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Learn how to draught proof your home


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 |

Sloping Block Custom Home Builders Newcastle & Hunter Valley


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…..

1. Elevation

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.


 2. Creativity

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.

3. Challenges

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


4. Costs

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.

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May 23, 2016 |

9 Ways to Update Your Home Using Colour


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.

2. Painting

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.

3. Wallpaper

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.

4. Artworks

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.

5. Appliances

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.

6. Bathrooms

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.

8. Kitchens

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.


 9. Floors

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.internal-renovation-lornfacebook icon

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 |

Top 5 Tips for Open Plan Living in an Older Home


We don’t live in our houses the same way as we once did. Today, most people want living spaces with a modern open plan feel, but older houses often have smaller rooms and distinct, separate living areas.

If you love the charm and style of your older home, but want to modernise the home by opening up the living areas, read on for our top 5 tips.

1. Knock Down a Non-structural Wall

This is the most obvious way to open up your living area. Kitchens were once hidden away, with dining tables in a separate room. Modern homes combine these areas for open plan living. Obviously you can knock down structural walls too, though this will be more expensive. Be sure to talk to an engineer or builder for advice about which walls will be easiest to remove to best open up the space and create a flow throughout the home.


2. Furniture and Décor

Consider investing in more streamlined and modern furniture. Large and cumbersome furniture will make your home feel more crowded and clutter the space. Co-ordinate colours across your entire home so that there is a sense of flow from room to room.living-dining-room

3. More Natural Light

Older homes can be very dark. Letting more natural light into your home will make it feel more open. Consider adding skylights. You might be able to have larger windows installed in your home or add a set of French doors or sliding doors to the rear of the home. Using curtains made from a lighter-weight fabric or using shutters instead can also make the space seem more modern and open.

kitchen-renovation-builder-lorn-nsw4. Remodel your Staircase

If your older home is over two levels your staircase maybe enclosed. Opening it up can really make a difference. Timber banisters, glass balustrades, steel rails or cable rails are all good options.

5. Remove Clutter

Hiding away your clutter can make your home seem more spacious. In living areas consider building in storage, such as the TV cabinet or bookshelves. A carpenter or cabinet maker can come and give you a quote and perhaps suggest different options.

It is possible to create a more open plan feel in the living areas of an older home without undertaking a full scale renovation. If you would like to talk to a local builder who can assist you in Newcastle or the surrounding regions, click here to visit our website.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook for ideas and to view local builders work. Click here to visit our Facebook page.

April 17, 2016 |

Energy Efficient Home Design

Urban Living Solutions Home Designers Maitland

How important is design when it comes to creating an energy efficient house? Short answer: Very Important!

Creating an energy efficient house is most easily tackled in the design stages. According to the Australian Government’s Your Home website– a guide to environmentally sustainable homes – approximately 40% of household energy is used for heating and cooling to achieve thermal comfort. They suggest this rate could be cut to almost zero in new housing through sound climate responsive design. Here are some aspects to consider.Urban Living Solutions Home Designer Hunter Region


Correctly orienting your home will help you control its temperature – so you don’t need to use air conditioning all the time. Look at aligning the building to take advantage of the direction of natural breezes. Cross-ventilation can also help when it comes to cooling a home and living areas should ideally face north wherever possible.

You need to consider sunlight too. Smart choice of window furnishings or exterior awnings will help you control the amount of sunlight entering your home. Consider options that allow you to minimise heat in the summer, but still allow sunlight to enter your home in winter.


While not technically a part of home design, landscaping is vitally important when creating an energy efficient home. Shading walls and windows can keep your house cooler in summer and choosing deciduous trees which lose their leaves in winter will allow the sun to penetrate your home in the cooler months of the year.

Insulation and Sealing Your Home

Insulation, particularly in the ceiling and walls will help keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. Ventilation in the roof is also an option worth considering. Ensure your home is well sealed against air leakage, particularly around windows and doors. This prevents warm air from escaping in the winter and cold air from entering in the summer.

Other Energy Efficient Home Design Tips

  • Ceiling fans are far more energy efficient than air conditioning and are often all you will need to cool a room to a bearable level, particularly at night. Contact an electrician to install fans in your existing home.
  • Eaves overhanging windows will keep your house cooler.
  • Consider non standard glazing options such as low-e or double glazing for windows and doors.  Talk to your home designer or local window manufacturer for advice.
  • If you are renovating or extending a home consider adding a verandah, covered deck or patio awning for shading.
  • Whether you are building a new home or renovating an existing home a local building designer will be able to assess your site and offer advice specific to your needs which will save you money in the future.

The Your Home website is a valuable source of information and is worth having a look at to get ideas. If you are planning to build in Newcastle or the Hunter Region Urban Living Solutions will be able to assist you.

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March 14, 2016 |

Creating Functional Living Rooms that Work

living room layouts

Build Local’s Top Tips For Living Rooms.

Your living room is one of the most heavily utilised areas of your home and that space needs to be functional as well as beautiful. Here are our top tips for a functional living space.


Lounges are usually the biggest pieces of furniture in your living room, so decide on their position first, ensuring they face the room’s focal point. Ideally, at least some seating should face inwards to ensure good conversation flow. Lounges should be no more than 2.5m apart. Make sure the traffic areas around the backs of chairs and lounges are well defined and are at least 60cm wide and place a lamp or table near the seating.

Furniture at different heights provides balance and interest in a living room. Consider the contrast of low-lying sofas, artworks on walls and tall free-standing lamps.

custom-designed-homeDefine Your Living Zones

In today’s open plan homes living areas are often part of a larger space that might include the kitchen and dining spaces. Dividers are a great way of giving definition to your living areas. Split levels or low walls are one way to create that definition. Open shelves also make great practical dividers for living rooms.

Rugs can define living areas and can help tie the space to other areas via the use of colour.


Built-in cabinetry can hide all manner of clutter and keep your living room neat. For functionality’s sake as well as to create interest in a space, think about building tall and short cupboards, as well as both deep and shallow drawers. Recessed handles on built-in cabinetry keeps them unobtrusive. 

Furniture with built-in storage is particularly useful to minimise clutter. Coffee tables and side tables with drawers are handy, or consider ottomans with storage inside.

Remember TVs can be built-in to cabinets or hung on walls to free up more space.


Use colour to link spaces. The easiest way to do this is to use one or two main colours across the entire house, but define different rooms with different accent shades.

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December 1, 2015 |

Running Out of Room? How to Increase the Size of Your House


Does your house feel like it is shrinking as the years go by? Perhaps your circumstances have changed. A new baby, children growing up or elderly parents moved in? Do you desperately need more room? Room to breathe; room to live?

There are many ways you can increase the size of your home and improve the quality of your life. Here are our suggestions list of options.house-extension-progress

1. Home Extensions

The most obvious way to increase the size of your home is to extend your home by adding a new room.  This is most commonly an extra bedroom, or bathroom or perhaps a new living area.  The benefit of extending is that – if well done – it will increase not only the size of your house but also its value.

2. Add Another Level

Similar to extensions, building a second story on existing your home will give you lots of extra space – but it can be expensive. Again it will also usually improve the value of your property when you are ready to sell.

Depending on your home’s design, another option might be to use the roof space to add another room. These rooms can make great home offices, children’s play areas, parents’ retreats or storage.

3. Create More Storage

Carving out storage within your existing home can be surprisingly useful. It won’t actually increase the size of your house – but it can make it feel like it does. A carpenter can utilise unused space to create built-in cabinetry to make your home feel more spacious.

4. Add a Deck / Outdoor Room

Adding a new outdoor deck to your home has the advantage of increasing its liveable floor space and is usually cheaper than an extension. A deck is a great asset in the temperate climate we have here in the Newcastle & Hunter Valley region and can be used year-round if well designed.

Make sure to use a deck specialist – see our listings to find the perfect tradesman for the job.


covered timber deck

5. Use the Basement

Building beneath your home is an option in some instances, particularly for houses on a sloping site. This space is ideal for storage, for children’s rumpus rooms or an extra bedroom and bathroom.

6. Granny Flat

With vacant land becoming rare in inner city suburbs and the price of property increasing it has become popular to add a granny flat to a property. This can be a versatile addition to a home. Granny flats make great home offices, teenage retreats or separate living accommodation for elderly parents. Many landlords are building granny flats on investment properties with large blocks to create extra income.

Have a look at Build Local’s online directory to find the perfect builder or tradespeople to help you increase the size of your home.

By Kelli Hawkins, Build Local

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November 25, 2015 |

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 |

Using Recycled Timber in Your Home


Recycled timber is simply timber that has been used before. There are so many ways you can use it in your renovation or new home – perhaps as a stylish feature or in a more practical way as part of the structure of your home. Read on to find out why it’s worth considering.

Some uses for recycled timber include:


  • Floorboards
  • Doors
  • Stairs
  • Railings/balustrades
  • Joinery and cabinetry. In the Hunter, Everlong Building and Joinery do wonderful benchtops for kitchens in recycled timber. Visit their Belmont display centre to see for yourself.
  • Handmade furniture. Check out Earthwood Carpentry and Design for recycled timber furniture that will be a stylish talking point in your home.


  • Decking
  • Pergolas
  • Retaining walls and landscaping
  • Fencing


  • Trusses
  • Framing
  • Timber poles

Why You Should Consider Using Recycled Timber

One of the main reasons people choose recycled timber is for the warmth and aesthetic appeal it gives a home. Even a very modern home can benefit from the soft tones of recycled timber. Another great reason to consider it is the price. And if you think recycled timber is old and therefore more frail, you’d be wrong – recycled timber is actually often far stronger than newer timber as it has dried out completely. And don’t forget the obvious green credentials that come with reusing wood rather than cutting down new trees.

Problems with Recycled Timber

There are some minor issues you need to consider. The first is that it may be difficult to get the exact length of timber you require, particularly very long lengths for things like floorboards, but an experienced carpenter or builder can help you resolve any such issues. The second is that with recycled timber you shouldn’t expect perfection – there will be knots, holes or other marks, but these just add to the character of the final product.

Have a look at Build Local’s listings for builders and carpenters to find one who can help you use recycled timber for your project. For impartial information about using wood in your home, visit the Wood Solutions website.

by Kelli Hawkins

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February 9, 2015 |

Built-in Cabinetry – Storage Solutions for Your Home


Built-in cabinetry is so hot right now! A quick Google search will show you just how popular custom-made options for storage in the home are. And rightly so – customising your storage space makes perfect sense, allowing you to maximise every inch of available space in your home and at the same time create something really special.

Here are just some ideas of how built-in cabinetry can be used in some of the rooms of your home.

Master Bedroom

  • Custom-made drawers to fit under your bed
  • Walk-in wardrobes with designated spaces for everything from shoes to ties & jewellery – making it easy to get dressed in the morning

storage1Kids Bedrooms

  • Carpenters can build bunk beds with built-in desks or bookcases
  • Deep drawers are great for hiding toys away
  • Bookshelves will keep the room tidy

Living Areas

  • Built-in TV units and bookcases are increasingly common in both old and new houses. There are so many different designs, from options that will hide everything away, to decorative floor-to-ceiling units where everything is on display


  • Cupboards or drawers to hide children’s school bags or shoes
  • Hooks for hanging coats and umbrellas


  • Kitchen designers can maximise space by using drawers instead of cupboards
  • Ventilated drawers for non-refrigerated foods
  • Integrated garbage bins
  • Island benches custom-designed to suit your needs


  • Fold-out ironing boards
  • Hidden clothes hampers
  • Linen cupboards


  • Narrow shelving above toilet cisterns
  • Custom-made vanities
  • Storage hidden behind mirrors

There are so many options available. Don’t forget to make use of the area under the stairs – it can be perfect for a cellar, bookcase or home office. Home offices can also be built into a kitchen or bedroom. Consider utilising the ceiling space or underneath the floor to store items that you don’t need to access regularly.

Sites like Pinterest give hundreds of examples of how you can maximise the space in your home with custom-made cabinetry. Often these solutions are as beautiful as they are practical. For general storage solutions for your home check out Build Local’s Carpenters, Builders and Kitchen renovation companies listings or feel free to give us a call on 02 49366732 if you need some help.

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December 30, 2014 |
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