A Guide to Making Your Home More Pet-Friendly on a Budget

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Article by Cindy Aldridge, Photo via Pexels

Pet-Friendly Homes on a Budget

Owning a pet is a huge source of joy, but it can be expensive.  With costs ranging from food to vet bills to toys, it’s easy to feel like there’s no room in the budget for pet-friendly home improvements.  However, there are many ways to transform your house into a puppy’s paradise without hogging the household budget. Here’s a guide to making your home more pet-friendly on a budget.

Savvy Shopping

The easiest way to upgrade your home for the family pets is to invest in a few accessories.  You may want to install a “doggie” door, so your animal pals can have access to the yard during the day, or get them a dog house and a comfortable bed. These things can make a big difference for your pet, but the costs can easily add up.  First, look for coupons and discounts at major online retailers. Also look out for cashback opportunities, such as Walmart promo codes. These allow you to make money back on your purchases, which you can apply toward other expenses.

Another way to save money in the long run is to buy durable, high-quality items.  Do your research and use review guides from trusted sources like Wirecutter, The better the quality of your purchase, the less chance you’ll need to replace it in a few months.

Easy DIY Projects

DIY allows you to save lots of money on home improvements, especially if you use upcycled or second-hand materials.  There are plenty of simple projects that even DIY novices can do to make their pets more comfortable in the home.  For example, this lovely dog nook involves building your own dog bed and dog organizer from cheap wood and with minimal DIY skills.

If you prefer a hot glue gun to a nail gun, you can also get crafty to save money on pet supplies.  Toys are a pointless expense — your pet can’t tell what they’re playing with and will eventually destroy it — so, toys are a great place to start your DIY endeavors.  DIY dog toys can be made from almost anything; old T-shirts, towels, rope, plastic bottles, and even a wet frozen sock.

Yard Upgrades

If any area of your house should be optimized for your pet, it’s the yard.  Dogs love running around and spending time outdoors, so you should make extra effort to be sure this part of your house is both safe and fun.  Cats like to explore their environment and climb things.  Be sure to add trees, shrubs and soft grasses to your yard that are pet safe.  Here’s a guide to the best and worst plants for a pet-friendly garden.


First, safety.  You need to make sure your yard is properly fenced so your pet cannot run off. Ideally, you would have a fence tall enough to provide a visual barrier and ensure your pet can’t jump over it. Unfortunately, a full privacy fence can be very expensive.  If you want to go all out for your feline friend, check out a “catio,” which is a clever way to say patios for cats (or other pets).

A more cost-friendly option is a DIY fence using garden netting, posts, and cable ties.  The total cost of this is about $350, but it’s not considered as aesthetically pleasing as a proper privacy fence.  It’s up to you to decide whether a fence is worth the extra money.

Electric dog fences are a popular choice and are generally cheaper than privacy fencing.  This will help you sidestep the “eyesore” issue, but you should think very carefully before buying one.  There’s a lot of debate on whether electric fences are humane or even effective since they don’t protect your dog from anything coming into your yard.  Do your research and get your vet’s opinion.

Backyard Inspiration

Once you’ve safeguarded your yard, you can work to make it fun.  Cheap dog-friendly yard additions include making a digging area with sand or mulch (and some toys), setting up dedicated marking posts for them to do their business and creating a watering hole.  You should also ensure there is plenty of shade and that pathways and steppingstones are comfortable and don’t absorb heat.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your pet feel at home.  A combination of smart shopping and creative DIY can go a long way.  If your pets are already safe and content, small projects are all you need to take your house from simply being pet-friendly to a pampered puppy’s paradise.

Team Hilary or Team David???

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We’ve all seen the television show ‘Love It or List It’ on HGTV. Homeowners offer designer, Hilary Farr, a budget that’s expected to transform their current house into their dream home. Hilary must redesign their living space to convince the homeowners that they “love it” and want to stay in their current location. Meanwhile, Real Estate Agent David Visentin shows them homes for sale that already meet their needs, enticing the homeowners to “list it” and leave their old house behind. Most people sway toward one solution or the other. Let’s consider what our associations mean.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

If you have very few emotional ties to your home and are compelled to get out of dodge, you might root for team David. David is all about the numbers and seems to be quite rational when making decisions.  On the other hand, if you can’t imagine moving out of your established neighborhood and want to stay at any cost, you’ll likely choose team Hilary. Hilary seems to be more of an emotional decision maker and displays a flair for the dramatic. Most people fall into this category, as we are highly emotional beings.

Humans form strong emotional ties to their primary residence, as this is where we spend the majority of our lives. Over the years, memories are made in our everyday surroundings and the thought of leaving could literally make us sick.  A majority of homeowners can’t imagine moving away from their established neighborhood – it’s where the kids grew up. The thought of leaving friends, neighbors, schools, places of worship, etc. can be unbearable for these folks. Other homeowners simply want to watch the seeds they’ve planted come to fruition. If you find that you’re emotionally tied to your home’s current location, you likely root for team Hilary and want nothing more than to “love it.”

The Solution

Fortunately, we have the perfect solution for Farr fans (which seems to be the majority of us)… American Housing Builders can demolish your old, dilapidated structure and build the personalized new home of your dreams, using quality construction and affordable style.

Customize a brand-new home at your current location. Our homes are elevated above the flood plain and strictly adhere to Florida’s stringent building, energy and safety codes. A complete build generally takes about 6 months. Our experienced team will handle the home building process from start to finish and keep you abreast of the progress. American Housing Builders will:

  1. Create your dream home by customizing your floor plan.
  2. Pull the proper permits and submit plans to the municipalities.
  3. Demolish your old house and prepare the lot for your new home.
  4. Help you choose your favorite paint colors and materials.
  5. Provide upgraded material choices upon request.
  6. Construct your reinforced concrete block home to current code.
  7. Obtain your Certificate of Occupancy and deliver your dream home.

Photo compliments of Pixabay.com

How to Host the Perfect House Party

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Author: Victoria Ward

Whether you’re planning your friends’ engagement party or hosting a surprise birthday party for your loved one, there are several DOs and DON’Ts of hosting the perfect house party.


Don’t be afraid to utilize email assist systems like Signup Genius to get RSVP’s, ask people to bring snacks or send event updates and reminders. It’s always better to have an idea of how many guests you’ll need to feed and entertain rather than leaving it up to guessing.


It’s easy to get overwhelmed when planning a party and far too often we ignore others’ offers to help. Even if you want to be known as the best party planner on the block, that doesn’t mean you can’t enlist help from friends and family. Hosting the perfect house party is not an easy task, nor is it meant to all fall under one person. Be okay with getting help from others, even if it’s just for day of setup, you don’t have to do it all yourself, nor should you need to.


When planning a party, it is important to provide your guests with a welcoming and spacious layout. You don’t want your guests feeling like they are cramped or don’t have enough seating. Be sure to move bulky furniture closer to walls and take down expensive paintings or light fixtures that you don’t want anyone to accidentally bump into or damage. Sure, we all expect our guests to respect our homes and property, but it’s best to avoid the stress of these incidents by rearranging your entertainment spaces to more open and party-friendly layouts. Be sure to clean up any areas that are cluttered to make your space party-ready.


It is never too early to start party planning, but it can be too late to start! Don’t let time get away from you. Start your party planning as early as possible to give yourself enough time to make sure all bases are covered. There’s nothing worse than having to run to the store an hour before your party is set to start because you forgot ice. Stay on top of what you need by creating a checklist or day-of “to dos.”


Whether your theme includes colors, decoration, or gifts—let your guests know ahead of time so they can participate appropriately. Themed parties aren’t just for college students and no, you don’t have to make it a costume party. But, do have a color scheme or food genre in mind to help narrow down options and make finalizing decisions easier.


We’ve all been to a bridal shower with a mimosa bar, or a baby shower with diaper games… don’t let your party fall into the “seen it” category. Come up with original ideas that make your party unique and to your own liking. Whether you want to include games, party favors, or other conversation starters, mix it up and add your own style and personal flair. You could even incorporate the latest in-demand supplements such as CBD oils into your food, drinks, or activities.
Incorporating detailed plans, organization lists, and original ideas into your house party will guarantee for a memorable, successful, and exciting house party for you and your guests.

Licensed Contractors Only

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When buying new construction, always hire a licensed contractor with general liability insurance. Visit www.myfloridalicense.com to verify a license.
Cutting corners is no way to build your American Dream!!!

Be sure your contractor pulls the appropriate permits and ask if the cost of the project includes permitting, impact and building fees. Also, check whether or not your builder or contractor is a member of their state, local and national associations. These associations help educate contractors, encourage accountability and provide important industry information.

American Housing Builders II, Inc. is a member of The Tampa Bay Builders Association (TBBA). “…a trade organization, which works diligently to fulfill its mission by providing important services to enhance the building industry in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. It is affiliated with the Florida Home Builders Association and the National Association of Home Builders and dates back to 1946. The TBBA is a volunteer organization comprised of builders, developers, trade contractors, suppliers, lending institutions, title companies, engineers, attorneys and other types of businesses that have a relationship to the building industry.” Visit http://www.tbba.net/ for more information.

Advice from the Florida Construction Licensing Board:

• Don’t be victimized by someone making a door-to-door presentation offering to do repair jobs or home improvements “on-the-spot” and requiring a cash deposit.
• Ask to see their Florida state certified contractor’s license.
• Get at least three bids, and ask for references of work the contractor has completed in your area.
• Make personal contacts and ask about the quality of work.
• Require a written contract with the contractor’s license number on it.
• Don’t sign if there are any blank areas and until you fully understand the terms.
• Do not pay cash or let payments get ahead of the work completed, and don’t pay the full cost of the job up-front.
• Make sure that building material costs are paid; ask for receipts.
• Check workers’ compensation coverage by requesting to see a certificate of insurance. If injuries occur on your property, you may be liable.

How to Help Fido Settle Into His New Digs

posted in: Blog Articles, Moving, Pets | 0

Article Written by Cindy Aldridge. Photo via Pixabay.com

Moving into a new home is an exciting opportunity, but it can be stressful for a pooch who has no clue what’s going on.  Imagine going to bed one night and waking up the next morning to strangers in your home, moving your stuff and shuffling it out the door.  This can be a scary situation for your dog, but he will eventually grow to love your new home as much as the old one. If you’re wondering how to help Fido settle into his new digs, just remember… it may take a few weeks to adjust — these tips should help.

Pet-Proof Your Home First

Before you let your dog walk through the front door, you need to spend some time pet-proofing your home.  Like children, dogs tend to get into everything, so look at your home from their point of view and make the necessary adjustments.  In the bathroom and laundry room, make sure cleaners, detergents, bleach and medications are locked away or stored out of reach.  If you haven’t done so already, you might also consider revamping your cleaning routine with pet-safe products, especially if your pooch tends to lick and investigate while you clean.  Wires and cords in any room in your home should be tucked or covered to avoid chewing.  If you have children, make sure they stay vigilant about putting away small toys that can become choking hazards.  Don’t forget to pet-proof your yard as by repairing holes in fences and be sure to look around for plants that are poisonous to dogs too such as azaleas, daffodils, ivy, and wisteria.

Bring the Old Home to Your New Home

Moving is the perfect time to get rid of old items and free up some space, but now isn’t the time to throw away your dog’s favorite blanket, no matter how chewed up and smelly it is.  One of the first things you should do when unpacking is set up a comfy area for your dog filled with familiar items such as his bed, blankets, toys, and crate.  If Fido shares your bed with you (or hogs it), moving might be a good time to leave that old mattress behind and get a new one.  The general rule of thumb is that you should replace your mattress every 7 to 10 years, and having a dog snuggled up with you each night probably shortens that lifespan.  Shop around to find a mattress you’ll both love or use the new mattress as a reason to transition your dog to his bed and cut down on pet dander and restless nights. However, it’s best to wait several weeks before making any big changes to your dog’s regular routine.

Ease Everyone’s Anxiety

Some dogs get a little more nervous than others and when you throw a new environment into the mix, it could increase their separation anxiety.  It’s impossible to stay at home 24/7 and bringing your dog with you isn’t always an option, so consider investing in some products to help ease separation anxiety.  Swaddling jackets that provide gentle pressure are often an easy way to reduce your dog’s anxiety.  Dogs can’t resist treats, so a Kong dog toy filled with their favorite snack is a tasty distraction while you’re away.  You can even get a pet camera that allows you to see, talk and play with your pooch, giving you both peace of mind.

Another area of anxiety you may experience when moving is how your neighbors (and their pets) will get along with your dog.  After you’ve had a day or two to settle in, introduce your dog to the neighbors.  By doing so, you can learn about any pet courtesies, as well as if there are any neighbors who are fearful or not fond of dogs.  Be cautious when introducing your dog to other pets.  Don’t forget to ask about any dog parks in the area and maybe schedule a play date.

When you move, your dog has no idea what is going on, so it’s your job to help them acclimate to their new home.  Pet-proof first, then begin the home and neighbor introductions.  It’s a slow process, but you will both enjoy settling in together with these helpful tips.

“Building the American Dream One Home at a Time” for nearly 30 years!

Wood Framing vs. Concrete Block Construction

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Is a house constructed with reinforced concrete block better than a home constructed with wood-framing?


Yes, because wood-frame walls are less resistant to moisture intrusion and termites. Reinforced concrete block walls are costlier (in general) but, they provide excellent impact protection and superior moisture resistance. In addition, concrete block heats and cools at a slower rate than wood, so daily temperature fluctuations are greatly reduced. Along with poured concrete reinforcements and foam fill, concrete block construction provides and amazing sound barrier, filtering unwanted noises from entering your home. Plus, they’re rated for hurricane force winds of 145+ mph. All our new homes are made with concrete block construction. American Housing Builders II offers quality new construction and affordable style.



Moving In Winter: Avoiding Stress & Mess

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winter, home, moving, stress-free, easy
Article written by Cindy Aldridge. Photo courtesy of Jill 111 via Pixabay.


When moving to Florida from a snowy state, try these moving tips…


Moving in the wintertime can be a good decision, in part because moving companies are often wide open where dates are concerned and they may have discounted rates as well.  It’s important to remember that the temperatures and weather will have a major impact on how the move goes.  From packing to making sure your pets are safe and comfortable, starting with a solid plan will help ensure that nothing goes wrong and your move goes as smoothly as possible.
It’s also a good idea to prepare your children and pets for the big day.  Not only will this help ensure their safety, it will give you peace of mind, so you can focus on getting things taken care of.  Plan ahead and keep communication open with your family so everyone is on the same page.  Plan ahead regarding things like turning off the utilities in your old home; this is important, since moving day will likely be pretty cold.


Cover your floors

Depending on what type of flooring you have, you’ll want to lay down something to protect it.  For hardwood and tile, you can tape down inexpensive plastic tablecloths to keep snow, ice and rainwater from being tracked in.  For carpeting, put down some old throw rugs in the areas where the most foot traffic will be on moving day.  It might help to move as many items as you can into one room near the door; this way, the movers can just grab them and go.


Heat one room

If the utilities will be shut off in your old home on moving day, consider placing a space heater in one room.  This way, you and the movers will have a warm place to go to take a break from the cold.  Just be sure you don’t leave any pets alone in a closed-up room with a space heater, as this can be dangerous.


Prepare your pets

Speaking of pets, it’s a good idea to make sure your animals are well prepared before the move. If possible, allow them to visit the new house so they can explore and get used to the new sights and smells.  You might also want to arrange for a pet sitter on moving day; this will not only help keep him out from under your feet, it will ensure that he’s safe and warm during all the commotion.  If you can’t line up a sitter, try keeping him in one closed-off room with his favorite toys, bedding, treats and a water bowl.  This will keep your pet happy and ensure that he doesn’t get loose during the move.


Keep an eye on the weather

In many states, winter weather can be highly unpredictable.  Keep an eye on the weather report every day and plan accordingly.  Be sure you keep a snow shovel and salt handy, in case you need to dig out the driveway or keep outdoor steps free of ice.  Ask the moving company about covers for your furniture in case of rain or snow.


Moving in the winter can be stressful if you aren’t prepared but, planning your move accordingly will help you stay on top of every aspect.  Keep communication open with your moving company and with any friends or family members who are helping; with good teamwork, you can make sure your move goes smoothly!


Don’t Hesitate: Costs Associated with Waiting

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Around the United States, prices continue to rise in most markets.  If you’re waiting for the market to shift toward a “buyer’s market,” think again.  There are costs associated with waiting to buy a home…


Waiting Can Cost You


  • The median home price in 2016 was $281,400 and increased to $291,200 in 2017, per the United States Census.


  • Mortgage Interest Rates are rising and are expected to continue to edge higher. Analysts believe the average mortgage payment is expected to jump more than 12% year-over-year.


  • Disposable income likely won’t increase enough to make up for higher mortgage rates.


  • Data shows that an average monthly mortgage payment could rise as much as $100 within the next year.


  • Material costs are rising.  Windows, lumber, concrete and other materials are being invoiced at a much higher rate.  If you’re looking for a new home, don’t hesitate.  Now is the time to build your dream home.


If you’re serious about buying a new home, contact a local Real Estate Agent to begin the process or contact one of our experienced REALTOR® partners. We speak: English, Spanish, French, Vietnamese and Albanian. (727) 546-6611 or visit: americanhousingbuilders2.com


Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Time to get your house prepared for the cooler months!


Autumn Home Maintenance




  1. When performing fall home maintenance, start by checking the home’s foundation for cracks, then caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house and around the windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping.
  1. Install storm windows and doors and remove screens.  Before storing, clean and repair screens, spray with a protective coating and place in a dry area of the garage.
  1. Inspect exterior walls to see if any paint is peeling or blistering on the house or outbuildings.
  1. Make sure the roof is in good shape.  Inspect for missing and loose shingles.
  1. After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints and tighten brackets.  Replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.
  1. Weather-strip your garage door.  Make sure the seal between your garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts and keep out small animals.
  1. Inspect your driveway for cracks.  Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer.




  1. Have your HVAC system serviced and inspected by a licensed contractor.
  1. Change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.
  1. Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.


1. Check the supports, stairs, and railings on porches and decks.  Be sure the handrails will support someone slipping on wet or icy surfaces.

2. Stain or paint wood surfaces to prevent warping, sun damage and splintering.  Guests will appreciate your home maintenance efforts.

Budget-Friendly Cleaning Advice for Dog Owners

posted in: Blog Articles, Pets | 0
Article Written by Cindy Aldridge. Photo courtesy of Pexels

Dog owners have a deep and lasting bond with their pets.  Our dogs become our best friends, our faithful companions.  They remain loyal and provide a lifetime of unconditional love and friendship. With all that love and companionship, there’s also great responsibility.  As a dog owner, you must care for and clean up after your pet each and every day.

Here’s a list of budget-friendly tips that will help you keep your home clean and you and your best friend happy and healthy…


Invest in a Good Vacuum

If you have a breed of dog that sheds, you have a few different options for removing dog fur and keeping your home clean.  One option is to keep your dog’s fur trimmed and groomed on a regular basis, if possible.  Another option is to move into a home that has hardwood flooring, which is easier to clean for most dog owners.  If you fall into the category of dog owners who have carpeted homes, you may want to look into a good vacuum cleaner.  Vacuums remove pet dander and fur from your home and they don’t cost a fortune.

However, it’s important to remember that your dog doesn’t understand what a vacuum is or what it does.  All Fido knows is that there’s a strange being in the living room making loud noises, and that can be terrifying to a dog.  Because the sound of your vacuum can excite or scare your dog, it’s important to look for a quiet vacuum cleaner.  Vacuums might cost you some money up front, but they’ll last for years to come, so take your time to compare different models.  Look for a vacuum that’s within your budget and still has the features that work best for your unique needs.


Clean the Air

Our dogs have adorable personality quirks — but they also have odors.  The last thing you want is for your home to smell like wet dog.  Air fresheners can go a long way in hiding the smell of dog in your home.  But of course, there are other ways to reduce pet odors.  First, bring nature into your home with some houseplants that are safe for dogs.  Next, consider an essential oil diffuser.  Essential oils are natural, safe, and an inexpensive way to improve the air quality in your home.  In addition to soothing your mind and masking pet odors, essential oils and aromatherapy can help clean the air with their anti-microbial properties.  The best oils for cleaning the air in your home include four thieves: eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon and clove or peppermint oil.


Obedience Training and Housebreaking

One of the most proactive ways dog owners can maintain a clean home is to properly train your pet.  This starts with housebreaking your dog and enrolling him or her in some obedience training.  Housebreak your puppy early and use puppy pads or newspaper in the home in case of accidents.  When your puppy is young, you need to take him or her outside more frequently to avoid accidents in the house.

Experts recommend using a piece of dog kibble or other food as a treat to reward the dog for displaying behaviors upon command.  After your puppy starts to learn basic commands, you can move on to more advanced activities.  For instance, once your pet has mastered the “drop it” command, you can begin teaching the dog to play fetch.


When All Else Fails

If you find yourself shaking your head in frustration because you’ve tried all these tricks and you’re still dealing with pet odors and accidents from a stubborn dog, don’t give up.  In addition to the tips listed in this article, you can look into common, low-cost sprays that will discourage your dog from marking territory in the house.  If all else fails and nothing seems to be working, take your dog to see a vet or a dog trainer.  It’s possible that your dog might have a medical condition that’s causing the issue.

After resolving any health concerns and spaying or neutering your pet, you might be surprised at how quickly most dogs are housebroken.  This means you’ll invest less stress and money into cleaning up after your dog, freeing you up to enjoy quality time together while bonding with your dog.

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