NHT Home & A Way Issue 9

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Home & A WAY APRIL 2022 ll ISSUE 9


create a coSy backyard getaway all of the lights home entertainment ideas

living the renovation dream

MESSAGE Hello Readers:



hanks for turning the pages of another Home & A Way magazine with us!

I hope your read is informative and insightful and I hope as usual you will find tips to assist you wherever you are on your homeownership journey. Just before you indulge in the rich content of this publication, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you on the housing construction industry and what you can expect from the NHT in the months ahead. Developments in the real estate sector in recent years has demonstrated that housing has been dynamic as it has been resilient. Increases in housing construction activity as well as improved financial arrangements for homebuyers has redound to the benefit of Jamaicans. The evidence is the increase in the number of individuals who can now say “I am a homeowner”. This increase is evident not just here at the NHT but also amongst other players in the sector. While we celebrate these gains, we still have some more work to do. Affordability remains a concern for many seeking to own a piece of the rock. The NHT is pleased to have been a market leader in developing new financing options and implementing other policy changes geared at supporting especially the most vulnerable.

Over the next few months, we will be looking to improve these arrangements. Additionally, the NHT intends to revive our housing delivery programme having experienced some delays over the last few years given the pandemic and the logistics and supply chain issues associated with it. This financial year, we will be making a conscious push to bring many more units to the market especially at the low to middle income affordability price point. On this score, we want to partner with you in these efforts. If you are a developer, we have a slate of development programmes that presents opportunities for us both. Do reach out to us and let’s have a conversation. Finally, I want to say a big thank you to the editorial team for another great issue of this publication. To our readers, I hope your page turning experience will be a pleasurable one. Until I grace the pages of your housing magazine of choice again, happy reading!


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recently shared in a webinar where the moderator asked me to provide an outlook for housing in 2022. My response? The same as last year. And the year before. And the year before that. I didn’t intend to be facetious, though I do understand that it may have come across as such despite my lighthearted chuckle. Here’s the reality: the housing industry hasn’t been significantly shaken by COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was some speculation that the housing market would have received a shakeup that would have resulted in bargains in real estate. This was far from the case. In fact, with strong demand numbers construction roared on and those who adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach ended up missing out.

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Global supply chain issues, related to production and shipping costs for construction inputs, led to some frustration on the parts of eager buyers locally. My word of advice? Don’t shelve your housing plan. The market is evolving and evolving at a fast pace. With any plan, things won’t always go accordingly. You may have to revisit them, make tweaks, and see how you can improve on them. The key is to be patient with yourself. While you may have set a timeline for your housing goal, you may need to adjust it by a year or two. Get some help though. Ensure that your plan is realistic and also achievable given the resources available to you. Yes, COVID still a keep, but so should your housing plans.

CREDITS Executive Editors: Neil Miller, Joyce Simms-Wilson

NHT Writing Team: Dwayne Berbick (Editor), Danielle Edwards (Sub-Editor), Rochelle Bonitto, Shauna-Gae Clarke, Kadian Chin-Matheson, Patricia Martin-Robinson, Lajuane Thomas, Jillian Warren, Shantall Wheatley, Jae-Anne Bell, Tameka Hill

Special Contributors: Jason McNeish Jason Robinson Winston Roberts Kemeika Fullerton Delisser Dr. Patricia Green Dr. Shane Neggo-Powell

Administrative Support: Shantall Wheatley

Design and Layout: Sutherland Wade Associates Limited Nicholas McClure NHT Graphics support Character's Canvas

Printers: Pear Tree Press

Publisher: National Housing Trust, 4 Park Boulevard, Kingston 5. (876) 929-6500-9 www.nht.gov.jm wecare@nht.gov.jm

Special thanks: To all our contributors All rights reserved. Permission from the publishers must be given in writing prior to reproducing any article within Home & A Way.

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CONTENTS 1 2 6 7 14 19 24 29 30 37 42 46 48 54 59 62

Managing Director's Message Editorial Meet the Writers 7 Budget-Friendly Ways to Create Your Very Own Cosy Backyard Getaway The Key to Managing Your Mortgage Do You Know Your Contributor Status? Living the Renovation Dream (And How You Can Too) Facebook Feedback Home Entertainment Ideas that will Have Your Friends Talking


Create a Cosy Backyard Getaway

Creating the Perfect Accent Wall Here Comes Baby: Designing the Perfect Nursery NHT HAPPENINGS 10 Tips to Step Up Your Staircase Game All of the Lights: Making the Best Lighting Choices for Your Home Work From Home: Tips to Maximise Your Productivity Upgrading the Kitchen Without Breaking the Bank

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Perfect Accent Wall


Prepare for Hurricane Season with Solar

P54 All of the Lights

66 70 73 76 78 81 83 86 90

Preparing for the Hurricane Season With Solar Energy A Home For All: Making Your Home Accessible for Those With Disabilities Going Green: Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Building Designs

P78 Security is King

What's in a Name: Understanding the Importance of a Title Security is King: Conversations with KingAlarm's John Azar


Lawyer Up: Understanding the Role of Your Attorney

Procuring the Right Contractor

Procuring the Right Contractor to Build Your Home Likkle But Tallawah: 10 Key Do's to Decorating Small Spaces Urban Gardening - The Ultimate Guide to Making the Most out of Your Space

P90 Urban Gardening

DISCLAIMER: While making every effort to be accurate, the NHT will not be held responsible for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies appearing in this publication. The NHT cannot be held liable for the information by advertisers which is taken in good faith. The opinions expressed by the various contributors are not necessarily those of the NHT. H O M E & A W AY




Dwayne Berbick Editor

Danielle Edwards Sub-Editor

Jae-Anne Bell Writer

Jillian Warren Writer

Kadian Chin-Matheson Writer

Lajuane Thomas Writer

Patricia Martin-Robinson Writer

Rochelle Bonitto Writer

Shantall Wheatley Writer

Shauna-Gae Clarke Writer

Tameka Hill Writer

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to create your very own

Cosy Backyard Getaway By Jae-Anne Bell

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s your backyard looking a little drab? Well, if you’re crafty, we’ve got some great ideas for you! When it comes to giving your outdoor living space an upgrade, you can DIY your way to a brand new space. This means your backyard makeover doesn’t have to be costly to be luxurious. In the end selecting the right products, patio furniture, or DIY method, can be all you need to create a cosy new look for your outdoor area. Check out our list of backyard design ideas to help you transform your space into a beautiful oasis on a budget!


Solar Fountain

Did you know that you can create a fountain with the flick of a switch? Yes! Give your backyard a calming, tranquil feel with this affordable solar water feature that can truly transform your outdoor space. Since professionally built fountains and ponds can get pretty pricey, this is a brilliant costsaving approach that you can easily do yourself. Modify the base any way you like! This calming and stunning DIY solar fountain will instantly make you feel like you’re on vacation every time you step outside.

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2) Gravel Patio

A gravel patio is a ground-level demarcated outdoor space that utilises loose gravel for the surface. This creates a defined area that is both beautiful and easy to maintain. Items such as patio furniture, tables or even fire pits can be added to complete the look. Some of the many benefits of gravel patios include: -

Easy to install – gravel is an easy material to lay compared to alternative patio options such as decking or concrete.


Economical – gravel patios are much more affordable than other patio surfaces and don't include the labour cost of a landscaping professional.


Drainage – gravel surfaces are porous, providing natural drainage and leaving your patio puddle-free.


Versatility – gravel can be used to create a gravel pathway to connect your patio to other sections of your yard. Plus, there are also countless colour options available.

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3) Stone Walkway If you don’t like the idea of using gravel to create a walkway, connect different parts of your outdoor living space with a stone path! Add materials like mulch, bricks, or stones to accentuate the path from your house to the clothes line or your favourite fruit tree. You can also include a little flair to your pathway by adding yard decorations such as picket fences or tiny signs indicating the names of certain plants or flowers. Opt for a more rustic broken stone look or a more refined cement tile. It’s up to you!

4) String Lights String backyard lights add a degree of majesty and dimension that illuminate your yard. They also allow you to brighten up any dark spots. Examples include patios, gazebos, fences, walkways and more. String lights look a lot like Christmas lights except that they come in many themes, sizes and styles. Choose a string light that matches your style! Whether you like a string of colourful flower petals or colourchanging butterflies, anyone can find a set of string lights that will fit just right. Classic small- or mediumsized bulbs always seem to hit the right spot though!

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5) Hammock Hammocks are the swings we can never outgrow. Both kids and adults will appreciate this addition to the yard. Hammocks can be easily suspended between two trees and fastened with ropes or tree straps. Other options include hammock stands if a sturdy tree or two aren’t available. You can also DIY metal poles secured by cement if you’d like. There are tons of resources online because hammocks have never gone out of style.

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6) Elegant Seating Put that credit card away because there’s no need to splurge on a pricey French-style backyard bench when you can easily craft your own. Just find two identical chairs (the prettier, the better!) from a junk yard or garage, remove the seats, and add a sturdy base.

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7) Swing A classic swing in a backyard will never be outdone. Kids fall in love with it while adults will enjoy being a kid again. Backyard swing sets are commonly found in easily assembled kits for purchase both locally and abroad. You can also follow easy stepby-step directions by simply doing a search online. This might seem like a big project, but it is actually very simple and doable for beginners. Very few things can compare to the level of relaxation you’ll feel from swinging under the shade of a big tree.

So go ahead! Get to work and create that cosy backyard setting.

You’ll be so happy you did!

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to managing your

Mortgage By Dwayne Berbick

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“Buy a house”, they said. “You’ll enjoy the independence of having your own home”, they also said. And they were right.


omeownership comes with responsibilities – some very big ones, and some small ones, that if not managed properly, can ruin the joys of being a homeowner.

When it comes to purchasing a home, we often

I remember waking up one morning and the faucet in my shower broke. I asked around for a plumber, made the call, and in a jiffy, it was fixed.

ensuring that you make your mortgage payments

Then it hit me! There was no landlord that I needed to advise about the repair. The repair wouldn’t be taken from my rent for the month. This was now my responsibility: not the vendor I bought the property from, not the developer, not the mortgage institution, but mine and mine alone.

begin at the end, i.e., enjoying the actual home. However, enjoying it means proper maintenance. Your biggest maintenance project begins with on time, and in full. Mortgage 101: What it is and how it works A mortgage is the loan that you would use to purchase or maintain your home, land or other real estate. It’s calculated based on your ability to repay. A mortgage with the NHT generally considers your age, income and the applicable interest rate. Once that’s established and you’ve made your purchase, your monthly mortgage is calculated.

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Paying your mortgage on time and in full, ensures you avoid late fees. 1 6 H O M E & A W AY


Your mortgage has four components: 1.

The principal


The interest


Life Insurance


Peril Insurance (not calculated for House Lot or Serviced Lots)

Typically, your mortgage payment is due on the 1st business day of every month. You must pay your mortgage in full by the due date. Paying your mortgage on time and in full, ensures you avoid late fees. If you’re making your mortgage payment late, when next you pay your mortgage, you should expect to pay a late fee and the regular amount that is currently due.

When you make a payment, your loan balance is reduced. As a result, your interest charge will also be reduced over time. Missing your mortgage payments can have serious consequences. Bear in mind that after 30 days of not receiving a payment, most mortgage providers will commence recovery proceedings. Generally, this starts off with payment reminders. Be sure to act on those because after 90 days, further action will be taken. That action could ultimately result in the loss of your home. However, all of this is avoidable. If you’re having challenges making your payment, let your mortgage institution know. Don’t avoid the reminders as there are different arrangements that exist to help you. These initiatives have been heightened since the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Feature Therefore, if you need help with your mortgage payments, reach out and take advantage of the offerings.

payments, plus your property tax payments. This fund can also be used for urgent property repairs that may arise.

The NHT specifically offers up to a two-year moratorium to mortgagors who are having difficulties making their loan payments.

2. Plan your budget

Other options include loan rescheduling. This gives you more time to repay the loan and therefore have smaller (and more manageable) monthly payments. Adjustments in interest rates, or a hybrid loan modification option, ensures that all parties are comfortable. Sale of the property to recover the loan is always a last resort and only happens where the mortgagor shows a lack of interest in addressing their arrears. Good financial planning, as a homeowner, begins with preempting your rainy days. Because life is uncertain, if you ever find yourself in a position where you can make a lump sum payment on your mortgage, do so. Let your mortgage institution know as well that this was your intention. Some institutions, like the NHT, will apply that amount directly to your principal. Otherwise, it will be treated as a pre-payment and you won’t benefit from reduced interest charges. Also, if your circumstances change for the better and you can make more than your monthly payment, do so. Once again, let your mortgage provider know, so you can benefit from a reduction in your principal. Now with that out of the way, here are three financial tips that I think every homeowner should practice. 1. Build a rainy-day fund. Have some savings you can tap, if necessary. The total should be about three to six mortgage

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Budgeting should begin before you purchase the house. Know how much you’re comfortable paying each month. Just because you qualify for a particular amount doesn’t mean that you should take out a loan for that amount. Ensure that you consider all your expenses: food, clothing, insurance, and other household expenses, like gas, electricity, water. Plan and exercise the financial discipline to adhere to your budget. 3. Don’t overspend or over borrow on unnecessary repairs or improvements Many new buyers scrape up every dollar that they have in order to get that purchase completed. Unfortunately, some of them borrow additional money to buy new appliances and furnishings or undertake unnecessary cosmetic changes. Pace yourself when planning and implementing renovations on your property. It’s a journey, not a sprint. And remember, this is your home now. Whether it works out as an investment or a liability will heavily depend on the financial decisions you make from day one.


Do You Know Your Contributor

status? By Jillian Warren


on’t you love travelling to the north or south coast with the windows down, feeling the clean crisp wind against your face while chatting with friends to the soothing beats coming from your radio? There’s so much to look at! Small stalls ladened with colourful fruits, small colourfully painted haberdasheries, bars, and car marts. Don’t forget the confidence of the roadside craftsmen spouting lyrics to secure sales, or the jelly man, cane man or shrimp lady. These enterprising small businessmen and women, who are always ready to share their stories, are truly an integral part of the travel experience.

Advice for Enterprising Small Businessmen & Women

On one such journey, my friend and I ran into Mr. Trevor, a vendor who sells an assortment of sweets, like busta and peanut cakes. He was a single father of two girls who were attending university. He proudly told us, “Is these sweeties putting them through university and putting a roof over our heads.”

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Feature “When I am able to buy my house, when they’re finished studying and in their big job they will take over the house payments,” he continued. We could hear how doubtful and sceptical he was about achieving his dream of homeownership. We encouraged him that his dream was within reach and continued on our journey. As we drove, I thought about Mr. Trevor’s dilemma.

Most Jamaicans dream of doing well, making it big, being able to support their families, and yes, to have a house that they can call their own. Saving to own a home can be a long stretch, especially for the ‘average Joe’, but being able to easily access financing helps a lot. But what advice could I give self-employed persons like Mr. Trevor on their journey to homeownership?

Then it hit me: confirm, update and check!

confirm update check

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Self-employed persons are:

Were you contributing before becoming self-employed?

• Persons who are working for themselves • Persons who work for someone else and are already contributing to the NHT, but they also earn extra money by doing private jobs • Persons working as private contractors. This means that they’re employed under a contract for service which requires that they use their own tools and resources to do the job)

Other persons who may be deemed as self-employed include: • A director of a company who is paid a director’s fee • Persons employed through the Ministry of Labour’s overseas employment programme (farm work or hotel employment) • Domestic workers like gardeners and local caregivers • Jamaican citizens employed to an Embassy, an agency of the United Nations, the High Commission, or the Consulate in Jamaica

Those years of contribution, no matter how short the periods were, add up. If you haven’t already, you need to make arrangements to resume your payments. Self-employed persons are now required to first register as a self-employed taxpayer with the Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ). You will need to do an assessment which will indicate the amount required to start or resume contributing and of any back monies owed (if you were earning but ceased making contributions). You will be required to pay and clear up outstanding amounts. You’re also required to file a S04 or S04a with the TAJ. The S04 represents amounts earned during prior years (one for each year) while the S04A represents estimated earnings for the current year. After registering with the TAJ, the NHT will automatically register you as an NHT self-employed contributor. However, you must complete and submit your S04 form to have your record updated each year.

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Contribution payments are made based on statutory income declared on S04A and are required to be paid quarterly at the Tax Administration Jamaica:



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CHECK YOUR STATUS – ELIGIBLE OR NOT Once you become a contributor, after 52 weeks or a year of making payments, you may become qualified to apply to the NHT for a low interest rate loan to build, buy or repair a house, or to buy land for building a house. The sum you will be eligible to borrow will depend on your age, your ability to repay the loan, and the purpose for which you’re borrowing the money. So here’s my advice: a) Request a mortgage memo – It provides information to confirm self-employed status, how much you earn, and other personal information to assist with quickly identifying your NHT record. b) Request an eligibility letter – This is required to do the necessary calculations to confirm your eligibility status or how much the NHT would be able to lend to build, buy or improve your property. It also provides an estimate of what the monthly payment amount would be. c) Use the NHT’s mortgage calculator – This feature is available via the website to check your eligible amounts.

Contributions made on time… opportunity to be eligible for Tax Compliance status. Knowing your status can reap more benefits than just homeownership. Most business owners, whether big or small, dream of growing their business and expanding their customer base. Most of us, whether self-employed or not, want to earn enough to eventually comfortably retire. I’m here to remind you that once your contribution payments are made on time, you have an opportunity to upgrade your status to be eligible for Tax Compliance status. Obtaining a tax compliant certificate would further legitimise your business operations and open more doors for you to conduct business or get contracts that would see you becoming a supplier to more established providers. Take Mr. Trevor for example: he could eventually be able to supply his sweets to supermarkets or stores. And upon retirement, he would be eligible for a monthly pension payment. Yes, Mr. Trevor would be able to own his home and retire comfortably. And so can you.

Do yourself a favour and go check your contributor status today.

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Living the


DREAM (And How You Can Too)

By Jason McNeish

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few months ago, I was giving a friend a tour of my latest home renovation project. During the conversation I announced that this would be the last project that I would be doing in this space. I was hit with a, “No, it won’t be. You’re always renovating.”

it and do period checks to ensure it’s giving what it

My initial reaction was a strong protest but then I thought about it. It’s true; I’m always renovating.

a YouTube channel and ultimately an interior design

I have been a homeowner since 2015 and it has been a journey of customising my space into the home I want. That ‘want’ has changed at different points over the years based on other changes in my social and professional life. That’s the reality. Homeownership is a journey and one of the most committed relationships you’ll perhaps find yourself in. The relationship with your mortgage institution is a given but there’s also the relationship with your space. As with any relationship, you have to nurture

needs to give. My renovation journey has been a dream (pun intended). Not only have I been able to slowly build out my space into a dream home of sorts, but last year, this trait of constantly renovating has allowed me to convert my latest home renovation project into television show called Home Coach. As an entrepreneur (in the creative sector) my home is often the backdrop for many of the shoots for the brands I work with. Therefore, ensuring my space is modern, fresh and is comfortable for work-life balance, is always a priority.

Do you want to live the dream too? You may be looking for some practical advice on how to live your own renovation dream. Now, I’m not a certified project manager, but here are a few things I’ve learned that I hope you will find useful.

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Renovation is a journey.


Size matters.


Do what needs to be done.


You won’t have it all figured out at first. My renovation projects occurred as they were needed. When I wanted to host my friends and family for small gatherings, I created an entertainment space with a pergola, seating and a nice garden area with water features. I created a home office as I transitioned from corporate to being an entrepreneur who mainly worked from home. I upgraded to a better home office when I needed to begin hosting clients, conducting more zoom meetings, and being a guest on an occasional television program. So on this journey, I’ve found that function follows form. Let your renovation address a need rather than doing the renovation and then trying to figure out the utility of the space after.

Forget what you’ve heard, it does. Smaller projects, over a period of time, are easier on the pocket and on your mental state. Many times we would rather just have it over and done with, but the more moving parts the project has, the more difficult it will likely be to manage. Therefore, pace yourself. One project at a time and don’t forget to take a break in between each. True joy can be found during the process and you may very well find the inspiration for the next project.

Oftentimes we are torn between what we like and what’s necessary. This makes a big difference when you’re managing your budget, work crew, and any inconveniences that will arise while the work is being done. Therefore, you need to prioritise. What’s important now? What can you afford now? And where projects are interlinked, ensure that you think through the implications of doing one before the other.

A nuh every body a designa! Not every project is DIY appropriate. Get help if you need to, and when you do, ensure you get qualified, professional, certified help with a proven track record of specialising in the project you’re undertaking. Some people are more skilled in some areas than others. You don’t just want someone who can do the job, you want someone who is going to do the job very well. Referrals can help you find the right help.

Money-oh! Budget, budget, budget! Need I say it again? Yes, budget! When you think you have it all budgeted? Budget some more. The reality of construction is that things may not go as planned; materials may become unavailable, costs may increase, and it may take work crews longer than planned. Mitigate against these risks by including some contingency funds in your budget. Also, shop around for professionals as well as material. And remember, cheaper may not always mean better.

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So go ahead, don’t delay, live your renovation dreams today. Jason McNeish is a marketing consultant and pioneering home coach. You can email Jason at jason@neishcreatives.com

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4 Park Boulevard, Kingston 5 (876) 929-6500-9 CUSTOMER CARE

(876) 754-7086 CALL CENTRE

888-CALL-NHT (888-225-5648) WEBSITE




Ninety-five percent of the workers at the National Housing Trust throughout Jamaica care. I have encountered some at the May Pen Branch, the Spanish Town Branch, and the head office in Kingston and have no doubt that they care. I must say special thanks to Mrs. Judith Thompson, Mrs. Nardia Melbourne and Mr. Raquish Campbell at the May Pen Branch in Clarendon for their sincere effort daily in serving the people. Judy Montique I must commend Ms. Flavia Burke for being a remarkable employee. I called the NHT some days ago because I encountered a situation while applying for my 2014 refunds. I was really distressed about the fact that I didn’t get a screenshot of the Reference No. the system generated so I could follow up. I really needed it because I had a terrible experience last year when I applied for my 2013 refund. The operator transferred me to Ms. Burke, and she listened to my distress and willingly started to find the best way to resolve the issue. She took my contact details and said she would call with an update. A few days passed and much to my surprise, she called! She apologized for not contacting me the day she had promised to do so and gave me feedback on my issue. She again promised to do further checks to find the first application. She again held to her promise and called me this morning to inform me that my 2014 Refund should be credited to my account on or before February 4. Well if this is not GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE, I don’t know what is. I think she is a great employee who should be lauded for truly caring for the public. After what I encountered last year, I must say I am truly happy and satisfied this time around. Kaye Troy E. Jangalee Project Administrator, European Union Unit External Cooperation Management Division Planning Institute of Jamaica Congratulations to NHT Staff and, in particular, the REFUNDS DEPARTMENT. My request for contributory refund from 2014 to 2020 was dealt with expeditiously. Again, congratulations.

Ambitous Brown


September 17, 2020 I must say I am very pleased with CUSTOMER service. Everything was effective and efficient. I was shocked out of this world, hence the reason for this recommendation. Everything was done in less than 4 hours and I didn’t even do one follow-up OR a reminder call. GREAT JOB!

Andre Linkage Williams


June 7, 2020 The best way of owning your own home!

Delroy MoneyMaker Green recommends: April 27, 2020 They have one of the best customer service staff. Very friendly and easy to deal with.

Shannon Blake


April 24, 2020 It's a great way to get a house. If not for the NHT I am not sure if I would have a home today. I am always encouraging the younger people (especially) to start early.

Mike Brown


November 23, 2021 NHT offers excellent service, one of the best Jamaican organizations.

Jennifer Malcolm Retiree Dear Ms. Kareen Taylor, I write with a debt of gratitude for the courteous and diligent service you provided in our encounter last week and this week. Even hampered with the pandemic issues, you did not hesitate to go the extra mile to ensure that the NHT provides the sterling service that it is known for, and I am very grateful. Blessings, Brenda

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Home Entertainment IDEAS

that will have your friends talking

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By Jae-Anne Bell


o you remember that bulky old wooden entertainment centre you grew up with where your mother used to display your school pictures? We don’t have to buy those anymore. Because of the sheer volume of options currently available, you can find the perfect entertainment centre to create a breathtaking focal point in your living space. We tend to spend a lot of time in front of or around that thing, so there’s no reason that it should be an eyesore!

From intelligent LEDs to floating TVs, here are 7 ideas to inspire you in selecting (or creating) your ultimate entertainment centre.

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Feature 1) Console Table A simple console table, with a bit of storage, is a great space saving option. You can disguise wires or other components by adding storage baskets in the open spaces. Some tables are even designed to store small ottomans or stools. This option is very versatile and your selection will depend on your décor and the size of your room.

2) Mounted Plywood Entertainment Centre Any-sized lightweight entertainment system is perfect for this solution. Setting up a mounted entertainment centre can be a one-man job. Practical and straightforward, this style can give your home an open feel with the extra space you’ll find under this piece. You can opt to add a bit of luxury to this type of entertainment centre by adding sliding doors to conceal your old school report cards.

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3) A-Frame Entertainment Centre This design is for more adventurous decorators who want something quirky and unique. This A-frame entertainment centre has a rustic feel to it, reminiscent of the ladder you used to climb to the roof at your childhood home. It will store your TV as well as other media items, with additional space for awards and photos.

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4) Modular Bookcase and Entertainment Centre The design of this type of media centre is based on a classic system of straight lines and geometric shapes. The modular solution adds both functional and visual interest to the piece while still providing a wealth of storage. Some varieties allow for customisation by adding and moving cubes as desired. While bookworms will thrive with this piece, anyone will have a hard time finding fault with this one.

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5) TV Shelf If you prefer something more modern than a traditional console table, consider getting a TV shelf instead. TV shelves tend to do better with less weight. It’s a good thing we don’t have “big back” TVs anymore. These shelves also come in a variety of simple designs that can be easily matched to every style or décor. Select the right design and material for your space and rest easy knowing that your money was well spent.

6) Floating TV Mount TV mounts have become increasingly popular in recent years and are easily customised to fit any sized television. You could say this is the cleanest solution of them all. TV mounts allow you to use all the space below your TV and give you the freedom to decorate around your screen on the walls as you please. The options are literally limitless when using TV mounts for your entertainment centre. You will be able to pivot your TV to suit your viewing angle or even add a console table beneath it to complete the look. It doesn’t get much more flexible than this!

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Feature 7) Drywall Built In With today’s more contemporary home interiors, a custom drywall home entertainment centre is a beautiful and popular solution for a variety of reasons. Drywall is a very flexible design material allowing you to create unique shapes on your wall to match your home’s architecture. Your home entertainment centre design can contain complex angles and multiple planes that can’t easily be achieved economically by using other types of materials. They literally become part of the architecture of your home, thereby increasing the value of your home because of its built-in nature. Drywall entertainment centres are also quicker to build than other solutions as they are constructed on site. This is my favourite option for a home entertainment centre because, due to the custom nature of its construction, you can build anything into it, such as LEDs, speakers, chandeliers and more!

Any of these options will make your home the chill spot for social gatherings. When you impress your friends and they ask you where you got the idea for your awesome entertainment centre, be sure to point them towards Home & A Way.

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Accent wall the Perfect

By Shauna-Gae Clarke

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One basic but unique element that you can incorporate into your space… is an accent wall.

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t doesn’t always require a major upgrade to a space to make a big impact. You also don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to make your home more attractive. Sometimes all it takes is a few little changes or tweaks to revamp the look and feel of a space.

There are many ways that you can upgrade your entire home or a single living space. You could add or change the furniture; dress up the area with fabrics such as new bedding, curtains or carpets; install new tiles; or modernise fixtures and fittings. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to home renovations. In terms of design, one basic but unique element that you can incorporate in your space to give it a fresh and charming look, is an accent wall. An accent wall is an interior or exterior wall that has a different colour, shade, design or material from the other walls around it. Accent walls can be established in any room of the house, from your bedroom, living room, kitchen or bathroom. External walls can also feature an accent wall, to give it a distinctive appearance and create an extraordinary curb appeal. Creating the perfect accent wall is not as difficult as it may appear to be. With so many options available you can choose to keep it subtle or you can go bold with your creativity. Let’s explore a bit of inspiration for your next home enhancement project.

• Solid Colours Be innovative when contemplating your new accent wall. Sure, the concept is to use a colour on your accent wall that’s different from the other walls, but you don’t have to limit your design to just this style. Other ways to use paint colour is by creating stripes, chevron or other shapes, a picture, or even using two or more colours for colour blocking on the accent wall. You can also consider special paint finishing, such as metallic, glitter or matte paints that will make a statement in any room.

• Opt for Texture Are you a fan of stone, tiles, wood or fabric? If your answer is “yes”, there goes your next accent wall idea! Accent walls don’t have to be about colour, it can be about texture too! The only limit to producing your textured wall is your initiative. Add brick, backdrop tiles, your favourite type of wood, or drapes, for an edgy appearance.

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• Your Wall is your Canvas A wall inside a home is like a canvas in a creative studio; ready to be converted into beautiful art. Imagine a wall in your home dedicated to artistic illustration, much like an art gallery. Consider using your accent wall to facilitate a stunning mural, a gallery of family photos, a library, or shelves filled with art pieces or memorabilia. How you choose to highlight your wall is up to you!

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• Use your Ceiling

• Go for Wallpaper You absolutely can pick wallpaper! The benefit of deciding on wallpaper for your accent wall is that it is less permanent than all the other options. With wallpaper, you can change it as often as you wish, and you’ll have a wide assortment of styles and designs to choose from! Wallpaper can change with your mood, theme, colour scheme, current trends, etc. This makes it a great selection for the individual who embraces frequent change.

Did you know that your ceiling can be used as your accent wall? You can paint your ceiling with a different colour from the walls around it, to bring the same effect of an accent wall to a space. Like your typical accent wall, you can select mellow or daring colours for your ceilings to accentuate your rooms. In addition, you can install crown moulding to bring separation between the wall and ceiling colours to bring about a chic, trendy and luxurious atmosphere.

• Tips for your Accent Wall Remember, your accent wall will be the focal point of the room. So, it’s important that you first select the right wall, colours that complement each other, and the most suitable designs. Go for a wall that bears no intrusions from doors, windows, holes, or built-ins, as these aren’t suitable for accenting.

Whether you like vivid or neutral colours, you can create your perfect accent wall. Just choose colours and patterns that work well together!

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here comes



By Shantall Wheatley

Perfect Nursery


hould I get a bassinet in addition to the crib? After almost nine months of expectancy, there are countless decisions to make from the moment your baby comes into the world. One of the most treasured decisions is deciding on how the room of the newest snuggle buddy is going to look. This room is going to become the new accent piece in your home and your baby will be spending the majority of his/her day in the nursery. Therefore, it’s important to create a pleasant, protective environment that evokes calmness and security.

Plan First Buy later

Before you start painting the walls pink or blue, take some time to plan out the room. Remember that this nesting will be temporary and soon your newborn will become older and you’ll need to replace and redesign the room. Before going shopping, think about all the items you’re going to buy. Will they grow with your child? You don't want to spend a lot on items that will only be used for a few months.

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Pick the perfect colour scheme

Not all girls like pink and not all boys like blue. Here’s a secret – a baby boy doesn't necessarily need a blue room, just like a baby girl doesn't need to sleep in a pink room. Consider using gender-neutral colours such as a base grey with bursts of white. This creates a more modern look. Remember babies grow up quickly so very soon you’ll have a toddler; and in a blink, it will be a teenager in that room. Neutral colours will create a room that won’t look too childish and will look good for both genders.

Let there be light

For your new bundle of joy, choose a room that is well ventilated. Ensure that the room has plenty of sunlight. While natural light is important, ensure that you also install room lights. Ensure that the ceiling light and the wall lamp are equipped with dimmers. This will ensure that your baby has a good nighttime lighting. Whether you like curtains (blackout) or blinds, ensure that the nursery is outfitted with one that’s suitable for peaceful naps during the day.

Choose the right furniture

The best furniture doesn’t mean the most expensive furniture. Remember those little feet, won't be little forever. Buy pieces of furniture that are modular and can grow with your baby. You can't go wrong with saving some money, so get a crib that you can turn into a bed; or a changing table that can be repurposed into a dresser. Make sure the furniture is made from safe, non-toxic materials. Babies and toddlers tend to learn by licking and gnawing on everything in sight. Therefore, it’s important to keep their surroundings healthy and safe. When selecting furniture, also remember that in six to nine months you’ll have a little mover on your hands. Try not to crowd the nursery with bulky furniture that hinders your baby's movements.

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Don't Wait to Baby-Proof the Nursery

When your little ones start moving around you want to ensure that they’re always safe. So, don't wait to set up your very own toddler disaster zone. Cover all electrical outlets and tuck away any cords. Anchor any furniture that could pose a threat and secure rugs to the floor to prevent slips. You should also be wary of potential choking hazards, such as toys with small parts, small balls, marbles, and small hair bows and barrettes. Be sure to have all medicines and ointments securely stowed out of your baby's reach.

Make the nursery comfortable for you

While this nursey is for the baby, remember that you’ll also be spending countless hours there. Feedings, diaper changes, playtime, reading time, or just being present until they fall asleep. In addition to designing the nursery for your baby’s needs, you need to design it for yourself as well. Put in a comfy couch or chair. Design it with furniture and colours that will make you feel good, too.

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HAPPENINGS Perth Estate Phase 1A Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness (centre), Member of Parliament for Manchester Central, Rhoda Moy Crawford (left) and then Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal and Climate Change, the Honourable Pearnel Charles Jr., make their entrance to the handing-over ceremony for Perth Estate Phase 1 A, Mandeville, Manchester.

Model unit at Perth Estate Phase 1A.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, tours the model unit at Perth Estate.

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Twickenham Glades, St. Catherine

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, shares in the excitement as new homeowners show off their keys at the handing-over ceremony for Twickenham Glades.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (second left), and then Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (left), plant a tree during the handingover ceremony for Twickenham Glades, St. Catherine. Looking on are Dwight Bailey (centre), new homeowner, NHT Board member NestaClaire Hunter (second right) and Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Eastern, Denise Daley.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (centre), then Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (left), NHT Board member Nesta-Claire Hunter (second left), and Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Eastern, Denise Daley (right) cut the ribbon with new homeowner Dwight Bailey, (second right) at the handover ceremony for Twickenham Glades, St. Catherine.

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staircase game By Patricia Martin-Robinson Here's to the man who invented stairs And taught our feet to soar! He was the first whoever burst Into a second floor. The world would be downstairs to-day Had he not found the key; So let his name go down to fame, Whatever it may be. “Stairs – A Toast”, Oliver Herford

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n his poem “Stairs – A Toast”, Oliver Herford paid homage to the inventor of the staircase. Though no one seems to know who the father of steps may be, mother nature has often produced remarkable wonders, such as the Giant’s Causeway located in Northern Ireland. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (2019), this marvellous handiwork is said to have been formed around 50 million years ago, and the area contains “40,000 of these stone pillars, each typically with five to seven irregular sides, jutting out of the cliff faces as if they were steps creeping into the sea.” Another interesting point to note is that there are several staircase records in the Guinness Book of World Records. One such title is the most consecutive stairs climbed on the head. This title belongs to Li Longlong, who negotiated a total of 36 steps through only the force of motion and his head. You could say that the journey to renovating your staircase begins with you taking the first step. Stair railings not only serve as safety features but can serve as a complementary feature in your home’s signature style. They come in varying colours, shapes and sizes and can add to the value and overall charm of your home. Here are 10 tips from Homebuilding & Renovating UK, on how updating your staircase could elevate your home into a sophisticated sanctuary.


Mix Materials to Make a Great First Impression Your staircase may be the first thing family members and guests see. Therefore, it’s important to give them a warm welcome when entering your home. This design can be influenced by colour, wall panelling, interior cladding or clever layering of materials through the stairway and into the hallway.

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Be Bold with Your Stairs


Light up Your Stairway

Your staircase can get a new lift from a paint job. Your dim passageway can be transformed with bright, bold colours. Some colours, like blues, mid-greys and greens, inspire calm while other colours, like yellows and pinks, are perky and can lift anyone’s mood at the end of a long day.

Enclose Staircase with an Open Concept If you must enclose your stairway, using an open space design can harmonise the transition from private to public spaces. This creates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere while integrating the operational feature of the staircase with the artistic design of the house.

Accessorising your stairway with a modern suspended light fixture can be an effective way to add a spark to your space. Additionally, Homebuilding & Renovating suggests that if you have an open tread staircase, you can conceal LED lights under each step to create an ethereal effect.

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Pay Attention to Details Find creative ways to utilise the space under the stairs (spandrel), while also adding material and lighting that will complement the area. Neutral and pastel tones can be paired with recessed lights and accent lighting across the steps to give hallways and staircases a special touch


Stairwell Gallery Walls

Add a modernised personal touch to your stairwell by mounting family photos with colour-coordinated frames.


Wood and Metal Contrast Mixing Scandinavian-inspired pale woods and matt black finishes has become chic in the last few years. Combine simple balusters with wooden steps with trendy continuous handrails to create an elegant setting.

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Staircase with Pops of Colour Colour can boost the dreariest mood, so you can always bring your stairway alive by merging stairway styles with contemporary hallway designs to create a fun and exciting space. Colour concepts can include “powder-coated steel, a pop of colour on a wooden balustrade or contrasting a strong hue on the walls with a neutral staircase for a warm welcome.”


Balance the Old with the New Ideas for a Unique Staircase Don’t let old and dull stairs ruin your lofty plans to modernise your home. Collaborate new design ideas, whether with your rails or walls to create a unique staircase. Adding an industrial glass and metal staircase to old stairs can be the right addition to achieve an updated look.


Cosy up on a Carpet

Clothe your stairs with a carpet to create a cosy-comfy feel. This may not only be pleasing to the eyes but also to the feet. Just be careful to select one that’s both flattering and durable.

Creating the balance between functionality and fashion in updating your staircase may seem like a daunting task but know that the transformation will be well worth it. Use these tips to climb out of the drab and into contemporary chic. Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2019, October 10). Giant’s Causeway. Encyclopaedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Giants-Causeway

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All of the

LIGHTS Making the best lighting choices for your home

By Shauna-Gae Clarke

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ave you ever walked into a room and your whole mood changed? That might have been the lighting! Regardless of how beautifully designed or decorated a space is, proper lighting is the lynchpin for tying the whole room together. Without suitable and adequate lighting, a room can appear lackluster or downright unwelcoming. Children may even find it scary, and unless you want to discourage them from entering that room altogether, you should probably make it comfortable.

So, let’s explore the effectiveness of good lighting in a space, as well as the different types of lighting that you can consider for your home.

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Bad lighting can affect the setting and apparent size of a room. The same holds true for good and ample lighting. Interior decorators will tell you that lighting can make a room feel welcoming or repulsive, tiny or grand. The position of light sources should complement your space’s décor. Where we position lighting (and the types of lights selected) should depend on the colour scheme, size of the space, style of furniture, and the accessibility of natural lighting. Once you’re able to synchronise all the various components of decorating, you’ll find that your home is not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. There exists a wide variety of interior and exterior lighting options that homeowners can choose from to suit their tastes and requirements. Here are nine lighting options that can lift your space from drab to fab!

RECESS FIXTURES – These are indoor lights that are fully contained inside walls, ceiling, or floors. Fixtures that overhang from your walls, floors, or ceilings are not recessed. Recess fixtures are designed to be installed and be levelled with the surface for a sleek finish. The wiring and other components are tucked away, and the bulb appears to glow from within the opening.

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PENDANTS – Not only are pendant lights lavish and classy, but they come in a wide variety of styles and are easy as one, two, three, to install! These lights hang from your ceiling similarly to chandeliers. However, they’re not as bulky or extravagant. This makes them perfect for the chic and elegant homeowner.

WALL SCONCES – These lights are used to brighten your hallways and side tables and extend from the wall. You could even install these by yourself. How’s that for savings!

ACCENT LIGHTING – The purpose of accent lighting is to highlight or accentuate. Focus your accent light on anything you wish to bring attention to, such as a beautiful work of art or your favourite piece of furniture, to make them stand out in a room. This will draw the eye when guests visit for the first time and is a great conversation starter.

LED LIGHTS – Known as being highly energy efficient, this type of lighting is great for indoor spaces and is an effective substitute for traditional light bulbs. They boast longevity by remaining functional for thousands of hours. Some LED lights even provide colour-changing capabilities via remotes or apps. If you’re looking to set the mood, or change it up a bit, go for LEDs.

Outdoor lighting brings about many of the same functionalities as interior lighting. However, one of the most important functions of outdoor lighting is its safety purpose. It offers a sense of security for homeowners, especially at night. Outdoor lights usually stay on longer than indoor lights because they are usually used to replace natural light throughout the night. Therefore, LEDs are the best choices to go for. Here are some options to consider:

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Feature SPOTLIGHTS – These are lights that generally focus in one direction. They can vary in terms of intensity and coverage. They’re regularly used to emphasise outdoor features such as statues, plants, patios, or anything you can point it at.

FLOOD LIGHTS – These are the most useful types of landscape lights for large areas. They’re spotlights, but with a higher brightness and coverage area. They’re typically used to illuminate driveways and patios.

GARDEN LIGHTS – You’ve spent days, even weeks, creating and then nurturing your precious garden in all its blooming glory - it’s only right that they’re always on display! One way to feature your green-thumbed achievement is to install garden lights. They come in an assortment of colours, helping you to continue showing off your garden after the sun sets.

STRING LIGHTS – There’s nothing more beautiful and festive than string lights in a back or front yard as night-time falls. They’re ideal for looping through soft or hard landscapes and are often incorporated during social gatherings, such as birthdays or holiday parties. They help create a gorgeous ambience for your most valuable photographic memories.

Though time won’t allow us to delve further into the other lighting possibilities, consider yourself now informed enough to take a trip to the hardware store to purchase lights that suit your operational and design needs. “In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose

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Work from

Tips to Maximise Your


By: Tameka Hill H O M E & A W AY





orking from home seems perfect - no traffic, no fancy outfit, no pricey lunch (unless you want one). You simply wake up in your pajamas, pour yourself a cup of coffee, turn on your computer, and get to work. That cumbersome feeling associated with working from the office is no more, because you’re home. That is, until your home becomes the office and suddenly you feel anxious whenever you’re in your living room. It’s become the place of deadlines. Your kitchen has become the area for telephone calls, and your bathroom, the space for responding to emails. It’s no longer the same because you have nowhere to escape to. The place of escape has become the place of torture. If you’ve found yourself faced with this new reality, you’re not alone. Over 60% of persons working from home have complained that one of their biggest challenges is their inability to unplug. So today, consider me your superhero. I’ve come to save you, and offer you seven tips to make your home a safe place again - even if it’s work.


1. Choose one place to work – One of the challenges of working from home is that every room makes you feel anxious, because you’ve turned these spaces into your office. So, the first thing you’ll need to do is carve out a space that’s just for work. Perhaps select an area of your house that you rarely visit. Perhaps that room around the back where you’ve been storing things you don’t want but you aren’t sure you won’t want them later? Yes, that room! Clean it out and make that your very own workspace.


2. Get a desk and supportive chair – A desk and a chair can run you a pretty penny - trust me, my credit card knows it. So, before investing in these items, consider what objects in your home can be temporarily used as a desk. Anything with a flat surface would be good. You don’t need a fancy chair. You just need something that gives good back support and is comfortable.

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3. Get some shelves – Not only do shelves offer great storage for papers, notes, and other stationery, but it also keeps your space free and open. An open space allows for clarity of thought and allows for natural air and lighting, which everyone can benefit from. It also provides you with easy access to things you need daily for work. I hate losing items I need - working in several areas of your home can do that. So, get a shelf and store them all there.


4. Make sure your office has proper lighting – Good lighting is not only important for your Instagram pics, but it also serves a good purpose in the home office space - it’s easy on your eyes. When you spend hours staring at a screen, you’ll need adequate light so your eyes don’t have to constantly adjust to and from the screen. Trust me, your eyes will thank you for it.


5. Invest in a whiteboard – One of the first things I did in creating an office space within my home was purchase a whiteboard. Other than feeling like I’ve fought in a great war and subdued my enemies, whenever I accomplish a task and erase it from my white board’s to-do list, it provides the perfect area for adding pegs with notes, letters, memos, and things I need to review or remember.


6. Clean up those cords – If you’re anything like me, you hate seeing a bunch of cords hanging loose all over the place. This is one of the big inconveniences of working from home. But being the superhero that I am, I have a solution for you. Consider getting a USB hub for everything to plug into. You could have someone create a nice little wooden case that goes well with your décor. Plugs? Where?


7. Bring some nature inside – Nature is soothing to your soul. I know, cliché right? But it’s also true. A nice plant within your home not only boosts your home aesthetics, it also creates a nice calming effect. Try, however, not to get one that’s high maintenance, or you’ll have added more work to your workspace.

Working from home can be difficult, but if you invest in a space and only work there then you’ll begin to see a vast improvement in your physical and mental health.

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Upgrading the


…without breaking the bank By: Rochelle Bonitto

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kitchen is a very dynamic space. It’s more than where we cook, it’s the heart and soul of the home. This is particularly evident with modern home designs where the kitchen opens into the dining and living room areas. While a drab kitchen doesn’t necessarily affect the taste of the food (a good cook can prepare a great meal in any space) but it’s a great environment to motivate you to spread your culinary wings. A kitchen that’s lacking style and function can feel burdensome and can put a serious damper on your creativity. A basic kitchen renovation adds value to your home. However, even basic renovations can be expensive, or so you may think. If your kitchen is looking a little monotonous and uninteresting, there are many budget-friendly ideas that will reinstate your kitchen as the “heart of the home”. Let’s explore some great ideas that can be used to upgrade your kitchen on a budget.

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1. Paint Kitchen Cabinets This is a great go-to DIY idea. Get some paint, use colours to lift the energy in the space. Gather some of your family and friends and paint those cupboards.


2. Replace doors and drawer fronts If you don’t think painting is enough to lift the image of your kitchen space, then perhaps you could try changing the doors and drawer fronts. This is more affordable in comparison to gutting all the cupboards. The inner cupboards will be re-used, and the focus is placed on the outside. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this approach, especially with the steady evolution of kitchen designs.

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3. Change cabinet handles It’s easy to be creative with your handles. Finishes like leather, silver, black, and brass are very nice and will give your kitchen a fresh, chic look.

4. Laminate worktop Replacing worktops may not be expensive in comparison to replacing your cupboards, but laminate is the least expensive material to use when replacing your worktop.

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5. Re-tile the kitchen floor This is a good way to lift your kitchen. The beauty about this approach is that you don’t have to lift the existing tile. The new tiles can simply be installed over the existing ones. Even more encouraging is the fact that you can use peel and stick tiles. These tiles have become very popular and many people are using these very cost-effective tiles to upgrade their spaces.

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6. Improve storage Open shelves in kitchens are now “a thing”. These open shelves are great for storing and organising your herbs and spice bottles. They’re also great in a decorative sense - you can place flowers or vases on them.

7. Purchase a few accessories Display selected items on open shelves. Use your worktop to host a show of your favourite decorative items.

8. Install extra lighting Task lights aren’t simply decorative. They add functionality and create a nice workspace.

9. Add new backsplash One of the easiest ways to improve the look of your kitchen is to change or add some backsplash. How about protecting your wall with style? Again, there are some great backsplash tiles available in peel-andstick options.

It can be daunting when you think about renovating any space in your home. It’s important that you know what you want to do, and the options available to you. Do extensive research and consult with experts in the field to find the most affordable ways to achieve the outcome that you want.

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Preparing for the

Hurricane Season


SOLAR ENERGY By: Jason Robinson 6 6 H O M E & A W AY



s we approach yet another hurricane season, homeowners should start thinking about backup power in the likely event of a loss of power for a prolonged period owing to a powerful storm. Remembering powerful hurricanes such as Dorian which devastated the Bahamas and left homes without electricity for months, only reinforces the need for backup power. With Jamaica located in the Atlantic hurricane belt, it’s only a matter of time before a powerful storm hits us and leaves the island without power for weeks or possibly months. Loss of power for any extended period would greatly impact our economy. The need for resilient backup power for homes, the medical sector, the financial sector, and airports, should be a national priority.

change and living in a hurricane zone only means a

As a homeowner, you need to protect your family and assets in the likely event of devastation from adverse weather conditions. The reality of climate

system supplements the expansive energy coming

higher frequency of storms and stronger hurricane systems. Homeowners must therefore consider backup power and the type of backup power that can work for their home. Do you have a backup power system in place?

Backup Power: Generator or Solar System? Generators are usually the first choice when considering backup power because they have been on the market the longest and are an affordable option when compared to Lithium battery based solar systems. However, in terms of returns on investment, a Lithium battery storage solar system makes more sense for homeowners than a generator. The solar from the electric company, thereby paying back for itself from the day it’s turned on. A generator, on the

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With increases in electricity costs in recent times, and the burden of such costs on families, homeowners are now opting to install solar systems with lithium battery storage as a two-step solution to reduce their electricity bills and provide backup power.

other hand, will just sit idly, only operating if a power outage occurs. Additionally, generators require regular maintenance which can be costly while solar lithium batteries are maintenance free and pay back for themselves in five to six years. With increases in electricity costs in recent times, and the burden of such costs on families, homeowners are now opting to install solar systems with lithium battery storage as a two-step solution to reduce their electricity bills and provide backup power. The benefit of a solar system with lithium battery storage allows homeowners the option to reduce their electricity usage up to 100% while having backup power in the event of any outages. Good quality lithium batteries, installed by a reputable company, will have a lifespan of 15 years.

Backing up your backup power Another option that homeowners should consider when seeking solar energy financing for their home,

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is to include a generator in their profile as well. Having a generator as backup to your solar system is ideal for the energy redundancy it provides to a home which will be useful on days of extended cloud cover or rains, as is customary with adverse weather systems. If, for any reason, the batteries run out of power, the generator would be configured to automatically start, thereby keeping your home powered. This choice gives ultimate peace of mind but can be costly to maintain. Once a generator is integrated into your solar battery system, there is the option to set up a microgrid.

What’s a solar microgrid? A solar microgrid means that your home is primarily connected to your solar lithium battery system. However, should the batteries run out of charge, the generator will switch on to charge the batteries while simultaneously powering your home. The added incentive is that the generator will automatically turn

off once the batteries are charged, thereby having your home back to being powered by your lithium battery solar system. Solar Buzz has installed residential microgrids especially in cases where the roof was not sufficient to install a solar panel array large enough to meet the client's energy needs. In such cases, the battery charging is supplemented by the generator, more so at night, when the batteries are more likely to run out of power. Solar microgrids are ideal as they complete total energy independence from the grid with resilient backup power.

Are there solar system financing options available? With the increasing demand for solar energy, homeowners can look forward to more solar financing options through the NHT and local financial institutions. Solar Buzz advises homeowners to always do a cost analysis of their monthly energy bills and the proposed loan repayment when deciding on the best financing option for their solar system. The loan payment needs to be the same or less than what you’re paying monthly on your current electricity bills for the loan to make sense. Also, over time, your loan will become more cash flow positive (monthly loan payment is less than current energy bill) as energy costs and other factors continue to rise. The NHT provides the best chance for achieving an initial cash flow positive loan on a solar lithium battery system. This is because the NHT can provide the longest terms and the lowest interest rates when financing a solar system. Solar Buzz has experienced this firsthand, as in 2021 we closed the highest number of NHT solar loans in our company’s history.

Don’t just hire any solar system “specialist” to install your system The important thing to keep in mind when buying a solar lithium battery system is hiring a reputable company with a proven track record. Solar Buzz encourages homeowners to do their research and get familiar with how solar works so they ask the right questions that allow for true energy freedom with resilient backup power. Banks and financial institutions like the NHT, are becoming stricter on the requirements of installers since the solar system is often used as collateral for the loan. It’s therefore pertinent that solar system equipment and installation methods are of high quality and equal standards. Solar Buzz encourages homeowners to shop for a solar lithium battery system that secures a return on your investment. The only way a homeowner can secure a return on their investment is to install a solar lithium battery system that can be added to their property insurance, meets the Jamaica Electrical Code, can be passed by the Government Electrical Regulator (GER), and adheres to the hurricane wind loading requirements. These requirements are essential to ensure solar lithium battery systems last their full manufacturer warranties and, particularly, the life of the solar loan as granted by NHT, the banks, or other financial institutions. Energy freedom is at your fingertips, and Solar Buzz and the NHT are committed to helping you reach it. Call us today. Jason Robinson is the Vice President of the Jamaica Renewable Energy Association and CEO of Solar Buzz Jamaica. Visit their website at www.solarbuzzjamaica. com or email info@solarbuzzjamaica.com.

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Home for all A

Making Your Home Accessible for those with Disabilities

By: Lajuane Thompson


hen I was younger I was an athlete and that period was easily one of the best, and worst, of my life. On one hand, I enjoyed the manifold benefits of exercise – a chiselled physique, stamina, muscles, and confidence

in my physical appearance. On the other hand, I suffered numerous injuries - proof of my misguided exuberance. Once, I injured my back in a sporting accident that left me immobile. Albeit, it was temporary, but I’ll never forget that experience. Through it, I learned three lessons:


1) Anyone can be disabled. It’s not limited to birth, genetics or reckless behaviour. 2) Being disabled doesn't mean discarding your independence. 3) Supportive structures for the physically disabled are not as common as they should be, especially in the typical household. Regardless of who you are, everyone wants convenience, especially at home. Thankfully, the NHT offers loans to build and improve homes to meet any need. Additionally, contributors with disabilities, or the parents of a child who has a

disability, can access a grant of up to $300,000 to retrofit their home to suit their needs. Having reflected on my experience with a physical disability, here are five amenities that I wish I’d had in my home during my ordeal. 1. Accessible points with ramps, wider doorways, barn doors and sliding doors. Moving through access points

can be tricky, especially if you’re being assisted. We know the relief of being able to enter and exit without causing injury to your fingers or damaging the frames. Simple assistive tools like handrails, lever handles, and grab bars, can make a huge difference.

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Feature 2. Reliable flooring. Floors that are too smooth can be tricky to navigate. No one, especially the physically disabled, needs to worry about slipping, tripping, or falling because of smooth and shiny floors. Also, easy-to-clean floors are a bonus. I’m happy that I didn’t need to worry about using wax polish and coconut brushes while I was injured. 3. Accessible bathrooms are simple, chic and effective. Designs such as open-showers, raised toilets and floating cabinets not only allow ease-of-use but can create a spacious feel - adding an element of luxury to your bathroom. 4. Easy-to-reach storage in the kitchen is critical. Canisters, cupboards and adjustable shelves are basic features. 5. Smart-home technology. Having the power to control your home at your fingertips is intoxicating. Having graduated from the television remote control, we can now check and control our homes from anywhere in the world. Current smart home technology includes remote-controlled fans & lights, voiceactivated equipment, bluetooth-enabled locks, and other amenities that you can control from your cell phone.

Housing solutions should have a universal design so that conveniences can be fully enjoyed by anyone.





eco friendly



Building Designs


o you have ideas about your dream house? Are you now living in yours? If not, are you planning to build it from scratch, or will you buy it from someone? Or do you want to fix-up an existing building?

What size will it be: small, medium, or large? Any ideas about the setting? Will it be on flat land, sloping split-level, by the sea, nestled inside the mountains?

By: Dr Patricia Green

What height do you have in mind - a single-storey, two-storey, or multistorey? What type will it be? Single-house or joined up as a detached with other family members, an apartment, or a townhouse complex? Do you want it to be trendy, like a ‘container house’ or a ‘small-house’? Whatever your homeownership dream, I hope it will become a reality in 2022. Until then, here’s a quick tip as you pursue these dreams. Make sure that your dream house is eco-friendly and sustainable in its building design. Being sensitive to the ecology and the green environment around us is what we term ‘eco-friendly.’ Ecology has to do with how organisms relate to each

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Feature other and their physical environment. Therefore, the natural environment of your beautiful dream house is very important. If you’re building on land with lots of trees, try to keep as many mature trees as possible, and nestle your dream house inside these trees instead of cutting them down. “Keep the trees within striking distance of my house? If a hurricane comes, won’t they fall on my house?” That’s unlikely. Instead, trees help to stabilise the land, and protect your house by sheltering it. As an architect and historic preservationist, I studied the performance of the environment during and after the passage of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. The trees that fell were those standing primarily in isolation. Clustered trees helped cushion the negative impact of the gale force winds. Tree limbs broke, but the houses remained sheltered within their boughs. As an architect and historic preservationist, I learnt about this when I researched historical documents to understand the history of Jamaica’s architecture and its cultural landscape. Historically, Jamaican planters laid out the sugarcane fields with large trees interspaced to act as wind breakers for crops and buildings. ‘Holland Bamboo’ in Middle Quarters, St Elizabeth, is an example of this historic practice. Did you know that the enslaved Africans planted many trees to protect their houses? And which tree do you think was the most important one? If you thought Calabash, you got it right. The Calabash tree provided ‘gourds’ for utensils and water bottles to carry into the fields. In those days, the planters spared no expense on their plantation industrial buildings and imported slate tiles from Europe for roofing. However, the rest of the houses had thatch or timber-shingle roofing.

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Hence, tall trees were planted next to the house to divert lightning strikes. We experienced the activity of lightning first-hand at our Kingston concrete slab-roofed house in October last year. A huge lightning bolt struck our coconut tree under which is my favourite garden bench. (The tree remains slightly bent to this day.) The lightning then travelled into the house, knocked the gate phone off the wall, and blew out the electronic gate mechanism. Thankfully, it was an act of God that no one was hurt! We had to call the electricians to inspect the house’s entire system afterwards. Now travel with me on this exciting exploration of the ecological resourcefulness of our coconut tree - local, natural, with no waste from the entire tree and its fruit. When you journey on the Palisadoes Road leading to Port Royal, look out for the plaque commemorating where the first coconut tree was planted on March 4, 1869 by John Norton, then superintendent of the General Penitentiary. By 1889, coconut trees were flourishing across Jamaica (approximately 20,000 trees). We benefit from it being a lightning rod. But we also get many other benefits from it: ‘jelly coconut water’ with health nutrients; utensils from the shell; handbags and jewellery; leaves for roofing and hats; oil for cooking and soap, hair, skin, to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (emerging science); rice and peas, drops, grater cake, gizzada; broom; floor shiner brush; flooring boards; floor mat; furniture items; building walls; mattress bedding; floral decorations; plant medium; fuel and firewood; and more! Explore with your children here and abroad the ecology of our coconut tree, a quintessential example of sustainability. It echoes versatile natural usage, numerous by-products, able to generate industry, and entrepreneurial ventures for individuals and the communities.

Now let’s examine some more sustainable building features for your dream house. In the Jamaica tropical climate, the most important comfort factor is to dispel the effects of high humidity. Allow cross ventilation naturally. That’s why my bench, under my coconut tree, is my favourite home office. Doing this naturally will greatly reduce utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint. It negates the use of artificial air generated by air-conditioning systems. Cross ventilation comes when openings of windows and doors are on opposite sides of the room and the house. As Jamaicans say “mek de breeze pas tru.” Turn your house into an “under the tree” environment. In the ‘ole-time’ days buildings had fretwork that allowed the free flow of breeze and made the building picturesque. Fretwork is a decorative timber cut-out like a crochet piece that carpenters built and placed over doors, even on roof eaves. Oral history says that the women did the designs. So, you say that you want cross ventilation but prefer a clean modern look without curly-curly cut-outs? No problem! Include sleek vertical and horizontal openings to achieve the same effect or make some of them in geometric shapes. Traditional building techniques evolved as ‘breathable’ buildings for cross ventilation, and that also made them hurricane resilient. Buildings continued to breathe during hurricanes and prevented roof uplift and window blow out. Jamaica’s sustainable building design must be breathable! Enjoy your sustainable investment, and dream eco-friendly.

Dr Patricia Green, RA, JIA, is an architect and former Head of the Caribbean School of Architecture, Faculty of the Built Environment, at the University of Technology, Jamaica. She can be contacted via email patgreen2008@gmail.com

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Name: What's in a


the importance of a



onkey say di worl’ no level! And so it is with land titles – not all land titles are created equal. Real estate is widely recognized as one of the best tools for building wealth. Land of any kind has value and that value generally

appreciates. Land can be sold, leased, gifted, or

By: Kameika FullertonDeLisser lands may generally have some document showing that they have rights to the land, but other people could have similar documents. How can one be sure that the documents presented are genuine and legally binding? This lack of certainty makes those documents, referred to as Common Law titles, less secure.

passed down from one generation to the other.

What is a registered title?

Owning land and not having a registered title for it is

A registered title is a certificate that is issued and

like having a football with no air in it. It may be yours

guaranteed by the government to conclusively prove

but what can you really do with it? Sure, you may have

who owns a piece of land. Unless obtained by fraud,

a survey diagram with your name on it, or a receipt

ownership of registered land cannot be challenged.

showing you bought the land. You may even have

It is the most superior evidence of land ownership.

a letter from your grandfather saying he wants you to have the land. But if you want to use the land as collateral for a bank loan, those things won’t take you

Having a registered title in your name reduces the likelihood of disputes with anyone and can create opportunities for wealth creation as it can be used as

very far.

collateral for many types of bank loans.

Research suggests that about 40% of land in Jamaica

How can you get a registered title?

is unregistered. In other words, those ‘landowners’

To get a registered title, the land must be brought

have no registered titles. The people who own such

under the operation of the Registration of Titles Act

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by way of an application to the Land Titles Division of the National Land Agency, more popularly known as the "Titles Office". The application must be supported by evidence of ownership through, for example, purchase, inheritance, gift or even prolonged possession of land. The land must be properly identified, preferably by way of a pre-checked survey diagram and all outstanding property taxes must be paid up. Declarations from community members, who can corroborate your account of the history of the land, will also be required. The application is generally prepared by an Attorney with experience in Conveyancing who can assist you in getting the best possible results. Is getting a registered title a costly endeavor? While it’s true that such applications have traditionally been considered expensive and time-consuming, laws have been passed in recent years to reduce the cost, time and hassle of these applications for land in most communities in Jamaica. Depending on where

the land is situated, you may be able to utilize the services and reap the benefits of the National Land Agency’s Land Administration and Management Division, through approved private Attorneys or Geoland Title Limited. They can help you obtain a registered title in your name for land that you legally own or have lived on openly and without dispute or disturbance for more than 12 years. If you own unregistered land, you’re potentially sitting on a goldmine. Now is the time to invest in your future by obtaining a registered title to unlock your financial possibilities and get security and peace of mind. Gather all your land papers and get the process started today.

Kameika Fullerton-DeLisser is an Attorney-at-Law and Partner at Fullerton DeLisser & Co. She is also a Real Estate Broker at Re/max Elite. She can be contacted via email at kamfull@hotmail.com

If you own unregistered land, you’re potentially sitting on a goldmine…

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security is Conversations

with King Alarm’s John Azar



ou’re asleep and suddenly the clanking sound of your grille jars you awake. You sit up, unsure of whether you’re still dreaming, and decide to listen more keenly. You hear the grille open and your front door groans on its hinges. Someone has invaded your home, your comfort-zone, your safe space. With not a minute to spare, you jump out of bed and attempt to grab something to defend yourself with but it’s dark and you fumble. They’ve heard you and now they’re headed your way. You stifle your scream as their heavy steps get closer. You’re frantic as you try hide.

You run towards your closet but your bedroom door is flung wide open. It’s too late. They’ve found you, and you slowly turn to face them. “Hey girl! What are you doing?” is the question that punctuates the darkness right before the lights are turned on. “Why do you look so frightened? Oh no! Wait! Did you think I was a thief? Ahhhm, is that a cushion in your hand? What were you planning to do? Tell me to lay down while you find somewhere to hide? Didn’t you remember I was spending the night? You fell asleep with your front door open, again. Yea, you gotta stop doing that”. A wave of relief washes over you. It’s only your sister. But what if it wasn’t? 7 8 H O M E & A W AY


By: Danielle Edwards

Home invasions are frightening. Whether we’ve experienced them or know someone who has, most of us can relate to how harrowing these incidents are. Not only are they frightening, but they’re dangerous, and inevitably, they’re very costly. Repairing damaged windows, grilles, doors and replacing stolen items can be mentally and financially debilitating. Nowhere is truly off-limits. Break-ins can occur at any time, to anyone, in any neighbourhood. Home and A Way (H.A.A) wanted to put their readers in a position to better protect themselves and their loved ones against a home invasion so we sat down with security expert and head honcho at KingAlarm, John Azar (J.A), who has, over the last 15 years, armed Jamaicans with the right tools and information to protect themselves and their investments.

1. H.A.A: How has home security evolved in the last few years and what are the available options?

3. H.A.A: What are the newest innovations in home security?

J.A: Home security has evolved in the last 10 years thanks to technological advancements. Today, there are a wide array of security products and services available to enhance the security of one's home. Persons can benefit from CCTV cameras, gate openers, intrusion detection alarms, smoke detectors and smart locks. With these tools, persons have the option to layer their security system by having two or more of these options depending on their security needs.

J.A: You can now link your home automation with security devices and can monitor your home remotely from anywhere in the world. There are also outdoor detection devices that send video images to the homeowner once movement has been detected. Even the more conventional systems have seen great advances. Today, there are biometric locks or smart locks that can be placed on your door or grille that are opened either by using an app on your mobile device, a pin code or your fingerprint.

2. H.A.A: With this type of evolution, would you say that the traditional “padlock and key” are obsolete? J.A: I wouldn’t say that the traditional padlock and key are "obsolete" but I certainly would say that as the criminal element evolves, so too must we. Therefore, the traditional "padlock and key" on its own is not as effective in today's world.

4. H.A.A: You mentioned a security monitoring system; can a homeowner “diy” that installation or is it better to have the system installed and monitored by a security firm? J.A: Yes, homeowners can purchase a general home intrusion alert system and monitor it themselves. However, having professionals install a security

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Feature system significantly reduces any margin of error during the installation process. I’m sure I could paint my house but I’m also sure I couldn’t do it as well as a professional painter could! With security, we often don't get second chances, so it’s important to get it right the first time. Having systems monitored by a company like KingAlarm means that in the event of an alarm, our highly trained Armed Response and Special ‎Operations teams will quickly respond. The feeling of knowing you’re not alone is priceless.

resistant safes: one for your valuables, and one for important documents and data. To protect your safes from theft, bolt them to the floor.

Additionally, I strongly believe that your security system should be customised based on your needs. Therefore, a security firm will more than likely conduct an audit to assess and advise on the best solution, with your budget in mind, of course. On that note about budget, if affordability is an issue and a household will require two or more security features, the most important one is prioritised and the others installed over time.

• Be wary about posting your vacation plans and updates on social media websites. Even though you trust your friends, you never know who might learn that you're not home.

5. H.A.A: What are some steps that Jamaicans can take to better protect themselves and their loved ones? J.A: There are so many things that individuals can do to better protect themselves. However these are the general tips I usually tell my clientele. • Lock your doors and windows. Sounds pretty simple, but it's often the simplest and most obvious precautions that homeowners tend to forget and which burglars tend to exploit. • Burglarise yourself. As weird as that sounds, look at, and around, your home to assess those weak spots that would allow someone else to gain access. • Don't place valuables near or under windows. This will give criminals easy access to your valuables. • Don’t have money or jewellery lying out in view from a window. Consider purchasing two fire-

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• Don't tell strangers your daily routines. Also avoid telling others about the valuables in your home. If you're at home working outside, leave all other doors that are out of sight locked. • Don’t leave tools or ladders in your yard. Burglars may use them to gain access to your home.

• If you have children, discuss home security with them. Talk to them about not talking to strangers about their home, its contents, or family schedules. • Prune lower branches of trees near your house. They may help a burglar gain access to a secondstory window. • Don’t place the boxes for newly bought appliances at your gate to await garbage collection. Always dispose of these boxes by cutting them into much smaller pieces. You don’t want everyone knowing that you just bought a brand new television. John Azar is the Managing Director for the KingAlarm Security Company.

For more information visit their website, kingalarmjamaica.com or contact John via email at john_p_azar@kingalarmjamaica.com


Lawyer Up Understanding the By: Role of Your Attorney Shantall Wheatley


f you’re in the market as a first time buyer, chances are you have been told to ensure you get a good attorney. Note, not just an attorney, but a good attorney.

If you’re second guessing this advice and probably wondering “Do I really need an attorney?” or “Can someone with a little legal experience walk me through the process?”

In the same way that you perhaps shopped around and did some research before settling on a realtor, you want to use the same approach when choosing an attorney. Get referrals from friends, family and colleagues who have gone through the process. If you do not have any such persons in your network, your realtor through their broker may be able to recommend one.

The answer is a resounding, “No”.

In shopping around as well, remember that your

And if you’re purchasing property and have gone as far as making an offer without securing the services of an attorney, then you’re doing it wrong.

budget for those fees.

So let’s back up a bit.

attorney represents you at a cost so you want to

Attorney fees can range from 1% to 4% of the purchase price of the property (Pro tip: negotiate with your attorney on these fees). But before you

After securing the services of a realtor, the next individual you should have in your corner when making a real estate purchase is an attorney.

balk at the sizable chunk that this would take from

While your realtor will guide you through the sales process, purchasing a home is a legal as much as it is a financial decision.

Your choice of attorney could very well be the thing

your savings, think instead about the financial consequences from entering a bad transaction.

that saves you from spending more money than you bargained for by ensuring that you don’t enter into

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Feature a contract that has any legal ramifications that will cost you in the end. On the matter of attorney fees, you may hear about the practice of some individuals to share the services of the attorney as a way of cutting back on costs. But think about it, if something goes wrong on either side of the transaction, who’s interest will the attorney represent? In looking to secure the services of an attorney however, bear in mind that the individual you choose should be more than a legal representative. Here are a few additional tips to consider when choosing an attorney. Your attorney should: •

Be acquainted with real estate transactions. While attorneys may be generalists and understand the law, you want to choose an attorney that practices and has experience in legal conveyancing. The difference could cost you; literally!

Represent your interest 100% of the time and should be able to negotiate on your behalf. It’s a service you’re paying for, not a favour.

Have excellent communication skills with all parties involved in the sale, including you. That last bit is sometimes often ignored but ensure that you get timely updates from your attorney. If you aren’t hearing from them, don’t be afraid to reach out.

The formula is simple; A Qualified, Experienced, and Honest Attorney = Your Peace of Mind!

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f you successfully applied for a loan from the National Housing Trust, or another other financial institution, to purchase land to build your home, congratulations! The road to homeownership is rewarding. However, before starting any form of construction, it’s very crucial that the mortgagor identifies a suitable contractor to mitigate against risks like project delays, cost overruns, or poor-quality workmanship. To identify the right contractor, the mortgagor may undertake a process similar to what exists for most companies.

By: Winston Roberts


Right contractor the

to build your Home

Within public and private institutions, there are standard systems of procuring contractor services that ensures they are getting the best value for money from a credible, qualified and reputable party. So, why shouldn’t individuals who plan to undertake construction work at their homes adopt the same systems? It’s my recommendation that they should, especially because there is usually no room for failure. Before you begin the procurement process for a contractor, it’s important that you clearly define your scope of work and your budget. Here are some things that you should consider.

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1. Ensure that there is a detailed drawing or design of the project. Where necessary, this should be approved by the necessary regulatory agencies before the commencement of any construction activity. Consequently, it’s important to obtain guidance from an engineer/architect to ensure that this process is seamless.


2. Before you approve the design, ensure that it’s within your budget by obtaining a detailed costing of the design. The detailed estimate along with the drawing (if any) will inform the key elements of the contract. Consequently, if this isn’t done properly from the beginning, you can bet your last dollar that there’ll likely be some challenges (such as delays, cost variation, or poor-quality work) throughout the implementation of the project.

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3. After you have finalised the scope of work, and the project’s estimated cost, be sure to prepare an agreement detailing the terms and conditions by which you and the contractor will be bound. The agreement may include terms such as the project’s start and end dates, terms of payment, quality and standard of workmanship, contract termination clauses, etc. Given that the agreement defines the relationship between you and the contractor, it’s important that you get an experienced and qualified professional to prepare this on your behalf. Procurement Process to find the Contractor Now that you have a complete Scope of Work, Estimate and Draft Agreement, it’s now time for you to select the contractor. You may use several approaches to

select the contractor. However, it has always proven beneficial to have the participation of more than one contractor for a more competitive process. Whether you invite three contractors from your community to participate, or you place an advertisement in the public domain inviting contractors to participate, or you scout an approved list of contractors, be sure to give yourself a variety to choose from. When inviting the contractors to participate, there are several evaluation criteria from which you can determine the most suitable contractor. Here are a few of them.


A. You need to be satisfied that the contractor has a proven track record of completing construction works of a similar nature. Have the contractor show you samples of their work and provide you with the requisite references for you to conduct your own verification.


B. When contacting the contractor’s references, you should obtain information about the contractor’s attitude, the quality of the work they provided, and whether the referee would recommend them. C. Have the contractor provide you with a list of employees that he’ll be using to do the work, detailing their respective years of experience and qualifications. D. Sometimes a project is delayed because of the contractor’s inability to finance the work, so it’s important that you verify whether they have access to a line of credit or financial resources to complete the work, subject to the payment terms within the agreement.


E. It’s important that you are aware of how many other projects the contractor will be engaged in during the life of your project. This is one element that’s often overlooked. With this information you can assess whether the contractor will have adequate resources to allocate to your work.


F. Have the contractor inform you of what portion of the work they intend to subcontract, and the historical relation between the contractor and the sub-contractor. G. Have the contractor inform you of their safety and legal history - whether there have been any accidents on their construction site or if they have been involved in any legal matter. H. The contractor, having reviewed the scope of work and visited the site, should provide a detailed estimate to do the work, along with a schedule outlining the timeframe in which certain phases of the project will be completed. I. The final step is to compare each of the responses provided by the contractors from which you can then select the contractor you believe is best suited to provide value for money, no delays, and good workmanship. The construction of your home is a very serious undertaking and while the foregoing may take some time to implement, the nature of construction projects requires proper planning and resources to achieve success. When you take the time to properly plan your building project and hire a contractor based on the right criteria, you may rest easy knowing that your project will be completed to your satisfaction.

Winston R. Roberts is an Attorney-at-Law & Construction Project Manager. You may contact him via email at winston.roberts@live.com

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Tallawah Likkle but

10 H Key

By: Danielle Edwards

ere’s the undeniable and unavoidable truth: the average size of houses are shrinking. It’s economics. The demand for housing has skyrocketed when compared to just over a decade ago. So what does this mean? More houses are being built at faster rates to satisfy this ever-growing demand.


to Decorating Small Spaces

With land being a finite resource, more developers are trying to get more houses out of less land, which means reduced square footage. This is particularly more evident in urban areas where most homes are now being built vertically as high-rise apartments. This means inherently less space for homeowners to work with, particularly when considering layout and décor. Decorating small spaces can feel like an impossible puzzle. You want it to be filled with personality, but it can't look chaotic or cluttered. When I first bought my apartment, I struggled with how to make the most of the space. I wanted to marry form and function without compromising style. So, I downloaded every design app I could find, consulted with several designers, and put my sofa-guy through many a headache trying to create the best sofa design for the space. What was the most painstaking process? Paint selection.

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The advice on the home décor blogs was ridiculously confusing. One blog told me, “paint the whole space in white. You know what? Forget brushes. Just smear the entire bucket on the wall. Better yet, create an internal blizzard.” Another suggested, “Go bold! Paint this wall black but put this wall in print. Buy patterned pillows. Go ahead and replicate this Anglo-Saxon design that only works for the people on HGTV. “ Thankfully, I eventually got the handle of it and learned that the trick was to make the space appear bigger than it truly was with smart styling and a great layout strategy. I went through that headache, so you don’t have to. Here are my top ten ideas to guide you on how to transform your small space into a sanctuary that you'll never want to leave.

1. Use a sheet of graph paper to design your layout If you’re like me, graph paper can give you PTSD. I spent many of my high school days mapping out points in a bid to locate x. However, a cool trick that I learned from Karen Booker, Creative Director of ‘Design Divaz’, was to design the layout of your home using graph paper where one block represents 1 foot of space. This will assist you to really visualise the placement and design of some of your pieces.

3. Focus on Lighting

2. Keep the Floor Clear I swear by this tip. Where possible, mount your furnishings. Not only does it make cleaning much easier, but it offers you extra storage space underneath. The less floor space you have covered, the larger the appearance of the space. Try floating pieces, such as shelves and nightstands. Opt for sconces and wall lights rather than floor lamps.

Small spaces can often end up feeling dark, due to small or non-existent windows. Make up for the lack of natural light by adding plenty of light sources in every room. Consider striking ceiling fixtures like a pretty pendant or an elegant flush mount, depending on your ceiling height. Add sconces or table lamps for a cosy and bright atmosphere. My favourite trick is placing LED strip lights both above and below the cupboards.

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Feature 4. Mirrors Are Your FriendS If you’re not blessed with an abundance of natural light, mirrors can help you make the most of the light you do have by reflecting it around the room. Mirrors can also help make the space feel bigger, giving the illusion of a few more square feet. Consider lining a wall with a large mirror or creating a mirror gallery wall of different sizes and shapes.

5. Less is more… at least on the surface Nothing screams "I don’t have enough room" like furniture pressed up against the wall and packed so tightly together that they’re practically stacked. Pull furnishings away from the wall if you can and make sure there’s space between pieces. Also, spring for furniture that has some added storage in order to reduce the clutter.

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6. Go for Folding Pieces

7. Choose the Right Rug

You may need a desk and a dining table, but do you need them 24/7? Consider installing furnishings that can fold up when not in use. You’ll free up floor space and avoid the stacks of mail and work that inevitably pile up on these surfaces.

A good-sized rug is the one item you don’t want to skimp on. A tiny rug will make the room feel equally small. Unlike smaller rugs, larger ones don't visually break up the floor. This can also help to anchor the space and give you a good staple piece to design the rest of the room around. Pick a floor covering that’s large enough that most of your furniture will sit on it, or just go wall-to-wall.

8. Choose appropriately sized and styled furniture Selecting furniture that’s too large will clutter the space and using furniture that’s too small will surprisingly make the space appear even smaller. Instead of a bulky coffee table, try layering two small coffee tables to create a sleek look. Also try using furniture with dual functions, like an ottoman with a built-in tray.

9. Make the most of your walls What you don’t have in square footage you can make up with your wall space. Take advantage of that vertical space. Elongate your walls by hanging your curtains some 3 to 5 inches above your window. Keep the curtain design basic but use extra fabric for fullness. Additionally, invest in shelving and cupboards to display and store items.

10. White isn’t always right “Paint a room white to make it bright” - is one of those age-old design tips we always hear when tackling a small space. While it does have its merits, going snow white may have the opposite effect. Light needs a surface to reflect from so going flat white may not create this airy light effect but may instead highlight shadows, especially if natural light is limited. So instead, try going with a light cohesive palette. The key is to choose a colour that you can utilise throughout your space. You can always showcase your personality and create a bit of depth by adding a bold accent wall. By creating a smokey blue accent wall in my Master bedroom, I not only added a bit of sophistication, but it gave the room its very own personality.

There you have it! 10 tips to make your little space feel large. Never let size limit your capacity to design. Because we’ve learned time and time again that even the smallest of these can pack a mighty punch. Happy designing! H O M E & A W AY







odern society has given us many things, but it hasn’t given many of us sprawling, rural homesteads.

The Ultimate Guide to Making the Most out of Your Space By: Dr. Neggo-Shane Powell

In the last 30 years, we’ve witnessed rapid urbanisation due to several factors, including the need to satisfy the demand for housing and to create modern communities of choice for families to work, live, and do business. For those of us who want to cultivate our own vegetation, it almost feels impossible - or so we think. This is where urban gardening comes in. This movement has established a path to boost food production and encompasses the cultivation of edible plants, non-edible/decorative plants, medicinal plants for use in home remedies, and plants for aromatherapy. It’s a global trend and, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation, approximately 800 million people worldwide engage in this practice. It is a great alternative to the traditional thinking that the cultivation of crops can only be done in rural areas.

What are the advantages of urban gardening? Not only does urban gardening provide food security, but it also provides ecological, health, psychological, financial, educational, and transgenerational benefits. It improves air quality; increases animal and plant diversity in city spaces and facilitates pollination and plant propagation.

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Urban gardening generates income for families, communities, cities and corporations. It’s an educational tool for children and adults as it promotes appreciation for agricultural processes in all age groups. In doing so, it limits food wastage and provides activities to bridge generational gaps. Urban gardens directly improve psychosocial wellbeing by beautification, aromatherapy and nutrition. Urban farming may be used for self-sustenance or for commercial purposes. It can be classified by the type of spaces in which the gardening takes place.

Types of Urban Gardens It’s important to note that methods of planting differ based on available resources and the gardener's preferences. They include planting directly in soil, or in specialised structures using water, instead of soil. This method of planting is called hydroponic gardening and requires expertise for plants to get the nutritional support they need. Hydroponics or aquaponics are reliable and drought resistant methods of gardening. Aquaponics involves adding fishes to a hydroponic system to make it sustainable for plant growth and development. Plants can be gardened using conventional farming techniques, i.e., use of synthetic fertilisers or using organic gardening methods, use of plant/animal based fertilisers only. 1. Residential Gardening Backyard gardening is gardening directly in the ground at home. This is common in homes where yard space is available. 2. Container gardening This involves using planter boxes, pots, pans, tyres or recycled receptacles that can hold soil. This is suitable for any setting but is common for indoor planting for those with limited spaces (apartment/balconies) and for renters. Container planting provides the luxury of moving plants, as people change their locations to alternative living solutions. 3. Rooftop Gardens and Wall Gardening This involves gardens on the roofs or sides of buildings and may involve a container. The containers may be portable or be constructed as a part of the building.

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4. Community Plots These are gardening spaces established in a community setting. The space can be divided and allocated to members of the community at a cost. This type of farming can be cooperative or individual. In previous world wars, countries established community plots called Allotment Gardens to facilitate urban farming to improve food security during war time. 5. Tactical Gardening and Roadway Landscaping This is gardening in areas where plants are not usually found, for example, along roadways/island dividers. Plants may be edible or be for beautification purposes.

How can you start your own Urban Garden? 1. Select your location You can create your urban garden practically anywhere - from your balcony window, to your bookshelf or even your countertop. You don’t need a large surface area. 2. Assess your access to sunlight This is important and determines what and where you can plant. For example, if you intend to grow tomatoes, you will need about 8 hours of direct sunlight. Therefore, if you only have access to 3 hours of sunlight, you'll have to grow plants that will thrive with only 3 hours of sunlight. 3. Decide on what you want to grow Ask yourself the following questions when considering what to grow: • What do I eat most? • What makes the most financial sense? • What are the best plants to grow in pots, if you don't have access to a patch of soil? 4. Get started on your garden

So, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to get started on your urban garden.

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You can either choose seeds or transplant from an already growing plant. Ensure you select the right container and you should be good to go. You can also visit your local home & garden store or purchase your instant urban garden with plants already growing from Plantsmart JA. Dr. Neggo-Shane Powell is the owner of Plantsmart JA. For more information on how you can start your own urban garden you can contact him via email plantsmartja@gmail.com