Need Home Remodeling Help? Here’s Where to Start

Build-up-Build-out-Remodeling-South-Florida-contractor-305-florida-contractors copy.jpg

Thinking about remodeling your home? You’re in good company. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Americans spend more than $400 billion a year on residential renovations and repairs. Make no mistake, however, although it is popular, and exciting, home remodeling can also be stressful — especially when it comes to budget.

So how do you get the new space of your dreams at a reasonable price? It comes down to two unglamorous but necessary words: planning and budgeting. For a detailed breakdown of individual costs by project and by room, is a great source, but here we provide you with our top high-level tips to think about when planning a remodel.


Define Your Needs: Build up, Build out, or Bump out

Of these three options, a bump out is generally the least costly, mainly because it does not involve changing the roof or foundation. A bump out typically extends a space to align it with an existing roof, adding square footage while avoiding major upheaval.



A build-out goes further than a bump-out, but often requires costly foundation and roofing extensions. Though it provides more interior square footage, the downside is that it also increases the exterior footprint of the home, which can drastically reduce outdoor/garden space.

Building up is a great way to retain the existing footprint of your home, but it can require significant roofing adjustments (some or all of your roof will have to be replaced), as well as bolstering of the foundation and weight-bearing beams.


Select Your Contractor

·      First step: get recommendations. It’s always good to work with someone who has been vetted, and about whom you can get the inside scoop. Ask friends, colleagues, and neighbors for referrals.

·      Next, examine their credentials and licenses. Make sure their paperwork is up to snuff. After that, narrow your potential hires down, and interview the ones who have made your shortlist.

·      Finally: get bids. No matter how the initial interviews went, make sure you receive proposals from more than one contractor. Don’t base your selection on price alone. What appears to be the cheapest bid can sometimes end up costing you more in the long run.


 Account for the Uncountable

Most remodeling projects go off the rails because of unforeseen expenses that are not captured in the budget. These are the top three:


1.    Indecision

While a level of flexibility is necessary, too much flexibility – constantly changing your mind – can lead to budget overruns, as well as bad relationships with your architect, contractor, and vendors. Worse yet, it can result in an incomplete project.


2.    When the Walls Finally Talk

It happens almost without fail: just as the project is starting to sail along, your contractor finds something unexpected, or even borderline disastrous. Issues like rotted wiring, termite-ridden studs, cracked foundations, moldy basements, faulty plumbing…the list goes on. Standard remodeling budgets include a 10% contingency allocation, which is meant to provide funding to address issues like these. Do not make the mistake of not including a contingency fund. Something always comes up, and it is best to be financially prepared.


3.    The Cost of Comfort

Most homeowners remember to include all the construction-related costs in their budget, but they often forget to plan for how to keep themselves and their family comfortable during the remodel. Depending on the scale of the project, you need to set aside funds for storage, moving, alternative accommodation, eat-out/order-in dinners, child care, boarding pets, commuting costs, and income lost due to time off from work. Your contingency fund is typically earmarked for costs directly related to the rebuild. We suggest adding an extra 5% or more to your contingency fund to cover any additional unforeseen expenses.

 If you love your home and neighborhood, but just want a bit of a change, remodeling can be a viable option vs. purchasing a new home. At 305 Florida Contractors, we can guide you through the process, and help you achieve the home of your dreams at a reasonable price. Just contact us to learn more.

How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell and Involve the Whole Family

Selling a new home is exciting, daunting, and can feel like a full-time gig. When adding in kids and a busy life, the thought of selling your home can feel impossible. Fear not — there are ways to prep your home for sale, keep it tidy, and manage your home while including the kids. Below are some tips on how to get your house presentable for showings, involve your family in the process, and key factors to focus on in order to sell your house quicker.

Last-Minute Showings

One of the most stressful parts of selling a home is the last-minute showing. Someone calls, you have 10 minutes to an hour before a potential buyer is coming to the house, you are disheveled, the kids are playing and have toys everywhere, the sink is full of dishes, the washing machine is running, and you still need to clean. While this may seem like the worst-case scenario, you can do several things to make tidying up easy and ensure that you have the home ready to show off:


●      Keep baskets handy to throw in laundry, paper, toys, and clothes.

●      Make it a rule to make beds in the morning and fold all blankets after each use.

●      Set up a designated space for all people who enter your home to place shoes and bags.

●      Put the dishes in the dishwasher after each use.

●      Create a checklist for small tasks.


Letting the Light Shine

 The perfect lighting in a home achieves that warm and bright atmosphere buyers are looking for.  It’s important not to overlook the importance that natural and artificial lights bring to the space.  Open all blinds and curtains. Turn on all lights, including lamps and overhead lights. Add some mirrors, which will help give the illusion of open spaces. Make it a game for your kids to spot dark areas in your home and add lamps or wall sconces in those areas. To make sure the lights are on prior to a showing, assign everyone one room that they are responsible for.


Tidying Up

The most important thing you can do to help sell your home is to get rid of the clutter. Too much stuff will prevent potential buyers from being able to picture the house as their home. To prep your home for showings, have each family member sort their belongings into four piles:


1.     What they need for the short term

2.     What can be stored

3.     What can be donated

4.     What can be trashed


For the items you’ll be storing, try to find storage out of the house, such as at a friend’s or relative’s house or a storage unit. Get the whole family involved in this task, and in the end, reward the whole family with a fun dinner or family-fun activity like bowling or mini golf.


Appealing to the Senses

 To sell your home, you must appeal to the senses of the buyer. You can help entice their visual senses by focusing on lighting, de-cluttering, and cleaning. While you may have adapted to noises in your home, potential buyers have not. So, it’s important to get rid of creaky floorboards, leaky faucets, or loud appliances.

 Eliminate offensive odors caused by pets, plants, standing water, and musty basements, then add in pleasant smells, such as cinnamon, freshly baked cookies, lavender, pine, or fresh linen. Again, make this a time for your family to bond, and get everyone involved by seeing what everyone’s different senses picks up.

Being a busy parent is a job in and of itself, so the thought of selling your house may cause stress. You’re not alone, and many potential buyers will likely be in the same boat. Your home cannot always be picture perfect, but there are steps you can take to make it sale-ready. Involve your whole family every step of the way as you set a plan for last-minute showings, bring light into your home, tidy up every room, and make sure to appeal to all the potential buyer’s senses. In no time, this season of your life will have passed and you will be in a new home.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Major and Minor Home Repairs: Which Ones Require a Pro

Photo via Pixabay by  Stevepb

Photo via Pixabay by Stevepb

When it comes to your home, there are many things to consider when repairs or renovations are needed. From creating a budget and a timeline to figuring out which materials you’ll need, there’s a pretty long list of things to consider. One of the most important is whether you’ll be able to handle them yourself in a DIY project or if you’ll need to hire a pro to come in and take over. Even if you’re experienced with taking on home projects, there are certain jobs that are more difficult than others, and there could be safety issues at play.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to figure out how to get started with your project. When it comes to plumbing, electrical work, or structural work, it’s best to call in a pro. Not only will this help keep you safe, but it will also ensure that your home doesn’t suffer any needless damage, which will save you money in the long run.

Keep reading for great tips on how to figure out the details of a major or minor home repair.


Figure Out What Type of Repair It Is

The first step is to figure out what kind of repair you have on your hands and what it will entail. Do some research online to find out more. Repairs that involve plumbing, electrical work, or structural work always need a pro, which will drive up your costs but will be necessary in order for the job to be done safely and correctly. Common repairs that require a pro might include replacing a toilet, hot water heater, or electrical wiring.


Break Down the Cost

Breaking down the cost of your home repair project is imperative because it will allow you to create a budget from the beginning. Many minor home projects can be done in a cost-effective way if you know how to get started; for instance, even if you use a pro, you can buy the materials yourself, which will allow you to shop around for the best deals. Bigger repairs can get costly, however; the average national cost for a major home repair is around $10,429.


Establish a Timeline

Every home project requires a timeline from the jump. Not only will this help to save you money as you keep your contractor on task, but it will also keep your family comfortable because you won’t have to worry about having your home torn up for weeks or months. Without a set date for completion, you may face issues with the people you hire to get the job done. Keep in mind, however, that with major renovations often come setbacks. Get a written agreement from your contractor that includes the estimate they gave you for both the timeline and the cost.


Keep Permits in Mind

While many home repairs don’t require permission from the city, some do, and it’s important to educate yourself on how to go about getting cleared for your project. Any changes to the blueprint of your home — adding rooms, cutting holes for windows or skylights, or installing new plumbing or electrical work — will require a permit. Typically, these aren’t too expensive, but if you fail to get the right kind, you’ll be facing fines that could increase your budget.

Making changes to your home can be stressful and costly, so it’s imperative that you plan ahead before making any decisions. Do some research online and, if possible, talk to someone who has been through a similar project so you can get tips and advice.

New Orleans, an inspiration for all 5 senses

As contractors, a lot of our time is spent on logistics – sourcing materials, overseeing sites, leading meetings, taking measurements, tracking orders – all the nuts and bolts that lead to a successful project. But in order to get to that point – to land deals and make our clients happy – we need ideas. To fuel our ideas, we need inspiration. And to get inspired, we travel.


At 305 Florida Contractors, travel is how we reconnect with our magic, and with each other. For our contracting business, traveling helps us refine our aesthetic, expand our mental boundaries, and stay innovative; so it will come as no surprise that to close out 2018, we took a trip. Our getaway city of choice? New Orleans.



N’awlins did not disappoint. (Sidenote: only tourists call it by that name. Not locals.) The city does not believe in doing things by halves. In fact I’m pretty sure that its mantra is “More is More.” From the food to the architecture to the music (and again: the food!!) we experienced sensory overload in the best possible way.



The Big Easy is famous for its cuisine – and rightfully so. From crawfish etouffée and jambalaya to po’ boys and pralines, there is a dish (actually, there are several dishes) to please every palate. Our personal favorite? The beignets from the iconic Café Du Monde. I’m not sure what alchemy makes these simple doughnuts so utterly irresistible, but irresistible they are. The super-fine powdered sugar that they’re covered in definitely helps. We enjoyed ours with a hot cup of the chicory-flavored coffee that the city is known for.




For architecture buffs (which, of course, we are), New Orleans offers a variety of styles on which to feast the eyes. Because it was owned by the  French and Spanish before being acquired by the U.S., structures in the city reflect that mixed heritage. Building styles range from creole cottages and simple shotgun homes to center-hall houses and grand antebellum-era plantations, and the colors, features, proportions, and decorative elements that typify each style provide a rich source of inspiration. With so many beautiful buildings to choose from, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but one that really spoke to us was the double-gallery townhouse (pictured below) located in the heart of the French Quarter.




Something else that New Orleans has in abundance is nicknames, and “The Birthplace of Jazz” is one of the most famous –  and apt – ones. Music permeates the city. Wherever you go, the sounds of jazz float across the air, embodying the vibe of “laissez les bons temps rouler” (let the good times roll). On Bourbon Street, we took in the sounds of the street performers, and we also slipped into a few of the lesser-known jazz clubs and piano bars to be entertained by supremely talented combos and vocalists.





Like any city whose cuisine is its calling card, New Orleans is full of mouthwatering scents emanating from restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. Every few feet there’s another aroma to tempt you: cajun spices, fresh seafood, boiled crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, French-style bread, fresh-roasted pralines, and just-brewed coffee. NOLA is also known for its flora — after all, there is an entire section called The Garden District. So the scents of magnolias, jasmine, Angel’s Trumpets, sweet olive, and fresh-mown grass abound as well.



So many textures, so little time. One of the places where it’s easiest to indulge your sense of touch is the French Market. There are rows upon rows of vendors selling trinkets and delicacies of all types, and from myriad cultures. There were also gator heads (Small ones. Not quite as scary as it sounds.) on display. Not something I would have ever thought that I would touch, but...when in New Orleans...However, I digress. In terms of architecture, we were in heaven. Ancient wrought iron, crumbling masonry, intricate tiling, plaster, red bricks...the list goes on.


 It was great to be able to ring in the New Year in such an eclectic and energetic city. We’re looking forward to weaving some of our inspirations into our projects in 2019.


Christmas Decorating Makes Us Happier

Holiday Ornament

Holiday Ornament

It’s the week after Thanksgiving and I bet you can’t wait to put up your Holiday Decorations. Well go ahead; according to psychologists it makes us happier.

 Psychologist Deborah Serani explains, “Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone. For a lot of us, Christmas is a magical time, it’s a time of innocence, and it’s a time of joy.”

 And what an excuse to decorate your home without having a high remodeling cost. So get ready, bring out your Christmas lights and make this weekend a happy and memorable moment.



5 Essential Organization & Storage Tips for Small Spaces and Tight Wallets



Unless you have a massive home or apartment, chances are you never feel like you have enough space to store and organize everything you own. For those of us with small to midsize living spaces, keeping them neat and tidy is a daily battle. Here are some fairly inexpensive tips for making sure your smaller space can accommodate your life and possessions.


Incorporate Decluttering Into Your Daily Routine

It may sound obvious, but it’s hard to stay organized in a small space when you have a lot of stuff. Making decluttering a part of your daily cleaning routine is vital if you want to stay tidy. Kickstart your organizational journey with a massive decluttering effort. After that, institute some rules for yourself. For example, one item in, one item out. Any time you bring something new into your home, you must get rid of something else. Also, spend at least 10 minutes every day getting unneeded items out of your home. The best part is that it doesn’t cost you a thing to start decluttering and making your space more breathable.

Think Vertically

Architecturally, how does a big city pack so much stuff into a relatively smaller surface area? By going vertically, of course. This concept can also help you in your small space. Apartment Therapy suggests “filling the space on top of the refrigerator with wire bins, mounting baskets on the wall, or placing a shelf with baskets in a corner.” You can also install cheap shelves from floor to ceiling wherever you want. Stores like Bed, Bath, & Beyond have stylish bins, shelving, and baskets. As a bonus, you can regularly find coupons, sales, and cashback deals to minimize the investment.


Prioritize Built-In Storage Space

In a small space, any piece of furniture that doesn’t also offer some sort of storage is a waste. For example, a TV stand/entertainment center should have drawers and cabinets aplenty. Your bed should have pull-out drawers underneath. Your coffee table or ottoman should open up to reveal extra storage space for blankets or pillows. Look for discounts and savings at stores like Crate & Barrel when looking for smart furniture for your small space.


Load Up on Baskets

If clutter is contained, is it even really clutter anymore? Not really, according to most. A home will look and feel more organized if every item has a place -- even if that place is just a wicker basket or wooden bin. Bins and baskets are both cheap and stylish if you know where to look. Whether you want plastic, wood, clear, white, or metal -- there is something for you.


Invest in Hooks for Inside and Outside Your Closets

Combining the general principles of making sure everything has its own storage space and thinking vertically will lead you to one elegant, extremely low-cost solution: hooks. Wallspace -- both inside and outside of your closets and shelving -- is mostly unused real estate. While a framed photo next to your front door looks nice, some cool brass hooks to hang your coats, bags, and umbrella are more practical. Check out some decorative door hooks that can go anywhere. If you’re smart, you can be practical, savvy and stylish at the same time.

The smaller the home the more valuable every single square inch is when it comes to storage, organization, and living space. By investing in some inexpensive storage aides and being smart when selecting furniture and decorative items (emphasizing function just as much as form), you can truly maximize any space. But before you do that, remember this: there are no tricks or tips to make a super-cluttered home organized. You must first declutter, downsize, and make some tough but necessary choices about what you choose to hold on to.

7 Smart Ways to Save on Home Remodeling

The home remodeling process is similar to a cross-country trip in your car.  Along the way, you'll face many decisions and obstacles. For example, dealing with unexpected weather or choosing flooring materials.

With proper planning, these problems won’t stand a chance. However, without a plan, chances of getting stranded or lost in the wilderness of home remodeling will soar.

One problem that many homeowners looking to remodel their homes often face is high budget costs. It’s not uncommon for renovation budgets to spiral out of control, especially without proper planning.

In 2016, homeowners aged 55 years and over spent an average of $73,100 on renovations, according to this report.  Now, that’s a tidy sum of money!

Fortunately, there are ways that can ensure you keep more cash in your pocket. Dave from State Property Management, a property management company in Orlando, shared some of them with us:

1.  Use less expensive material that looks rich

You can give your home a luxury look without spending huge sums of money. For example, instead of solid wood cupboards in the kitchen and bath, select painted lower cost particleboard cupboards.

For your flooring, instead of solid hardwood flooring, select engineered wood. Or, rather than buy an expensive carpet, select a carpet in the middle-price range, then add an underpad for more cushioning.

2.  Repaint and repurpose

Who says that remodeling or renovating requires everything to be new?

To keep your remodeling budget under control, you want to save every penny you can. While it is tempting to replace old items with brand new ones, repurposing them can save you plenty of cash.

Repainting and repurposing is a good option especially for things that are outdated but still in good quality and condition.

This works best for things like bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinetry.

3.  Avoid costly design changes

Major design changes can quickly spiral the cost of your home remodeling project. So, avoid them as much as you can. Moving the gas lines, electrical, and/or the plumbing can quickly lead to additional costs due to the additional supplies and labor.

For instance, if your kitchen has a functional layout that is in sync with the workflow of the stove, fridge, and sink, don't change it. By doing this, you’ll avoid the added cost of rerouting plumbing lines.

4.  Buy used building and renovation materials

Many people have heard about used furniture and appliances, but few know that used building and renovation materials also exist.

You can find gently used flooring, windows, lumber, and other materials online. should get you started in this regard. You might find good prices on interior doors, windows, vanities, toilets, sinks, and kitchen and bath cabinetry.

Usually, contractors will donate the leftover supplies on subdivisions or custom jobs. As such, the materials will often be of high quality.

Aside from, you could also look online at sites like Here, you stand a chance of buying items at half the price of retail. Generally, you’ll find items like kitchen and bath cabinetry.

But, bear in mind that determining the quality of items you buy online can be a bit harder.

5.  Repurpose your old furniture into new built-ins

Here, creativity is vital. In addition, the more creative you are, the more savings you’ll get. You can repurpose your old kitchen into new built-ins to be used in various rooms around your home.

For instance, you can create a built-in family breakfast area by using the solid pine base of a round kitchen to anchor an extension on your kitchen counter. You could also refinish and repurpose an old desk into a front hall table for your entryway.

6.  Shop for the returned paint

A lick of paint, if it’s the right paint, can do wonders. It’s an inexpensive way to revitalize your home’s look. But your costs may add up quickly, especially with paint prices ranging between $17 and $105 per gallon.

To save some money, consider purchasing “mistint” – the returned paint. This is the paint that a buyer bought but had second thoughts on. Or, one where there was an error in mixing.

However, bear in mind that returned paint or mistints come in limited quantities. As such, it may not be suitable for large spaces.

7.  Hire professional services

First up, outsource any big jobs. From a financial and legal perspective, hiring a professional makes the most sense. This is especially true if the work involves structural, electrical and plumbing work.

In addition, you’ll avoid any unexpected and unnecessary outgoings caused by DIY catastrophes.

Before you lock anyone in, it pays to do your research. Check up their certifications and professional experience. Do they measure up? Next, get several quotes per work to assist you to weigh up timeline and cost options.  

 If you are on a tight budget, these cost-cutting tips will help you stay one step ahead and still ensure a good ROI on your investment. Not all home remodels have to be expensive just like not all have to be dramatic.


6 Backyard DIY Remodeling Ideas

Summer is officially here and BBQ season is in full force. You may enjoy your patio by having family over on the weekends or entertaining friends or just simply relish a good book and a cocktail. Your backyard is in need of some love and care, but keeping it simple. Here are some meek and easy ideas to revamp your backyard.

1.    Clear the Clutter

Clear the Clutter

Clear the Clutter

You’ll be surprised what a big difference you’ll see just by throwing out what you don’t use.  Or you may just find that some items just don’t belong in that space.  Once you are done with this process you’ll probably notice your backyard space looks just a little bigger too.

2.    Container Gardening

Potted Plants

Potted Plants

The idea of using container gardening creates an all year round colorful design. Dress up your garden with gorgeous potted plants.

3.    Add a Swing

Swing to your health

Swing to your health

Think swings are just for kids? Think again. A swing will not only add a beautiful touch to your patio but it will add health benefits as well. Swinging is good for your mental health, balance, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and it helps to burn calories. So have that glass of wine and swing away.

4.    Paint the Fence

Welcome to our backyard

Welcome to our backyard

Add curb appeal to your backyard by painting the fence. Shades of blues look beautiful all year round.

5.    A Bird Feeder


Adding a bird feeder to your backyard has a lot more benefits than just feeding birds, it’s relaxing.  Choose a bird feeder that best fits your style and remember the food you purchase is the birds you’ll attract.

6.    Lights

Backyard rustic chandelier

Backyard rustic chandelier

Don’t forget that lighting is the magic to the show. Adding string lights or a simple chandelier will add the last sparkle your backyard needs to welcome your guests and start the show.



Four Color Trends to Watch in 2018

Behr's 2018 Color Trends

Behr's 2018 Color Trends


By now, most homeowners know how important color is to the overall look, feel, and style of your home. The predominant colors can impact, soften, and even outright change the mood of the inhabitants of a room.

Fortunately, it’s easy to change or refine your home’s color palette. Paint is relatively inexpensive, and you don’t even need to paint all four walls in a room to inject a new hue into its decor.

Are you planning a paint makeover for a room in your home next year? Consider boosting your home’s on-trend factor by implementing any of these color design trends. We think you’ll be seeing a lot of them next year.

1. Intense Over Soft

Well-known color space company Pantone has picked eight palettes it thinks will dominate home decor in 2018, emphasizing the allure of bold, intense colors.

One of Behr’s chosen trendy palettes also focuses on bold and beautiful tones. From a bright yet deep blue to a nearly saffron yellow, these shades would work beautifully together or on their own, perhaps on a single accent wall to avoid overpowering the room itself.

These shades aren’t for shy, retiring types … or maybe they are! After all, home decor color palettes are a safe, fun way to explore different sides to your personality. Experiment with bold, intense shades on your walls and in accent pieces to see what you think. If it doesn’t work for you, you can always change it later with a minimum of expense and effort.

2. Energizing Yellows and Oranges

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Yellows and oranges help energize and pump up the volume of any room. If you want to feel awake, alive, and alert, sunny yellows and citrusy orange tones can help.

However, these colors can also be a bit overwhelming. You may not want an entire room covered in bright yellow or orange paint. Additionally, they’re not always flattering to every human complexion, or design scheme for that matter.

Instead, try using bright sunny colors like lemon and saffron in more controlled, concentrated ways to add a small pop of color in a room. Use paint to freshen up a piece of wood furniture, or integrate these bright sunny shades in accent pieces such as throw pillows, rugs, and artwork.

3. Bold, Fresh Combinations

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Leave the boring tone-on-tone, “soft grey and white trim” combos in 2017. Step outside your color-wheel comfort zone by pairing hues you wouldn’t otherwise consider.

For example, chocolate brown and a stormy dark grey might strike you as a bad combination initially. But in practice, it can absolutely work, if you choose the right specific shades and use them in an appropriate design scheme. The same is true of navy blue with a pale, grown-up pink.

If you’re not sure whether a specific combo would look good on your walls, buy a flat piece of plywood that’s at least a few feet square and use it as a test canvas. Most paint stores will sell you small quantities of any shade they offer for testing purposes.

4. Go Royal With Regal Purple and Bright Blues

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Pantone’s color of the year for 2018 is Ultra Violet, a deep, inspirational shade of purple that brings to mind the creativity of musician Prince, sumptuous royal robes, and deep twilight skies. In announcing its choice, Pantone had this to say:

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

2018 include notable purples and blues, as well. Shades range from the light and lively to the dark and mystical. Darker blues and purples are beautiful choices to add a touch of the dramatic and mysterious to your walls. On the other hand, lighter shades of blue and purple are perfect when you want to create a more relaxing, restorative environment, such as a bedroom.

Where Will You Use Color in 2018?

Color can change so much about your home -- not just its look, but the mood, vibe, and even the way you use a space.

If you’re ready to recharge and revitalize your home with color in 2018, why not give us a call? We’ll be happy to consult with you on your painting and design projects.


4 tips to make your backyard safe for kids and pets

photo credit:   Unsplash

photo credit: Unsplash

With the end of winter in sight, there’s never been a better time to start preparing for the advent of spring. Packing away your sweaters and planning for days in the park are two things most people think of when it comes to spring prep. However, there’s one consideration that should be at the top of every parent and pet owner’s spring to-do list: making your backyard kid and pet safe. It sounds like a big task, but doing so will give you the peace of mind to enjoy spring.

Here are four tips that will help transform your backyard into a childproof and pet-friendly area this spring.

1. Conduct a plant audit

You wouldn’t think that the plants in your backyard could pose a danger to both your children and pets. However, there are several common backyard plants and weeds that are poisonous, and if ingested could result in a trip to the hospital or vet.

For example, azalea, daffodils and kalanchoe are just a few of the many popular plants that cause vomiting, diarrhea and other side effects in cats and dogs. Rashes, upset stomachs, and even death can result if your child ingests plants like aster, juniper and boster. 

Conduct a plant audit to see if there are any plants that pose a risk to your pets and kids. Don’t forget to include weeds that have naturally popped up in your garden in your audit.

While you’re at it, take the time to clean up debris and hazards like old pieces of wood or brush piles. Mowing your lawn regularly is also a good idea to prevent any nasty weeds from cropping up and pest infestations.

2. Add fencing and alarms to your pool

Make necessary additions or modifications to ensure your pool area is safe. The unfortunate reality is that drowning is one of the leading causes of injury death in the US, and its children aged 14 and under who account for two of the 10 people who die every day from drowning. In fact, most drownings involving children occur in the pool when in the care of one or both parents at home at the same time.

The good news is that there are simple and proven measures you can take that will help prevent any accidents from occurring. In addition to constant adult supervision, you should install a pool fence that is at least 4 feet tall, has self-closing and self-latching gates with latches that are out of reach of children and should separate the pool from the house.

Another addition is to attach alarms to the pool door and side of the pool. Alarms are highly effective in alerting parents to any unusual activity in the pool area. These measures also protect your pets from pool incidents.

3. Safely secure, build, and maintain play structures

Taking the time to secure any play structures is a crucial step to make your backyard secure. One of the simplest ways to reduce injuries is to place play structures on a proper playground surface that is durable to soften the impact of a child's fall. Other considerations include choosing an area that is flat and free of hazards including water, rocks and debris.

When it comes to building play structures, always follow instructions to a tee. Don’t try to cut corners or rewrite the book – the specific instructions which come with each structure are tested to uphold safety standards so making any alterations will compromise them. 

You should also regularly inspect and conduct maintenance of all play structures in your backyard. Be sure to look out for any loose screws, broken or cracked areas, or unstable structures and immediately repair, replace, or stow away any unfit for play.

4. Store away dangerous objects

When you look at the gardening and entertainment items you keep stored in your backyard, most may seem innocuous. But through the eyes of a curious child or pet eager to explore, even the most harmless items can pose a danger. Stow all electrical equipment such as lawnmowers and pruning tools in a locked shed. Barbecues also pose a risk of burning or electrocution, so be sure to pack them away from any little ones’ reach once you’re done entertaining. The same goes for non-electrical items such as hedge trimmers, rakes and brooms.

With children and pets in tow, it’s always good to follow the mantra, “Better safe than sorry.” Always looking at your garden through a child or pet’s perspective will give you insight that will help you transform your backyard into a kid and pet-friendly environment.