and add the gifts they came with once they’re gone. Cleaning out the garage before December’s consumerism hits its peak will allow you more post-holiday storage, and may give you some terrific gift ideas.

A thorough garage cleaning is a one-weekend job: One day for purging and sorting, and one day for cleaning and putting everything back together. (Garage sale lovers can add a second weekend for a big blow-out.) The trick to getting it done in two days is having laid a good foundation. Before the big weekend, you may want to order a dumpster to be delivered by the morning of the purge. You can also call St. Vincent de Paul, or another charity which makes pick-ups, and arrange ahead of time for them to come the following week to collect any useable items you’re willing to part with. It would also be wise to check with OC Landfills to see where your nearest hazardous materials dumping site is.

You should also have your shelving and storage solutions figured out beforehand. Cabinets are not the only way to go, and they may not necessarily be best for you. Visual people often fare better with a combination of open shelving and clear containers. You can also use the “dead” space in your garage near the ceiling for seasonal or other infrequent-use items. Several companies make overhead storage bins for garages which can handle a lot of weight. The Uncluttered Garage ( sells Tuffrax overhead storage bins, which are made from 14 gauge industrial grade steel and hold up to 500 lbs.

As you’re packing things up to go back into the garage for long-term storage, resist the temptation to store things in cardboard! Storing things in cardboard is like throwing them away in slow motion- especially in the garage. Cardboard is vulnerable to moisture, mildew, mold, bugs, and rodents. Store your belongings off the floor in clear plastic or fire-safe containers to ensure that they’ll be worth reclaiming later. I recommend the clear plastic storage boxes with flat- not interlocking- lids available at Target or Wal-Mart.

The order of operations for the big project should follow this basic outline:

1. Empty garage onto driveway for sorting. Create an area under an overhang (or in a spot which can be tarped overnight) for items you’re definitely keeping, and have trash receptacles and bags or boxes for charity items available.

2. Sort contents of garage into available containers and designated “keep” area.

3. Clean interior of garage with natural cleaning products to avoid getting a headache from the fumes of chemical cleaners.

4. Assemble and install any new shelving needed.

5. Pack up the items you’re keeping, and put them back in the garage with the most frequently used items in the most accessible spots. (Keep like things together!)

6. Distribute the trash, hazardous wastes, and charity items you have left over, and give yourself a pat on the back!

If your car has never seen the inside of the garage because of the mountain of miscellany piled inside, make this the year you take control of the chaos. A weekend of sweat this fall will create a dry haven for your car during the winter, and if you need help you can always call a professional organizer!

Leona Laurie is the president of Working Space Unlimited, Inc. (, a professional organizing firm based in Newport Beach. She can be reached at (714) 343-2587, or by e-mail at

This report brought to you by the Louison Team of RE/MAX Real Estate Services. All information is deemed reliable, however not guaranteed. Each RE/MAX Office is independently owned and operated. For more information on our services call Raymond at 714-925-5361. or visit our website at

Preventing Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires cause more than $5 billion in property damage each year, and more than 3,000 deaths. That's the bad news. The good news is that most fires are preventable. First, let's look at the top causes of home fires.
• Cooking fires. Cooking fires pose a serious hazard. Always stay near the stove when cooking. Avoid wearing loose sleeves while cooking; they can be ignited by a burner or a grease splatter. You'll also want to keep curtains and other flammable materials well away from the range or oven. And never put water on a grease fire, which can cause the hot grease to splatter, burning you or spreading the fire. Instead, smother it with a lid or another pan, then turn off the burner. Leave the lid in place until it has cooled off completely.
• Portable and space-heating equipment. Wood-burning, kerosene, propane and electric heaters can ignite draperies, clothing and other flammable items. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from all heating equipment. Shut off a heater before you leave the room or go to bed. When you purchase a heater, make sure it's been tested and approved by a reputable organization.
• Careless smoking. Cigarettes are the leading cause of fire deaths. Never smoke in bed or in a place where you may fall asleep. Also, use deep ashtrays so a lit cigarette won't roll out and fall onto rugs or furniture. It's also a good idea to run water over an ashtray before emptying it into the trash. A smoldering cigarette butt could set the trash on fire.
• Electrical wiring. You can't see wires hidden inside walls and ceilings, but there are some warning signs of electrical problems. If lights dim or flicker, fuses blow frequently or sparks shoot from receptacles when items are plugged in or unplugged, consult an electrician. Faulty electrical cords can also spark a fire or cause an electrical shock. Never run cords under rugs or heavy furniture. Pressure can crack insulation and break the wires. Don't overload outlets.
• Children with matches. Children playing with matches or lighters are the leading cause of fire deaths for children 5 and under. Keep these items up high, preferably in a locked cabinet, out of the sight and reach of small children. Teach older ones how to handle matches responsibly.
• Holiday hazards. Decorations and candles are a special concern during the holidays. If you buy a live Christmas tree, choose a fresh one and water it daily. With an artificial tree, make sure it's made of flame-retardant materials. Keep candles well away from anything that can burn and blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Fireworks also deserve special mention. They endanger life, limb and property. Avoid amateurs who set off fireworks. Instead, attend public displays conducted by trained pyrotechnicians. Even sparklers are hazardous; they burn at 1200 F.

There are some other simple, common sense precautions you can take to decrease your chances of a home fire:
• Never store or use gasoline in the home. Gasoline is a motor fuel only. Keep small quantities in an approved container designed to store gasoline, and store outside, preferably in a locked, detached shed. Wipe up spills immediately and never refuel motors near heat sources, sparks or cigarettes.
• Don't overload electrical receptacles.
• Don't use light bulbs with greater wattages than a fixture can handle.
• Don't let combustible materials such as newspapers and rags pile up in basements and garages.
• Leave plenty of air space around appliances and television sets; they can overheat and catch fire.
• Use outdoor gas and charcoal grills with caution. Keep them away from structures, particularly when in use. Never add materials to the fire.

Preventing Theft

Every year, burglars hit more than five million households, stealing more than $4 billion worth of property. Determined thieves can break into just about any home, but you can take steps to make entry a lot more difficult for them.

• Invest in a quality door. Door security begins not with a good lock but with the door itself and the frame it fits into. Weak door assemblies can be broken with a single kick, popped open with a jimmy bar or even pried out-frame and all-from the wall. Strong exterior doors have solid, not hollow, cores; doors that are sheathed in metal are even better.

• Install deadbolts. Deadbolt locks provide the best protection for the least amount of money. Ordinary spring-operated locks can be defeated with a credit card. Intruders can't slip a deadbolt lock because it has a solid metal bar that fits into the door jamb. To be effective, a deadbolt lock should have at least a one-inch throw (meaning the metal bolt extends at least an inch past the edge of the door). Doors with glass panes present a special security problem because a thief can break the pane, reach inside and unlock the door. If state or local laws permit, the solution is a double-cylinder lock-one that must be opened with a key from inside as well as out. But don't defeat the purpose by getting into the habit of leaving the key in the lock on the inside. To exit quickly in case of a fire, keep the key near the door but in a spot that can't be reached from outside. You might want to hang it on a nail near the floor where you can find it easily if fire breaks out.

• Don't forget windows. Windows and sliding glass doors also should be secured. Look for locks specifically made for different window styles at your local hardware store or home center. You also can secure a sliding glass door with a broomstick or piece of 1" x 2" lumber laid in the door track when the door is closed.

• Light up. Outside flood lighting reduces your risk of burglary by highlighting the exterior of your home at night. You can choose from lights that remain on all night or motion-sensitive lights that come on only when someone approaches your home. Motion-sensitive lights save energy and could catch a would-be thief by surprise. Timers on inside as well as outside lights give the impression that someone is home, even if you're on vacation, out to dinner or visiting the neighbors.

Sounding an Alarm

For greater peace of mind, consider investing in a professionally installed alarm system. Alarm systems come in many shapes and sizes, at prices that range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Many installers also charge monthly monitoring fees, which should be taken into account when you shop for a system. A home alarm system includes some combination of the following components:

• Perimeter sensors. These consist of photo cells or magnetic contacts on doors and windows that sound an alarm when an intruder tries to get inside. Perimeter sensors are mounted on two points, such as the door jamb and the door itself. Photo cell sensors are activated when something passes through a beam of light projected between the two points, while magnetic sensors are activated when contact is broken between the two magnetized points.

• Heat and motion sensors. You can use heat and motion detectors to protect specific spaces in or outside your home-a bedroom hallway, for instance, or your backyard. Heat detectors respond to body temperatures. Motion sensors detect movement.

• Glass break detectors. These devices recognize the sound of breaking glass. They activate the alarm when they sense breaking glass in a window or door.
• Keypad. One or more keypads allow you to turn the system on and off.

• Audible alarm. A piercing alarm alerts neighbors and the police. And it lets the burglar know he's been detected, meaning he'll probably leave your house in a hurry.

Keep in mind that false alarms can be a problem. In addition to annoying the neighbors and taking the police away from real emergencies, some communities now assess fines for excessive false alarms. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association reports that nearly 80 percent of false alarms are caused by user error. Steps to prevent false alarms include regular system maintenance and ensuring that whoever has a key to your house also knows the codes to activate and deactivate your system. Local police are a good source of information and recommendations regarding security systems. They work with the security services in your area and can tell you what types of break-ins are most common in your community.

After you've determined which alarm system is best for you, ask your insurance agent, family or friends for referrals. Get written quotes from at least three companies. Before you obtain an alarm system, investigate a security service's reputation and how long it has been in business. Also ask about warranties and what they cover.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Surf's Up in Surf City USA

Welcome to the Surf City Kahuna's Blog! Let us know what information you want to see here! Have a question about Surf City. If we don't know, well find out and post it for you.