Draught proofing your home is one of the simplest upgrades you can undertake to increase your comfort level while also reducing your energy bills and carbon emissions by up to 25%, according to the Australian Government’s Your Home website.
Air leaks are year-round issues. In winter, they allow valuable hot air to escape and unwanted external cold air to enter. In summer, the reverse occurs. Air leakage accounts for 15−25% of heat loss in buildings in winter, plus it can contribute to a significant loss of coolness in climates where air conditioners are used.
Most Australian houses will benefit from improved air sealing. The best time to air seal your home is during construction or renovation. If you are concerned about air leakage in your home there are some simple ways to check for leaks yourself.
Test Your Home for Air Leakage
To test your home for draughts, on a windy day carefully hold a lit incense stick or candle next to your windows, doors, ceiling fixtures, skylights and other places where air may leak. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need addressing.
So How Do I Seal My Home Against Air Leakage?
Usually the most cost effective solution is to start sealing the largest and most obvious leaks, and then move to significant cracks and penetrations. When these are sealed, smaller leakages become more obvious using the above detection methods. Because large leaks in roof spaces may be difficult to locate and seal, professional advice may be required.
There are many different techniques to use to seal your home against air leakage including:
- When the home is under construction seal gaps around windows and door frames before architraves are installed.
- Install weather stripping to entrance doors.
- Use caulking (no more gaps) to seal where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings or over cabinets.
- Large cavities may require a foam expansion joint spray sealant.
- In older homes it may be necessary to block off old unused fireplaces.
- If your home has timber floorboards and is built on bearers and joists consider installing underfloor insulation or use a sealant to fill in gaps where timber floorboards may have shrunk over time.
For more detailed information about sealing your home against air leakage, visit the Australian Government’s Your Home website, which has some great information about building environmentally sustainable homes.
If you are planning to build or renovate a home in Newcastle or the Hunter region, visit the builders section of our website to find a builder to assist you.
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June 16, 2020 | BuildLocal
This new kitchen installed by BNB Cabinets Plus owner Ben, looks fantastic! We love the clever use of black and white cabinets and those beautiful handles really complete the look. This kitchen not only looks great, but there is plenty of space to move around the large island work space.
The 2 pack polyurethane black cabinets are striking against the contrast of the chosen cabinetry handles. With the convenience of lots of draws for storage and a large fridge space, this new kitchen also features a black double oven. For the overhead cupboards, the owner chose white cabinetry which works beautifully against the splashback of cararra marble fan shaped tiles and the white works well with the lower black cabinets.
This large island bench is the hero in the room of this new kitchen and the light fitting that sits above it is just superb. For the benchtop, the owner chose 40mm laminate in a colour called Concrete. Complete with an inbuilt double stainless steel sink, it also has the convenience of the dishwasher underneath for easy cleanup and the extra cupboard space underneath is great for storage. The large benchtop prep area makes this a very spacious and functional kitchen.
How good do these barn doors look! Adding a unique touch to this new kitchen is this fantastic built-in pantry. The barn doors add a bold feature wall to the kitchen, while concealing an organised pantry and handy utility space. The shelving and draw combination maximise the use of the space, complete with power outlets to keep the appliances hidden away. The exposed track and wheel design of the doors work well with the overall style of this beautifully renovated home.
If you are ready to update your kitchen give Ben at BNB Cabinets Plus a call on 0412 323722. Ben has some great ideas and can tailor a design to suit your style and budget whilst managing and coordinating everything from start to finish.
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August 14, 2017 | BuildLocal
Is your backyard looking cluttered or messy – maybe you have a cracked concrete path to get rid of, or tonnes of earth you need moved to get that landscaping job done – hire an excavator and driver. Excavating is back-breaking manual labour that will take you days to complete. Getting an earthmoving company to help you is certainly worth it.
Jobs Where an Excavator Can Come in Handy
- Digging up a concrete path
- Levelling ground before building
- Excavating to lay pipes
- Creating gardens and other landscaping needs
- Preparing your backyard for an extension, deck, new garage or driveway
- Cleaning up large piles of debris
- Preparing ground for a retaining wall
- Digging a hole for a swimming pool
Get your backyard ready for summer now. If you plan on creating new gardens or retaining walls, or need your backyard levelled, considered getting the professionals in to save your time – and more importantly – your back!
T&D Earthworks can help you with all excavation jobs, no matter how big or small, in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. They can even organise to have the excess soil or other material disposed of for you. If your new home is complete but you still have debris and piles of soil that need removing or your yard levelled they can get the job done for you. With an excavator and driver you can get building sites and backyards cleaned up in no time.
We have all the equipment you could possibly need from large scale excavators and tippers to smaller machines that are able to access your backyard through gates and doorways.
Contact Tim from T&D Earthworks on 0417 671 425 today to get a quote on your next excavating or earth moving job.
By Tim Braiding, Owner of T&D Earthworks. Servicing Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley & Port Stephens.
If you are planning to build a new custom designed home or want to find a builder to renovate your existing home in Newcastle & the Hunter visit our website.
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December 14, 2016 | BuildLocal
When was the last time you checked your rainwater tank to ensure that it’s not leaking and is in good working order?
With the drought period that we are experiencing in Australia right now, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your water tank is not leaking and losing water. So lets go through the main things you should consider when it comes to leaking water tanks and water tank repairs.
Cleaning Your Rainwater Tank
You should clean your rainwater tank every few years or so to remove the build up of sediment that accumulates within the tank. If your tank needs a serious clean – more than simply removing leaves from the surface, you should get advice from a water tank repair professional. Harsh cleaning may cause damage to the tank, so it’s a good idea to speak to a professional first to consider your options. To overcome any minor cracks or residue build up issues, home owners often decide to install a water lank liner inside their tank.
Leaking Concrete Water Tanks
Undertake a thorough examination of your water tank and look for any cracks or leaks. Most cracks on concrete water tanks can be repaired, but you could also look at installing a water tank liner to refurbish your tank. To find out more about water tank liner suppliers and installers in NSW visit, Water Tank Liners.
Discoloured Drinking Water
Dirty coloured drinking water can be caused by a build-up of dirt and residue from a rusted roof. Or, it can be caused from damp leaves in gutters – you should clean your gutters regularly to avoid leaf matter building up and also remove any debris from sitting on top of the water tank roof.
Water tanks for drinking water should have a filter installed to trap sediment, but if your tank is old there’s probably a good chance the filter may have deteriorated and needs to be replaced. If you are concerned about the quality of your drinking water, have your tank inspected by a professional to get the issue resolved.
Dampness around a Rainwater Tank
Persistent dampness around a rainwater tank might be a sign of a leak. Check to see if the ground around your tank is damp and investigate the cause.
Water tanks provide a great breeding ground for mosquitoes. To help prevent this, ensure any openings are covered by mozzie-proof mesh.
If you have a leaking concrete water tank and live in NSW throughout the Hunter Valley, Mid North Coast, Central Coast or Upper Hunter regions, Ross Chapman from H2O Tanks & Liners will be able to offer advice. Ross can assist you with repairing cracks in tanks, installing new tank liners or fitting a new roof to your water tank.
To discuss your water tank repair or liner needs contact Ross direct on 0419 628 402.
For more detailed advice on water tanks, the Australian Government’s Department of Health has a detailed document called Guidance on use of Rainwater Tanks that points out why it is so important for your health to keep your rainwater tank healthy.
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Images: H20 Tanks & Liners, Hunter Valley.
August 22, 2016 | BuildLocal
There are many ways to transform your home when renovating. Using timber features throughout your home is one way you can create a big impact.
Timber is a versatile building material that is available in many forms. Some of the common products used in residential homes are traditional hardwood timber boards, engineered timber boards or timber veneer panels.
When building or renovating, most home owners choose practical colours that won’t date such as whites, greys and beige tones. Adding a touch of timber inside your home can be a great way to add some interest and introduce warmer tones to the interior of your home. Below are a few ideas to help inspire you.
Install Timber Flooring
Installing timber flooring can dramatically change the look of the room and add a sense of luxury.
If you are renovating a home you may be lucky enough to find timber floorboards underneath the existing layers of flooring that can be polished. Hardwood timber boards and engineered timber boards can be laid over an existing concrete slab to create a feeling of warmth in your home.
Engineered timber flooring, or floating flooring as it is commonly known is available in a huge range of finishes to suit any style. Hardwood floating floor options include blackbutt & spotted gum. Oak engineered boards are very popular as they offer a broader range of finishes such as aged oak and lime wash. Oak boards are generally available in a more varied range of widths and lengths.
Use Timber as a Feature in Your Kitchen
Timber looks great when used as a feature on an island bench. You could also consider using timber veneer on walls or in cabinetry to add some visual interest in your kitchen. Take a look at one of our recent building projects below.
Use Timber Outdoors
When it comes to using timber outside, the obvious place to use it is on decking. Merbau is the most popular option for outdoor decking, however there are a broad range of hardwood timbers you can use for decking. If you are working with a restricted budget, a more affordable option is to use treated pine.
If your home is located in a built up suburban area, timber screening can be a great way to create some privacy in your outdoor entertaining space. Another way to incorporate timber in your outdoor area is to construct a built-in BBQ area, or storage as you see in this featured outdoor space. You could also use timber to build practical bench seating.
Use Timber on Ceilings
Another way you can introduce timber into a space is to install cedar lining boards, or a similar product on the ceiling of your outdoor space to create a real wow factor. Lining boards can also look great inside your home on raked or vaulted ceilings.
Outdoor timber decking will require some ongoing maintenance. There are some great products available on the market to protect your timber deck. Talk to your local hardware specialist and follow the product recommendations to keep your deck looking great for many years to come.
Amaze Building are experienced builders who can renovate, extend or build you a new home. Our team can also create amazing outdoor spaces for you such as covered decks and outdoor entertaining areas.
To find out how Amaze Building can help transform your home, contact Michael on 0484 335 978. .
Amaze Building – Licence No. 284931C.
July 29, 2016 | BuildLocal
If you are planning an extension or renovation to your home, don’t forget to think about how you can upgrade your plumbing at the same time. Updating your plumbing might not be top of your renovating checklist, but it can be more easily attended to at this time, and there are many ways it can improve your lifestyle. Plus if you are getting a plumber in to do work on your extension, it can be cost-effective to get them to complete other jobs as well.
Here are five (5) ways plumbing upgrades can benefit you.
1. Install a Water Tank
A renovation or extension is a great time to consider installing a water tank if you don’t already have one. The benefits of this are obvious – clean, fresh rainwater, to make use of our incredible natural resource and, of course, the savings a water tank can offer if you connect the tank and use rainwater for flushing toilets, for outdoor taps and to laundry taps to wash your clothes.
2. Installing Water Efficient Fittings
Water efficiency is becoming more and more important, both ethically and for cost-effective reasons. When you extend or renovate, be sure to consider the water efficiency of toilets, taps and shower heads. Your plumber will be able to advise you on your best options.
3. Improved Water Pressure
Water pressure can be low due to leaky, cracked pipes. Upgrading the plumbing can help fix this problem. No more screaming when someone flushes the toilet while you are in the shower!
4. Plumbing Issues can Affect the Layout of Your Renovation
Right back at the planning stage of a renovation it is particularly important to consider plumbing issues. For cost reasons it can be very effective to keep your plumbing changes in similar or even the same layout to avoid budget blowouts.
5. Improve the Resale Value of Your Home
While it is true that the plumbing in your home is largely invisible, an upgrade to plumbing is certainly something worth mentioning to your real estate agent when you sell. Prospective buyers will be reassured to know the plumbing in your home is top notch and has been recently updated.
We hope you found this article helpful. Don’t forget to like Build Local’s Facebook page or click here to visit our website to find a local builder if you are planning to build or renovate in Newcastle and the Hunter Region.
July 22, 2016 | BuildLocal
‘Out of mind, out of sight’ is an adage that can be easily applied to the electrical wiring of an older home, particularly when there are no obvious problems with the lighting or electricity. However, there are many reasons why it’s worth asking an electrician to take a look at wiring in older homes.
The Main Reason for Rewiring A House Is Safety
The danger of non-compliant, or degraded wiring in older homes is the most obvious reason to consider re-wiring a home. There is a very real danger of electric shock or injury from non-compliant or deteriorated electrical wiring. Residential fires are another concern, and many of these occur every year due to wiring faults. Some older homes may not have mains powered smoke alarms installed which are a mandatory clause within the Building Code, adding further to the risks associated with electrical fires. For this reason, DIY wiring – or undertaking any electrical work if you are not a qualified electrician is a recipe for disaster.
Upgrade to Meet Modern Electrical Needs
We use so many appliances in modern life, from computers to TVs, from home theatre systems to kitchen appliances. Older homes are often simply unable to cope with our changing electrical needs. The majority of older homes only have one circuit for power outlets and one for lighting with NO safety switch protection. Upgrading the wiring in older homes can enable you to set up different circuits as needed, along with complying with the latest safety standards, so your family can function more easily in their day-to-day technological life. Wouldn’t you love additional power points in some rooms, and to put them exactly where you need them? What about the option for dimmer switches on lights, or to change to energy efficient lighting, even home automation can now be considered. If your electrical switchboard looks like the image shown here, it’s probably time to consider upgrading.
- Smoke Detectors – required by law, smoke detectors are best if they are hard-wired in and have a battery for back-up
- Safety Switches – safety switches are mandatory in all new homes and for any new power points and lighting circuits installed within existing homes. They can prevent fatal electrocution and they also provide protection for appliances in your home. Recent changes to law require all existing homes to have a safety switch installed when any additional lighting circuits, fans or power points are installed.
- Value-adding – rewiring a home will be far more attractive when you come to sell your property, both for safety and practical reasons
When you should worry
Get an electrician in to check the wiring in your older home if:
- Fuses blow often
- Your lights flicker or dim regularly
- You can smell a persistent burning smell from an appliance or area of your home
- Your power points feel warm or look discoloured
- You suspect dodgy wiring may have been carried out in your home by previous owners
What does it cost to rewire a house
It generally costs anywhere from $3500 – $5000+ to rewire the typical 1950’s style 3 bedroom home and this cost includes upgrading the switch box. Without inspecting the home it’s very difficult to put an exact figure on what it would cost you to rewire your home, but that seems to be the average cost. Be mindful that there are many factors to consider that could affect the final cost and don’t forget to allow for the cost of new light and fan fittings.
Hunter Electrics offer free quotes to home owners in Branxton, Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Maitland, Singleton and the general Hunter Valley region who are interested in finding out what it would cost to rewire their home.
For a full inspection and report on any property’s electrical wiring including Service Mains, Consumer Mains, Switch Boards, Earthing and Final Sub Circuit wiring please feel free to give me a call on 0423 098 241, or visit our website to submit an online enquiry www.hunterelectrics.com
By Peter Butcher, Hunter Electrics
Lic No. 195208C
July 8, 2016 | BuildLocal
A retaining wall is an outdoor wall that is used to hold or ‘retain’ the soil behind it in place. Retaining walls can be as small as a few rows of bricks or timber installed on a level surface to create a small garden, or on a larger scale, a retaining wall can be many metres tall and will require the services of structural engineer to design it. Obviously retaining walls, incorrectly constructed, can be very dangerous. For this reason you should always seek professional advice if you need to build a sizeable retaining wall.
Council Regulations for Retaining Walls
Every state in Australia has different council regulations for the height at which you need permission to build a retaining wall. If you need council permission, you will need to engage a structural engineer to design the wall. They will ensure the wall is safe and secure, and look at issues including drainage and soil pressure. Council permission may also be required if your retaining wall is close to a property boundary and in some areas it might be required where erosion or the position of water catchments is nearby.
Retaining Wall Materials
Retaining walls can be made from many different materials including treated timber, concrete blocks, stone and brick.
Concrete masonry blocks are a good practical choice when it comes to selecting retaining wall materials for your home. They are the most commonly used retaining wall product on the market these days. If you are looking for ideas when it comes to selecting colours for your new retaining wall, just take a drive around a recently developed land estate in the Hunter region and you will see how popular they are.
Blocks are often made to replicate the look of stone and they come in a huge range of colours, or you could choose to build your wall from concrete besser blocks if you intend to cement render and paint the wall.
Image: Jarrad Mitchell Constructions – masonry block retaining wall.
Railway sleepers and treated timber can also be an attractive option for retaining walls and it’s often a less expensive option, but you need to be aware that timber will decay over time, so this option will not be as long lasting or hard wearing as concrete blocks or stone. However, for low-level garden beds, timber is often a good option.
Natural stone is a hardwearing option that looks great, but stone is generally not a material to consider working with yourself unless you are very handy. Due to the earthy tones of natural sandstone it’s often a popular choice for home owners who are looking for a walling product in mixed cream and brown tones. Don’t forget that you will need to factor in the cost of using a professional stonemason if you decide to choose this option and natural stone is more expensive.
Brick retaining walls can be left as is, or rendered, depending on the look you are after. Again this is a job best left to experts, as drainage must be considered. Brick retaining walls are often favoured in heritage areas and well established suburbs, however it can be difficult to match bricks if you are building a new retaining wall to suit an existing home.
Other Considerations When Building a Retaining Wall
Proper drainage is an absolute must when constructing a retaining wall. The wall needs to be able to withstand the pressure of the earth against it after heavy periods of rain. If this is not undertaken correctly you run the risk of the wall collapsing or falling over, something you definitely don’t want to happen.
Don’t forget the excavation necessary for larger retaining walls. How much excavation is needed will depend partly on the type of material you choose and the size of the retaining wall you need built.
So, while DIY is certainly an option when you construct a retaining wall, it can be well worth contacting a professional to help you work out what exactly you need and to ensure you get the job done safely and professionally. Don’t take any chances, if you are unsure if you can build a retaining wall yourself just call in the experts.
Our Tip – Concrete retaining blocks are probably the best option if you are looking for strength and fast, easy assembly. Always check your local council requirements before you start any work.
If you need a new retaining wall installed Jarrad Mitchell Constructions can help. We will come out to your site and go through your options with you.
Call Jarrad on 0431 952 685
by Jarrad Lowe – Jarrad Mitchell Constructions, Licensed Builder Servicing Newcastle & the Hunter Valley.
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June 7, 2016 | BuildLocal
Building on a sloping block is something that many people are afraid to attempt. In some ways these fears are justified, as it can be more difficult and expensive to build a home on a sloping site. But don’t overlook the positives – read on to find out more about the pros and cons and we can connect you to local builders who specialise in building custom designed homes.
Things to consider…..
It may sound obvious to consider the elevation but don’t underestimate the importance of this. Not just for the degree of slope – which will affect your costs – but for the views you can achieve. A high elevation will also affect the level of natural light pouring into your house as well as its exposure to the elements. Being buffeted by wind and rain means it is more important than ever to carefully consider the materials you choose for your home. Use hardy materials that are able stand up to the weather and salt conditions if you are building near the lake or beach.
Building on a sloping block gives you the opportunity to build a truly one-of-a-kind, creative home. Such homes are usually built on more than one level, which means you have the chance to create something really interesting to take full advantage of the outlook. Homes on sloping blocks are often unique. Many project home builders now offer designs for sloping blocks, but if you want something totally unique it’s best to engage a local home designer and talk to custom home builders who have experience building on sloping blocks.
There are many challenges that come with building a home on a sloping site. You will probably need to cut into the hillside to a varying degree, depending on the steepness and the design of your home and remember that hills can be made of rock and soil depths can be shallow. Building structural retaining walls and soil displacement can be expensive so these costs will all need to be considered in your budget. When building on a slope, it’s also very important to get the drainage around your property right.
Image: P & D Kay Constructions – Lake Macquarie Sloping Block Design
Land may be cheaper to buy when the site is sloping, though the building itself will probably be more expensive. Again, it is important to choose a home designer and builder who is familiar with working on sloping sites and with whom you can communicate effectively to ensure a successful build. Careful planning can minimise expenses and if you utilise the slope properly it can help keep costs down.
There are pros and cons to building on a sloping site. It pays to contact a builder with experience building custom designed homes before getting started. Talk to a local home designer or contact the custom home builders listed on Build Local’s website.
Don’t forget to like Build Local on Facebook to see examples of Hunter Region builders work. Click here to visit our Facebook page.
May 23, 2016 | BuildLocal
1. New Curtains & Soft Furnishings
Adding a few bright cushions or other soft furnishings can really lift your décor. Changing these with the seasons is a nice touch. Or try a new doona cover for a bedroom; a rug in the living room. Changing your curtains and blinds can really update your home.
A fresh coat of paint will enliven your home. For a real change try a bold feature wall or front door. And remember that paint can always be changed if you decide it’s not for you.
Wallpaper has made a massive comeback in the past few years, and rightly so. There are so many options out there now, from monochrome to bold or something more subtle. Wallpaper is a particularly lovely option for children’s rooms.
Adding a new painting is a great way to get inspiration for a space. While an artwork can be expensive, there a many cheaper options, including prints, wall decals or even homemade options. Framing photographs is a nice way to add a personal touch.
Kitchen appliances used to be limited to white or stainless steel, but now there are many brightly coloured items on the market. The most obvious are fridges, with new SMEG ones in different colours and patterns being released all the time. But even ovens are now available in stylish retro colours.
Livening up white or neutral bathrooms is easy to do with coloured towels and bath mats. For an even bigger change think about renovating using coloured tiles or bold shaped tiles as a feature wall.
7. Plants and Flowers
Looking out through large or strategically placed windows to see well-tended gardens is a great way to bring greenery to your home. Or consider adding indoor pot plants – even a well-placed vase of flowers can introduce a wow-factor.
If you are renovating your kitchen, you could use a coloured splashback. There are so many great looking tiles on the market, or for a modern look try a glass splashback.
Always consider the floors when you decorate, they are one of the most dominant colour surfaces in a room. Depending on the floor type if might be worth considering ripping up old flooring to see what lies underneath. You might be lucky enough to find old timber floorboards that you can sand and polish. There are so many wonderful flooring options available, vinyl planks and floating timber flooring are very popular choices and come in a huge colour range. A change of carpet can also make a big difference if it’s time to update.
Don’t forget to like Build Local on Facebook to keep up with the latest trends. Click here to visit our Facebook page or visit our website to find a local Newcastle builder to help you renovate.
May 20, 2016 | BuildLocal