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2 days ago · by · 0 comments

Cutting costs without cutting corners, now that the new tax year has begun!

The craftsman’s motto, “measure twice, cut once” is a sort of microcosm of everything you need to know in order to bring projects in on time and under budget. Cutting corners, taking shortcuts, neglecting necessary expenses, that might help you save time and money in the short run, but best case scenario, it’s going to wind up costing you more in labor and budget to redo it later on. Worst case scenario, you build a faulty home that collapses in the first year, if it manages to pass inspection in the first place, and then nobody ever hires you again.

The first thing to go when people take shortcuts tends to be safety. A rush job makes for an unsafe work environment, and results in an unsafe living environment. No matter how much time and money you save on the job, it’s no good if you wind up paying it back in legal fees and time spent in the court room.

So how do you save time and money without taking dangerous shortcuts?

Be Pragmatic When Buying Tools And Materials

Simply put: there’s not much that a $200 hammer can do that a $10 hammer cannot. Don’t cut costs on quality, but shop around, and don’t overspend on fancy tools and materials that you don’t need.

Overestimate All Costs

If you promise your client that you’ll have the addition done in a week, and then a nasty thunderstorm hits on day seven, you’re going to wind up trying to finish up the roof in the middle of a heavy downpour. Promise a two week turnaround on the same project, and the client will be delighted to see the project finished six days early. Don’t make “best case scenario” promises. As they say, plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Pay A Little More For Experience When You Need To

A $12-a-hour lackey might be able to install a kitchen sink if you give him the whole weekend to do it. A $30-an-hour professional plumber might be able to get the same sink installed in an afternoon. Saving money often means spending a little more now so you can spend considerably less in the long run.

Don’t Over-commit Yourself

You’re going to burn through a lot of gas and a lot of daylight if you’re running three jobs at a time and driving all over town to get to them. If client #2 can’t wait a few days for you to finish up a job for client #1, they’re probably a pain in the neck to do business with anyways.
It all comes down to common sense, really: Pace yourself, set realistic goals, spend wisely, and always put safety first.

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2 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

15 Risk Mitigation Tips for Airbnb Hosts

Property owners have a unique opportunity to efficiently rent out their entire home, a spare bedroom or other accommodation through the online service known as Airbnb. For travellers, Airbnb is convenient, web-based platform that provides affordable and flexible alternatives to hotels. For property owners, the tool easily connects various rental units with prospective occupants and makes collecting payments simple and secure.

Despite it’s convenience and the potential for profit, Airbnb is not without its risks for those who decide to list. Before renting out your home or spare room through Airbnb, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Acquire the proper insurance.
    Proper insurance is key to mitigating the risks associated with Airbnb. Take the time to review your renters or homeowners policy to make sure you have adequate coverage in place.
  • Complete a home safety inspection.
    Safety inspections can help Airbnb hosts address risks before they balloon into bigger issues. Before listing your property on Airbnb, complete a through home inspection and address all of the safety hazards you identify.
  • Screen all guests.
    Prior to allowing guests to stay in your home, it’s a good idea to check their background. To begin, ensure that prospective guests are verified through Airbnb. You can also review any connected social media accounts and read guest references through the site. Above all, trust your instincts.
  • Set clear rules.
    Through Airbnb, you can create guidelines for guests by completing the House Rules, Home Safety Card and House Manual sections of your profile. This allows you to set clear rules for guests around etiquette and safety.
  • Establish occupancy limits.
    Limiting the number of occupants that can use your property will help ensure that guests are comfortable and safe during their stay. Occupancy limits should take into account the size of the property and local regulations.
  • Add a security deposit.
    Adding a security deposit to your Airbnb listing can lessen the financial blow in the event of damaged property or another incident.
  • Secure your valuables.
    When you open your home to guests, there’s the potential that valuables could be damaged or stolen. To protect expensive items, consider moving them into a safety deposit box or to a secure off-site location.
  • Protect sensitive information.
    Your property isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when inviting guests into your home. To help prevent identity theft, make sure that guests cannot gain access to any files (physical or electronic) that contain sensitive personal information.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
    Safety equipment like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed around the premises to protect guests and your property. Emergency exists should be property labeled as well.
  • Child-proof your premises.
    It’s likely that some of your guests will have children. To protect younger guests, take the time to properly child-proof your home.
  • Keep your accommodations maintained.
    Good housekeeping can help guests avoid common injuries such as slips and falls. Prior to each stay, examine your home for any new housekeeping issues that must be addressed.
  • Provide contact information.
    Always supply your guests with information sheets that indicate local emergency numbers and the nearest hospital. Provide a clear emergency contact number for yourself, as well as back up, for easy guest reference. Also make clear how you should be contacted if the guest has questions or issues arise.
  • Supply a first-aid kit.
    In addition to providing emergency contact information, having a first-aid kit readily available and fully stocked at all times is important to guest safety.
  • Verify compliance with regulations.
    Regulations around Airbnb hosting can differ depending on your location and the type of accommodation you are renting out. Double-check that you are compliant with local and state laws before using Airbnb.
  • Notify those who could be impacted by your guests.
    When you host guests through Airbnb, there is the potential that neighbors or roommates could be impacted. To avoid unnecessary conflict, let your neighbors or roommates know ahead of time that guests will be using your property.

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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

Protect Your Home from Snowmelt

As winter ends and temperatures begin to rise, the accumulating water from melting snow and ice leaves your home susceptible to damage. Protect your home ahead of time to minimize your risk.

Use these four tips to help reduce your home’s risk of snowmelt damage:

  1. Clear snow from your home’s foundation. Shovel snow away from your home, including stairwells, window wells, downspouts and doors to help prevent water from seeping in through cracks.
  2. Maintain your roof and gutters. Any heavy snow that has accumulated on your roof should be cleared away to avoid water damage. Keep your gutters clear of debris to avoid ice dams—melted snow that refreezes at night, causing gutter clogs.
  3. Ensure proper drainage. Make sure your downspout drains away from your home, and keep any street storm sewer drains clear of snow to prevent buildup and freezing.
  4. Check your sump pump. Test to see that your sump pump is in good working order in case your home experiences flooding. If you notice any small leaks, take care of them before they become a bigger hazard.

Take extra precautions to keep your family safe from potential fireplace damage. If you burn fires often, consider installing new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

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3 months ago · by · 0 comments

Fireplace Safety Tips

The U.S. Fire Administration states that 75 percent of confined home heating fires occur in the chimney and flue of your fireplace. Performing simple safety measures and maintenance on your fireplace will ensure your family and home stay safe.

Here are some fireplace safety tips to consider:

  1. Keep it clear. Clear out any debris from the fireplace and keep all flammable items like furniture, blankets and papers a safe distance away at all times.
  2. Inspect the chimney. Have a certified chimney specialist inspect and clean your chimney annually to reduce the risk of fire and carbon monoxide buildup.
  3. Start the fire safely. Never burn charcoal or use lighter fluids to light the fire in your home, as they can cause deadly fumes and the potential for explosion.
  4. Don’t overload the fire. Overloading—putting in more wood, paper and other ignitable materials than necessary—can overheat the walls or roof of your home.
  5. Keep children away from the fireplace. Give warning about the dangers of fire to deter curiosity, and consider installing a gate around the fireplace to prevent kids from getting too close.
  6. Put it out. Before leaving your home for the night or going to sleep, ensure the fire is completely out first.

Take extra precautions to keep your family safe from potential fireplace damage. If you burn fires often, consider installing new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

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6 months ago · by · 0 comments

TURKEY FRYER SAFETY TIPS

As with any cooking tool, it’s important to take caution when using a turkey fryer as it can be extremely dangerous. Here are some tips to consider when frying a turkey:

  1. Stay in the area where you are cooking. Leaving the turkey unattended may cause the fryer to overheat, resulting in a fire.
  2. Use your turkey fryer on a level surface. Anything that might cause the fryer to tip over may result in a hot oil spill.
  3. Thaw your turkey before cooking. Water from a still-frozen turkey can cause the oil to bubble or splash over the pot.
  4. Keep small children and animals away from the fryer while it is in use. There is a great risk that a child or pet could run into the fryer, knocking it down and causing serious injury. A safe distance of three to 10 feet away is recommended.
  5. Have safety equipment ready. Use oven mitts, goggles and an apron while cooking. Have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency, and keep flammable items away from the fryer.

Your Safety Matters!

For your safety, only use a turkey fryer outside and away from your home. Never use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a porch. Also, be sure to keep some distance between yourself and the fryer as you monitor it—you wouldn’t want to accidentally get splashed with hot oil.

Did You Know?

The U.S. Fire Administration states that Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. While preparing your Thanksgiving turkey can be a timeless tradition, it’s important to keep cooking safety measures in mind to protect yourself, your guests and your home.

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Update Your Business Insurance Before A Natural Disaster Strikes

Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science forecasts five hurricanes and 12 named storms for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. Natural disasters like hurricanes can wreak havoc on your company. Update your business insurance as you prepare for natural disasters.

Prepare for Wind and Hail Storms

Heavy storms that feature high winds or hail can damage your property or disrupt operations. Verify that your business insurance includes adequate commercial property and business interruption coverage.

You may also wish to check if your policy includes a separate property deductible that applies solely to wind or hail claims. Some insurance companies add a flat rate or percentage deductible to these policies, especially in areas that are susceptible to wind and hail storms.

Cover Flooding

Rising water can damage your buildings and property and affect business operations. While your mortgage lender or building manager may require you to purchase commercial flood insurance if your business operates in a flood zone, flood insurance is also important if you operate in a location that doesn’t traditionally flood. That’s because you still could experience high water due to heavy rains, storm surges, melting snow, or broken levees.

Talk to your insurance agent about purchasing flood insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Because this valuable coverage includes a 30-day waiting period, be sure to purchase flood insurance before you need it.

Purchase Adequate Coverage

If you purchased your business insurance longer than a year ago, schedule a checkup. Your company’s needs may change over time, and you want to update your business insurance coverage, too. For example, if you added expensive equipment to your operation or moved to a different location, verify that your current policy covers these changes.

Check the property value coverage on your policy also. When you purchased your business insurance policy, you may have chosen the cheaper actual cash value option that pays to replace covered property minus depreciation and wear and tear. However, replacement cost pays current market value rates and offers better protection, so consider this more expensive option now.  

Finally, review your policy limits. Ensure you have enough coverage for your property, building contents, inventory, and business interruption needs.  

Review your Policy Carefully

Insurance policies often include dry, boring language, but take time to review every word. You must know exactly what natural disasters your commercial policy covers. Also, be sure you understand details about the deductible and how to file a claim. Your insurance agent can answer any questions you have and help you purchase enough coverage for your specific needs.

Your business insurance gives your company valuable protection. Update your coverage today as you prepare for future natural disasters.

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

Physical:
783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

Mailing:
PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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(831) 661-5697

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