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Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply


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Tips for a Green Lawn during Winter

Oct 21, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in lawn and garden

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Very soon we will be enjoying our Central Florida weather, as the days are getting a little shorter and the temperature is dropping somewhat. Unlike the northern winters, which used to welcome many of our new residents, wintertime in Central Florida is normally cool and damp. Overall, the winters are pleasant, and the reason people move to Florida.

The transition from a hot, wet summer to cooler temperatures with periods of limited rain can disrupt lawns. Without proper care, your grass can quickly become ugly and unmanageable. The most important aspect of lawn care in Central Florida is the method by which you care for your lawn in July is totally different from how you care for your lawn in January.

Here are some tips to help keep your lawn looking great during a Central Florida winter.

Do not over water or under water. During the winter, irrigation must be reduced to one day per week and it is imperative that your system is properly timed and working well to fully water your lawn. Allowing your irrigation system to fall into disrepair or not be timed properly will cause dead spots in the yard while over watering fuels the growth of winter weeds. It is a fine line in winter irrigation because of the area’s sandy soil. Take some time to do it right by really measuring how much water is being disbursed on your lawn during each cycle.

Even during Central Florida’s cooler winter, the grass will go dormant. Do not fertilize your yard like you did in July. Fertilizers will boost growth, especially during warmer times in the winter, and then a sudden freeze will wreck your grass. Yes, this area is susceptible to light frost and freezes, which damages grass that is over fertilized. Seek the help of a professional to understand how to properly fertilize your yard.

Weed and pest control for your lawn is a must during winter. After a light frost, drive around the various neighborhoods and you will see brown grass with big, beautiful green weeds throughout the yard. Wintertime is what I call weed time in Central Florida. Once again, before dumping a bunch of herbicides on your lawn, talk with a professional because some herbicides will kill or damage your grass if you utilize the wrong one. Many of the weed and feed items from big box retailers are ineffective and not good for your lawn. Identify the type of grass and weeds you have in your lawn and then purchase the correct product which targets just the weeds. For example, the weed killer for Bermuda grass will kill St. Augustine grass.

Many of our new northern friends are used to bugs and critters going away during the wintertime, but not here in Central Florida. Chinch bugs, mole crickets, and army ants continue to destroy your lawn during the winter. Just like with the issue of weeds, it is imperative you identify what is causing the problem and then target the pest. Blindly spraying pesticides on your lawn is not only bad for your lawn, it is terrible for the environment.

Damp, cool days also bring out fungus. St. Augustine grass is susceptible to Brown Patch Fungus, which looks like the grass is dying from being underwatered. In fact, in most cases, homeowners will add a special sprinkler thinking there is watering issue to only fuel the spread of the fungus. Brown Patch Fungus is almost impossible to resolve, and you really should contact a professional to help you find the best solution.

If you understand that lawncare in Central Florida changes with the season and work hard to identify what the problems are instead of guessing, you can have a beautiful lawn throughout the winter months.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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Top Four Changes in Home Design Due to the Pandemic

Oct 14, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in homeownership

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There is a belief by many that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated America’s march to technology by as much as a decade and that this dramatic change over the last six months is just the tip of the iceberg of change forthcoming. The pandemic is forcing builders to rethink residential home design, because the belief just a year ago that millennials have no interest in owning a home has been destroyed by the two-month stay-at-home orders issued across the country.

Here are my forecasted top four changes in home design in Lake and Sumter Counties.

Offices are being relocated to home offices. Yes, the phenomenon of working from home will only expand and what companies lose in worker productivity is more than made up by not having to provide brick and mortar areas for their employees to work from. Home office space will be a must like a kitchen for most new homes. It is a sure bet the home office will become larger, nicer, and fully efficient.

Most developments do not allow homeowners to construct a detached storage shed. For that reason, expect garages to grow larger. With more items being shipped in and out of homes, there will be a need for additional storage space. Plus, a bonus storage area above the garage will be a premium. When there was a shortage of toilet paper in April, how many homeowners wished they would have had more storage space in the garage? Larger garages will be a must.

The price of land is skyrocketing in Central Florida and with the exodus of frightened renters from the major cities because of the pandemic, expect this trend to continue. With higher land pricing and the need for more square footage, expect to see the exponential growth in two-story homes. If you cannot go wide, you go up. Although multi-story homes have not been popular in a market driven by seniors, the new surge of younger buyers will change this paradigm.

The final change will be the need of generational or communal housing to accommodate those who do not have the means to purchase a home by themselves. It is commonplace in many countries for families to live together because of housing availability and price. This will come to America, unless the market resets to levels that allow entry level homebuyers or wages increase to a point which makes current housing numbers affordable. With the massive debt load of the country, both scenarios seem unlikely.

In the same vein, for homeowners who live in an area which allows detached accessory dwellings, expect to see a huge number of mother-in-law suites constructed as families look for lower cost housing options. This goes back to the push that every square foot of land is utilized to provide housing.

Because of the pandemic, there is forecasted to be a huge eviction and foreclosure cliff facing the country at the end of 2020. If this materializes, this could force a blunt trauma change in how housing is viewed in America as suddenly millions could be out on the streets.

There is one thing for sure—change is coming to housing designs and how Americans utilize their homes.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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Five Big Changes That Have Occurred since Your Last Roof Replacement

Oct 7, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in roof shingles, roofing suppliers, roof repair, roofing products

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One of the first things noticed on a house is the roof. Chances are that the average age of older roofs in Lake and Sumter Counties is about 20 years. In other areas of the country, the lifespans of roofs are much longer. However, in Florida a combination of harsh tropical weather and unreasonable replacement standards set by insurance companies who want to minimize hurricane exposure is forcing homeowners to replace roofs sooner. Roof replacements are rare events for most homeowners and a lot has probably changed since the last time the roof was replaced on your older home.

Because of changes in technology, building codes, and material offerings, homeowners should be wary about paying a roofing contractor to install the same roof with the same method used 20 years ago. Here are the five big changes in roofing since your older roof was originally installed.

The first big change is the quality of roofing shingles. Twenty years ago, 3-tab strip shingles were used by many builders and these shingles as compared to today’s architectural style shingles are thinner and have less wind tolerance. Today’s architectural shingles are thicker, have higher wind resistance, and are designed to camouflage imperfections in the roof. The new lines of architectural shingles offer a huge variety of colors and shadowing to enhance your home’s curb appeal. When replacing your roof, do not settle for the same old shingle style and color on your roof—look at the different options available nowadays.

Shingle warranties have also changed. Twenty years ago, shingle warranties were for 20 years, and the warranty typically only covered materials after the first year. Today, manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranties with very affordable upgrades to offer full replacements later in time. Before you commit to a shingle, be sure you understand the warranty and ask your roofing contractor if you can upgrade to a full long-term warranty.

The next change is underlayment. Twenty years ago, 90 percent of the roofs were constructed with 15-pound felt as an underlayment with better homes using 30-pound felt. Yes, 30-pound felt is double the thickness. The big problem with rolled felt is its failure if the shingles are blown off during a windstorm. Felt paper will tear and rip in the wind if there are not any shingles on top of it. Roofing contractors are now using a synthetic felt, which does not tear if it is exposed to the weather elements. Synthetic felt is the most popular underlayment because a roll is lighter and covers more square footage, which cuts down on the amount of time to install it and accidents associated with it. The most popular underlayment is peel and stick, which adheres to the decking and will remain in place and protect the deck even if the shingles are blown off. It is a great product that seals nail holes and provides a real moisture barrier for your home.

Not as glamourous but just as important in roofing are the nails and fasteners. In the past, most roof failures have been attributed to poor installation, especially in the area of fasteners. Staples used in the early 1990s were blamed for many failed roofs during Hurricane Andrew. Today, building codes require more nails per shingle and longer nails along with wind mitigation for decking. In most cases, if a shingle fails it is because of the use of incorrect fasteners.

The final big change is the use of metal roofing. Twenty years ago, the majority of residential roofs were constructed with asphalt shingles. Today, a growing percentage are being constructed with metal roofing. With hidden fastening systems and a multitude of colors, metal roofing is a good alternative. Plus, this type of roof offers a much longer warranty and thus far has not faced the scrutiny from insurance companies as that of their asphalt counterparts. Before you re-roof your home, check into metal roofing—it might be worth the extra investment.

As a bonus tip, whenever you re-roof your home, replace all drip edge and valley metals. Some roofing contractors like to cut this corner; however, metal flashing on a roof after 20 years should be replaced due to rusting and pitting. Always ensure your re-roof quote covers everything, including new flashing.

If you are lucky, you will only have to replace a roof once or twice in your adult lifespan. If you do, investigate all the options before you buy.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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Do Not Hold Your Breath for a Factory Representative

Sep 30, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

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If you like the personal touch or help when you have a warranty issue around the house, do not hold your breath for a factory representative to show up and help you. Over the last decade, most major companies have reduced the number of field representatives to address warranty and defective issues and since the pandemic there has been a total collapse of field service. With the advent of Zoom video conferencing and FaceTime, many companies have grounded or fired field representatives and replaced them with lower paid call center service personnel.

The biggest issue with this new strategy of eliminating field representatives is that problem solving and experience are also displaced. For example, a qualified field representative that can clearly see all aspects of the product and installation is more apt to offer a solution to repair or mitigate the issue other than just a tear-out at the homeowner’s expense. The major obstacle with most building material representatives is that although they will replace a door or window if deemed defective, the homeowner must pay for the cost of replacing and finishing the product. Experienced field representatives can normally fix products in the field. Plus, they have years of experience handling similar problems.

Many times, the problem with a building product is its installation and it takes a full-blown onsite meeting between the contractor, homeowner, manufacturer’s representative, and installer to resolve the matter. Trying to herd all the participants on a video conference to resolve the issue is close to impossible. Because of delayed responses and poor reception, video conferences are notorious for breaking down into screaming sessions.

The other major issue with online warranty and defective issue complaints is the homeowner is left to do all the work. More than a decade ago, roofing shingle companies in America stopped sending representatives to jobsites to remove samples of defective shingles for evaluation. Today, if a homeowner has a defective roofing shingle issue, they will be mailed a package, which will hold a couple of shingles that must be mailed to the manufacturer. This sounds easy enough until you realize someone must climb onto the roof to remove and replace a couple of shingle samples. This is not recommended for senior homeowners or someone who is afraid of heights.

The other aspect is the word “no.” Did you know it is much easier to tell a homeowner “no” on a warranty or defective issue over the phone or in a Zoom video conference rather than in person? There is something about looking at a problem, hearing the concerns from a homeowner in vivid detail, then deciding. Homeowners should expect more bureaucracy and to be told “no” more often when filing a claim under a manufacturer’s warranty.

If you have a manufacturer’s warranty or defective issue, prepare for an online presentation or resolution. Take plenty of pictures and videos, including a video of your contractor and the installer fully explaining the issues. Next, if a sample is needed, hire someone to remove the sample if you do not have the skillsets to do so. Many times, more damage is done in the process of taking a sample. Finally, do not accept their answer of “no” if you have a legitimate concern. Keep in mind that online reviews are a powerful tool for conflict resolution. Use technology to hound the manufacturer in doing the right thing.

Finally, have patience. Manufacturers do not have the same timeline or sense of urgency and the homeowners that are impatient will generally cuss a lot and give up. Although it takes time, if you work their bureaucracy as they direct, the answer is automatically “yes” in many cases. Follow instructions, do what they ask, and demand your satisfaction. However, do not hold your breath for a representative to show up at your house.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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Top Five Tips for Selling Your Home During a Pandemic

Sep 23, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in Real Estate, COVID-19

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Tammy Dunseath of RE/MAX Premier Realty is one of the top real estate agents in Lake and Sumter Counties. Despite the pandemic, she has been selling houses. In fact, she needs more homes to sell because demand is so high. It is counter intuitive to think that during the worst pandemic in 100 years and in uncertain economic times that houses would be selling. However, the real estate market in Lake and Sumter Counties has two unique advantages—they are in Florida and people fleeing from the big cities want to live in Florida.

Tammy Dunseath points out that unlike the housing boom of 2005-2006, people are not paying ridiculous prices for a home and the financial institutions are not lowering their standards for buyers. While prices are up, the home buyers she represents want value, and she notes that some home sellers are “overpricing their homes.”

Although it is a great time to sell a home, the experience of home buying has changed somewhat because of the pandemic. Tammy Dunseath shares her top five tips for selling a home during the pandemic, which will maximize your experience and price.

Dunseath’s first tip is, “Limit touch points when showing a home by turning on lights and opening closet doors, especially the master bedroom closet.” Home buyers who are concerned about COVID-19 will have a better experience if they can walk your home without touching anything. Make it an easy walk through.

Homes in Lake and Sumter Counties are being sold remotely and online to buyers across the country. Many buyers do not want to fly, and with modern technology and a good realtor there is really no need to make a trip to Lake County to purchase a home. Dunseath’s second tip is to hire a real estate agent with a broad online marketing program, which includes a 3-D tour, Facebook tour, video, and plenty of photos—including those from a drone on the outside. “By offering these marketing items to prospective buyers, the showings you do get will be fewer thus safer and more qualified,” says Dunseath.

For her third tip Dunseath says, “Insist on a fresh pre-approval letter from the buyer’s lender. With changing regulations, a buyer who qualified 30-days ago may not qualify today.” There are many cash buyers entering the market and buyers who finance their purchase must demonstrate their financial strength up front to enter a contract. A deal can fall apart quickly with a marginal buyer.

Dunseath’s fourth tip for selling a home during a pandemic is, “Do not wait.” There are home sellers who put off listing their home because they are waiting for the highest point in the market. No one knows or understands what the future holds and holding off on selling a home, banking on a higher return later is dangerous—just as the folks discovered in 2006. The right time to sell is when you are ready to move on with your life.

Tammy Dunseath’s final tip is, “Be a little flexible.” Do not forget that America is in the middle of a pandemic and everything is slower or delayed. Outbreaks of COVID-19 are slowing down lawyers, title offices, appraisers, and home inspectors. The home selling process can become frustrating. During these difficult times, expect delays and be flexible when it comes to scheduling a closing, executing contracts, and closing the deal.

The most important aspect of the real estate market in Lake and Sumter Counties is that it is active. Unlike other areas of the country, values have remained very good. If you are contemplating selling your home, now is a good time because inventory is low. Hopefully, these five tips will help you maximize your price.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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