Ask the Architect

Questions most often asked


I’ve received an overwhelming number of questions as I make my way through people’s damaged homes, preparing damage assessment reports and discussing rebuilding. I’ll try to answer as many as I can in the next few columns.

Q. My home was destroyed, and so were those of many of my neighbors. Between a flood and a fire, I have no choice. I want to stay and build higher, and so do my neighbors. Will we be allowed to build higher, to avoid flooding if this happens again? I don’t want to get into the whole global warming thing, but I think it will happen again. What do you think I can do?

A. My understanding is that several municipalities, knowing full well that we have to elevate, are reviewing their guidelines. In the meantime, they will still require zoning approval and will accept of higher proposed buildings as long as the proposals are “reasonable.” Attics instead of basements, carports under raised homes, bedrooms with ceiling sprinkler systems will probably be the new normal. Your jurisdiction wants to work with you, not lose you, from what I’m hearing and witnessing.

Q. Is it true that LIPA is planning an underground cable burial program?

A. I don’t know about any program involving cable, but the state of New York is planning a burial for LIPA, possibly as deep as 6 feet under, with a new utility to replace them.

Q. I received a bill for $400 from the roofing company that did my roof two years ago. They claim they went on my roof to do repairs from the storm. I didn’t ask them to, and I don’t plan to make an insurance claim. What should I do?

A. Since you didn’t ask them to make a repair, write to thank them for preparing your roof for Santa Claus and offer them milk and cookies instead.

Q. We had only an inch of water in our home from the storm. How can I lower my FEMA flood insurance premium. since I think we’re being charged too much?

A. A special committee with checks and balances at FEMA, co-chaired by Al Gore and Rush Limbaugh, is being set up to handle this matter. So far they are suggesting that your premium remain the same but that your floodwaters be lowered.

Q. What can I do about the mold in my house? I hired a company that sprayed something after stripping my walls and floors. You came to my house and suggested a simple mold test kit from the store. I did the test, and mold is growing in a petri dish on my breakfast table. I’m really upset because these guys left after insulating, and I need them back. What do I do?

A. Tell them you need more work done, insist they spray and then test for proof of no mold, then re-insulate.

© 2012 Monte Leeper. Readers are encouraged to send questions to, with “Herald question” in the subject line, or to Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.