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Pare Down Your Closet – Painlessly!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 10, 2019 | Comments Off on Pare Down Your Closet – Painlessly!

If you’re like most people, your hoarder tendencies come out in full force when you’re faced with a closet bulging with “I can’t get rid of that!” items. There’s something about the seemingly endless choices stuffed into a tiny closet that tends to comfort us – even though the mess and clutter also tends to stress us out. Are you caught up in this conundrum? Let the Design Center experts at Ernest Homes help – we have some great ideas for painlessly separating from the pieces that don’t give as good as they get.

T-shirts from Hell…

Almost everyone has at least a stack of these taking up valuable space. They fall into two distinct groups – the freebies and the ancient. Let’s look at the freebies first. To be honest, most of them don’t have any meaningful relationship to our lives. Unless you find yourself reaching for the same one over and over, more than likely, you won’t miss them when they’re gone. The ancient ones – faded, full of holes and maybe even splattered with bleach stains – aren’t really fit for public appearances. If there’s any part of a shirt with huge sentimental value worth saving, consider converting it into a pillowcase, wall art or even a quilt if you have a bunch of these oldies but goodies.

Worn Out Underwear

If it has a hole, stretched-out elastic, or sags in all the wrong places, toss it directly in the trash. Most bras have a maximum shelf life of one year, and most underpants last half as long when washed every week to two weeks. Remember what your mom told you growing up…always wear nice, clean underwear. You never know who may end up seeing it!

Anything from “The Ex”

It doesn’t matter how comfy or soft it is. Your future will always be brighter if you let go of pieces that remind you of a not-so-successful past relationship.

Anything You’ve Over-worn

There’s a difference between a “go-to” item (such as essential black pants) and one that’s been around the block too often. If friends or family make the “blue dress again” remark, or you have a bunch of pictures where the same plaid shirt keeps showing up, it may be time to trade it in for something new.

Holiday Apparel

Storing clothing festooned with reindeer, bats or bunnies in the closet can put you into the clutter red zone before you know it. Pull these pieces and stash them in plastic bins or space saving bags that can be stored in a garage, attic or general use closet in another part of the house.

“Comb Through” Your Sweaters

Sweaters are one of the largest items we store in closets, and they’re quick to pass their prime. First, get rid of any sweater that itches. It may be a gorgeous color, but no-one will ever see it if you can’t stand the feel of it against your skin. If a sweater has pilled, and you haven’t had luck removing the offending nubs with a razor or a special pill removing block, it’s time for it to go.

Purses

Most women collect more bags than they’ll ever need. Keep three; a neutral gray, brown or black fall/winter bag, a white/tan spring and summer bag, and small evening bag. If you live an active lifestyle, you may want to keep a cross-body sporty bag for essentials while you’re on the go.

Orphan Items

Orphan gloves, socks, shoes and earrings seldom find their mates after the first week or two. Breaking up is hard to do, but once you get into the habit of letting go of lone wolves, it does get easier. If the earring is high quality or has sentimental value, have it reset as a ring or pendant. For gloves, shoes and socks, it’s simply sayonara.

Stained or Tattered

Like ancient t-shirts, it’s hard to let go of favorite items of clothing when they have an indelible stain or a hard to repair rip. If you’ve given it all you’ve got, but you can’t get the stain out, take it to a professional cleaner for a last gasp try. If they can’t remove it, it’s a sign – it’s time to say goodbye.

Clothes from Another Life

Still saving maternity wear, club clothing or trends from six seasons ago that haven’t come back? If an item just “doesn’t fit” into who you are now, revel in the opportunity to ditch it for something that will inspire compliments from everyone. If the piece inspires fond memories, take a photo of yourself in it and send it on its way.

Not-So-Successful Gifts

We all have them…scarves, shirts or other items of clothing that well-intentioned friends and relatives gave to you that just don’t feel right. The color may be unflattering, the size is a little off or it just isn’t your style. In any case, if you’ve never worn it, or have given it a chance and found it lacking, don’t let emotion hijack your decision. It could become someone else’s favorite piece in no time!

Too Big, Too Small

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get dressed in the morning when every piece you pull out of the closet doesn’t fit properly. Only keep in your closet items that flatter your shape, button easily with enough room, and don’t pinch, bind or cut you in half when you sit down. If you’re desperate to lose a few pounds, take photos of a few of your favorite “goal” pieces and pack the too-tight items in a bin or bag and slip them next to your holiday wear in another place. Hang the photos inside your closet or on your refrigerator door as a reminder, but buy yourself more room by moving the actual clothing. Anything too big should go to a consignment shop or charity. Shoes that pinch, cause blisters, or slip off your feet while walking should also be rehomed.

Cleaning Your Kitchen – Are You Doing It Wrong?

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 4, 2019 | Comments Off on Cleaning Your Kitchen – Are You Doing It Wrong?

I can hear you now…

“There’s a WRONG way to clean my kitchen? Clean is clean, right?”

Well, not exactly. If you’re looking for a healthier, better-smelling kitchen with longer lasting appliances, you may be missing some of the essential pieces to the “kitchen-cleaning” puzzle. Luckily, you don’t have to work harder to have a truly clean kitchen, you just have to clean smarter. Here’s some tried and true hints from Ernest Homes!

Holy Handles and Doorknobs, Batman!

Some of the dirtiest places in the average home are the handles and knobs in your kitchen. A variety of germy bacteria, including e-coli and listeria, are commonly found on door and cabinet knobs, microwave buttons and the handles of your dishwasher, refrigerator and oven. Take a simple swipe with an anti-bacterial wipe last thing when cleaning up after dinner, and you’ll cut down drastically on the concentration of these invisible offenders.

Save the Life of Your Knives

Your sharp knives shouldn’t go into the dishwasher, especially if they have wooden handles. Most dishwashers are too powerful for these surprisingly delicate tools; each wash can take months off the life your best knives. Give them a quick hand wash as soon as you’re done using them for best results.

And Speaking of Dishwashers…

The inside of the dishwasher door is one of the most neglected areas of the average kitchen. In a 2011 study of 189 residential dishwashers, over 60% harbored fungi on the rubber seal around the dishwasher. And even worse, more than half tested positive for black yeast. Every so often, use your favorite spray cleaner and a toothbrush to get at the grooves in the rubber. If you want to give your entire dishwasher a good cleaning, mix a spray bottle full of 50/50 white vinegar and water, coat the inside and the racks of the machine, and run on the hottest cycle with nothing inside.

Water-Filtering Pitchers

It may only hold water, but bacteria and algae can grow in your pitcher quite easily, especially if you don’t keep it in the fridge. If your pitcher is dishwasher safe, run it through the machine each week. If not, take the pitcher apart completely, washing each piece with warm, soapy water. Let the pitcher air dry completely.

Stove Burner Shortcut

The stovetop is one of the grossest projects in your kitchen. If your range has removable burners, the easiest way to clean them is to place each burner in a zip-top plastic bag with a quarter cup of ammonia. Place the bag on a baking sheet and let sit overnight. The next morning, simply wipe the burner clean with a sponge.

And Don’t Forget to Clean Your Oven!

The self-cleaning function of most ovens runs on exceptionally high heat (1,000 degrees or higher) and the heating elements are placed near the back of the appliance. This leads to a lack of ventilation, which can blow fuses or burn out control panels. To preserve the life of your oven, pull out the racks and place them inside a large garbage bag. Spray with a strong all-purpose cleaner and tie the bag shut. Spray the inside of the oven with the same cleaner and let it all sit overnight. Wipe away all the grime and black spots the next morning, then rinse the racks with warm, soapy water and wipe dry. To prevent big messes, consider covering the bottom of the oven with a disposable oven-safe liners to catch spills. One caution on oven liners – before you use an oven liner, always check the oven manual to make sure your oven doesn’t have a hidden bottom heating element. It is very difficult and potentially expensive to remove a liner that has stuck to your oven base. This happens when the oven’s heating element is underneath the oven floor. These ovens heat up from below and this high, direct heat is too much for oven mats to stand, causing them to melt.

Love Your Sink…

The garbage disposal and the sink can be a safe haven for an astounding amount of bacteria. Cut down on foul odors and dangerous e-coli and some of its evil friends by sharing citrus rinds and ice cubes with your disposal. The fresh scent and acidic juice of the rind freshens and helps disinfect your disposal. You can also use white vinegar and ice cubes if you don’t have citrus rinds handy. After dinner each night, throw a handful of ice cubes along with vinegar or citrus peel into the disposal and run until the ice is gone. Citrus peels keep nicely for several days when stored in a zip-top bag in the fridge, so don’t toss them in the trash after every piece of fruit. After grinding, run cool water for about 30 seconds, then warm the water, add a splash of mild soap and swish a clean sponge or cloth around your sink to take care of any remaining bacteria.

Take Care of Your Coffee!

When was the last time you cleaned your coffeemaker? Not only does this popular appliance get gummy and grimy, if not cleaned about once a month, it can affect the taste of your favorite morning brew. Run a two parts water to one part white vinegar solution through the brew cycle without a filter. Follow with a few rounds of just water until the vinegar odor disappears. If you use a coffee grinder, make sure to wipe thoroughly with a wet cloth and soapy water. After drying, smash some uncooked rice in the grinder to eliminate lingering odors.

Get a Gorgeous Yard with Less Water!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 31, 2019 | Comments Off on Get a Gorgeous Yard with Less Water!

Beautiful, sunny, warm days are ahead, and this is the time of year when homeowners begin to think about getting their yards in tip-top shape for the outdoor season. By the end of March, spring will be in full bloom in the Savannah, GA area, so now is the time to plan for a lovely lawn and festive flowers.

While their yards remain a priority, most would-be gardeners and lawn care junkies share a desire to minimize water usage. Conserving water (and saving on your monthly bill!) is high on the list for most homeowners. If you’re concerned about the amount of water it will take to achieve the perfect yard, Ernest Homes has some tips for using less water along the way.

Go Local for Best Results

Using local plants and grasses is one of the best ways to conserve water. Indigenous plants are the most comfortable in this climate, and will require less specialized care to flourish. They grow well when exposed to the natural amount of water in their habitat, so they’ll require less additional watering than imported plants.

Plan Your Project

You’ll be able to cut down significantly on water usage if you group plants that have similar water needs together. If your yard is laid out with this in mind, you can target your watering needs more specifically, and avoid overwatering some of your plants by mistake. Planning the layout of your landscaping by the amount of water your plants need is called “hydrozoning”, and your local garden shop can give you great advice on which plants should be neighbors. For instance, you wouldn’t want to plant your shrubs, which need less water, in the same area as your perennials, which tend to need more moisture to survive. The extra water needed for your perennials require will actually stunt the growth of your shrubs.

If you’re serious about water conservation, and you’re starting from scratch with a new lawn, or planning a complete overhaul of your landscaping, you may want to consider adding an irrigation system. Irrigation systems are designed to send pre-determined amounts of water to specific areas of your yard automatically. Both underground and above ground irrigation systems are available. Most irrigation systems require specialized installation, but there are DIY above ground versions available that you can complete on your own.

Smart Sprinkling

Using the right number and type of sprinklers is one of the best ways to only use the amount of water that you actually need. For sprinklers to work at the highest level of efficiency, the same type of sprinkler heads should be grouped together on the same valve. Different sprinkler heads discharge a vastly different amount of water during the same time frame, so mixing the types of heads within the same area will cause some plants to receive too much water, while others receive too little.

There are three major types of sprinkler heads; spray, rotor and drip heads. Each has their own strengths and is best for certain types of watering activities. Spray heads put out the largest amount of water in the shortest period of time. These sprinklers are either installed into the ground, with a pop-out head, or are set on a grid or ground mount of some type, with a stationary head. They are most useful when watering small areas of turf, shrubbery or flower beds.

Rotor heads are best if you’re covering large areas of lawn, as they deliver water more uniformly than spray heads. They also deliver water more slowly than spray heads, making them the ideal choice for all soil types. They also cycle less frequently, giving the soil more time to absorb the water and protecting the plants.

Drip heads work best when you’re watering gardens and flower beds. These systems are made of hoses or tubes with holes (called emitters) placed every so often along the length. Drip systems apply water directly to the areas below the emitters, which can save considerable water, time and money.

Be sure to set the pressure on your sprinkler systems correctly. Setting the water pressure too high can cause damage to the nozzles and heads, and may even cause breakage if the pressure is extreme. High water pressure is also dangerous to your plants; they may bend, break or even drown as the strong jets of water disrupt the soil. Water pressure that is too low won’t deliver the amount of water required to keep your plants healthy. Read the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions carefully to make sure the water pressure is set to the proper level.

Water for the Season

Your plants require extra water more often during the summer than in the spring and fall. The extreme heat we experience in this area causes moisture to evaporate more quickly, drying out the plants. To avoid excess evaporation of your precious water, make sure you water your plants and lawn after the main heat of the day has passed – between 6pm and 10pm, or overnight.

Ask Away…Questions for Your Homebuilder

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 24, 2019 | Comments Off on Ask Away…Questions for Your Homebuilder

If you’re shopping for new construction in the Savannah, GA area, there’s some questions you’ll definitely ask during the first few minutes of the conversation you’re having with the homebuilder. “How much will our new home cost?” and “When can we move in?” are automatic; they’re right on the tip of your tongue. But there are some other questions you need to ask before you make a final decision about the community, home and builder you choose. Here’s a list of some questions you might not have thought about that would influence your home choice.

  • How many years have you been building homes, and how many have you built?
  • Do you have references from recent buyers?
  • Are there model homes or quick sale homes not yet sold that I can tour before I make a final decision?
  • What types of insurance does your company carry?
  • Do you have all applicable licenses and will your company take care of all required permits?
  • What sets your company apart from other local builders? What do you do best, or what do you do that your competitors don’t do?
  • What type of financing plans are available?
  • What kind of incentives do you and/or your preferred lenders offer?
  • How long does it take, on average, to complete the floor plan I’ve chosen?
  • What happens if weather or other delays cause the build to fall behind schedule?
  • If problems arise that cannot be resolved, what is your cancellation and refund policy?
  • Who will be our primary contact if we have questions during the homebuilding process?
  • Can we tour our home at various points during the construction process?
  • Can we modify our floor plan — for example, can an extra room or deck be added? How and when can these changes be made?
  • Can garages or basements be left unfinished?
  • How much “customizing” can be done above and beyond the standard features?
  • Can we upgrade our appliances – or substitute a lower cost version?
  • Do you have team members on staff to assist us with the design aspects of our home? Can an expert help us choose the right finishes, materials and fixtures for the layout of our home and our lifestyle?
  • What energy-saving features do your homes feature?
  • Do you offer “smart home” technologies?
  • Are there any additional fees regarding the construction of the home?
  • Where do you get the materials you use during construction and who are your vendors?
  • Does the community have a home owners’ association? If so, what will the dues be and what is included?
  • What community amenities are available in the development we’ve chosen?
  • Could you tell me about your warranty program?
  • Does the price include landscaping? If so, will the plants be replaced if they die shortly after we move in?
  • Are there any restrictive covenants?
  • What are the estimated taxes on the property?
  • What ratings do the local public schools have?
  • What private school options are nearby?
  • Where do the local children to go play, and is the area safe?
  • What interesting and/or educational family activities are available nearby?
  • If I have friends or family members visiting from out of town, what local sights or activities would impress them?
  • Are day care centers, malls, shopping centers and grocery stores convenient and affordable?
  • Could you provide a list of trustworthy local home repair companies?
  • What are some of the most popular restaurants in the area?
  • Are there excellent local emergency facilities such as police, fire department and hospitals?
  • Do you know of any plans for further development or expansion in the area during the next few years?

You may think of additional questions not listed here, so go ahead and ask them. The more information you can gather when you’re in fact-finding mode, the more likely you are to be completely satisfied with the home you eventually choose!

Maximize the Space in Your New Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 13, 2019 | Comments Off on Maximize the Space in Your New Home

Your new house is amazing…it’s everything you’ve ever wanted! You can’t wait to move in…with ALL of your stuff! Your books and electronics, your kid’s toys, your off-season clothes, your holiday decorations…you get the idea. Even though you’ve purchased a home that is a great size for your family, you still want to make the most of the space you’ve got. The more organized you can be, the more room you’ll have for the things that really matter. How can you maximize the space you have in your new home? We’ve put a list of tips together that will help you tackle the task!

Think Vertically

Most people think about opening up space on the floor, but you can also gain space by investing in vertical solutions. Shelving is a great way to add storage space to just about any room, and can be achieved in any size space. Whether utilitarian or decorative, shelving provides essential storage options. Wall-mounted cabinets are also a way to utilize vertical space – try one like this!

You can also maximize space in your garage by utilizing overhead space; try overhead bike racks on for size! You can also install ceiling racks for luggage, sports equipment, seasonal decorations or lawn equipment. Another great solution…utilize space above doorways for items you need close by, but don’t use daily.

Beware Bedroom Clutter

Make the most of bedroom space by choosing furniture that helps with the task. Consider beds that have storage beneath, whether it’s a system of built-in drawers or a high frame that allows for stowing shoes or sweater boxes. You can also buy headboards with built-in shelves or bookcases or armoires with jewelry hooks inside the doors. Make sure all bedside tables have multiple drawers. If you have a television in your bedroom, find a stand that provides additional storage areas to make it worth the space, or mount the unit on the wall.

Artful use of closet space is often the best way to save space. Consider space saver hangers, basket storage units or even a custom-built closet system. Don’t forget to store off-season items in Space Bags – these handy storage wonders can even be moved to attics, garages and basements once they’re filled and sealed. Another sneaky idea – add hooks to the back of your closet wall, behind your clothes. It’s a great place to stash things you don’t use that often, such as special occasion wear, extra handbags or accessories such as belts and scarves that are used with only one or two outfits. Save closet space by investing in a few “S” hooks – stash your jeans without the bulk of hangers or the thickness of folded fabric on shelves or in drawers.

For bedrooms that double as study areas, consider a built-in wall unit with both shelves and a recessed desk.

Bathroom Space Savers

A shoe organizer hung on the back of the bathroom door is the ultimate clutter buster! Use the pockets to store brushes, hairstyling tools, makeup and the endless cans, bottles and tubes used every day. Take advantage of unused space by adding a handy storage unit above your commode.

Kitchen Solutions

The overhead space option we mentioned for your garage is also a winner in the kitchen. Pots, pans and awkward long-handled tools are easy to store with mounted racks. If you’re designing your kitchen in a new construction home, opt for taller cabinets that allow for greater storage space and full-height pantries. Install mug hooks or wine glass racks under cabinets, and mount racks or hooks on the inside of cabinet doors to store small or flat items. Don’t forget the 12 inches right below your ceiling…it’s a great place to mount a shallow shelf used to store seldom used dishes, glassware, small appliances and cookbooks.

Public Area Bonus Space

Good news for living rooms and family rooms! Pull-out beds now come in all sizes…not just sofas. Look for twin bed upholstered chairs, or smaller loveseats that will provide accommodations for overnight guests without devoting space to a full guest bedroom. Invest in hollow ottomans or full-size benches built for stashing odds and ends or add both storage and seating with a DIY window seat like this one.

Look for Unusual Storage Opportunities

Did you consider adding a closet under your staircase? Or perhaps installing toe-kick drawers under your kitchen cabinets? You might even want to add a skinny sliding pantry to your kitchen, taking advantage of that “useless space” between the fridge and the wall.

You can even double-purpose your kitchen tables and chairs; store small items such as dishtowels, kitchen gadgets or even boxes of tea in handy built-in drawers.

A little creative thought is all you need to find extra places to stash your stuff…and we’d love to hear yours! Drop us a line with your suggestion; we’d love to add it to the next list we share!

Selecting a Shed – What You Need to Know

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 7, 2019 | Comments Off on Selecting a Shed – What You Need to Know

Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes the urge to “pretty up” your lawn and do some seasonal tidying. All of a sudden, you’re wondering what to do with all of your new gardening equipment, lawn supplies and extra “stuff” that’s been cluttering up your world. A shed might be just the thing…or will it? Before investing in an outdoor storage solution, here’s a few things you need to consider.

What Is Your Community’s Rule on Outbuildings?

Some planned communities and suburban towns don’t allow residents to erect sheds on their properties, so this is the logical place to start. Check with your homeowner’s association or local zoning board before making a purchase – you need to make sure you’ll be operating within the rules if you solve your storage problems with a shed. There may also be limitations on the size or the height of the shed, how closely it is placed to another resident’s property, or on the materials used to build it.

Penny Wise or Price Foolish?

You’ll also need to come up with a budget that works for you. While you’ll want to get the best bang for your buck, don’t immediately go for the cheapest model you can find. In most cases, an outdoor storage shed made from higher quality materials with solid construction will last much longer than the base priced model. It will also look better as it ages, which is a consideration not only for you, but also for your neighbors. To bring down the cost of a quality shed, opt for fewer fancy details and sturdy, yet basic materials. You’ll also need to consider whether you’re willing and able to construct or put the shed together yourself from a kit, or if you’ll need a professional to put it up for you. If you need assistance, factor that cost into the final total.

Easy In, Easy Out

Make sure the opening of the shed is wide enough to house your largest piece of equipment, such as a lawn tractor. Make sure the unit you choose has plenty of room to spare once your largest items are inside. You’ll want to have room to store smaller items and to move around easily when in the shed. If the opening to the shed will be above ground level, don’t forget that you’ll need a shallow ramp to get your equipment into the shed.

Blend It In

You’ll want to consider the presentation and design of the shed before making a purchase. If your home has a rustic, country look, carry that theme through on your shed, avoiding stark, square designs and materials with modern finishes. Look for a wooden shed with down-home details, and avoid plastic construction. If your home is more contemporary, clean lines and muted colors will fit the bill. A very formal home would require an outbuilding with similar styling. The smallest decorative details can also make a huge difference. Remember that you’ll be living with your choice for years to come, and you’ll want to be pleased with the final result. If you want to personalize your shed, you can add your own touches such as shutters, window boxes or cupolas. A few decorative details could make the difference between an attractive addition to your property and a neighborhood eyesore.

You should also consider you landscaping when deciding on a shed; plants and flowers can help a shed look like part of the plan, instead of having it stick out like a sore thumb. Plant beds around the perimeter, or if your shed has wood siding, add some trellises to support climbing vines.

Think About Maintenance

Sheds typically come in three types; metal, wood or plastic. Metal sheds are typically made of a simple metal skeleton sheathed in a skin of factory-painted or vinyl-coated metal. Both the walls and roof are typically made of the same material. Plastic sheds are often constructed of vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC) or another type of plastic. Wooden sheds typically feature stud-framed walls covered with plywood siding. More upscale versions have plywood sheathing over studs, with lap siding covering the plywood. Wood roof frames and standard roofing materials – such as asphalt shingles – finish off these sheds.

A wood shed requires maintenance similar to a small house. It will need to be painted regularly and will sometimes need to have sections replaced due to rot or disrepair. Metal and plastic sheds require much less maintenance. Keep in mind that metal shed materials can corrode if the paint or protective coating is scratched or damaged, and metal doors and other moving parts will eventually wear over time. Plastic sheds require the least amount of maintenance; the material is produced in the presenting color, so there’s no paint or coating to worry about.

To Floor or Not to Floor?

While some sheds come with a floor, others do not. Standard framed floors with plywood flooring are typically included with wooden sheds. Metal and plastic sheds tend to come without flooring, but manufacturers will sell flooring as an add-on. If you’re feeling handy, you can also build your own flooring. If the floor isn’t included with the shed, expect the floor to add $100 or more to the total cost of the shed. In any case, it’s best to install a shed on a foundation that keeps the shed off the soil. You can choose pressure-treated wood timbers, concrete blocks or a bed of hard-packed gravel. An elevated or well-draining foundation will help prevent rot and the destruction of shed materials.

If you think it through beforehand, you’re sure to find the ideal outbuilding for your home – one that will serve you well for years to come!

10 Tips for Maintaining Your New Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 19, 2019 | Comments Off on 10 Tips for Maintaining Your New Home

Congratulations on your new home! At Ernest Homes, we know how exciting it is to move into a house that’s never been lived in before – it’s a treat some people never get to experience in their lifetime. And like anything new, your new home needs some TLC to keep it looking its best. If you put together a plan for maintaining your home right at the start, you can fend off costly and inconvenient repairs later.

Here’s some ideas for keeping your home looking great – both now and years from now!

Commit to a regular maintenance schedule.

Put together a list of maintenance activities covering both the interior and exterior of your home that will need to be done on a regular basis. Divide the list into weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual responsibilities. Assign activities to a certain family member, or make larger projects, like yard work or window washing, group projects. Although it may be tempting to skip tasks, trying to stay on track will be to your benefit in the long run.

Deep clean your house twice per year.

Spring cleaning isn’t just a saying, it’s a great idea. Rent a carpet shampooer, wash drapes, clean out cabinets and reorganize closets. You won’t believe how fantastic your house looks (and smells!) after a thorough cleaning.

Train your pets…and children!

Establish ground rules, such as who’s allowed on the furniture, where the litterbox goes, where food and beverages can be consumed and if markers are allowed in the living room. Teach your cats to use a scratching post BEFORE you bring in the new furniture, and make sure puppies are fully trained before they’re given free rein in the house. Remind your kids that you’re keeping the house nice for everyone!

Change your filters regularly.

Air filters for your central air unit should be changed every 30 days to allow the system to work at peak efficiency. You’ll also need to check and replace the filters in your refrigerator too!

Handle the job everyone forgets – clean out the gutters!

When your gutters are clogged with dead leaves and debris, water from your roof has nowhere to go. Water damage is of the most difficult issues to handle once it happens, so keep the gutters clean!

Visit the great outdoors.

Regular lawn mowing is a must – not only to give your home the ultimate curb appeal, but to make your neighbors happy. You’ll also need to take care of raking leaves, planting flowers, fertilizing, weed-pulling and other yard work. Don’t forget to keep your stairs and entryways swept and clutter-free. Sturdy welcome mats help keep dirt and mud out of your entryway. And last but not least, add in seasonal tasks such as weather stripping windows and doors, opening and closing down the pool or touching up chipped and cracked paint.

Protect your family from fire hazards.

If you have a fireplace, make sure to have your chimney cleaned every year, at the start of the fall season. Dirt, debris and creosote can build up in the chimney, leading to potential fires. This is a job best done by a professional, but be sure to put in on your schedule. Watch out for clogged dryer vents – lint is highly flammable and accumulates in your dryer more quickly than you can imagine. Clean out the lint catchers after every laundry session, and add it to your weekly schedule in case someone forgets. Be sure to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year – it’s easy to remember if you change them out during the time change for Daylight Savings Time! Make sure you check the expiration date on your fire extinguishers too!

Register your new appliances.

Sending in the little cards or completing forms online can sometimes extend the warranty that comes with the product for up to an extra year. And once the product is registered, it’s much easier to get repairs done or replacements delivered if something goes wrong.

Make a list of professionals to handle the big stuff.

We mentioned chimney cleaning earlier, but there are other major concerns you’ll need to address as you go. Make a list of trusted professionals you can turn to for specialized jobs or emergencies. Ask friends and neighbors for suggestions, or trust online venues such as Yelp or Angie’s List for recommendations.

Don’t take chances – fix or replace problem issues as soon as possible.

A major maintenance issue is usually handled right away, but it isn’t uncommon to put minor concerns on the back burner once you discover a problem. The cracked window in the foyer isn’t just an eyesore, it can let heat or cold air in. The jammed garbage disposal isn’t just inconvenient, it can generate unpleasant odors from the buildup of bacteria and food debris. And we don’t even want to think about what’s going on with that soft spot on the lawn…but we need to. Putting off minor repairs can lead to bigger problems much more quickly than you would think.

Home Size – the Ideal Square Footage for Your Family

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 14, 2019 | Comments Off on Home Size – the Ideal Square Footage for Your Family

When it comes to buying a new home, bigger is better, right? If you look around you, the latest trend in homebuilding seems to be a larger home, one with more bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, larger living space and bonus rooms. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average size of a new home built in the United States jumped from 1,660 square feet in 1973 to an amazing 2,687 square feet in 2015, a whopping 62% increase.

Many buyers are attracted to the “elbow room” a larger home can give. Other advantages to a larger space include more room for storage, multiple dining area options and less stress among family members when they have to share spaces such as bedrooms or bathrooms.

However, there are downsides to a larger home. Initial cost, certainly, is a big issue. You also need to keep in mind that larger homes are more expensive to heat and cool, require more furnishings and of course, are harder to maintain and keep clean. Not every family finds a larger home to their liking.

So how do you determine the ideal size home for your family?

The answer often lies in combination of lifestyle and functionality. A general rule of thumb for many homebuilders is the ratio between bedrooms and living space. Many new homes are built to provide two places for a person to sit in dining or living areas for every bedroom. If you have three bedrooms in the house, you can expect to find seating space for a minimum of six people. The more bedrooms a house has, the larger the living and dining spaces need to be to establish a comfortable ratio of space.

It’s also a great idea for each generation living in the home to have their own “away space”, that offers privacy from other family members. Most suburban homes are built to accommodate this ideal, with rooms set aside as playrooms, craft rooms, home gyms or offices, or even libraries.

The design and style of the home also comes into play when you’re deciding how much space you need. The layout and flow of the home can maximize or diminish the functionality of the space. A smaller home may actually be more practical if the floorplan allows for maximum use of the square footage. For example, smaller homes that successfully combine kitchen and dining areas save on space without sacrificing efficiency or style. Fewer, but larger bedrooms can also serve this purpose; use part of your master suite for a reading corner or small office, or put a gaming center in your extra bedroom, furnished with a sleeper sofa for occasional overnight guests.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a new home. If you’re currently satisfied with how the house you’re living in now fits your lifestyle, you’re golden. Look for a house similar to the one you currently have in the number of bedrooms and square footage. More than likely, however, one of the reasons you’re looking for a new home is that it’s too small or too large for your family. If you need to make a change, here are some things to keep in mind.

How do you use your space? Do you work from home and need office space? Are you away from home often because you travel frequently? How often do you entertain, and for how many people at a time?

What are your goals when it comes to family? Do you have children? If not, do you plan to have kids while staying in the same home? Are there other relatives who live with you or may in the future?

Where does your family spend most of their time? If certain rooms see little “face time”, you can make better use of square footage elsewhere. Not every family uses a dedicated dining or living room; many use seating in the kitchen and a comfortable family room instead of these more formal spaces.

Look to your future – Do you plan to stay in this house for many years? What are your savings goals?

This may sound daunting, but really, it isn’t. It can even be fun to sit down and figure out exactly how much space you really need. Just ask Dan Maginn. He put together a great exercise called Square Feat: Foot Steps that makes it easy. See what he did, and give it a try!

At Ernest Homes, we know that every family is different, and there’s a perfect house for each one. We’ve put together a wide variety of floorplans at almost every size to meet the needs of families looking for a new home in the Savannah, GA area. Whether you want to upsize, downsize or comfort-size, we have the ideal home for you. To learn more about our homes, call us at (912) 756-4135 or send us a message today!

Welcome Winter with Fireplaces!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 30, 2019 | Comments Off on Welcome Winter with Fireplaces!

Thinking about a fireplace for your next home? This is the time of year where the idea is particularly appealing…crisp, cooler days and chilly nights bring thoughts of crackling fires and warm times spent together. There’s a lot of great reasons to bring a fireplace into your home – whether it’s an indoor model or a creative chiminea or outdoor unit to accent to your yard.

Working with Wood…

The Cozy Factor

No matter how you slice it, nothing says cozy like a fire. The dancing flames are not only fun to watch, the warmth they give promotes comfort, cheer and relaxation. Pull out a good book, knitting, puzzles or games and devote an hour or two to family time or personal hobbies. Spirits rise and cares float away when you add a fireplace to your great room, family room or living room. Find a sitter for the kids, open a bottle of wine, and create your own intimate, romantic date night without leaving home. And if you love the aroma of a burning fire, it’s fantastic to know you can experience it any time you like.

It Has the Power…

To keep you warm and fed if necessary. If you have electric heat, a fireplace is a lifesaver during storms or power outages. You may need to add an extra pair of socks or another sweater, but you won’t experience bone-chilling cold with a fireplace to keep you company. Roast hot dogs or sausages over an open flame, finish with toasted marshmallows and chocolate on graham crackers, and you have the ultimate picnic meal right in your living room. Outdoor units can be outfitted with grill tops as well, allowing for a greater range of food preparation.

Adds Elegance to Your Room or Yard

A fireplace instantly “ups the ante” on fashion and flair when added to a room. With a variety of styles and accessories available, it’s a great way to personalize the décor of your home and show off your interior design skills. When it comes to entertaining during the cooler months, move the crowd outside and gather around your outdoor fireplace, warm the cider and create your own bonfire!

Lighten Up on Energy Consumption

Unlike fossil fuels, firewood is a sustainable source of energy. It leaves no carbon footprint and in most areas, the cost of firewood is low. Use firewood to replace some of your other fuel sources, and you’ll likely notice a drop in your heating costs.

And don’t forget gas fireplaces!

They provide the energy savings, warmth, elegance and flair of their wood-burning cousins, but offer a few other pluses:

Convenience

Easier to start and more consistent, gas fireplaces now have great features such as remote controls, timers that automatically shut off the unit and blowers and fans that can circulate warm air into areas other than those where the unit is located. You don’t have to store logs or lug them from place to place. Gas fireplaces also don’t require nearly as much cleanup and maintenance as their wood fire counterparts.

Love Your Air

Natural gas fireplaces won’t release particles or fumes into your home, which is a definite advantage for those with breathing difficulties or allergies.

Go Chimney Free

Some models of gas fireplaces don’t require a chimney, saving you time and money when it comes to the recommended yearly inspection of the chimney of a working wood-burning fireplace.

Cost

Depending on the style you choose, many gas-powered fireplaces cost less to install than a comparable wood-burning unit.

Buying a New Home – a Guide for Home-Based Entrepreneurs

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 24, 2019 | Comments Off on Buying a New Home – a Guide for Home-Based Entrepreneurs

You’ve been running your successful home-based business for some time now, but your life situation has changed and the home you own no longer meets your needs. You’re in the market to buy…but have you considered whether your new home will qualify as a place of business as well as a residence? Can you continue to run your business out of your new home?

Often when entrepreneurs are shopping for their new digs, they forget to inquire about potential hot-button items for home-based businesses. By keeping these requirements in your sights, you’ll be settled in – within the law – in no time.

Get in the Zone

The zoning office, that is. Your first stop should always be the zoning office for your new property. Ask for copies of all ordinances that apply to home occupations. It’s a good idea to avoid the word “business” during these inquiries. The word “business” can raise red flags for zoning officials; the words “home occupations” or “home workers” are much less inflammatory. Remember to ask for regulations that apply to all aspects of home employment; you don’t only need to worry about zoning requirements, but also about fire, vendor and mercantile regulations as well.

Your county and municipal government offices will also be able to provide you with a list of any possible roadblocks to your home-based business that may pop up. Often this information is posted to the government office’s website, making it more convenient to get the information you need. If you do need to make a phone call, it’s best to use a cell phone or a landline not associated with a property in that town or municipality. Explain to the staff member that you’re considering a move to their area and need to know what regulations apply to your specific home occupation. Be prepared to describe your work in detail. In most cases, the person you speak to will be able to tell you during that call if you’ll be in the clear with your work, or if you’ll need special permission (known as a variance) to set up your business in their area.

You also need to check with the homeowner’s association of the community, if one exists. HOA’s may have limitations on home-based businesses that could affect your ability to work from home.

If the local government or your HOA prohibits the type of home-based business you run, you can request a hearing for a special exception from your HOA or a variance from your local government. There’s a good chance a special exception hearing brought before your HOA may be successful, especially if your business doesn’t require foot traffic in and out of the residence or signage of any type. The lower the impact of your business on the daily lives of the local community, the more likely it is to be granted. Variances are much more difficult and expensive to obtain at the governmental level. They are usually time-consuming, costly and often denied.

If you do obtain a variance, be aware that this “win” will also convert your home to a commercial property. This means that fire safety inspections can be called for at any time, without a warrant or warning. You’ll also need to comply with any applicable ADA, OSHA and commercial laws. Differences in tax assessments may also apply. Keep in mind that variances are also completely revocable at any time, for any reasonable complaint. If, by chance, your neighbor complains about excessive deliveries of products and supplies for your business to the local authorities, your variance could disappear in an instant. You will have no recourse – there are no promises given when variances are issued.

“Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell?”

Many owners of home-based businesses may think it’s wise to operate under the radar; hoping that what their neighbors and local government officials don’t know won’t hurt them. It’s a risky proposition, but it happens every day. Many local government officials such as mayors, committee members and elected officials know that this situation exists, and realize as many as 40% of their community residents may be running a business out of their homes. It is true that many will choose to look the other way as long as there are no complaints or incidents that arise from the existence of a home-based business. However, if issues do arise, it will always be on the shoulders of the home-business owner to explain why they didn’t investigate the current regulations and comply with them. Legal issues, fines and even the closure of the business could be the result.

While zoning laws and local regulations for your home-based business may seem designed to make it next to impossible for you to follow your dreams, keep in mind that they’re actually there to protect the community as a whole. These regulations help limit noise, traffic and other issues that can affect the safety and desirability of the neighborhood where you live. Try to look at your business objectively; does what you do put your neighbors at higher risk of injury or diminish their enjoyment of their home? While most home-based businesses don’t, there are exceptions. It’s best to have the approval of your HOA or local government, just in case. You’ll need to be sure the new residence you buy will be not only the ideal home for your family, but for your business as well.

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