Category: Building & Construction

Make Your Home Eco-Friendly with a Rainwater Tank

There are many good reasons to make your home more environmentally friendly. Generally, taking steps to improve the eco-friendliness of your home will save you money in the long run, allowing you to reduce your consumption and resource usage. Installing a rainwater collection tank to catch the rain falling off your roof is one way to do such that. With warmer summers, less rainfall, and higher populations, having enough clean water is becoming more of a pressing issue.

The government is starting to restrict water usage in high priority areas. The Water Corporation is also launching a campaign alongside swimming pool builders to help home-owners find ways to reduce their water consumption by 60 litres a day per person. It is possible to use less water without having to alter the way you live, and a rainwater tank is one great way to do just that.

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Luxurious Verandah

How to Have a Truly Luxurious Verandah

The typical verandah or patio is a rectangular extension along the back or side of the house that allows you to enjoy a place of relaxation without going outside. Since it is completely roofed over and attached to the house it becomes part of the house, but still allows you to step out into fresh air without being ‘outside’ as it were.

Some people break with the traditional idea of the verandah and create an outdoor space that is truly luxurious, being much larger than the usual long, narrow area. The result can make a stunning addition to the home that is both exotic and beautiful. Here’s how to do it.

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The Difference Between Smooth and Rough Texture Stone Cladding

Limestone is a sedimentary rock made from layers of calcium carbonate from organic matter, usually in the bottom of a shallow sea. It is pressed into a dense mass over many years by the pressures above it.  Some types are very hard, while others are not so hard, depending on where they come from.

Limestone is one of the most popular building materials these days, with its durability and strength as well as the many beautiful finishes that enhance many building projects. One of the main attractions is that you can have either a smooth or a rough texture for stone cladding.

This is achieved both through the cut of the tiles and through their placement. For instance, rough cut tiles have a finish that is rough to the touch, while you can run your hand easily over the smooth textured tiles and it will have a more silky feel.

Usually, the rougher tile is used for fencing or external feature walls while the smoother texture is great for flooring, indoor cladding and features such as a barbecue, seats or tables. The smooth tile is good for floors because it can be more easily sealed.

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Why Your Home will be Cool with a Colorbond Roof

Some people may wonder if their home will be cool with Colorbond roofing. After all, it is thin steel sheeting and that may seem as if it will be hot. However, there are several reasons why this will not be the case. A Colorbond roof is indeed, quite cool and can even save you a great deal on the cost of cooling and heating over the lifetime of your home.

For a start, Thermatech Solar Reflectance Technology, the special technology that is now used when painting the colours onto the steel in the factory, actually reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them. There are only two colours that don’t do this; Colorbond stainless steel that is not painted at all and Night Sky, which is black.  And not many people would want to have a black roof, anyway. Even the other, darker colours reflect the sun’s heat well. When something reflects the sun’s rays, it also reflects the heat away from the surface, making it cooler.

This not only makes your home more comfortable, it saves on the cost of air-conditioning because there will be many days that you won’t feel the need for it. The cooling effect of Thermatech technology is a lot less in the winter because the sun is lower in the sky, changing the angle of the sun to the roof. Also, the days are shorter and often they are overcast, so your home remains warmer rather than cooler.

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A Brief History of Colorbond

Colorbond steel roofing and walling is a firm favourite today for new homes or renovation and re-roofing projects – and it has an interesting history. Way back in 1843 a bright spark in England realised that making corrugations in a thin sheet of steel strengthened it considerably. Corrugated iron, as it was called in those days, made an ideal building material because it was so light and could stack easily for transportation. It didn’t even need to be painted, although many people did paint it just to enhance its looks.

Within a decade of its invention it was brought to Australia by John Lysaght where it quickly became the most popular building material around. It was affordable, durable, quick and easy to erect and could even be transported on camels. Many buildings were made totally from corrugated iron for these reasons. Some were painted but most were not; why spend money on paint when it was not necessary?

It took a whole century before a way was found to bond paint to the galvanised iron. Two companies in America worked together on this aspect; Lithostrip Corporation in Chicago and Pre Finish Metals. It was once again John Lysaght that brought the technology to Australia. He and others invested a great deal of time and effort, not to mention finances, into getting the product just right for Australian conditions. They had to build a factory to work in and this was located in Port Kembla, Wollongong. It was 1966 when the first roll of coloured steel came off the painting line and became the talk of the industry.

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Simple Ways to Improve the Eco-Friendliness of Your Home

Becoming environmentally friendly is more than just a passing craze, it is an important commitment to doing what is right for the planet now and for our future. There are many ways that you can live an energy efficient and environmentally friendly life, and one of the best ways to start is by improving the efficiency of your own home. Everyone should be doing their part to reduce their energy and resource consumption. It will help reduce your monthly costs and bills and it is good for the planet as a whole. Here are just a few of the ways that you can make your home more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Home Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling costs are often the largest part of a home’s energy usage. Modern homes are almost always built with energy efficiency in mind, but there are ways you can renovate an old home to make it more efficient as well. Using building materials with a good insulation rating is key to keeping that valuable cool or warm air inside your home. Older homes can refit their home with additional insulation or new windows that are double or triple paned for added efficiency. Homeowners that are designing their own home have a lot more freedom to choose materials based on their energy efficiency throughout the design process.

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Red tape, acts of God and realistic completion dates

There is a saying that ‘to be forewarned is to be forearmed’. One of the most frustrating and disappointing aspects of having a new home built is that the whole process sometimes can drag on for what seems like forever. Of course you need to get your expectations in order. If you have a completion date provided by an experienced and expert builder, generally speaking you will know pretty much exactly when you will be able to move in. From that information you can set your expectations. But don’t allow your expectations to run away from you. It may all end in tears when the job is not finished on time.

Red tape is everywhere

Now there are different aspects to the red tape associated with the building of your new home. You need to get approval to build a home in the first place, your builder needs to get permits for various parts of the building process, the contractors will need to comply with building codes, for example the glazing contractors will need to install glass to the correct safety standards and you need to get a clearance from the building inspectors at various stages of the build and finally, when your house is finished, you need to get what is usually called a certificate of occupancy. This is the final piece of red tape which allows you to actually move into your new home.

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Easy Home Improvement Projects to do on the Weekend

Most people put off home improvement including landscaping like new garden rebuilds or internal renovations as long as possible because they are afraid of it being a long and drawn out process that never seems to end. Homeowners looking to make a dramatic impact on their home without investing a great deal of time or money should consider doing a small weekend project themselves. It is amazing how big of an impact even a small renovation project can have on your home. You will enjoy the updated look, the added function, and the satisfaction of knowing you did the work yourself. Here are just a few projects that you can tackle on a weekend off.

Spice Up Your Kitchen

If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen cooking or spending time with the family, then why not take a weekend to give it a facelift. Replacing a kitchen from top to bottom will cost $10,000 and up, but you don’t have to spend that kind of money to get a fresh new look. You can easily make a dramatic impact by choosing a new paint colour, installing a new backsplash,  or even just replacing the cabinet and drawer handles.

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Where to Spend Your Money in a Home Renovation

With the value of real estate finally on the rise again, many Australian homeowners are starting to once again look into doing home renovations to improve the value of their properties. For years people have been putting off employing a landscape design company or doing a full home renovation project, to avoid putting more money in their home without seeing a similar increase in its value. However now, with the market slowly and steadily recovering, renovation projects are once again a smart way to increase the value of your property.

Finding something to remodel or upgrade in your home is typically the easiest part of the process. It is easy for anyone to point out the areas that they are not happy with or wish to upgrade. It is far more difficult to know which projects to pick, both for your own enjoyment and the resale value of the home. When working with limited funds to renovate a home, it is important to pick and choose the projects that will really make an impact. Upgrades in a few key areas of the home can make a big impact on the property value, without blowing the budget.

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Ducted Air Conditioning

What You Need for Ducted Air Conditioning

When considering what air con system is right for them, many people choose ducted air conditioning. This is because it allows them to cool the whole house, with vents in every room that can be switched on or off at will. So they can reduce the cost of running if needed, by closing vents in the bedrooms during the day. And if they have it on throughout the night hours, they can close off the living room and kitchen vents.

While this type of air conditioning is not the most efficient, it is still popular. Why isn’t it considered efficient? That’s because cool or hot air is lost during the transfer from the head to the vents – that is, through the ductwork. This can be mitigated to some extent by using ducting that is made from material that is insulated. This may cost more initially, but it will on running costs over the years and be more eco friendly.

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Basic things to know about the contract

Have you heard the expression, “A trap for young players?” It means that if somebody is inexperienced in an aspect of business, such as building a new house, then there are a number of things that can cause them financial pain unless they manage to avoid them. The contract is a most important document. It is a legal document and if there is a dispute between you and your builder and the matter goes before a tribunal, court or regulator, then the contract will play a significant role in any finding made by the court. And yet the contract is the perfect breeding ground for traps for young players.

Building a house is a complex operation. Depending on the size of the building, access to the site, the weather and other factors, the whole process can take many months. Things can happen in that time, changes can be made. If you wish to change any aspect of the contract — this is usually called a variation — you could take a hit to your hip pocket. Obviously prevention is better than cure so try and get the contract right before you sign it. However, if you do wish to make a change, understand it could cost you.

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4 Things can go wrong when building a house

Now do not be put off by the wording in the heading. Yes there are things which can go wrong in this hugely important task of having your home built. And you can reduce the chances of things turning sour by taking certain steps. But from the outset please understand that many people have their new home built with few if any worries. Almost everyone will have some minor hiccups but with any luck you can be in your home on time and look back thinking this was a pretty stress free few months.

But yes, there can be glitches or hiccups or sadly, major problems. There are a number of reasons why this can happen. It can be the fault of the builder and sometimes it can be the false of the owner. You, the person having their house built, can make mistakes. Do you maintain a regular and honest flow of communication? Do you constantly keep in touch with your builder? Sometimes it’s a lack of communication which causes a simple problem to become much worse than necessary. Communicate.

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Why buy a house and land package?

This is an interesting situation and like so many things in life you need to compare apples with apples. One common situation is when a builder offers a house and land package. The builder owns a number of blocks and for the one price you get your block of land and your house built on it. At first sight it sounds like a darn good idea. You don’t have to go around looking for a block of land and then, having purchased it, start looking for a builder. With a house and land package you may well be dealing with the one person.

But every house and land package is not the same. Every builder is not the same. So what are the pros and cons in this situation? Let’s talk about changes to the contract, let’s talk about variations. Some builders who offer a house and land package have a very fixed view on what you get for the price. They would argue that the price is as low as it is because they don’t allow for variations. You may want to change the colour scheme or have higher ceilings or a different type of floor covering or you may not want to have the landscaping which comes with the contract.

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Tips on financing your new build

It’s an exciting time preparing to have your new home built. Of course every borrower and every building or even landscaping project is unique but there some things which apply specifically or certainly generally to everyone. If you have obtained a mortgage before, please understand that the finance for an existing property is not the same as obtaining finance to build a new home. In fact the more research, the more hard work you do on the topic the better prepared you will be. And as this is such a large project and almost certainly the largest financial investment you will ever make, getting things right first time requires a bit of effort on your behalf. Remember the age-old advice — if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

Now making an application for finance involves a fair bit of form filling. You’ve got two main avenues of attack.

  • You can approach your bank and make application or
  • You can go to a financial broker who is experienced in helping homebuilders find finance for the project

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Building standards, regulations and inspections

You are preparing to build your new home, or more likely have someone build it for you. You need to know many things one of which concerns standards, rules and regulations. Within this topic there are at least three areas of expertise you should know about – state, local and consumer.  To be aware, to have the knowledge at even a layperson’s level, gives you peace of mind, saves time and saves money. Do some reading, ask questions and make your building project a winner.

State governments have statutory authorities and what they say goes. Their documentation is freely available and online. You don’t have to leave home or pay for documents. Each state and territory will create and operate their own building codes. These are statewide regulations and these can be found on your state’s building commission’s [or whatever statutory authority name they use] web page. A typical link would be headed something like Regulations and Legislation. Current issues such as removal of asbestos are the responsibility of state authorities.

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Avoid building construction rip-offs

So you’ve decided to go ahead and build your new home. Congratulations and good luck because for some new homebuilders the experience can be difficult. You want to increase the chances that the whole experience will be successful or, reduce the chances of things going wrong. You can influence the end result. Here are some ideas to help make your project a winner.

Broadly speaking, you have two major tasks. The first is to find a builder and the second is to make sure that the work done by the builder is up to scratch.

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Tips on choosing the right builder

When you think about it, if you’re having a new home built, it could be the biggest financial investment you’ll ever make. That fact alone should send out messages loud and clear to get it right, to do your homework and to hasten slowly.

Everyone should plan well but especially so if you are a novice when it comes to building a house. You have the greatest reason to plan well. Remember if you fail to prepare you prepare to fail. So here are some practical steps even a newbie would-be home owner can take to ensure they get what they pay for, on time and to a really high standard. These steps don’t guarantee perfection but they do lower the risk of problems.

Millions of homeowners have had a great working relationship with their builder and been very satisfied with their new home. Sadly some have fallen out big time with their builder and their tales of woe make for heart-rending reading. Here are some helpful tips.

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Money – Don’t Let It Manage You!

Today there is little you can achieve without adequate funding. We can all talk about bartering and off the grid economies where we swap something we own or can do for something someone else has that we want. Realistically this rarely stretches past a few dozen backyard chook eggs or a quick service of the second car. Adequate funding means having the right amount of money to get the job done in the way we want it done, in the time we want it to take and to a standard we are happy to pay for.

The secret to getting any project done within budget and on time, which is what we are talking about here, is to have a proper budget in place. Whether you are renovating the bathroom, building a holiday home or looking at an investment property, you need to have a budget.

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