Summer Vacation Home Safety and Sanity Checklist

A summer vacation to the beach, the mountains, or a faraway destination can be a welcome break from the stress and routine of daily life, but being away from home for a prolonged time can put your property at risk. Modern homes are highly complex structures with plenty of potential disasters lurking in plain sight. It’s bad enough when those disasters happen while you’re at home, but they can be catastrophic when you’re away for days or even weeks.

To keep your home safe, secure, and free from both minor and major headaches while you’re soaking up the sun with your family and friends, check out Blindster’s summer vacation home safety and sanity checklist:

 

  • Don’t let your home “go dark” while you’re away.

    Don’t let your home go dark while you’re away.

    A home that has been unoccupied for days is enticing to would-be thieves and burglars. In addition to a home security system, other ways you can protect your property and your belongings is by making it look like nothing is out of the ordinary in your family’s daily routine. That means taking steps like stopping the newspaper and mail, parking vehicles in the driveway or garage, putting lights on timers, and making sure your lawn gets mowed regularly.

  • Use the “coin in a cup” trick to check for food-spoiling power outages.

    Use the coin in a cup trick to check for food-spoiling power outages.

    Whether it’s due to lightning storms or power surges, losing electricity in the summer for minutes or hours can be common in some neighborhoods. Unfortunately, you won’t know exactly how long your power was out if you come home to clocks blinking 12:00. One easy trick to find out is to freeze a cup full of water and place a coin or other small object on top of the ice. If you return home and notice the power went out, check where the coin is located inside the cup. If it’s frozen towards the bottom of the cup, it means your power may have been out long enough for food inside your refrigerator to spoil.

  • Avoid water and central air disasters before you leave.

    Avoid water and central air disasters before you leave.

    Make sure your thermostat is set to a reasonable temperature before you leave. Obviously, there’s no benefit to making sure your furniture enjoys a cool 70-degree temperature, but you also shouldn’t turn your central air off or leave the temperature set too high. To avoid the risk of major leaks, turn off the water supply to your dishwasher, washing machines, and sinks—especially ones that are prone to leaks and drips. You can also set your water heater to vacation mode to save energy and reduce the risk of unit failure while you’re away.

  • Take out all trash and empty your refrigerator of perishable food.

    Take out all trash and empty your refrigerator of perishable food.

    There’s nothing worse than coming home from a relaxing vacation and being greeted with the smell of spoiled food as soon as you step foot inside your front door. Be sure to empty all trash cans and to throw away any perishable food from your cupboard, pantry, and refrigerator before you leave home. You should also clean pet water and food dishes, litter boxes, and other items they need.

  • Call your family, neighbors, and credit card company.

    Call your family neighbors and credit card company.

    Before you leave, make sure some of your family or friends know about your trip—especially if you need someone to stop by and feed your pets, water your plants, or just keep an eye on your home. You also may want to tell a trusted neighbor that you’ll be gone, as they’ll be in a great position to let you know if anything looks amiss at the homestead. Finally, make sure your credit and debit card companies know that you’ll be traveling. Many card companies have fraud protection that will lock access to cards and accounts when suspicious activity is detected—including usage in cities far from home.

 

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Football is back on TV, supermarkets are selling Halloween costumes and decorations, and coffee shops are touting the return of pumpkin spice. Yes, there’s no denying that summer is winding down and fall is nearly here. While the return of cooler weather can be a boon for outdoor activities and reducing your energy bills, it also gives you a chance to prepare your lawn for the spring.

If you were unsatisfied with the appearance of your lawn this summer, you can probably trace it back to the things you did (or didn’t do) last fall. Don’t make the same mistake twice. With a few weeks to go before fall officially arrives, you have plenty of time to take all the steps necessary to have a healthy lawn this fall, winter, and into next spring and summer.

To get your lawn as well prepared as possible for the next 9 months, check out Blindster’s tips below:

Aerate the soil

Aerate the soil

Most grasses are highly responsive to oxygen, water, and fertilizer during the fall, but it won’t do much good if those nutrients can’t reach the roots. A self-propelled aerator can be rented from many hardware stores and rental outlets, and it offers a quick way to aerate even the largest lawns. However, for huge jobs and lawns that are several acres in size, you may be better off hiring a landscaping service unless you want to dedicate several weekends to this project.

Fertilize your lawn

Fertilize your lawn

Just as aerating should be done in the fall, so too should fertilizing. In fact, many lawn care experts say that once-a-year fertilizing done in the fall is sufficient for most lawns and will lead to optimal growth. But don’t be too eager to begin fertilizing as soon as the calendar hits late September. Wait until the season is in full swing and temperatures have started to drop before you break out the fertilizer. Using a walk-behind drop spreader, make sure you hit every inch of your lawn to avoid patchy growth or brown spots in the spring.

Address bare spots

Address bare spots

If the high temperatures and dry weather that’s common during summer did a number on your lawn, fall is the perfect time to repair the damage. Check your grass for any bare or brown spots and use a lawn repair mixture—which will contain grass seed, mulch, and fertilizer—and prepare the soil by loosening it with a rake or aerator. Then, spread the mixture over any areas of your lawn that need extra attention and water it right away. Continue to water those areas at least three to four times per week for the next month for the best results.

Start raking right away

Start raking right away

For optimal lawn growth and health, your grass and roots need constant exposure to oxygen and sunlight. Being buried under a big pile of leaves certainly isn’t conducive to a healthy lawn, so be sure to stay on top of raking once the leaves begin to fall. Waiting too long not only deprives your grass of the nutrients it needs, but it can also expose it to disease. Morning dew and rainfall can accumulate on dead leaves, causing an even heavier weight on your grass and increasing its risk of developing funguses that can harm its growth.

Get serious about weeds

Get serious about weeds

Weeds can be a year-long problem for homeowners, but they’re at their most vulnerable during the fall. Like all plants, weeds go into survival mode during the fall when temperatures drop and days become shorter. That means they can hog even more of the nutrients that your grass needs. Manually pull weeds or use a safe and environmentally friendly herbicide to get rid of them before spring and you’ll have less of a headache to deal with when your lawn is in full bloom.

Back-to-School Safety Tips

School is already back in session throughout many parts of the country, and classes will resume in other states over the next few weeks. As summer ends, it’s important to remember that changing schedules and daily routines can also lead to some safety concerns if you and your children aren’t prepared.

Staying safe involves every aspect of you and your children’s day. From the time you wake up and leave the house, to when your kids are at school, to the time you pick them up, following common sense safety guidelines will help every member of your family have a happy, healthy, and safe school year.

To help your family avoid serious accidents or injuries this year, do your best to follow these tips:

Refresh yourself and your children on bus safety

Refresh yourself and your children on bus safety.

School districts throughout the country are focusing heavily on bus safety in recent years. You can protect yourself and other children by making sure you always come to a complete stop near buses when they’re loading and unloading students. It’s also important to make sure your children know how to safely enter and exit their bus, including when it’s safe to cross the street. Finally, teach your children how to behave on a school bus, including being quiet, keeping aisles clear, and learning how to operate emergency exits.

Make sure your family avoids distractions

Make sure your family avoids distractions.

Distracted driving is an epidemic, but it’s becoming clear that distracted walking can also put people in significant danger. Set a good example for your children by never driving while texting. If you have children who are of driving age, be sure to emphasize how dangerous texting and driving can be. Finally, set limits on cell phone usage for your children when they’re walking to or from school, especially if they use headphones. Being distracted while walking near traffic can lead to serious accidents.

Be cautious when driving through school zones

Be cautious when driving through school zones.

School zones are designed to help children get to and from the classroom safely, and that’s why they have significantly reduced speed limits, crossing guards, and flashing lights. When you drive through a school zone, make sure you follow all traffic laws in that area. That includes obeying the speed limit and any commands the crossing guard on duty gives. Remember that the crossing guard decides who gets the right of way—not stop signs or traffic lights. You should also avoid passing other vehicles in school zones, as children may be walking in an area of the road that you can’t see.

Create a safe environment at home for your children

Create a safe environment at home for your children.

If your children are older, you may feel comfortable allowing them to stay by themselves for a few hours before you or your spouse get off work. Make sure they’re well-protected and that they have everything they need in an emergency, including emergency phone numbers, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and knowledge of your home’s security system or garage entry codes. To further protect your children’s privacy when they’re at home, make sure your windows are covered with thick shades or blinds.

Establish schedules for after school events, such as sports and extracurriculars.

School years can get hectic for families. Between parents having to work long hours and kids having to balance the demands of school, sports, and extracurricular activities, the days, weeks, and months of a given year can seem like a blur. But when kids must stay late for sporting activities, clubs, and other events, they can’t always rely on a bus to get home. That’s why it’s vital to make sure everyone in your family is on the same page when it comes to each child’s schedule and how they’re supposed to get home.

Protect your children with the right clothing

Protect your children with the right clothing.

Giving your kids proper clothing is important, especially as seasons and weather change. If your children walk to school, make sure they have brightly colored clothing and jackets that make them stand out to drivers. They also should have rain boots if they need to walk when it’s raining. Give them flashlights to place in their backpacks in case they need to walk home when the sun begins to set, especially during the winter. In addition to lighting their path, the flashlights will also make it easier for drivers to see them.

6 Tips for Better Home Security and Peace of Mind

As a homeowner, your top priority is making sure your family and your belongings are safe from harm or theft. And while many homeowners simply install automated home security systems and count on these advanced monitoring alarms to keep them and their loved ones safe, it’s important to take extra precautions to get true peace of mind.

To reduce your risk of being a victim, check out Blindster’s top home security tips:

 

Hide, bury, or protect exterior wiring and power lines

1. Hide, bury, or protect exterior wiring and power lines.

Would-be burglars can be savvy, and if they know a home is equipped with a security system, their first order of business may be cutting the power lines to the home or to the alarms. Whether you’re planning on installing a security system or you already have one, make sure the power supply and wiring are either out of sight, buried, or encased in a protective barrier.

Change your locks when you purchase a new home

2. Change your locks when you purchase a new home.

Your first order of business when buying a new home should be changing the locks and getting new keys made for every member of your family. Make sure that all exterior entrances are equipped with new locks. In addition, you also may want to change the locks every few years, especially if you’ve ever needed to give spare keys to housekeepers, handymen, painters, and contractors.

3. Don’t leave spare keys in obvious places.

Almost everyone has been in a situation where they need to drop off a key for a family member or friend, and almost everyone goes to the tried and true “hiding spot” of under the mat, inside the mailbox, or in a planter next to the front door. Unfortunately, burglars are equally familiar with those hiding spots, and many homes have been stripped of their valuables by people who simply helped themselves to a spare key and walked right in. Get more creative if you need to leave a spare key, and never leave it out for more than one day if possible.

4. Use a random garage door entry code.

Many garage doors can be opened with just a four-digit passcode. While that’s enough digits to make it difficult for someone to guess the code, it’s short enough to make entry a breeze if the code uses obvious numbers, including a significant birth year, your home’s street address, or part of your phone number. You also shouldn’t use weak passwords like 0000, 1111, or 1234.

5. Keep family trips quiet on social media until you get back.

It can be hard to resist sharing your family’s travels while you’re on a grand adventure, but live streaming your kids jumping into a pool in Mexico is like putting a big spotlight on your empty home for would-be burglars and thieves. Sharing every detail of your trip on Facebook and Instagram is okay after the trip is over, that is.

Equip your windows with blinds and shades

6. Equip your windows with blinds and shades.

Burglars are much less likely to break into homes if they don’t know what (or who) is inside. Installing blinds and shades on your windows doesn’t just keep the sunlight out of your eyes and protect your family’s privacy—it also helps you avoid becoming a victim of a burglary. For the ultimate home protection and privacy, consider installing routeless blinds or blackout shades.

How Can New Window Treatments Improve Your Sleep?

To perform and function at our best, most of us need seven to eight hours of quality sleep. And while many of us think we’re getting a full night’s rest, the actual quality of sleep may be poor. That can result in fatigue, grogginess, and lack of energy throughout the day. Over time, sleep debt can even result in serious health problems.

Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe good practices that will help you sleep better throughout the night. It includes tips like limiting the frequency and length of daytime naps, reducing caffeine intake, exercising, and avoiding certain foods before bedtime. But it can also include things like your bedding, room temperature, sound levels, and light exposure.

And while new window treatments won’t make your bed more comfortable, they can make your room more comfortable—and that can result in better sleep. Here’s how it works:

Window treatments protect your privacy

Window treatments protect your privacy

To fall asleep and stay asleep, you need to feel safe and secure in your home. It can be difficult to achieve that state if you’re sleeping in a room with exposed windows or flimsy window treatments that your neighbors or people on the street can easily see through. Installing thick and non-transparent window treatments in your bedroom gives you the peace of mind you need to sleep soundly night after night.

Window treatments block light

Window treatments block light

While some people are more sensitive to light than others, almost any amount of light can disrupt sleep. Without proper window treatments, you may be awakened several times at night by passing vehicles and their headlights, or by things like automatic street lights, emergency vehicle lights, flood lights, and security lights. In addition, you may be awakened by the morning sun, which is great if you’re a natural early riser, but it can set you up for a day of drowsiness and fatigue if you need to sleep in. Blinds and shades that block the sun’s rays help you stay asleep longer and wake up feeling alert and refreshed.

Window treatments block sound

Window treatments block sound

Light isn’t the only outside annoyance that can keep you up at night or wake you up too early in the morning. Cars driving by, trains passing in the distance, and neighbors mowing their lawns are all common sounds for homeowners at night and early in the morning. Having well-insulated windows helps reduce outside noises, but adding thick and heavy window treatments, such as Roman shades and wood shades, helps further muffle annoying sounds that can disrupt your sleep.

Window treatments keep your bedroom a more comfortable temperature

It’s important to keep your bedroom at a steady and cool temperature at night. However, drafts from windows can make it difficult to maintain a comfortable temperature from the time you go to sleep until you need to wake up. Getting the right window treatments adds an extra layer of insulation in your bedroom, making it easier to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

 

What Are the Benefits of Motorized Shades?

At Blindster, we strive to stay on the cutting edge of window treatments by constantly refreshing our selections and offering our customers with the latest and greatest. Our newest product line is a series of five unique motorized shades. In addition to being extremely versatile and easy to operate, these shades also feature a beautiful and traditional design, making them ideal for just about any room in your home.

Want to learn more about our new motorized shades? Check out some of the top benefits of these automated and convenient window treatments:

 

1

Easy operation

Although we test the control options for all our shades, including standard nylon cords, chains, continuous cord loops, and cordless options, to be as easy and intuitive as possible, we know that some homeowners prefer an even simpler method of raising and lowering their window treatments. Motorized shades are the easiest to control of all, as the simple touch of a button on their remote raises or lowers them effortlessly to the desired height.

 

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Perfect for hard to reach windows

Got windows that are hard to reach, but still want to cover them with shades? If so, motorized shades are the ideal solution. No more stretching or even climbing on furniture or ladders to adjust your window treatments. With motorized shades, you can set them to the perfect length without putting your furniture or yourself at risk by climbing to reach cords, chains, or bottom rails.

 

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65-foot operation distance

In addition to being able to easily control shades that are otherwise hard to reach, motorized shades can also be controlled across large rooms or even your entire home. The shades are equipped with a powerful receiver and are paired with an equally powerful remote. That means you can expect flawless performance at up to 65-feet away from your shades.

4

Control up to 15 shades with a single remote

With our motorized shades, you won’t have to worry about jugging multiple remotes and forgetting which one controls certain shades in your home. All our motorized shades ship with a remote that can be configured to control up to 15 shades. That means you can quickly and easily control the shades in a large room or throughout your entire home with a single remote control.

5

No need for electrical outlets

We know that many homeowners are concerned about the appearance of unsightly cords and cables snaking along their walls to power their motorized shades. However, our window treatments are operated with a lithium battery power pack, eliminating the need for messy cables, extension cords, or outlets directly underneath your windows. The included batteries are designed to be long-lasting, which means you won’t have to worry about replacing them until after many hours of usage.

 

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Available in a wide variety of styles

At Blindster, we know that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to window treatments—including specialty items like our motorized shades. That’s why we offer five distinct and unique options. Choose deluxe or premium light filtering double cellular shades, exotic solar shades, shades with five percent openness, and shades that block 99 percent of the sun’s light and harmful UV rays.

 

 

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Huge variety of colors

Getting the right color for your window treatments is an important part of the decorating process. You need a color, texture, or pattern that complements your home’s style. And with our line of motorized shades, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect look to match your furniture, wall colors, and décor. Our Premium Motorized Light Filtering Double Cellular Shades are available in more than 40 colors, while the other four motorized shades have at least 15 colors to choose from.

 

The Best Durable Blinds and Shades for Your Garage

Garages are one of the last places that many homeowners consider when they’re buying new window treatments, but they’re a prime spot for adding new blinds and shades—especially if they’re detached or have large wall-side windows to match the ones throughout the rest of your home.

There are numerous benefits to having window treatments on your garage windows. First, they protect your privacy and provide the light control that you need, making them perfect for working on projects, creating a hobby space, or just protecting your vehicles from the sun’s rays. Second, they help insulate your garage, which can be huge beneficial if it’s not air conditioned. And finally, they create a more cohesive appearance with the rest of your home, particularly if you’re installing the same type of window treatment on every window.

Ready to start looking for the best blinds and shades for your garage? Check out Blindster’s guide to finding the right fit:

Cordless Aluminum Blinds

When it comes to buying window treatments for your garage, toughness and durability are some of the most important qualities to look for. Garages are known to accumulate dirt and dust, and that means your window coverings will need frequent cleaning. Our Cordless Aluminum Blinds are made with a high-quality aluminum that has a chip and fade resistant baked enamel finish. That means these blinds can withstand even the toughest conditions for years without needing to be replaced. Their cordless operation also means that they’re easy to operate and safe for homes with small children. Choose between eight distinct colors, including traditional White, Mocha, Brown, and Black to match your garage interior.

Smooth PVC Vertical Blinds

Need to cover a large garage window or a set of sliding doors? Be sure to check out our selection of vertical blinds, including our Smooth PVC Vertical Blinds. These window coverings are ideal for installation over big windows and doors. In addition, their high-quality and highly durable PVC louvers and aluminum head rail are built to last for years under the harshest conditions. Effortlessly open these blinds to let light in and close them to protect your privacy with their standard cord/chain control, or use an optional wand control for even greater customization. Choose from 10 colors to complement your garage, such as Buttermilk, Off White, Blue, and Grey.

Premium Solar Shades 5 Percent Openness

Want to preserve your outdoor view in your garage as much as possible while still protecting your family’s privacy and reducing glare? If those needs are on your window treatment checklist, you owe it to yourself to give our Premium Solar Shades a try. We offer multiple varieties with different levels of openness, which refers to how much of their view that they preserve. Our 5 Percent Openness shades are manufactured using Phifer Sheerweave® 4000 fabrics and are Greenguard® certified. In addition to being beautiful, they’re also highly durable and resistant, and they even block out 95 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays, protecting your vehicles from fading. Bacteria and fungus resistant, these shades are a breeze to clean, and they’re available in 16 colors perfect for garages, including Charcoal, Ash, and Granite, and Greystone.

Premium Motorized Blackout Double Cellular Shades

Got a large garage or shop with several windows? If so, you know that it can be a hassle to walk over to each window and manually raise or lower the shades multiple times throughout the day while you’re working. Our Premium Motorized Blackout Double Cellular Shades make it easy to raise and lower your shades at the touch of a button anywhere inside your garage. Battery-powered and operated via a single remote control that can be programmed to work with up to 15 shades, these window treatments are the ultimate in convenience and efficiency. They’re not just great at saving time, either. These shades are high-quality through and through, and their 100 percent polyester materials use an integrated foil technology that provides excellent insulation and blocks 99.9 percent of sunlight.

4 Advantages Our Faux Wood Plantation Shutters Have Over Real Wood

Shutters aren’t just for the outside of your home anymore. They look great indoors as well—especially in dining rooms, home offices, living rooms, and even bathrooms. Regardless of where they’re installed, shutters bring an elegant to any room in your home. And unlike outdoor shutters, our faux wood plantation shutters can be adjusted with a front or hidden tilt rod, making it easy to protect your family’s privacy and control the amount of sunlight that enters your home.

If you’re on the fence about installing shutters on the interior of your home, it’s important to know that they have several benefits over other types of window treatments—particularly real wood shutters. Be sure to check out our extensive photo gallery of this window covering on our website to see them installed in real customer homes, then read customer reviews for firsthand experiences with this product. And if you have any questions or concerns about our plantation shutters, you’re sure to find helpful answers in the product’s Q&A section.

Have you decided you’re ready to buy—or at least take a closer look at our faux wood plantation shutters? Check out Blindster’s list of the four advantages these window treatments have compared to real wood shutters:

They’re easier to clean and maintain.

As the name implies, these shutters aren’t made with real wood. Instead, they’re made with a composite material that includes PVC, making them highly resistant to dirt, dust, and stains. And if you do need to engage in any heavy-duty cleaning, you’ll have peace of mind using a variety of cleaners, as these shutters are designed to hold up under even the harshest conditions. For regular cleaning, a feather duster will suffice to remove most debris, while heavier build-up is easily removed with a mild cleaner and a damp rag—which won’t damage the surface.

They’re easier to install.

All the window treatments we sell at Blindster are designed to have a simple installation process, but mounting our faux wood plantation shutters is among the easiest out of any in our product lineup. And despite faux wood often being slightly heavier than real wood, these shutters are made using a lightweight polyvinyl and feature a hollow-bodied construction process, making them easy to lift and hang—even when they’re cut to fit large windows. Be sure to check out our measure and install instructions before you place your order and begin the installation process to ensure the best possible fit for your windows.

They’re designed for a quick manufacturing, packaging, and shipping process.

Need your new window treatments right away? You can’t go wrong with our faux wood plantation shutters. Due to their slightly more complex manufacturing process, it can take longer to build shutters than other types of window coverings. However, our faux wood plantation shutters can be custom cut to perfectly fit your windows and packed to ship within about 10 to 14 days after your order is placed. That’s less than half the time it takes to cut and package real wood shutters.

They’re perfect for rooms with high humidity or exposure to the elements.

Real wood may be natural, but it’s not the best option for rooms that are exposed to natural elements such as heat, water, humidity, and sunlight. Kitchens and bathrooms are ideal locations for faux wood plantation shutters. Real wood can warp and crack when it’s exposed to constant fluctuations in humidity—especially if it’s installed on windows near sinks, tubs, and showers. Pool rooms are another place where faux wood beats out real wood 100 percent of the time. Finally, faux wood is the ideal choice for homes near the ocean, as the sun’s UV rays and sea breeze can quickly wear down real wood, but the PVC construction materials used in these shutters help them withstand the harsh effects of the sun and sand over many years.

 

Household Items You Should Think Twice about before Buying

Blindster Gives Back

There’s nothing better than seeing hard work pay off, except maybe seeing your hard work truly help another person. It’s rare in life to see the immediate result of one’s labors.

This weekend the Blindster team experienced one of those rare moments while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. We were able to see how a simple day’s worth of work could directly impact the less fortunate within our community.

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You would think it would be hard to convince a group of busy adults to get up and out at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning to do physical labor and in most cases, you would be right.  hfh7

But when offered the chance to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, our employees jumped on it. We easily had the largest corporate group on Saturday, September 17, 2016, with 14 volunteers. We only have about 20 employees in the whole company!

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Everyone showed up on time, smiling and ready to put in a good day’s work. The neighborhood we were working in was filled with Habitat houses that would be sold to underprivileged families at an affordable mortgage rate, without interest.hfh5

As the volunteer leader explained what we were going to accomplish and introduced one of the families that were going to be living in these houses, we began to realize the impact of what we would be doing that day. And with their smiling faces as encouragement, we picked up our ladders and paintbrushes with exuberance.

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Even though only a few of us were experienced in building work, each of us was able to help with the task at hand. The house we had the privilege of working on was in its twelfth week of construction.

This meant that we were responsible for doing outside detail work, like painting the trim and caulking windows. Working outside in the Houston heat could have easily been grueling, but everyone stayed positive and kept the jokes flowing.

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By the end of the day, we had finished painting the trim and gained a new sense of achievement and camaraderie. There’s just something about being able to look up and see exactly what you have been working for accomplished. hfh-group

Even though this is just a small part of the entire home building process, we felt we made a difference. We hope the family who gets to live inside this home creates wonderful, lasting memories and feels the love and teamwork that was poured into the creation of it.