Cornall Design Scholarship 2016

four college graduatesThe team at Cornall are proud to announce the offering of a design and home improvement scholarship for 2016. We have teamed up with several local businesses with an interest in making people’s lives better to raised the funds required to offer this scholarship to any students in need. If you are a currently enrolled student between the ages of 18-25, with a GPA or equivalent of 2.5 or higher, you are eligible to apply. It is also a requirement for all applicants that they are currently studying a design related degree or one which may lead to a job in a design related field, or one which could lead to the creation of a better standard of life for people.

If you’re interested in applying, or just want to read more about our generous partners who donated to this cause, please click here to read more. We can’t wait to start receiving application from the inspired and motivated students, and will be sure to share the best of their ideas on how to make the world a better place with you right here on Cornall DIY.

The Benefits of Space-Saving Furniture

Living in a metropolis anywhere in the world today can be very expensive. As the population grows, the land around us becomes more valuable and less available. Everybody wants the best for themselves, so there is a survival of the fittest mindset which separates the ‘haves and have nots’.

Before buying a house or apartment, it is important to do up a plan to ensure you get the most from your hard-earned money. If budget is your primary concern, this gives space-saving ideas a good opportunity to maximize the limited area that one can afford.

storage ottomanStaying in a small place does not mean you can’t live a comfortable life. Using space-saving furniture ideas will surely provide you the right amount of floor area whether you are in a loft or studio-size apartment. It only takes creativity how you will design the room to let it look bigger using a set of furniture that will help you save space.

Folding tables are a good example of a space-saving furniture. These can be used in a dining area that may be converted to a living area after eating. They can also be used as a study table or a coffee table in their smaller form when needed.

You can do many activities using a folding table in a small space. These can be placed in an area to entertain guests or where your family sits down for dinner. Smaller folding or convertible dining tables may be used as desks for study, or as a bench during the day. The flexibility of such furniture gives you extra floor space that allows your dwelling to look larger and more comfortable when you choose.

Keeping household storage more organised can reduce clutter. It also provides a more modern and attractive appearance. Installing expensive systems to arrange or pile old chests within your home may not be required if you know how to design the floor plan with your existing flexible furniture. Choose stylish storage furniture that will both help you reduce clutter and make your room look stylish with some contemporary flair.

a fold out space saving tableClutter No More

Being disorganized can make your space look smaller and older. Clutter works in two ways. Either you have too much bedroom furniture or you have too many stacks or piles of books and other unnecessary things stored in your way. Such mess reduces the aesthetics of a room and adds discomfort to your home. It can be stressful entering your home with clutter but it also may be seen as unwelcoming to any house guests.

In doing away with clutter, you have to start with the basics. Get rid of everything that you don’t need. There are several storage furniture options you can choose from like storage beds, ottomans and cabinets. These furniture pieces are functional and stylish. They are good places to keep clutter out of your sight.

Cleaning your clutter takes extra effort for some as they are emotionally attached to certain personal items. But maintain your focus on the goal. Choose to keep only those items that you frequently use and not those that you keep telling yourself you will use eventually, but never do.

Storage Options

Other convertible furniture can help you declutter your home and provide elegant, modular shelving and storage systems. These can help you maximize the space in your bedroom, lounge room or office. By installing a clever, hidden storage system, you can say farewell to mess and expensive organization systems.

Another option for storage is to create a media storage area. Books, magazines and DVDs can take up a lot of space in your home. When frequently left lying around, they can be a source of clutter. Assign a single storage area for all of these and always put things back where you got them from after use. Having a coffee table with storage is a good solution. Here your things are conveniently accessible and can be used to keep your media neatly in place. You can also use a storage ottoman or a modular TV console.

Ideally, a modular system is best suggested for home organization. These are suited to meet your changing needs. Stack cubes and reorganizing them to address your space needs. Modular shelving systems can be converted as needed to provide the storage space that you require. Position these anywhere in your home creating a modern decor look.

Five Interior Design Trends For 2016

With only a few months left in 2015, it might be a bit late to go into a discussion of the 5 interior design trends for 2015. So rather than focus on what we’ve seen a lot of so far this year, we’re going to explore the ultra-fresh design trends that we’re seeing in the backend of 2015 and use these as our predictions for what unique reno-styles will be hot come 2016. So come with us on a journey into the future as we take a walk through our predicted 5 interior design trends for 2016. Time to get out the crystal ball!

metal home decor

Our first prediction reveals mixes of several metal elements will be the latest rage in the interior design field particularly in London where we have already started to see a glimmer of a trend emerging. Specifically, cool metals like silver mixed with their warmer counterparts like rose gold and copper are rapidly gaining a large following among many interior design experts. However, several designers cautioned against placing this metal mix in one single area of the room. They said the eventual result of this type of design could come out as being too staged. A better alternative would be a design made from a mix of gold and silver with a dash of black metals. This may initially be seen as a bit risky but should eventually register a more stylish appearance. Are you mental about metallic? This could be the trend for you!


navy blue decor

Next up is navy blue-inspired decorations. This emerging trend in interior design is said to be the ideal counter to white marble mainly because of the versatility of the colour. As one Paris-based designer aptly puts it, navy blue can effectively complement a wide range of colors, including cream, sage, gray, pink, and coral.

designer rug harlequinReviving the rug is our next prediction. Now I know what you’re thinking ‘rugs have always been perennial home design fixtures,’ but hear me out! Next year, those types of rugs that contain irregular patterns are seriously being examined for their visual fluidity. In a rectangular-shaped room filled with similarly-shaped furniture, these rug types can effectively break the resulting grid. Whether you consider adding a circular flat weave rug, or a patchwork rug with a curvy design. Breaking the right angle mold is the key to rug design in 2016.

Designer rugs are also becoming a hot commodity for many interior designers as we move towards the end of the year. Designer rugs are considered as genuine art pieces especially when manufactured from silk as this helps create shimmer and produces the illusion of constant color change. Designer brands like Brink & Campman, Sanderson, and Harlequin have been keeping their 2016 rug designs but we have been told to expect a beautiful assortment of colour and luxurious designs.

smoked glass decor

Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles design scene, smoked glass is being hailed as the number one up and coming design trend for 2016. A clear and immaculate glass filled home was in last year, but this is making way for a smokier variation.

Smoked glass often emits an air of mystery and should blend well with many standard design materials. More importantly, this emerging design somehow helps strike a balance between the feminine and the masculine elements often at work in many interior design projects.

Interestingly, even as smoked glass is currently being seen as a fast-rising design trend, it is not an entirely fresh and new approach. The 70s actually made use of the smoked glass design as seen in many intimate clubs in various parts of the US. But don’t mix smoked glass with a shaggy rug or you will feel like you have been sucked up in a time warp!

concrete tile decor

Concrete tiles are our last prediction to complete the list of interior design trends for 2016. Its growing popularity can be attributed to the ongoing emphasis on outdoor living where colorful tiles are commonly employed as design materials. Combined with graphic designs, concrete tiles are able to create that unique ethnic environment in any space. This accounts for the movement of concrete tiles from their original commercial home to the broader residential setting of outdoor entertaining.

So as you look towards the future and try and plan out your new home renovations for next year we hope we have been able to provide you with some valuable insight into what we feel will be the up and coming trends in 2016!

Thinking About Purchasing a Renovator’s Delight?

house price to income graphWith the crazy price of houses in all the major metropolitan areas of Australia such as Melbourne and Brisbane, we don’t blame you for looking for homes further from the CBD or purchasing cheaper, run-down houses with the aim of doing them up over time. There are many pitfalls to purchasing “renovator’s delight” homes however, and you need to be aware of them so you don’t get stuck with a money pit. We’ve put together a list of a number of things you should do before contracting to buy house that needs significant work done to it to bring it back to its former glory.

A Building and Pest Inspection

While you might see some chipping paint or missing floor boards as a way to save some money on the price of a home, often these are signatures of neglect and potentially much larger problems. A structural inspection is necessary to ensure there are no hidden, significant repair costs that may pop up in the time just after your purchase. Similarly, a thorough pest inspection by a licensed commercial operator is important to ensure termites have not eaten away at the wooden parts of the building, and rats or other unwanted creatures have no infested the area. If you live in the sub-tropical parts of Australia, for example, around Brisbane or the Gold Coast, you may want to get the house checked for possums living in the roof as well.

an old home in disrepair

You’re dream home? Probably not, but at least it’s affordable, right?

A Plumbing and Drainage Inspection

Do you know why the current owners are looking to sell the house? Perhaps they have recently become aware of an issue which is going to cost them a sizable amount of funds to correct, and they think it will be easier just to sell up and let somebody else deal with the problem. Plumbing and drainage issues can cost thousands and are often overlooked when it comes to the purchasing of a house. If there was significant rainfall in the area is it likely water would pool in or around the house? Are there large trees around the home that may be causing blocked drains? A pipe that has been clogged by tree roots or other means can be a hassle to repair. The digging up of the yard required to get to the pipe that needs replacing which can add a significant amount to the purchase price of a home.

Inspection of the Yard for Potential Problems

As is the case with many neglected and run-down houses, grass is often unkempt and backyards can be left full of rubbish. Not only is this going to be a nuisance to rectify, but you may have to deal with snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies during the cleanup. Hiring someone to clean up the yard for you can be costly, so if you’re planning on doing it yourself to save money keep this in mind. Wear gloves during the clean-up work and ensure you make a lot of noise and vibrations before diving into the long grass and overgrowth to scare off any snakes that may be lingering in the area. If you living in densely-populated city such as Melbourne looking for cheap skip hire online and get several quotes to get the best price. There are usually a number of operators who offer the same serving in the populated areas of Australia. Hiring a cheap skip bin and cleaning up the neglected yard by yourself or with friends can save you a lot of money so it is worth doing if you have the manpower.

Choosing the Right Roof Colour to Suit Your Home

roofrestorationIs your roof looking old, dull or faded? Have you been thinking about doing some roof restoration work to give your home a facelift but don’t know where to start? The main issue when repairing and restoring an old or tired looking colorbond or tile roofs is deciding on the perfect colour to suit your home. We spoke with one of Melbourne’s experts on roof restoration for some tips on picking the right palette to suit your little piece of suburbia.

The issue when choosing the best roofing colours is often more of a personal preference than anything else. Still, this will also depend on the style and type of home in question. As a general rule the roof colour should effectively matching the shades of the walls, the gutters, and other prominent areas of the house.

The best choice for a roofing colour for your home need not be strictly limited to how attractive it is on its own. A more important aspect about the process of choosing the perfect hue is how evenly it matches the overall house design, especially the wall areas. Guttering can always be painted to suit if necessary.


A selection of common roofing colours

In the case of brick houses, the process can be a bit trickier. Bricks often come in varying hues, so the idea here is to look for the more dominant colours. Once this has been identified, try to find out if a similar colour exists among the available roofing materials. At this point, there should be a clearer idea on the colours that will look good on the roof.

Of course, there is no need to make an exact match between the roof and brick colours. A hint of the same shades will often match well and look aesthetically pleasing. If this is not true in your particular case, effective colour combinations can always be considered. Take a look at a colour wheel to see which colours and shades will work with your current palette.

In this regard, it is important to note that exact matches are rarely recommended. This is partly because they tend to create an unexciting, or even dull, home exterior. On the other hand, bold and unique roof colours are not only eye-catching they can also set a trend and make your home stand out. A case in point would be an orange roof over walls draped in a hue light blue.

Finding the perfect roof colors is not always easy. This is because the available roof colors remain limited when compared to the various shades of paints currently being sold in the market. If you cannot find the right colour prefabricated coloubond or pre-painted tiles to suit right off the showroom floor, you can always go to added expense and have your new roofing material painted in the perfect shade to suit. If you are on a budget you may need to compromise slightly on the ideal hue to fit with the colours available at the time.

two men painting a roofWhile colour matching, remember that the chosen colour for the roof can also be used to paint the gutters, the downpipes, and the eaves. This is one approach that many expert color consultants find highly effective. The contention here is that gutters are hardly noticed and will not adversely affect the overall house appearance and style. Often, there is also a need to camouflage some of these areas of the home. This can usually be achieved by painting over them with the same colors used on the walls.

One other crucial aspect about looking for the best roof colors has to do with choosing from either the lighter or the darker shade. Darker colors tend to be less reflective when compared to lighter hues. This can affect the overall temperature inside the house.

On the other hand, the lighter shades can prove to be the best roof colors especially in places where extreme heat is a common experience. Houses painted with lighter hues are found to be significantly cooler. We strongly recommend against going with a fully white-colored roof however, as the glare that this could produce can pose a few problems, and it will look dirty too easily.

Key Areas to Consider when Building a Commercial Kitchen at Home

A stainless kitchen on display

Cooking is an enjoyable hobby for many of us. Some people love cooking so much they build extravagant yet functional commercial kitchens in their own homes. Spurred on by the success of television shows like Masterchef, the past few years has seen a jump in the number of people in Australia opening food/cooking related businesses. This is also driving demand for large commercial grade kitchens, especially in the wealthier suburbs of our major cities.

The process of building a commercial kitchen at home is twofold. The first has to do with complying with state legal requirements. This is especially true if the commercial kitchen is linked to a catering business that is to be run from the home. Ensure your kitchen is build to comply with the laws in your state.

The second aspect involves the basic needs of the kitchen. In the case of a commercial catering operation, a higher standard of materials than those that are sufficient in a typical household kitchen are required. Stainless steel sinks and bench-tops will be necessary to handle the extra wear and tear, and higher grade knives, pots and pans will also be needed. Even in specialised, commercial grade kitchens that are not intended for commercial usage you will often find an excess of stainless steel products and high-end cookware.

We spoke with a Brisbane catering team who, with 20 years experience working in the industry, really know their way around a stainless steel kitchen. They gave us the low down on what works and what doesn’t in any commercial grade kitchen.

Obviously, there is also the need to construct a larger-than-standard kitchen area made from more durable materials. In addition, the kitchen layout has to be thoroughly planned in order to ensure smooth flow during operations. Given this, building a commercial kitchen at home can be quite costly. This need not be the case as the traditional home kitchen can be renovated to represent the basic features of a commercially-run kitchen, as long as there is enough space to work with initially.

While space is an issue, as long as there is room to move, then it is possible to give the impression that you are a professional in the kitchen to anyone who comes to visit. If you’re looking for more than just a showpiece however, the more important aspect of building the desired kitchen is coming up with a good construction plan.

potshangingTowards this end, your best plan is to find a qualified and reputable professionals to help you do the job. Here at Cornall DIY we advocate the do-it-yourself mentality, but for most of us when it comes to big jobs like this one, a bit of help will never go astray. If you are planning on running a business from the premises, structural architects may be necessary to examining the kitchen walls as well as the flooring to determine its suitability for commercial operations. These professionals will also prove to be helpful when it comes to preparing the kitchen design to ensure that this complies with existing safety standards. Commercial kitchens involve the use of heavier kitchen appliances such as refrigerators and cooking ranges. For this, the installation of support structures may also be necessary.

In close coordination with the architect, building a commercial kitchen at home should ideally be completed by following a layout. With this as guide, specific workstations can be easily designed alongside other essential features like lighting, kitchen sinks, exhaust systems, storage equipments, and with provisions for water and other specialized equipment.

In this regard, you will likely need the help of several other licensed professionals. These include plumbers to handle pipework installation as well as electricians who will install and inspect the kitchen’s electrical wiring. When hiring, the basic requirements to look out for are experience and the appropriate certifications from the concerned government agency. Do not risk using an unqualified or unlicensed contractor as this could end in disaster and eventuate in a lot more trouble than you could possibly imagine.

High-grade commercial kitchen appliances will need to be purchased. To try and save on costs you can look for second-hand equipment that may be for sale from other catering/food related businesses. If you prefer to purchase your kitchen equipment brand new, take a look online for a wholesaler of commercial kitchens, white-goods and accessories. Ideally, it is best to contact several manufacturers to ensure that the appliances are being purchased at a reasonable price and are suitable for your requirements. Additionally, large stainless kitchen cabinets may have to be installed in order to accommodate the need for more storage space.

Finally, building a commercial kitchen at home should be completed by running a test run of the entire area. Focus should be in ensuring that the electricity, plumbing, lighting, and exhaust systems are fully functional. While building a commercial kitchen can be an expensive operation, if you take your time to do your research, and work with what you have or buy second-hand rather than purchasing everything brand new, it can end up costing you less than you might expect.

How to Keep Your Drains from Blocking Up

a blocked up sinkWhen it comes to preventing blocked drains, the easiest solution is to be wary of the things that are washed into them. Much of the debris found when clogged drains require plumbers to clean them out are things that should not have been put down there in the first place.

Examples of this are strands of hair, leftover food scraps, cooking grease, tampons, condoms and soap scum. These objects belong in the trash rather than down the toilet or drain. Constant monitoring and sorting through waste water is not ideal however, so a more acceptable option is to place a screen on top of the drain to catch debris. To stop people flushing objects down the toilet that may cause blockages, educate the people who use your bathroom on what should and shouldn’t be flushed away. We spoke with Doug from Brisbane, owner of a locally renowned blocked drain company about how to prevent drainage issues.

The use of a screen, sometimes known as a drain-gate, is one of the easiest way to prevent clogged drains. Using a grate to cover the drain opening should help keep things like food scraps and hair strands from getting trapped in the drain pipes where they can build up and eventually block the flow of water. Of course, the debris the collects on the screen will need to be cleaned off on occasion. This can still be a somewhat unpleasant job but the more regularly it is undertaken the easier it will be.

The drain screen, however, is not completely capable of keeping out all types of scraps from entering the inner areas of the drain pipe. As such, there is a need to look for a few other means of preventing clogged drains. One of these is the idea of pouring hot water across the drain which should be ideally done immediately after using the sink. This stops oils and fats from solidifying in the pipework eventually causing blockages.

An example of a drain grate or drain screen

An example of a drain grate or drain screen

Oils and fats from the kitchen have a tendency to stick onto the pipe surfaces where they can easily build up choke the drains. Hot water helps to prevent this from happening as it softens the fats and flushes them out of the piping. Apart from hot water, baking soda is another effective means to help avoid clogged drains. This works best when used alongside hot water. After throwing three spoonful of baking soda down the drain, follow up immediately with a flush of very hot water. The baking soda acts as an absorbing agent to effectively minimize odors coming from the drain, as well as an alkalizing agent to break up clogs.

Another highly-effective way of preventing blocked drains is the use of vinegar. Vinegar contains a powerful substance known as acetic acid. This particular property of vinegar allows it to become a solvent which helps it to remove debris in the pipework that may have built up over time. In order for vinegar to effectively act as a drain cleaning material, at least one cup of it has to be used. This should be poured down the drain and left alone for about half an hour. Afterwards, just as in the case with baking soda, the vinegar solution should be followed up and flushed out by hot water.

In some cases, a single cleaning agent may not be sufficient to preventing clogged drains. If this is the case for your blocked drain you can try a combination of specialized solutions. Some suggestions we found online were made up from a combination of vinegar, baking soda, water, ice cubes, and even fresh lemon juice. If you’ve tried everything you can and still aren’t able to alleviate the blockage, get in touch with a local drain cleaning company and have a professional tackle the job. Remember, sometimes drain blockages are caused by tree roots and broken pipes etc., things that are completely beyond your control. It doesn’t matter what kind of solvent or chemical cocktail you pour down the sink, it may never be enough to fix the issue.

DIY Possum Removal and Relocation

Possums are native marsupials that have long lived in the Australian wilderness. They prefer to live in areas covered with large vegetation that include dense tree formations. As deforestation and urban sprawl issues continue to be a problem for Australian wildlife, possums have found the suburban setting a desirable, alternative habitat. For this reason, the removal of possums that have taken up residence in the ceilings or roofs of houses a common necessity. The following tips on deterring and removal of possums have been proven to be quite effective. If however you are unable to stop the spread of these troublesome marsupials onto your property, in many problem areas such as Brisbane there are removal teams who are specially trained in the art of possum removal.

One of the main issues with respect to possum removal is the fact that these marsupials are largely nocturnal. This means that they are very much awake during the night when many Australian homeowners are fast asleep. It is not uncommon to hear possums running around, screech and screaming, and at times fighting amongst each other on suburban rooftops, resulting in loud noises that can be quite intolerable for people who are trying to sleep.
These seemingly normal actions of possums have created quite a stir in many Australian homes, especially those with large trees growing nearby. Cities with warmer climates such as Brisbane seem to have the highest number of possum pest control problems. Since these critters are fond of vegetation, they tend to see these trees as part of their extended natural habitat, while living in the cost space of a ceiling or garage.

possum on a fenceAn option worth looking into when it comes to getting possums to relocate is to cut down any trees growing very near to the house, especially if its branches have begun extending over the rooftop area. These trees act as highways for the possums and make it easy for them to access the roof space. Alternatively, if the tree needs to be preserved for aesthetic or environmental reasons, cutting off the extended branches should suffice.

Another option to deter possums is to strategically place spotlights or sensor lights that shine onto the trees that possums use to gain access to your rooftop area. These animals do not like bright lights and avoid them whenever possible, so this should aid in keeping them at bay. Deterrent sprays have also been developed with possums in mind. These can be effective and are available in most local gardening and hardware stores.

If you have removed all potential access points to your rooftop but you still find yourself being woken up at night by screeching marsupials you make need to take further steps to keep the possums away. It’s time to get a ladder out and see if you can find where they are getting in and out of your ceiling.

A hole or crack surrounded by brown stains is a sign that the cavity is being used as a point of entry. This needs to be filled in or patched up. Ideally, this should be done at night when the possums have exited the cavity so they don’t get trapped inside, but as this may be significantly more difficult than during daylight hours, a trap can be set inside the roof to catch any trapped possums. Red apples can be used as bait to lure them into the waiting enclosure. Once caught the possums can be released back into the wild. Be sure to check local laws relating to possum removal and relocation to ensure you remain compliant.

possum controlIf you are seeking more information on getting rid of possums take a look here, or do an online search for your local expert if you need personal assistance. You might also want to consider planting some native vegetation in your garden to provide a hospitable, alternative place for these little critters to reside, which may lure them out of your home and back into their more traditional residence.

Bathroom Renovations on a Minimal Budget

When deciding to renovate a bathroom, a lot of people think expect it to be an expensive exercise but this does not have to be the case. There are always ways minimize budget expenses the renovating any room in your house. We are going to discuss some tips that can be very helpful for bathroom renovations on a tight budget no matter where in the world you live.

Assess All the Fixtures and Appliances

When you first plan your budget bathroom renovation project, you must consider the majority of the work that needs to be done. Of course, you do not need to understand the exact process, but you must understand the general ideas behind it. This will help you greatly in identifying what needs to be changed and what can be still used. Do not neglect any details. For instance, you do not need to change the bathtub, don’t do it. Unless it is broken, has damage, you intend to change the style of it, or you need more features in it, keep your existing one to save on expenses. The fixtures and plumbing will usually need to be changed altogether due to the fact that changing them would cost the same as maintaining them.

an old bathtub in a renovated bathroomReuse Rather than Renew

In regards to tiling works, people tend to remove all wall tiles just to replace them with new ones, if there is nothing visibly incorrect about your current look and feel of the powder room you can just as easily leave them as they are! Removing wall and floor tiles drains time and money very quickly. Work around this easy fix problem by simply relying on the older ones, old fashioned styling is actually making a comeback in what works and this can be used to your advantage. All that is required of you would be to give them a good old-fashioned scrubbing. Painting comes handy especially when changing the color or fabric. Click here to read about a bathroom remodeling company that has proven methods for reusing old features to save money.

If your old tiles have become an eyesore over the years it its time for a rip down and repaint job. Painting is a quick and easy alternative and most of the time is very cost-effective. Take note though as you do not want to use cheap quality paints. The Bathroom is full of moisture and using any type of paint might just ruin the whole point of renovation. Ensure you purchase a paint that is water resistant.

Get cheaper stuff

It is true that there are a lot of things that will require changing and can’t be reused, even when minimizing expenses. Buying used fixtures or those that have some minor blemishes or other issues that do not affect the main functionality might save you huge when it comes to renovating. For example, there would be no need to buy a new granite basin counter-top if the old one is fine. If budget really is a huge issue for the basin area, defective items are generally sold at a fraction of retail price. Cracks around the sink area, or underneath are often unnoticeable and will save you large sums of money.

a modern bathroom with LED lightingGet economical fixtures

As you are doing a budget bathroom renovation, do not forget that you need to minimize your utility bill at the same time. Choose energy efficient lighting, and water-saving shower heads, taps and the flushing system of the toilet will benefit you greatly in the long term. This mean it might cost you a bit more in the short-term but will pay off in the long run.

Using the above tips will help you reduce the bathroom renovation budget to a fraction of what many consider standard. Many contractors will try to rip you off and taking for all the money that you have, but there are also many reputable companies in this industry. We recommend this company, which has been voted one of the best in they Sydney area. Just ensure you have a shop around before making any big decisions. Happy Renovating!

Improve Your Home By Adding 3 Items To Your Roof

Are you looking for ways to improve the value and comfort of your home as well as reduce your everyday living expenses? All this can be achieved by simply adding three products to the roof of your home. These products are PV solar power, solar hot water and solar roof vents. Replacing your very inefficient gas or electric hot water system with solar hot water can save you big cash on your gas or electricity bill. Installing a solar roof vent to extract the heat from your roof space can make your home a much more comfortable place to live and reduce or eliminate the need to use power hungry air conditioning. Finally by installing a solar PV power system you can reduce or eliminate your electricity bill completely. Keep in mind it is not just the cost savings that make these products so attractive, the fact that they add value to your home and make it much more attractive for potential buyers also comes into consideration. I will take you through how each of these products will improve your home.

Solar Roof Vent

roof ventilation

A solar roof vent is like a whirlybird on steroids as it moves as much air as up to 15 whirlybirds. The solar roof vent’s job is to extract the hot air from your roof cavity, thus decreasing the temperature of your living area. Solar Ark’s solar roof vents can reduce your roof cavity by up to 30oc in Summer, which results in about a 6oc drop in your living area. This then can greatly reduce or even eliminate the need to run your air conditioner, which as everybody knows can cost an arm and a leg. The solar roof vent also prevents the build up of hazardous mould in your roof space. See this post for an in-depth look at the benefits of solar roof ventilation products and how they can not only add value to your home but also reduce air-con running costs.

Solar PV Power System

pv solar panel setupInstalling a solar PV system has the potential to save you the most money, however it is also the most expensive route to take. It is a better option now to make your home as energy efficient as possible and then install a solar PV system that suits your energy requirements. In the past people were putting as large a size system as possible in and trying to make money out of it. The scheme in Queensland has now changed and it is more beneficial to cover your own consumption rather than worry about feeding electricity back into the grid. What this means is rather than just spending your entire budget on the largest solar power system possible, you should spread it out over a range of energy efficient products. For example you might spend $3,000 on energy efficient products, which means you now only require a solar system that costs $4,000 less. Solar PV power systems are undoubtedly beneficial, however I think they should be the last step to making your home more energy efficient.

Solar Hot Water

evacuated tube solar diagramIn Queensland electric hot water systems account for on average about a third of your homes electricity consumption. Gas hot water systems have also become ridiculously inefficient and often cost more to run than an electric hot water system. Installing a solar hot water system will not completely eliminate any hot water costs, but the evacuated tube systems are about 85% more efficient than their electric counterparts. As discussed above, eliminating around a third of your electricity consumption will greatly reduce the size of the solar power system that you require. It is not just the savings that you will benefit from, you will be installing a brand new fixture that will add value to your home. Be sure to check out this Queensland Government Solar Fact Sheet for an overview of what system is best for your home.


The Process Of Installing A Skylight On A Metal Roof

Skylight roof

Skylights are structures normally constructed on building roofs. Their purpose is to enable natural light, usually the sun, to gain entry inside a given establishment. In Australia, skylights are becoming viable options for many home designs, not only for their aesthetic appeal, but because they are seen as prime contributors in the drive towards more efficient energy consumption in the home. The idea of installing a skylight on a roof, however, is something that needs to be carefully planned. We spoke with Darren from eRoof about metal roofing best practices and got some suggestions on how to get the job done.

For starters, installing a skylight on a metal roof will require climbing to the top portion of the house and working in and around the area for several hours. As such, injuries like accidental falls are possible; thus, extreme caution should be observed. This is particularly true when bringing along several construction materials like ladders, tapes, and sealants, among other things.

In the case of metal roofing, the edges will often have sharp edges. Lacerations of varying types can be encountered so the need to wear protective gloves is a must. If possible, an assistant or a member of the household should be on standby to help out in case of emergencies.

As for the actual process of skylight installation, the first thing that needs to be identified is the size of the area where the structure is set to be placed. This will initially determine the appropriate skylight size, although a few other things will also have to be measured. The height of the ceiling also has to be considered, as well as its distance from the roof. The number of required extension tubes will depend on these findings.

Successful installation of a skylight depends largely on the tubes as these will link the roof portion of the structure to the ceiling part. In this regard, when installing a skylight on a roof, it is important that common roof obstructions such as air ducts and drain pipes are avoided. In short, route the tubes through vacant or empty roof spaces.

Skylight with Metal Roofing

If this is not possible, an option is to make use of an extension tube with an angle ranging anywhere from 0 to 90 degrees. This should allow for an effective tube re-routing without necessarily re-arranging pipes that have already been pre-installed.

The tubes should be connected using an aluminum tape, but when angled tubes are utilized, self-tapping screws may have to be considered. These should provide the extra strength needed to keep the tubes firmly in place although wires and other similar materials are options worth looking into as well.

The process of installing a skylight on a metal roof may also involve some form of electrical works especially in the wiring aspect. Homeowners without any electrical work experience should not attempt to do this as the risks of electrocution are likely. It is illegal to attempt this work yourself and therefore best to hire a qualified electrician to do the job.

Some skylight products have also been especially developed to suit our distinct Australian climate. This is one other aspect of installing a skylight on a metal roof that should not be taken for granted. Ideally, try to settle for a skylight that allows natural light to flow freely but at the same time, blocks out the ultraviolet rays of the sun which have been found to be quite harmful.

A Veggie Garden at Home gives more than just Groceries

an organic vegetable garden

When it comes to healthy foods, vegetables easily top the list. Still, vegetables and other foods are not immune to the rising prices of basic commodities. Since produce is free to grow if you have the space, it makes sense to start a vegetable garden at home to cut down on your daily expenses.

A vegetable garden at home offers more than just significant financial savings. Several other benefits can be derived when seriously considering the idea of building an area around the house filled with food producing plants.

For example, many people consider gardening as their hobby. The truth, however, is that while the thought of growing plants may fascinate them, the activity also gives many a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. Studies have shown that people who garden are less stressed and live longer.

Experts connect this to the primal nature of man. For some people, digging both hands into a pile of dirt and sand somehow serves as the link to our past when everything that was ever needed was easily produced from the earth.

Unfortunately, modern man has forgotten the lessons of his primitive past. Our rapid advancement in technology has undoubtedly brought us numerous, outstanding discoveries and achievements, but it has also produced more stress than our physical bodies are able to handle.

With high stress levels comes an increase in a variety of ailments like heart attacks, hypertension, and even depression. Many of these can be prevented by engaging in simple and effortless activities such as gardening.

In a study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands, it was concluded that the capacity of humans to focus their attention on a directed or goal-centered activity is limited. Once we reach the limit of our attention, the average person is bound to get distracted, irritated, and is prone to committing errors.

Researchers refer to this condition as attention fatigue which can be effectively treated by engaging in activities which require minimal attention and thinking. Enjoying the outdoors or getting involved in nature-centered tasks are good examples since they require very little mental focus and help us to relax the mind.

This is the reason gardening is often seen as a great stress reliever. Even a small vegetable garden at home can take the mind off from the daily stresses of life both at work and at home.

Having a vegetable garden at home also offers a form of exercise. The many repetitive tasks like planting, weeding, watering and digging often need to be completed with the use of physical strength. In some cases, there is even a need to do some form of stretching especially when trying to reach out small gardening tools that have been placed unwittingly in a distant corner.

These are forms of exercises that may have low-impact results as opposed to the more stringent programs. Still, they can keep the body physically fit and can even be suitable for those who are suffering from minor health ailments like back aches and strains. This is one of the reasons why gardening is so popular with elderly people.

An interesting aspect about starting a vegetable garden at home has to do with keeping the brain healthy. Having a full time job can take its toll on the brain in the long run especially if the work involves a lot of stress and pressure. A small backyard garden has been found to have therapeutic effects as the sight and smell of plants and flowers is believed to carry relaxing properties. If you’re looking for some organic herbs or native foods to plant around your home, take a look at our favourite online store for bush foods, organic herbs and medicinal plants – The Herb Store.

The Five Vital Questions to Ask Your Prospective Tenants

Being a DIY landlord is a hard gig. Maintenance and legislation alone will have you constantly jumping through hoops. Add in the demoralizing effect of housing bad tenants and by the end of their term you’ll be selling the property quicker than you can say property management! To save yourself the headache that is often associated with DIY property management, Andrew from Brisbane property management team Rental Guardians knows all about dealing with difficult tenants, and has provided his top five questions to help weed out the troublemakers.

Questions to ask tenants DIY property management

Question One: Why (are you moving) ?

The reason for the move can spike big red flags. Are they moving because of an eviction or fall out with the previous landlord? Constant complainers (of their current living situation) may be revealing themselves as difficult tenants who could bring their issues with them. Look for appropriate reasons such as requiring a larger space for a growing family or changing location to suit studies/work.

Question Two: When (do you plan on moving in)?

If a potential tenant says they plan to move in ASAP i.e. tomorrow or the coming week, it is fair to assume that they are rather unorganised at lack planning etiquette. Responsible tenants will have searched in advance and devised plans to suit. In fact, it is standard procedure for tenants to notify landlords at least 30 days’ notice before the day they plan to move out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, tenants seeking to rent only after the next three months may be revealing that they are not ready for commitment and haven’t filtered through all potential properties to come to a final decision. Timing is important.

Question Three: What (is your monthly income)?

Vital question – can they afford to rent your property? Again, it is standard procedure that your tenant has an income which is at least 2.5-3 times the rental cost. It is required that your tenant is able to afford to rent as well as pay for other living costs in the process. The validity of their answer may be affected by monthly debt payments, however, you can follow this up by a credit report and a security deposit for the first month’s rent upon signing the lease agreement. Be wary of tenants who ask to pay in odd forms, for example ‘half now, half then’ payments.

Question Four: References from prior landlords and employers

Never skip on the references. Apart from high school graduates entering the big world for the first time, if a tenant is unable to provide reference or comes up with excuses, it is wise to drop them as a candidate. Rather than asking for a reference from a current landlord (who may be eager to get rid of the tenant and will withhold information of their unwanted behaviour) it is suggested that you ask for a reference from the landlord before them, as they will most likely be too happy to provide you with truthful and valuable insight. Questions to ask prior landlords are things like “did he/she provide rental payments on time,” “did he/she respect the landowner’s property and neighbours?” and “what was their reason for leaving?”

Question Five: Rental application submission a credit and background check

Obviously, anybody who refuses to undergo a credit check or submit an application should be refused then and there. By withholding concept you can assume that they are withholding information that may soil their facade (meaning they have something to hide). Ensure that you have informed them that this is standard procedure for all applicants and is simply adhering to fair housing laws -no exceptions. It is also wise to ask straight-forwardly if they’ve had any evictions, preventing yourself from having to experience a nightmare exceeding the half-year mark!

Additional Question: How (many people will be living in the apartment)?

More people equals more usage which in turn results in higher risks of damage, and shortened life spans for things. Adjusting the rent to suit the number of people or placing a limit on how many people can live in the area are wise options. It may be beneficial to determine whether or not your potential tenants own pets that may also be using the living area. Inform tenants if you have a “no pet” policy early on to prevent time-wasting and screening that will get you nowhere.

Considering Installing a Solar System?

solar panels on the roof

Installing solar panels at home has loads of benefits for you and the environment. Solar power is renewable energy and it does not release carbon dioxide or any harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Using this alternative source of energy helps slow down the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Years of research and development has given us highly efficient solar panel systems that serve as one of the most important solutions to today’s energy crisis.

Having a solar power system at home will also help you save a lot of money. Sunlight is free, but of course you will have to pay for the initial panel installation. Once your system is ready, your electricity costs at home will be reduced significantly or brought down to nothing. In some areas you can sell any extra sunlight energy your panels collect, and even make a profit!

Going solar might seem easy enough, and it’s the most reliable and cheapest source of energy available today, but it’s not that simple. You will have to consider some things first before deciding on installing solar panels on your rooftop.

Make an evaluation of your energy usage at home

Solar power systems can cost a lot depending on your daily energy usage. If your monthly energy bill is below $100, then there may be other more economical ways for you to save energy. Carefully assess your current energy usage at home and come up with a plan that will be helpful to you in saving power. Knowing how much you’ll be saving will be the key to help you decide whether it’s worthwhile for you to install a solar power system or not.

solarinstallerIt’s not easy to D.I.Y. the system

It’s no simple task installing solar panels on your roof. Most of us can’t just climb up to your roof and set up the panels on your own. For you to build an efficient solar power system, it has to be correctly wired, with the panels properly positioned at the right angle to expose them to the maximum amount of sunlight. It’s best to hire a professional solar panel installer to do the job. Here are some of the important things that you need to look for:

  • Look for a company that offers a strong warranty for panels, and for the inverters. See to it that there should is a 2 year warranty on the installer’s quality of work as well. Don’t hesitate to ask questions as this will be important in the long term. Quality work might cost a little bit more initially but it’ll be worth it.
  • Check online for reviews of the company you decide to have install your system. Only go with reputable companies with strong reputations for good workmanship.
  • Make sure your installers are properly licensed to install panels correctly and safely.
  • Ask for references to recent work if you are unsure about the company you are thinking about going with.

Costs can depend on the type of roof

If your roof is made out of material that’s difficult to work with, the installation crew will need more time to make sure that the panels are completely secured especially on fragile or brittle surfaces. This extra time may cost you between 10-25% more from your installation fee.

Contact your insurance company after the installation of solar panels to have your policy updated and revised. This may increase your monthly property insurance fees a little, but your system will be covered in case of fire, hail or other causes of damage or destruction.


How to Maintain a Pristine Looking Lawn

lawn corer in action

Aeration is a natural process wherein air gets exchanged between the soil and the atmosphere in the pockets that surround it. In many private lawns, soil is compacted due to being subjected to extensive use. This causes the air exchange to become restricted. Consequently, the soil is placed under undue stress, reducing its ability to benefit root growth. The solution to this is a mechanical process known as lawn aeration.


Click to view the Oz Aeration website

We talked with Bryan a lawn aerator from Oz Aeration about how and why mechanical aeration is hugely beneficial to maintaining a pristine lawn. As one of the first companies in Australia to offer the service of aerating lawns, mainly in Brisbane and Sydney; their team have a huge wealth of knowledge and experience working with grass grown in Australia’s climate conditions.

In lawn aeration, small patches of compacted soil are removed. This allows the remaining soil found underneath to readily get the needed nutrients from the environment. Specifically, air gets to move freely all across the lawn once the small patches are removed.

Many homes suffer from compacted soil as a byproduct of the construction there when the homes are built. During this period, fertile topsoil often has to be either buried or removed in order to give way to the building of the house foundation. This brings to the surface subsoil characterized by its compactness and heavy clay content.

Obviously, this is not the best type of soil needed to grow a healthy and green lawn. Certain grass types like turf, for instance, require good soil in order to have healthy roots. This is where aerating any grass may become necessary for pristine looking, healthy, dark green coverage.

Another major problem that home lawns have to contend with is the build-up of thatch in the area. This usually occurs in lawns where Bermuda grass is being grown. A thatch can be described as material composed of layers of dead and living plant roots, stems, and leaves that have accumulated over the course of time between an active lawn grass and its soil host.

A thatch is not necessarily a bad thing since it does allow lawn grass to become more resilient especially when subjected to heavy human actions like mowing, walking, playing, and the like. However, if it becomes too thick, a thatch can impede the movement of fertilizer, water, and air within the vast expanse of the lawn.

aerationexplainedIn the summer months, if a thatch is allowed to remain in the grassed area, the turf will have a difficult time dealing with the possibility of drought. This is because it has not been able to store up on the needed nutrients to allow it to withstand the heat during summer.

On the other hand, moist thatch, a familiar scene during the wet season, is an ideal shelter for fungi which can cause diseases harmful to lawn grass. In a worst case scenario, infestation can develop and bring untimely death to turf that has been weakened by diseases previously.

For this reason, it is essential that mechanical grass aeration is performed regularly. The general recommendation is to have this done annually. However, the frequency of work will also depend on several factors. For example, lawns that are mowed several times or are used often as a playground for children may require aerating more than once in a given year.

The timing of the aeration also has to be considered. Generally though, lawn aeration performed either during spring or autumn is considered ideal as the roots tend to be more responsive to growth efforts being introduced soon after the aeration is completed.