The Manuel Builders Blog


Retention Pond vs. Detention Pond

Categories: Other | 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: Other | 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.

Choosing an Exterior Veneer

Categories: Home Design | Posted: February 18, 2019

What’s in an exterior? Would brick by any other name smell as sweet? In this month’s blog, we’ll be discussing different exterior veneers. The material on the exterior of your home makes all the difference since it’s the first impression when it comes to curb appeal. When perusing not only our homes but pictures of homes in general, you’ll notice they feature a variety of exterior veneers such as brick, hardie, vinyl, stucco, and stone. There are definitely pros and cons to each veneer. Let’s delve a little deeper.

Brick Veneer

Brick is a great choice for a long lasting exterior veneer since it should last well over 100 years. Another perk is the variety of brick styles and colors you can choose from. These can range from your classic red to something more intricate and patterned.  As far as maintenance, using a garden hose with a spray nozzle once a year will typically suffice unless there is mildew. In that case, you would want to use a brush and bleach.

Hardie Board

This exterior siding product should provide protection for your home for a lifetime. Due to the fact that the hardie can be painted any exterior paint color, there are endless possibilities when it comes to color options. Keep in mind that this veneer does require some upkeep. It is recommended to pull out the garden hose and wash your hardie siding every 6-12 months to avoid mildew, grease and dirt build up. Similarly, you will likely have to repaint your siding after 10-12 years due to fading and paint chipping.


This material should last for over 100 years, however, it has the price tag to match. The grandeur of a stone exterior is hard to beat and you will see many homeowners choosing this veneer for larger homes. Stone veneer needs to be treated much more delicately than other veneers. Stone should be cleaned with water and mild soap twice a year. It’s very important to avoid harsh cleaning products and pressure washing. When cleaning this veneer twice a year, you’ll also want to take this time to inspect for loose stones so you can have them repointed as soon as possible.


You can expect a stucco finish to last for 50 or more years. Some sources estimate the material may complement your home for up to 100 years. Similar to how hardie gives you the option to really let your personal style shine, you will find your stucco paint color options to be overwhelmingly abundant. Due to its porous nature, stucco will collect dirt and absorb stains. Using a brush to scrub the area and then a moistened microfiber or cotton cloth should clear most stains and dirt. Another matter to take into consideration is repairing stucco. This can be very difficult and costly if not done in a timely matter.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding will protect your home for 60-100 years. This non-porous material is easy to clean and dries quickly. Additionally, it is the most cost effective option for your home. Regarding upkeep, vinyl siding will be your most low maintenance option. Pressure washing your vinyl once a year is more than enough to keep it looking new.

With so many options on the market, there is no one veneer that will work for everyone. When making the choice for your home, you’ll want to take not just the points above into consideration but also what you want the overall feel and look of your home to be. You want your home to reflect you and your family so choose wisely.

– Written by our Building Coordinator, Suzanah Hajrula

“Serving at Manuel Builders for over 4 years now, Suzanah’s extensive product knowledge of every option in each of our Design Centers, combined with her exceptionally calm demeanor and ability to bring focus and clarity in the midst of a multitude of choices ensures that the homeowners she guides are able to select their finishes and styles with confidence and peace in knowing they’re cared for.   With a detailed comprehensive understanding of the entire pre-production process, she is well-versed in guiding her homeowners through the smoothest possible experience.”

New Year, New Updated Space

Categories: Home Design | Posted: January 18, 2019

With the new year in full swing, it’s the perfect time to refresh the look of your home! As time consuming and expensive as this could sound, below are 4 simple ways to transform your space without breaking your budget.

Tidy up à la Marie Kondo

The first step to freshening up your new home this year starts in the closets. If you haven’t used it in three or four years, chances are you won’t use it this year. I find that organizing the unseen spaces in my home, donating unwanted clothing and doing a little spring cleaning helps me to feel like I’m getting the year started off on the right foot.

Mix it up

Mix it up a little! Re-arrange the furniture in your bedrooms. This forces you to pull furniture away from the walls and discover the dust that you miss with everyday cleaning. You may even find that “other” sock or favorite long-lost sweater that you thought your (insert name) borrowed.

Fresh Paint, Fresh Home

A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in reinventing a room. Below are a few of my favorite neutral colors that will match any decor. Keep in mind, LED lighting can affect the way a color looks on your walls. If you are making a color change, paint a few sample spots on the wall before investing in a gallon. You may find that you don’t like the color as much on that wall as you did on the paint chip. When picking a paint finish, my preference is eggshell. It has decent clean-ability without the high sheen of a satin paint. Going neutral allows you to easily accessorize with colors. Below are a few of my favorites from Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore.

Colors with Slight Gray Undertones

Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter





Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray (7029)

Colors with Slight Warm Undertones

Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan





Sherwin-Williams Extra White (7006)


Light up Your Spaces

Finally, explore with accent lighting. You will be amazed how accent lighting can change a space. For kitchens, adding under cabinet lighting can dramatically change the space. Puck lights can be purchased at your local hardware store for under $100. Show off that backsplash! For living rooms, floor lamps are gaining popularity this year. Arc lamps that hover over your sofa not only dress up the space but create a perfect spot to read your favorite book or magazine.

Image via Amazon


– Written by our Building Consultant, Wendi Ritz

“With more than 13 years of experience in new home construction, Wendi is our most seasoned consultant.  She first began working with families to design and style their dream homes while living in Katy, Texas, but – after having three beautiful children – decided to move home to Louisiana to be closer to family.  She specializes in walking homeowners through their options and helping them weigh the pros and cons of each decision and plan customization. “

Homebuilding Enemy No. 1: How to Beat the Weather while Building Your Home

Categories: Building Process | Posted: December 17, 2018

When planning a home, it’s incredibly tempting to get wrapped up in the details of the house itself, but what many homeowners don’t realize is that there’s this giant piece of the puzzle completely outside the home that often dictates how the entire build will go . . . this one so-very-often-overlooked factor that decides whether construction will flow smoothly and can actually reduce the number of days it takes to build your home OR will sabotage every single step and make the whole construction process excessively more difficult.

What is this thing that could so influence the construction of your home?  Home site access!

A property’s site conditions are the true foundation for a future home.  When you’re building on your property, you must keep in mind that simply building the structure is not the only thing you need to take into consideration for your timeline.  In my experience (over 22 years in construction), no two properties are alike when it comes to site conditions and site access.  We’ve seen property with soil that holds quite a bit of water, then moved about half a mile down the road to find soil that is completely different and dries up quickly!

The biggest cause of delay when building a home is rain.  Anything that can be done to help alleviate obstacles that could be amplified by weather will help to speed up the build.

What can you do?

  1. Establish lot access (or allow us to do it) – this means a driveway of some sort! It does not mean just getting onto the property.  The main question you need to ask is, after a rain, could a delivery truck get materials to my home site?  If you’re not sure, be sure to talk with the Project Manager who meets you for Site Evaluation!  Many homeowners are concerned about putting a driveway down early and having the construction trucks make a mess of it, but PLEASE KEEP IN MIND, contrary to popular opinion, a driveway is not all or nothing!  You can set down a decent base and then top it off or concrete finish it towards the end of construction.  Any money you think you may be saving by not doing so is generally far outweighed by the amount of soil that will need to be brought in, as well as the work and funds it will take to repair the property and area before putting down a permanent driveway.
  2. Establish delivery space – is there room to safely drop materials on your site around the actual home? There are dumpsters, palettes of brick, framing materials, etc. that will need to be dropped off within workable distance from your actual home.  Can that be done safely?  Ideally, from that stable driveway so delivery trucks aren’t getting stuck!

Homeowner Story 1:  Access to the actual build site

I once worked with a homeowner who decided to build up a pad to put his home and driveway on.  Instead of bringing dirt in, he hired a company to dig a pond on the property (which is a very common practice).  The dirt from the pond ended up being what we call “blackjack” dirt, meaning that the soil is mostly clay which is very sticky and does not compact well at all.  It turned out that the entire property was covered with blackjack.  Just because the property was “cleared” to the house, he thought he’d established “home site access,” but in reality, there was nowhere to safely drive to the actual build area.  We ended up adding a 200-foot limestone driveway to the property, which didn’t give us a supportive enough base due to the blackjack dirt underneath.  On a daily basis, subcontractor after subcontractor got stuck and we were continually having to tow them out.  This caused months of delay since it meant almost completely stopping construction every time it rained and for days, even weeks, afterward.

Homeowner Story 2:  Room to deliver materials

A different homeowner I was building for decided to install a very sturdy limestone driveway which was 150 feet long.  It was safe for the trucks, amazing for access and absolutely helped us complete the build in a more timely manner.  The house was placed on a large dirt pad, but the property was densely wooded.  Due to this, the few open areas on the property consistently held standing water.  This made it difficult to have material delivered, since there was not a lot of space to put it down.  The problem with not having enough area for the material is that subcontractors had to wait on material to be delivered, instead of having the materials already on-site and ready for use.  This caused subcontractors to reschedule.



-Written by our Project Manager in the Baton Rouge Region, Jason Foster








Tried-and-True Paint Colors

Categories: Home Design | Posted: October 15, 2018

One of the most common questions I hear from homeowners during selections is “How do I choose a neutral paint color that looks good with anything?”

The majority of homeowners simply want a neutral color palette that will complement their personal style.  So why is this so difficult?

Answer:  Color choices are endless and can be overwhelming for most people. However, there are a handful of colors that work well with just about anything, due to their undertones.
With the gray trend we are seeing right now, colors are a little more on the “cooler” side.  So how do you transition to the warmth that fall brings while staying on trend?

Answer:  By selecting great neutrals that have staying power and will last from season to season.  This can be difficult to do when your options are endless.

So I compiled a list of some of my favorite “no-fail” Sherwin Williams paint colors that you really can’t go wrong with.  Whether you want a crisp white palette, cool gray space or warmer beige feel… the versatility of these tried-and-true colors will compliment any style.

Favorite Main Color:

(These colors look great for walls, cabinets or as an accent color)

SW 0055 Light French Gray






SW 7015 Repose Gray






SW 7016 Mindful Gray






SW 7018 Dovetail






SW 7023 Requisite Gray






SW 7029 Agreeable Gray






SW 7036 Accessible Beige






SW 7064 Passive






SW 7043 Worldly Gray






SW 7650 Ellie Gray






SW 7642 Pavestone






SW 6204 Sea Salt






SW 6206 Oyster Bay






SW 6218 Tradewind






Favorite Whites:

(Typically used on Trim, Ceilings and/or Cabinets)

SW 7004 Snowbound






SW 7005 Pure White






SW 7008 Alabaster






Favorite Dark Accent Colors:

(Love these bold colors when used on a front door, cabinetry or even as an accent wall)

SW 6244 Naval






SW 7674 Peppercorn






SW 7019 Gauntlet Gray






SW 7048 Urbane Bronze






SW 7069 Iron Ore






SW 6258 Tricorn Black






SW 7592 Crabby Apple






SW 6034 Arresting Auburn






To see some of our favorite color combos used in past homeowners’ spaces, check out our Paint Color Tour video here.



-Written by our Design Coordinator, Kristin Tucker

“I absolutely love helping each homeowner translate their personal style into the home of their dreams.  I believe that details are an important factor in making your house a home.  One of my favorite ways to showcase this is by incorporating beautiful lighting that suits the style of the home and personality of the homeowner.”








Think “Lean” to Enhance Your Life

Categories: Wellness | Posted: September 27, 2018

When you hear the word “lean,” most think of slim body shapes, but our team took on another kind of “lean” and went through a process called “Lean Week!”

We were not working out physically in the gym, but we were working hard to change our thinking regarding waste. The lean process trained our team and our trades to see our world with new eyes for waste. Lean is about running the most efficient operation, being good stewards of the time, talent and resources we have been blessed with. During Lean Week, we realized that much of what we think is normal or business as usual or simply unavoidable, are things we can change if we work together with great communication, systems and processes.


We realized, along with our trades, that we can see with different eyes and effect the cost of doing business for all of us, which translates into a better product at the lowest possible price. Together we realize we can make a huge difference that results in a win for all, including our customers!


We worked with True North Development who increased our awareness in so many ways. When we are made aware of something that can be improved, it makes it difficult to return to our old way of doing things. We now see extra phone calls, extra road trips, excess material usage that is unnecessary to accomplish a desired effect, and many other things with new eyes. We are creating a culture of people with an eye for and intolerance for waste of any kind. Inefficient practices are plentiful because of old habits, traditions, processes and how we are raised and trained. We see these things as normal and we have very limited ideas of waste. Our goal was to begin to learn to spot waste and begin to see with Lean eyes!


I wonder what our lives would look like if we applied these same practices to our personal lives. As I contemplate how to apply the lean principles to everyday life, I think I could make some major changes. When I think about how many separate errands I make instead of thinking through how to combine them into a single trip, my head spins. For instance, visiting the grocery store, cleaners, picking up cash at the bank and dropping off alterations all in one trip vs many trips.  My husband is great at this. His travel from A to B is a science based on traffic, quickest route, etc. Not only would I save time, but gasoline, too!


There are so many ways we can use Lean thinking to enhance our lives. For instance, asking for help when someone is going the way of one of your errands, organizing your kitchen for easy flow, decluttering your closet for timely assembly of outfits, and spending a little extra time thinking through tasks for the day can help tremendously. Spend a few minutes going through your refrigerator and pantry, thinking of what you will cook for the week before you head to the store. Just a few Lean principles brought into our lives and work can lead to great payoffs!  Sometimes a simple pause to plan well can translate to tremendous profit in time.


“Awareness is the greatest agent of change.”

– Eckart Tolle

-Written by Co-Owner, Missy Manuel

“Missy holds the official title of Director of Organizational Health & Leadership within our company. Her main goal day in & day out is to nurture the culture and values we hold by instilling this in our employees.”