Category: Homeowners

How to Create More Space at Home

What’s your biggest challenge at home? For many of us, it’s a lack of space.

So how can you carve out an extra bedroom, a home office or a study nook for a school-age child? The answer may not be as out-of-reach as you think.

Here are four solutions for a range of spaces and budgets.

1. Transform the Garage

Are you wishing for a home gym, an artist’s cottage, an office, a family room, an in-law suite or a rental apartment? Your garage may be the answer.

Both attached and unattached garages can be converted into an extra room. To get started, research local building codes and zoning ordinances. If you belong to an HOA, you’ll need to check their rules, too. If you’re doing more than small cosmetic changes, it’s also a good idea to consult with a professional architect, engineer and contractor.

2. Consider a Prefab Shed

Modern and inviting, a prefab shed is an easy way to add a room if you don’t have a garage to work with. And unlike with a garage remodel, you may not need a permit for installation.

3. Convert the Attic or Basement

As with a garage, an attic or basement could be remodeled into an inviting living space for a variety of uses. Consider adding a half-bath and/or kitchenette if you have the budget and want to create an in-law suite or apartment.

4. The “No-Remodel” Option

Finally, there are less expensive and invasive ways to create more space in your home. With more people working remotely, closet offices have become popular. Scan your space for any closets and corners where clutter has accumulated. How could these nooks be put to better use?

Have questions about your insurance coverage? Is there anything else we can help with? Reach out anytime at vickinsurancegroup.com or contact one of our team members in the office.

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5 Simple Steps to a Safer Home

Keeping your family safe and your home in good condition are top priorities for any homeowner.

What’s one way to help achieve these goals? You can conduct a home safety audit each year.

This simply means inspecting a few things and reviewing emergency plans with everyone in your household. These easy safety checks can make all the difference. Here’s where to start.

Locate and test smoke alarms. Do you have enough smoke alarms, and are they working? You want one on each floor, including one inside and outside each sleeping area. Test each alarm, replace expired batteries and replace alarms older than 10 years.

Practice getting out and meeting up. It’s important to have a well-understood evacuation plan in case of a fire or other emergency. Go over the details (like how to exit safely and how to gather up your pets) and practice them together. Settle on a meeting place outside.

Check fire extinguishers. Do you have one in the garage and one in the kitchen? Make sure the dial shows the extinguisher is still pressurized. Review the instructions for using it (and know when to use it and when to evacuate).

Look for kitchen hazards. Has grease built up around the stove or on your range hood filter? It could start a cooking fire. Also, make sure cleaning products are locked away from young children and pets.

Check carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they’re still working and have fresh backup batteries. Some are integrated with smoke alarms, but plug-in ones at knee level may provide better detection.

Do you have questions about keeping your home safe or about your coverage? Reach out anytime for assistance.

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6 Helpful Home Features to Look Forward To

If you could redesign your home today, what would it look like?

Experiencing a pandemic has changed how many of us think about our living spaces. What used to make sense may now seem impractical, and lots of homeowners are wishing for different features and layouts altogether.

How will home design change in the future? Here are a few comfort-focused innovations we might start to see.

Cleanliness and Safety

Looking to the future, you can likely expect to see more voice- and motion-activated technology and stronger barriers between the outside and inside world.

  • Entry areas and mudrooms may become a “must” rather than a “nice to have” feature. Many will be equipped with a place to wash hands, store shoes and clothes, and might even have a washer and dryer.
  • Smart home technology will likely be more focused on monitoring air and water quality. Voice- and motion-recognition features can help minimize contact with surfaces.

Streamlined Storage

Have you felt overwhelmed by clutter lately? Future homes will likely adapt to a more streamlined and storage-friendly mindset.

  • Redesigned kitchens will emphasize storage space with larger pantries and multipurpose islands and counters.
  • Creative solutions will be needed for smaller spaces, and this may include fold-down desks, under-the-stairs storage and making the most of vertical space.

Structural Boundaries

Need some peace and quiet? Want to accommodate multiple roommates or your multi-generational family with ease? Designers and architects can help.

  • Walls will be in demand. Individual rooms (rather than open floor plans) can give residents the privacy they need.
  • Flexible and outdoor spaces that can provide areas for work, exercise, relaxation and recreation will become more appealing than ever.

Do you have questions about your coverage? Need help with anything? Reach out today.

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FAQs About Pets and Home Insurance

Your dog just took down the neighbor’s fence while chasing a squirrel (and your neighbor isn’t happy). Will your homeowners insurance cover the damage? The short answer is, “it depends.”

Policy coverage and exclusions can vary, and when important factors like pets are involved, the fine print matters.

Want to know more? Here are a few common questions about pets and home insurance.

Does your policy cover damage caused by pets?

Many home insurance policies do not cover damage your pets cause to your own property — like a torn sofa or broken TV. However, liability insurance may cover damage your pet does to other people’s property.

What if your dog bites someone on your property?

Most home liability policies offer coverage for damage a person may suffer on your property, including dog bites (up to a certain limit and provided you’ve disclosed you have a dog). Note that after the first dog bite, you may face additional exclusions.

Are different breeds treated differently?

Some insurance policies may offer limitations on coverage if you have what is considered a high-risk breed. When you share what kind of pet you have we can let you know what to expect.

Are backyard animals covered?

Home insurance policies don’t provide coverage for damage your pets, including backyard animals like goats or chickens, cause to your property. However, liability coverage may still apply (with some limitations).

Will your home insurance pay your pet’s medical bills?

Unfortunately, you’re likely on your own for your pet’s medical bills even if they are hurt during a covered incident (like breaking through your neighbor’s fence).

Have questions about your coverage? Reach out anytime to one of our team members at Vick Insurance Group.


5 Ways to Help Prevent Water Damage

Water damage doesn’t always reveal itself right away. But over time, a small hole in your roof or a slowly leaking pipe can easily lead to big problems and expensive repairs.

With smart habits and a few check-ins a year, however, you can limit the chances of costly damage and annoying cleanup.

Want to keep your home in good shape? Here are five simple steps to minimize the risk of water damage.

1. Care for Your Roof and Gutters

An annual roof inspection is a must. It’s also important to patch holes, replace missing shingles and keep gutters debris-free to direct rain and ice away from your home. Keep downspouts far enough away from the house to ensure good drainage.

2. Keep Your Pipes in Good Shape

Insulate your pipes and check on them regularly to keep tabs on signs of weakness or leaks. Have a plumber inspect your water lines every few years. Also avoid using hard drain cleaners, which damage pipe interiors and make them more susceptible to cracks and breaks.

3. Watch Those Windowsills

Is the caulk around your windows discolored? Is condensation appearing on the inside of the windows or along the frames? Maintaining these areas helps keep moisture out and can also boost your home’s energy efficiency.

4. Install Flood and Moisture Sensors

Smart homes can include simple sensors that alert you to moisture buildup and flooding in high-risk areas like the basement, laundry area and kitchen.

5. Test the Sump Pump

If you have a sump pump that pushes water away from your home, inspect it annually to make sure it’s working properly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Have questions about water damage or anything else? Reach out to one of our agents at Vick Insurance Group to discuss your policy.


Need a good reason to organize your home?

You’ve probably heard a lot about “decluttering” lately. Sure, it seems better to live in a tidy and streamlined home that isn’t crowded with stuff, but is it really worth the trouble to be that organized?

Here’s one thing you may have overlooked: Organizing your home could actually save you money.

Intrigued? Find out how cleaning up can be a budget-friendly move:

Uncover Hidden Belongings

Think about all the boxes, crates and bins crammed into your closets, garage or attic. If you had a break-in or a fire, would you even know what’s been stolen or lost?

Keep things organized and avoid loss by doing a home inventory, taking photos of valuables and choosing sturdy, weatherproof storage containers. You’ll probably discover a few items to sell or donate during this process, too.

Prioritize Safety

In addition to making it hard to find what you’re looking for, keeping piles of stuff around can actually be unsafe. Stacks of mismatched boxes can easily topple over, overstuffed cabinets can limit access to fire extinguishers, and obstructed doors and windows block airflow and fire exits.

Thinning out and organizing your stuff can minimize the chance of personal injury and damage to your belongings, which can both be expensive and frustrating.

Avoid Repairs

Finally, taking the time for routine maintenance can help keep insurance costs low and help avoid having to make costly repairs. Go the extra mile by creating a reminder system to help you stay on top of things like changing the batteries in your smoke alarm, replacing air filters and regularly checking on the health and cleanliness of your appliances.

Want more money-saving ideas or have questions about your insurance? Reach out today to one of our team members.

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Smart Ideas for a Safe and Happy Winter

Winter is known for being a time of celebration, family gatherings and staying cozy by the nearest fireplace. It’s also a season of potential challenges when it comes to your home, vehicle and health.

Want to keep the season as festive and problem-free as possible? Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the rest of 2019 and beyond:

At Home

It’s good advice for any time of the year: Give your home a thorough once-over and complete the maintenance tasks that can prevent you from having to make expensive repairs later on. This includes:

  • Examining your roof and gutters and looking for any leaks or obstructions
  • Trimming dying tree branches or those that are too close to your house (or your neighbor’s)
  • Checking the bulbs in your outdoor lighting
  • Insulating pipes in unheated areas and inspecting your windows and doors for any areas that need recaulking or new weatherstripping

On the Road

Winterize your car by checking all its vitals:

  • The battery
  • Tire tread and pressure
  • All fluids, including antifreeze

It’s also wise to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, especially during the winter. A flashlight, blankets, portable phone charger, first-aid kit, extra batteries and a small supply of food and water are safety must-haves.

Health and Safety

Last but not least, take good care of your family and yourself during cold and flu season by getting a flu shot, washing your hands often and regularly wiping down commonly used items like light switches and remote controls.

And whether you’re getting your home ready for colder weather or the upcoming holidays, always exercise caution when using ladders, power tools, fireplaces and candles.

Want more tips before the upcoming new year? Need to discuss your coverage? Reach out to one of our team members anytime. Stay connected with us through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


4 Common Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve spent three months looking over paint swatches and now you’re finally ready to make a decision. But as soon as you finish the first coat of Blue Marlin, you’re wishing you had gone with Iceberg instead.

Paint is pretty easy to change. But other home updates can cost you more than just a lost weekend. Take a look at these common remodeling mistakes before you start your next project:

1. You Underestimate the Timeframe

It was supposed to take one afternoon to install the new plank-style wood flooring in your bedroom. Now you’re sleeping in the living room and your project is far from complete.

The Takeaway: Be realistic from the beginning and allow yourself plenty of time to deal with unforeseen challenges.

2. You Cut Corners on Materials

You’re heartbroken to learn that the 99-cent backsplash you found is hard to install and not very durable. It didn’t take long to crack one of the tiles.

The Takeaway: Keep quality in mind, read consumer reviews and don’t let thriftiness cloud your vision.

3. You Should Have Hired a Professional

Building a new set of front entrance stairs seems manageable according to the YouTube videos you’ve watched. But before you know it, you’re in way over your head.

The Takeaway: When a project involves heavy lifting or specific skills, it’s best to turn to a pro for help.

4. You End Up Going Way Over Budget

You just wanted to pull out some old carpet in the basement and add a simple wall. Now, you’re waterproofing and managing mold (and you surpassed your budget several days ago).

The Takeaway: A thorough inspection from a trusted contractor can reveal the true scope of the work that needs to be done.

Have questions about your homeowners coverage or how it might change if you remodel? Reach out to one of our team members today at www.vickinsurancegroup.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.