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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 |

What can a Handyman help me with around the Home?


A handyman can help youA handyman is just that – ‘handy’! A handyman is a professional who can turn their hand to a myriad of different manual jobs around your home. You might hire a handyman because you are short of time to get those ‘little’ jobs done, or perhaps you aren’t yourself particularly ‘handy’. Either way, a they can tackle one or more jobs for you, often at short notice.

What Jobs can’t a Handyman do?

There are so many things a handyman can help you with it is almost easier to tell you what jobs they can’t do. Unless they are also a licensed plumber, electrician or gasfitter, a handyman can not undertake those types of specialised jobs. However, they can do some work related to those trades. Perhaps to wall-mount a television for you, change tricky light bulbs or batteries in smoke alarms or clean out blocked drains.

Need gardening help? Ask a handymanWhat Jobs can a Handyman do?

A handyman can help get all those jobs done – you know, the ones you have been putting off for ages! Or perhaps you are moving house or dealing with a deceased estate and need a hand to get it all under control. There are many basic jobs that most can do, and often a handyman will have an area of expertise, such as painting, joinery, gardening or cleaning.

Most can do the following and more:

  • Gardening – a handyman can help you with everything from hedging, mowing and edging to laying turf, cleaning out gutters or removing rubbish from your backyard.
  • Painting – small painting jobs can often be undertaken by a handyman. They can also carry out small gyprock repairs.
  • Maintenance – a handyman can help you change light bulbs, replace tap washers or flyscreens.
  • Carpentry – Hanging shelves or cupboard doors or even assembling a child’s cubby house are just some of the small joinery jobs that a handyman can undertake for you.
  • Painting can be done by a handymanCleaning – outdoors such as paths and paving with a high-pressure cleaner, or indoors such as window cleaning.
  • Flat pack Assembly – a handyman can undertake the assembly of flat pack furniture you may have bought and be dreading putting together yourself.

As you can see there are many jobs around the home that a handyman can undertake. Have a look at Build Local’s listings to find someone who can come and help you wherever you are in Newcastle or the Hunter Valley.

by Kelli Hawkins

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October 27, 2014 |

Outdoor Shade Solutions to Keep You Cool This Summer


Spring is well and truly here, and now is the time to consider installing a covered outdoor patio or shade solution for your home. Builders will start to get busy in the lead up to summer and you don’t want to be left hot and bothered! But with so many shade options, what will you choose?

Shade SailsShade Sail

Shade sails are a great outdoor shade option for pools, carports and other areas, and come in a range of colours to suit your home. They can be customised to suit different areas. In some cases one large sail works well, in others smaller sails may be overlapped to better effect. Sails can block out almost all of the harmful UV rays and some are waterproof. Caution needs to be taken with the installation of shade sails to minimise the run-off after heavy rain.

Outdoor Patio Covers

There are a myriad of outdoor patio cover styles to choose from if you decide to go down that path. Talk to a custom patio cover provider who can help you get something to suit your home, your needs and your budget. Patio Covers can be insulated and are great for outdoor areas and carports. Carport styles include gable end, skillion flat roof or a combination of both, depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

Other Options for Outdoor Shading

– Folding arm shade awnings are removable – great for areas where you want to allow the winter sun in.Hunter Patios & Additions can help shade your outdoor areas.

– Pergolas are often covered with vines for a more organic look.

– Outdoor Louvres can be used overhead or as walls of an outdoor room for both sun protection and privacy and are available in a number of materials including glass, steel and aluminium in a huge range of colours.

– Outdoor Blinds can be fitted to most roof structures and are great for shade and privacy.

– Awnings over windows and door can help keep indoor temperatures down this summer – and save you money on your cooling bills.


Your Home – Australia’s Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes is a government website with a dedicated section to passive design and shading that might help you to decide what works best for you.

To get cool this summer in Newcastle and the Hunter Region, have a look at Build Local’s listings for Patios, Awnings and Shade Sails.

By Kelli Hawkins

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September 26, 2014 |

Outdoor Living Spaces to Enhance Your Lifestyle


Loc-It Vogue Creations

Summer is coming and we’ll soon be spending more time in our outdoor living spaces – entertaining, relaxing and enjoying the great Hunter weather. There are so many improvements available to help you make the most of your outdoor living areas – how does a new deck or pergola sound? An integrated BBQ or outdoor kitchen  for Sunday lunch? Or pizza oven to help get your party started? The outdoor living area has really become another room in the Australian home and our fabulous climate lets us make the most of it.

You’ll need to think about the orientation of your space, as well as prevailing winds and the view you would like to have from your outdoor area. Decking can extend your living space into the garden. Make sure you talk with your patio and decking specialist to ensure you get the finish that works perfectly in your home.

To be functional year-round, an outdoor area often needs to be covered. Here, there are plenty of options, from integrated roofing, to sails or awnings in fixed or retractable styles or, for areas where sun is desirable, perhaps a stylish roofless pergola. Louvres in glass or timber can protect from the elements.

Would you like to screen out your neighbours or maybe just shade your home from the sun? Privacy screens come in a range of stylish and popular colours to suit every house and are custom made to suit your requirements.

Even in these chillier months you can be relaxing outside. There are outdoor fireplaces available to suit every outdoor living space. Consult a local outdoor specialist to find the best option for your home and to ensure installation is hassle-free – and doesn’t blow your budget.

Build Local can help you find the perfect outdoor living specialist for you. Have a look in our Outdoor category to find a great Hunter region contractor.

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August 15, 2014 |

Reduce Energy Bills in the Warmer Months


Looking for ways to reduce energy bills & consumption?

Providing shade to your home and outdoor living areas is one of the most effective ways to improve summer comfort and reduce energy consumption.

As a general rule the following types are desirable:
* North – fixed or adjustable horizontal shading device such as eaves, pergolas, shade sail or awnings
* South – not required for cooling
* East and west – adjustable shading or vertical screens including sliding screens, louvre screens, shutters, retractable external blinds and awnings
* North east and north west – adjustable shading
* South east and south west – planting

Build Local has a number of trades people who can help you with your shading needs around the home to help you reduce your energy bills.

Try one our builders or carpenters listed in Decks & Pergolas for your next outdoor living project http://www.buildlocal.com.au/listings/category/decks-pergolas/

Rex Smith at Living Renovations can help you incorporate stylish shading solutions to your period home.

Ozone Sails and Rails & Loc It Vogue Creations can provide practical adjustable shading solutions or louvre style awnings to suit any style of home http://www.buildlocal.com.au/listings/category/awnings-shade-sails/

Alicia Peattie

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March 11, 2014 |

Is your balcony safe – has it been inspected for wood rot or termite damage?


Now that the weather is warming up it’s a great time to take a good look at your outdoor entertaining spaces and in particular your deck or balcony areas to ensure that they are in good condition and are safe to handle larger than usual loads during the upcoming summer and festive season.

Decks or balconies constructed in the 1970’s – 1990’s are most at risk of timber rot and should be regularly inspected for any signs of termite damage.  There have been many cases of serious injuries and deaths relating to structures failing over the years. Wood rot or termite damage can go un-noticed by property owners and accidents can occur from something as simple as a screw becoming loose on a handrail or balustrade.

Older decks which were commonly constructed from untreated pine or Oregon timber are more susceptible to wet rot and will require regular maintenance or may need replacing. If you are unsure as to whether your deck or balcony is safe for use, you should always seek the assistance of a qualified building professional who will inspect the area and deem it safe or advise you of any issues that need to be addressed.

If you notice any soft spongy areas when you walk on the deck that is a good sign that there is a problem and you should stay off the area until a professional has inspected it.  You may also be able to see damage at the ends of the timber, at joins or on exposed edges.  Bolts and screws should always be secure and in good condition without rust and you should always check the posts and base of the deck if you can access it for signs of rot.  Posts should never go straight into the ground without a metal bracket and foot attached to a concrete footing because water can pool around the ground near the posts and cause moisture damage.

If your deck or balcony has been well built, constructed out of appropriate materials and well maintained you should expect to get 20+ years of use from it before it needs replacing.  It is advisable to coat your timber deck annually with a decking paint, oil or stain to help prolong the lifespan of the timber.

Concrete balconies can also be cause for concern if they have not been constructed using the appropriate building methods and if water pools regularly on your balcony or tiles are lifting you should contact a building professional to put your mind at ease.

Regular maintenance will ensure that you get many extended years of use out of these outdoor spaces and will more importantly keep your family and visitors safe.

If your deck is more than 20 years old or you have any cause for concern, then it is time to give Living Renovations a call on 0416 128 485 so that Rex can put your mind at ease or start work on any necessary maintenance so that you are ready for the summer bbq’s and festive season of entertaining ahead!

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September 16, 2013 |

Outdoor Spring Cleaning Tips


It’s that time of year again and we have some outdoor spring cleaning tips for you!  Spring has arrived and it’s time to start dusting, scrubbing, re-sealing, trimming, fertilising, de-cluttering and giving your home a general freshen up now that the warmer weather is here.

Most of us enjoy being outdoors in the sunshine, so head outdoors on weekends and start tackling your outdoor spring cleaning jobs.

Spring is also the time to start preparing your home for the bushfire season that lies ahead. The following suggestions will not only help you to maintain a tidy home, but they can also help to reduce the risk of burning embers starting a fire on or around your home. For more great tips on preparing your home for the bushfire season, visit  the NSW Rural Fire Service website

  • Remove dry leaves from gutters
  • If you live near bushland or have trees surrounding your property, consider installing a metal gutter guard product
  • Trim back large shrubs and trees and ensure that there are no tree branches overhanging your home or garage
  • Rake up old leaves and debris from around your yard and dispose of it appropriately
  • If you have a woodpile move it away from any buildings and cover it up
  • Check that your garden hose is in good order and ensure that it reaches the perimeter of your property

It’s a good idea to invest in a high quality Leaf Guard product for your home if it is situated near bushland or has large trees around the property. Speak to your local Gutter Guard expert today to find out more about the benefits of installing a leaf guard product and be sure to use a good quality metal product if you live near bushland.

Before you commence your big clean up around the yard, consider how you will dispose of the tree branches and garden clippings.  For those people who do not want the hassle of dumping the waste themselves, you will be pleased to find that there are convenient and affordable rubbish removal options available to you. Give your local Rubbish Removalist a call to find out the best way to dispose of green waste and general waste from around your home.

It’s time to get the garden beds looking good and the lawn looking greener, so head to your local garden centre for advice on the best fertiliser to use on your lawn and gardens.  There are a range of fertiliser options for your lawn from organic fertilisers containing animal manure, slow release granular fertilisers, hose on liquid fertilisers and combination products.  If your busy lifestyle doesn’t allow you the time to spend on your lawn or garden, you can call in a local Lawn and Garden Maintenance professional who can have your yard looking the envy of your neighbours in no time.

Spring is a great time to look at re-sealing timber decks and external wood work to protect it from the sun. If you have timber outdoor furniture consider applying a wax or sealant product for protection to keep your furniture looking good for the months of outdoor entertaining ahead. Your local hardware store will be able to assist you with product choice, but if you want professional advice from the experts you can check with your local Painter for correct preparation and application advice. Take a good look around the exterior of your home to see if any external paintwork is blistering or could do with a freshen up and talk to your local Painter for professional advice and service.

Grab the hose and a bucket of warm soapy water ready to remove cobwebs and dust from the eaves, guttering, external windows and screens.  You could use a high pressure sprayer or a soft broom and the hose. If you don’t have the time to spare, consider calling in your local home maintenance Handyman to carry out the clean for you.  Whilst your local Handyman is onsite they can identify and offer solutions to other small maintenance jobs for you.

Have you registered your swimming pool yet?  If not, go to the NSW Swimming Pool Register and register your pool or spa before the 29th October 2013 deadline. Pools can be neglected in the winter months, so it’s time to get the test kit out, check the PH levels of your pool and make the necessary adjustments to prepare your pool for swimming. Give the concrete or paved areas around your pool a good clean with a high pressure water sprayer but be mindful to avoid the use of chemicals near the pool water.  Whilst you are in the pool area, test the locking mechanism on the gate and check that your pool fencing is secure.

Due to the higher risk of bushfires occurring in the warmer months, now is the perfect time to check that your home building insurance is adequate.  If you need help working through your policy, talk to your local Insurer for assistance.

Whilst you are in clean up and de-clutter mode, think about having a garage sale or selling some items that you no longer use that are cluttering up your garage or your home.

Enjoy being outside in the warm sunshine and make sure that you start tackling the outdoor work sooner rather than later, before the weather gets too warm.

The Build Local Team

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September 4, 2013 |
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