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.

Practical Completion Inspection – 12 Hints

So your house is nearly finished, and your builder asks you to do a PCI. . . . Whats that?

This is your chance to get defects fixed before handover.

You will have the opportunity to walk around the house with the builder.

Here are some hints for your PCI Inspection

  1. Take your time. You have spent a lot of money and it’s your chance to get things fixed.
  2. Look at things from a different angle. It’s easy to miss things below eye level, when you are standing. In each room sit on the floor (or a camp stool) and have a good look around at that level. Sit on the toilets and shut the door.
  3. Take your shoes off and walk round in stocking feet then you can feel any problems with the floor.
  4. Turn on the Taps. Fill the basins, sinks, and bath to the overflow level and then check for leaks.
  5. Run the showers and check they drain.
  6. Flush the toilets, check they are securely fixed to floor and don’t leak
  7. Check locks Make sure privacy locks on toilets and bathrooms work
  8. Check switches and power points Test power points. Make sure that where you have several lightswitches on one panel the layout of switches is logical
  9. Check you have the electric points you selected. Make sure all the lights and power points have been fitted
  10. Sensor check If you have any sensor lights make sure the delay and sensitivity is correctly set. We had one in a wardrobe in our current house that went off if you stayed still for 5 seconds.
  11. Check for rough edges Such as on the edges of paintwork from paint drying in lumps/drips particularly window sills. Those rough edges can catch your curtain fabrics and pull threads.
  12. Record everything Making sure ALL of your concerns are noted down on paper, legibly and not skipped over. There may be some things where your SS will just say “Oh, that always gets done before handover”. Make sure it is written in the PCI list anyway. Unless it’s in the list, it may not get done at all.

 

Why not buy the PCI Guide for much more advice and extensive checklists….still only $4

 

 

Creative Ways to Make Your Interior Decor Look More Luxurious

Guest post by John Guevara

When I was younger, I always loved decorating my room.

When I started arranging my room, it would always feel like a home to me and bring me lots of joy.

However, when you get older, and your priorities change, it’s easy to push decor away so you can focus on other things.

But in recent years, more people are becoming more interested in interior aesthetics again.

People are seeing functional spaces and artful ones that inspire them to create.

Use Curvy Shapes

Following the path of metal molding, many interior decorators choose to include curvy shapes.

These are usually more stylish, allowing them to transform a room without losing formality.

For example, you can use curvy bodies to create focal points in your home by using them as frames.

It’s incredible what a metal frame can do to enhance a photograph.

Mirrors

For many, mirrors have become more than just something used to fix your hair or to correct bad posture in the morning.

They’re now used as works of art to bring you joy when you look at them or add depth to your room.

They’re also great for those who want to observe their surroundings without letting those around know.

Led mirrors are very popular these days as well.

Especially if you’re trying to add a little bit of that futuristic and luxurious feel to your room.

Not only do they illuminate the room, but they will attract lots of attention from your guests and the people who walk by your place.

Add Metallic Items

Metallic items are great for adding a great glow to your interior.

They’re also instrumental in many decorative ways. For example, you can place them on shelves and tables.

This way, you don’t need to decorate all of your furniture for the metallic glows to shine through.

You have to think about where the lighting is strong enough that your items gleam beautifully without hurting yourself from the light’s reflection.

Fresh Flowers

Strawberries are one of spring’s absolute favorite foods. But if you live in a cold climate or are allergic to them, you still have plenty of other choices for fresh flowers.

Just make sure that whatever flowers you pick for your room have the right scent.

Otherwise, it will just smell like wilted roses to everyone who walks around your place.

Create Vignettes

A vignette is an exciting and unique way to add a little something extra to your home.

You can use this concept for simple and basic things such as putting your favorite picture on display or having it as a conversation piece.

There’s no limit to how you can incorporate vignettes into your interior design. For example, you can use them for decorating furniture and windows and decorating mirrors and walls.

 

Conclusion

Interior design is more than just how the rooms look aesthetically. It’s also how the rooms make you feel. By incorporating different ideas into your interior decorating, you can truly make your home a comfortable and enjoyable place to be.

Artificial Grass v Real Grass

As I walk around residential areas one thing I have started to see more and more is artificial grass.

I have even seen builders put artificial grass on the nature strips in front of their show houses. (Can you still call them nature strips with artificial grass?)

Here are my thoughts on how they compare for use in the home:

Real Grass

Artificial Grass

Installation To get a good lawn requires good soil preparation whether you are going to use seed or turf. It will initially require heavy watering. Artificial grass should be laid on a level well compacted gravel bed. Following the laying of the mat a filler of rubber granules is added and brushed in.
Cost Low for seed to high for turf High
First use Can be a few weeks for turf to months for seed Immediately
Water Use 10-20L/m2 per week in summer without rain Zero
Maint’nce Weekly mowing in summer and regular edging Regular weedkill and monthly raking to keep up appearance
Repair Easy and low cost Difficult and expensive, particularly if it becomes uneven.
Suitability for sport Ok for garden putting greens Good for sports such as tennis as it’s resistant to wear
Enviro Effects Helps absorb CO2 Saves water
Look Seasonal and weather changes also watering dependant Always green
Feel Soft and cool on feet Neutral to pleasant smell Soft but Hot in direct sunlight, static can build up, and has rubbery smell*
Effect on the House Will help keep the house cool No effect
Allergies Can affect hay fever sufferers, especially when mowing No effect

* spraying with a weak solution of fabric softener will help with static and smell

As for me….. well my children have grown up and I don’t like mowing lawns so we haven’t got any lawn, just a native garden.

Which do you prefer?

Setting Up Your Vegetable Garden

Guest Post by Elena Willson

Setting up a vegetable garden at home can be a great way to save money, provide a new interest in your free time, feed your family with healthy food and get up close and personal with nature.

Growing tomatoes, zucchini and any other favorite vegetables that you like can save you all those frequent trips to the market and make your cooking much easier with all the ingredients at hand.

Moreover, you’ll discover that the flavors and textures of home-grown vegetables far exceed the ones bought at the grocery store . . . so, check out these tips on how to get your vegetable garden off to a great start.

Come up with a plan

Start your veggie garden project by making a list of your favorite vegetables and short-list it to the ones that are quite expensive at the shop but taste the best when fresh.

Start off small with a few vegetable beds that you can expand every year as you become more confident and experienced.

If the area for your vegetable garden is new, you need to decide what style of gardening and planting system you want.

It could be raised beds, square foot gardening, or traditional rows.

The general recommendation is to define the garden beds about 1.2m wide and as long as you want them to be with at least 60cm space in between them. Preferably, it should be in an area of your garden that gets lots of sunlight and is close to a water source.

Another great option is to construct and implement a greenhouse to grow plants in.

They are an excellent method as they offer protection for your plants from pests, frost and chilly weather, making your growing much easier especially if you live in a colder area.

Greenhouses come in many shapes and sizes, and with the benefits they offer, you’ll spend less time worrying about growing problems and more time enjoying your gardening!

Choose your plants

Your next step is to choose what plants to grow.

Think about what vegetables your family likes to eat the most.

The easiest ones to grow are typically tomatoes, beans, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, and various greens.

The general advice is to start growing your plants from seeds sown directly in the ground, but you could also use seedlings.

You could even grow your own seedlings indoors or purchase them at a local nursery. In early spring, just before the last frost, sow those plants that grow best in cooler weather, such as carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, spinach, peas, radishes, and Swiss chard.

After the last frost, start planting warm-weather vegetables, such as squash, cucumber, beans, and corn.

Rely on proven tips and techniques

There are proven tips and techniques that can help your veggie garden grow more efficiently and productively.

One preferred method involves the practice of succession planting.. . .For instance, you can grow a warm-season crop like beans in the same place where you previously harvested a cool-season crop like spinach.

Interplanting is another way to get the most out of your planting space.

Combine fast-maturing crops, such as lettuce, with slow growers, such as broccoli.

You’ll have harvested lettuce by the time the broccoli requires more space.

Prepare the soil

You’ll hardly get any yield if you don’t provide the best possible soil for your plants.

When it comes to your garden, rich, healthy soil is something that’s easily recognized – it’s easy to dig and drains well.

The combination typically contains a mixture of sand, silt and clay, and their proportion will dictate the texture of your garden soil.

This texture will affect drainage and amounts of nutrients.

Luckily, any type of soil can be improved in time by using organic matter, commonly compost.

This will help connect the particles in the soil, retain moisture and nutrients, and get the plant roots the much-needed oxygen.

Regardless of the way you grow your plants, you should also be ready to tackle pests and diseases.

There are different solutions available, but basically, you need to stop the weeds in their tracks, keep any animals out, fight fungal disease and deter destructive insects.

 

When you decide to start up your vegetable garden, it’s important to understand the basics and take one step at a time.

Make a good plan, work at your own speed and try to enjoy the process.

Hopefully, the tips listed here will encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get started on your green thumb journey.

As you get better at it, besides your veggies, why not expand and add some herbs, edible flowers, and fruits as well?

 

Live While You Build – Location

When you are getting your new house built do you carry on living in your existing house or move into a rented house.?

We have only ever built new houses when we have relocated for work, so its always been easist to sell where we live and move into rental accommodation close to work, and the new house location.

Here are some advantages in selling up and renting near the site of your new house:

  1. Selling your existing house can release some cash which will help reduce the mortgages on the land and construction.
  2. You won’t need a bridging loan if you can’t sell.
  3. The kids can start going to the new school or childcare earlier.
  4. Its easier to check on the new home build often.

Obviously if you are still living with your parents. . . or could move back in with them, that can be the cheapest solution; although it may not be the most conveniet location

 

Have you found it better to avoid having a rental property?

For more posts about decisions like this see Starting Off

 

Best DIY Affordable Home Improvement Ideas

Guest Post by Elena Willson

DIY home renovations are fun and rewarding.

If you are planning to give your home a new look, ,or even sell it, you need to think about the cost of each project.

Not all projects are wallet-friendly and some may not be enticing to potential buyers.

That’s why you need to take a look at these simple DIY home improvement ideas that can transform your home without breaking the bank.

Getting Ready

However, before we delve into the projects, let’s highlight some preliminary steps you need to take.

A.  Survey Your Home

Grab a pen and notepad and take a walk around your home.

Start with the interior and then move outside.

Take note of any fixtures that look dated, worn out, or very dirty.

Pay special attention to your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom.

Outside the home, take note of the state of your front door, sidings, and other parts of the front yard.

Remember that a poor first impression can turn off potential buyers, so you need to pay special attention to your home’s frontage.

B.  Draw Up a Budget

After moving around your home, you will have a long list of potential DIY projects. . . but don’t start yet.

Re-order your project list so that urgent and important projects come first.

Then find out what you will need to complete each of those projects and the expenses you will incur.

If one of your projects is painting your living room walls, for instance, you can write an estimate for the materials and tools you will need (paint, scrapers, brushes, rollers) and the estimated cost.

Repeat this for all the projects on your list.

C. Watch Some DIY Videos

Whether you are an experienced DIY enthusiast, with many completed projects in your portfolio, or you are a newbie,  watching home renovation videos will be of great benefit to you.

You’ll find that these days, when it comes to home improvement, just about every topic is covered by various professionals and amateurs alike.

These videos are in essence visual tutorials, and you’ll need to find the ones that are relevant to your project.

These instructional videos will help you compare various working methods as well as inform you about precautions you need to take on some hazardous tasks.

You can also discover new methods and tools to save you precious time and money.

Projects

Now, let’s see some simple and affordable DIY projects.

1. Upgrade Your Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets form a large part of most remodeling projects. But you can transform your kitchen cabinets without spending a fortune.

In most cases, all you need to do is to repaint or change the cabinetry doors. That means you may only need to order new doors.

However, you will only spend a few hundred dollars if you do any of these three things:

      • Remove the doors to create open shelves
      • Install new molding or trim
      • Paint the old cabinet doors or add a new stain.

2. Update Your Flooring

Updating floors can be easy and affordable. Whether you have plywood, hardwood, linoleum, or tile, there are different flooring ideas that will suit your budget. Consider using one or more of these materials:

      • Vinyl floor stickers: These work well in areas of your home with minimal traffic like a laundry room that you use a few times a week.
      • Luxury vinyl plank or tile: This type of flooring floats so you can install it on top of other existing tiles without having to pull them off. They work well in kitchens and bathrooms.
      • Sheet linoleum: These modern vinyl sheets are both beautiful and affordable. You can install them in your bathroom. Simply measure the space, stretch it out and trim the edges before sticking it to the floor.

3. Renew Your Walls

Renovating your walls can be done on a shoestring budget, especially if they are not badly damaged. Try any of these ideas to spruce up your walls:

      • Fill and Repaint: Apply spackle to cracks and small holes. Then proceed to repaint your wall. A standard-sized room needs just one or two gallons of paint.
      • Get Creative With Stencils: Buy a stencil, stick it to the wall, then use fine paintbrushes to paint around the open areas.
      • Apply Wallpaper: Get wallpaper, glue, and a long ruler. Use your creativity to apply the wallpaper at wall corners, on a single wall, or on all the walls, depending on your preference.
      • Hang Fabric: Get curtain panels and fabric of your choice. Place the panel near the ceiling and hang the fabric on the wall.

4. Paint Your Front Door

Renovating the front door can work wonders in improving your home’s curb appeal.

To give your door a spotlight, select a bold accent color that blends or contrasts well with other exterior parts of the building.

In addition, you can modify the plaque of your house number and replace your mailbox with a more beautiful one.

It’s a cheap way to create a new look and feel for you or your visitors.

5. Clean up Your Vinyl Siding

If your home has vinyl siding, you can make it look new by cleaning it.

You don’t need to call in an expert or rent a power washer either.

Get a scrub brush with a long handle, a high-quality cleaning solution, and a garden hose.

With some elbow grease, you can clean the siding, and give your home a fresh look.

 

Renovating your home does not have to be tough and expensive. With good planning and budgeting, by applying these ideas, you can create a new look in your home without going into debt.

Placing Your House On The Block – 10 Things To Consider

There’s lots to think about when you are positioning a house on a block.

Here are some things that you should consider when comparing blocks and then deciding how to place your house,

    • Statutory Limits There are usually the following limits on where you can place your house:
    • Local Council Setbacks (the rules should be on the council website, it may refer to the building envelope)
    • Sewer or Drainage Easements (check your title documents for these)
    • Driveway Crossover Many blocks now come with the driveway crossover already constructed which causes further restrictions unless you want the expense of removing the crossover and constructing a new one in a different location.
    • Take Advantage of the Sun My aim to get most of the main rooms facing North for a solar passive performance and which helps with the energy rating performance (A good orientation can boost the environmental rating by at least one star).
    • Avoid Shading I like to place the house fairly close to the Southern Boundary so that the I can have a garden on the sunny side of the block which you can see from those North facing rooms. The wider garden also helps prevent shading from the house next door.
    • Overheating from Afternoon Sun Avoid or at least minimise West facing windows.
    • Welcoming Entrance Front doors should be facing, and clearly visible from, the street . . . it looks more welcoming and improves security.
    • Outdoor Entertaining Areas Decks and alfresco areas with a westerly aspect are good for having a beer in the evening while watching the setting sun.
    • Kitchen Views In our last house the kitchen window had the most interesting view. . . as that is the one you find yourself looking out of the most.
    • Storage Areas Do you want to store a caravan, trailer or boat on the site.
    • Pets If you have a dog does it have somewhere to run around without damaging your main garden? and somewhere where it can sleep away from rain and summer sun?

 

What do you think is important when placing you house?