7 Things You Need to Know Before Extending Your Home

The best way to add some extra living space to your home and boost the comfort and value of your property is to invest in a home extension. However, projects like these come with their set of different issues that can cause a few headaches if not conducted properly. So, if you want to skip all the stress and go straight to a beautiful final result, make sure to consider these things.

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Don’t build aimlessly

Many people are rushing into the building process without thinking it through and setting good aims for their project. Make sure your extension plan serves a good purpose and reflects your personal needs and preferences. Being clear on what you want to do with your extension will help you create a detailed brief and save time and money.

Consider your space

Are you aiming to create a new home office area or maybe want to build a family room that the whole gang will love and enjoy? Well, the purpose of your room will also dictate the size. Setting the right size will allow you to follow through with your extension plans and end up with a space that’s cost-effective and practical. If you can’t visualize how much space you need, use a rope to map out the area. After you’re satisfied with the addition, don’t forget to take a look at the remaining space. Tweak the size until you’re satisfied with it!

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Get your permits

Every homeowner who’s planning a home extension is obliged by law to have all their building and renovation plans approved by the local authorities. No matter if what you’re planning to do is add a room, a floor, a pool or a fence, check with your planning department and get a building permit. Find an experienced architect to draw and submit your plans. If you’re planning only a small alteration to your home, a draftsperson might be a better and cheaper choice.

Consider new building technologies

Times sure change and some building ways that were popular during your house construction might already be outdated today. So, don’t hesitate to check out some new or alternative building technologies. For instance, prefabricated formwork systems not only cut down on your construction time, but also reduce costs and labor! You’ll not need to wait until the concrete sets before removing nails, timber ply and patch hobs.

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Set the budget

One of the most important elements for most homeowners is the cost of their extension. In order to set the budget, you must count in the cost of permits, architects and designers, materials, contractors and demolition work and debris removal. For instance, each wall you remove or add will also require the presence of carpenters, plasterboard experts, electricians, plumbers, tilers and painters. If you don’t like noise, hotel rooms also cost a pretty penny. So, don’t forget to account for all of these costs before you create your budget and set around 10% to the side for unforeseen expenses.

Find a good contractor

Another very important factor that leads to a successful home extension is your choice of a contractor. Finding the right experts might not be easy, but it’s truly essential. Appoint a contractor who is registered, licensed and has plenty of experience on similar projects and good reviews from many people.

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Be a good neighbor

Your home extension is not an insulated event and it can really affect your neighbors, especially big construction works. In case you’re sharing a wall with your neighbors, you might even risk damaging their property! So, make sure to be a good neighbor and inform them of your building plans. They too need time to prepare and alter their habits during your extension period.

So, don’t let some home extension issues surprise you and ruin your construction project just because you were not well informed. These tips will certainly help you end up with a beautiful and practical extension while minimally disrupting your life and peace.

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Thinking of Building a Granny Flat? Here’s What You Need to Consider

If you want to expand your home to accommodate your guests or simply have extra space for the elderly member of the family, then installing a granny flat is exactly what you need to do. Additionally, there are numerous ways you can design it to meet modern living standards so that whoever occupies this space can experience true comfort and privacy. In order to help you build the best granny flat for your home, here are some of the key points you need to consider. Let’s take a look and get inspired.

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Do it by the book

First things first, a crucial initial step of your construction project is getting the approval of your local Department of Planning and Environment. Keep in mind, you should approach this with utmost seriousness because it will help you avoid paying large penalties to the state for breaking zoning laws. It is also wise to seek help from someone who specializes in this matter like a private building certifier. They will examine the land you want to build on and advise you on how to efficiently utilize the available surface you have in order not to get fined by the government.

Privacy

When it comes to granny flats built for renting purposes, there is only one thing that matters the most – privacy. Imagine inviting a couple of friends over for a quiet get-together while the tenants are having a loud party just a couple of feet away. Or even worse, think about the horror of sharing a driveway and not being able to get to work because their car is blocking it. To avoid this, you should hire experienced professionals like the trustworthy granny flat builders in Sydney who will help you create an intimate granny flat with a separate driveway and walled-off garden where your tenants can enjoy their privacy to the fullest. Lastly, they will make sure that the unit is built according to all the regulations and newest trends.

Get it insured

Getting insurance for your granny flat can be just as important as it is for your main house. For example, if you choose to rent this space, by obtaining insurance you’ll avoid getting sued by your tenants in case an unforeseen accident occurs. Additionally, hiring an agent will be your best move since they will help you avoid unpleasant insurance costs and find the most reasonable quotes. This may be a bit larger initial investment, but we guarantee you that it will pay off in the long run.

Freestanding or not

Before you start designing it, you have to consider whether you want the granny flat to be a separate part of your house or an annex. Choosing to build it detached from your home will mean that the person who inhabits this space can have it all to themselves. On top of that, this kind of arrangement will help you earn some extra money since you’ll be able to rent this space out on Airbnb and similar popular websites. However, building the granny flat as an addition to your home will offer you more functionality in the sense that you can appropriate this room to be a home office, extra storage space, an additional bedroom for kids, etc.

Go green

Last but not least, more and more homeowners are switching to green solutions while designing their granny flats in order to make them as cost-efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. If you choose to follow in their footsteps, the first thing that you need to do is switch to renewable energy sources like solar panels for the front yard and the roof. On top of that, don’t forget to opt for sustainable building materials like non-endangered wood species and low-VOC construction products. Finally, Energy-Star-rated appliances for the flat can earn you hundreds of dollars in savings a year and help protect the environment by reducing your carbon footprint so don’t hesitate to invest in them as well.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much effort to create a wonderful granny flat that will meet the highest standards and serve you as a great guest room or rental unit. All you need to do is follow the laws and regulations and not be afraid to call for professional help. Good luck on your construction project.

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Sustainable Office Design for a Greener Tomorrow

In the last few years, sustainability and eco-friendliness are slowly making its way into office design and etiquette. Going “green” is a huge trend that is very beneficial for everyone from workers and business owners to our struggling planet. Yes, sustainable office design can also boost employees’ productivity and well-being: scientists from Exeter University conducted a study that concluded that green design boosts productivity and performance by 15%. Here are just some of the green office design ideas that can provide us with a green and healthy future.

Image source: re-publicspace.comgreen office design

Biophilia

Biophilia, although a new idea, is a notion that humans are genetically predisposed to seek nature. That’s why many people report feeling relaxed and focused when surrounded by greenery and natural sounds and smells. This philosophy has been present in homes for some time now, but offices are slowly catching up, too. Modern offices with a variety of plants in the interior and pleasant natural views from workstations are becoming a new trend, and for all the right reasons. Plants not only improve the aesthetic appeal of the space, but also boost workers’ motivation, performance and focus, provide people with cleaner air and reduce the number of sick leave days.

Energy saving policy

Even though renewable energy is becoming more and more popular, most energy is still generated by burning coal. That’s why conserving energy is becoming a big concern that can potentially change the way our offices look and function. Investing in electronics that carry an Energy Star label, especially bigger items such as printers, scanners and computers can help save both energy and money. Additionally, new office rules should be implemented to encourage workers to use energy-saving modes, avoid screensavers and unplug their devices overnight.

Image source: inhabitat.comsustainable office design

Invest in the right materials

Materials used in office building and decoration have a huge effect on the environment. Their impact starts with their manufacturing process and ends with demolition and unfortunately landfills. However, a sustainable office that invests in non-toxic materials that are eco-friendly and can be recycled, reused or repurposed will help keep many a landfill empty. For instance, one of the best ways to reduce pollution is to choose zero-VOC paint, recycled worktops, repurposed floors, double-duty furniture and carpeting made from natural or recycled fabrics.

Additionally, the focus should be put on materials that have good noise reduction. Implementing various noise control products can reduce distractions and improve workers’ performance and focus. Further on, it’s always better to invest in locally harvested materials. This both reduces pollution caused by transport time and helps the local economy, especially small manufacturers.

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Boost natural lighting

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting is the biggest electricity consumer in commercial buildings with an estimated cost of almost $40 billion per year. However, natural light is completely free and much healthier for workers. Natural lighting can make the space look more pleasant and improve workers’ well-being and performance. So, applying day lighting techniques (the controlled admission of natural light into a building) is a great way to save money, achieve better work results and reduce energy consumption. Installing skylights and sloped ceiling, investing in solar harvesting and reflective surfaces, as well as getting good shading devices that will reduce glare and heat can all improve the office’s lighting control. Additionally, replace traditional lighting with LED and installing sensors and smart dimmers can also control the power usage.

Improve the commute

Even though it’s impossible to bring office closer to workers to reduce commute time, there are things that can help improve that commute and reduce pollution. For instance, encouraging workers to use public transport (providing them with passes) and giving them practical bicycle parking can all get them out of their cars. Plus, workers who bike to work report feeling healthier and take fewer sick days.

If we wish to flourish on this planet, we must do our best (both at home and at the office space) to keep it healthy and safe. Greening up the workspace is such a great movement that has amazing benefits for workers and employers and it could ensure humans flourish on Earth long into the future.

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Give Your Home an Uplift – 7 Trends to Follow

If you happen to be planning a little home renovation to give it a fresh and stylish vibe, you probably came across hundreds of different styles, trends and interior design musts. So, if you feel a bit overwhelmed, allow us to point you in the right direction. These home design trends are beautiful, practical and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

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Warm, deep and natural tones

The previous years were all about Scandinavian style with whites and grays and bleached wood. But, even though this style is still going strong, it’s going through some changes. For instance, it’s starting to embrace some more saturated and rich tones like deep red, natural terracotta and dark green. One of the designers’ favorites is Black Flame, a deep and soothing mixture of black and navy. All of these colors can uplift the sterile Scandi design, while still staying true to its minimalist aesthetics.

Classic terrazzo floors

You might know terrazzo from those old ‘70s movies when this flooring material was everywhere. Today, it’s coming back stronger than ever! One of the reasons for its amazing popularity is its versatility: terrazzo can be used for floors, ceilings and walls; it’s super durable and cheaper than marble; and comes in an unlimited range of different colors! Terrazzo is great for kitchen floors and countertops, as well as backsplashes and bathrooms. So, if you’re planning on making changes to your floors or your countertops, you know which way to look.

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Mixing metals

Even though metals go well with any interior style and any color palette, there was a “rule” that metals shouldn’t be mixed. We don’t know who said it, but they aren’t right. Different metals with various finishes can add depth and interest to the space. They will also create a feeling of a lived-in home instead of a matchy-matchy staged space that has no character or history.

Comfort is in

There is an obvious shift towards more casual design that focuses on comfort rather than aesthetics. The home should serve as an oasis of peace from the cruel and turbulent outside world. That is why we can see more and more people yearning for comfort and reassurance, especially those living in big urban environments like Sydney. This trend will be most visible in furniture where the stars of the show are comfy sofas, soft round rugs and plenty of pillows for added coziness. You can find a comfortable chaise lounge that is perfect for watching TV, chilling out with family or even taking a nap. It’s inviting you to sit, throw your feet up and forget about the outside world!

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Stone sinks

If you’re planning any updates for your bathroom or kitchen, you might want to ditch the old ceramic and stainless steel sinks. Instead, opt for stone sinks that have a strong organic vibe sprinkled with some rustic design. These sinks fit in perfectly in contemporary spaces where they add interest and natural feeling.

Built-in bars

Those people who love to entertain will get the chance to up their game with built-in bars. More and more people opt for this great entertainment addition. They add charm to the space while providing people with a place to socialize and hang out. Built-in bars will be big in upcoming years, so take it into consideration.

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High-tech additions

We live in a world that is ruled by technology (in a good way), so we need to start making our homes smartphone friendly. Simple gadgets like smart thermostats, security systems or smart light bulbs will make their way into our homes to make our lives easier.

This year brings many amazing design changes and revives some forgotten design stars. So, no matter which trend you choose, it will certainly elevate the look and feel of your home and make it stylish, comfortable and trendy.

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How to Take Care of Your House Pipes

Behind our four walls, there’s a whole network of water and sewer pipes that remains out of sight and consequently, out of mind. This is the main reason why clogs and leaks often fly under our radar, but make no mistake: They aren’t just some occasional nuisance.

Backed-up water puts a strain and pressure on your house pipes, shortening their lifespan and increasing the chances of emergencies like ruptures. There is no need to risk these disastrous scenarios. After all, pipes require little more than some regular attention. If you take care of them, they will last longer and spare you the headaches and financial woes.

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DIY fixes

The good news is that there is a variety of quick fixes you can employ in order to deal with plumbing issues. A swift reaction most often saves the day. Delaying the solution always adds fuel to the fire: even a small leak can accelerate the corrosion of pipes or lead to expensive structural damage or mold.

Let’s start with clogged drains, one of the most common plumbing problems. Many people opt for chemical solutions and that may indeed solve the issue. However, you might be taking the good with the bad because harsh chemicals easily erode cast-iron pipes. An additional problem is that they often do not do away with the entire clog.

So, you are better off using organic household products that do not eat away the pipes slowly. Pour ½ of a cup of salt down the drain and follow it up with boiling water. Continue flushing with hot water until the drain is clear.

A low-flow of water coming from a sink faucet may call for a bit more attention. First, make certain that the shut-off valve is open and plug the sink. Next, carefully unscrew the aerator from the end of the faucet and scrub and rinse aerator parts. After that, you can reattach the aerator and put the faucet back into place.

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Professional aid

If problems like clogs persist, hire a plumber to remove the remaining hair and grease that are the usual culprits behind this emergency.

Calling an emergency plumber in Canberra is the preferred way of solving leaks, bursts, and clogs for the locals. Wherever you are, don’t ever hesitate to pay for a trusted local plumber because what you pay is a drop in the bucket compared to the damage that could ensue down the road.

Of course, if you know what you are doing, you could purchase a snake from a hardware store and clear the drain yourself. On the other hand, when it comes to municipal sewer problems, it usually requires professional treatment. Namely, it’s highly recommended to have a plumber do snake cleanout every few years.

This should remove invading tree roots that always seem to find their way into your system.

Preventive measures

Prevention is the best kind of medicine there is.

Therefore, keep an eye on what goes down your drains. Food scraps, hair, and even toilet paper can accumulate and cause plug-ups. Liquid grease is another element that should not be allowed in drains as it becomes solid once it cools. Of course, installing screens is the key to preventing buildup, especially if you remove debris from it regularly.

Furthermore, keep an eye on water pressure and bear in mind that the higher it is, the harder your pipes have to work. For under $10, you can acquire a bib gauge and keep tabs on the pressure level. Normal pressure is between 40 and 85 psi. If it registers above that, a plumber can install a pressure reducer and bring it down. Contrariwise, note that upgrades like low-flow showerheads don’t affect the pressure in the pipes.

Finally, you need to make sure that hard water is not aggravating your plumbing problems. It’s rich in mineral content that builds up inside pipes and obstructs the flow. Hence, one of the telltale signs of hard water is white buildup on showerheads and faucets. To protect your pipes, you can make good use of sodium-based or electronic water softeners.

Stem the tide

In most households, plumbing is not high on the least of priorities, at least until a real disaster strikes. Don’t wait for this to happen and take action now. Small, everyday steps go a long way towards a plumbing system that works like a charm.

And in the wake of a problem, use quick fixes or call professionals to handle the situation. Time, money, and effort you invest will pay dividends in the long run. You have a chance to keep your water flowing, boost the lifespan of pipes, and prevent costly plumbing disasters.

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