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Housecleaners’ Guide to COVID-19


Certifications are now being rolled out for FREE for all AHCA members in good standing! Join today and get the Education you need to grow and provide the best services during this time while having the Credentials to brag about!

CDC Cleaning Recommendations and General COVID-19 Safety Precautions

Clean and Disinfect

Approved Disinfectants for COVID-19

General Public Safety Protocols

Stay up to date with CDC Guidance for Employers and Businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Know if Residential & Commercial Cleaning are Deemed Officially “Essential Services” in Your State!

**If your State or County has a “Shelter in Place” but does not address any home service trades – Refer to the CISA at the Top of List**


A Comprehensive Guide To Tipping Your House Cleaner

Hiring a professional maid service can be a great way to keep your home looking its best while saving yourself the time and hassle of cleaning on your own. As with many services, however, one of the most common questions people have is in regards to tipping. Should you tip a house cleaner? If so, how much? While there are no cut-and-dry answers to these questions, there are some general etiquette tips and considerations that can be kept in mind when making the decision of whether or not to tip a house cleaner.

Should You Tip Your House Cleaner?

It’s rare to see a house cleaning service that requires tips, though some may build tipping into their standard rates. If this is the case, this should be clearly outlined to you in your service contract so that you don’t feel the need to tip any additional money. These days, more and more cleaning services have also begun to simply pay their cleaners a higher wage in order to forego the pressure for their clients to tip altogether. Again, this is where knowing the policies of your cleaning company can be informative.

Another thing to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to tip a house cleaner is whether they’re the owner of the cleaning company or not. Generally, company owners do not expect tips because they’re able to more-or-less set their own rates and wages. An employee of a cleaning company, on the other hand, may rely on tips (much like servers at restaurants or stylists at hair salons) to make a living wage.

Cash Tip or Something Else?

Cash is king! However, If you want to show your house cleaner some appreciation but don’t feel comfortable tipping in cash, keep in mind that there are other options as well. Instead of tipping cash, you might consider gifting your house cleaner with a gift card to a local coffee shop or restaurant that you know he or she frequents. You can also consider gifts like a nice bottle of wine or even something handmade to show your appreciation.

Maid Service Tipping Etiquette: When To Tip and How Much

Some other common questions people tend to have about tipping house cleaners is how frequently they should tip and how much. This will really depend on your specific circumstances and the frequency of services provided. If you hire a professional cleaner for a one-time service, for example, you can either forego tipping altogether or offer a one-time tip.

Things can get a little more complicated, however, when you have a recurring cleaning service. Your cleaner probably won’t expect to receive a tip every single week that he or she comes to clean your place. Instead of tipping a small amount at each cleaning, you might consider providing your cleaner with a slightly larger tip once every month or even once every few months


Can I let cleaners into my house? Your COVID-19 questions answered

We’re breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic by answering your questions. You can send us your questions via email, and we’ll answer as many as we can. We’ll publish a selection of answers every weekday on our website, and we’re also putting some of your questions to the experts on the air during The National and on News Network. So far we’ve received more than 40,000 emails from all corners of the country.

Is it safe for cleaners to come into my home?

So while cleaning people may be allowed in your home, there are some precautions that clients and cleaning staff can take to make sure everyone stays safe, including maintaining physical distance.

“Especially if you can be out of the house when [they] come in and you don’t spend time in the same area, it seems reasonable to me to have that happen.”

“It really is a partnership for protection,” he said. People who work in household services are often going into multiple houses in a day — especially in the case of cleaning services. it’s important that all the tools used, like mops and sponges, be disinfected or replaced after each use and between each residence.

“If the weather permits, keep open ventilation,” which can reduce the buildup of contamination, he said. They also say using personal protective equipment (PPE) should be “a last resort” because PPE is only effective if people wear it correctly.


COVID-19: Cleaners are working safely. See our guidelines

On this page, we outline relevant government policy and safety guidelines for the domestic cleaning sector and we answer FAQ. We are operating as normal and have implemented extra measures to provide safe services.

New National Restrictions from 5 November

From Thursday 5th November 2020 until Wednesday 2 December, new Government restrictions apply:

Requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes

Preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes

Closing certain businesses and venues

Cleaners can continue working in people’s homes

Cleaners are permitted to work in customer homes during the “lockdown” period subject to safety and social distancing rules. Under the new rules, you must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes

“for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes)”. You can find the latest Government guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people’s homes

We have incorporated government safety guidelines into our operations. We have also recommended additional safety and cleaning measures to keep cleaners and customers safe. To help get your home back in order, we have a 1 Hour Free Cleaning offer for new customers. You can book the cleaning service using code TCDIR. We have vetted housekeepers and cleaners


A Comprehensive Guide To Tipping Your House Cleaner

Hiring a cleaning or maid service is great for busy professionals, pet owners, and parents because it can help you maintain a clean house while saving time. Usually, these services are great at their jobs, which raises the question of how much to tip house cleaners and when? Is it really okay to tip them? These are only some of the questions that homeowners think about when hiring a cleaning service. If you’re one of them, stay tuned to find out more.

Yes or No to Tipping?

Modern housekeeping and maid services usually don’t require tips, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Some services include tips in their standard rates, so you should inform yourself about this by reading the contract carefully or by talking with the company owner. If this is the case with your maid service, you don’t have to include additional tips if you don’t want to.

Another thing you want to have in mind when deciding whether to tip your house cleaner or not is the quality of their work. If they’ve done an exceptional job and you’re extremely satisfied with how your house looks, why not surprise them with a few extra bucks? They’ll appreciate it immensely and will be motivated to always do their best.

Decide on the Type of Tips

Housekeeping tips usually come in the form of cash, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Cash is a really great way to show how satisfied you are, but there are other things that can reflect your gratitude. Some people opt for various gift cards — a coffee shop, restaurant, or beauty salon gift cards are a great way to tip your cleaner and still maintain a great relationship.

When to Tip?

If you decided to tip the cleaning service person, you have to know when is the best time to do it. There are a few ways to do this. You can choose to tip your housekeeper on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis — it really is completely up to you.

Pain Management Through Hypnosis

Pain Management Frequently Asked Questions

When you feel discomfort across any body part, you’re feeling pain. This concept is a subjective one because everyone has a different tolerance for pain. A cut on the finger could be a bother for one person, whereas it’s a stinging sensation over many hours for other individuals. Pain is generally divided into two categories, including chronic and acute types.

A chronic pain tends to last over several days, weeks or years. This pain, however, usually remains as a mild to moderate feeling. In contrast, an acute pain is sharp and isolated. It may be extremely painful, but it only lasts a short time. In the end, you are the only person that can really describe your pain effectively to another person.

How Does Cancer Contribute to Pain?

Cancer is a widespread disease that can affect nearly any part of the body. You might know people who seem perfectly healthy, but they’re currently fighting a cancer diagnosis. These individuals may be in mild, moderate or severe pain because cancer affects everyone differently. A tumor might grow large and press against organs, for example. Nerve and blood vessel pain is common because of multiple cancerous tumors growing throughout the body. When a patient has metastasized, cancer can even clog blood vessels. In addition, pain levels are often defined by the cancer’s stage. A terminal patient in stage 4 breast cancer will usually be in more pain than a stage 1 patient.

Your pain doesn’t have to be directly caused by the cancer itself either. Strong treatments, from biopsies to chemotherapy, create painful conditions for your body as it heals afterward. In these cases, your pain relief might be a slow process because the body is trying to fight the cancer and recover from a stressful surgery simultaneously. Pain can also be related to your psychological health. Worries over the disease and other concerns can easily create headaches and body aches.

What Are Patients’ Options to Manage Daily Pain?

Pain can be a debilitating feeling that affects both your mind and body. Finding the root cause of the pain is the smartest way to combat it. Initially, your doctor will evaluate the painful area using basic physical cues. You might require a biopsy where part or all of the tumor is removed. Although you’ll have pain after the surgery, you should feel relief in the area because the accumulation is no longer taking up space in your body.

Doctors use other treatments to reduce pain too, such as radiation therapy. However, there are times when treating the pain symptoms is necessary. You could receive pain medication and alternative relief options. Mental imagery and relaxation techniques are often taught for moderate pain relief.


What Is My Diagnosis?

These questions can help you get answers regarding the nature and cause of your pain:

  • Have you been able to determine the source of my pain?
  • If so, what is it, and what is the formal diagnosis? (Ask your doctor to write it down if it’s hard to remember!)
  • How did you reach this diagnosis?
  • Do you need to confirm the diagnosis with tests?
  • Do I or you need a second opinion?
  • Is there any reason this may have occurred? Is it hereditary, or connected to other health issues?
  • What is the prognosis for this diagnosis?

Because some patients may not have a direct cause for their worst pain, a formal diagnosis is not always possible. Even if you don’t receive a diagnosis, though, there are still steps to take and questions you can ask to find some level of pain relief.

What Are My Treatment Options?

These questions can be tailored, so they’re applicable whether you are able to get a formal diagnosis or not:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • Which treatment plan works best, for whom, and why?
  • How effective are the treatments for reducing my pain?
  • What, if any, medications are recommended?
  • Are there any side effects or risks to the recommended medications or treatments?
  • How long do medications or treatment options take to work?
  • Are there other options if one treatment fails to work or if I have an allergic reaction?
  • Which, if any, of these treatments and medications are covered by my insurance? What are the relative costs, and are there trials or assistance programs I may be eligible for?
  • Do you have a relationship with any of the drug manufacturers that make the medications we just discussed?


Symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

While neck and back pain are common, some symptoms call for prompt attention. If you have back pain that has lasted longer than three months, or any of these other symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • Pain caused by a serious injury
  • Pain that travels down one or both legs
  • Pain that worsens when you sneeze or cough, or pain that wakes you up at night
  • Pain in your abdomen or changes in your bowel or bladder habits
  • Fever, weight loss or swelling or weakness


Why does RA hurt?

The inflammation from RA causes painful swelling. Nodules can form at pressure points, such as your elbows. These can occur almost anywhere on your body. These nodules can become tender and painful.

What are my medical options for managing pain?

Your doctor will go over several strategies for managing your pain. These include prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as other medical treatments. All of these medications have their own set of side effects. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits.

Pain relievers

You likely already have nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, in your medicine cabinet. These drugs include common over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). These medications are good for relieving pain and inflammation.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may also be used to relieve pain, but it will not help with inflammation. It can be used alone or in combination with NSAIDs.

DMARDs and biologics

Disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work by reducing the inflammation that can cause pain. These drugs actually slow the progression of RA and can prevent permanent damage. Biologic drugs specifically target the cells of the immune system and pro-inflammatory molecules involved in inflammation.

Learn more: Rheumatoid arthritis DMARDs list »

Corticosteroid injections

Corticosteroids can be injected directly into the joint. They can relieve pain and inflammation for weeks at a time. Trigger point injections involve injecting a numbing medication into your muscle. They may help with RA-related muscle pain.

Alternative treatments

Your doctor may refer you to practitioners who specialize in alternative treatment options. Alternative treatments include massage, acupuncture, or topical electrical nerve stimulation. Ask your doctor about any risks involved in alternative treatments. Also ask about the results you might expect from treatment.


How should I exercise?

You likely know that overdoing any activity can make joints tender and sore. However, it may be a surprise to learn that sitting or lying still for long periods of time can make joints even more stiff and painful. Ask your doctor about what types of exercise are safe for you. Also ask them which forms of fitness would be most effective for your RA.

In general, low-impact or no-impact exercises are good choices for strengthening muscles and loosening joints. Water aerobics and swimming are good options. Look up if there are exercises classes in your area. If not, ask your doctor how you can exercise at home. Gentle stretching may also aid in pain relief. As a bonus, you may even lose some weight. Weight loss could make a big difference in the amount of stress on your joints and could help ease your pain.

Bond Move Out Cleaning Challenges

Move-Out Cleaning Guide

Moving out of rental properties can be a stressful situation for both landlords and tenants. The Move-Out Cleaning Guide can help alleviate the stress for all parties involved. Upon move out the rental property should appear to be professionally or broom clean. It should be in the same or better condition when the tenant moved in. This guide clearly outlines the duties and responsibilities of the Tenant(s) upon move out, insuring that the rental unit is in proper condition

Every landlord wishes to refund the security deposit in its entirety. He or she needs the tenant’s full cooperation in leaving the property in clean condition. This Move-Out Cleaning Guide clearly outlines the duties of the Tenant(s) upon move out, insuring the rental unit is in proper condition.

The Move-Out Cleaning Guide also states that any clean up expenses or damages incurred during the rental period, or while moving out of the rental property, will be deducted from the security deposit. This form lists the areas that must be cleaned including, the kitchen, bedrooms, living and dining rooms, major appliances, floors and bathrooms. The Move-out Cleaning Guide is also fully editable, so it can be customized to suit the landlords specific needs. The form allows access to add more details to the areas that need to be cleaned or eliminate unnecessary verbiage.

The Move-Out Cleaning Guide should be given to tenants when signing the lease, and again when the tenant vacates the rental unit. The Move-Out Cleaning Guide goes great with our Move-In/Move-Out Walk Through Checklist. It is a good idea to walk through the rental unit with tenants prior to them handing in their keys. Copies of this guide should be made available to tenants prior to actual move out. Since this form is not state specific, it is a great idea to consult state and local tenant/landlord laws to protect the interest of all parties involved.


Your Easy Move Out Cleaning Checklist

Planning to move out soon? Whether you’re ending a lease or selling a house, it’s important that you leave your former home in tip-top (or at least, acceptable) condition. This means compiling a move out cleaning checklist for yourself or a cleaner.

Renters will likely need to conduct a deep clean in order to get their security deposit back. In fact, many landlords require that tenants return the home to its original condition before moving out. Those selling a home will likely need to give it a good cleaning before handing over the keys to the new owners as well. While a deep clean isn’t necessarily a legal requirement, it’s often customary for sellers to do it anyway when moving out.

What’s on the move out cleaning checklist?

Your move out cleaning checklist will depend on the size of the property and how clean it is already. To help you, we’ve compiled a comprehensive move out cleaning checklist that you can use as a starting point.

Remove any remaining personal property

First and foremost, remove all personal property from the home. This means everything from furniture and closet items to shelving and wall art.

Vacuum floors

Give the home a once-over with the vacuum. Don’t forget to vacuum closets, stairs, nooks and other hard-to-reach areas.

Dust and wipe down surfaces

Using an all-purpose surface cleaner and a roll of paper towels or clean cloth, wipe down kitchen countertops, bathroom countertops, bookshelves, windowpanes, fireplace mantles and other hard surfaces.

Clean inside cabinets

Don’t forget to clean inside all cabinets. Kitchen cabinets, in particular, tend to accumulate food crumbs and other residue from food and cooking products.

Wipe down appliances

Over time, stainless steel appliances become covered in fingerprints and markings. Make sure to wipe down your fridge with either an all-purpose spray or a vinegar and water mixture. Don’t forget to wipe down and clean out the microwave as well.

Scrub and clean toilets, sinks, showers and bathtubs

Once you’ve finished vacuuming and dusting, roll up those sleeves and start on the bathrooms. All toilets, showers, bathtubs and sinks should be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned. Any mold, rust or mildew should also be eliminated from the bathrooms before moving out.

Clean out closets

After you’ve cleared out your clothing and accessories, make sure to wipe down closet shelves and hanging rods. You should also vacuum the closet floors and double-check that all personal items have been removed.

Remove nails and wall anchors screwed into the wall

Unless the landlord or buyer has asked that you leave nails, hooks and wall anchors in the walls, it’s best to remove this hardware prior to moving out.

Fill holes and repair drywall

Once you’ve removed any nails, hooks and dry wall anchors, make sure to patch up unsightly holes in the wall. If any drywall needs to be repaired, consider hiring a professional handyman to do the job.

Touch up scratches and markings with paint

Before moving out, head to your local paint store and grab a small sample size of paint that matches your wall. Use this paint to touch up any scratches or markings left on the walls. Be sure to pay special attention to baseboards and other areas with high-gloss paint, as these tend to scratch more easily than walls painted with a matte finish.

Clean and sanitize the fridge and freezer

Empty the fridge and freezer of any remaining contents and start cleaning. All surfaces should be wiped down with an disinfectant spray. Make sure to eliminate any and all remaining food crumbs as well.

Wipe down oven and stovetop

One of the places where food residue tends to hide is the stovetop. If you have a gas range, be sure to remove the top part of the range and clean underneath all burners. Your oven can also be cleaned with a simple water and baking soda mixture. Combine the water and baking soda to make a paste and apply it throughout the oven. Vinegar can be added as well.

Mop floors

Once all surfaces have been wiped down and vacuumed, end your move out cleaning by giving the floors a good mop. A vinegar and warm water solution is a simple and safe floor cleaning mixture. You can also use a Swiffer sweeper with a wet cloth to clean floors.


Moving Out Cleaning Checklist for Renters

When you move out of a rental home or apartment, one of the biggest priorities is getting back your deposit. Landlords usually require a deposit before you move in that will either be subtracted from for any necessary repairs after you leave or will be fully reimbursed to you if everything is in the same shape as when you moved in.

To get back your deposit, it’s important to take good care of the home while you’re living there, but when you move out, it’s just as important to give it a good, deep cleaning, even if you have maintained it well over the course of your stay. We recommend having it professionally cleaned. If that’s not in the budget, though, take a few hours to go about the house or apartment and clean every nook and cranny.

Moving Out Cleaning Checklist

Whole House + Misc. Areas

Clean and vacuum all flooring, including stairs

Wipe down the walls and baseboards

Remove nails and screws; repair the walls

Dust ceiling fans

Clean air vents

Clean the windows and dust the blinds

Get rid of cobwebs

Clean fireplace

Clean the washing machine and dryer inside and out; pull them out to clean underneath and behind them


Clean the cabinets and drawers inside and out

Wipe down the microwave inside and out

Wipe down the entire refrigerator; pull it out to clean underneath and behind it

Wipe down the countertops

Scrub the sink and faucet

Clean the oven and stove; pull it out to clean underneath and behind it


Scrub the shower and bleach the grout

Clean out the bathroom drawers and vanity

Wipe down the countertop

Polish the mirror

Dust and clean the exhaust fan


Move Out Cleaning Checklist


Wash all windows inside and out in all rooms. Clean out window tracks.

Wash window sills and curtain rods.

Wash inside and outside of front and back doors.

Clean out the fireplace if applicable.

Mow lawn and weed flower beds if applicable.

All marks must be washed off the walls. Remove all nails.

Wash all vinyl and tile floors. If the fireplace is gas, make sure you clean off the inside of the glass.

All carpeting is to be vacuumed and professionally shampooed. Save receipts and turn in to the manager; or request that the manager arrange to have this done and the cost will be deducted from your security deposit.

All trash must be removed from the premises.

Clean all blinds and wash or dry clean all drapes and valances.

Clean all light fixtures throughout the unit and replace any burnt out bulbs.

Clean all vents and replace furnace filters.


Clean the inside and out of the dishwasher and range hood.

Scrub kitchen floor, including under the movable appliances.


Wash the inside of the refrigerator with warm water.

Take out vegetable drawers and wash in warm water, dry and replace.

Wash and dry outside of the refrigerator.

Move the refrigerator out from the wall and clean underneath. DO NOT TURN OFF!

Freezer must be defrosted and cleaned.


Remove racks and broiler pan, soak in hot water to clean, dry well.

Clean the inside of the oven, top of stove, under elements, pan drawer, exhaust fan, hood.

Remove the lower drawer and clean under the stove.

Wash and dry outside of the stove.

Cabinets and Drawers:

Wash cupboards inside and out. Remove any shelf paper.

Wipe out drawers with a damp rag.

Clean sink and counter tops.


Move Out Process

Every resident expects a full refund of their deposit. The reality is that this is rarely the case. In our many years of experience, we have found that most tenants underestimate the time needed to professionally clean their apartment and prepare it for move-out. Cleaning is usually the largest deduction from our resident’s deposits. Even when cleaning is performed well, there are still many things that are easily missed. PLEASE REMEMBER, even when units are returned EMPTY and in good condition, it may still take our office 2 to 5 days to turn the unit over due to minor maintenance, carpet cleaning, painting and cleaning that still may be needed in your unit. So you should expect to spend a couple of days in an  empty  unit cleaning it to get it back to its condition as well. In addition, when units aren’t returned to us in their original condition, effectively you are now hiring us to do the work for you and as such you agree to the contractors we use and their prices

Approximately 1 month before move out:

Schedule all moving help well in advance of the move-out date. In order to vacate the unit on time and leave the unit clean, schedule to have all items removed from the unit at least 2 days prior to your lease end date

Approximately 2 days before the move out :

Remove all personal belongings at least 2 days BEFORE your lease expires to allow enough time for cleaning.

Clean your unit. Start this well in advance. Since keys are due by noon, do not wait until the day the lease expires. Review our Cleaning Check List for a cleaning guideline to maximize your deposit refund.

The carpets will be professionally cleaned at move out as per your Lease. Do not do this yourself. However, you must vacuum to remove any / all debris or additional charges may apply.

Do not leave any furniture at the dumpster. You must schedule to dispose of these at a proper location.

Make sure these items are replaced or cleaned well before you leave to avoid these simple charges:

➢ Burned out light bulbs – if ceilings are too high to replace, leave new bulbs on the kitchen counter

➢ Non-conforming (not similar) light bulbs (all bulbs must be of similar type and 65 watts or less)

➢ Missing or dead smoke detector batteries – if ceilings are too high to replace, leave new batteries on the kitchen counter – this also goes for light bulbs

➢ Drip pans (make sure they are the proper size)

Complete the UNIT MOVE OUT FORM. We will send you this form as your Lease approaches expiration. Return this form when you return your keys

The Day of Move Out:

By 12 NOON on the day your lease expires, return keys, parking permits, mailbox keys, storage keys, garage door openers, etc. to our office at 2020 Pacific Street. To avoid long lines at our office on move out day, do not wait until 12 noon. Be there earlier in the morning. If you plan to mail the keys, make sure they are SECURE in the envelope and it is mailed well in advance to be received by our office by 12 noon of the expiration date. Keys not received by 12 NOON on your lease expiration day may be charged a $100 late fee in addition to the cost of any delay in rescheduling vendors or delay in the future tenants move-in time. Our turnover times are quick and we often have vendors scheduled to enter the unit that afternoon.

An Apex employee will pull your file and compare all the items you are returning to the original check out sheet. Any discrepancies could result in a charge. For example, we take photo copies of all keys given. If we do not get those same keys back, you will be charged for a lock change to the unit. If you do not have all the keys with you, we cannot guarantee locks will not be changed before we receive them in our office. Often times we have tight turn overs (in some cases 24 hours) so it is important you make sure you have everything with you the first time so we can log everything in properly.

You will be asked for a forwarding address and phone number. We use the forwarding address you give us to mail the deposit refund check. In the case of multiple tenants, deposits will be mailed to the forwarding address of any 1 tenant.

Deposit refunds will be mailed to the rental address in absence of any forwarding address.

If the office is closed, please place all the items listed in step 9 above in an envelope and write your unit address on the sealed envelope. Make sure you leave a forwarding address and phone number with the keys you drop off. Do not place unlabeled, loose keys in our dropbox.

Once keys are received in our office, the move out inspection will be performed with 4 business hours.

How To Get Rid Of Ants With Ant Repellents

Proven Ways to Get Rid of Ants in Your Apartment

You’re cooking up your favorite recipe in your apartment when all of a sudden – ants. You see ants lining up all over your counters and no matter how many you get with the so-called killer spray, they keep coming.

Clean, clean, clean

Before you start any method to get rid of ants, you’ll need a blank slate. This seems obvious, but sometimes, a few unseen food crumbs or small spills can be the culprit. Spend a weekend afternoon deep cleaning your apartment – sweep and mop all corners, take out the trash, clean out the inside of your trash can and clear out all food from counters. Lastly, spray any places where you’ve seen ants before – yes, they leave a scented trail for others to follow – with a one part vinegar with three parts water mixture in a spray bottle.

Lemon juice

Lemons are incredibly useful beyond cooking. They can be used for cleaning as well as deterring ants from setting up shop in your kitchen. Squeeze a few lemons into a spray bottle and find any holes and cracks around your apartment where the ants may be sneaking through, followed by sealing them with caulk. The acid deters them as it messes with their tracking and encourages them to go elsewhere.

Cinnamon oil

Grab a Q-tip dipped in high-concentrated cinnamon oil and draw borders around the apartment’s entry points and common areas where the ants are entering the home. It’s been proven by a 2014 study that it helps repel and even exterminate ants.

Peppermint oil

Grab a bottle of peppermint essential oil and add about 15 to 20 drops (plus a few of lemon oil if you have it) into half a cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle hard to mix everything and spray along the baseboards, any ant trail spots you’ve seen in the past and all entry points. Repeat every few days until the ants are gone. Peppermint also deters other pests like cockroaches – and even mice.


Homemade Pesticides to Get Rid of Ants

An infestation of ants can make spending time in and around your garden a less-than-pleasant experience. These pests can also damage your plants by disturbing their roots and protecting other insect pests like aphids, which feed on the plants. Instead of spraying your plants with potentially toxic insecticides, use natural remedies to rid your garden of them. Most of these natural pesticides contain ingredients you probably already have in your home.

Citrus Oil

Citrus oil, including orange and lemon oil, is toxic to ants and won’t harm your garden plants. Many natural insecticides contain orange oil, but you can make your own using 3/4 cup of orange essential oil, 1 tablespoon of molasses, 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 1 gallon of water, recommends

Spray the mixture on and around garden plants to get rid of the ants in your garden and in your home. If you don’t have orange oil, simply boil the rinds of five or six oranges in water for 15 minutes until soft. Place the rinds in a food processor along with the liquid used to boil them, to create a slurry that you can pour around your garden plants.


While you can purchase insecticidal soaps to kill ants in your garden, make your own instead, using simple dish soap. Add 1 teaspoon of dish soap to 1 pint of warm water and stir. Spray the soapy water directly on plants and around your garden to eliminate ants. Because ants don’t like peppermint oil, you can also use a liquid soap, such as castile soap, containing peppermint oil and mix it with water in the same ratio to rid the garden of ants. If ants persist, you can increase the amount of detergent in your mixture, but too much detergent may harm your plants because it is phytotoxic in large amounts.

Borax Bait

Create homemade ant bait using borax, which is toxic to ants. Combine 1/2 teaspoon of borax with equal parts honey and a sugar substitute, recommends the Sonora Environmental Research Institute. Spoon the mixture into open bottles or jars and place the containers on their sides around your garden plants. The ants will crawl into the containers, carrying the toxic bait back to their queen, and the colony will die. You can also mix 3 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar and 4 teaspoons of borax. Dip bread in the mixture and cover it with peanut butter.


Ant behaviour

These tiny insects live in well-organized societies and have a knack for making life a little less pleasant.

Field or pavement ants

Field or pavement ants are brown or black and small in size. They are constantly looking for food and thrive in sandy areas, generally nesting outdoors near house foundations or in cracks in foundations and asphalt surfaces and between paving stones. You can spot these types of ants by the sand craters they leave behind as they dig their tunnels.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants are usually black, with hints of red or brown, and measure from 7 mm to 10 mm (0.3 to 0.4 in) in length. They are the largest ants found. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood. They dig galleries in wood softened by moisture to build their nests. Their natural habitat is forested areas, but some colonies settle near houses, especially in stacks of firewood, in tree stumps or in the rotting structures of fences, porches or balconies.

Are ants useful or bothersome?

In the forest, ants are a source of food for various birds and animals.

They contribute to the decomposition of trees and stumps and stir up soil by tunnelling.

Carpenter ants may be a sign of a moisture problem in a house and of a weakening of its structure. Observing where the ants gather can help pinpoint the problem

There a number of simple things you can do to deter ants.

  1. Outside

Get rid of any waste wood on your property, and store any firewood away from the house.Cliquer pour ouvrir la boîte d’information supplémentaireCliquer pour ouvrir la boîte d’information supplémentaire

Cut back any tree branches that are touching the house.

Repair any cracks, including gaps around doors and windows.

  1. Inside

Put screens on all doors and windows and repair them as needed.

Keep food in tightly sealed contenants.

Keep the kitchen floor and counters clean.

Empty your kitchen trash bin frequently.

Inspect high-moisture areas of the house, wood structural elements that are exposed to the outside, and areas where wood touches the ground.


Guide to Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants can damage any type of building by tunneling through wood pieces. They nest in damp or rotten wood. They don’t actually eat the wood they tunnel through; they live on food, insects, and even candy. However, these insects can cause severe damage to your home’s foundation and are difficult to get under control after they infest an area.

What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like

Have you ever taken a walk around the neighborhood and noticed those abnormally large black ants that sometimes have wings? Chances are you’ve just bumped into a carpenter ant. Carpenter ants are one of the easier kinds of ants to spot due to their dark color and large bodies

Their sizes range from ¼ to ½ of an inch, making them one big ant to deal with.

Their color is typically dark, most common is black.

Male and female swarmer carpenter ants will have a set of wings, but the queen and worker ants do not.

These ants have a heart-shaped head, rounded thoraxes, and larger abdomens.

Like all ants, carpenter ants will have six legs and two antennae.

Where Do Carpenter Ants Live?

Carpenter ants love moist wood although, in a pinch, they will seek shelter in dry wood. Places like kitchens and bathrooms make a great home for these pests as leaky faucets from sinks and bathrooms provide them with all the moisture they need. They are also known to make homes near poorly sealed window frames and chimneys, as well as by any roof leaks.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites

Did you know that carpenter ants can cause more damage than termites? Although carpenter ants do not eat the wood, they will chew wood so that they can create tunnels. You can tell the difference between carpenter ants and termites by looking at their wings, color, waist, and antennae.


How to Get Rid of Ants

While there are wide range of do-it-yourself products available in the market to get rid of ants, an effective control requires a professional pest control service to manage the infestation and minimize recurrence.

Getting Rid of Ants in Your Home

Although many homeowners struggle with do-it-yourself ant control remedies, the results are often less than satisfactory. Small problems can develop into large ones and this is when many people seek out the services of a pest control professional.

experienced service technicians have identified the ants species, they will provide you with our most effective solutions to deal with them efficiently. This gives you reassurance that the problem is in good control while ensuring the safety of your family and pets. Once the ants have been dealt with, you can take necessary precautions to keep ants away for good

Getting Rid of Ants in Your Business Premises

Professional ant control service is the most effective way to get rid of ant infestation from your business. Besides treatment using pesticides,

expert will follow the PEST approach to ensure your long-term protection:

Partnership – Cooperation with clients and sharing of roles in pest management is crucial

Education and Exclusion – Talks and education materials to enforce general good housekeeping practices to remove food debris and spillages with recommendations on proofing potential entry points such as wall cracks and crevices

Sanitation – Proper waste disposal process and sanitation to reduce infestation

Treatment – Use of the correct ant control treatment for your individual circumstances

Automatic Transmission Repair

Common Car Gearbox Problems And Why They Occur

Your car has a very intriguing process of delivering power from the engine to wheels. Of all the mechanical components participating in that process, the most important one is arguably the car gearbox. While your car can transmit power successfully without the presence of the gearbox, its utility with the rapidly developing automobile technology over the years has made it an indispensable component of the powertrain. The car gearbox accomplishes its duty of transmitting the right amount of power through continuous rotation, grinding and a never-ending battle with friction. With so much at hand, it is inevitable that the gearbox incurs wear and tear and develops some form of malfunction occasionally. So, in this article, we will address some of the common car gearbox problems and understand why they are caused.

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Lack of Acceleration/Insufficient Throttle Response

The first car gearbox problem we will be addressing on this list concerns the acceleration of the car. At times while driving you will notice a slight delay in the acceleration of the car after shifting gears. But a delay not longer than a second is acceptable in the case of manual transmissions occasionally. This delay could be longer and more frequent in the case of automatic transmissions. However, if the case occurs where the RPM increases after shifting but the car’s speed barely increases, you are looking at an attention-worthy issue.


This problem occurs due to a faulty clutch component which isn’t letting it fully engage or disengage on time. Because of this, the clutch of the car stays active even after the shift is complete and stops/minimizes the transmission of power to the wheels. The primary components causing this problem are either worn out plates, clutch springs or the master cylinder. It could also be caused due to the presence of air in the fluid channel. In case there is air in the system, it can be fixed with simple bleeding of the concerned channel. In the other situations, the affected part will have to be replaced. Sometimes more than one of those parts can be the reason which might require the entire clutch housing to be changed


Common Car Gearbox Problems: Burning Smell

If you’re driving your car and sense any burning smell emanating from it, you’re looking at trouble. In case this smell is accompanied by lazy or improper gear shifts, then there is an almost certain probability that the smell is originating from your car gearbox.


Such a situation most commonly occurs when the transmission fluid overheats. Transmission fluid is used to cool down the heat generated by the rotation and friction of the gearbox components. If the fluid level is too low, the gearbox runs with more friction which in turn generates more heat. This heat loosens the transmission fluid, rendering it useless and causes even more heat build-up. Another major cause is the usage of an inappropriate fluid. Transmission fluids are created to function in heat levels corresponding to the gearbox operation. In case a wrong fluid is used, it won’t perform correctly and result in excessive heat build-up. Both these cases cause severe damage to the car gearbox so be sure to use the correct type of fluid and top it up on time in case the level is low.


Common Car Gearbox Problems: Car Shaking with Grinding Noise During Gear Shifts

In the ideal situation, your car is always supposed to devoid of any grinding or shaking during operation. If any such sensation is present then there is an issue with some component. In case you observe this grinding noise or sensation during gear shifts accompanied with the car visibly shaking, then you are looking at one of the very common car gearbox problems.


If you are able to observe this grinding sensation after fully pressing the clutch pedal, then there is an 80% possibility that it is due to worn out clutch plates. If it is happening after you have taken your foot off the clutch pedal, the issue is more likely with the gear synchronizers. In both cases, the parts will have to be replaced promptly as the more the grinding, more the damage getting transferred to your gearbox.

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Gears Slipping

Unless your car is an automatic, the gearbox is always supposed to work solely on your actions and your actions only. At times, you will be faced with the situation where you shift a gear, step on the accelerator pedal and the car jerks and falls back into the previous gear. In certain cases, it is also possible that the gear goes into neutral. This phenomenon is known as gear slipping.


Gear slipping harms the gearbox components but above that, it can also put you in a dangerous situation. Imagine the case where you are attempting an overtaking manoeuvre and the gear slips into neutral or a lower gear. God only knows how that situation will end up. Gear slipping occurs due to a variety of factors but most commonly due to a damaged shift fork. A damaged fork doesn’t move properly to lock on to the correct gear which causes the transmission to automatically shift back. Apart from that, it can be caused due to worn out gear teeth or low transmission fluid as well.


Common Car Gearbox Problems: Car Doesn’t Slot Into Gear

Like we said previously, the car gearbox is supposed to work solely on your actions. It is possible that sometimes the gearshift lever will simply refuse to budge from the position it is in. In the case of automatic transmissions, this issue will present itself as the gearbox getting stuck in one gear no matter how much throttle you apply.


Non-shifting of the gears can be attributed to several reasons. The primary reason is a dysfunctional clutch linkage. The clutch is used to take the load off the primary shaft leading to the gears such that the shift fork can slot into gear with ease. If the linkage is damaged or the clutch is extravagantly worn out, the load won’t shift and the gear will not slot properly. In automatic transmissions, it is caused mostly due to car’s electronic systems. If some error occurs with the electronic system responsible for the gear shift timing, the gear shifts won’t take place correctly. Needless to say, this will require a visit to the service centre for repair.

How Long Should a Transmission Last?

With so many moving parts inside, it’s always possible that something can go wrong. Often, it’s preventable with routine maintenance – a transmission fluid service according to your owner’s manual. Properly maintained, a transmission often outlasts the rest of your car. It’s common for transmissions to last beyond 200,000km, and some reports have transmissions lasting beyond 500,000km!

Can My Transmission Be Repaired?

In a vast number of cases, a blown transmission can be repaired. Gears, clutches, seals, and any other parts are replaceable internally. However, if the transmission case is cracked or gouged inside, a repair usually isn’t possible. A complete replacement transmission will be required.


Does your vehicle have low transmission fluid?

Transmission problems are more common than you might expect. Delays in fixing any early warning signs might be because the vehicle owner does not have any idea that there is already something wrong with his/her car or has no knowledge about transmission problems in general. As a vehicle owner, you should know the symptoms of low transmission fluid before something small turns into something bigger. Transmission problems, if left unattended, can get worse and damage crucial components of the vehicle.


One of the common symptoms of car problems is the abrupt hard shifting of gears. Although this symptom is very common to manual transmissions, it is not just limited to them. Even automatic cars have gears, so, if your car experiences a slight disparity when accelerating, then it is already a sign of transmission problems and low transmission fluid could be the culprit. If you experience a delay or missing response when you shift gears, this is even worse, as it can indicate a failed transmission.


Another common issue is transmission slipping. This can be determined if there is a lack of synchronization between the engine and the vehicle. This happens when the engine speeds up and the vehicle fails to respond to it. Transmission slipping is just one of many common low transmission fluid symptoms that should not be ignored. Not enough fluid means the gears cannot properly engage.


In general, the transmission of the vehicle should be noiseless. However, in the example of a loose transmission torque converter, this can result in noise that can resemble rhythmic pounding. If you start to hear unusual sounds from your vehicle’s transmission, then it is best to have it checked. Hearing grinding clatter or experiencing hard or erratic shifts when changing gears could be the result of a low ATF.


Too much heat is a sign that your car transmission is about to fail and can likely be attributed to low or ineffective transmission fluid. Overheating is very dangerous to your car; most transmissions fail because of too much overheating. The fluid temperature should not surpass 200 degrees for the most part.


One of the most obvious signs of low fluids is leaking transmission fluid. The fluid in an automatic transmission is absolutely vital in ensuring that your vehicle’s shifting capabilities are functioning properly and will continue to do so. That’s why it’s always important to check for leaks under your car and in the engine compartment. This fluid is easily recognizable because it is a clear bright red with a sweet smell. If it smells burnt or is a dark color, you have a problem on your hand and can be the result of too little ATF working overtime to compensate.

The Ins And Outs Of Building A New Home Builder


Learn how you can build your perfect home within budget, on-time and without worry, stress or nasty surprises. What is included inside:

How much does it cost to build a home?

How to design your perfect home?

How to find the right block?

What should I know before I start?

How to build your dream?

What should I know before start?

Understanding the home building process

How to find the right block?

How to design your perfect home?

How to choose your home builder?

How much does it cost to build a home?

How to select your products?

The importance of a detailed blueprint

Of course, building a new home is very exciting and a lot of fun – but it can also be stressful if riddled with surprises. That’s why if you’re keen to build but have a lot of unanswered questions buzzing around your mind, I’m really happy you have this guide.

What I cover in here is very practical and should get you up to speed fast. There’s also these handy tips to give you peace of mind right from the get go, saving you swags of money and time.

How to Build the House You Want Without Worry, Stress or Nasty Surprises

through the need-to-know details of building a new home.  Get this ultimate guide to peace of mind and avoid budget blowouts, design disasters and any risk of being ripped off!



One of the largest investments that most people make in their lifetime is building a new home. It is therefore crucial to get it right the first time. Selecting a professional custom home builder for yourself and the project is mandatory for its success. Most likely, you will be working together with your home builder for 6-12 months. Therefore, this relationship needs to be clear, honest and trustworthy.

What is the role of a custom home builder?

A reliable home builder becomes an advocate of the property owner as well as a collaborative and integral part of the design team. This homebuilder works hand in hand with the homeowner to establish a realistic and fair budget for the project and monitor spending as well as the scope of the project throughout the project term to successfully build affordable custom homes.

How do I find excellent affordable custom home builder?

If you have already hired a designer, they are a great resource for your research. This is because they have existing relationships with custom home builders and possess firsthand experience regarding their communication skills, construction quality as well as business practices. Other resources may include:

  1. Local lenders provide valuable information into builders as well as their history in terms of proper project handling and timely completion.
  2. To build affordable customer homes, you need experienced reputable realtors in the local custom home industry to serve as a source of home builder referrals.
  3. Internet searches help identify custom builders in your location and their websites which is beneficial in giving you an overview of the quality and style of projects they are accustom to building.
  4. Family, friends and acquaintances are also an excellent source of information regarding customer home builders in your region.

Custom Home Builder Responsibilities:

  1. The custom home builder manages subcontractors during the project design process so that the design team can easily coordinate major building systems into the design of the property. In this case, the builder has a responsibility of ensuring sub-contractors execute their work as specified in the building code and the designer’s plan specifications in order to come up with the affordable custom homes.
  2. The custom builder is charged with the responsibility to contract with the property owner regarding the construction price, expense tracking, submit pay requests to the owner and bank for approval, collect money for owner approved change orders, prepare work estimates and provide lien release waivers for successfully completed work.
  3. Once the designer obtains or files for the building permit, the custom builder links the building inspectors, design team and governing jurisdictions.
  4. The custom builder is responsible for obtaining and managing all approvals, certificates of occupancy and inspections.
  5. The builder orders, checks, and accepts all building material and component’s prior to installation.
  6. Once the project is complete, the project designer reviews for any discrepancies. If any issue arise, the custom home builder works with subcontractors to resolve the issues. Once complete, the relevant city inspects the property and awards certificates of occupancy after which the custom builders deliver the affordable custom homes to the property owners.


The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Designing Your Own Home

In fact, in a recent analysis, 32% of Americans said they plan to purchase a home in the next five years, and 15% have purchased a home in the past five years. And it’s not just the older generation or retirees looking to settle down in a home for retirement; 82% of said, “buying a home is a priority.

It is clear that Americans don’t plan on giving up homeownership, and that made us ask: Are the people looking for a new home planning to buy an existing home, or do they want to design and build their own home? If you are reading this, you may be asking yourself the same question

Is it worth building your own home, or simply purchasing an existing home and moving in? There are nuances to both building your own custom home or buying an existing home, and if you aren’t sure which side you belong to, that is OK! In this article, we are going to explore the pros and cons of both. We will also look at the overall process of designing and building your own home.

Building a new home allows you to start with a fresh start and a clean slate. You choose the options, customization, and design that you always wanted in your dream home! Let’s begin by looking at the pros of building your own home. Whether you design your own home or use a custom home builder, it is exciting to think about the possibilities when you build your own house!

Because you are starting from scratch, you have more options to choose from with location. It is important to think about the needs and desires of your family at this stage. Do you want an urban or country setting? What do you think is an ideal commute for work? Do you prefer a wooded or open setting? These are some of the questions you should answer in picking your location.


Home Builder

HomeBuilder provides eligible owner-occupiers (including first home buyers) with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. HomeBuilder will assist the residential construction market by encouraging the commencement of new home builds and renovations.

You will be able to apply for HomeBuilder when the relevant State or Territory Government that you live in, or plan to live in, signs the National Partnership Agreement with the Commonwealth Government.


The Commonwealth is pleased to announce that all states and territories are now signatories to the HomeBuilder National Partnership. All states and territories are now accepting applications for HomeBuilder.

Applicants can register their interest for HomeBuilder (Part A). Applicants must lodge the Part A form by 31 December 2020 for their application to be considered. If you register your interest you will be advised of updates to application forms and supporting materials. Completing the registration form does not in any way constitute eligibility for the grant.

Applicants can now complete the second part of their application by submitting a comprehensive application form (Part B). The Part B form requires detailed information about the applicant, their builder, type of construction, as well as detailed supporting documentation.




You will want to choose a professional home builder because:

  • Building professionals believe that homes should be well-designed, well-constructed, and well-located, with accessible educational, recreational, religious, and shopping facilities.
  • Building professionals have a strong responsibility to their customers and to their community.
  • Building professionals have honesty as their guiding business policy and believe in dealing fairly with their customers, employees, and suppliers.
  • Building professionals try to build high standards of health and safety into every home.
  • Building professionals recieve continuing education every year on the newest building techniques, assuring you the best possible quality of construction.


  • Check to see if the contractor belongs to a builders association –

Becoming a dues-paying members of such a group usually means that a builder is an established member of the community. Associations care about the image of their industry, so builders who belong will have a greater incentive to conduct business in a professional manner.

  • Choose a builder with whom you feel comfortable –

You will be in frequent communication with your builder during the construction process and after you move into your home. You must find someone you can talk to comfortably about the building process.

  • Talk to 3-4 recent customers of the builders you are considering –

Try to visit some of the previous homes and ask the residents about their experiences. Don’t be shy about approaching people. In most cases, they will be quite open with you. If they are unhappy, they will let you know, and if they are happy, they will want to give the builder more business!


When you work with a member of our Association you can be assured that the company is:

  • Licensed as necessary with the state of Minnesota
  • Insured
  • Compliant with our Code of Ethics

Tips For Home Kitchen Remodel

The Six Layouts for your Kitchen Design Ideas

Getting your kitchen layout right is the most important factor in ensuring a functional and practical kitchen area. Whether your kitchen is small and cramped or large and expansive, a clever layout will make all the difference in helping you to get the most out of the space. Especially in a kitchen, there is a lot more to layout than just placing furniture and cabinetry: ergonomics has a huge role to play as well. Getting the heights right, ensuring enough space for comfortable movement, placement of appliances and ease of use are all going to factor in your enjoyment of the room.

While the floorplan of your home will most likely determine the layout that your kitchen will have, you can always optimise the area to work better. Here are the most commonly found kitchen layouts, with tips to help you do just that

The Work Triangle

The work triangle was devised in the 1920’s as one of the first measures of efficiency in a residential kitchen. The triangle creates a clear path between the area for food preparation (stove top), the cleaning area (kitchen sink) and the food storage area (refrigerator).

The Principles of the Kitchen Work Triangle:

  • The length of each triangle leg is between 1.2 and 2.7m
  • The combined length of the three legs should be between 4m and 7.9m
  • There should not be any appliances or cabinetry intersecting any of the legs of the triangle
  • There should not be any major traffic through the triangle

Read on to learn about  The Six Layouts for your Kitchen Design Ideas that are most often used to cut down on time spent in the kitchen and make working in the heart of the home just a little bit easier:



As the name suggests, one-wall kitchen remodels are a small-scale alternative to a full-on renovation. Often featured in apartment studios and more compact spaces, an elongated work-space provides an opportunity to save space without sacrificing function. A one-wall is a one-of-a-kind kitchen renovation.


Are you working with a long or narrow space? A kitchen remodel contractor will probably tell you to stick with a galley kitchen. This option features two opposing walls, fit with all the necessary appliances and cabinetry,  with a narrow walkway in the middle. And, did we mention, no corner cabinets?


You’re probably already familiar with L-shaped kitchen renovations, after all, they’re a staple of traditional home design. Perfect for small family homes that like to host, these kitchens feature two adjoining walls cornering a central kitchen island. Chances are, your kitchen remodel contractor will suggest this design if you’re looking to achieve a classic family home design.


Looking for a supersized setup with sufficient storage? U-shaped kitchen renovations work well for homeowners who like to cook frequently but require a lot of open space to move around. If you like to get crafty in the kitchen, your kitchen remodel contractor may propose a U-shape kitchen layout.


Ready to turn your kitchen from an occasional cooking space to the center of attention? This type of kitchen layout can inspire homeowners to open up the neighboring spaces as well, bringing the living room or dining room in step with the newly refreshed kitchen. With the proper amount of seating and intuitive design based on your personal needs, your kitchen can turn into a place that the entire family can enjoy.


A peninsula is a connected kitchen island, that can often take on an L- or U-shape. It can also serve as a divider between two rooms, typically a kitchen and a living room. The difference between these two kitchen renovations can be little, so the final layout will likely be determined by how well you’re able to make it work in your existing home. Ask your kitchen remodel contractor which one could work best for your home!


How To Make Kitchen Layout Work:


How to Make A One-Wall Kitchen Layout Work:

Think vertical. You only have so much width to work with, so taking your cabinets up as far as possible will help create extra storage space. While the traditional work triangle is not possible in a one-wall kitchen, try to put your fridge on one end, oven and hob in the middle and the sink at the other end. If your cabinets do not go up to ceiling, utilise the space above them by storing lesser-used items there. Alternatively, you can use this space as a display area to strengthen the theme of your kitchen.

The Galley Kitchen

How to Make A Galley Kitchen Layout Work:

With an additional row of cabinetry, the galley kitchen already offers more flexibility when it comes to storage space. Especially for bigger families or multiple-cook kitchens, it is important to have the work areas along only one of the walls, not both. This will help you to avoid traffic through the work triangle and eliminate the risk of injury.

The L-Shaped Kitchen

How to Make A L-shaped Kitchen Layout Work:

Where space allows, make the most of the corner by installing a walk-in pantry cupboard. This way you won’t lose the valuable space that is usually lost in a corner, and you gain a huge asset to your kitchen. With an L-shaped kitchen, you may even be able to create a small breakfast nook in the opposite corner, further increasing your family’s enjoyment of the room.

The U-Shaped Kitchen

How to Make A U-Shaped Kitchen Layout Work:

Keep window areas open and uncluttered in a U-shaped kitchen. This type of kitchen layout provides the perfect opportunity for an uninterrupted work triangle so make the best use of the space by having the work areas on the opposite end of the back- and entry doors.

The Island Kitchen

How to Make An Island Kitchen Layout Work:

Utilise the island as both a work- and social area where family and friends can interact while meals are being prepared. Because of its location in the centre of the kitchen, it is a great place to install prominent decorative lighting that can also serve as task lighting.

The Peninsula Kitchen

How to Make A Peninsula Kitchen Layout Work:

As with the island kitchen, the peninsula offers a great opportunity for interaction during meal preparation. It is a great solution for a small enclosed kitchen, where a wall can be removed to open the area up to an adjacent room without giving up on storage space.


Mixing and Matching

Don’t be afraid to mix and match floor plans. Remember that the kitchen is ultimately a personal space that should suit your individual needs. You could try combining the single wall layout with a peninsula, or even a double-island layout. While you’re mixing matching you can also think about the theme and whether you’re looking for a minimalistic Scandinavian feel, contemporary kitchen or a simple white kitchen,.

Here are a few novel variations from the six standard layouts:

Single Wall With Island

Single wall plans usually suffer from limited counter space and a cramped work flow. If you can spare the clearance, adding an island would solve both of these problems, transforming the space into something similar to a galley layout. Transferring one of the workspaces onto the island could create the ideal work triangle.

Double Island

Another layout similar to a galley layout, a kitchen with two islands is a real treat! You can use one surface for cooking and the other as an informal dining space, allowing you to prepare meals while socializing with family and friends. Just make sure you plan your pendant lights to suit the space.

Double L

The double L is one way of using a tricky space, with one L flush against the wall and the other one freestanding, like an island. They can be a clever way of maximizing a corner, but can be difficult to pull off without the help of an experienced interior decorator.


Creative Storage Ideas for Cabinets

When choosing kitchen cabinetry, consider features that make it easier to reach your items. You remove every pot, pan, dish and groceries from your cabinets to prepare for all new storage. Cabinets are installed, and it’s time to put back your stuff. Except the problem is there isn’t room for everything. This scenario is all too common, according to Dennis Poteat of Blum Inc. The lesson: Look beyond the surface when choosing cabinets. Think about how tall cereal boxes are and where you keep them. Consider how you reach for a dish towel when you’re working at the sink. A drawer nearby should accommodate this. Plan for space to neatly store all of your plastic-ware (and all of the lids).

The Latest in Storage Options

The keyword with storage is: access. Here are some ways to make more room for your stuff in your existing kitchen space:

  • Pull-outs. Access, along with ergonomics, is the reason for the move from doors to drawers in base cabinets. The issue with doors is when you open a cabinet with a door on it, you have shelving, and you can reach the first thing but everything behind it is impossible to get at. For the sake of storage and access, movement from a door to a pull-out gives you the ability to bring the content of the cabinet out into the room.
  • Specialty hardware. The pull-out spice drawers and nifty utensil drawers that were once offered only by custom cabinet makers are now available in mid-priced fixtures
  • Base cabinets. Designers today aren’t married to the idea of wall cabinets. Base cabinet drawers can organize dishes, pots, pans, utensils, basically anything. Pull-outs allow you to access everything stored in the drawer without straining your back.
  • Floating shelves. Visually pleasing open shelves break up the monotony of standard cabinets and serve as a place to display beautiful vases, store cookbooks and keep ingredients in pretty jars.
  • Extended wall cabinets. Say no to soffits if you want to expand storage. Extend wall cabinets to the ceiling and improve accessibility of those higher shelves with lift-up doors. Or, dedicating an entire wall to storage and building cabinets floor to ceiling creates a focal point and makes room on other walls for aesthetic features, such as a mosaic backsplash, windows, artwork or functional appliances.
  • Fully-extended drawers. Full extension runners on drawers allow pull-outs to extend completely rather than just three-quarters of the way. This once high-end feature is now common to most drawers, but it’s a good idea to ask the supplier or designer about it.

How To Beat Car Dealers At Their Own Game

How do you not get scammed at a dealership?

If you’re shopping for a new car and you’ve decided you’d prefer to travel the path of used car dealership cars, then you’ve arrived at the right article! In the sections below, I’ve left you with a plethora of information to use (or disregard) to get you into the best new, used vehicle you can get.

Here’s how to not get scammed by a used car dealer.

Bait and Switch – False statements about the price of the car.

You walk into a dealership and a salesman gives you a price quote. But  when you are preparing to finish the deal, the price on the contract is  not  the same price that you were quoted.  You may also notice that your contract contains other fees that increase the Total Cash Price of your vehicle

What you should do:

  • Make sure that the Total Cash Price on the written contract matches the price that you were told. If the prices are different, you may be the victim of fraud.
  • If the dealership refuses to honor the representations made to you by the salesperson, refuse to sign the contract and walk away from the dealership.

“Packing the Contract” – Adding unwanted options and accessories.

Some dealerships “pack” a contract with add-ons like service contracts, warranties, options and accessories that you did not ask for. Common add-ons are “protection packages” and rust-proofing.

What you should do:

  • Before you sign, look at your contract carefully for any items you did not authorize .
  • If you were told something was included for “free”, check to see that the item is in the contract and that you were not charged for it.
  • If you find any items that you don’t want, tell the salesman that you will not pay for it. Put a line through the item in the contract and reduce the Total Sale Price by that amount.


Buy-Lease Switch

Buying a car means that when you finish making payments on it, you will own the vehicle.

Leasing means that there is a period of time – the lease period – when you’ll be making monthly payments on the car and at the end of the lease period you will NOT own the car (unless you make a large payment to own it). Plus, if you want to return the car before the lease period is over, you’ll have to pay a big penalty (an “early-termination fee”) to do that.

Customers are routinely scammed when salespeople lead you to believe that you are purchasing when you are really leasing (and vice versa). Other misrepresentations include telling customers that you will own the car at the end of the lease. This is false because almost all leases require you to make a large payment at the end of the lease in order for you to own the car.

What you should do:

  • Make sure you read and understand the entire written contract. If you want to buy a car, make sure the contract you are signing doesn’t have the word “lease” in it. It seems obvious but many customers are easily tricked at the dealership Bring a friend if you are not sure.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a lease if you want to buy.
  • Shop around and make sure you understand what your obligations are.

Trade-in Fraud

Many customers who trade in their old cars are tricked by dealerships who are not truthful about the value of the trade-in. They might tell you, “A 1999 Toyota like yours only sells for $3,000.” But the Toyota’s wholesale value may really be worth a lot more. Customers who don’t know what they can get for their car if they were to sell it today (the wholesale value) are likely to accept statements like these and may walk away with very little for their trade-in. The dealership will then turn around and sell the trade-in for much more

What you should do:

  • If you are not sure of the condition of your car and/or its market value, you may want to take it to a few dealerships. Tell them that you are thinking of trading in your car and see what they offer you for it. This amount may be a more accurate estimate of your car’s market value.
  • If you are thinking about trading in your old car, make sure you know its current market value. You can go to the library or bookstore to find a book that lists values of most cars.


Be Passionate, Particular and Prepared

Knowing exactly what you want before you even think about approaching a dealership, will set you up as a person who is not to be messed with. It will also build up your confidence.

I’ve watched plenty of people go into a dealership before doing any serious preparation and they either ended up severely disappointed, or they got ripped off. If you don’t want to experience either one of those scenarios, make sure you’re Passionate, Particular AND Prepared.

You need to have some very important bits of information ready to go:

  • Know your credit rating and history by heart.
  • Know exactly how long you want to be into a loan and how much you can pay per month for that term.
  • Know exactly how much you have and are willing to pay for your down payment, and exactly how soon you will have that in cash.
  • Narrow down your choices to 3 vehicles. Know the make, model, year, specs, value and recalls for each of those cars.
  • Have your financial proof ready to go. Your last 3 paystubs are a must, but tax returns, positive bills, bank statements and any receipts from any cash you make on the side, are extremely helpful.

Knowing all of this information in detail will help you avoid getting scammed into a bad load or a crappy car. It will also give you an edge which will allow you to subliminally say to the salesperson: “I know what I want and you won’t scam me into anything that doesn’t fit in with my plan.”


Be Busy!

When you interact with a salesman and woman, you never want to be seen as a person who has time to waste. Busy customers represent three things to a salesperson:

  • Fewer hassles for them
  • Less time to try to con you into something
  • Someone who is likely dependable and who works hard

The sales force is trained to recognize and handle people who are very particular with their money. The particular people are the ones that will pay on time dependably. They are the ones that will be sure they cross all their t’s, dot their i’s and look over every last bit of the contract.

Those customers are also the ones who are not going to be tricked into sitting around a dealership for 4 hours working on a deal that realistically could have been completed in 30 minutes.


Packed or loaded payments

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. When a dealer “loads” your payment you are literally being ripped off. Here’s how it works: You ask how much the monthly payment will be on a certain automobile and the salesperson will quote you either a slighly higher APR or loan amount. It might not be much but if the actual loan payment should be $325 a month and their mathematical shenanigans push it up to $365.00 that could end up costing you an additional $2300 on a typical 60 month car loan. It doesn’t seem like a small amount anymore does it? It’s a very difficult scam to detect unless you go into the dealership with your homework completed. Before you go into a dealership, gather all of the pricing information on the cars you’re interested in so you know what the payments should be. An informed consumer is a lot harder to fool than an uninformed car buyer. This is no guarantee you won’t be ripped off but your odds will be a lot better.

On the other hand, if you agree to this packed loan payment without comment the dealer will attempt to boost the final price again and again and again. If you’re not prepared for what can happen at each step of the car buying process a salesperson will use every trick in the book to separatate you from your money. As you work your way towards a final deal you’ll be offered high price items like extened warranties, undercoating and clear coat paint layers. If you’re not careful you’ll end up paying extra for items added to the car at the factory!

All About Choosing Your Wedding Photographer


Did you know that on your wedding day, you may end up spending more time with your photographer than your family (or even your fiancé 😳)? Wedding photography is unique in that it’s an active part of your wedding day. Unlike other vendors who do most of their work behind the scenes, your photographer will be frequently interacting with the people closest to you.

His or her personality and style will have a big impact on the overall energy and mood of your day. Not only do you deserve beautiful images, you also deserve an amazing photographic experience!

They understand your wedding vision

The best photographer for you totally gets your style and expectations. It helps to find someone who has a similar vibe to what you’re looking for—who understands that you might not want overly posed or traditional photographs, for example, but rather a more candid and natural feel.

They’re supportive and encouraging

It’s almost like they’re part of your bride (or groom) tribe You’ll see pretty quickly that having a photographer who’s part of your support system before, during and after your wedding day makes a world of difference.

They help you create a timeline

Another sign that a photographer wants you to have the best experience is when they work through your timeline with you to figure out the general flow of the day.



If you are wondering how to successfully conduct a client meeting, I am excited to invite you to learn how I treat each wedding photography consultation, and how you can improve yours as well!


I usually meet my future clients at a local Starbucks. When they arrive, I greet them and ask them what they would like to drink (my treat). I am not usually a coffee drinker, so I am always curious to see what others like and try new flavors each time. After we get our drinks, I usually break the ice by asking them how the wedding planning is going.


“So, how is wedding planning going?” is usually the first question I ask. People like to talk about themselves, so by asking them this question, I am doing exactly that. I am allowing them to talk about themselves, their wedding, the vendors they’ve booked so far, and just getting them excited about the process. Next, I am looking to see if we share any similarities because I know that the more a bride trusts me, the more likely she’ll book me.


“So how long have you known each other, how did you guys meet?” – the bride usually likes to answer this one. This time I am trying to see if I can find similarities outside of the wedding world and connect with them that way as well. Like if the bride mentions a place I’m familiar with, or if their story reminds me of something that is relevant, I make sure to mention it.


After listening to their engagement story, I usually ask something like “Do you have any ideas for your engagement session?” Then I go more in depth about what an engagement session entails



Finding the perfect Wedding Photographer is one of the most important yet difficult things to do when planning your wedding. After booking your Venue, you have to start looking at booking your Wedding Photographer.

Lucky for you, we have listed the best photographers in South Africa in our Directory. You can use the filter option to select the wedding photographers in a specific area or province. We have also added some important information about each photographer in their listing, plus you can view a gallery of their previous work. Once you have decided which photographers you would like to request a quote from, click on the little envelope to send an enquiry


The Ultimate Complete Wedding Photography Gear Guide!

What wedding photography gear and equipment do you need?

At the time that was our wedding photography kit that we loved to pieces and used at each and every wedding.  Since then our Nikon wedding photography gear has grown as we’ve added lenses and gear that have enabled us to give our clients a more diverse set of wedding photos.

Today I am going to share with you our current set of gear that we use for weddings and also give you a detailed look into when we use each specific lens or piece of equipment throughout the wedding day giving you my “Ultimate Complete Wedding Photography Gear Guide”.  In fact, to make this post as honest, unbiased and as transparent as possible I have specifically only included photos from the same wedding showing exactly which photos were taken with which lens.

See the photo below (taken with cell phone) for our current wedding photography kit.  Items that aren’t shown that were packed away in checked luggage were: a LED video light, a Yongnuo YN 560 III speedlight flash, a collapsible nano light stand, and my favorite waist shooting bag, the Think Tank Lens Changer 3.

When to Use What

Despite us having a complete wedding photography gear kit, we use only 3 lenses for about 75% of the entire wedding day and only use the flash gear for 2 segments of the day.  Here is a detailed look at when we use each specific piece of gear.


Our power primes – It is no secret that we love shooting our prime lenses, to read why click here.  These three lenses account for about 75% of the wedding day with the bulk of the events before the ceremony & portraits being captured with the 50 and the 85.

Nikon 28 1.8G: Primarily used for getting ready shots, group shots with bridal party and also family portraits, some wide shots during the ceremony and open dancing at the reception.  When not working a wedding, I find this is a great go-to “walk-around” lens when traveling or casual shooting at parties and what not



Hello, I’m

I love weddings. Big weddings, small weddings, field weddings, urban weddings…they’re all good. Much like many of my clients, I like to keep things special but largely informal. For me, the best weddings are about good times, unexpected moments and, above all, some truly awful dancing.

I’m a creative documentary wedding photographer who loves a good story. Every couple has their own and it’s pretty cool that so many choose to share theirs with me. Better yet, they ask me to document it for them on the most exciting day of their lives. If I were the kind of person who would use the term “it’s a real honour”, then I would. But I’ll just say it’s awesome and leave it at that


I try not to “tinker” with your day too much. I won’t ask you to pose or do anything that feels unnatural to you, I’ll just move unobtrusively through among your guests, keeping my eyes open for those moments that really make a wedding: a flower girl hiding under a table, the raucous reactions to the saucy bit of the Best Man’s speech, your new father-in-law cutting a rug on the dancefloor.

I’m very happy to create some beautiful portraits with you, but I always find that the heart and soul of any wedding is in the fleeting moments that nobody sees coming. Those are the moments I try to fill your album with.

What Can DUI Lawyer Help You With

Can you beat a DUI with a public defender?

A DUI charge is an extremely serious offense, which is why the penalties for a DUI conviction can be so severe. You can have your driver’s license revoked, you can end up paying huge fines, and you can even get jail time. That is why you want the best possible defense when facing a DUI charge. An attorney who specializes in DUI cases is ideal, but what if, for some reason, that option is not available to you? If you cannot get an experienced DUI lawyer, then you may have to make do with a public defender instead. Can you get adept representation from a public defender? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Public Defender?

When a defendant cannot afford a lawyer, that individual is declared to be indigent and a public defender is assigned to them. The public defender’s office is a government-funded agency that provides lawyers to indigent defendants; a public defender is one of those lawyers. If a defendant is indigent, then the court appoints a public defender’s office to represent them and the office assigns a public defender to represent that individual.

There are certain assumptions and misconceptions related to public defenders, some of which have a basis in the truth. One of them is that public defenders are often underfunded, underpaid, and overworked. This can be true in many cases since public defenders often have a heavy workload. There is a recommended limit to how many cases a public defender can take, but many of them go over the limit because there are not enough public defenders to go around.

That is a result of the underpaid assumption, which is also sometimes true. The lower salary means that many lawyers do not choose to become public defenders, instead choosing to join the private sector. One misconception is that public defenders are bad lawyers but that is not usually the case. Rather, public defenders are dedicated attorneys who believe in helping people who cannot afford a private lawyer. If they underperform, then that is because they typically have a huge caseload that any talented attorney would struggle to balance.


Private DUI Defense Lawyers

When you select a private DUI attorney, the motivation and attitude is often different. Private attorneys are inherently hungrier for wins in the courtroom and they’re often very crafty. You will want to choose a private attorney with a lot of experience and a great track record so that you can be sure he or she knows their way around a court room. Private lawyers go into great detail about how to get their clients off the hook. That’s because this is their livelihood. A public defender is an employee while a private attorney is self-employed. His or her track record will make or break their business. For that reason, you may be getting a better deal when you go with a private attorney in these cases.


A Privately Retained DUI Lawyer Can Appear In Court Without You

Unless you’re charged with a felony DUI or a misdemeanor DUI, but with a separate felony charge, a privately DUI lawyer can appear in court on your behalf. This would not be the case if you were represented by a public defender. Although your non-appearance in court will not offer any strategic advantage in the defense of your case, it is a convenience many of  clients appreciate as a diligent and thorough DUI pretrial period could involve multiple court appearances over the span of several months.


What Can Court-Appointed Attorneys Help With?

A DUI arrest normally results in two separate proceedings: an administrative proceeding through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and a criminal case. Although a DUI conviction will normally result in license suspension, the DMV can suspend a driver’s license even without a conviction in criminal court. The implied consent laws of most states require the DMV to administratively suspend the license of any driver who was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.

Drivers who want to contest an administrative license suspension must request a hearing. At these administrative DMV hearings, there’s no right to court-appointed counsel. Defendants who want legal representation at the administrative hearing must hire an attorney.

When Is an Attorney Appointed?

At the first court appearance (usually the arraignment), the judge will typically advise defendants of the right to have an attorney and ask if they want a court-appointed lawyer. The defendant can opt to hire a private attorney or request that the judge appoint an attorney. Though generally not advisable, defendants also have the option of waiving the right to counsel and representing themselves (called “pro se”).

An appointed lawyer generally continues to represent the defendant through all criminal court proceedings resulting from the defendant’s DUI arrest.


Is a Public Defender as Good as a Private Attorney?

It’s hard to definitely say whether hiring a private attorney will get you a better outcome than a public defender. However, her are some factors you might want to consider.

If you can’t afford an attorney, you will benefit from a public defender’s efforts. But public defenders, because of their heavy workload, typically won’t be able to spend a lot of time explaining things to you and giving you special attention.

If you want to make sure you have substantial one-on-one time with a lawyer and you can afford to hire one, you may be better served by a private lawyer.

Of course, some practical realities can also affect the quality of legal representation. For example, PDs may be overworked and understaffed, but they usually know the courtroom players well and also take quite a few cases to trial. This experience can be a valuable asset in defending against any charge.

One reason that weighs in favor of hiring a private attorney is to represent you in administrative DMV hearings. A private attorney can represent you at both the court and DMV hearings, but a PD will represent you only in court (because the DMV hearing has no potential for jail time). Because DMV hearings are typically held prior to DUI trials, it may benefit you to have an attorney present at the DMV hearing to preview the evidence to be used against you at trial.