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rainwater and greywater workshops

Save Water, Save Money by Designing Home to Retain Rainwater and Use Greywater

Save Water, Save Money by Designing Home to Retain Rainwater and Use Greywater

Are you interested in saving on your water bill while keeping your landscaping healthy? Would you like to learn how to take advantage of simple strategies for conserving natural resources in your home and garden? If this sounds good to you, take advantage of these FREE upcoming events!

Free Workshops

Local non profit Daily Acts will present two events focused on incorporating sustainable landscape practices like rainwater harvesting and graywater reuse into your rebuild, in partnership with the City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership. At these informative evening workshops, we will provide access to resources, products and designers who can help you plan for and install these systems at your site.

Each event will provide a brief presentation followed by a panel discussion with local experts and a mini expo to share resources, products, and connect with designers. These events will build on the optional features outlined in the scalable, easy-to-permit landscape templates found at Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership.

Retaining the Rain in Your Rebuild
Thursday, October 4, 6-8 PM, Free
Register to Attend

Did you know that a 1,000 sq ft roof can catch over 600 gallons of water from only 1″ of rainfall? If you’re thinking about taking advantage of this free resource from the sky, then this is the event for you!

Growing with Greywater in Your Rebuild
Thursday, October 18, 6 – 8 PM, Free
Utility Field Office, 35 Stony Point Rd., Santa Rosa, 95401
Register to Attend

Did you know that the average American family does 600 loads of laundry every year?  At 25 gallons per load, it means the average family uses 15,000 gallons of water a year to wash their clothes. Capture that laundry waste water for reuse is greywater. Water from baths and showers can also be captured as greywater and diverted to provide lots of water to irrigate the landscape of your home.  This workshop will provide all the information you need to get started on a greywater plan.

In addition to reducing your water bill, the potential ecological benefits of greywater recycling include:

  • Reduced freshwater extraction from rivers and aquifers
  • Less impact from septic tank and treatment plant infrastructure
  • Reduced energy use and chemical pollution from treatment
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Reclamation of nutrients
  • Greater quality of surface and ground water when preserved by the natural purification in the top layers of soil than generated water treatment processes.
Event Panelists include:
Jesse Savou from BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment Systems
Tom LeBlanc from Community Soil 
Sherry Bryan from Ecology Action
Damien McAnany & Patrick Picard from Equinox Landscapes
Chris Reamer from Go to the Garden
Christina Bertea from Greywater Action
Patty Hamilton from Harmony Farms Supply
Brock Dolman from Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s WATER Institute
Erik Ohlsen and Sebastian Bertsch from Permaculture Artisans

We hope to see you at these informative events!

one year remembrance gathering

Coffey Strong’s One Year Remembrance Gathering October 9, 7-8 PM

Coffey Strong’s One Year Remembrance Gathering October 9, 7-8 PM

This event is made possible by neighbors, for neighbors.
Organized by Coffey Strong.
Open to all.

Gather with neighbors in a quiet way, as we remember the terrible tragedy we endured when our homes and neighborhood burned down. Stand together with flameless candles in remembrance for the lives that were lost. Express gratitude for first responders and local heroes who helped so many so courageously. Offer thanks for the generosity of those from near and far who have helped us in our long journey toward restoration.

Getting there: Neighbors will gather at 7:00 PM at the West side of the Hopper and Coffey intersection. Hopper Ave. will be closed to traffic from Coffey Lane to Mocha from 6-9PM. We recommend parking near your property and walking over to the gathering, or park on Mocha Lane or along Hopper Ave. west of Mocha.

What we have planned:

luminaria7:00-7:20 PM Interactive elements, peaceful live music (violins and cello)

  • Create personalized remembrance luminaria to light up the night
  • See the designs for proposed landscaping for the corner of Hopper and Coffey
  • See the Cherry trees which will be planted in memory of our five neighbors who died in the fire.
  • Bring one of your old house keys to add to a collaborative art work in progress commemorating our lost homes
  • Tie a ribbon of remembrance to a symbol of hope

7:25-7:40 PM. Circle of Remembrance and Hope

Gather in a circle lit by our luminaria as we hear poetry, music and reflections on our shared experience that forever changed our lives and our neighborhood. A special moment of song and silence to honor the memory of the people who died in Coffey Park on October 9, 2017:  Marjorie “Marnie” Schwartz, Valerie Lynn Evans, Tamara Latrice Thomas, Karen Aycock, Carol Collins-Swasey

7:40-8:00 PM Neighbors Together

Connect with neighbors, continue to interact with art elements and make luminaria. Hopeful and inspiring music!

8:00 PM Gathering Concludes

You are invited to bring your luminary with you, or place on your lot as a beacon of hope.

Volunteers will clean up the area.

bring a house key

9:00 PM Road opens to traffic

___________

Questions about this event? Want to volunteer to help? email us at [email protected]

 

Landscape Design Workshop Sept 29 Offers Hands-on Help

Landscape Design Workshop Sept 29 Offers Hands-on Help

Are you picturing your new home surrounded by beautiful trees and plants, arranged in an easy to maintain, drought tolerant yard? Looking for an affordable solution to getting an attractive landscape design?

If you are one of the hundreds of homeowners who are using one of the smaller contractors or custom builders, the landscape design might not be included in your builder contract, or your agreement might provide an allowance toward the landscaping, but you need to still plan the landscape design and engineering. Every home will need at least a front yard landscape plan, approved at the city or county planning office. Thanks to the Sonoma Marin Water Saving Partnership, FREE scalable front yard landscape templates are available, offering eight attractive layouts in several different styles.

The templates are not ready for submittal to the permitting agency until you mark them up with your site specific details and your material and design option selections.

Not sure how to use the FREE Landscape Design Templates?

Attend the Pathways to Rebuilding Landscapes Workshop on September 29, 2018 offered by Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership to learn how to use and adapt the templates.

  • The session will begin with a review of the Landscape Design Templates and explanation of how to modify the templates to suit your specific site needs.
  • Then, trained landscape advisors, design professionals and permitting staff will be on-hand to provide guidance as you participate in the Hands-On Breakout session, where you can mark up the designs to your own site’s needs. Be sure to bring a 24″ x 36″ printed copy of the landscape template you want to use and a site plan if you have one. (Get large format copies printed at a local copy shop)
  • After the workshop, if you need further assistance, the FAQ page will have a list of trained professionals that are available for hire to assist with any landscape design or installation needs.

Space is limited, register for the workshop and get your FREE event tickets here.

template includes plant images and names
Templates include fire resistant and drought tolerant plant selections. Resource lists for alternative low water and moderate water plants are also provided on the Sonoma Marin Water Saving Partnership website

The workshop will have two components:

8:00am to 9:00am The Overview of Landscape Templates – Learn about the Landscape Design Templates, how they are designed to be scalable, optional elements, and more.
8:00am to 9:00am

The Hands-On Breakout Session* – make plant substitutions, select optional elements and make simple markups to your Landscape Design Template. (Get tickets for one of two sessions.)
Session 1 – 9:00am to 10:30am
Session 2 – 11:00am to 12:30pm

*The Hands-On Breakout Sessions are not design consultations. If more complex modifications are desired, design assistance is available through your local landscape professionals.

Register for the workshop and get your FREE event tickets here.

Location: City of Santa Rosa Utility Field Office, 35 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

*Please bring these items if you will be attending a breakout session so we can help guide you on your path to rebuilding your landscape:

events

Events Slated to Help Residents Tackle Rebuilding Challenges – Open to Everyone

Events Slated to Help Residents Tackle Rebuilding Challenges – Open to Everyone

The next few weeks offer several opportunities for fire survivors to get expert advice and information regarding the complex challenges in rebuilding, financing and insurance.  To find these events and more, check the events page on the Coffey Strong website, make sure you are registered with Coffey Strong and receive our regular emails, and follow us on Facebook too.

United Policyholders Roadmap to Recovery Workshop

Tuesday evening April 24th, 2018 at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 547 Mendocino Ave. in downtown Santa Rosa

Topics:

  • Negotiating successfully with your insurer
  • Resolving claim disputes informally and formally
  • Waivers, deadline extensions
  • UP Survey results summary
  • Permits and building code requirements
  • Debris removal reimbursement

Speakers:

Sandra Watts, an insurance professional with 20 years of claim adjusting experience (with State Farm)

Amy Bach, policyholder advocate

Nathan Quarles, County Rebuilding/Permit Sonoma

Steve Jensen, Santa Rosa Resilient City Permit Center

Michael Gossman, County of Sonoma, Government-sponsored debris removal program insurance reimbursement information

Coffey Strong – Construction, Rebuild Strategy and Finance Seminar
(free open to all Northbay Fire Survivors, not just Coffey Park residents-please register on Eventbrite)

April 26, 2018 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, Bayside Church (formerly known as Redwood Covenant Church) ~ 3175 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa

Coffey Strong is hosting an event that is open to all Northbay Fire Survivors. This event is to help address and provide solutions to the most current and pressing issues fire survivors face. Please help share the event info below.

Topics:

  • Overview of the rebuilding process

  • Strategies from two prior fire survivors to get control of your funds from your insurance company

  • Strategies to maximize your rebuild funds

  • Processing escrow draws and pre-liens to protect from paying twice

  • Construction Contract protection

  • Construction Lending

Speakers:

  • Matthew Grill – Coffey Strong Volunteer, Prior Fire Survivor with building and development background

  • Kunal Nagpal – Prior Fire Survivor, Current Builder, and Lender

  • Kevin Smart – Exchange Bank Residential Lending Vice President

 

Coffey Strong meeting with CA Senator Mike McGuire.

May 4, 6:00 PM, Bayside Church (formerly known as Redwood Covenant Church) ~ 3175 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa

Free 1:1 Financial Planning for Fire Survivors

The Financial Planning Assn of SF and it’s Certified Financial Planner® volunteers would like to offer FREE, no-strings attached financial planning advice to the Coffey Park Neighborhood. We know how important a good financial sounding board can be as you make financial decisions around the impact of the recent wildfires. CFP volunteers are offering one-on-one financial counseling sessions on Saturday, 3/17, from 12pm to 4pm. No business cards will be handed out. Your name will not be used for any type of marketing or sales activity. We want you to know that we are offering a safe place to get financial advice. Appointments are one hour in length. 
Click link for scheduling:https://calendly.com/fpd/santa-rosa
Saturday, April 28th, 11am-3pmSonoma Rebound, 353 College Ave
Monday, May 1st, 6-8pm, Ameriprise office, 611 Humboldt St.
Saturday, May 5th, 11am-3pm, Sonoma Rebound, 353 College Ave
Saturday, May 12th10am-2pmAmeriprise office, 611 Humboldt St.
Tuesday, May 15th, 6-8pmRidgeview Financial, 1955 Cleveland Ave, Suite 203
Saturday, May 19th, 11am-3pmSonoma Rebound, 353 College Ave
Saturday, May 26th, 11am-3pm, Ameriprise office, 611 Humboldt St
Saturday, June 2nd, 11am-3pm, Sonoma Rebound, 353 College Ave
Saturday, June 9th, 10am-2pmAmeriprise office, 611 Humboldt St

 

layered map of Coffey strong

Interactive Map of the Coffey Strong Area

Interactive Map of the Coffey Strong Area

Layers of Information

We love how much information can be layered into a map!  It can help you get the ‘big picture’ on a situation.  With that in mind, some talented volunteers at Coffey Strong, with the help of a generous donation from Esri/ArcGIS the mapping software company, have created an interactive online map with several layers of information embedded.  We will update this map on an ongoing basis.  You can always find this map on the Coffey Strong map resources page too.

Link to view the map.

On the map you can find: 

Coffey Strong Areas, Coffey Strong Block Captains, Lots that have sold, Properties registered with Coffey Strong

Trying to track down an neighbor to discuss the rebuild? if they are registered with Coffey Strong, you can ask your block captain to help you connect with them.

Have ideas about other data items we might track on a map? Let us know your suggestions!

Tree News

News about Trees, Tree Removal and Chipping

News about Trees, Tree Removal and Chipping

About trees

Tree Chipping

The City of Santa Rosa will hold a free chipping event for residential property owners in the fire-impacted areas. City residents with fire-damaged green waste on their property are encouraged to bring that waste to be chipped at the following designated times and locations.

February 24 & March 10, 2018
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Nagasawa Park
1313 Fountaingrove Parkway

February 25 & March 11, 2018
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Coffey Park
1524 Amanda Place

Eligible green waste materials include burned and partially burned brush and felled trees up to 12” in diameter on residential property and adjacent sidewalk areas. The materials cannot be contaminated with fire debris, and residents are responsible for transporting their green waste to the chipping sites. The green waste will be chipped at no cost to residents, and the resulting wood chips will be used by the City of Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks Department for various projects throughout the City.

No permit is needed for tree removal within the wildfire burn areas of Santa Rosa city limits. However, residents should photograph the tree’s condition prior to its removal. The photographs will later need to be presented during rebuilding permit or entitlement application submittal.

For more information, visit www.sonomacountyrecovers.org/damaged-tree-removal/

Removing Burned Trees from Your Lot

The City of Santa Rosa now allows residents to remove any burned trees that pose a threat to safety and property, without getting a permit.  In order to capture the value of the old trees that are being removed and to mitigate for their possible replacement, the City is asking residents to include photos of trees to be removed with every permit package.  This is much simpler than the traditional tree-removal process that requires an arborist’s examination, a written report, a tree-removal permit, and payment of a fee.  The details of the photo-submission process are TBD.

Replacement of Burned Planter-strip Trees

In collaboration with FEMA and the In a meeting with representatives from the Santa Rosa City we heard that residents will be required to remove and replace burned trees in the planter-strip.  But we also heard (The “planter strip” is the land between the street and the sidewalk.)  This is because the residents own that land (and the trees on it!), and the residents have only given an easement on that land to the City.  Santa Rosa City is going to reconsider the types of trees that should go in the planter strip, in order to minimize future damage to underground utilities.  While the burned trees should be removed fairly soon, planting replacements should probably be held off until after houses are rebuilt.  Beautiful, tree-lined streets certainly enhance property value!

Listen to the Director of Transportation and Public Works Jason Nutt speak about sidewalks and tree removal from the recording of the February 15  Town Hall event (~ 56:00 minutes in the video)

Video Recording of Sonoma County/City of Santa Rosa Community Forum held on February 15, 2018

Mortgage payments in thirds

The Mortgage Payment Process

The Mortgage Payment Process

by guest author Linh Pham, construction consultant

Mortgage Company Controls Insurance Funds

Once you have an agreed scope and cost of repairs and your insurance company has issued payment, for those Homeowners who have a Mortgage Loan on their home, the insurance payment will include the Mortgage company (or Companies if you have multiple lenders on the home), on the payment check(s). By law, Mortgage companies are required to be named on the insurance payment(s), as they have a vested interest in the property, namely the balance of your loan. They want to protect that interest by controlling the funds, and making sure that the money is applied to the Dwelling restoration so that their assets are protected.

You will have to contact your Mortgage company to request their proprietary forms as those forms will need to be completed by you and your Contractor. Ask the Mortgage company to send you their Loss Draft package (documents & forms) by e-mail so you can save time by not waiting for the package to arrive by US (Snail) mail. You will be instructed to endorse the payment check(s), and send it to the Mortgage company along with the estimate of repairs on which the settlement is based, the claim payment summary from your carrier, your signed Contract with the Contractor, and all the proprietary forms that they require you and your Contractor to complete. Only after they receive the above listed documents and the insurance payment check (s) will they begin their document review and funding process.

Funding for Your Construction Project

Unlike a new construction loan, where the funding is dictated by a construction draw schedule provided by your Contractor, in a fire-rebuild, the money to pay the Contractor comes from the Mortgage company. Customarily, the Mortgage company will issue the insurance proceeds in thirds.

The initial one-third of the insurance proceeds is released upon receipt of the above listed documents and the payment check(s). It is not uncommon to have to wait 3-4 weeks for that first payment to arrive. The second installment payment from the Mortgage company is issued at 50% completion of the construction, and the final one-third draw is issued at substantial completion (95% or better) of the project.

The Mortgage company will need to be notified by the Owner as the 50% and substantial completion phases approach, since they will send inspectors to verify the construction progress before they will issue payments.

Educate Your Contractor on the Payment Process

be diligent and forthright in discussing the funding process with your contractorMake sure that the Contractor with which you are working understands this process, and that they are willing to work directly with you and the Mortgage company so that these funds are released in a timely manner.

Before you sign on with a Contractor, do your best to address the funding issue with your Contractor and verify that he has enough capital to fund the project through the completion. Consider the volume of work being performed by the Contractor because if the Contractor is building 10-50 houses simultaneously, the Contractor may have cash flow issues as these projects near completion.

Be careful in vetting your Contractor to make sure that he actually has enough capital to undertake what he’s promising to do. Ask the Contractor if they have enough capital in reserves and backing or credit lines necessary to float the project through to completion, given the Mortgage companies’ payment practice.

Be diligent and forthright in discussing the funding process with your Contractor, as the way in which the Mortgage companies issue draws may not be familiar to your Contractor, especially if they have no experience with insurance restoration/repairs. Review with your Contractor the mortgage payment process as all parties have to enter into the construction agreement with eyes wide open.

If you are unclear in how the process works, and are uncomfortable explaining the process to your Contractor, you could refer them to a consultant (like Scope Writing Services) as they can also be used to help educate your Contractor on the Mortgage process. You don’t have to go through this process alone.

Do everything in writing with the Contractor and the insurance company and avoid leaving and costs “Pending”

The Insurance Settlement Process

The Insurance Settlement Process

article by guest author Linh Pham, Construction Consultant 

Many initial claim settlement payments issued by carriers have been based upon the appraised value of your property. The market value (appraisal) of the original house has nothing to do with the rebuilding cost whatsoever. Some insurance companies have elected to use the market value of the property to establish the “actual cash value” (ACV) payment, but this is only an INITIAL payment, and NOT the final settlement number by any means. This is not the insurance company’s attempt to “low ball” your settlement. It is just a way for them to be compliant with the Department of Insurance regulations to get an “undisputed damage” payment issued so that the homeowners have funds to begin the repairs process. This payment does not represent a final settlement, so don’t be discouraged or frustrated to the point of abandoning the reconstruction of your home, even if your coverage limits appear to be insufficient to replace your home. Accepting that initial pay-out does not mean that you are not entitled to other payments or that your claim ends with this payment. Accept the payment, learn the insurance settlement process, and know your options, as things are not as bleak as they may appear sometimes. Knowledge is power, and we hope the following information will empower you by giving you a clear understanding of the insurance settlement and the rebuilding process.

Initial Claims Process

Under normal circumstances, an Adjuster or your Contractor creates a repair estimate containing an itemized, detailed scope of work that describes the repairs to your home in significant detail. This scope includes everything from repairs to the foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, insulation, drywall, cabinets, countertops, and paint. Even minute details like window coverings, doorknobs, bathroom hardware, door stops, cabinet knobs & drawer pulls, and window coverings are included. It is important that the scope of repairs includes everything that has been done to the home in terms of updating and remodeling (including structural additions) and landscaping details, as it is the responsibility of the insurance company to repair/replace your home to “pre-loss condition”. (Of course, the scope of repairs does NOT include any personal property or content items such as refrigerators, washer/dryers, or furnishings).

The scope of repairs is MUCH more detailed than an appraisal. It is an itemized repair estimate that the insurance company needs to prepare themselves, or to review an estimate that the Homeowner/Contractors submits in order to issue a more accurate ACV payment. For those of you who have been issued an initial ACV payment based upon a property appraisal, this is one an example of how the normal claims process has deviated due to this unprecedented and extraordinary event. Now, it is up to Homeowners/Contractors to provide realistic restoration estimates in order to secure additional funding for your construction.

Estimate Preparation

Ideally, you would have hired a Contractor/Builder and had them prepare the repair scope/estimate for submission to the insurance company. This is assuming that the contractor is capable of creating a detailed, itemized estimate to restore your home to “pre-loss condition”. This estimate should include site preparation, soils testing costs, surveying, engineering, architectural, permit costs, required building code upgrades, underground utilities connection, fencing/landscaping, and , of course, the dwelling repairs, including all soft costs.

In the insurance restoration industry, an estimatics program called Xactimate is the standard software that is utilized. The pricing contained within Xactimate is updated on a monthly basis, so the insurance carriers will not challenge the pricing contained within the software, but they will review the scope of the repairs outlined in the estimate provided by your Contractor in order to reach an agreed scope and cost of repairs with your contractor. Again, this is what usually happens under normal circumstances.

Nothing about this fire storm is normal as all of the resources that are normally available are over-extended. The number of restoration contractors in the local area cannot handle the volume of work, so finding a contractor that can provide an Xactimate estimate can be challenging to say the least. If you cannot find a contractor that can provide Xactimate estimates, you can retain the services of a Public Adjuster, an Attorney (who has access to such resources), or an insurance restoration consultant like Scope Writing Services.

The Settlement Process

The itemized repair estimate that is submitted to your insurance company will be higher than the appraised value of your ACV settlement because it is an actual bid/cost estimate for the restoration of your home. The insurance company will need time to review and process this new information.

Insurance companies are not required to accept the repair estimate in its entirety; they are just required to give it consideration and compare it to their estimated cost of repairs (in the event that they have developed their own separate scope/estimate of repairs). If they do not have an estimate prepared, they may consult with another restoration contractor/builder for a competitive bid, or have an estimate prepared for them by one of their Adjusters or construction consultants for comparison purposes.

Typically, the estimate that they obtain will be written on Xactimate software so that they have a detailed, itemized scope to compare to.   If their Adjuster/Contractor/ Consultant comes back with a different scope or a lower cost for the same scope, it’s time for negotiation. It is the insurance company’s job is to investigate the bid/estimate in a good-faith effort to move forward with the damage evaluation process as the goal is to reach an agreed cost of repairs on which the claim settlement can be based.

Once a scope and cost of repairs has been agreed to with your carrier, this will set your initial construction budget and this will enable you to make some decisions about rebuilding your home. Without an agreed cost settlement from your insurance company, how can you even begin to know what your construction budget is? That is why getting an agreed cost between you/ your Contractor and your insurance company is the first step in the restoration process.

After an agreed cost is reached, the insurance company will apply a percentage depreciation to the replacement cost estimate based upon the age and condition of your home. The depreciation amount is subtracted from the replacement estimate total, which results in an Actual Cash Value settlement. Depreciation is paid out at the completion of the repairs/restoration work, and upon your carrier’s receipt of the Contractor’s final invoice documenting the incurred repair costs.

Settlement & Contract Price Are Not One and the Same

Once an agreed scope and cost of repairs is achieved with the insurance company, they will review your coverage limits and the settlement payout will be subject to those limits. Just because you have an initial agreed upon scope and cost of repairs does not mean that you will have enough funds to repair/rebuild your home to pre-loss condition.

In the event that your policy limits are below your estimated restoration cost, getting a firm settlement number from your carrier will allow you to make the tough decisions that are needed to proceed with the rebuilding. This is where your Contractor/Builder plays an integral role: he must be able to tell you if the insurance proceeds are sufficient to rebuild the home to pre-loss condition, and if not, how much more costs above the available insurance proceeds are needed for the rebuild. Once you know what your carrier will pay on your claim, you will be able to budget for the repairs and decide whether or not to pursue a loan to bridge the gap between the insurance settlement and the actual cost of the rebuild.

Owner Selections/Changes/Upgrades Dictate Contract Price

As the carrier is reviewing the cost estimate for the “pre-loss” or original construction, the homeowner needs to communicate to the Contractor what kind of home and interior finishes they want to re-build and ask the Contractor/Builder to provide them with a detailed estimate or bid for that build-back. If there is a cost increase for upgrading the size of the home or the interior finishes and amenities, have the Contractor/Builder price out the upgrades so that you will be clear on the increased cost of your customized re-build. In other words, if you want a better, upgraded home, you need to let the Contractor know what it is that you want him to build, and then he can price-out the cost above what the original or “pre-loss” construction will be.

If the contractor wants to charge you for creating this bid, he’s the wrong contractor. This is a normal “sales acquisition cost” or a cost of sale for the contractor to present you with build-back options. However, respect your Contractor’s time and be thorough in providing him with as much detail on your materials selections or structure changes as you can so he can give you an accurate bid the first time. Know that if you are making structural changes, that will have to start at the architectural/ engineering level, and the Contractor will not be able to give you a price until he can review the completed engineered plans that depict the desired changes. The more you change your mind and add to your “wish list”, the longer it will take for the contractor to provide you with a firm cost. The Owners should also not allow any construction work to begin before signing a Contract containing a set price with the Contractor.

Insurance Supplement Process

But what if the initial settlement does not cover additional construction costs discovered after the initial agreed scope and cost of repairs such as Building Code upgrades that are required by the local or state municipalities? Code upgrades may include fire sprinkler systems, fire resistant materials such as tile or composition shingle roofing, and fire and safety requirements such as tamper resistant plugs/outlets, inter-connected smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home.

The contractor must be able to document and explain Code upgrades to the insurance company, and make sure that he has the insurance company’s approval before beginning the reconstruction. The Contractor must also demonstrate knowledge of insurance coverage limits in order to anticipate the amount of resources available from the insurance settlement, and advise the Homeowners accordingly when the insurance coverage is short of the costs needed to repair the home to pre-loss condition.

The Contractor should also be able to address increase cost of construction as well as unexpected costs that inevitably arise on a substantial construction project. This requires the Contractor to be pro-active in communicating with the Owner and the insurance carrier any increase in cost or scope of work as soon as they are identified. If the additional cost is warranted and the insurance carrier accepts the increased costs (barring any coverage limits issues), the carrier will issue additional payments. This additional damage claim is commonly referred to as “supplement”, and “supplements” are a normal and expected part of the insurance claim process. The key fact is that these additional costs should be presented to the insurance company for review and approval prior to performance of the work.

The contractor should NOT initiate the restoration/replacement of your home until he received the initial agreed scope and cost of repairs with the insurance company, and has approval of supplemental costs that are discovered.

Expected Surge in Pricing Due to Demand

getting an agreed costWhen the initial draw has been received by your Contractor and construction activity begins, the restoration will typically take at least 6-12 months to complete. During that time, labor rates and material costs are definitely going to increase due to the unusually high demand caused by the need to rebuild 5,130 houses in Sonoma County. Knowledgeable people estimate that these increases could be in the range of 10-30%. As stated above, the contractor must inform the insurance company of these increases as they happen, and the insurance company will need to consider additional pay-outs warranted by the pricing increases. If these costs can be documented in a manner that they are accepted by the insurance companies, they will issue additional payments.

It may be difficult for many people to accept, but an insurance claim is often open-ended, as payments are not final until construction is completed and the Contractor submits his final invoice to the insurance company requesting the final pay-out. The bulk of the funds for the final pay-out is for the depreciation that was withheld or deducted from the initial settlement (as described above). Of course, this is assuming that coverage limits are not an issue and that your policy has enough coverage to pay for the restoration.

Know Your Rights

The insurance company owes to repair/rebuild your home to “pre-loss condition”.  You are in control of your claim and the insurance company cannot pressure you into starting the repairs to your home in order to save themselves on the cost of your temporary living arrangements or Additional Living Expense (ALE).

Refuse to break ground on the construction of your home until you have an agreed cost of repairs, including Building Code required upgrades, site preparation, landscaping or other structures repairs, etc. Once you have an agreed scope and cost of repairs, ask the carrier to pay the Extended Replacement Cost and the Code upgrades up front (if you have this coverage on your policy).

Do not let the insurance company pressure you into accepting a “policy limits” settlement unless you thoroughly understand your coverages and policy limits.

Do not let a Contractor pressure you into signing a Contract unless you know what your cost will be for the re-build, including the cost of your desired upgrades with those costs outlined on written bid or estimate.

Do everything in writing with the Contractor and the insurance company and avoid leaving and costs “Pending” or allow those details to be “worked out” at a later time.

If the insurance carrier is delaying your settlement or is unresponsive to your attempts to contact them, threaten to file a complaint with the Insurance Commissioner’s Office, and whenever possible, do it in writing or by e-mail.

The Great Foundation Debate

The Great Foundation Debate: Pier and Beam vs. Post Tension Slab

The Great Foundation Debate: Pier and Beam vs. Post Tension Slab

Pier and Beam Foundation vs. Post Tension “PT” Slab

There has recently been a lot of discussion regarding to a Post Tension, or PT slab on grade and a pier and beam foundation. I too, was looking for the best solution for my home; which is the most cost effective, and what are the pros and cons of each type. I reached out to a respected structural engineer in Sonoma County and he walked me through the options.  I’m sharing what I learned from that source to add to the discussion and so you don’t need to duplicate the effort.

Pier and beam-description, pros and cons

A traditional pier and beam is the type of foundation most of Coffey Park’s homes were originally built upon; This means piers are placed deep within the soil, carrying through the clay and into bedrock or stabilized soil. Beams lay across and carry the weight of the house. The clay may raise and lower but the house remains stabilize. With this type of foundation, there is a crawl space under the house and the ground floor is a bit higher than street level. A crawl space provides access to add electrical, move plumbing, etc. One must take care to provide adequate drainage, to eliminate risk of standing water under houses.

What are the pros and cons of pier and beam foundation? Some say it is better insulated choice. Over time, you may get a loose nail or notice a squeaky floor. In general, this is slightly more expensive due to lumber cost and additional labor, although contractor told us there was no added cost to do it this way and another said it would cost significantly more. (Maybe the second contractor just does not want to do them!)

PT slab foundation-description, pros and cons

A PT slab foundation consists of a concrete slab covering the entire first floor. Within the slab are cables, stretched with tension. Once concrete is placed, it provides a very strong foundation.

There are several advantages with a PT slab. If your house sat high on the property and you had a steep driveway, this option might lower the house closer to street level, reducing the incline of the driveway. There might be less of a need to bring in soil. Quicker to build, a PT slab foundation can save on construction time and is usually less expensive. Lastly, without a crawl space, there would never be an issue with standing water under the house.

Drawbacks of the PT slab in a rebuild start with a need for the contractor to excavate around all existing piers on the property a few feet down and remove at least a couple feet of each pier. You would never want any existing pier to ever make contact with your PT slab. After that excavation, the contractor would need to backfill with engineered rock, place a moisture barrier and install the slab. All plumbing under the slab will always remain since you would never want to jack hammer a PT slab; essentially your kitchens and bathrooms on the first floor all remain. Also, a PT slab eliminates the subfloor crawl space so you can no longer access to electrical and plumbing under the house for simple small changes.  Duct work for heaters would be located in the walls up high and not in the floor. Since heat rises it does make it harder to heat a house with high ceilings. Lastly, some people say the solid concrete base can be hard on your back.

Making the best decision

Ultimately, the foundation choice depends on your needs and a negotiation with your builder.  Both the pier and beam and the PT slab have good issues and both have negative ones. But more information will hopefully help you make the right choice for your new home.

 

-written by Steve Rahmn, Block Captain Coffey Strong Area 4

Tree Removal Questions

About Tree Removal

About Tree Removal

While many lots are cleared, there are still many trees left standing after the debris has been hauled away.  Perhaps you want those trees, or maybe you think they need to go.  Here are some answers and next steps for getting rid of some burned out trees from your property. This information is also posted on our FAQ page.

Property owners are responsible for the cost of their tree removal

Most insurance company policies have included tree removal costs within the debris removal disbursements.  Check with your insurance carrier on specific details. As per instructions from Sonoma County Recovers, see letter regarding insurance reimbursement information.  Paragraph three, some residential properties may require private debris removal for burnt trees, outbuildings under 120 square foot or …. Please note that insurance claim fund specified for debris removal can be used to cover those costs. Save your receipts from any debris removal and deduct them from your insurance distribution when submitting final Debris payment to FEMA.

Do I need a permit for tree removal?  

You do need to obtain a permit for the removal of over 4” diameter. The Santa Rosa City ordinance states: 

Santa Rosa City Tree Ordinance dated Oct. 2, 1990 requires you to have a permit when removing trees.

Article III Prohibitions: 17-24.030 Tree alteration, removal relocation-Permit required. No person shall alter, remove, or relocate, or permit or cause the alteration, removal of relocation, of any tree including any heritage, protected, or street tree, situated in the City, without a permit…

Link to the Santa Rosa Tree Removal Application: (https://www.srcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/2662)

Not sure about whether to remove a tree?

A certified arborist can help you with checking on the vitality of your trees after the fire.  They can arrange permits and tree removal, if needed.

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Source: Confirmed information with Jackie from the USACE Debris Removal Hot line: 877-875-7681 (www.sonomacountyrecovers.org).

Article by Paula Becerra, 3539 Coffey Meadow Place, Block Captain Area 4 Section 9