Concrete always cracks

We often, hear complaints from a variety of sources, saying the concrete on counters, walls or floors has cracked. The answer is yes, it cracks and in most cases it cannot be helped. If for example, you raise a block wall from 4 feet to 6 feet, the majority of the time a crack will develop between the new and old blocks. The “why” is simple, expansion and contract at different rates between the new and the old. When a new section is added the new mortar will not be exactly the same as the old and the new blocks will be slightly different in composition as well. The results in one thing, cracking. But rather that go further in explaining the reasons, this information courtesy of The Concrete Foundations Association of America, explains it perfectly.

Concrete Cracking

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A common adage is that there are two guarantees with concrete. One, it will get hard and two, it will crack. Cracking is a frequent cause of complaints in the concrete industry. The Concrete Foundations Association has produced a new flyer to help contractors educate their customers about the causes of cracks and when they should be a concern. A more detailed explanation of cracking is presented in this article.

Cracking can be the result of one or a combination of factors such as drying shrinkage, thermal contraction, restraint (external or internal) to shortening, subgrade settlement, and applied loads. Cracking can not be prevented but it can be significantly reduced or controlled when the causes are taken into account and preventative steps are taken.

Another problem associated with cracking is public perception. Cracks can be unsightly but many consumers feel that if a crack develops in their wall or floor that the product has failed. In the case of a wall, if a crack is not structural, is not too wide (the acceptable crack of a crack depends on who you ask and ranges from 1/16” to 1/4”) and is not leaking water, it should be considered acceptable. It is in the best interest of you, the wall contractor, to educate your customers that the wall will crack and when it should be a concern to them.

Cracks that occur before hardening usually are the result of settlement within the concrete mass, or shrinkage of the surface (plastic-shrinkage cracks) caused by loss of water while the concrete is still plastic.

Settlement cracks may develop over embedded items, such as reinforcing steel, or adjacent to forms or hardened concrete as the concrete settles or subsides. Settlement cracking results from insufficient consolidation (vibration), high slumps (overly wet concrete), or a lack of adequate cover over embedded items.

Plastic-shrinkage cracks are most common in slabs and are relatively short cracks that may occur before final finishing on days when wind, a low humidity, and a high temperature occur. Surface moisture evaporates faster than it can be replaced by rising bleed water, causing the surface to shrink more than the interior concrete. As the interior concrete restrains shrinkage of the surface concrete, stresses can develop that exceed the concrete’s tensile strength, resulting in surface cracks. Plastic-shrinkage cracks are of varying lengths spaced from a few centimeters (inches) up to 3 m (10 ft) apart and often penetrate to mid-depth of a slab.

Cracks that occur after hardening usually are the result of drying shrinkage, thermal contraction, or subgrade settlement. While drying, hardened concrete will shrink about 1/16 in. in 10 ft of length. One method to accommodate this shrinkage and control the location of cracks is to place construction joints at regular intervals. For example, joints can be constructed to force cracks to occur in places where they are inconspicuous or predictable. Horizontal reinforcement steel can be installed to reduce the number of cracks or prevent those that do occur from opening too wide.

The major factor influencing the drying shrinkage properties of concrete is the total water content of the concrete. As the water content increases, the amount of shrinkage increases proportionally. Large increases in the sand content and significant reductions in the size of the coarse aggregate increase shrinkage because total water is increased and because smaller size coarse aggregates provide less internal restraint to shrinkage. Use of high-shrinkage aggregates and calcium chloride admixtures also increases shrinkage. Within the range of practical concrete mixes – 470 to 750 lb/yd3 (5- to 8-bag mixes) cement content – increases in cement content have little to no effect on shrinkage as long as the water content is not increased significantly.

Concrete has a coefficient of thermal expansion and contraction of about 5.5 x 10-6 per °F. Concrete placed during hot midday temperatures will contract as it cools during the night. A 40°F drop in temperature between day and night-not uncommon in some areas-would cause about 0.03 in. of contraction in a 10-ft length of concrete, sufficient to cause cracking if the concrete is restrained. Thermal expansion can also cause cracking.

Structural cracks in residential foundations usually result from settlement or horizontal loading. Most (but not all) structural cracks resulting from applied loads are nearly horizontal (parallel to the floor) and occur 16” to 48” from the top of the wall. They are much more prevalent concrete block construction. They can be brought about by hydrostatic pressure or heavy equipment next to the foundation.

Diagonal cracks that extend nearly the full height of the wall are often an indication of settlement. In either of the above conditions, an engineer should be consulted. Diagonal cracks emanating from the corner of windows and other openings are called reentrant cracks and are usually the result of stress build-up at the corner. Diagonal reinforcement at the corner of openings can reduce the instance of crack formation and will keep the cracks narrow.

Building on bare land

The old ways of construction in the Yucatan, as far as building on vacant land is concerned, have changed dramatically over the last few years. The environment agency of the Government SEMARNAT is heavily involved in the process. SEMARNAT is in charge of the protection of natural habitat. That includes any building lot you may buy and wish to build on. The restrictions and processes you have to follow vary, dependant on the zone you are in. But first you have to have an environmental assessment done and this is submitted to SEMARNAT. SEMARNAT will use this assessment to review your plans to build. Most homes will end up being built on Pylons like this one we are doing for customers in Chelem.IMG_2955

Building on pylons is better for the flora and fauna, as well as provides better protection from storm surge. A lot of places that may suffer hurricane damage require homes to be built on pylons by law. But building on pylons requires special engineering and techniques which adds to the costs. In some areas SEMARNAT specifies even swimming pools must be elevated and the level of elevation can vary zone to zone from ground level to 2 meters above terrain height. If you are looking at a lot to build on call us, before you buy, to make sure you will be permitted to build what your planning. Some lots would be almost impossible to build on due to the restrictions in place. A normal SEMARNAT review can take 6 months or more, so that has to considered in your overall timeline as well. We have one customer, that had a large parcel of raw beach front land, in a non built up zone, take 8 years to finally get permission from SEMARNAT. We can help you though out the permitting process, as we know what to do and how to do it.IMG_2957IMG_2954

Questions you need to ask your builder, before you start.

Here are some questions you should ask of any prospective builder, to give you an idea of their ability to do the task at hand. I have put in my answers for each question, just as a reference.

  • Are you a registered company and do you have a company website?

Yes we are. Aerocretos de Mexico S. de R.L de C.V.    RFC ame120510gf1  and we can be found at http://www.aerocretosdemexico.com

  • How many people – direct employees – work for your company? This answer will give you an indication of company depth.

It varies as projects come and go, but we keep a core group that have been with us for 7 years and expand as required, right now it is about 50.

  • What are their job descriptions? This answer tells you if the contractor has adequate support staff.

Some are master Abiniles others are helpers. We also have 3 support trucks,  for our supervisors  who are responsible for certain projects. We also have plumber electricians on staff, plus an engineer, 2 architects and our office administrator.

  • What do they do each day? You should get a feel if the people are full or part time.

We put dedicated crews on each job and the service trucks visit each site at various times during the day delivering materials and checking the progress. Our supervisors visit projects daily to review the progress and one of the other partners or perhaps both of us, will also show up and check quality independently.

  • How many jobs does your company have in progress right now? Will your job be lost among these?

We have several major projects in progress and 7 smaller ones, right now. We won’t take on more till one wraps up. We have projects that are waiting till a crew comes free.

  • Do you have any other outstanding bids right now? If these turn into jobs, will your job drop to the bottom of the list?

Of course, if we waited to bid on contracts until jobs were finished we would be too late to bid. But we start new jobs in the sequence we get them.

  • Do you work from your home? This can be a sign of under-capitalization. I never had an office of my own, so ask more if this is important to you.

Yes, it is better for me, but we also have an office/storage place in Chelem and a formal meeting space in Merida.

  • How do you manage your jobs on a day-to day basis? All jobs require management. Ask for details! Who checks for quality, mistakes and progress?

There are 2 partners in the company, we are on the road at various times reviewing the projects. Supervisors are also out at their projects and report daily on progress and materials required. When mistakes are made we correct them and make sure the workers understand the issues. 

  • Have you or your company ever been sued before? The truth is available in the courthouse records!

NO, never!

  • What is the worst building experience that happened to you? Listen! What is the story behind the tale?

We have had customers that were impossible to please and changed their minds on things mid project and blamed us, when the job went longer than planned. But that is the construction business

  • What has been your best building experience? Listen! What is it he/she likes to do? Ask why.

Actually most of our past customers are now current friends, it is fun to do projects where the customer has a vague idea of what they want and we can guide them, to get the dream job completed for them.

  • What are your business ambitions?
  • Are the words quality, customer satisfaction in the answer? If you hear, “…make a lot of money…” WATCH OUT!

To keep a good quality crew, busy year round on interesting projects. We are in the process of working on several major renos, as well as a couple of structural renos in older houses. Structural engineers are involved, our architects, we have various ideas. It is fun for me during the design stage and my partner are more active in the overall building phase.

  • What is the longest amount of down-time you experienced between jobs? A contractor in demand has little or no down time.

Maybe a week or so as we had to wait for permits.

  • Do you use sub-contractors? Most contractors do.

Yes, but we usually keep them busy full time.

  • What is average length of time they have worked for you? You are looking for 5 or more years here!

Most for many years.

  • Can you provide me with a list of customers I can contact and can I see samples of your work.

Absolutely, we can show you for example, various renovations, many of which required structural engineering and from the ground up homes. Structural reno’s, are actually the most challenging as it is not as easy, as building from the ground up. We have built projects in cellular concrete, to keep the third story weight as low as possible, (boutique hotel) and have finished building a new house on pylons, for hurricane protection. We have also built and remodeled homes using structural panels for hurricane resistance.  In addition to the 100 or so custom pools we have designed and built.

Roofs of the Yucatan

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to roofs in the Yucatan. There are basically 4 types of common roofs here, they are Palapa, Mamposteria, Loza and Viga with Bovedillas. All have their benefits and draw backs and I will go through each type, but the one thing they all have in common, is replacing a roof is expensive.

IMG_3689Palapas, are pretty self explanatory, they are the traditional method of building a roof in the Yucatan. Upright posts, support a series of beams, set at a steep angle. Onto these beams are laid an overlapping sequence of palm leaf or grass thatch. The roof needs to be steep to allow the water to flow down over the top of the thatch, rather than sitting on top and dripping through. This was an ideal way in the old days, to make a roof that could breath and still flex under strong winds. When the worse case scenario happened and your roof blew off, it was just a matter of going out and gathering the materials to rebuild it. It is still quite common to see palapa roofs as outdoor shade areas or in traditional looking buildings. Several large restaurant chains here still use them to retain the old world charm. But like many things, they have their drawbacks. The thatch does not last forever and needs to be replaced. It also needs to be treated for bugs as thatched style roofs are nice nesting spots. The support poles need to be made of a very durable hard wood as well. Otherwise boring beetles and other wood pests will soon bring the roof tumbling down.

IMG_0282Mamposteria, is also a very old method of building a roof, but it is a solid structure unlike a palapa. Mamposteria roofs last a very very long time, but not forever. Mamposteria is simply a jigsaw puzzle of larger stones fit together over beams of wood or in some cases old railway ties. The stones are fitted and cemented together and then coated in the same cement like compound to provide a tough and durable surface. There are lots of Mamposteria roofs in the Yucatan that are well over 100 years in age. Mamposteria roofs are fantastic in tropical climates due to thermal mass. Thermal mass ensures they heat up slowly and cool slowly. So during the day they are slow to radiate heat into your house. Then at night they release the heat over the course of the night keeping a room at a constant temperature, more or less. The problem with Mamposteria is two fold. They are extremely difficult and expensive to repair, if they can be repaired at all. The other problem is the wood support beams. Most are made of a very good and rot resistant wood. But over time they do break down and can be attacked by termites. once the wood is affected it has to be replaced, but it is holding up the stones and cement. Since the stone and cement is like a jigsaw puzzle, if one piece is removed or fails then the rest will follow it, much like a house of cards. If you are buying or renovating a house with mamposteria roofs, do your homework and any sign of termites means you could be in trouble.

IMG_0871Loza roofs are a little more modern, in that they are probably less than 80 years old. Loza is simply a rebar reinforced thin concrete roof. The problem with Loza, is it relies on the rebar for its structural strength. If the rebar rusts far enough, it will fail, as the structural integrity is lost. Common signs of rebar failure or rust is a bulging spot on the ceiling. There are methods of engineering support in the event of the rebar failing. But it is not cheap and involves building columns and beams to support the roof from the bottom. It can be made to look like an old colonial mamposteria roof and can be made to last a lot longer as well. But it involves making holes in floors and building the proper structure. Like the one pictured. Note, the loza is above the new beams built to support it. You do not want to be under one of these roofs when chunks of concrete come raining down.

30032010312The most modern of the roofs here, are Viga and Bovidilla. Vigas are a rebar reinforced beam that spans a gap like an upside down T.  Bovidillas are specially shaped cement blocks designed to be dropped in between the vigas, which are spaced roughly 16 inches apart. Once the basic structure is in place it is coated with a layer of concrete on top and coated underneath as well. This type of roof can easily be repaired as needed over time. Bovidillas are also available now in Styrofoam to save wieght and give insulation. But they require special care to insure they don’t flex and cause cracks in the finish.

The one thing all of the above roofs have in common, even a palapa style, is maintenance. Roofs need to be treated, resurfaced periodically and sealed to prevent moisture intrusion. Failure to do proper maintenance, is not a cost effective idea as sooner or later, it will fail from neglect and require a very expensive replacement.

If you have concerns or questions about your roof, just give us a call or send us an email.

Water should stay on the outside

images-2It is that time of the year again and we will start getting  panic calls. My windows leak, my door lets in water, my roof leaked and so on. When we ask when was you roof last sealed, quite often the answer is gee I don’t know. You should know and you should check your roof on a regular basis, to make sure there are no cracks forming.  A properly built home, should not leak, sure water may blow under the front door. But the roof and walls should be secure. Obviously, I understand the floors here are tile and the buildings block and concrete, so even if it gets in, it is no real issue, but it should not happen, water should stay on the outside, in anything short of a hurricane.

I will start by talking about doors. Which seems pretty simple, but it is not. If you have a wood front door, sooner or later you may have issues, as the wood shrinks when dry and swells when wet, creating a loose fit or a tight fit, season depending. In the old days, when fishing boats were made of wood, they had to keep watering down the insides of the boats, when they were hauled for repair, to avoid shrinkage. You can imagine the problems of putting a dried out wooden boat, back into the water, as it takes a few days for the wood to swell to normal. Well, your door is no different, it sits in the beautiful sunshine for weeks and then suddenly needs to seal against the rain. It simply is not going to happen, it is going to leak.. Then there is the issue of the floor under the door, if it raises ever so slightly as it goes inward as it should, a door will bottom out before it gets fully open. But since we want water to run out of a house and not into a house. It should be sloped and the door needs to be a little bit off the floor, to accommodate the rise in the floor. That is why the bottom of your door, should have a good rubber sweep. It keeps the rain out, as well as a lot of bugs. But they harden over time and need to be replaced, every so often. The best door to use here is a metal skinned one, they don’t shrink or swell. They are very secure and never need painting, unless you want a pink one. They can make a very good seal as well, if you use self adhesive foam weather stripping on the closing edges of the door jamb.

How about windows? If they are wood you will have the same issues. A properly fit and caulked aluminium window, will not leak no matter how hard it rains. Proper windows have drain holes at the bottom outside of the casement and the outer raised lip is lower than the inside raised lip. Rain can never rise up high enough to go inward before it spills over the lower lip if the drain hole get plugged or overcome by rain volume. I have a seaward window, that looked like it was being hit with a fire hose the other day and guess what? Not a single drop inside. A proper window makes all the difference. Sliding glass doors are actually big windows, so the same principals apply. Proper caulking and manufacture and they will not leak.

Since for the most part when it rains here, it is accompanied by strong winds, all your windows and doors should have an awning over them, concrete ones are simple and cheap and there are various aluminium or tile styles too. It just adds a little rain protection by itself, but there is a hidden advantage, if you have aluminium hurricane shutters. Even in the hardest rain and driving winds you can leave windows open, with the shutters closed for air circulation. If the top of the shutter is close to the awning, no rain can get on top and the shutter itself is the barrier. Sliding doors are a little bit wetter, as the rain can bounce off of the ground up under the bottom of the shutters. But, I simply put flat plastic panels at the bottom of the screens to prevent splashing. The shutters have the added advantage of being a great theft deterrent, if you happen to be away, as well.

If you are having water get into your house when it rains, you shouldn’t and it is not too difficult to prevent. If you need serious help give us a call.

Serious food for thought and a big heads up!

images-3For those of you looking for contractors or for those of you that already have contractors, or other hired help, here is something you might really wish to think about, if the help is an expat. Recent changes to INM (immigration) policies, at the highest levels federally, have mandated that they enforce the regulations as a priority. What this means as a home owner, is that YOU are also on the hook, if for some reason persons you have hired, are not legally entitled to work in Mexico and the penalties can be very steep. For the home owner at minimum, a big fine or possibly worse. For the expat working illegally, most likely deportation and INM is now doing random or not so random checks. So think of it this way, you need some work done on your house and a mutual friend says, “hey I can get a crew together and help you with that”. Sounds great but, here is the problem. A local guy walks by and sees your friend “working supervising” the crew and is angry because he used to do that sort of work. All it takes is one phone call and big problems are headed your way. If your friends VISA is the right type to work, in what ever field he is doing work in, no problem at all. But if it is not, look out and INM will only be the first of the agencies that will come to visit you. You will find yourself trying to explain, why you are hiring illegal workers and your friend will most likely be arrested and deported. You can imagine the problems if that person lives here full time, but not on a working type visa or one thats says they can fix cars, not homes. If you are hiring someone, ask them point blank what type of VISA they have and ask to see their paper work, friend or not.  Photo copy what they show you for future reference.

On the other coast. A person not entitled to work was working in a specialty field which needs accreditation. INM officers went to the place of business and asked to see the documentation, which of course he didn’t have, nor did he have a VISA entitling him to work and to top it off he tried to bribe the INM officials. It was an instant go to jail, do not pass go situation. He was charged with a host of serious federal offences and hopefully was deported and not put in a Mexican jail long term.

There have been reports ,in the beach area, of INM officials now coming around to verify the information, addresses etc. given to INM. So it is quite likely if they see an expat working they will ask a few questions, that as the home owner,you had better be prepared to answer.

Edited, Note we have discussed this with a very well know immigration specialist and he gives the same warning.

Pintura is expensive

imgresWe get asked from time to time to quote jobs for painting and quite often we hear people respond, thats kind of expensive. Yes painting is expensive, a cubetta  is 19 litres of paint and good paint is around 1200 pesos a cubetta. But before you can paint, walls have to be scraped and patched or if the paint is peeling from a failure of the surface coating then the walls need to be fixed and primed. That all takes time and of course time is money. There is no point in not doing it right or just using cheap paint, as you will need to paint again, sooner than you think and the costs start to add up. If you are painting new concrete, the surface needs to be sealed first or your expensive cubetta of paint will disappear very fast as it sucks into the porous concrete. Just in paint alone the interior of a modest house will take over 10,000 pesos in paint and materials If the surface is new. As several coats will be needed to even out the colours. Then of course there is labour, fuel costs to get back and forth, time to supervise and try and make a profit. No painting is not cheap, but doing it right and using good materials can turn a house into a home.

Rust never sleeps

imagesFor those of you that live at the beach, this is more important than in Merida, but not quite as much as you think. Rust is occurring anytime there is an interaction; between iron, oxygen and moisture and in the tropics all abound and rust is an issue. Throw in a dash of salt and rust occurs more rapidly due to the electrochemical action. Why is this important, well the answer is simple, in most cases you will not notice the rust until the damage is already done. As an example, if you have a small rock hit your car and you do nothing about it, rust will form on the surface and most likely you will notice the reddish mark. If you have it sanded, sealed and painted it should be good. But what if that small chip is on the other side of the fender? Sooner or later when you see a little bubble on the paint and you scratch it, you most likely will be shocked, as a hole appears. The same problem occurs with rebar in structures, if it is not treated. Slowly and undetected is will start to corrode, until you start to see telltale signs, like cracks in your concrete that are swollen apart or reddish water streaks. But by then, it is already too late. Most major structural damage doesn’t show up until it is too late. Take for example a loza roof (cement, small stones and rebar) which is very common in Merida, as it was the type of roof used a hundred years ago. Structurally it  needs the rebar to give it the required strength. If the rebar rusts and is corroded away, what do you think happens to the strength? Yup, you have fragile material, that weighs a lot, over your head with no structural strength or rigidity and when loza roofs fall they usually do so after a heavy rain. But those are big examples of rust issues. How many of you folks have sliding patio doors? Ever had them get really stiff and hard to move? Most times it is because the cheap roller pins have rusted out. You can’t stop rust without a lot of hassle, so your best bet is to try and stop it before it starts. If you are building new, make sure all your rebar and and other structural iron is coated with rust preventatives or better yet galvanized. Spray light oils or grease other exposed metals to prevent oxygen and water from making contact with iron parts. If you have used concrete nails to hang pictures, coat them with paint, unless you want to see rust streaks on your wall. When ever possible use galvanized products to help slow rust, it is not a permanent problem solver, but sure helps in the short term. Most important of all if you see something in your home that you thinks is a rust stain, get it checked out ASAP. Better a fix today, than a total teardown a month from now, simply because you waited to long.

Pasta tile, keeping the colonial feel.

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For those of you who have thought of buying and renovating an old Colonial in Merida, but are worried about the cost of replacing damaged pasta tile. You shouldn’t let that stop you. Replacing missing or broken tiles, is not that hard nor is redoing an entire area. We are in the middle of redoing our own place in Merida and are at the point in time, where we have to look at flooring. Since our place is in Centro and it had Pasta tie in the majority of places, it seemed only natural to replace the broken or missing ones and keep the other rooms in period style as well. I was worried that the cost would be completely out of range, but surprisingly that is not the case. In fact Pasta tile is quite reasonable, considering it is custom made. The folks at Mosaicos Penninsular in Merida have a very good selection of the old Pasta tile patterns and can make them to order. Tiles and zocalos (wall trim) prices vary according to the complexity of the patterns, but are around 8.50 pesos a tile to 30.00 pesos a tile. So as an example, the tile to fit our 4.5M by 5M bedroom and 1.5M by 4M bathroom plus all the zocalos, came in around 7,000 pesos. Of course it has to be installed and polished in place afterwards, but for a stunning recreation of an antique floor, the price is pretty cheap, even when compared to normal floor tiles. So don’t let the cost of flooring scare you off, when you look at old colonials.

Home security part 2

In part 1 we discussed basic ways to keep would be thieves away, from access points to your house. I will leave the topic of locks, bars, etc. to your imagination, unless someone emails me for advice. But let’s suppose for a minute, you finally get the chance to use the free coupon for that all-inclusive in Tulum. You board your dogs at a kennel, lock your house up tight and head off, for that week away.

Fast forward a day or 2, when a thief seeing you gone and no dogs about, tries his luck and finally gets in. NOW WHAT?

First of all, there are a couple of things you should do, right after reading this. Go and etch, burn or however, permanently  mark all your electronics, including fridge, TV, stove, A/C units, the works. Use your name and some identifying number (SIN, DL,) . What ever will identify the property as yours, with no doubt and make it visible and I mean easily visible. Now take pictures of all your valuables and electronics, good close-ups of jewellery and specialty items including serial numbers if possible. Burn that information to a flash drive and give it to a close friend. You would be surprised how many people forget what they own and when it is time to make a report things get forgotten of value. But if you have pictures it makes things easier. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.

If you have anything of value in your bedroom drawers, hidden under your socks or undies, MOVE THEM, leave the costume stuff there and they might think they struck it rich. The first thing any thief will do, is pull out the drawers and dump them on your bed. All the hidden goodies will come tumbling out. Right about now most of you are thinking hmmm, that’s where my stuff is and in fact that is where most people keep their valuables, believe it or not. So lets talk about some basics on keeping your valuables safe.

Most thieves know where people hide stuff, it is not rocket science. They probably remember where their parents hid stuff or they did as a kid. The trick here, is to hide it, where they won’t have time to look. Do you have a safe? I love house safes, they by far are the best place NOT to hide anything, other than maybe papers that have no real value or dirty socks. To most thieves a safe is a flashing sign saying, hidden wealth here! I can think of nothing better than a thief taking hours sweating to break open or break it out and take the safe, only to finally open it and just find your bills from Home Depot or dirty socks. Remember the longer they are in your house or in possession of your WELL MARKED stuff, the better the chance of being caught. So I would install a safe that is encased in rebar and concrete and hide it, but not that well. They will be so busy with it, they may not have time to do a real thorough search of your house. The other place not to hide stuff, is in the fridge. Lots of thieves get hungry or thirsty and will scoop your steaks out of the freezer, for a nice BBQ later. It is a big bonus for them, if they see that Tupperware container with your jewellery, at the same time.

So where can you hide stuff? Well for starters if you do not want it to be found and you don’t need access that often, bury it outside in your back yard (yes I am serious) or put it in a bank vault.  But most likely you will need access, to money or other valuables in your house. Do not hide them all in one spot just incase the thief is lucky. Break your valuables into smaller groups and put them in zip locks, now look for places that no one looks or get them made, like this one.

imagesHouses have lots of electrical outlets and a couple of false ones behind a couch or under a counter are pretty hard to spot. Not many thieves are going to pop every outlet cover just on the chance one might be fake. Go into your pantry and look for likely spots to put things, I just walked into mine and there was a nice Ortho ant dust can about the size of a pringles can. Find an empty one and wash it out, put your diamond necklace in a zip lock and put it in, cut a thick piece of plastic that fits in the hole tightly, put in some baking soda or fine sand on top and replace the lid. Now just put it back on the shelf. Want to hide a larger amount of really valuable stuff? Double bag it in zip locks suck the air out and put it in a half empty can of water based paint. Lots of people have cans of paint around the house. When you need your stuff, take it out and rinse the bag under water, viola clean zip lock. You could even hollow out the bottom side of a can of spam and just place it on the shelf with the rest of them.

You get the idea, be creative and keep things in small amounts, even if they get lucky, they won’t get everything and hopefully they will be caught in possession of something with your ID information on it, providing they could break in, in the first place.

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