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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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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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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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Earning Extra Cash on Rental Property

The amount of spare cash left each month after all bills have been paid has reduced with the increase in prices and the cost of living.  Wouldn’t it be great if you had some extra cash? What about when you retire? Wouldn’t you like some money added to your pension?  I would imagine that almost everybody would appreciate a little extra money each month.  Nowadays, a wide range of people consider rental properties and you too can make quite some money from renting out your home or a section of it.

 

If you own a separate property or have an unused portion of your dwelling area, then you’re sitting on a potential investment.  In such cases, all that may be required is some renovation work or tidying up to have the place ready to draw in tenants.

 

Others may have additional land in their dwelling area or vacant land at another location on which they can build small apartments, say 1 and 2 bedroom apartments while others have the potential to construct a large complex.  Although the investment may be more, you will still be positioning yourself to earn additional income in the future.

 

So, the impressive earnings that can be made when renting out your house is the most important reason why people decide to place their properties on the rental market. However, if you plan on renting out your home or a section of it, you should know that this is linked to some additional responsibilities.

One of the toughest parts of renting a property especially for the first time is that often times the work load is underestimate and people find themselves treating property management like a second job.

 

Advertising can also be tough and sometimes expensive.  If you are looking to get the word out about your property you can start by talking to family members, friends or neighbours.  You may be surprised who they know and how fast they can help you find a tenant.

If you have a tight schedule and don’t have a lot of time to spare then you can still earn that extra cash with little disruption by having an experienced property management company take up that responsibility.

 

Renting out your house can turn out to be an important source of income and can be a great way to improve your earnings and increase your budget.

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Design with Glass

Glass can be a very useful tool in home décor and design.  Glass can come in several forms from glazing, to counter tops and decorative walls.  Whether you enjoy using glass to bring in the morning sun, or a hundred other purposes, glass can be overlooked when customizing home interiors.  Here are some ways to let glass brighten your home.

Glass furniture: Tables, chairs, mirrors… the list goes on and on of glass furnishings that are available for daily use.  Glass table tops in dining rooms and home offices give a sophisticated and executive styling to your interiors.  Glass can be paired with wood, leather and metals for interesting aesthetics. Glass cabinet doors allow for decorative wares or décor items to be displayed.  Specifically in the kitchen, cupboard doors with glass add a practical touch since finding items being stored is made much easier.

Reflectivity and light: The presence of light. Light makes a room feel larger, more comfortable, and more natural.  Glass brings in light naturally to your home and it can be used to obscure, brighten, and enhance views. Windows with expansive glass takes advantage of picturesque views since glass is a miracle worker for reflecting light and illuminating surfaces.

Use glass as your exterior material: Today, the use of glass in exterior sheathing is popular, especially in high rise commercial buildings.  In your home, if you like to be connected with your exterior, use wide expansive glass to draw the outdoors in.

Partitions: Transparent or translucent glass, even combinations of the two, can be used for internal partitions to seemingly increase the sense of interior space and introduce light into rooms. Depending on the translucency of the glass, a glazed partition can be used to create varying degrees of vision control in a room, even complete privacy if required, without resorting to blinds and curtains. Consider glass as a divider wall between a master bedroom area and a master bathroom. Glass block can let light through, and keep ample privacy at the same time. Try using different glass materials for all rooms in your home.

A design incorporating glass is both practical and of great visual appeal. Also, implementing this design at whatever scale or budget will modernize any room.

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REFRESH YOUR WALLS – Wall cleaning tips

Many times paint is not a must for sprucing up an unsightly wall. If you’re otherwise happy with the color and condition of your walls, you don’t have to paint them. Washing walls is by far the cheaper alternative, and with helpful tips, it’s really very easy.

Use a sponge or a white rag. Many rags are dyed and are not color safe which usually results in discoloration of the paint.

To prevent water from running down your arms use a terry cloth wristband or fasten rolled washcloths around your wrist with either a pin or rubber band.

To avoid having to constantly change the water because of excess dirt, use two separate containers for the cleaning solution and another for plain water.

Do not use any strong or concentrated bleach based solution which may damage the paint. Some dish soap/liquid in some warm water or baking soda applied to the sponge/cloth is sufficient. Be sure to rinse out the wall since most cleaning solutions have chemicals that may streak the paint.

Begin at the top and go down since dirty water from above runs down the wall as you clean.

Place old rags or towels along the base of the wall to avoid the floor getting too wet.

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The Built Environment

The built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity ranging in scale from personal shelters to neighborhoods to the large-scale civic surroundings.  Most of where we live is man-made – from the homes and apartments we live in, to the commercial buildings we work in, to the roads and bridges we traverse on daily.

 

People place a great amount of financial, physical and emotional investments in the maintenance of their heritage and improvement of infrastructure upon which they depend on for a civilized existence.  In order for us to protect and preserve our heritage and investments we must first pride in our local areas and environment.  We should focus on methods which embrace reduction in cost through efficient use of resources (energy, waste, water). We should provide environments that contribute to our physical and mental health and enhance creativity and productivity.  Our built environment also needs to be flexible and adaptable to future uses, and be resilient to cope with local effects of climate change.

 

Because of mounting economic pressures and changing environmental conditions over the years, practices within the built environment have evolved.  Now, great emphasis is placed on creating a sustainable built environment, through design, construction and management, which will enable all people to live well, within environmental limits.

 

Many institutions have been established to give the opportunity to not only construct feasible structures but also create surroundings that will preserve our environment and our way of life.  These organizations provide consulting services which is often free to the built environment market. They also assist in the design and implementation of programs, policies, and strategies to improve building and infrastructure performance for a broad range of clients including individuals, agencies, local governments, and corporate and institutional owners of real estate. They also help individuals and businesses deal with the risks inherent in the built environment activities.

 

We spend all of our lives within the built environment and some of us make no provisions for our generations to come.  Preserving the built environment started with persons before us and should continue with us.

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Simplicity: Smaller Spaces better living

When economies shrink and disposal income threatened, how do we meet our client’s reality? Rather than generous, personal projects, the need for small formed spaces is becoming an economic necessity, pushing us designers to test our creativity with less.

Nowadays, there are plenty of reasons to downsize to a smaller home. Perhaps you’re in the market for a simpler way of life, or lower rent, or mortgage payments.

With smaller spaces, owners can no longer dedicate an area solely for one function.

People would often buy larger homes for a number of reasons:

• They “outgrow” their smaller one.

• They can afford more.

• They need to keep up with their neighbours’.

• They believe a large home is the home of their dreams.

Another reason people keep buying bigger homes is because no one tells them they don’t need to.

So let’s explore reasons why people could be actually happier in a smaller house:

1. Easier to maintain. Smaller buildings are easier to maintain.

2. Less time spent cleaning. And that should be reason enough…
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Watch Your Step: 3 Ladder Safety Tips

Whether you are constructing a home or doing minor repair and maintenance work around the house you will more than likely need the assistance of a ladder. Ladders allow us to achieve tasks in high places and as with any tool you should be aware of the proper way to use it. Knowing proper ladder safety is essential in safeguarding yourself against accidents. Here are 3 safety tips to keep in mind when using a ladder:

1) Firstly, you would need to choose the right ladder for the job. Ladders are rated for different load capacities. Hence, the combined weight of the climber and any tools or materials being carried should be taken into consideration. The Duty Rating of the ladder must be greater than the total weight on the ladder. In addition, the ladder must be long enough that the climber does not have to stand on the top rung or step when performing a task.

2) When climbing up or down a ladder maintain three points of contact at all times. Either have two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand firmly planted. Any tools and materials that are being carried while you climb should be in a tool belt or pulled by rope once you are done climbing. Also, ensure that you wear non-slip shoes when working on ladders and that you use the ladder only for its intended use. Refrain from using it as a bridge or scaffolding.
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6 Tips For Preparing Your Business For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are unpredictable and the damage they cause can cripple any business. We can never be 100% prepared but the following are six things that can be done to speed up the recovery period after such disasters:

Have A Disaster Plan 
Every company should have a written disaster plan detailing the procedures to be followed by management and staff in time of disaster. These procedures should address cases when disasters occur during business operations as well as outside of business hours. These procedures should be widely circulated among staff, reviewed intermittently and updated if necessary.

Backup, Backup, Backup
Utilities are almost always affected by natural disasters. Having back-up systems in place is a smart way to prepare for the event of a natural disaster. Investing in a back-up generator can ensure that your business resumes operations sooner in cases of power loss. A back-up water system will also add to smoother operations of your business after a disaster. Further, this system could allow your business to spend less on its water bill if it is utilized during regular business operations.

Have An Alternative Location
It is a good idea, when approaching the disaster season, to find out what properties that are available for rent that could possibly house an alternative location for the conducting of your company’s business operations. Needless to say, this will avoid you from scrambling in the event that such a location is needed after a disaster which will allow your business to lose less revenue from being closed after suffering damage.
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