Choosing a Spade

A spade is probably the most important tool in gardening so its worth getting a good one.

Few tools are more crucial to gardening than a durable, sturdy garden spade.

You don’t want to get something that looks OK but breaks in half or bends the first time it is used, or is uncomfortable to use.

The business end of a spade is shaped like a rectangle, with a straight flat blade and a square shallow pan for lifting, rather than scooping dirt.

Although it can be used to shovel materials its not its main purpose.

If you are doing lots of shovelling it is worth buying a separate shovel.

Major DIY stores and garden centers sell a wide range of spades.

I’m not a big fan of buying a spade on line because you need to pick them up and check they feel comfortable.

Spade handles come in different lengths to fit different people. If the handle is too short, it will be hard for you to handle the spade without hurting your back so make sure the spade feels comfortable.

Pick the spades up in the store, feel it, and handle as much as you need to be sure you get a good feel for it in your hands and with your body.

Spade handles come in ‘D’ and ‘T’ shapes . The ‘D’ shape is more durable and easier to use than the ‘T’.

Look for a garden spade with 200mm x 300mm inch blade asa larger one may be more difficult to use

The top edge of the garden spade should have a thick top to set your foot on so you can push down.

Without the thick top your foot quickly gets sore and you can’t get the push you need.

A stainless steel blade is the best and longest lasting all-around spade.

A sharp flat spade edge can cut and lift turf, cut through tree roots when digging holes for planting, and create more defined shapes in turf or soil.

Once you have got your spade look after it and make sure you keep the blade clean and the handle smooth, it all makes digging much easier.

I also run an angle grinder along the edge from time to time to keep it sharp.

The spade in the picture above is forged stainless steel with a GRP handle. I’ve had it for years and it will probably last me out.

See Tools for similar posts

 

6 Tips For Building Modular Homes

Guest Post by Dante Press

Unlike traditional built homes, modular homes are becoming popular due to quality construction, low cost, and quick turnaround.

If you’re planning to build one for you and your family, it’s essential to do your homework.

The reason behind it is that not all modular homes are the same.

Aside from that, you may need the assistance of professionals to buy shipping containers Australia to build your modular home.

So, before you get started with building your preferred modular home, the following are some tips you may want to know:

Understand The Basics Of Modular Home-Building Process

Modular is the term used for those constructed with standardized measurements or units.

Instead of building different sections of the house on- site, the construction happens inside the manufacturing facility and the home is often shipped to the specific building location.

Therefore, rather than getting a load of raw lumbers at your building site, you could receive walls or whole rooms.

The components of modular homes are made according to the quality control specifications and local building codes.

The actual number of the modules may depend on your home design’s complexity.

Choose The Right Location

One of the things to plan when building a home is to find the right location.

Whatever happens, get rid of the temptation of purchasing a piece of land on which to build your modular home.

The characteristics of a good location for modular homes are as follows:

  • Neighbourhood. Take some time to check out the location and its periphery for government and social amenities, such as churches, offices, work locations, and schools. If possible, opt for a neighbourhood that feels comfortable and safe.
    <liWide Lot. Having a big piece of land is always better than a small one, regardless of how big or small your modular home is. In addition, having a wide lot makes it possible to create a beautiful lawn and driveways.
  • Type Of Soil. The type of soil in the land may influence the construction in your preferred location. Be sure to do your due diligence to determine the kind of structures that the soil in your location may handle. You’ll have to decide if you’d rather change your modular home or move to another area.
  • Water Availability. Make sure to purchase land in an area close to a clean water source. You wouldn’t want to experience water scarcity when you’re building your modular home.

Secure Your Financing

Once you decide to build a modular home, you may get a loan or opt for self-finance.

Self-financing can be done if you have enough equity or sufficient cash in another property to acquire another mortgage.

If you prefer the loan route, your first step is to meet with your mortgage broker or bank to go through the approval process.

This will give you an idea of how much you may need to spend on both your new home and land.

As a result, you won’t waste time considering other options that are way beyond your budget.

Focus On The Finishing Touches

Several things, such as showers and sinks, will be installed in the modules once they arrive from the manufacturer.

Some items, including dryers, refrigerators, and washers, will be delivered when the house is built.

Be sure to review your inventory properly to ensure you’ve received everything you were supposed to.

However, it’s also vital to note that not everything can be finished by your chosen manufacturers.

Choose Your Floor Plan

A floor plan is essentially the blueprint of a home’s overhead layout. Viewing a pre-drawn floor plan allows you to have an idea of the home style you want, what’s best suited for your needs, and how the rooms are connected. When selecting a floor plan, these considerations may help you make a well-informed decision:

  • Functionality. Designing a customizable space and browsing a floor plan is fun, but never forget about adding functionality to your space. Make sure to select the right number of bedrooms for comfortable living.
  • Purpose Of Your Modular Home. Think of every room as having a purpose of its own. Remember this when choosing your floor plan as you might not want bedrooms right beside the living room where it might be loud. So, take time to consider the purpose of every living space.

Calculate The Costs

Typically, modular homes are cheaper than traditional built homes.

Several locations and some factors might make your modular homes pricier than average, though.

This is why you must calculate the costs to know whether a modular home will be worth it.

Moreover, you should note that there are costs that the manufactures won’t have factored in when they present you the base price.

Such costs may include ductwork, electrical work, plumbing, adding a basement, and septic tank installation.

Once you decide to tweak the original plan of your manufacturer, like installing hardwood floors rather than carpets, the costs may increase.

Conclusion

Building a modular home is a cost-effective and quick way to construct a home unlike building traditional ones.

However, the process can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time considering this type of home.

Make sure to do your research and keep the tips mentioned here in mind.

This way, you can be assured of the modular home of your dreams.

Author’s Bio

Dante Press is a real estate supervisor. He’s been in the real estate industry for 10 years. He shares his expertise through social media platforms and by writing blog posts. Dante loves playing sports like basketball and badminton.

Your Garage – A Fire Risk?

How big a fire risk is your garage?

Well in my garage there are the following fuel sources

  • 50 Litres of Petrol. (in the car fuel tank)
  • A litre of white spirit.
  • A litre turps substitute.
  • 2 x 5kg gas bottles.
  • Several tins of half used gloss and enamel paint.
  • Large box of scrap wood.
  • Various cardboard boxes.

As far as ignition sources go there is

  • Electrical Sparks from 240 volt power tools
  • Sparks from angle grinder
  • Car electrical system

And I don’t even have a welder or brazing torch!

If a fire started, and was undiscovered, how long would it take to spread to the rest of the house?………………….Not very long if you have got a standard internal door and one layer of standard plasterboard on the walls and ceiling. (In the UK if there is a room above a garage the standard is two layers of plasterboard with off set joints between sheets)

It could well be worth upgrading the specification for your new house to improve the fire resistance of garage walls, ceilings and doors! Perhaps you might also consider fitting a sprinkler point.

At least I have a fire extinguisher …. do you?

For Similar posts look in the Design Category

 

Safe As Houses

5 Tips For Building Your Ideal Home

Guest Post by Natalie lge

Photo: Tom Fisk/Pexels

Whether you’re building a house in Darwin or searching for the best Bellarine Peninsula builders to construct your dream holiday home, there are some common factors that go into residential construction in Australia that all prospective homeowners need to understand.

For a smooth, error-free construction process with an ideal end-result, keep the following six tips in mind:

1. Have a general plan for your future

It may seem strange to ask you to have a plan for your future when you’re focused on building a house. . . However, this is highly relevant as it can help guide you in the many decisions you will face throughout the construction process.

If you haven’t planned out your future, you might think the cheaper three-bedroom display home will be suitable.

If you sit down and think about children, family visits, and other factors, you may decide to invest in a larger house and land package, with more rooms, a bigger backyard, and space to build a granny flat down the line.

Those who don’t want kids may even opt to go smaller!

The point is that if you want to build your dream home, you need to think about all the different stages of your life.

Things may not go to plan, of course, however, any dream home should be planned around the fulfillment of your dreams in life.

2. Take advantage of display homes

Display homes are there to give you a feel for what the plans will look like in real life.

Even the best 3D model can’t capture the feeling of standing inside a home and seeing how furniture and appliances fit.

So, take plenty of time to explore various display homes before committing to a builder and a plan.

Take note of what you like and don’t like about each one, and you’ll soon have a clear picture of what your dream home looks like.

3. Be careful in choosing a builder

Even before the pandemic, there were problematic builders in Australia.

However, over the last two years, many have folded due to unsustainable business practices.

When a builder goes out of business, prospective homeowners are rarely fully reimbursed, even if the work is substandard and/or hasn’t been completed.

This is just one of many potential problems you can face with a builder, and the consequences can be devastating, so, it’s essential to do your due diligence and ensure you sign up with a reputable company.

4. Budget for extra expenses

If your budget barely covers the initial quoted cost of the home, you’ll have no room for unexpected expenses that may arise.

Perhaps you want to go off-plan and have a more spacious loungeroom or wider front door.

There are many reasons why your plans may change, so make sure you budget appropriately.

5. Finish with a thorough inspection

When you get word that your house has been completed, it’s tempting to sign off on it so you can move in right away.

However, doing so can leave you stuck with all sorts of problems and no avenue to remedy them (apart from paying to fix them yourself).

You need to be thorough when doing a Practical Completion Inspection (PCI)

If you aren’t confident book an an expert to look over your new home will give you confidence that you can move in without a care in the world.

 

Building a house is challenging, but if you go in prepared, it can be one of the most rewarding journeys of your life.

Start with the tips above, do your due diligence, and that dream home will soon be yours.

Insulation Basics – Reflective Finishes

There are a number of insulation products with reflective surfaces now available but how do they work?

Why do the instructions tell you to put the more reflective surface on the underside rather that the top?

Here is some information to help you understand what’s happening.

All surfaces have different levels of ability to reflect heat with black and matt finishes being very poor and shiny metal surfaces being very good. Most reflective surfaces are also poor emitters of heat. This characteristic is called emissivity (normally written as ‘e’).

An example is clean aluminium foil has an ‘e’ value of around 0.03. This is much less than common building materials such as:

  • bricks ‘e’ = 0.9 ; or
  • Building membrane ‘e’ = 0.5

Low emissivity finishes are generally considered to have an ‘e’ value of less than 0.05.

As dust can increase emissivity by 0.25 Aluminium foil is only considered to be low emissivity on vertical surfaces or the underside of a inclined or horizontal surface such as a roof or ceiling, where it will remain clean.

The emissivity acts with the surface layer of air on the building material to give an overall R value for the surface.

The following table shows how the ‘R’ values increase with a Reflective (low emissivity) surface compared with a high emissivity surface.

 

Cavity Width

Direction of

Heat Flow

Low Emissivity

R value

High Emissivity

R value

Horizontal

Up

0.23

0.11

Down

0.8

0.16

Sloping 45 degrees

Up

0.24

0.11

Down

0.39

0.13

Vertical

Horizontal

0.3

0.12

You will see that low emissivity insulation such as aluminium ceiling insulation has better performance (Higher R values) when the the Hotter air is above the insulation than the reverse.

This means that in summer it resists heat during the day but allows the house to cool more quickly at night. In winter, however the performance in keeping the heat in the house will not be as good.

 

See Insulation for similar Posts

For Posts about Green Building see Sustainability

 

5 Ways to Save on Your Energy & Internet Bills

Guest Post by Rahi Mam

As the head of your household’s finances, you may be looking to save on expenses wherever you can.

This helps protect you from unnecessary spending, and can even help free up some money for your family to spend elsewhere.

One of the ways you can save money is to regularly assess how much you spend on electricity and the internet and see if there are any better prices available.

To help get you started on this process, here are five ways to compare your energy and internet plan options.

1. Bundle Up

Many utility providers offer bundled plans, where you can get a variety of services all on one bill.

This bundling often comes with discounts on each service, as it benefits the provider to have more steady users.

Start by contacting your current service provider to see if you can combine electricity & internet through them. If they don’t offer such a bundle, you may want to contact other providers and inquire about their bundles and rates.

Then, choose the option that best fits your budget.

2. Explore Alternative Sources

The next tip is specifically for energy plans.

More and more providers are switching to cleaner and cheaper energy sources, such as wind, solar, and hydro. In addition to being better for the environment, these sources can also be more reliable than traditional coal power.

This saves the utility company time and money in a variety of ways.

Most will pass those savings onto their customers, letting you reap the benefits as well.

Contact your energy provider to see if getting your energy from an alternate source is possible and how much it can save you each billing period.

3. Take Advantage of Specials

Both energy and internet providers may offer specials for new customers, especially those who are interested in bundling multiple services.

It’s well worth doing some research to determine what specials are on for the providers in your area.

You can do this by calling around or by looking on their websites.

If you’d rather not leave your current provider, you can contact them and see if they have any specials that you qualify for.

Some may have deals for long-time customers who renew or upgrade their service that can save you some money without having to switch.

4. Consider a Contract

A fourth option for getting lower prices on electricity and internet plans is to look for plans with a fixed contract length, as opposed to month-to-month options.

Service providers benefit from having repeat and reliable customers.

As a result, many are willing to offer a special price on services for customers who agree to a locked-in contract.

If you feel that your energy and internet usages are pretty steady, or if you believe that the provider can meet your needs for the length of the contract, then this may be an excellent option for you.

5. Ask Around

One final way to help you compare energy and internet plans is to talk to customers of other providers.

You could do this by asking neighbors who they use and what their costs are like.

You could also reach out to friends and family members that you may have in the surrounding area and ask them.

You may find out that you’ve got the best plan on the block, or you may find out a hidden gem of a provider.

Bottom Line

Comparing energy and internet plans is a smart way to make sure you’re paying a fair price.

Don’t be afraid to shop around a bit to see what other deals are out there.

Talk to customers of other providers, or to the providers themselves, and ask about plans and prices.

Your budget’s bottom line will thank you for your diligence.

Back Door

Most people spend a lot of time thinking about their front door. . . . . but forget about their back door.

There seems to be a bit of a convention for back doors.

Conventional Doors

Quite often if a conventional door is used usually have a half window and usually only have a single simple lock.

Unfortunately criminals know that an easy way to break in is to break the small window, reach in, and unlock the door.

It’s not as though you really need the window as most back doors are in the laundry which isn’t a room you spend a lot of time in, and it usually has a window.

My preferred approach is a solid back door with two locks fitted at least 300mm apart.

One a deadlock, as I am always a bit suspicious about Construction Locks

Not only is this more secure, and offers better insulation but its likely to be slightly cheaper. Also you can always put a couple of coat hooks on the back of the door to hang your gardening clothes.

As you can see from this photo of a previous back2 door I specified the double locks but didn’t think to specify ‘no window’.

My latest houseI is a plain door!

Full Length Sliding Glass Doors

When looking at a display home you might find the builder uses ‘Patio Doors’ for the laundry.

I think these should be avoided.

My suggestion is you should ask for a solid hinged door!

 

More on doors including 24 pages of Check Lists for your new house choices in the‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

 

Top 3 Luxury Bathroom Features to Consider During Your Next Upgrade

Guest Post by Sherazi Khan

A bathroom renovation can add a lot of value to a home, and even if you have no intention of selling your house in the foreseeable future, a fresh, upgraded bathroom experience can make a world of difference in your day-to-day life.

However, planning a bathroom upgrade isn’t exactly easy. You have a lot of options to choose from, and some features may be more worthwhile than others depending on your budget.

Let’s go over our top 3 luxury bathroom features to help you get the most out of your next bathroom upgrade.

Heated Flooring

Have you ever gotten out of the shower on a cold winter evening, felt amazing from the hot water on your body, and then promptly had that sensation ruined by ice-cold tiles on your feet? Well, there’s a solution to that: Heated floors.

Heated bathroom floors help raise your home’s value, provide you with a better bathroom experience, and add a luxurious flair to your bathroom overall.

Even better, a heated floor can save you money in the long run since it can effectively lower your heating and cooling costs. So, it’s a luxury investment that pays off.

This doesn’t have to be a major investment, either. There are floor heating options in several price ranges, and if your budget is reasonable to begin with, you can likely afford at least this one luxury feature.

Green-Themed Features

Nowadays, “going green” is all the rage, and there are some good reasons behind that.

Things such as low-energy lights, water-saving showerheads and faucets, low water consumption toilets, and automatic shutoff lights can help you reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment in fairly dramatic ways.

However, the benefits aren’t just one-sided. Lower resource consumption means your bills will be lower each month. Plus, several technological advancements have made such “green” bathroom features not only more luxurious but far more practical than what you may have heard about them in the past.

Now, they can perform just as well as their traditional counterpart, integrate modern design elements into their aesthetics and features, and are overall much more than simply “green” alternatives.

More importantly, with the popularity of the “green” movement, homebuyers are looking for these features to be pre-installed. So, making this investment can help you sell your home more easily in the future.

Professional Design Theme

When you walk into the average bathroom, the walls tend to be bare and plain, or they’re layered with wallpaper that looks like it’s from the 1950s.

That’s okay if you like that style. However, that’s not going to cut it if you’re trying to gain a more luxurious washroom experience or increase your home’s value.

Instead, it’s a worthwhile choice to pay for a professional bathroom renovation service, especially one with an artistic design team, who create something truly unique.

While you’re focusing on luxury features such as a high-end spa bath, heated floors, and other functional parts of the room, a creative designer can bring your wildest dreams to life and make your bathroom embody the luxurious feeling you’re going for.

Choose What’s Best for You

Obviously, there are more choices than just these three. From various high-end tile options to fixtures made from precious metals, and vanities that look like they belong in a museum, the list goes on and on.

It’s important to choose the features that match your sense of style and try to consider the impact they’ll have on your monthly bills or your home value.

Buffer Zones

Planning a house layout? or considering builders standard layouts?

Thinking about buffer zones when you are will save you on heating and cooling costs.

So what are buffer zones?

Buffer Zones are basically rooms and spaces that may be heated to a lower temperature, only heated occasionally, or even left unheated in winter.

In summer the situation is reversed and these rooms and spaces will not need to be cooled to the same extent as the main rooms.

As these rooms and spaces are at a temperature between the main rooms and the outside they act as additional insulation reducing the cost of keeping the main rooms at a comfortable temperature.

Examples of Buffer Zones

Typical  ‘Buffer Zones’ are:

      • Roof space
      • Garage
      • Guest bedrooms
      • Laundry
      • Study
      • Toilet
      • Bathrooms
      • Porch
      • Conservatory

An example of using buffer zones can be seen on the following floor plan.

The study, laundry, main bathroom, toilet, en-suite are all enclosed rooms on the South side of the house.

They don’t need to be heated/cooled all the time.

For instance in winter the bathroom only needs to be heated for around half an hour in the morning.

All this reduces the volume to be heated in winter and stops heat loss to the North.

A popular buffer zone in England is a Porch.

We haven’t had one in an Australian house yet and they don’t seem to be very common in standard designs. . .but if you live in the High Country, or Tasmania, one could be well worthwhile.

Conservatories are also less common in Australia probably because of the overheating risk in summer.

They can however be useful for increasing ventilation through the house if properly designed with large top vents.

Has a buffer zone worked for you?

For more posts about plans see the Design Category.

To save money on Heating and Cooling see Insulation

 

7 Maintenance Tips For Picture-Perfect Home Landscapes

Guest Post by Steph Senter

If you want your yard to be appealing and stand out from the rest, it’s crucial to maintain its landscaping to ensure it stays picture-perfect.

A clean and well-maintained landscaping will be a nice space where your family could spend time together.

It’s best to be proactive when it comes to lawn care.

Make sure to prioritize your yard with routine maintenance to keep the landscaping in good shape at all times.

Here are a few maintenance tips to ensure your yard stays attractive.

Hire A Landscape Professional

If you lack time to keep the landscaping in your yard in good shape, consider hiring a professional to work on the task.

Professionals will efficiently remove weeds, trim the lawn, and do other general maintenance tasks.

If you’re eager to learn more about landscaping maintenance services, Gardener Sydney would be a good starting point.

Inspect Your Yard

If you want to maintain your landscaping, it might be best to spend some time checking everything.

Take time to check the plants, trees, and soil in your yard carefully.

This will help you identify any diseases or pests before they get out of hand.

Remember that the best defence against these in your landscape is maintaining healthy soil and early detection.

Prune During Winter And Early Spring

One of the maintenance tasks for your yard is pruning.

Trim away any damaged or disfigured branches due to the snow and ice in late winter.

Don’t forget to remove any unwanted lower branches on evergreen trees and shrubs if you have any on your property.

Remember that most trees and shrubs require pruning in late winter or early spring.

The suitable time to prune a shrub will depend on when it blooms and whether it flowered in the same or previous years.

For shrubs that flower during the summer, prune them at the end of winter or early spring before any new growth begins.

For shrubs that flower during spring, prune them after the flowers fade.

Because these typically bloom during the previous season’s growth, you’ll cut off the buds and flowers if you prune too early.

Clean Up The Yard

Getting rid of any debris or piles of leaves should be a priority if you don’t want mould or decay. . .however, avoid raking into the wet ground.

The best time to clean up a yard is when the temperature reaches the 40–50 range.

If you have a compost pile or planning to start one, you can place all the leaves into the pile.

In case you have perennial beds in your yard, consider cutting down those already spent until the weather warms up.

Many beneficial insects are still hibernating in the leaf litter and eventually wake up once the weather warms up and the daylight lengthens.

If you’re eager to work on the task, you can trim the spent plant stems and set them aside on the edges of your yard.

Add Mulch

The addition of fresh mulch in your yard will be beneficial.

Add an inch layer of fresh mulch around trees and in plant beds.

Don’t let the mulch come into direct contact with the tree trunks, and don’t add more than three inches of mulch at a time.

The mulch can make the planting areas look neat and help hold moisture in the soil, keep the roots cool during summer, and serve as insulation during the winter.

As the mulch decomposes, it contributes organic matter to the ground.

Maintain The Lighting

If you truly want to showcase the beauty of your yard, keep the lighting in good condition.

Ensure your property has adequate lighting for security purposes as well as to highlight the best features of the landscaping.

Make sure to replace the light bulbs when needed and check for any problems that might affect their performance.

Keep Your Grass Healthy

One of the maintenance tasks to maintain your lawn’s beauty is to keep the grass at the right height throughout the year through mowing.

Remember, though, to avoid over-mowing as it can damage the crown of the grass or allow the roots to burn.

Make sure to amend the soil to ensure healthy grass.

If you want to know your soil’s pH level, you can take samples and have them tested.

One way to adjust the soil pH is to add lime to increase the pH or iron to reduce the level.

Most types of grasses typically prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.2.

Final Thoughts

Keeping the landscaping on your property in good shape throughout the year should be your priority as a homeowner.

When you have healthy trees, plants, and grass, they’ll create the ideal outdoor space that will boost the overall appeal of your property.

With the help of these landscape maintenance tips for your yard, you’ll have an appealing outdoor space throughout the year.

 

Author: Steph Senter is a property manager. She’s been in the industry for 15 years and knows the ins and outs of property management. She writes blog posts and guest posts to share her expertise. In her free time, Steph enjoys gardening and playing with her dogs.