Researching Before The Big House Searching

Ah, the first day of September. For most places, the weather will be getting cooler. For Florida, that simply means a few more weeks of barbecues and pool time. However, the pumpkin spice lattes will be available soon, school has begun, and the Fall decor is ready to be purchased at the store. Regardless of the temperature, it’s almost Fall time and maybe you are beginning to think about your move in the spring or early summer. Now is a good time to do some research before you begin the big search.

Purchasing a home is a difficult decision and it’s important to take your time, but also remember that no home will be perfect. When looking at older homes, remember that there will be quirks such as hidden closets, not much storage space and extra repairs such as plumbing and windows. Newer homes won’t necessarily be perfect either, the design may be beautiful, but no one has been living in it yet. Be prepared for both small issues such as the sink faucet needing to be replaced to potential big ones  (again, plumbing issues). There is hope that with a newer home, there will be no issues, but it is best to be prepared.

If you feel certain about a home, ask your realtor to show it to you again. Open every door, look under rugs, sit down and take in the room. Sometimes when we first see a home we love, we quickly dream of spending holidays in the family room, hosting dinners in the dining room, or reading by the window. We forget to notice all the quirks and possible fixes in the home. Drive by the home at different times of the day to get a good feel of the neighborhood.

Once you do make an offer, make sure to get an inspector with great credentials and be present on the day of the inspection. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even ones that seem silly. This is your future home and you want to make sure you know what to expect and that you can comfortably make it into your home.

House hunting can be fun but also overwhelming. No house is perfect, but there is definitely a house out there that can be your home.

Back to School Week!

Reflective_LED_school_zone_signThis week begins back to school for many in Florida. Whether you are a parent or not, that means school zones will be active during the morning and possible afternoon commutes. If you are not rushed for time, then the momentarily slow drive may come of no bother, but if you are, it may be a good idea to plan ahead for alternative routes. If you pass by school zones on your commute, look for other ways that will not slow your commute. If you will continue to go through a school zone, pay close attention to the signs, cones, and crossing guards to know when to slow down and when you have passed the school zone. Most school zone speed limits begin 20-30 minutes prior to the start of the school day, so between 8am-9:30am, depending on if you will be passing an elementary or middle school. High school zones typically begin around 6:30-7:15am. The afternoons are also busy between 2-3pm and again around 4pm.

Drive safe and happy school year!

Making the Most of Your Morning Routine

The morning has come once again. The alarm plays a sound. You hit snooze. It plays again. You hit snooze. Finally, ten minutes have passed and you quickly and frantically hop out of bed. Time to get out the door!

Below are some tips on how to make the morning routine more enjoyable:

  1. If you can, get more sleep. We are told time and time again, sleep is so important for all ages. But if not, thankfully there is coffee.
  2. Speaking of coffee, set your coffee pot the night before. There is something so beautiful and sweet to waking up to the percolating rhythms of the the coffee maker. Prepare other things the night before-such as lunches, your outfit, and any important documents needed for the day. Have them ready and set for you in the morning.
  3. Create a morning playlist. Something that will help perk you up and gradually help you feel ready for the day.
  4. If you shower in the morning, consider getting a timer to help you stick to the time you need to get out the door.
  5. Remember to eat breakfast! Even if it is on the go!

Morning routines can help to create a positive outlook for the rest of the day by having time to get yourself physically and mentally ready. Here’s to happy mornings!

So Much To Do, But Never Enough Time

Every one needs more time and no one has enough of it. Time management is important during the day but who has time to read about it? Below are some quick tips to help.

  1. Lists. List out what needs to get done and how your day will look. Find what works for you- be it a notebook, planner, journal, and/or sticky notes.
  2. Calendar. Write events and even daily to-do’s on a calendar. If you physically write it down, you are more likely to remember it. However, there is convenience in having everything on an electronic calendar (the advantage is that you can see it from work, home, on your phone, or even share the information with a spouse).
  3. Set priorities. Label what’s the most important right now to accomplish.
  4. Place time limits. How long do you expect checking your e-mails for work to take?
  5. Think about what you can accomplish while waiting. At a doctor’s appointment? Send those two needed e-mails. Waiting in line at the deli? Quickly read to the article your boss sent you earlier that day.

There is no perfect way to balance life and work and to manage time. But taking small steps is always helpful!

Back to School Season Begins Today!

This weekend begins “Back to school season” as Florida offers yet another tax-free weekend. This year the dates are from August 7th to the 16th. The tax free applies to certain clothing items below $100, some school supplies under $15, and even certain technology items. Local stores will have more specific information for buyers.

This can be a great time to get yourself and your children ready for the new school year! Shopping has never been easier as there are countless online and in-store options to fit your needs. It’s helpful to google the specific stores you want and savings the stores may offer. This makes comparison shopping and savings so much easier! Finding great deals and savings is a great to start off the school year!

Triple Pane Power

While our double-pane windows offer superb energy efficiency, our triple-pane products are even better! Triple-pane windows from A1 Windows and Doors consist of three panes of glass, two low-emissivity (or Low-E) coatings, argon or krypton gas between the panes, and a choice of our metal PPG Intercept spacer or our structural foam Super Spacer.A1’s top-of-the-line triple-pane windows achieve some of the best NFRC ratings in the industry.

It’s imperative to select a triple-glass system that’s tailored for your climate region. Our wide array of triple-glass configurations — which can include your choice of several spacers, inert gas options, and several different Low-E coatings — allows you to choose the option that’s just right for your home. This will ensure that you receive the full benefits of our triple-pane windows, including a more comfortable and draft-free home and lower energy costs.

While triple pane windows aren’t able to be manufactured as hurricane windows, that doesn’t mean they are just for those who live inland. You can pair your triple pane windows with hurricane screens or shutters from A1 to still meet the update Florida Building Code requirements and keep your home safe in the event of a hurricane.

Plumbing Problems can be Perturbing

The toilet is clogged and water is backing up into the shower…it may be time to call a professional. Before you do, try some of these tips to see if it helps:

  1. Pour drain cleaner down the shower drain according to instructions of the product (never the toilet, some of the chemicals can ruin parts of the toilet). If it is not draining, plunge over the shower drain to help.
  2. If you need to unclog the toilet and plunging is not helping immediately, duck tape the shower drain and possibly the sink drain. This can help focus the pressure towards the toilet pipe. Keep plunging until it clears.
  3. If neither of these work, time to call the plumber!

So Much Rain! Is Your Yard Keeping the Water Away From Your Home?

Florida is known as the sunshine state, but summer time often brings multiple rainstorms. It is important to make sure your home is safe from flooding and potential foundation issues. Often, the landscaping around your home can make a big difference. Below are a few tips to help your home during the rainy season:

  1. Regrading your yard so that the water naturally falls away from the home helps tremendously. If there are no resources available for that, you can request a landscaper to install a French drain.
  2. Gutters can also help with the flow of water away from the foundation. Make sure the spout is fully away from your home and installed properly. Sometimes landscapers or plumbers will offer this service.
  3. If you have siding along your house and plan to use mulch in your landscaping, make sure the mulch is 6-inches away to prevent moisture build up. If the mulch is touching brick or block, no need to worry about the 6-inch gap.
  4. Other landscape features such as grass, rocks, gravel, and concrete pavers surrounding your home can help water to flow away.

Summer Season Brings Wedding Season!

Summer time is not only known for pool parties, barbecues, and vacations, but also weddings. Weddings have evolved over the years from what the bride and groom expect guests to wear to gifts now on a registry. Below are some ideas and tips to make the most out of this year’s wedding season:

  1. If you have been invited to multiple weddings, choose attending those that you are closest with. If you rsvp no, you can still send a gift, again based on the closeness of your relationship.
  2. If you are attending multiple weddings and don’t want to wear the same dress, renttherunway.com is an excellent option. The website offers a variety of designer clothes that you can rent and once finished, send it right back!
  3. Think positive. Weddings can be stressful. Especially if you have multiple to attend and are needing to stick to a budget. Have fun catching up with friends and family and take in all the wedding has to offer!
  4. If you are going on a destination wedding, turn it into a vacation. Check out hotel and excursion deals that you can do in between the wedding day and brunch with the bride and groom.
  5. Most brides and grooms register for gifts. This can make it easy and helpful to know exactly what to get them. The sooner you purchase a gift, the better. This gives you more options to really choose what you want to get them, rather than what remains.

Happy celebrations!

Hurricane Preparedness

For most of us preparing for a hurricane only comes to mind when the weather becomes threatening. But knowing ahead of time can help save you from stress and from waiting until the last minute to be ready. There are a number of things you can do to help protect your home- purchasing hurricane shutters, impact windows such as A1’s line of vinyl hurricane windows, and screen shutters if you have a screened-in porch. Anything outside the home, such as lawn chairs and planters, can be brought inside to help protect your home from flying objects.

Having a plan is extremely important. One helpful website is http://flgetaplan.com. It takes you step by step as you place contact information and a meeting place that everyone your family will know about, just in case. It then creates a list of kits, activities, forms you will need, and other suggestions according to your needs (such as if you have pets or any children). The created family plan can then be saved to your computer for you to print and you can also e-mail it to yourself for easy reference.

Preparing a hurricane kit is also important. Start with a cooler with wheels or large plastic tote that is easy to transport. You will need a gallon of water per person (if not potentially more), drinks with electrolytes, and maybe water purification tablets. Water is key to survival and you never know how long it may take for help to arrive. Pack canned or freeze-dried food (plenty for at least 3 days), a manual can opener, reusable water bottles, plastic eating utensils, and a camp stove if you have one. If possible, get a battery powered radio with a NOAA weather radio option. Think as if you are going camping- so flashlights, extra batteries, water-proof matches, first aid kit, solar power charger, wipes, hand sanitizer, towels, and toilet paper. Pack clothes in a sealed-plastic bag and include rain gear.

Below are some other websites that can help you prepare:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane