Tiger Tails

tiger tailsBuy a block near overhead electrical cables and you may need ‘Tiger Tails’ during the build.

These are plastic tubes that fit over the cables and provide mechanical protection and visual warning on power lines and conductors.

Getting ‘Tiger Tails’ installed isn’t cheap and can be in the order of $1000/month.

A twelve month build and that’s $12,000.

It sounds a lot as the tiger tail itself is relatively inexpensive, but the cost can include:

  • Cherry pickers and operator.
  • Traffic Controllers.
  • Area power disruption.
  • Notifying surrounding users during disruption.
  • Suppliers Profit.

So when you start looking at blocks, Look Up and remember the potential extra costs!


Also see What’s On The Nature Strip



Chinese Lucky, and Unlucky, Numbers

I see from the papers that a significant number of properties are bought by Chinese Investors.

Also I have noticed many visits to my web site are referred from Australian based Chinese language website oursteps.com.au

So for all my fellow Gweilos’ (Ghost men) here is a quick guide to checking if the street number of the new house block you are buying is, or isn’t, auspicious.


Best Number is 8  八, which signifies Money

Could add thousands to your house price!


Worst number is 4 四,  when spoken sounds like Death

Get in some lifts in china and you will find no fourth floor, or 14th floor!


Auspicious Numbers

3 三 – The Mandarin word sounds like “life”.
9 九 – Sounds like the phrase longlasting, also associated with the emperor.


Unlucky Numbers

5 (五 Associated with the word “Not”
13 – Although a Western Superstition this has been adopted by some Chinese


Combination Numbers

A repeated auspicious number like 88 is extremely auspicious

The first number can multiply the effect of an auspicious number – 28 means “Double Money” and 38 means ‘Triple Money’.

5 can negate the effect of an inauspicious number so 54 can become ‘Not Death”


Also check out some Aussie Feng Shui



Would you worry if you saw this guy (from Jim’s Jihad?) mowing the lawn next door?

Unlikely. . .  but it does illustrate the fact that neighbours can have a big effect on your enjoyment, or otherwise, of your house.

In fact 20% of us have fallen out with a neighbour in the last 5 years, and only 1% said all their neighbours were great.

Top Five Reasons for Neighbour Problems

Domain recently carried out a survey, and here are the top 5 reasons why people had problems with their neighbours:

  • Loud music (30%)
  • Late night parties (28%)
  • Barking dogs (26%)
  • Overhearing Shouting and arguing (16%)
  • Untidy property (15%)

Its often said “Tall fences make good neighbours’. . . .  but with the top four problems being noise related perhaps it should be “Tall fences and Good Sound Proofing make good neighbours!”

Before Buying a Block

If you are buying on a new subdivision who your neighbour will be is always a lottery . . . . so corner block have always been attractive to me as  it means one less neighbour.

If I was looking at a vacant block (or Knock down rebuild) in an established suburb I would aim to make visits:

  • During the middle of a working day to check for barking dogs.
  • Mid to late evening to check for loud music.

At Selection/PreStart

If you want better sound proofing two things you should consider are:

Smaller Windows – As solid walls have better sound reduction than Glass

Double Glazing – Much better noise insulation than single panes

See Noise for more posts


Photo courtesy of  neighborshame.com where you  will find more bad neighbour photos.


Reasons to Re-Build

Knock Down and Rebuild, or Renovate?

It may be the only house you can find in the area you like is dilapidated, like this one.

You may already live in the house but it no longer suits your family’s needs.

If the house is un-renovated, and over 40 years old its going to need a lot of effort to incorporate modern features that people now expect.



If the existing house has a preservation order, or the area has a heritage  overlay you may have no choice but to renovate.

Some older houses that have a lot of  character  means renovating and extending may be a better way to go. Examples would be some California Bungalows, Victorian Cottages and Federation Homes.

Just remember that you will probably want to include things like:

  • En Suites
  • Walk In Robes
  • Large Island Kitchens
  • Air Conditioning
  • Good Insulation
  • New Electrical Installation

Costs can easily reach $3,000 per sq m as access will be extremely difficult and the renovation often involves reducing the existing house to little more than a shell.


Knock down and Rebuild

If the house has few redeeming features and the existing layout makes it almost impossible to reach a great outcome then maybe your money would be better invested in a Knock Down and Rebuild.

You may find a project home builders can build a new home for $1,500- $2,000 per sq m. Even using a custom builder you may find the cost cheaper than the cost of renovations with fewer compromises.

You really have to spend some time on research before you make a decision.

A Final Thought

A house is about Your Heart, the Block you buy, or own, is about the Location.

Unless I really loved the house with all its foibles I would rebuild.


See Blocks for more posts


6 Reasons To Have A Pool

I recently posted on 6 Reasons Why I Won’t Have a Pool and got some comments back. . . . . . so here are some Alternative Views.

  1. Heat Relief – Dive in to cool off on a sweltering day. One suggestion I received was have a TV installed so you can watch it from the pool.
  2. Keeping Children Occupied  – Playing in the pool can keep children occupied for hours, and gets them away from the computer games.
  3. Relaxing –  The  resort effect can put you in a holiday mood.
  4. Exercise –  Even if the pool is not big enough to swim lengths there are  resistance exercises such as  Water Aerobics.
  5. Parties – Great location for family pool party.
  6. Emergencies – The pool water can be used to fight a bush fires. Pool water should only be used as a last resort as it can contaminate tank water, kill plants, and cause corrosion on unprotected steel.

I’m still not convinced, but if you think you might want a pool it should be considered before you buy a block and plan your home.

Small Strata Developments

A small strata development is a way of retaining an existing house and providing a rear Block. It is an alternative to a Battle Axe Block. This plan shows a typical Small Strata Development.

With this type of development there are 3 Titles as follows:

  • A block title, of reduced size for the original house
  • A block title for the new block shown in red on the plan
  • An area of common title which is jointly owned by the owners of both blocks

So what  are the issues if you are thinking of buying the back block for you new home?


  • If the common driveway is completed it may well get damaged during construction.
  • Getting agreement about driveway repair can be difficult.
  • Getting agreement from your neighbour to use the access for during construction can be difficult.
  • Sharing a driveway means that your parking options are limited and can lead to disputes.
  • Looking after the shared driveway is like some of the
    Community Title

Additional Service Costs

You will be need to bring in some, if not all, of the following service for an extra 20-30m.

  • Power.
  • Phone.
  • Water, could be two services if you want recycled water.
  • Gas, if it is available.
  • Storm water drainage, can be a problem if property drains to road.

The sewer is usually at the back of the block but check before you buy.

Additional Building Costs

I have heard additional building costs of more than $15,000 for these blocks because they are Restricted Sites


Lots more information in the anewhouse Guide to Buying a Block for only $4

See Blocks for more information on buying land.


Buying a Block

anewhouse GUIDE  – E book

 Aimed at making sure you consider a wide range of issues to ensure you get the right block for your new home!

Posts from this Blog and Much More.

In pdf format so you can read it on your tablet computer.

82 pages packed with advice  including Comprehensive Checklists that can be printed out.

Reduced . . . Now Only $2


CLICK HERE for more details


Advice – Fail

When I saw this Billboard the other day I had turn round to drive past it again, as I didn’t believe it the first time!

They are making it appear that it’s a big deal that they are selling what are the worst blocks on the estate!

A North Facing Block mean that the house gets very little warming sun during winter, as half the front of the house will probably be garage door.

A typical house will also have lots of East and West facing windows which will really soak up summer sun making the house a real sweatbox. With winter there will be no sun coming in but lots of heat going out through those windows.

It just goes to show that if you want honest advice don’t rely on Real Estate Agents or Land Developers.


To find out which way to face is best see Orientation

For more fails and unusual houses go to What the………………….?


What’s on the Nature Strip?

Don’t forget to have a look at the Footpath and Nature Strip!

Often forgotten but what’s there can affect what you can do with the block, and general livability.

Some of the things that can affect you are:

  • Place of the Crossover If the driveway crossover isn’t where you want it it can cost you several thousand to have the existing one removed and a new one built. In some cases you may not get permission to move it particularly if it is close to a junction.
  • Street Light Pole Some people hate having a light pole outside their house. As for me, I love it, as I think it provides extra security.
  • Street Trees Street trees can be an advantage or a disadvantage. The advantage is they can be an excellent source of shade particularly if your house faces West. The major disadvantage are mature trees can affect the the location of your driveway and thus the house layout. On a new estate it can be much easier to have trees relocated.
  • Fire Hydrant As well as being an obstacle to any future driveway the fire hydrant will restrict parking outside your house.
  • Utility Inspection Covers If you have to incorporate a utility cover into a driveway it may increase the cost of construction.
  • Utility Poles Generally fairly rare on new subdivisions with services typically being underground. For an established block as well as potentially being in the way it may detract from the view.
  • Parking Restriction Not good if you expect lots of visitors who will need street parking.
  • Bus Stops Something I would really suggest you avoid with problems of privacy, litter and noise.


For more Information why not look at: The Guide to Buying a Block


Restricted Site, Costs

People are astonished at how the builders costs soar when building on a restricted site!

A restricted site is generally when a the building takes up most of the block. Generally this means that there is little room to store materials and special techniques may be needed to construct the house.

Generally if you are on a new subdivision you should be able to avoid  restricted site costs but if you are looking to build in an existing suburb, particularly something like a Battle Axe block, then there is a good chance that you will be hit with the extra charge.

Here are some of the reasons why it can costs extra:

Double Handling, If all there is limited space for storage on site the builder may have to store some of the materials at his own yard. He then has the additional cost of reloading the material onto his truck and delivering to site.

Smaller Deliveries. When you buy building materials the charge is normally based on the cost of the materials and the cost of delivery. If you need 2 or more smaller deliveries rather than 1 the cost is going to go up.

Different Construction Machinery. In some cases the contractor may have to use smaller, less efficient, excavators. For really restricted sites it may need a much larger crane, parked in the road (which can mean traffic management costs) to position heavy items, like roof trusses.

Difficult Construction This can mean more hand work or dealing with building a wall on a boundary with limited access, and having to support foundations of neighbouring buildings.

Parking Fees Sound insignificant,  but if its going to cost the tradies $5/day each when they normally park for free so they are going to want be charging that to your job.


See Blocks for more information on buying land