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Tim McIntyre: Storm Proofing

It’s about that time again when we hear things like La Nina is leaving and El Nino is coming and while this sounds to me like Christopher Columbus’s ships are coming in and out of the harbour, the names represent changing weather.

When one leaves and the other arrives, it means summer is officially over and the cold weather is on its way (although just like when I’m at a wine tasting, I’m not really sure which is which).

So farewell to the last remnants of the tan that I have been desperately holding onto and hello to the admittedly quite bearable colder temperatures that we are subjected to in an Australian winter…I mean, it’s not as if we’re getting snowed in right? We just have to wear a jumper to work now.

At any rate, it doesn’t matter what season it is, we do seem to get a lot of storms down under…whether it’s a cyclone whipped up in the far north, or an icy hail attack descending on the southern inland areas.

Every year when some kind of extreme natural weather event passes by, we are left counting the costs of the damage caused to homes in all the madness. But what could we have done differently?

What will we make sure to do next time? Severe storms in parts of Australia have shown how vulnerable houses can be.

We can rest assured that the next bout of wild weather is just around the corner, so it makes sense to do what you need to do to protect your single greatest asset in life; the family home.

A couple of recent examples of houses on the market that have been damaged have also reinforced the importance of preparing your property correctly if you are looking to sell: not only will you protect it in the marketing period, but it will be ready to go for whoever buys it next.

First, remove leaf litter from drains and gutters. This is a no-brainer. Too much debris can see rain water overflow into the roof cavity, causing structural damage, or a build-up of mould, which can cause health problems to your whole family and beside, is really not a good look for your pride and joy.

Next, the roof is often out of sight and out of mind, but it is important to remember to check for damage every year. Especially broken tiles, which can be quite dangerous.

Then, ensure your trees are healthy. This is one that a lot of people can neglect until it’s too late. Rotting branches are weak and more likely to fall during strong winds, causing damage to your home and car. They also put family members in danger.

Make sure outdoor furniture can be restrained or put away, because you don’t want it flying around and smashing through a window or hitting the neighbour’s property.

Finally, check your home and contents insurance. There have been countless examples of storm victims believing themselves fully ensured, only to cop a big “computer says no” from their insurer, based on some technicality written in millimetre high font in their product disclosure statement.

Always take the time to make sure your policy includes storm damage, otherwise the costs can cripple and devastate the average home owner.

Tim McIntyre is the senior real estate reporter for the Daily Telegraph and news.com.au

Over the past decade, he has attained widespread knowledge of Australia’s many unique property markets and is an authority on all things buying, selling and investing.

His commentary appears every Saturday in the Daily Telegraph Real Estate lift out, as well as online at news.com.au

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