January 25, 2018
LivingWise Guru
Home Sweet Home Part 2: The American Modern® Guide to Seasonal Maintenance

Make no bones about it, American Modern® strives to keep your home’s value intact and rising. In addition to weekly and monthly maintenance, we’ve come up with a comprehensive list of chores that should be done seasonally. Our suggestions will certainly help you stay organized and on schedule throughout the year when it comes to advanced tasks like re-calking your bathroom shower or inspecting your septic tank. With a little planning, this list will be as effortless as a Spring breeze.   Seasonal Maintenance Once a year, you will be responsible for tackling a few big-ticket inspection items. Some you can quickly accomplish o...
January 18, 2018
LivingWise Guru
Home Sweet Home Part 1: The American Modern® Guide to Year-Round Maintenance

If you’ve given yourself endless New Year’s resolutions to tackle all of your home’s needs at once, you’ve set yourself up for a daunting task. But, preserving the value of your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. American Modern® has tackled this vast list of chores for you and your family with our two-part series, Home Sweet Home. We’ve customized a set of laid-back tips for maintenance that you can do regularly throughout the year and seasonally to keep your home in flawless order. Now, you can toss your resolutions out and replace them with these manageable solutions perfect...
December 20, 2017
LivingWise Guru
End-of-the-Year Insurance Checklist

At the end of each year, we are whisked through a series of holiday celebrations, all leading up to the most contemplative day of the year: New Year’s Eve. Whilst reflecting on our accomplishments and goals, it’s easy to forget about the logistics of updating our home insurance policies to include all of the newly acquired belongings in our lives and evaluate what’s new or old in our homes. American Modern® has created a seamless checklist to make this process a breeze, so you can focus on ringing in 2018 knowing you’re prepared for any surprises that life has in store in the upcoming...
December 13, 2017
LivingWise Guru
9 Christmas Tree Pet Safety Tips

If you have seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you probably recall the tragic scene where Clark goes into the living to room to find the string lights on the Christmas tree are out. After noticing the plugs are disconnected, he then goes to plug them back into the outlet, and unbeknownst to him, Aunt Bethany’s cat (which she brought as a gift) has the other end of the lights under the chair. This conundrum brings an ill-fated finale to the furry feline, for comedy’s sake. However, there is often truth in comedy, and this scene reveals the actual added dangers the holiday and all...
Pet Holiday Safety Infographic
December 6, 2017
LivingWise Guru
11 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

It’s likely you are revving up for this holiday season’s festivities with as much spirit and drive as Santa himself. You’ve found the perfect tree. The holiday bins and boxes are being pulled out of storage, filled with all the lights, tinsel, ornaments, and décor that will transform your home into a glittery wonderland. And just like Santa’s reindeer, your pets want to play a role in the magic of the season. To keep your holiday prep stress-free and packed with fun, American Modern® has made a complete list (and checked it twice) for keeping your furry family members safe among all ...
December 4, 2017
LivingWise Guru
Seasonal Cheer without Fire Fear

This year, Rockefeller’s storied Christmas tree tradition continues with a 75-foot-tall Norway spruce that's 80 years old and weighs almost 12 tons. It was found by Rockefeller Center's head gardener, Erik Pauze, who, amongst keeping the grounds and gardens of Rockefeller Center in tip-top shape year-round, is tasked with finding a perfect-from-every-angle, awe-inspiring evergreen giant to display during the Christmas season. He found it in State College, Pennsylvania, on his trip to see a football game years ago in 2010. Each year, Pauze would visit the tree to monitor its growth and beauty...
December 1, 2017
LivingWise Guru
7 Tips to Help Prevent Theft During the Holidays and Beyond

More than 103 million Americans—the most on record—are expected to travel for the 2017 year-end holidays, according to AAA. Moreover, insurance claims peak toward the end of the year, mostly due to holiday travels and all of the valuable gifts left behind at home. By following these mischief-deferring tips, you can protect yourself and your belongings this holiday season. From twelve drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree, American Modern has you & your gifts covered. 1. Lock it up. In other words, hide the bundle of toys. Does anything compare to the magical excitement of wa...
Safety During Halloween
October 27, 2017
LivingWise Guru
10 Safety Tips To Follow During Halloween

The apples have been bobbed, the pumpkins are carved, the cobwebs are hung, and the spooky movie marathon has been viewed, leading up to one of the most anticipated nights of the year for both kids and adults: Halloween.   But some Halloween statistics can be pretty frightening. According to SafeKids.org, only 1/3 of parents talk to their little goblins about Halloween, yet 3/4 of parents report having safety concerns. American Modern® has collected a trove of tips to keep kids of all ages safe this Halloween season.   1. Before you leave the house to go haunting, check ...
August 9, 2017
LivingWise Guru
Do’s and Don’ts to Safeguarding Your Home While on Vacation

“We live on the most boring street in the whole United States of America, where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen.” - Buzz McCallister, Home Alone   Over the course of this summer, half of the American population are setting their emails to “out-of-office,” packing their bags, and embarking on well-thought-out vacations. While you’re jotting down a list to remember everything from sunscreen to passports, American Modern® has prepared a floor-to-ceiling list that will prep your home for security while you are sipping out of coconuts or slipping into water...
July 31, 2017
LivingWise Guru
Sit Back and Unwind This Summer with American Modern’s Pool Safety Guide

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s likely you and your family are spending a lot of time cooling off by the pool. American Modern® knows it’s important to create poolside memories with your family and friends, and that’s why we’ve created this essential summer guide to keeping your backyard pool oasis secure and safe.   With drowning being the leading cause of accidental death in young children between the ages of 1-4, there are easy steps you can take to keep your children and others safe while enjoying summer’s favorite pastime. The following tips will make all the...
Protecting your home and family with smart technology
June 28, 2017
LivingWise Guru
Tiny Homes Thrive with Innovative Smarts

When American Modern finished our very own LivingWise smart home, we set out to discover if and how smart technologies could fit into an even smaller footprint, say between 100-400 square feet. The tiny home movement is now more mainstream than Elvis, who coincidentally was born in a tiny two-room shotgun house no more than 15 feet wide. In America, tiny homes have a rich, but uncelebrated history (unless the home happens to be the birthplace of Elvis Aaron Presley). But we know Elvis left his humble shotgun childhood home and grew into a superstar, moving into the super-sized lavish Gr...
April 20, 2017
LivingWise Guru
The Secret to Safeguarding Your Gadgets? Be Your Own Hero.

We are increasingly living in the age of gadgets-as-gifts, where sentiment and technology go together like marshmallows and hot chocolate. Let’s face it: most of us are either too giddy or paralyzed in food comas during the holidays to stop and think about safeguarding all of our new tech gifts. But it’s finally time to ask, “Have you taken the best measures to protect your shiny new gizmos?” American Modern, ever the technology enthusiasts, brings you simple, yet hardcore advice so that you can be your own hero when it comes to keeping your gadgets secure. Insuring your gadgets ...
Protecting your family with smart technology
March 9, 2017
LivingWise Guru
How I Keep My Teenagers Safe by Minimally Annoying Them within our Smart Home

  Having two teenage daughters is simultaneously a father’s proudest achievement and worst nightmare. A double-edged sword that is a blessing and a curse all packed into one shining symbol of authority and protection. On one end, a hope to shape young women to be kind, smart, and independent; on the other end, a silent wish to put them under house arrest so they can never be harmed or much worse, speak to boys. You could say I’m a proud Dad who is still learning the art of trusting my teenagers with the help of smart technology in our home. Devices and apps make it a little easi...
November 28, 2016
LivingWise Guru
5 smart devices to protect your home during the holidays

If you're like me, my studies, you're gearing up for the holiday shuffle, hopping from one home to the next and soaking up as much holiday cheer as possible. Since so many of us travel during the holidays and because home thefts tend to increase this time of year, now is a great time to think about home security. Take a look at these Om-inducing smart devices that can help keep your home secure during the holiday season and beyond. Smart security cameras. Using your mobile device you can watch a live feed of your home or receive notifications when the camera's motion sensor detects any...
September 28, 2016
LivingWise Guru
Valuable Lessons in Preventing Water Damage

After two-and-a-half hours, 416 gallons of water, and several million paper towels, we finally wrapped our flood test. So, slip on your galoshes my studies, and let's take a closer look. Check out this video to see how we flooded the house and the kind of damage it caused. I'll give you a hint; it's bad. I've always wanted to walk on water, my studies, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEUj4mkHPYQ Cleaning up the damage  After turning off the water we let it sit for an hour before cleaning up. Watch this video to see how we tackled the cle...
September 13, 2016
LivingWise Guru
Opening the flood gates

I crave peace and tranquility, my studies, so when I heard the news that we were planning an experiment to see how the house's building materials and sensors reacted to water, it nearly knocked me off my bare feet. They weren't referring to the serene trickling fountain in my meditation garden either. They flooded the house! Gaze upon the video and see for yourself. We simulated a burst pipe between the first and second floors, and for nearly two-and-a-half hours pumped more than 400 gallons of water into the house. The water seeped down the walls, dripped from the door casing, flowed un...
June 29, 2016
LivingWise Guru
Chance to win a $500 gift card.

Share FORTIFIED Home™ On the Go for a chance to win a $500 Home Depot Gift Card. We are very excited to tell you that Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. (“Munich Re, US”), has just launched a new iPad app—FORTIFIED Home™ On the Go. It’s free from the iTunes Store for homeowners, contractors, and architects to use when building or retrofitting a single-family home. Please check it out and help us spread the word for a chance to win a $500 Home Depot gift card. The tablet app walks you through the strengthening process, providing information based on your input.  The guidance in...
June 28, 2016
LivingWise Guru
What Is a FORTIFIED Home™? And why would want one?

Fortified comes from the Latin word for “strong” and that’s just what homeowners get with a FORTIFIED designation—assurance their home will be better able to withstand extreme weather events. In essence, FORTIFIED is a set of superior construction standards developed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to help strengthen new and existing homes through upgrades to minimum building code requirements. The goal is to help create resilient communities that are prepared for and can quickly recover from natural hazards like hurricanes, high winds, and hail. ...
Finished LivingWise House
March 24, 2016
Shannon Lewandowski
The Big Reveal: Our Finished LivingWise Home

It's been many months, my studies. We've learned much together: how to engage with our surroundings in smart, sustainable ways, how to build structures that reduce our environmental footprints, and how  to look at the world around us with fresh eyes. Today, we're happy to show you the LivingWise home you've all helped to create. American Modern and its partners, Hartford Steam Boiler and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), recently hosted a "big reveal" event at the LivingWise site. Watch the video here. You should be proud of what we've accomplished together,...
March 10, 2016
Shannon Lewandowski
Tips for Making Site Clean-Up Simple

Good day, my studies. Ready for today's learning? Come in. Sit down. When we began our LivingWise journey together all those months ago, we set out to build a home for the 21st Century — one built with an eye toward environmental responsibility — using sustainable materials, smart technology and green building practices. The construction on our LivingWise home is complete. And that means that we should turn our attention to cleaning up our construction site. As in the building phase, we need to be careful to protect our surroundings from environmental hazards during our wind-down. ...
February 25, 2016
Shannon Lewandowski
Smart Thermostat: A Wise Option For Your Home

Hello, my studies. Spring is just around the corner and, in many areas of the country, the temperature this time of year can vary widely one day to the next. That can make indoor temperature control difficult for homeowners, who have to turn down the heat today, only to turn it up again tomorrow. Reactive temperature control can be costly. You know that cars burn more gasoline at engine start-up or when accelerating than they do when maintaining cruise speed — the same principle applies for home heating. More electricity or natural gas is used to catch back up on cooler days if the temper...
January 14, 2016
LivingWise Guru
When spring storms arrive, a FORTIFIED® Home can withstand more.

Now that winter has arrived, you're all thinking about ice, snow and staying warm, aren't you, my studies? But one of the tenets of LivingWise is thinking ahead. And before you know it, spring — with its winds and sometimes severe storms — will be here. It's good that we look ahead now, so that we can be prepared in case milder temperatures bring us wilder weather. In regions like the Great Plains, Midwest and Deep South, where severe storms are more common, most families know to stock up their emergency kits (hand-cranked weather radio, flashlights, batteries, blankets and bottled wate...
December 11, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Your Chance To Win $100! Help LivingWise Build A Wiser Wonderland This Holiday.

Happy holidays, my studies! I love this time of year: the cheeriness, the increased awareness of how our actions affect others, the clean scent of pine and fresh-fallen snow. But every year, I find myself wondering more and more how we can reduce our holiday footprint. Did you know that, according to the EPA, the average American household produces 25% more waste from November through January? Or that every year 4 million tons of timber are processed into gift wrapping, then tossed into landfills? This year, we're building a Wiser Wonderland. We need your help — and to encourage ...
December 3, 2015
LivingWise Guru
The Wisdom of Paying Attention to Your Pipes This Winter

Hello, studies. How were your Thanksgiving celebrations? Now that all our bellies are full, let's look ahead to something many of us forget to properly prepare our homes for: winter. It is, after all, just around the corner. In some parts of the country, temperatures are already dipping below the freezing point. And that means that frozen pipes are already becoming a challenge. Why are frozen pipes a problem? Because they can easily burst and cause thousands of dollars in flooding damage to your home. Why do pipes burst when they freeze? Water is a really weird substance. Most peop...
Prevent Theft During The Holidays
December 2, 2015
LivingWise Guru
7 Smart Ways to Prevent Holiday Theft

Good day, my studies. Are you ready for the winter holidays? Today I want to speak to you about something important: protecting yourself from holiday-related thefts. It's matter of course that, around the holidays, thefts occur more frequently. With many people shopping for gifts online these days, packages left on front stoops make for easy targets. Shoplifting and purse snatching incidents are more frequent at retail outlets and malls. Break-ins and burglaries are more common in the winter months. Homes left vacant due to holiday travel are especially vulnerable. What can you do to ...
November 23, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Ducts or No Ducts? That is the Question.

Updating an older home and don’t want to open up the walls to run new ducts? Want to heat or cool one room, but not the whole house? A ductless HVAC system like ours may be something to consider. In this segment of American Modern’s LivingWise, we’ll share some of the reasons we choose this innovative approach to heating and cooling....
November 17, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Decorate Safely and Wisely for the Holidays

Are you getting excited about the winter holidays, studies? Many of you are probably thinking about putting up outdoor lights or Christmas trees soon. Some of you may be planning Chanukah or Kwanzaa celebrations and setting out menorahs or kinaras. And some of you may be looking forward to long winter nights sitting in front of a warm fireplace. But did you know that home structure fires occur more often in December and January than in any other month? And many of those fires are directly attributable to holiday lighting, candles and hearths? That's what the National Fire Protection A...
Turkey Deep Fryer safety
November 10, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Act wisely when deep-frying your turkey.

Good day, my studies. This week's meditation: giving thanks. With the holiday fast approaching, I need to thank you, studies. Thank you for your conscientiousness. Thank you for your willingness to make a difference. Thank you for allowing me to show you the truths I have learned along our homebuilding journey. Where did this all come from? A discussion I had last week with my friend, Mather — from whom I buy a lot of tasty organic vegetables every Saturday at the county farmer's market. We were talking about Thanksgiving and our meal plans. I told him about the nice seitan roll wit...
October 21, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Concrete Countertops: The Pros and Cons

We’ve installed the cabinetry in our kitchen and bathrooms. Now it’s time for the countertops. There are a lot of options out there, but the one we’re really excited about is concrete.  In this segment of American Modern’s LivingWise, we’ll explore some of  the pros and cons of this very popular building material.  ...
Installing a smart water sensor
October 7, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Preventing damage with water sensors

Water from leaking or frozen pipes can cause a lot of damage. Experts from Hartford Steam Boiler explain how water sensors equipped with smart technology can help eliminate many of the risks associated with water damage in your home....
Smart Electrical
September 25, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Smart electrical sparks new ideas

What if your home could monitor your energy consumption and show you some ways to save money on your electric bill every month? Pretty smart, right? Hear how our expert partners from Hartford Steam Boiler outfitted our home for maximum energy efficiency....
September 17, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
What’s New in Smart Security?

In this episode of American Modern’s LivingWise, we take security to the next level and explore some really smart options. You’ll hear about the security measures our expert partners at Hartford Steam Boiler have installed and how they’ll make our home even safer....
Explore all the possibilities for a connected home
September 10, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Explore all the possibilities for a connected home

Author: Hartford Steam Boiler LivingWise is all about knowing your options and making smart, informed decisions for your home. Have a look at some of the innovative new ways you can get connected for more comfort, security, convenience and energy savings. ...
September 1, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
LivingWise Progress Report: Finishwork and Trim

American Modern’s LivingWise Gurus are wrapping up work on the flooring, hanging cabinets, and focusing on details like filling nail holes and painting the doors and trim. ...
smart home with HSB
August 26, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Getting to Know the Connected Home

It’s time to start networking our home to be both smart and connected. So we called in our expert partners from Hartford Steam Boiler. They handled the installation of some really innovative home technologies. In this video segment of American Modern’s LivingWise, they answer some commonly asked questions about building a smart, connected home. Have a look!...
smart tech
August 19, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report – Installing Smart Home Technology

Last week experts from Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) joined the LivingWise team to install smart devices and discuss how connected home technology can help homeowners manage risk. ...
flooring options
August 12, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Get Ready to Be Floored

It’s been a little more than four months since construction on the LivingWise house started. Now it’s time to install the flooring. Bamboo, cork, vinyl tile – we made some really smart and sustainable choices. Have a look!...
August 4, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: Installing Cork Floors

American Modern’s LivingWise Gurus get started laying a floating cork floor after wrapping up the painting and electrical. Watch as our employees are become LivingWise Guru's, and in the process, see first-hand how to put together a house properly....
July 29, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: Drywall

The drywall has been completed, and now the team is ready to prime and paint. The whole house now has the first coat of primer. American Modern employees are becoming LivingWise Guru's, and in the process, seeing first-hand how to put together a house properly. ...
low-VOC paint
July 27, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Choosing a Low-VOC Paint

Learn about healthier paint options for your home and family as American Modern’s LivingWise explores the issue of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)....
July 23, 2015
LivingWise Guru
How Do You Choose a Paint That Will Let the Room Breathe Healthy?

Good day, my studies. Please: sit. Now that the walls are finished and we’re about to begin decorating our LivingWise house, we should probably take a moment to discuss painting. When I was a clean living neophyte, I was surprised to learn that the choice of paint holds consequences that reach far beyond aesthetics. Some paints can have a negative effect on your health. True, we no longer use lead-based pigments, so no worries about lead-poisoning and its associated birth defects if you are building a new home. But there are still hidden dangers in some commercially-available paints...
Smart and connected home technology
July 16, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Tips for Making Sure Your Connected Home Stays Secure

Author: Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) Homeowners need to put measures in place to ensure that home networks and data remain secure; this will be the first line of defense. Each router and firewall manufacturer may have its own customized features, but there are basic steps that should be followed in order to help protect a home Wi-Fi network: Change the default password. All routers / firewalls come with a preset, default password. These passwords are well-known and well-documented. Change each admin password to a strong, complex password that uses upper and lowercase alphanumeric charact...
July 9, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Meditations on Siding

Sit down, my studies. Let’s talk about siding. Choosing siding is an important process for a homeowner. Siding choice doesn’t just affect the aesthetics of a home; it affects the performance of the home, too. It can affect the cost or pace of your build. And ultimately, it can affect the value of your home at selling time. Today, let’s take a look at several types of siding on the market and weigh the pros and cons of each. Materials There are a number of materials you could opt for. Make sure you consider the following before you buy: Cost Durability Maintenance requ...
cyber security
July 6, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Should You Be Worried About Cybersecurity In Your Connected Home?

Author: Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) Now that we’ve seen the variety of devices you can connect and how they can be connected, let’s take a look at what could happen once you are connected. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons from a security perspective. How device interconnection can improve your security. Now that some devices can interconnect, the possibility exists for behavior noted by one device to trigger a function in another. For instance, if a water sensor detects a leak in your house, it could trigger your main water feed to shut off the water coming into your ho...
July 1, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report – Siding and a special visitor

This week, the LivingWise team made progress on the siding and had a special visit from American Modern’s President & CEO, Manny Rios....
June 25, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Just What Is a “Connected Home?”

Author: Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) If you are aware of the term “connected home,” you know this is an evolving area. A connected home is one in which devices are connected to each other to allow the homeowner to remotely monitor or control certain systems in the home. It utilizes technology, apps and services within the home to offer comfort, convenience, control, energy efficiency and energy cost savings. Smart phones and the increasing availability of high-speed Wi-Fi have changed the home from a place where a separate room contained the computer into one in which every major appl...
Progress report
June 22, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: Wrapping up the Wiring

Even though the temperature has soared, our LivingWise gurus haven’t slowed down. This week they finished up the wiring and framed the storage area below the stairwell. Plans for CAT-6 wiring were squared up as we began thinking ahead about what we’ll need to make this home both smart and connected....
Water Conservation
June 18, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Wise Ways to Save Water

With most of the Western U.S. facing another year of severe drought, we thought it wise to consider some ways to save water. From the bathroom to the laundry room and beyond, watch this quick video or download the attached tip sheet for some ideas on conserving water, lowering monthly water bills, and living more conscientiously....
bathroom fixtures
June 17, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Steps for Starting a Bathroom Reno

Earlier we discussed the importance of considering your lifestyle and budget when picking the right floor plan. Now that the project has progressed, let’s talk about choosing plumbing fixtures for your home. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest trend. While we all may want the latest item for our home, is it a smart and economical choice? Bathrooms are usually one of your bigger budget rooms for a remodel. A few simple changes in how you look at choosing materials can help reduce your costs. The first step is knowing your budget. Sit down and crunch the numbers. Do your resea...
Sprinkler Chase
June 16, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: High Fives All Around

We saw a lot of high fives and fist bumps on the set of LivingWise this week as our volunteer gurus built an ingenious chase to hide the sprinkler system that runs along the exterior of the home. Watch as they master the nail gun, put up the fascia, install the vinyl soffit and learn why a square, a level, and a measuring tool are a carpenter’s must-haves....
outlet locations
June 12, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Outlets in All the Right Places

Part of LivingWise is planning wisely. Most architects and industrial designers will tell you that form should follow function. So why do homebuilders so often fail to consider occupants’ day-to-day power needs when placing electrical outlets? In this video, LivingWise guru Shannon walks you through the basics of considering where your home’s plugs should be, and gives you a few thought-provoking tips that could save you from tripping over unsightly, exposed power cords later....
window efficiency
June 11, 2015
LivingWise Guru
A View to Energy Efficiency

What are windows, my studies? Are they simply portals which allow light or fresh air into a building? Or, to turn on its ear Shakespeare’s famous missive about eyes being windows upon the soul, are windows the eyes from which a home’s soul shines through? If so, what do green-friendly windows say? Sit down, my studies. Let’s discuss. Windows that allow you to live with less. Less lighting used. Less heating required. What would happen if your home’s windows could adapt to the prevailing conditions outside and help you to save on utilities? That’s exactly what the US Departme...
progress report
June 5, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: Electrical Work

Last week, American Modern’s LivingWise team wired the house for electricity, hung electrical boxes, then added light switches and outlets. Watch the video for a look at our volunteers hard at work....
June 4, 2015
LivingWise Guru
LivingWise in Wildfire Season

Hello again, my eager pupils. Today, I want to talk to you about fire prevention. Successful wildfire prevention efforts depend upon forethought and conscientious behavior. And those, my studies, are pillars of LivingWise. You need to be attentive and careful outdoors. Dry timber and grasses make excellent kindling. Careless campers, flicked cigarettes, or fireworks can all spark flames that unpredictable winds quickly stoke. In our Western states, which are historically vulnerable to wildfires, many reservoirs are critically low right now, challenging firefighters' ability to lay ...
window insights
June 3, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Window Insights from IBHS

Author: Fred Malik, IBHS As part of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s  FORTIFIED Home program, depending on where your home is located, openings such as windows, doors, and skylights are essential to strengthening a home.  All openings should be tested and approved in accordance with, at a minimum, International Residential Code (IRC) design pressure test standards, or locally adopted standards if they are more restrictive.  They must be installed in accordance with the tested assembly and the manufacturer’s instructions. Windows and glass doors should be rated ...
Tiny house, big dreams
June 2, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Tiny House, Big Dreams

Most people don’t need a commercial driver’s license for a house. Noah and Tabatha Mehl, of Cincinnati, just might. They’re building a tiny house out of a 53-foot semi-trailer. For many Millennials, shedding unnecessary goods and focusing on the basics of living is, well, liberating. In an era when so many young adults are facing crushing student loan debt, uncertain job prospects and rampant consumerism, the cheap, sustainable living afforded by moving into a tiny house can seem quite appealing. A shift in consciousness. The Mehls — he an IT professional and she a graphic des...
Progress report
May 27, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: A Word from the Wise

Hundreds of American Modern employees have volunteered to help construct our LivingWise house. And we couldn’t be happier with the progress they’re making. This week they framed in the chimney and started hanging electrical boxes. Find out more about their experiences, watch as they put their skills to work, and hear why they wanted to become a LivingWise Guru. Thanks to all of you who are making this project come to life....
Is a tiny home for you
May 26, 2015
LivingWise Guru
How Tiny Houses Could Save the World

One of the easiest ways (or hardest, depending on your outlook) of achieving sustainable living enlightenment is to downsize. For some, giving prized possessions away is a barrier to progress; for others, it’s a release. Clean, simple living comes with letting go of one’s attachments to material goods and status. And that’s the central tenet of the tiny house movement. Tiny house movement? You’re not familiar with the concept? Oh, my poor study. Sit down. I’m going to tell you a story of dissolution. I’m going to tell you a story of living wise. A modern Walden. B...
May 21, 2015
LivingWise Guru
First Steps to a FORTIFIED Home™

Guest author: Fred Malik, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety During the last decade, storms like Katrina, Sandy, Ike and Irene have demonstrated the critical need to build more resilient homes and businesses. In 2010, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) launched FORTIFIED Home™, a set of engineering and building standards designed to help strengthen new and existing homes through system-specific building upgrades that will ward off damage from specific natural hazards, like hurricanes, tropical storms, hailstorms, high winds and wind-driven rain ...
May 19, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: On Site with Chief Marketing Officer

Tammy Nelson stops by the LivingWise house for some hands-on training. She rolls up her sleeves and gets right to work helping our Guru crew. Watch as they finish up the window installation, install the exterior doors, and wrap up the sheathing so the house can breathe. Hear what the team learns this week and see how they’re building on their expertise....
Hear from our gurus
May 7, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: Hear From Our Gurus

It’s been a busy week and we’ve made a lot of progress. Ceiling joists went up, a house wrap was installed, windows went in and we installed a tub and a shower. Have a look at the progress and hear from some of the American Modern volunteers that lent their time and expertise to building the LivingWise home....
Advantages of Builders Risk Insurance
May 6, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Building, renovating, or flipping? Be certain you’re insured.

Whether you’re building a new home, remodeling your current home, or renovating a structure with the intent to re-sell it, a lot can go wrong. Part of LivingWise is knowing you’re protected no matter what. To that end, we asked our LivingWise guru – Shannon Lewandowski - to discuss builder's risk insurance policies and endorsements. Have a look and learn more....
surprising trends in home size
May 1, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Surprising Trends in Home Sizes

Want to know more about home sizes in America? Check out this interesting infographic from Alan Mascord Design Associates, Inc. on the Homeplans site for insight into the latest trends....
manufactured home advantages
April 25, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Advancements in Manufactured Home Building: Buying Green on a Tight Budget

So let's talk about manufactured housing. No, no, my studies, not trailers and mobile homes. We're talking about homes constructed from a modular design, using pre-fabricated parts with high-quality building materials. There are so many options these days — DIY kit homes, manufactured homes constructed for temporary placement, and even foundation-based manufactured homes. For some of you, these can be both affordable and wise options. So what are some of the advantages manufactured homes have over traditional, site-built homes? Let's take a look. Have you heard the good news? Oh,...
April 23, 2015
Shannon Lewandowski
Progress Report: Framing and Sheathing Complete

Wondering why an insurance company is building a two-story house inside a warehouse?  That’s simple… for knowledge and training. American Modern prides itself on providing excellent hands-on training for every adjuster hired into the company.  We have a 56,000 square foot training facility that already contains a 1 ½ story home, a manufactured home, a commercial roof, watercraft, motorcycles, and collector vehicles.  During the hands-on training our adjusters see actual damages, assess the damages, and then do the repairs. From energy efficient systems and recyclable building mat...
LivingWise Guru
April 13, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Welcome to LivingWise

Hi! I'm Your LivingWise Guru. So glad you found the site! You're probably wondering what LivingWise is all about. How do I know? I'M A GURU. Well, anyways, that's what the experts over at American Modern Insurance Group call me. You can just call me "LG." Now let's be clear: I'm not the only guru out there. I just happen to be one who is keenly interested in ways to live smarter, live cleaner, live more sustainably and live safer. And that's exactly why American Modern and its partners, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB)...
Trees 4 Likes
April 13, 2015
LivingWise Guru
10 Easy Ways to Honor Mother Earth

Authored by Bill Bangert Do you like “Liking” things on Facebook? Of course you do! Do you like trees? Who doesn’t?? American Modern is giving you the chance to help plant trees simply by using the power of the “Like” as part of our Trees4Likes campaign. Now through April 24th, a tree will be donated to the National Forest Foundation for every “Like” on the LivingWise Facebook page. It’s our way of celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day. And since this is the only planet that we currently have access to, we thought it would be a great to share some easy things you can do to ...
Right size floorplan
April 13, 2015
LivingWise Guru
Ask the Guru: Which Home Size is Wise?

So you're taking the leap. You're looking for a new home. Given the current buyers' market, there are many affordable options. Even better, financing is still pretty cheap. I know what you're thinking. But LG, there are so many choices! What are my wisest living options? Patience, my eager student. First, you must answer this question: Why are you in the market? Are you downsizing for retirement? Reducing your environmental impact? Planning for a growing family? Before you begin the buying or building process, consider places you have lived before. Think about: Who you are. ...