Cool Green Cleaning Products

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: October 21, 2018 | No Comments »

How you choose to clean isn’t usually the first thing you think of when someone mentions ways to protect our planet, but which products you select can make a huge difference. Lucky for us, many manufacturers of cleaning products have embraced “going green”. If you check out the cleaning aisle in your local grocery, discount or home improvement store, you’ll find dozens of options designed to keep your house sparkling while you prevent toxins and chemicals from harming the environment. In fact, it may be tough to decide which ones do the best job.

So which ones do you choose? You ask the experts!

At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we know houses inside and out. We always strive to protect what we build. We’ve found some fantastic products that have sky high ratings you’re sure to fall in love with! Pick one of our favorites, or a few, or even all of them – it’s up to you!

The Ultimate Towel and Wipe Solution

For long life, decreased paper waste and convenience, NatureZWay Bamboo Perforated Towels are your best bet for all your cleanup needs. Whether you’re scrubbing grime from your tub, swabbing greasy stove tops or wiping up spilled milk, these reusable towels perform like cloth, but are made of sustainable, renewable bamboo. Pick some up today at Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target.

Pumice Stone Toilet Scrubbers

Eliminate toilet bowl rings and stains on your porcelain in a snap with all-natural pumice stone. Check out a quick, easy solution to stubborn stains without chemicals with the Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover or the Clorox Toilet and Bath Cleaning Stone.

Laundry Detergents

Wading through the choices when it comes to green laundry detergents can be time consuming and a little confusing. You’ll want to try one with natural ingredients that packs a powerful punch when it comes to removing stains, grime and odors. Purex Natural Elements and Tide PurClean are readily available brands that score well on effectiveness that you can pick up almost anywhere that sells laundry detergent. Looking for a non-detergent laundry detergent? Try the ecoegg Laundry Egg, which cleans using ceramic and mineral pellets instead of detergents. One egg will last 720 loads, with mineral pellet refills every 72 loads. Fragrance free, it’s great for babies and folks with sensitive skin.

Odor Removers

Strong odors require strong cleaners…especially if they’re the result of pet (or human) errors. Cleaning up is a breeze with Urine Off Odor and Stain Remover, Lysol Daily Cleanser or Clear the Air.

Multi-Product Lines

Several companies offer a full line of natural cleaning and home products to take care of your family with one handy order. Visit Method Home, Simple Green, Seventh Generation, Green Works, The Honest Company or Mrs. Meyer’s for ideas and inspiration!

Green cleaning your home also goes beyond the products you choose. There are helpful hints and tips here that go into detail on other ways you can keep your home fresh, natural and safe for your family.

Community Amenities – What Buyers Want to See

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: October 16, 2018 | Comments Off on Community Amenities – What Buyers Want to See

With new construction popping up in suburbs everywhere, the planned community is becoming the neighborhood of choice for many homeowners. And just like schools, fine wines and new cars, not all planned communities are created equal. Some communities focus on adding special touches during their planning process that can make them desirable to potential homebuyers. These high-demand amenities can make life a little more special for residents – and increase the value of the homes within.

Which of these “special extras” are on buyer’s wish lists? And how does your community stack up?

Plenty of Green Space

Communities designed with parks, ponds, playgrounds for children and community ball fields are popular wherever they are. Some communities have also added designated picnic areas with wooden tables and hard-mounted grills. Not only do these areas offer a sense of tranquility and promote a more relaxed outlook, they can encourage outdoor activity – especially when paired with…

Natural Trail Systems

While paved walkways and lanes for biking are a plus for many buyers, extra points are given to trails that are marked by gravel or packed earth. These choices blend better with the green spaces they inhabit and are more environmentally friendly.

“Village Centers”

Convenient for errands or a quick meal, these retail additions can be centrally located or stationed near the entrances and exits of the community. Some typical offerings include small cafes or breakfast stops, ice cream parlors, upscale convenience marts, dry cleaners or drug stores.

Community Pools

Potential residents love the idea of having a cool haven during warm weather – especially when the daily care and upkeep isn’t their direct responsibility. Communities have begun to update their pool offerings with “beach entry” pools that allow bathers to walk into the pool down a gentle slope rather than using ladders or stairs. It isn’t unusual for communities to offer children’s pools with shallow water or special “adults only” hours.

On-site Gyms

Thousands of people pay dues to a gym and go out of their way every day to have a comfortable place to work out. The convenience of having exercise machines, weight systems and other fitness equipment available 24 hours a day on site can be the deciding factor for many potential residents.

Pet Perks

Community dog parks, dog-washing stations, waste bag dispensers and dedicated disposal units are definite advantages for pet lovers. Pet sitting services are also handy, whether they’re doggie daycare offered during every work day or visiting sitters who drop by for feeding, exercise and companionship during your vacations and holidays. Some communities even ratchet it up a notch by offering pet spas, complete with grooming services, dog walking and medication administration services.

Getting Some Class

Planned learning and personal growth opportunities are a valuable bonus for many shopping for a new home. Morning and evening yoga classes, Zumba, tai chi or aerobics are a big draw for some, while pickle ball, bocce and video gaming tournaments will sway others. Some communities also host foreign language study, tutoring groups, cooking classes, crafting circles, book clubs or movie nights.

Community Rooms

For those who need a “place to entertain” solution, a rentable community room is a godsend.

Advanced Security Systems and Tech Treats

While gated communities have been popular for some time, technology upgrades promote further safety. Fingerprint or key card entry, security cameras in common areas such as pools and playgrounds, and motion-activated lighting on sidewalks and trails help keep residents safe. Communities have also started to offer free Wi-Fi in common areas, Facebook pages for community announcements and interaction and smartphone apps that allow residents to communicate with their homeowner’s associations quickly and easily.

Settle into the Roanoke

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: September 29, 2018 | Comments Off on Settle into the Roanoke

At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we’re all about changing things up…offering choices…making your home a unique reflection of your family’s personality. We loved our Roanoke floor plan so much that we decided to offer two versions of this amazing home; each available with special touches that you’ll love!

Roanoke A is a gorgeous five bedroom home with 2,570 square feet of space for your active family. This two-story beauty makes morning routines easy, with two full baths, a powder room and dedicated breakfast nook.

Settle into family time each evening by preparing dinner in your large kitchen, complete with a handy island and pass bar, dual sinks, energy-saving appliances and a roomy pantry opening out to a full-size dining room. Afterward, move to the spacious family room for a movie or some TV – highlighted by an optional fireplace to add a warm glow to cool evenings.

Roanoke A offers a first floor office as well; a spot ideal for a work-at-home parent or homework central for the kids. Or choose to covert the office into a home gym or craft room – whatever your family prefers. When you choose the Roanoke, it’s entirely up to you!

The master suite offers parents a calming oasis away from the family when a little down time is needed. Relax in the secluded sitting room, take a long, calming soak in the garden tub or enjoy the spray of an oversized shower. His and hers sinks, ample closet space and an optional tray ceiling give you more room, more space and more style!

We also designed this floorplan with an eye to convenience – one look at our handy upstairs laundry tells that tale! All five bedrooms are on the second floor, reducing the need to move heavy loads of washing up and down stairs.

Feeling the need for even MORE space? Roanoke A offers an optional loft with additional sleeping space, storage and bath.

The Roanoke B floorplan allows for even more personalization and creativity when designing your living space. This 2,580 square foot floor plan gives you a larger open area on the ground floor, without a separate dining room and office. This “flex room” can be whatever you need (or want) it to be…use your imagination!

This plan features four bedrooms upstairs, as well as a second sitting room that can be converted into a children’s play room, family library or gaming room. Imagine the fun your kids can have when they invite their friends to a sleep-over in the “bonus room”!

Both models feature two car garages, covered entryways, back patios and optional extended porches. Personalize your exterior with your choice of siding or brick and siding, or choose carriage style garage doors with optional glass.

Excited to see and hear more? Contact our sales team today! Send us an email or call (912) 756-4135 to get more information on one of the hottest options available for new construction in Savannah, GA!

How to Save on Your Mortgage

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: September 22, 2018 | Comments Off on How to Save on Your Mortgage

If you’re like most of us, you’re always looking for ways to save on your monthly bills. Changing TV or cell phone providers, switching car insurances, joining shopping clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco…these are all ways we cut down on expenses. But one of the largest expenses you have – your mortgage – is usually the last place you consider when it’s time to trim down. Surprisingly enough, with a little bit of planning and effort, there are quite a few ways you can spend less on your mortgage.

Make 13 Payments a Year

This strategy saves you money in the long run, because the extra money you put toward your mortgage comes right off the top of the principal of the loan. When you commit to making an extra payment each year, you can shave as much as five years off the length of your loan, potentially saving you thousands of dollars. Divide your monthly mortgage payment by twelve – this is the extra amount you’ll need to cover each month. You can either deposit the money into a savings account each month and make one extra payment at the end of the year, or add the additional amount to each of your monthly payments. Make sure your lender knows in advance that the additional money you’re sending should be applied to the principal of your loan.

Dump Your PMI

PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is required by lenders when you make a smaller down payment on a home than they would like. PMI is not your friend; it exists to protect the lender if you should default on the loan. Most lenders prefer a 20% down payment and will require PMI if you don’t have it. If you can find a way to put at least 20% down on your home, you can avoid PMI altogether. If not, be ready to act as soon as you have options. Once your mortgage balance is less than 80% of the market value of your home, you can ask your lender to drop your PMI. If you have an excellent payment history, many lenders will be willing to consider it. Also, if the value of your home has increased since you’ve bought it, you can also ask for a new appraisal to adjust the percentage of value you currently have in your home. You may have to pay for the appraisal out of pocket, but a few hundred dollars is a small sacrifice when you consider that dropping PMI can save you over $1200 a year.

Recast Your Mortgage

If, at some time, you come into a sum of money you weren’t expecting, consider a mortgage recast. Not every lender offers recasting, but if yours does, it may a great option for you. In a mortgage recast, your lender recalculates your monthly mortgage amount if you’re willing to drop a sizable sum on your principal balance. Unless you make other arrangements, your monthly payment remains the same regardless of how much of the principal you’ve paid. When you ask for a mortgage recast, your monthly payment requirement can be lowered because it is based on the new principal balance of your mortgage. If you want to leverage your savings, you can continue to make the old payment every month, with the additional funds continuing to reduce your principal.

Escrow Your Own Taxes and Insurance

Escrow accounts are set up by your mortgage company to collect the taxes and insurance payments due on your home as part of your monthly payment to them. Instead, set up a savings account that will cover your taxes and insurance. Pay your insurance and tax bills in full when the bill comes due. The mortgage company no longer earns interest on your money, you do.

Earmark the interest income for another principal payment to your mortgage, creating more long-term savings. Your lender may charge you a fee if you do not escrow your taxes and insurance with them, so make sure any charges won’t reduce your savings substantially before giving this a try.

Get Rewarded for Your Hard Work

If your life situation has changed for the better since you took out your mortgage, you may benefit from refinancing. Promotions, raises, noteworthy increases in your credit rating or sources of additional income can save you hundreds of dollars a year if they translate into lower a lower interest rate.

Your mortgage may be your largest monthly bill, but you don’t have to grit your teeth and bear it. You can use some of these strategies to reduce your payments, either in the short term or over the long haul. If you’ve come up with your own creative ways to find mortgage savings, drop us a line and let us know. We’d love to share your success story!

The Energy Star Program–How Much Do You Know?

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: September 13, 2018 | Comments Off on The Energy Star Program–How Much Do You Know?

Most people have heard the term “Energy Star” many times before, especially in regard to household appliances, but many don’t know much about what this catchy phrase really means. What is Energy Star, exactly? And how does it fit into your plans for helping to protect your environment? Let’s shed some light on what the program is all about and how new homes, appliances and other consumer items become part of this elite group of products that is so prized by homeowners everywhere.

The Energy Star program has become a household name in a relatively short time. Twenty-six short years ago, on March 15, 1992, the program was launched by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The creator of the program, John F. Hoffman, wanted consumers to focus their efforts on protecting the environment by stepping up their efficient use of energy. He thought that if he could come up with a simple, easily accessible way to share information about energy usage, emissions and ways to cut energy costs, Americans would be able to make more informed decisions when it came to the ways they used energy. It was important that the information presented was not only completely trustworthy and credible, it also had to be completely unbiased.

It was decided that a label with the distinctive Energy Star logo would be placed on qualifying products manufactured by companies that agreed to participate in the program, indicating that the products met Energy Star’s standards for efficient energy use. When consumers saw the label, they would instantly know that the product was designed to help protect the environment and maximize energy consumption efficiency.

Partners in the Energy Star program can lower the cost of producing their products through their relationship with the program, which means buyers can benefit from the savings reflected in the initial price of the products as well as in the reduced costs of operation. The easy-to-see label is instantly attractive to consumers, serving as an incentive for manufacturers to produce more energy-efficient products that qualify.

The EPA started small, by placing the logo on printers and computer products. In 1995, the program really took off when new homes and residential heating and cooling systems began promoting their Energy Star status. Homes built to the Energy Star program requirements are 15% more energy-efficient than homes built to code. Energy Star homes often feature precisely installed insulation, energy-saving windows, tight construction and ducts, compliant cooling and heating systems, and Energy Star qualified appliances, lighting, and water heaters. By 2008, Energy Star qualified appliances began popping up in retail outlets as well as in new construction.

Beginning in 2011, the EPA began requiring third-party certification of all Energy Star products.  Every product is tested by one of 255 EPA-recognized laboratories and reviewed by one of 23 different EPA-recognized certification bodies before it receives the coveted label. To achieve recognition, all labs and certification bodies must meet strict criteria and are overseen by a recognized accreditation body. As an extra failsafe, a set percentage of Energy Star certified products are pulled off the shelf and tested for compliance each year.

The famous Energy Star logo appears on more than 75 different product categories. Thousands of retailers, manufacturers, construction and home improvement professionals, utilities and state and local organizations rely on their partnership with Energy Star to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions. In fact, more than 40% of the Fortune Top 500 companies are Energy Star partners!

According to Wikipedia, Energy Star and its partners have helped American families and businesses achieve broad emissions reductions while saving over $430 billion on their energy bills! And the best part about this fact…it has all been achieved by completely voluntary action.

Ready to dive deeper into the Energy Star program? If you’re looking for more ways to save money and conserve energy, visit the Energy Star website to learn more. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find! You can also ask the Sales Team at Ernest Signature Custom Homes about our partnership with Energy Star – we’ll be happy to tell you about the ways we can save you money and help protect the environment. Simply give us a call at (912) 756-4135 or email us today!

Come Home to Bradley Point South!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: September 6, 2018 | Comments Off on Come Home to Bradley Point South!

We’re shining our new homes spotlight on the up and coming community of Bradley Point South, one of Savannah, Georgia’s most exciting new neighborhoods!

This lovely planned community is a jewel in the crown of the Southside of Savannah. It is a neighborhood perched on the bluff of the Ogeechee River Valley, specifically designed to blend seamlessly with the natural landscape. There are places to ride your bike and hike while exploring the scenic coastal marshes and historic Fort McAllister. Set off the beaten path, this neighborhood is known for its lovely views, delightful amenities and convenient location. Ideal for those who are looking for easy access to shopping, a wide choice of dining experiences, entertainment options and the military bases of Hunter Army Airfield and Ft. Stewart, Bradley Point South is a must see! Residents give Bradley Point South high marks for neighborhood safety, a well-developed sense of community with friendly, pleasant residents, and well-maintained sidewalks and common areas.

With a wide variety of single-family home floorplans available, you’ll want to secure a place in this growing community before the window of opportunity closes. Ernest Signature Custom Homes is offering some of its best-selling models at Bradley Point South, including the Hilton, Nantucket, Seabrook, Blackbeard, Roanoke, Melbourne, Kingston and Sanibel floor plans, among others. For a full list of available plans, visit the community profile on our site.

The social centers of the community include a gorgeous resort-style pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and a fully appointed country-club style, 5,000 sq. ft. club house. Not only is the club house the location of many varied and exciting community events, it can also be booked for private parties when your own home just isn’t large enough for your entertaining needs. There’s even a playground for the kids right on site!

Bradley Point South is located within the Savannah-Chatham school district, with convenient access to Magnet schools Southwest Middle School and Windsor Forest High School, an IB World School.

We offer new construction across a wide range of budgets in this popular neighborhood; we’re sure to have the ideal home waiting for you! Contact our Sales Agent to learn more about Bradley Point South – just dial 912-313-6677 or send us a message today!


Helping Your Children Adjust to Your Move

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 30, 2018 | Comments Off on Helping Your Children Adjust to Your Move

In today’s rapidly changing, ever-fluid world, families find themselves moving more often than ever, whether it’s across town, across the country, or to another part of the world. As the parents, you’re the ones making the decision to move (whether it’s of your own choosing, or in response to job or lifestyle changes), and your children have no choice but to follow your lead. Sometimes adjusting to a move can be difficult for them.

The very young usually adapt well. If your children haven’t had the chance to establish a friend network and become entrenched in the local youth community, it’s fairly easy for them to begin anew. Usually pre-school children and those in early grades bounce back quickly after a move. Once children have spent a few years in one school, it becomes harder for them to leave friends and change their lifestyles.

Keep in mind that no two children are the same, and even within your own family, your kids may react very differently to an upcoming move. For instance, your eldest son may be resentful and angry at having to change schools when he is an integral part of his basketball team and move away from his girlfriend, while his middle-school aged sister may fear having to leave her best friend and be worried that she won’t be able to find a new piano teacher she likes. Your youngest may be excited, eager to leave behind a street where he has no-one to play with and looking forward to starting at a new school, where he won’t have to deal with teasing and possibly, bullying.

There are several ways to make moving less stressful for your kids when you’re faced with a necessary change. Here’s some standards to keep in mind to ease them through the transition.

Don’t Keep It a Secret

Childcare experts are in agreement – giving your children the longest possible time to adjust to the upcoming move is best. As soon as the decision has been finalized, it’s time for a family meeting. Once you’ve broken the news, bring the approaching move up in conversation every so often to make sure they know it really is going to happen, and they need to prepare for it. Make sure you give as much information to your children as possible and try your best to answer any questions they may have. Do your best to prepare yourself for a wide variety of reactions and remain calm and reassuring.

Take a Tour

If you’re moving to an area that is accessible by a reasonable car trip, load everyone in and take off for the weekend. Book a hotel and go exploring. Get the lay of the land and look for fun, exciting things to do or tour some homes if you’ll be buying right away when you relocate. Ask their opinion about the homes you view, and let them know their input is important.

If you’re moving a considerable distance, collect as much information about your new home town as you can. Check out local websites with your children that give them a valuable look at the place they’ll be living. Get lists of new things they can do, nearby places they might like to visit, or activities available that closely mirror what they’re doing in their current location.

Let Your Child Express His or Her Feelings

Shutting down any communication they initiate is counterproductive and can be damaging in the long run. It’s important to acknowledge and sympathize with their sadness, anger and fear. It’s even a good idea to share your own feelings with your children. You can encourage interactive discussion instead of tantrums and acting out by letting them know that you’re a little apprehensive as well, and will sorely miss your friends, house and job. However, it’s important to follow this admission with a positive viewpoint of the opportunities presented to you for growth and change by the move. You can let them know that you’re looking forward to the adventure ahead and you’ll be there to help them do the same in any way you can.

Involve Your Children in the Moving Process

Don’t give in to the urge to pack your children’s things for them. Depending on how old they are, let them help you load boxes or sort items to be donated to charity or thrown away, or oversee them in a general way as they do these things themselves. Having some control over what is happening to their things can help mitigate fear and hurt feelings.

Involve your children in choices about their new home when you move. For example, allow them to choose the colors for their rooms, pick out new bedding, or if you’re feeling brave, even encourage them to adopt a new pet of their choosing.

If You Can, Facilitate Introductions

If you have new co-workers, old friends or family members with kids around the same age as your own in your new locale, see if you can set up e-mail exchanges, Skype visits or phone calls to start building social bridges for your kids. Knowing one or two children, even on a general acquaintance level, can be helpful directly after a move.

Take a Break When Needed

The stress of moving is greatest about two weeks before and after the move. Be sure to take some breaks to relax and play as a family during this time. You may have extra days off before new jobs or school years are started; if so, use this time to take a long-awaited vacation or to explore your new town. Make lists of things you’d like to do as a family during this time before it’s upon you.

Be Sure to Resume Normal Routines Quickly

Getting unpacked, set up and back to daily routines quickly can help your children by giving them an anchor to the reality they’ve known their entire lives. The sooner you can reduce the amount of disruption to their lives, the less likely it is that they’ll wallow in the negative aspects of this recent change.

Stay Connected to Your Old Community

Allow your children to telephone, e-mail or video chat with their old friends, and if it is financially feasible and logistically possible, arrange for a visit every now and then. Our wired, tech-savvy way of life allows us to keep in touch easily with those we love, no matter how far away they may live!

Protect Your Home from Cigarette Damage

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 23, 2018 | Comments Off on Protect Your Home from Cigarette Damage

There are literally dozens of reasons why health care experts say you shouldn’t smoke, and you probably know most of them, if not all of them. One of the things you may not know is how cigarette (and cigar) smoke can have a negative effect on your home. Many people aren’t aware of the lasting damage smoke does to the home they’ve selected with care and can’t wait to come back to every day.

The good news is that fewer and fewer adults living in the U.S. still smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only about 15% of this group still smoke. Fifty years ago, about 42% of American adults smoked, so as a nation, we’re making our way toward a healthier lifestyle.

However, it’s a tough habit to break, and one that can require hard work and a lot of willpower to achieve. If you’re trying to quit, some of these “heads-up” facts could give you a little extra nudge.

Fire Hazards

Not only are lit cigarettes a fire hazard that can completely destroy your home if not handled correctly and carefully, it isn’t unusual for a smoker’s home to be dotted with cigarette burns and dark spots caused by ground-in cigarette ash.

Nicotine Stains

Most people don’t realize that the yellowish-brown stains common on the teeth of smokers are also present in their homes. Walls and ceilings can easily discolor, as can light-colored curtains, upholstery and rugs. The changes in color take place slowly, over time, so most often you don’t realize the colors in your home are becoming darker and duller. Once this damage occurs, it’s almost impossible to remove. You could be looking at replacing your fabrics and repainting your walls far more often than you would like.

Damage to Electronics

The nicotine in cigarette smoke doesn’t just stain your surfaces. Nicotine deposits can be gummy and sticky, leaving harmful deposits on the wiring and circuits of your electronics that shorten their lifespans. Many families spend a significant amount on televisions, music equipment, video games and other “plug-ins” that can suffer the ill effects of nicotine damage.

Issues with Air Conditioning

The extra strain put on the filter of your air conditioning unit can greatly decrease the amount of time it will work efficiently. Just one cigarette releases between 7 and 23 milligrams of inhalable particulates, which not only get into your lungs but float into the air to mix with the dust, pet dander, and other irritants. Additional indoor air pollution means your filter is catching more debris, shortening the time between filter changes. If you don’t change the filter often enough, your air conditioner is forced to work harder and cool less efficiently. If the filter clogs completely, you can expect the cooling coils to freeze or the unit to overheat, requiring replacement of the unit or costly repairs. If you smoke in your home, you’ll need to check your filter 2 or 3 times a month instead of once a month, to ensure that it is cleaned or replaced often enough.

The components inside of your air conditioner can also be affected in the same way your electronics are. The sticky residue acts like a blanket and “smothers” the internal workings, causing the unit to malfunction. Air conditioning units also help spread the odor of stale smoke through your home as residue from the smoke processes through the unit and air is released back into your home.

Lingering Odors

Even with the use of room deodorizers and fabric refreshers, the stubborn odor of smoke clings to everything in your home. In many cases, the only way to remove lingering odors from long-term smoking is with expensive ozone treatments that must be done with machines designed for the job. The homes must be vacated for the treatment, and residents are usually instructed to remain out of the home for several hours afterward, as ozone can damage lung tissue.

Increased Insurance Premiums

Most providers of home insurance ask if anyone in the household is a smoker before underwriting a policy. If you have a household of non-smokers, it isn’t unusual for your family to get a discount on your premiums.

Decreased Resale Value

For all of the reasons above, many prospective home buyers are reluctant to purchase a home where the former occupants were smokers. It may be harder to sell your home when you’re ready to upsize, downsize or relocate, and you may get less for it than you would like.

After reading all this, you may want to consider stepping outside to have a smoke if you’re having trouble quitting. A nicotine addiction is one of the hardest to overcome, but if you can pull it off, your home will thank you!

Tips for Upgrading Your New Construction Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 12, 2018 | Comments Off on Tips for Upgrading Your New Construction Home

You’re ready to buy a new home, and by that we mean a NEW home…one constructed just for you! You’ve chosen your lot and your plan, and now you’re ready to decide on the upgrades. It’s rare for a buyer to move forward with a completely as-is home when it comes to new construction. Everyone wants some of those “special touches” that identify the house as uniquely theirs.

At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we walk our clients through these decisions every day. There’s a certain science to it – one that we’ve mastered during our years of success as one of the area’s leading homebuilders. We’ve put together some of our best tips to help you make the personalization process a little easier.

Set Your Budget

Have a firm number in mind when you’re shopping for upgrades, and don’t let yourself be swayed by the “kid in a candy store” mindset when you’re looking at the astonishing number of options open to you. A good rule of thumb is to expect to pay 12% to 15% of the base price of your home on interior upgrades. You’ll need to stay within the boundaries set by your mortgage lender, so it’s essential to know how much is in your wallet before you begin shopping.

Any Structural Changes Must Be Addressed First

Changes to the floor plan, whether they be adding rooms, fireplaces or garages, revising walls, electrical or plumbing modifications, changing the size and location of windows, moving doors or similar activities, must be discussed as soon as the floor plan has been chosen. Not only do the builder and the client need to agree upon what can be changed, the cost of doing so has to be determined at the outset.

Follow the Builder’s Timeline for Upgrades

Your builder will usually suggest certain windows of time to select various upgrades. Usually you will have a meeting with your design center team two to three weeks after your contract is finalized. Before that meeting, make sure to have a list put together of things you’d like to add, including pictures if you can get them. This will give your team lead a strong vision for directing your appointment, and he or she can help keep you to your pre-set budget.

Cover Your Needs, Be Prepared to Pass on Some Wants

Some upgrades are a necessity for happy living in your home, while some are “really cool”, but the world will go on spinning without them. Make sure you know which are which, and take care of the things that will truly matter in your day to day life.

Remember – Your Home Won’t Look Exactly Like the Model

If you fell in love with the model home you toured, keep in mind that model homes are constructed with a wide variety of different options. If there was something (or a few somethings!) that you particularly loved about the home, make sure to ask if these things were standard to the plan, or if they are add-ons. Make sure your budget will accommodate the features that you fell in love with if they are upgrades.

Some Upgrades Can Be Done Later

Certain upgrades can be done after the closing and your move, allowing you to spread your expenditures over time. You may not need to add extras such as custom paint colors, landscaping, lighting and plumbing fixtures, crown molding, chair rails, window treatments and even certain appliance upgrades when you’re first starting out. Some of these upgrades can follow when you may have some extra cash flow later, after the dust settles a bit.

Avoid Over-customization

Somewhere down the line, it’s likely you will sell your new home to someone else. You may need more rooms as the size of your family changes, or you may need to downsize. You may relocate or find yourself ready for a new life experience in a different lodging. Keep in mind that some upgrades, especially ones that are unusual, can make your home harder to sell later. You may want to avoid exterior treatments, bath fixtures or countertops in specialty colors, oddly shaped or sized windows that require specialty window treatments, or built-in organization systems that may make sense to you but not to others. You want to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers down the road. Instead, focus your creativity on things that can be changed easily when you’re ready to sell, such as wall paint, décor and minor fixtures such as replaceable lighting and sink or cabinet hardware.

Put Your Trust in Your Builder

If you are having trouble making final decisions during the upgrade selection process, make sure to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your builder and/or their design team. Here at Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we consider our clients to be members of our extended family, and we’re always there to answer questions, give advice and make recommendations when needed. We can help you weigh pros and cons, share our experiences and make it easy for you to create the home of your dreams!

Take Your Home Back to School!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 3, 2018 | Comments Off on Take Your Home Back to School!

It’s the time of year kids dread…and that parents live for! School bells are ringing again, and everyone is ready to settle into a comfortable routine. Or are they? Does the approach of the school year keep you up at night, wondering how you’re going to keep everyone in line and organized? Fear not…the team at Ernest Signature Custom Homes has some great ideas for getting your home ready for back to school season!

Set Up a Special Place for Homework

It’s how your kids will know you mean business! Homework should be a priority every day, and by setting aside a specific place for it, you emphasize just how important it is. It doesn’t need to be large or fancy, but it should be an area that can be kept quiet, away from the distractions of TV, games or telephones. If your children are old enough to have them, make sure the homework area is a device-free zone. Create a homework corner in your home office, turn your little-used breakfast nook into study central, or put a comfortable desk in each child’s room. Make sure the area has sufficient lighting and ergonomic seating.

There’s a File for That…

There’s always important papers that come with the school year…permission slips, report cards to be signed, correspondence from the school, tuition bills, etc. Keep them all together in a clearly labeled file. Instruct the children to ALWAYS, ALWAYS put anything their teacher gives to them into the file as soon as they get home from school. It will help keep everyone up to date with essential paperwork.

Don’t Forget Chores

It’s important for your kids to learn how much work it takes to keep a household going. Make sure everyone has at least a job or two to do. Younger children can pick up their toys, fill pet food dishes, water plants, collect clothes for laundry baskets, learn to dust or fetch things for you as you clean. Older children can take on kitchen duties such as loading and unloading dishwashers, setting tables or preparing simple meals. They can also learn to do laundry, vacuum or sweep floors or take out trash. All kids should be coached on keeping their rooms tidy as well. Keep a chart with everyone’s assigned duties on display, so everyone knows what their responsibilities are.

Breakfast Made Easy

The days where everyone sits down to a big, home-made breakfast before leaving home are the stuff of retro TV. Keep it speedy, healthy and easy with quick-to-prepare ideas from the freezer section – just microwave and go! Everyone gets their favorite and you’re out of the house in a snap! If you’re feeling domestic, bake a big batch of muffins and store each one in the freezer in its own small freezer bag. They’ll heat up as quickly as the mass-produced offerings.


One of the hardest things to do is keep everyone’s lunches straight. Each week, lay in a supply of typical supplies such as bread, peanut butter and jelly, cold cuts or tuna, meal and snack kits such as Lunchables, Balanced Breaks and P3 Portable Protein Packs, fresh and dried fruit, single serve packs of nuts, granola bars or natural cookies. Reserve an easy-to-reach space on a shelf and/or drawer at the bottom of the fridge for cold products, and use a kitchen cart or a dedicated area of the pantry for other items. By keeping everything in a limited space, you’ll know each morning what you have and what you need. If you’re running low on something essential before week’s end, you won’t be caught off guard.  Children should be tasked with preparing their own lunches as soon as they can. By keeping tabs on the offerings they can choose, you know what they’re getting. They’ll also be more likely to eat them if they choose what goes in them, instead of buying less healthy snacks at school.

Many schools offer lunch programs; see if your school allows you to pre-pay for your children’s lunches to avoid the “Mom…I need lunch money!” panic.

Create a Family Calendar

Use a dry erase board to keep track of everyone’s lessons, appointments, games and activities for the week. This way when Allison comes home from school, she knows you’re taking James to a 4:30pm eye doctor appointment and she should start dinner so everyone can be fed and out the door at 6:30 for Trey’s basketball game that evening.

It may take a few weeks to create these habits, but once you’re on a roll, you’ll be surprised how organized your back-to-school home can be!

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