Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City

New York Homeowners Beware: After Snow, the Ice Dam Cometh

Posted on Fri, Feb 04, 2011 @ 01:52 PM

Written by 

Gwendolyn Bounds

for The Wall Street Journal

new york,long island,ice dam,water damage,freezing,water,leak damage,leak,roof,collapseThe latest winter storm, coupled with heavy snow accumulation and long cold snaps across the U.S., have left homeowners, pedestrians and buildings themselves unusually vulnerable to the dangers of ice and snow buildup.

Well beyond slipping, there's a growing risk of injury from falling material. Recently, a chunk of ice plunged from a pine tree and landed on Mark D'Ambrosio as he cleared the driveway of his of Abington, Mass., home. His son called 911, and Mr. D'Ambrosio was hospitalized briefly with a head wound that required three staples.

"I've been in this house 13 years and never seen anything like what's happening this winter," says the 39-year-old Mr. D'Ambrosio.

Other times, the danger comes from homeowners trying to clear roofs of winter's mess before it causes structural damage.

While roof collapses get the most attention, a more common worry for the average homeowner is ice dams. These often form when an under-insulated home's heat escapes through the attic, warms the roof and melts snow. As water runs down the roof it can refreeze into an icy dam along the overhang, which is cooler—much like a bridge.

If the dam gets big enough, it can then block water from running off the roof and force it to back up under shingles, triggering leaks and other damage. Icicles are one symptom of dams forming.

As snow and ice storms pummel the Northeast, Midwest and South this week, consumers are trying to remove snow however they can. Sales of roof rakes—long-handled tools used from the safety of ground level—are up 30% at Garelick Manufacturing Co., which went back into production this month to meet demand. Northern Tool + Equipment Co. cites unusually strong demand for its hockey puck-sized RoofMelt tablets made of calcium chloride, which can be tossed atop roofs to fuel melting.

Businesses specializing in ice-cutting with pressurized steam or hot water and other solutions report a surge of interest. Bylin Heating Systems Inc. has logged a 200% rise in inquiries this winter for its electrical ice-melting roof systems, which are best installed after existing dams are cleared. Similar demand is brewing for installers of attic insulation and other products that prevent heat loss and slow ice dam formation.

Tom Mahoney's 8,000 square foot house in Edina, Minn., was damaged after a thick ice dam formed along his roofline and triggered water leaks in his master bedroom. His solution: pay $1,000 to have chunks of the ice removed professionally.

Mr. Mahoney's contractor, Philip Grave of Dale Services Inc., says he and his brother are on track to earn $100,000 this winter as roof ice-cutters. The duo, who operate a carpet and window-cleaning business in warmer weather, charge $250 to $300 an hour to climb on roofs and slice away at ice dams with 180-200 degree water using a pressure washer-type system. Says Mr. Grave: "We cut ice every day in December and had a wait list."

But with so much snow, residents often are taking drastic short-term actions themselves. In Minnesota, where some areas have received more than 55 inches so far, a Shoreview man died Christmas Day after falling from his roof clearing snow. Meantime, Immanuel St. Joseph's hospital in Mankato has logged a surge of emergency room visits from people injured toppling off their rooftops while shoveling, says hospital spokesman Kevin Burns.

"It's directly attributable to the increased snow," says Mr. Burns who reports everything from scrapes and bruises to broken bones and serious internal injuries. "People are very well-intentioned but aren't prepared for the slippery conditions and steep pitch of the surface."

Last week in New York City, which had its snowiest January in history, the Department of Buildings issued a warning reminding property owners they are legally obligated to remove ice and snow from roofs, overhangs and awnings—and singled out icicles as "a threat to public safety."

A growing number of new homes are built with thicker insulation that can help prevent ice dams, including more than a million new homes that have earned the federal government's Energy Star label, and there are tax credits and subsidies available for retrofits.

"Most of the time, the ice is there and you are rolling the dice and may or may not have a big chunk hit someone's car or head, or a leak, but the risk is always there," says Mike Rogers, vice president of GreenHomes America Inc., a national home energy retrofit company.

When 51-year-old April Butler of Syracuse, N.Y., moved into her home in December, she wasn't aware that her house was at risk. But soon, dams and icicles hung like a cave around her front door, threatening to pull down her gutters and possibly harming a passer-by, including her 17-year-old daughter.

Ms. Butler hired GreenHomes America last week to blow insulation into her attic crawl space, seal air-leaks with foam and replace recessed ceiling light fixtures where the home's heat was escaping.

All these measures are designed to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place; much of what she has now is beginning to thaw.

The total cost: $7,062, for which she received a $2,500 subsidy based on her income as a teaching assistant from the Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star program.

"As of yet, we've had no leak damage," Ms. Butler says. "Hopefully this will eliminate the fear."

Write to Gwendolyn Bounds at wendy.bounds@wsj.com

Tags: homeowner, water damage, new york, water, ice dam, leak damage, roof

FHA 203K Rehab Loan Q&A Summary

Posted on Mon, Dec 21, 2009 @ 11:13 AM
If you are thinking about purchasing a foreclosure in disrepair (needs rehabilitation), you should look into applying for an FHA 203k loan. The 203k program is HUD's primary program for the rehabilitation and repair of single family properties. As such, it is an important tool for community and neighborhood revitalization and for expanding homeownership opportunities.
Listed below are some general questions & answers regarding 203k loans to help you better understand the 203k concept:


Is the Section 203(k) program restricted to single-family dwellings? No. The program can be used for one-to-four unit dwellings. Maximum mortgage limitations are the same as for properties under Section 203(b).
Can Section 203(k) be used to improve a condominium unit? Yes, however, condominium rehabilitation is subject to the following conditions:
A. Owner/occupant and qualified nonprofit borrowers only;
B. Rehabilitation is limited only to the interior of the unit. Mortgage proceeds are not to be used for the rehabilitation of exteriors or other areas which are the responsibility of the condominium association, except for the installation of firewalls in the attic for the unit;
C. Only the lesser of five units per condominium association, or 25 percent of the total number of units, can be undergoing rehabilitation at any one time;
D. The maximum mortgage amount cannot exceed 100 percent of the after-improved value. After rehabilitation is complete, the individual buildings within the condominium must not contain more than four units. By law, Section 203(k) can only be used to rehabilitate units in one-to-four unit structures. However, this does not mean that the condominium project, as a whole, can only have four units or that all individual structures must be detached.

Example: A project might consist of six buildings each containing four units, for a total of 24 units in the project and, thus, be eligible for Section 203(k). Likewise, a project could contain a row of more than four attached townhouses and be eligible for Section 203(k) because HUD considers each townhouse as one structure, provided each unit is separated by a 1 1/2 hour firewall (from foundation up to the roof). Similar to a project with a condominium unit with a mortgage insured under Section 234(c) of the National Housing Act, the condominium project must be approved by HUD prior to the closing of any individual mortgages on the condominium units.


Can a six (or more) unit building be done using the 203(k) program? No. However, the building could be renovated and reduced to a four unit building.

Can nonresidential (storefront) property be eligible for a 203(k) insured loan? Yes. Mixed-use residential property is acceptable provided the property has no greater than 25% (for a one story building); 33% (for a three story building); and 49% (for a two story building) of its floor area used for commercial (storefront) purposes. The rehab funds can only be used for the residential functions of the dwelling and areas used to access the residential part of the property.
Can HUD-owned properties be purchased using the 203(k) loan? Yes. However, the property must be advertised that it is eligible for financing with a 203(k) loan. If the HUD-owned property is purchased with other funds, a 203(k) loan can be made after the property is in the buyers name. In this case, cash back will be allowed to the borrower for a period of six months from purchasing the HUD-owned property.
Can an investor use the 203(k) program?
No. In October, 1996, the Department placed a moratorium on investor participation in the 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Program.

Can a local government agency or a nonprofit organization use the 203(k) program?
Yes. The same qualification requirements will be used as for an owner-occupant of the property.

What is the definition of a First-Time Homebuyer?
A single person or an individual and his or her spouse who have not owned a home (as a tenant in common or as a joint tenant by the entirety) during the three years immediately preceding the date of application for the 203(k) loan. Any individual who is legally separated or divorced cannot be excluded from consideration, because the three-year waiting period does not apply, provided the individual no longer has an interest in the home.

Tags: 203(k) loan, homeowner, property damage, fire restoration, restoration companies, fha, advanced restoration, emergency service, homeowner tips, rebuild, home repair, buying a home, refinance, 203k, 203k streamline, rehab

Foreclosure Rescue Scams-HUD News Release

Posted on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 @ 12:40 PM

Source: HUD No. 09-033
Melanie Roussell (202) 708-0685 www.hud.gov/news/
For Release Monday
April 6, 2009

FEDERAL, STATE PARTNERS ANNOUNCE MULTI-AGENCY CRACKDOWN TARGETING FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMS, LOAN MODIFICATION FRAUD

Civil Enforcement Cases, State Enforcement Actions, Alert to Financial Institutions Among New Efforts to Protect American Homeowners Seeking Relief

WASHINGTON - As homeowners and communities throughout the country continue to face devastating consequences from the deep contraction in the economy and the housing market, the Obama Administration today announced a new coordinated effort across federal and state government and the private sector to target mortgage loan modification fraud and foreclosure rescue scams that threaten to hurt American homeowners and prevent them from getting the help they need during these challenging times. The new effort announced today aligns responses from federal law enforcement agencies, state investigators and prosecutors, civil enforcement authorities, and the private sector to protect homeowners seeking assistance under the Administration's Making Home Affordable program from criminal actors looking to perpetrate predatory schemes.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Attorney General of Illinois today discussed new initiatives to coordinate information and resources across agencies to maximize targeting and efficiency in fraud investigations, alert financial institutions to emerging schemes, step up enforcement actions and educate consumers to help those in financial trouble avoid becoming the victims of a loan modification or foreclosure rescue scam.

See full article...


Advanced Restoration Corporation is a full-service restoration contractor with the ability to provide complete Rehabilitation & Restoration services to your new home! Water Damge? Mold? Structural Damage? We provide the expertise and knowledge to partner with you and your mortgage company today.

For more information about how Advanced Restoration can work with you on becoming the restoration contractor for your FHA 203(k) loan, please contact Gary Matzelle at (800) 693- 6263.

Tags: 203(k) loan, odor, homeowner, fire restoration, advanced restoration, advanced restoration corporation, long island water damage, mold remediation, emergency service, disrepair, home repair, mildew

Smoke Alarm & CO Alarm Battery Notification

Posted on Mon, Mar 09, 2009 @ 06:05 PM

Source: USCPSC

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2009Release #09-144
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908
Replace Smoke and CO Alarm Batteries This Sunday for Daylight Saving Time
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers to replace their smoke alarm and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm batteries this Sunday as clocks are turned ahead for Daylight Saving Time.

“Safeguard your family by putting new batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms this weekend,” said CPSC’s Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “Properly working smoke and CO alarms can alert you to a fire or poisonous carbon monoxide in your home and give you valuable escape time.”

An estimated annual average of 378,700 fires, 2,740 deaths, 13,090 injuries and $5.6 billion in property losses associated with residential fires were reported by fire departments from 2003 through 2005.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. There was an annual average of 171 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products from 2003 through 2005.

CPSC recommends consumers replace the batteries in their smoke and CO alarms annually and test the alarms monthly. Smoke alarms should be on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.
CPSC recommends consumers follow these safety tips:
Never leave cooking equipment unattended.
Have a professional inspect home heating, cooling, and water appliances annually.
Use caution with candles, lighters, matches, and smoking materials near upholstered furniture, mattresses, and bedding. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of young children.
Have a fire escape plan and practice it so family members know what to do and where to meet if there’s a fire in the home. Children and the elderly may sleep through or not react to the sound of the smoke alarm, so parents and caregivers should adjust their fire escape plan to help them escape the house in the event of a fire.

Never ignore an alarming CO alarm. It is warning you of a potentially deadly hazard. If the alarm signal sounds do not try to find the source of the CO. Immediately move outside to fresh air. Call your emergency services, fire department, or 911.
Never use a portable generator indoors – including garages, basements, crawlspaces, and sheds. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home.
During use, keep portable generators outdoors and far away from open doors, windows and vents, which can allow CO to build up indoors.
If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away. The CO from generators can readily lead to full incapacitation and death.

Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.
For more information, also visit http://www.firesafety.gov/, for fire safety information from CPSC and other federal agencies.


Advanced Restoration Corporation is a family-owned and operated full-service property damage restoration company with a combined 75 years experience in dealing with Fire Damage Restoration, Water Damage Restoration, Flood & Storm Damage, Mold Remediation, Smoke Damage Restoration and Reconstruction. We service Long Island (Nassau County, NY; Suffolk County, NY) and the New York Metro area.

When disasters strike, Advanced Restoration is ready to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are guaranteed to speak with one of our knowledgeable, caring team members, day or night. Our immediate response to a claim/property loss helps minimize the damages to the structure, contents, and ease the sometime catastrophic effect that a disaster may have on an owner or occupants. Our company is dedicated to serving our clients with courteous and prompt service. We take the utmost pride in the craftsmanship of our work.
As certified specialists in water mitigation and fire/smoke restoration, we have the knowledge, expertise and experience to deal with all types of property damage. Our professional staff is also trained in all aspects of mold remediation and damage appraisals.

Tags: homeowner, fire restoration, burn hazard, fire prevention, advanced restoration, advanced restoration corporation, suffolk county restoration, emergency service, fire protection, smoke restoration

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