real estate

7 tips to renovating after a natural disaster

Buy a generator
Buy a generator

Generators can be a blessing when the power goes out during a storm. This is especially true for those with basements.

"Our beautiful finished basement took on 3 feet of water during (Hurricane) Irene -- not because of flooding, per se, but because the power outage caused the sump pumps to fail," says Stacie Dalrymple, a homeowner in Short Hills, N.J.

After Hurricane Irene blew past in 2011, Dalrymple wanted a hardwired generator to power the sump pumps and refrigerator but didn't have to time to install one before getting hit with a nor'easter two months later, leaving her house without power for eight days. "After that, we knew we wanted a whole house generator," she said.

While it wasn't cheap ($4,500 for a deluxe 20-kW unit and $5,500 for installation and gas-line work), her family was prepared when Superstorm Sandy knocked out their power -- this time for 12 days.

"I understand that these generators are prohibitively expensive for many people, but they are incredibly convenient and really a blessing in this part of the country, where we've had three major disasters involving power outages over the last (few years)," Dalrymple says.

Portable generators are less expensive, typically between $200 and $1,000, and can power the sump pump and other electrical needs during a disaster. But you'll need to manually hook it up and fill it with gas. "They cost much less money but require more active supervision and installation for each power outage," Dalrymple says.


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