residential

California Fires: Steps to take when your home destroyed by the fire? by Bob Ybarra

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A friend posted this very valuable list of advice to those who lost their homes in the California wildfires. The loss of your home is a tragic one and is followed by a lot of confusion, uncertainty and fear. But having some knowledge and understanding of steps to take to rebuild is invaluable to assist you and build hope.

“I thought it could be helpful for those who have losses and don't know where to start. We are safe and trusting Jesus to be our comfort, hope and strength. Hope this helps some of you.”

Start with the small list:

1. Get a PO Box

2. Longer term rental search - include insurance on it so they pay directly for rental. Find a nice place that you like, don't settle.  You should be able to get a "Like Property" so insurance should cover a nice place for you to live while you work through all this.  You might be living here for 2 years, so choose wisely.

3. Find a place to buy some sturdy boots and gloves.  Get some shovels. 

4. Start working on the personal property list (this is not fun at all, be prepared to cry we sure did).  Write down the moment you remember – keep list on phone or pad of paper with you at all times.

5.  Save receipts.  Loss of use insurance will cover incidentals too – hairbrush, phone chargers, etc.

6.  As you buy things, tell the store owner your situation.  Most stores will give you some level of discount as their way of helping you.

7.  Let people do things for you.  Do you have a friend that you can send to the store to buy you some basic clothes or comfort foods?  Let them do it – they want to help and you don’t need to spend time doing these errands.   (The ‘fun’ of shopping is gone…it quickly becomes a chore because you don’t want a new shirt, you want the one that you always liked to wear but now it’s gone and you are sad/mad.)

The Big List:

1.    Register at the shelters, with Red Cross and any other agency there, california FEMA, etc.

a.    Most of the aid coming in will use these lists as a point of contact and will help to ensure that you don't get left out of anything.  

b.    This will be especially important should FEMA be activated, which in my opinion is very likely with the amount of devastation experienced.

2.    Call Homeowners/Rental insurance to trigger "Loss of Use" This typically will allow you to be in a "Like" property for x number of years and sometimes has a dollar limit attached and sometimes not, this is dependent on your policy.

a.    This coverage should also give you some immediate access to funds for essentials, clothes, toothbrushes, food, etc.

b.    This will also get the ball rolling for the insurance claim on your home and rebuilding/personal property Dollars.

3.    Get a PO Box and forward all mail to the Box.  Use this PO Box as the mailing address on all forms you begin to fill out.

4.    Start Searching for a Long term rental. Coordinate with your insurance company so that payments can be made directly from them using your “Loss of Use” money.

a.    Plan on renting 1-2 years, but do not necessarily sign a lease for a full two years as circumstances can change.

5.    Itemized List of belongings - (This is very hard but very necessary for your claim) I would organize by room and list everything that was there with a replacement cost. (you will cry a lot doing this and that is ok)

a.    Replacement Cost should be what it would cost to replace not on sale from pottery barn, it should not be the price you paid for it with that 50% off coupon.

b.    Make sure you list everything, even if it is above and beyond your policy limit.  This is very important because everything above and beyond the policy limit is considered a Loss and can be claimed as such on your taxes - See #9

6.    Call all of your utilities and either freeze or cancel service. Electric, Gas, TV, Land Line phone

a.    Newspaper delivery, either cancel or update to PO Box.

7.    Call the rest of your insurance points as needed. Car insurance

a.    Any specialty insurance for unique items

8.    Permits - An unfortunate necessity. Debris Removal - as things wind down it will be necessary to remove the debris, this requires a permit usually. (This should be covered by your insurance, we had to force the issue but ask repeatedly.)

a.    Erosion Control - If you are on any kind of hill or have sloped property you will need to put some sort of erosion control measures in place, again this will need some sort of permit.  

b.    Temporary Power Pole/Trailer on site Permit - Getting this earlier on can prove helpful in both the rebuilding process.

(My comments: The county and/or city will possibly respond to the cleanup and demolition of debris from your property. This hasty be done with care as there are many toxic and environmentally dangerous contents in the debris. Refer to local website as they will be posting information or personally go to your local Building and Safety office.)

9.    Taxes. You will be able to claim the monetary loss of the value of all your items minus what you receive from your insurance company.  I’m unfamiliar with the exact laws, but I believe that we were able to carry our losses back 2-5 years and received most of the money that we had paid in taxes back in a nice large check.

10.  Network with others.  You will learn so much from others as you go through the rebuilding process.  We all have our strengths so share yours and use others.  The amount of time that you will spend on the rebuild, insurance, recovery process is staggering so you need to use all your resources.

I will be posting more advice soon.

The Water Fence - Residential solution to water collection by Bob Ybarra

The Water Fence is the idea of 15 year old Steven McDowell.   The 6 foot high water storage fence is capable of collecting 240 gallons of water in each tank section from the rain run-off of your roof.  

According EPA.gov, "the average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses," (http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/outdoor.html).  That would be an outdoor use averaging 96 gallons a day.  A 240 gallon unit could supply water for 2.5 days depending on the use and size and type of landscaping.  Doesn't sound like much but when you add 32 of these together (the length of fencing on a standard residential lot of 60'x100') you have reduced your water usage by approximately 80 days, nearly a quarter of a year.  Take in consideration rainy and cool months where less or no water is needed in the garden you have a generous supply to supplement your outdoor irrigation.  Add drip a system or high efficiency sprinkler heads and you have succeeded to increase the usage.  You could maybe even sell it to your neighbors and help offset the cost. 

There are a variety of decorative treatments for the sides and it seems that the typical white vinyl look  would be most in demand thought they do not have any photo's on their sight.  Most Home Owner Associations approve the white or tan vinyl fencing over other types.  

I am waiting on the some cost information from the company and will add that to this post. For more information go to  http://www.waterfence.com.  Also, do the young man a favor and repost this post or any of the companies other videos.  

Bob