Family * Travel * Food

Mar 24, 2017

My Water Bill Was Sky High And Here Is Why

Last year we noticed a HUGE spike in our water and sewer bills. Unfortunately, we get billed separately for each service since they are from two different companies. Let's back up to 5 years ago. Our bills ran us about $60-$70. Last year it starting going into the $100-$150 range which seemed like a lot. Then suddenly it went all the way to a whopping $250 for the water and $300 for sewer. That was for ONE month per service. We knew something was wrong for sure. We had a licensed plumber come in and determine that we had a water pressure problem from the meter. Basically, way too much water was surging into our home and that wore out our plumbing fixtures. So not matter how often we changed out the toilet tank parts or washers in the faucets, they would blow out from the high water pressure.


This lead to the rubber parts causing leaks, which added to the high water bills. We ended up having a water pressure regulator installed a couple feet away from the city water meter and it took the pressure down from over 100 psi to below 70 where it should be. The plumber pointed out the fact that they meter was "spinning" 24/7 which meant water was being used non-stop, even if were weren't actually using it. 😑 Even after getting the regulator installed, we still had to get all new toilet parts replaced to make the meter stop spinning. Needless to say, it was a costly visit that took 5 hours to complete.

Thankfully our city water and sewer companies worked with us to adjust our bills since we proved we had the leaks fixed. Although it wasn't a super big amount they took off, we were still grateful to get some sort of discount. We saw a big price difference already on the first bill after the repairs were made, at around $100. I got the latest bill yesterday and we are now back in the $55 range. This makes me so happy! I think about how much we overpaid in the last year and it makes my head hurt. Oh well, glad we have it fixed and can have a little peace of mind now.

One thing about home ownership is that you will forever have work and projects going on. It is so important to stay on top of things when you see your bills go up unusually high. Have you had any homeowner debacles or projects lately?
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Jan 4, 2017

3 Home Improvements That Up Your Home’s Value and Reduce Your Premium

Your home is your source of shelter, your sanctuary from the world, and a huge source of pride. It’s a no-brainer that you care deeply about protecting it, and look to homeowners insurance to help. If you’re planning on making some updates to your abode, consider home improvements that might also qualify you for insurance discounts. Not only will you be increasing the value of your home, but you’ll likely be making your residence safer. Spending some money up front on smart home improvements can save you money down the line in the form of lowered homeowners insurance premiums.

Jumping into renovations that could lower insurance premiums is a bit like putting the cart before the horse. At the top of the to-do list is finding the best homeowners insurance for your needs in terms of both coverage and cost. Only after you’re sure that your policy is right for your situation should you start to consider aligning your home improvements with factors that reduce your premiums.

Read on to learn more about three valuable home improvements, as well as a few that could end up costing more money in the long run.

Strengthen Your Roof
Asphalt shingles seem to be the default roofing material, but their condition can degrade over time when exposed to inclement weather. According to The Family Man, insurance companies often offer significant discounts—even up to 45 percent—for investment in stronger materials. Don’t assume anything before chatting with your insurance agent, but be sure to ask about materials discounts if you’re planning any renovations. Metal and other heavy-duty roofing materials cost more up front, but could earn you discounts and hold up better over time.

Install or Improve Home Security
It’s never a bad thing to feel like you have eyes in the back of your head when it comes to your house, especially for added security when you’re away. Your insurance company will view your house as more of a risk if it has spotty security and lacks basic safety measures. The Insurance Information Institute suggests that improving your home security systems can potentially decrease your homeowners insurance as follows:

   • Smoke detector, burglar alarm, or deadbolt locks (5 percent)
   • Sprinkler system and fire/burglar alarm that alerts authorities (15-20 percent)

Modernize Heating, Electrical, and Plumbing
Do you use modern appliances in your home? Water heater malfunction is one of the most common causes for filing a water damage claim, and comes with an average cost of $4,400. In a similar vein, half of washing machine-related water damage claims come from faulty water supply hoses. The average cost for these repairs is over $6,000 based on the same set of data from the Insurance Journal. While it can be daunting to envision appraising and updating systems like plumbing, heating, and electrical, it’s important for your safety and for the safety of your home. Since the repairs tend to be costly if something does go awry, it’s beneficial to anticipate and head off these problems ahead of time by keeping your systems updated and well-maintained.

There is one bright spot. As the National Association of Insurance Commissioners points out, optimizing these systems to be disaster-proof can potentially earn you a discount on your future premiums. Before you embark on any modifications, talk to your insurance provider.

Conditions That Could Set You Back
Just like streamlining your home can knock money off your insurance premium, certain factors can increase it. Risk associated with pets and swimming pools could bump up your premium, so it’s worthwhile investigating before you decide to adopt a large dog or put in a pool. Where you live also influences your rates, including living in a place known for having conditions that produce natural disasters.

Your best bet is checking in with your homeowners insurance company if you’re planning on making any changes to your home as they could affect your rates one way or another.

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Sep 16, 2013

Tips for buying a home

Everyone dreams of owning their own home, but buying one is a lot of work. Just preparing for homeownership is a massive undertaking that can seem daunting. There are processes that you have to go through before you can even think about looking for the home you want to buy.

Budgeting and banks
First, you have to know exactly what your budget is and how much you can afford to spend. The banks will need this information before they will even think about giving you a mortgage loan, so have it all ready. The difference can sometimes help in negotiations with a seller for a better price on the home. Make sure that you are pre-approved not pre-qualified. Research diligently through different lenders as well. Make sure you get the best possible mortgage and interest rates.

Look into the area
You will have to know what you need as far as size like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc. You will have to take into consideration schools, transportation, and stores as well. If you prefer public transportation, you will have to make sure that you are near to the local pick up. Do you want the local stores to be close at hand? The Local Records Office can give you a lot of information about the neighborhoods you are considering, so make sure to look them up.

Contract a buyer's agent
The housing market changes constantly. Even though we are recovering from the housing crisis from a few years ago, you will want to do plenty of research. You don't have to have a real estate agent and honestly, agents work for the seller not you. However, you can contract a buyer's agent if you wish. A buyer's agent will ensure you find the house you want for a good price and actually works for you.

Look for homes
Look at a lot of homes before you make an offer for one. You want to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want and not just settling for what you think you can afford. After all if you are paying that much money to buy a home, you want to be happy in it. Likewise, don't allow an agent to push you into a house you can't really afford either. Just because you qualify for it, doesn't mean you should buy it. You could overtax yourself and that will lead to trouble later on.

Once you make an offer and it is accepted, there are several steps that have to be taken. A home inspection to check the foundation, construction, heating and cooling system, electrical etc must be done. This is important so that you and your bank know that the home is sound.

You will have to buy homeowners insurance and bring the document with you to your closing along with your down payment and another check for closing costs unless you have negotiated for the seller to pay them, you will be responsible for those.  The closing should take about an hour and when you are finished, you will be the proud owner of a home of your own.

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