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Expert Tips for Creating an Inviting Outdoor Space This Summer

No one wants to waste beautiful summer days while they last. That’s why every homeowner needs a cozy and inviting outdoor space where they can relax in the sun, entertain guests, and make memories with their children. If you’re keen on setting up your own outdoor living area, check out the following tips from BJGE!

Tap into Your Home Equity

If you need help funding your outdoor improvements, consider using your home equity to pay for these upgrades. It’s common for homeowners to use their home equity to make renovations and repairs. All you have to do is refinance your mortgage with a new, higher-balance loan—ideally one with a lower interest rate—and you get to keep the difference in cash! This is referred to as cash-out refinancing.

Add Privacy to Your Patio

Your patio should be a place where you can rest, relax, and escape from the world. If neighbors or pedestrians can see into your yard, find ways to make your patio more private! To block the view of your outdoor space, Patio Productions recommends using fencing, lattice panels, outdoor screens, bushes, hedges, or vertical gardens. To get started, search for highly-rated fencing companies in your area on a site like Angi. Once you’ve got the privacy basics covered, you may also want to add an outdoor fountain to drown out street noise and ensure your outdoor conversations cannot be overheard by prying ears.

Incorporate Atmospheric Lighting

Lighting is a quick and easy way to enhance the atmosphere of your outdoor living area. For example, HomeTips recommends hanging string lights to create ambiance and make your patio feel cozy in the evenings. If you’re concerned about the safety of your family and guests, install some path lights to illuminate your walkways and prevent trips and slips in the dark.

Choose Comfortable Furniture

Picking patio furniture isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. First of all, think about what people will be doing in your outdoor space. Will you be hosting dinner guests? Throwing casual BBQ parties? Playing with your kids? Relaxing by a fire? Answering questions like these will help you make the best decisions when it comes to purchasing patio furniture. You also have to consider the material of your furniture to ensure your pieces hold up against the weather. Natural wood, for example, is durable and attractive but requires regular maintenance to resist sun and water damage.

Install an Outdoor Kitchen

If you like to cook, building an outdoor kitchen is a great way to make the most of your outdoor space. An outdoor kitchen is an ideal spot to entertain guests and experiment with new food preparation methods. Plus, cooking outside will prevent your kitchen from heating up your home during the hot summer months. Your outdoor kitchen could even add value to your home. If you really want to kick things up a notch, consider going all out and building a wood-fired pizza oven!

Plant a Garden

Whether you want to grow fresh ingredients for cooking for beautiful blooms for tabletop displays, consider starting a garden. Gardening is a wonderful hobby and a great outdoor activity for families with kids! After picking a spot in your yard and removing the grass, it’s a good idea to test your soil and amend it with compost and fertilizers to ensure your plants will grow successfully. When your plot is ready, just choose some plants you love and get them in the ground! Finally, take some time to learn how you can keep your garden looking great all year round—even during those drab winter months.

Designing an outdoor living space is a great way to encourage your family to spend more time outside—and less time in front of the TV. Create an outdoor setup that’s as simple or elaborate as you like! What matters most is that you actually want to spend time there. Now get out there and start building your backyard oasis today!

BJGEINC is pleased share an article penned by Lin Buckner.

4 Tips to Find the Right Home for Growing Your Home-Based Business

“I think we’ve just grown apart.” “Things between us have gotten too difficult.” “It’s not you, it’s me.”

If you find yourself having these thoughts about your home office, it’s probably time to break up with your current house. With a home-based business, it’s often only a matter of time before the business starts to outgrow your home. This is especially true if your house didn’t have the greatest office space to begin with, or if your family has been growing at the same time. These tips can help you find a house where you and your business will grow and thrive.

  1. Don’t: Skimp on Space

The need for more space is one of the primary reasons that people change houses, as My Moving Reviews explains. As your business grows and evolves, your next home should be able to accommodate that growth.

Try to choose a home with more room than you currently need. Besides adequate living space, office space, and shop space, be sure to consider your business’s storage needs. You’ll want to find a home where you can store all your current and future documents, supplies, tools, and inventory in a secure and organized fashion. And you’ll need space for expansion if you feel you’ll be adding to production or hiring help any time soon. Even if you currently outsource tasks like bookkeeping or scheduling, there may come a time in the not-so-distant future when you can justify in-house help.

Keep in mind that if you’re moving out of state, you’ll likely be required to form a new business entity as rules vary between states. You can attempt to file for LLC formation on your own, hire an attorney, or use a formation service. You can read reviews to learn more about the benefits of using a service.

  1. Do: Understand What You Can Afford

While adequate space is important, a larger home can mean a larger price. Before meeting with a real estate agent, take the time to evaluate your financial resources and figure out what you can afford. In addition to mortgage expenses, consider other home-related costs, such as taxes, HOA fees, utilities, property insurance, landscaping, and maintenance costs.

You’ll also want to educate yourself on the home buying and lending processes. Familiarize yourself with the relevant terminology and current interest rates. Research lenders and reach out to a few to make sure you get the best deal. Consider getting a loan pre-approval, which can speed up the buying process.

  1. Do: Research the Property

Just because a property is within your budget doesn’t mean it is a good deal. Watch out for prices that seem too good to believe. You can often find a surprising amount of data about a home and its history online and in public records, like how frequently the property has sold and how long the current seller has owned it.

Be especially careful about properties that are listed “as is.” Homes that are offered “as is” usually have problems, such as structural weaknesses, leaks, or insect infestations. Your real estate agent can suggest a good home inspector to identify any issues.

  1. Don’t: Overlook ‘Hidden’ Office Space

If your current home lacks a functional, dedicated office area, you understand how much extra time and energy insufficient office space can cost your business. An excellent home office area is a must-have for your next home. However, home offices are currently in high demand and may drive up the sales price.

Be open-minded in your search, keeping an eye out for office spaces that aren’t labeled as such. Spare bedrooms, playrooms, garages, or even outbuildings like sheds and guest houses have the potential to become outstanding home offices. And if you need to modify your home to include a home office, be sure to work with the skilled professionals at BJGE INC who can handle all your home improvement needs.

Your perfect workspace is out there! If you’re ready to move on, take into account your current and future business and goals so you can find a home that accommodates your life, family, and business for the next chapter.

BJGEINC is pleased share an article penned by Lin Buckner.

In addition to smart home upgrades, you can boost your home’s ROI through a kitchen or bath remodel, a new roof, window replacement and updated flooring. Whatever your home improvement needs are,
BGJE is here to help. We provide superior service and workmanship, and we look forward to helping you with any updates. Reach out today!

Better Security Through Technology: How Home Security Affects Real Estate

Home improvement specialists work closely with home sellers looking for ways to increase value and asking prices. Sprucing up a property with fresh paint, adding hardwood flooring, and upgrading a bathroom can increase home value, but buyers today are increasingly tech savvy and often expect technology to be part of the deal. Young buyers in particular, who have grown up with technology, expect it to help make their homes more efficient and more secure. That includes using smart technology to protect their families from home intruders, fire and other potential threats.

While it’s uncertain how much smart home technology increases a home’s value, smart home security features are generally considered by realtors to be an excellent way to make a property more appealing to prospective buyers.

Advantages of home security

A fully functional security system can do a lot of things for you. It monitors your property, notifies you about intruders, keeps your home locked up, and alerts you to the presence of fire or carbon monoxide. It’s a robust package as well as an appealing form of technology for a Millennial or Gen Xer. And, because a comprehensive system protects against so many threats, it can earn you discounts on insurance premiums, as much as 20 percent in some cases.

The more you can add to a security system, the more you can increase a home’s value and its attractiveness to a buyer. And upgrading a home with an older, outmoded security system can have the same effect. Some of the more desirable and cost-effective measures include reinforced door locks, secure window locks, garage door openers, external motion sensors, and window shades that prevent strangers from peering in.

Smart locks

Smart locks use technology to keep your entire home secure and allow you to control door and window locks from anywhere via Wifi or Bluetooth. A home with smart locks no longer requires keys, and these locks can be detected via smartphone when you’re approaching and will unlock the door in anticipation of your arrival or enable you to lock your home if you forget. Some older systems use a touchpad or number pad, and some systems will accommodate a key if you’re more comfortable having one as a fallback or because it’s traditional and familiar. These handy devices offer an extra layer of security without costing a lot.

These locks are just one of a growing number of items integrated into a smart home security system. They work together with other products like video doorbells, such as Ring, and motion sensors to keep your home secure 24/7. A smart system can be controlled and monitored anywhere you are via smartphone, laptop or desktop; it can even tell you when your teenager arrives home from school, when a door or window is left open, or the medicine cabinet has been opened.

Landscape security

Home security doesn’t always have to be about high tech and fancy features. There’s a lot you can do to protect a home with simple landscaping, shielding windows and doors with shrubs, tall bushes and trees. Strategically placed landscaping can discourage intruders from getting too close to your house, as does exterior lighting that’s activated by motion sensors. Fencing and security gates are also effective discouragements to home intruders. Landscaping as security is one of the costlier options, so be sure to shop around.

Smart smoke alarms

The smart smoke alarm is one of the lower-priority items on the home security list. However, considering a home fire is reported about every 86 seconds, it’s still a valuable component. Using Wifi connectivity, the smart smoke alarm identifies precisely where a fire has occurred and alerts you via an app so you’re able to get everyone out of the house safely. (Don’t worry, you can shut it off if you get an alert when someone burns toast or popcorn.) The Nest Protect and First Alert Onelink system also provide alerts if carbon monoxide is detected in your home using a human voice rather than a high-pitched alarm or pulse.

Home buyers are looking for a number of things in a property. One thing they don’t like to worry about is safety and home security. A house with a robust home security system offers peace of mind and a full measure of control over their family’s well-being. Consider adding one or all of these options as an added benefit when selling your home.

28 Uses for White Vinegar You’ve Likely Never Thought Of!

by Altaf Mohamed

Good ol’ white vinegar is a strong antimicrobial agent and solvent that banishes bacteria, odors, and stains. It’s an extremely cheap—$2.50 a gallon—and nontoxic alternative to harsh cleaners. When combined with other ingredients you’re bound to have on hand (e.g., water or salt), vinegar can clean anything in your house. Well, just about anything.

Vinegar is acidic, so you can’t use it to clean all surfaces in your home. Skip the vinegar when cleaning granite and marble countertops, because the acid can eat away at the sealant that prevents stone from staining.

For other household tasks, though, like disinfecting, deodorizing, and removing stains, vinegar has your back.

Check out all the ways white vinegar will  revolutionize your cleaning routine!

Refresh your fridge: Wipe down shelves, bins, and walls with a 1-to-1 solution of vinegar and water.

Remove coffee stains: Scrub coffee stains from mugs with a paste of equal parts vinegar and salt. The salt acts as a mild abrasive.

Beat bathroom germs: Wipe down the outside of the toilet and around the sink and shower enclosure with full-strength vinegar. Follow up with a damp sponge.

Clean toilet bowls: Pour a cup of vinegar into the bowl, let it work its magic for a few hours, scrub with a toilet brush, and flush.Voilà!

Clean crud from faucet aerators: Soak faucet aerators in vinegar for an hour. Scrub the screen with an old toothbrush and rinse.

Shine shower doors: Remove soap residue on glass shower doors by scrubbing with a sponge soaked in full-strength vinegar.

Deodorize the garbage disposal: Keep your garbage disposal odor-free with vinegar ice cubes. Mix a solution of 1 cup vinegar and 2 cups water, and freeze the solution in an ice-cube tray. Run several cubes through the disposal, then flush with cold water.

Clean the coffee maker: Get rid of mineral deposits from your automatic drip coffee maker during spring cleaning by filling it with vinegar and running it through a brewing cycle (but leave out the coffee grounds!). Rinse the coffee maker thoroughly after the treatment.

Disinfect cutting boards: Scrub cutting boards with full-strength vinegar. Rinse thoroughly.

Carpet cleaner: Remove carpet stains with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon liquid detergent. Squeeze onto the stain, blot (don’t rub), then rinse with a small amount of clean water.

Brighten the wash: Make your whites whiter and your colors more vibrant by adding a half-cup of vinegar to your wash. Vinegar also helps reduce static cling.

Shine shoes: Restore the luster and remove scuff marks from old leather shoes and handbags by wiping them with vinegar. Follow the treatment with a damp cloth and a fresh coat of polish.

Revive cut flowers: Boost a tired bouquet by adding a tablespoon of vinegar and a pinch of sugar to a half-quart of water. Pour the solution into the vase.

Wash windows: Spray windows with a solution of equal parts warm water and vinegar; wipe dry with a microfiber cloth for streak-free glass.

Remove water marks: Vinegar can remove rings on woodwork caused by wet glasses. Rub the mark with a solution of equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain, then wipe dry. Test an inconspicuous spot first.

Renew clothes: Make clothes and towels soft again by adding a half-cup of vinegar to the last rinse cycle of a load of laundry.

Polish metal: Make brass and copper shine with a paste made of 1 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1 cup vinegar. Add flour to make a soft paste. Apply the paste, let stand 15 minutes, then rinse and polish with a soft cloth.

Remove labels: Get rid of sticky label residue by rubbing stubborn glue with vinegar.

Clean glass fireplace doors: Remove soot from fireplace doors with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.
Unclog a steam iron: Fill the water chamber with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Set the iron to steam mode, and leave upright for several minutes, then unplug. When cool, pour out any unused solution and refill with clean water.

Deodorize doggy smell: Wet your pooch with plain water, then wash the dog with a solution of 1 cup vinegar diluted in 2 gallons water. Make sure to keep the solution out of the dog’s eyes. Dry the dog without rinsing.

Fight dandruff: Give your hair a final rinse with a half-cup of vinegar mixed with 2 cups of warm water.
Get rid of toenail fungus: Soak your feet in 1 cup of vinegar mixed with 2 cups of warm water. Soak for 15 minutes, once a day.

Relieve itch: Add a quarter-cup of vinegar to your bath water to soothe itchy skin.

Remove weeds: Straight vinegar will get rid of weeds in your yard and driveway cracks. Pour directly on unwanted plants, making sure to protect wanted plants.

Beat morning windshield frost: The night before an expected frost, spray a solution of equal parts vinegar and water onto your car windows. The vinegar lowers the freezing temp of water so frost won’t form as easily.

Change soil pH: Acid-loving plants, like hibiscus, will love a drink of a gallon of water spiked with 1 cup of vinegar.

Soften old paintbrushes: Soak paintbrushes in warm vinegar, then wash the bristles with warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

BJGEINC is pleased share an article penned by Lin Buckner.

Preparing for a Stress-Free Move with a Disabled Child

Moving to a new home is hectic and stressful. There are so many things to consider as you prepare to transfer your life to a new space. Families with disabled children also recognize how difficult the move may be for the child and to try to make accommodations to create as smooth a transition as possible.

Families with a disabled child often plan ahead and think about possible needs before they arise. When it comes to preparing for a move, this advanced preparation is crucial. Finding a suitable home that accommodates a disability is an important part of your child’s successful transition, as well as being in a location that suits your family’s needs.

Tips for Finding the Right Home in the Right Place

Finding a home that accommodates a disability in a location that offers diverse services may feel impossible. Perhaps you have found that accessible homes are out of your price range or in an area without access to services. During the house-hunting process, these factors can feel overwhelming.

Parents of a special-needs child are well aware of the specific needs of their families. Accessible homes often include access ramps, sufficiently widened door frames, and a floor plan that accommodates disability. A realtor who is familiar with the area will have knowledge of varying homes that are accessible.

Researching home prices in your desired location can give you an idea of what to expect and whether or not your budget can support the type of home that meets your family’s needs. Many websites offer mortgage calculators, which can help determine payments with predicted interest rates.

It may be worthwhile to consider a home that can be modified to meet your needs, particularly if it is in a location that has a good educational program or is in proximity to a valued service. Home modifications such as the installation of ramps and the widening of door frames can be relatively inexpensive.

When you locate your home and begin preparing for the big move, envision ways to make the process as stress-free as possible.

Preparing for the Move

Moving to a new home disrupts the routine that many kids with disabilities rely on to feel grounded and safe. If possible, involve your child throughout the process. Talk with them about what you are looking for in your new home and find out what they think and feel.

During the weeks prior to the move, begin preparing your child for the process. Create a calendar that shows each step, including when packing will begin. Help your child select items to go in the car with them on the ride to the new home. Pack other important items in specific boxes for easy access to offer comfort during the transition.

Look at pictures of your new home early on, and if it is feasible, plan a trip with your child to tour the home. Spend time in areas of the home that will be most relevant to your child, such as their bedroom, and think about how to arrange their space.

Safety Measures for Your Move

Moving during COVID-19 means another factor to consider for the safety of your family. Remember to have plenty of masks for the entire family to wear, including extras in the event that a mask becomes soiled.

It may be a good idea to pack an anti-COVID bag, stocked with sanitizing hand wipes, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, paper masks, and a face shield if your child struggles with wearing a mask. Consider packing non-perishable snacks such as crackers or granola bars and bottled water to reduce the need for stopping on the road for food.

The house-hunting and preparation process for a move can be stressful, particularly when you are concerned about the impact on your disabled child in the time of COVID-19. With some advanced preparation, your transition to a new home can be less stressful for you and your family.

BJGE INC is committed to meeting your needs and requirements, so you and your family can have a safe and accessible home to thrive in. Contact BJGE INC today. (703) 371-876.  BJGEINC is pleased share an article penned by Lin Buckner.

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Fall Preparations

Fall is upon us and it’s time to pay attention to a few home preparation details if you have not already done so.  Here is a simple check list to follow that will help prepare and keep you and your loved ones warm and safe this fall.

    • Clean off and cover your outdoor furniture
    • Safe your BBQ grill
    • Plant your bulbs for springtime flowers
    • Clean the gutters and install gutter guards if you don’t have them to prevent backups
    • Clean on and around your outdoor HVAC units-obstructions can cause up to a 30% energy increase
    • Prepare your chimney with an annual safety inspection and cleaning
    • Stock up on firewood to enjoy and heat your home
    • Replace your batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Prepare your furnace for heating season with seasonal maintenance
    • Keep flammable items away from the furnace
    • Keep the cold weather out by replacing dry or damaged weather stripping on all doors and windows
    • Check your home for drafts and cold spots
    • Check exterior window caulking
    • Check your outside water spigots for leaks and put away all water hoses
    • Shut off water to outside spigots and leave in open position to drain excess water from lines
    • Verify all exterior wall water pipes are insulated to prevent freezing and burst pipes
    • Check all flashlight batteries and stock up on supplies for days with potential power outages.
    • Prepare your generator/s and give them a test run
    • Empty the fuel from summer lawn equipment to prepare for non-usage during winter months
    • Check and trim your landscaping for dead or damaged tree limbs

We are all living the new normal and remember to wear a mask when and where appropriate and wash your hands frequently.  Wishing you and your families a very Happy and safe Thanksgiving.

BJGELLC is pleased share another helpful article penned by Lin Buckner.

Creating a Safe Backyard for Children with Autism

A 2015 government survey found that one in 45 children between the ages of 3 and 17 had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a complex condition, and this article will delve into some of the details about it later. For now, suffice it to say that children (and adults) with ASD often have difficulty communicating with others, which could be potentially dangerous in certain situations. So if you’re a parent with an autistic child, it’s a good idea to make your property — especially your backyard — as safe and functional as possible.

What Is Autism?

Autism is defined as a spectrum disorder because people with autism exhibit a range of symptoms. Typically, these include having problems talking to you, avoiding looking you in the eye, or engaging in the same behaviors over and over. (Such as watching only one movie or repeating the same phrase.) People with autism can also experience either sensory overload or, conversely, sensory deficit disorder. Sensory overload means that everyday sensations — hearing an insect buzz or eating certain foods — can register as an explosion of sound or taste. Meanwhile, a 2008 study found that the mortality rate among autistic individuals is twice as high as the unaffected population, possibly because of the latter condition — sensory deficit disorder. Some traits of this disorder include an insensitivity to pain, a lack of responsiveness to sound, and a lack of reasonable fear of danger.

That’s why it’s vital to make sure to clear your yard of any potential hazards so that if you have a kid with autism, he can roam around in it without accidentally hurting himself. Here are some tips to help prepare your home for any potential hazards this summer.

The Yard

Perhaps the first step in making your yard safe is to put up a fence. A fence helps define the boundaries of your property, limiting where your children can wander. In Reston, you can expect to pay $2,737 on average for a wood fence to be installed. Next, keep any hoses, garden tools, tiki torch fuel, or any potentially dangerous objects picked up and put away. Trim back spiky hedges or dangling tree branches. Fill in potholes. Scoop up animal droppings. If you have fertilizers or pesticides, store them on a shelf in the garage. It’s probably also best to dig out any plants that you sprayed with chemicals; you never know if a young child might chew on the leaves. And if you’re about to get some serious yard work done, think about getting the right gloves so that your hands don’t get smeared with any of the toxins. Finally, talk to your kids about backyard ground rules, and when they’re young, supervise them at all times.

The Pool

Currently, there are 10.4 million residential pools in the United States. They’re a lot of fun, but if you have kids, you’ll also need to think about pool safety. Consider putting a gate around your pool, and then install a pool alarm. Your choices here will most likely include wrist sensors, subsurface disturbance sensors, options for in-ground and above-ground pools, and so on. The one that’s right for you will probably come down to price (they generally range from $50 to $200), and the type of pool you have. Whatever you go with, make sure that you set the alarm so that it goes off whenever someone enters the water without warning. Like any alarm, this one will probably throw a few tantrums and erupt at the wrong time once in a while. But it should also give you peace of mind knowing that your family is safe.

Keeping a child with ASD safe this summer might take some work, but his/her well-being is worth every drop of sweat. Put up a fence, check the backyard for any potential hazards, and make sure to install an alarm if you have a pool. Once everything is in order, you and your family can get outside and enjoy the warmth and sunshine.

Image via Unsplash

BJGELLC is pleased to share Compass’ thoughts on Coronavirus and your health.

In the recent fear of the Corona-virus lie some wonderful pearls of wisdom that were shared with me today:

1. Good health is everything!

2. Maintaining and working on good health and fitness is important. When you are healthy you have a better chance of fighting off illness. Eat well. Sleep well.

3. Enjoy the good times. I seem to only fully appreciate good things when I lose them!

4. Always have insurance. Insurance for your house, your car and yourself.

5. Have an emergency plan in place. Do you have a call list? An action plan? Do you keep your car fully fueled at all times?

6. Keep enough supplies in your home to last 2 weeks. Aside from viruses, there are floods, hurricanes, fires and a whole host of things that can come along as a surprise that require preparedness.

7. Do you know where your closest hospital is? When last did you have a physical? On-going, regular maintenance and preparedness is always invaluable. Start today.

8. Always be respectful of others when you are sick so that you don’t spread germs. Stay home to take care of yourself. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, etc. The basics apply always.

9. Cleanliness is next to godliness: maintaining a clean environment and personal hygiene is something to be practiced year-round, everywhere.

10. Home is your safety cocoon. Home is your daily hug. Keeping a beautiful, comfortable home is especially valuable in times of concern or fear.

11. Don’t wait. Times like these remind us that we are all fallible. Time is the last luxury. Enjoy it. Revel in it and never abuse it.

12. No amount of money, wealth or status compares to your ability (health) to enjoy all these things…..and relationships, love, etc. Never lose sight of the most important priorities in life.

Let us hope the spread of this virus is contained soon, and the markets recover soon, they always do! And that we are back to business as usual very soon.

BJGELLC is pleased share an article penned by Lin Buckner.

Photo via Rawpixel

How to Create an Autism-Friendly Living Space on a Budget

Children on the autism spectrum face several sensory difficulties that can make everyday life challenging — and sometimes completely intolerable. Since children with autism are highly sensitive to noises, sights, sounds, smells, and textures, parents need to put careful consideration into home design and decor. Everything from room layout to the lighting can be optimized to reduce discomforting stimuli and ensure your home is both functional and safe.

It’s possible to spend a lot of money-making upgrades and adjustments to cater to an autistic child, but you certainly don’t have to. Designing an autism-friendly home is achievable on any budget! Keep an eye out for ways to save every step of the way, like shopping online for affordable sensory tools and supplies. You will find nearly everything you need from budget-friendly retailers like Amazon; just remember to grab some Amazon coupon codes before shopping to stretch your dollar even further! Keep reading to learn how else you can create a budget-friendly sensory living space where your little one can thrive.

Keep Everything Organized

A cluttered living space creates excessive sensory overload and can be a major source of stress for children with autism. Organization and structure, on the other hand, can help your child establish beneficial routines and navigate their daily life with greater independence. So, create an organization system for everything that your child needs access to, including toys, homework, crafts, books, and educational materials. Open bookshelves or cubby shelves with clear plastic storage bins are ideal so your child can easily see what is inside. You don’t have to splurge on brand-new furniture for this! Save money by searching classified sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to find used shelving units and storage bins.

Get Creative with Low-Cost Lighting

Like clutter, lighting can also be a problematic source of stimuli for individuals on the autism spectrum. As TheraSpecs explains, certain types of artificial light — especially fluorescent light — can cause discomfort, anxiety, and even headaches for people with autism. Make the most of natural light in your home and incorporate soft, warm lighting to create a soothing experience for your child. However, you don’t need high-tech equipment or expensive lighting devices to do this. Try hanging Christmas lights or placing dimmable lamps around your home. Additionally, you can even make your own sensory light box!

Set Up a Sensory Zone

A sensory zone or room is a safe space where children can go when they feel overwhelmed by sensory stimuli, but also to explore their senses in a stress-free environment. You can create a relaxing sensory zone in your own home with just a few affordable supplies. For example, an exercise ball works well in place of an expensive swing. An inflatable kids’ pool can stand in for a specialty ball pit. Get creative and build your own sensory tools, such as sand tubes, calming bottles, or tactile boards to hang on the wall. You may also want to paint the walls in soothing colors. The Bump recommends greens, blues, neutral tones, and soft pastels.

Design a Space for Rest

Unfortunately, it’s common for children with autism to struggle with sleep, so make sure your child’s bedroom is a safe haven where they can fully relax and sleep undisturbed. Start by hanging blackout curtains to keep the room dark. If your child needs a night light, use a red-hued bulb so it will not disrupt their natural circadian rhythm. Ambient noises can be especially disturbing during the night, so get a cheap fan to act as a white noise machine — this will also help keep the temperature cool. If your kid is sleeping on a spring mattress, consider replacing it with a foam bed to reduce movement at night. You’ll find lots of affordable, high-quality mattress options by shopping around online!

If you have a child on the autism spectrum, your house will probably look a lot different from those of other parents you know. You might have pillows on the floor, a room full of interesting sensory toys, and labels all over the place. While these features may not make for the most stylish decor, they play an incredibly important role in providing a safe and comfortable living space for your child — and nothing beats that!

Despite the talk of an economic downturn, DC prices are hitting record highs.  BJGE LLC is pleased to share some insight from Altaf Mohamed with Compass Realty.


Washington-area home buyers are facing the leanest number of listings since June 2013, even as the median price of what sold in June reached an all-time high.  READ MORE >>

BJGE LLC is proud to be a premier service provider for Compass Realty and the Mattingly Group. Altaf Mohamed is our go to agent at Compass for clients wishing to sell or purchase commercial or residential real estate. Here is his and Compass’ take on the recent Fed rate reduction.

Mortgage Rates Only About 0.5% from Historic Lows!

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve met to set the stage for the rest of the year and make one of the most significant actions of Fed Chairman Powell’s one-and-a-half year long tenure. The meeting’s outcome is a quarter-percentage-point interest rate cut, the fifth time since the late 1980’s.

Despite unemployment still sitting at a half century low, mild inflation, and the economy growing at a solid rate, this week’s cut is considered a highly unusual decision by many economists which normally would not call for extra stimulus.

Powell and his colleagues at the central bank assured that the decision is not motivated by Trump’s pressures, but the sole focus on keeping the economy growing. They also stated that it’s better to cut now to prevent a recession than to have to wait until a downturn begins.

According to the Fed leaders, this move will allow our economy more breathing room and act as a bit of insurance against risks posed by slowing global growth and trade tensions. It is anticipated that the Fed could cut one additional time later this year.

The Fed’s decision to cut rates earlier this week might not be as dramatic as you may think. The Fed has raised rates nine times since 2015, with four of those adjustments occurring just last year. This week’s decision to cut the rate by 25 basis points simply unwinds one of those hikes.

Since mortgage rates are tied closely to the 10-year Treasury yield, the recent rate adjustment isn’t likely to immediately impact already low mortgage rates. If you look into the past, each time the Fed has adjusted rates, mortgage rates haven’t always responded in parallel. Borrowers may however see a brief reprieve in their credit card or auto loan rates. With the Fed lowering its interest rate, rate on home equity list of credit (HELOCs) will also go down.

While home buyers may not see a huge drop in mortgage rates right away, let’s not forget that today’s rates are already at levels lowest since fall of 2016. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.75% for the week ending July 25. By contrast, mortgage rates stood at 4.54% a year ago.

These low mortgage rates are giving a major boost to a number of borrowers who can now benefit from a refinance. For new home buyers willing to stay patient with a somewhat limited amount of affordable inventory, the low rates will also provide a great saving over the term of their loans.

Compass Concierge Program

If you are looking to sell or purchase a new home, check out the concierge program Compass Realty. Give Altaf Mohamed a call if you’re interested. READ MORE >>

BJGE LLC and Krista Harper offer 5 easy helpful hints you can use to craft a you can use to craft a home so unique to you, that you – and your guests – probably won’t want to escape from.

How to Make Your House Look Sophisticated on a Budget

We all want our home to be warm, welcoming, and inviting when we walk in the door – and also for our guests who come to visit, as well! Having a house that you can call home, and one that you’ve invested in, is something to take pride in! When it comes to decorating your personal space though, the dollar bills can start to add up very quickly. That’s why it’s fun to be able to get the sophisticated look that you’re going for in your home, while keeping your budget within normal limits as well. Let’s look at five tips that you can use to craft a home so unique to you, that you – and your guests – probably won’t want to escape from!

Create a Fabulous Front Entrance

Although this will be different for each dwelling, depending on if you have a house, an apartment, or a townhouse/condo. Either way, you can still make a statement with your entryway. Finding a pretty seasonal wreath, painting your door a fun and bright color, or even putting in a new doormat with some potted plants nearby can brighten up any entryway. There are even local sign making classes where people make welcome signs from wood and their favorite paint colors … perfect to be used as a statement piece as you walk in your domain!

Coordinated Furniture Pieces

We all know a good night of sleep is imperative to being healthy and productive in our day to day lives – and one huge piece of that is an important piece of furniture – your bed! Not only will a good bed set the tone for your rest, but it can also pull an entire room together…pending that you’ve got a good mattress. Your bedroom can also be livened up a bit with some comfy new blankets, or even some good throw pillows and a matching bed frame. All these items together coordinate to help you have a relaxing sleep space!

Add Plants and Greenery

Just like adding a few potted plants at your entryway, adding some green foliage throughout your abode will be very welcoming – and bonus, helps to keep the air clean! Plants and flowers are touted for being able to bring life and a relaxing atmosphere to a space…. making it easier to wind down at the end of a long day as well.


Piles of papers, magazines, and bills can be stressful enough, even for the person they were intended for…so it would seem it would be even more so, with guests around! Try and keep clutter at a minimum around your house; not only will this help in stress reduction, but it will also look more put together and organized to not have papers and books laying around all over the place.

Create an Environment That Smells Good

we’re drawn in to smells that remind us of home … of freshly cut lawns, of mom’s home cooking, of laundry straight out of a clean dryer. Now, this isn’t to say that you need to be doing all of that at once – but, if you don’t quite know what your home smells like, try and leave for a bit and then come back and take notes. Adding in some scented candles, a diffuser with essential oils, or even just opening a kitchen window can let clean air in…and get your place smelling fresh.

Granted, these are only five of the many ways that you can help make your house look (and smell) sophisticated, without dropping a pretty penny…just find ways to decorate that are unique to you, and you’ll create an environment that doesn’t only look nice – it’ll have your guests not wanting to leave as well!

As part of #BJGELLC’s continued efforts to share #helpfulhints with our clients, I am pleased to share the following article penned by another of our contributing authors – Laurie Larson.

4 Home Projects to Tackle This Spring
Laurie Larson

Spring is a time for new beginnings, so it’s the perfect opportunity after a long winter to invest some TLC into your home.

Of course, this means it’s time for spring cleaning, but this season also provides a great chance to start annual practices that will put your home into better long-term shape for the rest of the year, especially the summer.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, see the following four home projects ideal for the spring season.

  1. Clean Up Your IAQ
    Did you know that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air? Indoor air pollution comes from toxic sources we purchase and bring into the home, and these toxins get trapped in any dust we neglect to sweep off floors or wipe off blinds and other surfaces.To start cleaning your IAQ, increase the ventilation in your home, turn on the A/C, and install a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Other ways to ensure your indoor air quality stays clean all year long include keeping up with dusting around your home, keeping soft surfaces clean, and keeping some plants around the home that are known to help purify the air.
  2.  Schedule a Deep Cleaning
    Keeping up with regular cleaning is sometimes not enough. Now is the perfect time of the year to schedule a deep cleaning of some of the places you may be avoiding during the year. This includes the following tasks:
  • Unclog your gutters, making sure while you are up there that they are connected securely.
  • Power wash the exterior of your home after collective buildup of potentially damaging mold and mildew from the winter.
  • Polish all wood, including floors and furniture.
  • Thoroughly dust all blinds, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and upholstery.
  • Deep clean your carpets using a professional or rented equipment (keep up with this at least once a year).
  • Air out your mattress and steam it to significantly reduce the amount of dust mites.

Remember that such a project should be a team effort. Ask your family and even friends to be involved, and make sure to take it room-by-room so you don’t get overwhelmed.

  1.  Donate or Recycle
    Donating and/or recycling is an excellent way to rid your house of clutter, increasing how large it looks and also contributing to a good cause. We can collect quite a clutter over winter months, so the spring is a good time to evaluate what you truly need and what is actually creating stress.Carefully evaluate articles of clothing, shoes, electronics, and any other household goods and decide what you truly need and what is better for a local goodwill charity.  If some things are not donation-worthy and are better off recycled, check with your local recycling program to see what is collected and where you can deliver it.
  2.  A Fresh Coat of Paint
    Paint is an excellent and effective way to change the look of your house without spending a great deal of money. Before picking out a color, be sure you are aware of the feelings or reactions certain colors evoke, including psychological effects.Before you commit to a color, purchase a sample container and test out a couple feet of it on your wall to see how that color will look, given the amount of artificial or natural light in your room to make sure it will really work. While you are painting your room, consider moving furniture or adding a new piece of artwork to contribute to the room makeover.

Spring is the ideal time for home improvement, as you are inspired and energized by the changing weather and by the environment around your home blossoming. Use this time with your family and perhaps close friends to prepare your house for longevity using the tips above!

Mute the sound at the gas pump!
Like you, I get really annoyed at the pump filling gas when the video news releases start blaring at you. Up until recently, I used to walk away or into the store and hence forced to buy something I didn’t want. Then one day it dawned on me to press all the white buttons on the pump station. And guess what, I found the mute button. And it is the same at all pumps. Next time you don’t want to listen to the blaring video-press the second from the top button on the right side and you will mute sound.


As part of BJGE LLC’s continued efforts to help educate clients by offering “Helpful Hints”, Azeezaly S. Jaffer is pleased to announce a series of articles by Jenny Wise on Making the Home Safe. The first in this series is “How to Make Your Child’s Bedroom Autism Friendly”.

Every child deserves a bedroom where they can be safe and feel at ease. For children with autism spectrum disorder, a well-designed bedroom is especially important to provide them with security and a place to retreat to when overwhelmed. From promoting calm to supporting the senses, here’s where you can get started.

Encourage Calm

Your little one’s bedroom must be a refuge, somewhere they can be relaxed no matter what’s happening. A central part of this is the careful use of color and decoration, which will not only help manage moods but also support focus and learning. Choosing the ideal hue is a process, and you should defer to your child’s preferences, but there are several recommended colors. For example, soft and neutral colors are suggested to calm children while many consider blue to be an effective sleep aid. Of course, you may still want an area of the bedroom for when there is a downturn in mood. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space and could simply feature a few favorite toys, pillows, and stuffies, or whatever provides happiness and calm.

Harness Storage

Clutter is not easy on anyone, but for those on the spectrum, disorganization can be extremely upsetting and a source of overstimulation. While you develop the bedroom, think about how you might structure it to accommodate a system that encourages tidiness, and instills a reassuring predictability. As an example, make use of transparent storage so that your little one can see what is inside, and label boxes or use color coding for added clarity. You should group similar items, such as toys and learning materials, to further their bedroom’s organization and give them comfort knowing that their things have a set place.

Manage the Senses

There is a broad variation in how autism manifests symptoms, and that can be apparent in how sensitive a child is to noise, sight, smell, and touch. You will have to tailor their bedroom to any sensitivities to manage overstimulation or unease, such as avoiding harsh lighting or certain fabrics, but their established preferences can guide your choices. If they have shown comfort with a particular item of clothing, you could adapt those textures for use in their bedroom. Just like clothing, don’t force the issue, as this will do more harm than good. Instead, offer choices, if practical, to invest them in controlling the textures around them.

Aid Sleep

Not every child with autism has difficulty sleeping, but there are options that can help improve mood and behavior. For instance, some on the spectrum are comforted by feeling cocooned, so consider weighted blankets or sleeping bags to produce that sensation. Their environment should also be buffeted against any sensitivities they may have, such as using a noise machine to cancel out distracting or unpleasant sounds or putting in blackout curtains. With the right tools and strategies, you can give your little one a sleep sanctuary.

Design for Safety

When planning out furnishing choices, your first thoughts will be towards functionality over aesthetic, and the unique requirements of your little one. After all, something like a vase on a table or a mirror may not seem dangerous, but they could be if toppled. You might want furniture, even wardrobes, that are securable using something like an L-bracket and may need to forego handles altogether if there is a tendency to climb. However, safety considerations allow for some creativity, as glass mirrors can be replaced with acrylic alternatives, and you can even sketch a headboard onto the wall to have the look without the risk.

We want only the best for those we love, and for the family home to be a haven. By designing a bedroom that is autism-friendly and supports the needs of your child, you can achieve that. Give your precious one a place where they feel safe, and where their personality can always shine.

Image courtesy of Pexels

Nest Thermostat
I get about call a  week if not more complaining that a Nest Thermostat is not working.  If your system is on electric than you should have 5 wires coming from the wall where your old thermostat used to be. If not then a dedicated wire had to be pulled in order for the thermostat to work.  Call / text me if you have more questions C.+1.703.371.8761

Nest App
So I get home today and the Nest App on the iPhone shows both thermostats as not connected.  I go to the Nest App and they are of no help.  And don’t bother trying to reach them on the phone.  It’s worse than standing in an Apple Store on a weekend.  So I call my electrician.  Simple solution.  Disconnect your thermostat from the WIFI and reconnect it. Voila.  Problem solved.  Why does this happen?  Because Nest will update software and it knocks the thermostat off line.  Need more information – call / text me C.+1.703.371.8761

Spring Renovation
With Spring finally here, now is the perfect time to renovate or refresh the the home. A few tips to get you started.

  1. Envision and plan your project
  2. Set realistic expectations.  By this I mean don’t bring a Honda budget to buy a Rolls Royce
  3. Spend time doing your research
  4. Search the web for ideas and designs
  5. Solicit bids for the project
  6. Verify contractor licenses and insurance
  7. Negotiate terms of payment
  8. Make sure everything is in writing
  9. Leave no room for assumptions
  10. Agree on the statement of work and sign each page
  11. Agree on payment terms
  12. Be sure to set timeframes to review progress
  13. Add a penalty for not completing job on time
  14. Before you begin, check references
  15. Establish goals against which to measure progress

Ordering Tiles
Tiles can come in so many color and quality variances.  Case and point.  A client bought “Arctic Snow White” subway tile from Home Depot.  Half way through the bathroom upgrade, he was out of tiles.  So he drove to Lowe’s and picked up more tiles. Thats odd!! Same name and same make but the shades were not the same. Always know that the manufacturer sells the first generation of tiles as premium tiles. The second and third generation of the same tile are sold thru the big box stores. So when ordering tiles, make sure you order enough tiles for the project and ensure it’s from the same supplier. Mixing and matching could lead to an expensive mistake. Need more information – call / text me C.+1.703.371.8761

Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposal stuck? Try these tips:

  1. Turn switch off and press reset button on bottom of disposal
  2. If it does not turn on, find the Alan wrench which came with the disposal and insert it into wrench cavity on base and turn
  3. Can’t find the wrench.  Then get a broom
  4. Insert the handle side into the drain side of the disposal and turn mechanism manually
  5. This should free the disposal from the jam
  6. Run cold water and turn machine on
  7. If it still does not turn on, it’s probably time for a new disposal

Call / text me if you have any questions C.+1.703.371.8761

Dishwasher quit working?  Follow these simple steps:

  1. Turn the dishwasher off at the circuit breaker panel
  2. Wait for two minutes
  3. Turn circuit breaker on
  4. Wait till dishwasher recycles (flashing lights on dashboard)
  5. Start dishwasher in a different cycle than the one you normally use

Still not working – call / text me C.+1.703.371.8761