Home Inspection Education Partnership Counts Toward College Credit

Items Home Inspectors Can’t Evaluate

When a home inspector examines the property your buyer is under contract to purchase, you should know that there are some items the inspector legally can’t determine about its condition. Inspectors are bound by a set of rules that limit what they can share with a buyer

Termites, rats, or mold. Most inspectors aren’t licensed to determine whether these types of infestations exist. Instead, they may note evidence such as sagging floors (which could imply a termite problem), shredded insulation (an indication of rats), or black discoloration on the walls (which could mean fungal growth). If an inspector notices these items, your client should follow up with a specialist who can better evaluate the issues.

Hidden flaws. Inspectors check for what they can physically see without having to move anything. Therefore, they may not be able to say whether the foundation is cracked behind the wood paneling or an electrical plug behind a sofa isn’t working. Inspectors should note if they are unable to evaluate a critical component of the home. In some situations, the seller could be asked to move an item in order to give the inspector a better view.

Evaluations of pools or septic systems. Specialists may be required to come in to take a closer look at certain aspects of the home. Inspectors are not certified to inspect everything. “We’re general practitioners,”

Unnecessary repairs. Inspectors may take note of every little flaw in a home, from chipped paint to window scratches. That could leave your buyer with an overwhelming list of defects. “Some inspectors like to show they know more than somebody else,”

Ask the Experts: Taking Care of Your Home Inspection While Following Proper Guidelines for COVID-19

Q: This is certainly the most unusual of times. How is Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®\ handling customers and business in the wake of COVID-19?

A: This is something none of us has ever experienced, although there have been other disasters and trying times for our industry. Like every other business is likely to say, the health and safety of our customers is our highest priority. As such, we are diligently monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO)

Q: How do you minimize contact and keep the proper distance while conducting home inspections?

A: Fortunately, we have years and years of experience building solid relationships

Q: Why should people continue with home inspections or other semi-essential services?

A: We feel that people are going through enough, as are our home inspectors. They are all small business owners who would like to get on with a task that will bring everyone a step closer to getting back to a normal life. While following all safety guidelines, our home inspection is just one more large task that people can move forward with. At a time when many items and services have to be put on hold, it’s great to keep up with those that can be managed. This causes less stress and allows people to feel less “behind” on life.

Q: Where do you see the other side of this crisis?

A: Hopefully, we will all have learned a lot about personal distance, safety, helping others in a time of need and putting proper protocols in place for an unlikely event such as this.

Managing Home Inspection Fears During the Pandemic

As real estate professionals learn to complete transactions virtually and in other ways that take social distancing guidelines into account, a trouble spot may be the home inspection. Already, sellers are retreating from the market, fearful of letting people into their homes and potentially coming in contact with the coronavirus. So, the home inspection—which requires an inspector’s physical presence at a property—may be a tough negotiation point. “The biggest fear people have is of the unknown—not knowing the inspector, not knowing the people coming into their house—and what inspectors do already is pretty intrusive,”

First, many inspectors advise that no more than two other people besides the inspector should be present at a home during an inspection. And you don’t have to be one of them. “Don’t attend the inspection unless you absolutely have to—and there’s no reason why you should if your clients are already going,”

But if you absolutely must be present, wear masks and gloves, maintain the recommended six feet of distance from others, and use a laptop with a Bluetooth mouse to direct others through a digital copy of the inspection report plus photos and videos

You also may ask a home inspector to video call you and your client to review items in real time while the inspector is at the property so no one has to meet face-to-face “That way, the inspector can still take us over to the wobbly railing and show us exactly where it is, or show us how the window is loose and doesn’t stay open. So, it’s kind of like being there,”

It’s also incumbent on those who visit a home in person for an inspection to keep sanitation in mind. “When I walk into somebody else’s house, I used to like to leave it as I found it. Now I’m doing my best to leave it better than I found it,”

Can buy and sell a house in person again

In-person home showings, appraisals, inspections, and other real estate activity can resume throughout under certain COVID-19 safety guidelines, according to an executive order

Before the order reopened real estate, was the only state that deemed real estate activity “nonessential” and barred in-person real estate transactions for a majority of its residents. The ban was part of the business shutdown meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The commonwealth permitted in-person real estate activity only in counties in the yellow phase of reopening.

All real estate-related businesses, including title companies, notaries, and mortgage loan officers, must follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conduct business remotely when possible, according to the executive order.

In-person activities such as showings and final walk-throughs must be scheduled by appointment and be limited to one real estate professional and two others inside a property at one time. Real estate agents and clients must travel separately. For in-person showings, appointments should be 30 minutes apart or more, agents should minimize the time spent inside the property, and everyone should avoid touching common surfaces such as doorknobs and light switches. Group showings remain banned

real estate activity in his business closures roughly two months ago, real estate agents have been relying on virtual tours and open houses to sell properties. But the ban on in-person showings and other interactions has depressed home sales. Some potential sellers and buyers have been stuck in financially perilous situations in which they couldn’t move forward with transactions.

Real estate business is ‘essential,’ but showings must be virtual

The guidance from ESD still encourages real estate agents to “maintain social distance to the extent possible,” but notes that showings (for both residential and commercial properties), inspections, and appraisals may resume.

What this doesn’t mean is that traditional viewings—open houses, or even having an agent bring a client into a home for a one-on-one appointment—should continue, as was previously reported.

“Being an ‘essential’ industry does not mean business as usual — business can only be conducted if social distancing and other public health protocols are followed and all must be doing everything they can to help stop the spread,” a spokesperson for ESD said in a statement. “For real estate, that means brokers can only transact business in their offices or show properties virtually, and anything else is off limits.”

Essential Businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible.

The following functions of real estate and/or realtors (sic) are considered essential: residential home and commercial office showings; home inspections; and residential appraisers.

Succession Planning And Selling An Accountant Practice

How to build accountability into your corporate culture

What is a “Culture of Accountability?”

A culture of accountability is a work environment where people demonstrate a high level of ownership to think, respond, and proceed in a manner necessary to reach business goals. Accountability in business is directly related to higher performance.

Why Should Your Company Have a Culture of Accountability?

In many companies, employees are working across time zones and different departments to achieve their business goals. Creating a culture of accountability in the workplace is a multi-dimensional and multi-layered issue in this fast-paced business world.

Building an accountability culture makes a powerful impact on your business goals and success. Accountability helps you ensure that your employees show up for shifts, know what their roles are, and meet deadlines. This structure makes every employee responsible for fulfilling their duties and automatically makes a positive impact on business growth.

Why Is It Important To Build A Culture Of Ownership And Accountability In The Workplace?

When employees take ownership of their work, they treat the business they are working for — and its state of well-being — as if it were their own. They take more care with decisions, because they see the business as a part of themselves. They also tend to be more driven and motivated, looking for creative ways to improve the quality of their work. Critically, this mindset is infectious, and the more powerful your culture of ownership becomes, the more successful your business will become.

People who don’t take ownership are more likely to simply go through the motions and do the minimum that’s required because, ultimately, the result doesn’t matter to them. Unfortunately, this mindset is also infectious, and if left to fester you can quickly see large parts of your workforce rotting away.

How does ownership and accountability connect to trust in the workplace?

Trust is built on confidence that your teammates are striving towards the same objectives that you are. It’s the comfort that comes from knowing that everybody really cares.

Thinking about delegation and micromanagement helps you to identify whether or not you have trust in your workplace. If you don’t feel that your teammates will do the right things and come back with results, then you’re lacking in trust. Low trust translates to poor productivity, and you end up devoting extra time and energy following up and managing details you shouldn’t have to. If you don’t feel trusted, you’re less likely to take initiative because you’re already afraid of the criticism that’s coming your way.

Ownership and accountability build trust. And trust encourages employees to take ownership. Trust reinforces accountability because when you know that you’re trusted, you don’t want to squander that by letting your teammates down.

An example of responsibility vs. accountability

Consider this real example of how large companies often operate. Imagine the CEO of a big multinational organization has a critical meeting coming up with the government representatives to discuss tax rates for the following years.

The CEO intends to demonstrate the company’s contribution to the country and asks one of his executives to take care of collecting the data and preparing the presentation. The executive sends the task to a subordinate, the middle manager who forwards it to the trainee saying: “you have all the information in the database, just put it in the slides”.

Everybody fulfills their tasks: the trainee prepares the slides and sends them on time to the middle manager. The manager confirms that everything is in line with the information in the database and sends it to the executive who forwards the slides to the CEO.

Only at the last step, while preparing for the meeting, does the CEO realize that the indicators are lower than expected. At this point, nobody is able to explain the difference and there is no time left to dig into the details.

Of course, presenting such disappointing results, the company does not manage to negotiate the desired deal.

How do company results change in an accountable team?

Imagine what could have happened if the organization promoted an accountability culture. If not already included in the briefing of the delegated task, the trainee would ask about the goal of the analysis. While analyzing the data, she quickly realizes that the numbers are not in line with the expectations.

As she has been working directly with the customers and documentation, she knows that the contribution for the past quarter should have been much higher.

The trainee calls the accounting department to discuss the issue and together they discover a reporting mistake that has affected the data. They fix the mistake on the spot and the trainee sends the correct slides to the manager.

The manager – surprised to learn about the challenges that this task uncovered – contacts the accounting department to discuss how they can prevent such mistakes in the future. The executive, in turn, shares the conclusions with other related departments to ensure that the same improved quality standard is implemented across the organization.

After delivering the presentation to the government, the company manages to negotiate a beneficial deal for the taxation terms.

This example demonstrates how an accountable organization can not only increase their chances of achieving individual results but also work on process improvements to increase the overall quality standard across the entire company.

Let’s look at some ways to make accountability part of your business world:

  • Be reliable and consistent. Simply put, do what you say you’re going to do. And, expect the same of others. The path to accountability is through consistency, predictability and follow-up. As leaders, we need to be accountable in terms of providing interim guidance throughout the project and not just at the end.
  • Communicate your expectations clearly. Don’t assume someone can fill in the gaps. For people to succeed, they need to know what the successful completion of a project looks like. This includes key metrics, dates, costs, etc. It’s important to give team members the opportunity to ask questions to get a full understanding before starting their projects. It’s then that they can take full ownership.
  • Empower employees. Once everyone understands the expected results, they should be empowered to get the job done. They should have adequate resources and structure to allow them to succeed. They shouldn’t have to circumvent process or continuously fight upstream as a means to achieve successful outcomes.
  • Foster collaboration and mutual accountability. Ensure everyone knows what major initiatives are on each other’s plates. It’s amazing how effective a business can be when people talk to each other and hold each other accountable.
  • Create a learning environment. It would be nice if everyone completed everything right on the first attempt. That’s just not realistic, though. Rather than overreact when someone drops the ball, try to create an environment where people learn from mistakes. Likewise, take responsibility for your own decisions, good or bad, to model the behavior.

Using your engagement survey to measure accountability

There are multiple ways we can utilize data and feedback to build a culture of high accountability.

First, we can ask questions in our engagement surveys to measure feelings of accountability at the individual, department, and organizational level. Using Culture Amp’s analytic features such as demographic filtering and the heatmap, you’ll be able to identify whether specific departments or groups of employees are struggling with accountability.

Second, surveying is a two-way communication tool. We are inherently communicating the behaviors and outcomes that we seek through the types of questions that we ask. Thus, if we ask employees about their perceptions of accountability, we will drive home the types of behaviors that are important and central to our workplace culture.

Biggest Mistakes Veterinarian Make

Choosing The Right Veterinarian For Your Cat

Next to you and your family, a veterinarian is the most important person in your cat’s life. You want to make sure your veterinarian is giving the best care possible because he or she is responsible for your cat’s health and well-being. So how do you go about doing this?

One of the best ways to find a vet is through the recommendation of a friend. If you know someone in your area with a cat, ask them what clinic they use and what they think of the vet. The phone book and internet are also good places to start your search. Select a few practices in your area and call to see if you can come past and have a look. You don’t need to bring your cat for this initial visit. It will help you to get a feel for the clinic. You’re going to be entrusting your cat’s life to these people so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them.

Here are some things to take into consideration:

Is the facility clean?

  • Are the staff professional?
  • Are they friendly and approachable?
  • What is their policy for emergency care?
  • Do they offer boarding or grooming services?

Most veterinary clinics have one vet and several vet technicians. However, group practices are increasingly common because they allow several skill sets to be available to the patients. One is not necessarily better than the other, so use your judgment to find the ideal type of clinic for you and your cat.

Tips Before Taking New Pets to Vet

Congratulations on acquiring your new pet family member! Whether you have owned many pets or this is a first for you, this is an exciting time. It won’t be long before you get to know your pet’s normal behaviors and quirks. But, first, you must take care of your pet’s healthcare needs.

Here are five things to know before taking your new pet to the vet for the first time.

1. Don’t Delay

Even though your new kitty or pup may appear perfectly healthy, you should have him examined as soon as possible after you bring him home.

Your veterinarian may be able to detect medical issues that aren’t readily apparent at first such as a subtle skin condition or a congenital heart murmur.

Also, you’ll want to develop a relationship with a veterinarian, if you haven’t already. This way when you have a pet illness or emergency you can more swiftly to receive care.

Extra tip: For everyone’s safety, be sure you have your dog on a leash or your cat in a pet carrier when you arrive at the vet.

2. Have Reasonable Expectations

Surprisingly, I’ve met a lot of new pet owners who have the misconception that their new pet doesn’t need any booster vaccines, viral tests or deworming because someone told them that the pet “has had everything.”

Puppies and kittens need vaccinations and dewormings at regular intervals up to a certain age (this age may vary per locale). If their vaccine history is unknown, they may need more frequent boosters initially to ensure immune protection against certain viruses.

Also, heartworm tests and oral preventives, as well as feline viral tests for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia, are important to have early on.

It’s important that pet owners—even experienced ones—know that protocols and paradigms are forever changing in the veterinary field as new information arises and thus the standard of care may have changed. Rather than make assumptions about your pet’s well being, it’s always best to schedule that new pet exam right away.

Extra tip: Remember, your new pet exam is also your opportunity to ask the veterinarian many questions about potty training, obedience and introduction to other pets and family members.

3. Spaying or Neutering

Some people think that a dog must go into heat or reach a certain age before being spayed or neutered. We now know that dogs that are spayed before their first heat have a 90% less chance of developing mammary cancer. Cats that are neutered early have minimal chances of developing urine marking behaviors.

Many new discoveries as to the long-term effects of spaying and neutering have recently been published. There are many things to consider when determining the best time to spay or neuter a cat or dog, including the breed. Talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your new pet, including any concerns you may have.

How to Choose the Right Vet for Your Pet

For most people, choosing the right vet for their pets is much harder than choosing the right physician for themselves.   When choosing a vet, you’re not just looking for  someone with exceptional medical skills, but also for someone with excellent people skills who understands you and your pet.  And since most veterinarians work with a team of professional support staff, you’ll want to evaluate them, too, as you look for the best fit for you and your furry family members.

The worst time to find a vet is when your pet has a medical emergency, so plan ahead and do your research before you need one.   The following suggestions can help you in your search.

Yellow Pages/internet search

While this is a good start, I think this should only be a first step.  Proximity to your home will certainly be a factor in your decision, but it shouldn’t be the only one.  A good vet is well worth driving a few extra miles.  If you’re using the internet to look for a vet, use common sense if you’re visiting review sites such as Yelp.  The opinions posted there are only that – opinions.   Do your own research and make up your own mind after visiting potential vets.

Word of mouth/referral from friends, neighbors or family members

With most service businesses, word of mouth is usually the best way to find a provider.  But a word of caution:  make sure that the person referring you shares your philosophy when it comes to how to care for a pet.  Not all pet owners consider pets members of the family, and even among the ones who do, there are varying degrees.   Don’t necessarily trust a referral from someone you just met.  When I got Feebee, who was my first cat, I was not only clueless when it came to how to select a vet, I was also new to the area, so I did what most people would do – I asked a neighbor who had a dog and a cat and didn’t pursue any other recommendations, nor did I research the clinic myself.  I later found out that the vet I took Feebee to had a reputation for cutting corners during anesthetic procedures, especially in the area of pain control.  Sadly, I didn’t find this out until after Feebee had already been neutered and had had a dental cleaning.

Important things to consider before getting a pet

If you are here, that means you are probably considering getting a pet. While owning a pet is rewarding, be mindful that pet ownership is also a huge responsibility. Here are several important things you should consider before getting a pet.

1. Can you commit?

Pet ownership is a long term commitment. Dogs and cats have an average life span of 10-15 years. Would you be able to commit to them for such a long time? Dogs and cats require a lot of attention. If you feel that you can’t devote your time for your pet, getting a choice is not a wise choice for you. Or perhaps you can choose getting a pet like a fish as they are less time demanding.

2. Can you afford?

Know your financial condition. Owning a pet can cost you a lot. Food, grooming, toys, veterinary care and treatment are the expenses you can’t avoid if you own a dog or cat. Owning a fish is less costly compared to other pets.

3. Will pets fit your lifestyle?

If you have long working hours, a busy social life and you travel a lot, think twice before you are getting a pet like a dog and a cat. Like I mention before, dogs and cats require attention. They need you to play and interact with them constantly. Solitude can lead to serious behavioural problem. Make sure your pet can accommodate to your lifestyle.

4. Do research

Do research beforehand on the pet you wish to get. Pet care for instance, require a great deal of knowledge. Grooming, nutrition tips and safety are stuffs you need to know before you get a pet dog or cat.Just google it. You may find tons of information through internet. If you think information from the internet are not reliable, you can always refer to the vet in your commnuity.

5. Allergies

Make sure you or your family don’t have allergies towards fur and animals. If you are not sure whether you or your children are allergic to cats and dogs, spend time at your friend’s house with a pet to find out.

Pet Insurance

Even though I am a veterinarian, I have pet insurance for my pet as there are services that I can’t always provide and they come with associated costs.

I recommend getting pet insurance BEFORE ever bringing the pet in for an exam. In my experience, owners with pet insurance are able to make decisions based on expected prognosis rather than cost when they know that some or all of the veterinary care is covered.

Once a medical condition is entered in the file, however, it may become a “pre-existing condition.” I can’t tell you how many times someone has brought a sick pet to me and, after discussing the diagnostic tests and treatment plan, they say, “Do you think I should get that pet insurance now?” Just as you want to have health insurance for yourself prior to needing medical care, the same is true for your pet!

Let’s Have Some Scorpion Control Please

Scorpion Identification & Prevention

What are scorpions?

Scorpions are a type of arachnid; like all arachnids, they have eight legs. They have a segmented tail that curves up over their back, and the last segment of their tail has a stinger attached that they use to capture prey or to defend themselves. Because of their venom-filled tails, no homeowner wants to discover living in their yard or home. Scorpions are predators, and feed on a variety of prey, including insects, spiders, other scorpions, and even lizards. A unique fact about scorpions is that they give birth to live young (average litter size is about 31). After being born, they climb onto their mother’s back until they have their first molt and then become independent.

One of the most common species of scorpion living throughout Nebraska is the striped bark scorpion (Centruoides vittatus). These scorpions have a yellow or tan body with two wide, black stripes on the top of their abdomens.  Striped bark scorpions have long, slender, claw-like structures they use to capture and hold onto their prey.

Are scorpions dangerous?

Scorpions are poisonous and can be a health risk to people. Worldwide, there are about 1,500 species, and of those, only about 25 species pose significant dangers to people. You should always be careful around scorpions, including the striped bark scorpion. Depending on the sensitivity of a person, a sting could result in pain and localized swelling or a severe reaction that requires medical attention.

Why do I have a scorpion problem?

Striped bark scorpions are active foragers, which means they don’t wait for their prey to happen by; they actively hunt down their prey. Properties with a lot of insect and spider activity are often attractive to scorpions. Scorpions, like any other creature, need water for survival, and they prefer to live in cool, damp areas. When the weather outside becomes too hot and dry, scorpions often move indoors to get out of the heat.

Where will I find scorpions?

Scorpions are mainly outdoor pests that live in sheltered areas that keep them hidden during the day. Scorpions become active at night, hunting for food. Spaces under rocks, logs, firewood piles, and fallen trees are common hideouts for scorpions. They can also be found in flower beds or gardens hidden under dense vegetation or mulch. Many species, including the striped bark scorpion, are excellent climbers, and you’ll find them on trees and on the walls both inside and outside of our homes.

Scorpion

What are scorpions?

Scorpions are a type of arachnid and therefore related to spiders, mites, and ticks. Scorpions have many eyes but poor vision. They rely on touch and vibrations to hunt their prey. They are excellent hunters and, despite being dangerous when living near people, they are beneficial. Scorpions feed on populations of nuisance insects, arachnids, small lizards, and small rodents.

One of the more common species living in our area is the bark scorpion. The bark scorpion is a smaller scorpion species, with adults growing to between two and a half to three inches in length. Their body is a light brown to brownish-yellow color and has darker bands that run lengthwise down their body. Compared to other species of scorpions, their pincers are much thinner and more elongated. They have a slender tail that curves up over their body and has a venom-filled stinger at the end.

Are scorpions dangerous?

The Arizona bark scorpion is the only scorpion living in the United States that causes significant health concerns. While a sting from a bark scorpion can be fatal, that is rarely the case. However, being stung by a bark scorpion should never be taken lightly. Their stings are excruciating and cause symptoms that include numbness, muscle twitching, and difficulty breathing. Young children and the elderly are more likely to have a severe reaction to their venom than a healthy adult.

Why do I have a scorpion problem?

Bark scorpions thrive in the area because of our desert landscape. They will make themselves at home on any property that provides them with ample hiding places, burrowing spots, and prey to hunt. Another reason that bark scorpions are attracted to your property is that it offers them a source of water. Leaky pipes, dripping air conditioners, and clogged gutters provide bark scorpions with areas of cool, damp soil that help them to maintain their moisture needs.

Where will I find scorpions?

Outside, in our yards, scorpions regularly hide behind tree bark, and under things like rocks, logs, fallen trees, woodpiles, and mulch in garden areas. They often live in the soil or on trees located close to our homes. Scorpions excel at climbing, and can easily scale a home’s exterior walls and move inside through torn windows screens, vents, gaps in exterior walls, and spaces around windows or doors. They also move inside through cracks in the foundation or spaces they discover under exterior doors, and regularly invade garages and sheds, hiding in dark corners or moving into boxes and other storage containers.

How to get rid of Scorpions

Scorpions can be an issue that many have to deal with. While they may be an issue not all scorpions are the same. There are also different things they are attracted to, different reasons why they may enter your home and special ways that you can provide treatment to get rid of the scorpions.

it can be fairly simple to recognize a scorpion by the shape of a body, but not all scorpions are created equal. There are many different species of scorpions that you will be able to find in fact, there has been an estimation of 3-5 species that you will see

Bark scorpion: These scorpions tend to stay in very dry climates. During the day they hide because they are delicate to the loss of moisture from their body. Most of the water they have in their body the get from their prey. They choose to go indoors when they want to leave the outdoors and generally choose a place that has more food sources. They commonly use a gap they find under doors or ground-level windows; they may also use gaps they’ve found in your foundation.

Striped scorpions: This species of scorpions usually habitat under rocks, debris or boards. They will stay either outdoors or indoors; they are considered to be bark scorpions because they are associated with fallen tree logs, dead vegetation in the earth and human dwellings. These scorpions like most stay out of sight during the day and come out at night. This helps them from losing too much water and it regulates their body temperature.

corpions will feed off of insects, spiders, centipedes, small lizards, snakes, and mice. The majority of the time they will feed on insects and mice, but they don’t have to eat often… they can go without eating for six months.

Practical Guide To Scorpion Control

Whether or not you’ve been stung by a scorpion before, you probably believe us when we say you don’t want these pests in your home. There is a reason many people are scared of scorpions! In order to lower your chances of an encounter with one of these stinging arachnids, keeping them out of your home is a good place to start.

the most common is the bark scorpion, sometimes called the striped bark scorpion. They are pale yellow or tan with two dark stripes on top of their abdomen. Scorpions are easily identifiable by their long, segmented, curved tail. At the end of their tail is the stinger, which they use to inject venom into their victims. Scorpions are nocturnal, so they are most active at night.

Scorpion Dangers

Scorpions are a dangerous pest because their venom can be painful and dangerous for humans. In most cases, a scorpion sting will be sore for a day or two and then may feel itchy for several days. Some people may have a more severe reaction, including swollen limbs, rashes, fever, or more. If you are stung by a scorpion, especially if it’s the first time you’ve been stung, you should seek medical attention.

How To Prevent Being Stung

Scorpions are not especially aggressive toward humans. The vast majority of scorpion stings happen because a person did not see the scorpion and accidentally put a body part in the scorpion’s space. A scorpion will sting because someone steps on them, sits on them, or reaches into an area where they are hiding

The best way to prevent being stung is to practice being more observant and checking for scorpions around your house. Here are some areas where scorpions might be hiding:

in laundry baskets

in beds

in furniture

under sinks

in the back of a cabinet

under a box

in basements and attics

in dark corners of closets

outside under rocks and logs

Scorpions

Scorpions are one of the most feared pests in the area! Even the name, Scorpion, sounds like a name from hell.

There are three different types of Scorpions in the area:

Devil Scorpion

Desert Hairy Scorpion and

Bark Scorpion

The Bark Scorpion is a tough creature. When it senses a pest spray, it can sometimes slow down its metabolism big-time. This behavior allows the scorpion to just barely survive while the pest spray dissipates whereupon the scorpion can resume life where it left off. Even when scorpions do encounter enough spray to kill them it can still take up to 2 weeks.

How To Get Rid Of Scorpions

If you have a scorpion problem please call or text us. We have helped many customers get scorpion problems under control over the past 20+ years and we will be happy to help you too.

Tip: One of the most effective ways to quickly limit an active scorpion population is to use a black-light flashlight around the exterior of your home at night to locate scorpions (they glow green under black-light) and spray them directly with specific over-the-counter aerosols that will kill them.

Scorpion Stings

I’ve experienced a scorpion sting personally and it’s not a pleasant thing. If you have infants or children in your home, and you have a scorpion problem, we can provide tips to help you protect your children from scorpion stings while we get your scorpion problem under control

Online Engine Rebuilding Education Programs

Things To Know About Engine-Swapping

The practice of engine swapping is nothing new, and dates back to a time when materials like rich mahogany and canvas were regulars amongst the automotive design arsenal. Stuffing bigger, more powerful engines into smaller, lighter-weight chassis is one of the most effective ways of generating a power-to-weight ratio that the factory won’t. Your grandpappy did it; so can you.

The number and variations of engine swaps are seemingly limitless, but the principles for one that doesn’t end up in failure don’t change. Sandwiching an engine in between a unibody is the easy part; getting ancillaries like electronics and power steering to work as well as properly retrofitting fuel and cooling systems into place can mean the difference between a fully functioning hybrid or 2,500-pounds worth of salvage stuck between you and your lawnmower. At the very least, these engine swap checklist considerations should be made before starting any power-plant switcharoo.

Engine Swap Checklist

  • The Right Car
  • An Engine
  • Engine Mounts
  • Axles and Drivetrain
  • Pedals
  • Shifter
  • Fuel System
  • Cooling System
  • A/C and Power Steering
  • Intake and Exhaust

Changing An Engine Is More Than Just Changing An Engine

Changing an engine is never as easy as changing an engine. You will spend more time in the scrapyard searching for pieces than you ever thought possible. There are several reports of people attempting this feat, only to end up with a piece of junk at the end of the day.

Your sweat and tears will mix with the dirt of your labor, and by the end of your project, you should feel glad because you achieved the impossible. It might be hard at times, but it is never enough to give up on your dream of performing an engine swap.

Understand The Effect Of The Added Weight

This is true for anyone putting a different engine into their vehicle. People have been known to remove a 300-pound engine and place in a 600-pound engine without thinking about the consequences. Your car is only meant to carry so much weight, and adding a larger engine can cause it to bog down, or cause issues with your chassis and suspension.

It is definitely possible to do this, as we have seen with the classic American muscle cars, but it is not always smart. You want to ensure your car has a stable center of gravity and upgrade it to be able to handle this added weight.

Never Force Anything

It might be frustrating when pieces refuses to come out or go together, but forcing anything will only cause major damage. Many times, people try to pry something out of their car, but the problem is that there is still one bolt holding it together.

Another error is when people try to force the engine and transmission together, which is a huge mistake because these should fall easily together. If you crack your transmission because you tried to force something, you will not be happy. Damaging this is the last thing you want to happen, as it will lead to a costly replacement.

Expect Challenges To Arise

All engine swaps are not created equal, and the cars are ultimately changed by the end of the process. Your new engine might not fit with the hoses and other components from your old engine, which can put you in a predicament.

This is part of the reason why doing research is so important, so you know exactly what you might need in addition to the engine itself. It is always recommended you use an engine from the same manufacturer as they are generally easier to install, but putting in an engine from a different company is a whole other story.

Special Rules For Inline Engines

When performing an engine swap, you usually have to remove the intake manifold and the exhaust manifold. This is not the case with inline engines, as you have the luxury of disconnecting them and pushing them aside. It is about fourteen bolts, but it will save you a tremendous amount of time.

Usually, you would have to reconnect all of the sensors and plumbing when the new engine is dropped in, but it is not necessary when you choose an inline engine.

Understand The Risks Before Going For The Reward

You should understand the amount of work that goes into these vehicles, and be able to figure out how to do it well. Oftentimes, people who have no idea what they are doing perform some shady repairs that result in a faulty engine. They use alternative methods that can lead to dangerous mishaps and potentially put everyone involved at risk.

If you plan on upgrading your steering and suspension at the same time as en engine swap, make sure you understand the complexity of the process. No one wants to see their pet project go up in flames (literally), but crazier things have happened when someone doesn’t understand the risks of their actions.

Should You Fix Up or Break Up With Your Car?

You’re looking at a $1,200 repair estimate for your ailing car when an ad catches your eye: a brand new set of wheels for a mere $450 a month.

At first, dumping your old car might seem like a no-brainer — and you can’t help picturing how good you would look in that new car. But automotive experts say you’ll almost always come out ahead — at least financially — by fixing old faithful. There are, however, other important considerations when deciding whether it’s time to say farewell.

Deciding what to do

To make the best decision for your situation, consider the pros and cons of both options.

FIXING YOUR CAR

  • Faster than shopping for and buying a new vehicle.
  • No change in insurance costs.
  • The car’s history is known.
  • You won’t waste time and money advertising and selling your car.
  • But your repaired car might soon need more repairs.

BUYING A NEWER CAR

  • Purchase can include warranties and sometimes maintenance.
  • Recent cars have advanced safety features.
  • Younger cars are more reliable.
  • You’ll stop wasting time schlepping to the repair garage.
  • But a new car loan is a long-term financial commitment.

How To Be Your Own Home Remodeling Contractor

What to Know Before Selecting Your Home’s Roofing Material

The right roof material can do more than simply keep you dry and protect your home. It is the icing on the cake, and can augment, or even define, the style of your home. Today we summarize your home roof material options, providing an overview of a subject that might not get the same attention as other architectural home design aspects — but which, in my opinion, should.

Considerations for Choosing a Roof Material

Let’s face it, a home without a roof is just four walls. If you’re constructing a new home, the roof material type will be specified by your plan set, typically determined by your architect with your consultation. The color may or may not be determined at that point. The material type is important to specify early on because different roof material types have different weights, and loads are considered by engineers who take the roof weight into account before completing your home’s structural calculations.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the various roof material options, but there is one thing they all have in common: When properly designed and installed in the right circumstance, all the common materials reviewed in this article are up to the task and can properly do the job of protecting your home from the elements.

Cost. Cost is a significant consideration, and there is wide variation among the options available. The likely cost of each material type is noted in the individual elements of this series. For remodels or re-roofing situations, there can be significant costs if your new roof material’s weight is greater than the material being replaced

Design style. Since all the material types are more or less capable of doing the job (some have benefits relating to different climates), the style of the various options becomes a key aspect that you and your architect should consider. Certain roof materials are good historical matches for certain home styles. An authentic Tuscan home, for instance, will likely want an authentic clay roof tile, although a concrete roof tile can provide a similar look at a better value.

How to Remodel the Laundry Room

It’s true. There’s no standard laundry room size, shape or layout. Often these utility spaces are created in awkward leftover areas after every other room in the home has been planned out. Or they’re banished to dark corners of basements and garages. And yet you’ve probably noticed you’re spending a lot of time in that confined area. Shouldn’t that space warrant extra attention?

What Are You Hoping to Achieve?

Why have you decided to remodel your laundry room? And what’s important to you? The answers to these questions will inevitably affect your decisions and, above all, your budget. Are you simply after more function? Or are you hoping to make the space look nice too?

Do you plan on working with the space you have? Or are you relocating your laundry room to another part of your house? Buying new appliances and adding some paint or wallpaper is one thing; knocking down walls, rerouting plumbing and building an entirely new room is another.

Another question you should ask is, “Why now?” It’s good to think about why this is the right time to remodel or redecorate your laundry room. Is this a one-off project or part of a larger remodel? If you plan on eventually tackling a larger project, such as a kitchen or master bathroom, it could be more cost-effective to wait and do everything at once, when you’ll probably already have a contractor, tile installer and other professionals on site doing work.

How Do You Want the Space to Function?

Laundry rooms aren’t always just about washing and drying clothes. “People tend to store all kinds of things in their laundry rooms, from batteries to flashlights to dog food,”

Ideas for Partially Finishing Your Basement

We’re always looking for more space in our homes, it seems, whether for extra storage, an additional living zone or a new spot to decorate. Often, valuable space can be found in the basement. While this can be a wonderful place to renovate if your budget allows, there are ways to enjoy that below-grade space even without a full remodel.

A pro can help you partially finish your basement to bring your home new warmth, style and comfort, as well as that extra space you’re craving. Here are some ways to make the most of an unfinished basement.

Keep the ceiling exposed. This smart basement renovation reveals a key secret to enjoying a partially finished basement: Keep the ceiling open. We don’t all have the advantage of deep basements with high ceilings, and we need all the help we can get, height-wise. While there are some stylish drop-ceiling panels now available, keeping the ceiling joists open and painting them a bold color like black creates the illusion of depth, helping the ceiling to recede and become less noticeable. The added advantage is that your wiring is available to you without having to cut into drywall.

Ditch the drywall. A shot of this basement from a different angle shows that in the living area, the concrete foundation walls and floor of this 1920s house have been given a clean coat of paint. Paint is quite often the quickest and least expensive way to freshen and update a room.

Another unexpected and low-cost alternative wall material is an engineered lumber such as oriented strand board (OSB), typically used for subfloors or sheathing in construction. This unconventional choice is a creative, less expensive way to cover concrete walls and divide living zones. The key to using a material like this is to apply it to a large area (as shown in this photo) so that it’s clear that using it was an intentional design choice.

Key Measurements for Your Living Room

Whether you are laying out a living room for your first apartment or planning one for your new custom home, understanding the scale of furniture and its relationship to the room can help you create a comfortable and functional space. The first thing to keep in mind is that you want the proportions of the furniture to coordinate with the proportions of the room. The following layout suggestions and common furniture sizes will help you get the living room design you want.

Single Sofa

Sofas are used frequently in most households. Buy a good-quality one so that it holds up, feels comfortable and maintains its looks. On average sofas are about 84 inches (213 centimeters) long and 38 in. (98 cm) deep. A 72-in. (183-cm) sofa could work well in a smaller living room, while one that is 96 in. (244-cm) long could fit in a larger space.

Sectional Sofa

Essentially made up of two sofas placed perpendicular to each other, sectional sofas add plenty of seating. As with sofas, sectionals come in various sizes. Two 84-in. (213-cm) sectional pieces together need a space that is 7 feet (213 cm) wide and 10 feet (305 cm) long, which is usually a significant portion of a room.

Shaped Sofa

Sofas like this one, and other shaped sofas, usually take up more space than average. This example is about 11 feet (335 cm) long and needs a total depth of about 54 in. (137 cm).

Televisions

Since televisions now come in a wide variety of sizes, arranging furniture for them depends on which TV is chosen and how it’s used. Depending on your TV type and screen size, you will want to keep your seating within 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal length of TV screen.

Key Measurements for Planning the Perfect Dining Room

A dining room remains a desirable home feature, whether it is a distinct room or integrated into an open plan. Shapes and sizes of dining tables, chairs and furniture need to be considered so personal movement is not impeded when the room is fully in use.

Table and seat heights tend to be standard but all else varies greatly. Take into consideration your decor, your lifestyle and how frequently you will use the space when you’re planning a layout and shopping for furnishings.

Traditional. Traditional dining rooms can be generously proportioned, as this one is. Long, rectangular tables that adjust with leaves typify its style, while a sideboard provides storage for table linens and serveware and functions as a serving platform. Freestanding glass-enclosed china cabinets are still readily available. However, the design here shows a built-in that serves this purpose on the wall between the windows. This room also hosts a fireplace on an opposite wall.

Spaces with these features and furnishings require a larger-than-average room. You will need at least 14 feet (4.3 meters) in width and 16 ft. (4.9 m) in length for a similar arrangement, but 15 ft.(4.8 m) wide by 20 ft. (6.1 m) long will likely function better.

Contemporary. Smaller-scale furnishings in modern designs will suit contemporary tastes well, as illustrated in this room. This layout also supports a sideboard, but its table is a fixed rectangular plank style with bentwood chairs and rush seating. A modern glass chandelier replaces the traditional crystal type shown in the previous photo.

Setting Up A Specification For Annual Roof Repair

Can you patch a roof from the inside?

This section is a step-by-step guide to find the source. Some methods require two people plus roof and attic access. Contact a professional if you’re unable to execute any of these steps safely.

Locating the exact leak location isn’t always as straightforward as it may sound, especially with pitched roofs. Leaks tend to be higher up from the obvious interior leak. Water gets under the shingles and then travels down the rafters or sheathing before finally finding a nail or protrusion to aim that stream of water at your ceiling. Once there, it may pool and cause sagging or bubbling, or it may travel farther, finding light fixtures or other openings to drain through.

Below are the tools you’ll need to help you discover the source of the problem.

  • A Helper
  • Ladder
  • Garden Hose (if it’s not raining)
  • Dust Mask
  • Flashlight
  • Tape Measure

Finding the Leak

Finding exactly where the leak is coming from can be the most challenging part of fighting the leak. One common cause of leaks in the home is that water has entered through the roof, and settled into a pool inside the ceiling. When this happens, your ceiling will become waterlogged and will start to bulge; you want to get this water out right away. Get a large container and place it under the ceiling, then puncture the middle of the bulge to let the water flow freely. You’re already going to need to repair the ceiling, so this will allow the water to drip down instead of pooling more and damaging a wider area.

Once you’ve addressed any damage coming into the house, get up into the attic around the location of the affected ceiling. Be careful not to step anywhere that doesn’t have supports! You don’t want to do any more damage to your ceiling than has already been done. Using a bright flashlight, locate the affected area, and find the trail of water back to where it’s entering your roof.

Fixing the Leak from the Attic

Once you’ve spotted the leak, and found a way to get to it, you can patch it up temporarily with any durable material. Even a wooden plank or some spare shingling with roofing tar will do the trick; if you don’t have any on hand, sprint to the hardware store and get some so that you can fix the problem quickly.

Spread the adhesive material over the leak from the attic and hold your patch in place until it’s secure. Then, apply some more tar where the patch meets the roof to lock it in. Take good note of where the leak is from the inside so that you can find it more easily once you can safely get up onto the roof outside

What If I Can’t Find The Leak?

If you can’t find the leak in your roof you will need to cover it quickly with some plastic roof covering.  This also goes for homes where there is no attic or attic access.  Follow these steps to protect your home if you can’t do a temporary patch.

Buy & Prep The Roof Plastic

You likely don’t keep roof plastic just hanging out in a closet.  So, you’ll have to head to the hardware store or call for help.  Plastic roof covering comes in 4-foot rolls of polyethylene.  Buy some and head home to get it placed on your roof.  You’ll also need some 8-foot 2×4’s to act as anchors for your roof covering.

Cut The Plastic To Length

You’ll want to unroll the plastic with a little more length to run from the top of the roof (the ridge) to the edge of your roof (the eave).  Don’t unfold your covering yet and cut it to length with a utility knife.  You can use one of your 2×4’s as a guide to make the cut as straight as possible.  Once it is cut to length you will unfold it to make a section that is long enough for your roof, and about 8 feet wide.

Attach The Cover To 2x4s

Roll one of the ends around an 8 foot 2×4 and use a utility staple gun to attach it to the wood.  Take a second 2×4 to and sandwich the plastic between them, then nail the 2×4’s together.  Do the same thing on the other end of your plastic roof covering to finish preparing your cover.

Place The Cover On The Roof

It should go without saying that safety comes first and if there’s lightning, you don’t have the ability, or the right equipment to get this done; you should be calling for emergency roof repair.  If you’ve got rubber soled shoes, a saw to cut the 2×4’s, a ladder, and some courage to jump on your roof take your cover up there and set one pair of the 2×4’s over the ridge and then stretch the rest to go down to the eave.

Roof Leaks – Deciding to DIY

If you are sure that you want to DIY your roof leak, here are some helpful steps in order to fix the leaks.

  • First you need to seal the leak ASAP. Find out where the source of your leak is. Examine the underside of your roof from within the attic or crawl space.
  • Second, shine a flashlight along the roof’s underside and check to see if there is a hole in the roof. You’ll also need to look for any wet areas or dark spots caused by moisture.
  • Third, the areas which you found to be leaking should be marked with some chalk so they can be spotted quickly.
  • Fourth, the wet areas need to dry before sealing. Once they have dried, apply a patch to the underside of the roof. Using a putty knife will be the easiest way to do it. Cover the entire leaky area.
  • Fifth, use a Caulking gun to apply caulk to seal any holes that are in your roof. The putty knife will help you spread the caulk evenly to cover the holes.

Using Sealants as the Solution

If the leak is due to faulty or missing flashing, sealants might be the cure. Use sealants on all flashing around skylights and protrusions like a chimney or vent. You should never use them to fix shingles permanently. It may work as a stop-gap measure to fix broken or cracked shingles until you have time to replace them.

For a quick, short-term shingle fix, all you’ll need is some mastic or roofing cement, a trowel and a flat bar:

  • Lift the broken shingle up with the flat bar. You may need to pry the nail out a bit. If you do, don’t forget to hammer it back in at the end.
  • Spread the sealant. Using the trowel, spread the sealant under the broken shingle.
  • Flatten the shingle out gently. The sealant should seal the cutout – the gap between the tabs – on a three-tab shingle.

Things To Know Before Custom Home Builder Start Building

What questions should I ask a builder before hiring?

Building and remodeling are big undertakings. These types of projects are exciting, and we want you to feel that excitement as the experience should be a fun one. We enjoy what we do and it’s important to us that the experience for our clients is equally enjoyable. There are so many decisions to make with a new build or remodel. Take a deep breath. The number one thing you’ll want to do in the pre-planning stages is to do some in-depth research before hiring a contractor by asking the right questions. Knowing which questions to ask a potential contractor can help you to feel much more secure in the decision-making process, helping you to make a confident decision in who to ultimately work with.

Are you insured and can you provide validity of this?

This one might seem an obvious question to ask a contractor before working with them, but you’d be surprised how many people skip this simple yet all-important question…and often end up suffering for it. A good, reputable contractor will be happy to show and proof of insurance. They will often showcase this on their website, marketing materials, and even offer it up in conversation, which only adds to their credibility. Do yourself a huge favor and ask them if they’re insured, regardless of whether or not they were referred to you by even your best friend.

Will you provide me with a full list of references?

A good builder will happily provide you with a list of solid references. This is not an unrealistic expectation. Ask for a list of recent references (clients they’ve worked with within the past 2-3 years), as this would be the most relevant and up-to-date. In addition, create a list of specific questions you’d like to ask these individuals to help guide the conversation and keep it productive. Ask questions regarding timelines, communication, and quality of the work they received. Keep in mind that some delays are unpredictable, but previous clients can offer insight into how their timelines were affected and more importantly, how well the builder communicated the details throughout the process.

Are you a licenced builder?

This is the first question you need to ask. Only ever work with licenced tradesmen. It may seem like an obvious point to reinforce but people either don’t ask or go with an unlicensed builder to save money. The results can be disastrous. Each state allows you to run a search on builders to check their licence, a simple Google search for ‘check a builder’s licence’ will get you started, please do it.

How long will the building maintenance period last?

A builder agrees to perform building maintenance for a period of time after the property is handed over to you. Most experts recommend a six month maintenance period for residential units and 12 to 18 months for commercial properties.

What’s included in your price? 

What are the standard finishes and items, and what are upgrade items?  More importantly, throughout the entire process, what isn’t included and may come up?

Most of this should be outlined for you in the contract details, but knowing what’s not included will help a lot with budget planning.  Does the builder include the design drawings, permits, landscaping, appliances?  Do they include hazardous material removal?  Avoiding the dreaded hidden/unknown charges will be dictated by how well they’re able to answer this question.

How do you ensure that I will not exceed my budget?

Yet another question that past customers will help you confirm, but here’s where you want to know how the builder’s communication style works.  It’s critical to feel confident that your builder will work with you to keep you within your budget and communicate how changes impact the budget.

Can I show your construction contract to my lawyer prior to signing?

Does this builder have a contract which clearly outlines all the details of what’s included throughout the process, and do you have sufficient protection?  Asking this simply question will help filter out those who do not like to bother with details and will be the people who you’d like to stay away from.

Can you give me references from prior home buyers?  Do you have any completed homes I can view?

Checking references are extremely important as it will help you make a much more informed decision based off of their prior experiences with the builder.  Also, as quality is very subjective, seeing a completed home for yourself will help align your expectations.

Etiquette Tips For Working With A Custom Home Builder

There are tons of horror stories out there that people have from working with contractors and home builders. Sometimes it’s because of poor research, misaligned expectations, or someone just lying, most of the time though it comes down to communication. With communication comes its own set of problems. Building a custom home is a stressful and personal undertaking. Having a good relationship with your home builder will help ease the process and will likely result in better quality work. Here are a few etiquette tips on how to deal with and communicate with your custom home builder.

Respect work hours

The normal 9-5 hours might not completely apply but don’t call or text your home builder at 2 am. Ask them for their work hours and if you have any questions or concerns after those times you should email them. While your custom home builder is committed to your project, they’re also a human being with a life outside of their job. This project might be all you can think about but respect the work/life balance they have.

Stop designing

At a certain point, you will need to stop yourself from going on Pinterest and Instagram. These sites are full of great ideas but after a certain stage changing things around really isn’t feasible. Continuing to look will just make you wish you could continue to add and change.

Get everything in writing

Get everything that you want your home builder to complete in writing. In the end, this will save both of you from arguing about price and jobs completed. Make sure everything little thing is included too. Having a firm understanding of expectations, design choices, and job lists will help with communication and expected end results.

Communicate with visits

Any good custom home builder will encourage you to come see the project during its construction phases. You’ll read a lot of people telling you to randomly drop by to make sure work is getting done. While you can drive by and do this, don’t expect a full tour at random. Your home builder will be busy working. Call ahead and set up pre-arranged times. This way they can go through everything with you in details. Stopping by unannounced also poses safety and time issues.

Expect delays

Even if the most researched and well planned out projects by the most experienced builders will encounter delays. Whether or material deliveries are a few of the most common causes for delays. Letting a delay unravel you and send you into a panic is never helpful. Don’t blame your contract unless they made a blatant error. Expect delays and learn to cope with them. Most home builders will work hard to compensate for them but if you throw a fit they’ll probably be less inclined.

Don’t take your stress out on them

Custom home builders are used to absorbing some of the stress people are under during a build. Try to keep this at a minimum though. A slight tone is one thing, but a complete blowout is unacceptable. A home build is extremely stressful, but having a good working attitude with your home builder will make things go smoother. Taking your stress and frustration out on them will only make things worse.

Be on the same page

If you’re building a home with a significant other, make sure you two are on the same page. It even helps if you select one person as the designated contact person. Preferably pick the person who is available the most. Miscommunication and mistakes get made when you and your partner are telling your home builder different things.

Set reasonable response expectations

There are a lot of times during a project where you or your home builder will need a response quickly. Many aspects have strict deadlines. Before you begin, set up an ideal timeline and means of communication for these types of situations. But also set up a time frame for non-time sensitive questions or concerns. A day or two is normal. Both you and your builder will be busy. Don’t expect them to respond within an hour to a general question.

Tipping and gifts are nice but not necessary

People often stress about tipping or gift giving as a project begins to wrap up. Here’s the thing about tipping, it’s always nice but it isn’t necessary for a custom home project. There’s no set percentage so figuring out can be complicated. Some people like to give money, other’s gifts, some just throw a party for their builder and contractors at the end. If you feel they did excellent work and have a good relationship with them some gesture to show your appreciation is always great.

Tips For A Wedding Photographer New To The Business

WHY I’LL NEVER BE A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

I have seen so many posts across various websites and facebook groups this week all centred around one theme – wedding photography. Wedding season is well and truly upon us and I guess that everyone who’s getting married this summer has already booked their photographer. But their guests who are getting married next year or the year after? They’re the ones probably starting to think about who’s going to photograph their big day. And it’s a huge decision to make.

So why the blog post? What has riled me up so much that I feel the need to write about it in a blog?! Well to start with I am not nor have I ever been a wedding photographer. So I’m not touting for business. But basically when people book a photographer (any kind of photographer) I want them to get what they’re paying for – I love value for money no matter what your budget. But certain threads and posts written recently by professional photographers make me think that not everyone has the same standards and that really winds me up.

I hate my own wedding photos. There it is, I’ve said it out loud. I’m not going to name and shame and I hope my photographer never reads this. I don’t have one single wedding photo up in my house. The only one you’ll ever see online is the one in this article. I asked for documentary style photos, snapshots of the day. “I don’t want poses” is what I said. “Let’s spend 2 hours of your day doing posed photos” is what the photographer heard. You’d think that in all that time that every base would be covered. Apparently not, because there’s not one photo of me and my dad on my wedding day. He’s in some group ones, but not one photo exists of just me and him on that day.

Which brings me to my second point. If you don’t know that you can nail it first time, every time, all day, don’t tell people that you can. I can take great photos of your family for you, I know I can. But if you asked me to be your wedding photographer? I’d say that I really appreciate you asking, but that there are people who are better suited to what you need. But not every photographer will be that honest with you. And I have a real issue with that.

We all know that weddings can be expensive. I say ‘can be’, because loads of people can and do get married on a small budget. But it doesn’t seem to matter how much people are willing to spend on other aspects of their day, when it comes to booking a photographer, I hear the words “that’s so expensive!” stupidly often. I couldn’t cope with hearing that about my own work again and again. Does it cost a lot to hire a good wedding photographer? Most of the time – yes

The Best Gift You Can Give your Photographer

Time and time again I am so overly blessed by my clients, and although it cane seem to be an “Awkward” topic… talking about tipping or blessing your photographer doesn’t have to be awkward!  Whether it be through words, action or a physical gift,  so often I have friends and clients asking me “I really want to thank my lake garda wedding photographer for what they did and how they captured us!

Thanking them at your wedding! Wow, just last weekend a bride and groom got up after speeches and gave the proper verbal “Thank You’s” to all their friends and family for all the work they put in… THEN they didn’t stop there… they literally said to their guests  “You have seen our photographers running around all day and we want to thank Tonie Christine Photography from the bottom of our hearts for being more than just a photographer, but a confidence booster, a dress fluffer and such a joy to work with from start to finish” … Que the jaw dropping right there! I was so so so honored to be mentioned by name on their wedding day that I fear I looked like a Miss USA Contestant fanning my dropped jaw… but really people… even a hand written note mailed to us after the wedding, or a shout out at the wedding goes SUCH a long way!

A TIP! Many people don’t realize how much a tip means to us as photographers! The money that you invest in us is a big deal and we are so thankful you chose US…. but here’s the thing… a tip speaks volumes to us. It says 1.) You are worth every penny I paid you and then this little extra and 2.) it says “We want you to treat yourself to something nice with this tip and not just put it back into your business!” Meaning we have the freedom to grab a massage, manicure or that new top we have been eying and not even feel guilty about it! Not to mention each time I am given a tip, it makes me melt inside. It’s for sure not necessity, but if you feel like your photographer went above and beyond, it’s never to late to mail them a little note and a small tip! I am not even talking about a certain percentage or a package price or what you would pay a server… I just mean whatever is on your heart to bless them with, DOES NOT go unnoticed!

Something personal. One of my favorite things to do is scour friends’ Instagram accounts and Facebook pages for things they love! Not just Starbucks gift cards, camera paraphernalia  or something generic (not that it’s a bad thing to do a Starbucks card as we as photographers frequent coffee shops 😉 ) but to really look and find something unique that you see they LOVE! Knowing that your photographers favorite candle came from Anthropologie, or that they eat all the time at a certain restaurant in town near you, or better yet, the colors they love to display in their home can really go a LONG way when buying them a small gift that makes you think of them! My favorite example of this is a bride of mine last summer knows I have an undying love for all things black and white and gold… after her wedding day, she literally went back to the boutique she bought her bridesmaids gifts at, and bought an additional black and gold necklace that she bought for all of them and mailed it to me with a card that simple read “I felt like you could have been a bridesmaid all day with us, and instead you were working all day. Thank you for being not only our photographer but our friend” WHOA… cue the tears! (Thanks Ari!!

Social Media Shout Outs and rave reviews online anywhere! These go a LOOONG way with us as photographers! We send you your gallery of images that we have worked hard on and we wait holding our breath wanting to either hear back from you via email or see a totally rad post online somewhere! When you tag our businesses (not us personally) on Instagram, Facebook and leave our website addresses when you post wedding photos, your friends and family respond to that! They look us up and they follow us too! This is how we gain our advertising and new clients which leads to my number one gift to give your photographer…

Legal things every wedding photographer needs

Weddings are full of something old, something new, and something blue…at least in the bride’s mind.  As a creative industry professional, photographer or videographer, it is your responsibility to fill the legal gaps that may not be necessarily apparent to the client to ensure their day goes off without a hitch.

Insurance Policies

No matter the business formation chosen (See: Quick Legal Checklist: How to start a photography business – the right way!), insurance should be secured to fill the gaps that contracts and formations may not provide.  At a minimum, a wedding photographer should carry liability and equipment insurance.

Back-Up Measures

Due to the “can’t-reshoot” nature of weddings, having back-up measures in place is not only a smart and common-sense move but is a professional requirement.  These backup measures include back-up equipment and back-up photographers.  Despite the attentive care that may be given to equipment, technology fails.  Having a back-up setup, cards, and batteries (at a minimum) are a requirement for a wedding photographer to fulfill their legally bound service to the client.  Further, sickness or accidents may arise that prevent the primary photographer from fulfilling their duties, therefore, a back-up photographer should be on stand-by in the event of an emergency.  Always have a backup plan!

Wedding Photography Contract

This document is an agreement or a promise that has legally binding rights and obligations that can be legally enforced.  It also outlines the responsibilities of both parties including time, place, money, products, and services.  Snag your own wedding contract template here. This agreement should also go a step further to outline all  specifics, cancellation policy, late policy, reproduction rights, expectations of both parties, guarantees, and waiver of responsibility in certain events.

Independent Contractor Photography Contract

Working with a second-shooter or assistant on an Independent Contractor (IC) basis demands the use of an agreement between primary photographer and the IC.  Note: IC’s are not merely given IC status by labeling them as such.  The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.  You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.

Wedding Photography Hacks for Total Amateurs

The way I’d describe the first time I photographed a wedding would be with words like “scary”, “stressful”, and “fun”. There is a whole lot that goes into creating excellent wedding photography through every part of the day – from prep photos in the morning to the grand sparkler exit at night

Get Organized Before the Wedding

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that wedding photography is just about being good at taking photos. Sure, that is a huge part of it, and at the end of the day – your clients will be paying you to produce great photos. But there is so much more that goes into the process of making great wedding day photos.

A few ways to get organized before the wedding include:

Create a shot list. Shot lists can be useful ways to remind yourself what photos you want and need to take. The most important shot list of the day for me has always been a list of family formal pairings – this has allowed me to call out names and get people grouped together, instead of just trying to wing it.

Put together a wedding timeline. The wedding timeline is the single most helpful thing I put together. With input from my clients, I’m able to write down the timing of every important event. By putting this schedule together, it helps set expectations of when things will need to happen (like portrait times), and where I need to be for things like the ceremony and start of the reception. I’ve also found that is HUGELY helps reduce stress for my clients too – because they can see their big day laid out in front of them.

Learn what your client wants. This is not always easy, but it’s hugely important. With some clients, you may be in constant contact through email and text messaging – and they have probably spelled out their wants to you a few times over. With others, they may be super quiet – which can be absolutely fine but lead to missing out on things when the big day comes. To help get clarification easily, send out a questionnaire asking questions like “What are the most important pictures for you to walk away with?” and similar.

Prepare in Advance

Being prepared to shoot a wedding early will help you eliminate stress and feeling frazzled. It will also make sure you have all the things you need with you when you arrive to shoot your client’s big day.

Use the Best Gear You Can

I totally understand that most wedding photographers who are just starting out won’t have that great of gear. If you’re shooting weddings for free or at a super low rate – this won’t be a big problem (most of the time).

Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Wedding Photographer a Shot List

It’s sort of reasonable to over-plan your wedding, but turns out, having an iron grip on every detail isn’t always a good thing.

Shot lists. For the most part, they suck. Didn’t expect that I’d say that? Of course there are exceptions, but its crucial to remember that picking the right photographer (i.e. a good photographer) is far more important than making sure they have a perfectly prescribed list of shots.

Wedding days are chaotic. Things go wrong. Emotions run high. When you give a photographer a shot list for the wedding, you are doing two things. First, you are forcing them to capture contrived shots / setups that aren’t naturally occurring. These photos never look good. They feel fake because they are fake. The second thing that shot lists do is force the photographer to be buried in a piece of paper, making sure they check all the boxes. What a photographer should be doing is staying present in every moment, ready to shoot and document things as they happen. These are the photographs you will cherish.

When I talk about “shot lists,” I’m specifically referring to sheets of paper that have bullet points like “shot of groom laughing,” and “shot of bride walking away from the camera showing back of dress.” Those tend to be unhelpful and counterproductive. There are other types of shot lists that are totally fine and necessary, like family group combinations. Photographers will always need these shots listed out since they have no idea who anyone is at a wedding. We recommend that the couple assigns a close friend or relative to help us get the right people into the shots. They can also remind us of other things that were important to the couple, such as getting a photo with grandparents.

To boil it all down to one sentence: After finding the right photographer, help them with lists of family photo combinations, then trust them with everything else. Every photographer works a little differently and may deviate from some of this advice, which is totally fine and to be expected. But please, avoid the hyper-detailed, redundant list of shots that the photographer already knows to get. It’s frustrating when we see the couple request “shot of bride and groom during the ceremony,” as if we wouldn’t get that shot unless they told us.

Reasons Why Finding The Right Pro Accountant Can Save You Thousands

Supporting you during COVID-19

working from home

Working from home has become the new normal in 2020. We’ve reconfigured our home offices and found ways to make our new working environments as productive as possible

Accounting handover checklist for not for profit CEOs

Every individual within an organisation has their set of responsibilities. But what happens when a key staff member leaves and no one else in the company has access to the information that person managed?

SVA and CSI COVID charity financial health check

Social Ventures and the Centre for Social Impact have teamed up to model the potential impact of COVID-19 on the financial health of charities, with the report released in June 2020.

EOFY tips for not for profits

The end of the financial year is looming and we know that this year has been unusual, to say the least. We want to make sure you are well prepared for 30 June and the coming audit season… so we have a selection of tips that will help you get organised.

Strategies for NDIS providers facing financial challenges

AFG’s NDIS clients are actually in a very good position despite COVID-19 – one has even been able to extend the reach of their online group programs to regional NSW for the first time – so it is possible to survive or even thrive in the circumstances.

BASIC ACCOUNTING SKILLS EVERY PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT MUST HAVE!

The world of knowledge is infinite, which means that there is no end to learning, unlearning and relearning new skills that are in sync with the changing times. The same is in the case of accounting, where managerial accountants need to have varied basic accounting skills and need to keep themselves abreast of the new developments in the domain.

Interpersonal skills:

There is a misconception that an accountant’s work involves purely number crunching. But along with strong quantitative skills, an accountant should also possess great interpersonal skills such as empathy, client management, negotiation skills, etc. Being an accountant, they have regular meetings with several clients, colleagues and professionals. Hence, good interpersonal skills are vital to the success of an accountant.

Taxation

Taxation is a very volatile and dynamic subject. It requires advanced knowledge, which is only possible through rigorous reading and strong experience. It is an accountant’s responsibility to help and navigate their customers through taxation procedures in the most ethical and hassle-free way.  An accountant should have an in-depth understanding of various taxes, tax income limits, taxable items, tax rates, etc.

Analysis

To become an ace accountant, he/she also needs to conduct variance analysis, price and volume analysis, product profitability, cost analysis, life-cycle cost analysis, capital budgeting, strategic planning, forecasting, allocation, etc. to ensure the best allocation of resources and achieve management goals.

Accounting basics

An accountant should know how to prepare financial statements and accounting reports for planning, controlling, budgeting and decision-making.

Accounting skills to list on your resume

If you’re working toward a degree in accounting, the next thing on your mind should be preparing your accounting resume for a job in the field. Whether your goal is to be an accountant or to work in business management, an accounting degree can be the crucial key to helping you find success.

There are three main types of accountants; tax accountants, auditors, and industry accountants. Each of these different types of accounting careers has very different job responsibilities, and different skills that are needed to succeed. Tax accountants are just what it sounds like, accountants who do taxes. Audit accountants perform audits on companies, internally or externally, to ensure that proper financial and accounting practices are being performed, and that the financial statements of an organization are correct. Industry accountants work in public or private sectors for individual companies handling their overall finances.

Accounting skills.

There is a distinct difference between hard skills and soft skills in the workforce. Hard skills are the specific tasks and abilities you need to be able to do to in order to perform your job functions, and perform them well. Hard skills translate to the tasks you’ll need to be able to do day in and day out.

Performing accounts payable and receivable functions. This is an industry accounting function that boils down to writing checks and managing the budgets for your vendors. It means working with department heads to understand what the vendors do, establishing budgets with departments, and working directly with the vendors to send them their checks when they submit invoices. Skills in accounts payable and receivable are extremely relevant for those in industry accounting and is a great skill to list on your resume

Managing vendor accounts. Accounting departments in industry accounting are often responsible for managing all the vendor accounts that need to be paid. This means loading them into whatever software system you use, making sure they’ve delivered their goods or services, and more. On your resume it’s smart to list that you have direct experience in working with vendor contracts, tax documentation, and invoices. All of these elements are used by accounting departments every day, especially in industry accounting.

The Role of Accounting in Business and Why It’s Important

The term accounting is very common, especially during tax season. But before we dive into the importance of accounting in business, let’s cover the basics – what is accounting? Accounting refers to the systematic and detailed recording of financial transactions of a business. There are many types, from accounting for small businesses, government, forensic, and management accounting, to accounting for corporations.

Why Is Accounting Important?

Accounting plays a vital role in running a business because it helps you track income and expenditures, ensure statutory compliance, and provide investors, management, and government with quantitative financial information which can be used in making business decisions.

There are three key financial statements generated by your records.

The income statement provides you with information about the profit and loss

The balance sheet gives you a clear picture on the financial position of your business on a particular date.

The cash flow statement is a bridge between the income statement and balance sheet and reports the cash generated and spent during a specific period of time.

It Helps in Evaluating the Performance of Business

Your financial records reflect the results of operations as well as the financial position of your small business or corporation. In other words, they help you understand what’s going on with your business financially. Not only will clean and up to date records help you keep track of expenses, gross margin, and possible debt, but it will help you compare your current data with the previous accounting records and allocate your budget appropriately.

It Ensures Statutory Compliance

Laws and regulations vary from state to state, but proper accounting systems and processes will help you ensure statutory compliance when it comes to your business.

Accounting Vs Finance: Which Should You Study?

The popularity of FAME subjects (finance, accounting, management and economics) comes from their vital role in the world of business, particularly those first two letters of the acronym: accounting and finance.

The primary difference in the battle of accounting vs finance is that accounting has a relatively narrow focus, while finance is wider-ranging, covering an array of specializations in the world of business, economics and banking.

Accounting vs finance

At undergraduate level, it’s possible to take a joint accounting and finance degree, in order to gain a more general knowledge of both accounting and finance professions. However, those who study further will usually specialize in either one or the other, in order to gain more advanced expertise in one particular field.

What do accounting degrees cover?

An accounting degree will provide a foundation for specialized accounting careers, as well as many other related careers. Accounting careers typically involve analyzing and utilizing financial information in order to evaluate a business’ financial position. This can involve anything from basic book-keeping to managing balance sheets and income statements. Accounting careers often have a large focus on past records and present reports, involving the creation and analysis of these records, and now often also extend to encompass planning, controlling, decision-making, stewardship, accountability and more

What do finance degrees cover?

A finance degree, on the other hand, is a great starting point for careers in financial services, across business, banking and consultancy sectors. According to US salary data gathered by PayScale, finance careers also have the potential to be slightly more lucrative than most accountancy routes. This is due to the fact that finance careers typically focus on the management of current and future figures of a business or organization, as opposed to just the recording of past and present income and expenditure. This means that those in finance careers often have the added responsibility of predicting and analyzing the potential for profit and growth, assessing monetary resources, utilizing accounting statistics and reports, and also looking externally for future funding options.