Insights Into Tax Preparation Frauds

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

If you’re expecting a tax refund, you may be eager to file your taxes as soon as possible so you can pay off debt, build an emergency or other savings account or shop for any number of previously unaffordable consumer goods.

However, rushing into a relationship with the first tax preparer you find could be a big mistake. The IRS recommends choosing a tax return preparer carefully, since no matter who prepares your taxes, you’re still ultimately responsible for all the information on your tax return.

Understand tax preparer qualifications

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there are around 700,000 non-credentialed tax preparers in the U.S. Many states don’t require tax preparers to pass an exam or obtain a license. While non-credentialed tax preparers may be top-notch preparers, they have limited representation rights and can’t represent you in court or regarding appeals or collection matters

Search by qualifications

If you need a tax preparer with specific qualifications such as enrolled agent, attorney, Certified Public Accountant or enrolled retirement plan agent, search the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications

Interview tax preparers

Make sure a tax preparer has an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN) through the IRS and check whether the person meets state requirements. Then interview the tax preparer thoroughly. Ask about fees, availability and what kinds of records the tax preparer will need.

How to Choose the Right Tax Preparer

It is that magical time of the year again and if you are looking for someone to prepare your taxes, there are many factors to consider including expertise and pricing. We are all unique and there is no one size fits all.

Find out what their tax background and experience is. What is their training? What are their qualifications and credentials? How long have they been preparing tax returns? Also, some tax preparers are not a certified public accountants (CPA) and don’t have a formal credential but yet may be competent. Ask questions to find out what makes them qualified to prepare tax returns.

Find out if the tax preparer has experience with the type of return that you must file. Tax returns are not all the same and range from 1040-EZ to various involved schedules. Tax preparers may focus on a certain type of return but may also have sufficient knowledge in many areas.  However, if your return is specialized, you will want to find a tax preparer who has a lot of experience with that type of return. . Ask about their experience with individual returns vs. corporate returns. In my experience, tax preparers who specialize in corporate tax returns, which tend to be more expensive, charge a higher minimum fee. This is something to keep in mind if you are only looking for personal tax return preparation.

Ensure that the tax preparer is familiar with the requirements of the states and localities that you must file in. For example, if you live in one state but work in another, there may be filing requirements to consider. Also, you may have a business that has sales in different states, own property in another state or have relocated to a different state during the year.

Know in advance what records, documents and other information that the tax preparer will require of you. This could save you time and money. A competent tax preparer will ask for many different documents and be able to explain what you will need to provide for special circumstances you may have. Personally, I like it when a tax preparer offers a thorough checklist to review, which would enable a thorough tax preparer to make sure nothing has been missed, such as long-term care insurance premium deductions, investment fees or student loan payments.

How to Find a Tax Preparer for Your Business

Don’t wait until the end of the year to hire a tax preparer. You can find and begin working with someone on your business taxes at any time. This article provides some tips on finding a tax preparer who will do good work for you.

CPAs vs. Tax Preparers

Business owners should understand that not all tax preparers are CPAs, and not all CPAs do tax preparation work. While you don’t necessarily need to hire a CPA to do your taxes (there are many competent non-CPA professional tax preparers), you do need to consider what other kinds of services you might need, like choosing accounting software, setting it up and getting trained, data entry tasks, and review of records for tax evaluation.

Licensing Requirements for CPA’s

The licensing requirements for CPAs vary from state to state as do the minimum and ongoing educational requirements. All U.S. CPAs have to pass a uniform examination, but the educational requirements to get (and stay) licensed are decided by the individual states. And CPAs may not be required to keep up to date on tax laws every year, so being a CPA doesn’t guarantee that the individual knows any more about taxes than when he or she originally passed the CPA exam.

What an Enrolled Agent Does for Business Taxes

An enrolled agent is a person who has either passed a standardized test that covers all parts of the tax code or who has at least 5 years’ experience working for the IRS in a qualifying position. EAs are required to have 72 hours of continuing education every 3 years with a minimum of 16 hours every year. Like CPAs, they have to take an ethics course. Unlike CPAs (who can take accounting, management, technology, and personal development courses), EAs have to take all their courses in the area of Federal taxation.

Selecting a CPA for Business Taxes

First, decide what kind of services you need. You may determine that you want someone to help with tax planning, to find someone who can help figure out the best ways for you to structure employee benefit plans and retirement programs to get the maximum tax savings.

How to Choose a Tax Preparer

Every year, United States taxpayers must file their income tax forms before the April 15th deadline.  For many people, major life changes, business ownership, or simply a lack of knowledge about the ever-changing tax laws make finding a trustworthy tax preparer a good idea. That said, not all tax preparers have the same level of experience and training

Which Type of Tax Preparer is Right for You?

First, it’s important to understand the different types of tax preparer and their qualifications. Only enrolled agents, certified public accounts and attorneys may represent their clients to the IRS on matters such as audits, collection issues, and appeals.

Enrolled Agent (EA): An EA is a tax preparer that has been approved by the IRS to represent taxpayers. An EA must either have prior qualifying employment with the IRS or pass an intensive two-day exam on federal taxation and complete a background check. To maintain EA status, they must complete a specified number of credit hours each year of continuing education in accounting methods and tax regulations. An EA may work independently or as part of a firm and may specialize in specific areas of tax law.

Certified Public Accountants (CPA): CPAs have a college degree (or the equivalent in work experience). They are licensed after passing a state professional qualifying exam. They are highly skilled in accounting. This makes them good candidates for complex tax planning and preparation if they are experienced in handling tax matters and enrolled in continuing education programs that keep them abreast of the constant changes to tax laws. If your return is quite complex, a CPA may be your best choice for tax preparation, but keep in mind they will charge much more than basic tax preparers.

Attorneys: Tax often attorneys charge the highest fees as tax preparers. For taxpayers looking to legally shelter part of their income, or for those who need specialized advice on municipal bonds, estate planning, and the like, hiring a tax attorney is a good option

Questions That Can Help You Choose a Tax Preparer

If you’re like most people, you’d rather go with a pro during tax season: More than 83 million people pay someone to help prepare their federal tax return, according to IRS data. That shouldn’t come as a surprise: With so many rules to know, forms to fill out and formulas to follow, it’s easy to make a mistake if you go it alone.

But when it comes to finding a good tax preparer, how can you be sure you’re making the right choice? Referrals are a great place to start, but it’s still important to do your due diligence. Make sure you’re asking the right questions — and getting the right answers. Here’s what to ask a tax professional before you decide to hire them

DO YOU HAVE A PREPARER TAX IDENTIFICATION NUMBER?

This is the first question you should ask any tax professional. Any person who charges a fee to prepare taxes for others must register with the IRS and receive a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). In addition to signing your completed tax return, the tax preparer is required by law to enter this number on any return he or she prepares.

WHAT ARE YOUR REPRESENTATION RIGHTS?

Tax preparers fall into one of two main representation categories. Those who carry “unlimited representation rights” can represent clients on any matters, ranging from audits to collection issues to appeals. Those who carry “limited representation rights” can only intervene on behalf of people whose returns they prepared and signed, and under specific circumstances.

According to the IRS, tax professionals with unlimited representation rights include attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents (tax preparers who have passed a three-part IRS enrollment exam). While an enrolled agent (EA) is not an employee or representative of the IRS, he or she can act on a taxpayer’s behalf when it comes to dealing with the IRS. In order to retain their licenses, enrolled agents must complete a minimum of 72 hours of continuing education every three years.

Finding A Perfect Wedding Videographer

Choosing a Wedding Videographer

Even more than photographs, a wedding video truly captures the spirit and magic of your big day—in living color. And, thanks to advancements in digital technology, the quality of these videos has improved dramatically over the years. Instead of using the large, obtrusive analog (VHS) cameras that were standard 10 years ago, most videographers now shoot with small, discreet digital video cameras.

Basic Service

“Point-and-shoot” videographers, as they’re known, provide only elementary documentation of your day, so they’re your least expensive option (around $1,000). If you’ve seen any of your friends’ wedding videos…well, you get the picture.

Tips on Finding The Right Videographer For You

The best way to find a reliable videographer who works in the style you want is to get recommendations from friends and family. Your wedding photographer might be able to provide you with a list of names, too; some photographers may even offer videography as part of their services. Or, try the Wedding & Event Videographers Association

A New Twist: Documentary-Style Video

Want a wedding video that plays like a stylish HBO documentary or an independent film? Some videographers hold degrees in filmmaking or broadcast journalism, and they’ll strive to shoot your wedding like a “fly on the wall,” thoughtfully recording the event with a storyteller’s understanding of real, dramatic moments as well as a cinematographer’s eye for beautiful images.

The Ultimate Splurge: 8 or 16 mm film

The “couture” option is to have your wedding captured on motion picture film—8 mm, or even 16 mm, the format in which most of those lush, silky-looking Hollywood movies (think: The Aviator) are shot. While a “film version” of your wedding day is as glamorous as you can get, it’s also a luxury product—an hour’s worth of this type of film can cost the filmmaker as much as $2,000. In addition to covering the cost of the film itself, you’ll also pay $3,000 or more for the filmmaker’s time and talent. But the expense may be worth it to you, because these films are astounding, utterly gorgeous works of art.

Things to consider when choosing a wedding videographer

Start looking early

All the good wedding videographers are going to be booked up 6 months, 12 months or even 2 years in advance. So as soon as you have your venue and you know the date, contact your videographer early because they will get snapped up!

Quality vs Price

There are wedding videographers out there that will do your wedding for £300. There are wedding videographers that will do your wedding for £1,000 and there are wedding videographers that will do your wedding for £10,000. You need to make the decision about what your wedding means to you. If you go for a budget wedding videographer, you’re likely to get a film that is of lower quality. That’s not always the case, but it’s likely to be of lower quality. If you get a low quality film, it’s more than likely that you’re not going to watch it.

The cost you can expect to pay

The price is set by you. You can get wedding videographers that will do it for free. You can find videographers on websites like Gumtree, that are just starting out, and are looking for films to fill their portfolio

The equipment your videographers will be using

It used to be the case that your wedding videographer would have big bulky cameras and tripods, and walk around and disrupt everybody but things have moved away from that. Technology has moved on. We now film weddings with tiny DSLR cameras that look very similar to the cameras that your photographer use. So we blend into the background.

Picking the right videographer

Well this all depends on you. Price, how much do you want to pay? How much are you willing to pay? How much is the quality of your product worth to you? Documentation, find out if they have the correct insurance to work for you. Especially if they are using drones and flying things around, check to see if they have the correct licenses and insurance. There are lots of videographers out there using drones without a license, that ultimately cost you and your venue. Your videographer should have public liability insurance.

Things You Should Know Before Booking a Wedding Videographer

Photos only capture so much of the day, and hiring a videographer will help ensure you don’t miss a thing. But figuring out where to start and how to narrow down the selection can be overwhelming. Here, wedding industry experts share their tips on what to think about before selecting a videographer

Experience is Crucial

“Experience is crucial in picking a videographer. The wedding day moves quickly and split-second decisions have to be made based off of past experiences.”

Know What Coverage You Want

“Think about the key moments you’ll want covered, as this will impact how many hours of coverage you’ll need to book. Do you want clips from while you’re getting ready, your ceremony, and that sparkler exit you’ve planned? Depending on your answers, you’ll need a videographer to arrive in the late morning or early afternoon, and stay through the end of the night. On the other hand, if you just want the ceremony and toasts, you can choose a shorter package that will cover just those highlights.”- Emily Campbell,

Think About Your Vendor Team

“Ideally you will want to book a videographer who your planner and or photographer also love. This makes everything go much more smoothly on your wedding day as they are all accustomed to working together already.”- Tracie Domino

Evaluate Their Portfolio

“Be sure to see their work and make sure that it moves you emotionally.”- Anthony Vazquez

Tips On How To Choose Your Wedding Videographer

Ask any of your married friends or family about their big day and they will tell you how quickly the day went! You spend what feels like months on end planning your dream wedding, from getting ideas to booking suppliers, going to dress fittings and sending out invites, there’s a lot of work that goes into it all and then it’s over in a flash. What’s left are the amazing memories, your photographs and your wedding video, so it’s important you make the right choice when it comes to choosing a wedding videographer

DECIDE ON YOUR STYLE

Before you get the popcorn out and plonk yourself down for an evening of bingeing on wedding films, deciding who you should book, I would recommend deciding on the style of film you’re wanting first, this way you can narrow down your search a lot quicker.

My films sit under the cinematic style of wedding videography, I’m all about telling the story of the couple foremost, and through my unobtrusive approach, focus on using great light, composition and sound, my wedding films tell the emotional journey of my couples.

WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?

The budget you set aside for a wedding videographer will be of course be driven by a number of things but I think the determining factor will be how much you value having a wedding video.

DO YOU GET ALONG WITH YOUR VIDEOGRAPHER?

As a bride and groom, you’ll spend almost all day with your photographer and videographer, so it’s vital you like them and get along with them. I’d always recommend getting on a Skype of Facetime call with the suppliers you’re thinking about booking and have a chat with them. You will get a feel for how they communicate, what their attitude is like and how they like to work alongside other suppliers.

tips on hiring the right wedding videographer

Being someone who is passionate about my craft for the last thirteen years, I’ve compiled some of my top tips for finding the right wedding videographer and getting the most out of your wedding film!

Hire a professional.  Bride’s number one regret is not having a video.  I know I wish my parents did and so do they

Hire a local videographer.  To hire someone who has shot at the location and worked with the local vendors already will make for a better film.

Don’t just look at just their portfolio, look at their reviews on multiple sites.  The top professionals have consistent delivery.  This means that even on the days when things don’t go perfectly

Know the style you like.  There are so many ways to shoot a wedding but here are the three main ones:

Music video: It focuses on cinematic shots, and is a visually driven film with lots of time shifting through parts of the day with effects and music with lyrics. This style has little to no audio such as vows, speeches or any other voice over dialogue

How To Find A Custom Home Builder Without Losing Your Mind

Avoid Arguments And Learn How To Get With Your Custom Home Builders

On the whole, homeowners would only want the most effective for  his or her homes, not to mention which they expect  high-quality work from builders that they’ve hired. Whether it’s a mew project or you’re intending on remodeling  your house, choosing the best builder plays an important role.

Given that you haven’t found the best contractor yet, here are several important matters that you should remember.

1. Always make sure that you hire someone with extensive experience. No matter the project, whether big or small, you must make  certain you only work together with someone that  you know is the greatest in the area. Do your research, find recommendations and reviews. This way, you’ll find ideal contractors that can meet your demands

2. Don’t forget to request a portfolio or examples of their previous work.

3. When hiring someone, always make sure that you go along with what you wish and clarify everything before signing the agreement and agree to use him along with his team.

The homeowner thinks: You never finished my punch-out, walk-through list.

At closing, the builder and homeowner make a walk-through list of the project, in its entirety, to discuss if anything still needs more work. It’s important to have this in writing and signed by both parties. Be careful not to frustrate your builder, or yourself, by continually adding “one more thing”. Adding things to the list will make it seem like the builder never finishes, which isn’t good for you or your builder. So agree on an initial list. If you come up with more things to consider, create a new, separate list.

The homeowner thinks: Why does adding two more windows to the home cost me more? I’m already paying a lot of money for this house.

While it’s a fact that you are probably paying a lot to get your home, your builder figured his price off the clear specifications made at the beginning of the home building process. If you add to the specifications, you impact his expenses and his profits. If there are adjustments that are needed or you want, there is nothing wrong with that. These changes just need to be clearly communicated and put into writing-to protect both of you.

The homeowner thinks: I’m paying for a quality home and it’s not perfect. I want it done right.

You’re right to expect quality. But it’s not difficult for expectations to turn into things that are impossible to fulfill. Builders are people (and therefore imperfect) and they use imperfect materials. Before signing a contract, the homeowner and the builder should clearly outline their expectations. Although it will take a bit of time, its’ worth it. And if you aren’t sure, your builder can help you determine what is realistic and what isn’t in your home building project. By capturing this on paper you’ll avoid arguments due to expectations.

Often the homeowner thinks:

The tailor-made home contractor isn’t very taking my concerns really. They’re falling on hard of hearing head.
It would be savvy to have got regularly, could be weekly, slated meetings with your builder. This will allow you both to update the particular schedule, talk about any adjustments, voice your considerations, and discuss items this builder may need to order to finish your home. Regular meetings make it possible for you to address concerns without experiencing like you’re nagging the particular builder. Your builder may appreciate the idea because they will not feel like your dog is constantly obtaining to prevent construction.

The builder thinks :

This homeowner is requesting alterations, but I don’t think this individual has sufficient funds to pay for them. The homeowner thinks: The builder didn’t connect changes and charges obviously and in a well-timed manner. Agree in composing about any changes the fact that appear following the contract is signed. It really is also the good idea for the homeowner to pay for changes when they take place and not wait right up until the end of the job. By doing so , right now there will be no financial impresses and it is going to keep the two functions upon good terms.

Typically the property owner thinks:

We talked to be able to the subcontractor and he or she stated he’d handle the particular concern without shifting the builder into it. It tidies the task.

Almost everything must go through this creator on Construction Office manager given that they have the “big picture”. In case you try for you to go around him in attempt to save moment, you are actually more probable to cause misunderstanding together with delays.

Cost changes for add-ons

The initial quote that is given by the builder matches the requirements that were initially given to him/her. Subsequent changes in requirements and add-on features are likely to change the cost mentioned initially. It is understandable that there will be some changes during the course of the project. However, it is important that you effectively communicate the nature of changes to the builder and discuss the associated costs. It is also best to put it in writing.

Measuring out your expectations

It is completely natural to expect your dream home to be flawless. However, it is essential to communicate to your expectations to the builder. This is hands down the most common issue between homeowners and builders, based on our experience as builders in darwin. A lot of things can get lost in communication and the project can end up not meeting your expectations. To avoid these problems, it is best to keep all your builder in-the-know about your desires, and also to have a second opinion on whether or not, what you need is practical and/or desirable.

The homeowner talks to everyone but the builder about the status of the project.

This obviously causes the builder to be disjointed from the project as well as your plan for the home. Talk directly to the builder about all aspects of the project.

The homeowner goes straight to the subcontractor for a task rather than the builder.

This undermines the builder and can cause confusion, potentially making the life of the project longer. All requests should go directly to the builder.

Undermining the builder

This is again a pressing issue that surfaces anytime home builders work with homeowners. As a homeowner, you should voice your issues and concerns directly to the builder. Trust between both parties is important. If you do not trust the skill and expertise of your builder, the project is bound to be unsatisfactory. Interview lots of builders before undertaking your project. Once you find the builder that is the right fit for your project, allow him/her space and flexibility to work. Trying to control the project, taking matters into your own hands and bypassing the builder to approach people above him in the chain not only undermines the builder, but also causes a lot of confusion. All this extends the project delivery timeline.

You Must Ask Before Hiring A Hydro Jetting Service

Why Choose Hydro-Jetting for Your Commercial Drain Cleaning?

Whether you run a business or own a commercial property and manage tenants, you have a lot to manage. Likely, commercial plumbing is the last thing on your mind. Properly maintaining that plumbing system is not easy, and not something that the average person can handle. However, your commercial building’s drain and sewer system is vital to the operation of the property, and since it’s mostly hidden from view problems can develop without you even realizing it—that is, until these problems begin to impact the plumbing system’s operation.

Fortunately though, scheduling one simple service on a routine basis is often enough to keep your commercial building’s drains in top shape. Keep reading to learn more about the advantages of this service—commercial hydro-jetting.

What Is Hydro-Jetting?

This is a fairly recent, and very effective, addition to the standard methods for commercial drain cleaning. It involves the use of a hose with an omnidirectional sprayer head to blast a high-pressure stream of water down the drain pipe. The hydro-jet pressure is sufficient enough that it can clear out practically any clog that might form in the drain, in addition to any other waste buildup that may form clogs in the future.

What Are the Advantages?

There are a number of benefits to scheduling hydro-jetting for your commercial space. Prior to this service, the most common option to deal with drain clogs was drain snaking—which involves using a long cord with an auger on the end of it. The snake was inserted into the drain until it meets the clog, and which point the auger is used to drill through it.

How Often Should You Schedule This Service?

We recommend that you schedule hydro-jetting services for your drains at least once a year. You don’t need to worry about what season is best for this—so long as you choose a time where you can conveniently have the service done again within a year. There might also be times throughout the year that you will want to call for this service to address specific issues, such as a sudden clog.

All About Hydro-Jetting and Why You Need It

Most people know that when their drain is clogged, it’s time to call a Richmond Hill plumber. Did you know your plumber may suggest hydro jetting? There are some great reasons to consider it, too. What is hydro jetting, and how does it help? Let’s explore that and more. We’ll help you as a homeowner, understand the benefits, and why you need to do it soon.

What is Hydro Jetting?

If you’ve lived in your home for a while and noticed clogs keep recurring, it’s a sign. Hydro jetting can help. If you’re not sure what that is, hydro jetting is the method of using a high-pressure stream of water to clean the inside surfaces of plumbing pipes.

Why Should You Hydrojet?

Whether you’ve built a new home, are buying an existing home, or have lived in your house for years, your sewer drain needs to be cleaned from time to time. Otherwise, you could be in for a costly wake-up call in the form of a broken line. A compromised line caused by toilet paper and waste solids creating a dam and backing up into the house is also a possibility.

Very Effective

You can handle a minor clog with a plumbing snake, but for a severe clog, it is too much. With hydro-jetting, there isn’t a clog that can withstand the force of that powerful blast of water. It completely opens the line, clearing all the debris and buildup, and scouring the inside of the pipe clean.

Cost Savings

Of course, hydro-jetting will cost a little more than your regular drain cleaning services. Yet, in the long term, it will save you money. This method clears the entire pipe, eliminating problems for years into the future, and that saves you time and money without a doubt

Why Choose Hydrojetting Services For Your Home

You probably already know that it is time to call a plumber when water is leaving your drains slowly or toilets are overflowing. Losing water pressure over a period of time is another good indicator that something in your plumbing might not be right.

If you’re noticing these three signs occurring around the same time, there is a good chance that you are in need of drain cleaning services. While there may be other solutions to slow drains, low water pressure, and overflowing toilets, they are often only short-term answers or can potentially cost you in the long run. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is your trusted source for all your drain cleaning answers!

Hydrojetting & Our Recommendation

As plumbing professionals, we are familiar with all types of solutions to plumbing problems. We are also familiar with the incorrect options that cause more damage than they do good

With this said, hydro jetting is our preferred answer to recurring drain blockages. Hydrojetting is a process that uses water at high pressures and high temperatures to blast away any debris and buildup found in your drains.

Costs of Clearing Clogs

Although hydro jetting is technically more expensive than choosing to have drains snaked or using store-bought cleaner, you might be surprised to find out the real cost

Reasons to choose Hydro Jetting Sewer and Drain Pipe Cleaning

Slow draining water in the kitchen sink, frequent clogs in the toilet, stinky smells in the sinks, and unexplained gurgling sounds are all signs of a drainage system that need to be cleaned. Ignoring these problems can be very expensive and potentially hazardous to the family’s health so the owner will need to address these issues by hiring a professional plumbing company to take on this job. Though there are a number of different methods that can be used to clean a homes drains, some are considered to be better than others. Therefore, it is important for homeowners to do their homework prior to making a decision. Choosing the best drain process in the industry does not have to be difficult since homeowners have the option of using Hydro Jetting Sewer and Drain Pipe cleaning.

Cutting-Edge Technology

As technology advances, virtually every industry is experiencing changes that can completely revolutionize how things are being done. In fact, the old standards may be left light years behind as the new industry standards become the most prominent. In relation to hydro-jetting and its present role in sewer pipe cleaning, this method is not only effective, but it is also cutting edge technology. Therefore, using augers, plumbing snakes, rooter machines, and mechanical rodding is quickly become older technology, while hydro jetting pipe cleaning is quickly becoming the ultimate solution. This is because hydro jetting uses a huge amount of force to get rid of large debris, stuck tree roots, and grease accumulation that is stuck in sewer walls.

Eliminates Emergency Drain Problems

Even though a homeowner and their family may see all of the signs of needing drain cleaning services very clearly, they may not address these problems until they escalate. Meaning the owner may not contact a professional plumber until it is an emergency. Fortunately, when a homeowner contacts a plumber that has the hydro jetting equipment, the problems that they experience can be taken care of right away. In fact, it does not matter if these emergencies are discovered in a home, office or a restaurant, it is portable electric technology that can be transported wherever it is needed.

Efficient Drain Cleaning

According to industry experts, this new innovative process is widely known as the most efficient method available. When plumbers use this method, they have the capability to restore the home’s piping back to its full function. Specifically, because hydro jetting can be used in several different ways including cleaning sewer lines for commercial businesses and washing out underground pipes for residential customers. This method is not only good for cleaning these sewer systems thoroughly, it’s a very quick and efficient process

More Economical than traditional methods

Another great benefit to using hydro jetting to clean out sewer lines involves it being more economical. Even though the initial costs are higher than the tradition methods of cleaning the sewer lines, in the long run it is considered be more economical for a number of different reasons. Two of the most beneficial is the fact that it helps to minimize the risks of accidental damage to the home or facilities piping systems, and it lessens the recurrence of future clogs, especially since this procedure does a very thorough job of cleaning out sewer lines.

Hydro Jetting Services for Extremely Effective Pipe Cleaning

While there are some clogs that can be cleared with commercial grade drain cleaners, major clogs and clogs that are deep in hard to reach pipes are best cleared by professional plumbers. A sewer blocked by a clog or intruding tree roots used to mean snaking with a mechanical rooter that might inflict damage on delicate, aging pipes. Or, even worse, a blocked sewer required excavation of your front yard, marring your landscape until time erased the signs

How Does Hydro Jetting Work?

Hydro jetting is the most state of the art method of drain and pipe cleaning available today. Much like power washing, a hydro jetting system uses a high-pressure water line threaded into the pipe. Approximately 3500 p.s.i. of pressurized water is applied to your clog, flushing it away into the sewer. While the pressurized water spray obliterates sludge and blockages, including tree roots, it does not traumatize plumbing pipes or joints like mechanical pipe cleaning equipment. Additionally, by thoroughly cleaning clogs and sludge from the inside of your pipes, hydro jetting helps prevent clogs from reforming in the future.

Advantages of Hydro Jetting

Cleaning, not just unclogging. Unlike a plumbing snake, which merely punches a hole in the clog to restore flow, hydro-jetting cleans the internal pipe for a more long-lasting resolution.

More economical. Hydro jetting can delay the need for another sewer and drain cleaning call to up to four times longer than a typical procedure with a mechanical snake

Packing Services And Crating Services

Tips for Choosing the Right Packaging Company

When selecting a packaging company, you want a partner you can rely on. Ideally, the company will have all the services and features your company needs; however, bear in mind these needs can change as your company grows and evolves.

Quality Packaging

A high quality final product should be a top criteria and priority. Ensure that your packaging company will be using effective processes and procedures to calibrate, control and maintain high standards. Do they perform regular inspections, measurements and tests of their equipment?

Intuitive Customer Service

Customer service should go beyond just meeting your needs today; look for a package design and production company that’s committed to exceeding your expectations now and planning for your success in the future.

Experienced in Graphic and Structural Design

Your packaging company should be experienced in a range of key packaging capabilities and solutions. From retail packaging and displays to industrial packaging and engineering design expertise, Victory Packaging can meet any range of needs. A full-service packaging company, like Victory Packaging, can better serve you in every phase of your company’s growth and development.

A Range of Materials and Processes

Be sure your packaging partner is well-versed in paper substrates, structures, and styles. They should be able to facilitate ideal graphics integration and printing processes. Victory Packaging features a team of in-house structural engineers to assist you in all phases of ideation, concepting, design and rendering. Structural prototypes, animations, 3D renderings, and final artwork can all be provided to ensure high-quality results.

The Ultimate Guide: How To Choose the Right Packaging for Your Product

The way your product is packaged plays a surprisingly key role in how consumers respond to it. Good packaging can elevate your brand, justify a high price point, and serve as a key distinction between yourself and your competitors — and that’s just the beginning.

To understand why packaging is so important, you have to understand what your packaging communicates. There are a few fundamental elements of your product packaging: shape, design, materials, colors, and text. Each element communicates something about your brand both on its own and in relation to the entire package

Ultimately, product packaging is about marketing. The way you choose to design your packaging will help consumers differentiate between your products and other similar products and assist you in building brand recognition over time.

Determining the Basics of Your Package Design

Before you can select the best packaging for your product, you need to make some decisions up front.

What material do you want to use?

Your choice of material is one of the most important parts of your packaging design. Whether you go the paper or plastic route depends on your brand’s style and the product itself, though keep in mind that, overwhelmingly, consumers prefer paper packaging. 68% of consumers say they’re more likely to choose a product in a paper or cardboard package versus a plastic package, and 63% say paper packaging makes a product seem more high-quality.

How to Choose the Best Contract Packaging Services

A contract packaging service, also known as a co-packer, is an organization that provides supply chain services such as warehousing pick-and-pack, equipment rental, and more. These companies can provide businesses with total turnkey solutions, or labour. Outsourcing your packaging and warehousing operations with a custom packaging company can benefit your business in many ways. But, before you settle on a co-packing company, it is important to make sure it is aware of your needs. By informing the contract packager of your goals, you’ll be able to discuss and identify if they are the right team for you to work with. Here are three important aspects to consider when choosing a contract packaging company.

Flexibility and Co-Packing of Packaging Service

Packaging and repackaging in the supply chain will always go through changes, and the co-packer should be able to guarantee their ability to respond quickly and make adequate changes to prevent any problems along the way. It is important to ask and find out how the company would meet challenges such as changes in planning, scheduling, and management. Many packaging companies will charge extra for last-minute or rushed projects, which you should expect. It is more important to focus on their ability to adapt to changes.

Capability and Location of Contract Packager

The company you desire to work with should never take for granted aspects such as maintaining machinery and the workspace required. You should ask your contractor what equipment they would use for your project, and request a walk-through of their recommended process. They should also have headquarters in close proximity to where your project will be the most effective. You should be able to reach your end customer or distribution centre as easily and quickly as possible. This will save you costs in terms of shipping and packaging. It will also help you build stronger relationships and explain your expectations clearly to your partner company

Quality and Cost

Cost may be an important aspect to consider for your business, but it is not the most important factor that influences a successful packaging partnership. You should be budgeting 10% of the total cost for packaging, but be aware that this budget includes materials as well as paying your service vendors. Once you have considered the other factors, then you can negotiate your price with the contract marketing manufacturers as long as they are reliable, resourceful, and responsive to your needs.

Hire a Contract Packager from the GTA

If your business operates in the Greater Toronto Area, you could benefit from working with a reliable company that has warehouse locations and provides operations management within that area. If you’re looking for the right company to partner with that meets your needs as a business

Considerations When Choosing a Contract Packaging Company

Over the years, the outsourcing of packaging services has become commonplace in many industries. So whether you are a start-up company or a Fortune 100 Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company, there are several key factors you should consider when selecting the right contract packaging partner

Resourcefulness

Confidence comes with assurances your packaging partner is a problem solver and innovator as well as a competent co-packing practitioner.

Capability

While it may seem obvious that the packaging company you have considering will need to maintain the machinery, personnel and workspace required to complete your order, these things should not be taken for granted.

Flexibility

Changes are inevitable in the contract packaging industry and working with a “nimble” partner can help guarantee their ability to respond quickly and change course in the middle of a packaging project, if needed

Location

Being headquartered in close proximity to where your packaging project will run may seem important, but it can often be more beneficial to select a location which is closer to your ingredients, raw product, end-customer or distribution center.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Packaging Company

Packaging is important. Without it, your products have no way to reach your customers. And without proper quality packaging, your products won’t reach your customers intact and undamaged. So how do you go about ensuring something like that? By choosing the right packaging company for your business and its shipping packaging needs. But not all packaging providers are created equally. Here’s 6 things you should consider when you’re ready to start the hunt for a strong packaging partner.

What’s your packaging budget like?

Your products and customer orders aren’t going anywhere without packaging. But if your budget is on the more limited side, you’ve got to find ways to work around that—and choosing the right packaging company will help with that. Plenty of them only sell in large or bulk quantities, and that likely isn’t advantageous to your bottom line. So, what do you do?

What’s your storage/warehouse space like?

This can be another limiter on your operation. Whether your packaging budget is sufficient or not, you may not have the space to stack and store all that needed packaging. And with some packaging providers preferring to sell in large or bulk quantities, what do you do?

Do they offer high-quality packaging materials?

When you’re choosing the right packaging company, ensure that they source their packaging from either high-quality providers or high-quality sources. Spending all that time packing up a customer order only to discover you’ve been using sub-par corrugated boxes can provide headaches for both you and your customers. A good metric for choosing the right packaging company is to see if they take part in any green, environmentally-friendly initiatives.

Do they offer a wide variety of packaging supplies?

Sometimes you’ve got to find ways to stretch your packaging budget (maybe it’s been an unexpectedly busy month, or maybe your new product’s taken off a lot faster than you thought it would). And with the advent of dim weight shipping charges, you’ve probably got to find ways to stretch that already-stretched packaging budget even more. Your packaging provider should offer some interesting, cost-effective and just-as-protective alternatives to corrugated boxes and bubble cushion. Mailer envelopes? Corrugated mailer boxes? Courier bags? These are signs that you’re choosing the right packaging company for your needs.

Why A Water Testing Kit Can Make A Difference

Which Water Test Kit?

Multi-pack options

We offer a range of multi-packs, the kits vary in content, please see the table below for details. These simple, affordable one-of-a-kind kits test are ideal to screen water samples for many different elements. These can include up to 12 of the most common and potentially hazardous contaminants found in drinking water e.g Bacteria, Lead, Pesticides, Nitrates, Nitrites, Chlorine, pH and Hardness. Fast & accurate results are available on the spot

The type of water testing kit, which is required, depends on what water should be tested and if there is any suspected contamination (also see Unusual colours, smells and taste of your water). All of the kits below are suitable for fresh & potable water, this includes water from taps, springs, aquariums, lakes, ponds, streams, wells, boreholes, puddles and leaks as well as water stored in tanks

The most comprehensive packs are the 12-in-One and Watersafe Well Water Test – all are very suitable for an overall check especially water from wells, springs and boreholes. All of these as well as the Watersafe City Water Test water test are ideal to test tap water.

Water Test Kits for a single contaminant

Enables users to identify levels or precence of a single contaminant in drinking water with instant results.

Digital Water Test Kits for single & multiple tests

These easy-to-use photometers do not need calibrating and have a manufacturers warranty of 2 years

How to test water quality? Chemical tests for limited budgets

Thanks to modern chemistry, we can detect thousands of chemicals in water, even at extremely low concentrations.  The ever-growing list of tests that are available can feel overwhelming, and the vast majority of methods require state-of-the art lab facilities. Fortunately, we don’t need to test for everything! A much smaller and more practical set of tests can provide a good sense of chemical water quality for monitoring purposes.  The good news is that there are low-tech versions of these tests for situations when budgets are limited

Test strips – These are small, single-use strips that change color to indicate the concentration of a specific chemical. Depending on the particular test, the user “activates” the paper or plastic strip by dipping it into the water sample and swishing it around, or by holding the strip in a stream of water. After waiting for a short time, the user compares the test strip color with a color chart to read the concentration of the chemical. These kits are extremely simple, but they are less accurate than other methods, especially if users don’t follow the instructions

Color disk kits – Color disk test kits are available for a wide range of chemical tests.  In a typical set-up, the user adds a powder packet or a few drops of a liquid reagent to a water sample in a reusable plastic tube.  The user then places the sample tube in a small plastic viewing box.  This viewing box contains a plastic disk with a color gradient printed on it.  The user rotates the color disk to find the part that best matches the color of the sample, and then reads the concentration of the chemical from the disk.  Color disk kits typically have multiple steps and often include prescribed wait times, so they’re a little more complicated and costly, but generally more accurate.

Hand-held digital instruments – Lightweight and portable digital meters, colorimeters, and photometers are available for water testing.  They provide the most accurate results of these three testing methods, but they are also more expensive and delicate than the previous options.  These instruments require batteries and calibration.  While digital instruments are helpful to field technicians and are an essential part of any continuous or remote monitoring network, they are unlikely to be suitable for “citizen science” or crowdsourced water quality testing.

Chemical water quality parameters

Having identified various test formats, the next question is: What do we test for?  UNICEF recommends prioritizing fluoride, arsenic, and nitrate for chemical monitoring.  In areas where the earth is naturally rich in minerals that contain fluorine and arsenic, levels in well water can be high enough that chronic exposure is dangerous to human health

Best Water Testing Kits

If you’re concerned about the safety of your drinking water, a water testing kit is an easy way to find out if there are contaminants in the water. According to Rick Andrew of NSF International’s Global Water Program, the primary contaminants found in drinking water are lead, arsenic, bacteria (coliform), cysts and viruses, chlorine, chloramine, chromium, fluoride, nitrates and nitrites, PFOA and PFOS, Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

For one of the most comprehensive water testing kits on the market, consider the Ultimate kit from Safe Home. This mail-in water testing kit will screen your sample for over 200 contaminants and provide in-depth results. The kit tests for 6 in-organic substances, 12 physical properties, 32 toxic metals, 20 semi-volatile organic compounds, and 130 volatile organic compounds. It also includes an at-home test for coliform (bacteria) and instructions on how to complete it.

The parent company to Safe Home is Environmental Laboratories, which is one of the largest EPA-certified drinking water labs in North America. So when you mail your sample in, you can have confidence in the quality of analysis performed. And while everyone loves instant results, most people receive their results within 10 days of submission. This kit is pricey at over $300, but it provides the in-depth testing that you can rely on when making big decisions about the safety of your water supply and what type of home water filters to invest in

Expert Buying Tip

“It’s important to understand that not all filters can reduce all contaminants. Once you know what contaminants are in your water, you can find a certified treatment solution to address your specific water quality concerns.”

Lead is a contaminant that causes concern, especially in the wake of community-wide health scares related to lead contamination in drinking water. In addition, other heavy metals like mercury and copper raise additional health concerns. The Health Metrics Heavy Metals test is an informative way to rule out or confirm the presence of lead and other metals

Best Water Test Kit

There are lots of different brands to choose from. How do they compare with each other? Do homeowners’ water testing results match up with those from a professional lab? Which is the best home water test kit?

I had the same questions. So I decided to get my hands on some and try some water testing myself. Keep reading to find out how I conducted my experiment, and what I found out

How I Tested the Water Test Kits

The water at my house comes from a 185 foot deep drilled well. It’s cold and clear and tastes fantastic. But taste alone doesn’t tell you the true state of your water quality.

When my husband and I bought the house a few years ago, we were told that our well water quality was fine. But we never had any water testing done ourselves. It was always in the back of my mind that I really should get it checked, just to be sure.

So, I finally stopped thinking about it and ordered six different water test kits from Amazon. I decided to go with kits that are well known and that are affordable for most people

How to buy an at-home water testing kit

With news events like the lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Mich., natural disasters such as hurricanes temporarily harming water supplies and general reports of water-quality issues, consumers may be more interested in testing the water in their homes

A recent survey by water-filtration company Bluewater showed 56 percent of Americans worry that their drinking water contains toxins, with one-third concerned about lead and toxic metals.

Marc Edwards, professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech, and one of the scientists who uncovered the lead-poisoned water in Flint, said consumers’ concerns are legitimate. “Even if 95 percent of the waters out there are safe to drink and are meeting federal law, the fact that 5, 10 percent are not, is enough to justify fear,” Edwards said.

Although water experts say the U.S. has some of the best water supplies in the world, aging municipal infrastructure and other potential environmental issues mean people shouldn’t take their water safety for granted, said Birnur K. Aral, the health, beauty and environmental sciences director at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Although municipalities test water at the source, it can be contaminated along the way after it’s sent out, Round said. For homes built before 1990, the plumbing may have lead connectors from municipal water mains, which is where problems arise for homeowners.

Getting Rid Of Possums In Your Roof

CHOOSING THE BEST METHODS FOR CONTROLLING POSSUMS AND OTHER PESTS

Choosing the best methods to control possums, rats, ferrets, stoats and feral cats has been made easier with the production of a publicly available internet–based Decision Support System or ´DSSD

Researchers at Landcare Research developed the application primarily for local authority pest managers, but it is also applicable to anyone needing to control mammal pests.

“Pest control has become quite complex over the last 10 years with new legislation and regulations, new pest control products, increasing public interest in conservation and pest problems, and increasing privatisation of the pest control industry,” researcher Dr Dave Morgan says.

“Local authorities are also under increasing accountability to rate-payers and all of this led to the idea of developing a system that would help people select the most appropriate control methods by a transparent, objective process.”

The DSS was designed by identifying the ‘generic’ questions that arise when pest managers are thinking about what control methods to use. Because the questions require ‘yes/no’ responses, the system is easy to use and unambiguous. The questions are focussed around the key issues of: legislation, operational aims, land tenure, farming practice, public and environmental safety, community views and involvement, and landowner views.

By considering these factors in a logical and systematic way, a number of options are presented. These are further narrowed down by establishing what control methods have been used previously because frequently repeated use of most methods results in declining effectiveness. Finally, recommended options are made on the basis of the likely cost of the remaining suggested methods.

Tips to Control the Possum Population Around Your Home

For every gardener or personal garden-loving home-owner in Melbourne, possums are those animals that represent nightmares. Even if you aren’t someone especially inclining towards grooming a garden you’re bound to be wary of having a possum infestation. They are creatures of the night that can be difficult to outsmart and can easily cause damage to your property.

And by property, I mean within your home, outside of it and of course your rations as well. Their control and removal is not easy thanks to their nocturnal habits and rapid movements, oh and not forgetting that they can quickly scurry off to a place you probably can’t even physically get into

This is exactly why the pest control industry offers treatment to prevent their infestation from going rogue and causing you great damage and loss. The biggest hook to any possum community, no matter where you are located in Melbourne, is food.

Where are they coming from? And why are they in my home?

Oh well, to give you a history as to why possums have become a growing pest and resulted in infestations of full areas, let’s talk about their habitat. Possums are actually meant to live out there in the wild. Previously there were a considerable number of Eucalyptus trees, however, several of them have been replaced by deciduous tress. This replacement has resulted in depletion in the population of the only known predator of possums – owls.

Can I just trap or kill Possums as a measure of control or removal?

Absolutely not! Unless getting jailed is one of the things to do on your bucket-list. They are a protected species in Melbourne. That means no matter how much of a nuisance they are or how badly you hates these pests, you’ve got to be wiser in this situation.

How to monitor possums

How often to monitor

Use your goal and management objectives to inform monitoring frequency:

If you only want pest data at critical times, you could monitor during bird breeding seasons or before and after control operations.

For ongoing studies, monitor four times per year: February, May, August and November.

For a clearer picture of fluctuations across the year, monitor once per month or every two months.

Pick representative habitat

Choose places that represent the range of environment types in your protection area. For example, if 50% of your area is beech forest, put 50% of your monitoring lines in beech forest.

Exclude bias

Don’t run lines along places that would introduce bias, such as trap/bait lines, roads, ridgelines and streams. The best way to avoid bias in your monitoring lines is to randomise the direction each one runs. Roll a six-sided die and look up the number below. Run the line in the most practicable of the two bearings given.

Plot on a map or with software

Plot your line locations before you head out, and consider practicality of access when picking a line’s starting point. Mark your locations on a map and store them in a portable GPS device if possible

Prepare devices

Choose between wax tags and chew cards. Both rely on bite mark identification for successful monitoring of animals.

Choose traps and toxins

When to use toxins instead of traps

If there are higher pest densities at your site, trapping will be labour intensive and inefficient unless the traps are self-resetting. Toxins are often a better choice in such circumstances.

Your local pest populations can become trap shy or poison shy if you stick to the same control method for a long time. Changing the tool can help you reach more targets.

New trap guidance

Any traps listed below as ‘new’ have passed NAWAC testing guideline for humane trapping. However, there is limited data on their efficacy in the field. Contact manufacturers for information on performance.

DOC-200 trap (and DOC-250, DOC-150)

Kill targets: stoats and rats

Best for: stoat control

Pros: long service life; proven effective; humane

Cons: large and heavy

Lure

For stoats: meat (Connovation Erayze, rabbit, salted rabbit); eggs (less attractive but longer lasting)

For rats: peanut butter (Connovation Ferafeed, peanut butter mixed with rolled oats); other nut-based or chocolate lures

A24 trap

Kill targets: stoats and rats

Best for: controlling rats when trapping is the preferred control option

Pros: labour saving; good instructions and support; humane

Cons: higher ongoing costs (lure and canisters); long-life stoat lure is still in development

Lure

For rats: Goodnature Rat Lure

For stoats: Goodnature Stoat Lure; Connovation Erayze

Possum Pest Control

Possums are pests. They eat your pet’s food, they crawl into your shed or under your deck or in your attic, and they live there and poop there and make a stink there. They scavange your garbage, and they are common city animals. Heck, lots of people just don’t like the way they look. So if you want to get rid of them, I understand. I personally wouldn’t mind living with an opossum outside, but if they’re living in the attic or walls of your house or something, the problem must be addressed.

HOWEVER – You definitely don’t want to hire a regular pest control company for opossum removal. Pest control guys traditionally take care of insects. They spray poison to get rid of them. It doesn’t work that way for opossums

Possum Spray – No such thing, unfortunately. If there were, then your regular pest control company or exterminator could take care of the problem. But we’re not here to exterminate opossums, we just want to solve the problem, which in most cases, involves trapping the animal in a cage trap, and relocating it far away from your property.

Here are some photos of proper opossum trapping. Notice that we’re not doing possum extermination. These animals are live trapped and moved elsewhere. If the animals are outside, it’s not such a difficult job. Opossums are the easiest to trap without worry of any animal that I deal with – that’s not to say that it’s a cinch. Most beginners that I see try it mess up in a variety of ways. And if you’ve got possums living inside the house, such as in the walls or basement or attic, then you definitely have a challenging case on your hands, one that I believe requires the hiring of a professional – just make sure it’s a wildlife control specialist, like the ones on my directory, and not your usual insect-spraying pest control company.

If you are a pest control operator who works in the south and traps armadillos, prepare to catch a whole lot of incidental opossums. Most trappers are used to opossums wandering into raccoon sets, as their diets are similar – they’ll eat almost anything. However, it also seems that opossums are either curious or, like the armadillo, easily directed into unbaited traps. When I set traps for armadillos, I set cage traps without bait. Armadillos dig for their food, and despite rumors, there is no known effective bait. Believe me, I’ve tried, and extensive research amongst good dillo trappers supports me. You can catch all the dillos you want by merely knowing where they will walk, and directing them into cages through use of barriers. However, get ready to catch quite a few opossums along the way. Opossums, like many animals including the armadillo, like to travel along edges. Thus, the same sets that cross an armadillos’ path will also cross an opossums’. However, the opossum lacks the caution most animals display, and they walk right into armadillo traps with annoying frequency. I also believe that some opossums might enter these empty cage traps because they detect residual smells of past baits or animals, but I’ve caught opossums in brand-new out of the box cage traps.

Photo Booth Fun For Your Wedding

Why a Photo booth is a Great Addition to Any Event

Taking a picture is one of the best ways to capture a moment. Regardless of the occasion, people love to take pictures to remember a fun-filled day. This is especially the case if there is a photo booth at the event. Photo booths provide your event with an experience that is unlike taking pictures with a smartphone or with a photographer. They will provide your event with more than just photos, a photo booth will provide your event with an experience.

Capturing a moment

Of course, with a photo booth, your guests can take pictures with their friends to capture the fun of your event. Not just any kind of pictures either. Modern photo booths will provide your guests with high-quality PHYSICAL copies of pictures. The physical copies of photos are unlike anything that can be captured using a smartphone. A photo booth at your event will make it all the more memorable for your guests. Whether it is a birthday, wedding, or any other type of big event, a photo booth is a guaranteed way to make it a lasting memory. A photo will allow them to keep reliving the event over and over! Your guests will want to make sure everyone hears about it!

Entertainment

We all know taking pictures can be fun, especially in a photo booth. There are a variety of fun backdrops your guests can use to make their pictures more personalized. There are even some fun props that can be used to really make the photo booth come alive.Your guests will feel like kids again as soon as they step into the photo booth. A photo booth at your event will give your guests hours of entertainment.

Great for everyone

One of the best features about photo booths is that can be used by everyone! Anyone that can work a photo booth is free to use it. Young to old, all your guest can preserve a memory of your event with help of a photo booth. Everyone can join in on the fun of a photo booth. It is especially a blast for children that are the event. All your guests will be able to cut loose and enjoy your event with a photo booth!

With Titus Touch Music, our photo booths are staffed for the duration of the event to assist you and your guests and help make your photos even more special. Please click here for more photobooth information.

Free party favor

With a photo booth at your event, you don’t need to stress as much about party favors. Guests are free to take as many pictures as they want at the photo booths. You’ll find that renting a photo booth is a lot cheaper than making party favor bags for your guests. Not to mention you don’t have to waste any of your time like you would be making part favors. Unlike other party favors, a photo is not as likely to be forgotten or thrown away. Your guest will want to keep the pictures they took in your photo booth in plain sight. They will want to share stories of that event for years to come!

Is a Wedding Photo Booth Really Worth the Splurge?

Photo booths seem to be ubiquitous with modern weddings, but they’re certainly not a requirement. Whether you’re considering a vintage booth, an open-air setup by your photographer, or a DIY backdrop that guests can pose in front of, you may find yourself considering whether this is an expense that’s really worth the splurge. Here are some of the pros and cons to help you make the decision that’s best for your wedding and your budget.

Pro: You’ll get an additional set of wedding photos.

Your guests love to pose at the photo booth, but these snaps are tons of fun for the couple to look through after the wedding, too. Think of it as a way to see what friends were up to when you weren’t around. Your professional photos will be great for framing and hanging in your home but flipping through an album filled with photo booth snaps is guaranteed to put a smile on your face for years to come.

Con: There are more costs to consider than just the actual rental.

There are often additional expenses beyond just the product and service. You’ll need to provide a meal for the vendor running the booth and you may need to cover the cost of transportation and mileage, web hosting fees for photos that are available for digital download, and any extra printing or album costs. If your booth doesn’t come with props or lighting, you’ll likely need to save some money for these expenses, too.

Pro: The photos can double as favors.

If you opt to book a photo booth that prints photo strips, your guests have will have a wedding favor they’ll actually want to keep. It’s one less thing to cross off your wedding to-do list.

Con: They can take away from the party atmosphere.

The placement of your photo booth, and when you choose to open it to guests, can mean that its presence splits up the party more than you intended. It’s usually best to have the photo booth open after dinner and set near the dance floor area. But it’s important to remember that, depending on what your guests are like, this interactive activity can be a distraction from the rest of the reception. Imagine what the dance floor would be like if all your college friends were off trying to cram into one photo?

What Can I Do with the Digital Booth?

Our digital booth is a beautiful, all-in-one piece of equipment with a base that is sturdy enough for any location – including a sandy beach or a grassy outdoor area. It has an illuminating ring light surrounding the circular mirror to help you look your best in each photo. The center of the mirror has a touch screen that lets you preview your content in real time. Of course, the mirror also lets you check out your reflection to fix any flyaway hair or make sure you don’t have anything on your face!

The digital booth may be small in size, but it is loaded with features that are instantly available for sharing on social media. Let’s dive into the features, and how they are typically used:

Boomerang

Boomerang is a mobile app that is typically used in conjunction with Instagram. To create a boomerang, the user presses the button to record. The result is a short video that continually loops over and over, much like a boomerang that is thrown and immediately returns. Often users will record boomerangs of clinking beverages together, twirling their dresses, quick movements, or other moments that look great when played over and over. Our digital booth has this capability, and it creates a dynamic photo memory in comparison to a traditional, static photo. Some examples of Boomerangs from our digital photobooth are featured on our website under the “Digital Booth” link.

GIFs

GIFs are similar to boomerangs in that they are a short sequence of photos that loop, but the format that they are captured in is different. In other words, GIFS are not a video, but rather they are a sequence of photos stitched together. GIFS do have a more limited color palette to represent the image, and can look less detailed if translating a video from full quality to GIF format. However, GIFs are still extremely popular and culturally iconic despite those limitations. GIFs are typically used online to share funny moments or hilarious facial expressions from events or movies.

Wedding Activities That Are Way More Fun Than a Photo Booth

1. LifePrint

LifePrint will make your photos come to life! I know, it sounds like something out of the Harry Potter books, but it’s true. Here’s how it works: select your favorite couples photos or videos from your phone, then print them out using your LifePrint printer. Scatter these pictures throughout your wedding venue at different tables or stations, or pin them to a collage. When your guests hover their phones over the pics—surprise!—they will start moving. Why make your guests sit through a boring slideshow?!

2. Air graffiti wall

Allow your guests to get creative, street art style. Instead of paint, the cans emit an infrared light beam which is converted into a virtual image that appears on the digital wall. This is a way cooler and more creative way to edit and share images on social media from your wedding.

3. Go FlipYourself

No, we’re not being inappropriate. Kellee Khalil, founder and CEO of virtual wedding planner app Loverly, says Go FlipYourself is a total departure from the traditional photo booth setup. “You can have guests venture into the open air setup (not the stuffy booth), pretty themselves up with on-hand props (boas, glasses, you name it), and record a 7-second video that then gets processed and cut up into a business card-sized flip book they can take away within two minutes.”

Photo booths as Authentic and Vintage

The very structure of photo booths allow for a target audience that encompasses a broad range of generations, unlike smartphones which are primarily used by a younger demographic. Older people tend to view photo booths with nostalgia while younger people may see it as vintage and revel in the novelty of having printed photo strips to bring home. In both cases, photo booths present a unique chance to be wholly authentic. While some photo booths offer the ability to share photos digitally via email, the same photo booths also offer the option to share photos directly to social media, reducing the chance of users taking the time to alter or edit photos before posting and thus preserving authenticity. Since photos are printed right there for you, they serve as a great tangible reminder of a fun event or get-together. Users receive a completely untouched and real photo of how they looked in a particular moment to look fondly back on. There is something genuine about having an actual photo strip to hold and look at knowing that what has been captured is exactly what the scene really looked like, something that cannot be said for many social media photos that have been retouched or filtered.

What to Expect From A Roof Inspection

Roof Inspection Safety Tips You Should Know

Have The Right Tools For Roof Inspection Safety

Using the right tools for a roof inspection is easy enough. But how about roof inspection safety? Sure these tools are optional, but one of them could easily just save you from a nasty fall from the roof. These tools make sure that you’re either firmly planted on the roof, safely get up to your roof or safely get off of your roof. These tools include:

  • Safety Boots. If you were to choose footwear with roof inspection safety in mind, you should choose shoes with rubber soles. Hiking boots or military boots come to mind here as these are made to provide unmatched traction on most surfaces. This is especially useful when your roof is slanting or it’s raining. 
  • A Safety Harness. Slips can sometimes be unavoidable. So having a second line of defense from falling off of your roof is a good investment. One other thing is to make sure that the harness is attached to a stable anchor point. Because you could still end up on the ground, no matter how good your harness is if the anchor point comes loose during the slip.
  • A Stable Ladder. Ladders are what can get you to your roof in the first place unless you have roof access through your attic. Make sure that your ladder is free from any loose parts or rusting components as it could end up failing while you’re climbing up or down.

Never Work Alone During a Roof Inspection

This is one job where having friends matters. A companion is not a second set of hands helping you plug up that hole in the roof, but also another safety net. Having someone back you up in case something wrong happens can be a lifesaver. They can grab you in case you slip, make an already stable ladder even more stable by bracing it into the ground as you climb, and even call for help if something goes wrong. Having a friend just makes your roof inspections safer.  

Avoid Inspections During Harsh Weather

It can be very tempting to go up on your roof during rain to seal up the leak that’s been dripping into your living room. However, many accidents happen during unstable weather. This is because not only is your visibility hampered, but your roof also becomes more slippery because of the rain. You could also get blown off of your roof because of strong winds or because of the debris flying around in strong winds. Regardless of the reason you want to go up on your roof in that weather, you should just wait out the storm and put a bucket under those leaks.

Consider the many risks workers are exposed to while on the roof:

  • Ladders – If your building doesn’t have interior stairs and a doorway to the roof, workers must use caution when using ladders. These can become unstable if they aren’t properly secured or tied off to the building, notes Brian Impellizeri, senior product manager with GAF, a roofing manufacturer.
  • Exterior Egress – Beyond ladders, staff should exercise situation awareness when accessing the roof via hatches, elevators, penthouse doors, scaffolding, or power equipment such as scissor lifts and aerial work platforms, says Brad Richardson, a certified safety professional and director of environmental health and safety for D. C. Taylor Company, a roofing contractor.
  • Skylights – While great for natural light, these fixtures can give way if too much weight is put on them. A worker may accidentally step on them or trip on the edges.
  • Parapet Walls – Buildings that have no barrier on the roof ledge pose an immediate risk and others may have walls that are too short to prevent someone from tumbling over.
  • Loose Debris – Tree branches, leaves, construction materials, and tools can all pose a tripping hazard. In windy conditions, they may also become flying debris.
  • Extreme Heat – A cool roof can be a hot place for workers surrounded by reflected heat. Roofing repairs and renovations are also a tiring activity and technicians are susceptible to something as simple as dehydration when performing tasks for hours under the sun, reminds Impellizeri.

Up On The Roof: Rules And Safety

On the roof. Those inspectors who do are usually trying to get up close and personal with any issues they believe are affecting the roof. It’s a personal decision, and it’s rare to see any home inspector walk roofs that are steeper than a 6-in-12 slope.

Staying off the Roof Keeps Home Inspectors Safe and Out of Trouble

Walking the roof can involve insurance and legal issues if the inspector has employees or permits the customer or realtor to climb onto the roof. Anyone could get hurt. OSHA (the federal job safety agency) rules clearly state that the home inspector is not to work at more than 6 feet off grade without a proper harness installed by a trained technician. Insurance companies support the criteria of OSHA, so in the event of an accident to a customer or realtor, it would be very unlikely that an insurer would pay a claim.

If They Don’t Go Up, How Do They Inspect?

Inspection from the ground using binoculars is very effective. The type and condition of the roof surface can largely be seen from the ground. A good pair of binoculars helps inspectors get a close look at details, such as the flashing around chimneys and the use of chimney crickets.

Inspecting the roof from a ladder is another effective way to judge its condition. Gutters, the life expectancy of the roof, number of layers, and condition and location of fasteners can all be seen from a ladder. Number of layers can also be assessed by examining the shingles on the rake edge. One of the newest and increasingly popular methods for inspecting a roof  is by drone.

Home inspectors simply need to make sure their report on the roof is accurate and clear, and they’ll have no need to walk a roof—even if they think the homeowner is expecting it.

Roof Safety Signs: What They Mean and What to Do

According to OSHA, safety signs are generally categorized in three types—danger signs, warning signs, and caution signs. When working on rooftops, roofers will usually encounter the following examples of roof safety signs and what they should do:

Danger Sign

When there is a roof safety danger sign, there are immediate hazardous conditions that will lead to serious injury and death if not avoided. Upon seeing this sign before any roofing work, avoid it at all costs.

Warning Sign

When there is a roof safety warning sign, there are existing life-threatening hazards that can lead to serious injury or death. Accessing roofs by permit means that only authorized personnel or trained employees can be on it. Warning signs represent a hazard level between danger and caution, needing specific precautionary measures to be taken.

Caution Sign

When there is a roof safety caution sign, there are minor hazard situations where a non-immediate or potential hazard or unsafe practice presents a lesser threat of employee injury. Roofers should be mindful of caution signs and apply necessary control measures in any roofing work.

Here are the key concerns you should search for:

Shingles

Look for misshapen shingles that are curling or blistering. Also, notice if there are any missing or broken shingles. All of these will need to be replaced.

Grit in the Gutters

If you find piles of grit that may be coming from your shingles, you may need to have all of your tiles replaced. The grit you see is supposed to protect your shingles from the sun’s strong rays. When it starts wearing off, your roofing may quickly become compromised.

Flashing

Notice if there are any rust spots or cracked caulking surrounding your flashing. Recaulk old caulk and replace worn flashing.

Rubber Boots

Around any puncture spots on your roof such as vent pipes, there’s a rubber piece to keep water from getting in. Over time, these can age and crack, meaning they need to be replaced.

Moss or Lichen

Notice any patches of moss or lichen that could indicate moisture accumulation and even rotting just under your roof. Don’t worry about black algae, though, that’s a cosmetic issue. You can have it washed off if you like.

Make note of the damage you notice on your roof. Then, you can make plans to continue to DIY or call in the professionals to help with any repairs. Remember, be safe and know your limits!

Paint Ideas For Interior Painting

Benefits of Using Only the Best Interior Paint for Your Home

DIY is terrific. There are so many ways to be creative when it comes to customizing your home and making it look exactly the way that you want. DIY projects can be inexpensive as you may be able to substitute expensive materials with something cheaper, but just as good. Paint, however, is not one of those things.

Finishes are as Important as Color

The finish that you use is just as important as the color that you choose. For instance, when painting the room a darker color, choose either satin or semi-gloss paints to reflect light and make the room more open.

  • Flat finishes can be terrific and look very sophisticated, but they don’t have much stain resistance and can be hard to clean.
  • Eggshell and satin finishes fall right between flat and semigloss and should be used on smooth, primed, and prepared services. They’re durable enough for high-traffic areas like family rooms or kids’ rooms.
  • Semi-gloss paints are the most durable of all, and the easiest clean. They’re perfect for kitchens and baths, kids’ rooms, mudrooms, or high-traffic areas.
  • Glossy paints are generally used for exterior trim, or very easy to clean, and very durable. They can be used indoors but are highly reflective and may be jarring against more matte finishes.

Modern, high-quality paints are also much lower in volatile organic compounds – called VOCs. These compounds give paint its distinctive smell, but over the years through regulation these substances have been reduced. However, for a paint to call itself low VOC, it has to conform with EPA requirements of less than 250 g/L the oil-based paints can have up to 380 g/L.

How Often Should You Paint Interior Walls?

Some walls in your home need to be repainted more frequently than others due to daily wear and tear. For example, if you only eat in your formal dining room a couple times a year during the holidays, you probably won’t need to paint the walls as often as those found in your kitchen, hallways, or bathroom.

  • Living Room & Dining Room: If you used high-quality, durable paint in these rooms, you likely won’t need to repaint for quite a few years. Even if you use your living room more often than your dining room, the durable paint and room decor can often protect it from wear. You will want to paint your house interior every 5 to 7 years. This frequency generally does the trick for both of these rooms.
  • Kitchen & Bathroom: Food splatters in the kitchen. Messy fingers on walls. Moisture in the bathroom. These factors and others require that kitchens, bathrooms (and laundry rooms) be repainted more often than dining and living rooms. Professional painters use the most durable, gloss paints on trim and satin paints on walls in these rooms to ensure the paint lasts as long as possible. You will likely notice that your kitchen and bathroom will need fresh paint every 3 to 4 years, sometimes longer.
  • Bedrooms: If you don’t have kids, you will find that the paint in your bedrooms can last a long time. Because adult bedrooms are typically used less frequently, you may find that you won’t need to repaint until you want to change up the color! But kids’ bedrooms are an entirely different story as they are used for both sleep and play. Professional painters often use an eggshell or satin sheen when repainting a child’s bedroom walls. This can ensure that paint will last longer even when it has to be scrubbed down multiple times over. Kids’ bedrooms usually need repainted every 2 to 3 years.
  • Hallways: The hallways and corridors of your home are walked through more often than any other space in your house. This means that you will see a lot more dents, scuff marks, and other wear and tear in these areas. Have professional painters paint these spaces every 2 to 3 years to keep your paint looking fresh and new.

Quality Paint vs. Standard Paint–Is there a difference?

Quality Paint: Higher price, prime pigments, more additives, more binders

Standard Paint: Lower price, extender pigment, less additives and less binders…more liquid

Ok, now I know what you’re thinking..”what the heck does all that mean? I thought additives were bad.”

So let’s break it down, without getting too technical and going all chemistry teacher on you (which I am clearly not, as you will see from my description of each of these–very basic).

Quality Paint:

  • prime pigment–increases color and hiding power. Provides better one-coat coverage.
  • additives–bad for you; good for paint. Quality texture, improved surface (wall) life, improved shelf-life, increased UV- and rust-resistance.
  • binders–better durability, quality gloss, increased scrub and stain resistance, adheres to wall better.

Standard Paint:

  • extender pigment–does little for the color; serves more as a filler
  • less additives
  • less binders
  • more liquid–serving no purpose

Educate Yourself as to Proper House Painting Procedure

Once you’ve chosen the color schemes and paint, the next step is to start the home painting itself. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, be sure to read up on proper painting procedure, from surface preparation right on down to finishing touches. Figuring it out as you go can be a valuable learning experience, but where painting is concerned it can also mean a lot of extra work and unsatisfactory results when it comes to the final product. If you think home painting might be a little out of your league, talk to an experienced painting contractor in your area about getting your house painting job underway so you can enjoy your beautiful new exterior paint job for years to come.

Painting Fosters Creative Growth

Many people put themselves in either the right-brain or left-brain boxes when they’re younger, and then decide that is who they are for the rest of their lives. Painting comes easiest to artistic, right-brain people. But this doesn’t necessarily mean left-brainers won’t benefit from painting.

Taking up a hobby like painting isn’t just for the creative types. The more analytical left-brainers can stimulate and nurture their creative growth by painting as well. Practice and focus, two skills inherent in left-brain individuals, allow these people to learn creative skills at their own pace.