Claire LeBlanc - REALTY EXECUTIVES



Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 8/4/2021

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Building a home is no inexpensive task, but it doesn’t have to cost more than buying a home. In building a home you have many opportunities to save money mainly because you have control over every part of the process, from design to finishing touches. With proper planning and a practical budget, you might save thousands of dollars. Here are the best ways so save when building a home:

Comparison Shop

At the very beginning of your process, you’ll need to choose a builder. Lots of options means lots of different price points. It’s a good idea to do your own research and get estimates from multiple companies before you decide. Consult builder references including past clients and other industry professionals like a real estate agent to learn more about potential hidden fees or customer service issues. Delays, mistakes, schedule mismanagement and other issues can cost you money beyond just the price of the house itself. Learn as much as you can about the contractors your potential builders hire and the overall reputation and client satisfaction for the builder themselves.

Don’t Settle for Standard

Does your builder allow you to substitute in your own non-standard appliance and finish choices? If so, this could be another place to save. Many builders offer different appliance packages at different price points, but sometimes you might find a less expensive option through a suggested third-party vendor. Builders usually get special bulk pricing from their suppliers, but for items that don’t necessarily need to be bought in large amounts (think light or bathroom fixtures) you might get a better deal yourself. Ask your builder what they allow and whether they’re willing to handle the installation for you without extra cost.

Open Up

A house with a smaller footprint will cost less to build, even if it has a second floor. Rather than expanding the home layout in a single story, consider building up instead. The savings here come from the foundation work and roofing materials. Overall, foundation and roofing can make up about half the total cost of the house. If you can reduce that cost while still gaining livable square footage with a second floor, it might be a great option. Take other factors into account like energy efficiency and accessibility and any zoning laws in the area you’re building in. Discuss the possibility with your builder to see if it will work for you.

You can also make a smaller footprint feel larger by opting for an open floor plan. This increases efficiency of the home both in terms of energy and livable space. Multi-functional rooms are a great way to save money compared to adding more rooms to the footprint.

DIY

When possible, try to do some work yourself. Anything not included by the builder might add expense even long after the home is finished. Things like small hardware or window blinds are simple and safe enough to install without hiring a professional. You can even install larger appliances yourself — just make sure you abide by the rules of whatever warranty or insurance you got from the builder. Even for the projects you don’t do yourself, you can still have a say in how much it costs by finding the right contractor.

Factoring everything into a budget for a new home can be overwhelming, but planning will help you identify possible ways to save. Every square foot and every hour of hired labor adds up.





Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 4/6/2016

When times are tough you look to cut back anywhere you can. The price at the pump can be a real budget buster. There are ways to save on gas and get better mileage from your dollar. Slow down Speed is the biggest factor on fuel economy. Driving at 55 mph instead of 65 or 75 will save on gas. Tests have shown increasing speed from 55 mph to just 65 mph dropped fuel economy from 40 mpg to 35. While driving at 75 mph can cost the car another 5 mpg. Go smooth Keep a steady pace; avoid hard acceleration and braking if possible. Frequent acceleration and braking can reduce mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Driving with smooth acceleration, cornering, and braking will also extend the life of the automobile. Don't be a drag When driving on the highway, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Carrying large items such as luggage racks and top-carriers reduce fuel economy. Warm Up Take the time to warm up the engine before taking off. Cars run most efficiently when they're warm. Stopping and starting the car several times is a big factor, try to combine several short trips into one so that the engine stays warm. Pump up Check your tires. Underinflated tires compromise handling and braking which in turn can reduce fuel economy. Check the pressure of your vehicle's tires to make sure they are correct. Keep moving Idling is one of the worst things your car can do, when idling your car is getting zero miles per gallon. Turn off your engine if you expect to sit for more than about 30 seconds. Practicing these simple tips should have you putting less money in your gas tank in more in your wallet in no time.




Tags: Save Money   money   gas  
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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 3/30/2016

Is clutter taking over your life? There is a way to take your life back from the piles of junk collecting in your home and it doesn't involve all of your things ending up in the landfill. Here are just a few smart and frugal ideas for repurposing old stuff...   For Decorating Use old hardware from dresser drawers to hang curtains. Use junk CDs and DVDs as drink coasters. For Organizing Use oatmeal containers and coffee tins to store flour, sugar and mixes. Use old doorknobs to make a coat rack. For Outside Use egg cartons, old jars, tins and yogurt cartons to make functional seed starters. Use old wooden ladders as part of your landscaping, allowing ivy and other vine plants to climb them. Use CDs to scare birds away from your berry garden. Hang CDs from a tree near your berry bushes. The shiny, moving objects will frighten birds, keeping them away from your sun-ripened berries. Use Cooking Spray as an ice repellent. Spray both sides of a plastic or metal shovel with cooking spray and the ice will slide right off. Repurposing items is easy if you start by changing the way you look at things. Next time you think something is trash, stop and think “how can I repurpose this?”




Tags: Save Money   Recycle   Reuse   Repurpose  
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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 3/16/2016

Are you considering a large-scale home remodel?  Whether you are looking for a project intended to increase your home's value, or you're splurging on a pleasure project for your family, many of you will be turning to contractors to carry out the work that needs to be done.  However, not all contractors are equal.  It is important for you to outline your priorities for the project.  You'll want a reliable contractor that can perform satisfactory work for a reasonable price.  Here's a few tips to help get you started. 1. - Find yourself an insured and licensed contractor.  Don't just pull a number from the classifieds and run with it without doing some proper homework.  Licensing ensures that the contractor in question is qualified to do the work being discussed.  To find out if your prospective contractor is licensed, contact your state license board and check up on them. Insurance is another matter.  Insurance protects the workers the contractor will be employing, and your home from accidents resulting in damages.  Ask your contractor to provide you with proof of insurance.  If they can't provide this, then move on to a new contractor. 2. - Referrals and reviews - Before you strike out on your own, ask your friends and family if they have anyone that they'd recommend.  Many times, the best contractors are found word-of-mouth.  Every contractor on the planet wants his clients to think that he's the best for the job, but results speak for themselves.  Again, make sure any referrals are licensed and insured.  You don't want to take the chance of incurring additional damages to your property due to negligence and accidents.  If no referrals can be found, then check online for reviews of local contractors.  Most reputable contractors will have solid online reviews that are easily accessible.  Contractors that operate their own websites are a plus. 3. - There's no such thing as a stupid question.  If your contractor acts annoyed with you for asking too many questions, then you should probably consider someone else for the job.  Questions to consider asking are - How long have you been in business? - How much will this project cost in total? - Have you performed this type of work before? - What is the protocol if the project goes over-budget? If you don't like the answers given, then continue looking for a contractor you feel comfortable with. 4. - Don't pay too much up front.  Paying up to a third of the total estimate up front isn't unheard of.  This initial payment will more than likely be used to hire employees and buy supplies.  However, be wary of giving the contractor any more money until after your project is finished.  Also, don't be afraid to get a rundown of how that initial payment will be spent.  Be thorough if you want to be.  The contractor should be able to give you a pretty good picture of the project in terms of cost and time. 5. - Get a contract - No matter the size of the project being undertaken, a contract should always be written up.  This will ensure a legally-binding agreement between you and the contractor exists in the event of the unforeseen.  Without a contract, there is no way to hold the contractor accountable in the event he performs an unsatisfactory job.  And trust me...Any hassles you may incur in securing a contract is nothing compared to going to court without one in the event something goes awry.  A proper contract should include the following information.

  • When the project will start and end
  • How and when you or the contractor is in default of the contract
  • How any disputes will be rectified
  • What happens if there is a delay due to weather, available materials, and so on.




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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 1/27/2016

Imagine if you could make your student loan disappear. According to American Student Assistance, a non-profit that aims to educate young people about money say it is possible. Both the federal and state government, as well as some non-profit organizations offer loan "forgiveness" programs. Do the right paperwork and you could be loan free. While there is no single comprehensive listing of loan forgiveness programs, there are programs for some specific professions. Here are a few of those: Law school graduates who become a district attorney or a public defender are eligible to apply for the John R. Justice student loan repayment program. This program pays up to $4,000 a year towards an eligible applicant's debt up to the maximum of $60,000 per graduate. The National Health Service Corps offers an even more generous program for health professionals. This program repays up to $60,000 in debt in just two years for students working in medicine, dentistry or mental health in underserved communities. Graduates who are willing to work part-time on medical research could eliminate up to $35,000 in debt per year with a program funded by The National Institutes of Health. If you are willing to trade a few years of service for loan forgiveness you are in luck. There are various federally funded loan repayment programs for fire fighters, teachers, nurses, librarians, speech pathologists and employees of non-profits.  The programs don't typically ask graduates to work for free but they might receive less pay in order to repay the loan. The value of the loan repayment is likely to more than compensate for the lost wages. Because there is no comprehensive list of forgiveness programs it pays to do your research. There are many organization's websites that can help students find the right fit.







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