Tip

43681090[1]I was recently made aware of a scam which occurred to a tenant in Craigie just before Christmas. It is the first time I have come across this scam so please share this information in order to stamp it out as quickly  as possible. Read More→

Energy Efficient App

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

bigstock-Frog-and-light-bulb-14437601Rising energy costs may have the potential to change the property market, as buyers focus more on the running costs  and energy efficiency of a home. Now  an Australian iphone app is available that can rate the energy efficiency of a house in minutes, then store the information to compare multiple homes.

Called eco easy home, the app allows buyers, sellers, renovators or tenants to quickly assess a homes individual energy efficiency features -  and see how they can be improved.

The app does not require the user to have any knowledge of energy efficiency. By answering simple questions about the  home the app will calculate its efficiency. For more information visit: www.ecoeasy.com

Categories : General, News, Tip

Spare room for extra cash

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

THERE is nothing new in using a spare room for a bit of extra cash.bigstock--Room-for-Rent-sign-45888079

However, in these days of legal over-complication, it is important you know your rights and obligations.It can be tempting to be very casual about renting out a room: you meet someone, somehow, and you all agree to terms, they move in, pay cash and everything is beautiful.  Now while this may have been the norm back in the 1970s, this is 2013 and you need to get serious.

Back then, tenants were more conditioned to do the right thing and your extra income could be, let's say, ``discreetly'' earned. It is nothing like this today.  Sourcing tenants today is actually much easier than ever before, contact nearby universities or large employment bases such as hospitals.  Consider putting a print ad in the right section of the paper, or go online.

The major difference with tenant selection compared to when leasing a whole property is you will have this person in your home, this means you will share some facilities, will you cope with bumping into them in the morning? You will need to interview them thoroughly and I suggest building a trial period into your agreement.  You can access a standard tenancy agreement or lease, depending on your state, online.  As much as there may be a temptation to avoid the formal tenancy agreements, I strongly advise you treat this very seriously, get advice, get the right agreement and ensure all is executed correctly, and consider adding conditions to your agreement, these may state how the bills for things such as electricity, internet or pay TV are divided and when the tenant needs to pay.  Define access and the use of other areas of your home - even where they may park their car, not smoking, or playing loud music late at night, are reasonable conditions, for example, but you need to accept they will have a right to live there; asking them to stay in their room at all times and only using the shower on alternate nights after 11pm is not really reasonable.  This is effectively a sharing scenario so, unless the rental space is totally independent, you must give this a great deal of thought.

Successful tenancies tend to be the ones with clear boundaries from the start,  insurance must not be ignored, accidents do happen, contact your insurer before the tenant moves in to make sure your policy conditions cover you, and if the rental allows sole access to a bathroom or more ``self-contained'' space such as a kitchenette or living area, or individual access, expect more rent, but be aware that if all goes well and you want to start renting out other rooms in the house, check with the relevant authorities because different rules can apply the more rooms you let out.

Now the bad news: you are about to generate extra income for yourself, so your accountant and the taxman will want to know how much you made, worse still if you don't tell them and they find out subsequently, ouch! However, letting them know in advance will allow you to discover what, if any, additional expenses can be claimed to reduce your tax liability, if you have the tenancy agreement in place, the right conditions, interview thoroughly and secure the right tenant, plus sort out insurance and the taxman, you are on your way!

(source: Perthnow - by Andrew Winter - host of Selling Houses Australia)

Renovating tips for first-home buyers

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

dog as a painter with a brush and colorSOME simple precautions can make life easier and cheaper when doing up old properties.

If the great Australian dream is buying a house on the traditional quarter acre block, then the fantasy is renovating it. Reality TV shows such as The Block, House Rules and Selling Houses Australia don't do anything to dispel the illusion.

Simply follow their lead, knock down a few walls, pull up the carpet to reveal original floorboards and a slap on a new lick of paint to transform a house from dull and drab to sleek and sexy. Well, that's the dream. Reality is something different altogether.

While buying the worst house on the best street is an opportunity to add value to a home, it can also result in stress, tears and cost blowouts if you aren't careful.

INSPECTIONS

Before exchanging contracts, it's essential to conduct a pre-purchase inspection report.

Although they aren't mandatory, Philip Connor from Express Building Reports says it can save a lot of heartache and money.

A standard report will set you back around $500 and will tell you the present condition of the property, the structural integrity of the building and what potentially expensive problems you'll be inheriting.

As building inspectors no longer have to be licensed, Philip suggests the best way to find someone reputable is to look for a person with 15 years of practical experience and who is insured.

"My first question would be, are you insured?'' he says. ``If they make a mistake and they're not insured you can't sue them.''

APARTMENTS

A property inspection on a house reports on the entire property from fence to fence; it's a different story for apartments.

"With a unit you're inspecting only the unit and the immediate surrounding area,'' Philip says. "It can be problematic because you don't inspect lifts or other people's apartments.''

Philip recommends buying a house rather than an apartment, but if you can't afford to, choose a unit in a smaller block.

"You can get a better feel for the history of smaller buildings,'' he says. "Important issues that apply to units include noise and we don't inspect or comment on noise between units.

"The other is fire. If the unit block isn't certified for fire safety, you could be looking at $15,000-$20,000 to certify it.''

HOUSES

Philip says houses built between 1895-1920 can be affected by rising damp, and those built from 1920-1985 can have asbestos.

"One issue that affects all of these houses is drainage,'' he says.

"Rising damp, termites and wood decay fungi are all basically caused by poor drainage, so if you can solve the drainage problem you can often resolve all three issues with one stroke.

"It's inexpensive, just make sure that the water that comes off the roof is taken away from the base of the building using a stormwater system or conservation tank.

Then you'll need some patience.

"Once you resolve the drainage issue, you need to allow at least three to 12 months for the building to start to dry out,'' Philip says.

RISING DAMP

"Rising damp is like sex; every generation has to find it out for itself,'' Philip says.

"I've been around for so long I assumed everyone knew what rising damp was but that's not the case.''

Rising damp is when moisture seeps up from the ground through porous building materials, such as brick, and up through the walls of the home. It stains the walls, causes paint and wallpaper to peel, rots skirting boards and generates a musty smell.

While it's unpleasant, it's also treatable.

A damp-proof course, made from lead, slate or asphalt, is used to waterproof walls so moisture doesn't penetrate the bricks.

To ensure they do their job, Philip says the soil needs to be kept at least 500mm below the damp-proof course. ``Rising damp rises only to one metre above ground level, however if ground levels are built up it's going to go another metre,'' he says.

ASBESTOS

Philip says that inspections don't cover asbestos because it's virtually impossible to detect without ripping up the home.

"The company may say, `If we see fibro then we will flag that as most likely containing asbestos,' but here is the catch: there may be a painted surface that you don't flag as fibro, so you might miss it,'' he says. ``There are some fibro materials that do not contain asbestos, but as a general rule, you should always suspect fibro as having it.''

WHEN TO BE CAUTIOUS

Philip says it's important to take a realistic look at the numbers before you buy.

"If you're buying a dump in a bad location, watch out. If it's in a great location, it changes the ballpark rules substantially,'' he says.

Paul Myors, energy efficiency specialist from Ausgrid, says renovations over $50,000 require a BASIX certificate, which measures a home's energy efficiency.

Approximately 60 per cent of a home's energy consumption comes from heating, cooling and hot water systems so a major renovation makes it easier to install insulation, reverse cycle air conditioning and a gas hot water system to reduce bills.

John Rose from TKD Architects believes it pays to be aware of local council requirements before buying, otherwise your dream of turning that single level semi into a split level home could be shattered.

"There are always development control plan differences between councils and that can be the character of an area, heritage or environment,'' he says.

"You have to know the local council code requirements, but having said that, in recent years a number of changes have happened to council codes to bring them into line. It's much easier these days to understand how a building can be placed on a site.''

John has seen an increase in clients asking architects to attend site inspections.

"Most people feel that getting a builder's advice is the most important thing but in reality you need to understand if and how you can make it into the home you want. Inner Sydney is full of cottages 40-80 years old that need a substantial amount of work done,'' he says.

"You need to make a judgment call on what good advice is worth to you. Most people are paying for one or two hours of an architect's time, which is between $150-$500.''

John suggests discovering what you can do to a property without approval before purchasing.

Top 10 costly repairs

David Hallett from Archicentre, archicentre.com.au, lists his top 10 renovation money pits.

Re-stumping:An inspection of the sub-soar area is the only way to tell whether the foundations are solid.

Roofs: A dodgy roof, which includes leaks, scracked roof tiles or poor guttering, can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair.

Wiring: Blackened power points are an syndicator that the home's wiring is problematic.

Pests: If access hatches to the sub-floor or sceiling are blocked, chances are they could be trying to prevent access which would reveal pest infestations.

Plumbing: Rusted pipes in old homes may shave poor water flow. Check water pressure by having a few taps running to test pressure and see if the water is discoloured.

Painting: If paint has been used to mask a sproblem, you could be up for the cost of repair and repainting.

Plastering: Plastering can be as simple as sminor cracks or major work if restumping a home. Framing: affected by termites will also need replastering.

Rising damp: Damp walls encourage mould and weaken a building's frame.

Guttering and downpipes: Guttering that sis badly fitted, rusted or neglected can cause issues during heavy rains.

Stormwater drains: Underground pipework, including stormwater drains and sewer pipes can be expensive to repair.

(source: Perthnow)

What’s trendy in bathrooms right now?

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

BathroomNEUTRAL tones, luxurious freestanding baths, frameless showers and plenty of natural light and fresh air are all the rage in bathrooms nowadays.

But Angela Gianakis, an interior and exterior consultant for Outside Square, says functionality is always key.

Take freestanding baths, for example. She says they can look fantastic and are easy to get in and out of, but must also be easy to clean around.

Anyone upgrading their bathroom should think carefully about whether the freestanding bath of their dreams will be very difficult to clean around the back and underneath.

She also points out they need to be placed in a handy location to taps.

''Make sure you can add a bit more warm water without having to get our of your bath,'' she advises.

Frameless showers, which are easy to clean, can be found in many of the most modern bathrooms, but they also need to be carefully thought-out and installed in order to avoid leaks, Ms Gianakis says.

''The preparation for a frameless shower is important in making sure that they function well.''

Ms Gianakis says large windows and plenty of natural light are another trend in bathrooms.

''Lighting and ventilation are very important in a bathroom - we all know that things like to grow in warm areas,'' she says, adding small windows can be just as effective and sometimes more practical

''Remember that if you can see out, people can probably see in,'' .

She says she is not a fan of bathroom window treatments (such as blinds and curtains) because they tend to gather dirt, dust and steam.

Ms Ginakis says neutral-toned bathrooms are in vogue at the moment, but can be jazzed up with coloured feature tiles.

''Timber-look'' tiles are also very of-the-moment, she says. They can feature on a wall or around bathroom joinery.

(source: perthnow.com.au)

Grow Ideas for your garden

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

GardenKNOWING where to start with the design and construction of a garden can be a very daunting process.

Looking out over a bare grassed garden with no inspiration and no direction can lead you to think that creating a lush inviting space is almost impossible.

The first step is to find out what gardens you like and work out what sort of garden you want and the way to do this is through research. Trawl the internet and glossy magazines and create a mood board of things you love.
All great gardens start the same way - with a design.

You need to measure all your boundaries and plot all your features such as trees, garden beds, level changes and services so you can draw a scale base plan to scribble your ideas down on. Don't forget to make a few copies.

Once you have a base plan you need a list. Think about everything you want to use your space for - entertaining, growing vegies, somewhere for the kids to play, growing plants and hanging out the laundry. However big or small, write it down as you will need to fit it into the garden.

Now you need to translate the list to the base plan. Before any style is added think about the layout of the areas and plot them with shapes such as circles and squares. This will give you an idea of scale and proportion. It will also let you know if you can fit everything you want into your garden or if you need to start eliminating some of the elements.

Don't try to fit everything in if you are tight on space, work to a scale and be realistic - a 2x1 metre area may be big enough for a dining table but there will be no space to move around and enjoy it.

The space between each element is the space you will be in so it's as important as the element itself.

Now you can add some detail to the plan. What shape will the entertaining area be? What materials will you use?

Will there be any vertical elements? Go through each element and try to think in detail about how you want the final product to look.

By carrying out the previous stages of basic planning, your mind is in the right frame to start thinking about the detail - and once you are thinking about the detail you are no longer worried about where to start.

 

(source:  Charlie Albone - News Ltd)

Categories : Featured, News, Renovating, Tip