Are you required to carry flood insurance?

Over the last 50 years flooding has been on the rise. Increasing precipitation combined with more waterfront property being built creates a perfect storm for flood damage.

Many insurance policies don’t cover flooding, even floods that occur through nature. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has identified communities that are at risk for flooding, FEMA has assigned a character from the alphabet to each zone. The zone your home is located in will indicate the risk of flooding and which type of flood insurance you are required to carry

Here is a basic break down of the FEMA Flood Map Zones

V Zones

V Zones are properties that are beach front. They pose the biggest risk for damage from floods as rising tides and waves can sometimes wash entire houses away. Anyone in a V zone is required to carry comprehensive flood insurance.

A Zones

A zones – the next most volatile of the Special Flood Hazard Areas – are subject to rising waters and are usually near a lake, river, stream or other body of water. Flood insurance is mandatory in all A zones because of the high potential of flooding.  There are a number of sub-divisions of A zones you should make sure you understand the particular risks and recommendations for the one your house resides in.

X Zones

X Zones are minimal-risk areas where flood insurance is not mandatory, but a good idea as water damage can come from many sources.

D Zones

D zones are areas that have not been studied, but where flooding is possible.

  • How to find out what flood zone you are in?

Check with the local government agency to see flood zone maps for your area. Most counties and towns have flood zone maps available for public view. FEMA provides copies of the latest and most up-to-date flood zone maps for most communities.

Compare your home location to the flood zone map boundaries to see if you’re in a flood zone. Some flood zones are considered a greater risk than others. The maps will give you details about which type of flood zone insurance you may need, depending on the risk to your property.

Long Island Mold Remediation

moldremediationlaw

In the beginning of this year a Long Island Mold Remediation Law requiring that assessors and contractors in the mold
remediation industry and their workers are properly trained and licensed. Branch Services is in compliance with this law
and will continue to be the mold remediation contractor you can count on.
Since January 1, 2016 all Mold Remediation Contractors, and Assessors must be licensed by the New York State
Department of Labor.  The licensing requirements state that no person shall be licensed to conduct mold-related services
unless they: (a) are eighteen years of age or older; (b) have satisfactorily completed Department of Labor-approved
course work, including training on the appropriate use and care of personal protection equipment as approved by the
Commissioner of the Department of Health; and (c) have paid the appropriate fees. The licensing requirements prohibit
any contractor to engage in mold assessment or mold remediation without a valid license issued by the Commissioner of
Labor which must be present and on display at the worksite. The bill also prohibits a person licensed to perform mold-
related services from acting as both the mold assessment contractor and the mold remediation contractor, in other
words, contractors who currently provide mold inspections and perform the remediation as well, will no longer be able to
do so. Individuals will only be allowed to be a licensed Mold Assessor or a licensed Mold Remediator, NOT BOTH.
Persons who conduct home inspections as part of potential real estate transactions must also be licensed as a “Mold
Assessor” if their inspections/reports include an assessment of mold conditions in the home or property in question.
“Mold assessment” means an inspection or assessment of real property that is designed to discover mold, conditions that
facilitate mold, indication of conditions that are likely to facilitate mold, or any combination thereof.”
Persons who perform Mold Abatement (Remediation) must be licensed as Mold Remediation Contractor.  “Mold
Remediation” or “Mold Abatement” means the act of removal, cleaning, sanitizing, or surface disinfection of mold, mold
containment, and waste handling of mold and materials used to remove mold from surfaces by an individual.
If you have any questions about mold remediation or mold testing give us a call.
External Link….
https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/mold/mold-program.shtm

Catch us at the Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo!

licree

Next Wednesday (3/16) Branch Services will be exhibiting at the Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo

“The Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo is the event dedicated to improving economic activity on Long Island through the commercial real estate industry. The show is for Long Island and is produced by Long Islanders. It offers unique programs featuring business leaders discussing issues that affect the business climate.”

You can visit their Website here

http://www.longislandrealestateexpo.com/

Snow Melt Flooding

mold removal long island

This past snow storm brought a mix of floods and over 2 feet of snow which is a water damage double whammy. Many insurance companies require separate and specific coverage for water damage and as 26+ inches of snow melts, even if you aren’t in a flood zone, you may be faced with flood damage.

Here are some tips to keep the flood waters at bay and preventing water damage from costing you.

  • Safeguard in-home electrical and climate systems

Keep electrical outlets, wiring, circuit breakers at least a foot above flood level in your home.

Furnace, water heaters and burners should be elevated as well.

Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be anchored and raised above your flood level. Keep them clear of ice and snow.

Modify water valves

A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up into your home. Installing an interior or exterior backflow valve can help mitigate that.

 

  • Determine how water flows around your house

Check to see where water flows on your property, ideally it will flow away from your home, but if it doesn’t you might want to take extra precautions against water coming into your home

  • Take Drastic Action

If your home floods frequently and moving isn’t an option, you may need to take drastic and costly measures.

Raise your home on piers or columns so that the lowest floor is above the flood level. In some states grant money or tax incentives may be available to help you with this.

“Wet-proof” your home by installing foundation vents that would allow water to flow through the building, instead of rising inside and causing more damage. You’d need at least two vents on different walls.

Do some “dry proofing” by applying coatings and other sealing materials to your walls to keep out floods.

  • Take last-minute measures as waters rise

Clear gutters, drains and downspouts. Clear ice and snow from your roof and gutters to prevent ‘ice dams’

Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors, or at least raise them off a ground floor.

Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.

Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re potentially in harm’s way from flooding.

  • Dont wait to take care of dampness

Even if major flooding didn’t occur the smallest amount of dampness in the walls, rugs or floors can cause a serious mold problem come spring.  As the snow melts check basements, atticks, windows and door jams for potential dampness and if there is doubt call a professional mold remediation expert for advice.

Fire Remediation and Holiday Fires

 

Long Island Fire Remediation

Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.

Cooking

During the holiday hustle and bustle it is easy to get distracted. Cooking fires are common during the holidays because of food left unattended while it is cooking. Make sure your attention is focused on the task at hand and always make sure there is a fire extinguisher within reach in case a fire does start.

If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.

Candles

Candle fires are highest during the holiday season To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.

Christmas Trees

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames.  To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources and flames

Fireplaces

Make sure your chimney is clean before you start using it for the season. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood and keep garland and Christmas trees far enough away from embers.

NYS Mold Remediation Law Affects Mold Contractors

New York State Mold Remediation License
New York State Mold Remediation License

In 2016 the NYS Mold Remediation Law affects mold contractors across the state, but Branch services is prepared for those changes. On January 29, 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill requiring that assessors and contractors in the mold remediation industry and their workers are properly trained and licensed. Accordingly, the licensing requirements for mold contractors, assessors, and workers take effect on January 1, 2016.

Effective January 1, 2016 all Mold Remediation Contractors, and Assessors must be licensed by the New York State Department of Labor.  The licensing requirements state that no person shall be licensed to conduct mold-related services unless they: (a) are eighteen years of age or older; (b) have satisfactorily completed Department of Labor-approved course work, including training on the appropriate use and care of personal protection equipment as approved by the Commissioner of the Department of Health; and (c) have paid the appropriate fees. The licensing requirements prohibit any contractor to engage in mold assessment or mold remediation without a valid license issued by the Commissioner of Labor which must be present and on display at the worksite. The bill also prohibits a person licensed to perform mold-related services from acting as both the mold assessment contractor and the mold remediation contractor, in other words, contractors who currently provide mold inspections and perform the remediation as well, will no longer be able to do so. Individuals will only be allowed to be a licensed Mold Assessor or a licensed Mold Remediator, NOT BOTH.

 

Persons who conduct home inspections as part of potential real estate transactions must also be licensed as a “Mold Assessor” if their inspections/reports include an assessment of mold conditions in the home or property in question. “Mold assessment” means an inspection or assessment of real property that is designed to discover mold, conditions that facilitate mold, indication of conditions that are likely to facilitate mold, or any combination thereof.”

 

Persons who perform Mold Abatement (Remediation) must be licensed as Mold Remediation Contractor.  “Mold Remediation” or “Mold Abatement” means the act of removal, cleaning, sanitizing, or surface disinfection of mold, mold containment, and waste handling of mold and materials used to remove mold from surfaces by an individual.  

 

We at Branch Services are currently preparing for this new law and are in the process of obtaining the required training to apply for and become licensed as a Mold Remediation Contractor.  Standard Industry Certifications that were accredited in the past do not apply to the current licensing requirements.  We will be in compliance with the new law by January 1, 2016 and will continue to be the mold remediation contractor you can count on.

 

External Link….

 

https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/safetyhealth/mold/mold-program.shtm

 

 

 

Tips to Passing A Home Inspection

HomeInspection

Selling a home is stressful enough. Even if you find a buyer, homeowners can be blindsided by problems uncovered by an inspection. Before you sell , make sure these common home inspection issues don’t put a wrench in selling your home.

1. Faulty wiring. Worn or outdated systems and jerry rigged additions are the most common defects, especially in older homes. Any major issues with electrical systems must be addressed immediately.

2. Roof problems. Roofs can be expensive to be repaired/replaced.  An old, damaged roof can also mean water problems and entirely new headaches.

3. Heating/cooling system defects. Improper installations, inadequate maintenance and aged components are common.

4. Plumbing issues. The most common defects are leaking, outdated systems. Repairs can often be made, but on occasion total system replacement is the only solution.

5. Inadequate insulation and ventilation in attic. Poor insulation and poor ventilation cause excessive utility costs.

6. Whole house is poorly maintained. When a house is left to fall into disrepair, it represents a potential high cost situation to bring the home back into good condition. If the homeowner did not properly care for the home, someone will need to later.

7. Poor drainage. If there are drainage issues, water damage isn’t far behind.  Make sure drainage issues are taken care of. Roof gutters and downspouts can sometimes be added to rectify site drainage problems.

8. Cracks in walls & windows. If air can get in, so can water. Water damage leads to costly repairs in the future.

9. Minor structural damage. Cut and broken trusses are often seen in attic cavities and on occasion we also see structural components missing. Usually repairs are needed, however we find it is rarely an imminent safety hazard.

10. Mold. Signs of mold growth can kill a contract. Homebuyers should consider a complete environmental evaluation of the property before buying.

Long Island Hurricane Deductibles

hurricane1

Homeowners who experience their first hurricane are frequently awestruck by the unharnessed power of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, once the storm passes, they’re often blindsided by the special — and costly — hurricane insurance deductible they didn’t know was buried in their homeowners policy.

How hurricane deductibles work

Unlike most deductibles which has a set dollar rate, hurricane deductible is based on a percentage of your home’s total value. The out-of-pocket cost can be much higher than what you’d face with the dollar-amount deductibles commonly used for fire damage and theft.

If the home you insured for $300,000 has a 5 percent hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage as defined by the policy. With a standard, non-hurricane deductible, you might pay just the first $500 of a home insurance claim out of your own pocket.

In some states, homeowners may be able to get a dollar-amount hurricane deductible by agreeing to pay a higher premium, though in high-risk shore areas the percentage deductibles may be unavoidable.

How Hurricane is defined.

You should be aware of the trigger, or benchmark for what qualifies as a hurricane for your policy. For some policies for example, you won’t have to worry about your policy’s hurricane deductible unless the weather service has determined that a Category 1 hurricane has made landfall. You should ask your insurance agent about the trigger for your deductible.

Beware of “Windstorm Deductable”

Even when a hurricane deductible does not apply, homeowners can still find themselves on the hook for hefty out-of-pocket costs.  Some homeowners are subject to a similar percentage-based “windstorm deductible,” which applies regardless of any hurricane declaration.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing

These kind of percentage deductibles helps keep insurance costs down over all by bringing costs of premiums down in high risk areas.

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season

hpt

Well, hurricane season has arrived. While experts are predicting a mild storm season this year, it is best to be prepared. After all, even a comparatively mild storm can cause serious damage. Here are some tips to get you prepared for severe weather.

 

1. Get flood insurance.

Most basic homeowner insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.  Go over your  policy to make sure you are covered for flooding or water damage. If you need to purchase flood insurance visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/faqs/how-can-i-get-flood-insurance.jsp

2. Have an evacuation plan for your family (and your pets!)

Evacuation orders are not made lightly and should be taken seriously.  Making arrangements with friends or family who live on higher ground can help you avoid staying in a shelter.  Some shelters started to allow pets, but space fills up quickly . Making arrangements beforehand ensures you and all members of your family will be safe during the storm.

3.  Make an emergency survival kit

Now you don’t have to prepare for all out Armageddon, but you should have enough tools and supplies to survive without electricity or utilities for up to two weeks. This site has a great checklist of things you may need.

https://www.uscg.mil/d7/airstaBorinquen/docs/HurricanePage/Suggested%20Hurricane%20Supply%20Kits%20.pdf

4.  Mitigate any damage that a flood could cause

Sometimes flooding is unavoidable. In cases like this you need to make sure the water does as little damage as possible. Make sure you have proper drainage and barriers to keep flood waters out.  If storm surge is expected make sure to keep rugs, boxes, anything that can get damaged by water off the lower floors.  If you live in a flood zone look into raising your house or taking other precautions to help mitigate the damage when a flood does hit.

Mold Remediation Specialist Gives Hurricane Tips

mold

According to our mold remediation specialist, June marks the start of hurricane season. Hurricane Sandy showed us that New York is not immune to the powerful storms. While wind damage can wreak havoc on power lines and trees, the real danger to Long Island homes is flooding.

If you live in a flood zone, make sure you carry the proper insurance for flood. Many homeowners find out much too late that they did not have the coverage for the massive and costly damage to their homes.

There isn’t much you can do once the flood waters hit. Once the water reaches the level of your floor and goes an inch above, you have significant damage. There are steps you can take to mitigate the damage done to your home.

 

  • Safeguard in-home electrical and climate systems

Raise switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least a foot above the expected flood level in your area.

 

Modify your furnace, water heater and any other anchored indoor equipment so that it sits above your property’s flood level.

 

Anchor and raise outdoor equipment

 

Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be anchored and raised above your flood level.

Modify water valves

A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up into your home. Installing an interior or exterior backflow valve can help mitigate that.

 

 

  • Determine how water flows around your house

Called the grading or slope, the angle of the ground can direct water to or from your house.

It’s best if the home was built so that water drains away from the building.

 

  • Take Drastic Action

If your home floods frequently and moving isn’t an option, you may need to take drastic and costly measures.

Raise your home on piers or columns so that the lowest floor is above the flood level

“Wet-proof” your home by installing foundation vents that would allow water to flow through the building, instead of rising inside and causing more damage. You’d need at least two vents on different walls.

Do some “dry proofing” by applying coatings and other sealing materials to your walls to keep out floods.

  • Take last-minute measures as waters rise

Clear gutters, drains and downspouts.

Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors, or at least raise them off a ground floor.

Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.

Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re potentially in harm’s way from flooding.