Tricks Of Trade

Allied Restoration Services: 4 Questions to Ask a Dry Down Company


Tim Bauer, Allied Restoration Service Inc.’s Director of Customer Relations, helps break down the process of dealing with property damage and the insurance company in this post.

Allied Restoration Services, Inc. are licensed insurance restoration professionals experienced in addressing the environmental issues damaged property may cause.  This is especially helpful when an estate manager is attempting to present a claim to their insurance company for the damage.

allied restorations

Post by guest Estate Managers Coalition corporate member Allied Restoration Services.

Recently, we found ourselves in the home of a prominent American Composer. His back house had started to smell like mold, so he called out a company referred by his plumber to try and help. They were relieved to let someone else take over the headache. The company opened up the house and started working, setting up fans and dehumidifiers.
We were called out to inspect after the insurance company had denied coverage and the mold was getting worse. It turns out that the company they called out had blown mold spores all over the house due to improper set up and racked up a $15,000 bill that was not paid for by the carrier. The contractor was threatening legal action for the unpaid balance.
The Estate Manager’s first question to us was: What did we do wrong?”

We buy insurance hoping to never use it. When we finally do, the claims process can be tedious and finding someone you can trust is a challenge. To protect yourself when you do, we suggest asking a mitigation contractor these 5 questions before the job starts:

1.What happens if my claim gets denied?

Although a contractor cannot make a determination of coverage, they should have a good idea whether or not your loss will be covered. By asking this question, you find out what the company’s policy will be if it isn’t. Are they going to send you to collections or threaten legal action?

As in the case of the composer, many mitigation companies will threaten legal action if these bills are not paid.  At Allied Restoration, any time we have a sense that we are on a claim that has the potential to be denied, we go over estimated costs up front to prepare the homeowner before proceeding.

2. Is there a less destructive approach?

Damage mitigation should resemble surgery more than demolition. Wherever possible and reasonable, high end items like hard flooring, cabinets and countertops should be preserved. On the other hand, equipment should not be used to save finish items that are beyond saving.  If a wall is wet, a strategic decision should be made on which side to dry from based on the contents of the room and if there are any wall coverings or hard to match finishes.

One of our video testimonials, Nancy O’Dell had a pipe leak in her bathroom that dripped into her formal dining room. Instead of opening a priceless wooden ceiling, we found a way to access it from the bathroom. The tile floor was about a tenth of the price and there isn’t a craftsman alive that would have been able to recreate Nancy’s beautiful ceiling. Mitigation should be more creative than destructive.

3. What will you do if you find mold?

We’ve all heard horror stories stemming from mold. Mold must be remediated wisely for a few reasons:
a) most policies have limited amounts of mold coverage.
b) mold can be a sign of long term damage which could mean a denial of a claim.
c) mold can spread with improper handling.

When we find mold at Allied Restoration, our policy is to immediately contain it using plastic or tape, and interface with the insurance broker and/or adjuster and advise the property owner about next steps.

4. What is your experience with my insurance company?

You want to make sure that you are dealing with a company who knows how to bill your carrier for their services as well as knows what the carrier is likely (and unlikely) to cover.
Many mitigation companies who rely on plumber referrals have a adversarial relationship with insurance companies. Mitigation companies pay plumbers upwards of $750-$1,500 for referring and they have to make that back somewhere by leaving behind too much or more expensive equipment than needed.
Will your insurance company pay for all that? Maybe. If the insurance company refuses to pay for the excess equipment, the contractor could come after you for the unpaid portion.
There is an actual science to drying down a home called psychometrics. At Allied Restoration, we always use the latest calculations to figure out what and how much equipment to leave.

How can I find a good company?

The best thing you can do is to ask a trusted advisor for a recommendation of a restoration company. Oftentimes, that is your insurance broker or a business manager. A responsible insurance broker should always want to play an active role in your claim and controlling the vendors involved is a big way to make sure things go seamlessly.
Shameless plug incoming: one of your greatest resources for finding someone you can trust is the Estate Managers Coalition! Take advantage of the incredible resources and vendors available to you.
If you ever have a flood or fire in your home, as a member of EMC, Allied Restoration is always glad to come out and give you an unpaid consultation, even if you’ve hired another company to do the work.

4 Ways To Ring The New Year In Style

Originally published in Valley Scene Magazine, New Year’s Eve Issue 2015
Celebrity holiday party

Take it from someone who has planned a lavish last minute New Year’s Eve bash for a pop star, all it takes is some ingenuity, the right caterer and a whole lot of hustle to create a magical night for your guests.

As an estate manager in Los Angeles I have worked with many a celebrity, and what’s hot right now is customized experiences that are personal, imaginative and original. You don’t need a million dollars to throw a chic shindig, just a little bit of creativity, fabulous food and a cork to pop at midnight. I’m going to share some of my top tips and favorite Los Angeles resources to create a night to remember and to ring in 2016 in style.

1. If you have the budget for a caterer it will not only free you up to mingle with guests, it will take away all that pre-party prep of shopping, cooking, storing and stressing. A few of my favorite L.A. caterers that always bring exquisite cuisine to the table include Choux Choux and L.A. Spice Catering. Additionally, Two Peas Inc. provides a drop-off option if you are serving hors d’oeuvres and would like everything ready to roll when your guests arrive.

2. Choose a signature cocktail to serve before midnight. I like something simple and festive like a pomegranate martini. Wait until midnight to pop that symbolic cork and to serve up the best champagne you can afford. If you want to hire a bartender, I use Black Lab, an eco-friendly mixology catering company, they create seasonal and custom cocktails that will have your guests swooning.

3. Create something personal for each guest. For New Year’s Eve I would create a small chic gift bag with symbolic tokens for the upcoming year; gold coins to represent prosperity, fortunes you can print out on your own with intentions or wishes for the year and gourmet chocolates for a bit of sweet in 2016.

4. For a festive ambiance, you can never go wrong with candles, and then more candles. Use glitzy party hats and gold and white balloons to add a celebratory element.


And, a party just isn’t a party without music. Whether you like jazz or hip-hop or classics like Tony Bennett, make sure you can hear music throughout the house, it sets the tone for the whole event.

I have planned hundreds of events for all types of parties and all types of people, and the one common thread for a successful event is good food, good drinks and good friends. With a little bit of thought and whole lot of heart, you can create a magical New Year’s Eve for your friends and family. Bryan Peele is an estate manager extraordinaire, man about town and the founder and president of the Estate Managers Coalition, a non-profit organization that manages the lives and estates of A-listers worldwide.

Representing America’s most powerful families and ultra-high-net-worth- individuals, EMC members understand how to impeccably manage the homes and lifestyles of the 1%, and they set the standards throughout the industry. As a connoisseur of all things luxury, Mr. Peele is a sought-after speaker and collaborates with deluxe brands and products that value his knowledge regarding how ultra-high-net-worth-individuals wish to spend their disposable income. As the industry trailblazer, Mr. Peele has also created a global consultancy that provides concierge staffing and consulting services for A-listers worldwide from pops stars and billionaires to movie moguls and celebrities.



As an estate manager in Los Angeles I am responsible for flawlessly overseeing everything that happens in one of my estates, which includes ensuring that my principals arrive at their destination with perfectly packed suitcases and carry-on bags that satisfy every need while they are en route.

This time of year, many of my clients are headed to tropical locales like St. Barths or for a winter ski break in Aspen, and there is both an art and a science to how I help them arrive wrinkle-free and with everything they need and nothing they don’t.

Photo via @damselindior

Photo via @damselindior

Every artful packer knows that we must start with an inventory of what we need for the trip. Obviously the location is key and the weather and type of trip will dictate what to wear and how many outfits you might need.

Everything I do in my daily job to manage a 10,000 square-foot estate starts with a list, and that is how to start the packing process. I use my iPad to walk through the closets to make careful lists of what I will need for every person I need to pack. It’s incredibly useful to have a visual of all of the clothing while I strategically make a list of what I will need.

Here are my top tips for how to pack like an A-lister:

  • Save plastic bags from the dry cleaners and use those to carefully wrap delicates in, such as lingerie, cashmere sweaters or a pressed shirt or suit.
  •  Place the heaviest items at the bottom of the suitcase first, including shoes, heavy coats or curling irons. Use shoe bags for each pair of shoes to keep everything clean.
  • Make the most of the space in your suitcase by folding everything and layering it neatly inside. My secret weapon, and don’t tell anyone, is wrapping each item in white acid free buffered tissue paper, it keeps each item fresh and clean and it makes for a pleasant unpacking experience.
  • Use cardboard squares that dry cleaners use for exquisitely folded shirts; everything looks like it came from a boutique when I am done with it.
  • Make sure toiletries are packed in bags lined in plastic in case anything spills, and then I double guarantee that nothing will spill by enclosing the toiletry bag in a larger plastic bag.
  • If you’re not traveling with my principal, email him or her the original packing list, that way they can cross-reference when they return to ensure they don’t leave anything behind.

My clients always arrive with flawlessly packed suitcases and wrinkle-free clothing, which sets the tone for a successful business trip or a relaxing holiday.

Bon voyage!

Louis Vuitton travel




This post by Katie Sweeney was originally published on Would love to hear from you in comments on how you stay organized! 

When people hear about my experience as a celebrity personal assistant, most think one of two things: 1. Wow, cool! You got to work closely with a celebrity! 2. Do you have any horror stories à la The Devil Wears Prada? While it is cool to work alongside someone well known and respected in their field and I do have my fair share of scary stories, I like to remind people that being a personal assistant takes a certain unique set of skills. You have to be incredibly organized, detail-oriented, and on top of everything—always. Here are some of the strategies that the best personal assistants practice and can work wonders in your everyday life.



You are never going to be able to manage that growing stack of papers unless you set up an organization system. Yes, there is an initial time investment where you will have to spend an hour or two sifting through the stack, sorting health insurance papers from work documents, etc., but this is a onetime thing. File everything in clearly labeled manila folders or envelopes. The next time you have paperwork, don’t start a pile to be dealt with at a later time. Immediately put the document in the properly labeled folder. It takes two seconds now rather than another two hours later!

This same technique can be applied to your email inbox. Create a system for managing emails that works for you. Here’s mine: I have a bunch of folders that pertain to specific aspects of my life: finances, fitness, health, recipes, etc. When I’ve responded to an email, I delete it, or if it has useful information that I may need to refer to in the future (say image guidelines from my editor at MyDomaine), I move it to the relevant file (“MyDomaine” in this case). Emails that I still need to answer are left in my inbox.


Lists are an essential part of every personal assistant’s life. There are daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists, contact lists, and inventory lists. When it comes to managing them, Google is the best resource. It’s my preferred method of storing information because it can be reached from any computer anywhere in the world. If you send a lot of emails to the same groups of people, make a group in your contacts, such as Immediate Family, Extended Family, A-List Friends, etc. Then you won’t have to type out everyone’s name in the email field each time; you can simply send it to the whole group. Build a master Google spreadsheet with all of your passwords and log-ins. Create inventories of groceries and home goods. Each time I go to the grocery store, I print out the inventory and circle the items that need to be purchased. Same goes for a Target run.


Google Calendar is another crucial tool. Put everything on your calendar: appointments, meetings, reminders, birthdays, etc. I often refer back to the calendar to cross-check bills (did I really go to the doctor on this date?) or figure out what I was doing on a certain date. It’s also helpful for managing work and social events. Seeing all of my weeknight activities on the calendar a couple of weeks in advance reminds me to make arrangements or otherwise prepare for certain events.



This is sort of a no-brainer, but when my boss is talking, I’ve got a clipboard with blank pages in one hand and a pen in the other. I’ll take vigorous notes of everything that is said, then later translate those notes into to-do lists or add them to the big project list.



Even if your schedule is hectic and your day-to-day tasks change constantly, try to establish a few routines. They offer some comfort that can help alleviate stress. Even if it’s something trivial like “every Tuesday I go to Whole Foods” or “every other Thursday, I go to Target,” some stability in your workday makes you feel productive and keeps you focused on the task at hand.



Being a personal assistant means that you know everything about someone’s personal life, but they probably know very little about yours. There’s also little to no work/life balance when a person essentially depends on you to do everything from remember their passwords to email travel information to their family. This sort of relationship is fragile, and oftentimes the personal assistant gets the short end of the stick. Mean texts, emails, and voicemails are common, but good PAs don’t take them personally. They know that nine times out of 10 their employer is upset about something that has nothing to do with the assistant or the job the assistant is doing. Learning to apply this same mind-set to your work and personal relationships will make you stronger and more relaxed!


Answering a large quantity of emails is tedious, and if you find yourself writing the same sort of emails over and over again, set up a signature for it. For example, if you’re always asking for a mailing address, create a generic signature that says, “Hello blank, we would like to mail you a blank but can’t find your mailing address on file. Can you please email it to me as soon as possible?” Then when writing the email, all you have to do is choose your address signature, fill in the blanks, and hit send. This works well if you have to deal with a high volume of RSVPs.


Customer service representatives are a pain to speak to, but if you are kind and patient, they will most likely help you more quickly than random Internet searches will. If you regularly have to deal with a team at Tesla or the receptionists at your doctor’s office, you need to be friendly with these people. If you’re setting up any sort of appointment, call when possible. Ask them how they are, and take an interest in what they say. When you build a friendly rapport, they will be more likely to help you in an emergency situation.





7 surprising cleaning tools that actually work bryantology

Take note of these multi-tasking objects and you’ll never find yourself short on cleaning supplies.


Think twice before shredding your expired credit card: it’s perfect for scraping off baked-on spills rom over and microwave interiors. The straight edge will lift the mess without scratching.


This handy tool isn’t only great just for clothes; it’s also good for removing pet hair from upholstered furniture and curtains.


To remove a stubborn gunk on a granite countertop, wet a terry-cloth rag with hot water, then put it over the spot for a few minutes. The heat will help loosen the hardened spill so you can wipe it up. You can also wrap a towerl around a screwdriver and use it to clean grimy shower-door tracks.

4. CLOTH DIAPER (you read it right!)

Soft and absorbent, it makes a great dusting cloth that won’t scratch surfaces. Wash diapers four or five times before using to remove lint.


After cleaning the top of the fridge, line it with a piece of plastic wrap. You won’t be able to see it, and future cleanings will only require replacing the plastic.


Dampen a cotton sock and wear it like a glove to clean the dust off broad-leaf houseplants.


Forget the drop cloth. Hang an opened umbrella with a U-shaped handle upside down from a chandelier to catch the drips while you’re cleaning.



It’s important to network with fellow estate managers as well as corporate members of EMC. As pictured here with Michelle Baker from Crestron and Mario Seiler a fellow estate manager in the Los Angeles area.
Michelle recommends that all estate managers know these 3 points whe dealing with smart home technology
1- Have a strong wifi network on the property when using your smart phone devices to control your Crestron system

2-Have a copy of the home’s “source code” for your principals Crestron system.

3- Always have your Crestron integrator complete firmware updates to keep all products up to date with the newest features.




3 helpful hints for all estate managers from Adele Martin, EMC corporate member from Frette linens on Rodeo Dr.
1-Understand and know the difference between the cotton sateen and poplin properties for your principals sheets.
Crisp poplin or linen might be a nice alternative for summer.
2-Know the duvet weights. Adele recommends substituting a lighter filler for the summer. Also know if house guests have allergies and accommodate those guests by having in stock hypo-allergenic pillows and fillers.
3- Make sure that staff ALWAYS washes linens in cold water only for longevity.No starches or fabric softener as they will yellow the linens and towels and the softeners will coat the towels causing them to lose their absorption.


6 Ways To Guarantee You’ll Be Invited Back As A Houseguest


6 ways to guarantee you'll be invited back as a houseguest:


Check out these great 6 tips to get invited back as a houseguest originally posted by Harper’s Bazaar

As the founder of Prentice Art Communications, Bettina Prentice knows a thing or two about hosting—whether it’s a black-tie event at an exquisite uptown venue (she is a native New Yorker meaning she knows all the best places) or throwing enviable parties at her homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons. So, we asked Prentice to share essential houseguest tips that will have people begging you to come back and visit (as long as you bring another set of those divine bath salts you gave them last time).

In addition to close friends, I often invite people for the weekend who I would like to get to know better. Countless lasting friendships have been forged over walks to Gibson beach or whipping up lunch for a hungry house purely on the bounty from Pike’s farm stand. Here are just a few recommendations offered from a hostesses’ point of view if you want to be invited back.

1. Always remember, you are not staying in a hotel. Your hostess has invited you to spend the weekend, and wants to spend time with you. I once had a guest who listed a dozen events we were attending that weekend from Montauk to Southampton – our definitions of “relaxing weekend” were obviously mismatched!

2. A small gift is always appropriate. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should reflect the length of your stay and the effort that is being made on your behalf. My brother co-founded, a site that sources artisanal products from local makers. The site is well curated and the gift opportunities are endless. My picks would be either these Pink Himalayan Bath Salts by Mullein & Sparrow, or this gift set of soaps, inspired by a “year of scents” at the Beekman 1802 farm in upstate NY. Or for the foodie, White Truffle Mayo! Only $8/jar and it makes even an egg salad feel extravagant.

3. Hosting a house party is an expensive proposition so we always appreciate the one friend who comes equipped with several bottles of rosé, just what everyone is in the mood for on a warm summer evening. I love Wölffer Estate Vineyards’ light bodied rosé. It’s produced in Sagaponack, and a bargain at only $17/bottle.

4. Everyone appreciates a guest who is willing to pitch in. We love hosting dinner parties and there are always crucial ingredients that I’ve inevitably forgotten. The friend who offers to jet to the market or grab charcoal for the barbeque gets a gold star next to their name every time!

5. Remember to entertain yourself. Retire to a shady spot to read the paper or rally your fellow houseguests for a bike ride on Saturday after lunch. Your hosts will really appreciate having some quiet time as a family.

6. At the end of the weekend, strip your own sheets and offer to put them directly into the washing machine. I always thought that this was a gracious gesture regardless of whether your hostess has staff to help.

7. Nothing says “Thank you” like a hand-written note. I am a big fan of Sesame Letterpress & Design’s note cards, which are individually printed on a Victorian-era press in Brooklyn, NY.



This latest video brought to you by Dana from Overhead Garage Door Company located in Los Angeles.
I wanted to insure we had extra garage door openers at the principal residence in the event of loss or theft so I asked him to guide us through the
easy programming process. When first pressing the button on the back of the motor DO NOT HOLD in down position just press once and release or you will wipe out all of the existing programming.




Take a bar of soap and run it along the tracks of the window. Slide open and close window over track.This should provide enough of an oil that it will become unstuck!