Contractor Tips Blog

Dec
23

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program

Posted in Home Elevation

Homeowners throughout Louisiana are still dealing with the effects of severe flooding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the other hurricanes and storms that followed.  Numerous programs have been implemented by federal and state authorities to assist in the ongoing recovery effort.  Homeowners with homes that are at risk of flooding may be eligible for grants and other funding to protect against future flood damage.

There are a variety of ways to protect a home against flood damage, but the most effective method is to permanently raise the home above the level of anticipated floodwaters.  Called a home elevation, this process is fast becoming the flood protection technique of choice in many areas of coastal Louisiana.  The process consists of lifting an existing home and installing a new foundation or pilings underneath the home.

Almost any type of home can be raised by an expert home elevation contractor.  In the past, the cost of a home elevation put the process out of reach of the majority of homeowners, but thanks to the availability of disaster recovery funding, qualified homeowners can have their homes elevated at little or no cost to them.

One of the funding options is the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program that provides funding for homeowners who participated in the Road Home Program and chose Option One (staying in their home).  There are additional requirements for eligibility and further complicated regulations that must be followed in order to qualify for funding.  The best way to ensure you are qualified and that your home elevation complies with all regulations and requirements necessary to receive funding is to have your home elevation done by an experienced home elevation contractor.

Dec
23

Home Elevation Costs

Posted in Home Elevation

If you are one of the many Louisiana homeowners considering a home elevation to protect your home against future flood damage, you are probably concerned about the cost.  A home elevation is a big, complex job.  To do it properly without causing unnecessary damage, you will need to hire an experienced home elevation contractor with state of the art equipment. There is no question that a well-executed home elevation by an experienced professional home elevation contractor requires a significant investment.

Among the costs involved are architectural costs to design the new foundation and other improvements.  A structural engineer will be needed to sign off on the elevation plan.  Permits must be obtained from the local authorities.  There will be contractor’s fee for the work, the cost of materials to build the foundation, and excavation and demolition of the existing foundation.  There may also be costs incurred for disconnection and reconnecting to the utilities including gas, electric, water, cable, and telephone.

The good news is that many Louisiana homeowners may qualify for house raising financing through one or more of the federal and state flood damage mitigation programs such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Severe Repetitive Loss Program, Increased Cost of Compliance, Louisiana Road Home Program and others.

Many qualified homeowners have had the entire cost of their home elevation paid through taking advantage of these funding options.  That’s right – in many cases, the entire cost of a professional home elevation by an experienced home elevation contractor is covered by grants received through one or more of these programs.

To find out more about these programs and whether you qualify, contact a reputable home elevation contractor who provides assistance with grant applications.

Dec
23

Golf Cart Security

Posted in Golf Carts

As golf carts become increasing popular modes of transportation in golf communities, planned communities, and retirement communities they are also becoming increasingly popular targets for thieves.  Golf cart theft is on the rise due to a high demand for golf carts and the fact that they make relatively easy targets.

Used golf carts can sell for anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over ten thousand dollars for custom golf cart.  In addition, the demand for golf cart parts makes it easy to strip a cart and sell the parts on the internet to unsuspecting buyers.

A golf cart left unsecured is easy for a thief to steal.  They are light enough and small enough to be easily and quietly loaded onto a pickup truck, a trailer, or into a box truck.  To keep your golf cart from becoming a statistic, you should take a few simple security measures. These will not guarantee your golf cart won’t be stolen, but in most cases thieves are opportunists.  If your golf cart has some security measures that make it more difficult to steal, the thieves are likely to move on to an easier target.

At your home, securing the golf cart inside your garage not only makes the golf cart harder to steal, but also keeps it out of sight of would be thieves.  If you cannot park your golf cart in a garage, or to secure it away from home, golf cart alarms are available that work just like a car alarm.  Your local golf cart dealer can help you choose and install a good alarm for your golf cart.

Alternatively, you can use a chain or cable to lock the cart to a secure object like you would lock up a bicycle.  You can also chain the steering wheel in the turned position which makes it more difficult to load the golf cart on a truck or trailer.

Implementing a few simple security measures will help you avoid becoming the victim of golf cart theft.

Dec
23

Golf Cart Safety Tips

Posted in Golf Carts

As golf carts become increasingly popular forms of transportation, golf cart accidents have risen correspondingly.  Not only do more golf carts in use equal more golf cart accidents, but these days many golf carts can travel at significantly higher speeds than traditional golf carts found on golf courses around the country.

First, watch your speed when driving a golf cart.  You don’t have to drive the golf cart at top speed all the time.  Slow down when common sense says that the conditions warrant a slower speed.  You will have more time to react to the unexpected.  Also, just like any vehicle, it is easy to lose control of a golf cart traveling at high speed.

Don’t overload the vehicle by carrying more passengers than it was designed to carry.  The easy rule of thumb is there should be one seat for each passenger.  If your golf cart only has four seats, don’t carry more than four passengers.  Overloading a golf cart makes it difficult to control.  Both steering and braking are severely affected by an overloaded golf cart.

Keep your eyes on the road.  This should go without saying, but golf carts tend to be used in scenic areas and it is all too easy to get distracted.  A child, animal, or vehicle can jump out in front of you without warning.

Finally, be sure to keep your golf cart maintenance up to date by an experienced golf cart repair shop.  A well maintained golf cart is less likely to have blowout or other mechanical failure that could lead to an accident.

Nov
16

Unified Jacking Systems

Posted in Home Elevation

If your home is located in a flood prone area, you may be considering a home elevation to protect your home from future flooding.  If your home has suffered previous flood damage, you may be required to take steps to protect the home from future flood damage before being allowed to rebuild or to continue to be able to get flood insurance coverage.

Home elevations are a great way to protect your home from future flood damage.  In a home elevation, your home is lifted from its foundation, raised high enough to clear the highest anticipated flood level, then placed on a newly constructed foundation.  In some cases, the home is placed on pilings and in others a poured cement or block foundation is constructed to support the home.

The height of a home elevation can be as little as two or three feet and as much as eight to ten feet.  With these higher elevations, in many cases the homeowner gains new storage or parking under the home.  Almost all types of houses can be raised including homes built on slabs, poured or block foundations, or on pilings.

One important thing to look for when choosing a home elevation and shoring contractor to handle your home elevation is the type of jacking system used.  The best contractors use a unified jacking system to lift the home.  Houses are raised using hydraulic jacks similar to those used to lift cars.  A single jack can lift a car, but for a home 20 to 30 jacks may be required.

It is important to lift the home evenly and smoothly to avoid damage to the home including damaged walls, floors, and ceilings.  A unified jacking system coordinates all of the jacks so that they rise at the same speed no matter what the load is on them.  That way, the house rises evenly and unnecessary damage is avoided.

Nov
16

Do You Need Golf Cart Insurance?

Posted in Golf Carts

Whether or not you need specific golf cart insurance depends on where you live, what type of existing insurance coverage you have, the type of golf cart you own, and how you use it. There is no easy answer for everyone, but there are few things you should consider.  Also, talk to your homeowner’s or automobile insurance carrier.  They can help you decided if your golf cart is adequately covered.

Golf cart use has been on a steady rise for years and the trend is continuing.  Once used exclusively on golf courses, these vehicles have become popular modes of transportation in retirement communities, islands, resorts, and planned communities like Peachtree City, Georgia, Sun City, Arizona, and The Villages, Florida.  With the increased popularity has come an increase in accidents and injuries.  Some golf cart owners have been surprised to discover that their insurance did not cover their golf cart accident.

In many cases, your homeowner’s insurance will provide liability coverage for a golf cart used on a golf course or in a golf community but there are usually restrictions on the size, power, and type of golf cart.  Your automobile policy may also provide some liability coverage as well.  If you have a street legal personal golf cart, it will most likely be excluded from your standard homeowner’s insurance policy or automobile policy.

If you are using the golf cart on public roads, there are probably state laws that require you to have insurance on the golf cart, especially if the golf cart must be registered.  If you live in a retirement community, planned community, golf community, or any type of community that allows golf carts to be driven on the roads or paths, there are likely to be specific local insurance requirements. Check with your homeowners association or local government.

Nov
16

Buying a Used Golf Cart

Posted in Golf Carts

Buying a used golf cart can be a good way to get a nice golf cart for much less than you would pay for a new one.  With the price of a new golf cart starting at around $5,000 and going up to $15,000, used golf carts are a great value.  You may be able to find one in good condition for half the cost of a similar new cart.  There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a used golf cart.

Just like a car, you should find out how old the golf cart is.  The golf cart’s serial number will give you the information you need to determine when it was made.  Unlike cars, golf carts don’t have odometers so the age of the cart and its general condition is the best indication of how hard it has been used and whether it has been well cared for.  Take a look at the tires, pedals, seats, and floor covering to get an idea of how much use the cart has seen.  A lot of heavy wear on these areas indicates heavy use.

If you are looking at an electric golf cart, inspect the batteries and cables for corrosion and age.  Replacing a set of batteries is expensive so newer batteries in good condition are a plus.  A well maintained set of batteries should be good for about 5 to 7 years.

When a golf course replaces its fleet of golf carts, dealers often buy the old carts, recondition them and sell them.  These reconditioned golf carts are a little more expensive than buying from a private party, but they have usually been gone over by a golf cart mechanic and may come with limited warranty.  Reconditioned golf carts that come from southern fleets typically have seen more use than those in northern fleets where the golf season is shorter.

Finally, take the golf cart for a test drive if possible.  See if it handles well, accelerates and stops properly, and check the amount of play in the steering.

Nov
16

Some People Are Mosquito Magnets

Posted in Insect Control

If you are one of those people who seem to spend your time at an outdoor barbeque swatting at mosquitos while others around you seem unfazed, you may be one of  the unlucky ten percent of the population that are highly attractive to mosquitos.  Mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide and lactic acid.  When we breathe we produce carbon dioxide and human perspiration contains lactic acid.

To some extent, mosquitos will be more attracted to people who are perspiring and breathing hard from physical exertion, larger people who naturally exhale more than smaller people, and pregnant women who also put out higher levels of carbon dioxide.

Beyond the carbon dioxide attraction, researchers have found that mosquitos are much more attracted to about one in ten people.  It is not clear yet exactly what it is that attracts mosquitos to these unfortunate few, but it likely has to do with their body chemistry which results in certain elements being found on their skin.  Mosquitos are known to be attracted to steroids and cholesterol found on the skin, and researchers believe that other elements will be identified that are highly attractive to mosquitos.

In addition, drinking as little as one twelve ounce can of beer increases the chances that a mosquito will single you out.  Again, scientists are not clear on why beer drinking attracts mosquitos but it may have to do with changes in slight changes in metabolism due to the alchohol.

Until scientists learn more, if you want to minimize your attraction to mosquitos, avoid outdoor exertion and beer drinking during the hours that mosquitos are most active which are around dusk and dawn.  Or just keep slathering yourself in DEET.

Nov
16

Mosquito Misting System Advantages

Posted in Insect Control

Mosquitos are more than just a nuisance.  They can carry and transmit serious diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria, and encephalitis.  There have even been cases of dengue fever (also bone breaking disease because of the severe pain it causes in a victim’s bones and joints) that have been transmitted by mosquitos from infected people returning from the tropics to others here in the United States.  More commonly, mosquitos can quickly put an end to an evening of pleasant outdoor entertaining.

Mosquito control involves stopping mosquitos from breeding or killing adult mosquitos before they can reproduce.  Mosquitos need a source of standing water to breed.  By eliminating puddles of water in children’s toys, birdbaths, old tires, and other areas, mosquito reproduction can be significantly reduced.  However, even if you eliminate their breeding area from your yard, keeping mosquitos away from your yard can be a challenge because they can travel over a mile.

Mosquitos can sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid from as much as one hundred feet away.  That means the mosquitos in your neighbor’s yard will quickly sense the presence of your guests when you are entertaining outdoors and will zero in on them.

A great way to eliminate these pests is to have a mosquito misting system installed around your yard.  These systems work like a small sprinkler system.  They are set on timers to dispense a mist of mosquito killing chemicals at set intervals.  Most automated misting systems use pyrethrum which is toxic to mosquitos, but harmless to mammals in low doses.

Mosquito misting systems kill mosquitos on contact and create a barrier around your yard that keeps mosquitos away.  They are fully automatic so you don’t have to think about it. Since they work on timers, they not only kill adult mosquitos, but they break the life cycle of mosquitos by killing adults before they can breed.  Mosquito misting systems are safe, convenient and effective.

Nov
15

Are Nanny Cams Legal?

Many parents are interested in installing hidden surveillance cameras in their homes but are concerned about the legal ramifications.  Hidden surveillance cameras, often called nanny cams because they are often used to monitor child care providers, are a useful addition to any home security system. These cameras are easily concealed anywhere in your home and the video can be easily accessed remotely from the internet.

In addition to monitoring child care providers, they can be used to monitor workers in your home, elderly care providers, older children, elderly or infirm family members, or even pets.  If you have to be at work or away from home, you can still keep an eye on what’s going on in your house.

Used properly, video surveillance cameras are legal throughout the United States when they are installed in your own home.  They can be hidden in common areas, living rooms, dining areas, and most other areas of the home.  The one caveat is that cameras cannot be hidden where a person would reasonably expect privacy.  The bathroom is an excellent example, but there may be other areas such as a bedroom that could be stretching the limits of legality if not morality.

Another concern is that while video recording in your own home is legal, in many states surreptitious audio recording is prohibited.  Be sure to check the laws in your state and if in doubt, use a camera system that does not include audio recording.  You can also protect yourself by informing your caregiver, maid service, and any other authorized visitors to you home that a video recording system is in use.  It may seem counter-intuitive to let people know that a monitoring system is in use, but you don’t have to specify exactly where each camera is hidden and it is an effective way to prevent to prevent illegal activity in your home.

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