The Manuel Builders Blog

Category: Other

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.

Grout

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.

Helpful Home Hints

Categories: Building Process, FAQs, Other | Posted: July 15, 2018

Building a home is a huge endeavor and because of that, we make sure that every little detail will never go unnoticed. Once you begin the construction of your home, you may come across a few moments when something doesn’t look right or the same as you remember from your selections meeting. When working with Manuel Builders, we do our best to make these moments disappear. That includes preparing you beforehand so you know exactly what’s going on every step of the way!

Since the beginning of the year, we have been sharing some helpful home hints to explain certain parts of our process that could cause homeowners anxiety or confusion. Did you miss a few of them? No worries at all! We’ve compiled all of our helpful hints from this year into this one location, so that you can stay updated on what to expect when you choose to build a Manuel Builders home. Happy building!

 

1. Get With Your Lender Before You Begin Construction

If you’re planning to build a home on your own property, did you know that you need a construction loan? Many homeowners worry about paying the monthly interest rate on the construction loan during the actual building stages. It’s a common misunderstanding that the construction loan holds a full monthly note, similar to a monthly mortgage payment. In actuality, a construction loan is an “interest-only” loan, meaning you are only paying interest on the amount being used each month (similar to how credit card interest works). As the builder takes a draw from the construction line of credit, the balance increases and the payment adjusts, according to what funds are actually being used in that month of construction.

2. Snazzy Gold Door Knobs

Don’t panic if you arrive at your construction site and notice that the exterior door knobs are not what you remember picking out at selections. During the construction process, Manuel Builders will install temporary door knobs on all exterior doors as a means of protecting the knobs from scratches or other damage. Once construction is complete and you move in, you will notice the proper door knobs have been installed!

 

3. Windows Looking a Little Bare?

In South Louisiana, opening the windows and enjoying the breeze is one of the greatest perks of living here! But, of course, you won’t want the army of mosquitos and other critters getting in. Our team makes sure to take care of your window screens during the construction process so as to not allow any tears or holes to form before you even move in. That’s why your Project Manager moves all window screens into the attic during the construction process and installs them once construction is complete!

 

 

 

4. The Color Won’t Stay That Way, We Promise!

It’s probably in every new homeowner’s deepest nightmare…showing up to your almost completed home and seeing a color you did NOT pick out. Well, for our clients that choose the James Hardie Plank Veneer exterior (which is becoming increasingly popular, particularly with our Farmhouse style homes), this fear may manifest for a brief second when they show up after the initial installation of these walls. But don’t worry! This is not permanent. The yellow color of the plank is the signature primer that all the Hardie planks are treated with, prior to delivery. This primer ensures that the paint color you actually choose maintains the look you want for years to come. By the time you move in, your selected color will replace the yellow primer and will keep its quality!

 

5. No Need to Pay Attention to the Brick Bundles!

Brick veneer is very popular because it is a very low-maintenance element. Something that may concern our new homeowners is that the brick on the pallets doesn’t really look like the brick they selected with our Design Consultant. A couple of things to keep in mind is that brick will appear darker when wet. Since the brick wall is made up of 30% mortar, the brick will not show its true appearance until it is fully
installed with the mortar. Also, only the face of the brick – the side that is shown on the brick wall – receives the texture and coating you will recognize from your selection. However, manufacturers will often place the bricks on the pallet with the “butt” of the brick facing outwards. This is what causes some confusion as to whether or not the correct bricks were ordered. Rest assured that the bricks you selected are the ones being installed by our team!

 

 

We hope you found these explanations helpful and they give you some peace of mind during the construction process. As always, our team is here to answer any questions and explain our methods as we build you the home of your dreams. Just talk to your Project Manager if something doesn’t feel right and we will do our best to help put you at ease. Manuel Builders is here to make home building easy!

Check back to our Facebook page once a month to see more #HelpfulHomeHints during the construction of your home!

 

 

 

“Wow” Moments in the Field

Categories: Building Process, Home Design, Lifestyle, Other | Posted: June 29, 2018

One of the benefits of being a project manager (PM) that oversees the construction of homes in the field is that I get to see the homeowner’s plans and dreams come to life day by day as the job progresses. This is great for me being a homeowner as well, because I get to experience first-hand how well an option works in a real space. There is nothing I love more than getting to the end of a project with a new option or different elevation that we are trying for the first time and being able to step back and say, “Wow, this really turned out great.” As a builder our end goal is to give our clients that same experience and to give them the opportunity to say, “This is JUST how I planned it!”

So that being said, I wanted to take a few minutes and share with you some of my favorite “Wow” moments from the last few years as a Project Manager for Manuel Builders.


It was impossible for me to pick just one feature about this home that I enjoyed building. There were several things about this particular build that were different and slightly more complicated than we had done before. As a PM for the “Build on Your Land” division of the company, this is the stuff we look forward to. It gives us the opportunity to stretch our skills and learn something new. There were a few question marks as to how some of these elements would come together structurally and aesthetically, but working with the trades in the field, we came up with a few ideas that really pulled off a clean look that both us and the homeowners would love.

The front porch has a massive feel to it that really balances and pulls together the rest of the exterior. I remember the homeowner saying at the site evaluation, “I want the front porch to be the first thing you see when you are driving up to my house.” We certainly delivered that vision to him. It’s impossible to overlook, but still doesn’t feel bulky or overdone.

The interior living room has 3 massive 24’ cedar beams that carry the front porch details inside. The homeowner also had a really specific vision for the fireplace and mantle. He wanted it to look like it was tied into the wall. At first we weren’t sure if it was possible due to the space available surrounding the fireplace. We worked with the trim carpenter to give the homeowner exactly the look he was wanting for the corner fireplace and mantle.

At the end of the day there were so many details about this house that came together and worked really well. It was fun to build and turned out to be a big hit on social media.

View the Josephine Home here.

 


 

This particular master bath was arranged a little differently than any Lasalle plan I had built before, and to me, while it had an efficient use of space, it still felt luxurious at the same time. The best thing that happened on this bath plan happened after we had already framed up the house and complete rough ins. The homeowner came to me and asked if it would be too late to change some of the details about her master shower. The original plan was to have a wall going all the way to the ceiling to cut off the shower from the vanity area. She was really hoping it wasn’t too late to remove the top half of the wall between the shower and vanity and flip the shower head to the opposite wall. This was something that we were able to make happen for her, and I really feel like it was a great call on her part. She ended up with a frameless glass wall on 2 sides of her shower that really allowed all the natural light to flood the bathroom and give it an open, airy feel. This really couldn’t have been experienced with a full floor to ceiling wall blocking off the light from the windows. It was definitely a win in the field, and I will never forget how much better that master bath looked and felt at the end of the job.

View the LaSalle-French Home here.


 

This is a detail that I really loved from a more recently completed job. Brick backsplash is a detail that contrasts the clean and straightforward elements of a modern kitchen with a rough texture that can’t be replicated any other way. It is not a design element that everyone will like or appreciate, but in this particular kitchen, it is one of the defining elements that make you say, “Man, that just looks like it belongs there.” The colors that the homeowner chose balanced the dark reds of the brick and tied everything together. It will definitely go down as one of my favorite kitchen designs that I’ve done to date!

View the LaSalle-Lodge Home here.

 


 

 

 

-Written by Our Project Manager in the Lake Charles Region, Ryan Cart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Maintenance

Categories: Other, Warranty | Posted: May 24, 2018

Part of being a new homeowner means having to learn the basics of maintaining your home to prevent larger problems in the future. Below are some of the basic homeowner maintenance items that we encourage all of our new homeowners to perform on an annual basis.

  • Clean dryer vent and hood-vent to ensure they are exhausting properly. Lint is highly flammable and can pose a severe fire hazard when dryer vents are not cleaned regularly and properly. If your dryer vent is clogged or blocked, it will have to run longer to fully dry your laundry, which uses more energy and could cause your electric bills to increase.
  • Check weather-stripping and door sweeps on all exterior doors. These pieces prevent air (and more importantly BUGS!) from getting into your home. It is natural for weather stripping and door sweeps to break down over time, but they are very simple to replace if needed.
  • Inspect and replace, as needed, caulking and grout around tubs, showers, sinks and back splashes. We recommend applying grout sealant at wet areas since grout is porous. Once grout has been applied and dried, it is ready to absorb any liquid that comes its way, like water. By penetrating the grout with sealer first, you are pre-empting water and other liquids from penetrating the grout, therefore increasing the longevity of the grout.
  • Clean chimney flue before initial use every year. Any time accumulation of soot and creosote occurs in your chimney, it can be enough to fuel a fire that may damage the chimney and even spread to the roof and home.
  • Inspect and clear all weep holes around the exterior of home. If weep holes become blocked, moisture can become trapped inside the wall cavity, which can lead to catastrophic damage of the wall materials.
  • Set up an appointment to have your septic tank inspected. Regular inspections can help you avoid maintenance emergencies. Like any other system in your home, your septic system will operate better and more efficiently with proper maintenance and care.

To check out the items needed to maintain on a monthly & bi-annual basis, check out our main video here.

Affordable Ways to Enhance Your Curb Appeal!

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle, Other | Posted: March 23, 2018

We can only make one first impression, and this definitely holds true when looking at a home for the first time.  Whether you are updating your home to sell or wanting a fresh look for spring, curb appeal is essential to the overall appearance of your home and can be easier than you think to achieve!

Here are a few simple and inexpensive tips to boost your curb appeal instantly:

Hide the Unattractive Stuff

Find creative ways to disguise any outdoor eyesore items such as trash cans, utility boxes and AC units.  Find an inexpensive privacy screen or install fence boards to help hide these items.

There are so many ways you can camouflage a water hose or any other items that you may have laying around your yard.


Dress It Up

To make a significant change in appearance, be sure and pay attention to the details or the “jewelry” of your home.

Start with the focal point of your home…your front door.  Make a statement by painting it a bold color that contrasts nicely with the rest of your home’s exterior (and don’t forget to update the door hardware).

Other ways to make your entrance shine is by adding appealing house numbers that are easily seen from the road and light fixtures that reflect the style of your home.

Add charm to your home with a window box filled with your favorite flowers or add oversized planters on either side of your front door for more of a dramatic affect. Even replacing your old mailbox can make a difference, so be sure and pay attention to the details.


Get Creative with Landscape

A clean, well-manicured landscape is a must when improving curb appeal!  You want to create flower beds that direct the eye to the front entrance of a home and adds value to the overall appearance. Start by adding a crisp curved border defining the edge of the bed, softening the look of the landscape.

Get creative by incorporating things such as colorful potted plants, a simple stone or brick path walkway or vibrant mulch to help richen the feel of the yard. And always remember “less is more” to keep a clutter free curb!


Light It Up

Don’t let nightfall hide all your hard work!  Adding landscape lighting can make a world of difference to the appearance of your home at night and can also add security.

Accent important architectural features of your home or showcase your beautiful landscape and trees.  Make sure things such as steps and pathways are well lit as well.

 


 

– 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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the Perfect Rug

Categories: Home Design, Lifestyle, Other | Posted: January 12, 2018

If you are planning for the big move, you may have already begun shopping for furnishings to go into your new living space. Choosing a rug can be an arduous task. Here are a few tips that may help you to select the perfect one.

  • Construction: If you have pets and children, try to choose wool. Wool rugs are by far the most durable and the easiest to clean. This material is naturally stain resistant. Stay away from cotton construction, especially light-colored cotton rugs in high traffic areas.
  • Size: You should have at least a 2’ band of flooring around the perimeter of the rug. This is not an exact science as there are various shapes and sizes of rooms and rugs, just a general rule of thumb

Room Size                                              Recommended Maximum Rug Size

5’ x 7’                                                                  3’ x 5’

7’ x 10’                                                                5’ x 8’

10’ x 12’                                                              8’ x 10’

11’ x 14’                                                               9’ x 12’

14’ x 17’                                                              12’ x 15’

  • Furniture Placement: All on, or half on. Furniture should be placed where at least the front feet are on the rug. The rug is not large enough if you have to place the furniture beyond the perimeter of the rug. Rugs are traditionally used to tie the room together and create warmth in a room.

 

  • — Written by our Building Consultant, Wendi Ritz

“When she’s not figuring out how to make the master closet bigger or if she can get that oversized tub to work in your layout, she’s chasing her trio of Ritz athletes from baseball to football to volleyball practice or hot gluing together whatever school project is due next week . . . occasionally burning a few fingers in the process!”

 

 

 

5 Holiday Hot Spots in Your Home

Categories: Home Safety, Other | Posted: November 23, 2017
It’s easy to forget about or even brush off fire safety during the busy and stressful holiday months whilst shopping, cooking and spending time with family. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires occur most often during the winter months so before baking the pecan pie and rocking around the Christmas tree, take some time to check out these fire safety tips.

 

Know The Facts

One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. A heat source that is too close to the tree causes one in every four of Christmas tree fires. December is the peak time for home candle fires and one-third of all candle fires start in the bedroom.

Oh, Christmas Tree

Natural trees should be cut at a 45-degree angle at the base then placed in water. Tree stands should be filled with water at all times and when the tree becomes dry, discard it right away because once your Christmas tree becomes dry, it’s chances of catching fire increases greatly. It’s also important to place the tree away from any heat source including fires, candles, and space heaters.

Smart Decorations

When hanging lights either on your Christmas tree or on the exterior of your house, make sure to check the strings for wear and tear, throwing away any with frayed wires, broken bulbs or faulty sockets. Remember not to pile on a lot of plugs onto one power strip or extension cord, this includes stringing three or more strands of lights together. When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples as it could damage the integrity of the lights. Also, only use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations as it can prevent a fire from growing rapidly should one break out.

Kitchen Time

The heart of your home can get pretty wild around the holidays when you’re preparing the perfect dinner for your family and it’s easy to become distracted and forget about a certain dish on the stove. The NFPA says that unattended cooking is the #1 cause of kitchen fires. Be certain to stay present while you’re cooking and keep distractions to a minimum. If you must leave the room, take a pot-holder with you so you don’t forget that you have a dish in the oven. Also, keep kitchen clutter off the counter, especially flammables like towels, paper, plastic containers and cooking utensils, away from the stove.

Watch Your Wicks

During the Holiday months, candles set the atmosphere and give a sweet aroma that just makes it feel like Christmas time but the incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. To reduce the risk of fire, keep candles at least a foot away from anything that can burn and make sure it’s placed on a sturdy base. Try to remember and remind your family to only have candles burning in a common room like the living room or kitchen (away from flammables) so the flame is never left unattended. It’s a good practice to walk through each room before bed and before leaving home to make sure there’s no candles still burning. Also, consider battery-operated and LED lights as they can look & smell like real candles.

Check the Basics

Install smoke detectors on every level of the home, outside of sleeping areas and inside the bedrooms. Make sure your smoke detectors are up-to-date and have working batteries by testing each one monthly. In addition to the kitchen, you should have a fire extinguisher next to the front and rear exits of the house, in the hallway and on every level of your home. It’s also important to develop and practice a house fire escape plan with your family.

Get Your Kids Involved

It’s important that children know the importance of fire safety. Get them involved by printing out fire-safety coloring pages and explain things that they should and should not do around fire. Organize a fire evacuation plan with your family – make sure they know the fastest way to escape, helping younger siblings if they’re in the same room, and instructing them how to move around the house. If they’re in the bedroom with no way to get out the door, make sure they know how to open their own window and other windows around the house. Designate a specific meeting spot where the entire family can meet up to ensure everyone is safe.

For more information about house fires around the holidays visit, www.usfa.fema.gov
Source: National Fire Protection Association

Hosting the Perfect Autumn Gathering

Categories: Lifestyle, Other | Posted: October 24, 2017

 

When you’re planning to host a gathering with your friends, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to create the perfect atmosphere and set the mood for the evening. Use these simple tricks to leave your guests saying “WOW!” when they visit this fall season.

 

Color Me Happy

Decorating your home for the season is the perfect place to start! Did you know that certain colors in your home can promote different moods in you and your guests? Encourage a happy mood with green and yellow colors. Jewel tones such as red or deep purples/violet promote liveliness & energy whereas blue colors promote calmness. Use this to your advantage in your living room by incorporating these colors through velvet throw pillows, footstools or even an accent chair. Also, to make your guests more comfortable – we recommend hanging your favorite blankets on a rustic ladder in-reach from the couch – It’s a good way to store your cozy fall throws while still giving your room style a cohesive look.

Social Hour

When your guests begin to arrive, greet them at the door with a smile and lead them to the living room where a small appetizer is displayed on a coffee table – We suggest a cheese platter featuring different kinds of cheeses, crackers, pepper jelly, prosciutto, salami, olives, and fresh fruit. Easy, simple, and delicious plus this dish pairs quite nicely with wine. Don’t hesitate to move furniture around in a way that encourages conversation amongst the group, creating more Feng shui in the space. This takes the main focus away from the fireplace or television.

Dining with Purpose

Prep your dining table with the perfect fall centerpiece by setting a few different heighted candles then placing a green garland around them. Choose to accent the centerpiece with different fall items like autumn leaves, pinecones or even apples and pears, if you wish. Another nice touch would be to set the table with mini pumpkins on each place setting, tying burlap string around the stem with their name card and a nicely scripted menu for the evening’s dinner.

Take It Outdoors

If the Louisiana weather permits, plan to take your friends outside for dessert to cap off the night. Have a s’mores platter ready to take out after dinner, complete with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate and a few unexpected treats like peanut butter or even pumpkin spice Kisses or marshmallows as a way to say “Cheers” to the season! Arrange chairs around a fire pit, warm blankets within reach, and string lights over-head for an extra touch.

Fall time is all about family and friends! Take advantage of this season to open your home for an eventful gathering. Use this article as inspiration, but make it your own with your personal touches!

Path to Your Manuel Builders Presold Home

Categories: Building Process, FAQs, Other | Posted: October 7, 2017

One of the options we offer when building your home in one of our developments is a Presold Home, also known as “Pick Your Lot, Pick Your Plan.” You’re able to find a community in the area you’re looking to live in, select an available lot, then choose your favorite plan from our options on our website. Since you’re starting from scratch, you have the opportunity to make your future space unique to you by selecting paint colors, floors, lighting, granite, and many more finishes. It has many of the perks of a customized home without the hassle of finding and purchasing your own property!

In the flow chart above, we break down the steps of the building process from start to finish. We categorize these steps into 3 main phases: Pre-Construction, Construction and Almost Home.

In Pre-Construction, there are many tasks to complete before construction on your new home can begin. We work together during this stage to ensure that the building process goes smoothly once it starts. Now that selections have been made and paperwork has been finalized, you move into the construction phase, where your home begins to take shape. At this point, no additional changes can be made to your home. Once the plumbing fixtures and appliances are installed, you are moving into the final stretch! After your final orientation, where your project manager walks you through your home to familiarize yourself with the operations of the space, you’ll close on your loan and get the keys to your new home!

Are you interested in the Presold Home Process with Manuel Builders? We invite you to take a look at the communities we build in to find the perfect lot and plan that will suit your family’s lifestyle! Shop our communities here.