Harris, Reed & Seiferth
It's so easy to get wrapped up in the notion that "bigger is better." Contentment always seems to be tragically unreachable whenever cravings for more and more consume us. We want more so-called "friends" on social media. We want more closet space for an ever-growing pile of clothing that we rarely wear. "Why yes, I'd like to supersize my meal!" we chant in a frenzy at our favorite fast food joints. Our appetites never seem to be satisfied.
OK, perhaps I'm making hasty generalizations and exaggerations, but we can all at least admit to occasionally being tangled in the chaos and busyness of life. Everyone has their own tedious tasks to take on and along with them come bills to pay, relationships to build and hours of sleep to never completely catch up on. Organizing, compartmentalizing and managing all of the overwhelming "stuff" that accumulates in life can make one weary and stressed. From this perspective it's easy to see why we have the tendency to think that more money, more space, more tools, more time — more everything — will help us solve all of our problems.
However, there is a group who has found contentment in having less; satisfaction in the simple life; and freedom in letting go of materialistic burdens. These unique and inventive individuals are the ones who are driving the rising tiny house movement.
The tiny house movement refers to the social and architectural movement that encourages living simply, efficiently and sustainably in small homes. Just how tiny are these homes? Typically containing a living area, sleeping loft, kitchen and bathroom, these homes rarely exceed 400 square feet. Some of them are built on permanent foundations, but many of them are on wheels and are easily portable.
Architect and author, Susan Susanka, is often credited with starting the movement in 1997 when she published The Not So Big House. Since then, the idea that bigger doesn't always equal better in home building has continued to grow. There are many strong advocates for the movement, like Jay Shafer, who founded the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Schafer's manufacturing company builds customized tiny houses and ships them to customers who are eager to pursue a simplified lifestyle.
In an interview with Shareable, Schafer explains that the movement is about people not wanting to consume more than they have to. "It boils down to efficiency," he remarks. When asked about what qualifies a home as part of the tiny house movement, he states, "Any house in which all the space is being used well."
Indeed, the idea of living an efficient, self-sufficient and simplified lifestyle has attracted many to the movement. The appeal of environmental consciousness is also a large contributing factor: tiny houses require much less energy and greatly reduce one's ecological impact. Lastly, tiny houses are much less expensive when it comes to building, heating and maintenance, so the more economically-balanced lifestyle that is offered through tiny house living is more than enough to draw interest.
Tiny houses are capturing the attention of the public and, for many, are becoming a legitimate housing alternative. The movement is gaining increased media coverage. TV shows like Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Builders and Tiny House Hunters celebrate the exploding movement by offering building tips and spotlighting unique tiny houses and their owners. In addition, nonprofits like the American Tiny House Association and groups like the Tiny House Community are working to promote the tiny house as a formally acceptable dwelling option and are sponsoring workshops, fairs and conferences that bring together builders and enthusiasts. Online communities like Living Big in a Tiny House, Small House Society, The Tiny Life and Tiny Home Builders create opportunities for people to connect and share advice and stories from their tiny house lifestyles.
Though living in a tiny house may not be for everyone, there is definitely something we all can learn from the movement. Learning to share, adapting more efficient and sustainable practices and choosing to live freely and fully by slowing down and taking the time to refocus on what's truly important in life are certainly all commendable endeavors.
Foremost offers solutions for insuring tiny houses. If the unit is on permanent foundation and attached to permanent facilities, it is eligible for a Dwelling Fire or Specialty Homeowners policy. If the unit is RVIA approved, with the wheels still intact, it is eligible for a Travel Trailer policy.
You may tend to overlook your roof, but it's actually the most important component of your home - and the most vulnerable. It protects you from the elements like rain, snow and sun, but roofs don't last forever!
I didn't really think about the importance of roofs until recently when my friend and her husband bought their first home. It was built in the late 40s, and since she moved in she's been saying how badly her roof needs replacing. Of course, that was five months ago, and work has still yet to be done. I then thought to myself, is putting off the project really going to affect you that much?
The answer is, yes!
So — I began to research how one would go about replacing or repairing a roof.
The first order of business: understand the relationship between the age of your roof and its life expectancy. According to the Good Housekeeping magazine, shingle roofs should last between 20-30 years (if you have a different type of roof, such as metal or clay tile, you may have to follow different rules). If your home is new or the roof was recently replaced, you should be in the clear. However, it doesn't hurt to do a checkup after getting hit with severe weather like a hailstorm, ice and snow or crazy rain.
If your roof is getting close to its 30th birthday, keep your eyes open for warning signs that tell you it's time for a revamp. Here are a few things to look out for:
According to Home Advisor, a roof replacement can range anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000. The size of your home, the materials used and where you live will affect that price range. It's no small sum, but in return for the investment, you'll add thousands of dollars to the resale value of your home and ensure a safe and habitable dwelling for years to come. Don't need a new roof right now? Do a quick check each month to see if maintenance is needed. If you notice problems like missing shingles or signs of water damage, be sure to call a roofing specialist to make the repairs as soon as possible - it could save you a bundle by prolonging the life of your roof and stopping costly leaks in their tracks.
I am guessing I'm not the only one who doesn't want to share their home with eight-legged strangers. When I see those creepy spiders crawling across my floor I immediately feel like I need to check under every chair, table and rug for the rest of their families. Of course, in the part of the country I live in, the spiders are harmless, but that doesn't stop me from feeling just a little uneasy when crawling friends start taking over my home.
It's starting to get warmer out and that means that my home is beginning to be infiltrated with spiders! Because of that, I feel the need to share some tips and tricks for keeping those creepy, crawly creatures out of our homes:
After what felt like an endless winter, everything is slowly starting to thaw out and melt. Spring is one of my favorite times of the year, and as a new homeowner, I am starting to observe new things on my home that I need to inspect, and projects I want to tackle this summer. I purchased my home in the dead of winter with snow piled up on the exterior, so I couldn't fully see everything as much as I would have liked. Now that I have a clear view, it's time to start my spring maintenance checklist and inspect for any damage sustained during winter.
A burglary occurs approximately every 15 seconds in the United States. Home security has become an important issue for everyone, no matter where you live. While there's no foolproof way to stop every break-in, many burglaries are preventable. Keep in mind that burglars search for easy targets.
Here are some security measures that may force burglars to look elsewhere:
Use the right locks and solid doors
Secure sliding patio doors and windows:
Protect your home with proper lighting:
Don't give thieves an easy way in:
Moving is bittersweet. The excitement that comes from changing scenery and beginning a new adventure cannot be denied, but if you've enjoyed whatever living situation you've been in, leaving can be especially difficult. Not to mention, moving is exhausting! However, if we want to move onto that next adventure, there are steps we have to take.
In the first two blogs of this four-part series, we prepared ourselves for the move and learned the proper techniques for packing like pros. Now that our accounts are all in check, we can steam ahead and get to the exciting part – actually moving! Make your move a bit less stressful by following this checklist for a successful day.
To read the other blogs in this series, click on any of the buttons below.
Confirm arrangements with your mover
Hopefully, if you've been planning on having a moving company help on the day of, you will have contacted them by now. If not, pick up that phone and make arrangements immediately! If you have already made arrangements, call and confirm them with your mover, detailing different belongings to make sure they show up with the proper equipment.
Ask friends and family to help
The more the merrier! Moving out is stressful no matter how many people are lending a hand. Recruit your friends and family to help you move, especially if you have not hired a moving company. Consider making it something of a party, with music and soda to keep the energy high as you sweat your home to vacancy.
Completing a home inventory checklist is one of the best ways to keep track of your possessions before a move. It will also be handy to have an accurate record for insurance purposes in case of theft, fire or other disaster. Before the movers leave, sign the inventory list and keep a copy for your own personal records. Also, check out this article from Unpakt to see what technique is best for you.
Take pictures of new home (if renting)
If you're moving into a rental, take pictures of your place before the move in date so you are not charged with any damages made prior to your occupancy.
Request time off from work on the day of your move
.If you're planning to move on a work day, request that day off so you can supervise the day from start to finish.
Plan a payment with your mover.
If you haven't already discussed payment through a credit card with your mover, get a money order, cashier's check or cash for final payment and a tip. If the movers have done a good job, it is customary to tip anywhere from 10% to 15% of the total fee for the move.
Congratulations, you've officially moved out of your old home! Now that that's taken care of, make sure to check in next week where we'll talk about how to move into your new pad.
The time has come…do I keep renting, or do I buy? I've been renting various apartments for most of my life because it's been easy and convenient. However, since I've decided to stay in my city long-term, there's no reason not to start looking at homes on the market. From a financial perspective, it's a lot smarter. I would rather build equity with a home than continue to pay for something I'll never own. I was talking with a friend about home ownership, which is when she mentioned getting a condo, instead! The more I considered it, the more I started warming up to the idea of living in one – so I decided to make a pros and cons list for you and me!
Pros of owning a condo:
Amenities at my leisure.
Along with owning a condo, you have several different condo amenities available to you, which may include a fitness center, pool and play area for children.
No more outdoor maintenance.
The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is mow the grass and work on landscaping. Thanks to the homeowner association, I will no longer have to do any yard or exterior work on my building (that includes the roof!). Also, depending on your association agreement, they may also cover snow removal.
Lower price tag.
Buying a condo is more affordable than buying a single family home. The number, of course, depends on the size of the condo, and the cost of living in the area.
Certain condos provide gated entries, doormen, or even security guards for their residents. This is very important for someone who lives alone. Also, being in close proximity to your neighbors is beneficial if you ever have an emergency, or feel like you’re in danger.
Cons of owning a condo:
Homeowners association fees.
All of those fabulous amenities, maintenance and other services are only available because of the HOA fees you have to pay every month. Yes, this is on top of paying your mortgage. The fees can range from a $200 to a thousand dollars or more a month, and can be raised at different times throughout the year.
You must live by the rules.
Condo associations have a set of rules to keep the building well-kept and everyone happy. The rules are often things like: no loud music after 10 p.m., keeping up the appearance of your home at all times, and in some cases, no pets allowed. They can even enforce what color they want to paint the exterior of your condo, and you have no say in the matter.
Not as private.
You are very close to your neighbors, so sometimes it can feel like nothing is private. Along with sharing walls, you share parking, pools, tennis courts, etc. There are probably times it will have the same feel as living in an apartment. There is such a thing as detached condos, but that comes with a higher price tag.
Condos appreciate at a slower rate.
This is because when you own a condo, you don't own any land, which is a key factor that increases a home's value. Instead, you only own the inside of the unit. I don't plan on living in a condo forever, so this was a big thing to consider.
In addition to my list, I'm getting some insight from people who currently live in condos to hear what they like, and don't like. If you currently live in a condo, feel free to share your experience in the comments below!
Transitioning from a home where you have roots in one place to a full-time life on the road is a drastic change, but there are many things that draw people to this “nomad” lifestyle. It could be the flexibility, the love of traveling, or maybe you just want to get out of your comfort zone and try something new! Whatever the reason may be, if you’re preparing to be an RV full-timer, kudos for having the courage to embrace this exciting lifestyle change.
We know it can be overwhelming to think about the details involved with living full-time in an RV, and your choice to welcome the open road may seem impulsive to others, but that’s okay. Life is short, and who knows … you may end up regretting not doing this sooner!
Here are some tips to help you prepare for living in an RV full-time.
Become a Minimalist.
Adapting a minimalist lifestyle often requires major changes. You’re probably going from a normal-sized home to a roughly 270 square foot space, which forces you to ask: “What do I really need?” To determine this, start by writing down everything you want to bring, then write another list of everything you actually need. This will help you visualize and prioritize your possessions.
Bring all the necessities, of course – clothes, toiletries, shoes, cookware, etc. However, you won’t nee
d 10 pairs of boots, or the many t-shirts that have been sitting in your drawers for 2+ years, or 20 drinking glasses that you currently have in your kitchen.
You may need to make some tough decisions, but take this opportunity to de-clutter your belongings. Make a “take” pile and a “donation” pile. It’s always a good idea, even if you aren’t planning to RV full-time!
Life on the road means you won’t be home to pick up your mail and see if you received any bills. Move all of your bills (cell phone, medical, credit cards, auto insurance, etc.) to automated billing so you don’t need to worry about it. Once you make the switch, you should get all notifications for your bills via email moving forward. Plus, this helps save the environment!
Sell or Keep Your Home?
This brings us to our next question – will you make the commitment to sell your home and have your RV be your only residence? This depends on how much you plan to travel throughout the year. Also, can you afford to keep your home while traveling? You will still have your mortgage payments, maintenance on the home and other obligations. If you decide to keep your home, there’s always the option of renting it out so you won’t have to worry about any mortgage payments. If you don’t start renting, make sure you have someone regularly stopping by your home to get the mail and take care of any maintenance needed as the seasons go by.
If you do decide to sell your home or cancel a lease, you will need to choose a domicile state and receive mail. Getting a domicile means you are choosing a state for your legal residence. This state will be listed on your driver’s license, where you purchase your health insurance, where you can vote and where you will accept mail. (There are lots of mail-forwarding services that will set you up with a street address so you can officially establish residency. This is helpful because a P.O. Box address will not be accepted as your legal residence). The best states for full-time RVer domiciles are Texas, Florida or South Dakota.* People usually choose these states because they are income tax-free!
Selling your home will also allow more financial freedom for your RV travels! Get that estate sale ready, or find a storage unit to put all of your furniture in, just in case you ever want a break from the RV life.
Determine a Monthly Budget.
You may think you’ll be saving a lot of money when you live on the road – but you will be surprised. Since your expenses will be drastically different from when you lived in a home, you need to budget and keep track of everything you spend. Things like campsite fees, eating out frequently, gas and unexpected RV repairs can add up. Once you get a good idea of how much you’re spending each month, you can adjust your budget accordingly.
Purchase Full-Time RV Insurance.
Since your RV will be your permanent residence, you need a specific type of insurance coverage called “Full-Time RV Insurance.” You will be covered against liabilities, Additional Living Expenses, medical expenses in the case of an accident and more! Contact one of our local agents today to get more information on how you can get covered, so you can enjoy your travels across the U.S., or start an RV quote now!
Stay Connected with Family and Friends.
Communicate with your friends and family on a regular basis. (They will miss you!) It’s also a good idea to let a few people know your current location and where you’re headed next on a regular basis, just in case of an emergency. To make your loved ones feel like they’re part of your adventure, post pictures frequently on social media or send them via text or email. It will let everyone know you and your companions are safe, and also allows you to stay connected with everyone even when you’re not physically with them.
Enjoy Every Minute.
Living life on the road is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will see amazing things, meet one-of-a-kind people and make the best memories. Don’t take it for granted! With traveling, you will always run into some bumps in the road – but that’s part of the journey. Don’t let it discourage your long-term goals. You’re not tied down to a routine now, so enjoy the freedom and independence that comes with RVing full-time. Stay safe and happy travels from Foremost!
Anyone who's been through a flood knows that recovering after this kind of disaster isn't easy. You're forced to accept that irreplaceable family treasures and memories may be gone forever, your furniture is destroyed, potentially along with your home. It's a devastating and emotional moment and a lot to take in all at once. But you know the only thing you can do is move forward, and begin the steps needed to restore your home.
As soon as the floodwaters recede, you can return to your home as long as officials give the OK to do so. Before entering your home, however, make sure it is safe!
Tips for staying safe upon return:
Tips for claim reporting:
Another important step to take when recovering from a flood is reporting your loss immediately to your insurance agent or carrier. While flood coverage is typically not provided under most homeowners and renters policies, flood insurance may be available to you through the federally regulated program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you need assistance to locate your flood insurance carrier, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). A claims adjuster should contact you within a day or two after report of the claim, depending on the severity of the flood event.
When reporting a claim, you should have the following information available:
Tips for inspections:
The next step, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is to prepare for your inspection. After deeming the structure safe for entry, take as many photos or videos of the flood-damaged property on the outside and inside. Take pictures of high-cost items as well like washers and dryers, hot water heaters, televisions and kitchen appliances. It's also a good idea to separate the damaged from undamaged items prior to the inspection.
When the adjuster arrives, they will inspect your property including taking measurements and photos and give you an overview of the NFIP flood claims process. Remember that some flood insurance claims are more complex than others. Some may be opened and closed quickly, while others may take weeks or even months to resolve.
If your vehicle was also damaged in a flood event, it's best to call your auto insurance provider to see if you're covered for the loss.
If you smell gas, get everyone out. Use your neighbor's phone to call a qualified repair person or the gas company immediately. If possible, shut off the gas main from outside the home.
Caution: Never attempt to repair gas lines yourself.
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