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Ways to use timber to transform a home


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.

kitchen-renovation-builderUse 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 |

Retaining Wall Materials – choosing the right product


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 Blocks

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.

Treated Timber

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

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 |

6 Ways to renovate a 1950s home.


Is your home feeling outdated and in need of a remodel or renovation? There are several ways that you can create a more open plan feel throughout your home.

Many homes in well established suburbs like Hamilton, Adamstown, New Lambton, Merewether, Tighes Hill and surrounding Newcastle areas of the Hunter region were built back in the 1950’s era when homes were designed and constructed with separate rooms for cooking, eating and watching television.  Although some home owners still love the layout of their traditional home, we find that most people now prefer a more open plan flow between the kitchen and dining areas of their home.

Below are some ideas to inspire you to renovate a 1950s home.

1. Connect the kitchen and dining space by removing walls

It’s common for 1950’s style homes to have a separate kitchen to the rest of the living space.  In most cases it’s easy enough to knock out internal walls and open up the kitchen to connect the dining space which instantly modernises a home. The image below is a recent large scale renovation project that we completed for a client in Hamilton South.

living-dining-room2. Add a larger window or a skylight in the kitchen area

Natural light transforms a dull dark kitchen immediately. Look at options to increase the current window size, install an overhead window, add in a skylight, or if you kitchen runs along an external wall you could consider adding a window splashback to let light in.

Look at how light filled this new kitchen below is! This is another image from our Hamilton South renovation project. The addition of an overhead window makes all the difference when it comes to maximising use of natural light.

overhead-kitchen-window3. Indoor/Outdoor Entertaining

Open up your home so that it connects you to the outdoors. This is a great solution to increase the amount of natural light coming into your home and it creates a relaxed entertaining environment. Depending on the style of your home and the position of the rooms, you could consider adding a set of bifold doors, french doors or sliding stacker doors to the rear of the property to connect you to outdoor spaces such as decks and patios.

1950s-house-renovation-hamilton-south4. Change the current room layout

Consider swapping your rooms around or re-configuring your existing internal layout to suit your current needs.  Ideas include creating an informal living space off the kitchen and dining area to the rear of the home so that you can position large windows or doors to overlook the backyard and connect the outdoors. Utilise excess space to create a study nook, a new walk in robe or add a new ensuite bathroom.

5. Decide what to do with an old fireplace

Many older homes in Newcastle and the Hunter region have fireplaces. You could consider making the most of the existing fireplace by installing a new gas log fireplace, which not only looks great but is also practical. If you don’t intend to use the fireplace in the future you can ask you builder to seal the fireplace flue and look at cladding over the fireplace in a suitable product. Old fireplaces can be removed, but be mindful that they are usually structural and can be quite costly to remove.

6. Create more built-in storage or add a study nook

When re-modelling an older home, don’t forget to find smart ways to incorporate built-in storage solutions.  Storage options include creating cupboards under staircases, creating storage in ceiling spaces, utilising excess space in hallways and bedrooms.  Adding a study nook such as this one in our recent renovation project works a treat!

study-nookIf you are ready to modernise and renovate a 1950s home in the Newcastle region call Amaze Building on 0484 335 978.

Amaze Building – Renovations, Extensions, New Homes.

Service Areas, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley & Port Stephens. 

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June 1, 2016 |

What’s the difference between a custom home builder and a project builder?


One of the first decisions you need to make when you start to build a home is whether you want to employ a custom home builder or choose an existing design from a project home builder. Both have merit and we are fortunate to have a great range of custom home builders and project builders based in Newcastle & The Hunter to choose from.

What is the Difference between a Custom Designed Home and a Project Home?

A custom designed home is a one of a kind home. You can supply your plans or have them commissioned and work with a local custom home builder to build a unique home.

A project home is one where you choose an existing home design from a range of set plans. You can make certain changes to the original plans but this can be expensive and the basic structure generally remains the same. Most project home builders have display homes in new housing estates that you can visit and walk through.  Walking through different display homes is a really good idea if you are unsure of exactly what size and style of home you want to build. When entering display homes, be sure to take note of the room sizes, the types of finishes you like and of course which floor plans suit your needs.  Homes in new land estates are also often sold as house and land packages and these can often be a less expensive often for first home buyers.


Image: Amaze Building Pty Ltd

Which is the Right Choice for You?

There is no one better option. Whether you choose a custom designed builder or a project home builder will depend on your needs, budget and how much choice you desire to have in the building process.


Image: JMC Constructions Pty Ltd

Benefits of using a Custom Home Builder

custom-builder-newcastle-hunter-regionImage: P&D Kay Constructions Pty Ltd

  • Choice. This is the biggest pro of using custom home builders. You can have an architect or draftsperson create the plans for you and choose from a myriad of fittings and be more involved in the building process.
  • A closer relationship with your builder. This is usually the case with custom built homes as you work with the same building team from the beginning of the project until the end.
  • Experienced Builders. Custom builders usually have many years of experience and can help make the process of building hassle free. Make sure to ask for testimonials from happy customers.

custom-builder-hunter-valleyImage: JRP Built Pty Ltd

Benefits of using a Project Home Builder

  • Cost. It will usually be cheaper to work with a project home builder. This is mostly due to the fact that these types of homes are mass produced with minimal or no changes to the original plans.
  • Restricted product choice. This can be a bonus as building a home can be daunting with so many options from which to choose.
  • Proven designs. You are choosing a home design that has already been built and most project builders have display homes that you can visit.

Think carefully about what sort of home you’d like and how to best achieve it. To find a local Custom Home Builder who is based in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland & Hunter Valley, visit Custom Designed Home Builders .

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April 2, 2015 |

Deck and Balcony Safety in Your Home


Always Use Licensed Tradesmen for Maintenance and Repairs

In Australia, and particularly in Newcastle and the Hunter region with our wonderful weather and lifestyle, we make great use of our outdoor spaces. Many of us have lovely decks and balconies for entertaining and relaxing. But deaths have occurred in Australia from collapsing decks. We should never take for granted that our decks and balconies are safe. No-one wants to put family or friends at risk in their home due to run-down or poorly built structures.

Any new decks, railings, balustrades and balconies you build must meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and all the relevant Australian standards. The Code requires decks and balconies to be able to withstand the pressures typically placed on them.

  1. Regular inspection and maintenance is essential. Some of this you can do yourself. You should check the handrails, balustrades, supporting beams and joists of your deck by using a pushing and pulling action. Use light pressure before increasing the force applied. It is recommended you get an expert to diagnose any suspected problems. Experts to call in include architects, builders, building inspectors, structural engineers and building surveyors. Whoever you choose, ensure they have the appropriate licences, experience and insurances.
  2. If you are building a new home, you should make sure you have the required building and planning approvals. If you are renovating or adding a deck you can check with your local council if you don’t have copies of those documents.
  3. Engage licensed tradespeople to undertake any building work. Check their licence with Fair Trading or search Build Local’s directory listings for Carpenters – Renovation and Home Maintenance.
Newcastle Deck Builders

Image: Amaze Building, Newcastle

For more information about deck safety you can visit the NSW Department of Fair Trading’s website and read their Deck and Balcony Safety Guide.

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November 19, 2014 |

The importance of using licensed tradies


When selecting tradies to work on your home renovation project it is important to consider all of the things that could potentially go wrong if you choose to use an inexperienced or unlicensed tradesperson.

Small jobs such as painting, sanding & small repair jobs can be completed by yourself, but when it comes to selecting someone to carry out electrical, plumbing or building construction work you should not take any risks. Licensed tradespeople are required to carry a NSW Fair Trading Contractor Licence with them on job sites and you should ask the tradesperson to show you this licence prior to commencing any work on your home.

Tradies are required to hold current licenses for good reason – they have been appropriately trained and are aware of any changes to Building Codes and Standards. If you need to find licensed trades for you renovation project visit, http://www.buildlocal.com.au/trades-contractors/

Using unlicensed trades may mean that you will end up with poor quality workmanship which may result in you having to spend more money & time on re-work.  The worst case scenario could mean that you are putting yourself and your family in potential danger if work is not completed to current standards or is poorly executed with a lack of regard for safety.

Plumbing, Draining & Gasfitting or Electrical Wiring Work

Plumbers, Drainers, Gasfitters & Electricians are all deemed specialist tradespeople and home renovators should never attempt to take on any plumbing, draining, gasfitting or electrical wiring work themselves.  It is illegal to carry out this type of work without holding the appropriate contractor licence due to the high risk of harm to themselves and others. Always ensure that you use licensed trades for this high risk specialist work no matter how small the job may seem.licensed-hunter-valley-electrician

Air Conditioning & Refrigeration

Air Conditioning & Refrigeration trades are also deemed specialist tradespeople. A licence from Fair Trading is required before any air-conditioning and/or refrigeration work can be undertaken in NSW, regardless of the cost of the work and regardless of whether the work is residential, commercial or industrial.

Home Building Work

All structural home building work should be carried out by a licensed carpenter or builder.  Carpenters can complete carpentry work up to a total value of $20,000 (inc. labour & materials) without the need to provide home warranty insurance to the consumer. Most builders these days do not carry out the carpentry building work themselves, instead they focus on coordinating a team of trades required to complete the work.  You will require a builder for large projects such as home extensions, substantial renovations & new build construction projects.

Always check with your local Council and talk to the builder or tradesman to determine if Council Development Approval is required prior to any building work taking place.

Home Maintenance

If you have some small fiddly maintenance or repair jobs that need to be completed around the home you may find that it is best to use a home handyman to complete the work for you.

Home handymen do not require a home building licence if the work is not structural and if the total value of the materials & labour combined does not exceed $5,000.  Some examples of such work are changing tap washers, repairing fencing or gates, small painting jobs, small gyprock repair jobs, high pressure cleaning.

If you want to find out more about Home Building Licence requirements in NSW, visit http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/About_us/Online_services/Home_building_licence_check.page

Happy Renovating!


Don’t forget to visit our website www.buildlocal.com.au if you need to find a licensed builder or tradie in Newcastle, Port Stephens & the Hunter Region.

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May 12, 2014 |
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