The Manuel Builders Blog


Prepping for the Holidays

Categories: Other | Posted: November 22, 2019

It’s that time of year again! Although the supermarkets have been holiday-ready since mid-September, chances are the rest of us aren’t entirely prepared for the oncoming flurry of houseguests and entertaining. Not to worry, we have you covered. For our November blog, we’ll be discussing a few preparation tips to make your holiday season holly jolly and stress-free.

Check the Oven Temperature

Nothing can ruin a holiday meal like an unevenly cooked dish. To avoid this potential frustration, you can use a battery-powered infrared thermometer to make sure your oven is working at its best. This point and shoot tool laser points the surface you want to measure to give you an accurate reading. If you do find that your oven is having temperature issues, you can adjust the range’s oven temperature using the instructions in the owner’s manual or by using a repair manual for the appliance.

Clean Out Your Fridge

Whether you’ll be staying at home or going out of town for the holidays, it’s a good idea to give your fridge a deep clean. For many people, this time of year means throwing parties and hosting out of town guests. If that sounds like you, you’ll want extra space in your fridge to store prepped meals and delicious leftovers. If you hit the road during the holidays, the last thing you want to come home to is spoiled or rotten food in your fridge.


Whether it’s Christmas cards, wrapping paper, gifts, or decorations, the holiday season tends to bring out the clutter in our homes. Before you drag out the decorations and all that goes with them, you’ll want to clear out any unnecessary items that you have accumulated over the past year. The great thing about decluttering this time of year is it gives you the perfect opportunity to donate these items to people or organizations that really need them.

-Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Storage for Your Lifestyle

Categories: Other | Posted: October 31, 2019

When planning for your new home there are a multitude of options to consider, which is why it’s easy to forget the functionality of your space. Nothing puts your square footage to better use than a built-in. Other than the obvious perk of maximizing every inch of your floor plan, a built-in gives you the freedom of designing it to tie in with other architectural elements in the room, such as crown molding and wainscoting. Although a quick web search will reveal seemingly endless choices, in this blog we’ll explore some of our most popular built-in options and how they might work for you and your family.


One way to minimize entryway clutter is by giving family members drop zones for coats, hats, bags, and more. You can combine open cubbies with cabinetry to keep certain items out of sight. You can even add a bench that’s perfect for putting on and taking off shoes.

Entertainment Centers

This type of storage usually features closed cabinetry for small items such as movies, music, and games, as well as open shelving to display a large television, books, and décor. Why scour furniture stores for the perfect entertainment center for your family when you can tailor one to suit your particular needs and style?


As working from home becomes more commonplace, the need for a home office or at the very least workspace rises. A built-in desk gives you the perks of a home office without having to dedicate an entire room to serve that function. Add cubbies above the desktop for organizing mail and cookbooks to maximize organization. Depending on what your needs are, your desk can be as simple or as elaborate as you’ve envisioned.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Pet-Friendly Features

Categories: Other | Posted: September 20, 2019

When considering building a new home, normally a list is made of “wants” and “needs” for everyone in the family that will be a part of the new home construction experience. Maybe your son wants his room to be upstairs, or your daughter wants her own vanity space in the bathroom. Maybe mom wants a huge closet with a door that locks (moms, we’ve got you!), or dad wants a man cave. Maybe we need a special suite for maw-maw or paw-paw to feel like they still have some independence.  But who are we forgetting?

To some people, pets are pets. But to the rest of us, they’re are so much more! Whether you call them “the roommates”, “Fur-Babies”, or how my parents choose to call them “grand-dogs,” they aren’t just pets, they’re family! And as family, why wouldn’t we consider them when building as well? Did you know it’s possible to get them their own space AND keep things functional for you?

But how? Let’s look at some options.

Built-In Food and Water Bowls

This is an option that can get fancy, quickly! While you can choose tile surround, a granite countertop, and even a pot filler, the option also remains to have the food and water bowls built into the base cabinetry in your kitchen or living room. Is this option a necessity? No, but will it keep you from tripping over food bowls or kids splashing around in the water? Absolutely!

Built-In Kennel

Maybe you’re like us and your pet beds are just in the corner of a room. It works, but if we could give Annie (our Lab) her own space without taking away from our usable space, you better believe we would! It’s not always the case, but sometimes there is wasted space inside of walls of your home. The most common place is under the stairs. This option can be drawn with or without a kennel door and can be completely customized just like the rest of your home. It’s cheap and maybe (if you’re lucky) get them out of your feet in the kitchen!

Hidden Gate

I’m sure you’re thinking even if your dog had their own space, they would still be at your feet in the kitchen. They’re just that persistent! Well, persistent…and they love cheese! So how do we keep them out of the kitchen? Put up a few of those ugly plastic baby gates that you must be an Olympic athlete to climb over? No! A hidden gate is the answer. This classy gate would match your cabinets and give you the option of when to use it, as well as a built-in storage location.

Here at Manuel Builders, our pets are family and when you build with us, you become family too! We strive to make your home functional and enjoyable to every member of the household, which is why we’ve begun to incorporate ideas such as these. Have other ideas that you don’t see here? Bring them to us and let’s make them happen!

-Written by our Building Consultant Taylor Burner, with the help of his own pup, Annie

Lighting Sizes for Your Space

Categories: Home Design | Posted: August 21, 2019

When planning for your new home, one feature that usually comes to mind are the lighting fixtures. It’s easy to spend hours scouring books and the web for inspiration. While the finishes and style of your lights are very important, something else to consider is the size of your lighting fixtures. You want your lighting choices to enhance the room not overshadow it or be overpowered by it. Below are two simple tips that will help you determine how to choose the correct size lights for your home. This will ensure your choices will not only beautifully complement the style of your home but also best serve the area they are in.


To determine the diameter of a light fixture that’s best for your space:

First, measure the length and width of the room in feet. Then, add the two lengths together. Next, you will swap that value in feet for inches (for example, 20 feet would become 20 inches). This is the ideal diameter for a light fixture in that room.


To determine the height of a light fixture that’s best for your space:

Start by measuring the height of the room (floor to ceiling) in feet. Next, multiply the height by 2.5 to 3 per foot. Just like you did above, you will once again swap that value for inches. This is the ideal height for a light fixture in that room.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Outdoor Living Options

Categories: Home Design | Posted: July 23, 2019

Summer is upon us and with it comes spending more time in the great outdoors. When designing your new home, you should consider how you and your family spend those summer nights. The best-designed outdoor spaces serve as extensions of our home, family, and lifestyle. Let’s explore a few outdoor living options below.

Outdoor Kitchen

If you’re all about cooking for the ones you love then an outdoor kitchen might be the option for you. This option is ideal for the reigning BBQ king or queen. With options like a built-in grill, outdoor cabinet space and a sink to avoid all those messy trips in and out of the house, your summer entertaining will be smooth sailing.

Screened-in Back Porch

A screened-in porch could be the right fit for you if you’d rather do your relaxing outdoors. You can enjoy the perks of outdoor living without the critters and weather that come along with it. Add in a rocking chair and a glass of iced tea or lemonade and you’re all set.

Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit

This outdoor feature may be associated more so with the fall and winter months but it does have its place in the summer months as well.  You may not be able to prepare a feast like you would with the outdoor kitchen but you can still feel that summer camp nostalgia while firing up some of your summertime favorites. Because what’s summer without s’mores?

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Retention Pond vs. Detention Pond

Categories: Community | Posted: July 10, 2019

In Louisiana, we are no stranger to the dangers of excessive rain and flooding. Over the past few years, we have experienced tumultuous storms and many families have lost homes because of it. For this reason, it is important to understand what stormwater basins are as well as how they affect your community.

As a builder, we are constantly looking for new areas to build communities in but as communities grow the need for diverting water becomes urgent. Developers do so by adding basins. These basins are meant to collect stormwater and release it at a rate that prevents flooding and erosion. This safety measure is to not only to protect the subdivision you’re developing from flooding but also to protect nearby and adjacent existing communities.

There are two types of basins, dry detention ponds and wet detention ponds, also known as retention ponds. The biggest difference between the two is that a detention pond will remain dry until a storm occurs, and a retention pond will have a constant pool of water. Both dry detention and wet detention can be planned in a good way to provide an added amenity to your community so that they are not just a protection to flooding. For instance, dry detention can act as a grassed soccer park that kids play in under normal conditions and only during heavy rain events will it hold water. In both cases using a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 slope will impede erosion on the embankments of both and allow the banks to easily be maintained long term by mechanical mowing.

Detention Ponds

Detention ponds are best used in areas with plenty of land and usually use a very small slope to divert the water. Water is accumulated in a large collection area and then slowly drains through the outlet. In some cases, concrete blocks are put in place to slow water flow and collect debris. Dry detention basins are great for the surrounding areas because they have a vegetative buffer that can deal with dry or wet conditions. These basins are usually more cost-effective but they also require a large amount of space that could take away property value and attract mosquitoes.

Retention Ponds

Retention ponds are stormwater control structures that help retain the water and treat contaminated storm runoff. Retention ponds remove pollutants and should be surrounded by natural vegetation to improve stability and essentially improve the overall look of the basin. Water is sent to the pool using an underground network of pipes and released through outlets to maintain the desired water level. The biggest advantages to using a retention pond are that they are simple to put in, the water quality is improved, and new habitats are created. On the other hand, these pools can be a drowning hazard and if not designed properly can have a negative effect on the water quality.

Regardless of the basin type, the systems should be maintained and should never become blocked or clogged. Both ponds have their positive and negative attributes but with these helpful hints, you should be a retention/detention pro in no time!

– Written by our Marketing Director, Krista Toussant

Hurricane Preparation

Categories: Home Safety | Posted: June 21, 2019

Hurricane season is once again upon us. Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1-November 30 but we see the peak of the season from mid-August to late October. We cannot control the weather, however, we can take the time and effort to prepare for it. What we all want to avoid is scrambling last minute to get supplies and making arrangements for a hurricane that’s already headed our way. In this month’s blog, we will discuss some helpful tips to best prepare homeowners for the 2019 hurricane season.

  • Plan your evacuation route. Although you will most likely receive instructions from your local government, it’s smart to have an evacuation plan long before a disaster strikes.
  • Have an emergency kit. This kit should include but is not limited to a three day supply of water, non-perishable food, any prescription drugs you or your loved ones may need, first aid supplies, a portable radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Protect your home. This includes home maintenance such as replacing old garage doors and tracks, cleaning out gutters, caulking doors and windows, and installing storm shutters or precutting plywood panels for windows. This also includes landscaping maintenance like cutting down any weak branches or trees and keeping shrubbery around your home trimmed.
  • Review your insurance policies. Take the time to review your homeowner’s policy limit, hurricane/windstorm deductible and which disasters your policy covers and which ones it does not.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

Does an Open Floor Plan Suit Your Family’s Lifestyle?

Categories: Home Design | Posted: May 20, 2019

When choosing the floor plan best suited for you and your needs, there are many options to consider. As trends change, so do the options to choose from. Since the ’90s, open floor plans, whether achieved through new construction or remodeling, have become the trend. Open and airy floor plans are very popular and you’ll have a hard time finding a home built in recent years that isn’t an open concept floor plan.  That being said, it seems some homebuyers are having second thoughts on whether this is the ideal way to live and are considering going back to more traditional floor plans. Let’s explore the pros and cons of open concept plans below and why they may or may not work for you.


  • Spaces can be multifunctional.
    • With an open floor plan, each space can serve many purposes. It can be used for entertaining as well as a home office.
  • Easier accessibility.
    • Open concept plans are much more flexible when it comes to furniture layout, traffic flow, and room design. This accessibility is also advantageous to caregivers and parents of small children as their loved ones are always in their line of sight, which typically wouldn’t be the case in a more traditional floor plan.
  • Improved socialization.
    • Open floor plans make entertaining much easier by not breaking up rooms as a traditional floor plan would. When the holidays roll around, you can cook and socialize at the same time which makes playing host or hostess a breeze.


  • Lack of privacy.
    • While an open floor plan can be ideal for socializing, the lack of doors and walls can make quiet or private activities such as reading or studying more difficult due to poor sound control.
  • Spaces can appear cluttered.
    • Hiding clutter behind a closed door is simply not an option in an open floor plan. Homeowners with busy lives or small children may find the constant maintenance a little overwhelming.
  • Heating and cooling costs.
    • Although high ceilings and large windows are beautiful, they often contribute to higher bills due to the energy drains that may accompany those features.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula


Spring Cleaning Tips for Flooring, Tile, and Grout

Categories: Other | Posted: April 10, 2019

Spring is finally here, which means it’s time for spring cleaning! Is your home under construction with Manuel Builders or soon to be? Below we have provided the do’s and don’ts prior to moving into your dream home. If you’ve built with us in the past, we’ve also included some tips to simply freshen up your home the correct way.

Wood Flooring

For those looking to move into your dream home soon, we recommend several everyday products, which are safe and warranted with your hard surface selections. Whether you’ve chosen wood, laminate, or vinyl plank flooring for your home, the BONA® Professional Series floor care system can not only help to maintain a healthy and warranted product, but also a healthy home. This professional strength series is a non-toxic water-based cleaner so it is equally safe for everyday life with children and pets. Additionally, this product contains zero wax in the finish, which leaves no residue or dullness to your floors. Wax based cleaners, refreshers, and/or polishers are NOT recommended for any engineered woods, laminates, or vinyl products. Over time, wax based products will create major dullness and extra residue on your floors. It will also require more maintenance for you long term. Manuel Builders loves the new BONA® Pro Series Hardwood Floor Mop kit, which comes with a washable cleaning and dusting pad, hardwood cleaner refill cartridge, and the mop itself. The cartridge connects to the mop for an easy spray application with a quick and thorough clean!

Tile & Stone

New homeowners also need to be aware of the appropriate products to use as an everyday tile, stone, and grout cleaner. This is not limited to only floors, but also tubs, showers, and any wall surfaces, too! Stonetech® Surface Care offers everyday cleaners, heavy duty cleaners, sealers, and much more. It is extremely important to use a cleaner that is specially formulated for the correct surface in which you are cleaning. Most general purpose household cleaners contain acidic and alkaline ingredients, ammonia, or abrasives. Why do we like them? Mainly, because they “smell so good!” However, using these will break down any sealers and can actually harm many stone surfaces. Once your sealer has been broken down, mold and mildew can begin to inhabit grouts and natural stones. Stonetech® everyday cleaners are the great choice to use in your new or existing home! We recommend using the Stonetech® Stone & Tile Cleaner, which is an everyday pH neutral cleaner and comes in the concentrate as well as the pre-mixed spray.


Looking to spruce up that shower or clean up those grout joints in the kitchen of your existing home? Stonetech® offers a heavy duty option such as pre-mixed spray bottles of the Mold & Mildew Stain Remover or the Soap Scum Remover. Do you need something even stronger? Stonetech® KlenzAll™ Cleaner! The KlenzAll™ comes in a quart concentrate and can be mixed at different strengths depending on how tough your job is! It can power through stubborn grease and soils, is safe on stone, and is a water-based alkaline formula. It is recommended to use a synthetic white bristle brush when cleaning with the concentrate and to follow all instructions on the bottle. Once cleaned to desire, the KlenzAll™ actually has prepared your surface for resealing. Both the BulletProof® and Heavy Duty Sealers from Stonetech® are great sealers to use and are available in pints, quarts, 1 gallon and even 5 gallons for larger jobs. Once you’ve given your grout and tile a heavy duty cleaning and have resealed, you can now begin to use the everyday cleaners!

– Written by our sponsor, the Flooring Department at Doug Ashy

Home Loan Interest Rates

Categories: Other | Posted: March 21, 2019

“What are interest rates right now?” It may be the most commonly asked question by people looking to build or buy a home.

While at any given time there is an average value for home loan interest rates, it is important to understand that there are three big factors that will determine YOUR interest rate. Your credit score, which loan program you ultimately go with for your loan, and the loan to value ratio all influence your final rate. I want to break those three down for you so you can better understand your interest rate

Credit Score – There are different interest rate tiers based on a range of credit scores. Typically, the higher your score, the better your interest rate. I find that our clients usually get the best rates if their credit scores are a 740 or higher.

Loan Programs – There are many loan programs available to homebuyers. We determine your best fit loan program after we take your full loan application. Programs available to home buyers are conventional loans, FHA loans, rural development loans, VA loans, and construction loans. Interest rates vary across loan programs, and your loan officer should be able to go over all options available to you.

Loan to Value – The size of your down payment can influence your interest rate. As with credit scores, there are different tiers for your interest rate based on the amount of money you are able to put down on your loan. The formula used for loan to value is AMOUNT OF MONEY BORROWED/ACTUAL APPRAISED VALUE = LOAN TO VALUE.
As for how rates will trend in 2019, that is largely dependent on the overall economy. The Mortgage Reports is a great online resource for up to date information on interest rates, and below are a few mortgage rate forecast charts I’ve rounded up from their website.









To truly have a realistic idea of what your interest rate would be if you were to build or buy soon, the best course of action is to reach out to your lender who can review your unique situation based on the 3 big factors!

– Written by our Lending Partner, Brigitte LaCour
Assurance Financial
NMLS #858933

Assurance Financial, NMLS  ID #70876, is an Equal Housing Lender. Branch located at 1215 Camellia Blvd, Lafayette, LA 70508.