bookmark_borderTips On Opening Residential Cleaning Services

Residential Cleaning

What are you doing this weekend? Did you have big plans but cancelled them at the last second once you took a look around your home and realized that you can’t put off cleaning up any longer? You shouldn’t have to choose between having a good time with your free time and having a clean home to relax in.

reliable and professional cleaners have received extensive training to make sure that they apply the proper techniques to make your home more sanitary, hygienic and healthy than ever before. Meeting your expectations isn’t good enough

Cleaning That Works for Your Schedule

One of the biggest reasons people in the area pursue our residential cleaning services is because they don’t have time to provide their homes with the thorough, sanitizing cleans they require to improve their home’s esthetics, indoor air quality and overall health

If you had the time, there’s no question that you would disinfect every surface on a regular basis so that the risk of getting sick is next to nothing. Unfortunately, your schedule doesn’t allow you to provide the thorough cleans needed to get rid of harmful bacteria.

Eco-Friendly Options

Another reason our professional cleaners can be such an asset to area home owner is their knowledge of the best products and techniques to get the job done right. How many times have you found yourself at the store staring at all the various cleaning products not having any idea of how they differ? This goes away with our professional home cleaners working on your behalf.

 

What items are included in a basic house cleaning?

Professional house cleaner usually include the following in their basic procedures

Whole House

Dusting

Remove cobwebs

Vacuum all carpets

Change sheets if needed

Dust ceiling fans

Clean mirrors and glass surfaces

Wipe window sills Clean glass doors

Clean prints on windows/doors

Remove all garbage

Reline waste baskets Wash all floors

Disinfect tv remotes, phones, computer keyboards and mouse

In The Bathrooms

Clean/sanitize sinks

Clean/sanitize tubs, shower, toilet

Clean mirrors

Dust light fixtures and bulbs

Wash Floors

In The Kitchen

Clean all counter tops

Clean inside/outside microwave

Wipe down cabinet facings

Clean all appliances outside

Polish stainless steel appliances

Clean glass doors

Clean/sanitize/polish sinks

Wash floors

Proficient housekeeper for the most part remember the accompanying for their essential methodology. Entire House. Cleaning. Evacuate webs. Vacuum all rugs. Wash bed covers if necessary. Residue roof fans. … In The Bathrooms. Clean/sterilize sinks. Clean/sterilize tubs, shower, latrine. Clean mirrors. Residue light installations and bulbs.

 

Things Your Cleaning Service Won’t Tell You

“We’re as good as our word. And that’s not good.”

The typical American who cleans his own home spends 10 hours a month doing so, according to a 2003 study by Vileda, an Illinois cleaning-supplies maker. Apparently, for many folks, that’s too much time

“We’re more about a quick clean than a good one . . .”

In an effort to hit several houses in one day, many housekeepers move through homes like whirling dervishes. That can lead to inattention to detail, loss of property — or just plain bad cleaning.

“. . . that is, if our workers even know how to clean.”

Since she works 60-hour weeks as public relations director at Atlanta’s Four Seasons Hotel, Marsha Middleton hired a cleaning service to reduce hassles at home. But in the past year, she’s gone through five cleaners. One swore she could iron, Middleton says, but “when I said, ‘This is what needs to be ironed,’ she started shaking like a leaf.

“The first time’s going to cost you.”

The average price range for a service to clean a four-bedroom, three-bath home every two weeks is $80 to $125, according to industry experts. If you’ve never used a service before, however, an agency may insist on an initial “deep clean” of your house. That can mean wiping down the inside of a refrigerator instead of just the handle, or moving a couch to vacuum underneath it. That can jack up the price by two to three times the typical fee.

“We don’t really know our own employees.”

Consumers typically leave their key — and their otherwise unoccupied home — in the hands of housekeepers on the day of a scheduled cleaning. But not all consumers are keen to do so. Horror stories, such as the one about a San Francisco-area woman who was stabbed to death a few years ago by a carpet cleaner, only compound those anxieties. How can you feel comfortable about who’s entering your home? First, make sure the agency has cross-checked a worker’s documentation to verify his or her true identity. Then, at a minimum, confirm that the company runs background checks to look for felony and misdemeanor convictions for the past seven years. It also helps if an agency reviews each applicant’s credit history, as well as prior employment and previous judgments against him or her.

 

Tips and Tricks for House Cleaning

You want your home to look its best when friends and family come to visit, but keeping on top of house cleaning can be difficult. With a busy lifestyle, you may struggle to find the time. Even if you do manage to clean regularly, you may not be giving your home the deep clean that it needs. You might be using the wrong cleaning supplies and actually making things worse.

Kitchen Sink

It’s no secret that your kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in your home. Microbiology experts have found that there is a massive amount of e. Coli and other potentially harmful bacteria in most sinks.

Stovetops

If you cook regularly, you probably have a stain or two on your stovetop. You also likely have areas with burnt-in grime. While you might ignore this during regular house cleaning, it can be a problem if you have company coming. It can also become a problem during move out cleaning. To remove char from your stovetop, try using baking soda to scrub the problem spots. This will help remove the char more easily. The next step is to clean the metal pieces of your stove. First, fill your sink with hot water and dish soap. Next, place the metal parts into your sink. Now here’s the trick, add a dryer sheet to the water and let the metal parts soak for an hour. This will help remove the char. Finally, wipe clean and dry.

Your Bed

You spend a third of your life in bed, so you want it to be as clean as possible. Unfortunately, it can be easy to get behind on this house cleaning task. You may not wash your sheets as often as you should and you may not even know how to clean your mattress. First off, you should have a regular schedule for sheet-washing. You can keep your mattress fresh by using baking soda. Cover the mattress with baking soda, allow it to sit, and then vacuum it off. This increases freshness without the need to buy expensive cleaning supplies.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms can be notoriously dirty, yet often we neglect to clean this area as thoroughly as we should. You probably clean the bathrooms in your home regularly, but how often do they get a deep clean?

 

tips for spring cleaning this year (since coronavirus has you quarantined at home, anyway)

OK, so maybe it would take more than a spoonful of sugar to entice you to scrub your toilet bowl. But these five tips should help make spring cleaning tasks in the time of coronavirus quarantines less dread-inducing and more of a piece of cake. You (and maybe your family or roommates) are at home more than usual right now – might as well do something rewarding with all that time

Take advantage of having more time on your hands

Getting started with an annual cleaning project can be daunting: Where do you even start?

“We’re in the unique position right now where you don’t have to worry about getting it all done and running out and taking care of the other things you generally have going on,” Maker says. “This really is kind of a rare and unique opportunity to really take your time with things and spread it out … (Feel) encouraged by the fact that you do have the time, so you can take on some of those projects you would otherwise shun for more exciting things.”

Here’s the order Maker suggests:

Sweep the patio, walkways, clean exterior windows, light fixtures and patio furniture.

Wash interior windows (this is a good one to get the kids to help with).

Clean out closets, cupboards and the pantry.

Change filters, check furnace, carbon monoxide and smoke detector systems.

Deep-clean appliances and under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.

bookmark_borderExplaining Types Of Commercial Painting And Rollers

Marketing for Commercial Painting Jobs

I hope you and your family are having the most awesome holiday season ever. Wouldn’t it be cool to start out 2018 with a big fat commercial repaint contract? The kind that could mean the difference of 10, 20 or 30% increase in sales and profits for your business. If so, I’ve got two great pieces of news for you.

First, let’s talk about timing. You could not be going after commercial repaints in a better time of the year. See, at the end of 2017 there are budget dollars being frantically spent, because so many maintenance directors, facility directors, if they fail to spend that commercial painting budget, then they just don’t get it again the next year. I know it’s counter intuitive to the way we think as small business owners, but when you’re running a huge company and you are managing hundreds of thousands of square feet, or tens of thousands of square feet, these things are done kind of mechanically, so they really need to spend that budget in order to have it renewed the next year.

Number two, as it relates to timing. A lot of people desperately need to do a project around the facility, but it’s been put off because funds have not been released. 2018 comes around, they’ve got quarter one funds now in the account, that they can spend and often it’s a great time to start talking with them. Additionally, a lot of people are submitting their 2018 plans to the higher ups. Sometimes the maintenance guy submits his plans to the facilities guy, sometimes the facilities guy is submitting his plans to the COO, and all of that information requires maintenance painting line items. If you can reach out to that community right now, they are very responsive.

Additionally, typically not as many things are going on this time of year, so they’re more receptive to your message and as an owner, you have time. So you’ve got three things that are working in your favor. It’s almost like if you were to pick a perfect time to fish in any given year, you would fish when they were on the bed right? Well right now, from a commercial repaint standpoint, your prospects are on the bed, so to speak. When you reach out to them make sure that you’ve got a good powerful offer, that you use multistep, multimedia marketing.

Number two, this is the second piece of really good news. When you’re reaching out to this market this Christmas, wouldn’t it be awesome if you knew exactly how to do it? Now, when you’re going out buying Christmas presents for others, there’s a good chance you probably picked up something for yourself. I did that recently, I picked up some Sonos speakers. I love music, I listen to it all the time in the house, and I felt that was a great gift for me, and I love it. Often we’ll spend money on something like that and it’s good to do. What if you could buy something for yourself this Christmas that would teach you how to go after commercial repaints for the rest of your career?

 

Commercial Painting Service & Contracting

We provide value added services by constantly looking at our work through the eyes of the client. A painting job will be a complete waste if it doesn’t address a decorative or maintenance problem. By first understanding the benefits of our services, implementing the scope of work becomes much easier. In our opinion, the customer wants peace of mind, knowing that they hired a qualified contractor

Peace of mind means different things to different people but at the very least, it should include the following:

Full documentation of Insurance and Safety.

Uniformed and trained painters.

Detailed proposals with clear specifications.

Daily communication and updates.

No workplace interference.

Facility Managers. The facility manager’s job is to make sure that buildings run efficiently. When it’s time to procure painting services they rely on the experience of contractors. Some of the facilities we painted include, private office buildings, public museums and colleges, even consulates and trade missions.

Property Managers. A property management company is hired to manage a real estate property. painted apartment and condominium buildings as well as the exterior of townhouse complexes.

Interior Designers. The job of the commercial interior designer is to design and create functional space in a building. A good designer is responsible in running entire renovation projects and managing all the trades and contractors. We love working with designers and over the years we have established great relationships with some of them

 

Residential Painting vs. Commercial Painting: Which Painting Service is Right for You?

As you search for professional painters for your interior or exterior painting project, you will find that there are two main painting services available, residential and commercial painting. It can often be difficult for customers to determine which painters are right for them as both types provide similar services. If you’re wondering how to tell the difference between residential painting and commercial painting, then the following information will aid you in selecting professional painters that are perfect for your next project.

What is Residential Painting?

Residential painting is another term for house painting. Professional house painters are experts when it comes to painting the interior and exterior of single-family homes. When you hire a residential painting company, you can rest easy knowing that a team of painters will work hard to improve your house in terms of aesthetic and structure. Not only are house painters able to transform the look and feel of your home, but they can cater services to you and your family’s unique needs since you live in your home.

What Do House Painters Do?

Professional house painters offer the following interior and exterior painting services that can improve the appearance of your home quickly so you can get back to living in your home. Often, an experienced house painter can also provide an exact quote for your project with no deposit, so there are no surprises because they have painted many homes before.

What is Commercial Painting?

Commercial painting covers larger-scale paint jobs such as restaurants, office buildings, and stores. While apartment, condo and HOA’s are residential in nature, commercial painters also work on these multi-family residences. If you need to brighten up the interior or exterior of your business with fresh paint, or have an apartment building that needs an updated look, you can trust commercial painters to offer reliable, professional service.

What Do Commercial Painters Do?

Commercial painters are highly skilled at updating the interior and exterior of businesses, plus have experience working with general contractors and HOA’s. They can even provide accurate quotes off blueprints before the building is even erected. A commercial painting company can offer your office, apartment complex, retail store, restaurant, or church

 

Things to Consider for Commercial Painting Jobs

Communicate with Color

If you have a graphic designer or marketing manager, it may be a good idea to collaborate your building color with your logo color scheme. Don’t just wing it! Tailoring your building color to your brand communicates that you are intentional and are here to stay. MasterWorks Painting & Remodeling can you help you pick the perfect colors for your commercial project.

First Impressions

Don’t forget about the outside. A bland building can ward off potential customers and even bring down workplace morale. Freshening up your business’s exterior sends a bold statement to your community. After all, your building’s exterior is your first impression.

Thoughtful Design

If you are updating your paint colors, take this opportunity to be intentional about your color scheme and layout. Don’t paint everything the same one color. Use hues of your branding color, add bold accents, and use neutral colors tastefully. Plan out which colors will work best in each room.

Choose Quality

Our commercial painting contractors work within your budget and yield the results you want on time. Don’t trust just any painting company; MasterWorks Painting & Remodeling has years of experience in interior and exterior painting projects. You can count on superior quality that fits the small business budget.

 

Things to Watch for During a Painting Final Walkthrough

Your house is in upheaval. Before you usher your painters out, make sure you do a painting final walkthrough of the job; it will save you heartache in the end. The furniture is all over and packing a lunch for the kids is more than you can bare. That’s right, you’re living in a construction zone. A small painting project can really turn your home upside down. So when it’s completed, you may be excited to push your painters out the front door.

Inspection

It should be a last step of any project in your home. Do a final inspection of the work that was completed. Blemishes and minor repairs can be addressed before the contractors leave. If you neglect to take care of this while they are in your home, the company may be hesitant to set up another appointment to complete repairs. It’s best to bring up issues at the time of the work.

Foundations

Foundations are literally the foundation of the project. Minor preparations can make the difference in a project looking professional or messy. If the project is an exterior against the ground, the contractor should shovel rocks away from the wall so they do not get overspray on the rocks. In contrast, there should be no patches missed in painting to avoid the ground.

Peeling

Check the project area prior to the job and make a note of paint that is gouged or peeling. You’ll want to pay particular attention to these areas at the end of the project. Is the peeling still there? How about that divot? The imperfections should not have been painted over without prior repair. Good prep work means a good outcome in the end

Cracked stucco

Any outside cracks in your home should be properly repaired prior to a paint job. Cracks in stucco should not be filled in with sealer, but with a full masonry patch. If it’s just painted over, you will be able to see the crack in the wall after painting.

bookmark_borderWays To Choose The Right Office Movers And Packers

HOW TO SIMPLIFY YOUR FILE RELOCATION WHEN MOVING TO A NEW OFFICE

Whether you are moving a few large filing cabinets or an entire file room, it’s important to have a plan in place to get your records from one place to another in an orderly fashion.

If you have filing systems that are not permanent fixtures in your building, many people just lock up the drawers and move the filled cabinets, but these can be very heavy and this doesn’t keep your items from being jarred or jostled around in transit, which means loosely packed hanging files can easily fall or spill within the drawers.

Other times, business owners find themselves purchasing bankers boxes, loading them up with all the files and then sorting and reorganizing the files at their new building, a task that can take a significant amount of time.

Internal File Relocation

This is ideal for office moves, relocating active records to archive storage facilities and more. Whether you’re relocating files to a new office, or from one storage area or warehouse to another, our trained and insured staff is here to help.

File Relocation services are available for a variety of organizations including:

  • Businesses and professional services companies
  • Libraries and Archival Facilities
  • Laboratories
  • Healthcare Facilities and more

External File Relocations

If your company is looking to relocate files off-site and out of your active file storage areas, Augusta Data Storage will pick up files for secure transport and refiling at your new location. Additionally, we offer secure off-site storage solutions in our warehouse facility.

 

Why Secure Records Moving Matters

Your daily operations have internal procedures in place to safeguard the identities of your company, your employees, and your clientele. Whenever you move a workplace, these procedures move from the window, especially when you have confidential records being removed from secured storage closets and file rooms. Bear in mind that your business is ultimately responsible for those records throughout the move. Should they’re lost or stolen, your company may suffer from significant losses due to theft or, worse, a client’s identity theft. Appropriate preparation and using a professional workplace is the sole means to mitigate those risks.

Inventory

For those who haven’t been keeping track of your records that are confidential, it’s vital to bring a thorough inventory as soon as possible. Doing a listing enables you to choose which records you must move to the new office, which files may be transferred to storage, and then records can be destroyed. Taking an inventory helps you not just save costs-since you’re simply moving the records you need-but also can help limit the chance associated with moving records that are confidential. Create a detailed inventory of each and every album, then schedule the records you’re able to remove for secure shredding. Bear in mind that lots of records will need to be kept forever based on your industry as well as also the kinds of records you’re required to keep.

Chain-of-Custody

A secure chain-of-custody is the sole means to guard your files along with your company during your office relocation. This entails employing multiple safety checks, including:

  • Using seals to shut off records
  • Meticulous tracking processes
  • Limiting Use of the records to one employee
  • After all regulatory compliance requirements for secure Chain of Custody moves

 

The Office Moving Process

Typically, companies appoint a manager to oversee the moving project. This leader assumes command of all issues related to the office relocation efforts. A moving coordinator from the moving company works directly with this manager to arrange the details of the move.

In most cases a standard office moving procedure works well:

  • Quote: Once you contact Great Guys, we’ll put you in touch with local moving companies who can service your move. These office moving specialists typically provide a moving coordinator to discuss your needs and provide an estimate for services.
  • Walkthrough: After the initial phone call or email exchange, the moving coordinator will contact your point person to schedule a walkthrough. During this walkthrough, the coordinator visually inspects both locations with the manager from your office. The coordinator makes a note of any unique challenges that may arise during the relocation and ensures everyone understands any specific needs. For example, the coordinator will jot down details about freight elevator availability and usage restrictions, the desired floor plan, and timeline for the move. Together, you’ll make sure the logistics are ironed out to help minimize the disruption to your daily course of business.
  • Packing: Either employees or movers break down and pack up workstations and equipment. Most companies prefer employees pack the contents of their desks and ask the movers to drop off pre-labeled crates or boxes at each cubicle or office for employees to use. Employees pack these a day or two before the move; then the moving company transfers the crate to the assigned desk at the new office. On the day of the move, the movers will begin preparing and packing all furniture, cubicles, desks, and other office equipment. Some commercial movers even have a crew dedicated to packing your electronics, computers and IT systems.
  • Labeling: Movers tag boxes and furniture with labels that correspond to areas on the new office floor plan. This system allows for organization and easy sorting and set-up at the destination.
  • Moving: The movers physically haul your boxes, furniture, and equipment to your new office using state-of-the-art moving equipment. Most office movers will arrange to move things after business hours – either overnight or over the weekend – to keep disruptions to a minimum.
  • Unpacking: From rebuilding cubicles to setting out boxes at each employee’s desk, movers handle the setup to get your employees back to work as soon as possible. Specialized moving crews may even help get the phone lines and IT infrastructure back up and running.

 

SERVICES YOU CAN EXPECT WHEN HIRING A PROFESSIONAL MOVING COMPANY:

Building to Building Relocation Services:

No matter how big or small your office is, professional office movers have the perfect plan, strategy, and equipment to get the job done.

The ability to perform local and long distance moves almost anywhere.

Internal relocation services:

It doesn’t matter if it’s just a single office that needs to be shifted, or even an entire floor set up elsewhere, professional movers can work with your company to get it completed.

Receive Assistance with planning and phasing of internal moves

Furniture:

  • Disassembly and re-assembly of furniture during a location move, which includes shelves, desks, conference tables and plenty more.
  • Re-configuration of cubicles during an office move.
  • Wall-mounting services
  • Packing and unpacking services for libraries, file rooms, etc.

With these great services just a call away, there is no reason why you should not hire Able Moving & Storage for your business relocation. When you work with our experienced and knowledgeable office movers, you are working with highly trained professionals that have the proper equipment suited for all kinds of situations.

 

Boxless Office Moving

Boxless moving is really a brand new fad in file room relocations. Even the best office movers use a boxless system which involves specially designed gondolas (essentially secure book-shelves on wheels) in the place of conventional file boxes. All these gondolas may be loaded even more quickly than conventional boxes, in addition to maintain files in order during transport. Businesses do not need to waste time looking for boxes and by hand placing files back in order. Everything is stored and proceeded because it’d be on the shelves at the office. A boxless move empowers your company :

  • Safe all of private documents before, during, and after your office proceed
  • Save on time and reduce the frustration associated with the older way of transferring file chambers, and Reduce the amount of downtime Brought on by the move
  • Save on the cost of transferring, as You won’t require boxes or personnel to spend hours (or days, depending on how big your own office) unloading and loading boxes

Box less relocation handled by professional office movers really are simple, fast, cheap, and hassle-free. Choosing a reputable file room moving company like Admiral exemptions ensures minimum downtime, maximum security, and the least amount of liability from the approach.

bookmark_borderStarting A Tax Preparation Business

Tips for success in tax season

No matter how long you have been or will be in the industry, tax season will never be described as “easy.” Packing the bulk of the year’s work into a few short months defies all possibility of normalcy in the workplace. The combination of long days, lack of sleep and piles of work takes a toll on even the most put-together accountant

Luckily, you can take measures now to make the rest of the 2019 tax season a more manageable, fulfilling experience. To give you some ideas, 10 of Canopy’s in-house tax professionals shared their tips for tax season success. So, whether you are interested in improving teamwork at your firm, taking better care of your health, or learning about specific tax regulations, keep reading for tips you can implement right away.

Set team expectations early and often: “As I’ve worked with various teams through busy seasons, one of the most valuable things we’ve done was set clear expectations. We meet early in the season to discuss as a group how each member of the team will be allowed enough flexibility to take personal time. For example, the team may decide that on certain days the whole team gets to work from home, or we may choose one night each week for a particular team member to leave the office early. Allowing each team member to retain some personal time is crucial for surviving busy season.

Work smarter, not harder: “It is important as an accountant to take care of your mental health during tax season. Work smarter and more efficiently so that you can be home at least twice a week for dinner with family, or make it a point to treat yourself to a movie. In order to work more efficiently, scrub your calendar. Remove all unnecessary meetings

Don’t forget the new pass-through deduction for business income: “Are any of your clients a sole proprietor, partner, member of an LLC or shareholder of an S corporation? If so, remember to apply pass-through income and they may be able to deduct up to 20 percent of their business income when filing their taxes. Based on the title of the deduction, many people are surprised that sole proprietors filing a Schedule C may be qualified for this tax break. As a tax professional, take extra time to understand the specific rules for this new deduction, so you know exactly how to help clients who are in these situations

 

steps for first-time tax filers

Filing your federal income tax return can seem overwhelming. But you can tackle tax season one step at a time—and avoid rookie mistakes—while you take advantage of money-saving opportunities.

You need to file a tax return if you meet or surpass certain levels of income during the year. If you’re employed, look at your pay stub for the “year to date” income—and if you have more than one job, be sure to add up your income from all your employers. Remember to include income from other sources, too, such as money you make on rental property, anything you sell, investments or interest

Stay on top of tax-related paperwork throughout the year; it will make your life easier during tax season. You might want to keep receipts for things like charitable donations, work-related expenses and medical bills, or other items from step 4. You may also want to keep statements from student loans or investments and any grants or fellowships. Having these handy and organized can help you determine whether to itemize and make the process easier. You should keep your paperwork after you file, too. The IRS recommends keeping records for at least three years.

You should receive forms about how much income you’ve earned from your employers and other income sources in January or February. If you are a full-time employee, you will receive a Form W-2 detailing your earnings, as well as which taxes were withheld. If you work freelance or on a contract, you may receive a Form 1099-MISC detailing what you earned. You may also receive documents showing dividends or interest earned on investments (Forms 1099-DIV or 1099-INT, for example), or student loan interest you’ve paid (Form 1098-E). If you’re a college student (or you have a dependent who is), you’ll receive a Form 1098-T that shows how much you paid in tuition, as well as any amounts you received from grants or fellowships, to help you figure out deductions and credits related to education expenses.

Getting a sense of which credits and deductions you may be eligible for can help you pull together the proper documentation. Here are a few to consider:

Saver’s credit. If you are not a full-time student and are not being claimed as a dependent, you may be eligible for a tax credit if you contribute to a retirement plan. The amount of the credit depends on your filing status and adjusted gross income. For the 2020 tax year,  If your filing status is single, you may be eligible if your adjusted gross income is $32,500 or less. If you are married and are filing jointly, you may be eligible if your adjusted gross income is $65,000 or less. However, these numbers are subject to change in future tax years.

Student loan interest. You can deduct up to $2,500 in interest payments, depending on your modified adjusted gross income.

Charitable deductions. Donating to your alma mater or a favorite charity? Generally, you can deduct those donations if you itemize your taxes.

Freelance expenses. If you are self-employed, you may be able to claim deductions for work-related expenses such as industry subscriptions and office supplies.

 

What Do You Need To File Taxes?

Every taxpayer’s situation is unique, and thus it is impossible to list all the items one must bring in for a tax appointment for every type of tax situation.  When in doubt, bring the item in question to your tax appointment

Prior Year Tax Return Copies

If you are a new client, please bring copies of your last 3 years federal and state income tax returns.  R&G Brenner will review them for FREE, and we may be able to amend mistakes/omissions getting you back additional refunds

Personal & Dependent Information

Social Security or ITIN Numbers with date of births for anyone who’ll be on your tax return

Childcare payment records with licensed provider’s ID number(s)

Amount of any alimony payments with ex-spouse SSN

Income Statements

Bring any & all W-2, 1098, 1099 & schedule K-1 forms

Purchase date & total investment for any stocks or property sold

List of investment related expenses

Education scholarships or fellowships

If you are planning on itemizing your deductions (Schedule A) please compose a spreadsheet/list summarizing them.  Itemized deductions include:

Mortgage interest, real estate & personal property tax records

Casualty & theft losses

Amounts of state & local income tax paid in prior years

Records of cash donations to religious institutions, schools & other charities

Records on non-cash charitable donations

Unreimbursed job related expenses (travel, tools, cell phone charges, uniform cost/cleaning, luggage, services fees, trade journals, meals & entertainment)

Job search/moving expenses

 

Should You Do Your Own Taxes?

Asking someone to do your taxes can be a little like asking for help with home improvement tasks. Some people enjoy do-it-yourself (DIY) projects—they have the knack, and would rather save money and keep their business to themselves. Meanwhile, others are happy to outsource these time-intensive chores to a professional, who may also do a better job.

It’s the same when it comes to preparing your own tax return. Whether you decide to pay someone depends on your confidence in crunching numbers and a basic understanding of tax rules, plus your willingness to put in the time.

Tax Laws in Effect for 2019

You might want to enlist the help of a professional to prepare your 2019 return, even if you consider yourself to be pretty tax-savvy, because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made some sweeping changes to the tax code when it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Standard deductions more or less doubled after the law went into effect, and this might make itemizing less attractive to some taxpayers who have chosen that route in the past, particularly because changes were made to quite a few itemized deductions as well.

The Cost Factor

One nice thing about preparing your tax return yourself is that it can be free. If you are an expert and choose to do it the old-fashioned way with a paper return and a pen, you will pay nothing. Many people also choose DIY tax preparation software through companies like TurboTax or H&R Block, which have very low fees and sometimes free deals. These services usually offer tax support and advice.

 

The best tax preparation software

Tax preparation software can speed up and simplify the process. But how do you know which product is best for you? NerdWallet, the personal finance website, did a lot of the legwork for you. Evaluations for the Best Tax Software of 2020 were based on features, tools, ease of use, support and price.

Read this before you buy tax prep software

If your adjusted gross income is below $69,000, visit the IRS website and see if you qualify for the Free File Program. Ten major software companies — including TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxAct — are taking part this year.

If you don’t qualify for IRS Free File, then you should look at the free packages available from the tax preparation companies. TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct, TaxSlayer and Jackson Hewitt all offer free online preparation and filing for those with simple tax returns.

BEST FOR SIMPLE RETURNS: H&R Block Free Edition

NerdWallet Take: “When it comes to tax prep software that can do simple returns at a reasonable price without sacrificing user-friendliness, we think H&R Block Free stands out from the crowd.”

NerdWallet defines a “simple” return as one that has W-2 wages, limited income from interest or dividends (less than $1,500) and taking the standard deduction.

bookmark_borderHow To Get Rid Of Cockroaches For Good

How to Find a Cockroach Nest (and Get Rid of it for Good)

You’ve probably heard warnings about how quickly cockroaches can reproduce and spread through a house. When cockroaches take up residence in a home, it’s because they’ve found conditions they like. A lot.

What Does a Cockroach Nest Look Like?

A roach nest isn’t a tightly wound basket of twigs and grass like you might expect from a bird. And it’s not the sort of carefully gathered nest of materials that you might expect from a mouse or rat.

Basically, a cockroach “nest” looks nothing like a nest. It’s more like the roaches’ messy bedroom, where everything’s lying around in the same general area. Finding a cockroach nest means finding several (or several dozen) cockroaches and, probably, a few dead ones.

You’ll also see plenty of roach droppings and old egg cases lying around. Cockroach droppings are tiny and look like coffee grounds or black pepper. Droppings start to collect in areas with high activity. You might even find it inside kitchen appliances.

Where Do Roaches Live?

Most cockroaches love humid places. Depending on the type of cockroach, some like it hot and some stick to cooler, damp places. But one thing just about all of them have in common is a need for moisture.

 

How to Get Rid of Roaches

There’s nothing worse than flicking on the kitchen lights and seeing (or hearing) the scuttling legs and antennae of cockroaches on your countertops, cabinets, or floor. Not only are these pests a major eyesore, but they can contaminate your food, transmit dangerous bacteria, and worst of all, survive even the best-intentioned eradication attempts. That’s why we turned to an entomologist and pesticide applicator to find the fastest and most effective way to get rid of roaches. Regardless if you’re tackling one sneaky pest or a whole army of cockroaches, follow this five-step guide to shut down even the most stubborn infestations.

Identify the problem area and seek professional help if needed.

Out of over 4,000 cockroach species in the world, most Americans encounter only one or two types: German cockroaches and American cockroaches.

Since cockroaches can taint your food and countertops with illness-causing E. coli and salmonella, don’t take an infestation lightly. If you’re struggling to eradicate roaches or identify where they’re coming from, you may need to bring in pest control professionals to pinpoint the source of the issue

Cut cockroaches off from their food supply.

Just like people, these pests need sustenance to survive. Unlike people, they can live off almost anything left out for them, like unopened food, debris, and even crumbs.

Eliminate any and all hiding places.

In addition to food, roaches need harborage to thrive. Their favorite nooks and crannies include stacks of paper and cardboard boxes, so recycle any materials you have laying around. Cleaning up any clutter will deter roaches from hanging around — or coming back.

 

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Few things are more frustrating than a roach infestation. These persistent pests will make themselves at home in your kitchen, bathroom, and other living spaces as they search for food. Unfortunately, they multiply fast – intensifying the problem. If you’re tired of sharing your home with these cringe-worthy critters, then let’s figure out how to get rid of roaches for you!!

Most Common Cockroaches in the US

There are a few different species of roaches that are present here in Florida, with the most common being the German cockroach and the American cockroach. German roaches are dark brown and usually 1/2” – 5/8” in size, while American roaches are darker and bigger at 1-1/2” to 2”. Both types of roaches are active year-round, using coming out predominantly at night to find food and water. Roaches are nocturnal creatures and usually spend their days hiding away in dark, protected spots around your home.

What Attracts Cockroaches to Your Home

No matter the type of pest – whether it’s roaches, ants, termites, or rodents – they’re all most likely searching for food and water sources which they can easily find in your home. Roaches, in particular, are drawn to warm,

How Roaches Enter Your Home

Roaches are attracted to your home for a variety of reasons (listed above), but attraction is only the first part. They have to actually be able to get INTO your home to wreak havoc

Thoroughly Clean Your Home

This may seem like a given, but roaches are attracted to dirt and filth because they’re always on the lookout for new sources of food. The easiest way to keep roaches out of your home is by keeping it clean

 

Where to find cockroaches at night

We all know that cockroaches are not friendly household companions. They disturb your day, contaminate your food, and when you try to kill them, they run away to places you can’t reach them.

They are experts of circumvention, and they can run around in the tiniest nooks and crannies, especially in dark places. There are over 4000 species of cockroaches, but only 40 of these species are considered house pests. They are most attracted to food and water, which are highly present in your home.

Even when you try and protect your home from these pesky creatures, they always find a hideaway place in your home. There are so many places around your home that they can be in, these are some of their favorite places.

They lurk in pipes

Because cockroaches like water, they will hang around pipes. Cockroaches need water to keep them hydrated, and can only live up to a week without any water.

Parts where pipes come into homes like through the walls, floors and behind cabinets, are often moist and good places where there is strong humidity that can be very attractive to cockroaches. Always make sure to check for any leaks and repair it as soon as possible to avoid cockroaches and other pest infestation.

 

will natural cockroach repellent works?

How to kill cockroaches naturally with baking soda

Who would have thought if baking soda may be the solution to remove pesky pests like bed bugs and cockroaches at home? Besides useful for used in baking cakes and pancakes, baking soda is also known to be a great ingredient to make roach traps because it’s effective and safe to use around pets if you have any at home.

Method: Take equal parts of baking soda and a pinch of sugar in a shallow bowl, then place it near to the cockroach-infested areas or in where roaches are usually roaming at your house. The sugar attracts the cockroaches while baking soda will kill them. Once they eat it, baking soda will react badly by creating gas inside of the stomach and cause its stomach to burst. All you have to do afterwards is just clean up the dead roaches.

How to kill cockroaches naturally coffee grounds

Don’t throw out those used coffee grounds! A lot of people already know coffee grounds can be composted for your garden, but little they know if coffee grounds can be a good natural repellent for cockroaches at home.

Method: Cockroaches do not like acids produced from coffee grounds. Sprinkle coffee grounds near to the entry points that usually cockroach passed. This natural repellent may keep roaches from getting inside your house.

How to kill cockroaches naturally with garlic

The aroma of garlic has long been known to have repellent effects to many insects, including cockroaches. Garlic has a pungent smell that cockroaches don’t like.

bookmark_borderReasons It’s Better To Invest In A Home Remodelling

How to Choose a Home Remodeling Contractor: Your Complete Guide

Are you looking to hire a home remodeling contractor? Who should you choose? Check out this guide to learn how to choose a home remodeling contractor. Did you know that the average homeowner spends $15,000 on home renovation projects? With the massive amount of money that you spend investing in turning your home into your dream home, finding the perfect home remodeling contractor to help turn your dream home into reality can be challenging.

Do Phone Interviews

Once you have a list of contractors that you’re interested in working with, make a quick call to each of the contractors. During the phone interview, you should ask the contractors you’re interested in hiring the following questions.

Have a Face to Face Meeting

Moving forward with the contractors that you feel passed your phone interview, ask to meet in person. The contractors that you’re asking to meet in person should be able to answer all of your questions in full detail, with ease. It’s crucial to hire a contractor that has solid communication skills, as they’re going to be completely responsible with making sure that you get what you’re wanting out of the project.

Get Credentials

Don’t hire a contractor after the face to face meeting! Before hiring, make sure to double-check the credentials of the contractor you want to hire. Make sure that the contractor holds all of the required licenses that the state and city municipalities require for the region you live in. You should invest your money into contractors who have invested in training to earn certifications!

Start Bidding

Now that you’ve narrowed down your potential list to just a few names, it’s now time to start bidding! A contractor that’s worth your investment will want a complete set of blueprints and a list of what you (as the homeowner) want out of the project. After they’re received this information from you, they should give you an estimate of what they’re going to spend on your project.

 

Before You Remodel Your Home

Draw Your Dream

Even before you consult an architect, you can begin sketching out your ideas and imagining your dreams—just get over the reasons not to remodel your home first. If you are adding or expanding a room, think about how the space will be used and how the changes will affect traffic patterns. Also consider how new construction will affect the overall context of your home. An oversized addition may overwhelm your house or crowd a small lot. A simple home design software program can help you visualize your project.

Learn From Others

One of the best ways to get inspiration and to avoid pitfalls is to follow the experiences of other homeowners. A number of Web sites offer online chronicles of home improvement projects, along with reply forms, message boards, and chat rooms that let you ask questions and get feedback.

Think Ahead

Although you may dream of having a spacious new addition, the project may not make sense if you plan to sell your house in a few years. A luxury bathroom can price your house beyond the values in your neighborhood. Some projects, such as vinyl siding on a Queen Anne Victorian, will actually decrease the value of your home. Moreover, your own family’s needs may be very different in a few years.

Count Your Money

Even the best-laid budgets can go bust. Chances are, your remodeling project will cost more than you expect. Before you set your heart on high-end ceramic tile, find out how much you have to spend and make sure you have a cushion against cost overruns. For must-have items that could wipe out your savings account, explore home improvement loans and other financing options. If you own your home, a line of credit is often the best bet. Consider online borrowing from reputable companies that bring together small investors with borrowers. The Better Business Bureau reviews companies, such as the Lending Club. Some people depend on crowdfunding, but you should know your comfort level and understand what you’re getting into.

Choose your team

Unless you plan to take on the entire remodeling project by yourself, you’ll need to hire helpers. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that the folks who work for you are qualified, licensed, and properly insured. But, finding the best team for your remodeling project goes beyond a simple reference check. The architect who has won top awards may have a design vision very different from your own. If you have an older house, hire someone who knows the time period when your house was built; putting a finger on historical appropriateness is an undervalued skill. Use these resources to find the professionals you feel comfortable with

 

When Is the Best Time To Remodel?

There are plenty of home renovations you could do at any point in the year, but knowing the best time to do these projects can significantly cut down your costs. Spring and summer are popular seasons for remodeling, but they might not be the most economically efficient times to work on your project.

Ideally, you’ll work with a contractor on your remodel before their busy season is in full effect. This will allow your contractor to devote ample time and resources to your project. Depending on where you live and what type of project you’re looking to do, different times of the year may be better than others when it comes to remodeling

Summer

Fix Up the Fireplace: When it’s hot outside, you’re not thinking about coming inside to roast by the fire — and neither is anyone else. That’s why summer can be the prime for hiring fireplace remodeling professionals. Whether you’re repairing cracks, putting on a fresh coat of fire-rated paint or mixing up the materials that make up the mantel, you want the fireplace ready to roast chestnuts as soon as those temperatures drop.

Fall

Paint the House: Summer might be the most popular time of year to repaint a home’s exterior, but depending on the climate where you live, fall may be a suitable and slightly less expensive option. Power washing is often done in the fall — and that is an important preparatory step for any outside painting job. But before you schedule a pressure washing session and new paint job back to back, check with a professional painter in your area on how to best time these services.

Winter

Build a Deck: If you want to enjoy sitting out on your new deck in the spring and summer, you’ll want it built toward the early part of the season. A deck designer will need to map out a plan before any construction can begin, and because winter is their slowest season, it’s probably the best time to reach out about your remodeling job.

 

Common Home Remodeling Questions & Answers

Remodeling your home is a big project to undertake, even if you aren’t doing the remodeling part on your own. As an experienced remodeling company in Delaware, we get a lot of questions regarding remodeling a home. We’ve compiled this list of the most common home remodeling questions and answers to help you with your remodeling journey and be the informed consumer you want to be before diving into a remodeling project in Delaware. If you have questions we didn’t answer, leave us a comment or give us a call, we would be happy to help in any way we can.

How much will my remodel cost?

Of course, your specific remodeling costs will depend on the level of remodeling, the features you choose, and the size of your space. We have a couple of generalized cost guides to help you get a better idea of how much your remodel will cost.

How long will my remodel take?

Again this question depends on the type of remodeling you are interested in for your home. The remodeling timeline will be different depending on which room you’re remodeling, how big the space is, and the decision making between you and your remodeler. Here are a couple of resources on the most popular remodels and how long they take

Where should I start remodeling?

If you’re looking to remodel your whole home, you may be wondering where to start or if you should do it all at once. If you’re living in your home through the remodel, you may want to take the remodel room by room. However, if you won’t be in the house throughout the remodel, you may want to do everything at once

How do I start remodeling my home?

The first step to remodeling your home is research. Take a look around your home – now what is a functional problem and what is a design problem. What would you like your home to look like? Get some inspiration from sites like Houzz or Pinterest and what others have done. Once you have a good idea of what you’d like to do, start researching remodelers who can help you achieve your vision.

 

home renovations that return the most at resale

renovations can make us happier in the places we call home, but some updates can add real value when it’s time to sell or refinance. Because some renovations —  think an updated kitchen, new deck or remodeled bathroom — can get pricey, it’s helpful to know what kind of return you might expect before you decide to take on a remodeling project.

Why to consider a home renovation

Remodeling your home adds to your enjoyment, but it can also boost your home’s value over time, too. When you refinance your home, for instance, renovations will be taken into account when a property appraiser assesses your home’s current market value. A higher home value means you’ll have more equity, a lower loan-to-value ratio. You might even be able to cancel private mortgage insurance payments earlier than anticipated.

How much you should invest in home renovations

Before you shell out big bucks for custom updates in your home, having a solid understanding of what renovations yield the highest return for the money is key. You also have to take into account your budget and your renovation goals.

Best home renovations

Whether you plan to stay in your house for a long time or just a few years, it’s smart to know which home renovations add the most value. Here are the six home remodeling projects that deliver the highest returns, according to the Cost vs. Value report.

Garage door replacement

A good-looking garage door tops the list when it comes to getting cash back on your investment when you decide to sell your house. The estimate for this job is based on the cost of removing and disposing of an existing 16-by-7-foot garage door (or two-car garage door) and replacing it with a new four-section garage door with heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks, assuming the motorized garage door opener is compatible. This curb-appeal enhancer will get you back almost every dollar you spent on it when you sell your house.

bookmark_borderWinter’s Biggest Pest Problem Is Rodent Infestation

What are the methods of controlling rodents?

THREE STEPS TO IMPLEMENTING RODENT CONTROL IN YOUR HOME

Rodent control is a major issue for many homeowners. Rats and mice have the ability to transfer diseases, contaminate food and cause structural damage. They are also accomplished chewers, known for gnawing their way through barriers with their powerful front teeth. In fact, the word rodent originates from the French word, rodere, which means “to gnaw.”

Follow these top three methods for rodent control:

BLOCK ENTRANCEWAYS

For effective control of rodents, it is important to ensure that rats and mice have no way of entering your home. Do a thorough inspection of your house, checking for cracks, crevices and other openings. The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control by Arnold Mallis, advises sealing all gaps with an exterior-grade sealant, or cement whenever possible.

Large areas around pipes should be covered in mesh first, and then sealed with cement. Metal panels at the bottom of wooden doors or windows can help prevent rodents from chewing through. You should also cover ventilated areas with mesh.

PREVENT EXTERIOR ACCESS

Trees, weeds and overgrown vegetation can provide access to your home and serve as a food source for rats and mice. For effective rodent control, keep trees trimmed, ensuring that no branches are touching the outside of your home. Eliminate weeds and cut back grass and vegetation, keeping it at low levels.

Store outdoor items and firewood at least a few inches off of the ground. If you have outdoor pets, try to schedule feedings during daylight and do not leave food out overnight. To prevent rodents from accessing garbage, keep trash bags tightly sealed and stored in garbage cans with lids. If you have excessive trouble with rats or mice, consider using rock or concrete landscaping along the edges of your home to keep vegetation at a more suitable distance.

REMOVE INSIDE ATTRACTORS

Sanitation is critical to rodent control. Rats require about 1 to 2 ounces of food per night and at least double the amount of water. Mice require less food and do not require water daily. Do not leave food out on the counter or in open storage. Put all food in airtight containers and keep it stored in cabinets and pantries, or in the refrigerator. Throw garbage out nightly, clean crumbs off of countertops and vacuum floors if necessary.

 

The Basic On Rodent kontrol

Removing rodents with traps or poisons will not keep rodents out of your home in the future. To permanently keep rats and mice out of your home or business, you will need to prevent access by sealing all possible entry points. It is equally important to eliminate rodent attractions such as food and water by keeping food in tightly sealed containers and repairing leaky pipes.

Common Sources of Food and Water

  • Food in unsealed containers such as bags of chips, rice, cereal, crackers, flour, and other non-perishables.
  • Pet food and water left out overnight or in a bag rather than in a secure container.
  • Fruits or vegetables in open bowls left outside of refrigerator.
  • Leaky pipes or faucets throughout the house.
  • Open trash and compost containers.

Common Rodent Access Points

  • Holes near cabinets, closets or doors leading to outside or crawl spaces.
  • Holes around sink or appliance pipes.
  • Cracked foundations in the basement or unscreened ventilation holes in the attic, especially in older structures.
  • Holes around windows or doors.
  • Missing screens in vents or crawl spaces under buildings.

 

Mechanical control

Two types of mechanical control of rodents can be used

Entry proofing

By blocking rodent pathways and entry ways rodents can be controlled effectively. Consider this method for drains, ducts, doors, windows and any other entrances that can be used by the rodents. Use of wire nets and ensuring that all windows and doors have no gaps is a good measure. Start by preventing them from entering the compound first if possible and follow up with blocking entrances to stores. For grain stores, poultry houses and other elevated areas, rodent deflectors made of simple sheet metal placed on the supporting posts will effectively prevent rodents from entering.

Trapping

Many types of traps exist. The most common are trigger traps, cages and glue traps

  • Trigger traps

The trigger traps trip when a rodent walks on them and the quick tripping action hits and traps the rodent. Large rodents have been known to drag these traps to their hideouts.

  • Cages

The cages work by luring the rodents into the enclosure that has a trap door. This means that once the rodent is inside, it cannot be able to leave the cage. The rodent is then allowed to die or starvation or killed by any other means.

  • Glue traps

Glue traps are place on rodent pathways. They are most effective against mice due to their small size. A rodent bait can be placed on the glue to encourage the rats or mice to walk on the glue. Once trapped, the glue plate has to be discarded. Glue traps can be bought or can be made by smearing rodent glue on cardboard pieces

For all mechanical traps, it is important to inspect the traps regularly to remove the trapped rodents, to replenish the bait, to clean the trap and to reset the trap.

 

Monitoring

An important element of any rodent programme is monitoring. Usually it means surveillance for the presence of rodents. However it should also mean looking for features in the environment which would encourage rodents to migrate into it. Monitoring should be organised formally and regularly; that is, specie c staff should be made responsible for it and report regularly, maybe once a week to a superior on the situation. The report should include the following aspects:

  • dates monitored;
  • number, types and positions of signs of rats;
  • condition of the building (broken pipes, walls etc., state of produce, tidiness or cleanliness);
  • conditions immediately outside the building with respect to potential infestation points;
  • qualitative reports by others;
  • dates of baiting;
  • number of bait stations used and positions;
  • amount of bait and labour used;
  • recommendations for improvement, such as repairs to structures, or further action required.

Control of a rodent infestation is rarely completely successful; but if it is, it is usually only for a very short period. Therefore there is a need for continuous monitoring even after a successful control campaign regardless of the techniques and bait used.

 

Sanitation

Just like all other pests, rodents enter your home in search of food and shelter. Since they tend to settle near their food source, your first task is to make sure you stop being a food provider. Otherwise, you will constantly share your home with uninvited roommates that will make a real mess. Think about all the places in the house where rodents might easily find a meal. You should always store food in plastic or glass containers with tight, fitting lids. This also applies to your pet’s food. Never leave food in paper or plastic bags because rodents can tear them with a single bite.

Rodent-proofing

Although sanitation is the most important aspect of rodent control, sometimes even the cleanest of houses experience trouble with rodents. This can happen due to a large rodent infestation close to your home. As soon as they breed to the point where there’s not enough food for everyone, rodents will try to enter your home. That’s why you can’t have proper rodent control without rodent-proofing your house.

Rodent “hunting”

If sanitation and rodent-proofing fail you, or you are already facing a big rodent infestation as you read this, you’ll have to find a way to get rid of these pests. You can do this in several ways.

Natural predators

You can successfully deal with rodents by keeping natural rodent predators such as cats or barn owls. Just have in mind that some cats are not natural rodent hunters. On the other hand, a family of barn owls can eat more than three thousand rodents during their nesting season. You can attract barn owls by placing a shelter box outside your house.

bookmark_borderWhat You Need To Know Before Short Listing The Best Wedding Photographer

What your wedding photographer wants you to know.

Most wedding magazines and sites will give you a list of questions to ask a wedding photographer. Stuff like: “Can you describe your style? What equipment do you shoot with?” But let’s be real: Those questions are boring. And you probably don’t actually care about the answers anyway, So I surveyed some wedding couples and photographers, and put together a list of all those questions you really want to ask with all those things we really want you to know below –

How do I pick a good photographer when there are hundreds out there?

First, check online. Obviously, if you’ve checked trippix, you’re in the right place. The photographers listed are initial partners and are accustomed to online inquiries and bookings.

How many photos do I get after the wedding?

Each wedding photographers typically deliver 50–100 photos for every hour of coverage. So, a couple of hundred photos may seem like a lot, but your wedding photographer is preserving all those little details and the moments you missed while you were mingling.

 

I love those photos with the blurry backgrounds. How do you get that look?

You’re talking about shallow depth of field. Photographers get that look by using professional lenses that are able to focus tightly on the subject.

I found one photographer whose images look soft and pastel, one whose images look clean, and one whose images look like they were shot on old film. What’s the deal?

Every photographer has a different way of editing their images using computer software (the high-tech version of a darkroom). This is called “Post-Processing.” Most photographers do some basic lighting and color adjustments, but you can also use editing software to create a unique look. Three popular styles right now are:

  • Clean: lightly processed to appear natural
  • Matte: a low-contrast look with muted pastel colors, similar to vintage film
  • High Contrast: a vibrant look with rich colors that pop

It doesn’t matter which style you go with, as long as you love it!

Why is wedding photography so freakin’ expensive?

This is the question I see most from brides on the interwebs. Wedding photography seems like easy money — work for one day and rake in the cash, right? But most full-time wedding photographers I know carry over $15,000 worth of wedding gear and often work 60-hour weeks. (Remember those 800 images from question #2? It takes several full days just to edit those.)

Add insurance, taxes, software, advertising, albums, repair, shipping, and studio expenses, and many photographers end up making less than minimum wage for the first few years of their career.

 

The more you trust me, the better your images will be (and yes, your dress will get dirty). 

Fact. My favorite words a couple can say to me, are “we’re up for anything!” Those are the couples who get crazy beautiful images. We try things that seem nuts to them at first, but they trust me anyway, and are blown away with the results! This includes the time of day you get married, and how much time you give me for photos of the two of you. Lighting is EVERYTHING for photos. Yes, your dress will likely get dirty and you might think I’m crazy, but I don’t think you’ll regret it once you see your photos! The more freedom you give me to be creative, the better your wedding photos will be. Truth.

I’m not God.
Nope! I hope you already knew this. But I’ll say it again, I’m not God. I don’t control the weather, or the lighting. That’s up to the man upstairs. If it rains, I’ll roll with it! Shooting in the rain is less scary than it seems and we can still get some beautiful photos. But don’t expect me to have a tent and umbrellas for 300 people in my camera bag. That’s just silly.

I don’t want you to look at me.
No seriously. During your engagement session and bride and groom portraits, I don’t want you to look at me! Unless I tell you to. The goal is to get you to interact with each other and share some beautiful moments together! I’m just there to capture it all. Of course, I’ll give you some cues and help you out along the way. But for the most part, just try to forget I’m there, and you’ll love your images!

 

We need to eat when you do.

Not only that, but we just plain need to eat. Sometimes we get forgotten, but by the time dinner rolls around we have most likely already been working for 6 or 7 hours. You and your posse are our #1 priority. Nobody wants their picture taken with a mouth full of food, so plan for us to eat while you eat so we can be finished when you are. Some reception venues and caterers will insist on serving vendors last, so be sure to address this with your venue or caterer prior to your wedding day.

Don’t forget about your photographer in the midst of a sea of iPhones.

Everyone wants a photo with the bride and groom on their wedding day – you are looking and feeling fabulous and it’s a once in a lifetime event. Don’t forget and most definitely don’t be shy when you are taking a group photo with someone’s iPhone. Call us over – we would love to capture a photo on our cameras so you have a copy. We’ll even take a photo with your friend’s iPhone so they can be in the picture too!

 

Instruct your DJ to communicate with the photographer during the reception.  

It’s best if they let me know BEFORE they start the cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc., so I can be prepared for these shots. Your aunt Margorie might have dragged me into another room and is having me take pictures of your second cousins twice removed while something important is happening on the dance floor. And then I’ll miss it. And you’ll be upset. And so will I!

Brides should go first (or close to it) for hair and make-up.  

Too many times bridesmaids make lots and lots of changes and that takes up the make-up artists’ time, which makes the bride late to start – which means late first look, rushed bridal party portraits, and all together… less photos. Bridesmaids can really sabotage a day. And sometimes on purpose!

bookmark_borderMain Job Description Of Camera Operator

Random Tips from a Professional Camera Operator

My childhood dream was to be a camera operator. I wanted to be the person looking through the camera and framing a shot. While I would have enjoyed having a long career as an operator, I entered the business at a time when operators were a dying breed, and the only people guaranteed careers as operators were Steadicam operators. I wasn’t particularly interested in doing that, so I moved towards being a director of photography faster than I had expected. Most of the shoots I do don’t require, or won’t hire, an operator, so in a way I’m still a career operator. I just get to light the shots as well as operate them

No one taught me how to be an operator. At a young age I found myself drawn to strong compositions in certain TV shows and movies, and I sought to emulate those compositions with my Regular 8mm film camera. Over time I learned, through trial and error and the occasional tip from those more experienced than I, how to move the camera predictably and repeatedly

LEARN THE GEARED HEAD

I really enjoy working with geared heads, although I rarely get to use them anymore. Most of my projects can’t afford to rent one for me. Hopefully this will change with the advent of the Gearnex geared head, which I’ve now used on several shoots

Buy, rent or borrow a geared head and strap a laser pointer to it: learn to write your name in light on a wall.

Although this is the most commonly recommend way of learning the wheels, I’m skeptical of this method as it teaches you to write your name in light on a wall–which is something you’ll never do. In my career–approaching 23 years in the film industry–I’ve only once had to follow text with a geared head, while operating second camera on a feature called “No Way Back.” A gang member spray painted words onto the side of a tunnel, and I had to follow his writing in third gear, with no rehearsal, on an 85mm lens. I nailed it, and I’d never done anything like that before.

Buy, rent or borrow a geared head and strap camera to it: follow people around.

Learning to read, and react to, body language is a huge part of operating a camera. You’ll get a lot farther faster if you learn to follow people around and interpret body movement and language through the wheels than you will simply learning the craft of moving the wheels, which is what the laser pointer technique teaches

 

Tips for being an Outstanding Camera Assistant

Being a professional Camera Assistant can be the hardest job on the crew. It carries more responsibility than most people think and even worse… while everyone else is on a tea break, the Camera Assistant is usually working, loading magazines, filling out Camera Report Sheets or organizing the camera equipment for the next set-up.

The stuff I’ve written here is based on film camera assistants but the rules apply for video assistants too. So, without further ado… let us begin! All experienced camera crews working at the top end of the film and TV industry such as   Cinematographers, Lighting Camera men/women, Camera Operators and Focus Pullers, have all done their time as Camera Assistants.

Always be a good time keeper and turn up at least 15 minutes before you are expected to start work. General rule of thumb: “If you’re on time… you’re late!”

Strive to be efficient and organized – Your aim is to be an outstanding Assistant. (Never aim for mediocrity, it won’t get you anywhere.)

When the camera is not in use keep it low on the tripod or preferably keep it in a safe place on the ground. Always place it on a groundsheet and protect it from moisture or dust with the rain cover.  Remember: “If it’s on the ground, it can’t fall any further!”

 

How To Be a Better Camera Operator

Welcome back to part 3 of my “How To Be A Better Camera Operator” series (if you haven’t read part 1 and part 2… what are you waiting for?! Haha). In this post we’ll be looking at Camera Equipment – there’s lots of information flying around all over the place about gear, so sometimes it can be very tough to see what’s really important about the kit you use. In this post I’ll try to cover what you need, why you need it and how to make sure it keeps doing what you want it to do!

Cameras

As there are so many different cameras out there I’m not going to discuss the ‘right’ camera to choose or use, as this largely depends on the type of work you do and anyway, as I’m sure you’ve already discovered there’s so much stuff online now about all the various cameras that are available, their pros and cons, special features and …well the internet groans under the strain of it all!

One thing I will say though is that having the latest, all singing all dancing camera with the brand new bells and whistles doesn’t make you a better camera operator. Similarly just because you have Microsoft Word on your computer doesn’t make you a better writer than William Shakespeare. I think you’ll all agree that even though good old Will had nothing but an unpretentious sharpened goose feather to work with… he kind of managed ok!!!

Camera Care

Looking after your camera is number one. It’s simple…Look after your equipment and your equipment will look after you.

DO: Always have a rain cover handy if you are filming outdoors. Also use a lens cap ready for the lens. Pretty obvious really, water and electrics don’t mix! To protect the lens from rain a great tip used by loads of camera assistants is to use disposable shower caps (the sort you sometimes find in hotels) because they are elasticated it only takes a second to snap one over the lens: it’ll protect it between Takes from those potentially damaging and annoying rain droplets.

 

qualities to look for when hiring a cameraman or crew

Great attention is given to actors, directors and producers, but what about the guy (or gal) you never see – the one on the other side of the lens? The one who holds a 25 lb. piece of equipment on their shoulder, while walking along a bumpy road with their vision tunneled into a small 1 inch rectangle, trying to get “the shot”….the cameraman

Easy to work with/Flexible

Finding someone who is flexible and easy to work with is always nice to have, but it is especially true when selecting a camera operator. You want someone who can: put those being filmed at ease; be patient when working on set during unavoidable delays; and be understanding about reshooting if you’re not getting what you had envisioned. You may be able to step in and do an “okay job” at other tasks, but shooting with a $50,000 camera and lens takes technical skills learned through school and years of practice

Honed technical skills/Tech savvy

Operating a camera, maintaining composition and adjusting camera angles is no easy feat. Learning, understanding and honing the technical skills required to become an operator takes many years – and then several more to hone a specialty. For instance, to be good at news requires a cameraman who is quick thinking and fast on their feet.  Others may be good at sports production and following the ball, or an expert in EFP (Electronic Field Production) which requires precise lighting and composition.  Still others specialize in multi-cam for meetings and the like, and then some can do it all.  Camera operators also need to stay up-to-date on shooting techniques, lighting, new equipment, and a plethora of formats, frame rates and resolutions

Physical stamina and strength

While keeping abreast of the latest news through industry associations, forums and journals is important for honing technical skills, the camera operator must also possess physical stamina, strength and manual dexterity. Shooting, although lots of fun, can also be very demanding – with long hours, challenging conditions, and the need to be on your feet all day

Creativity: they have a “good eye”

Creativity is something that cannot be taught. A good camera operator will be able to spot a good opportunity and have an artistic eye for framing shots. Having the ability to look through the lens and picture how all of the elements come together – visual composition, perspective, lighting and movement – is crucial so that the images captured will reinforce your message and tell your story in the way you want it to and one that is consistent with your brand image

 

A GUIDE TO BECOMING A CAMERA OPERATOR

Director of Photography Etienne Sauret’s Viewpoint

Experienced camera operators possess unique combinations of skills. They all seem to have artistic sensibilities – facile perception, a keen eye and the ability to compose balance and beauty in a frame; they also have impressive technical skills – a solid understanding of lighting, audio equipment, electrical requirements and even the physics required to produce the right shot with efficient timing. Due to the rigorous demands of the job, and the un-repetitious nature of the work, most camera operators build a career with a blend of education and on-the-job training. They also tend to be confident, lifelong learners willing to take on new challenges and learn new technologies to develop their craft.

The Camera Operator Job

A camera operator is someone who sets up a camera and records images that will later be edited for an audience. Camera operators are employed to film TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, news segments, corporate meetings and sports events. In the US, most operators work in the motion picture industry or in television broadcasting, but the number of operators working in corporate video production is increasing. Some camera operators are employed by production houses, corporations and institutions such as churches with in-house studios; and others work as freelancers or owner operators. The median annual Camera Operator salary in the US is $38,938, as of November 07, 2016, with a range usually between $31,958-$47,334, however this can vary based on geography and industry. For example, the mean income for the motion picture industry is $64,810 and the mean income for Broadcast and Radio is $51,970.

Assess Your Physical, Technical and People Skills

Your path to becoming an operator starts with taking a self-assessment. Since a camera operator does indeed operate camera equipment and its related accessories (which can add up to over 100 lbs with the most sophisticated camera packages), there is a level of comfort with the physical and technical nature of the work that you must be able and willing to develop. Learning about the highly technical specifications and capabilities of cameras, audio equipment and lighting is the foundation of becoming an operator. If you are fascinated with gadgets and new technology and you can’t keep yourself from experimenting with your camera settings and the video editing software on your computer, you might have what it takes for the multi-year process to learn the craft.

Commit to Lifelong Learning

After you develop a basic understanding of the concepts and equipment camera operators use, you must put them into practice with an internship or camera assistant position with a film or video production crew. In such positions, you will be shadowing, moving equipment around, running errands, performing administrative tasks and occasionally adjusting a camera. Eventually after a year or two, you will work your way to running a camera or jib. It is important that you volunteer to do everything you have permission to do as an assistant to understand how a crew works and how each person impacts the production process. It is important to take these tasks seriously as they are all essential for a production to be successful. You will also establish your reputation as hard worker who is eager to learn, shows up on time and gets the job done.

A Very Rewarding Career

A camera operator’s career is one that truly gives back. If you put the work into it, you will get amazing rewards. These rewards start with the aesthetics and social impact of the films and video you help create but they don’t end there. As you build your reputation in this industry, you will stand out and be appreciated among a select group of people that chose this work. The sky is the limit if you stay focused and seize every opportunity

bookmark_borderHow To Clear A Clogged Toilet With A Toilet Auger

Tips For Preventing Toilet Troubles

DO clean your toilet regularly with a mild cleaner. Vinegar, baking soda, or a mild soap are all great for regular porcelain cleaning. Not only does cleaning your toilet help you keep a more hygienic, better smelling bathroom, it also gives you the opportunity to spot a leak or a problem with your bathroom’s plumbing fairly quickly. If you never really clean up around the toilet area, how will you know if that water on the floor is from your shower, your toilet, or the sleepwalking male members of your household?

DON’T use chemical drain cleaners to unclog your toilet. While some plumbers say ‘yea’ and others say ‘nay’ when it comes to using these products, we say it’s just not worth the risk. Not only are these products harmful to your health if accidentally splattered on your skin, consumed, or even inhaled too much, they can damage older fixtures and pipes, and really aren’t something anyone wants in our water systems. They can also cause a lot of trouble for homes with septic systems if they kill off the good bacteria in there.

DO inspect your toilet’s inner workings about every 6 months to make sure the components are still in good shape and functioning properly. Take the tank lid off and flush the toilet. Watch the components work, making sure the flapper is sealing well and the fill valve stops running at an appropriate water level.

DO fix a running or leaking toilet right away. Toilet leaks are typically “silent”, in that you won’t necessarily find a puddle of water on the floor since the water is usually leaking out from the tank into the bowl (and down the drain). This makes it fairly easy to overlook the leak, or to keep putting off fixing it. Toilet leaks are generally slow leaks too, so you might not even notice a small increase in your bills each month until you look back and realize you’re paying $100 more for water this month than you did at the same time last year.

DON’T use a brick to save water in your tank. Unless your toilet is older than the mid-90’s, you’re using 1.6 gallons per flush (or less), and most sewage systems really do need that much water to effectively move the waste. If your toilet is older and you want to save water, we recommend filling a water bottle with sand or small rocks and using that to displace some of the water. Bricks can break down and clog your pipes.

 

The Right Way to Use a Plunger

If your toilet’s overflowing or your sink’s stopped up, it’s time to take the plunge! About 90 percent of the time, a clog can be cleared with just a couple of thrusts of a plunger. To make the messy job easy, though, it’s important to have the right kind of plunger and the proper technique. As it turns out, not all plungers are created equal; some are best suited for sinks and showers, while others are appropriate for use on toilets. Once you’ve determined the best tool for the job, success is all about form. Contrary to popular practice, repeatedly flushing while frantically pumping won’t release the blockage any faster—instead, it will break the plunger’s seal and ruin the suction. To keep the water flowing freely down your pipes, avoid those amateur mistakes and learn to plunge like a pro with these valuable tips.

Pick the Perfect Plunger

Start at the very beginning: While there’s probably a shelf full of plungers available for purchase at your grocery or home improvement store, the two most common styles are the cup plunger and the flange. It’s smart to stock one of each and be familiar with their strengths so you can determine which one’s right for your mini-emergency.

he Cup: When you think of a plunger, the image that comes to mind most often is that of a simple wooden handle attached to a rubber cup. It’s this cup that gives the tool the name “cup plunger.” This design is most effective on flat-surface drains, which are found in the sink and bathtub. While it works well for a sink, shower, or bathtub clog, the cup plunger can’t create a sufficiently airtight seal in the curve of a toilet drain to produce adequate suction

The Flange: A toilet clog calls for a different type of plunger entirely: the flange plunger, which has an extra ring of rubber (the flange) around the cup. The flange is inserted into the toilet drain, sealing in the air and increasing the suction power. In a pinch, you can fold the rubber ring back into the bell of the plunger and use it to unclog a tub or sink drain, but a true cup plunger will be more effective

Plunging a Sink, Shower, or Tub

When using a standard cup plunger, start by covering the overflow drain, if there is one, with a wet towel. Doing so prevents air from escaping and decreasing the suction power. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to seal off any nearby drains in sinks or tubs to ensure better results. To further improve the plunger’s suction power, create a tighter seal by lining the rim of the cup with a small amount of petroleum jelly.

 

Unclog your toilet with this simple and ingenious trick — no plunger required

Over the course of many years, I’ve practiced and honed the ancient art of unclogging a clogged toilet without needing to use a plunger. Why not just buy a plunger? Simply put, I never needed to on account of this particular bit of washroom wizardry. This technique is especially handy if you ever find yourself staring down a stopped-up commode in someone else’s bathroom with no plunger in sight — a situation in which you might be understandably reluctant to call for backup.

I didn’t invent this particular process for plunging without a plunger — the same basic technique can be found all across the web on plumbing and DIY blogs, both mainstream and obscure — but I can attest to its power and might

Most bathrooms have everything you’ll need

To perform this trick, you’ll need three things that can be found in almost any bathroom: soap, hot water and a vessel for transferring the water to the toilet bowl. Dish soap and a 5-gallon bucket work best, but if secrecy is paramount and leaving the lavatory would blow your cover, a small plastic waste bin and a few pumps from a hand soap dispenser will do just fine.

Mixing the magical potion

The objective is to get the liquid in the toilet bowl as hot and soapy as possible without letting it overflow. You can either pour (or pump) soap directly into the bowl and then add hot water, or you can mix the soap with the hot water before you add it to the bowl.

Carefully and gently add the hot water

Mixing everything up in the toilet bowl is the step requiring the most finesse. You want to raise the average water temperature and get the soap into every crevice, but you don’t necessarily want to create a slurry with what’s already in there.

 

HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT PLUNGER

Sinks, showers and toilets can often become clogged for many different reasons. For many such jobs, a plunger can do the trick and get things rolling again. However, in order to ensure a job well done, you must think like a professional plumber and make sure you are choosing the right plunger

GET THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB

There are two main types of plungers, and each type serves a unique purpose. The classic flat-bottomed plunger is meant, perhaps quite naturally, for flat surfaces like sinks. In contrast, the more curved bottom of a toilet requires a protruding flange plunger, which looks like a flat plunger just with an extra bit coming out the bottom.

MAKE SURE IT CAN FORM A TIGHT SEAL

Plungers work by creating a vacuum within the drain, and then allowing you to use this vacuum to your advantage to unclog things. In order for this to happen, however, the plunger needs to be able to make a tight seal around the drain in question. This is why older plungers with cracks or holes in them don’t work very well. Before getting a new plunger, be sure it is able to create a good seal both today and well into the future.

IS IT COMFORTABLE TO USE?

Sometimes, plungers don’t work unless you put a little elbow grease behind them. Be sure you buy a plunger with good grip that is comfortable to use, as you don’t want to strain yourself while clearing a drain.

 

How to Unclog a Toilet Like a Plumber

It’s every man’s worst fear. You’re at someone’s house, you  finish doing your business and flush the toilet, but instead of going down, the water comes up along with whatever you just deposited in the bowl. Would you be paralyzed with panic in that moment? Or do you know what to do?

Thankfully, unclogging a toilet isn’t hard at all. Even the most gnarliest of clogs can be taken care of with ease. To help us learn how to effectively unclog a toilet, I called up Rod from Roto-Rooter and got the scoop

top the Toilet Bowl From Filling Up.

If it looks like the water might overflow out of the toilet, Rod suggests taking the lid off the tank as quickly as possible and closing the toilet flapper. The flapper releases water from the tank and into the bowl. It looks like, well, a flapper. If you’re worried that your flush has a good chance of turning into a flood, take off the top before you pull the trigger. Then you can keep one hand close to the flapper while the other hands pushes the flusher. The minute it appears the water is rising, you’re ready to stop the deluge

Get the Right Plunger

Once disaster has been averted, it’s time to unsheathe your plunger. To effectively use a plunger, you need a good seal between it and the toilet bowl. Funnel-cup plungers are the best plungers for this. They’re the ones with a flange, or added piece, extending off the bottom of the rubber cup

Warm Up Your Plunger

Stiff, hard plungers don’t work as well as soft and pliant ones. Run your plunger under some hot water before you use it. This will soften up the rubber, which will help you get a better seal on the toilet bowl.