Disaster Proofing Your House

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Your home is your sanctuary. It is the place that you’ve put a lot of time and attention into making a safe, comfortable environment for you and your family. This is why the prospect of a natural disaster causing damage or disruption to your house can be so upsetting. 

No-one likes to dwell on this possibility, of course. However, even if you aren’t living in an area that has frequent earthquakes or storms, that doesn’t mean to say that your home is immune to emergencies. The World Economic Forum recently reported that extreme weather events are occurring more frequently, and they are likely to continue causing severe damage and destruction in the future. This rise has also been linked to the growing effects of climate change. As such, it is imperative for the continued safety of yourself and your family that you take steps to ensure that your home is protected from disasters.  

This is all very well to say, but it’s not always easy to know how to go about doing this practically. It’s certainly a wide-ranging area, but we’re going to take a moment to guide you through a few main points for your attention. How can you best act to protect your home, and sleep soundly at night, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done all you can to keep your family safe? 

Audit Current Issues

Whether you’ve purchased a home with the specific intention to renovate, or you bought a new build, an audit is essential. Why? Well, in most cases, the pre-purchasing property survey that was undertaken at the time would have been geared toward determining the general safety of the home. Indeed, when buying a home, people are usually on the lookout for common trouble areas — existing water damage, pest issues, or health hazards. As such, you are unlikely to have the data you need to understand how well-prepped your home is to withstand an unexpected natural disaster.  

It can be a good first step to review the types of natural disasters that may be most likely to occur in your area. After all, it’s not wise to disaster-proof your home for earthquakes if you are not in a risk location. Review recent years’ weather and emergency events — has there been an uptick in any activity? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) keeps statistics for all reported disasters, which can help guide you. However, it can be just as useful to talk to neighbors and local emergency services personnel about what you should be aware of.

Using this knowledge, undertake a review of your home. You can do this personally if you feel confident doing so — identifying all the areas that may leave your home vulnerable or dangerous. Use ready-made checklists to review systems like electrical and plumbing. It can also be helpful to engage a contractor here. That way you not only benefit from their assessment expertise, but can also arrange for any repairs to be made, or at least make a plan for the future that fits your budget. 

Alternative Utilities

Disasters don’t just affect the integrity of your home. In a lot of cases, they may impact the infrastructure that allows you to maintain a safe and operational house. There may be direct contact with your property that causes utility outages, or there may be a problem further down the line that affects you. If you live in a remote area, it may take a long time for your services to be restored. It can therefore be appropriate to look into alternative solutions.

A generator on your property can provide backup power when there is an outage. However, this tends to be terribly cost-ineffective, and it’s not particularly environmentally friendly. On the other hand, solar power is an increasingly popular and accessible choice for homeowners. In essence, you’ll need a solar panel array — either on your roof or somewhere near your property — which is attached to an inverter that turns the energy into usable electricity, which is then distributed through your home using a computerized controller. You can also get a battery backup system to assist in emergencies. While you can install it personally, it can be wise to engage a skilled contractor if you’re not familiar with your house’s electrics.  

While most internet and communications lines are underground, that doesn’t make them impervious to disasters. Your ability to stay in contact with friends, relatives, and emergency services can be vital when a disaster strikes. Therefore it can be sensible to set up alternatives in your home. A spare 5G router can keep you connected to the internet to check for updates and advice. 

Structural Upgrades

If you have the budget for it, it is definitely worth considering which structural upgrades you can make to your home. Over the last few decades, there have been technological advances that can put your home in a better position to withstand a disaster. Some of these are simple and others make for more involved projects.

If you live in an area that is particularly prone to heavy storms, earthquakes, or even wildfires a good example of advanced structural technology is interlocking 3D panels. These are constructed from a combination of materials — concrete, steel, polystyrene — and reinforced by welded wire trusses. As such, this means that the building can withstand high winds and effectively fireproof the home for at least two hours.

However, this requires substantial capital to undertake, and if you are unable to access these funds immediately it can be worth considering refinancing your home to some extent. This is possible even with bad credit, although it can be sensible to repair your credit score first to get a better financing rate. It can seem like a big step, but this could be an important safety feature in your home and even raise its value.

Conclusion

Your home is an important asset to you and your family, and as such you want to protect it and everyone within it from natural disasters. Not all the alterations you make need to be structural overhauls. However, you should guide your actions with a thorough understanding of the risks.

Common Problems In Victorian Homes: House Of Haute Style Or Horrors By Zoe Clark

1Ominous yet romantic, Victorian homes are a living example of timeless elegance and longevity, which is one of the main reasons why houses dating to this era are extremely popular among homeowner hopefuls. Still, every piece of property has its perks and downsides, and the same is true of Victorian homes. Underneath their beauty and complex trims, houses built in the second half of the 19th century can hide serious hardware issues, which is why home buyers need to be extra careful when inspecting their home-to-be with over 100 years under its belt. Here’s a brief list of the most common problems lurking beneath lavish Victorian frills to help you tell a money pit from the real value deal.

1. Weak-legged Victorians

Foundation issues are all too real a problem in old houses. However solid, the base of many a Victorian home can shift due to land subsidence, resulting in further structural hitches such as cracked or bulging walls, door and window defects, and even plumbing and wiring problems.

When inspecting your future love nest, look for floor and wall flaws, door and window latching problems, and foundation chipping or flaking. In case you detect signs of foundation glitches, a structural engineer may need to step in and see whether, where, and how the damage can be repaired.

2. It never rains but it pours

2Roof defects are a chronic problem of old property, and Victorian homes are not an exception. Leaks, faulty flashing, missing shingles or tiles, and poor insulation upstairs are red flags which you shouldn’t ignore when looking for a place to settle down.

During preliminary home viewing, check the walls and ceiling for signs of staining and peeling paint that may point to water intrusion. Broken or damaged roofing material can be replaced, insulation can be upgraded, and flashing flaws can be taken care of, but you’ll need to be aware of the total repair costs before you can call the property a home-sweet-home.

3. Budgeting down the drains

If the basement of your Victorian property find is smelling a bit worse for old age, it may be a good idea to check it for signs of mildew infestations. Mold and musty odor below ground level can point to plumbing faults, perimeter and underfloor drainage issues, or even foundation waterproofing hitches, which you’ll need to tend to and upgrade to contemporary standards before you move in.

In case you smell trouble in the basement, hire a professional to conduct a thorough inspection and estimate the upgrade scope and cost. This will help you get a better image of the post-move repair and upgrade expenses which play an important role in initial capital required to make the place livable.

34. Marrow-chilling prospects

Victorian doors and windows do look spectacular, but unless they’ve been updated in the past decade, you’ll probably need to have them checked, replaced, or repaired before you drop your gear on the floor.

When inspecting your future Victorian-age property, take a quick look at the frames, panes, and surrounding insulation: stains, cracks, mold, and other forms of damage can add a few figures to the post-purchase update bill. Also, be aware that certain features of an old home can’t be remedied due to their historical value – which is a real deal breaker.

5. Looming layout layovers

4Victorian homes usually have narrow hallways, tiny kitchens, tight and steep staircases, and modestly sized bedrooms, which can be problematic if you’re set on buying property for house flipping projects that promise a big bang for your buck. Modernizing a true-blue Victorian home will probably require extensive layout redrawing, and such endeavors are by far the costliest update in the fix-ad-flip lot.

For this reason, be very careful when selecting old houses to flip: Victorian charm is an asset only if the renovation doesn’t involve comprehensive floor plan changes and wall relocations.

Modern Victorian style is in – but the fact that antique houses are currently in high demand on the real estate market doesn’t mean that just about every old place is worth your cash. Double-check the critical property points before you sign the contract: a little extra care and inspection can save you thousands in the post-purchase update process. Good luck!

Author bio:

Zoe Clark is a journalist, freelance stylist and blogger. She is a visual storyteller and aesthetician by heart who often writes about decorating and DIY ideas. She loves sparking creativity in people and giving them ideas for their own spaces.