Thursday, April 27, 2017

Playground Safety Tips

Warmer weather and longer days mean summer is right around the corner. As schools let out playgrounds become a great source of exercise, fun, and meet-ups with friends.  To really enjoy playgrounds keep these safety tips in mind.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 200,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for playground related injuries. 20,000 of those are traumatic brain injuries.  The most common cause of injury is falling - about 80% of all injuries are related to falls from slides, swings, climbing walls or monkey bars.

Before taking your children to a playground look for the following safety features:

- The ground cover under playground equipment should be one of the following recommended materials: wood chips, mulch, sand, shredded tire, rubber mats or pea gravel.

- Look for potential tripping hazards such as tree roots or stumps.

- Inspect equipment for possible sharp objects such as bolts or hooks.

What can you do at the playground to make it a safe experience for your child?

- Dress your children appropriately - tennis shoes or closed toe shoes, no helmets, drawstrings or necklaces.

- Actively supervise your child and keep them in your line of sight.

- Look at the recommended age range of play equipment and keep younger children on age appropriate equipment.

- Keep children who are not swinging away from the swings to avoid getting hit.

- Apply sunscreen and keep fluids available.

Playgrounds are a great way to enjoy being outdoors - make sure they are done right so you and your family can have a wonderful and safe experience.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Research Before You Buy

Shopping for a new home is a big decision. It involves many different emotions and factors - where to buy, what to buy, how much to spend? Once you find the home you're looking for you don't want to have any regrets once the closing papers are signed. This blog can help you learn from some of the top home buyer regrets so you can avoid them and enjoy the home buying experience before and after you move in!

According to NerdWallet, who conducted a survey on home buyer regrets found that one of the main issues for home buyers is not doing enough research before the purchase. This includes researching the home, the builder and the financing process.

One of the main areas of stress and confusion was repeatedly the process of obtaining a mortgage. Buyers in the survey said the were unaware of all their options, unclear about the process and upset about hidden fees.  You can better prepare yourself by meeting with a finance specialist with a list of prepared questions.  Research loan options and use online calculators to determine your desired monthly payment and down payment.

In a similar study conducted by the real estate website Trulia, home buyers regretted not buying a larger home. The focus on getting the exact location sometimes outweighed other home options or even the ability to afford a larger home in a different neighborhood.  Looking at other locations can provide opportunities for more bedrooms and bathrooms.

Another popular regret was not putting enough money down for a down payment. While this may help you get into a home quicker it may result in larger monthly payments or even the need to pay mortgage insurance.  A larger down payment can help you feel financially secure later on as you're living in your home and paying the monthly costs.

Doing your research can help you avoid these common home buyer regrets and fully enjoy your new home!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April is New Homes Month!

In the home building industry, April is New Homes month! It's a time to educate consumers on the benefits of owning a new home. So what are the benefits? Here's a quick breakdown of why buying NEW is best!

1. New homes are built to the latest standards in building codes which means newer homes are more energy efficient than older homes. Save on your monthly utilities!

2. New homes are built with today's buyer in mind - open floorplans, more outlets, phone charging stations and more!

3. New homes offer more safety features than older homes including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and low or no VOC paints.

4.  New homes require less maintenance than older homes and come with a home warranty for your peace of mind.

5.  New homes offer the opportunity to personalize your home before you move in. Give your new home a touch of your unique style and flair!

Why would you be interested in buying a new home?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Storm Season Preparedness

In light of the recent bouts of severe weather it is important to establish a plan of preparedness before inclement weather arrives.  Spring is a volatile season and can bring heavy rains, strong wind and occasionally the threat of tornadoes. Peak tornado season in the south is March through May.
Here are a few ways you and your family can prepare for dangerous weather conditions.

- Understand the terminology. A tornado watch means that conditions are such as a tornado could appear. A warning means that a tornado has been sighted either on the ground or by radar. With a tornado warning take shelter immediately.

- Develop a communications plan.  Talk with your family about what to do during severe weather before it happens. Decide where to go when tornadoes are threatening and where to find emergency supplies.

- Have an emergency kit. Create a kit with items such as flashlights, bottled water, a NOAA battery powered radio, flares and first aid items.

- Choose a safe space in your home.  The best place to be during a tornado is in an interior room on the first floor with no windows. This may be a half bathroom or closet.

- Be aware of your surroundings.  Monitor the weather and take the threat of severe weather seriously.  Understand school closing policies and have emergency contacts available to help if needed.

Being prepared is an important step in being safe. Do what you can to protect your family from inclement weather conditions.  For more information and ideas visit the following websites:

https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/tornado

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Area Rug How-To's

One of the great things about buying a new home is making that space feel like you - your style and taste.  You can really put a stamp on your new home's decor with area rugs.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping and placing area rugs in your new home.

1.  How to know the right size

Look at your room and the goal you have for the rug. Is it to be placed under a dining table? Is to bring together an open space or define a small space?  There are many resources available online that can provide visual ideas for rug sizes and how they make a room look and feel.  Measure your space and mark out where your rug would go using tape or a bed sheet.

2. Think about the shape

Typically, round rugs work with round dining tables and rectangular or square rugs work in living areas.  Runners are great for the foyer and can help bring together two living spaces.

3.  Choosing rug material

Wool rugs are the most traditional make of area rugs. Wool is soft, durable and holds up against stains.  It tends to be a little more expensive and can be subject to fading from the sun.

Cotton rugs are a good choice for casual spaces but may not wear as well over time.

Synthetic rugs are composed of man-made materials designed to mimic the look of wool rugs. They are a more affordable option though may not be as plush as their natural counterparts.

4.  Picking a color

Think about where your rug will be placed before choosing a color.  If you have small children or pets, white or very light color rugs may not be a good choice.  Dark colored rugs hide stains better and may be a good choice for a dining area. Light colors will make a small room feel bigger while rooms with lots of natural light can take cooler or darker color rugs.  Your rug does not have to be an exact match to your furniture. Think of a color scheme or family of colors that you want to use in your home and go from there.

What tips do you have for choosing the perfect area rug?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Simple and Fun Easter Treats!

This Easter, surprise your loved ones with cute and tasty treats - without spending hours in the kitchen!

Try some out with your family this holiday!



Spice up your sugar cookies with a little icing and sugar eyes.  Create delicious ducklings and bunnies!




Wrap up some goldfish with plastic and ribbon to create colorful carrots!



Dip Nutter Butter cookies in icing and decorate for adorable and crunchy chicks!



Top Reeses Pieces with icing and candy eggs. Top with gummy string to make a delicious Easter basket!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Keeping Your Home Safe While Away

It's spring break season and while you may have already created a packing list and found a sitter for the dog, you may not have thought about how you can keep your home safe while you're away.

There are a few simple things you can do to protect your home and belongings while out of town. Use our checklist below to help you stay on track.

1. Don't advertise your travel plans on social media.  You're excited about your trip but wait to share with the world until you get back. You never know who may see your post and it could be someone without the best intentions.

2.  Use your neighbor as a resource! Ask if they'll occasionally park in your driveway and if they'll move your trashcan away from the street after pick up.  It's good to have a trusted friend keep an eye on the house and let you know if anything seems amiss.

3.  Contact your local resources such as the post office to hold your mail and the police to do a vacation check while you're away.

4. If you have an alarm system alert the company that you'll be away for an extended period.  Don't leave any valuables out in plain sight and double check that all the doors are locked before leaving.

5.  Put a timer on your electronics to have your outside lights go on at night (without staying on all day).  Some can be controlled by your smartphone or your alarm company.

What tricks do you use to keep your home safe while you're away?

Friday, March 10, 2017

A First Step Before Buying

Spring is peak home buying time and all indications point to a busy season already underway.  This means that if you're serious about buying a new home you need to set yourself apart from the competition and act fast when you find just the right home.

To do this - get pre-approved before you start home shopping.

A pre-approval letter is obtained from a mortgage company before you have a specific home in mind. You'll provide some basic employment and income information and the bank will run a credit check. Once this is complete you'll receive a pre-approval letter with an amount the bank is committing to loan you.

So what does this mean for you as a buyer?

-  Once you find a home you want your offer will be stronger if it comes with a pre-approval letter

- A pre-approval letter will help you with your search as you know how much home you can afford and what your monthly budget would be

Be aware that a pre-qualification letter is not the same as a pre-approval letter.  A pre-approval letter is a firm commitment of a willingness to lend up to a certain amount. Be sure to specify what you are looking for when you talk with your lender - and happy home buying!


Friday, March 3, 2017

Making Moving Easier

You've searched for just the right home. It's almost complete and moving day is right around the corner.  Then reality sets in.  You have to pack and move!  While this ranks as one of the major stressors in life there are ways to make it easier. Plus always remember your end goal - your brand new home!

Here are a few tips to make moving easier.

1.  Label, label, label - write down what is going in to each box and which room it should be delivered to. Use color coordinating stickers for extra help.

2. Downsize wherever you can. Now is the time to get rid of the cd's you haven't listened to in 3 years, or the t-shirts that just don't fit like they used to.  Collect up as much unused material as you can and donate it to a local agency like Goodwill or the Salvation Army

3. Look for free moving supplies.  Check grocery and liquor stores for free boxes.  Ask friends who have moved recently if they have any boxes left. Use t-shirts and towels to wrap fragile items.

4.  Move your hanging clothes with ease by using a trash bag.  The clothes will stay together and you can just place them right back on the rack.

5.  The heavier the item the smaller the box! Pack weighty belongings in smaller boxes to make transport easier.  Use suitcases with wheels for items like books or tools.

What tricks do you use to survive a move?  Remember, your new home is worth it!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Garage Organization Tips and Tricks

Garages were initially intended to house a very specific item...your car! These days you're more likely to see cars on the street or in the driveway than in the garage. Garages have been used instead as glorified storage spaces filled with boxes, yard equipment and unused kid toys.

With a little work and planning you can take back your garage and use it for storage of your stuff AND your cars!

Storage is important so plan ahead by cleaning out what needs to be stored and what can be donated or thrown away. Purging is always a good first step!  While you're at it, sort your items into categories that can be stored together such as yard tools, appliances, toys, keepsakes, etc.

Tools:
- Use peg board to hang and organize your tools
- A magnetic strip can be used to hold onto small metal pieces
- Use labeled drawers to organize items that can be grouped together

Outdoor Toys/Sports Equipment:
- Organize by sport and store in plastic crates
- Use bungee cords to create a ball holder
- Place hooks or nails on the wall to hold bats and rackets
- Hang bikes with hooks to keep them off the floor and taking up space

Holiday Decor and Keepsakes:
- Utilize garage shelving - you can change the sizes to meet the needs of your boxes or crates
- Don't forget the vertical space above your cars - shelves can be installed here too!

If all else fails rent a small storage space for those items you just can't bear to be without.

What tips do you have for keeping your garage organized and clean? Do you keep your cars parked inside or out?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tax Benefits for Homeowners

Being a homeowner has a lot of perks - especially at tax time.  Homeowners are eligible for several tax breaks that may ease your payments due to Uncle Same. Talk with your tax preparer to see if you are eligible for any of the following homeowner tax write-offs.

- Deduct your monthly interest payments - the majority of your monthly mortgage payment

- Paying for mortgage points

- Did you relocate for a job more than 50 miles away? You can write-off some of your moving expenses.

- Sell a home so you could move into a new one? Ask about tax breaks related to selling costs!

- Deduct the amount spent on annual property taxes

- Did you make any modifications to your home to make it more energy efficient? Those costs may be deductible too!

Owning a home may make your tax filing process a little more complicated - but it's worth it! Talk with your tax professional to make sure you get all the tax benefits from owning a home!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sell Faster with Staging

Looking to sell your home so you can move into your brand new Paradime Construction home?? Staging can make all the difference! It's important to make your home appealing to a wide variety of buyers and little things can make a big impression!

- Think neutral: While your taste may lean more towards bright colors and splashy prints - try to tone it down so potential buyers can picture their style in your home

- Make your home less personal by removing family photos or children's artwork

- Declutter your space to make rooms look bigger and help the eye move more easily around the room

- Bring in natural light! Open your blinds, pull back shades and lighten up the heavy drapery

- Keep scents from being overwhelming. Allergies or sensitivities make lighting a bunch of candles or artificial scents a no-no. Do keep your house clean and avoid cooking before a showing.

- Clean, clean, clean! Help home shoppers see your home for what it really is - without the mess!

- Take photos of your home and look at them from the perspective of a possible buyer. What would make you take a second look?  What might be a distraction or take away from the appeal of your home?

What tips do you have for staging your current home?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Adding Warmth to the Home

The Groundhog's prediction is in and he's calling for 6 more weeks of winter!  Don't be discouraged! Use this opportunity to create warmth in your home with the following fun and cozy ideas!

1. Layer with blankets. Add cozy throw blankets and quilts on chairs and the end of your bed. They give a warm look to the home while being practical at the same time!

2.  Use candles to light up winter nights. Group together and cover in a glass vase to reflect the light.

3.  Bring touches of nature inside with winter flowers, rocks, branches or potted plants.

4.  Fluff up the pillows!  Bring out the pillows and layer for an extra cozy look.

5.  Add drapes or window coverings to warm up the look of your home and keep the cold drafts out.

What do you do to warm up your home during the winter?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tasty Valentine Treats!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner! If you're looking for some fun treats to make as a family that don't require hours in the kitchen we can help!



Sugar Cookie Hearts


Store bought sugar cookie dough shaped into hearts then decorated with red and pink sprinkles. Stick in a popsicle stick before baking for an easy to eat treat!


Raspberry Trifles


This show stopper of a dessert looks like it took hours to make! Simply layer graham cracker crumbs, vanilla pudding and raspberries for a delicious and beautiful treat! Top with whip cream!


Sweet and Salty Pretzel Treats


Dip pretzels in icing and decorate with all of your favorite Valentine sprinkles and sugars! Yum!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Pantone Color of the Year

The 2017 Pantone Color of the Year is "Greenery" - a yellow-green shade that brings the beauty of nature in.

Greenery is a color that can be used in all seasons and pairs well as a neutral.  For example, Pantone put together several palettes that can be used both indoor and out.Color of the Year 2017 - Color Pairings and Palettes

Color of the Year 2017 - Color Pairings and Palettes

Aren't ready to take the plunge and pull out the paint brushes?

Incorporate Greenery by using pillows, rugs, window treatments or accent chairs.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Selling Your Home?

Despite the above average temperatures it still is January here in the South.  If you need to sell your home, the dead grass, bare trees and dark evenings may have you concerned.  There is good news though!  Here are a few tips to help you sell quickly so you can move on to your dream home!

- Price Competitively:  Look at comparables and make a decision based on what has sold within the last 3 months.

- Curb Appeal: Brighten up your home's exterior with some winter friendly plants and landscaping.

- Declutter: Make sure any seasonal decorations are put away, remove too many personal items and create a clean, neutral palette in the home.

- Paint: If your home needs a new color scheme - choose a neutral such as an off-white to make the home feel brighter in the dark winter months.

- Interior Touches: Make sure your home is well lit and warm! Add a cozy blanket on the couch.  Focus on the rooms that you spend the most time in - kitchen and master bath especially.

Don't worry! There are buyers in the winter and now is the time to sell before it gets too competitive in the Spring.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Preparing for Winter Weather

The South is often a target of sarcasm when it comes to preparing for potential winter weather. And though there may or may not be actual snowflakes - it is always wise to be prepared for weather events of any kind. Including snow!

So how should you prepare?

Here are a few practical ways:

- Prevent pipes from bursting by wrapping exposed pipe with insulation or newspaper.
- Allow faucets to drip a little during extreme cold to prevent freezing
- Bring pets indoors and cover plants
- Limit travel when roadways may be icy
- Have emergency supplies for power outages such as candles, matches, blankets
- Fully charge phones or other electronic devices
- Never use an outdoor heating device or generator in an indoor space
- Have bottled water and canned goods in your pantry
- In case of loss of heat, have blankets and layered clothing easily available

The best thing to do is plan for a cozy day at home - off the roads and away from harm.

Enjoy the winter weather responsibly and safely!