How to Determine the Age of a Building

 

Building technologies and fashions have followed well-known trends that  allow those interested to roughly determine Crude, square nails may be hundreds of years oldwhen  particular buildings were constructed.  Here are some methods based on a  building’s materials, components and styles.
 
Estimates of Building Age Based on Building  Materials
 

Nails

  • Prior to the 1800s, nails were hand-made by blacksmiths and nail makers  and appear crude compared with modern nails. They are often squared rather than  rounded, and have a beaten look on the top of the head.
  • Type A- and Type B- cut nails were used from 1790 to 1830. They were  made from wrought iron and are squared.
  • Wire nails, used from 1890 through today, are modern, machine-made  nails that are rounded and more practical to use than the earlier designs.

Wiring

  • Aluminum wiring was used extensively from 1967 till 1975, a  period during which copper was prohibitively expensive. Aluminum use  was generally discontinued when its potential as a fire hazard become  publicized.
  • K&T or knob-and-tube wiring was an early method of electrical  wiring installed in buildings from 1880 to the 1940s. The system is considered  obsolete and can be a fire hazard, although much of the fear associated with it  is exaggerated.

Electrical ReceptaclesModern electrical receptacles are polarized and grounded

Electrical receptacles evolved from earliest to most recent in the following  order:

  • non-polarized:  These early receptacles are made up of two slots  of equal size, with no ground slot.
  • polarized:  These receptacles are two-slotted, one of which is wider  than the other to allow for proper polarity.
  • grounded, polarized:  Modern receptacles were changed to permit  grounding of an appliance or device. They can be identified by the round hole  beneath the center of the polarized slots.

Flooring

  • In the late 19th century (1890), linoleum became common for  use in hallways and passages, but it became better known for its use in kitchen  floors in the 20th century, up through 1960. Originally valued for  its water-resistance and affordability, it was surpassed by other floor  coverings by the mid-20th century.
  • Asphalt tile was used for floor tiles starting around 1920 through  the 1960s. The earliest tiles are darker because they contained more asphalt,  unlike later tiles that had higher levels of synthetic binders.Old linoleum floor
  • Vinyl asbestos tiles became popular in response to consumers who wanted  lighter-colored tiles of varying color patterns.

Structural Panels

  • Plywood’s use began around 1905.  It is made from thin sheets of veneer  (layers of wood that are peeled from a spinning log) that are cross-laminated  and glued together with a hot press. Since it is made from whole layers of logs  rather than small strands, plywood has a more consistent and less rough  appearance than oriented strand board (OSB).
  • Waferboard or particle board was developed in the 1970s and, like plywood,  is still used today. This material appears similar to OSB, except the wooden  strands from which it is composed are not aligned.
  • OSB was developed the 1980s and is manufactured from heat-cured  adhesives, and then rectangularly shaped wood strands that are arranged in  cross-oriented layers. Produced in large, continuous mats, OSB is a solid-panel  product of consistent quality with few voids and gaps. While OSB was  developed fairly receDutch-style Colonial housently,  it became more popular than plywood in North America by 2000.

Keep in  mind that houses, especially older ones, have evolved over many years. It can be  very difficult to reliably date a building based on the presence of a single  material or component. The majority of a house might be newer than its  18th century foundation, for instance, especially if there was a fire  that destroyed the rest of the structure.

Estimates of Building Age Based on Architectural Style 
  • American Colonial (1600 to 1800):  North America was colonized by  Europeans who brought with them building styles from their homelands. This broad  category includes the following regional styles and their characteristics:
    • New England style (1600 to 1740):  These homes feature steep roofs  and narrows eaves used in simple timber-frame houses, usually located in  the northeastern United States, primarily in Massachusetts, Vermont,  Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York.
    • German (1600 to 1850):  Most often found in New York,  Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland, these buildings generally feature thick,  sandstone walls.
    • Spanish (1600 to 1900):  Located in the American South, Southwest,  and California, these houses are simple and low, built from rocks, stucco,  coquina and adobe brick, with small windows and thick walls.
    • Other home styles from the American Colonial period include Georgian,  Dutch, French and Cape Cod.
  • Classical style houses (1780 to 1860):  Many houses built during  the founding of the United States are a throwback to ancient Greece, emphasizing  order and symmetry. Among the styles common to this era are Greek Revival,  Tidewater and Antebellum.
  • Victorian (1840 to 1900): With the technological innovation  of mass production came the ability to produce large homes affordably.  Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, Folk and Octagon are some of the architectural  styles common to this era.
  • Gilded Age (1880 to 1929): The “Gilded Age” is a term popularized by Mark  Twain to describe extravagant wealth. This era saw the construction of large,  Mcmansions are hastily-built and often too large for their plot of landelaborate homes owned  by a class of suddenly-rich businessmen who enjoyed grandiose displays of their  new wealth.
  • Early 20th Century homes:  Homes built during this period  were compact and economical, somewhat smaller and less pretentious than earlier  Gilded Age homes.
  • Post-War homes (1945 to 1980):  Very simple and affordable, some  critics believe they have no style at all. Soldiers returning from the World War  II spurred the construction of these homes, which emphasized utilitarianism  over style more than preceding periods.
  • “Neo” houses (1965 to present):  Theses houses borrow styles from  previous architectural eras, such as Victorian, Colonial and Mediterranean.  “McMansion” is a word used to describe large, quickly-constructed, flamboyant  and poorly-designed neo-eclectic homes.

Other Ways to Determine a Building’s Age:

  • Check the meter reader. Sometimes, the meter reader will bear a date stamp.
  • Check the inside of the toilet. Toilet manufacturers often stamp the inside  of tanks or lids with the year the toilet was made. Toilets are usually  installed right after construction, so you can often determine a newer home’s  age by inspecting a toilet.
  • In log homes, it may be possible to tell the building’s age by analyzing the  tree rings in a piece of timber removed from the building. The science on which  this is based, dendrochronology, does not arrive at an age based on the number  of tree rings, but rather focuses on patterns of tree rings and compares these  with known pattern ages for a specific region. This method is destructive and it  requires a specialist.
  • Local town, county, or state tax records usually indicate the date or  year a building was constructed.
  • Historical real estate listings may include indications of building age.
  • Census records can prove that a house was present at the time the census was  taken.
  • Papers found inside the building will often indicate when the building was  present. A house will probably be at least as old as, for instance, newspapers  from the 1920s found in a crawlspace.
  • Employ an architectural investigator to date the house by studying its wood,  plaster, mortar and paint.
  • The aluminum spacers within thermal-paned windows often bear the year of  production, which can at least provide an approximate date of  installation.
  • Sewer grates are sometimes stamped with the year they were manufactured,  which may provide an age for the neighborhood.

by Nick Gromicko

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Considerations for Insurance Premiums

Insurance is based on the law of large numbers.  By combining a large number of common units, the insurers are able to make predictions of possible loss and are able to calculate their probable losses — and establish the rates for those losses and their operating expenses (which, depending upon the type of company, can include significant profits for the insurer’s stockholders).
Too often, the effects of losses on profits are managed at the claims level where insurers will routinely delay, deny or defend against the payment of claims.  (This is when the insurer will hire people like me.)
In my opinion, the amount of the premium for any insurance should be among the last considerations used by a consumer when considering an insurance company to hire.
When the premiums are significantly lower than the average premium among remaining insurers, one can be reasonably assured that the insurance company will be using other (and possibly less desirable) means to make the same or more profit than the company with the average premium rates.  Typically, one will find that such insurers are much more enthusiastic and prompt in their collection of premiums than their payment of claims at the time of loss.
Recently, I had some interesting results for a client whose home had been damaged by fire and needed extensive repair.  The insurance company had underpaid him by claiming a depreciation of more than 63% on the interior plaster walls that were in excellent condition prior to the fire, but were old.
After I reopened the claim, the insurer agreed to pay him an additional $11,438.00 that he had been originally entitled to and almost walked away from.
If there is a moral to this story, I think that it is to seek a reputable insurer with a fair rate in comparison to other insurers and not the lowest rate which is likely to find you struggling to be paid for your loss at a time you can least afford the hassle.


Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Sinkholes Abundant in Missouri

 nixa sink hole

A recent article written by Jose Rey (SinkholeReport.com), identifies Missouri as No. 7 in the United States as having the most sinkholes.

According to the article, the states with the most sinkholes are Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

 

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Missouri Home Owner’s Policy – Changes to Your Deductible

Many insured Missouri home owners are caught off-guard, at the time they file a claim and can afford it the least, when they discover that their “deductible” has increased to several thousands of dollars.  (The policy’s “deductible” is a dollar amount that is automatically subtracted by the insurance company from any amount that is owed, per occurrence, to the insured as a result of damage or loss to the home.)

When many home owners first insured their homes, their policies originally had a $500.00 deductible that eventually changed to $1,000.  Now, with recent renewals, insurance companies have begun to assign a deductible amount that represents a percentage of the total value of the policy.  By this, if a home is insured for $300,000, a 1% deductible allows for each claim to carry a deductible amount of $3,000.  This means that a claim against the policy for a $7,000 to repair will result in a payment of $4,000.

A recent Missouri client was surprised and upset to learn that his deductible had increased from its original $1000 to over $5,000 when he filed what was his very first claim after decades of coverage.  While we were able to successfully negotiate an agreement with his insurer to waive this deductible amount for his claim, this was an exception to the rule that is not always available – as was the case of another client who discovered too late that she had a significant $2,300 amount to be deducted from her settlement of $6,400.

These increases in the deductible amounts are reported to the home owner at policy renewal on the “Declarations” page that is sent at the time of each renewal.  Unfortunately, many home owners will simply file this important page with their policies without reading and noting the change.

Take the time, today, to read your most recent declarations page to see if your deductible has changed.  It is possible to negotiate a lower deductible with your insurance company, in some cases, with a slight increase in your premium … but this must be done and in effect PRIOR to the date of any loss or damage.

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

What is a Missouri Public Adjuster?

Mississippi River Scenic Byway in Missouri

Mississippi River Scenic Byway in Missouri (Photo credit: Doug Wallick)

By James H. Bushartwww.publicadjustermissouri.comAside from attorneys, public adjusters licensed by the Missouri Department of Insurance are the only type of claims adjuster that can legally represent the rights of an insured during a first party insurance claim process in the State of Missouri.

Upon notification of a claim for property loss or damage, the insurance company will send an adjuster employed by them or an “independent adjuster” contracted by them to investigate the claim.  These adjusters work for the insurance company and only represent the financial interests of the insurance company.  The Missouri Public Adjuster, on the other hand, levels the playing field by representing only the interests of the insured policy holder who has suffered the loss or damage to a business or home located in Missouri.

The Missouri Public Adjuster’s main responsibilities are to:

  • Evaluate existing insurance policies in order to determine what coverage may be applicable to a claim
  • Research, detail, and substantiate damage to buildings and contents and any additional expenses
  • Evaluate business interruption losses and extra expense claims for businesses
  • Determine values for settling covered damages
  • Prepare, document and support the claim on behalf of the insured
  • Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on behalf of an insured
  • Re-open a claim and negotiate for more money if a discrepancy is found after the claim has been settled

For more information about the Missouri Public Adjuster or to request a free, no obligation consultation regarding a particular claim, contact me by writing jbushart@publicadjustermissouri.com or call me at 314-803-2167.

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

New Scam Law Protects Missouri Seniors

     The following is a recently enacted Missouri law that protects seniors from certain scams regarding contractors.

     Up until 8/28/12, a building or remodeling contractor could intentionally deceive a homeowner and steal money intended for materials and/or labor for unnecessary work and similar scams and, if successfully located, be sued.  Typically, the contractor (after losing a lawsuit) would file bankruptcy to avoid paying the judgment, change the name of his company and move on to other potential victims.

     With a new law that recently makes the financial exploitation of a senior a felony, a contractor who performs such acts can be arrested if his victim is 60 years old or older.  After his arrest, his ability to make restitution and repay the money to his victim could get him a lighter sentence.

     Missourians who encounter such scammers should contact their local law enforcement officials, immediately.

Missouri Revised Statutes
Chapter 570
Stealing and Related Offenses
Section 570.145

August 28, 2012

Financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled, penalty–definitions–certain defense prohibited, additional violation, restitution.
570.145. 1. A person commits the crime of financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person if such person knowingly by deception, intimidation, undue influence, or force obtains control over the elderly or disabled person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the elderly or disabled person of the use, benefit or possession of his or her property thereby benefitting such person or detrimentally affecting the elderly or disabled person. Financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person is a class A misdemeanor if the value of the property is less than fifty dollars, a class D felony if the value of the property is fifty dollars but less than five hundred dollars, a class C felony if the value of the property is five hundred dollars but less than one thousand dollars, a class B felony if the value of the property is one thousand dollars but less than fifty thousand dollars, and a class A felony if the value of the property is fifty thousand dollars or more.

2. For purposes of this section, the following terms mean:

(1) “Deception”, a misrepresentation or concealment of material fact relating to the terms of a contract or agreement entered into with the elderly or disabled person or to the existing or preexisting condition of any of the property involved in such contract or agreement, or the use or employment of any misrepresentation, false pretense or false promise in order to induce, encourage or solicit the elderly or disabled person to enter into a contract or agreement. Deception includes:

(a) Creating or confirming another person’s impression which is false and which the offender does not believe to be true; or

(b) Failure to correct a false impression which the offender previously has created or confirmed; or

(c) Preventing another person from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of the property involved; or

(d) Selling or otherwise transferring or encumbering property, failing to disclose a lien, adverse claim or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property, whether such impediment is or is not valid, or is or is not a matter of official record; or

(e) Promising performance which the offender does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed. Failure to perform standing alone is not sufficient evidence to prove that the offender did not intend to perform;

(2) “Disabled person”, a person with a mental, physical, or developmental disability that substantially impairs the person’s ability to provide adequately for the person’s care or protection;

(3) “Elderly person”, a person sixty years of age or older;

(4) “Intimidation”, a threat of physical or emotional harm to an elderly or disabled person, or the communication to an elderly or disabled person that he or she will be deprived of food and nutrition, shelter, prescribed medication, or medical care and treatment;

(5) “Undue influence”, use of influence by someone who exercises authority over an elderly person or disabled person in order to take unfair advantage of that persons’s vulnerable state of mind, neediness, pain, or agony. Undue influence includes, but is not limited to, the improper or fraudulent use of a power of attorney, guardianship, conservatorship, or other fiduciary authority.

3. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the remedies available to the victim pursuant to any state law relating to domestic violence.

4. Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose criminal liability on a person who has made a good faith effort to assist the elderly or disabled person in the management of his or her property, but through no fault of his or her own has been unable to provide such assistance.

5. Nothing in this section shall limit the ability to engage in bona fide estate planning, to transfer property and to otherwise seek to reduce estate and inheritance taxes; provided that such actions do not adversely impact the standard of living to which the elderly or disabled person has become accustomed at the time of such actions.

6. It shall not be a defense to financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person that the accused reasonably believed that the victim was not an elderly or disabled person.

7. (1) It shall be unlawful in violation of this section for any person receiving or in the possession of funds of a Medicaid-eligible elderly or disabled person residing in a facility licensed under chapter 198 to fail to remit to the facility in which the Medicaid-eligible person resides all money owing the facility resident from any source, including, but not limited to, Social Security, railroad retirement, or payments from any other source disclosed as resident income contained in the records of the department of social services, family support division or its successor. The department of social services, family support division or its successor is authorized to release information from its records containing the resident’s income or assets to any prosecuting or circuit attorney in the state of Missouri for purposes of investigating or prosecuting any suspected violation of this section.

(2) The prosecuting or circuit attorney of any county containing a facility licensed under chapter 198, who successfully prosecutes a violation of the provisions of this subsection, may request the circuit court of the county in which the offender admits to or is found * guilty of a violation, as a condition of sentence and/or probation, to order restitution of all amounts unlawfully withheld from a facility in his or her county. Any order of restitution entered by the court or by agreement shall provide that ten percent of any restitution installment or payment paid by or on behalf of the defendant or defendants shall be paid to the prosecuting or circuit attorney of the county successfully prosecuting the violation to compensate for the cost of prosecution with the remaining amount to be paid to the facility.

(L. 2000 H.B. 1386 & 1086, A.L. 2003 S.B. 556 & 311, A.L. 2005 H.B. 353, A.L. 2012 S.B. 689)
*Word “of” appears here in original rolls of S.B. 689, 2012.

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

Missouri Public Adjuster

Property Depreciation – Age Should NOT Be The Only Factor

By James H. Bushart

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Most insurance policies will define the terms by which the insurer will calculate ACV (“actual cash value”) in determining how much to pay and, usually, the factor of “age” is not one of those conditions. Still, the age of the property is often used as the primary determining factor when depreciating or subtracting from the replacement costs of an item of property that is being adjusted for settlement.

While it is true that an object’s age can correspond closely to its extent of physical wear and tear – it is not true in every circumstance. Age alone should not cause an object to lose a large percentage of its value and if the object is functionally sound, it should retain most of its value.

I have helped clients recover higher settlements from insurers who had initially calculated depreciation as high as 75% for perfectly working and maintained fireplaces that happened to be original to older homes. Plaster on the wall that was lost to fire was depreciated by more than 65% even though it was fully intact and functional prior to the fire and the insured home owner was entitled to a higher adjusted settlement. Countless other items and systems in the home have been grossly over-depreciated – at a great expense to the insured – for no other reason than their age.

In some cases, the age of the item may be incorrectly calculated and higher rates of depreciation can be mistakenly applied.  One recent case highlighted certain items as being subject to excessive depreciation due to what the adjuster determined to be advanced age when, in fact, the same insurance company had actually paid for their replacement less than a year prior when vandals had damaged the home.

Property owners should know and understand that an object’s amount of depreciation is identical to the amount of how much better, or more valuable, a new object is compared to the older object. This is what is actually being determined. Age is not always an appropriate measure of this and arbitrary deductions from replacement values that are simply based on age should be challenged by the insured. The adjuster must carefully listen to the insured’s arguments and negotiate in good faith.

If you feel that your property was unfairly depreciated and that your insurance company’s offer of settlement is unreasonable and unfair, contact me (if you live in Missouri) or a public adjuster licensed to represent you in your state.

[Update – 3/12/13 –  My client had a home damaged by a fire that needed extensive repair, as mentioned above.  The insurance company underpaid him … claiming a depreciation of 67% on the interior walls based totally upon their age.  After reopening the claim and further discussion with me,  they issued him an additional check for $11,438.00.]

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Copyright 2013 James H.Bushart

How to Get a Missouri Occupancy Permit

By James H. Bushart

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

In certain municipalities in Missouri, property damage that requires extensive repair will also require permits and inspections for the work.  Prior to moving in to a new home, many areas will also require occupancy permits prior to allowing a new buyer or renter to reside within the home.

The following links are provided as a service to assist home owners in locating the offices that can assist them to ensure that their contractors are properly licensed, that the required permits are obtained and that the necessary inspections are provided.

Here are links to many of the Saint Louis County (and some other) municipality websites or contact information.

Saint Louis area Zip Code map

Saint Louis City – 314.622.4000 (General Information number)

Saint Louis County – 314.615.5000 (General Information number)

Affton – Chamber of Commerce site – 314.849.6499

Aurora

Ballwin – 636.227.8580

Bella Villa – 314.638.8840

Bellefontaine Neighbors – 314.867.0076

Bellerive – 314.382.5337

Bel Nor – 314.381.2834

Bel Ridge – 314.429.2878

Berkeley – 314.524.3313 ext. 2052 (Housing Inspector Patrick Mullen)

Beverly Hills – 314.382.6544

Black Jack – 314.355.0400

Breckenridge Hills – 314.427.6868

Brentwood – 314.962.4800

Bridgeton – 314.739.7500

Calverton Park – 314.524.1212

Champ – 314.738.0772

Charlack – 314.427.4715

Chesterfield – 636.537.4000

Clarkson Valley – 636.227.8607

Clayton – 314.727.8100

Cool Valley – 314.521.3500

Country Club Hills – 314.261.0845

Country Life Acres – 314.739.4800

Crestwood – 314.729.4720

Creve Coeur – 314.432.6000

Crystal Lake Park – 314.993.1160

Dellwood – 314.521.4339

Des Peres -314.835.6100

Edumndson – 314.428.7125

Ellisville – 636.227.9660

Eureka – 636.938.5233

Fenton – 314.615.5000

Ferguson – 314.521.7721

Flordell Hills – 314.382.5524

Florissant – 314.921.5700

Frontenac – 314.994.3200

Glen Echo Park – 314.382.7355

Glendale – 314.965.3600

Grantwood -314.842.4409

Greendale – 314.383.2664

Green Park – 314.894.7336

Hanley Hills – 314.725.0909

Hazelwood – 314.839.3700

Hillsdale – 314.381.0288

Huntleigh – 314.446.4248

Jennings – 314.388.1164

Joplin

Kinloch – 314.521.3335

Kirkwood – 314.822.5823 – Number for Inspections & Permits

Ladue – 314.993.3439

Lakeshire City of Lakeshire website – 314.631.6222

Mackenzie – 314.752.0625

Manchester – 636.227.1385

Maplewood – 314.645.3600

Marlborough – 314.962.5055

Maryland Heights – 314.291.6550

Moline Acres – 314.868.2433

Monett

Normandy – 314.385.3300

Northwoods – 314.385.8000

Norwood Court – 314.382.8176

Oakland – 314.416.0026

Olivette – 314.993.0252

Overland – 314.428.4321

Pacific – 636.271.0500

Pagedale – 314.726.1200

Pasadena Hills – 314.382.4453

Pasadena Park – 314.383.0010

Pine Lawn – 314.261.5500

Richmond Heights – 314.646.7658

Riverview – 314.868.0700

Rock Hill – 314.968.1410

Saint Ann – 314.427.8009

Saint George – 314.631.1295

Saint John – 314.427.8700

Saint Louis City – 314.622.4000

Saint Louis County – 314.615.5000

Shrewsbury – 314.647.5795

Sunset Hills – 314.849.3400

Sycamore Hills – 314.426.5750

Town and Country – 314.432.6606

Twin Oaks – 636.225.7873

University City – 314.505.8560

Uplands Park – 314.383.1856

Valley Park – 636.225.8930

Velda City – 314.382.6600

Velda Village Hills – 314.261.7221

Vinita Park – 314.428.7373

Vinita Terrace – 314.427.4488

Warson Woods – 314.965.3100

Webster Groves – 314.963.5300

Wellston – 314.553.8000

Westwood – 314.727.0101

Wilbur Park – 314.631.3963

Wildwood – 636.458.0440

Winchester – 636.391.0600

Woodson Terrace – 314.427.2600

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

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