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Six Ways to Upgrade Your Laundry Room

Laundry rooms used to be hidden away in the basement, washer and dryer side by side on concrete floors. These days, they’re moving upstairs and going upscale. From walk-in closets to craft rooms, laundry machines are finding new, brighter and inspiring spaces in the house. Some look almost like kitchens, with high-end cabinetry and countertops. From large and luxurious to compact and convenient, the options seem limitless. Here are some common trends:


Modern laundry rooms come in all sizes. In some homes, the laundry area simply consists of a stacked washer and dryer behind bi-fold doors. In more opulent digs, the laundry room sometimes shares space in a room that accommodates a homeowner’s hobby. Use the space you have, if the area is small include first and foremost the essentials a washer and if possible a dryer. If it is large enough feel free to decorate and design based on your personal style. A laundry room isn’t a place people are going to hang out, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have style.


Some homeowners find it convenient to have a laundry area on an upper floor rather than in the basement, so they don’t have to lug linens, towels or clothes up and down stairs.  In some high-end homes, the laundry room might turn up in the master bedroom’s walk-in closet, steps from the en suite. It’s simple enough to put a drain on the floor during construction. That way, there is a lot less damage if there is a water leak. In smaller properties the laundry can be shared with either the kitchen or bathroom.


The old school laundry chute has been around for decades but has never enjoyed widespread adoption. For some families, it’s the height of convenience. Gone is the need to lug heavy laundry baskets down stairs. It’s a good idea if you have the space to incorporate it in your design. Other good idea is the addition of a storage island to keep clothing well-organized and setting up an ironing system if space allows.


The type of flooring where the washer sits is important. A concrete base is best because it can absorb the vibrations a working machine generates. Try to distribute laundry loads, as an off-balance washer can make the whole house shake. Ninety per cent of noise — and machine vibration — problems can be traced back to an incorrect installation. Some washers have shock absorbers to absorb some of the vibration. Others are cradled inside a cabinet, so movement is not transmitted to the frame of the machine.


Laundry rooms are starting to emulate kitchen design, with a utility sink and countertops for working space, combined with upper and lower cabinets for the storage of detergent and other cleaning supplies. Machines are now being offered with doors that swing on either side. Previously, washers opened only to the left and dryers to the right on front-load machines.


While room for a few laundry baskets is important, increasingly, homeowners are making laundry spaces work harder. The most common pairing is with a mud room. The idea is that kids coming in from outside with dirty clothes can simply put them in the nearby hamper. A lot of women prefer their laundry “two steps” from the kitchen, where they spend more of their time.  Some ladies also incorporate an indoor clothes-drying rack suspended from the ceiling.

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Seven (7) Tips for Improving Curb Appeal

Have you ever heard of the term curb appeal or wondered what it meant? Well, Real Estate Agents use this term to refer to the general attractiveness of a property from those looking from the street or a distance. First impressions are as important to a home as it is with individuals. Every new visitor that sees your home from the outside begins to imagine what the interior looks like, and if the outside is a mess the enthusiasm to look within decreases as well as the overall impression of the home. If you are planning on selling your property, making it available for rent, or simply want to make your home look attractive try improving the curb appeal by making these 7 design alterations to suit your style.

Add a Walkway: Walkways that are well designed are inviting and provide a sense of warmth and comfort to the home. Visitors will feel welcomed to your home walking along that brick or concrete path leading straight to your front door.

Give Your Driveway a Makeover: After years of wear and tear your driveway may be cracked, or covered with potholes. Repair these damages to make the driveway look as good as new. Also, define the driveway by installing a border along the edges to give an elegant look.

Tile Those Stairs: Tiles are guaranteed to add style and make anywhere stand out when compared to plain flooring. Add tiles to your outdoor stairs to make them stand out.

Repaint Your Walls and Front Door: A fresh coat of paint can transform your home providing a more welcoming environment into your house. And while painting the walls do not forget the door or if possible have a new one installed. Consider doors with decorative glass for a greater feel of grace and elegance.

Illuminate the Outdoors: Not only do lights leading to the entryway of your home look good and welcome guests arriving at night, it also provides safety and security by decreasing dark places within the yard for intruders to lurk. Solar lights are the perfect choice because they do not require electricity or distracting cables.

Mother Nature Can Help: Beautiful flowers can be planted in strategic locations throughout the property. Hedges can be used to surround the yard or planted along the drive and walkway. Ensure that hedges and other plants/flowers are neatly arranged and properly trimmed.

Invest in porch furniture: Improve the look and feel of your porch by adding furniture. This makes the home feel relaxing and welcoming to visitors.

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4 Ways To Make Your Small Kitchen Appear Larger

The kitchen is arguably one of the most (if not the most) important rooms in the home. It caters to the entire family, guests, and stores the largest amount of household appliances than any other room. In cases where the kitchen may seem cluttered due to its minimal size, an extension may be considered. If because of any reason from lack of finance, to not enough space to expand, you should not worry. Today we offer you four simple interior design alterations to make your small kitchen appear larger.

  1. Aim for function: A small kitchen will not be held at the same standard of accommodating multiple activities. You will not be able to cook, do schoolwork, or wonder about aimlessly all at the same time. Instead of trying to force everything where it cannot fit design the kitchen to handle the basics (cooking, cooking and more cooking).
  2. Glass offers transparency: Design the room with the use of glass fixtures and or furniture. Glass allows you to see through an object which makes the room appear larger than it really is. This is what designers refer to as ‘negative space’. Apply glass to your cupboards, kitchen door or you can even make use of reflective glass tiles.
  3. Brighten up the room: The color scheme used for your appliances, décor, walls and flooring have a large part to play in how big any room appears. Light colors such as beige and pastels are more reflective hence the room feels larger and more airy. Dark colors on the other hand absorb light leaving the room feeling smaller than it actually is.
  4. Light it up: The kitchen like any other room requires the use of natural light as well as task lighting. Natural light opens up the interior of the room (try to get as much in as possible). An incandescent light bulb which provides a yellowish glow is highly recommended. They spot lighting, when directed at the cabinetry, to increase the shadowing of the space. Floor lighting can also be considered to lighten up the kitchen.
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Mistakes Made During the Home Buying Process

Your home is an important asset to own. Not just its financial benefits but also because of what it represents. A home offers security. It is generally viewed as a place of love, where memories are made, where families are built. It is because of these and many other reasons that many individuals desire to one day own their home. And just as there are reasons to want to own a home there are several reasons why individuals would want to sell their home: from personal reasons such as moving away, or accommodating a growing family, to financial reasons.

Whether you are selling or buying a home the real estate process can be a daunting task that if not handled properly can be exhausting and both the owner and the buyer can cause the process to be more difficult than it already is.


Here are a few tips to help homeowners avoid making mistakes that could hinder the selling process.

1)        Overpricing

Most sellers have a tendency to overprice their property. One of the main causes of overpricing results from the homeowner’s emotional attachment to their property. As a property owner, once you have made the decision to sell you should detach yourself emotionally from the home because this attachment does not affect the buyer’s decision. Bear in mind that a real estate transaction should be viewed and handled mainly as a business transaction. Homeowners can also overprice due to the property features that they believe to be of high value. However, what may seem appealing to the owner may not have the same appeal to the prospective buyer. The best way to avoid overpricing is by formulating a selling price based on the most recent property valuation and taking the price of similar properties in the area under consideration.

3)        Not Trusting the Agent

One of the most significant components of any personal or business relationship is trust. As a homeowner looking to list your property with a real estate agent or agency you have to ensure that there is an element of trust. Before listing your property, ask as many questions as you need to get comfortable working with the agent. If at the end of the conversation you feel like you cannot trust the agent it would be best to look elsewhere in order to avoid the tension that distrust is most likely to cause down the line.


Similarly to homeowners, buyers can make mistakes during the real estate transaction that they may eventually regret later:

1)        Lowballing

As a home buyer it is only natural that you would want the lowest price possible, however there is a big difference between negotiating to get a more affordable price and lowballing. Sometimes buyers can come in with unrealistic expectations about how much the property is worth. If you feel that the selling price is a bit steep and you really love the property, when negotiating it would be best to make a realistic offer that is not too low from the owner’s asking price.



2)        Searching for the cheapest property

Individuals searching for homes to purchase on a strict budget often keep their eyes open for the cheapest property they can find. What some homebuyers fail to consider is that most times cheaper properties tend to have many issues and require renovations. It is wise to find out as much about the property as you can, its value, structural integrity, etc. without only considering the price.  Before purchasing a home, you should be aware of anything that may be wrong and factor your findings into your final decision.


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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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning to Build Your Dream Home

After all the dreaming, hard work and saving you are finally ready to turn your dream home into a reality. With all the excitement what most individuals fail to realize is that it does not take much for the project to turn out to be an epic fail. Proper planning needs to be in effect to save you time and money. Here are 5 costly mistakes you need to avoid.

Mistake #1 – Poor financial planning!

Unless you will be buying your home out of pocket (in that case, we envy you!), you are going to need financing. Check around for the best mortgage rates and terms and find out how much you can afford before meeting with a real estate agent, architect or contractor. Building your dream home should not plunge you into debt or a straitjacket. Deciding on the type of construction and style of the home that will fit into your budget may require some research but it will definitely pay off in the long run.

Mistake #2 – Planting roots in the wrong location

After you have built your dream home, you will not be able to move it around if the location chosen turns out to be wrong for you. Consider changes that may occur in your environment in the future and how that will affect your quality of life, and value of your property in case you decide to sell your home later on.  For your own enjoyment and for future sales look for property in a location which is convenient while still being relatively peaceful.

Mistake #3 – Not starting out with a good set of plans

People think they are saving money by not buying good plans.  First, without plans you cannot get an accurate cost estimate for building a house. You can’t make an accurate materials list so you won’t know what the materials will cost. A contractor will not know how difficult the house will be to build so he cannot give you an accurate estimate of the labor. The plumber, the electrician and other subcontractors need to be on the same page so it must be a plan that can be understood by all concerned.  Incomplete or nonexistent plans will inevitably lead to misunderstandings, tear-outs, delays, and conflicts which cause greater expense.

Mistake #4 – Choosing the Wrong Builder

Shop around for builders, ask for references and check them!  Do not make the mistake of choosing a contractor because he has the lowest price. Talk with several builders; check out their work to find the right fit. A good contractor will be willing to work with you to stay within your budget by going over the proposal to see where you can cut back. Regardless of your choice, understand that working with a professional with a solid background and years of experience can come at a premium price but it is worth the investment.

Mistake #5 – Building for only your current needs

If you know that children are in your future, build with them in mind.   If you cannot afford to prepare for children immediately build to allow for an addition later on. There is nothing worse than building a new house that is already too small the day that you move in.  If you need more square footage than you can afford at the present time, consider lowering the cost of the fixtures such as cabinets, windows, and doors some of which you can always upgrade in the future.  If this is to be your retirement home, what will your needs be then?  Does your home need to have wheelchair access?  Will you always be able to use the stairs?

Which one of these mistakes do you believe would be the worst to make?  Have you made one of them?  Can you think of other mistakes that should be avoided? Share with us in the comments.

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Buying Versus Renting: Which Should You Choose?

Many individuals believe that it is ultimately more beneficial to spend money on buying a home rather than spending years paying rent. However, that is not always the case. There are a lot of factors to consider before making your decision and every situation is not the same. Here are a few things to think about before choosing the best option to suit you.

Mortgage and Loan: Buying a house naturally requires money, and in most instances requires the individual(s) to apply for a loan or mortgage. You need to first know whether you are able to obtain a loan or mortgage, if not then renting would best suit you. Factors such as poor credit score and low income will decrease your chances.

Employment: Be sure that you have a safe and secure job. If you feel that any day in the near future you may be fired, or you plan on quitting your job then home ownership is probably not the right decision. The loss of a job can bring many financial difficulties that buying a home will just make even more difficult.

Total Cost: You need to analyze which option will cost you the least amount of money in the long haul: monthly rent compared to monthly loan payment, and all other costs attributed to each option. This includes maintenance and repair of the building. This is one of the main costs of buying a home which does not factor into renting. Whichever decision saves you the most money should be highly considered.


Change in family structure:  If you are single and plan to remain that way, renting may be a practical option. However, if you plan to get married and start a family, a stable home where memories can be made and roots laid-out is essential.  Your own provides security and a sense of belonging to your family that renting does not provide.

Future Plans: Buying a home is a long-term investment and should be treated as such. If you are someone who is always on the go constantly traveling from place to place then it might be more beneficial to rent in the meantime. Worst yet if you plan on spending time abroad for a long time then buying a home may just be pointless.

Freedom v. stability: Renting gives you a sense of freedom if you like to change scenery often by moving to different locations.  In addition, with renting you have the freedom of moving if you do not like the home or the area.  However, there is uncertainty with renting.  The landlord is within their right to discontinue your lease, and you would be forced to move in that situation.

Are you at the point where you need to decide between renting and buying?  Which do you think better suits your situation? Is there any advice you can provide to someone needing to make that decision?  Share with us in the comments.

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Take Advantage of the Rain to Conserve Water and Save Money

Why didn’t you think of this earlier?! Take advantage of the rainy season by harvesting rain water to use around your home and save on your water bill. Here are five (5) practical uses of rain water to benefit your family and the environment:

Plant Care:

Rain water can be harvested to water your garden and household plants. Instead of pipe borne water for decorative or indoor plants, use rain water. Establish your garden in such a manner that it can benefit greatly from rainy days. Ensure that your plants are in an area where water can be accumulated and drained out to avoid erosion and flooding. This increases the self-efficiency of the plants and decreases the need for constant care.

The toilet:

A toilet can use up to 12 liters of water per flush.  An average person uses 30 liters of water flushing the toilet per day or 210 liters per week. That is money that can be spent on other things or saved for ‘a rainy day’. Installing a tank to toilet system can lead to major water savings.

The Washing Machine:

You can also save loads of money and water by connecting your washing machine to your tank.  Washing machines can use up to 150 liters of water per load and most households do 5-6 loads of washing per week. If the option of installing a tank is not desirable to you, rain water can simply be collected in a bucket or barrel and used to fill the machine.

Rain Shower:

Rain water is perfectly safe for use in the shower while taking a bath.  Bathing uses about 54,000 liters per year which can be saved if the shower is connected to a rainwater collection tank. If the source of water is not from a collection tank which filters the water it may first need to be decontaminated based on where it is collected.

The Kitchen and Household Chores:

Dishwashing and the kitchen uses about 27,000 liters per year, convert this as money in the bank by using rain water to handle those chores. In addition, use rain water for other domestic chores such as mopping and other general cleaning tasks.

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3 Road Safety tips for wet days!

Road safety is often taken lightly by drivers these days.  With a speedy increase in the number of vehicles on island, and an increase in the number of vehicular accidents there is no doubt that road safety needs to become a greater priority. This is especially important on rainy days where the likelihood of being in an accident is greater. Here we offer 3 tips to the drivers out there when driving along those wet, slippery roads.

Ensure that visibility is clear

You have to be able to see: the bends, the vehicles in front and behind you, the people, animals or objects (fallen trees, rocks, potholes, etc.) in your way. The dark clouds and falling rain make this especially difficult. Ensure that your windshield and mirrors are properly cleaned; that your windshield wipers are working efficiently and all necessary lighting (brake lights, headlights, taillights, and turn signals) are functioning before you hit the road. Rain repellant products can also be used on mirrors and windows to clear standing raindrops.      

Refrain from distractions

Your attention is to be placed on the road in front, behind and at your sides. Stay away from the cellphone and keep the radio off (or at least have the volume very low). You need to be aware of other vehicles, possible landslides and anything else that may be on the road. If a call must be made or received pull over on the side of the road for the duration of the call, then continue driving when you are done.


Slow down

Wet roads reduce friction between your tires and the road. This causes drivers to have less control over their vehicles and also makes them more prone to skidding. Hydroplaning occurs when water builds up between the wheels and road surface. This causes a loss of traction and prevents the vehicle from responding to input controls. The faster you are driving the harder it will be to maintain traction if you begin to lose control. Remember it is better to arrive at your destination a few minutes late than to never get there at all.  Even better, leave for your destination a little earlier to give yourself enough time to drive more carefully.


Here is an extra tip: seatbelts save lives, if all else fails ensure that they are properly fastened.

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Make Your Home Elder Friendly

The following smart and easy ideas are useful to make your home more comfortable and safe for your golden years, and are also great remodels for current homeowners who have seniors/elders living at home:-


Be easy to find – A home address sign should be erected at the front of the house which is visible both day and night in order to make it easy for emergency services to find the home.


Light things up – As we age our eyesight tends to deteriorate, which means that a home with dark shadows and gloomy hallways can become a safety hazard. Low voltage night lights can be erected to illuminate dark hallways, such as from the bedroom to the bathroom.  One can consider motion-activated nightlights that turn on when someone moves.


Getting a Grip – Railings and grab bars along stairs and in bathrooms can make a great difference in the mobility of the elderly.  There are many different types of grab bars, including some high-end products that don’t necessarily look like grab bars.


Keep steps at a minimum – Steps can be a huge obstacle for senior citizens, and a very dangerous one at that. With the brittle bones and stiff joints that come with aging you would best use as little stairs as possible in your home. Where ever you can try adding rams which are less strenuous and is better suitable for those with wheelchairs, crutches, etc. If stairs absolutely cannot be avoided refrain from making them too high, and too far apart.


Make things hand-friendly – Hands that have lost their strength because of arthritis and other health issues may not be able to easily turn doorknobs, faucet and shower handle knobs. Depending on the space around the faucet, knobs can be easily replaced with levers.


Getting Around – For someone who will have to move around in a wheelchair or scooter, life around their house can get difficult. Wheelchair access and proper door passage through the home is essential.  While getting around, carpets and tiles which are placed improperly or unevenly, as well as slippery floor materials are a hazard for the elderly.  Making sure that flooring is slip and trip resistant is important for seniors since falls can be greatly debilitating for them


We would love to know, which one of these tips is the easiest to implement at your house?

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Drainage Matters

Post Tropical Storm Erika, one of the serious issues that our engineers have identified as a contributor to flooding and failed infrastructure, such as walls, is poor or no drainage.

Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from an area. Many agricultural soils need drainage to improve production or to manage water supplies.

Drainage and public health


In areas where drainage and sanitation are poor, water runs over the ground during rainstorms, picks up faeces and contaminates water sources. This contributes significantly to the spread of diseases such as typhoid and cholera, and may increase the likelihood of contracting worm infections from soil contaminated by faeces. Flooding itself may displace populations and lead to further health problems.


Designing and constructing drainage systems require expert advice from engineers to make sure that water flows away quickly and smoothly and is disposed of in a surface watercourse or soakaway. Drainage installed by one community should not create problems for other communities downstream, nor should it affect ecologically important sites. Environmental considerations should be given adequate attention: long-term changes to the environment may lead to greater health problems in the future.


In many cases, although there are drains, there is a failure to keep them cleared.  Obstructions in drains lead to the formation of stagnant pools and result in breeding sites for disease vectors, such as mosquitoes, increasing the risk of malaria, and snails, increasing the risk of schistosomiasis. The drains must also be properly maintained and cleaned: it is common to find that new drains become dumps for solid waste or even sewage because of inadequate maintenance. The community should therefore establish how often drains are to be cleaned and who will be responsible for the maintenance. Often, the best solution is for community members themselves to take responsibility.


Storm-water drains


The detailed design of storm-water drains should be carried out by engineers and take into account climatic and hydrological data. These data may be scarce, or may not cover the community where work is to be carried out. In such cases, the community can help by describing where major flood problems occur in the village and providing information about previous floods. Storm-water drains should be designed to collect water from all parts of the community and lead it to a main drain, which then discharges into a local river. The size of the drains should be calculated according to the amount of water they would be expected to carry in a storm. More extreme floods occur relatively infrequently; to provide a safety margin, the maximum flow of water is usually calculated on the basis of floods expected to occur once every 10 or more years. If drains are designed to carry only the amount of water expected from an annual flood, they will not be able to cope with the flow of water from heavier floods, which may occur as often as every 2–3 years. This may make flooding problems worse and increase the health risks. Storm-water drains are best constructed using a concrete lining. Earth drains are more likely to become clogged and overgrown, and cause problems with storm-water flow during minor floods.


Damage to roads


Damage and wear to the road can be reduced if the flow of water is controlled. Minor damages can easily be repaired as part of the regular maintenance provided to the road and its structures. If the flow of water is not properly managed, the deterioration of the road will be more serious and occur more rapidly. This will lead to higher maintenance demands and in the worst cases result in serious damage which may obstruct the passage of traffic.


Various drainage measures are applied to effectively deal with the water arriving at the road. Surface water arrives directly on the road as rain, as runoff from the surrounding areas, or in streams and rivers. In flat terrain, the entire area around the road may be inundated with water during the rainy season. In addition, water also travels underground which can have an impact on the quality of the road.


An efficient drainage system is therefore essential to allow water to flow off and away from the road as quickly as possible. This is achieved by a system consisting of the following components:

  • road surface drainage which enables the water to flow off the road surface,


  • side drains and mitre drains which collect and lead the water away from the road,


  • road embankments in flood prone terrain, lifting the road surface well above the highest flood levels,


  • catch-water drains which catch surface water before it reaches the road,


  • scour checks, preventing erosion in the ditches by slowing down the flow of the water,


  • culverts which lead the water from the side drains under the road to the other (lower) side,


  • bridges and drifts which allows the road to cross rivers and streams in a controlled manner throughout the seasons.


In addition, different arrangements may be required for drainage of high water tables to lower the levels of underground water.


Drainage should be taken very seriously within our communities to reduce the incidence of flooding and to curb the spread of diseases related to poor drainage of water.