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Live Auction, Silent Auction or Raffle?

When is it best to do a live auction?  What about a silent auction?  Or a raffle?  How do I decide which one, two, or three of these options will work best for me?

These are just a few of the most commonly asked questions from people planning fundraising events.  While all of these options have their advantages, it is important to carefully evaluate your event to determine which is going to be the best fit for your audience, your auction items, and your fundraising venue.

Below are some things to consider when trying to decide the best fundraising option for your charity or organization’s next event.

Things to Consider for Silent Auctions

1 – Silent auctions are a good option if the auction is being held as part of another event – an annual dinner or the like.  In these situations, a silent auction can be conducted in a side room or in a corner of the event space.

2 – Silent auctions are ideal for charity/benefit events that have a lot of items to sell.

3 – Silent auctions are ideal for low-mid-priced items.

4 – Silent auctions work better for items that need to be observed or examined up close.

4 – Silent auction items typically sell for about 50% of their value.  This is important to consider in your fundraising goals

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Things to Consider for Live Auctions

Live auctions are often seen as more fun than silent auctions because they get everyone involved and, if done right, captivate the audience for a short period of time.  When trying to decide whether to do a live auction, you should consider the following:

1 – What kinds of items will you be auctioning off?  Live auctions are typically reserved for high ticket items – a ski cabin for a week in Colorado, expensive artwork, a car etc. but sometimes include items that just pull on the audience’s heartstrings – for example, a puppy or kitten.

2 – How much time will be dedicated to a live auction?  Benefit auctions should encompass no more than 40 minutes in the live auction as guests begin to grow impatient which causes bidding to slow down or stop.

3 – Given that it takes approximately 3 minutes for a professional auctioneer to sell an item, you should have no more than 10 – 12 live auction items to stick to the 40 minute timeline consider a minute to move between items.

4 – Do you have resources to get a professional auctioneer?  This is essential to capturing the audience’s attention and getting the most money for the items on auction.

5 – Live auction items will usually sell for close to or above their value, another important thing to consider in your fundraising goals.

Things to Consider for Raffles

There is always a question about whether or not to add raffle items or conduct a raffle rather than a silent auction.  Some things to consider are:

1 – How many people will be attending the event?  If the numbers are large, it may be better to put most of your items in the silent auction, but if attendance will be low or most people are not expected to participate in a silent auction, a raffle may be more appropriate.

2 – How many volunteers do you have?  It takes far fewer volunteers to coordinate a raffle than an auction.

3 – How many tickets can you sell?  If you plan to conduct the raffle before as well as during the event, you need to consider how you will sell the tickets and how many you think you can sell.  A raffle is only lucrative if you can sell lots of tickets!

4 – There are IRS regulations concerning raffles.  When you do a raffle, you must get any winner of a prize worth $600 or more to compete a W-2G (gambling winnings form).  For larger prizes you are required to withhold a percentage for federal income taxes.

5 – Higher value prizes and larger numbers of prizes (and winners) may make your raffle more appealing, and therefore, make people more likely to buy tickets!  This is important to consider when determining what you will place in your raffle vs. an auction.

Deciding Between Live Auction, Silent Auction and Raffle

Below is a very simple graphic showing how you might decide on the best option for your event.  Keep in mind that this does not take into account venue size.  This should really be your first decision point as you can be limited by your venue.  Also, if you have a lot of items you may choose to do a combination of silent and live auctions keeping in mind that you don’t want a live auction to last too long but you make significantly more money selling the same item in a live auction than you would selling it in a silent auction.

The Best Bet is a Combination

In reality, many events tend to be a blend of a silent and live auction with the option to buy a few raffle tickets for one or two key items.

Attendees are often invited to purchase raffle tickets prior to the event and then again at the door.  They also may receive a ticket or two as part of their admission ticket.  The events then start with a silent auction allowing guests to enjoy a cocktail and bid on smaller items thus warming them up for the live auction.

This format invites participation as some may be attending the event as a spectator but happy to contribute by way of buying a few raffle tickets, others may be more comfortable with a silent auction and less likely to get into the competitive live auction bidding, and a few may be there for the excitement of the live auction.

Whatever you decide to do, your will be much more successful if you spend some time in the early stages of your event planning process considering your fundraising goal, the size and shape of your venue, the event format, and the types of items you will be giving away/selling.

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Unmasked 2018

When you want the inside scoop on an upcoming event, it is best to start with the source. We reached out to Kelly Hyde, chair of this year’s Unmasked Gala, and she took a few moments to share her story and the passion behind her involvement with Wonders & Worries.

In college, both Kelly & her husband pursued studies to prepare themselves for careers in medicine. They took the required classes at the University of Texas, studied and passed the MCAT, and began looking into medical schools. Along the way, they decided to prioritize family over having both of them pursue this career, so Kelly made what she now knows was the best decision for balance and happiness through the tough medical training years and decided to focus on raising their children. As it turned out, this decision also allowed her to develop another passion, culinary arts. Kelly was able to hone her skills and make some extra money while her husband went through medical school and residency by catering lunches at physicians’ offices in Galveston and Clear Lake, and when her husband’s fellowship moved them to Lexington, Kentucky, she went on to work as the head cook and baker at the Gift Box Tea Room. Ultimately, they returned to Austin, where Kelly graduated from the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and provided personal chef services for several families in Westlake. All while raising her four children– talk about a strong, smart and powerful woman!

Kelly first heard about Wonders & Worries through her involvement with the Travis County Medical Alliance (TCMA), a group that helps foster social networks for the families of medical professionals, among other goals. In Kelly’s case, the organization accomplished just that when she found a kindred spirit in Meredith Cooper, co-founder of Wonders & Worries. She has now been involved on the board for two years and has taken on more responsibility by chairing the committee for the 2018 annual event, Unmasked. The gala committee is comprised of both past participants in the organization as well as those who learned about the organization through friends, like Kelly. They meet regularly with the goal of spreading the word, making the plans, divvying up the work and raising funds to support Wonders & Worries.

Kelly shared that Wonders & Worries helps children with parents suffering from any life-threatening illness, not just cancer. One story at this year’s event will feature a mother of four who is a heart transplant patient. This type of situation is of particular interest to Kelly, as her husband is now a practicing heart surgeon. Wonders & Worries provides support and services to these families as a way to help them navigate the unknown journey of a parent facing a life-threatening illness. It offers services free of charge regardless of financial need so that families going through these difficult situations are not given one more decision to weigh based on finances. Kelly explained that parents are often dealing with their own roller coaster of a changing diagnosis and Wonders & Worries equips them with how to explain things to their children, like what it will be like in the hospital. Wonders & Worries provides individual and group sessions, along with family fun events and parent resources.

This year’s gala will help spread awareness to friends, family and physicians but the extra-special surprise of the soiree is being kept tightly under wraps– perhaps you could say, behind the mask. 😉 We do know there will be a fabulous meal complimented by signature cocktails and wine service, an entertaining live auction led by Cowboy Auctioneers, and after-party entertainment including the spinning styles of DJ Gatsby. You’ll have to attend to experience the full unveiling of Unmasked!

Get tickets for the February 23rd event here.

 

Spotlight on Austin Events: CASAblanca

Looking for a fabulous night out while giving back to the Austin Community? Consider attending the CASAblanca Gala benefitting CASA of Travis County on February 3, 2018 at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin.

If you know anything about CASA, you know just how much they do for kids in our community.  If you don’t know anything about CASA, you should definitely take a minute to familiarize yourself with this incredible organization.

CASA’s mission is to promote and protect the best interest of children who have been abused or neglected by training volunteers to advocate for them in the courts, in schools, and in our community to help them find safe, permanent, and loving homes.  Currently, CASA serves all children ages 5 and over with court appointed special advocates.  Through this year’s CASAblanca Gala, their hope is to be able to add enough volunteers and funding to expand that offering to children ages 2-5 who also need this service.

Victoria Young, Events Manager for CASA, has been working with this year’s magnificent gala chair, Donna Bell, and honorary chair, Catherine Sansbury as well as the gala committee to organize this year’s event entitled “creating brighter futures”.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of the gala and will include uniquely told stories of the children whose lives have been impacted by the wonderful work at CASA.  It will be moving and inspiring to all who attend.

In addition to the narratives, there will be live music by The Eggmen, performances by Violet Crown Collective, and a Verbena bloom bar with corsages, boutonnieres and other flower adornments for attendees.  In addition, there will be mystery boxes featuring Kendra Scott jewelry, a live and silent auction (get a sneak peak of what you can win on the event home page here), bling from Diamonds Direct (who will get to take home the real deal?), and a casino after party. It is definitely an event not to be missed.

So, what are you waiting for? Round up your friends and get your tickets to this fabulous event today. And if you are thinking about volunteering as a CASA advocate yourself, consider this from long time volunteer, K. Brown. “I would say if you have a love for children and basic human rights, then CASA is for you. It will be tough at first and you’ll give your entire heart to each child, but when you form that bond and become their advocate, you have officially changed that child’s life. There is no greater reward than protecting and defending a child from the abuse they have endured.”

 

80s Party Ideas

I recently helped a client find rentals for a 40th birthday party; the theme was 80s.  I also turned 40 within the last year; so, I, too, am a child of the 80s.  I loved everything about this party.

Here’s how they did it:

1. Rented a Rubik’s Cube bar.

The thing about this bar, is that it makes such a big impact.  It sets the tone for the party from the minute the guests arrive.  It comes with LED lights so if you’re venue is dark, it really pops out.

Rubik's Cube Bar

2. Rented Vintage Arcade Games

Nothing screams 80s more than PacMan and Space Invaders!  Added bonus: the guests have a great time taking turns playing.  I envision a high stakes tournament.

Pac Man Vintage Arcade Game

3. Rented Retro Furniture and Rugs

You want your guests to be comfortable and styled lounges can do the trick while keeping in line with the overall theme.  Imagine how much different the vibe of the party would be if they just had a bunch of folding chairs.  Lucky for them, they already had some furniture in storage so they just needed to rent a few more things.

Vintage Green Couch

4. Rented a Shuffleboard

You could also go with a pool table.  The idea here was to give the guests more to do while keeping the 80s vibe.

Shuffleboard Table

I always love before and after pictures.  Check these out:

Warehouse – BEFORE

Warehouse – AFTER

This party had a DJ and dance floor as well.  You could also go with a karaoke machine. Either way, an 80s playlist is the finishing touch for the ultimate 80s party.

Here are some additional 80s party ideas on Pinterest.

The most impressive thing about this party is that it was all planned in less than 2 weeks!  The total cost for the rentals with delivery and tax was $2838 (delivery was higher than normal because they were located out of town a bit).  We got quotes from 8 different rental companies and narrowed it down to 3 companies: one for the arcade games, one for the styled lounges, and one for everything else.  Here’s exactly what was rented:

  • Rubik’s Bar
  • 2 Orange Retro Side Tables
  • 16 Red Velvet Curtain Panels
  • 2 Chairs
  • 4 Pillows
  • 1 Sofa
  • 1 Rug
  • 2 Arcade Games: Pac Man and Space Invaders
  • 1 Pinball Machine
  • 1 Shuffleboard Table

Reach out if you are planning a party or event, I would love to help!  I can also put you in touch with the party planners that planned this 80s event, Julia and Amberlin in Austin, TX.

Top 5 Austin Events in January

Cleanup Highway 360 with Keep Austin Beautiful on Saturday, January 6

Capital of TX 360 Highway Decorated Trees

We all love the truly Austin tradition of the festive trees decorated along Highway 360, but those decorations need to be cleaned up now that the holidays are over. 70+ volunteers are needed to join Keep Austin Beautiful from 9-11am on Jan. 6th to restore the natural beauty of this iconic highway. Meet at 7700 N Capital of TX Highway to pick up supplies and meet back at the same location for an appreciation party complete with treats at the end! Volunteers are asked to wear brightly colored clothing and bring a reusable water bottle. Learn more and register on their website.

Get Fit with Ballet Austin on Sunday, January 14

Each year, Ballet Austin offers a free day of fitness and pilates to celebrate health & wellbeing. Kick start your 2018 goals and try something new like Bollywood Fitness, Pilates Reformer or CardioFUNK. Tons of trial classes and free healthy living presentations will take place between 1-4:30pm on Jan. 14th at their downtown location. Registration is not required but is encouraged to stay informed about event information.

Watch Finding Neverland, the Broadway Musical January 16-21

Don’t miss the award winning Broadway musical, Finding Neverland, when it comes to Bass Concert Hall this month! It tells the story behind the beloved character of Peter Pan. For an unique meet & greet experience, join the company members for a free Brown Bag Lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 17th from 11am-noon at the Austin Parks & Recreation Senior Activity Center- Lamar location.

Dance Somewhere Down in Texas at the Austin Smiles’ Gala on Saturday, January 20

boots guitar cadillac

Austin Smiles has been working to create smiles and improve lives for over 30 years in Latin America and the Central Texas region. This year’s annual gala invites you to don your traditional cowboy hat & boots to advance the cause at the UT Alumni Center. Don’t miss the live auction, raffle, live music & more!

Imagine at the Dell Children’s Gala on Saturday, January 27

Join Stacie & Craig Falls at this year’s Imagine Gala. This annual event benefits the area of greatest need at Dell Children’s Medical Center and includes a cocktail reception, dinner and program. There will be a spectacular live auction and special patient story shared followed by dancing and casino fun!

 

Let us know about your upcoming event in the comments below!

Meet Hop N Party

This month, we’ve teamed up with local, Austin company Hop N Party for a giveaway of a bounce house rental for a full day of fun.  We rent a lot of bounce houses through Loanables so we knew our community would love it. What’s not to love? Air it up, add a cake and you’ve got a party!

Last Friday, we met the owners of Hop N Party, David Hieronymus and his dog, Levi, to announce the giveaway on Facebook live. When you get the chance to meet David, you will immediately love him. His military background has clearly impacted the way he runs his business. He and his staff are reliable and responsible. He has a commitment to safety, ensuring that his business is properly insured to serve & protect you and your family on party day. I have rented from him several times – the service is always professional and the bounce house looks brand new (he says he replaces them every 3 years). He has a 5 star rating on yelp after 64 reviews! In this video clip we asked him about that:

During the interview, we fell in love with cute, little Levi. You can hear more about his role at the company here:

Since we love entrepreneurs, we had to ask about how he got started:

And finally here are some quotes from his customers:

All of these reasons are why we chose Hop N Party for our December giveaway. Win a free, full day bounce house rental and your kids will hop through the holidays and into the new year with extra spring in their step! Throw a last-minute holiday office party or add a little bubbly for the adults and celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Or, just make it through the school break by entertaining the kids in the neighborhood for the day. You’ll be the coolest house on the block for sure!

 

Top 10 Event Spaces for Rent in Austin

Planning your next office party, school function, or charity event and looking for somewhere to host it?  We have put together a list of 10 utterly cool and unique Austin Event Spaces.  So, if you are looking for something different to help create your event of the year…

Check out these event spaces for rent in Austin:

#10 – Springdale Station

This historic train station moved to East Austin in the 1980’s.  Recently, the station was renovated and in the summer of 2016, it was opened to the public as an event venue, a one of a kind space to host parties of all sorts.  In addition, they in the process of adding the Pine Street Station building to Springdale Station.  Moved from 5th and Waller downtown, this historic building will soon be part of the event venue complex – look for it to be ready when you plan your event!

#9 – Four Seasons Hotel

The ground floor of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin hosts a beautiful convertible event space for groups of all sizes.  Located in the heart of downtown and backing to the beautiful Ladybird Lake and Hike and Bike Trail, this beautiful venue would be perfect for weddings and fundraisers alike.

#8 – Modern Rocks Gallery

This space is about 800 square feet and is bright and open with a rolling front shutter open to a front terrace which can be used during events.  The walls are covered in fine art rock-n-roll photography and art including some great shots of the early Austin music scene.  It would be a really cool private party venue!

#7 – South Congress Hotel

While most people who have been in Austin for a while know of the South Congress Hotel, many of us don’t think of it as an event venue but seriously, what’s cooler and more Austin-y than a party on South Congress?  This indoor/outdoor event venue can provide an amazing event space for up to 450 guests.  Designed with a flexible room configuration, this space can work for almost any event!

#6 – Hotel Ella

Located in the historic Goodall Wooten House just minutes from downtown and the State Capitol building, this venue is in the heart of Austin.  This Greek revival style mansion offers indoor and outdoor spaces which provide the perfect backdrop for any social event.

#5 – Waller Ballroom

Built in the early 1900’s, this multi-purpose event space sits directly on Waller Creek and 6th Street.  The main ballroom showcases the original brick, hand-scraped hardwood floors and a balcony overlooking the water and can accommodate up to 270 guests for a standing reception.

#4 – Coyote Garden Hall

OK, so it’s not technically in Austin but just 15 miles south in Kyle, TX lives this amazing event center.   An ex-motion picture studio, this property has been reborn as the peaceful and versatile event center it is today.

#3 – Mercury Hall

Nestled on a secluded hilltop just minutes from downtown Austin, the historic structure and beautiful gardens can accommodate up to 200 guests.  The hall was originally built in 1904 in Mercury, Texas and moved to its current location in 1997 where it has laid home to a wide variety of events.  One of our favorite things about Mercury Hall?  They try to keep things in the South Austin mindset; laid-back!

#2 – Waller Creek Boathouse

Another gem on Waller Creek.  Built in 2012 overlooking Lady Bird Lake, downtown Austin, and Congress Avenue Bridge, this boathouse is a partnership between the City of Austin Parks and Rec Department and Austin Rowing Club.  It is a short walk from the Convention Center, local hotels, and many restaurants and can accommodate up to 600 guests for a wide range of events.

#1 – Gather Venues

Gather boasts both indoor and outdoor customizable spaces that they use to help make your event come to life.  They have 2 unique venues:

  1. South Austin – Monroe Street just minutes from downtown between South First and South Congress. This hospitality-driven event venue can accommodate up to 200 people and hosts both big and small events including fundraisers, weddings, conferences, workshops, etc.
  2. North Austin – North Lamar just South of Koenig is Gather’s new north-central event location with a modern/industrial open feel with two floors.  This space was once the Texas State Troopers Recreation Center and can accommodate up to 380 guests.

I guess that’s really 11 if you are being pedantic, and there are so many others as well.  If you don’t see what you are looking for on this list, check out Peerspace or Unique Venues to find a unique, creative space that meets your needs!

So, what are you waiting for?  Book your venue today and get planning!  And, remember, check out loanables for all your event rental needs!

What Size Linen Fits My Table?

It is maddening to search for linens online.  I find a fabric I like, but then I have to figure out whether or not any of the available sizes are the sizes I need.  Here’s a chart I put together to help Loanables’ users that are planning events:

If you want a 60″ round to be mid-length, you can use a 90″ or 108″ round tablecloth. (You can also use 72×72 square tablecloth).  If you want it to touch the floor, get a 120″ round.

90 inch tablecloth on 60 inch round table

90 inch tablecloth on 60 inch round table

72x72 inch tablecloth on 60 inch round table

72×72 inch tablecloth on 60 inch round table

120 inch tablecloth on 60 inch round table

120 inch tablecloth on 60 inch round table

 

And, as always, if you have any questions, email info@loanables.com – we are happy to help!

Introducing Brightly: Meet Jake & Ryan

If you haven’t entered our monthly giveaway, of 50,000 hour LED, programmable Holiday lights from a local Austin startup, Brightly, don’t miss out! One lucky winner in Austin will win lights + installation for FREE when we draw TOMORROW! Enter here for your chance to never put up or take down Holiday lights again!

Today, we want to introduce you to Brightly’s founder, Jake & Ryan. Two software geeks who have always wanted to be in business together, and finally found their bright idea. Listen in to how they got started:

What Jake & Ryan are bringing to Austin is truly tech genius meets eco-conscious and budget-friendly! We did the math for you: at a cost of $1199 for a typical one-story roofline with one peak, these 50,000 hour programmable, LED lights used 24/7 for 6 months of the year, these Brightly lights should last over 11 years, bringing the annual cost down to $102.56! How much are your holiday lights costing you to put up and take down? Get Brightly professionally installed and NEVER take them down!

 

How do you Decorate for the Holidays?

My husband and I have had this ongoing argument for all 14 years of our marriage. How will we decorate for the Holidays? He doesn’t want to climb into the attic to bring down my treasured nativity set or mantle decorations, and he definitely won’t get up on the roof to put up lights. This year, however, I am putting my foot down. I’m going to climb up in the attic if I have to. And we will have lights on the house, one way or another! I’ve looked at the options, and I’ve made my decision. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of what I’ve considered or you can scroll to the end to see my final choice!

DIY our own Lights

Well, this one is definitely off the table because my husband has refused to do it for over a decade already, but if we were considering this, I would look at the cost of outdoor lights, renting a ladder to get the job done, and the time it takes to put up and take down. I’m estimating about $500 to buy the lights and a good 4 hours to put up, maybe 2 to take down? The lights will probably last 2-3 years, right? And then bulbs or strands go bad and have to be replaced so, I’ll average that to $350 and 6 hours every year, which would equal $1,750 and 30 hours over a 5 year period. Make it 8 hours since after pulling the lights out next year we will likely have to make a trip to Home Depot for more supplies. We ALWAYS end up at Home Depot multiple times for one project, don’t you?! That would take us to 40 hours of work and we have to figure out where to store the lights in a manner that allows us to reuse them in our already stuffed garage or attic. Ugh!

Hire someone to put lights on the roof

I’ve had a couple of friends talk about the cost of hiring someone to do this for us and it sounds outrageous! One quote received was $1500 the first year, and then almost $1000 per year after that (buying the lights from the company and using the same lights that they would store until the next year). And this was just a simple roofline, adding trees or other landscaping added hundreds more!  It seems to be more in the $400 range when using the homeowner’s supplied lights or a rate of about $75/hour. This seems like a LOT of money for a few weeks of cheer. And I hate the idea of paying for storage units, which is what a company would have to use to store the lights for my house year after year.

Laser Light Projector

This is what we tried the last few years because my kids really wanted the house to be pretty and colorful. So I ordered two on Amazon to be sure it was enough to cover the full front of our house. It worked and looked lovely, but we had two major problems with these. First, they have to be put pretty far away from the house, depending on the amount of coverage you want. And of course, we wanted to have color on the WHOLE house, so they were inserted in the yard almost to the curb. This required a lovely orange extension cord running across my lawn to the front yard…actually two of them! And that really took away from the look during the day. And second, while they were less than $100, they still seemed to be a bit expensive to leave sitting in the front yard overnight, so we had to bring them in to the garage every night. After a few times of this, they simply didn’t go back out. So they didn’t actually light up our house for the Holiday at all. And they are now stuffed somewhere up in the attic, I’m not sure we could even find them to put out again this year.

Brightly Never Take Down, Programmable Lights

Because of Loanables.com, I discovered Brightly, which installs Holiday lights for every day. Check out this video to see them in action! They use 50,000 hour LED lights that can be programmed to display different colors, patterns and even effects like chasing colors and sparkling stars. They are permanently fixed so they don’t have to be put up year after year, and they are very discreet when not turned on so they don’t have to be taken down either.

Since they are already up, Brightly lights can be used for every holiday or event, all year long! I’m thinking the 4th of July in red, white and blue, Halloween can have exploding orange, or my daughter’s 9th birthday can be lit up in chasing pink! At a cost of $1200 for a typical roofline with one peak, over a 5 year period and using them once a month instead of for just one month of the year, that turns into a cost per use of only $20 each time! And of course that cost per use goes lower and lower if you consider they’ll be on pretty much all of fall with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all in a row.

This is way less than the couple hundred (at a minimum) for the other options and provides year-round enjoyment! This seems like a no-brainer because my husband does NOT have to get up on the roof EVER and we will only pay for them ONCE. Since they are on the house permanently, they don’t require any storage throughout the year and are incredibly ecofriendly since they can last so much longer than your average outdoor holiday lights.

Did I mention they are expected to last 50,000 hours! That’s 50,000 hours/ 365 days/ 24 hours per day means that if they were used every minute of every day, they should last for 5.7 years! Since they won’t be used EVERY minute, let’s say I use them every minute of every day for even half of the year, I’m guessing these babies could last me 10 years! For $1200 that is a STEAL! $120/year is WAY less than any of the other options we have looked at.

I think you can tell, I’m really excited about Brightly. And even more so because it is this month’s GIVEAWAY! Yes, YOU can win installation of Brightly for FREE by entering here. And hop on their website to get a free quote for your installation…they are only doing 10 homes in Austin between now and the end of the year and I want one to be MINE!