Construction

Things to Consider Adding to Your Home During Construction

If you are getting ready to build a home or are in the middle of construction, here are a few luxuries to consider having installed by your builder.

Granite counter tops and tile back splash. If you already have it in the kitchen, why not the bathrooms?

Home theater with recessed wall speakers. Do you like sports, movies and engaging TV? Why not get that home theater installed before you move in? A decent home theater costs $5,000 – go ahead and get it rolled into that mortgage.

Double D’s – Do you have a dishwasher picked out? Is it top of the line? How about a second one? What? A second one? Redesign your kitchen to install one dishwasher on the right side of the kitchen sink and an identical one on the left. Sound crazy? You will thank me later.

Concrete walls. Did you know concrete walls insulate your home better than anything on the market right now? Sure it costs more but you will save money on your energy costs and you could receive a 20% reduction on your home insurance.

Attic or loft? Spend the extra dollars to make your attic an air conditioned loft instead of a hot, musty attic. You can organize your junk and put a pool table up there should you choose to do so in the future. Just ask you builder about the options available to you.

Halogen lighting is out – LED is in. Do you know what LED lighting is? You should. It is just as costly as halogen but you never have to replace the bulbs and your house will be cooler given that LED’s give off no heat whatsoever. This is the better bargain. Go with LED’s.

Heated hardwood flooring? Get the additional heating element installed under your hardwood. If you live in a climate that is subject to freezing temperatures, you will thank me in the morning when the temperature is 10 degrees outside.

An additional bathroom? Did you know that adding on a bathroom can cost about $8,000 during construction? That’s a little price to pay considering that it will add $15,000 value to your home for each additional full bathroom.

Security cameras. Call your local security company and ask how much it would cost to set up a six camera security camera system. It could be around $5000 but consider the peace of mind – whether your infant child made a noise in their crib or you heard what sounded like a door shut – just turn on your TV in your bedroom and search the cameras. This is my favorite luxury on the list.

Central Vacuum System? Install one and save yourself the trouble of replacing a bulky plastic contraption that is hard to move around the house.

LCD Skylights – This is a great feature. You can have skylights installed with LCD glass. It works with a remote control. If you don’t want light coming through, just click your remote control and the glass blacks out with LCD technology. Pretty cool.

Whole house music. Speakers in every room and controllable in each room. Let the entire house be filled with the voice of Frank , Dean and Sammy with a touch of a button.

Talk with your builder and see what can be done.

Super Tips for Your Deck

Super Tips for Your Deck

Decks are used by different families for different purposes. Some are used for entertainment. Some are used for play. Some decks are used for relaxation. Yet other decks are used for grilling food. Each family has a different use in mind when they decide to build a deck. No matter what your intentions are, there are some excellent deck tips to keep in mind during the construction process.

Decks and Trees

It is a huge dilemma: wanting a deck right where a tree is growing. This may mean you have a tree right outside your back door. Don’t fret if this is the case. Trees make excellent shade for your deck. If you want to save your tree and build a deck, simply build the deck around the tree. It look absolutely beautiful and provides nice shade during the summer months.

The Finish on a Deck

Some people debate whether or not they should paint or stain their deck. I am here to advocate for staining. It looks natural and fresh, while enhancing the wood’s inherent beauty. Also, staining a deck requires much less upkeep than paint. Paint chips and fades. Also, when you paint a deck you must prime it and do a little more work than with stain.

Privacy Deck

Many homes across the world have close neighbors. This leaves little room for outdoor privacy. However, if you build a deck, you can build yourself some outdoor privacy. Do this by simply placing lattice work or a trellis along the side where you would like privacy. Then, plant a flowering vine below. When the vine begins to grow and bloom, your outdoor paradise will be shaded from other viewers.

Cleaning Mildew from the Deck

Mildew on a wooden deck is unsightly. However, it is simple to clean. Use 1 cup of trisodium phosphate with 1 gallon of liquid bleach and 1 gallon of water. Mix the solution together and spray your deck with a hose. Next, use a scrubber brush on the worst hit areas. Rinse the solution off of your deck after 10 minutes.

There are so many people in this world who have decks. Some people enjoy them every day, while others enjoy them only on special occasions. Whether your deck will be used constantly or merely on special occasions, you want the best deck for your money. These simple deck tips will help you in your deck construction and maintenance.

Building a Deck

Tips for Planning and Building a Deck

One of the most obvious and visually impressive additions we can make to our homes is an outdoor deck. Decks can also serve a variety of practical functions for us. They can ease the transition between our houses and gardens, soften grade changes if our houses lie on slopes, and divide our yards into smaller plots that can then be given their own unique styles and treatments.

When sketching out our initial concepts for a deck, we’ll want to consider its main function. Will we be entertaining large numbers of people on a regular basis? If so, a series of small decks connected by wide steps (which can double as seats in party situations) might suit our purposes. If we simply want a place where we can step out with our spouse in the evening, a single deck connected to the house might be more appropriate. We also want to consider our privacy – i.e., whether our proposed location(s) would put us in open view of our neighbors.

Wood is generally the most reliable material to use because of its overall sturdiness. Some of the best varieties include Southern pine, Hem-fir, and naturally rot resistant redwood and cedar. For the ecologically conscious, plastic composite decking, which is made from recycled plastics mixed with materials like sawdust to give it a wood-like appearance, can serve as a viable alternative. Either way, we will still want to use wood for the posts and joists.

Treated wood can last for decades longer than untreated varieties. However, because of the chemicals that are used in it as preservatives, we should take caution when handling it and use gloves, a dust mask, and goggles. We should also throw away treated wood debris and never burn it.

For fasteners, screws provide a more tenacious hold than nails, and stainless steel won’t leave rust marks on the wood like galvanized steel is apt to. Both are worth the added expense. Regardless of the width of the decking, two fasteners should be used at each joist.

It is required that we build a railing for our deck if it sits more than 30 inches above the ground. Railings need to be between 36 and 42 inches high. If we have small children, we might consider using steel for this detail, as it will be much stronger. Steel (as opposed to wood) can also be bent and shaped, allowing us to be more creative with our railing designs.

If we doubt our skills, or foresee the task taking up more than a couple of weekends, we might consider hiring a professional. But the actual construction of a simple deck (with boards running parallel to each other and the house) lies within the abilities of the average layman. To make our deck feel more like an integral part of our home, we can repeat architectural elements of the house in its design, or use built-in planter boxes or a gazebo to soften the transition between the two. Our goal will be to create a deck that is a natural extension of our house, one that serves as a bridge between the indoor and out.

Dormer Window

Making Space in Your Room with a Dormer Window

Dormer windows have an appeal to many homeowners because of the ability to inject unfiltered light into any room! Once a room has been lit it appears more spacious and open to the residents. Dormer windows are distinguishable by the addition of the window into the roof of a room increasing the size, space and light that is shed into the room.

The classic windows can be identified by the set into the wall look of the window. They increase the size of the room by allowing more space and additional headroom. Not only are they an architectural element but a dormer is a great way to add character to a room by incorporating it into a built in desk, shelf or window bench or seat. Dormers are most popular on the third floor of a home and are a great way to turn the attic into a functional and stylish living space.

Dormer windows are available at all window supply stores and should be installed by a professional. The installation of the windows is often more extensive than other types of traditional windows.

There are five types of dormer windows; the gable fronted dormer which appears at the front of the house and creates a point – one of the most popular dormers to add character to a house, the second, is a hipped dormer where the roof slips back to accommodate the dormer, and the third, in where the roof of the dormer is not pointed but flat. The fourth type of dormer is a shed dormer and is used in gable roofed homes at a shallower angle than the main roof. The fifth and the last type of dormer is a wall dormer which is used strictly to break up the differences in a wall of a building.

The cost of dormer windows varies but is comparable to traditional windows. Of course, it is important to take into account the extra costs that will come with the construction and installation of a dormer window. In many instances portions of the roof will have to be removed, which will leave the home exposed to the elements. This is why, when installing a dormer it should be completed as a summer project.

Many homes will look great with dormer windows and they are a favourite for those renovating a home. Many homes will encompass the use of Dormer windows to add character to the outside of the home – therefore the window is used solely for aesthetic purposes.

org learn

Does your Organization Learn?: A Guest Post From Patrick G. Mackaronis

The following is a post from Brabble director of business development Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is a thought leader and subject matter expert in the fields of entrepreneurship and startups, and has been a self-starting businessman for years.

Organizations that are good learners continually adapt successfully to a changing environment. An organization cannot read a book or attend a course, so how does it learn? One thing an organization can do is regularly assess what’s working and what’s not, then make changes accordingly. This is learning from experience and it depends on rigorously facing reality. Studies have shown that the main reason high fliers in business fail to learn is that they never admit to making any mistakes. Someone or something else is always to blame. Being defensive is a sure way to avoid learning.

Sometimes we are not very good at being honest with ourselves. Defensiveness is like an immune system. It serves to protect us from a serious crisis of confidence but it can block us from really learning how we need to change. The old saying ‘’nothing succeeds like success’’ has been turned on its head of late so we now say ‘’nothing FAILS like success.’’ The moral of this story is that success can set us in concrete and prevent us from learning new ways of behaving until it is too late. Many successful organizations have failed because they stuck to the knitting long after it was still useful to do so.

There are two kinds of learning an organization can foster: constant individual renewal and a culture of organizational learning. The former is not enough. There is little point in developing talent if the organization is so risk averse that it waits too long to try new things. The need to get things ‘’right first time’’ can induce a reluctance to experiment. Fundamentally, the best learning organizations are entrepreneurial. They launch new products quickly, not worrying if they are 100% perfect.

They are religious about getting feedback from customers and other stakeholders so they can modify products or services quickly. Such trial and error learning is becoming a necessity in a world that is too complex and fast changing to plan ahead with any degree of certainty. In the past you could lay out your strategy as confidently as you could plan your vacation. Now, it is like planning a holiday in a world where prospective destinations are continually disappearing or changing beyond all recognition.

For this reason, you have to be prepared to combine your strategy with an entrepreneurial adaptability so you can change directions quickly. This means creating a culture where such organizational learning is encouraged and rewarded. This is especially important if your business competes on the basis of innovation, less so if cost, efficiency and service are paramount. But no organization can rest on its laurels for long.

Child

Encourage the Entrepreneur in Your Child

We live in a time where the entrepreneur can really shine. More and more people are going into business for themselves, freelancing, inventing, investing and otherwise becoming their own boss. You can encourage the entrepreneur spirit in your child and help him get a head start on a productive life.

Here are some tips to encourage your young entrepreneur:

  • Encourage your child to think outside the box. Don’t stifle his creativity when he talks about a new way to do things that have never been done before. Encourage him to believe in the impossible.
  • Allow your child to join in serious conversations. This will help build communication and shared values but also allows your child to connect with and understand the real world.
  • Listen and don’t lecture. Lectures get you nowhere and will stifle the creativity of your child. Allow him to talk and make suggestions. Discuss why these suggestions may or may not work.
  • Explain income, expenses and profit. Help your child understand how businesses make money and how they must spend money.
  • Allow your child to earn the value of a dollar. Through allowance, “family bucks” and other methods you can help your child learn about saving and spending in a healthy way.
  • Plan for the unexpected. Life is unpredictable and the natural entrepreneur knows how to go with the flow and pick up the pieces when things don’t go his way. You can teach your child to have a back-up plan and to plan for the unexpected.
  • Allow mistakes. Children learn through growth and making mistakes. When you don’t allow him the independence to make his own mistakes, he can never learn from them. It’s difficult to sit back and watch when you know he’s doing the wrong thing but sometimes you need to let it happen.
  • Share the knowledge of living expenses with your child. Talk about how much things cost in the home and discuss purchases that are made and the reasoning for those purchases.
  • Encourage giving to others. Allow your child to help with donations or volunteer of service to organizations or people in need.
  • Help your child set goals. Always start with small and attainable goals to avoid discouraging your child.

With these tips, you can encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in your child. No matter what he grows up to be, he will do it with the best of his ability. He will always seek new things and ask “what if?” This is one of the greatest starts you can give a child on life.

Custom made

Use Your Wholesale Suppliers: Get Your Wholesale Suppliers To Make Marketing Materials For You

Yesterday my roommate came home, excited to show me his company’s new marketing materials. “Look!” he exclaimed, waving slick, full-color brochures and thick catalogs in my face. “They even have my name imprinted on them!”

My roommate, a wholesale supplier salesman, had tapped into a little-known free marketing tool for entrepreneurs who sell products manufactured elsewhere: coop advertising.

Of course, different companies offer different marketing collateral: the wholesale suppliers my roommate represents number in the hundreds, with some offering completely free, targeted, high-end pieces custom-made for his business, while others provide little or nothing to place in the end customers’ hands. How did he find out which wholesale supplier offered free coop advertising?

He asked.

Spend a day calling all of your wholesale suppliers. Talk to their marketing or advertising departments and ask whether or not they offer coop advertising materials or free marketing collateral to their retailers, salespeople or clients. Many wholesale suppliers do, and will even print your own company name on their catalogs to assist you with your money making goals.

Research

Entrepreneurial Scientists Invent “Instant Drunk” Misting Device

Two American Scientists, have according to the British newspaper Mail Online, invented a device that allows the user to spray a mist into their mouth that makes them instantly drunk; but only for a minute or so. Style magazine UFUNK, describes the device as chic, yet mature and able to deliver a stimulating punch for just a moment or so, allowing the user to quickly regain their senses. The AFP Newswire says the new device, which has already gone on sale in Europe, could be either a stroke of brilliance or an unmitigated disaster.

The device looks a lot like an oversized lipstick case, UFUNK explains, and holds a small dose of flavored alcohol. When fired into the mouth, the user gets just 0.075 ml of alcohol, which because it is inhaled, rather than swallowed, gets into the bloodstream right away. But, because the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is so small, it’s rapidly dispersed throughout the body, causing the buzz to dissipate as quickly as it came on.

The AFP is worried that such a device might be used by people while driving, which could interfere with the driving abilities just long enough for them to cause an accident. They are also worried about the impact of abuse, particularly with young people who might fire shot after shot into their mouths until the little tank inside is depleted.

The two scientists who created the device, French designer Philippe Starck and American, David Edwards say such fears are ungrounded because the device, which they are calling “Wahh Quantum Sensations” only contains 2 ml of alcohol (enough for 21 sprays) which is mixed with a small amount of water and flavoring and isn’t enough to cause anyone harm.

The AFP isn’t buying it, adding that the device could become a popular party game favor, and noting that users could purchase many cartridges and refill the device when depleted, allowing them to consume more alcohol more quickly than any other method, possibly leading to alcohol poisoning.

UFUNK on the other hand doesn’t have any worries at all. They see the new device as interesting, innovative and likely to cause a stir within the party crowd. Because not only does it offer an instant buzz, it also looks good. Because of that they say, the device could become a must-have accessory for the in-crowd.

Wahh Quantum Sensations can be purchased for 20 Euros and is only available in Europe.

Man

Using Experts to Tackle Challenging Issues: Finding the Right Consultant Can Make or Break an Entrepreneur

Every entrepreneur has situations when business challenges are beyond her areas of expertise or that of employees. One option is to dive into an issue and work through it which can be a learning experience but can also take considerable time and energy. An alternative is to hire a consultant to provide guidance and expertise which can create quicker solutions but also be expensive.

Six Steps to Finding the Right Consultant

Business owners must make their own decisions whether using consultants is a reasonable approach for them. Here are six steps an entrepreneur can take to hire a suitable consultant when that seems to be the best option.

Define the Issue or Problem

The first step that must be taken is to analyze and define the challenge being faced. Having a poor or incomplete understanding of what needs to be changed is a common mistake and can lead to wasted money and time. It is essential to take this step seriously because the way a challenge is defined fuels the remainder of the decision-making process including the type of consultant obtained.

Perform a Cost-Benefit Analysis

The next step is to compare the cost and benefits of obtaining a consultant to that of going it alone. Costs would include the resources needed to hire the consultant and related expenses including addressing any recommendations made or the cost of devoting time and energy to do it without help.

Benefits would involve the positive impact that the challenge’s resolution has on the business or possible money saved by not hiring the consultant and just working it out internally. The cost-benefit analysis does not have to be a formal, statistical process. Just sitting down and listing the costs and benefits of each decision option can suffice if resources are not available to perform a more formal process.

Determine a Time Frame for Completion

If a decision is made to hire a consultant, it is very useful to develop a reasonable time frame for process completion. The nature of a particular business challenge may be immediate or more long-term. An entrepreneur needs to decide how quickly a resolution needs to be obtained and then plan the process around that decision.

Establish a Reasonable Budget

Deciding on a budget for the process is very important to keep control of expenses. It is helpful to let the consultant know up-front how much money is available for her work and then create an action plan that stays within the budget. Open-ended agreements with consultants are never a good idea.

Take the Selection Process Very Seriously

Finding a consultant is similar to hiring a good employee. It is essential to spend the time to ensure that the person is qualified and is a good fit for the organization. Ask colleagues and local professional associations for referrals and then meet with candidates to discuss the business challenge and how each would address it. In-person meetings are essential to gain the best impression about the qualities of a consultant and if she is the right person for the job.

Choosing a Consultant

After speaking with candidates and creating a short-list of potential choices, ask each one to submit a proposal including a list of references. The proposal should summarize the discussion points from previous conversations and identify the problem or issue, scope of work, budget and payment arrangements, and timeframe for completion.

Review each proposal carefully to determine consistency with previous conversations and expectations and identification of the most reasonable approach that fits within the defined budget. Also, establish a payment plan that allows for regular progress reviews for achievement of specific milestones. Lump sum payments up-front are never a good idea.

Careful Consideration of a Consultant Will Lead to Success

It isn’t hard to find entrepreneurs who can relate horror stories about consultation arrangements having gone bad. While receiving poor outcomes from hiring a consultant is always a possibility, good planning by following these six steps will increase greatly the chances of success.

When Will Housing Prices Rise? Is There Still Time to Buy Before Home Values Begin to Increase?

The following is a guest post from Nigerian real estate developer Michael Chudi Ejekam.

There are many reasons why this is a good time to buy a home.

Housing prices have been falling for more than a year in most parts of the country. Sellers, many of them desperate to sell their residences, are willing to compromise on everything from price to closing dates to repairs. Buyers also can choose from a large inventory of unsold homes.

A new report, though, by the National Association of Realtors may signal the start of the much-awaited recovery of the housing market.

And with that recovery may come an increase in the sales prices of homes on the market.

Home Values Rise

The latest sales survey by the Realtors association says that the median value of existing homes — which includes condos, single-family homes and condominiums — rose by 4.2 percent from February to March. Home values do typically rise in March. However, housing values historically have risen only an average of 1.8 percent from February to March.

The 4.2-percent increase this year means that the median sales price of an existing home in March stood at $175,200.

This is still a good value, especially considering that it is 7.1 percent lower than the median home sales price from one year ago.

Still, the Realtors report is causing some analysts to wonder whether the housing market has finally reached its bottom and is, at long last, poised for a recovery.

Will Housing Prices Continue to go Up?

A housing recovery would be good for the economy. It wouldn’t be as good for anyone hoping to buy a house.

Predicting when this recovery will come, though, is tricky business.

For instance, an economist at First American Real Estate Information, Sam Khater, in a story in the Orange County Register, predicts that a housing recovery won’t occur until late 2018 at the earliest.

But Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, is predicting that housing sales will increase significantly in the middle of summer this year. Yun points to the $8,000 first-time homebuyers tax credit, historically low mortgage interest rates and a large inventory of unsold homes as the reasons for his prediction.

Buyers Should Make a Move When They’re Ready

No one knows yet who’s right, Yun or Khater. It’s safest, then, for buyers to purchase a home when it makes sense to them, regardless of whether the housing market has hit bottom or not.

Combined with low interest rates, the declining sales prices of homes across the country mean that housing is more affordable than it’s been in a decade. Buyers who need to purchase, and who find that ideal home, would be wise to make an offer.