The Manuel Builders Blog


5 Rooms That Can Be Cleaned with $5

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: August 19, 2016


You would be surprised with what you can clean with so little.  Just buying a bottle of vinegar from the store, you can clean your house at a fraction of the price you would pay for chemical cleaners!  It’s cheap and it’s natural so you won’t have to worry about what those chemicals will do to you or your home.  Here are 5 areas in your home you can effectively rid of bacteria, mildew, and dirt with using vinegar as your main cleaner!


Use vinegar as a mattress disinfectant!  First purchase a spray bottle or you can utilize an empty or used windex/409 bottle to save money. Mix together vinegar, a pour or two of rubbing alcohol and a couple drops of tea tree oil in the the bottle. Spray your mattress with the mixture to help fight off dust mites, mildew and any odors. Don’t be too generous with the amount sprayed, you want to refrain from soiling your mattress with the mixture. Less is more! If you find that it’s not enough, try following up with a shake of baking soda across the mattress. Wait til it dries, then pass the vacuum to clean it up.

Laundry Room

Replace fabric softeners with vinegar when doing your laundry! It will create the same results but at a much lower price. Add a cup of vinegar to the final wash or rinse in the cycle. It will remove the static and soften the fabric just like you’ll expect. Plus, you’ll be surprised at how the smell is no longer present!

Living Room

For this space, focus on the areas that have glass, i.e. tabletops, media center doors, lamps, picture frames, etc. Mix together half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle to give them all a nice clean and sparkle!


It’s definitely a good idea to skip using the chemicals in the places you store your food, like your refrigerator!  Just clean with a 50-50 water-vinegar solution and you can even store the bottle in the refrigerator too!

You can also rid your plastic containers of food stains by letting them sit with a coat of vinegar applied.  Then you just wash as normal and they are good as new!


Using straight or diluted vinegar is very handy when battling stains and odors.  You can even pour a cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl and let it sit overnight to remove any toilet rings.

These are just a couple of ideas, but the possibilities are endless!  Why pay all that money on household chemicals?  Just pick up a bottle of vinegar and you can clean your whole house with a natural cleaner that won’t hurt your wallet.

Do I need to make an appointment for my first meeting?

Categories: FAQs | Posted: August 9, 2016

Yes and no. While our design center is open for viewing and you are welcome to do so, there is no guarantee that a consultant will be available to speak with you unless you schedule an appointment. To ensure that someone is free to answer all your questions and address any concerns you might have, call (337) 981-5315, ext. 4 and arrange to meet with any one of our consulting team who will gladly introduce you to the wonderful world of home building.

That being said, we welcome you to stop in any time to check out some of our selections and evaluate the excellence and quality of our work!

What is the “Value Package”?

Categories: FAQs | Posted: August 9, 2016

The Value Package is everything included in the base price of each home from the type and size air conditioner and insulation to the counter tops and flooring.

Do not let the word “value” fool you! Every item and material type in this package is excellent in quality and durability and you can view them all upon your first visit to our design center for a consultation.

Some of the items included in the Value Package are Delta plumbing fixtures, 18″ ceramic tiles in all wet areas, engineered wood in the dining, living and hall areas, 100 percent real wood custom cabinets, etc. During your first meeting, one of our consultants will walk you through all of the items that come standard in your home and you have the liberty to change, adjust or upgrade anything you like!

What is included in the floor plan price?

Categories: FAQs | Posted: August 9, 2016

In the floor plan base price shown on our site, we include everything from the slab to all plumbing fixtures and basic appliances (dishwasher, stove/oven range and hood vent).

Our goal is to make building a home as easy and stress-free as possible for you. For that reason, we take care of all building permits, city inspections and Builder’s Risk Insurance. We also pay for all utilities during the build.

At no additional charge, you will have the advantages of an in-house architect who customizes your blueprints and an in-house interior designer who will assist you with your home selections. Our design center is beautifully equipped with all of the materials you need to choose for your home from counter tops and flooring to faucet fixtures and cabinetry so you can make all of your selections in one place without the hectic rush of running from one supplier to another to match items!

Additionally, there are a multitude of features included in the price shown that are “above industry standard” including the following:

  1. Hurricane clips on every single rafter
    (instead of the required every other rafter)
  2. All exterior and interior sole plates bolted into the foundation
    (instead of the required exterior sole plates only)
  3. A 5-year structural warranty
  4. 30 pound felt under shingles
    (instead of the required 15 pound)

For a specific outline of the contents included in the base price of each home, click on the “Value Package” button on any of our floor plan pages!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Yard Healthy by Beating the Summer Heat!

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: July 5, 2016

Manuel blog photo collage

The Louisiana summer heat is no joke! Instead of letting your yard succumb to the sizzle, follow these helpful tips to create the most appealing outdoor hangout for your friends and family this sunny season. But more importantly, these tips can save you from any trouble once the summer comes to a close!


Grass Length Perfection

Mowing the lawn at a higher height insulates the grass from the summer sun and reduces water loss from the soil. Lucky for you, most lawn mowers have easy-to-adjust blade heights so simply adjust the blade height on your mower to 3 inches and you’re all set!

Keep Your Grass Hydrated

Sadly, more plants are killed through over-watering than under-watering. You may not ever need to water your lawn if Mother Nature is on your side, but if you notice the growth is beginning to brown, water for 30 minutes (no more than ½ inch) once or twice a week. The best time to water is between 6-10 am or 4-7 pm, avoiding 11am-3pm which is the hottest part of the day.  Also, refrain from watering overnight as this provides the perfect conditions for mildew and fungus to grow, which no one wants to hassle with!

Save Your Grass!

Don’t make the mistake of over fertilizing your grass or gardens. Doing this can create flush of tender growth that will struggle in the hot summer weather. It’s best to avoid fertilizing during the hottest months of summer, and to wait until fall when the greenery starts thriving on its own. When you do start to use fertilizer, use discretion. Some liquid fertilizers feed the greenery and make it thrive, but they do not appropriately enhance the soil like granular fertilizers most often do.

Clean up Spring Growth and Keep Weeds at Bay

Keep your shrubbery and garden well-manicured by trimming dead or obtrusive branches from last season, including tackling those unwanted weeds. Everyone dreads weeding a garden, but it could mean the difference between a beautiful thriving garden and one that is way overgrown in weeds. To make this task easier, consider investing in a stainless steel claw weeder.

Let it Bloom

Get the color your yard needs by planting flowers that thrive even through the summer heat. Be sure to research each flower before planting; some require some shade, or more water. Understand the flowers you’re planting to help them prosper.

And don’t forget to take before and after pictures of your yard to document all the hard work you put in!

10 Home Projects to Complete for an Easy, Breezy Summer Season!

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: May 27, 2016

Summer is finally here! Before it gets too hot, we’ve got a few household tasks for you to knock out so that summer will be a breeze for you and your home. Tackle these projects and you’ll be more than ready for impromptu summer gatherings. Plus, you won’t be sizzling in the hot sun trying to get your list of to-do’s completed but rather enjoying a relaxing time by the pool!

Inspect Outdoor Cushion Covers

Indoor/outdoor pillows and cushions really go through a lot of wear and tear throughout the year. Remove the slip covers and give them a good wash. If you’ve had them for a while, and it just seems to have lost it’s fluff, consider purchasing new Outdoor Room 2010ones altogether. Sometimes adding a new pop of color to your outdoor furniture can be just what you need plus it’s an inexpensive change!

Wipe Down Outdoor Furniture

It may sound like a simple task, but it is often overlooked. The rain showers may rinse off dirt and dust, but it doesn’t compare to a thorough wipe down– nooks and crannies, included. A good wipe down and proper care for your outdoor furniture really goes a long way to keeping it looking its best for a long time!

Clean Outdoor Rugs

Even though it’s an outdoor rug, it still needs to be vacuumed just like the rugs and carpets placed in your home. Hose it off, and make sure it dries completely. Your outdoor rugs need some TLC, too! If it’s frayed or very discolored, consider purchasing a new one. You can find many options of outdoor rugs for reasonable prices at TJ Maxx, Marshals or HomeGoods.

Haylei Smith

Pressure Wash the Patio

What could be more satisfying than pressure washing the patio? Watching all the dirt and grime wash off instantly is the kind of gratification we like! If you don’t feel like spending the money and getting your own pressure washer, you can always rent one. In just a few short minutes, YEARS of dirt will magically disappear from your patio and walkways. You may even have your guests fooled that you recently remodeled the area! –Don’t forget to move your furniture out of the way first!


Re-Paint Your Exterior Doors

The summer sun and heat can really wear down a wooden door by warping and Haylei Smithcracking its surface over time. Re-painting your door helps seal the wood from the effects of natural elements, plus its also an easy trick to give your home a “new” look and feel! Try going out of the box by choosing a bold color to use instead of the same neutral you’ve had for years.

Get That Grill Ready

If you enjoy cooking a few good steaks on your grill, often it is necessarily to give it a good deep clean at least twice a year. Giving your grill’s cooking grates, burner protectors and the cook box a good scrub-down really does wonders. Don’t forget about the exterior too! Consider even purchasing a sleek grill cover to help protect the exterior from tarnishing or rusting. Note: Always disconnect the gas before you start scrubbing and wiping the grill!


Repair Damaged Screens

Mosquitoes, flies, lovebugs, stay out! Take some time out of your weekend to inspect the insect screens around your home because even the slightest tear can let in dozens of bugs. Mending the screens are surprisingly easy to do with just a couple tools. It’s not a glamorous job to tackle but imagine how unglamorous your home will be with the extra unwanted visitors during the summer!37ce25085da0dd15a1600a77b5e3ab31

Update Your House Numbers

If you love hosting parties at your place, make sure your house numbers are visible. Consider replacing them with larger numbers, and position them under a light fixture so that your guests have a better visibility of the numbers. Consider updating them on your mailbox as well. Giving your guests two different ways to find your home is always best!


Update Fixtures

If you’re planning to host a couple parties and get togethers at your home this summer, you’ll want proper lighting to set the mood. It’s a good time to check or maybe upgrade exterior light fixtures, to ensure they’ll all function in tip Haylei Smithtop shape. Try adding some strands of lights to your back patio for fun lighting too!

Guest Room Spruce-Up

When you have guests over, you want them to feel comfortable and impressed with your home. Try sprucing up the space with new throw pillows for the bed or new art for the walls. Adding a nice candle is a good touch as well so that it not only looks good, but smells good too!


Do one or do them all! Either way, you’ll be feeling good about your home’s look all summer long. Sometimes the smallest changes will make the biggest difference!


Don’t be a Stranger. Let’s Welcome Our Newest Neighbors!

Categories: Home Safety, Lifestyle | Posted: April 19, 2016

Moving into a new home can be one of the most exciting events for you and your family. It’s a new beginning and with that fresh start comes new neighbors! There are two ways most people will go about addressing their neighbors: Stay hidden or Stay open. One may choose to respect thy neighbor but leave it at that and others may choose to love thy neighbor like they are family.

Either way you choose to view it, it’s important that you make your neighbors aware of who you are and that you welcome them into the community. It’s only neighborhood etiquette to do so!

Give them the 411:

handshake2Introduce yourself to the new neighbors first and foremost so that you can exchange contact information. In the event of an emergency, you want to know that someone is looking out for not only your house but for the well being of your family. Get to know them by sharing information about your family and create small talk. This will help the both of you form trust in your relationship so that you can have comfort knowing your new neighbor will look after your house while you’re away. So whether you are a “stay hidden” or “stay open” type of neighbor, exchanging contact information is always a must.

Welcome Gifts:

A welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift will brighten the newcomer’s day and ease the hassle of settling in. Typically, gifts are simple and inexpensive like a plate of cookies, a bouquet of garden flowers, a stack of (new) local take-out menus, or an extra phone book. Other gift suggestions can be:Haylei Smith

* Fresh-picked vegetables and fruit from your garden.

* Blooming houseplants

*Personalized stationary with the homeowners new address

* Specialty spices for their new kitchen spice rack like Tony Chachere’s or Louisiana Hot Sauce

*Local goodies such as a pack of Swamp Pop, Loaf of bread from Great Harvest, Sweets from Indulge, etc

If gifts aren’t your thing, you can also offer to help them unload the truck while they’re moving in or invite them to dinner with a few other couples from the neighborhood. This will ensure that they feel welcome in their new place!

Be respectful:

When welcoming your new neighbors, stray away from rushing over as soon as the truck pulls into their driveway presenting them with a basket of homemade goodies. This can easily be stressful for them and might put them in an uneasy position. Instead, allow them time to begin their move into their new place and see that they are settled before you go knocking. However, a polite wave and “Welcome to the neighborhood!” from your yard is certainly appreciated.


Regardless of the situation you’re in, what matters most is that you’ve made the effort! It’s a much better feeling to be greeted and welcomed into a new environment, especially one where you call home. After all, if you’re the new neighbor moving in, wouldn’t you hope to receive the same experience?!

The Floor is Yours: Make it Last.

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle | Posted: February 29, 2016

Carpet. Tile. Hardwood. Concrete.

There are so many choices when it comes to the world of flooring options for a new home, that it can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. The options are endless but it’s important to think through each one available since it’s a detail that will be vivid to you and your guests for years to come.

We are lending our expertise by outlining 5 key points to consider when it comes time to decide on flooring styles suited best for you and your new home.

1. Which room or rooms are you considering?


Let’s start off with the basics.

The function and location of the room obviously plays a big part in flooring decisions of your home. It’s wise to stray away from carpet in the kitchen or dining room due to the propensity for spilled foods and liquids. Spaces in the home that contain entry doors such as the foyer or a mud room are considered high traffic zones which will accumulate much more dirt and grit than areas like an upstairs bedroom. Consider choosing a hardwood or tile floor in these areas. Although, no floor will last forever if the grit isn’t regularly maintained, of course! The bottom line here is to choose a surface that’s suitable for the function and location of the room.


2. Consider your family’s status and lifestyle.

Constantine CollectionDo you have children? If so, how many? Young ones? Do you have elderly or disabled family members living with you? Are there any pets in the house? These are the next things to consider and quite possibly the most important. How you and your family live makes a difference in choosing a floor type. Children usually create more wear and tear from running, banging and playing with toys. Some of the laminate products might be better in this scenario than site-finished solid wood due to the wear resistant, or “kid-proof” nature of laminate flooring. These products have factory-applied coatings that are designed to be very durable and scratch-resistant. The surface finish of a site-finished wood floor (one that’s sanded and top-coated in your home) doesn’t have the same durability characteristics as those factory-finished floorings. No one wants scuffed up wood flooring after only a few months in the house!

The grout seams associated with tile may be an annoyance or even a hindrance for family members with wheeled walkers or wheelchairs. The wheels could catch or “clunk” as they pass over the grout, especially wider grout lines. Consider installing hardwood, laminate or even a tile with thin grout lines.

For pets that have long claws and/or have a high volume of shedding, it’s best to select a flooring type that will last. Hard surfaces work well for cleanup from pets that shed whereas carpeting will retain pet hair and dander. On the other hand, claws can also scratch a wood floor. If you have larger dogs with sharp claws, tile or wood/laminate flooring with the most durable surface finishes may be your best bet.


3. Does anyone in your home suffer from asthma or any other respiratory allergies?

Keeping your family’s health concerns into consideration is always wise when selecting floor types. Carpet can obviously harbor a greater amount of allergens that are more difficult to rid of than those on a hard surface. If you decide on carpet for your home, we suggest to set a strict cleaning schedule in place to assure your carpet stays as clean as possible. This will help avoid the buildup of pesky danders, allergens, etc. that can trigger asthma and other allergies.


4. How much care and maintenance are you willing to allocate to the floor?


Speaking of cleaning schedules, it’s important to note the level of care that some flooring options hold over others. Wood should be swept or vacuumed often to avoid the dulling and scratching that comes with ground-in dirt. Stone and tile are very durable although, their finish will eventually succumb to the lack of regular sweeping and maintenance. For carpets, they will easily lose fluff and freshness if they are not vacuumed at least once a week. They track a much higher level or dirt than any other floor option which means they will also stain much faster too! It’s recommended to have them professionally cleaned every 9months or annually to extend their life span in your home.

5. How important is floor to you from a style and aesthetic point of view?

Are you willing to spend the extra buck for something much more high end, or would youHaylei Smith rather take the economical route? Spending all your money on a new, expensive floor may not be of interest to you, but buying a super cheap floor may have you spending more money than planned with replacements down the road. From the aesthetic point of view, selecting a vibrant, very unique flooring that is trendy or in style now, may grow really tiring to look at in the next five years. Consider utilizing that trend you love now towards the easily changeable decorations in the room i.e. the wall colors, lamps, pillows, etc. This way you aren’t spending more money on a new floor!

Look at all your options. If you like the look of Brazilian Cherry but don’t need to have real solid wood to make you happy, consider the laminate options. You might be surprised to find a laminate that’s a close match to real wood but for less money. If you’re remodeling or building a new home, you can apply the savings to something that provides greater service and satisfaction in the long term such as upgraded appliances or cabinets.

Finally, once you’ve considered all of the factors discussed above, it’s time to get out and test drive your final choices. Find your top 2 or 3 favorites and choose the one you know you’ll love for years to come!

Practicing Gratitude in 2016

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: December 29, 2015

“Practice of Gratitude” by Missy Manuel, Co-Owner of Manuel Builders

Missy shares with us through video and writing how powerful the practice of gratitude can be to one’s life and to those around them. Use this as a testament to be more grateful in this next year ahead. Whenever there’s a moment of doubt, take a step back and appreciate the great things still happening all around you..

I guess I never realized how deeply connected joy and gratitude really are until I began the practice of gratitude.  These days, one can find multiple articles on happiness; however, I think gratitude is an essential key to well-being.  It helps us see our situation in a way that can lessen panic, and could open up our thinking to new solutions. Practicing gratitude means to literally verbalize specifics as to what one is grateful for or jotting those things down on paper. No one is hardwired to be grateful. And, like any skill worth having, gratitude requires practice.

Gratitude is definitely a gift from God. When we practice gratitude, we re-experience the good things that are present in our lives, which then produces feelings of joy.  I think in today’s culture, humans are so fast-paced and focused on what we need to obtain.  We also focus on what we don’t have and find ourselves constantly living in a state of scarcity.  It is as if our emotional battery is always draining like a cell phone battery.  We simply get on the hamster wheel of life and never feel like we have accomplished enough, are rich enough, thin enough, successful enough and basically just not enough. You fill in your blank.

We are a fearful culture. Yet, I know gratitude has given me not only a true sense of joy, but freedom from worry.  Growing up in a home that practiced worry more than almost anything, I was a natural worrier.   When things went well, I wondered when the shoe was going to drop, staying in a state of preparedness, squandering my joy of individual moments and living in the negative fantasy that defines worry.  This was exhausting.  Gratitude practice has changed all of that for me.  Now when my mind goes to worry, it is simply a prompt to begin a gratitude prayer for the things that are good and present reality for me.

Every day starts with a gratitude list of things as small as hot coffee and snoring pugs to larger things like my home, husband, son, etc.  Also, as a family we have begun to state 3-5 things we are grateful for at the dinner table.  Those items range from a cancelled soccer workout, to a good result on a test, a great meeting, the end of the day or simply being grateful for one another.  These practices have made a huge difference in our mindset for everyday ventures. Even my teenage son’s prayers reflect a more thankful disposition and if you have teenagers, you know that is no small deal!

Gratitude helps me remember the small yet special things in my life; the moments I don’t want to miss.  Research shows that people who have lost loved ones actually miss the little things about them the most; things they bypassed and failed to fully take in due to the busy nature of life.

The practice of gratitude also helps bank emotional energy for those times in life when we face trials. These trials are inevitable; we face them as part of being alive on this earth. God promises us in the Bible that in life we will have trials (James 1:2) and He also tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything pray and be thankful, for peace will guard our hearts. (Phil 4:6)

Gratitude practice has changed my life and it can change yours too.  Make a list of whatever comes to mind in the morning as you sip your cup of coffee. I think all of us have many things to be thankful for, if we really think about it.  I truly believe the antidote to this culture’s striving and fear-based mindset could be tremendously impacted by the practice of gratitude.  Try it for 30 days and let us know what happens!  Have a great and joyful new year!

I leave you with a few quotes to chew on!

“Life is a gift, totally given to you without cost. A daily and chosen ‘attitude of gratitude’ will keep your hands open to allow and receive life at ever deeper levels of satisfaction. Those who live with such open and humble hands receive life’s gifts in abundance and throughout their years, (“full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into their lap” Luke 6:38). “ –Richard Rhor

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Arthur Ward

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” — Brene Brown

Recommended reading:  One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voscamp — Purchase it here

– – – – – –

This holiday season, we asked some of our team to share what they are most thankful for and what the holidays really mean to them. Watch their #ThankfulThoughts below:

Keep Warm Wisely: How to Safely Heat Your Home

Categories: Home Safety, Lifestyle | Posted: November 13, 2015

Haylei SmithHaylei SmithHaylei Smith

With the fall season slowly rolling in, the time of year to start preparing your home for the winter months is here. This means taking the right steps to properly and safely heat your home. To ensure that you and your family don’t fall victim to a house fire during this season, here are some suggestions below on how to safely heat your home.

The Chimney:

Chimney fires are the most common type of house fire during the winter months. It is important to have your chimney professionally cleaned before lighting the first fire of the year. Removing all debris from the chimney and opening the flue will ensure that your home remains free of dangerous smoke. The type of wood used is also very important. You want to use only a seasoned hardwood such as ash, oak, or maple in your fireplace.  Do not burn trash or cardboard boxes.  To keep embers off of rugs and carpets, employ the use of fireplace screens or glass fireplace doors. Clean it properly before using so that you and your family can enjoy it the best way you know how in the winter…with S’mores!

Haylei SmithHaylei SmithHaylei Smith

Gas Heating Systems:

If you have a gas heating system, place carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. It is important to test your detectors annually. If you ever smell gas, immediately extinguish all flames in your home. Do not operate electrical appliances because they may create sparks. Turn off all gas appliances and make sure pilot lights are extinguished. If you still smell gas, turn off your home’s main gas tap, evacuate immediately and call the gas company from a remote location. If your pilot light produces a red or yellow flame make sure you call for service. Your pilot light flame should be blue in color.  If your pilot light goes out, turn off the gas at that heat source and wait several minutes before re-lighting.

Other Heat Sources:

Fires started by the use of space heaters are the second most common type of house fires during the winter months. These heaters certainly come in handy on chilly mornings when all you want to do is bury deep into the warm covers; however, they can also lead to hazardous moments if not used correctly. To ensure your safety, never leave electric space heaters on if they are unattended, and always position them away from flammable objects. Make sure to unplug them when they are not in use, and keeping them away from children and pets is always a wise decision.

Haylei SmithHaylei SmithHaylei Smith

Home Maintenance:

It is important to check that all of your heat sources are well maintained. Have a professional examine and clean your home’s heating unit annually. This can ensure that all potentially harmful leaks are repaired. Also, have your chimney professionally cleaned before the first use of the winter season. Most importantly, inspect your smoke alarms to see they are all functioning properly. They should be tested every month, and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year.

Keep these few tips in mind as you move into the colder months and you’re sure to keep cozy until the spring arrives!