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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


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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.

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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

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

Watch: In this Sharjah school, you don’t have to go only to the bathroom to wash your hands amid COVID-19

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Keith Sykes, headteacher of Victoria English School in Sharjah with artist and curator Yoshita Ahmed showcasing the school’s innovative sinks
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sharjah: The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many schools around the world to search for innovative ways to protect themselves.

Handwashing with soap and water, when done correctly, is critical in the fight against COVID-19, as per World Health Organisation.

Now Victoria English School (VES) in Sharjah, which has 800 students, has taken a novel initiative to encourage hand washing by turning dozens of barrels into colourful sinks and installing themacross the hallways and at the school’s yard. “One of the things we are trying to do is get students not to associate hand washing as something they should do when they visit the bathroom. We want to educate them that hand washing is part of hygiene and good COVID-19 preparedness,” Keith Sykes, head teacher at VES, told Gulf News.

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A student washing his hands at the barrel sink
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

He said that ten barrels were set inside the school and in the yard to prevent crowds of students around sinks in the bathrooms to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “We brought some barrels and designed them with sinks and water tanks. The handwashing stations will be placed in the yard so students can wash their hands during break time. We want to build a culture to encourage students to wash their hands as a regular practice, not only because of COVID-19.”

Ameen Al Nezami, chairman of the school, said they worked hard through the summer break to prepare the school for an on-site study during COVID-19. He said that a team of inspectors from Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) visited the school and asked to get more sinks for students

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