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New Construction Myths Debunked!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 23, 2018 | Comments Off on New Construction Myths Debunked!

If you’re looking to purchase a home, you’re certain to have heard a lot about buying new construction. Some of it is completely true, and some of it…well, not so much. There’s a lot of information out there about new construction and the home buying process that comes with it, and it’s often hard to tell where the truth ends and the myths begin. At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we pride ourselves on our transparency and our dedication to a positive customer experience in every way. We’re sure you’ve heard quite a bit about these new construction myths, and today we’re setting the record straight by letting you know how we do business.

Myth # 1 – It takes much too long to build a new home from the ground up.

One of the most common negatives thrown around when new construction comes up in the home buying conversation is the wait time you’ll experience while your builder creates your ideal home. You’ll often hear that it can take six months or longer for your home to be ready. Our timeline is very different. We have a 12 week build time from the date the start package hits the field. Of course, there are factors such as weather, labor issues and supply chain concerns that can influence that time, but in the vast majority of cases, we stay right on track. And in the rare instance that we can’t meet a proposed deadline, we’ll let you know about potential delays as soon as possible.

And don’t forget…many builders will have a small inventory of their homes ready for immediate move-in. You can check out our quick move-in homes here!

Myth #2 – Every newly constructed house in a community looks exactly the same.

Almost all builders today offer some level of customization for their customers. We specialize in making modifications that set your home apart. We offer a wide variety of floor plans that can be adjusted to meet your needs. Our plans offer a choice of exterior features, optional patios, porches or extra rooms, upgraded bathrooms and kitchens and the ability to make reasonable structural changes. We’re happy to work with you to customize just about any aspect of our floor plans. We know that in today’s housing market, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit anyone.

Myth # 3 – It’s much more expensive to buy new construction.

In many housing markets, including the Savannah, GA area, there isn’t an immense gap between the prices of brand new homes and previously owned homes of a similar size in neighborhoods of a similar type. There will always be exceptions, but overall, you won’t be seeing a huge difference. You also need to consider that new construction is much more energy-efficient than homes built 60, 20 or even 10 years ago. Through improved technologies, builders offer a lot more energy-efficient features in new homes, ranging from dual-glazed windows and high-efficiency furnaces to low-flow plumbing fixtures and high-tech insulation.

Also, the true cost of owning a home is more than just the purchase price. When you take into consideration the warranties, the operating costs and the fact that everything is brand new, the value of new construction can far outweigh that of an existing home. Also, many buyers underestimate the cost of replacing features in existing homes like cabinets, flooring, and fixtures. Add the cost of the materials to the disruption to your lifestyle, the inconvenience, the contractor selection, permits, delays, and the other intangibles you’ll face when modifying an existing home…and you begin to wonder if it isn’t better to get exactly what you want right from the beginning.

Myth # 4 – You’ll always pay the listed price for new construction.

Remember, home building is a business, like any other. You can always approach a builder to negotiate the asking price of a new home the same way you would for a previously loved home. If it is in everyone’s best interest to negotiate, we can definitely have that conversation.

Myth #5 – Realtors and homebuilders don’t work together to help you find a house.

The real estate business is one founded on connections and relationships. As part of the active and vital Savannah area real estate community, we have contacts and business partners that we work with on a regular basis to find each client their perfect home. We’re dedicated to finding that perfect match between a family and their dream house.

Myth #6 – When you’re going with new construction, a well-known national builder is your best option.

Keep in mind that bigger isn’t always better. Local builders with a smaller customer base can often provide more specialized customer service. They may be able to offer more custom options, because they aren’t held to policies and procedures that work well in one location, but not in another. National builders will have the same name wherever you go, but the staff and product quality may be better in some parts of the country than others, so the reputation of the “Big Name Brand” will differ from one area to another.

If you have any questions that we didn’t answer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. Call our experts at 912-756-4135 – or send us an email if you prefer. When it comes to buying a home, new construction may be the right answer for you!

Making Design Decisions – Customizing Your Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 19, 2018 | Comments Off on Making Design Decisions – Customizing Your Home

The first decision has been made…you’ve opted to buy new construction! It’s such an exciting process – you’ll get to experience the creation of your dream home from the ground up. But for some families, there’s more than a little bit of stress involved when it comes to making some of the design decisions they need to face.

At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, our expert team of design consultants takes pride in walking our homebuyers through every step of the process, ensuring that everyone is completely comfortable at every stage of construction.

Buyers usually fall into one of two categories; the ones who know exactly what they want, and those who have a general idea of what they might like, but aren’t completely sure. To be honest, more buyers of new construction fall into the latter category, not the first, so don’t feel at all overwhelmed if you find yourself in group two. An important part of our job is to make sure that we make the right suggestions and help you build a house that you’ll love for a lifetime.

Once you’ve selected your floor plan, it’s time to get personal. Choosing the individual elements that set your home apart from the others you’ll see can be fun…so let’s get started! It’s time to visit our design studio – The Gallery at Ernest Signature Custom Homes. Within days of your new home purchase, your design consultant will call to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. We’ll let you know what to expect, what to bring with you, who should come to the meeting and other important details.

One of the logical places to begin is with the part of your home that everyone sees – the exterior. Exterior materials include doors, windows, siding and roofing. If you’re not sure what elements impress you the most while visiting our center, we recommend driving through our communities to see exactly how the roofing and siding, doors, windows and available colors look on completed homes.

Our clients make most of their interior decisions, such as flooring, lighting, plumbing fixtures, cabinets and countertops during their visits to The Gallery. Our design center is unique in the fact that we have three fully furnished, functional kitchens that give you a fresh perspective into the appliances, styles and layouts that will work best for you. We also have a full line of bath options, including tubs, shower fixtures, sinks, decorative windows and mirrors. Don’t forget to browse our lighting gallery, flooring choices and our “Gadgets and Gizmos” section; a hive of technology choices including smart-thermostat systems, the latest remote controls and dimmer switches, closet systems, handicap bathroom capabilities and more.

Regardless of whether you’re highly influenced by current design trends or tend toward a more traditional viewpoint, our design consultants can give you expert advice and make exceptional recommendations. If you’ve done some online research on decorating and home design before your visit, bring your ideas along! We can help match them to your available options and give you results you’ll love.

Are you excited to begin your journey? We’re ready to go as soon as you are! Call us today at (912) 756-4135 or drop us an email. We can’t wait to help you simplify the decision making process when it comes to customizing your ultimate home!

The One Recipe Every Home Needs…

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 14, 2018 | Comments Off on The One Recipe Every Home Needs…
Recipe for a Happy Home
4 cups of love
2 cups of loyalty
3 cups of forgiveness
1 cup of friendship
5 cups of hope
2 Tbsp. of tenderness
4 quarts of faith
1 barrel of laughter
Take love and loyalty, mix it thoroughly with faith.
Blend it with tenderness and forgiveness.
Add friendship and hope.
Sprinkle abundantly with laughter.
Bake it with sunshine.
Serve generous helpings daily.
Ernest Signature Custom Homes wishes you all the love you can
hold…on Valentine’s Day and every day!

Designing the Perfect Home Office

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 29, 2018 | Comments Off on Designing the Perfect Home Office

Whether you’re looking for a space to pay your bills, a place for the kids to do their homework, or a full-time, dedicated environment that will allow you to work from home, the home office is becoming a necessity for many families today. It isn’t unusual for potential buyers to look for a home that has an extra room that can be converted into the perfect office.

Whether you’re outfitting a room solely as an office or creating a dedicated desk space in another room, the Design Center team at Ernest Signature Custom Homes has some great tips for putting together the ideal space.

Invest in the Right Furniture

Many people make the mistake of pulling together a home office from bits and pieces they’ve collected here and there. A table inherited from Aunt Gracie, a spare kitchen chair that no-one sits in, and a plastic bin stuffed with file folders doesn’t make the grade when it comes to creating a fully functional office. You need adequate desk space with enough room for a computer, printer, monitor and incidental equipment. You also require handy space for files, research materials and your stash of office supplies.

Ergonomics are important! For someone who will be working full time in the office, or for students who will spend hours deep in concentration, it’s essential that the chair is comfortable and adjustable, and that everything necessary is within easy reach. If more than one person will be using the space on a regular basis, make sure that everyone tests the furnishings before buying it. Sure, you can order it online, but only after visiting a physical location first to try it out.

Ideal Lighting

Natural daylight is best…if you can locate your home office in a room with adequate windows, you’re miles ahead of home workers that have to settle for electric lights. However, you’ll need to make sure that you have adequate lighting for all hours of the day, or for cloudy days. General overhead lighting and targeted task lighting are both important. To avoid glare, make sure your overhead lighting isn’t directly above your computer screen. Reduce eyestrain; don’t put a computer screen directly in front of a light source. Make sure your targeted task lighting sources have adjustable levels of light, from either dimmer switches or three way bulbs. Choose yellow-toned lighting, as it is one of the brightest alternatives, and has a middle place on the color spectrum between cool and warm, making it ideal for both your mood and the comfort of your eyes.

The Proper Equipment

Look carefully at your office needs to determine which pieces of equipment you’ll really need. Don’t buy things you won’t use every day. While it may be nice to have a fancy high-speed color copier with heavy volume capability for the three times a year you’ll need it, most of the time it will just be wasting space that can otherwise be put to better use. Do you need a high-speed internet hub and wireless capability? Or a dedicated telephone line with its own number? A phone with conference and speaker functions? And most importantly, make sure you invest in the fastest, best-rated equipment you can afford – and don’t forget to pick up the offered extended warranties!

Separation is the Key

Your home office needs to be away from high traffic areas of the home to be successful. You can’t expect the kids to focus on their homework in the living room, or make business phone calls from your family room. If you don’t have a dedicated room with a closing door, look carefully at the available areas of your home to give it optimum placement. You may want to repurpose a sunroom, set up shop in a seldom-used guest room, tuck a compact desk in the corner of a dining room or even partition off an area of your garage! Avoid sightline views of TV’s at all costs. Better yet, don’t even have one in the room you choose. You can also use creative solutions to separate your “office” area from other parts of the room. Tall bookcases will not only wall off the area, they will provide additional storage options. Remove the doors from a little used closet and tuck a small office setup inside.

Add Some Personal Touches

While your office is a place for work, don’t fall into the trap of business-only blandness. Add a green plant or two, a couple of family photos, some intriguing wall art. One of the main advantages of having an office in your home is the freedom to decorate it as you please. Just make sure the details you add aren’t distracting you from your mission.

With a little ingenuity and some planning, you can create an area for work that not only increases your productivity, but provides comfort and enjoyment to your day. It’s easier to work efficiently when you love the space you’re in!

Super Bowl Party–Get Ready for the Big Game!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 17, 2018 | Comments Off on Super Bowl Party–Get Ready for the Big Game!

One of the best things about owning your own home is having enough space to throw a party! It’s always great to get friends and family together – you don’t need a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion to invite people over. One of the nation’s favorite excuses to plan your own awesome bash is the Super Bowl – and now is the perfect time to get the invitations out.

Does it seem like it would be too much work? Well…it could be, but we’ve got some great hints for streamlining the process and making it fun for everyone. You’ll be the hero of the day – trust us! Follow these step-by-step instructions and you’re sure to have a blast!

Get the Word Out

Using electronic delivery is the best in this day and age. Send out a group email or text, or jump on to an Internet-based service like Evite. These options are quick, easy and can reach dozens of people in a few clicks.

Clean the House

But don’t over-clean it. Over-clean? What’s that all about? Keep in mind that this is a casual, come-as-you are kind of party. Sure, the floors should be mopped, bathrooms cleaned and clutter stashed. But this isn’t a white glove event. Unless you’re inviting your nitpicky in-laws, who fuss about every speck of dust, people aren’t going to expect a pristine house. As long as you’re tidy enough, you’re set. Don’t strive for perfection.

Set It Up

Grab some team color décor and get a little festive! Put up some banners, balloons and streamers. If you’re going to have people rooting for each team, put a strip of tape down the middle of the room for fun. Decorate each side of the room with separate team colors and create a natural divide for each set of fans. Lay in some plastic tablecloths, tableware and cups in team colors too!

Make sure you have more than one TV. Place them in the living room, in a bedroom or in the dining room, in the garage, or perhaps one outside on your patio or deck if the weather is fine. You may also want to set aside a room somewhere for the guests who aren’t interested in watching the game. This area is great for non-sports conversation, running a DVD movie or taking care of young children who aren’t interested in the game.

While you may plan to have your more “significant” food in the kitchen (think easy to prepare, serve yourself foods such as chili, pre-cut sandwiches, sloppy joe meat and buns or pasta and meatballs), establish snack stations wherever people will gather. Chips and dips, finger foods and bite-sized sweets like cookies and brownies are ideal for quick bites when the on-screen action is hot. When placing your food and beverage areas, make sure that they’re not going to block the sight lines of the TV’s. People tend to gather around the snack spots, so make sure they’re not cutting off anyone’s view. And remember, you don’t need a chair or seat for every RSVP. Some fans prefer to stand rather than sit, and younger folks tend to be just as happy sitting on the floor. That said, be ready with some fold out chairs if you need a few extra perches.

And More About Food…

If you’d like, it’s perfectly acceptable to invite guests to bring their favorite snacks. It reduces the load on you in both time and money, and this way everyone there is guaranteed to have something they like. This works really well for guests that have special dietary requirements or are careful about what they eat. Arrange plates, cups, cutlery and napkins near each food or snack station. Make sure you have a generous supply of beverages, both non-alcoholic and “adult”. Sodas and juices can be stand-alone beverages or can serve as mixers. Don’t go crazy stocking a full bar – choose a white wine and a red, two or three brands of beer, and three or four types of mixable liquors. Lay in enough of each to make sure you’ll make it through the final quarter.

You can also arrange for hot food delivery at some point during the game as a change-up. Pizza is ideal, but you can also go with Chinese (eggrolls, fried dumplings, crab Rangoon and other finger foods are easy and fun) or an assortment of different flavors of chicken wings.

Make sure that all guests know where the beverage coolers or tubs are, and let them know that they are free to grab what they need or refresh their drinks as they like. This way you’re only checking the levels on your drink stations and not fetching drinks for each guest.

Clean as You Go

Stash trash bags in handy areas near each trash can so that you can empty them and start fresh quickly. As trays or serving plates empty, refill them, stash them in the dishwasher or dispose of them. Appoint one of the kids as a “roaming maid” every once in a while – give him or her a trash bag to take on the task of party patrol; asking guests if they would like to toss their cups or plates.

At the End…

Ask guests if they want to pack up some of the leftovers to take with them. This should cut down on the amount of food you’ll have to process on your final cleanup. Make sure you’ve asked in advance for a couple of volunteers to stay with you to share the workload – a few extra sets of hands will make it a quick and easy process.

Pets and Furniture – Tips for Owners

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 14, 2018 | Comments Off on Pets and Furniture – Tips for Owners

In a recent post we talked about great ways to deodorize and clean up pet messes in your home, so now we’re moving along to one of the other pet issues that pops up frequently when you own a home. Pets add so much joy to our lives, but sometimes their behavior around our furniture can be more than a little annoying. Instead of raising your voice or chasing them with a rolled up newspaper, try training them to behave properly with some of our handy hints.

If one of the biggest problems you have is keeping your pets off certain pieces of furniture, the key to success with this issue is consistency. If you don’t want your dog or cat on the couch, make sure you never invite him or her up on it, regardless of how much you may want a little company. If you normally chase Rex off the couch, but invite him up to cuddle next to you on a cold winter day to watch the big game, you’re sure to confuse him. If your reaction to his being on the couch changes from day to day, he won’t be able to tell if he’s being a good dog or a bad dog.

If you’ve decided you want to keep your animals off the furniture, here’s a few ways to discourage them from making themselves at home in your seats.

Pepper – Cats and dogs have a very keen sense of smell, and most of them are not fond of the scent of black pepper. Sprinkle a few shakes of black pepper on dark-colored or patterned furniture to discourage them jumping on up. Pepper won’t stain or damage furniture, and it’s 100% natural.

Aluminum Foil – When you’re training a new pet, one of the most effective ways to teach them that a certain piece of furniture is off limits is with some foil. Most pets hate the texture and sound of foil, and will avoid touching it. Place a few sheets of foil on the off-limits surface. After a few attempts, most pets will give up on making a perch there. Plastic trash bags may also work for training purposes; many pets dislike the feel of plastic as well.

Outdoor Fresh Bounce – Cats in particular aren’t fond of the scent of this famous fabric softener. If you rub a sheet over the upholstery, cats will give furniture a wide berth. Your feline friends will also go out of their way to avoid lemon scents. You can make a solution of half a teaspoon of Country Time Lemonade and two cups of rubbing alcohol in your favorite spray bottle. Spritz your furniture with the solution to keep the cats away. You can also saturate a cotton ball with pure lemon extract or RealLemon juice and rub a bit on your upholstery to repel your cat.  The cotton ball trick will also work with Old Spice Aftershave; cats aren’t fond of that scent either. Be sure to test your upholstery for color fastness in an inconspicuous area first before using these methods, just in case.

Hot Sauce – If your cats and dogs tend to want to scratch or chew your furniture legs, a little hot sauce can be a lifesaver! You can protect dark woodwork by rubbing the area lightly with Tabasco Pepper Sauce or Heinz Chili Sauce and buffing the surface carefully. Animals don’t care for the smell left behind, and will avoid your table and chair legs.

Water Bottles – An old favorite; tried and true. Whenever your cat or dog jumps up on your furniture, aim a brief stream of discipline at your pet. After a few good squirts, even the most oblivious or stubborn pet will get the message.

If you do decide to allow your pets on the furniture, you may end up fighting a never-ending battle with their hair. To remove pet hair from your furniture, vacuum the area with a stiff bristle brush attachment. The brush helps to dislodge the hair, making the suction more effective. You can also use snagged panty hose to remove pet hair, giving them a useful new life. Simply ball up the clean hose and stroke your furniture firmly with the nylon. The resulting static cling lifts the hair from your furniture. A used sheet of Bounce or a fresh Huggies Baby Wipe will have the same effect. You can also spray a fine mist of aerosol hairspray on a clean, damp rag or towel, and lightly wipe your upholstery. The offending hair lifts right off! Or wrap your hand with some clear packing tape and press it to the “hairy area” to catch the offending residue.

Whether they’re allowed on the furniture or must stay off, your pets (and their fur!) can live in complete harmony with your family when you put forth a little effort and a lot of love!

Winter Tips for Taking Care of Water Pipes

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 7, 2018 | Comments Off on Winter Tips for Taking Care of Water Pipes

Ah, yes…it’s that time of year again! When the temperature drops below freezing, one of the scariest things that can happen to homeowners is a burst water pipe. When water freezes, it expands. Your home’s water pipes always contain a certain amount of water within them…water that will freeze when the mercury falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The expanded water can exert up to 2000 pounds of pressure per square inch against the sides of your pipes, causing them to burst. When a pipe bursts, up to several hundred gallons of cold, cold water can drain into your house EACH HOUR. Imagine the thousands of dollars of damage a burst pipe can do!

The easiest way to avoid the hassle and expense of burst water pipes is to prevent them from freezing in the first place. When the forecast calls for low temperatures, allow a thin trickle of water to flow from your faucets at all times. The small uptick in your water bill will be far less expensive than the repairs resulting from burst pipes. Open the cabinet doors that hide the pipes in your kitchen and bathroom, exposing the pipes to the warmer air in these (usually) well-heated rooms.

If your pipes do happen to freeze, and have not yet burst, the immediate course of action is to defrost them…STAT.

You first need to determine where the problem starts. Turn on every faucet in the house to see which ones are producing water, and which are not. If none of your faucets are producing water, more than likely the issue is with one of the main thruways. If some are producing water and others aren’t, you’ll only need to treat individual pipes. Make sure you leave each of the affected the faucets open, because the water will need somewhere to go once the pipes begin to defrost.

The most likely areas for frozen pipes are ones with reduced insulation, such as pipes in basements, crawlspaces, attics, or areas close to concrete or cold air vents. You’ll also want to check any outdoor pipes you have, although many of these have systems in place to reduce the amount of standing water remaining in the pipes.

Once you’ve identified the problem pipes, search for cracks or leaks. If you find them, shut off the main water supply immediately and call a professional plumber. This is a bigger job than most homeowners can handle alone.

If there are no cracks or leaks, you can use one of the following methods to heat the pipe:

Hair Dryer – Keep it moving and do not place the nozzle directly on the pipe.

Heat Tape – Electrical heat tape is available at most hardware stores. Wrap the tape in a single layer around the length of the frozen pipe, then plug it into a power source. The tape contains heating elements that help defrost the pipes when turned on.

Heating Units – Warm up the air near the pipes using space heaters, bare incandescent light bulbs, infrared lights or heat lamps. Never use blow torches, as they are much too hot, and will easily damage pipes. Make sure none of the heating elements or units actually touch the pipes. You can drape blankets or tarps on the pipes to help warm them as well, but make sure these stay far away from the heating units. You can also wrap pipes in hot, moist towels or blankets without other heating units nearby, but make sure to remove them once they begin to cool down. Cold, wet towels or blankets will promote refreezing.

Salt and Water – If you have some bottled water left over from your summer hurricane kit, now is the time to heat it up a bit. Spoon some salt into the frozen drains and add the heated water a bit at a time. Be careful not to make the water too hot, as the rapid change in temperature can also burst a pipe.

If you find that the affected pipes are not within easy reach, you’ll have a tougher time thawing them, but it can be done. If the pipe is behind a wall, the easiest answer is to turn up the heat within the house up to 76 to 80 degrees and hope that the warmer air unplugs the pipe. Open closet and room doors to allow the warmer air to reach all areas of the house. This method defrosts pipes rather slowly, as it often takes two to three hours to raise the temperature enough to dislodge the ice.

If you feel you need to act more quickly, you may need to cut a hole in the wall to access the frozen pipe. Once you’re sure you have the right pipe, cut a hole with a keyhole saw and use one of the heating methods described above to defrost the pipe.

Luckily, for those of us in the southern states, we don’t see cold-weather conditions strong enough to freeze our pipes as often as other areas of the country. However, this happy circumstance can work against us; we often don’t realize that cold nights can lead to blocked faucets, burst pipes and potential property damage. The team at Ernest Signature Custom Homes wants everyone to be safe and warm this winter; we’re always looking for helpful information to share that will protect our homeowners – both present and future!

Help Your Home Beat the Winter Blahs

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 31, 2017 | Comments Off on Help Your Home Beat the Winter Blahs

The short, dark days of winter are upon us…and for a lot of us, that means feeling a little down in the dumps. Yes, it’s the holidays, but this festive, exciting season will soon be coming to an end. The distractions of gifts, cookies and welcome rounds of visits with family and friends will only last a few more days. Once you’ve had a week or so to recover, what are you going to do to give your spirits a little boost?

We have some great ideas for sprucing up your home and lifting your mood at the same time. Check out the list below for your favorites!

Add Some Cozy Touches

After Christmas sales are hot, hot, hot when it comes to blankets, throws and bedding. January white sales can help you stock up on snuggly, warm items in bright colors or fun patterns. Pick out some new throws for your living room, den and bedrooms that are not only great for keeping you toasty while binge-watching TV, they’re also décor touches that update the look of your room. Ditch Grandma’s “over the back of the couch” style and display them in wicker baskets next to the sofa or under a coffee or end tables.

Flannel sheets offer an instant “aaahhh” when you crawl into bed at night. Fluffy, cozy and fully breathable, they pair up wonderfully with a new bedspread or duvet cover. And don’t forget how wonderful a thick, absorbent full-size bath sheet will feel when you step out of your hot shower! Choose a striking pattern or vibrant shade and you can use these amazing finds not only to dry off, but to add splashes of color to your bathroom décor.

Lighten Up

Shorter, darker days can dim your mood, so make sure you add some extra light to your home for the winter. Feeling a bit lazy when it comes to taking down your white twinkle lights after the holidays? So…don’t! Leave them up for the rest of the winter. The delicate sparkle will give the exterior of your house and your lawn a delightful ski resort look. (Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for your multi-colored lights…they say Christmas loud and clear!)

Soft, shimmering candlelight is not only romantic, it can also add tantalizing fragrances to the air. Make sure you monitor your candles carefully, and you’ll be able to enjoy their warmth and beauty for hours and hours. And don’t forget your fireplace…a crackling log behind a grate provides not only light, but heat and mesmerizing movement. Pour a glass of wine, put on some soft music and watch the fire dance! You can also up the wattage in a few light bulbs here and there…it will help dispel the cold shadows that creep into your house in the winter.

Your Nose Knows

Boil some sticks of cinnamon in a pot on your stove, along with some cloves, orange peel or apples. The fruity, spicy scent is a great way to give your house a jolt of energy and a delightful aroma. Soup is another way to perfume the air and gives you a delicious treat as well. No matter what the season, an arrangement of fresh flowers brightens up a room and tickles your senses. Check with your local florist to discover which blooms are readily available during the colder months, and have him or her rank them for you based on scent, appearance and longevity. You can also add potted green plants for a zing of color wherever your décor is looking a little tired. Surprisingly, some houseplants, including indoor palm trees, cut down on the amount of toxins in your home and add extra moisture to dry winter air.

Paint the Town Red

And your walls green and yellow! Studies show that these colors lift your mood and remind you of the sunny, warm days yet to come. Shake up the style of your room by painting an accent wall, creating a border design or giving a room a complete color overhaul.

And don’t forget your furniture! If you’re tired of neutrals or a dark color, find slipcovers in prints or solids that “paint” your furniture in just minutes…with no mess!

Housekeeping Cure

And as much as I hate to say it…taking some time out to do a little cleaning is a tried and true way to lift a case of the winter blahs! There’s something about accomplishing this task that gives you a natural boost. Put a little spring into your winter by taking a few hours to tidy up.

You’ll be surprised how fast the rest of the winter goes by when you use a trick or two to get the most out of every day…no matter how dark and cold!

2018 Homebuyer’s Forecast

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 26, 2017 | Comments Off on 2018 Homebuyer’s Forecast

The coming year in real estate is going to be quite the wild ride if you’re a homebuyer! The forecast for 2018 could be a little challenging, but with some planning and determination, you could be settled in a brand new home sooner than you think.

There are a lot of factors that are pushing more and more potential buyers into the new home market. The stock market is cresting at a record high right now, and since 2010 over 16 million new jobs have been created. The resulting rising consumer confidence is giving more families the opportunity to buy new construction.

This surge of potential buyers is making the market for new construction more competitive. Many builders are working as fast as they can to meet increased demand. In fact, the number of new homes on the market is expected to rise an additional 8% in 2018, to 670,000 in sales. Most of the growth is expected in the mid to upper price ranges across most markets nationwide, as overall, home prices will be on the rise as well. Buyers can expect an average increase of 3.5% in 2018. The Southern region of the US, in particular, is expected to grow at a greater rate than the national average.

How is this affecting buying habits when it comes to new construction?

Potential buyers are planning to spend a little more of their disposable income on housing, even if it means eating at home more frequently, putting off shopping for new clothes or taking expensive vacations. Other buyers are looking at homes farther from city centers, where the cost of homes and the cost of living is lower. Some buyers are looking for homes that can be customized for specific needs such as extended family groups, which allows for more economic day to day living for a larger number of people. Elderly parents and adult children may have trouble supporting households on their own, which makes combined residence options more popular.

Builders who offer attractive floor plans for smaller homes may benefit as well. Some buyers will choose more compact homes in order to reduce their monthly mortgage commitment. Many builders are actively marketing homes with four or less bedrooms to attract this growing demographic.

And the recently passed tax cuts could have a huge effect on the new construction market. We aren’t sure yet how buyers will respond. The promised gains in the weekly paycheck under the new tax laws would definitely be a positive for housing, but some anticipated reductions in tax benefits for homeowners could lead to fewer sales and impact prices negatively over time. Experts are taking a “wait and see” stance when it comes to the fallout from the upcoming tax changes.

If you’re looking at the possibility of buying new construction in the upcoming year, having experts evaluate your individual situation is worth its weight in gold. At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, our staff is committed to building long term relationships with not only buyers, but with the community at large. Our goal is to get to really know each person that walks through our doors. Our team specializes in matching each family with the perfect home – regardless of which one it is. Experience the Ernest difference…we can be reached by email or by calling 912-660-9673. When it comes to finding your ideal home, we’re with you all the way!

Preparing for Holiday Houseguests

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 20, 2017 | Comments Off on Preparing for Holiday Houseguests

Here they come! It’s only a few days before the holidays, and you’re wondering now how you’re ever going to be ready in time. Inviting family and friends to visit back in October sounded like such a good idea…but now the stress is starting to get to you.

Don’t worry – take a deep breath and follow our quick list for making sure you’ll be the host with the most or the hostess with the mostest!

  1. Free Up Some Room in Your Rooms

Since you’ll be pressed for space, make sure you declutter your common rooms by stashing furniture you won’t use in the garage or pushing it against the walls. Ditching coffee tables, end tables or decorative (delicate, white or uncomfortable pieces come to mind) furniture can stretch your space more than you’d think. You may want to set up airbeds or sleeping bags on the floors, so it’s best to be ready if the need arises.

  1. Recycle or Pitch Some Clutter

Recycle newspapers, catalogs and junk mail you’ve been stashing wherever…even if you’ve been meaning to get to it someday. Get some storage bins for items that you can’t bear to part with, but don’t have the time to sort through right now. Tuck the bins away, but make sure to highlight a date within the month of January on your calendar to pull them out and deal with them once and for all. If you tend to collect items at the base of your stairs to “go up with me next time”, now is the next time. Take them upstairs and put the items away.

  1. Become a Clean Machine

If you have a day or two of time to devote to off-season “spring cleaning” before the guests arrive, hop to it. If not, don’t be afraid to bring in the “Big Guns”…hire a cleaning service for the big jobs such as cleaning windows, bathrooms, kitchens and going over dusty spare bedrooms. If necessary, have your carpets cleaned professionally. Check local publications and the Internet for coupons – many carpet cleaners offer great deals to convince new customers to give them a try. Have older children pitch in when it comes to chores such as vacuuming, getting all the laundry done and tidying up their rooms. This is especially important if your guests have children that will be bunking in with your own.

  1. Take Care of Little Repairs

Squeaky doors, leaky faucets and toilets that run for what seems like hours can be annoying for guests. Task the handiest person in your family with handling these little frustrations prior to the visit. If time is at a premium, consider bringing someone in to take care of these issues.

  1. Roll Out the Welcome Wagon

A few nice touches can go a long way. Make sure a few drawers are emptied in guest rooms for visitor’s clothing and add some empty hangers to the rod in the closet. Make sure there’s a place for the guests to put their luggage, whether it’s a luggage rack or a clean area under the bed or in the closet. Be sure the guest towels and sheets are freshly laundered and of decent quality. While you don’t need to go overboard, soft, absorbent towels and sleek sheets can make a simple stay a mini vacation for your guests. Stock their bathroom with basic toiletries, in case they don’t check a bag at the airport or run out of something they need. Make sure there’s plenty of replacement TP, too!

  1. Childproof – Just in Case

If babies or young children will be staying in your home, be sure to secure cleaning supplies, medications, sharp tools and other hazards safely in cupboards, closets or drawers that little hands can’t open. Remove breakables from tables, shelves, bookcases or other flat surfaces. Put them away for a few days – better safe than sorry. Make sure all of your holiday decorations are safe for kids. Use outlet covers to prevent shocks and have a couple of baby gates available. If you have a pool, make sure the area surrounding it can be secured in some way to prevent children from falling in.

  1. Plan Your Menus

Lay in bulk supplies for quick, easy dinners such as spaghetti, chili, beef stew or a huge casserole. Keep lunches simple by having a variety of cold cuts, cheeses and breads available for sandwiches, along with a healthy supply of PB & J and some popular soups. Snacks such as jerky, nuts, cheese and crackers, fruit and Christmas cookies will keep peckish appetites satisfied between meals. Keep breakfasts easy with breakfast casseroles such as strata, or offer cereals, hard boiled eggs, yogurt and pastries, so that everyone can eat at whatever time they choose to get up. Avoid the stress of pancakes or individually prepared eggs. Make sure early risers know where the coffee supplies are and how to use the appliance of their choice. Ask your guests if anyone has a food allergy or sensitivity before finalizing your menus. When your guests arrive, give them a quick tour of the kitchen and pantry, so they know where things are and can help themselves to anything they need without having to ask.

  1. Play by the Rules

If you have certain guidelines you’d like your guests to follow, make sure you give them a heads-up before they arrive…in a light-hearted way. Let them know if smoking is forbidden in your home, what the shower schedules are, or if someone will be working odd hours and will need to catch up on their sleep while others will be active. If you would prefer that they remove their shoes while indoors, provide a variety of slipper socks in mixed sizes for cozy tiptoeing around your house…they’ll keep your guest’s feet toasty while your carpets stay clean. An added bonus…they’re another handy gift your guests can take home!

  1. Keep your Holiday Décor Simple

As part of your childproofing, you’ve removed fragile items or those that aren’t in secure areas. Stick with the theme by keeping your decorations minimal and safety-centric. Avoid items with small parts that can be choking hazards or décor with an open flame, such as candles or fireplaces without safety screens.

  1. Check Your Itineraries

Make sure you know exactly when your guests are to arrive, especially if you’ll be picking them up when they get into town.

  1. Keep Your Guests in the Loop

If you’ll be dressing up for New Year’s Eve or donning ugly Christmas sweaters one night for fun, make sure you tell your guests in advance so they can pack the right things. Likewise, if you’re planning activities that require being outside, make sure they bring appropriate outerwear and the proper shoes. Let your guests know in advance if their pets will be welcome, and if so, find out what accommodations will be required to keep them comfortable as well.

  1. Set the Parameters of the Visit

Make sure you have a start and end date for each guest’s stay. Not only will you need to make sure you have adequate accommodations for everyone, you’ll want to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the length of the visit. You’ll want to make sure you maintain the quality of your relationships by making sure no-one overstays their welcome!

And last but not least…don’t try to be perfect! Do whatever you can and let the rest go. Enjoy having friends and family with you for the holidays – don’t sweat the small stuff. Your sister probably won’t care if the plates don’t match – she just wants to connect with you!

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