Around the House Blog

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

Recent Posts

Don’t Go Too Small on These Five Design Features in Your Home

May 27, 2020 2:00:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in home improvement, New Home Construction, residential homes


There are five home design features that are typically whittled down in a construction budget, which many homeowners later regret having cut their size. The size of features in your home matters, especially if you are a senior with limited mobility. For those who are young and healthy—you may need to sell your home one day, so understanding why size is so important may help you close a future sale. 

Read More

Expect Delays in Building Products Because of COVID-19

May 20, 2020 2:00:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in Economy, COVID-19, coronavirus


Most would think as the economy slows the availability of building materials and products for the home would be more plentiful and lower priced. However, there is a good chance the opposite may be true over the next few months. Building products are heavily driven by commodities like lumber, oil, and steel. When those raw materials face supply disruptions, that can trickle down the supply chain. COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) is slowing the production and delivery of raw materials in certain building material sectors as the requirement of social distancing is limiting manpower. Plus, there are some companies that have closed due to the disruptions.

Read More

Grass, Bushes, or Flowers?

May 6, 2020 1:30:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in homeownership, landscaping


There is an old business adage which says, “In business you can offer two of the three following strategies without going bankrupt—lowest price, highest quality, or best service.”

For most Americans, this same two-out-of-three strategy applies to their yard. Do you have manicured grass, nice bushes and trees, or beautiful flowers? The homeowner must decide which is more important to them and their lifestyle without busting the family budget. Other issues to consider are the soil, environmental issues, and upkeep.

The first question is simple but hard to answer by many homeowners. Of the three— grass, bushes and trees, or flowers—what is most important to you? Men tend to lean toward grass because they normally operate more of the power equipment keeping it tidy. Women are usually more visual, and they enjoy the flowers along with the privacy and shade from bushes and trees. After looking at your resources, soil, environment as well as your wants, wishes, and vision—make a plan for your yard. Once again, most Americans cannot afford everything. Do not try and do too much, causing you to skimp on areas.

When it comes to investing in your lawn you should consider three important aspects—watering, upkeep, and neighbors. If you pay for water, having a lawn that requires a lot of watering can be expensive. Plus, keeping the lawn mowed, fertilized, and treated for weeds and pests can be costly. You should take your neighbor’s yard into consideration, because a neighbor who doesn’t care for their yard will constantly contaminate your grass with insects, weeds, and fungus. A lot of money can be wasted on St. Augustine grass because of neighbors who do not care for their lawn.

Some people are flower killers. They buy beautiful flowers online or at their local garden center with no regard to climate, sunlight, or soil conditions. After a short time, they die. If you have sandy soil and your flowers will be in full sun, make sure the flowers you purchase can handle those conditions. Plus, every year or so there are freezes and frost in Central Florida. That is when all the beautiful tropical plants and flowers are destroyed. Unless you like throwing away money, be sure your plants and flowers can handle the freezes and frost that occur in Central Florida.

As for bushes and trees, the problem goes back to the homeowner making bad choices without understanding the soil and sunlight conditions. There are reasons why trees in New York do not do well in Florida and many of our northern winter residents do not understand the effects of Mother Nature. If you want to see which shrubs and trees perform the best in Central Florida, go for a drive. Most experienced homeowners and landscapers have figured out what works.

When considering bushes and trees for your yard, size and maintenance are very important. It is not uncommon for homeowners to purchase regular species when they really want dwarf varieties. This is especially true with crape myrtles. It is also important to understand the hardiness of shrubs and trees, because some of them are more susceptible to fungus and mites. If you are a set it and forget it homeowner, you want to buy a very hardy and more bland species.

As you plan your home’s landscape for spring and summer, choose which aspects of the landscaping that are most important to you. Then create a budget and decide how much effort you want to put into the upkeep. By taking time to consider these factors, you will reduce stress, enjoy your home, and have more time for what you like to do.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply, and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Television Show which is hosted weekly on Lake Sumter Television.

Read More

It’s Time to Encourage Going off the Grid

Apr 29, 2020 1:30:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in COVID-19, coronavirus, off grid


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has demonstrated to most Americans that you cannot completely rely on the government to supply all your needs in times of turmoil and emergencies—you may be on your own. This was also evident in the government’s responses to the major hurricanes in New Orleans and Puerto Rico as well as the large wildfires in California. Since the 1960s, many Americans have been programmed to believe that in times of need and emergency, the government will always be there to rescue them. These events show that this is simply not true.

If you believe that reliance on government is limited, especially in times of great need and emergency, a discussion must be had from local government to the halls of Washington, D.C. about encouraging homeowners and businesses to get off the grid and become more self-reliant.

Because of technology, at no point in mankind is getting off the grid and living comfortably become so available to everyone. The challenge is that most laws and codes in all areas of government discourage getting off the grid. They are used to promoting conformity in society, which leads to great reliance on government and its services. Just maybe, the master designers of communities should rethink how the homes of tomorrow are to exist within the various networks.

The deficiency that is evident in all these national emergencies is the reliance on single infrastructures. For example, one water system, a single computer network, or power grid could literally control the survival of millions of people if knocked out by a terrorist or deadly virus. Conformity in codes and jurisdiction restrictions are making communities more vulnerable.

What can be done to avoid this type of mass conformity in codes and regulations, which could lead to mass disruption?

First, encourage solar energy everywhere—even in cities. The notion of one power plant and a few strands of wire servicing millions of people is archaic. If you don’t want to cripple your community or nation during a national emergency, let the builders and great electrical engineers of the country start powering homes and businesses off the grid with solar and wind. Propane generators are becoming popular with intervals of power outages and this technology has advanced to make switchovers seamless from traditional and nontraditional power sources.

Massive water and sewage facilities are less expensive because of scale. However, if one goes out, millions of people are left without water and basic sanitation. The states, especially Florida, that have an abundance of water should encourage well and septic systems with enhanced technology that protect the environment. Desalination plants along the coastal lines of Florida could provide an alternative to water as this technology advances. Finally, for those who have a water well that operates off an electric pump, you should consider investing in a hand pump system, which can be used during a power outage.

The days of running cable lines are quickly coming to an end with satellite and fifth generation (5G) cell phone technology. Although these are great when power is available, there can be gaps. The country should not completely abandon radio frequency technology and homeowners should be mindful that an old-fashioned battery radio is a great alternative during a crisis.

Finally, landscaping ordinances must be modified to allow home vegetable gardens and small animal production. Codes should be modified where homeowners can freely plant vegetable gardens and raise small animals, such as chickens, to provide their family with a source of food. As seen during the coronavirus outbreak, many items such as eggs and vegetables are in short supply. Homeowners wanting to provide for their family should be allowed to, regardless of building codes and deed restrictions by homeowners associations.

A home is not a showplace; rather, it is a place to provide shelter and raise a family. It should be a place where a family can be self-reliant with the land they own. Only in America are homes restricted where their true value cannot be utilized—this needs to change. Too many people on one system puts everyone in peril.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply, and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Television Show which is hosted weekly on Lake Sumter Television.

Read More

Quickly Crank Up the Economy with Affordable Housing

Apr 22, 2020 1:30:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in New Home Construction, residential homes, Economy, COVID-19, Affordable housing, coronavirus


The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, along with the collapse in the oil sector, is putting enormous stress on the United States economy. The White House, Congress, and The Fed are scrambling for ways to fire up the economic engines. Most of the proposed stimulus programs are one-time shots, industry giveaways, and Wall Street bailouts that seem to mainly benefit the mega-corporations.

If government really wants to crank up the American economy and solve a national problem with little to no cost to the taxpayers, it should implement a real National Affordable Housing Program targeting lower and middle-class workers. If government, at all levels, would shake out all unnecessary regulations, needless government fees, and excessive corporate greed from affordable housing, housing starts would surge from the current levels of 1.3 million up to 2.5 - 3.5 million.

Up until the Great Recession, housing has always been the igniter of the United States economy. It was Wall Street’s greed, through bundling and bizarre financial instruments, that ruined the housing industry. A real American Affordable Housing Program that can crank up the economy and solve the national shortage of homes for working families must be free of Wall Street greed and influence. Yes, it should be a government program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The first and most important aspect of this program is to identify what housing qualifies for affordable housing. The number should be based on what is affordable for lower and middle-income families in the area. Here in Lake and Sumter Counties, that number is $215,000 or less. The program would not be available for housing that cost more than what has been identified in the affordable range. We do not want to fund McMansions again for people on the upper end.

Secondly, mortgage money, controlled interest rates, zero down payment and government backed mortgage insurance should be available to lower and middle-class workers. The caveat for not allowing profiteering off this program would be that the mortgage guarantor, the United States Government, would repossess the property in case of default; the homeowner must make the home their homestead; and they could not sell the property for more than the purchase price for 7 years. The home would be registered in the National Affordable Housing Registry and would have restrictions placed upon it to prevent greed from ruining the program. The homeowner could sell the home for the original selling price and get back any equity.

You need land for affordable housing developments. Both the Federal and State government can participate in helping private developers to make property available. There should be a targeted lot price to qualify for the program. The land must be deed restricted for affordable workforce housing for a period of 20 years to discourage profiteering of the program. Property owners that sell tracks of land for affordable housing projects would pay no capital gains tax and the United States government would pay for all infrastructure costs up front for affordable housing developments and allow the municipalities and utilities to reimburse the cost over a 20-year low interest government bond. Bond costs would be covered by local taxes and fees.

States and local governments’ involvement would be in the reduction and waiving of building fees and impact fees for all nationally registered affordable housing projects. Affordable housing zones should be developed that would take the increased valuations in the land's taxable value and the increased tax receipts for land improvements like a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The revenue could be used for bonded schools and road infrastructure instead of impact fees.

There is so much more that can be done if the Federal, Sate, and local governments truly decide to address the huge affordable housing shortage in America. This program could crank up housing starts above 2.0 million units for several years providing jobs, income, and real wealth to Americans without really costing the taxpayer anything. Why not focus on a real problem and have something to show for it, instead of another Wall Street corporate bailout that rewards greed?

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Television Show which is hosted weekly on Lake Sumter Television.

Read More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic