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Home Watch is an essential service — and worth every penny

Home Watch is an essential service — and worth every penny

GUEST COMMENTARY

BY DIANE PISANI

Special to Florida Weekly

 

Our seasonal homeowners will soon be leaving paradise to spend the summer months with their Northern friends and families. Many will return in the fall to a disaster!

The top two things that can destroy a home quickly are mold and water damage.

Mold can start to grow in a few days when there is excessive humidity. Air conditioners do two things; they cool your home, and they break. Your AC draws several gallons of moisture from the air every day, and in Florida, the system operates all year round. Don’t waste money on the moisture extraction products that crowd the store shelves this time of year. They cannot possibly make a difference in the humidity level. In fact, they produce a moisture source and often cause mold in homes and cars.

A few years ago, a homeowner returned in the fall to find their villa destroyed by mold, and the cost to remediate the damage exceeded $100,000. It was not covered by insurance. Before departing the previous spring, they handed over their keys to an untrained Hobby Home Watcher, who was clueless about household operations in our tropical climate. Insurance did not pay the claim, but the cost was covered when the homeowner filed and won a lawsuit against the business owners.

 

The going rate for Home Watch starts at $50 per visit. At $1,200 per year for professional Home Watch services, the amount spent on the repairs, in this case, would cover over 80 years.

Water damage happens all of the time. It can be a roof leak, burst pipes, aging water heaters, a leaky ice-maker supply line, AC units that leak, and more. Don’t forget the neighbors that may reside above you. If you live on the third floor of a high-rise and the penthouse has a burst pipe, it can destroy every single condo below.

A leaky water line to the back of your refrigerator can flow at up to a gallon per minute; 700 to 1,400 gallons in 24 hours can spill into your home. One toilet supply line can leak and flow at two to three gallons per minute, resulting in over 3,000 gallons in a day.

 

Imagine if any of the damage mentioned goes on for days, weeks, or months! Not only do homeowners endure the pain of the insurance claim that may not cover the loss, but also the task of securing contractors to do the clean-up and repairs. Maybe the worst of all is losing a season or two of enjoying the Florida home and making memories with family and friends.

Home Watch is a vital and essential service. Once offered by Neighbors Doing Favors, it has gained recognition as a true profession valued by many homeowners in Florida and all states with part-time residents.

At this time, there is no license or state regulation for Home Watch. Anyone can put a magnet on their car, print some business cards, and start taking payment for services.

These Hobby Home Watchers often do not have a registered business, are untrained, and are not insured. Before handing over the keys to your property in paradise, do some research so you can make an informed decision.

 

PHOTOS COURTESY DIANE PISANI

Because your home should not be their on-the-job training, ask if they have invested in formal education. Insist on their Certificate of Insurance, Home Watch Reporter certification, and other professional credentials. Are they using GPS-enabled software to document and report after each visit?

The eBook, “The Ultimate Home Watch Interview Guide,” gives a list of questions to ask and answers you should expect to receive. You can visit the International Home Watch Alliance or Your Home Watch Professionals websites to download your free copy and locate a Home Watch Professional serving your community.

Interview a few companies and choose the one that you click with the best. After all, the care of your home is a team effort.

No one can prevent damage from happening. The Home Watch Professional’s job is to conduct a thorough check looking for early signs of damage before it becomes a disaster. They will work with you to remedy any situation, serving as a valuable resource and advocate for your home.

 

PISANI

The best approach as a homeowner to recognize that Home Watch is a curated service and not commodity-driven. Your choice should not be based solely on what looks like the lowest price. As many of us have learned, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” ¦

Diane Pisani is an educator and an advocate in the profession of Home Watch. She is the founder of Your Home Watch Professionals and The Home Watch Academy and the co- founder of the International Home Watch Alliance. Connect at [email protected] YourHWP. com or call 239- 707- 4296.