Florida Old Style Homes

As an interior decorator and design consultant, I became fascinated with the history of Florida and Old Florida style homes, including the Old Florida Cracker style home. So I began my research into the back roads of old Florida. I found that Florida is not only rich in heritage, but also rich in culture and architectural design.

Florida is a kaleidoscope of many nationalities like Spanish, British, French, Italian and Cuban and with them came many influences on architectural design styles. Settlers also came from other states like South Carolina, New York and Louisiana. This diversity of cultures influenced the architecture and decorating style of many buildings, historical hotels and Florida homes.

Florida’s first settlers were actually Native American Indians. Ponce De Leon, a Spanish explorer, was the first to discover Florida in 1513, landing in St. Augustine, the nations oldest city. St. Augustine is also the home to the Casa Monica hotel, a Moorish Revival and Spanish Baroque style hotel.

Fernandina Beach on the Florida East coast touts a Floridian seaport village with cobblestone streets adorned with Victorian style homes and beachside cottages.

The Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach is a grand Old Florida Italian Renaissance hotel, built by real estate and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler in 1894. 75 artisans were brought in from Italy to complete the magnificent paintings of the main lobby ceiling.

Another popular Florida home-style design was the Renaissance and Mediterranean style homes found in both old Winter Park and Coral Gables neighborhoods. Also, mid-century architecture, based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas, was popular in Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale.

The Miami national historic district reflects 1950-60 architectural styles such as Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco and Miami Modern (MIMO) style.

Do not forget Florida old style homes in Key West, like Ernest Hemmingway’s home, a magnificent home in its day, decorated with French and Spanish furnishings. Key West also boasts the famous home of President Harry Truman; known as the Little White House. This is a Victorian style home in which many of our presidents visited. Key West is well known for the conch house style, introduced by the immigrants from the Bahamas. The conch house is an architectural home style using native conch shells, timber framing, low gabled roofs and large porches.

In Sarasota, John Ringling, of the Ringling Brothers Circus, built an Italian Renaissance style mansion modeled after a palace in Venice, Italy.

The Tampa Bay Hotel, located in Tampa, was built by Henry Plant, the railroad mogul. This hotel also uses Spanish Moorish revival architecture.

Old Florida also included mid-19th century Florida classic-revival plantation home styles like the Gamble Plantation house in Ellenton, the only surviving antebellum mansion near St. Petersburg.

Florida old style homes not only had some of the most magnificent, elegant old world hotels; it also had some laid-back, simple homes. One of the most familiar is the Florida Cracker vernacular style home that reflects green design by using local natural resources and is designed to withstand the Florida environment.

These homes were comfortable in the Florida heat since they were built off the ground so cooling air could circulate around them. They also had high peaked tin roofs to reflect the heat, shady wrap around porches with extended roof lines and lots of windows for cross ventilation. The Cracker house, now dubbed “Cracker Chic”, is making a comeback in the south with modern developments.

The next time you travel in Florida, why not take a side trip to some of these historical treasures? Better yet, take the scenic Old Florida Heritage Highway, rich in natural beauty where you can observe pastoral countryside and explore historical Florida old style homes like the Cracker home of the famous writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek, an environment that attracts writers, poets and artists. A place that will restore you spirit and refresh your soul. Happy travels!

Copyright 2011 Beautiful Interiors For Less, LLC

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Homeowners Insurance in Florida is on the Way Up Again

If you are with Florida’s state run insurance company, your home insurance rates are going up by up to 10% this year. If you have your Florida home insurance with a private company, you’ll be facing rate increases from 10-15%. However, if Florida insurance companies have their way, you could be losing significant discounts that could dramatically increase the cost of your homeowners insurance.

At the present time, Florida homeowners enjoy what is known as a wind mitigation discount for various home features that make your home more resistant to hurricanes. Home insurance companies are required to give you this discount under Florida law and a specific formula must be used to calculate it. It includes discounts for things like the shape of your roof, whether your roof has a secondary backup system for removing water, the methods used to attach your roof to the walls of your home, and whether or not your home has hurricane shutters among others.

Home insurance consumers in Florida have enjoyed these discounts which can be up to 50% of the wind premium on a home. However, homeowners sometimes are disappointed with those discounts as well. One homeowner who was showcased in the St. Petersburg Times invested $5,225 to strengthen the garage door and for hurricane shutters on his home in Spring Hill, Florida. He was very upset to find out that his $5,225 investment would only give him a discount of $16.11! Other homeowners in Florida have saved a lot more.

Started in 2002 along with improvements to the Florida building code, these wind mitigation discounts were an important step in the process to deliver lower Florida home insurance rates to those with homes less likely to sustain serious damage in a Florida hurricane. Those discounts were doubled by the state of Florida in 2006 in order to provide some rate relief after the 2004/2005 hurricane season.

At the moment with the approach of the 2010 Florida legislative session, home insurance companies are asking legislatures to reduce some of those discounts. In some areas the companies might have a point. For starters, there does seem to be a certain amount of fraud associated with those discounts. This fraud can be the result of homeowners misrepresentations and also due to errors in the findings from the home inspection. In any event it could lead to homes being granted discounts they aren’t entitled to. Companies also point out that the doubling of these discounts in 2006 was more of a political reaction to high rates than a scientific process to properly price the discount based on the real way a home would perform during a hurricane.

Some companies are ordering and paying for new mitigation inspections to get a more accurate picture of the home hardening mitigation steps that have been performed on your home. If a re-inspection on your home produces discrepancies, you might lose some of your discounts and face a massive increase in your Florida homeowners insurance premiums.

From your perspective as a homeowner, rolling back these discounts would add significantly to the cost of your Florida homeowners insurance. And this would happen during one of the worst recessions during our lifetimes. For some Florida homeowners having these mitigation discounts modified or eliminated could result in thousands of dollars in additional premium costs.

This is a critical development that all Florida homeowners should be following. Even slight changes to the mitigation discounts could cause massive increases in Florida home insurance premiums that will make the rate increases already approved look like small change!

Metal Roofing – Advantages & Benefits

Metal roofing is a growing choice of roofing material. Metal roofing accounts for about 10-14% of all re-roofing jobs in the United States. They are most popular in Southeastern states, like Florida, where tropical storms are a threat. There are several reasons why they are growing in popularity. First, homeowners are not as transient as they used to be. More and more homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes as they age. Since they can last more than five decades, homeowners who choose them know that they won’t need to replace it again. Other reasons include the strength and protection which they provide, and the greater design options available with meal roofing materials.

Federal Tax Credits
If you install a metal roof before December 31, 2010, you may be eligible for a Federal tax credit. You can receive a tax credit for 30% of the cost (up to $1500) for Energy Star metal roofs with pigmented coatings. Ask your roofer if your choice of roofing contains pigmented coatings. Pigmented coatings increase the energy efficiency of these roofs.

Metal roofs last the longest of any roofing material. Most manufacturers offer 50 year warranties for their products. With just a little maintenance, they can last up to 75 years.

Strength & Durability Benefits
Metal roofs withstand all weather conditions, from large amounts of heavy snow, to hail and high winds. They do not rot, which eliminates the possibility for insect damage. Additionally, they do not absorb water and moisture, crack or peel. They are also resistant to mildew and decay.

Cost Benefits
Metal roofs cost more than most other roofing types. The average costs are: steel shingles – $5,000-$22,000; aluminum shingles – $12,000-$24,000; copper shingles – $25,500 – $39,600. There are many variables that will determine the cost of a new metal roof, including size, material, pitch, accessibility, permits and any special labor costs associated with your roofing project. Homes with metal roofs are known for their higher resale values.

Safety Benefits
One of the greatest advantages of metal roofs is that they are fire-resistant. Unlike wood or asphalt shingled roofs, they do not burn, adding an additional level of protection for homeowners.

Environmental Benefits
There are several factors that make metal roofing environmentally-friendly, including that most can be installed over an existing roof. Installing metal roofing over an existing roof eliminates waste from a roof tear-off which would otherwise end up in a landfill. They are often made from recycled material, and metal roof materials can be recycled.

Energy Efficiency
Metal roofs reflect the sun and block heat transmission from the roof to the interior of a house. A pigment coated metal roof is more energy efficient because it creates a cooler home, due to the reflective pigments within in the finish.

Design Benefits
There are many color choices and design schemes available in metal roofing materials. Painted metal is available in almost any color. There are two types of metal roofs: standing seam and corrugated. Standing seam are made up of interlocking metal panels that are placed vertically from the ridge of the roof to the eaves. Corrugated metal roofing is corrugated or rippled sheets of metal. These two roof types create different appearances. Depending on your design preference, you can choose the wavy appearance of a corrugated roof or the flat, vertical appearance of standing seam roofing.

Why Spanish Tile Roof Can Improve the Aesthetics, Safety, and Value of Your Home

Your home is your greatest asset and you want to be sure that you not only protect that investment, but do everything you can to increase its value. One of the ways you can do that, as a homeowner, is by purchasing a clay tile roof for your home.

Clay tile roofs have been around since Ancient Greece, and continued to gain popularity throughout Eastern and Western Europe because they lasted through centuries. Clay tile roofs made their mark in the United States in 1650, and even today, they remain one of the most popular forms of roofing because of aesthetics and durability.

They come in a variety of colors, though the most popular ones are the orange, brown, and clay-colored varieties. Now-a-days, though, you can get them in just about any color, including blue and purple! You can get them in a variety of shapes and sizes too. In fact, some people utilize this variety to create patterns and designs on their roofs.

These roofs can be used even in hurricane and storm-prone coastal areas such as Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In fact, tile roofs are the only roofing systems that can withstand 125 mph winds.

Tile roofing systems have Class-A fire ratings, which means they are fire-proof and do not require periodic treatments or maintenance.

Tile systems are also more energy efficient. In fact, with light or white roofing titles, you reduce the amount of heat that enters your home by at least 50% compared to traditional asphalt shingle roofs. This will lower the cost of air conditioning in your home if you live in a warmer climate.

In terms of costs, clay tiles do cost slightly more than concrete, but with proper installation, they can last more than 100 years. Most manufacturers provide a 50-year minimum warranty on these types of roofing systems because they are so reliable.

Because of this reliability, your home’s value will increase. Exactly how much it will increase depends on where you live. Homes in Florida put a much higher value on hurricane-proofing, so homes with clay tile roofs should expect to see a big increase. Contact a qualified roofing specialist to find out more.

What Most Newcomers Don’t Realize About Maintaining a Florida Garden

Its the dream of every Florida homeowner to have a beautiful landscape. If you’re a newcomer to the state and you don’t know by now, the heat and the wildlife can be brutal. Those veterans of the Sunshine State can confirm this for you. Many times a proud homeowner will lose thousands of dollars on some newly laid sod of Saint Augustine grass. I’ve seen it far too many times. I want you to know that the upkeep of a Florida garden will demand a lot from you. But with a little pre-planning you can avoid most mistakes that novices are sure to make.

First of all, the heat here is no fun. Those ultraviolet rays on our beaches can do a number on your skin, but don’t forget what it can do to your yard. When choosing a home to either purchase or rent, make sure that you that you carefully consider its location. Is it underneath an Oak tree, is the property full of sand, or is there a nearby creek. All of these factors can make or break your new Florida garden. Oak trees can work two ways for you. They can either provide shade, or they’ll get your property baked. These behemoths are everywhere, and they’re not the typical ones you would find “up north” either. Our Oak trees are everywhere thanks to our pesky little squirrels. If you haven’t learned yet, these critters are largely responsible for the propagation of the Oaks. Now, one major problem innocently overlook is how low these trees hover over the roof.

Its very hot and humid here, so this encourages a lot of bugs. Beetles, spiders, mosquitoes, you name it. These little jokers can and will wreck havoc on your Florida garden. When you neglect to prune the branches of these Oaks every year, they can sometimes sit on the roof of your home. Aside from that, as the leaves fall a blanket will accumulate on that roof. This encourages termites, fire ants, and course the predatorial insects will follow. So not only might your home become infested with these, but your lovely grass will suffer. Our shady Oak trees can actually be the cause of your Saint Augustine grass dying. This type of grass, native to Florida, needs roughly 5-6 hours of sun everyday. Be careful because if you allow your grass to get too much sun, and it may, you can burn it out, too! So carefully consider these trees when you prepare your garden layout.

I want to add that due to our infamous droughts, you may want to master the art of xeriscaping for your Florida garden. Xeriscaping simply means landscaping your property with plants that can tolerate long periods without water. Some of these include: Zinnias, Marigolds, Cosmos, and even Cacti. There are a lot more you can add to your Florida garden. In fact, most of them actually produce more impressive blooms with less water. Really! If you want to do some homework just Google the term, xeriscaping plants. You’ll be surprised at the type of species that you find. The water crisis applies here in Florida too. So seriously consider this. I know, you’ll have to sacrifice some of your favorite water loving plants but just think what your water bill will look like.

Later on I will fill you in on how the natural sand here can be a pain in the neck. Your Florida garden can be the best on the block but it begins with the wisdom. Don’t just relocate here and be so quick to hire a landscaping company. The competition is fierce here, and sad to say some of these companies will attempt to overcharge you. When go that route when you can do things yourself with a little elbow grease? I’ve been a Florida resident for over 20 years and have killed plants and made some thrive. Its all about experimentation when you purchase a home here. But never forget, up keeping a Florida garden is not hard.

Kevin Timothy is a fanatic for the environmental sciences and a self proclaimed gardening manic. When he’s not spending time in the yard his children, he’s teaching them the importance of prosperity. In fact, he aspires to one day have a family owned plant nursery. The vehicle that he plans to use is the New Rich system, because the last thing this world needs is a future generation of economical complacency.

New Roofing Company Set to Take Over Jacksonville Florida

After dealing with the individuals at “One Shot Roofing”, I am convinced that there is no stopping this company. With level heads and a sharp business sense, they are set to become a construction industry giant in Northeast Florida, or at least I hope they do. My experience with the company started when I needed a new roof in order to sell my home… in four days.

Not too long ago I found myself in a very tight spot, I had entered into a contract to sell my home but an inspection revealed that a new roof was needed by closing (four days away). I couldn’t push back the closing date for a number of reasons. Without a new roof, the buyer would not be able to get homeowner’s insurance and would be forced to get out of the contract. So I set out to find a roofing company that could put a new roof on in a ridiculously small amount of time.

I found only two companies that would take on the job due to the timeline. To say the least, it wasn’t a very difficult decision to make after speaking with Daniel Schott, one of the owners of “One Shot Roofing”. Daniel spoke to me at my level and at no point did I feel like he was going to rake me over the coals because of my tight timeline. He also knew everything you could imagine about waterproofing. He was showing me things on the roof and giving me options that the other roofing company never even mentioned. He also showed me where wood needed to be replaced and where my porch roof needed to be replaced. He also offered me a type of shingle that had a longer guarantee. YOU MIGHT BE THINKING I GOT TAKEN FOR A RIDE… But I didn’t. He was $1000 cheaper than the other company.

It might not make sense that I would do anything other than what I absolutely needed to, to sell it, but I was assured by Daniel that the price would be cheaper than any other company and of course it was. As soon as the deal was signed with “One Shot Roofing”, Daniel immediately began ordering the materials from my driveway. By the time he left, everything was ordered. Talk about customer service.

Well, it’s said that “the proof is in the pudding” and two days after I initially talked with Daniel, the new roof was ready for inspection. It passed without issue and it was noted on the inspection report that the repairs exceeded what was expected. “One Shot Roofing” saved me from a nightmare.

Early Roof Preparation for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season comes around every year, and unless you live far from water, you have a lot of things that may get damaged the next time Mr. or Mrs. Destruction comes around. As you get prepared for a hurricane, you throw as many things into your home that you can possibly think of in hopes of protecting it. After things get started and the storm has set in you know you will probably end up playing board games for the next three days. So what happens if you lose your roof? I’m sure games will certainly be the last thing on your mind.

Here are a few things you can check on your roof to help fight the harsh conditions of hurricanes and what you can do to fix them if you need to.

Most homes built close to the water today have certain building codes due to the forever chance of a hurricane, especially in Florida. Looking into hurricane straps may be a good first step in preparing your roof for hurricanes. Hurricane straps come in many shapes, sizes, and gauges. They are one of the most important installations a roof needs to have it be Hurricane safe. Hence the name, Hurricane Straps. Check and make sure you have Hurricane straps inside your attic. You can find these metal fasteners on the outside edges of your home connecting the trusses to the tops of your walls. Like I said a lot of homes already have hurricane straps but people neglect to check if they were properly installed or if they have loosened over time. A small flashlight and a trip in the attic will let you know.

If your home is always in the path of one of those spiraling headaches or you’re tired of picking up shingles out of the yard, check to see if you have Hurricane rated shingles. Your shingles are the first line of defense of a hurricane and when they go it doesn’t take long for the rest to follow. This type of investment of course would be a good one at that. Not only would it help with the structural integrity of your home but is also known to lower your homeowners insurance after switching your roof top. A little research for material preference will let you know different options and prices that are available.

If you have the option of building your home, look into hip roofs. This provides a less wind resistant surface and allows the wind to pass by with less strain on the structure. If the hip roof doesn’t appeal to you, you can check in which direction the wind normally blows in your area and position the pitch of your roof to raise the wind like a wedge. This is a much better move than letting the gable of your home catch all the wind. Wind forces against your gables are most likely to cause your roof to fold over like dominoes set up in a pattern and then ultimately blow away.

A lot of things can be done to help protect your roof from hurricane damage. Most people hardly think about the structural advantages and disadvantages of their roof in a hurricane. These are only a few options to help you get started, but to better understand what you may need, contact your local professional and get their opinion. Whether you need only a few things covered or you’re starting from scratch, it’s always worth knowing.

South Florida Home Owner Insurance Quote

Hurricanes in south Florida can end lives, and survivors usually find their homes severely damaged, if not destroyed. It is crucial to have home owner insurance in south Florida.

Since south Florida is such a high-risk part of the state to insure, you should take certain steps to help protect your home against hurricanes before you start shopping for your home owner insurance quote. Pay close attention to these five areas of your home.

Your Garage

According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, 80 percent of damage done to your home by hurricanes starts with your garage. Garage doors are normally lightweight, which makes it easy for high hurricane winds to whip right through them. You can economically reinforce your garage door with steel, or opt to purchase a heavier, sturdier garage door.

Your Roof

As with garages, you can cheaply reinforce your roof my adding extra glue to the shingles – think high-quality flooring bonding agent – and you can also spend a bit more money by replacing your current roof with a newer, more wind-resistant one.

Your Windows

When it comes to your windows, you’re either going to want to replace them with windows made to withhold the beating flying debris will give them, or you may want to install a thick set of storm shutters. The latter costs less, but the path you choose should depend on how at risk your area is for hurricanes.

Your Landscape

Don’t keep trees close to your windows and doors. Uproot them and find them a new home across the yard if you have to. If you insist on leaving them be, make sure they are healthy – strong trunks and limbs – so they won’t break as easily in hurricane winds.

Your Possessions

Your outdoor possessions, that is. Patio furniture, children’s playhouses, your Saint Bernard’s gigantic food bowl – bring these things inside to prevent them from flying into your, or someone else’s, windows.

Metal Roof: Energy Saver

Most homeowners, especially parents are thinking ways on how to spend less and save more. With the sudden and constant increase of basic commodities, parents are just too wary spending on costly materials. In extreme cases, they act more than what it calls to be frugal just to save more.

But when it comes to your home, do you exercise uncalled frugality? Sometimes, it is in upfront spending more that you can save all the more…in the long run.

Consider metal roofs for your home. How? Read on.

Metal roofs are one of the most popular in the roofing industry today. Be it made from either copper, stainless steel, aluminum, stone coated steel or galvanized steel, these roofs are known to give you a lifetime service. Manufacturers give a warranty to over 75 year, some would even give lifetime free service because metal tops are very sturdy and durable. They can withstand fierce typhoons great destructive winds.

They have even grown more popular over their other counterparts because of some features that are unique only to them. One of these features is the ability of metal roofs to reflect off heat. Metal tops undergo a patented insulation system guaranteed to reflect off the sun’s scorching rays, keeping your abode cool unlike traditional asphalt shingles which absorbs heat.

These metal tops can keep your home cool by about 40% in the long hot months especially for residents of Florida where the temperature rises up to about 98 degree Fahrenheit. Mind you that the hottest temperature ever recorded in Florida was 43 degree Celsius back in the 1930’s in Monticello. Anyway, back to metal tops as an efficient energy saver, even if you spend thousands of bucks, remember that you will only get to spend just once. And the benefit you will get in the long run is truly worth it. Imagine how much you can save on energy bills during the long hot months. With metal roof installed in your home, you will never be dependent on air coolers and ventilation.

So for my equally thrifty mothers out there, why don’t you get a metal roof now and start counting the savings you can get in less than a time!

Florida’s Roofing Vultures

Floridians are no strangers to feeling like they are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to roofing. The insurance companies dictate when homeowners have to replace their roofs – at great expense, of course – and there are plenty of less than reputable roofing contractors out there who compound the homeowners’ misery by doing a poor job and then disappearing.

Throw into the mix the hurricane season that sweeps the Tampa Bay area every year, and with it the greater risk of roof damage, which just makes the insurance companies more jittery, and more and more homeowners are forced by the insurance companies to repair and renew their roofs.

With plenty of roofing work to be done – especially after a tropical storm – roofing contractors from neighboring states often swoop in to pick up the extra work. Having rushed the job they simply fly out of state and are never seen again, leaving the poor homeowner with a sub-par roof and no recourse but to have their supposedly new roof repaired again or redone completely.

Representative Mark McBride, Moore, OK, has dubbed these substandard roofing contractors as “Roofing Vultures” and he has set forth a bill to protect people from these migratory roofing vultures. The bill has already been approved Wednesday by Oklahoma’s House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee, and the implications for similar actions in Florida make it worth following.

McBride’s bill was approved without any opposition whatsoever and is now with the full House for their consideration and approval. What it proposes is that roofing contractors are required to buy a $30,000 bond issued by the state which can then be used to reimburse people for any damages caused by the contractor.

As the law currently stands, roofing contractors have to have insurance and workers’ comp in order to be licensed. In addition, Florida law stipulates that a permit must be issued by the local government before roofing work can be undertaken, and the homeowner can ask for an inspection for further piece of mind. However, people are still very much open to the predatory nature of the vulture roofing contractor and the McBride bill would add an extra level of security for the consumer.

Of course price plays a large part in the decision process when selecting which roofing contractor to use, so the roofing vulture will always be an issue, but if the McBride bill takes off it might be a little harder for the roofing vulture to find an easy meal. And if, as consumers, we are sensible, we won’t fall for a ridiculously low price and instead shop for a roofing contractor with a history and pedigree to back up their fine work.