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Country Living

In Dominica and probably other places in the world there seems to be a large percentage of persons interested in living in the city despite it’s over crowdedness and noise pollution.  We boast about the natural beauty of our country Dominica but are we really enjoying it?  If you travel a bit around the country you will notice that this natural beauty is more apparent in the rural areas.  City life has its advantages such as easier access to educational and other facilities however the improvement in infrastructure and technology makes access to these facilities effortless.  If you are thinking of buying land or building or even if you already have a home in the town or close to it, it will be good to consider having a countryside home.  Here are some benefits to consider:


Privacy and Serenity – Live in the town area? Ever found it necessary to drive far from your home to get some peace?  It is also almost impossible to step outside without being seen by other people or even seeing people. – Living in the country side gives you the gift of privacy and absence of noise which allows you to concentrate, meditate and rest peacefully.  Imagine if you are preparing for exams or recovering from a medical procedure, this would be perfect.


Rejuvenation – The fresh air and a bit of warmth from the sun especially after a long day of work is very refreshing and revitalizing.  Our body takes in more oxygen and this transforms into a healthier body and greater energy; clean air obviously is one of the main advantages of country life.  You also get to really enjoy nature; waking up to the singing of birds and the breathtaking mountain and forest views.


Space – We know one thing that is lacking in the town is space.  Most of the spaces are used for commercial purposes and because of that we have very limited space for public functions, recreational and leisure activities.  – With the space afforded in the country side, children can play outdoor games or learn to ride a bicycle, rather than devoting so many hours to computer games.  They have a lot of personal space that allows them to play comfortably which may not be possible at public playgrounds which I see is very scarce in Dominica.


Cost – It is no secret that land in the urban area is far more expensive than in the rural area e.g. 10,000 square feet of land near the town may cost the same or even more than an acre (43,560 square feet) of land in the countryside.


Self sustenance – Complementary to saving on cost of land and the ability to own larger portions of land is the savings on the cost of food.   If you are not very interested in growing provisions and fruits you have the option to maintain a small vegetable garden in your back yard or even at the front.  Some persons may be fortunate to purchase land that is already cultivated with crops.  This food could be grown for your own consumption and you may have the option to earn extra income from the excess.


Security – In the rural area, people tend to be more caring and concerned for their neighbours, so you will find that neighbours keep an eye on each other’s property creating a strong, friendly, active community where crime is less likely to happen.


You should note that the design of your home can greatly influence your life.  A home with environmental conscientiousness in its design and décor and energy conservation practices will make this experience, ‘your life’ more fulfilling.  Ensure that your home is designed to take advantage of magnificent views of the surrounding natural environment and benefit from the natural air flow.

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Porch, Balcony, Veranda, Patio and Deck – which one do you have space for?

With outdoor living gaining a lot of popularity, people all across the globe have now started constructing outdoor domestic spaces, which can be used for several purposes.  Depending upon the availability of the space, there are various types of spaces, which can be constructed.  These include porch, balcony, veranda, patio and deck.  However, people tend to get confused between these as they are quite similar and tend to use them as synonyms.

Porch – A porch is basically an attached section to the house which is open to the outside air and is covered with a roof.  It is usually at the street level, and a house can feature a front porch as well as a back porch.  In addition, porch is usually employed as a living space and people use it for casual seating purposes.

Balcony– A balcony is a small platform that protrudes from a wall of an upper apartment floor and is usually enclosed by a railing. It must be clarified that unlike the patio, balcony is not at the street level.  A balcony is usually never employed as a social space, but is basically designed for outdoor ambience purpose.

Veranda – A veranda is typically an open, large, long gallery, usually covered with a roof and supported by pillars.  It must be mentioned that in most of the cases, verandas usually extend equally on all the sides of the structure.  Verandas are usually associated with large and expensive homes, and may be used as a living space also.

Patio – A patio is a roofless paved area adjoined to the house and usually employed for entertainment and dining purposes.  It must be mentioned that the open air living space is at the ground level and is usually made out of slate, cement, stone or a combination of the materials. Besides few furniture pieces, plants and few water decorative elements are also introduced in the patio.

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Blue Prints / House Plans

Many years ago house plans were done as a set of Blueprints, pages with white lines and lettering on a dark blue background.  Today, house plans are printed on large format digital printers but are still referred to as Blueprints.  They are often provided in five or eight sets. The Government Planning Authority will often require at least three sets of plans, and the bank may require one if the person intends to secure funding from them.  The builder will also need a set of plans and it is always wise to keep a copy for reference.

With the continuous increase in technology, plans are now available in Portable Document Format (PDF) and Computer Aided Design (CAD), which allows plans to be quickly delivered by email.  One of the important advantages of using a PDF package is that it allows for the plans to be emailed to builders thus avoiding the printing of extra sets which saves time and cost in relation to distribution for bids etc.  CAD on the other hand, although it may be more expensive, allows changes to be made easily.

Plans are used to obtain building permits from the local government and are also used to show a builder exactly how that particular house should be constructed.  Plans usually focus on the architecture and the building itself and don’t include information on the building’s finishing.

A house plan should include:

  1. Exterior Elevations which illustrates the drawings of the exterior of the home and includes details of the windows, doors, wall heights, roof pitches and ridge heights etc.;
  2. Drawing of the Floor Plan which is usually regarded as most important – It shows how different spaces relate to each other;
  3. Drawing of the Foundation Plan which provides details and illustrations of the foundation of the house and includes all the structural beams and footings to support the floor(s) above;
  4. Drawing of the Building Section and Details which illustrate the relationship between the different levels and areas of a home as well as construction details; and
  5. The plan of the roof as well as general notes and details such as building codes.


Careful planning now will go a long way towards making your home special and convenient for you and your family.

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Using an Architect Can Save Time and Money

Canadian architect, Etienne Gaboury, once said, “Architecture is space structured to serve man & to move him.” “To serve man” implies that architectural design creates a useful living space, while “to move him,” refers to the art of the design, which makes a particular building unique, colorful, and worthy of living inside.

A trained architect will take a client’s wish & analyze it in conjunction with their needs, lifestyle & their long term plans.  Careful consideration of a family’s future size & goals will yield positive results when designing a home.

Throughout the process the architect may offer the family constructive choices which may save them money in the long run ultimately helping to offset the architectural fees.

Often time home owners and builders believe it will be cheaper to draw up their own plans but the cost of inefficient floor plan layout can be very serious.

Architects may ease the stress involved in the construction process by acting as project managers & construction supervisors and some may even take it a step further, like we do at Millenia LDC, and take on the construction project.

When you consider building your home, consult an architect about the benefits you can gain from using his service.  The consultation most likely will be free and it will definitely be valuable to you.

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10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

  1. Give considerable thought to the individual or business you will hire to perform your construction or related projects. Pay particular attention to contractors offering their services at a considerably lower price – while you may save a few dollars at the time, you may end up paying a lot more over the life of the service or product.


  1. Talk to more than one specialist, this will allow you to develop a better understanding of the process. Knowledge gives power to negotiate.


  1. If you know you need to renovate or extend your building, don’t wait until the problem gets worst to get estimates and select a contractor e.g.if you know you need a new roof then don’t wait until you have water coming in from your second floor ceiling.


  1. Do a bit of research. If you have a friend who is more knowledgeable than yourself, invite them to take a look.  This allows you to give the contractor more specific information or details about the problem.


  1. Past clients or projects are a great way to learn about contractors and their capability. So go ahead and ask a neighbor or a friend for recommendations, look for completed jobs in the neighborhood. Now-a-days it’s all out there on the internet, check business websites to see their profile of completed jobs.


  1. Yes I am part of a company that provides construction services but I will still go ahead and say it – negotiate fiercely and make it clear to the contractor that you are looking for the best quality job at the best possible price. Remember, you are in charge and it’s your project and money so demand a great end product/service at a great price. It’s not always true that you have to pay ridiculous prices for great work but it is expected that the best quality work will come at a bit higher cost.


  1. Obtain and review at least three written estimates to compare what a job should cost. Once this is done, you’ll have a sense of which contractor to use.  Meet with the contractor again, at this point discuss any other qualms you may have with his estimate.


  1. Of course get everything in writing.


  1. After selecting a contractor, stay close to them; check the work and ask questions. A good contractor would know to keep the customer updated with work progress by submitting reports at agreed intervals and will seek permission before making any deviations from the original plans.


  1. If at the end of the project the contractor has done a great job ask for some business cards and pass around to friends and family.
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Add Value to Your Home

The saying goes, “First impressions are lasting ones.”  Most, if not all of us, have heard this common saying which simply means that people will remember the way you appear when you first meet them, so it is important to look and act your best when you meet someone for the first time. While a property valuation provides an opinion of how much a property is worth, prospective buyers tend to value properties based on what they see and not just based on facts and figures. This can greatly hinder the sale of a property because even if a property is listed below market value, if it does not look appealing to prospects, they may shy away from the opportunity to own a potentially remarkable property.

It is therefore worthwhile for a seller to ensure that their property looks almost flawless, if not flawless, so that its appearance can match or even exceed its selling price or value.  We share a few simple improvements that can help any property be more alluring to prospective buyers.

While you may not be financially able to take on major renovations, especially if you are trying to spend as little as possible before putting the property on the market, these few simple upgrades can help a seller in getting a sale.

  • In the kitchen, installing countertops made from engineered stone or granite, can easily improve the aesthetic appeal of the space. Simple details such as replacing cabinet knobs or installing a new faucet for the sink can make a big difference. If you desire a bigger change consider knocking down a full or half wall to connect the kitchen to a living room to provide a more spacious feel.
  • In the bathroom, consider having the toilet and vanity replaced. A toilet that looks old or does not work properly is a turn-off. If you can’t afford purchasing a new toilet or the current one is still in working condition simply have it thoroughly cleaned and or replace the seat. This should make it appear as good as new. Similarly to the kitchen simple things can make a difference. Removing rust stains, updating doorknobs and cabinet knobs, and replacing faucets can make the bathroom look more welcoming.
  • You do not have to consider undergoing major repairs or a complete renovation to improve your home. Simply things such as repair of plumbing leaks, replacement of worn out rain gutters, replacement or repair of broken windows can go a long way in making a property more appealing. Investing in maintenance and repairs is not only moneywise, prospective buyers tend to focus on what needs to be fixed and use these to justify negotiating a lower price.
  • Repaint the interior walls with neutral colors such as beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray or shades of white which will make the rooms appear lighter and bigger.

Were the above tips useful?  Share this article with family and friends.  If you need any clarification on this topic, feel free to email us at

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Carpet To The Rescue!

Carpet is a practical, fashionable, and versatile choice of flooring. Carpet offers you several advantages that other flooring options can’t compete with such as the following:-

Warmth – Carpet is the best choice you can make for your bedroom, family room, and other areas where you need warmth underfoot.

Safety – Carpet offers a slip resistant surface that will prevent accidents along with a natural cushion in the event of someone falling. For young children and the elderly, this is very important.

Reduction in sound – Carpet will also reduce noise better than any other type of flooring. Carpet works to dampen noise in three ways:
– Reduces surface noise from foot traffic
– Absorbs airborne sound
– Blocks transmission of sound
These qualities are valuable in apartments as well as semi-detached homes.

Surface – Adding carpet to a room can also disguise any existing damage to the floor and also hide any other problems such as warped floors.

Easy to care for – The carpets of today are more stain resistant than they have ever been in the past, which makes cleaning even the worst possible spills easier than ever.

Clean air – Research has proven that carpet can indeed improve the quality of air by trapping allergy causing dust and allergens if it is properly cleaned and maintained.

Variety of use – Carpets aren’t only for floors anymore, which is a really great thing. You can easily add carpet to steps, stairs, walls, posts, and other non level surfaces, without having to worry about it slipping, lifting, or buckling.

Flexibility – Carpet is the primary foundation in almost any room. Because it is available in a variety of different colors and textures, it helps to create an unlimited number of possibilities for decorating. From the neutral tones to rich solids, carpet is the first step you can take to make your home look better than ever.

Low cost – Carpet doesn’t cost a lot of money, as it offers an economical alternative to the other types of expensive flooring. Even with professional installation, you won’t pay near as much as you would for hard surfaces. Unlike hard surfaces, carpet can keep you comfortable if you decide to lay down on it.

Life span – The carpets of today are very durable and can outlast most other types of flooring available on the market. All you have to do is select a type of carpet that has a life span of 5 – 30 years or more, which is very common now a days.

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Earl Learns As He Gets His Home Valued

Several years after Earl Seraphine moved from one part of Dominica to the other, he decided to sell one of his homes since he had no plans to move back and thought that the proceeds from the sale of the house would be of greater use at the time.  In the process of listing his home with the real estate agent he was asked the value of his home.  This was a question he just couldn’t answer factually since he had never done a valuation before and the understanding of valuation theory and methodology is not commonplace.  He started doing some research and fortunately found a competent and generous valuator who explained the importance of valuations and some of the different techniques used to prepare a valuation.


He learnt that there are several methodologies used for property valuations, three of the most common ones are Comparable Sales Method, Income Approach Method and Cost Approach Method.


The Comparable Sales Method compares the subject property with other similar properties in its vicinity to estimate the value of the subject property.  In addition to the location, this analysis examines characteristics such as the size, conditions, available utility, building regulations, business climate etc.  Not very often the property being valued has few comparative elements or may be unique. In such circumstances the less comparable elements would be estimated differently to ensure accuracy.


The Income Approach is more suitable for income generating properties because it allows investors to estimate the value of the property based on the income it produces or is expected to produce.  This would be useful for a buyer to determine if a property is a profitable investment.  The estimated income is discounted using the discounted cash flow model to determine the present value of the property.


The cost approach investigates the cost component of the property and this includes the cost of the land as if vacant, plus cost of construction.  Depreciation based on the age of the property is thereafter deducted.  It is said that the value is more accurate for new buildings.


It is important to note that there is no perfect method to value real estate never-the-less whether buying a home, selling one, using it as security or making improvements, knowing its worth is fundamental.


Earl having made the decision to sell one of his houses would want to ensure that he receives the value that his property is worth.  He could use the valuation as a guideline to price the property so that he can catch some home shoppers’ interest.


As a potential buyer a valuation is crucial to ensure that the amount asked for is not considerably higher than the actual value.  It is a pre-requisite in the property transfer process as the valuation is needed by the bank if the buyer is taking a mortgage.  It also forms part of the transfer documents to be submitted to the local registry.  It may also show that the buyer has done some homework and gives both parties grounds upon which they can negotiate a final price.


A valuation provides one with valuable information such as whether the price for a property is exaggerated or not and would give a seller a realistic price to market his property.  It is generally recommended that persons do not purchase property without first doing an assessment.  Likewise, it is good practice to value a property before putting it on the market.

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The Kitchenette

We are indoors and using the kitchenette. The term “kitchenette” describes a small cooking area in an apartment or hotel that gives users some of the flexibility of a kitchen without using nearly as much space. Kitchenettes typically take up no more than a single wall, and often occupy only a corner. They are designed for efficiency and space conservation. Most of the time, a kitchenette will have a small refrigerator, a microwave, and a sink. Larger kitchenettes may also have one or two burners, or even a small oven.

A kitchenette may also be referred to as a small kitchen, a compact kitchen, or a mini kitchen. The idea behind most kitchenettes is to give users the ability to cook, prepare, and store food without impeding on an otherwise limited space. Traditional kitchens can take up an entire room, but that simply is not practical when space is at a premium. Kitchenettes are very popular in studio apartments, particularly in dense urban areas where every square foot matters — and is expensive. Hotels may also feature kitchenettes. A full kitchen would not usually be practical in a hotel room, but a kitchenette is often a desirable amenity for guests who plan to stay for a few days. This hotel feel amenity has been transferred to bedrooms in private homes to make it convenient for a bedtime snack or romantic dinners and drinks.

They are useful for large homes, particularly those with live-in arrangements for child care or housekeepers, or when several families share a single space. Multiple full kitchens could be excessive, but smaller spaces in which to cook may be quite useful. An upstairs kitchenette, for instance, can be a place for a nanny to prepare meals away from the main kitchen. A kitchenette located in a bar area or television room can also be a convenient place to store and fix snacks.

Depending on the location and primary function, kitchenettes can be built into a space, or can be pre-made elsewhere and simply installed. Many commercial kitchen supply stores offer pre-manufactured kitchenette units, often sold as a single piece with many parts. Kitchenette design can range from the truly elaborate to the starkly efficient. However, builders must generally check the governing codes before deciding to add a kitchenette.

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Tips to a Well-organized Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home and it needs to be well-organized. A kitchen with things out of place gives a feeling of discomfort and may slow down your activities.  So let’s see how we can clear out and clean up.


Get started:-

Stand back and take a long look at your kitchen. Would a helpful guest know where, logically, to locate a spatula, frying pan, blender or serving tray? Is there enough counter space for prep work? Is there wasted space – above wall cabinets or in the corners of base cabinets, for example – that can be used to add more storage?

Clear the kitchen in stages. Start with your wall cabinets then empty base cabinets, pantry and refrigerator.

Examine every item; get rid of anything you don’t use regularly or haven’t touched in a year(s). Usable items that you don’t want should be given away to a local charity; toss anything opened, damaged or past its use-by date.

Clean the refrigerator and storage cabinets thoroughly. Consider painting cabinet and drawer interiors in a high-gloss tone or giving them a coat of polyurethane if made of wood so they can be wiped clean easily.

Put back only items you know you will use, and organize according to where you are likely to use them – spices, utensils and cookware near your stove or cooktop, for example.

Here are some useful organizing tips:-

-Insert or add additional shelves to cabinets to increase storage capacity.

-Use drawer dividers or in-drawer trays to organize silverware and other eating utensils.

-Designate a place for every category of item so you know ahead of time where something is going so it does not spend time taking up needed counter space.

-Utilize any wasted/unused space above wall cabinets or in the corners of base cabinets.

-Only leave those appliances that are generally used on a daily basis on the counter unless if they have dedicated storage space in a location which is convenient for their use.

-Ensure that a practical method of refuse, disposal and storage is being used.

-Make sure nothing is placed in a position where it blocks electrical outlets.