There is something to be said about owning your own piece of land and having a home that is all yours. But, ask any homeowner and they will tell you, along with home ownership comes a lot of responsibilities…and work. Issues will come up when you least expect, or need, them to. Additionally, it’s very important to stay on top of home and appliance maintenance to make sure you get the most out of your belongings.

To help with the costs, you should try setting aside funds every year to put toward these home needs. Any amount helps, but a good rule of them is between one and three percent of your home’s purchase price.

So what maintenance should you plan on doing every year?

Top of FormBottom of FormCheck HVAC system filters. Clean air is always important and vital to health and the purity of your air.Clean or replace filters when they get dirty, which depending on the type of filter, is anywhere from 30 days to a few months. Some filters are reusable, while others are disposable and must be replaced. In other words, make sure you check.

Test smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. Another extremely important maintenance item for safety is testing your detectors monthly. Consumer reports say you should change batteries every six months. To make sure you never forget, consider changing the batteries at the same time you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time. This is one you never want to forget!

Drain your hot water heater. Sediment collects in the bottom of the heater over time and this can affect its longevity. If you’re not sure how to drain the water heater, YouTube has plenty of tutorials on how to do it.

Clean clothes dryer exhaust. Lint buildup not only affects your dryer’s efficiency, but it can also be a fire hazard. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 15,500 house fires are caused by clothes dryers every year.

Check for leaks. Water damage is a nightmare.Even the tiniest of leaks can add up quickly. Make it a habit to check for leaks around toilets, sinks, and your roof.

Clean out your gutters. Proper drainage is very important to keep your house from being exposed to excess moisture. Gutter guards can also help prevent the buildup of debris. It’s a dirty job but unstable gutter can spill water to damage the foundation – which is an even bigger headache.

Prune landscape to keep it off your home. While landscaping adds a lot ofappeal to any home, it can also be a way for excess moisture to get onto your siding or foundation. It’s also a way for critters to get into any holes you might not be aware of. And then before you know it, you have a critter party in your attic.

If you have a hard time remembering to do some of these tasks, try setting an alarm in your phone to remind you throughout the year. While they may seem tedious, staying on top of these things and taking good care of your home will pay off in the long run.

Homeownership is a lot of work, but it is totally worth it!

Building a new and custom home should be a super exciting event, not a super stressful one. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which is why we want to make sure the experience is a delight for you.

Here are a few tips we recommend to help you enjoy every moment.

Find the best home builder for you

As with everything, there are a ton of options, meaning you need to do your homework by researching and selecting the builder that is best for you. Be sure to select one that is reputable with the right credentials, licenses and experience, but you also want to pick a builder that feels right to you. Picking the right builder and developing a strong line of communication with them will take away a lot of stress from the get-go.

Have a clear vision

Start by making a list of your must have’s and like-to-have’s. By knowing your non-negotiables, you will be able to set clear expectations with your builder, too. Having a dream board on Pinterest or Houzz will also help you develop ideas, compare options, and ultimately determine what you like most. Doing the research in the beginning and making decisions little by little (versus saving it all until last minute), will help it not feel so overwhelming.

Establish a contingency budget

You have likely set a budget for your home, but we all know things happen and you might decide to make changes or upgrades as the process moves along. Coming up with last-minute funds is stressful, so make it a point to set aside money upfront for any last-minute changes.

Hire professional movers

Every person who has moved has at some point in the process asked themselves, should we just hire movers? If you are looking to keep stress low, and have the budget to make it happen, then do it! After selecting an insured and well-respected company, you can opt to have them pack your items, move and unpack.

With more than 25 years of construction experience, Caroline Contractors has been providing the Tampa Bay area with custom residential construction.  No matter your project size, when you put your trust in Caroline Contractors, you will get the level of attention, responsibility and accountability that has made us one of the most reliable and trusted contractors in the Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas area.

Driving down the road, checking out the scenery, you’ve probably noticed that some homes got it and some just…well, don’t. The truth is, most homes can look significantly better with just a little time, money and effort. It’s all about that curb appeal. Not only will you love pulling up to your home, but if you plan on selling soon, this is a great way to draw in prospective buyers.

As Coronvirus continues to limit the time we can spend outside of the home, there is no better time to tackle a few projects around the house and start beautifying your front yard. The good news is, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to make significant changes to look or vibe of your home.

Here are  5 ideas to improve your curb appeal, costing less than $500.

  1. Paint your front door- Think of your front door as the first impression you and your guests will be making of your home. You don’t want it to be dirty, dull, or out of style. Different colors stimulate different emotions in people; energizing, peacefulness, passion and more. HGTV says that the top colors right now are:
    • Teal
    • Better Red
    • White (on gray or brick homes)
  2. Add furniture – A seating area is welcoming and inviting. You can also select to update seasonally, adding holiday-themed pillows and décor. For example, opt for yellow, orange and red pillows and cushions for fall, but swap out to reds and greens for Christmas. You can also add a mini light-up tree or holiday sign. And don’t forget a doormat.
  3. Add landscaping– Landscaping makes a world of a difference. Don’t have a green thumb? Ask for low-maintenance or drought resistant plants so you don’t stress about it as much. For example, consider buying two beautiful and colorful pots, fill them with plants or flowers of your choice, and place on each side of your front door and /or your entry walkway.
  4. Paint or add shutters– Shutters are another way to add contrast and make a significant difference in the look. You can find different styles, colors, and sizes to create a look for your home. From modern, to coastal, to farmhouse, there is a shutter for you. Don’t believe us, search for before and after shutter images. WOW.
  5. Power wash the house– You’ll be amazed at the difference a power wash will make at the coloring and appearance of your home. Don’t have one? The large home stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot rent them by the day.

Your home should be a place you are proud of and love coming home to. These easy DIY curb appeal tips will help you with that. Don’t forget to share your before and after photos with us!

This Earth Day – on Wednesday, April 22 – will mark 50 years since the initiative began in an effort to draw attention and consciousness to the state of our planet. 

“On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet.”1

Today, more and more initiatives are popping up in an effort to protect our planet. One trend in recent years has been smart home features that save money and the earth.

Here are 5 ways you can take part in a smarter, more energy efficient home that will benefit you and our planet.

  1. Cool roof- Yes, these are cool, but we actually mean temperature-cool. These roofs help deflect sunlight and decrease the temperature of your roof as a whole, which will also keep the temperature in your home lower as well. According to Energy Star, some benefits include:
    • A reduction of energy use by 15%
    • A decrease in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
    • A means of cooling one’s house without air conditioning
    • Reduction of carbon emissions

Yes, it’s expensive, but it will pay for itself sooner than later.

  • Skylights– Natural light is always beautiful and timeless in any home. In addition, you can bring sunshine in without using energy or lighting materials. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that a skylight be:
    • No bigger than five percent of the floor area in a room with many windows.
    • No bigger than 15 percent of the floor area in a room with almost no windows.
  • LED’s- LED lights consume less energy, burn just as brightly, and don’t give off as much heat making these a great choice for your home. You can swap them in your home, including your appliances.
  • Energy Star appliances-  Appliances can consume a lot of energy, especially if you have older ones. Consider updating to newer models that will help with savings. If the ticket price concerns you, consider these stats:
    • Energy Star refrigerators are 20% more efficient.
    • Their dishwashers are about 10% more efficient.
    • The washing machines use 50% less water and 30% less energy, which can save about $50 per year.
    • Energy Star fans used in bathrooms and above stoves use 70% less energy.
  • Solar panels – Florida, the Sunshine State, is one area where solar panels might make a lot of sense for homeowners. For starters, installing residential solar panels is a 30% federal tax credit on the total cost of a system. 

References:

1Earthday.org

2Energy Star

In our last blog, we suggested taking time to select custom touches to finish your home and make it uniquely yours. Because the kitchen is the heart of the home, we wanted to share even more ideas that will make your custom kitchen functional and glamorous.

  1. Creative storage spaces- There are so many options when it comes to building custom cabinets that will keep your kitchen organized. Are you a wino? Consider a custom wine rack drawer to store your favorite whites and reds. Are you an avid baker? A custom tray divider will organize all your baking sheets. Other popular options include spice rack drawers or small pullouts for utensils. Another great idea- a divider drawer for pots and pans lids.  
  2. Charging station- Between phones and tablets, we like to stay fully charged at all times. Building a docking drawer with a hidden charge station will keep your technology charged but out of sight. Now you can check your phone, search for new recipes and still prepare dinner.
  3. Pop-up outlets- Looking for a way to hide your outlets? Pop-up outlets disappear into the countertop and can be especially useful in places where there are no wall cabinets to hide a plug molding strip. Effective and attractive, now that’s a dynamin duo almost as great as PB&J.
  4. Task lighting – Task lighting will illuminate your countertops to make it easier to see your food. It also looks beautiful, especially at dusk. Just make sure to install it toward the front of your cabinets so that it highlights the backsplash tile and not the counter.
  5. Hide the dishwasher- Paneling your dishwasher will provide a clean, harmonious look by hiding the stainless steel. It doesn’t have to stop there. You can also consider paneling the refrigerator as well.
  6. Wine coolers- What’s the fun of having a beautiful, custom home and never celebrating it? Life is full of exciting moments worth celebrating, so why not have a cooler stocked full of your favorite wines you can pull out when guests are over, you’ve had a hard day, or just want to enjoy a night in.

What is one custom touch you would love to have in your kitchen? Contact us today to discuss how we can help you make it happen!

Here’s comes Peter Cotton Tail. And if you are hosting Easter brunch this year, pretty soon, guests will be hopping down your….well, driveway. Don’t let the stress of hosting get the best of you. Follow these easy tips to successfully host an Easter brunch that will leave every bunny very hoppy.

Food

  • Combine homemade with not-so-homemade– Don’t feel as though you have to make everything from scratch. Create a list of the foods you want to serve and determine what and where you can save time. Pre-made options can include:
    • Smoked lox, shrimp or whitefish, served with crackers, cucumbers, tomatoes and cream cheese
    • A variety of cheese and crackers
    • Pre-sliced fruit platters
    • Pre-made meats
    • Pre-made croissants, breads, quiches from a local bakery
  • Prepare the day before– A lot of the foods you decide to serve can likely be prepared the night before. One example, deviled eggs, an Easter classic. Hard-boil the eggs the night before and store the peeled eggs in a container that can be pulled out the next day.
  • Be smart with food selections– Save yourself the stress. Only select foods to serve that are easy to prep, can be premade, or purchased from a local store. One example, quiche or breakfast casserole. Casseroles are very easy to make in a crockpot the night before, while many bakeries can prepare delicious quiches in a variety of flavors.
  • Balance sweet and savory– Appease everyone’s taste buds by having options for savory and sweet. For guests with a sweet tooth, in addition to the delicious foods you’ll be serving, consider a pancake station with toppings such as chocolate chips, Nutella, peanut butter, jams,

Décor and Fun

  • Set the mood with centerpieces – There are a million ideas on Pinterestto help you find the right centerpiece concept for you. FromDIYto elegant spring floral arrangements,there is something for everyone and every budget.
  • Hidden eggs (or candy) – Have some fun hiding eggs around the home, or at least in the areas you’ve had time to clean ahead of time (are we right? Or are we right?). Send kids on a hunt to find the eggs and the one who finds the most, can be awarded a prize. Or, consider hiding candies.
  • Add colorful plates and napkins- Consider adding a pop of spring color to the table with pastel colored plates or napkins.
  • Entertain the kids – Consider having games, coloring books, and entertainment handy for any kids attending. With nice weather, you can also consider sidewalk chalk, bubbles or outdoor toys as well to keep kids and parents happy.

No matter how you decorate, or what you cook, just remember to focus on family, memories and the reason behind Easter is what matters most. Happy Easter from our families to yours!

After all the work, planning, and money you will invest in building a custom home, you want to make sure it is beautiful, inside and out.

Creating a relaxing, and beautiful outdoor living space will not only increase the appeal and value of your home, but it will also provide an oasis for you to enjoy with your friends and family for years to come.

Consider the following ideas for your backyard to make it a space everyone can enjoy:

Pick the MVP- How do you envision spending the majority of your time outdoors? Lounging by a pool? Relaxing in a hot tub? Entertaining friends or catching the big game? Whatever it is, make this component the centerpiece of your outdoor space. Invest the money into where you plan to invest the most of your time and worry about the other elements later on.

Create shade- As Floridians, we know more than anyone how brutal the sun can be and how glorious the shade is, especially in the summer. Gazebos and pergolas not only provide shade, but a great place to gather together. Consider filling the space with a small table and chairs where you or guests can enjoy a coffee or cocktail. And did we mention they look beautiful?

Comfort is key- The truth is, if there is no where to sit and relax outdoors, you most likely won’t take the time to do it. Shop outdoor patio furniture to find the material, color, and style that best suits the look you are going for. And a tip- covering the furniture will help make it last longer.

Décor adds more- The options are limitless when it comes to décor. Into glam? Consider hanging a chandelier from the pergola or gazebo. Love to entertain? Bistro lights make a beautiful, warm glow. Pillows, outdoor rugs, lanterns. We have a feeling you might enjoy shopping for all the fun elements that will make your outdoor space uniquely yours.

Landscaping goes a long way-  Just like your home would look bare if you didn’t hang any photos, pictures or decorations, your yard will look bare if you don’t landscape. From providing privacy, to giving you a pop of color, to creating a tropical and lush look, your plant and flower selections will bring it all together. Take a stroll through a local nursery to get inspiration on what you like and what would work in your yard. Make sure you know how much sun your yard receives so you can focus on plants that will thrive.

With more than 25 years of construction experience, Caroline Contractors has been providing the Tampa Bay area with custom residential construction, commercial construction, remodeling, ADA modification, renovations and shell services that are professional and cost-effective. Contact us today to start planning your dream home.

So you’ve built your custom, dream home. All the months of prepping, planning, construction, and inevitable stress are finally going to prove worth it, because the big moment is finally here: moving day.

Moving into your home is exciting, and exhausting. However, don’t let the stress and lengthy to-do list get the best of you. Stay organized with these tips so you can focus on how wonderful your new home is, how lucky you are to have this opportunity and all the memories you will be creating in your custom home.

  1. Hire movers- Yep, it’s worth the money to hire a properly licensed and insured mover.This will allow you to focus on everything else, and leave the physical moving to the experts.
  2. Donate, donate, donate- You will certainly feel overwhelmed as you begin packing, wondering when you accumulated all this stuff. Save time packing, and help others, by donating everything you no longer need, want or use. Or, if you want to earn some extra cash, consider having a garage sell to make back some of the expenses that come with moving.
  3. Don’t skimp on packing materials- It is devastating to start unpacking only to find that valuable or sentimental items have been destroyed due to poor packing. Invest in bubble wrap, proper boxes and tape to ensure this doesn’t happen.One tip- you can usually visit local stores to give you their boxes for free!
  4. Do the packing yourself- This is one way to save a lot of money. Plus, by you packing, you can organize exactly how you want. Be sure to clearly label boxes, marking the room and some of the main objects that are in the box. That was, when you are unpacking, you can have an idea of where you want to start. Set aside, or box together, items you would need immediately, such as toilet paper, paper towels, bath towels, soap, cleaning materials, silverware, plates, etc.
  5. Switch utilities- You don’t want to get to your new home, only to discover there is no water or electric. Contact the company to switch the bills and have everything up and running for when you arrive.
  6. Change your address- The USPS offers a checklist for moving on their website. To set up certain utilities and bills, as well as updating your drivers license, you will need mail with your new address, so it’s important to get this set up sooner than later.

Staying organized, will help you be able to enjoy this exciting time in your life.  What are your go-to moving tips? Comment below!

As you prepare to move into your new home, you will inevitably ask yourself, should we just hire movers? The idea of having one less thing to worry about it is appealing, but perhaps the (loveable,) likes-to-be-in-control part of you worries they won’t do as good of a job as you would. We get it!

Ultimately, that decision is up to you, but here are a few things to take into consideration as you make your final decision.

Moving distance-
When moving locally, you can bribe family and friends with food and drinks to help you with your move. Additionally, it is pretty affordable to rent a big truck to move the larger items of your home in a day. However, long distance is another story, and items are traveling longer, increasing the risk of breaking.

Pressed for time –
There is a lot of extra work that comes with moving. Professionals are trained to work around the clock to move items quickly and effectively. If you won’t have the time to properly organize, it might be worth it to hire movers and make your life a million times easier before and after the move.  

Specialty items-
If you have a lot of large items; hot tub, pool table, piano, grandfather clocks, etc., hiring movers becomes an easy decision to make. Not only are these items heavy, but they are super tricky to move in and out of doorways.

Cost-
Make sure you talk to a few different companies to get multiple quotes. After speaking with a few, and ensuring they are legit, decide if it’s something you can afford, and where you could cut down on the costs. Some companies charge less if you pack everything yourself, for example. Check to see if they are offering any specials, or try negotiating the price with them.

Reputation-
It’s very important that if you do decide to hire a moving company, you pick one that is reputable. Check Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Ask friends and family for companies they recommend.

Insurance –
After their reputation checks out, it’s important you confirm they have proper insurance. You can check U.S. Department of Transportation, or the 
Better Business Bureau, to ensure they are reputable and insured.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever used movers? If so, how was the experience?

Building a custom home is a dream come true for many. It provides homeowners with the opportunity to make decisions and call the plays on exactly how they want their home to look, feel and function. Which is why it’s important take the time to think through fun and personalized touches that will make the home 100% YOU. Remember, that’s exactly why you made the wonderful decision to custom build your home in the first place!

If you need some inspiration, consider the following ideas that are super trendy and super fun!

  1. Built-in bookshelves- Not only are bookshelves a beautiful statement piece, but they also provide extra storage. And let’s be honest, storage is always a good idea.
  2. Outdoor TV- Is there anything better than catching Sunday’s game outdoors, near the grill (and pool)? One of the things we love about Florida is the endless summer and ability to spend weekends poolside. By adding a TV, you’ll be able to catch some sun and catch the game.
  3. Unique cabinet hardware- One-of-a-kind kitchen or bathroom hardware can provide a unique look to any space. From glamorous, to farm rustic, the options are endless! If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with a quick search on Etsy.
  4. Jacuzzi tub- The hustle and bustle of our daily lives are no joke. Imagine having a large jacuzzi tub (or gorgeous clawfoot tub) to come home and soak in from time to time. It will only take one lavender-scented bubble bath for you to realize how great of an idea this custom touch was.
  5. Custom kitchen cabinets- The options are endless here. From custom spice drawer, bread drawers, walk-in pantry with organized shelving, hidden trash and recycling; there are so many ways to be efficient in the kitchen, keep things organized and keep a clean and glam look to any kitchen. 

A dream becomes a reality with sweat, determination and hard work. At Caroline Contractors, that’s how we build your dreams. You can always trust us to provide quality workmanship, personalized service and our complete focus on your new custom home, your renovations or your commercial projects. Every single time.

What is your dream custom touch for your home? Comment below!