Glascock & Meenan Insurance

5 Steps to Buying the Perfect Fixer-Upper

(Time to take that house from drab to dream)

Sara East

Some people see an old home and say, “ew, grody.” But not you. You see one and think, “JACKPOT.” Just a little TLC, Pinterest, HGTV, some elbow grease and it’ll be perfect.

It takes a certain kind of person to be into fixer-uppers, typically a real handyperson, or just one with a ton of money. The beauty of it all is that you can typically buy one for pretty cheap and put a bunch of money into making it good as new, without paying the price of a new home. But there can also be a down side, too.

To help you avoid falling deep into the ultimate money pit of a fixer-upper, we’ve compiled 5 key steps to making sure you do this right. Ready? Let’s go!

Step 1: Know What Condition the House Is In

A fixer-upper house is typically going to fall into one of two conditions: super-ugly or totally ruined. A super-ugly house needs surface work like new paint, new floors, landscaping, windows, ceilings, etc. A totally ruined house has foundation, structure or roofing issues that may cost more to fix than it would be to buy brand-new.

Unless you are an absolute pro and know a foundation guy that owes you a serious favor, we recommend looking for a fixer-upper with issues that are only on the surface.

Also, keep the location, configuration and layout in mind. All of these will affect your cost to renovate and the potential value of the home after you upgrade it.

Step 2: Determine What It Will Cost to Fix Up the House

When you’re searching for the right hideous home to flip, it’s important to fully evaluate the costs before you buy. Hiring a structural engineer to take a good look at the home is always a good idea to get a good idea of the improvements needed. But you should always do your own research, too.

Thanks to our pals at Home Advisor, it’s fairly easy to get a good idea of the average cost of most projects. Here are a few numbers to get you started.  Read Full Article

Finding the Best House Plan for You

(Before you go swinging that hammer, we should talk)

Sara East 

Whether you’re trying to add a fancy new west wing to your house or tackle an entirely brand new home DIY-style, you need a building plan. Without one, your project could end up looking like a six-year-old’s popsicle stick project. Because trust us, it’s not as simple as grabbing a box of nails, some 2 x 4s, and your old man’s hammer.

But before you go and get your plumbing all twisted in knots, we’ve done some prep work for you. We’ve gathered a bunch of information about house building plans to help get you started. Let’s do this.

What Is a House Plan?

Plain and simple, a house plan is a drawing of your potential home or addition. It includes the measurements you’ll need to follow, dimensions, layouts, installation methods and techniques for the build.

Your house plan is going to be your go-to for the majority of the work you need to do, no matter the scale of the project. You stick to that, maybe some YouTube vids, and your project should end up a success.

What Is Included in a House Plan?

The ultimate purpose of a house plan is to provide a blueprint of every part of your home. According to sources, your typical house plan will include the following building necessities:

  • Foundation: Footing layout, posts and beams, structural slabs, crawl space and/or basement.
  • Floor: Layout of rooms, walls, doors and windows.
  • Roof: Elements that make up the roof, including ridges, valleys and hips. May also include chimneys and decorative elements.
  • Exterior elevation: A 2D representation of each side of the house ,including materials for walls, roof and other elements of the home.
  • Building section(s): Shows adjacencies of spaces and relationship of the ground to the house and roof.
  • Electrical: Location of lighting fixtures, switches and outlets.  Read Full Article

Crash Test Doggies: Prevent Your Pet from Becoming a Projectile

Do you regularly put your dog in danger?

If your pet travels unrestrained in any vehicle, then the answer is “Yes.” The idea of keeping a pet safe in transit is not a new one. Indeed, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) has undertaken crash tests to rate the effectiveness of canine travel restraints. However, the reason behind the CPS trials was not what you might suppose – to promote safe travel for pets – but to reduce human injuries.

The vehicle manufacturer Subaru sponsored the CPS study, seeing it as the next logical step in promoting passenger safety. But if you are left scratching your head and wondering what the link is between pets and people, then take a look at the report’s sobering definition of a dog-restraint failure: “When [the harness] fails in such a way that it allows the test dog to become a full projectile…”

The problem is that in the event of a crash, a dog loose in the vehicle travels forward and becomes a projectile that can injure fellow passengers or go flying through the windshield. So if the thought of your pet sailing past your ear gives you the chills, then make sure he is properly restrained while traveling. Find out more by contacting an insurance agent in your area.

Size matters

You decide to do the right thing and secure your pet, but find the wide array of pet restraints confusing. Booster seats, harnesses, carriers, and barriers leave your wondering: What is the right choice for your furry friend? Read Full Article

18 Questions to Ask References Before Hiring a New Employee

Anne Shaw

Before you sign a contract with a third-party logistics provider or even with a new cleaning service, you probably ask for some case studies, read reviews online, or at least check their Better Business Bureau rating. Even when choosing a lunch spot for that important meeting with your soon-to-be big account, I’m willing to bet you tap Yelp to see how many stars it has and read a review or two to make sure the place isn’t too loud.

Why, then, wouldn’t you take the time to reference check before hiring new employees?

Any time you hire a new employee, you gain an opportunity and a risk. They could end up being your best team member, making a huge difference at your company…or they could be a bad hire that costs you time, money, and morale. Before you take the leap and extend an offer, asking the right reference check questions can help you make an educated decision. Follow this formula: get context, verify facts, give context, uncover red flags, and assess fit.

Gain Context and Verify Facts: Questions to Ask References First

Let’s say you’re about to hire Jane, but you’re wise and decide to call her references before extending an offer. After exchanging greetings with the reference and explaining why you’re calling, start with the following introductory questions to gain valuable context:

  • How do you know Jane?
  • In what capacity did you work with Jane?
  • How long did you work with Jane?

These questions should help you determine how heavily to weigh each reference’s answers in your hiring decision. Once you understand the person’s relationship to Jane, you can decide whether it makes sense to ask them to verify these important facts: dates of employment, job title(s), responsibilities, why Jane left (if applicable), and if Jane is eligible for rehire at that employer.

The aim here is to ensure that Jane has been truthful, but don’t just stop there. Head to the next section to uncover whether her references’ perceptions of Jane line up with her own ideas about her performance, strengths, and weaknesses.

Pro Tip: Depending on the circumstances, and the reference’s relationship to your candidate, they may not have all the answers you need. If none of your candidate’s references can verify facts such as tenure and job responsibilities, you can usually call past employers’ main lines or HR departments to do so. Read Full Article

Do I Need Business Liability Insurance for My Small Business?

Michael Kelly

Many small business owners wonder whether or not they need business liability insurance. The quick answer is: You probably do.

A more thoughtful answer is: It depends on what type of business you run and the agreements you set with customers.

To decide if your business needs liability coverage (and again, it probably does), it helps to understand what business liability insurance covers, why most small business owners need it, and the types of circumstances under which businesses are covered.

Business Liability Insurance in a Nutshell

Business liability insurance is a broad term that most often refers to either general liability or professional liability insurance.

General liability insurance helps cover the costs associated with bodily injury or property damage claims made against a business. It can also cover the costs of claims made against a business for false advertising. Common general liability claims typically involve “slip and fall” lawsuits. For example, if during a cold winter month, a clothing store forgets to salt the entrance to their store and a customer slips on the ice, injures his back and then files a lawsuit. In a case like this, general liability insurance could help cover the cost of the claim made against the business for causing the injury by not adequately maintaining their property.

Professional liability is different from general liability insurance in that it helps cover costs resulting from the business making an error or omission in the services or goods they provided. It helps protect your business from the legal costs associated with an error in services you provide or goods you sell.

For example,

an accounting firm that makes a mistake in a client’s financial statements that ends up costing the client a lot of money. If the client sues the accounting firm, professional liability insurance can help cover the costs the accounting firm incurs to handle the claim.

Why Do I Need Business Liability Insurance?

Small businesses that sell goods and services are wise to consider buying general and professional liability insurance. Lawsuits by customers and clients against businesses are becoming increasingly common. Read Full Article

7 Things You Should Know About Insurance Deductibles

Have you ever wondered how deductibles work when it comes to homeowners and auto insurance? Many people do – this is why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the basics of deductibles and how to choose the best one for you and your situation.

1. What exactly is an insurance deductible?

A deductible is the portion of the costs that you pay in a claim when you need to get your car repaired after an accident or your home repaired after a loss. The deductible amount will be paid by you specific to your property that’s damaged, whether it’s your car or your home, so you should always choose a deductible that you’ll be comfortable paying.

2. How does my deductible work?

The way deductibles work varies, based on whether you’re talking about auto policies or home policies.

Auto Insurance 

If you’re involved in a car accident and your vehicle can be repaired, your insurance company will pay the auto body shop for the damages, minus your deductible. You’ll then pay the auto body shop your deductible amount, when your vehicle is completely repaired.

If you’re involved in an accident where your vehicle is totaled — that is, your insurer believes that the cost to repair your vehicle would be more than the value of the vehicle itself — your insurance provider will pay you the current value of your vehicle, minus your deductible.

For example, say you’re involved in a car accident and the damages are estimated to be $2,000 and you carry a $500 deductible. Your insurance company will pay the body shop $1,500, that it, the total damages minus your deductible, to repair your car. Once it’s fully repaired, you’ll then pay the body shop the $500 deductible to pick up your car.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Your insurance company will pay you directly for the damages of your loss, minus your deductible, which you will then use to pay a contractor to repair your home. For example, say that you have experienced a kitchen fire, resulting in a $50,000 loss and you carry a $1,000 deductible. Your insurance company will pay you $49,000, the total damages minus your deductible. When the $50,000 in damages are repaired, you’ll pay for them using the $49,000 from the insurance company plus $1,000 of your own funds, which represents the deductible amount. Read Full Story

The 5 Most Important Financial Decisions Entrepreneurs Face

Business owners are responsible for a number of tough decisions, from the fine tuning of an initial business plan to ultimately choosing whether or not to sell the business once it’s successful. Some of the most substantial decisions they’ll need to make over the course of their ownership are financial, which will dictate the cash flow and profitability of the company over time.

Financial decisions should not be taken lightly, and should be made only after extensive research and careful consideration. Here are five of the most important financial decisions you’ll have to face as you start your own business.

1. How are you going to structure your business?

This may seem like a straightforward question—after all, there are only a handful of options available to business owners in the United States (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation, limited liability company). But different business structures have different tax advantages and disadvantages, and different ways of handling liabilities. For example, a limited liability company (LLC) generally has an easier time raising capital than a sole proprietorship and is easier to sell if the business takes off. However, it requires many more formalities and more paperwork, as well as carrying greater tax complexities. Your structuring decision will significantly impact your company’s bottom line.

Once you decide on a structure, you’ll need to file all the necessary paperwork for your business in the state in which you’ll be doing business (choosing the right state for your business is also an important factor to consider). Once the formalities are complete, there may be some tax implications you’ll have to take into consideration immediately—even if it takes some time for your business to get up and running. At this point, you’ll be able to get your tax ID and start registering with tax authorities.

2. How are you going to get startup capital?

Every business needs some amount of startup capital to get things off the ground. How you choose to raise that capital is an extremely significant financial decision for your company. It will determine the speed and volume of the capital you can gather, as well as a path forward for any remaining capital you’ll need over the course of business development. It may also require you to allow other people to be involved in day-to-day business decisions as part owners of the company.

First, you can try to raise the capital yourself, by investing your personal finances and collecting investments from friends and relatives. You can also supplement this by perusing federal, state and local governmental grants and loans. There are many available, and they can be found using directories and resources like sba.gov.

Second, you can pursue private angel investors, who will be able to provide your business with both ample volumes of startup capital and some guidance on how to run a business effectively; most angel investors are previous entrepreneurs or serial investors. However, some investment deals require investors to be influencers or decision makers in the trajectory of your business, which may rob you of some of your independence as an entrepreneur.

Third, you can elect to pursue crowdfunding, a relatively new strategy that uses platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe to collect microdonations from a large pool of users, essentially giving you wide access to capital without the constraints of private investors.

Finally, you can pursue a private equity loan from a bank or open a line of credit to use to get the business started. However, most substantial business loans require assets to use as collateral. Read More

7 Surprising Dangers of Driving with Pets

What do your dog, your cell phone, and a hamburger have in common?

Answer: They are all potentially lethal distractions when driving.

You’re a busy mom. Ferrying kids about. Dashing off to work. Not to mention finding the time to shop and walk the dog. Mind you, it helps that the dog is a good boy. He hops in the passenger seat like an angel and sits looking out the window. Your furry co-pilot. Do you buckle him up? No. It’s only a short trip.

And you’re not alone. According to a survey by TrustedChoice.com, out of a hundred people questioned, over 80% do not buckle up and use a doggy seat belt (or other methods of restraint) while traveling with their canine companions.

“So what?” you ask. Unrestrained pets are a significant cause of accidents, and they are likely to suffer serious harm themselves and cause injury to other passengers.   Read More

7 Tips to Prevent Your Pup from Becoming a Liability When Renting

Finding a decent rental property isn’t easy, and it’s especially hard when one of your family is four-legged. Owning a dog earns you the cold shoulder from many prospective landlords. And even if you strike it lucky and find a great place that allows you to keep the whole family together, your dog may become a hidden liability.

Did you know that if visitors are injured by your dog while on your rental property, you can be held liable for their medical, surgical, and legal bills, plus covering their loss of earnings? Scary isn’t it? To make matters worse, insurance companies that once offered this kind of financial protection as part of renters insurance are wising up to the risk and some are no longer providing coverage. This could mean you are in the unenviable position of thinking you have coverage, when according to the small print, you don’t.

You’re looking for an ideal place to rent: in a safe neighborhood, near a good school, and with a yard out back. After weeks of searching you find it. So how do you convince the landlord that your four-legged friend is really Mother Teresa wrapped in fur? The answer is to think like a landlord and ask yourself what worries him. Read More

Hunting Safety

As hunting season comes to a head, many professionals are gearing up to find game for the holidays. Whether a professional or amateur hunter, you can never be too safe. Here are a few tips on doing that!

PREPARATION FOR YOUR HUNTING TRIP

According to the United States Forest Service, here are things you should do to prepare the day of your hunting excursion:

  • Check weather reports before visiting the forest.
  • Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return.
  • Be familiar with the area you want to hunt.
  • Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.
  • During certain seasons, wear hunter orange viewable from all directions.
  • If accompanied by a dog, the dog should also wear hunter orange or a very visible color on a vest, leash, coat, or bandana.
  • Check hunting equipment before and after each outing, and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with its operation before using it in the field.
  • Carry a spare set of dry clothing. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture while retaining body warmth. Always bring rain gear.
  • Carry a first aid kit.
  • Clearly identify your target before shooting. Prevent unfortunate accidents or fatalities.
  • Put hunting plans in writing (dates, times, location and expected time of return). The Coast Guard recommends putting boating plans in writing; leaving one at home and one on your vehicle.
  • Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails. Other recreationists are in the forest as well.
  • Avoid wearing white or tan during deer season. Wear hunter orange or another highly visible color. Read Full Article
From THE BLOG
  • 5 Steps to Buying the Perfect Fixer-Upper
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  • Finding the Best House Plan for You
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  • Crash Test Doggies: Prevent Your Pet from Becoming a Projectile
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  • 18 Questions to Ask References Before Hiring a New Employee
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  • Do I Need Business Liability Insurance for My Small Business?
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  • 7 Things You Should Know About Insurance Deductibles
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  • The 5 Most Important Financial Decisions Entrepreneurs Face
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  • 7 Surprising Dangers of Driving with Pets
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  • 7 Tips to Prevent Your Pup from Becoming a Liability When Renting
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  • Hunting Safety
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  • Fire Prevention: Rare Fires That Have Happened
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  • Is Your Dog the Subject of Prejudice?
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  • Protecting Your Business With Surety and Fidelity Bonds
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  • The Basics of Business Insurance for Small Business Owners
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  • 7 Things You Should Know About Insurance Deductibles
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  • When the Fire’s Below, How Do You Escape from Above
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  • Keith Meenan, President of Glascock & Meenan Insurance Agency (right), presents a $5000.00 check
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  • Ways to Avoid a House Fire
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