Thursday, 11 March 2021

Tips on Adding Value to Your Property through Decking

With access to nature on our doorsteps, it’s no surprise that Australian’s love spending time outside. An increasing demand to enjoy outdoor living at home has turned the humble backyard into an al fresco lifestyle dream. Homeowners investing in this multi-functional space are finding it offers a variety of benefits that provide a long-term contribution to their property investment and, more importantly, their lifestyle.

Creative outdoor rooms provide an additional entertainment space as well as a fun environment for children to play safely. Marrying the indoors and out with clever decking, whether it be a smaller side deck, pool decking or a big, classic back verandah, provides a seamless transition between these two spaces. If you plan it right, this new space will become the favourite area for family and friends to reconnect.

Australia’s leading timber experts, Big River Group, provide some helpful tips on choosing a deck and making the most of your outdoor space.
Check if you need approval
As with most home improvements, before you set about installing a new deck it’s a good idea to investigate whether or not you’ll need council approval.

Create your own private oasis
Think of your outdoor space as a blank canvas. Installing a timber deck will allow the area to be used in most weather conditions. Considering your deck’s purpose will help you decide its size. How many people will it need to accommodate, and will you be adding a barbecue, furniture, and some pots? According to John Lorente, General Manager, Big River Group, look for timbers that are designed for exterior use, remembering, the better quality the materials, the greater the longevity of your deck. There are two choices when selecting the best timber for a deck: softwood or hardwood. The decision is dependent on budget, required lifespan and quality of finish . Spotted Gum and Merbau are the most common hardwood decking options in Australia and, with regular maintenance, should last 20 plus years. Treated pine is the preferred softwood option and is a good value option.

When deciding on the timber, colour, texture and the environment can play an important role. Durable hardwoods are easy to stain or oil to complement an outdoor colour scheme or can be left raw to create a natural, weathered look. Merbau timber requires much less maintenance than some other hardwoods and is known for its beautiful rich reddish colour and wavy grain design, as well as its high usability, resistance to termites and resilience. Australian native Spotted Gum gradually turns a golden light brown through to chocolate brown as it matures, depending upon the type of Spotted Gum chosen. Spotted Gum also has an attractive grain structure with knots and growth lines, as well as minimal shrinkage which all add to its popularity.

If your home is located in a bushfire-prone area, consider Merbau and Spotted Gum timber which are both bushfire resistant and suitable for use in many bushfire prone areas up to BAL 29, as set out under Australian Standard AS3959.

Treated pine is a sustainable and prolific outdoor decking option that can be painted or stained to match any colour scheme, unlike other woods that only showcase certain colours well.

Additional considerations when choosing your timber type include the location of the deck at your home. Darker coloured decks will absorb heat from the sun, so if your deck is on the south side of your house, a dark coloured floor can make it very difficult to use the deck during the afternoon and early evening in summer, so it may be wise to opt for a lighter deck colour instead of a darker one. A covered deck is a way to create some shade and prevent your deck's surface from overheating during the summer.

Muddy footprints and stains from kids and pets are another thing to think about when choosing your deck. Mud, dirt, and stains are easier to see on lighter coloured decks. So, if you have pets, young children, or both, a darker coloured deck may be a better option.
Maximise space and add value
From a relaxing sanctuary to a pool area, decking is a great opportunity to transform forgotten or under-utilised areas into useful spaces. When located at the front of the property, a deck can make a grand entrance as well as wrap-around additional living space. If you don’t have a lot of space in your backyard, you can always build up or out, and create a raised entertaining area.

Utilising outdoor rooms as an extension of your interior spaces, increases the amount of enjoyment you’ll likely get from your place, however, not all backyards are created equal in terms of available space. The key to unlocking the potential of your yard is creative thinking, according to Lorente. If your yard is sloped and you aren’t using every available square metre, you’re sitting on valuable wasted space. Use decking to create terrace areas or install timber garden beds to bring a lively element into what would be otherwise dead space.

According to Lorente, outdoor renovations such as decks, don’t just make sense from a daily living standpoint, they’re also a great way to add value to your home. An outdoor living area that leads off the indoor entertaining area can make a big difference to value, with the Cost Vs. Value Report estimating 75% return on investment.
Accessorise to get the look
A top tip for maximising the enjoyment factor of the outdoor environment is to create comfort by selecting the right outdoor furniture and accessories. The key criteria are; using products that are made for the outdoors, creating connection between the pieces that stimulate conversation and togetherness, and lastly, selecting settings that are the right size for your space. A great option for entertaining is blending formal tables and chairs with informal seating like garden walls with benches on top. It creates extra spaces and allows you to adjust your entertaining for the occasion.

Add finishing touches such as outdoor rugs and cushions that can easily be changed each year to keep the space looking fresh.

For more information on decking visit: www.bigrivergroup.com.au

Till next time... get on deck!



About the company
Big River Group manufactures and distributes timber and steel formwork products, timber flooring, structural plywood and related timber products, and distributes a broad range of other building products, including MaxiWall and MaxiFloor , primarily to the commercial and residential, non‐residential and infrastructure construction market segments.

Big River owns and manages 17 sales and distribution outlets including Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane (2), Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Illawarra, Melbourne, Canberra, Geelong, Adelaide, Perth and New Zealand. The Company also owns and operates manufacturing facilities at Grafton and Wagga Wagga in NSW, Geelong, Perth and Auckland NZ.

Big River provides customers with the security of a full support network, and technical expertise at every stage of the product lifecycle. This is the guarantee of quality and service that Big River has based its 110 years of success on.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Mother's Day Gifts for the Decor Loving Mum!

Looking for the perfect present to put a smile on Mum’s face this Mother’s Day? We've put together a few gift ideas for the decor loving mum. 

Give mum the ultimate gift by adding flair to her indoor and outdoor areas with stylish home accessories including propagation planters, candles, hammocks and gorgeous wallpaper prints.

Room Refresh
Surprise Mum with a room make-over with the Superfresco Easy Losanges Filaires Rose Gold Wallpaper (RRP $95). This geometric design features soft pink with rose gold metallic that catches the light beautifully. The Summer Garden Superfresco Easy Wallpaper (RRP $82.99) features an elegant repeat of florals on a light backdrop giving a soft yet luxury touch to any room. Superfresco Easy offers easy paste and time saving techniques so you can peel off and change the look hassle free and as often as desired. Available at Bunnings stores nationally.
To Mum with Love
For the plant-loving mum the Plant Propagation Station (RRP $12.98) and Hydro Pot (RRP $6.98) are gifts that keep on giving. These stylish planters are great for low maintenance gardening and offer an easy way to start bringing greenery indoors. Available at Bunnings stores nationally.
Create Holiday Vibes at Home
When you can’t take Mum away on a much-needed break, bring the holiday vibes to her with Haven’s Coastal Jasmine Scented Soy Blend Candle in Tribal Pot (RRP $15). Featuring the fresh classic scent of jasmine to boost her mood and enhance the ambience of any room. Presented in a beautiful monochrome tribal designed pot, this candle makes the perfect modern home décor. Available at Woolworths stores nationally.
The Coconut Waters Scented Soy Blend Candle (RRP $12) offers a lush fragrance of tropical coconut, reminiscent of distant shores and summers gone by. Perfectly presented in either a clear or amber glass jar, these candles add a touch of elegance to any home. Available at Woolworths stores nationally.

Get in the Zen Zone
Let mum unwind with a good book and cuppa in a glamourous herringbone, tropical, tribal or quilted Two Trees Double Cotton Hammock (RRP $49.95). Able to be hung independently, or with the Two Trees Universal Hammock Frame (RRP $129), this little bit of heaven is ideal for some much needed ‘me-time’. Available at Bunnings stores nationally.
Till next time... what are you getting Mum this Mother's Day?

Friday, 26 February 2021

Renovating a First Home Made Easy!

For many young house hunters, buying their first house isn’t the most daunting aspect of entering the property market, more so, it’s the renovating and revamping required to create a home. While a complete reno can be a pricey venture, having a firm understanding of a budget, carefully thought- out building plan and a realistic view of long-term objectives will help decide how to best utilise funds and ultimately add value to the property.
Former winner of The Block and DIY Expert Simon Vos and his brother are no strangers to renovating, however this time it was more personal as Simon and his wife Ash recently completed their own home, a renovation that injected some California into Coffs Harbour. Having seen the Coffs Harbour house on the New South Wales north coast five years ago they decided it would be an incredible renovation project. With plentiful style, design flair and inspiration to create an Australian take on Palm Springs, the couple set about transforming the run-down mid- century beach shack into a sleek, modern home.
Taking budget into consideration, Simon and Ash were able to use reliable building materials to create clever nooks, eye-catching visuals and features that not only make a statement but also provide a really enjoyable living environment. Simon shares his top tips and advice on how to make the best use of your budget when renovating.

According to Simon, firstly, they got rid of a lot of old materials in the house including horsehair walls and ceilings to really utilise the space and reuse any of the existing timber. In order to maximise the renovation, they decided to renovate using Gyprock plasterboard within the whole house to make it feel brand new. Investing in trusted brands when building the foundations of the home like the walls, floors and ceilings adds an improved level of protection and value to the longevity of the property.
If starting a complete refresh of a home, utilise some of the structures that are left from the initial strip out. If the home has interesting materials such as structural timbers, consider exposing beams to add character. There were incredible raked ceilings that were exposed throughout the process. The original house had low ceilings that hid a cavity up to the roof. This wasn’t used for storage, so they decided to open up the house by knocking this out and using Gyprock Superchek plasterboard to create glorious, angled ceilings. Utilising this kind of space makes the home feel much bigger and brighter and adds an architectural finish.
Taking into consideration key trends in interior design will also add value to any property. Seamless, transitional living continues to be popular, with an emphasis on merging the indoors with outdoors. According to Simon, creating a space that incorporated the outdoors and championed open living with mass space was very important. Adaptability and flexibility were achieved through the use of folding walls and doors, allowing rooms to be opened up for additional space, or closed off for privacy. Gyprock Superchek plasterboard on walls boasts strength and sound reduction, making the most of a dynamic floorplan, while providing acoustic benefits to make the house more comfortable to live in.
When planning your renovation, it’s important to consider building for the future, with flexibility and the understanding of the needs of a growing, modern family. This type of space versatility adds value to potential homeowners when it’s time to sell. What was important for Simon when starting this project, was that the home was multifunctional and hosted properties suited for a growing family.
By using Gyprock Superchek plasterboard for high-traffic areas, we knew the walls would withstand the knocks of everyday living according to Simon. Gyprock is made in Australia and available at Gyprock Trade stores, Gyprock resellers and Bunnings nationwide.
Gyprock has just launched the new Gyprock Living Simple to Stunning magazine with design tips to show how elevated design thinking coupled with great craftsmanship can take a basic building material like Gyprock and shape it into timeless, sophisticated architecture. To download visit https://gyprockliving.com.au/

Till next time... are you planning a home renovation?

5 Things to Consider Before Fixing Your Home Loan

When purchasing a home, there are so many things that you have to factor into your decisions. Above all else, your finances are what you need to concern yourself with most. It comes down to both being able to find an affordable house and being able to afford it over time through the use of a mortgage loan.

When it comes to mortgages, there are variable loans with changing interest rates and fixed loans that set that interest rate at a standard mark for a set amount of time. Here are some things to consider before opting for fixing your home loan.

Interest Rate
One thing to consider is what type of interest rate you want ton have for your mortgage loan. A fixed interest rate will not change for the entirety of the life of the loan. Fixed home loan rates are set by lenders dependent on things like credit history, salary, and current credit score. Your set interest rate will impact your monthly payment. If you have a higher rate, it's a higher monthly payment.

Fixed rate loan payments reduce your balance and stabilize your interest costs with a flat payment that lasts a specific number of years. Variable loans have interest rates that fluctuate with the market, changing in value over time. This can be a gamble, but it may end up being in the favor of the borrower, depending on the loan amount and the behavior of the overall market. You may get a lower interest rate initially, but it can change.

Repayment
Most lenders will have certain restrictions on additional repayments for fixed rate loans, whether they cap it at a certain amount or charge a fee. In rare cases, borrowers are effectively allowed to withdraw any additional money given to repay the loan through what's called a redraw facility.

This type of interest rate loan can eliminate the risk of payment shock due to rising rates brought on by variable rate loans. This is most common with conventional mortgages. A set monthly mortgage payment comes throughout the entirety of the loan up until the point of refinancing.

Your Budget
When it comes to paying down any loan, you should consider all facets of your budget. If you have an understanding of your monthly expenses, fixed home loans are a good way to go as you'll know just how much is being deducted from your bank account.

It is also important to understand while budgeting for a fixed loan that the larger the loan size, and the lengthier the fixed term, the longer it will take to pay back your lender. Be sure you are standing on solid ground financially to be able to accommodate that payment depending on the terms and conditions.

Break Costs
When doing any borrowing on any loan product, be sure to evaluate the terms and conditions. Fixed rate loans will come with what are called break costs, fees that you incur from ending your home loan before the end of the term. That amount is usually determined by what time is left in the life of the loan, and the differences in the lender's cost of funds at the time of the break.

Break costs are calculated between wholesale rates at the time when you apply for the loan and when you decide to end your fixed term contract. This will be multiplied by the loan amount and the remainder of the term.

After the Fixed Term
When it comes to the end of your loan term, there are three options to consider: refinance, re-fix, or revert. Refinancing is the switching of home loans with either your current lender or a new one.

Re-fixing a loan after your term is an option with your present lender, but it is not recommended if you are considering renovations.

Reverting on a loan will see your fixed term loan go to a variable rate, or revert rate, that allows you to continue with your current lender without additional fees and paperwork. Evaluating all of your options prior to term's end is in your best interest.

Till next time... have a wonderful day!


Source: Image 1

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The Key to Transforming Your Kitchen from Ordinary to Beautiful!

For most of us the kitchen is the central hub of activity in the home, it’s a functional space to congregate and evokes a feeling of comfort and togetherness. And kitchen taps are one of the most used objects in the home and while their sturdiness and efficiency is imperative, flawless design is a vital finishing stylistic touch.
Follow the curve
While sharp, geometric forms have ruled interior spaces in the past couple of years, trends are now shifting toward curves, and rounded edges. This softer look helps relax angular modern home designs and embodies the flowing experience of water.

Embracing elegant, rounded shapes found in enduring Italian design, the Methven Minimalist Gooseneck Sink Mixer flaunts graceful curved lines with intersecting cylinders creating a sturdy yet graceful base, enhancing any kitchen with its minimal design and organic curves. For those who don’t want to abandon angular design completely, the Methven Waipori Swivel Sink Mixer offers strong linear shapes with subtly tapered edges for bold modern aesthetics. Attractive, slimline and compact, this single lever sink mixer hosts clever 360 rotation to ensure effortless integration into any kitchen.

Professional performance for the home
Kitchen taps are one of the most used aspects in the home and therefore upgrading efficiency and versatility is a must. Pull-down sink mixers are extremely useful and provide a touch of modernity to any kitchen. Inspired by industrial and commercial kitchens, these task-focused mixers deliver a higher degree of moveability in and around the sink with an extendable hose for spray flexibility.

Designed to enhance not only the kitchen space, but also the homeowner’s lifestyle, the Methven Culinary Gaston Pull Down Sink Mixer features the latest in tapware innovation and design, with the versatility of a pull-out or pull-down spray option. For a more discreet option, the Methven Culinary Urban Pull Out Sink Mixer disguises the pull-out spout with either chrome or black accents, adding a touch of personality to the tapware.

Make a statement
With so many designs and finishes to choose from, a kitchen tap can easily become the focal point for the room. Chrome tapware continues to be a versatile option for any look, while matte black finishes and accents make a confident and stylish statement. Black in particular creates a strong silhouette that accentuates modern angular shapes and more traditional embellished designs alike.
While the kitchen should focus predominantly on functionality, the space should also evolve to suit the needs of the homeowner and showcase cohesiveness with the general home design, offering simplicity and elegance as well as a powerful water experience.

For more information, please got to www.methven.com

Till next time... how are you going to make a statement in your kitchen?


About the Company
Methven Limited is a subsidiary of GWA Group Limited and is a market-leading designer and manufacturer of showers, taps and valves. Their business is headquartered in Auckland where they design, develop and manufacture many award-winning products and technologies. Their international operations see their products distributed in Australia, China, UK, Middle East, USA and Europe in addition to their home market of New Zealand. In 2016 they celebrated 130 years of innovation.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

The Homes Of 2021

The seismic shift in lifestyle created by COVID-19 and lockdowns has reshaped how Australians are choosing to build and renovate their homes. From an increased focus on hygiene, to rallying against shrinking block sizes, the story of Australian architecture has taken a new turn.

With industry data showing that 44% 1 of home buyers have changed their preferences for their properties, James Hardie’s experts talk to some of the trends influencing the homes of 2021.
More life in style
According to Helen Simpson, Insights Manager at James Hardie at the beginning of 2020, we were seeing increased interest in more sustainable ‘micro-homes’ and an acceptance of shrinking block sizes in metro areas. However, in less than a year, our homes took on new roles from offices, gyms and other locations that we would normally go outside to visit. Today, homeowners, especially working couples buying their first property, are looking for more separate spaces such as home offices, while maintaining the scale of open plan living. In fact, nearly half (48%) of homeowners that changed their home priorities are now looking for a home office or study nook, while over a quarter (28%) wanted additional living spaces.

With families spending more time sharing the same space, there is also a greater need for areas of connection as a family and separate retreats for privacy. Floor plans that separate bedrooms and home offices with a central living-dining area work well.

When developing multiple shared and private areas, it’s important to make the most of the space you have. If you’re adding an extension or second floor to a property, consider the thickness of your walls. For example, fibre cement cladding, like Axon Cladding, will add just 9mm, while a brick veneer adds 130mm. For a 250 square meter single level you could gain almost 10 square meters, which is enough for a study nook, a powder room, or some essential storage.
Moving for size
Working from home has reduced the need to be tied to a physical location, opening up new property opportunities.

According to research, Gen Y is considering moving to the suburbs for detached home ownership. However, they would still consider apartment living near their family, if it had sufficient room. Across all age groups, data shows that 23% of Australians that have changed their home preferences during 2020 are now considering a move out of the city.

According to Helen Simpson, on the other end of the spectrum, downsizers, who are largely 60 plus years old retirees and account for approximately 14% of homeowners, are looking to escape the city for a smaller beachside location. They’ve bought or built enough homes to know what they want and have the money to get it and COVID-19 has only motivated them.
Rising Renos: Bedroom, Bathroom and Beyond
Home isolation has provided owners with time to reflect on potential improvements to their properties, with leading industry bodies 4 expecting a growth in renovations such as kitchen and bathroom updates. Additionally, the HomeBuilder initiative is expected to support more than 10,000 projects in 2021.

According to the Principle of Hamptons building company, Natalee Bowen, the ability to capture the holiday feeling in outdoor spaces has also become increasingly important. The idea of creating a sanctuary at home is not new, but it has certainly become a driving force in 2021. This ties into the existing trend for indoor-outdoor design that meets the lifestyle needs of the owners, which is especially important to first home buyers and young couples.

This emphasis on blending interiors and exteriors is driving the trend for continuity in colour palettes, materials and textures between spaces. For example, exterior cladding with the appearance of wood grain, such as James Hardie’s Axon vertical joint cladding can be used internally and externally for a consistent timber style. Additionally, as they are made of premium fibre cement, they are resistant to warping, flaking and damage from moisture and fire. They are also BAL rated, which is a must for any bushfire zone.
Property prices
While forecasters anticipated house prices to crash across the country in response to the recession, they in fact rose by 3.1% 5 year on year at the end of 2021 according to industry data. With land prices rising, there is a downward pressure on build costs.

According to Helen, no matter the property, there is normally a compromise between costs and the dream home people are trying to build and according to industry data, these decisions will be affected by growing house prices. As such, consumers should make very clear budgets and leave additional funds for unexpected costs. From there, they should work with their builder to find cost-effective options and substitutions to get the look, while maintaining quality.
Mixed looks
Homeowners want their properties to reflect their style, especially those on their fourth home or higher who have gained more confidence and capability. Many of these more experienced homeowners are realising that they can cost-effectively redefine their homes’ exteriors by recladding or with cladding features.

According to architect Joe Snell, homes with little architectural shape can be enhanced by varying lines, textures and colours. Here, the mixed cladding look can reflect a well-known style or a unique personal one. By incorporating a larger range of materials, the look opens up almost endless design possibilities, perfect for people who have rediscovered their creative sides during lockdowns. Advances in modern materials like Premium Fibre Cement allow lightweight cladding to be created in a number of profiles. James Hardie offers a wide range of cladding with vertical and horizontal lines with timber and render textures that are perfect to accentuate the dimensions of a property or particular features. Large format panel Matrix cladding also offers as a great backdrop, or the basis of clean minimal designs. Working together, all of the profiles easily attach to timber fames and hold paint well for a low maintenance and long-lasting look.
To find out more about how to build or renovate your own dream home, from inspiration on the latest look to advice on modern materials, visit jameshardie.com.au.

Till next time... What's your favourite look for 2021?

5 Pros of Virtual Home Tours

While virtual home tours have been utilized by out-of-town home buyers for years, online tours are becoming increasingly popular among all prospective homeowners. Especially now, with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, more buyers are hesitant to walk through strangers' houses, and sellers are nervous about letting groups of people enter their spaces.

Searching for your new home online not only makes it easy to explore what's currently available on the market within your price range, but virtual tours also provide the experience of touring a display home without ever having to step outside. Whether you're planning to move to a new state or starting the search for your dream home, here are five pros of virtual home tours.

You won't have to worry about scheduling appointmentsVirtual home tours make it possible to tour homes at your convenience from the comfort of your own home. In other words, you won't have to worry about taking an entire day off from work, setting aside time during the weekend, or coordinating with your real estate agent's schedule. Instead, online home tours allow you to view a display home at any time, eliminating the need to schedule an appointment.

Virtual home tours offer an immerse experienceWhile scrolling through pictures of the master bedroom, bath, and floor plan can give you a basic idea of the home's layout, 3D walkthroughs can give you a more thorough understanding of the home's features than pictures alone.

Virtual home tours allow you to explore each room at your own pace and focus on the features on your must-have list, such as flooring, lighting, storage, or countertops. You can take as much time as you need to absorb the home's details and layout, and then reach out to your real estate agent if you have any further questions.

You can tour homes without making travel plansWhether you're relocating to a new state, thinking about purchasing an investment property, or you have a busy schedule, it can be difficult to find time to travel out of town for an in-person tour. Especially during the time of COVID-19, the process of buying a home has become even more complicated. Virtual home tours allow prospective buyers to explore display homes without traveling, so you'll be able to narrow down your list before making travel plans.

You'll be able to picture living in your dream homeVirtual home tours allow interested buyers to spend as much time as needed exploring potential properties. As you step through each room during your 3D walkthrough, you'll be able to picture where you might put your desk, TV, or couch, making it possible to plan the layout of your new home and visualize yourself living there.

You can tour the property multiple timesBuyers tend to tour a home multiple times before making a final decision. Because virtual home tours allow interested buyers to tour a display home at any time—and as many times as you want—you can return to the property as much as needed to review the home's key features, compare the property with others on your list, and make your final decision with confidence.

Buying a new home is never easy, whether you're looking to downsize to a one-floor home or relocate to a new state. If you're just starting the search for your next home, consider reaching out to the real estate experts at Dennis Family Homes for help finding your dream home. With years of building and design experience, the Dennis Family Homes offers virtual home tours of high-quality display homes, allowing you to search for your dream home and navigate the home-buying process with ease.

Till next time... take a virtual tour and let me know in the comments below what you thought!

7 Unexpected Costs of Owning a Home

Millions of people buy and sell homes each year. In Australia, there are government grants designed to temp first-time homebuyers into the real estate market. The housing market was bolstered by payouts of up to $21,000, which kept housing prices from plummeting in 2008.

While grants may help offset the costs of purchasing a home, once you're a homeowner, you may find there are several expenses you didn't expect. Ideally, you'll consider these potential expenses before making your purchase so you can afford the costs.

Closing CostsEvery person who buys a home is responsible for paying closing costs. In some cases, sellers entice buyers by offering closing cost assistance, making it easier for people who have less cash upfront to enter the market. Closing costs vary and can be as much as five percent of the purchase price of the home. In Australia, the average purchase price of a house in 2016 was $656,800, which means closing costs could exceed $32,000. Local regulations and your loan can affect the closing cost amount, which means even if you know about closing costs, you may not be able to project the exact amount owed.

InterestOne way to prepare yourself for the potential interest costs is by using iSelect's home loan comparison tool. The tool will outline your mortgage options, the interest costs, and the terms of the loan. The interest rate for your mortgage will affect your monthly payments. If you opt for a variable rate, your mortgage payments will increase when interest rates increase and decrease when interest rates decrease. You may opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, which lets you lock in a set interest rate for up to five years. With a fixed-rate mortgage, you will have to renegotiate the rate once your current contract expires. If interest rates are high, your payments could increase.

Property Taxes
Every homeowner must pay property taxes. The tax amounts are based on the assessed value of the home. Property taxes are used by both state and local governments to fund things such as transportation costs and emergency services. In some places, individuals are required to pay an additional school tax based on their residence.

HOA or POAA FeesHomeowner's associations (HOAs) became popular in the United States in the 1960s, and almost a quarter of all homes in the United States belong to an HOA. In Australia, a similar organization called the Property Owners' Association of Australia (POAA), exists. If your property belongs to an HOA or POAA, you may be required to pay monthly fees to support the organization. Your property can also be subject to fines if you do not comply with their regulations. These organisations establish specific rules residents must follow, such as identifying the types of plants people can have on their property, the style of fence homeowners can install, and the colour options for front doors.

Home MaintenanceEven a new home requires routine maintenance. For example, your air conditioning and heating system should be inspected annually to ensure it's working correctly. Keeping the ducts clean can help air circulate effectively and reduce heating and cooling costs. Replacing filters will ensure your system is not circulating dirty air or working harder to disperse air. Other routine maintenance costs include caulking windows and tubs to maintain the seals, power-washing siding to remove mold and dirt, removing leaves and debris from your yard, and replacing broken window screens.

Emergency RepairsIf a critical system in your home breaks down, you may need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars repairing it. One example would be a backup in your plumbing system that sends sewage into your home. Emergency repairs may also be required after a storm. For example, heavy snow or ice can cause your roof to collapse. A wind storm or hurricane could remove shingles or siding. Branches and debris could break your windows. Although your insurance may cover some of these costs, you may still be required to pay a deductible fee when you make a claim.

InsuranceIf you own a home, you need to have insurance for your property as well as your belongings. This insurance protects you in the event a flood or tornado destroys their home. It can also cover emergency repairs.

Homeowners may also be required to purchase mortgage insurance. This insurance protects lenders. If the homeowners default on their mortgage, the lender will be protected from losses on the loan.

Till next time... hope this article helped those property shopping!

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Tips for Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Oasis in Your Backyard!

Happy New Year Everyone! After a long break from the blog, it feels good to be back. There's so much interesting and hopefully valuable content planned for 2021! Today, we're kicking off the New Year with an article on top tips to create a wildlife-friendly garden this summer.

With increased urban sprawl and nearly three billion animals displaced by Australia’s devastating 2019-2020 bushfires, it is more important than ever to care for our native species, particularly during the hottest season of the year. Today, I'm sharing simple tips from Melissa King, Horticulturalist and Northcote Pottery Ambassador on how to attract native animals by creating a wildlife-friendly oasis at home.
Flourish with the right plants
Grow nectar-rich plants that flower in different seasons, so your garden is a feast for the birds year- round. Try growing Callistemons or Kangaroo Paws in summer and spring and Correas through the cooler months. If space is limited, plant the compact growing Banksia ‘Birthday Candles’ in decorative pots and watch the birds flock to your patio or balcony.

Encourage feathered friends with flowering beauties Beyond nectar-rich plants, try growing a colourful assortment of flowering beauties. You’ll not only attract insects but insect-eating birds like Wrens, Willie Wagtails, and Thornbills. Remember to throw in a few plants with edible seeds or berries too to keep seed-eating birds happy. She-oaks and Blueberry Ash trees are ideal.

Don’t forget to hang a Northcote Pottery 31cm Terracotta Olinda Bird Feeder (RRP $65) in your garden to entice your feathered friends too. It’s decorative, weather resistant and provides birds with a safe place to rest and feed away from predators.
Construct a hollow
Birds like kookaburras, owls and rosellas like to nest in tree hollows. Not many gardens have natural
 hollows, so consider buying or constructing a nesting box that can be mounted or tied to a tree in the backyard. Ensure it is placed up high and away from predators.

Provide safety and shelter
Plants with thorns or prickly foliage provide a good hiding place for smaller birds. They can find refuge in the spiny canopy, keeping them safe from cats and other predators. Small birds also often build nests in prickly plants.

Try planting Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) with dense prickly branches and masses of pretty white flowers during summer or Prickly Moses (Acacia verticillata) with cheery yellow flower balls in winter and spring. Hakea verrucosa is another winter beauty with red flowers and needle-like foliage which provides much-needed protection for small birds.
Help quench thirst
Water is important for drinking and bathing, so be sure to include Northcote Pottery’s 52 x 60cm Mirror Miami Bird Bath (RRP $90) in your bird-friendly garden. It’s made from high quality glazed terracotta and features a traditional French Provincial inspired design that looks good in any backyard.

Alternatively, Northcote Pottery 50 x 14cm Glazed Terracotta Newport Water Bowls (RRP $41.90) placed on outdoor table tops or ledges will keep birds, reptiles, small mammals and even insects hydrated through the hot Australian summer. For more information, visit www.northcotepottery.com.

Till next time... remember to top up the water regularly!

Source: Photo 1, 3

Monday, 7 December 2020

Picking the Perfect Pot!

With summer on the way, it’s time to spruce up tired gardens, terraces and alfresco areas. A quick way to give an outdoor room a new look is with a stylish, functional container gardening pot. Unfortunately, research shows that 61% of consumers can’t distinguish indoor pots from outdoor ones.
According to Horticulturalist and Northcote Pottery Ambassador, Melissa King, picking the right pot isn’t just about style and design, it’s also important to consider the functionality of the pot and how you’ll be using it in your garden. Outdoor pots are designed with holes in the bottom to allow the potting mix to drain freely. On the other hand, cache or cover pots don’t have a hole at the bottom, so the plant is placed inside the cover pot in the original black plastic pot. Plants need to be removed before watering to allow water to drain completely. Consider self-watering options if you want to make watering your container garden simple.

Below, Melissa shares the main features to consider when choosing different pots for your container gardening needs.

Terracotta
Italian terracotta pots are a timeless addition to the garden with their warm, earthy look and feel and they go with just about anything. Terracotta pots are porous, allowing air and water to pass through the walls of the pot, so they are an ideal choice for dry-loving herbs such as rosemary and oregano or Mediterranean style plants like geraniums and lavender. You can even paint them to express your potted personality.

Terracotta pots are suitable for most areas of Australia, just be aware that they can be vulnerable to cold weather and may crack in extreme conditions.
Glazed pots
Bring a splash of colour to the garden or patio with glazed pots. The glaze seals the outside of the pot and makes the clay less permeable, so the pot holds onto moisture better. The glaze also results in a stronger, more resilient pot and the thick walls help to protect the soil from absorbing excessive heat. So, in most cases they are a good option for hotter areas.

Glazed pots can be heavy, but you can use that to your advantage by growing larger plants that might need a more stable base. The most stable shapes are square or squat pots that have ‘wide shoulders’. Glazed pots make a bold and stylish statement, so position them in a spot where you can enjoy them for years to come.
Lightweight
Lightweight pots are made from a combination of fibreclay, glass reinforced cement and fibreglass so, they’re tough and light enough to manoeuvre, even when full of potting mix and plants. They are an ideal choice for city dwellers or renters, particularly those who like to chop and change their potted displays. Look out for Northcote Pottery’s Wave Pots in Drum or Cylinder shapes, which combine style and functionality. With this collection, you get the look and style of a decorative clay pot without the weight.

Alternatively, the Northcote Pottery PrimoLITE collection is perfect if you want the glazed look without the weight. The range is made from high-density resin, so they are light, tough, UV resistant and hold their vibrant colour.
Plastic
Plastic pots are strong, lightweight, easy to manoeuvre and plant up, making them suitable for balconies and decks. They come in a variety of modern designs, styles and colours that are sure to match your garden décor. Options like Northcote Pottery’s Whisky Barrel Planters mimic natural materials, so you get the appearance of wooden barrels, without the concerns of aging, splintering or rusting.

Unlike porous clay pots, plastic containers don’t dry out as quickly, so they are ideal for moisture loving plants, or if you don’t want to water as frequently. Avoid using dark coloured plastic pots in hot areas as they absorb heat. Sunlight can fade poorer quality plastic pots or make them brittle, so look out for UV treated plastic planters such as the Northcote Pottery’s Villa Range, which maintain their look and feel in Australian conditions.
Self-watering
If you have a small space and like your potted garden to be ‘easy-care’, then self-watering pots are the way to go. With a self-watering system, plants can access water as they need it and in most designs the overflow hole drains away any excess. These pots also help to retain nutrients and reduce watering time.

Another advantage of self-watering pots is that moisture doesn’t sit on the foliage, so there is less chance of fungal disease.
To find out more about choosing suitable container gardening pots for your garden, visit and watch Melissa King’s Masterclass Webinar here - https://bit.ly/2IZgtVU. It will go live at 1:00pm AEST on 18 December 2020. 

For more information, visit www.northcotepottery.com@raniengineer and @northcotepottery on Instagram.

Till next time... see you at the masterclass!

Monday, 30 November 2020

Summer staycations: Elevate your garden for a holiday at home this summer

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to turn summer holiday plans upside down! COVID-19 and the associated social distancing and travel restrictions mean we’re approaching a summer that will be unlike any in living memory. While some travel is likely to be back on the table, the cost of flights and restricted availability in hotels means most of us will be holidaying at home this summer.

So here are some tips from Eddie Lloyd, Director at Theralux for easy ways to elevate your garden so you can get the most from your staycation.
Perfect pool
According to Eddie, nothing says ‘resort living’ more than your very own mineral pool. Sunny days spent sipping cocktails and splashing around. Bliss. With overseas travel out of the question for the foreseeable future, pool builders are seeing record enquiries.

Now you can take the hassle out of owning a pool with easy-to-use pool automation products such as Theralux’s Pool+Manager. This latest tech allows you to control your pool and garden lighting from your phone and integrates with all existing pools or spas so you can bring the holiday vibes right into your own home.

Also consider lighting around your pool. Installing lighting around the perimeter of your pool area will improve the functionality and aesthetics of your outdoor space. Lighting can be used to highlight feature elements of your pool such as a water feature, stone wall or sculpture, or draw attention your attention to surrounding foliage. A well-lit pool area will also enable you to take in your garden and pool from inside your home in the evening.
Sensational seating
No staycation is complete without a daybed. Create your outdoor haven with luxurious furniture that is not only beautiful, but sustainably & ethically produced by a small Australian owned business such as Osier Belle. When choosing a daybed, look for pieces that can withstand a wet environment, and if you’re choosing a daybed with a cushion, opt for one with quick dry foam and covers designed to be used outdoors. If you want to alternate between sun and shade, choose a daybed that’s easy to manoeuvre.

On the subject of seating, if you’ve got the space you’ll be sure to want to consider an outdoor dining space. “Opt for easy seating such as benches that can accommodate several people and wet bums. As with the daybeds, look for outdoor furniture that is built of componentry that will wear well with exposure to water and harsh pool chemicals,” says Eco Outdoor
Fantastic foliage
For truly tropical vibes, you can’t go past lush green plants. Every garden will have its own needs so it’s best to consult a professional when choosing plants that will thrive in your own garden. Bunnings offers a ‘Perfect Plant Promise’ so even if you don’t have green thumbs you can feel confident you can find something that will suit your garden perfectly.

To recreate the beauty of Bali, Matt Leacy from Landart Landscapes recommends, flowering plants, palm trees and large leaf foliage like Alocasia and Helliconia combined with open and airy spaces, and natural tones such as timber and limestone with oversized earthy clay pots or water bowls. 
Make the most of your own backyard this summer and enjoy a fabulous holiday at home.

Till next time... are you staycation-ing this holiday season?


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