Don’t Let Home Improvements Leave You Underinsured

By Ben Moore

a tree in front of a house: Don't Let Home Improvements Leave You Underinsured

© TheStreet
Don’t Let Home Improvements Leave You Underinsured

As many Americans face months on end stuck at home, some are using their time (and money) to create a change of scenery or upgrade their surroundings. Office equipment purchases are on the rise, and people are tackling more renovation projects than usual.


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But expensive new stuff and significant home improvements can leave you underinsured. If you’re considering making changes to your home — or if you already have — it’s smart to revisit your homeowners or renters policy. Here’s how to ensure it covers the new additions.

Tell Your Insurer About Your Plans

There’s a good chance you’re underinsured before you even make changes, according to Don Griffin, vice president of personal lines at American Property Casualty Insurance Association. Talk to your insurer before making any expensive purchases or changes to your home to inform the company of your plans and clarify your policy’s current coverages and limits. If your home costs more to replace after you’ve improved it, some insurers will pay the new expense to rebuild, but “that’s not every policy, and it may not cover everything you need,” Griffin says. He also recommends once a year reviewing what your home insurance policy covers.

>> Plus, from Robert Powell’s Retirement Daily on TheStreet: The Four Ingredients to Living Well in the New Retirement

In some cases, you may need to change carriers to get the coverage you need. Frank Jones, an independent agent and partner at Mints Insurance Agency in Millville, New Jersey, has seen clients switch insurers because an addition wasn’t covered. “It’s in your best interest to have these conversations now rather than to have a claim denied,” he says.

A new desk and computer for remote learning, plus that monitor and chair in your home office will add up and could exceed your personal property coverage limit.

Renters insurance policies cover your stuff, but they have limits too. If you have new electronics or office equipment, check with your insurer to make sure you have enough coverage for them.

Make an Inventory of Your Property

To help you know if you’ve exceeded your policy limits, keep records of what you buy. In fact, Griffin recommends taking inventory of your belongings every year — a written inventory is best, but even a simple smartphone video tour of your home will suffice.

Losing a home is an emotional time, Griffin says. When it’s time to file a claim, “you don’t always remember what you have.” An inventory will clearly show what you had before a disaster and will make the claims process easier.

Add Sufficient Coverage

Structural changes, such as a full kitchen replacement or adding an in-ground pool, will have the greatest impact on your homeowners insurance. But even something as simple as adding a fence can change the value of your house, and if your home’s value increases, so should its dwelling coverage, Griffin says. Otherwise, in the event of

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Kitchen cabinets are costly. Don’t make them trendy

The latest colors and trends are tempting, but a kitchen should be timeless, says Barbara Miller, design director for the Neil Kelly design and remodeling company.

It’s expensive to remodel a kitchen, and cabinets can make up 30% of the costs, so make sure you or an owner five to 10 years in the future won’t think the look has gone out of style, she says.

A sure-fire solution: White cabinets.

Since Neil Kelly started remodeling homes in Portland in 1947, “we have never stopped selling white cabinets,” says Miller, referencing a statement made by owner Tom Kelly, whose father founded the company.

She says styles and hardware have changed, but white remains popular in the Pacific Northwest, as does wood-grain cabinets.

The easiest way to ensure a kitchen has a timeless feel is to match key elements with the architecture and era of the house: A Colonial Revival house works best with traditional cabinets, while a midcentury design shines with sleek, flat panel cabinet doors and a Northwest ranch benefits from a transitional style in wood tones.

Selecting neutral materials and colors for cabinetry and large surfaces may seem unexciting, but there are ways to make a statement with wall color, knobs and pulls, and fixtures that can be changed in a day without having to undergo a full remodel.

A new pendant light over the island can help make a kitchen look up-to-date, Miller says.

People considering a kitchen remodel typically ask Miller if they can keep existing cabinets. She says cosmetic upgrades are possible if the design and layout still look and function well.

She explains what needs to be considered when deciding to renew or replace cabinets:

  • Quality of existing cabinets. If the cabinets have a peeling finish, new paint will peel too, says Miller. Large grain oak and other wood cabinets can be refinished with a darker stain, but the grain will show through paint. “You can make the grain not as visible, but no one can guarantee a smooth finish,” she says, “and there will be a difference in the texture.”
  • Appliance sizes have changed over time. A remodel could start when the oven doesn’t work or the downdraft ventilation system breaks, says Miller. If you can’t get a new one to fit the original space and there isn’t enough room to modify the cabinets, cabinets will need to be replaced.
  • Choose cabinet styles that continue to be sold and reproduced. If the existing cabinets were designed to work with a large soffit in the ceiling and you want to use that space for taller cabinets, or if you want a pull-out pantry with the most storage possible or to move a cooktop out of the island, you will need to replace all the cabinets if you can’t match them.

To upgrade the look, Miller says “face frame” and overlay cabinets can be fitted with new doors and drawers that cover the edges.

“Once you start replacing drawers and door fronts, and making too

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Mistakes to avoid when upgrading a kitchen: Don’t get sucked into tempting, one-function items

Your household may have grown during the coronavirus pandemic as adult children who lost their jobs returned home. At the same time, your wallet may have become thinner during the economic fallout caused by the global health crisis.

Combine those factors and it’s easy to see that a study by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) found that people want to improve their kitchen, especially with germ-avoiding, touchless technology, while adhering to a tight budget.

An overwhelming 99% of manufacturing, construction, design and retail businesses surveyed by the trade association said more consumers are requesting assistance with small-scale, DIY kitchen projects.

To reduce the risk of getting Covid-19, the survey found people want contact-less products with automatic sensors and antimicrobial surfaces as well as outdoor kitchens, where they can safely entertain while social distancing.

The pandemic also made people aware of the need to prepare for an emergency and store provisions. Improved water and air filtration systems are also part of the plan to hunker down safely at home.

“We’re breathing this air all day now and we’re wondering, ‘What’s in it?’” says Barbara Miller, design director for the Neil Kelly design and remodeling company.

In any size home, people are placing even more value on storage space and pantries to keep surplus food and water. It’s not easy to add cabinets, let alone counters, a sink and electrical outlets, to what’s considered the busiest and most complex room in any house.

Experts are available to advise you at all levels. A design consultation is free at Home Depot, either in the store or virtually. If you haven’t thought about upgrading a kitchen in a while, this is an easy way to be introduced to new materials and approaches.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association maintains a directory of 14,000 of its members. You can ask the policy on a complimentary meeting to discuss a potential project.

Home design and product experts with Neil Kelly will offer ideas and advice during a kitchen design and remodeling webinar starting online at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10. Register at

For small jobs, TaskRabbit can connect you to people skilled to help with cleaning, furniture assembly and home repairs.

Stephanie Pierce, director of design and trends at MasterBrand Cabinets, offers these five tips to not overspending in the kitchen:

  • Before even starting a remodel, take stock of your current space. Capture “before” pictures and think about the objective of your project.
  • Create a checklist with your priorities including storage and organization, appearance and layout.
  • Avoid unexpected expenses by setting a budget for individual items rather than just the total project.
  • Allocate an amount to spend on the big items like cabinets, countertops and labor, but don’t forget about the hardware, lighting and a percentage held for miscellaneous expenses.
  • Finally, before beginning, it’s important to talk to a design expert. Whether at a showroom or virtually. Discussing plans and designs with an experienced professional is crucial
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VIDEO STARS: Spring Garden athletes, cheerleaders ask, don’t you forget about your mask | High School

(The Spring Garden video is at the bottom …)

They love their sports in Spring Garden, and if it means they need to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid a suspension of their sports year, they’re willing to do it.

And, they’ll have a little fun with it along the way.

Directed by Spring Garden School faculty member Kevin Ward, about a dozen senior athletes and cheerleaders collaborated on a video urging the community to “mask up” so the school can have a full season of athletics. The video was posted on the Spring Garden Network’s Facebook page and has drawn more than 2,400 views. Two different posts of the video on the school’s Twitter account have combined for more than 1,200 views.

“During the summer when we were thinking about ways to get kids to buy into wearing masks, and a video was one of the ideas,” said Ward, a Spring Garden football and basketball coach, an ISS teacher, and an administrator for the school’s social media accounts.

The video lasts one minute, 12 seconds, and it’s a nod to “The Breakfast Club,” a teen movie released in 1985.

The theme song from the movie, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds, serves as the background music. The Spring Garden video begins and ends with the students walking toward the camera and leaping in the air, where they’re caught in a freeze frame.

Ward acknowledged he is a “huge” fan of “The Breakfast Club” but that it wasn’t his idea to use that movie as a source of inspiration. Instead, senior football player Luke Welsh mentioned it.

“When we approached the kids about the idea of a video, they were really excited about it, and I wanted to leave it up to them how we would do it,” Ward said. “Luke asked about ‘Breakfast Club’ and having it end with a leap in the air like they did in ’80s videos.”

In the video, the students seemed to enjoy themselves.

“I probably looked goofy,” Welsh said, smiling. “But, we had fun. It’s for the school. Whatever it takes to have a full season.”

Between the leaps at the beginning and end of the video, they promote the message of wearing masks, but they’re enjoying themselves. Senior Weston Kirk is seen wearing a mask covering his whole face, not just his nose and mouth. Welsh is seen laughing about it.

Alexis Adkinson messed up the first time in her attempt to ask folks to wear masks, before nailing it the second time. Both takes are included, with Adkinson smiling the whole way through it.

Spring Garden quarterback Ryley Kirk appears dead serious as he asks for people to wear masks.

“None of them are acting,” Ward said. “They’re just being themselves. What you see from Ryley, that’s how he is.”

There’s even a special appearance by Spring Garden basketball and volleyball coach Ricky Austin.

“I turned the corner and saw them, and Coach Ward said,

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Call the police on parties and don’t mingle, says UK interior minister

By Sarah Young

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters)British minister Priti Patel said on Tuesday she would call the police to report anyone who flouted a new ban on gatherings of more than six people, suggesting that people who stopped for a chat on the street were breaking new coronavirus laws.

COVID-19 cases across the UK have risen sharply in recent weeks, prompting the government to bring in the new rules to restrict socialising, at the same time as health bosses have said there are problems with accessing tests.

Patel said that people needed to help stop the spread of the disease, and that included calling the police on neighbours. She even suggested that families should not mingle with friends they bumped into on the street.

“If I saw something that I thought was inappropriate, then quite frankly I would effectively call the police,” she told Sky News.

“It’s not about dobbing in neighbours, I think it’s all about us taking personal responsibility. If there was a big party taking place, it would be right to call the police.”

Asked to define “mingling” – also not allowed under the new rules – she said it was “people coming together” and that if two families of four stopped for a chat in the street they would be infringing the law.

“It is mingling, I think it’s absolutely mingling,” she told BBC radio.

The social clampdown comes amid concern that people are struggling to get tests for COVID-19, especially in areas where the infection rates are highest.

Patel said that tests were available for people in their local areas, and that Public Health England was adding capacity and ensuring more testing was available on a daily basis.

“The majority of tests are available within a 10-mile (16-km) radius,” she told BBC TV, although she conceded that in some extreme cases people wouldn’t be able to get a test within that radius.

UK media reported many examples of people in virus hotspots unable to get tests, while NHS Providers, a body representing hospital, community and ambulance services in the state-run health service, said on Twitter that current testing shortages were starting to impact health services.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout and Michael Holden, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

(([email protected]; +44 207 542 7064; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Source Article

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The Best Kitchen Gadgets You Almost Surely Don’t Own (and May Never Have Heard of)

Some kitchen gadgets seem fun at first but quickly become nothing more than clutter. How often do you really use that popcorn machine, pasta maker, or fondue pot? Did you even remember you had a fondue pot complete with those little color-coded skewers? 

© Provided by The Daily Beast

Yeah, I rest my case.

But I actually don’t because there’s a lot more to say here. For every unused or underused kitchen appliance or gadget currently crammed onto your pantry shelves or tucked away in kitchen cabinets, there is at least one clever and handy device that you’ll actually use all the time once you get the hang of it or that will happily replace something you’re currently using.

Great kitchen gadgets go well beyond the “neat” factor and actually make your life easier and more enjoyable, as it pertains to cooking and eating, at any rate. Here today are the best kitchen gadgets you’ll be glad to add to the mix.

KitchenAid 9-Cup Food Processor

© Provided by The Daily Beast

If you think a food processor and a blender are pretty much the same thing than WRONG! They’re not – not even close. OK, maybe kind of close. But the precision offered by a fine food processor like this one gives you control a brute-like blender could never offer. Depending on how you orient the blades, you can use this device to chop and dice veggies, to shred cheese or pork, or to puree the hell out of foods from soup to hummus to dips and more. Ours is out on the counter and in use at least three times a week.

Buy KitchenAid 9-Cup Food Processor at Amazon, $150

Yonanas Deluxe Frozen Dessert Maker

© Provided by The Daily Beast

This brilliantly simple device serves two honorable purposes at once: it prevents a lot of food waste, and it creates a genuinely healthy and tasty dessert you won’t feel the least bit of guilt about serving to your kids. Just take all those browning bananas, softening strawberries, and bottom of the bowl blueberries and freeze ‘em. Then, 10 minutes before dessert time, get ‘em out and put them on a plate to soften slightly. Now cram fruit after fruit down the Yonanas’ chute and out the other side comes a delicious mixture akin to soft serve ice cream but that is indeed all fruit. (Pro tip? Serve the Yonanas concoction in an ice cream cone. Health factory reduced a bit, but wow factor doubled.)

Buy Yonanas Deluxe Frozen Dessert Maker at Amazon, $70

Kasimore Manual Hand Juicer

© Provided by The Daily Beast

So you have one of those electric juicer whatnots where you push the halved citrus fruit down on the reamer thing and it goes EEE-EEEE-EEE and rumbles around and then a bit of juice dribbles out of the spout, do you? OK, here’s what you do: grab that thing, make sure it’s unplugged, go over to the window, open the window, and then just

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Work lunches that don’t make use of the office kitchen

If you’re looking for ideas for lunches to take to work, you may find it especially hard right now. Between social distancing in the office and perhaps wanting to limit your trips to the communal kitchen, lunch takes more planning than it used to. While you may want a lunch that doesn’t rely on using the workplace fridge, sink or microwave, you will still want the food to taste good without reheating and for it to be stored safely to fend off bad bacteria.

To help you tick both boxes, we’ve put together a list of tips that keep food safety in mind, along with recipes that fit the bill. 

Why you can’t just leave your lunch at room temp all day

Health Canada advises that you keep cold food cold and hot food hot so bacteria that can make you sick can’t grow. The “danger zone” at which harmful bacteria thrives is anywhere between 4 C and 60 C. That’s a wide range, and your workplace temp will almost certainly be set to something within it. 

That recommendation applies not only to high-risk foods like dairy, eggs, meat and seafood, but also other lunchtime faves you may not suspect, like cooked grains, and cut fruit and vegetables. Basically anything that’s not bread, crackers, cookies, popcorn, whole and dried fruit, and unopened canned meat or fish should be kept out of the danger zone, says the Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS)

How to pack food you want to eat hot

To keep your hot food stored safely, CIFS recommends filling your thermal container with boiling water and letting it sit for a few minutes before emptying it and putting in your hot food. Avoid opening it before lunch so the heat doesn’t escape.

Here are recipes to try.

Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi

(Photography by Eric Wolfinger)

Paul Sun Hyung Lee’s Kimchi Soup

Chicken and Lentil Soup

Jamie Oliver’s Smoky Veggie Chili With Sweet Gem & Cheesy Jacket Spuds

Root Vegetable Stew with Rosemary Garlic Baguette

(Photo credit: Dennis The Prescott)

Winter Pappa al Pomodoro

(Photography by Dennis the Prescott)

How to pack food you plan to eat cold 

CIFS also recommends using an insulated lunch bag plus two cold sources for food that won’t be refrigerated. One of those sources could be a frozen drink, like water or a smoothie, which will slowly defrost to be perfectly chilled by noon. Double duty! 

Place one ice pack on the bottom and your other cold source on top to sandwich your food and keep it cool. 

Here are some recipes that taste great without reheating.

Farro and Mushroom Salad

20 Minute Moroccan Couscous Salad

Buckwheat Noodles and Assorted Vegetables with Gochujang Vinaigrette | Bibimguksu

(Photography by Leela Ceed)

Jamie Oliver’s Falafel Wraps with Grilled Veg & Salsa

(Credit: David Loftus)

Tips for heartier salads that won’t turn sad and wilty

The same cold food safety rules apply to salads, but there are some things you can do to preserve their quality

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The Game Has Changed for Madison Square Garden, but Don’t Count It Out Yet

I honestly don’t know if New York City returns to its former glory or not; I’ll leave that to folks like James Altucher and Jerry Seinfeld who had a very public difference of opinion on the matter, as well as Real Money contributor Jim Collins. All of them have lived there, know the issues first hand, and are better equipped to opine than I am.

What I do believe, however, is that New York City real estate has lost its luster, at least into the foreseeable future. I’ve always been enamored with real estate owned by publicly traded companies, and have owned names over the years, such as Saks and the former Madison Square Garden company (now Madison Square Garden Sports (MSGS) , which spun off Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp (MSGE) this past April) due in part to their New York real estate holdings.

But the game has changed as folks flee the city due to a combination of factors such as crime, high taxes, the pandemic and uncertainty. You’ve also got to wonder whether commercial real estate will recover, now that many have learned that they can indeed do their jobs from home. The companies realize that too, and what a way to cut overhead for businesses that lend themselves to work from home.

Despite my growing skepticism over certain areas of real estate, I was still somewhat surprised to see Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp pop up in my screen for triple-nets, or companies trading at between 2x and 3x net current asset value or NCAV. I actually did not believe my own eyes, and realized that it may have been a data lag (current market cap coupled with older fundamental data). Sure enough, the company’s 10K just came out, data that was indeed not reflected. However, I crunched the numbers anyway, and as of Tuesday, MSGE does indeed trade at about 3.13x NCAV, very close to triple-net territory. That is quite shocking.

Not surprisingly, the company is not currently profitable due to pandemic-related shutdown of venues, the crown jewel of which is the Madison Square Garden complex. Fourth-quarter revenue and full-year revenue were down 96% and 27%, respectively, and the company lost $4.74 per share for its latest quarter. Yet, the stock price has held up fairly well since the spinoff, closing at $88.51 on its first day of trading (it opened at $100) on April 9, and closing at $77.64 on Tuesday.

It’s the current strength of the balance sheet and potential value of the underlying assets that is supporting the share price. The company ended its fiscal year with $1.244 billion, or nearly $52 a share in cash and short-term investments, and $34 million in debt (there’s also $228 million in operating lease liabilities). MSGE currently trades at just 0.64x book value.

The current fiscal year does not look good for the company, with consensus estimates calling for a loss of $13.15 a share, followed by a loss of $3.35 next year. The company

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Bathroom Plumbing – Five Things You Should Know, But Don’t

Responsible homeowners are always trying to stay ahead of the game when it comes to any type of issue their home may face. While a number of things can cause significant problems to their home, one area that homeowners often find terrifying is their bathroom plumbing.

While it may seem a bit extreme to think that bathroom plumbing could instill terror, you have to consider that if the plumbing in your bathroom were to go awry, you’re going to be dealing with water damage from overflows & flooding, back-ups or clogs in your drains, and even some less-than-savory issues with waste from your toilet.

Home improvement experts & new construction analysts often cite responses on surveys that specify a bathroom problem as being a homeowner’s worst nightmare. What seems to make the fear grow is the amount of information not known about bathroom plumbing, or any of the home’s plumbing. It’s hard to be proactive about something you just have no knowledge about. Or is it?

Even if you’re not a plumbing ace, you can still have an advantage of sorts when it comes to your bathroom plumbing. Just keep the following in mind:

Use A Hair Guard – It’s a simple product that blends in with your surroundings, but boy, does it make a difference! A hair guard does just what it says – it keeps hair from clogging up your drains. Make it a regular chore to clean it, though know that it’s going to be a little yucky.

Avoid Chemicals – The materials that comprise your plumbing (e.g., porcelain, PVC) are sensitive to chemical interactions. Avoid using chemical cleaners & clog treatments to reduce the chance of causing damage.

Your Toilet Isn’t A Waste Basket – Every plumber agrees that the only things that should ever go in a toilet are waste & toilet tissue. Anything else always has the chance to cause a major clog or even a back-up.

Be Mindful of Your Home’s Water Pressure – In the same way that you want to treat pipes and fixtures with care, you also don’t want to push them beyond their limits. This is where water pressure if vital. The recommended water pressure for a residence is usually between 25-75 PSI and certainly not over 80 PSI. If your home goes beyond the 80 PSI threshold, you’re putting too much pressure on every element of your home’s plumbing.

Ventilation is Important – Drains to your sink & bathtub need to be vented in order to perform at optimal operation. If they aren’t vented well enough, you can run into major issues such as a pervasive sewage smell. This smell is a health risk for everyone in your home. Moreover, even if you choose to ignore this element, you may find some serious pushback from a potential buyer if you want to sell your home in the future.

Bathroom plumbing isn’t rocket science, but if you’re still not quite comfortable enough to take a look around or even …

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Problems Selling Your House? Here Are the Reasons Homes Don’t Sell

If your house has been on the market for many months without receiving any offers, what might be the problem? Of course when the economy is down, houses do not move as quickly. But right now the housing market seems to be coming back. Many houses are moving quite quickly. If you are frustrated by the lack of interest shown in your house, perhaps you should consider the following suggestions.

Is your house competitively priced? Today many houses are selling quickly because prices are still down and interest rates are at an all time low. This is not a good time to be asking more for your house than its true market value. Buyers have many house options and most couples will not overpay for a house — even yours!

How do you know if your home is priced fairly? The method used by most real estate agents is to compare your house with similar homes that were sold in your neighborhood. It is important not to compare apples with oranges. If your house is a ranch you cannot compare it to a two story home. Comparable houses should have approximately the same square footage and lot size, the same number of bathrooms and bedrooms, and should be approximately the same age and construction.

Oftentimes the homes that sold did so for a range of prices. For instance, your agent may tell you one house sold for $200,000, while another sold for $250,000. When that happens you should look at the two homes and compare other features. For instance, the higher priced house may have had an updated kitchen with new appliances, new hardwood floors and perhaps a finished basement.

The lower priced house may have had none of those. You may think you can automatically price your house at the high end of the price range. If your house has all the same new features you probably can. However, if your house is more like the lower priced house, then you need to face reality.

Should you make improvements on your home to bring up the price? Yes and no. You don’t want to spend $50,000 on a new kitchen and a finished basement if all you are going to get back is your initial investment. However, there are improvements you can make that offer you a good return.

Curb appeal is very important. Make sure your lawn is in tip top shape and it is mowed and edged. Flower beds should be weed free and freshly mulched. Bushes and hedges should be trimmed and no debris should be found in the yard.

Fresh paint is an inexpensive improvement, but will make a big difference. Also, make sure you deep clean hour house from top to bottom. If for some reason you are not able to do this, spend a few hundred dollars and have professionals come in and thoroughly clean everything.

If your house is priced right, and everything is sparkling, fresh and clean, your house will sell. …

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