All Things Real Estate: Protecting your home while there or away is critical

All Things Real Estate: Protecting your home while there or away is critical
Philip Raices

As I am writing this week’s column our first snow of the winter is happening, hooray!

Now that our weather is getting a bit colder as winter should be, I think back to 15-20 years ago when I was showing clients some homes on the North Shore of Long Island.

It had been extremely frigid during that week.  We approached the home and opened the screen door and with my very acute hearing, I heard something that I always feared and dreaded during the winter season, the unfortunate gushing sound of water inside someone’s home.

As I opened the door it was the shock of seeing it streaming down from the ceiling and several feet of water on the floor.  I immediately called the person in charge and said that they had better call a plumber ASAP as the home was being flooded.

It was a sad situation for my clients but for me too, as they were seriously interested in purchasing that specific home. We both felt bad, but unfortunately, that home wasn’t going to work for them.

But years later, meeting my clients who had purchased another home from me, we had laughs thinking back and retelling the story of that moment in time.

Oil had been about $4.50 per gallon at that time, so I think the homeowner might have been trying to save money, turning down their thermostat way too low, or possibly their furnace malfunctioned.  Ever since then and in past columns I had written, I warned people who were going away for any length of time to either drain the water from their boiler, water heater and all house pipes, so in the event of severely cold temperatures, there wouldn’t be any damage.

So don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish!  Keep your thermostat set at no lower than 55 degrees which should eliminate any major issues. However, the north side of your home is where it is the coldest and where the least amount of sun/warmth is (the sun comes up in the east, goes south, and then sets in the west).

So any pipes located on that side of the home should be well insulation.  However, you can purchase special wiring that can be wrapped around those exposed pipes and plugged into an outlet; whether inside or especially outside to prevent them from freezing.

Technology is significantly advanced today so that you can be anywhere in the world and can control almost everything in your home from your cell.

It enables you to virtually observe anyone on your property, adjust your heat, and lighting, and even be made aware if you have a leak, which will call your plumber in an emergency to come over and do the repair; to a blaze that will alert and notify your local fire department.

When planning to build your new dream home, you can easily create a complete and comprehensive plan to install the most up-to-date technology devices/cameras to keep your home safe from thieves, (will call the police) water damage, save on energy with free electricity (solar panels) as well as the standard protection detectors from fire, heat and carbon monoxide.

In some communities radon can be an issue so there are detectors to keep you aware of any potential issues that might arise.

In New York State and Massachusetts, there has been legislation that has mandated fire sprinklers in all 1, 2, and 3-story buildings.

Construction of new 1 and 2-family homes is also required to provide buyers the mandatory option of installing a fire sprinkler system.  Only California and Maryland mandate fire sprinkler systems in all new construction.

However, some states have permitted municipalities to mandate them.  On Jan. 1, 2011, Maryland began enforcing a law that required all new 1 and 2-family homes to have fire sprinklers.

The State Fire Marshal even wanted pre-existing homes to have sprinklers installed too! Here is a link to see the requirements in the other 48 states (

Planning your vacation should be a happy, enjoyable, and fun time.  But for some, preventive maintenance and care in your home aren’t always at the forefront of your mind.  Have you checked your insurance policy lately to see what amount of coverage you have?

Most homes’ values have increased substantially over the last 3 years, but have you increased your replacement cost coverage lately? It would be prudent to pull out your policy and go over it with your insurance broker to make sure what limits of liability and damage coverage you have that is sufficiently adequate with today’s replacement costs.

However, I have now conveyed to you some pertinent and crucial information that you can take advantage of; and I hope you as current and future homeowners will be cognizant of, to save you a lot of money, time, effort, stress, and aggravation to safeguard you home in the future.

Philip A. Raices is the owner/Broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 in Great Neck.  For a 15-minute consultation, value analysis of your home, or to answer any of your questions or concerns he can be reached by cell: (516) 647-4289 or by email: [email protected] or via https://WWW.Li-RealEstate.Com

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