Category Archives: Home and Garden

Alternatives to make a water systems

Did you know that on average hot water systems make-up 31% of your total energy bill? On top of that the cost of providing instant hot water to your home is continuously increasing.

According to the Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) hot water systems consume more energy than any other device within the average household. In their 2009 report IPART also predicted a 60% increase in the price of electricity from 1 July 2010 – 30 June 2013. You will have experienced some of these increases already, but further increases are coming soon.

This article compares the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the three major hot water alternatives commonly available to Australians: electric, gas and solar.

 

Electric Hot Water Systems

Electric hot water has been continuously developed and used over the last century and has been the main source of hot water in homes for several decades. In 2008 the ABS recorded that around 58% of homes in NSW use electric hot water systems.

With the continuously rising cost of electricity and the introduction of the Carbon Tax, it is becoming increasingly expensive to run an electric hot water system.

The government has stated that it will try and phase out electric hot water systems by 2013. This will make it harder to purchase replacement tanks and parts.

From an ‘initial investment’ point-of-view, electric tanks are currently your most affordable option. They range in price from $500 to $2000, with many second-hand tanks available for less.

Although costly to run, electrical hot water systems are reliable.

Until recently all electric hot water systems heated water with an energy-hungry electrical element. However there is now an energy-saving alternative: the electric heat pump.

Electric heat pumps are approximately three times more efficient than electrical-element based systems but the initial investment is between $1500 and $4000. Heat pumps are more efficient in warmer weather and in warmer climates.

 

Gas Hot Water Systems

Gas hot water systems have become increasingly popular over the last 5 years. Improvements in technology have seen gas systems, both storage and continuous, become more efficient and affordable.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 76% of households in Melbourne are using a gas hot water system.

Gas hot water requires a gas connection in the household but can also be run on gas bottles.

Some gas hot water systems are considerably more efficient than others – look at their energy star rating before purchasing.

Gas Hot Water Systems usually cost between $800 – $2500. The price depends on size and efficiency.

Gas Hot Water Systems are not as cost effective as solar or heat pump based systems, however they are more efficient than traditional electric-element based systems.

Easy to make swimming pool at your home

Do you want to provide endless hours of fun and exercise for your children in summer? Is there a need to escape the heat? Then you should consider getting a swimming pool.

However, because swimming pools are not cheap to build, buy or maintain, there are many factors to be considered before going any further.

Budget is a huge factor, but not the only consideration. Firstly, evaluate your reasons for installing a pool. Is it to be purely for recreation? Do you have a family member who has a health condition that would benefit from swimming? What space do you have for a pool, and what problems may this space present? Will the pool be used year round? What building codes apply in your area? What extras would you like with your pool: spa, waterfall, slides? How will your pool affect your landscaping, and what other things could you do with the space that a pool will use

 

Choosing a pool

First of all, make sure you know your budget and stick to it. Be confident that you can afford the swimming pool that you choose, and that you have allowed for the extras that go with a pool. You won’t have fun swimming if each time you do a lap you think of how much debt you are in!

Research the kind of pool you want, and why. Good planning will help you minimise extra expenditures. Give consideration as to how you would like the area around the pool landscaped and factor in that as an expense. Also give serious consideration to maintenance costs – pumps, filters and chemicals are regular expenses that need to be budgeted. Filling your pool will cause your water bill to rise significantly, unless you have water tanks installed. You will also want to account for the expense of water loss through normal usage of the pool. Water restrictions in times of drought may mean having to buy in water. And don’t forget pool fencing – it’s mandatory.

Choose awnings for the home

Awnings are a low-cost, low-tech way to summer cooling. They can serve two functions, to supply shade for the summer sun to control heat entry to the home, and also to offer more protection from rain and hail, to extend the life of the building structure and to offer shelter. About 40% of unwanted heat that enters the house is through the windows.

An awning is a fixed structure attached to the outside of a building, over doors, windows or walkways. Awnings were first used by the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians. The Coloseum in Rome was shaded and protected by large retractable canvas awnings.

 

Awning materials

Awnings can be made from a number of different materials, can be permanently fixed or retractable, decorative or purely functional. The angle and size of the awning is important to get the best result from an awning. The right placement ensures that summer sun can be excluded from the windows, yet allows the winter sun to penetrate to warm the house.

A light coloured awning will also reflect sunlight and heat. A slight gap left between the awning and the house will help to vent the heat that builds up under the awning. Installing the awning at an angle of 45 degrees looks and functions best.

The awning pictured right, is a permanent structure, and can be constructed from various materials. The advantage of this type of awning is that it is set and forget, apart from painting and cleaning. The disadvantage is that you are stuck with one level of setting.

There are other awnings which can have various configurations of control. You can have the mounting arms movable and adjustable, and the awning covering removable or retractable or partially so. This will give you greater levels of control over your covering options. You also have a choice of manual or motorised controls and adjustment.

The Ventian awning pictured below left, has either fixed or movable louvres for shade control. The advantage of these is that they allow some degree of light and vision through the louvres. If the louvres are movable, this allows for more light when needed. The louvres can be of wood, aluminium or various plastics. The latter two are maintenance free apart from cleaning.

The most of the sun in your home

Whether you want to watch sport on TV away from the glare of the afternoon sun, or have a sunny kitchen window to grow basil and parsley, the way that your home is oriented can make a big difference to how you use your home.

When you choose a floor plan that faces the right way on your block, you’ll make your home more comfortable, and you can save money on heating, cooling and lighting. Your home builder can flip or rotate your floor plan to make the most of your block’s orientation.

Here is a quick guide to help you work out which rooms to position where in your home:

North- This is side of your home that will be warmer in winter. The north side is generally the best place to have living areas and rooms that you use the most.

South- This is the coolest side, so it is generally the best place for bedrooms in warmer climates, or rooms that you don’t use during the day.

East- This side is where you will receive morning sun, so it is a great idea to have your kitchen or bedrooms on this side so you can enjoy a relaxing breakfast in the sunlight.

West- Since this is the direction the sun sets, the western side of your home is more likely to get hot in the afternoon. This is a great area to place rooms that you don’t use often, such as your bathroom, garage or laundry.

You can also make the most of the sun within your home by using eaves. In summer, eaves will shade your walls and windows from the sun – and in winter when the sun is at a lower angle, the eaves will let the sun into your home.

When you’re working out the orientation of your home, always keep the amount of glass you have in mind. Glass looks great, but it can turn your home into an oven in summer and an igloo in winter!

Statement of Environmental Effects

Drawings are only a small portion of what councils in Australia require to enable them to give consent to your development application, building permit or building licence. Reports such as Statement of Environmental Effects, BASIX (in NSW), waste management reports, geotechnical reports, landscaping plans and more may need to be lodged with your plans. To determine exactly what is required by your local council you will need to contact them directly or visit their web site.

 

What is the BASIX report?

BASIX is the acronym for “Building Sustainability Index”. Since October 2006 all development applications lodged in NSW for new homes, renovations and additions valued over $100,000 must contain a BASIX certificate. Applications for installing a pool or spa must also include a BASIX certificate. The BASIX certificate pledges the homeowner to water and energy saving commitments that must be verified by an accredited certifier before an Occupation Certificate is issued.

 

BASIX – Renovation case study

Paul and Jenny’s home is located in Umina on the Central Coast one hour from Sydney. The dwelling is a small 3 bedroom home with only one living space. It is the owner’s intention to make an addition to the home as well as improve the functionality of the existing plan. The construction type will consist of a timber roof, wall and floor structure and it will be supported on brick piers and clad in weatherboards and “colorbond” roof sheeting.

Paul and Jenny are making the following energy and water saving commitments:

  • Window and door overhangs have been increased from 600mm to 900mm providing maximum sun coverage in the summer and maximum sun penetration in the winter
  • Large windows and doors have been added on the North and East to keep living areas warm in winter. Note: Windows sizes on the south and west should be kept to a minimum size to reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer
  • Insulation has been added to all roof areas and external walls of the new addition. Note: the higher the insulation’s “R” value the warmer you will be in winter and the cooler you will be in summer
  • Energy saving light fittings and globes will be installed into as many areas as possible. Note: there is now a good range of energy saving fittings and globes on the market that can be installed in wet areas, halls and bedrooms – allowing energy saving in these areas. Unfortunately there is a very limited selection of energy saving feature lights for areas such as living rooms and dining areas but BASIX does factor this issue into its calculations. The BASIX certificate will encourage the renovator to a 40% energy efficient light commitment on new or altered lighting.

Home Design Rules That You Need To Know

Designing your own home can be a very exciting undertaking. The design process is a complex juggling act and there are 6 golden rules that you should follow designing your own home.

1. Think in 3D

Professional home designers like building designers and architects are always thinking in 3D when they’re working on a new home or renovation. They are constantly incorporating and taking away design ideas in plan and in a 3D form at the same time. For some people this skill is instinctual, but it can also be learnt over time.

Thinking in the 3D form can be difficult, especially when it comes to converting your own 2D house plans into a well form and aesthetically pleasing building. Weather you have this skill or not it is essential to always think about how your ideas will look as a resolved building form or you’ll run the risk of your building looking like a plan with extruded walls and a roof stuck on top.

 

2.    Limit amounts of different building materials

Be very careful when using more than two types of external building cladding especially on the same plane (elevation). Research precedence’s for using the materials you want together, otherwise it could result in a messy façade & water leakage into the home. Ensure that material connections are well detailed and also ensure the builder understands how these materials will join while performing their essential waterproofing requirements. A neat trick is to step the building using a different material and avoid mixing materials at all on the same elevation.

 

3.    Use site conducive construction methods

Ensure the structure types you choose suite your site, building style and budget. During the design phase you’ll need to start thinking about construction types to ensure your building form will look appropriate to the style of building you are envisaging and will be affordable.

Using inappropriate construction types can;

  • Make a building look heavy when you had in mind a light weight home
  • Result in expensive building foundations

 

4.    Good design composition

A well designed building comes from seriously considering such things as proportion, symmetry and repetition.

  • Proportion – The building you design needs to match human scale and should not look visually out of proportion (to too big or too small). You need to understand this before you commit to the design.
  • Symmetry – Using symmetry is a simple and traditional method of ensuring a building looks visually comfortable.
  • Repetition – Using repetition in your design offers the building visual strength and comfort. Repetition in windows or doors can work really well in a design.

Kitchen That Stays True History

When Mass Design Group cofounder Alan Ricks decided to remodel his Boston apartment, he had a lucky head start: Ricks’s unit, on the top floor a charming 1850s brownstone, came chock-full of original architectural features. But there was still plenty of work to do, specifically in the kitchen; the dark exposed brick wall and wood trusses, previously stained a deep brown, didn’t jibe with Ricks’s dream of an airy gathering area where friends could mingle while a meal bubbled on the stove. Ricks promptly whitewashed those moody elements and stuck to a limited color and material palette, instantly brightening up the room and creating a simple backdrop for special elements to shine. “The idea that design affects behavior is true for the home as well,” he says. “Creating this open kitchen layout, for example, shapes the social dynamic and creates a bright, welcoming space that is great for entertaining.”

Mass Design Group has a “LoFab”—locally fabricated—approach to design, and Ricks applied the same philosophy to his personal project. “Design decisions were developed collaboratively with the craftsmen who would do the building, sourcing materials regionally wherever possible and taking opportunities to highlight the craft of construction.” Case in point: the kitchen’s custom stairwell. Another advantage of the apartment’s elevated perch—and what convinced Ricks to buy the home in the first place—was access to the rooftop. However, to appreciate the valuable outdoor space, you had to climb up a perilous folding ladder. No longer. Ricks worked with expert carpenters and metalworkers to create wood steps that rise from the floor to blend directly into the kitchen island, then curve up into a matte-white spiral stairway. “To achieve this in one piece, the stair had to be craned into place,” he says.

After three years of meticulous renovations, many mementos from Ricks’s trips to Africa, including masks from Sierra Leone and Liberia and a painting from Rwanda, became the finishing touches in the kitchen. There are surely many dinner parties in Ricks’s future, and we’re hoping for a citrus-yellow seat at the table.

Building a New Home Tips

Are you planning to build a new home? Then be sure to read the tips from home building expert Metricon, one of Australia’s leading home builders specialising in contemporary and modern homes. If you want your home to be as functional as possible, the following top 8 designs tips will put you on the right path.

1. The Open Floor Plan

Anyone building a new home should consider an open floor plan, as it creates a larger living area to entertain in and a versatile space. An open floor plan is both functional and inviting to families, as it brings all the living areas in the house into one large space. Metricon’s Chicago display home is one of the many designs which offer open plan modern living which gives the main living areas connectivity, giving a sense of space to your home design.

 

2. Less Is More

According to Metricon, the time of cluttered homes is long over, which is why it is important to incorporate a lot of built in storage space in your new home design. To avoid making your room feel cluttered look at adding functional wardrobes, cupboards and shelving into your new home. At Metricon, we incorporate many storage options in our designs for all areas of the house. So whether you are building a house just for yourself or a large family, we can provide you with all the storage options you need, from walk in robes to butler’s pantries.

 

3. Mix Contemporary with Traditional

Contemporary is a popular design choice for many, however to make sure your new home design stays timeless; add some traditional touches to your design. By mixing these two styles together, home owners can enjoy a modern but classic home which will not date in years to come. Metricon’s Bordeaux design is the perfect example of linking these two design elements together. Keep in mind, its fundamental to make your new house design feel like a home by adding your own personal touches and finishes.

 

4. Let There Be Light

Houses used to be designed with small windows and narrow doors. These trends have altered and Metricon focuses on maximising natural light in our house designs. A tip to help you incorporate this design element is to select large windows, glass sliding doors, light-wells and glass panels into your front door.

Franca Sozzani at Home in Paris

The living room features an Alvar Aalto lounge chair, a mink-covered Sacco chair by Zanotta, and two vintage Marco Zanuso Sleep-O-Matic sofas placed back to back. An Andreas Gursky C-print hangs in the hallway. Styling by Ana Cardinale.

An Alvar Aalto chair sits in the entrance hall.

A photograph from Shirin Neshat’s “Women of Allah” series hangs in the media room; the bookcase was designed by architect Massimiliano Locatelli, Sozzani’s longtime friend, who renovated the 19th-century townhouse.
 A stairway in Franca Sozzani’s art-filled French retreat, which AD was invited to tour just before the editor’s untimely death in December.
The living room’s labyrinthine plasterwork ceiling was executed by Hyde Park Mouldings. George Smith sofa in a Clarence House silk velvet with pillows of antique tapestry and a Scalamandré leopard print; cocktail table by Bullard.
Looking into the entry hall of Tommy and Dee Hilfiger’s historic house, where a 19th-century hunting dog painting is surrounded by antique antlers; the home was renovated by architect Andre Tchelistcheff and furnished by Martyn Lawrence Bullard.

Entry space for your home

The entry to your home can be a wonderfully functional space, yet many Australian homes don’t have one.

 

So what is an entry?

An entry is a transitional space, where your family and guests can be greeted, organised and redirected to other spaces within and around your home.  Your entry needs to (not only look great) but most importantly it needs to function well for it’s intended use, and you may need more than one!

 

The following 3 easy steps will guide you through the design process of creating well designed entries for your home.

 

1. Confirm number of entries required

Most Australian homes have a front and a rear access, as a result you will need to design two separate Entries for your home. We call these entry spaces the Front entry and Mud Room (for the rear entry).

 

2. Performance specification

You need to think about the way you use the current entries into your home. Write a list similar to the following for both the Front entry and the Mud Room:

 

Front entry

Needs to have a:

  • Store space for shoes, handbags, coats, school bags and a broom
  • Seat to put on your shoes
  • Powder Room close to this space for tradespeople and family to use
  • Enough space for you and your family to be able to fit into (1m²/person is adequate)
  • Lay off space for side table
  • Covered area outside front door for 5 people (5m²)
  • Direct access to the car space