I have written many articles on home improvement but here’s something that I often overlook, perhaps because it is so second nature for me: Preparation! I have always been well prepared and for just about anything. This quality has had a way of showing up in my work as well.

The recent hurricane brought home the concept of planning and preparation, not only for me, but for many, many New Jersey residents, especially those with basements and who do not reside in flood zones.

The Basement

Let’s start with preparing a finished basement project. This is something that many homeowners will tackle. The first thing I always inspect for are signs of water entry, which are water marks, rust areas and calcium deposits. If there is a sump pump I make sure it is in working order and that there are enough pumps in the space. Depending on the size of the basement sometimes more than just one pump is required. There are now new pressure pumps on the market that operate on water pressure alone and never need an electrical supply.

When beginning construction and if I am using wood studs, I am required by law to use pressure-treated wood as a base plate. I always like to first seal the bottom plate to the floor with caulk and keep it several inches from the wall to create a dead air space that helps to dry out any humidity that may build up back there after the walls have been completed. In the old days they used to put up sheets of plastic behind the wall as a vapor barrier. Big mistake. Humidity would actually cling to it and give your basement that musty smell over time. Your insulation now has a vapor barrier on one side.

When attaching the sheet rock to the studs I use ¾-inch spacers to keep it off the floor, just in case of light flooding. The base molding hides that gap and there is also a special paint for bathrooms that resists mold and mildew.


If you plan on buying an emergency generator for your home here is the best and least expensive way. You want at least a 6,500 – 8,000 running watt machine. The generators usually show the Peak Watt Rating in large numbers. This will not run your entire home but will keep all the necessities going. I highly recommend hiring an electrician to install a transfer switch to your breaker panel. So next time you lose power all you have to do is plug the generator into one outside outlet instead of running several hundred feet of extension cords through your windows. You should be able to pull this off for around $1,700 total.  I assure you, it is well worth it.


I already have plywood panels cut and marked to quickly go over my windows on the outside. Count your windows and size them up.  You can cut the plywood panels yourself or a contractor can do it for you.

I also have a “ready bag” and exit plan that will get me and my family out the door in under 15 minutes and far ahead of traffic jams should we be required to evacuate.

We may not endure another Category 1 Hurricane for years — but then again, we may get slammed again before the season is over. If you don’t prepare, you may lose so much more.

What some people may call “extreme” in your preparation, they will quickly call it “smart” in a crisis.

J.R. Ferullo is the owner of Professional Building Systems for 28 years, based in Monmouth County. He can be reached at 732-751-9129, or jr70gp@optonline.net.