The Insider Secrets To Building The Perfect New Home Builder

Domestic Building Consumer Guide

Your builder must give you a copy of the Domestic Building Consumer Guide before you sign a major domestic building contract. The Domestic Building Consumer Guide is the contract information statement required by section 29A of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.

Before you start your building work

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) registers building practitioners and monitors their conduct and compliance with the building regulations.

Your builder must also take out Domestic Building Insurance if the cost of the work is more than $16,000. To check if a builder is eligible for Domestic Building Insurance

Appointing your builder

The builder must be a registered building practitioner and use a major domestic building contract if the work costs more than $10,000. Building work includes:

building a house

altering, renovating extending a house

undertaking work such as landscaping, paving or constructing retaining structures, driveways, fencing, carports, garages, workshops, swimming pools or spas when building, repairing, renovating or extending a house

installing lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water supply, sewerage or drainage to the house or property

demolishing or removing a house

preparing plans and specifications for the work

any work associated with building on residential-zoned land and for which a building permit is required, and

any site work, including work to ensure access to the property

By law, a major domestic contract must contain certain information, including a checklist of important things you should consider before signing the contract. For more information about major domestic building contracts, the checklist and changing a building contract once it has been signed


Green home building guidance

All the green home building advice and guidance you will need for renovations and new home construction can be found in the following categories, starting with step-by-step guidance for high performance home design, all the way to healthy interior finishing.


This first section of our building guide is intended to act as a platform from which all the next steps for a Green Home build or Renovation are explained . Whether considering building a new home, improving an existing home, choosing a location or Green home to buy, there are priorities to set and decisions to make that may be intimidating if you are new to the construction process. From lifestyle and location choices to design concept


Renovating or building a new home in the US with a Basement or a Slab on Grade, in the Foundation & Basement guide section you will find the basics on foundation, basement & slab design, insulation, site selection & preparation, excavation, drainage & radon gas prevention & mitigation.


The structure and design of a building envelope will determine how much it costs to heat and cool your home, and how long it will last. This section contains information about wall designs that will protect your home against the elements, and create an enjoyable indoor environment that is healthy, comfortable and durable


Mechanical systems and plumbing are at the heart of a home’s operation. We cover heating and air conditioning, ventilation, electrical systems, efficient water management and renewable energy production. Informed decisions on design and product selection can affect comfort, efficiency, durability, operational cost and above all, health for occupants


How much will it cost to build a house?

Calculating the Cost of Building a House – Table of Contents

Step 1: Understand the basics of the home building process and how to hire the right builder for your project.

Step 2: Know the fees and experts involved in building a home from the ground up.

Step 3: Get to know your lot and how its characteristics can greatly affect building costs.

Step 4: How to calculate primary building costs and be sure that you’re getting comparable bids from potential builders – understanding allowances.

Step 5: Putting it all together and Frequently Asked Questions about custom home building.

Home Building Basics

Building a new home is the largest investment most people will make in their lifetime, so it is important to get it right the first time. The understandable question that we’re asked time and time again is: “What does it cost to build a house?” As you’ve guessed, it’s not an easy question to answer. But we’ll teach you how.

This Guide

This guide will take you step-by-step through the complex process of learning what goes into designing and building your dream home, the impact that the lot will have on the design, understanding primary building cost, and making sure that you and your builder are on the same page so that your home construction is on time and on budget.

Knowledge Relieves Anxiety

As you go through each step along the journey to your new, custom-built home, you will need to hire several experts from several disciplines, who will have to work together to ensure that your new home comes together as a whole.


Everyone has a dream of what they want their home to look like – the number of rooms, the view, the amenities. And they know the setting in which they’d like the home to be placed. The setting is the land on which the home will be built – corner lot in a housing development, close to a lake, with a territorial view, on a slope, etc.  The complexity of the setting, and the climate in the region where the home is being built affects the cost of the build.



Initial conversation

Every project starts with a conversation. Although you can find useful resources on our website, nothing will be as helpful as your local Homes builder to discuss your individual needs, ideas, the requirements of your section, and answer all of the questions you may have when it comes to your new build.

Financing your new home

As home builders, ‘What can you offer for $X?’ is probably the most common question we get from new customers. Well, it depends! If you already have finance approved by a lender and you have a set budget, then we will have a number of homes to suit your price bracket but your options can vary depending on the build option and materials you choose.

Remember to consider any earthworks and access to the building site that need to be developed, size of home and number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and additional living spaces you require. Different building processes will also affect the cost of your home – we have a range of options from home builders running the whole project and building process to kitset homes where we deliver the materials and you build the home yourself or hire a contractor to build it for you.

Choose Your Dream House Plan

Now that you have your finance sorted we have a large number of designs to choose from – giving you plenty of choice regardless of whether you prefer a single or double storey home, whether you want all bedrooms located at the same end of the house, or if you want to include additional office space. All our designs can be altered, you can flip our house plans to fit your section, add more living space areas, or add other personal preferences.

Choose your build option

Depending on your budget and your goals, there are a number of ways to build your own home. Unlike many home builders, Homes is happy to fit in with your needs. From homes, where we deliver the materials and you take charge of the construction process, to full build service, where we take care of the whole building process while you get ready to move in!



No one seems to have enough time in their day, and builders, with the many roles they play, are often the most harried. If you feel this way, here are some tips from time management experts to help you make the best use of your time.

Plan up front in as much detail as you can. “When [subcontractors] bid a job, sometimes they’re not realistic on how long it’s going to take them,”

Educate your subcontractors. Let them know about your plan, says. “We’re trying to do this to reduce the cycle time,” he says. “When you exceed the cycle time, it costs you for the subs’ time and superintendent’s time.” So it’s important to have a plan in place before work starts and get everybody on board with it. Let the subs know you’re in control of the schedule, they’re not.”

Streamline communication with a weekly email. Regular communication can clear up confusion and cut down on the number of meetings and on wasted time. To keep the project on track, ask your superintendent to send an email at the end of each week to the homeowner and the owner of the home building company

Delegate. Delegating is an excellent way to save time, but make sure you choose appropriate tasks to delegate. “You need to delegate lower tasks,” says. “Understand the best use of your time.”

Doing A Kitchen Remodel

What should you not do in a kitchen remodel?

Planning a kitchen update? Before you dive into the world of remodeling, consider these tips to make the process smoother. Remodeling a kitchen requires a lot of effort (and a lot of cash). Avoid making costly mistakes with these expert tips. We’ll walk you through the most common mistakes homeowners make, and offer tips for avoiding them. We have ideas for every aspect of the kitchen, from islands to floor plans and everything in between. How to save thousands of dollars on your kitchen remodel.

Wasting Space (and Steps)

Even in big kitchens, create a compact step-saving work core. You don’t want to walk a mile to make a meal, or even worse, generate dead space within the room. Pick areas that will work hard during meal prep, dining, and family time. A breakfast nook, for example, is the perfect way to add style without sacrificing too many steps.

Making Aisles Too Tight

Kitchen aisles need to be wide enough to accommodate all that goes on in a kitchen. Clearance helps multiple cooks navigate the space and maneuver around each other. When designing your new kitchen, make sure all aisles—such as those between islands, walls, and appliances—are between 42 and 48 inches wide. Also consider offsetting the placement of key features, such as sinks and the range, so two cooks don’t bump into one another.

Not Thinking in 3-D

Your kitchen needs to be beautiful, yes. But more important, it needs to be functional. When planning the space, consider the size and direction of doors, appliances, and cabinets. Fridges often need wide clearance, as do ovens. Take a walk through the space and plan door openings to ensure that you don’t create a cramped kitchen.


Failing to Consider the Workflow

The refrigerator, stove, and sink are the three busiest areas in the kitchen. These three features should not be placed side-by-side in a kitchen, or it will be impossible for more than one person to cook or prepare food at once. Instead, create a triangle with the refrigerator, stove, and sink so there is plenty of room for you to work efficiently in your new kitchen.

Choosing Appliances Last

Pick your new appliances early on in the process instead of putting this off until the last minute. Why? The appliances should fit snugly between cabinets in your kitchen, but you won’t know their exact measurements until you select them. So, if you wait too long, you will have to decide where your cabinets will go and how much room to leave for your appliances without knowing their exact sizes.

Picking the Wrong Size

Using items that are not the right size can make the entire kitchen look sloppy and incomplete. For example, if you choose bar stools that are much shorter than the height of your island, it will be impossible for your family to comfortably use this area of your kitchen. Another example is choosing light fixtures to hang above your island without measuring the island first. If the light fixtures are not the right size, they can make the entire kitchen look slightly off. Keep a tape measure handy and get in the habit of taking measurements before making purchases in order to avoid this problem.


Don’t Choose Fragile Materials

Looks can be deceiving. Just because something looks pretty doesn’t mean it’s going to enhance your life. For the kitchen, make sure to choose durable materials. Limestone may look beautiful, but it’s vulnerable to water rings. Marble is prone to etching and staining. Recycled glass countertops may seem sleek, but they can chip and crack much easier than other options. Quartz is a great option for your renovation if you want the look but don’t want the problems

Don’t Buy Cheap Appliances

Kitchen renovations are pricey, whether it’s a DIY kitchen renovation or you hire a pro, but don’t try to save money by choosing lower quality appliances. This may mean that to stay in budget you can’t get that super-fancy light fixture that you love, but having much-used appliances that are energy efficient and durable is more important than having an art piece on the ceiling.

Don’t Refuse Help From a Professional Designer

DIY enthusiasts might be tempted to use their skills and creativity to do a kitchen renovation totally on their own. That’s what doing it yourself means, right? But as anyone who has gone through a renovation will tell you, expert advice is always helpful, even for a DIY kitchen renovation. A professional can help you fine-tune your plan and offer advice that could save you from purchasing inefficient products and materials and choosing a design that doesn’t fit your needs. You can even stop by many home centers for a free consultation.


What not to do when designing a kitchen

Forget counter space

Planning every inch of useable space is a must. A very common mistake in kitchen design is not including enough counter space to work with. ‘Remember to include enough space to prepare meals, display all your appliances, wash up, and potentially space to eat and socialise if that is how you plan on using the kitchen.

Underestimate how much storage you need

Plan accordingly and allocate a space for every single thing, from spice jars to cutlery-separating drawers. Although the temptation to keep adding to the list can be great, a clear initial index will keep you on track By sticking to a clear plan you also avoid the temptation to overcrowd your brand new kitchen. ‘Finally, don’t forget to utilise floor space by considering a trolley which creates extra space when you’re preparing food, or could even be used as a drinks trolley when entertaining.’ All worthwhile considerations when it comes to create a kitchen that works its hardest to cater for all your needs.


Let rubbish pile up

It sounds completely obviously but when it comes to the rubbish, because it’s the least glamorous part, bins are often overlooked. Given waste is totally unavoidable it should be factored in as a priority, even so given we now require separate recycling, food and general disposal.

The best solution is integrated bins, or at least cupboards to conceal freestanding bins. Hiding not only the presence of waste, but also helping to contain odours. When the dedicated space isn’t allocated at planning stage the only viable option is a free-standing bin on display. Thankfully you can buy stylish solutions now, but if this wasn’t part of the plan it won’t please you when you realise waste disposal has been overlooked.

Choose a design that will date

As tempting as it is to go for the latest trends, make your kitchen design a more consider choice. Avoid choosing a design that is likely to date and be old news in only a few years. Kitchens are not cheap to replace, keep this in mind when designing your dream kitchen.

You can go as out there with the paint, wallpaper and accessories, but these can be easily and affordably alternated if desired.  Brightly coloured gloss cabinet doors that you can’t paint may seem like a great idea now, but will you love them a few years down the line. if you will go for it. If you’re at all unsure stick to a timeless and classic choice.

Used Car Dealers

Things You Should Say To A Car Salesmen

Let’s face it, buying a car is the worst type of psychological warfare. The back-and-forth between you and the salespeople can be exhausting and excruciating. And while there are a lot of things you should watch out for when negotiating the slippery slope of a car deal, and things you should listen for that the salesman might say, there are also a few things that you, as the buyer, can say to mess with the salesman’s mind and get yourself the best deal possible. These are phrases that will disarm, confuse and put the car salesmen on the defensive. In the psychological battle that takes place in car dealerships, words are often your best weapon.

I need to have my trade-in appraised.

Appraised? Say what?! Car salesmen never want you to have your current vehicle appraised. They certainly don’t want you coming into their dealership with a written appraisal from an outside third party. The salespeople at your local car dealership want to give your current car a quick glance and then low ball you on the trade-in value. Telling them that you’re getting the car professionally appraised will make the salespeople nervous and put pressure on them to get you to trade-in your current car right then and there before its true value becomes known. This is a bit of a role reversal where you put pressure on the sales staff to make a deal before the value of your used car goes up. Smart, as it will put the car salesman off balance.

I like this car. But I don’t love it.

Car salespeople know that you’re more likely to buy a car if you love it. Really, really love it. When you utter a phrase such as “I like this car. But I don’t love it,” you’re telling the salesman that they need to offer you more to make you commit to a vehicle that you’re fine with but not crazy about. This phrase by you will likely be followed by phrases from the salesman such as “What would make you love it?” and “How about I throw in a year-long subscription to satellite radio?” or “Let me see what I can do on the cost of an extended warranty.” By seeming less interested in the car, you put pressure on the salesman to sweeten the offer and convince you to buy the car you’re looking at. Never seem too enthusiastic about a particular vehicle. Play it cool and you will be rewarded with upgrades, additional options and a better price.

I don’t have a credit card.

The first thing that most car salesmen do is ask you for your credit card. And there’s a psychological reason for this tactic. It is to make you feel trapped and that you have to make a deal and buy a car to get your credit card back. Don’t fall for it. Better yet, tell the salesman that you don’t own a credit card or that you’ll give him or her your credit card once a deal is reached and you’re ready to put a deposit on your credit card. By not giving the salespeople your credit card right away, you’re forcing them to work harder to reach a deal with you and secure your credit card. Again, put the pressure on the sales staff. Don’t let them put pressure on you by holding your finances ransom. Be subtle but insistent. And if the salesmen asks for your credit card more than once, ignore them.



Things You Should Never Say To A Car Dealer

Playing Your Cars Right

It hits you — after years of putting up with the same set of wheels, you finally decide you need a new car. Following a hasty perusal of third-party auto and manufacturer websites you head to a few local dealers to pursue your dream car. Of course, once you step onto the dealer’s lot you are on their turf, in their everyday realm — a world of mysterious models, Monroney stickers, optional equipment, dealer add-ons and astute, smiling salespeople — yet you are expected to negotiate by possessing some level of automotive know-how and aplomb. You look at a couple cars and even test drive a few. When you finally sit down to talk numbers you get the big sell, and then you decide whether the price is right. Right? Well, not exactly. To help navigate the unique journey of an auto purchase, here are some things you should NEVER say to a car sales associate.

I don’t really know much about cars.

Good salespeople know their products well and a dealership’s staff is excited and ready to sell you a vehicle. Indicating that you do not know much about cars is a clear signal to the sales staff that they hold most — if not all — the cards during ensuing negotiations. Do thorough online research before setting foot on a car lot so you have as much knowledge about the vehicle as possible. Being informed about the car you intend to buy will put you in good stead for getting a fair deal without feeling ripped off.

I’m just looking

Car salespeople simultaneously hate and love these three little words — it’s likely the phrase they hear most, and it is a rote response that indicates a customer wants a salesperson to remain at a distance. Salespeople understand you are “just looking,” otherwise you would not be on the lot. And they sell more cars at optimum prices to people who are “just looking” than to those who are well informed and ready to talk specific models, packages and pricing. So don’t say it. Open with questions that demonstrate you know something about the car(s) in which you are interested. The salesperson’s answers will also reveal how much they know about the automaker’s products and you can determine if the salesperson is a good fit for you.


Things Car Dealers Never Want to Hear You Say

“Is That Your Car Out There? We Can Give You $10K for It, Easy”

Your answer? “Thanks, I may consider that. But that’s separate from how we’re going to price the new car.”

You’ve probably been told not to discuss the value of a trade-in before you settle on a price for the new purchase, but that won’t stop the sales rep from trying. If you’ve done your research, you’ll know what your car’s potential value is. Don’t be lured in by a high offer by the sales rep: He might be willing to exceed your trade-in’s book value, knowing he can make up for that on the purchase price of your new ride.

“Everyone Pays the Vehicle-Preparation Fee. It Makes Sure Your Car Is Ready”

Your answer? “Let me see the invoice, please.”

Legitimate fees are listed on the factory invoice, which the dealer should always share with you. Verifying that the fees on your dealer’s bill of sale are also on the invoice shows you’re paying attention. It’s not the end of the story, however. Some fees inhabit a gray area—you’ll likely have to pay them, but you might be able to negotiate. An example is the so-called document fee. Some states, such as California, regulate this fee, setting it at a flat $80. Most don’t regulate them at all, and they can run several hundred dollars. In these states, find out what other lots charge; the dealer may reduce its fee to match the local competition.

“So, What Do You Feel Comfortable Paying Each Month?”

Your answer? “We can talk about that later. I want to focus on the price you can get me on the car.”

The sales rep is not offering you credit counseling here. He wants to sell you a more expensive car, by extending the loan term and lowering your monthly payments, or by switching to a lease. That could add hundreds or thousands of dollars in lifetime interest charges.

Don’t go to the dealership until you have lined up backup financing at your bank or, even better, your credit union. You’ll be in the driver’s seat during negotiations. But once you have a settled price, see what your dealer might have to offer for financing. It might be able to offer you rates that are quite low, if you have good credit. And leasing may be the right path for you, too: Just keep your eye on the total cost, not the lower monthly payment.


Things You Should Never Tell a Car Salesperson

Oversharing Can Cost You When Buying a Car

Buying a car is pretty exciting. But if you want to get the best deal, it’s best to contain your enthusiasm and limit the amount of information you share. The knowledge that gives you the power to make a great deal can also be used to the dealer’s advantage.

Any skilled negotiator will tell you that the more they know about their buyer, the more money they can get from them. It’s in your best interest to be friendly, but firm, and only give them the information you want them to have when you want them to have it.

Your primary mission early in the buying process is to set the price of the car without any discussion of financing or a trade-in. Bundling all three together can breed confusion, which is in the salesperson’s best interest, not yours.

To keep things on track, take a look at see what you don’t want to tell the car salesperson.

“I’m Going to Pay Cash!”

It is awesome that you can pay cash for your new wheels, but it is about the last thing you ever want to say to a salesperson. There are great reasons to pay cash, including saving a ton of money by not paying any interest on a car loan.

However, dealerships now make a tremendous amount of their profit off of new and used car financing, so telling them that you won’t be borrowing money will cause them to jack up the price of the car to make up for the profit that they won’t be making on the financing.

Telling them how much money you have to spend on a car tells them that they will not be able to move you into a more expensive, more profitable vehicle, so they will try to maximize the profit that they make within your budget. For example, instead of getting a great deal on a Honda Accord with your $25,000 budget, they might steer you to a Honda Civic, where they will make much more profit from your $25k purchase. Only tell them that you plan to pay cash after you have a price negotiated and you are preparing to sign the final paperwork. Then, before you sign, read all of the fine print to ensure that your price hasn’t changed.

“I Already Have Financing Lined Up”

Telling a salesperson that you already have a financing deal in place tells them that they won’t be able to sell you any high-profit financing, so they will make up the profit by raising the price of the car. It is just like telling them that you are paying cash. Of course, you absolutely want to have a pre-approved financing deal from a bank, credit union, or another lender in place before visiting the dealership. The time to pull this information out of your pocket is after you have settled on the price of the vehicle. If they don’t think that you have a financing deal in place, they have no incentive to find you a great deal on a loan. Knowing that you do forces them to meet or beat your financing if they want to earn the business.


“My Current Car Is on Its Last Legs”

Don’t tell the dealership anything that shows that you urgently need to buy a new car. If they know that you don’t have the luxury of time to make dealerships negotiate or to drive around town looking for the best deal, you’re like fresh meat in front of a lion.

You’ve just told them that they don’t have any reason to give you a good deal.

Telling them that your current car needs work also invites them to give you a low-ball offer when it comes time to put a value on your trade-in. Before you visit the dealer, you should already have a good idea of your used car’s value. You can consult a used car pricing tool, like the “What’s My Car Worth?” feature on our used car page.

Similar phrases, such as “I took the bus here” or “I just totaled my last car,” can also give the salesperson the idea that you are desperate to buy.

Things You Should Be Concerned About When Choosing A Wedding Photographer And Why

Things To Consider When Selecting And Booking Wedding Photographers

Weddings are a big deal and the memories created on that day ought to be captured so that they last forever. Not to be dramatic but booking a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions during the planning of a wedding. It is as important as picking the venue and theme colors. Factors To Consider When Booking A Wedding Photographer


The best time to book a wedding photographer is during the early stages of planning when the date is set. This approach helps you save on time, money and the stress that comes from looking for a photographer when their schedules are full.


Wedding photography styles range from photojournalistic to traditional and artistic. Therefore, you need to select a photographer based your preferred design because they pioneer in diverse methods.


Another important aspect is the venue. You need to have decided on a perfect site for your wedding when booking a photographer. Choosing a location enables the photographer to prepare and assemble all the tools required to shoot in the selected place. A good photographer will try to bring out beautiful images either in a cabin in the woods, a snowy prairie or at a warehouse.


Having a budget enables you to allocate sufficient funds for the majority of the things you want in your wedding. Different photographers charge different fees for their services. Therefore, it is paramount to research to know how much you need to allocate for wedding photography. For instance, some photographers charge a deposit of up to $1,000 once booked. This deposit is meant to hold the date until a contract is complete. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, wedding photography can cost up to $10,000.



If you’re thinking of going into wedding photography – or you just want a nosy at what the pros might be using – we’ve put together a wedding photography kit list of what you might find in the typical bag of a wedding photographer

Wedding photography is one of the most varied jobs, photographically, that anyone can do, and as such, you’ll find that the average wedding pro has to be prepared for all kinds of situations. There’s portraits, reportage

The choice of camera can be a contentious one for wedding photographers. There’s lots to bear in mind including how heavy the camera is, the lenses which are available for it, how sturdy the camera is, and the kind of photography you’ll be doing as part of your wedding photography style.

Click here for best professional DSLRs of 2017

For now though, the lens ranges for Canon and Nikon systems are far greater, so many will probably stick with these options. You have a good range of choices for full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLRs, including the Nikon D810, Nikon D5, Canon 1DX Mark II and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Because you’re likely to be shooting a fairly wide range of subjects, you’re going to need a seriously diverse range of glass. Top of the list will probably be a full complement of prime lenses. 35mm and 50mm are great lengths for “documentary” style shots, while an 85mm lens is a classic portrait focal length.


Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

Eventually there’ll come a point at your wedding when the punch-bowl is empty and the dancing shoes are taken off for the night. Goodbyes will be said, guests will depart, and you’ll be left with a complex mixture of emotions – relief, disappointment, nostalgia for the past, and excitement for the future. Then it’ll hit you: your big day is finally over.

Your wedding photographer should put you at ease.

A professional photographer should be just that – a professional. Pay attention to the techniques he or she offers, and ensure that they’re using quality equipment (cellphone cameras should be reserved for guest use). More importantly though – your wedding photographer should be easy to work with and listen well.

They should embrace your vision

The best professional photographers have made a career of taking pictures because they love it. They’re artists whose creativity will come alive on your big day. This creative spirit should manifest itself in their work, and help them produce photos you love

Finding someone who views your wedding as an opportunity to create art (and not simply another paycheck) will pay off in pictures that go beyond your expectations. One great way to assess whether a photographer’s vision aligns with yours is to explore different styles in advance and find out what aesthetic you like most.

The best photographers can be in more than one place at once.

Many newlyweds cherish the pictures taken by friends and family as deeply as those taken by a professional. Why? Because a story is told at your wedding. The more people you have engaged in telling that story, the more detailed memories of your wedding will be


Wedding Photographer

I want you to have the absolute best experience which is why I have built my company around two principles: integrity and simplicity. My wedding packages are designed with you in mind. I have photographed over 100 weddings to date and am currently the top rated wedding photographer

Wedding Photography Style

I am different than most other wedding photographers. Before I took wedding photos, I was (and still am) an outdoor enthusiast and travel photographer. Let me tell you, I absolutely love weddings and the outdoors and when I get to combine the two, it is pure magic. If your wedding is in the outdoors and you want the absolute best elopement photographer, look no further. I also have very extensive experience with taking photos in low light at indoor venues so don’t let this deter you. Your photos will look incredible, no matter the circumstance or venue.

When taking photos, I love to keep things very candid and fun. There is nothing like candid smiles and laughter. If you don’t feel comfortable having photos taken, then you are NOT alone. This is something I hear from 9/10 of my clients and I promise you will be no issue! I have worked with so many people and make sure that no photo looks or feels awkward. There is a reason I have so many great reviews from my clients. If you would like to see more of my wedding photos, go see my full wedding portfolio.

What to Expect

If you are reading this, then you have already made the first step by visiting my website and taking a look at my wedding photography! The next thing you can do is contact me so we can set up a time to meet. We can also talk over the phone to go over details for your wedding day and answer any questions you might have about anything else wedding related Next, we will set up a time for engagement photos (which is included in every wedding package) for your save the dates! Finally, I will send you all kinds of helpful information; from things to consider for your wedding day, to my own hand-written schedule that best fits your day. I want you to feel ready and excited for your wedding day as it draws near.


Secrets Your Wedding Photographer Wants You To Know

Let your photographer know about any quirks of the venue.

“This ceremony is in the Ulster Hall, in Belfast, which is a pitch-black space with crazy lighting, photographer Tim from This Modern Love told BuzzFeed. “I had to respond really quickly, adjusting the way I normally shoot.

It’s important to click with your photographer.

“Photographs are always better when the client’s personality and the photographer’s personality click,” said. “If I’m an unlikely match with a couple, then it’s harder work to get a rapport going. If we’re a good match, the day flows a lot better, it’s easier on both sides.”

Make sure the day tells *your* story.

“In this shot, the groom is holding an owl,” said. “He’s a zookeeper. It was a really wet day, and their reception was in a pub in the country, and just went to the storeroom to take this. It’s a glowy kind of light. And the owl just looked at him. He loved it. I think it’s his Facebook profile picture now!

Give the photographer a “backstage pass” to your day.

“I try to make people comfortable with my presence and then float around. You don’t want to change the flow of what happens in that room. But sometimes you form a real bond with the people in a really concentrated way. And then you leave that night and you never see them again. It’s like you’re allowed backstage.”

Don’t try to force a pose that doesn’t feel natural

For this shot, he asked the couple “to just go by the window. And as I asked them to stand together, he gave her his hand. Some people aren’t into wedding portraits per se, but if you give your photographer some time, just to go for a walk and hang out, you can get some great really natural shots.”

Money Merge Accountant

How can you be accountable for your actions?

Let’s have a conversation about accountability. What does it really mean to be accountable? Accountability is defined as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility. Have you ever taken a step back to really take a look at your life? Are you happy where you are now? Is your dating life where you want it to be? Are you on the career path that’s fulfilling your needs?  When I talk about being accountable, I’m referring to your ability to reflect on your actions and understand your role within those actions. You are exactly where you are today, due to the actions that you’ve taken.

These are a few quick tips to become more accountable that we can all take action on.

Don’t Make Excuses

When something goes wrong, accountable people don’t place the blame on others. There is no throwing people under the bus or dragging others down too. It’s a waste of time and energy to blame others, for factors that were most likely caused by your own misstep. Listen, stop making excuses and own up to your mistakes. Acknowledge where you went wrong and do what needs to be done in order for it not to happen again.

Stop Playing The Victim

I’m sure we’ve all done this once before. People who often play the victim are unable to manage their own anger. These people tend to project past traumas on their current situation. In order to stop playing the victim, you need to regain your power from your past trauma and deal with the process of healing. That process is far from easy. It will break you down and bring up emotions and events that may have been suppressed for years, but just know that the process is necessary for your growth.

“Yes this horrible event happened to me, but It no longer has power over me.”

Your Life Is Yours

It’s as simple as knowing that you are in control of your own life. You can’t expect different results by doing the same thing. This applies to relationships and even your career. You’re unhappy in your current role? Okay, well have you taken the necessary steps to obtain a role that better suits you? Listen, every action that you’ve taken up until today is the reason why you’re in your current situation. You can either have your own pity party or take responsibility for your actions and curate the life that you want. We are literally the authors of our own novel. How about writing a life that’s fulfilling your wants and needs?


Stop in your tracks and ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this problem?”

Instead of thinking that your current challenges are all about what someone else is doing or factors outside your control, accept that you’re 50% of this situation. What are you doing, thinking and saying that is sustaining this problem? How can you shift your behavior (and do something VERY different from what you normally do) to intervene in this chronic pattern of conflict? It’s been said that if you’re unhappy about a situation, you have only two choices: Change the situation, or change your feelings and thoughts about the situation. It’s time to change what is happening by recognizing your role in it.

Look at where you feel most hurt in life and get help to heal that

Take a long look this week at the deepest hurt you harbor inside. The hurt may be from your early childhood or from a traumatic event in your life that left you crushed that you have never healed from. Recognize how this hurt is playing out over and over again, and understand that you are what your childhood taught you to be unless you’ve healed and unlearned it. And remember, “wounded people wound people” so make sure that you are as healed and healthy as you can be.


The Consequences of Not Accepting Responsibility

Mother and son (12-13) working together in living room, boy holding instruction manual

Over time, failing to accept responsibility has severe consequences. First and foremost, it has a devastating effect on your own mind and heart. When you know you have failed to take responsibility for something that you should, it’ll begin to bother you, to eat at you, little by little. Pretty soon, you’ll feel very small inside.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s the truth. As we discussed in the post titled How to Respect Yourself and Others, taking responsibility for your own actions makes life work better. Remember, self-respect is the worth or value you place on your own life. Therefore, one of the consequences of continuingly failing to accept personal responsibility is that you eventually guarantee that you’ll view your life as having little to no real value.


Being Accountable When Things Are Not Going Well

It’s helpful to deal with what is. It does not matter what should have happened – it matters what is. Focusing on seeing things as they are, especially when things are not going your way, saves you the trouble of figuring out who to blame or what to worry over next.

To help being more accountable when facing challenges, ask better questions which are focused driven:

  • “How do I want to respond to what is happening right now?”
  • “Do I have a story about what I committed to that is standing in my way of moving forward in my commitment? What is this story or excuse costing me?”
  • “Is my mindset or psychology about this situation preventing me from moving forward?
  • “What beliefs am I holding onto now, that are holding me back? What must I believe now to take action?”
  • “Is my strategy or are my actions preventing me from getting the results I want? What new strategy do I need to take action on now to move forward?”



Responsibility is not something you do—it’s a way of thinking and being. When you’re truly responsible, you believe that success or failure is up to you, even if you work within a team or are blind-sided by unforeseen circumstances. You own your commitment to a result before the fact, before you even take action.

  • Getting started:

Be responsible “either way.” It’s easy to claim responsibility when things go well, but it’s hard when they don’t. A truly responsible person, however, accepts responsibility either way. So next time you take on a project, be 100% responsible for the outcome. Not a little. Not somewhat. Not pretty much. Own it 100%—good or bad—with no wiggle room.

  • Recognize your power. You already have the ability to be 100% responsible; everybody does. Yet most of us don’t realize—or at least don’t admit—that we alone have the power to manage our lives and careers. Sure, you can give that power away, but that is a conscious choice; it doesn’t happen without your permission.
  • Deal with what is. Think about it: when was the last time you were able to change the past? It doesn’t matter what should have happened—it matters what is. That saves you the trouble of figuring out who’s to blame or worrying about how things “coulda woulda shoulda” been if only something had gone differently. It didn’t—and that makes your choice a cinch: “How do I want to react to the situation that is?”


There is only one kind of empowerment, and that is self-empowerment. Unlike granting authority, empowerment comes from within. By empowering yourself, you take the actions—and the risks—to achieve a result and get what you want. Rather than waiting for someone to declare you empowered or give you that one lucky break, you step outside your comfort zone, make things happen, and answer for the outcomes.

Getting started:

  • Manage expectations. The most direct route to self-empowerment is to be clear about expectations—not only what you expect, but also what’s expected of you. To do that, you need to ask questions, make agreements, and clarify everything in writing. Otherwise, you risk suffering the source of all upset: missed expectations.
  • Take back your time. “No” is an empowering word. So every time you utter, “I can’t say no,” ask yourself if you can’t—or if you’re unwilling to. Take back your time in other ways, too: get rid of your to-do list (track projects and deadlines on a calendar instead); resist over-scheduling (you can’t cram 12 hours of work into eight hours, so stop trying); and estimate times realistically (let’s face it, most tasks take longer than we think they will).
  • Sing your own praises. It’s an all-too-common workplace mantra: “One day they’ll notice how much I do around here and give me the recognition I deserve.” NOT! Take stock of your personal talents and triumphs and let the higher-ups know who you are and how you contribute.

Personal accountability

Unlike responsibility (the “before”) and self-empowerment (the “during”), personal accountability is the “after”. It’s a willingness to answer for the outcomes of your choices, actions, and behaviors. When you’re personally accountable, you stop assigning blame, “should-ing” on people, and making excuses. Instead, you take the fall when your choices cause problems.

Getting started:

  • Tell the truth. Everybody messes up sometimes. Lying about it or trying to cover it up always makes it worse—no exceptions. (Just ask former President Bill Clinton, who paid a steep price—impeachment—for lying to a grand jury.) Save yourself some time: Don’t tell untruths. Nobody believes them anyway—not even you.
  • Police yourself. Are you accountable for your actions even if nobody holds you accountable—or nobody catches you? You bet you are. So be your own “accountability cop” and police yourself. On the long and winding road of life, choose accountability at every turn.
  • Look to yourself—first. When trouble arises, look first to yourself. Ask four specific questions: “What is the problem?” “What am I doing—or not doing—to contribute to the problem?” “What will I do differently to help solve the problem?” and “How will I be accountable for the result?”

What Are The Advantages Of Vinyl Flooring

Is vinyl plank flooring toxic?

Building a new home or renovating the home you currently reside in will leave you with many decisions, some of which will be critical to both the air quality in this environment and the health of those that are exposed to this tainted air on a daily basis. Building materials are among one of the most hazardous items to an indoor environment – as they are packed full of potentially toxic materials that will overtime release dangerous chemicals into the air of this enclosed area. From new paint, new furniture, wall additions inside the home, and even the removal and replacing of new flooring can all be potential sources of the entrance of hazardous chemicals into the indoor air of your home.

Selecting a non-toxic flooring

Flooring is an item inside your home that can be filled with a mix of different chemicals that can release into the air and pollute the air quality indoors. Indoor air pollution and air quality have become a major concern in recent years as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has conducted extensive research to show that many indoor environments can actually be more polluted and more toxic than that of outdoor environments.

When it comes to the installation of new flooring into a home this building material will release potentially toxic chemicals into the environment that are known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). These VOCs can become airborne into the air and significantly taint the indoor air quality – and thus it is important to do your research to select a non-toxic flooring inside your home that will not pollute and taint your indoor air quality.

Disadvantages of vinyl flooring

Is vinyl flooring toxic? When it comes to selecting the ideal flooring for your home, many consumers are opting for vinyl flooring that is durable, versatile, and cost effective that will save you some major money. However, this type of flooring although it seems like the perfect flooring to select in your home, it actually is packed full of toxic chemicals that can pollute your indoor air and possibly effect the health of those exposed to this environment. A recent study that was conducted found that vinyl flooring contains toxic chemicals that include phthalates, lead, flame retardants, and VOCs like formaldehyde that will off gas into the air after the installation process in a home and taint the indoor air quality to hazardous levels.

Over 14 billion pounds of vinyl flooring is manufactured in the United States each year and installed into homes and other indoor spaces. This can lead to a lot of environments that are plagued with toxic chemicals in the air that are produced through off gassing that can take place for a long period of time after the installation is completed. Vinyl flooring will also produce other hazardous chemicals into the air from the adhesives that are used to install the flooring. These adhesives will contain lead and other VOCs that once it becomes acclimated to room temperature will turn into a gas and consequently off gas into the air.

is vinyl flooring toxic

Vinyl flooring toxic fumes

Vinyl tile flooring is constructed of new or recycled polyvinyl chloride or PVC that is known to be one of the most environmentally hazardous consumer materials that are produced for flooring. The PVC will create a large number of toxic chemicals like dioxins and phthalates that are released into the air and can produce toxic fumes into the environment. The chemical fume that is produced from this type of flooring is a result of off-gassing that releases the chemical into the air and affects indoor air quality, and as it releases this chemical it will create a pungent odor that will permeate throughout the entire indoor space.


The End of Vinyl’s Life Cycle

Waste: The durability of vinyl is a liability when it comes to disposing of this material. It is not biodegradable, and when it is sent to a waste facility it generally just sits there, taking up space for years. In some cases vinyl materials can be used as liners for garbage dumps, allowing them to contain waste materials that might otherwise spill out beyond their defined perimeters.

Recyclability: It is nearly impossible to recycle most vinyl materials. That is because the recycling process requires you to have a consistent level of various substances throughout the material makeup of the vinyl. Unfortunately, different types of vinyl have different chemical compositions, often making them incompatible. This is compounded by the adhesives which are usually stuck to the vinyl when old floors are lifted from underlayment layers.

In some cases, manufacturers are getting around this issue by using lower quality recycled vinyl materials as filler underneath the surface layer. These layers don’t get exposed to foot traffic or spills and therefore do not require the chemical consistency that top layers need.


Flooring Toxins Contaminate Indoors

The plasticizers that are found in vinyl floors are not just bound to the planks themselves. That is the risk that most studies have attempted to unravel.

Phthalate plasticizers are not chemically bound to vinyl, they can leach, migrate or evaporate into indoor air and concentrate in household dust. This is why they pose a more serious risk to children, pets, the elderly and even pregnant women.

General contamination easily occurs through dermal exposure, inhalation, and ingestion. Kids that like crawling and picking things up the toxic vinyl plank flooring are therefore the most exposed to the risk of the toxic phthalates.


Why is vinyl flooring hazardous?

A recent study found that most vinyl flooring, made from reprocessed plastic, contained toxic phthalates, lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals. These chemicals can contribute to indoor air pollution by drifting out of the flooring and into the air and dust inside homes.


What to look for when purchasing flooring

  • Instead of carpet, chose hard-surfaced flooring and rugs that can be removed and cleaned outside.
  • Look for non-toxic and eco-friendly options. Ask questions of manufacturers and installers regarding materials used, safety and environmental claims.
  • Decline any stain-resistance treatments.
  • Look for products made without vinyl such as hardwood, linoleum and ceramic tile.

Flat Roof Repair

How Should I Protect my Roof While I am Waiting for Repairs?

You may have once come across a damaged shingle or a hole in your roof, and called for professional help immediately; just when you were waiting for the expert to arrive and fix your roof, rain starts to pour outside! Panic starts to grip you, and you start to wonder what to do now? After all, how can you stop the rainfall from getting into your house? Is there a way to stop a roof leak? Of course, there is. In fact, there are many ways to put a halt to your leaking roof temporarily. Read on to find out all about them..

Ways to Stop a Roof Leak Temporarily

  1. Tarp Covering

First and foremost, head to your attic – the most common source of the leak – and cover the hole using a tarp. Make sure that the tarp is long enough to cover the ridge of the roof. If you are experiencing high rainfall, you will need to place a tarp over the hole twice or even multiple times. To do this, secure the tarp over the tarp that has already been there and secured over the hole. If in case, there is no tarp, you can use strong and durable duct tape.

  1. Use Plastic Roofing Cement

If you don’t already have plastic roofing cement, then you will have to purchase it for emergency use, for instance for a roof leak. It is arguably the best temporary roof leak fix that you can go for during heavy rainfall or snowfall. Plastic roofing effectively helps seal tiny holes and cracks in roofing and prevent the water from entering your house. For a proper application, make sure that you have a roofing trowel, caulk gun, and putty knife.

  1. Use Roofing Tape

Easily available at any hardware store or home improvement shop, roofing tape is typically applied to the inner part of the roof decking to limit the water flow inside your house. To fix the leak temporarily, ensure that you are equipped with a ladder to properly stand on while applying roofing repair tape on the hole. This makes the temporary roof leak fix long-lasting than any other method – tarp tape or duct tape.


Temporary Fixes For A Leaking Roof

If you notice wet spots on your ceiling, find a shingle in your yard or hear the dreaded dripping of water in your home, you probably have a roof leak. Roof leaks typically lead to many other problems in your home, and it can be challenging to know what to do when your roof starts leaking. Luckily, there are multiple temporary solutions. Take matters into your own hands until professionals arrive and learn the most common types and causes of roof leaks, why you need to stop the leaks and how to temporarily repair a leaking roof.

Types of Roof Leaks

There isn’t one singular cause when it comes to a leaking roof, which can make pinpointing the leak all the more challenging. Before you can fix your roof leak, consider the following most common types of roof leaks and how they can affect your roof.

  1. Clogged Gutters

Debris can build up in your gutters if they haven’t been cleaned out. Clogged gutters keep water from draining normally, causing a leak. Try to keep your gutters clean and keep trees trimmed near your roof, or contact a professional to clean your gutters.

  1. Vent Boots

Vent boots work to keep water out of the area where the roof vent pipes join the roof. They are usually made from plastic, metal or rubber and could be a combination of the materials. If you suspect a leak, look for cracks on plastic vent boots and any broken seams on metal vent boots. Be sure to check out the rubber boot around the pipe as well, as it could be rotting or torn and letting water in. If you have a leaking vent boot, you’ll likely need to replace it. Just take off the old vent boot with a knife and install a new one.

  1. Flashing

Flashing is metal strips around the edges or joints of your roof that are prone to leaking. Flashing works to protect your roof from water and is probably around your chimney, too. If these metal strips rust or crack, they could let water in and cause leaks. Until a professional can fix it, you could use caulking and roof cement temporarily.

  1. Skylights

Skylights could result in leaks if they aren’t fitted or put in properly. Your skylight could also be leaking due to cracked flashing or damaged surrounding shingles. You might be able to use roofing cement and caulking as a temporary fix for a leaking skylight but will still need a professional to repair or replace it and install new surrounding flashing or shingles.

  1. Chimney

The mortar between the bricks on your chimney can weaken and crumble, letting water in. Chimneys also have four different types of flashing, and even if one has issues, it could result in a leak. A tiny crack above the flashing is enough for water to get through, so it’s essential to keep an eye out. If you think your chimney is leaking, look at the joints where the chimney joins the roof or the mud caps. You can typically fix a chimney leak temporarily with patches.

Some other popular roof leak locations and causes include:

  • Old or missing shingles
  • Holes in the roof
  • Nails that are in the wrong spot
  • Excess moisture
  • Shallow roof slope
  • Complex roofs


A Trick for Finding Difficult Leaks

If a leak is difficult to find, enlist a helper and go up on the roof with a garden hose. Start low, soaking the area just above where the leak appears in the house. Isolate areas when you run the hose. For example, soak the downhill side of a chimney first, then each side, then the top on both sides. Have your helper stay inside the house waiting for the drip to appear. Let the hose run for several minutes in one area before moving it up the roof a little farther. Tell your helper to yell when a drip becomes visible. You’ll be in the neighborhood of the leak. This process can take well over an hour, so be patient and don’t move the hose too soon. Buy your helper dinner. If running water doesn’t reveal the exact location of the leak, don’t be timid. Start removing shingles in the suspect area. With them removed, there’ll be evidence of the leak and you’ll be able to track it down right to the source. You’ll see discolored felt paper or water-stained or even rotted wood directly below and around a leaky roof.


Fixing Minor Shingle Damage

If you’re only facing a smaller and more isolated problem, it may be something you can repair yourself. For any shingles that are loosening or hanging, you can reattach them yourself if you can access them safely. You can stick them down with some roofer’s cement and nail them down firmly. Put more cement over the top of the nail and cover it completely. Also, check around the seams in your roof and apply some more cement to any areas that are split, cracked, or appear to be weathered.

Got any shingles that are starting to curl? You can heat them up slowly and re-adhering them to the roof, also using the roofer’s cement. Just the same as before, nail the shingles down where they began to detach and cement over again.

Missing shingles altogether? Just one or two? If you want to do a more-than-temporary roof repair, you can measure your shingles and pick some up at your local supplier. When you’re up on the roof, apply cement along the edge of the shingle, slip it up under the shingle above the spot you’re patching, and attach firmly. Once again, nail into place, and put more cement over the nails. It’s entirely possible that, if you do it right, your temporary roof repair will be near as effective as a professional fix.


Can I Get A Temporary Roof Repair In An Emergency Situation?

If your roof is already leaking and there’s a storm coming in a few hours, you can call a roofing contractor to perform emergency work.

Emergency work is work performed after hours (5pm) and on weekends.

This will be more expensive (1.5x more costly) than a non-emergency situation, but sometimes this is your only option to prevent more damage in the future.

In the example repair earlier in this post, the $640 repair would cost approximately $960.

In the case of an emergency, a roofing contractor will come out and make a repair that day. If the roofing contractor doesn’t have the same material as what your current roof is, say EPDM, they will use a similar material to get you watertight ASAP (like spray polyurethane foam).

Things To Do Today To Avoid A Clogged Toilet Tomorrow

The Most Effective Method To Keep A Clogged Toilet From Becoming A Disaster

Scarcely any things are as at the same time startling and awkward as an obstructed can. In addition to the fact that it renders the bathroom pointless, yet it must be taken care of promptly or things can escape hand in all respects rapidly. Without fixing the issue quickly, you can chance water harm from flood, human waste tainting, foul smells, or even shame. This issue is no snickering issue and should be taken care of at the earliest opportunity. Here is the manner by which to shield a stopped up a can from turning into a debacle.

  1. Shield the water from flooding

Here and there when a loo gets stopped up, you don’t have any acquaintance with it until the water in the bowl keeps on rising and rise and rise. This can be an exceptionally alarming minute, as nobody needs to have water spilling out of the bowl. On the off chance that this is an issue, or on the off chance that you sense the water won’t quit rising-make a point to kill the central pipe which normally close-by on the divider. This will stop the progression of water into the tank which keeps the water level from ascending in the bowl.

  1. Have a go at utilizing a plunger

Get some elastic gloves and perhaps a cover and tenderly sink a knob plunger down into the base of the bowl. The best plungers have an expansion spine and a decreased focus. In a perfect world, you will have a plunger that is measured splendidly for your particular latrine. With the best possible apparatus, you will almost certainly get more noteworthy suction legitimately into the funneling to oust the obstruct. A full non depleting obstruct will totally hinder the channels and will make the water rise. It might be important to stop the water (as referenced above) or hold up a couple of minutes before starting to dive. When you begin, utilize moderate and delicate pushes to limit sprinkle. Have towels convenient for speedy cleanup. Dive forward and backward around 10-30 times relying upon the stop up and check whether the water starts to deplete without anyone else.

  1. Twofold check the tank

On the off chance that you expected to stop the primary water supply toward the start to shield the water from flooding, it might be important to play Judas on for the bowl to legitimately deplete and refill. Be that as it may, even without the water on, you should see the water level improve because of diving. In many occurrences, it will totally deplete or incompletely channel directly before your eyes. After the obstruct has been taken care of, betray and guarantee the floater or bobber is changed in accordance with the correct dimension. This decides how much water the tank should be full and may help with future flushings.


The Easiest Way to Unclog a Toilet

Occasionally, disaster strikes and there isn’t a plunger in the bathroom. Don’t despair. Here’s how to unclog a toilet without a plunger, even if you only have the typical resources a bathroom holds.

  • Quickly take off the lid of the tank, and close the flapper. The flapper is the rubber piece that is lifted up when you push on the handle to flush. You’ll need to stick your arm in the tank to push the flapper down. Don’t worry, though. Tank water is very clean.
  • Add some hot water to the clogged toilet. This can often break apart what’s doing the clogging (unless a cute child threw something like a toy in the toilet earlier that day). You’ll need something to transport the hot water from the sink or tub into the toilet. A toothbrush holder or anything like a cup or bowl will do the trick. If things get dire, you could resort to dumping out the contents of the trash bin and using it as a water carrier. Leave the water to sit for a couple of minutes. Everything might naturally flush down at this point.
  • You tried the step above, but nothing – or not enough – has happened. Now try adding a few drops of soap to the toilet. Dishwasher soap would be the first choice, followed by hand soap, and shampoo can be your last resort. Again, wait a few minutes for the soap to do its magic. Then, try flushing again.


How To Use a Plunger

First, plunge the toilet with the rubber flange pulled out to get a better seal. Push in and out vigorously, keeping enough water in the bowl to cover the plunger. Have towels handy to wipe up any water that splashes out.

Plunging Tips

A toilet plunger fits over and seals the toilet drain. Wear rubber gloves — things can get messy— and follow these plunging tips:

  • Make your first plunge a gentle one. Initially the bell is full of air. A hard thrust will force the air back around the seal and blow water all over the bathroom and you!
  • Once you force out the air, plunge vigorously in and out, maintaining the seal. You’ll be forcing water both directions in the drain, which will effectively loosen most clogs. Stick with it, plunging 15 to 20 times if necessary.
  • Be patient. Try alternating between steady strokes and occasional monster heaves.
  • Keep enough water in the bowl so the toilet plunger stays covered. Trying to force air through the toilet trap won’t generate much pressure.

Most of the time, plunging is all it takes to clear the clog. But for tougher clogs, try using a toilet snake.


What Not to Do When Your Toilet is Clogged

Don’t: Panic!

We get it – if that toilet is about to overflow with…yeah, we’ll leave it at that; you don’t want to be anywhere nearby. But, there are a few quick things you can do immediately to prevent a mess if you can manage to keep a clear head.

Do instead: remove the lid from the toilet’s tank and carefully set it aside. At the bottom of the tank is a rubber piece called the “flapper valve” which regulates the flow of water into the toilet bowl. Reach down and press that valve closed to prevent any more water from flowing into the toilet bowl and avoid the potential disaster an overflow will cause.

You may also need to stop the tank from filling up by lifting the float that operates the tank fill valve.

The water level in the toilet bowl should begin to drain slowly with no new water flowing in. Wait about a minute, and if the water level has gone down enough, you should be in the clear to let go of the float and the flapper without worrying about the toilet overflowing.

If the water in the toilet bowl doesn’t drop after about a minute, you’ll need to shut off the water at the toilet supply valve. This valve is a metal handle located behind the toilet. Turn clockwise (right) to close.

Don’t: Use Other Drains Nearby

Until you’ve verified that the problem is with just that toilet, avoid using other drains in the bathroom. If you notice those drains slowing or backing up, the blockage may be somewhere in the line, or may even indicate a failure in your septic system.

Do instead: Use a plunger to unblock the drain. It may be all that’s needed. After a few moments, check to see if the toilet drain clears. If a plunger isn’t working, your next step is likely a snake.

Once you’re confident that the clog is removed from the immediate vicinity, carefully test your other drains one at a time to make sure they are all functioning correctly.

Don’t: Use a Harsh Chemical like Drano to Unclog Your Toilet

Drano, and other similar chemical pipe cleaners, use caustic, oxidizing chemicals to dissolve drain clogs. The reaction that occurs when the chemicals hit the clog creates heat.

Since the dissolving process takes time (sometimes a few hours), the reaction sits in there producing more and more heat which can cause extensive damage to the pipes and even to the toilet itself by cracking the porcelain.

Do instead: Use Dawn dish soap. Pour ¼ cup of Dawn soap into the toilet bowl and allow a couple of hours for it to work on the clog before attempting to use a plunger again. The dish soap will work to break down the clog naturally without harmful chemical fumes or reactions.

Follow the dish soap with hot water, pouring it slowly into the toilet bowl. The water should finish what the dish soap started, breaking up the clog completely and rinsing it down the drain.


How to Unclog a Toilet With a Snake or an Auger

If you have a snake or an auger, you can also use these tools instead of a plunger. The benefit of an auger or a snake is that they directly remove the clog and can get far deeper into the toilet. All you have to do is stick it in the toilet and gently move it until you feel the clog break up.

You can even use this technique as a DIY tool. In many cases, a straightened wire hanger can work well to handle clogs. Just be careful using it because you can scratch the coating on your toilet bowl if you use too much force.

Pros And Cons Of Hiring An Electrician Off Of The Internet

Must-Have Electrician Tools for On-the-Job Safety and Efficiency

In the world of electrical work, a job isn’t done right unless it’s done safely and efficiently. And while arming yourself with knowledge and caution goes a long way toward helping you work safe and smart, neither of these things give you actual physical protection from live circuitry, or help you to efficiently handle materials and make the right connections. That’s where electrician tools come into play

Having the right tools for the job can help you work faster, more comfortably and with fewer mistakes, as well as warn you of the presence of hot circuits, insulate your body against electric shock, and protect your face and eyes from potentially dangerous sparks and saw fly-offs. Just think of them as small investments in protecting the biggest investments of all: your life and career.

Wire Stripper

Instead of gambling with cabling knives and linesmans’ pliers that can potentially nick into wires, strip wires correctly, the first time around, with a gauged wire stripper. This tool has graduated holes along the length of its jaws, which you match to the particular size wire you’ll be stripping. Because of their carefully-sized stripping notches, wire strippers are able to remove insulation without damaging the conductor beneath, so your job will have a far better chance of meeting code without you wasting time and money to repeatedly trim down and re-strip the electrical wire until you get it right.

Insulated Screwdrivers

One insulated screwdriver is good, but a whole set is even better – it’ll take you through everything from wall plate installation and removal to mounting outlet boxes and light fixtures. Insulated screwdrivers give you an extra measure of protection should your screwdriver slip and accidentally make contact with an energized circuit or component. Dielectric handles and blade coating give insulated screwdrivers the power to buffer your body against direct contact with up to 1000V – you might still feel a “bite,” but at least you won’t be electrocuted.

Voltage Sniffer

Even if you’ve already shut things off at the breaker box, it’s always a good idea to double check that a circuit isn’t live before beginning work on it. Receptacle testers can be helpful, but if a receptacle or the wires leading to it are damaged, this type of tester can sometimes give you a false negative, even if there’s still electricity present. That’s why we recommend carrying a non-contact voltage sniffer as well. Even though voltage sniffers don’t need to make physical contact with wires or outlet prongs, they still have the ability to detect the presence of live power – and best of all, they’re cheap and take up practically no room in your work bag.


Everything you need to know about a Career in the Automotive Electrical Trade

Do you love working with cars and other vehicles? Can you trace a car’s electrical work in your head? Do you love seeing how they work and fixing them for your own enjoyment? If so, then you might able to turn your hobby into a rewarding career in the automotive electrical trade industry.

A rapidly growing and high-demand field, the automotive electrical trade keeps cars, trucks, tractors and other automotive vehicles running smoothly. Without these highly skilled workers, our cars would be breaking down and those whose jobs require heavy equipment would have a hard time completing their work.

Where to find work

Most automotive electricians go to work for a mechanic’s shop or a dealership. Mechanic shops employ automotive electricians to work on the various cars that come into the shop. This requires a strong knowledge of a lot of different makes and models.

Dealerships need highly trained automotive electricians who know their products extremely well. Customers often bring in their cars to have them serviced, and they expect high quality work. These electricians need to have solid knowledge on the makes and models of the dealership. If the electrician is working for a used car dealership, then he or she needs to be able to fix up older cars and make them sellable once more.

If you have further training with heavy equipment, you also might find work with a construction or mining company. Large construction companies need to keep their equipment running smoothly, and they’ll employ automotive technicians to service their heavy vehicles. Mines usually use heavy equipment to drill, and having a drill break down can cease production for days. They need full time automotive electricians on hand to keep those machines up and running.


Innovative Electrician Tricks

Get any two or three electricians or other service industry personnel together and pretty soon they will begin swapping stories. With highly skilled service jobs, each individual tradesman has developed a personal style and thought up a few neat tricks to handle common trade challenges and it’s always worthwhile to share and hear a few things your buddies have come up with. One of the great features of the internet is that it gives us an opportunity to bring these patio and workshop conversations to the entire community, creating a richer shared knowledge of ‘trade secrets’ that no longer have to be a secret

Preventing for Insulation Itch

While it would be great if all electrical work happened on the habitable side of the walls, electricians more than almost any other tradesmen end up right up close with the sawdust and insulation. Besides wanting to wear a face mask and eye protection, that stuff is incredibly itchy and can cause major skin irritation. even wearing long sleeves, it still gets up around your collar and onto your face and hands. The solution to this is a bottle of baby powder or a small box of cornstarch. Coat your exposed skin a little way under collars and sleeve ends. Make sure to get your face and ears while keeping it out of your eyes. This protective layer will keep the insulation from settling directly on your skin, preventing irritation and itching.

Carry a Strong Magnet

The entire house wiring premise requires you to work behind the walls and ceilings. You are constantly tracing old wires, running new wires, working from small holes in the drywall and trying to line everything up perfectly from both sides. There are dozens of tricks for drawing lines and punching small holes to mark your way, but there’s one very useful trick that doesn’t require any permanent changes at all.

Look for Studs

Stud finders are notoriously hard on batteries, which means they are always running out at inopportune moments and needing to be recharged. Rather than letting this slow down your project, simply carry a strong magnet in your kit. Tie a lightweight piece of string to your magnet and dangle it along the wall you’re inspecting. when the magnet responds, there’s something ferrous behind the wall. This also works in circumstances where the surface, coating, or material of the wall is challenging even for a fully charged stud finder.

As a Fishing Guide

The next time you’re fishing down the backside of a wall, there’s no need to worry about it going astray. You may already be using the heavy nut trick to keep the string pulled directly downward. You can double the effectiveness of this method by using a magnet in your box opening to guide the line down.




Understand spoken information.

Listen to others and ask questions.

Speak clearly so listeners can understand.

Understand written information.

Read and understand work-related materials.


Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.

Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.

Combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions.

Follow guidelines to arrange objects or actions in a certain order.

Judge the costs and benefits of a possible action.

Analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.

Develop rules that group items in various ways.

Recognize the nature of a problem.

Understand new information or materials by studying and working with them.

Concentrate and not be distracted while performing a task.

Identify what must be changed to reach goals.

Recognize when important changes happen or are likely to happen in a system.

Think of new ideas about a topic.


Choose a mathematical method or formula to solve problems.

Use math skills to solve problems.

Add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly and correctly.


Check how well one is learning or doing something.

Manage the time of self and others.


Teach others how to do something.

Use several methods to learn or teach new things.

Change behavior in relation to others’ actions


Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional Electrician

If you’re not an expert about things like electrical panels, wires, outlets, and all the other electrical jargon, you should not attempt to make electrical repairs. While there are some home repairs that you can attempt yourself, such as fixing a leaky faucet, electrical repairs are not included in that list. You should hire a professional electrician for all electrical repairs.

Many homeowners are tempted to try handling electrical repairs on their own to save money. For all home repairs, going the DIY route risks turning what would have been a small problem into a very costly one. The same is true for electrical repairs. Except that in addition to risking costly damage, you risk your own safety by tampering with your home electrical system.


First and foremost, the main reason why you should hire a professional electrician is for your own safety, your family’s safety, and the safety of your house. Working with electricity can be extremely dangerous if you do not approach it with the right expertise, safety training, and equipment.


Most homeowners who try to DIY an electrical repair end up calling a professional electrician after their repair fails to do the trick. And oftentimes, they’ve only made the problem more complicated to fix than it would have been if they’d called an electrician in the first place.


We can’t tell you how often we get calls reporting one problem with a home electrical system only to get out to the job site and discover that the issue is just one symptom of a much larger problem.

Well Water Testing Reveals The Truth

Bacteria, Viruses, and Parasites in Drinking Water

Bacteria are everywhere in our environment, including Minnesota’s surface waters and groundwater. Some of these bacteria can be harmful to human health. Drinking water with disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or parasites (collectively called pathogens) can make you sick. It is not practical to test drinking water for every type of pathogen, but it is simple to test drinking water for coliform bacteria. The presence of coliform bacteria can indicate there may be harmful pathogens in the water.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires public water systems to regularly test water for total coliform bacteria and E. coli. Safe drinking water does not have E. coli or other pathogens in it.

If you have a private well

Here are some recommendations on how to prevent and address coliform bacteria contamination:

Prevent Contamination

  • Protect Your Well by constructing it in a safe spot.
  • Regularly inspect your well for damage. Contact a Licensed Well Contractor if you find any damage.
  • Test your well water every year for coliform bacteria. You are responsible for keeping your well water safe and testing it as needed. All well testing should be done through an accredited laboratory. Contact a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) accredited laboratory to get a sample container and instructions on how to submit a sample. You can also contact your county to see if they have any programs to make testing your water easier.
  • Disinfect your well with a chlorine solution if floodwaters come within 50 feet of your well; your water changes in taste, appearance, or odor; or your well is opened for servicing. Follow these steps for Well Disinfection or hire a Licensed Well Contractor.
  • Conduct routine maintenance of potential sources of contamination, such as household septic systems.

Address Contamination

If coliform bacteria are detected in your water, follow these steps:

  • Stop using the water for drinking and preparing food, unless you boil it at a full rolling boil for a full minute before using it. You can also use bottled water or water from a known safe alternative source.
  • Disinfect your well with a chlorine solution, using the same Well Disinfection steps as above.
  • Test your well water again after disinfection to confirm there are no coliform bacteria.
  • You can use the water again, without boiling, once the well has been disinfected and the water no longer tests positive for coliform bacteria.

If you are on a public water system

Your public water system is regularly tested for coliform bacteria. The system will issue a public notice within 24 hours if it detects E. coli. The public notice will tell you what you should do to stay safe.

You can find the coliform bacteria test results for the system serving where you live by reading the system’s Water Quality Report (also known as a Consumer Confidence Report [CCR]). You can call your public water system to get a paper copy of your CCR, or you may be able to find it online at Find Your Local CCR. You can find the coliform bacteria test results for the systems serving places other than where you live by contacting the water system.


Bacteriological tests

The recognition that microbial infections can be waterborne has led to the development of methods for routine examination to ensure that water intended for human consumption is free from excremental pollution. Although it is now possible to detect the presence of many pathogens in water, the methods of isolation and enumeration are often complex and time-consuming. It is therefore impractical to monitor drinking water for every possible microbial pathogen that might occur with contamination. A more logical approach is the detection of organisms normally present in the faeces of man and other warm-blooded animals as indicators of excremental pollution, as well as of the efficacy of water treatment and disinfection. The presence of such organisms indicates the presence of faecal material and thus of intestinal pathogens. (The intestinal tract of man contains countless rod-shaped bacteria known as coliform organisms and each person discharges from 100 to 400 billion coliform organisms per day in addition to other kinds of bacteria). Conversely, the absence of faecal commensal organisms indicates that pathogens are probably also absent. Search for such indicators of faecal pollution thus provides a means of quality control. The use of normal intestinal organisms as indicators of faecal pollution rather than the pathogens themselves is a universally accepted principle for monitoring and assessing the microbial safety of water supplies. Ideally, the finding of such indicator bacteria should denote the possible presence of all relevant pathogens.

Indicator organisms should be abundant in excrement but absent, or present only in small numbers, in other sources; they should be easily isolated, identified and enumerated and should be unable to grow in water. They should also survive longer than pathogens in water and be more resistant to disinfectants, such as chlorine. In practice, these criteria cannot all be met by any one organism, although many of them are fulfilled by coliform organisms, especially Escherichia coli as the essential indicator of pollution by faecal material of human or animal origin.


Exposure to Chemicals in Water

Everyone has a role in protecting the water supply. Before you throw away unused medicines, birth control pills, paint, motor oil, pesticides, cleaners, and other chemical-based products, talk to your local health or hazardous waste departments about how to safely dispose of these products. You also can visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for more tips.

Steps you can take

In general, filtered tap (municipal) water is as safe as or safer than bottled water from the store, because bottled water is less regulated.

You may want to consider the following tips to ensure your water is the safest it can be:

  • If you get your water from a private or small community well, you may want to have your tap water tested. Well water can become contaminated with bacteria, pharmaceuticals, and other toxins. City water supplies and municipal wells that serve large numbers of people are regularly tested for contamination. Private and small community wells are not tested, unless you arrange to have it done. If you don’t get a water bill, you most likely have a private or small community well. To find a state-certified water testing lab, contact your local state health or environmental department.
  • Install a filter on the taps in your house or store drinking water in a pitcher with a filter. Check the box label to make sure you’re buying a filter that removes E. coli and Cryptosporidium bacteria, as well as pharmaceuticals. Both Brita and Proctor & Gamble (maker of PUR filters) say their filter pitchers remove both E. coli and Cryptosporidium, as well as more than 96% of pharmaceutical contaminants. These companies also claim that their plastic pitchers are made without bisphenol A. Change the filter at the recommended times. The National Sanitation Foundation website has information on how to choose water filters for your home.
  • Reverse osmosis systems and ion exchange pour-through filters can remove contaminants that tap filters can’t. Certain contaminants, such as hexavalent chromium, a metal used in metal processing, steel and pulp mills, and the tanning industry, aren’t removed by standard tap filters. Hexavalent chromium in drinking water has been linked to certain stomach cancers. In December 2010, the Environmental Working Group released a report that found hexavalent chromium in the tap water of 31 of 35 U.S. cities tested. Hexavalent chromium can be removed from drinking water by using reverse osmosis systems and ion exchange pour-through filters. Still, these systems are much more expensive than installing a tap filter. If you suspect the water in your area is contaminated with hexavalent chromium or other heavy metals, you may want to consider taking a tap water sample to a lab for specific heavy metal testing before you invest in a reverse osmosis or ion exchange pour-through filter system.
  • Boil your water if you think it might be contaminated with bacteria. Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute before using it. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms, but doesn’t remove pharmaceutical residues.


Ways to Know Whether or Not You Should Have Your Water Tested for Contaminants

Many ways to access water are available today. You may prefer to stock your home with water bottles, use a filtered pitcher or drink from the water dispenser in your fridge. However, problems can start to arise depending on where that water comes from. People get water from one of two places⁠ — public water systems or wells. Either way, sometimes things can go wrong, and you might need to test your water.

Your Water Tastes Bad

People like to say water is water — but you’ll taste a big difference between different water qualities. It’s why people prefer certain brands of bottled water over others. Whatever water you use at home should always be pleasantly neutral. You should never have to wonder if you’re tasting something in your tap water when sipping on a drink poured from your tap. The same goes for shower water or the water you use to brush your teeth. Immediately follow any bad taste by a water quality test, just to ensure you aren’t drinking contaminants.

Your Water Fixtures Are Stained

You may never think about the quality of your sinks and tubs until you notice a pink mould on them that grows slowly over time. You should be able to easily wipe away this mould with cleaning solution — and if you can’t, your utilities may be stained. Stains can appear brown, yellow, red or black. Those colours indicate high concentrations of harmful minerals that shouldn’t be in your water. Test your water if you see any stains on the water fixtures in your house. A professional can easily treat your water, and the stains will disappear.

Your Stomach Is Upset

Just as your stomach can get upset when you eat something unhealthy, the same thing can happen if you drink bad water. Drinking water can irritate your stomach in a few ways. First, you might experience an upset stomach after local and natural chemicals infiltrate your water source. Arsenic is a naturally occurring toxin found in water that a professional can filter out if they identify the substance through testing. Infections like gastroenteritis also follow the minerals that contaminate water. You may experience stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting as symptoms of this virus. These symptoms are also associated with salmonella and E. coli. If you’re having symptoms like these and don’t think you’ve consumed any bad food, test your water right away.


Your Soap Doesn’t Lather

Groundwater filtered through soil is called hard water. It’s less likely to react well with soaps and create a lather, although hard water that passes a filtration test will make minimal suds. If your dish or hand soap won’t lather or produces only minimal suds, your water has become hard and needs to be tested for contaminants like hardness, iron, pH, nitrates and chlorine.

Your Water Smells Foul

Water shouldn’t have a taste or smell — so it’s a bad sign if you’re wincing when you bring a cup of water to your lips. Hydrogen sulphide is a common cause of foul-smelling water. Many people note a rotten-egg-like smell when they sniff this contaminated water or turn the tap on.

Trust your nose and test your water if it smells bad when you use your sinks or showers.

Your Plumbing’s Corroded

A bad taste and smell in your water could also be a sign your plumbing has started to corrode. Pay attention to whether your water becomes discoloured early in the morning. If so, it may have settled in the pipes overnight and absorbed the metals from the corroded pipe. Replacing corroded plumbing will be a project, but it’s worth testing for so that you can start as soon as possible.