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Safety Tips for Water Skiing

Owner of a construction company in Austin, Texas, Alan Erickson prides himself as one of the best home builders and has utilized his experience throughout the years to ensure his customers get value for their money. Alan Erickson enjoys horse riding and water skiing outside of work.

Water skiing is a sport that requires participants to balance on a pair of skis while they are pulled along the surface of a river by a boat. The sport can be dangerous for beginners who need help understanding how to navigate on the water while being pulled along. However, with the knowledge of specific safety tips, skiers can reduce risk factors.

During every water ski trip, the boat driver, water skier, and in some cases, a third rider must familiarize themselves with basic hand signals. By reviewing hand signals, such as thumbs up meaning faster and thumbs down meaning slower, they can easily convey messages to each and make the water skiing ride safer.

There has to be a third person on the boat watching the skier when just one person is operating the boat or towing a skier. The boat’s operator must maintain both external and internal concentration while operating the vessel. The observer is left responsible for ensuring the skier’s safety and is in charge of keeping an eye out for the skier’s hand signals.

Skiers do not turn toward the same direction as the boat when the boat driver changes direction; instead, they often make a broader turn. Because of this, the boat driver must ensure that they minimize sudden moves so they won’t endanger the skier.

Austin’s Real Estate Market Review

The Austin house market has grown to be one of the most active in Texas, thanks to the city’s strong economy and desirable lifestyle. Zillow named it the hottest housing market in 2021, as more residents from pricey regions such as California relocated to the city in a quest for more affordable housing.

At the close of 2021, Austin’s real estate property prices had increased by approximately 40 percent compared to a 19 percent increase in national house prices, according to Redfin. In September 2022, the website reported that prices were up by 2.4 percent compared to 2021, with the median price being $563,000.

Increases in prices were primarily due to lower interest rates, increased housing demand, and larger average bank account savings. The unusual combination of these elements increased competitiveness when most real estate owners hesitated to put their homes on the market. Housing prices are now much higher than before, and the average market days are down to just 15 days.

To some analysts, Austin’s real estate market is one of the country’s most overpriced, regardless of its relatively affordable cost of living and attractive lifestyle. A survey done by experts from Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University reports that Austin’s residents are paying about 51 percent more to buy homes than they should.

The shift in the city’s real estate market prices is largely a result of its population, which has grown by 34 percent in the past decade. Austin’s numerous tech opportunities, lower cost of living, and business-friendly atmosphere have drawn individuals from diverse backgrounds, making it USA’s fastest-growing city.

Home values continue to rise as people move to Austin, presenting a great investment opportunity for real estate investors. For instance, institutions such as the University of Texas Austin Campus has over 40,000 students, with the city’s community college hosting as many. Building rental properties near schools for these students present an opportunity for investors to propel their investment.

Moreover, the Austin housing market is favorable for investors looking to build their investment portfolio because of the low-interest rates on traditional loans, relatively low sales tax, and lack of state income tax. And although property taxes may be high, these benefits cover the lost revenue.

Austin’s job market – the country’s third highest-performing metro in terms of job growth – is another reason its housing market continues to thrive. The city’s technology industry is particularly robust, with significant employers like Apple, Dell, IBM, Oracle, Samsung, and Tesla setting up regional headquarters in the area. Not only is this growth attracting new residents to buy and rent homes in the area, but it is also prompting the city’s occupants not to shift.

Factors such as affordability and life quality in Austin, which appeal to new residents, are another reason the Austin house market thrives. Compared to other cities like Los Angeles, which has a 7.5 percent Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), Austin’s HOI is at 50.4 percent, indicating affordability. In addition to the attractive job market, many new residents are buying homes in Austin to enjoy the diverse nightlife options, unique outdoor scenes, and great dining experiences.

Historical trends set a premise for analysts to forecast the future. And while the real estate market has cooled since its peak, there is still much growth potential despite increased interest rates and general inflation.

Skills and Qualities to Look for in a Custom Homebuilder

Texas has over 45,000 registered homebuilding businesses, the highest in the United States. This means there’s a large pull of prospective custom homebuilders to choose from for prospective homeowners. Homeowners must choose the right skills and qualities when choosing a custom home builder to ensure smooth construction from beginning to end.

Individual home builders must abide by the building codes of the state where they work. Building codes regulate major renovations and new constructions, protecting builders, owners, and communities. A lack of strict building codes may expose homeowners to unscrupulous homebuilders. Still, some aspects of homebuilding cannot be legislated.

Your prospective homebuilder must be a good planner. Planning can make or break your project. You need an exceptional planner who can create the best design and choose suitable building materials. Problems, such as delays, accidents, and shortages, may happen during construction. Homebuilders must consider any unpredictable situations not only to avoid delay but also to ensure safety at the work site. As a homeowner, you need a flexible homebuilder who is resilient and resourceful when faced with challenges. A flexible contractor goes out of their way to accommodate you. On the other hand, a rigid one wants things to be done a certain way by a certain time.

And because custom home construction has several moving parts, such as subcontracting, sourcing materials, paperwork, etc., your ideal homebuilder is one with solid systems and processes. Such a builder has every aspect, fright from bidding and pre-construction to design and construction.

Cost overruns can hurt your pocket. But they’re sometimes unavoidable. Nevertheless, your custom homebuilder must work within your budget limits. For this, you need a home builder who is also an exceptional project manager. A good project manager ensures timely project delivery within the budget. Contractors with integrity will not overcharge you. They will not use substandard building materials when you’ve paid top dollar to get the best. On the other hand, dishonest homebuilders are looking to rip you off at every turn. When they’re not overcharging you, they’re swapping your quality fittings for subpar ones.

As experienced as your prospective homebuilder might be, they cannot work alone. They must work with others (like subcontractors, inspectors, suppliers, and handymen) at some point in the project. So, how your prospective builder works with and treats those he deals with is a major tell whether or not they’ll be a good fit.

Talk to past clients, sub-contractors, and other people that your would-be homebuilder has worked with. This way, you will be able to get a feel of what it’s like to work with them. A builder with poor team spirit is not receptive to constructive feedback and makes decisions unilaterally.

If a prospect has a reputation for shooting down opposing ideas, they’ll likely fight you every step of the way. The ideal builder is cooperative, not combative. So, go for the builder who prioritizes teamwork, is a good communicator, and is generally good with people. If the contractor you’re considering has a reputation for doing things as they please, keep looking.

Tips for Choosing a Custom Homebuilder

There are several moving parts to custom-building a home from the ground up. So, an expert’s guidance is often vital to getting results that match your needs. When looking for a custom home builder, pay attention to their experience.

Experience is an important trait your homebuilder should possess. Once you’ve narrowed potential candidates to a few people, inquire about their experience. Find out how long they have been building homes. You should, however, keep in mind that experienced contractors don’t always come cheap.

Because anyone can claim to be an expert, do not just take their word for it. Request for their portfolio and ask to talk to their past clients. Talking to their past clients will reveal two important things about a homebuilder. One, you will be able to ascertain their expertise. Two, you’ll find out their overall conduct. Past clients can reveal important details, like how it is to work with the homebuilder in terms of communication and collaboration.

A homebuilder may be the expert in building homes, but they should also listen to you. Working with a homebuilder who is a poor communicator, high-handed, and doesn’t follow directions is difficult.

You may still need other subcontractors and vendors, and some homebuilders only work with their subcontractors, like electricians, roofers, and painters, plumbers. If you’re not hiring your own subcontractors, choose a homebuilder who only uses experienced and professional subcontractors.

Ask your builder to list all their subcontractors and vendors who will work on your project. Then conduct due diligence to understand who they are, their past works, and their past client’s overall satisfaction with their work.

The builder must be properly licensed. States like Texas do not require homebuilders, handypersons, or general contractors to have a general contractor license. However, Alaska and Arizona require all contractors to have a general contractor license. Contractors who install fire sprinklers, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), or elevators do.

As you scout for a home builder, pay close attention to the fine print. This includes such things as warranties, insurance, and bonding. Choose a homebuilder with straightforward warranty terms. Understand what their warranty covers and for how long before entering into any contract.

Like a warranty, a surety bond offers another layer of protection should your homebuilder fail to deliver. Most states require all contractors to be bonded. The Texas contractor license bond protects you from financial losses due to substandard work. So be sure to ask your prospective homebuilder for their bond number and certification beforehand.

Choose an adequately insured builder. Adequate insurance should cover their company, their employees, and you and your property against accidents or losses. If, for instance, one of your builder’s employees or subcontractors damages your property during construction, liability insurance should cover the damage.

Custom homebuilding involves a significant investment. So you want to ensure your investment is taken care of by choosing a homebuilder with what it takes to bring your dream of owning a home to live. Interview three to four candidates to give yourself a chance to choose the right builder. Seek out a second opinion if you have to, especially when dealing with the fine print.

History of Water Skiing

Water skiing is quite a popular surface water sport, with over 11 million participants in the United States. A skier, attached to a fast-moving boat, glides through the water’s surface. The sport, which requires agility, endurance, and strength, was developed in 1922.

Historical recounts point to Ralph Samuelson as the first person to water-ski in 1922 when he decided to use two planks of wood as skis and a clothesline as tow ropes. Samuelson tested his ideas for several days on Lake Pepin in Lake City before he eventually discovered that the best way to ski on the water is to lean backward while pointing the tip of the skis upward.

After that, Samuelson’s brother Ben drove him at 19 miles per hour to test Samuelson’s idea.
He first tried using a barn door as a ski, barrel staves, and even snow skis, and then settled on using two strips of lumber with leather bindings attached to them. Samuelson then dedicated his time to teaching people how to water ski. He brought water skiing into the spotlight several years after its discovery when he went around performing water ski shows from Michigan to Florida for over 15 years. The American Water Ski Association later recognized him in 1966 as the first water skier in history.

Fred Waller obtained the first patent for water skis in 1925. He developed them using kiln-dried mahogany, mimicking the type of wood used to make boats at the time. He called them “Dolphin Akwa-Skees.”

In 1940, Jack Andresen pioneered freestyle skiing, leading to the patenting of more water-skiing equipment. Don Ibsen founded the Olympic Ski Club a year later, in 1941. Ibsen was also one of the sport’s earliest equipment manufacturers and played an essential part as a showman and promoter of water skiing. He joined Florida’s “Water Ski Hall of Fame” in 1983.

Water skiing became internationally known when Dick Pope Sr., famously called the “Father of American Water Skiing” and founder of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, wanted to build a different look for his water skiing theme park. To draw attention, he collated pictures of water skiers featured at the park. Soon enough, the pictures began appearing in magazines between 1940 to 1950, garnering worldwide recognition.

He also became the first person to perform a jump successfully. He was recorded jumping over a wooden ramp for a 25-foot distance. His son, Dick Pope Jr., later went on to invent bare-foot skiing in 1947. He then joined his father as a hall of Famer in the Water Ski Hall. Because of the contributions of father and son to the sport of skiing, Winter Haven has now become an important skiing landmark and is home to several major ski schools.

Water skiing continued to grow and attract many participants. Soon enough, water skiing contests and competitions were created, and the activity made it to the Olympics stage in 1972 as an exhibition event. The first ever National Ski tournament was held in 1974, and the National Intercollegiate Water Ski Championships were launched in 1979.

The sport is now recognized internationally, drawing different investors, enthusiasts, and excited audiences from different parts of the world. There are now over 900 official water skiing events that take place worldwide.

Overview of the Austin, Texas Real Estate Market

Austin, Texas, is the 11th most populous city in the United States. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in home prices over the years, it has one of the country’s most active real estate markets.

There are a few reasons why this market is this active. First, the population is an important aspect of promoting real estate products. Indeed, Austin is the fastest-growing metropolitan region in the United States, averaging over 180 new residents daily.

Austin is a top choice for American citizens wanting to relocate to a major metropolitan area. It is a favorite destination for migrants relocating to study and work in the United States. With so many people relocating to the city daily, the demand for housing in Austin is high.

Austin also has an attractive job market, ranking third in the best-performing metropolitan regions in the United States as of 2022. Since 2021, it has had an impressive job growth rate of about eight percent, resulting in over 90,000 new jobs. Austin’s unemployment rate also stands at about 2.5 percent as of 2022.

The major employers attracting individuals are tech companies. Apple, Oracle, AMD, and Dell are some reputable companies with offices in Austin. Friendly tax laws create favorable environments for companies. Besides no income tax for individuals, Austin’s tax laws are more lenient than those of other states, making it an attractive hub, especially for tech corporations.

Tech companies also attract high-net-worth individuals who can invest in a region’s real estate market. Consequently, over the years, Austin has eased the pressure on the demand and supply for real estate products and services. It has also increased building permits and made it easy for individuals to acquire them.

Most people in Austin prefer to rent than to own homes. This is because houses in the region are quite expensive. The COVID-19 pandemic led to these price increases, resulting from low-interest rates, high demand, and most people having above-average bank account savings. The factors brought competition, and homeowners were not ready to sell their houses. As a result, the prices went up. Hence, most prospective buyers resorted to the rental market despite an increase in rental prices. Besides, Austin’s cost of living is low, making it attractive to renters.

Moreover, the city ranks highly in the quality of life. There are many dining spots, outdoor experiences, nightlife options, and a thriving job market. All these factors make the ideal environment for a renter.

Experts claim that banks have improved their underwriting processes, qualifying more buyers than in the past. Austin is also one of eight cities in the United States that have fully recovered from the Great Recession. Additionally, its inventory is tight, and there is always high demand owing to the residents flocking in daily, especially for work-related reasons. Therefore, investors are happy since they expect steady flows of prospective buyers and renters.

In the future, two things are bound to happen, according to analysts and experts. First, houses in Austin will continue to increase in price. Individuals predict that interest rates may go up. Therefore, there will be an increased demand for housing, leading to price increases. Second, rental properties will become a viable investment option since rentals will continue to be a preferred option for many.

An Overview of Custom House Building

Custom home building allows owners to develop structures that match their preferences. They choose the design and arrangement of their houses, which may not be possible with rented or built properties already. Appliances, amenities, walls, and floors are chosen freely to actualize the owner’s imagination. Many people dream of customizing their homes since this opportunity is fulfilling.

Custom houses serve the specific functionality that homeowners desire. They dictate the space utility, floor plans, and flexibility that meets their needs. The option eliminates unnecessary structures and includes everything that fits the owners’ lifestyles. These can consist of the number of bedrooms, positioning of staircases, libraries, and swimming pools.

Prospective owners can choose the location and quality of building materials for their custom structures. After identifying the best locations, the positioning of the house can be chosen to maximize privacy and take advantage of unique views. Moreover, the owner can select the grade of the construction resources to fit their budgets and quality expectations.

Before constructing custom houses, owners should consider several things to achieve success. First, the operating budget determines the design and location of the project. Homeowners should assess the land quality before buying. The drainage resources, water table level, slope, and natural resources indicate the land costs and inform whether it is viable for the project.

After finding favorable land, owners should get proper cost estimates for wages, materials, equipment, contingencies, and insurance cover. Personal and bank financing can provide these funds, and owners should weigh the option that best fits their plans.

Contractors’ terms of payment are also relevant to the operating budget. The cost-reimbursement agreement is a popular option for modern owners. Here, the contractor foots the construction costs and drafts an invoice with payment details after completion. Financial planners and surveyors help project owners in developing and monitoring these budgets.

Evaluating the area’s homeowners association (HOA) is important. These groups maintain order and are available in most developments. They comprise residents who dictate construction plans with clear clauses for new builders. Their rules specify the appropriate designs, building materials, and fencing options acceptable to the community.

Most HOAs charge monthly maintenance fees and prompt mandatory construction assessments before permitting development. The finances help cover upkeep expenses associated with shared amenities, such as pavements and parking spaces. Homeowners should understand their obligations under these groups and their entitlement before proceeding with their projects.

Prospective homeowners should consider assembling an effective team. Construction teams with knowledge and experience in building successful projects can help develop the structure without complications. Sourcing for experts within the project’s location can help them get permits fast and minimize transportation costs. These professionals also understand the construction policies and procedures relevant to the location, averting unnecessary losses and litigations.

A proper construction team comprises an architect, quantity surveyor, contractor, and interior designers. Architects help owners design their homes from ideas to executable projects, while quantity surveyors advise on the necessary permits, choose contractors, and monitor the project to ensure it does not surpass the budget and schedules.

Contractors build the house according to the chosen design and usually supply the labor for the project. It is essential to choose contractors with experience building the chosen designs. Interior designers finalize the house’s details by helping owners choose the paint, décor, styles, and furniture of their preference.

A look at Some Real Estate Investment Options

Investing in real estate is an excellent way to diversify an investment portfolio, prevent unfavorable economic conditions, and ultimately build wealth for the future. However, this is only possible with the right type of investment as there are various alternatives. Venturing into the wrong one might turn out to be a complete disaster.

There is no one best option for everybody on the ideal kind of real estate investment, therefore people have to critically examine their choices to determine which is most feasible, usually in terms of the capital requirements and risk levels.

The most common type of real estate investment is rental properties. Theoretically, it is a simple process that involves buying or leasing a property and renting it to tenants. However, it requires substantial capital to fund the purchase and repairs or renovations. The flipper also has to manage the tenants, pay property taxes, ensure property upkeep, and carry out repairs.

Rental property is common because it has a huge return potential depending on the level of income of the investor and equity appreciation. However, it is not meant for everyone as some significant factors need critical consideration. One of such factors is the cost barrier. Buying a rental property can be an expensive venture. Many investment property lenders require a down payment of up to 25 percent that many people cannot afford. In addition, it is also time-consuming, even for investors who have property managers.

Another common way to invest in real estate is through crowdfunding offerings. Real estate companies use crowdfunding as a strategy to generate money from interested investors. Property developers offer equity interests in a property development project to the public in exchange for their money. In other words, when real estate developers identify an investment opportunity, like property restructuring or complete rehabilitation, they may decide to generate part of the capital by offering equity to investors instead of providing the entire capital with their money or through credit facilities.

Real estate crowdfunding is done via online platforms like RealtyMogul, CrowdStreet, Fundrise, and others. These platforms act as a meeting place between developers and investors and ensure their listed properties are genuine.

Although a very convenient type of investment, crowdfunding offerings also come with the risk of illiquidity as they aren’t easily sold like other publicly traded securities. So, there is a chance the investor’s funds may be tied up for a long time.

House flipping is also another option for potential real estate investors. This option is particularly for people with years of experience in valuation, renovation, and marketing houses. It is also capital intensive as a flipper also has to renovate the property, pay workers, and, in some cases, professional home inspectors. House flipping also consumes a lot of time as the investors have to oversee repairs, a core part of the flipping process.

Typically, house flippers buy undervalued properties, preferably in respected communities, perform the necessary renovations and look to sell them in less than six months, unlike buy-and-rent landlords.

House flipping also comes with a considerable amount of risks. For instance, investors who do not sell their properties on time may have severe financial setbacks since flippers usually do not have separate cash that would suffice to pay the mortgage on a property on a long-term basis.

How to Choose the Right Custom Home Builder

A custom home builder specializes in custom homes and can complete this type of project from start to finish. Custom house builders often collaborate with general contractors to assist in the construction of a customer’s perfect residential property.

Choosing the appropriate constructor can frequently mean the difference between success and failure on a project. If you do it correctly, the construction process should go reasonably smoothly. You risk spiraling costs, delayed completion date, and substandard finish if you get it wrong.

The optimal time to select a builder is before engaging an architect or soon after. By involving a builder early in the design phase, you can ensure that the design of your home and your desired budget remain consistent throughout the process.

It is always good to begin your search by asking trusted friends, family, neighbors, and real estate experts for excellent referrals to custom builders. There is a good chance someone you know has heard of a custom builder or two. In the worst-case scenario, they may help you establish a list of builders to avoid, which is invaluable.

If the builder lacks sufficient information, they may walk away before bidding or tell you what you want to hear, but the reality may differ. If you do not ask questions, you will not know how the builder works, let alone how to utilize his expertise while maintaining control of the project. Therefore, compile a complete list of questions, decide on three to four builders from your shortlist, and ask them all the questions.

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential builders, contact their former clients. Try not to settle for a few satisfied clients. Instead, compile a longer list and call them randomly. Inquire about their willingness to work with the builder again, any changes they would make to the process, and anything you should be on the lookout for. Determine how the builder involved them in critical decisions such as attic venting or soundproofing the great room.

Each builder has a technique for constructing a home. Ascertain that you define and describe the method clearly to you. Then include specifics about that process in the contract. Make sure the contract specifies the construction plans. It should consist of the agreed-upon purchase price and cost of adjustments. Additionally, it should include project drawings and schedules and a full list of all products utilized to construct the home, down to the finish of hardware.

One critical contract issue is how final inspections are to be conducted. They can be a significant source of contention. The builder is anxious to complete the house, and you are eager to move in. The ideal situation occurs when you and the builder jointly conduct an inspection and agree on a detailed list with a deadline. The builder will coordinate several subcontractors to ensure that everything is fixed to your satisfaction.

A good builder also provides a good post-occupation service. Sometimes new homeowners need help maintaining their homes but do not get it. Fly-by-night builders typically do this, who do not give sufficient after-sales service.

How to Get Better at Horseback Riding without a Horse

Every equestrian understands that practice is key to improving their riding skills. However, this becomes difficult when you cannot ride your horse, whether due to an illness, injury, or simply time constraints. In these situations, you miss out both on time spent with your horse and on critical practice.

The good news is that you can undertake other activities and exercises in the meantime. To stay fit and improve your riding, you do not need a horse or saddle.

If certain parts of your body are tight, it can impede your riding. Your body must be equally strong and flexible to achieve the best technique. If you can improve your posture on the ground, your saddle posture will also improve. The more flexible you are, the better you will be able to move while riding, which will result in a happier horse and a more relaxed rider.

Sitting straight and maintaining your equilibrium in the saddle becomes considerably easier when riding with proper posture and alignment, and this can be achieved in part through stretching as well as strengthening your core. Yoga is excellent for stretching your muscles. It helps to relax your body and improve your balance, posture, coordination, and strength.

Your core muscles are the most important part of your body in horseback riding. Your core comprises your abs, your center, and your back. Pilates strengthens your core while improving other critical qualities such as coordination, balance, and flexibility, all of which affect your riding. Studies have found that riders who began incorporating Pilates into their riding routine reported feeling more balanced and centered, sitting better in the sitting trot and canter, and having increased stamina.

Strength and cardio conditioning are also beneficial, as overall strength and stamina are critical components of horseback riding. Strengthening your body through weight training will help you maintain your posture and move and communicate with your horse more effectively. If you are not physically fit, you will tire more quickly and make riding mistakes as a result.

Even when you cannot ride a horse, you can still learn about horseback riding, including such aspects as riding methods, proper positioning, and how to correct specific horse or rider problems. Read a book on riding horses, or seek out relevant blogs or YouTube videos. By learning more about how a horse behaves, you will become a better rider since you’ll know what to expect.

Another great way to improve your riding skills is to watch videos of yourself riding. This way you can access your riding and seating posture. You will figure out what mistakes you make and how to correct them. Additionally, by seeing yourself you can compare your riding style with professional equestrians. When you observe them, see where or how your style differs from them and see where you can mimic them to improve.

In addition to being very physical, horseback riding is also a very mental activity. To improve and become better, you need to have a strong mind and a positive attitude. While being away from your horse can lead you into a negative mindset, you should do your best to avoid it. Find inspirational quotes, spend time meditating, focus on positive, creative visualizations, and write down specific riding goals you want to achieve. By staying positive, it will help improve your riding when you get back on your horse.