Our last two articles were about swimming pools which are, admittedly, a very big DIY decision. One type of DIY project that some people have been known to knock out over a weekend (depending on the amount of help from friends and bribery necessary to get that help) is the building of a pool/deck. You can preorder the materials, get them delivered to your house, and do whatever preparatory work you need to before the big weekend. Before you announce said big weekend we need to think about which structure to build: deck or patio?
Broadly speaking, patios and decks are the same in that they are both outdoor spaces which allow you and your guests to enjoy each other’s company and conversation while experiencing the joy of the great outdoors. Both can give you the sense of that outdoor “room” that’s just another part of your your house. Both, depending on your municipality, may require permits and an identification and flagging of buried water, gas, and electric lines. But that’s where the similarities end. One can make an argument for one being cheaper than the other, but the price difference is not significant enough to be the deciding factor. Hence, we’ll talk about construction a bit more first.
Of course “deck” refers to ships and how they were constructed. And home decks, like ship decks, have been traditionally made of wood. But as technology has pushed us forward we’ve found that composite materials can still deliver the look and feel of a traditional deck, while delivering a longer-lasting structure (doesn’t need to be powerwashed and resealed) and being “green” (many of those composites are made of recycled plastics). What’s the catch, you’re asking? Well, those materials are often cost double their wood cousins. Whether you choose composite or wood, you’ll need concrete footings to stabliize the structure.
That being said, you have to keep in mind that you are “limited” to standard lengths. If you start looking at or ordering non-standard lengths for your deck, the price starts to move up pretty quickly.
Decks have the sense of “elevation” about them – even when you talk about them. Patios are always imagined as flat structures built on the ground that can be made of differing types of materials – from paving stones to brick. There is no “sealing” or “resealing” but you can count the grass and weeds that you have to be vigilant about as its own type of “sealing.” You also have the luxury of having a fire pit, if you’d like (not a deck possibility).
Unlike decks, if you ever decide to change the look and feel of your paving stones, you can simply pull up your old ones and reuse your existing leveled base with new paving stones or bricks. You also have the freedom to make it as large as you want as you are only limited by the “standard length” issue we discussed with decking.
Think about the sort of social events that you have and enjoy. Do they involve a fire pit (patio is best)? Do you have an inherent love of wood? What materials make up your home? What kind of maintenance do you want to do/are prepared to do? Once you’ve sketched out some ideas, price out possibilities so you know what you are getting into.
Whether you decide to build a patio or deck, remember that at the Rental Center of Monticello we are always here to help counsel with advice; we can also rent you things like an excavator that can either help give a different shape and structure to the deck you want to build or help you to level and flatten an area you want to use for a patio.
It’s getting towards the dog days of summer and as it gets hotter people might be looking into their backyard, considering just how much better life might be if they had a pool back there. We’re a rental company so when we get the initial phone call for an excavator for someone who wants to possibly work on (at least part of) a project like this, we ask the originating question: why do you want to build a pool in your backyard?
Reasons to build:
1. It’s a cool, relaxing feature. Yes, this isn’t really disputable, is it? When you see a pool in a backyard you automatically reach for a cold beverage and wonder if there are any lawn chairs. Whether you are single or have kids a pool is always an option for a day off and when you have one in your backyard it’s just that much easier to get to. You can add waterfalls to get that zen feeling or to have an added feature to play with in the pool.
2. I love swimming and the water. If you want to swim for exercise you can configure your pool in such a way that you can do that well. You can also build it for floating and relaxation. And, as we said above, during the dog days of summer, something cool is the best remedy for the heat. Whether you’re splashing around or just building your tan, a pool is a great answer to the question of “what to do on a free day?”
3. It’s great for entertaining. Who doesn’t love pools? People can bring kids, people can swim themselves, you can add a cookout, and very often visiting a home that has a pool is a treat for those who don’t have one. You get to be Santa!
Things to consider:
1. Owning a pool is not cheap to build or to maintain. Should you get concrete or vinyl? Aboveground or inground? What kind of chemicals should you use? Should you use a heater? Yes, you can do the maintenance yourself if you make sure that you know everything about your pool – but make sure you do! Add up the costs over a year and divide it up over 12 months so you can get an immediate sense of what it will add to your monthly bills. Also keep in mind that depending on where you live, having a pool might make a home more difficult to sell. On the flipside, if you live someplace like Florida (much warmer than Monticello, year-round) having a pool might be a “must” for homebuyers.
2. The flipside of entertainment is liability. Many people don’t know that having a pool immediately increases your homeowner’s insurance. Want to add a diving board or a slide? Get ready to increase it even more. What happens if someone gets hurt? What are the safeguards you are taking to protect your guests, in particular, small children? Don’t let these questions scare you off: just make sure you have good answers for them.
3. You will give up a portion of your yard that you cannot reclaim easily should you change your mind. If you are going to go to the trouble of excavating, leveling, pouring concrete, landscaping, etc., keep in mind that this is a semi-permanent decision. It’s going to cost you almost as much to get rid of a pool as it cost you to build one. Keep in mind that you will also want to add landscaping, rock, etc. to make the pool “fit” the rest of your yard.
You’d be surprised, but we go through variation of these questions and answers with each of our potential clients who calls in to build a pool. This week we wanted to stir these ideas through your mind so that next week (see what we did there – hooked you for our next blog article!) we can talk about the nitty-gritty of excavation and maintenance.
Stay cool as we head into July, whether it’s indoors or poolside!
Labor Day is 5 weeks away and if you don’t have a company picnic planned (either for the end of the season or the end of the quarter) for that weekend you still have time to plan – not just for that weekend, but for any time in September.
Planning for your company picnic is like planning for any regular picnic, but probably on a much larger scale than many are used to. You also want to make sure you’re giving people the freedom to be themselves without feeling that they are “at work.” Having a picnic is a form of employee appreciation and you want them to feel appreciated!
We are often called upon to provide rental equipment for company picnics and we wanted to give you some important considerations so that you can have a great event.
1. What’s your budget?
It’s annoying, perhaps, but you have to start with this question. Think about what the maximum number of people who could come to the event, take your budget for the event, and divide by the maximum number. This is your “per person” budget. Keep in mind that while everyone is not going to “consume” equal amounts of food, entertainment, giveaways, that this is often a helpful and *concrete* way to examine your spend. Many small businesses say anywhere from $25-$50 a person is a reasonable figure.
It’s a picnic so you want food that’s easy on the utensils – burgers, hot dogs, and bbq items are easy and expected. Catering will drive up your cost but may please the employees. On the other hand, don’t presume you don’t have a “grillmaster” among your staff – someone who lives to grill who might volunteer his/her skills in exchange for a door price or something fun. Then your cost here will go down.
How big of a tent will you need? How many tables and chairs? Do you need fans? We can help you with the visualization and planning of this – we’re always just a phone call away: 845-794-0100.
Remember – you are with work people but it’s not work! You wouldn’t believe the excitement and chatter that a giveaway generates, especially if you can tie it into work prior to the event. For example, people could get “raffle entries” by being nominated by other employees for particular actions/activities at work. The small prizes are easy: movie tickets, gift cards, gift baskets. Have the big prize be substantial, but not overly so!
A DJ? A band? Magicians? Games?
The answer is yes – to whatever makes sense for your group. Music of any kind in the background really adds to a relaxed atmosphere and can also lead to watching little kids dance, which is always a fun sight!
2. Who’s going to help with this?
Not all your employees will want to help with this event, but make sure they have the opportunity to help! Ask for volunteers for a planning committee, with perhaps paid lunches for the meetings as an incentive (pizza is easy and inexpensive). They know who eats what (I didn’t know Jan was a vegetarian), whose secret hobbies might be a great part of the entertainment (Bob’s a ventriloquist?), and what kids will like for entertainment.
3. Where do you want to be?
Crowds are bad. You want to be able to manage your party and sometimes visitors (welcome and unwelcome) can mess with that. You don’t need to go to someplace desolate, but you also shouldn’t be at a very crowded place. It will make the event less special, and ultimately, less of an event, even.
4. What kind of entertainment/games?
Make sure everyone is included! Have physical games like volleyball, but also fun skill games like a bean bag toss. Having children and grandparents at this event will be a given so make sure that they can participate in the festivities too!
In all of this planning don’t forget that this event is a chance for your company culture to shine. Have fun, let your employees relax a bit, and reward them for their hard work throughout the year! The more planning you do for this event, the more fun it will be and the more your employees will come back to work refreshed, with good memories, ready to get back to work!
One of the interesting things about working in our sector is that people look to our numbers to indicate the direction of the economy. If “equipment rentals are up,” that’s usually taken as a positive sign. This is because so many people look to housing starts as an economic indicator. If there are more housing starts, more people will rent (or buy) equipment, and at least in our industry, that means more profit for us and for our clients.
But is that really true? In the short term, yes. But when you are talking about such big economic trends you have to speak in generalities. We might get a better sense of the real picture from the other side of the looking glass. Let’s, for example, think about how it might work for us here in Monticello, NY. If we use housing starts to measure economic growth, what do we do with our excess housing inventory? If there are more houses for sale that people simply don’t want to buy because they’d rather build their own (maybe it’s cheaper, maybe they want to customize, maybe they want to be closer to a new park and school instead of an older, more historic neighborhood) ultimately the small local economy is going to have to deal with that excess inventory. Two things can happen here. Either the market can have an adjustment to a lower price because of the excess inventory, or the neighborhoods in which there are a lot of homes for sale will begin to lose momentum (growth) and character (the “moss” that grows around a community).
In our industry, either of those scenarios still present opportunities for our sector. For those who are dealing with flatlining home equity or don’t want the market rates to dictate the valuation of their house, there’s always room for improvement. A new wing of the house, a new room, a new pool, a new garden – these are all things you can do with the help of new equipment. If it turns out that flight to suburbs changes old neighborhoods or virtually obliterates them through evacuation, then there’s the possibility of redevelopment, which will still need equipment for demolition, leveling, excavation, and rebuilding.
In this little story we can see that if you use the simple metric of “equipment rentals up” = “economy on the rise” you might not have all the facts. Sure, our industry and the homebuilding sector will do well, and anytime there is good economic news the consumer/taxpayer at large “feels” more comfortable (whatever that means) and makes purchases and investments and improvements based on that comfort and confidence. But we think it’s always important to take those big, national narratives and translate them to our local municipalities. We will only know how well we are doing by measuring how well the place we live is doing. We often forget in the national thrum of news that 80% of most of our lives are lived under state and local laws, and so too, whatever big national trends are going up or down, there’s always an opportunity to reinforce or fight back those trends, depending on which side of the trend you are on (or want to be on).
So I asked you to look at the big national story through our local perspective. I’ll be fair and go the other way with you.
If we say “equipment rentals are up” we are also talking about the new mega-trend of rentals. Do you think of Netflix as part of that trend? The trend that made you realize you can get mostly any movie you want within 2-3 days (sometimes immediately via streaming) so you don’t have to buy/maintain a library? Or what about the new disruptor AirBnB, which allows people to turn that extra space in their home into cash by renting to people who like the idea of staying in a home instead of a hotel? Even within the classic car-rental sector there has been a new niche developed: car-sharing a la ZipCar. Each of these innovations continues to teach the population that ownership is still king, but that we can leverage that ownership to help everyone be smarter about how they spend their money and time. And that’s an exciting thing to be part of. And hopefully, something that you’ll think about when you hear “rentals are up” next time.
Some time ago we blogged about ways to make an outdoor event great. Today we are going to step beyond that article to drill down a bit more specifically and talk about the tent component of your outdoor event.
Now, not everyone wants/needs/can afford a tent for their event. This article is for those who have never done so and are considering it and want to be fully aware of everything that goes into tent rental and setup. We hope these suggestions for things to remember will help you have a great event!
1. Check your local ordinances!
Here in Monticello, NY, you may need a permit for your party tent, depending on your address and property size. You can start by going to your local municipality’s website (like ours) and looking at the Frequently Asked Questions to see if that directs you to the right forms. If those don’t help, just pick up the phone and ask your questions. City staff are (usually) pretty friendly and ready to help, as long as you ask nicely!
You never want to get in trouble for hosting a great event. It can definitely put a damper on things so before you get started on all the other planning start here first.
2. Shop around
Obviously we’d like you to rent from us, but we want you do so because you’ve heard good things about us and have done your homework.
Have you called local rental places and asked them about your event? Were they knowledgeable and friendly? How do they charge? Do they price match? (We do, plus we will beat by 10%!)
The number one thing that happens when we take calls like this is that we ask a lot of questions that our customers don’t necessarily know the answers to. Before you call, know the answers to these bare minimum questions:
a.) What dates are you looking at? (do you have a backup date should weather intervene?)
b.) How many people do you need to be able to put inside? (this also relates to a conversation about table and chair rental)
c.) What will the outdoor conditions be like? (is the ground level/uneven; how’s the drainage)
3. Consider the interior of the tent
The way that tents are designed today you can have rooms, anterooms, hallways, etc. Since a tent isn’t a canopy, it has a center pole and framework and you can have very high ceilings, which changes the entire look and feel of the room(s). What are you visualizing? What do you want the rooms to look like?
Now, despite the flexibility you can have with other rooms, in the vast majority most tents, you can’t have restrooms. You should figure out whether there are enough bathrooms on site or whether you should explore getting a restroom trailer or even portable toilets.
What do you want to do for flooring? As we alluded to in the last point, are you dealing with uneven ground? Usually a rental company can help lay some heavy plastic down on the ground in order to create a proper surface for a carpet or any other bottom surface you would like.
What about temperature inside? Will you need fans? Heaters? How will you maintain those temperatures?
4. Have a backup plan
All this good planning can go to waste if there is a natural disaster, bad weather, or an unexpected local event on the day of your event! Make sure you have a backup for your event. Even if your “backup” plan is to reschedule for another day in which all the other pieces could come together, you would still be ahead of 95% of all event planners, even the professional ones!
We hope that these things to remember assist you in planning your outdoor event, and remember we are always here to answer your questions about anything you have in mind about tent rental (and all the other components that go along with tent rental). Just remember that before you call you should have some pretty solid ideas about your event (see above) so that when we ask clarifying questions you won’t be left thinking that you’ll have to get back to us. Or, hey, you could ask us for ideas. We are always happy to help!
We’ll be honest. Here in Monticello pretty much anywhere you turn on the compass, you’re going to run into a forest or possibly a lake. The “Great Outdoors” is definitely on display here. Additionally, being in charge of the Rental Center means that if we’re not outdoors with our customers or helping our customers or delivering to our customers, we’re outdoors working on our own business. We’re blessed that way. In fact, in a society that gives us more and more mobility (so many people are able to work from any location in the world) we are sometimes not cognizant of the fact that being outdoors isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity for that machine we call the human body.
We talk about equipment maintenance here, and as the sun shines this morning we thought we might take a variation of that theme and talk about human equipment maintenance via the outdoors!
Now, we understand that some places don’t have the best air (see Exhibit A below)
but apart from the really bad places, most times outside air is going to be healthier for you. Why?
- Being outdoors is itself a cue to “take a deep breath.” As you take that deep breath, hold it, and then exhale, you feel better and often more relaxed. Part of that is due to the influx of oxygen. So much of the air we breath is “not-oxygen” that an intentional (and intense) intake of air, that happens to have oxygen in it, makes us feel better. In fact, high oxygen levels have been known to enhance physical well-being and have been linked to better health.
- Indoor air is recirculated. Many of us work in offices, but the point is perhaps best driven home by visualizing plane rides, which recirculate a very compact amount of air. Half of the air in an airplane comes in from outside (through the jet engines) and is cooled before being mixed with (get ready) our sweat, dead skin, gases, coughs, viruses, and bacteria. Even those who aren’t “germophobic” might cringe.
- To our first point, fresh air leads to more oxygenated blood. More oxygenated blood leads to lower blood pressure and better circulation, as well as speeding the removal of waste from the bloodstream. This makes your body “flow” better and leads to easier and better sleep too!
Now, some of you will see that word and get worried that we are advocating some kind of workout when you take an “outdoor break.” Not at all. We will tell you not to simply simulate your posture from indoors, that is, being seated in a comfortable position. Take a walk, move around, move your limbs, stretch yourself. Not everyone’s workplace/work area allows for this sort of movement, but within the space you can, you should try to move around. There will be plenty of time to sit down for hours on end – take the time to move around and wake your body up. You’ll go back to work with more energy!
As I’ve said above, not everyone lives in Monticello with lots of nature all around. In fact, some of our readers may be looking at the picture we posted of the Los Angeles smogline and say, “Hey guys, that’s me! What am I supposed to do?” Fair enough. We submit your break areas may not look like this:
Or even like this:
But whatever it may look like, you can enjoy the sunshine, the particular weather of the day, the flora and fauna around you, and that other part of nature – your co-workers! Take the time to relax and get to know them. Sometimes that can be hard, we know that! But stepping outside for that short break is to refresh you from your work. Part of that refreshment comes from breathing in good air and oxygenating your blood and clearing your head. Part of that comes from walking around so that your limbs don’t think your only physical posture is sitting. But one last part of that refreshment is stepping away from “work” for a moment and remembering individual people. Asking about them and how they are doing and in that way you can gain insight, in some small way, as to why they work as hard as you do.