Ceramic floor tile can take a lot of abuse and still last throughout the life of the home. Compared with other types of flooring, ceramic tile stands up to heavy traffic and abrasion so kids, pets and lots of visitors are no problem. There is no shrinking or expanding as there is with wood products, which keeps the chemical structure of the ceramic intact for the long term, contributing to its durable nature. Easy to Maintain Ceramic tile needs sweeping and mopping only every now and then to keep it clean. With hardwood floors, periodic waxing or even refinishing is necessary, but tile doesn't have that kind of upkeep requirement, which reduces long-term maintenance costs. Also, if a tile comes loose, cracks or chips, it's easy to replace that one tile without upsetting the others around it, so this saves on replacement costs. Inexpensive Ceramic tiles are some of the most affordable...

With the cold winter weather upon us, there is nothing quite like a cosy fire, hot meal and a nice glass of wine which brings me to this month’s topic. For the wine enthusiast, having your own cellar is a must! Building a wine cellar is not challenging or expensive however there are a few points you need to consider when designing the cellar. Location - The search for a location usually involves a little used area like under the stairs, in the laundry, under the house or some other type of cubby hole. Many people are now incorporating a wine cellar in their house design. These are usually designed with a glass door or wall so the wine can be visible from a room. You can now buy free standing wine cellars which come in small and large sizes. Temperature – This is certainly the greatest concern when cellaring wine. Today’s modern...

As winter settles in, we probably find we aren’t using our decks and balconies as often as we do in summer. This makes it the perfect time to check them out for signs of wear and tear. Like all parts of our homes, the deck and balcony require routine checking and regular maintenance to keep them in good shape and prevent emerging issues and dangerous environments. With this in mind I would like to outline some causes of damage and offer some guidelines on making sure your deck and balconies are safe. First, you should check the quality of handrails, balustrades, supporting beams and joists. By applying light pressure and using a push and pull action, look for any rattling, unusual movement or loose fittings. If anything seems out of the ordinary, then it should be attended to immediately to prevent any disasters. It is important to only engage with licensed...

If you are considering what floor and wall coverings to use, why not consider tiles. Tiles offer something for just about every taste. Along with their beauty, there are a number of reasons why tiled floors and walls is both a practical and popular option. Tiles can be made from glass, ceramic, porcelain and natural stone. One of the main benefits of ceramic floor and wall tiles is the ease of maintenance. The tiles require no special cleaning solution, tend to be stain resistant, and do not absorb odors, making it easier to clean and environmentally friendly, as just a mild cleansing solution and mop can clean up any spills or dirt. Ceramic tiles can stand up to heavy traffic and abrasion, so kids, pets and lots of visitors are no problem. There is also no shrinking or expanding as that with wood products, which keeps the chemical structure of the ceramic intact...

If you’re considering re-designing or building a new home, I recommend liaising with a designer. Designers are there to help you create your dream home but also help design it in the most efficient manner. When briefing with your designer, compile any wish list, home assessment and information you have collected for the design of your home. This will provide a discussion point with your designer and also helps to ensure the designer is clear on your priorities. Collecting pictures from magazines of homes you like, or don’t like, is a great starting point for designers to understand what style you are after and the presence you want your home to give. Designers are ideal with renovations or building of homes as they can offer much assistance in planning and approval processes and can provide any documentation or drawings required for approvals. Once approved, designers can offer services such as more detailed...

With the weather warming up and summer approaching quickly, its time we start paying our gardens a little more attention. Drip irrigation is the most efficient watering method around, proving that low flow is the way to go. As the system slowly releases water, hardly any is wasted through wind, evaporation, run-off or overspray. Drip irrigation takes fifteen minutes to deliver one litre of water to the soil, which is compared to the five seconds it takes to deliver one litre by hand. By slowly dripping the water into the soil at the base of the plants, water is released at a rate that’s easy to absorb and only where its needed, meaning your plants are not at risk of being over watered and the weeds are usually not watered at all. It is a good idea to connect the system to a garden tap timer so then you can just set...

With the weather warming up, its nice to spend more time outside, so I thought this month I would offer some tips when designing your garden and outdoor living. The best living spaces are those that flow from the inside to the out, which will help make the most of ‘alfresco’ living. With the climate in Sydney being warm and mild, building a shaded deck can be just as good -and a lot cheaper- than extending your living room. Using particular plants and other landscape features will not only brighten the atmosphere of your home but can also shelter your outdoor area from harsh winds, or help channel cooling breezes into the house. To create shading, use evergreen plants, particularly on west-facing walls. Another great tip is to use deciduous plants and vine covered pergolas on the north side of your homes, as they will provide shade in summer and also let...

This month I’d like to continue discussing design options so that you get the best possible outcome from your new homes. When designing, spend most of your time focusing on the living areas. It’s these areas you will be using the most and it’s important to maximize their functionality, not necessarily their space. If large spacious areas are what you desire, I suggest designing the outdoors as an extension of your living room. If you have young children, consider designing the kitchen and living areas to overlook play areas. With summer arriving quickly, I suggest you make sure you have openings on more than one side of your living areas. This will allow cooling breezes to flow through in the summer. High, open-able windows or skylights work well to cool the house as hot air rises, and will also let in the winter sun. But make sure the glass is double glazed...

With the beginning of a new financial year I bet many of us are thinking about our money, future and investments so I thought it would be appropriate to discuss three beneficial tips to reduce the risk of investing in property. My first tip of advice would be to get an independent valuation. Whilst a $50 valuation may save you money and give you some idea, a full $500-600 valuation, including a complete comprehensive property inspection, will almost guarantee that you do not over pay for your investment. You can also get valuation for properties that have been built. In this scenario the architecture and building plans are reviewed with the corresponding suburb data to produce an accurate valuation. Secondly, I suggest you take out a building inspection. If you yourself are not in the building trade then you will need to get a full building inspection performed for every property before...

Swimming is one of the most beneficial exercises anyone can perform, and can be performed at all ages and ability. However, one drawback is it’s often difficult to find somewhere to swim a few laps. Public pools are often too crowded to get a good workout in and not all homeowners have easy access to public swimming places. This month I would like to discuss the unknown benefits of installing a lap pool on your properties. I am sure by now you are all thinking a lap pool is far too expensive to have in the backyard. While there are some high-end lap pools that may push the family-budget, there are also plenty or more cost effective options that are far more affordable than the traditional backyard pools. Above-ground portable lap pools installed with a deck are not only versatile in design, but can also be installed at a fraction of...

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