I recently received my homeowners insurance bill, and decided to compare it to last year's bill. There was a 3% increase. Not bad. But since I have my own opinions about insurance companies, I decided to call my Allstate agent and ask why, especially with zero claims since the beginning of time (nearly 20 years).
Vanessa, one of the helpers in my local agent's office, responded that the company does annual reviews to see how much it would cost to replace the home in the event of a total loss, then they adjust the level of coverage to match it. In my case, I now have $16,350 more coverage than last year. Hooray!
While on the phone, Vanessa also revealed that insurance companies also do annual exterior inspections of the front of the dwelling, mainly for "brush concerns". I guess since fire is the main, if not only, cause of loss that is covered under homeowners insurance, they want to be sure we don't have overgrown weeds and overhanging trees that could easily catch or spread fire.
But these annual inspections were news to me; I was not aware of them! I promptly asked for a copy of the latest inspection report done for my insured property. Alas, Vanessa could not supply one since they are done by 'corporate' and she is only part of a local agency (read: sales office) and does not receive them. Of course, I asked her to follow up and see about getting a hold of it from corporate. Well, she's never had this request before, so she will have to look into it. I confirmed the phone number where she could reach me, and after discovering she had on file an old number that was at the place I used to live (disconnected in 1996, seventeen years ago!), I gave her an updated number.
We had a good conversation, where I also confirmed we have no earthquake insurance, nor are we covered in the event of a flood. The coverage also will not compensate for the three stands of redwoods that are located in the front and back yards; trees are considered 'land' and outside the scope of the policy. That's not entirely fair as those mature sempervirens, in my opinion, account for some not unsubstantial value of my property.
I will await to hear back from Vanessa, when I hope to hear the good news that my home is free from brush concerns and a report has been delivered to my door in a speedy manner! Updates when I have them, stay tuned!
The back fence in the yard is really old. It was here when I got here in 1996, and hasn't seen any maintenance at all. Just the opposite, in fact. It's been weathered, weakened, and even attacked by huge roots from a feral weed tree that decided to grow right next to it. That tree grew for a long time, got tall, developed big, strong roots. That tree, with the help and cooperation of the neighbors, whose property it was on, is long gone. Fence is still standing, though.
As will happen, a few of the fence posts started rotting at ground level. One of the got bad enough that I had propped it up with a board. But it was still pretty fragile, and I knew that the next major wind storm would bring it down. Better to be ahead of the game rather than react postactively.
A couple weeks ago, I contacted the neighbor who shares that fence with me and he was willing to help fix it. He's a really good guy, bought the place and moved in at about 2010. Since he's been there, he's installed a small fruit orchard, a 6 by 8 ft hot house/greenhouse, and has had chickens. Regular homesteader. Cool!
We spent a few hours this past Saturday pulling out three of the worst fence posts and installing new ones. We set them in the same concrete as the old ones, shaving the new posts a bit to get them to fit right. Then we put down more concrete on top of the base to raise up the footing, minimizing the wood/earth contact, which greatly hastens wood rot.
On Sunday, Easter Sunday it was, we finished the job, reinstalling the sections of fence. All the while, we worked on preserving as much of the old fence pieces as possible. We were able to save, with a bit of a hack, all the cross beams, and we only replaced two of the dog ear fence boards. Total cost was only about $50. Not bad. We figure we'll get at least another 10 years out of this fence, certainly out of these posts. But there are some more posts and other parts that will need attention much sooner than that, but we left it for another day.
Here are some pics, with captions.
Here, you can see one of the main hacks. The cross beams got pretty beat up over the years, so we strapped them down to keep the wood together. The straps help anchor the beams to the posts as well as hold the splitting beam together.
This is another hack which is much less noticeable. It was tough to hammer a nail, or even place a screw into the bottom cross beam. I had some old sturdy angle irons, so we screwed one into the bottom to hold the beam. A hack on the hack was to use a piece of that plumbers tape strap, folded over once, as a washer since the screw heads were small enough to fit right through the holes in the angle iron.
We planned to reuse the existing post holes and concrete by cleaning out the remaining, decayed wood from the old post. You can see from the picture above, this particular post was set almost arm's length deep!
Here I am with my patented, underhand, between the legs hammering technique. Getting those nails into the bottom side of the bottom cross beam took a bit of creative dexterity!