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Now is the Time to Winterize Your Central Florida Home

Oct 28, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in house doors, residential homes


To our winter residents from Wisconsin and Minnesota—please do not snicker when we talk about winterizing a home in Central Florida. Believe it or not, during the winter this area will experience some cool weather and maybe a morning or two of freezing temperatures. Residents who ignore these cooler temperatures could have some problems around the house. So, it is a good idea to take a few hours to make sure your home is ready for winter.

Let us get the winter safety issues resolved first. Before November 1st, replace the batteries in the smoke detectors throughout your home because Central Florida is the world center of electrical space heaters. Thousands of homeowners throughout Central Florida use electrical space heaters to knock the chill out of the room. Many times, homeowners will use frayed extension cords or place the electrical space heaters too close to flammable objects in the room. Electrical fires caused by space heaters and holiday lighting increase in the winter months, so smoke detectors are vital.

If your home has any open flame for cooking or heating, you should have a carbon monoxide detector to prevent asphyxiation due to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have an attached garage and an automobile without a key, a carbon monoxide detector is a good idea because homeowners who inadvertently fail to turn their automobile off are suffering from sickness and death.

For homeowners who have a water well, the first thing you should do before cold weather is insulate and wrap the small pipe around the pressure switch and pipes exposed at the pump. The small flow pipe just below the pressure switch can freeze very easily on a cold morning, which will result in no running water in your home. You will learn sooner than later why you need a hair dryer to warm up your water well. Another great tip is to put ant poisoning around your water well. In the winter, ants will make their way into the pressure switch and stop the switch from operating. Keep ants, bugs, and lizards away from your well as they look for warm places to hide during the winter.

Most homes have multiple hose bibs around the house, which can also freeze on cold mornings. A hose bib that freezes and subsequently busts can be a big mess if the pipe in the wall is damaged. Wrap and insulate your home’s exposed hose bibs, faucets, and pipes.

Although sprinkler systems should be adjusted to run one day per week during the winter months, it is imperative you make sure that enough water is getting to your yard. Sprinkler heads that are malfunctioning or not enough time watering the lawn zones can ruin a beautiful lawn. If you are not competent to adjust your sprinklers properly, hire a professional.

Have a strategy for protecting your tropical plants and fragile décor palm trees. Some palm trees are hardy and can take freezing temperatures while many like the Robellini palm will freeze and die. You should have frost blankets and coverings ready to protect your fragile vegetation. A great piece of advice: if you keep tropical plants in a pot, they can easily be moved indoors during freezing temperatures. Never use plastic sheathing to cover tropical plants as this can cause more damage than leaving them exposed.

If you like working in your garage, you should consider insulating your garage door before wintertime. An insulation kit can be installed on most single-pan garage doors and it really helps with keeping cool weather out of the house.

Check your door weatherstripping, which is on both sides and the bottom of the door. It is not uncommon for little dogs to rip up door weatherstripping, which can result in cold weather flooding into the home along with bugs, snakes, and critters. Most door companies have replacement weatherstripping for the sides and bottom of doors, which can really protect your home during wintertime.

Pull your attic stairway down and check the insulation in your attic (do this only if you are physically able to). Look for areas in the attic that may show thin areas, because blown insulation can shift with heavy winds. Move it around, if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, hire a professional.

Finally, before cranking up the heating system in your home, have it checked out. Many HVAC systems in Central Florida have heat strips, which can become dirty in a course of months since they are not used during the summer. This could damage your system. Having the heating system tuned-up prior to its use in the winter is a very good idea.

While a cold morning is 25 degrees in Central Florida, failure to prepare for these mornings can create real aggravation and expense. At least you do not have to shovel snow.

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 Ways to Earn a Gold Star in Home Repair

Jul 29, 2020 12:00:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in DIY Project, home improvement, projects, residential homes


Every weekend, there are guys and gals tackling a home project successfully. On the other hand, there are those who have no idea how to even change a light bulb. Oddly, it has nothing to do with being book-smart or having a degree, because some of the best and brightest in academia are unable to do simple tasks around the house. Now, before the baby boomers hop on the millennials claiming that this generation is somehow less talented and weaker than those who walked uphill both ways to school, there are also a lot of older people who are unable to fix things around the house.

The reason why some people are better than others when it comes to weekend projects is because they do not have a choice. Tight budgets and limited paychecks force millions of people to do projects themselves instead of hiring them out. The real reason why some people are better at home projects than others is their attitude. If you are doing a project out of necessity, you will encounter every roadblock and obstacle. Amateurs in home repair tend to believe nothing can go wrong, and it normally does anyways, while others approach the repair trying to gain the knowledge to perform the task to the best of their ability.

The number one way to earn a gold star in home repair is to devote some of the time you spend on the internet each day learning how to fix a current problem around your home. A couple of decades ago, amateurs making repairs around the home had to read directions, call a friend for advice, or figure it out through a trial-and-error process. Today, you can watch a step-by-step video—it is almost like cheating on a test.

Secondly, buy some basic tools. Tools separate the professionals from the amateurs, and they also make the task much easier. Here is the dirty little secret about tools—for most weekend warriors, inexpensive tools work just fine because a good tool is normally designed to last much longer, which is not a real concern for someone using a tool twice a year. Go to flea markets, garage sales, and going out of business sales to fill your toolbox. The wrong time to buy the tool is right when you need it. Be a weekly bargain hunter.

Third, before you tackle a project, map out your strategy. Waking up Saturday morning and deciding to replace the front door on hour house is not a good idea. Good luck in finding the door you want in stock. The best advice is to identify your project, gather the materials needed for the project, secure your tools, and plan a specific time when your total focus is on the project. Plus, if you buy a door from a custom door company, they can machine the door to minimize your work and need for tools. Poor planning will not earn you a gold star.

Fourth, be sure you can physically handle the project and arrange your extra help before you start. As we age, our mind says yes—but our body screams no. If you are a senior, do not try to handle projects that require a lot of lifting or climbing because a trip to the emergency room or morgue will cost more than hiring a professional. Plus, we all have that buddy who will work for beer if he is available. If you are handling something heavy and need an extra hand, ask for help and arrange it prior to your workday.

Finally, before you start any project, believe you can finish it. Most failed projects occur because of a lack of understanding of the complexity of the project or the homeowner lacks basic knowledge as it relates to construction and building codes. Just because you are the homeowner, the state of Florida does not give you a pass on subpar work or ignoring building codes. The standards for you are the same as an experienced general contractor. Before you tear down that load-bearing wall or cut a new window opening in the side of your home, ensure you have the ability, skills, knowledge, and building code information to finish the project. It is too late once a building inspector drops in on your project asking to see your building permit.

If you earn a gold star in home repair, not only will the work become easier, your popularity among your friends will soar as well as the money you save on each project.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House.

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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. 

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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.

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The Pros and Cons of Residential Metal Framing

Mar 4, 2020 9:11:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in construction materials, New Home Construction, post-construction, residential homes, metal framing


Metal framing for new residential homes and remodeling projects has grown in popularity over the last few years. For many years, metal construction framing has been more popular on commercial jobsites where there is more consideration for fire protection and the integration of red iron metal construction. No doubt, metal framing is a proven method of structural building. There are pros and cons to consider when considering metal framing for your next construction project.

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