As one bright spark recently put it, "it's hard to know what you don't know about" (we'll let that one sink in for a minute). This is especially true for people who are building, renovating or repairing their homes. Planning often doesn't go much further than drooling over pretty pictures on Pinterest or superficial, glossy house mags. Not knowing what your options are leads to confusion, unrealistic expectations and (often) blown budgets.
ABS figures show that 2.8% of all households in Australia were broken into between 2010 and 2011. Statistically speaking if you live in the burbs that's about one house on your block being broken into every 12 months.
Nobody wants to bar themselves in like a terrified zoo animal - but a few deceptively simple tweaks can do a lot to prevent break-ins. Some of them can even help to lower your insurance costs too. Check out this week's main story to find out how you can repel opportunistic thieves.
Many people still see home automation like they did in the 1990's - as a bit of a toy for cashed-up technocentric yuppies. That's really not the case anymore though. Thanks to enormous strides in technology and economies of scale, genuinely useful home automation setups are well within reach, and (depending on how you live) can do all sorts of impressive things for your home in terms of comfort, security and energy efficiency.
In our newsletter, we talked about the price rises you’re likely to expect as a result of the carbon tax. While the price is going to rise by up to 18% in some cases, we need to clarify that the carbon price is only partly responsible for the hike in electricity prices. Other factors include things like network cost increases (i.e. for poles and wires) and various other schemes that are in place.
Depending on where you live (and probably who you ask), the carbon tax is likely to have bumped up your electricity bills by between about 10 and 18%. That's an intended effect, and one for which most of us will be directly compensated, of course - but it's still likely to be a bit of a surprise for some of us. The carbon tax should be a loud wake-up call if you're not already careful about how energy's used around your house...
Renovating kitchens and bathrooms is almost a national sport in Australia - and it's a great way to really put your stamp on your home and bump up its worth (both monetary and sentimental). A good bathroom or kitchen renovation's a seriously productive way to expend a whole lot of creative rage.
Tasteful, functional and genuinely thoughtful home design's something we love here at BUILD. When you consider the amount of time and money that's sunk into most homes, it seems crazy that people don't take more of an interest in building something unique and special.
I walked into an antique store this weekend and was shocked to see a crusty old mobile phone in one of the main display cabinets (not cheap, either). I'm not old enough to concede that any mobile counts as an antique, but it's definitely a reminder of how much this technology's improved...
It's amazing how much of a difference a few choice design tweaks and some routine maintenance can make to the way your home looks and feels - and by extension, to how attractive it'll be to others. A slurp of paint on the outside walls can make a vast difference, for example - and in the garden all that's normally required is a bit of exertion and thought.
Indoors, a review of what sorts of light you have (and where), some strategic wall mouldings or even pulling up an existing carpet to expose the floorboards can completely transform your home.
In Australia, we have star ratings for new houses to indicate how much water and energy you'll consume when you live in them. Star ratings are great, but in order for them to 'work' the house has to be put together smartly in the first place. You really need to understand how to use your house the way the designer intended too...
Your house is a complex, temperamental beast made up of all manner of diabolically simple technologies and design ideas - some of which you could easily spend a lifetime overlooking. A little bit of knowledge is a powerful thing, and knowing how your home works is vital to both how efficiently you'll be able to live in it, and how effectively you'll be able to keep it in shape.
An amazing kitchen can make a massive difference to the value of your home - and if you've got the renovation itch, this is definitely the right part of the house on which to scratch it.
There's an awful lot to consider when it comes to kitchen design - how much space you have, how it'll all be laid out, what materials you're going to use, what sorts of lighting and flooring you want, how energy efficient (and budget-heavy) the whole thing will be.
It took a while, but now (for those of us in the southern states, at least) winter's really beginning to bite!
New houses in Australia come with energy star ratings, and the emphasis is very much on building houses that do a great job of containing heat. Unfortunately, a lot of people who buy energy efficient houses don't completely understand how they're supposed to work - and as a result don't reap anywhere near the energy and cost reductions that they should.
Alright - so none of these things are really secrets - but they may as well be, given how little attention's given to energy efficiency measures in so many Australian homes. Little details like double glazing, good insulation, sensible eaves, proper ventilation and even the colour of your roof can have a huge impact on your electricity and gas bills.
These days, most of us aren't as 'handy' as we should be - and we don't even realise how much of a difference a bit of routine maintenance can make to our homes. Taking proper care of your house is easy, and it'll save you a small fortune in the long run.
Come check out our new home maintenance section on BUILD. It contains a wealth of useful advice and tips on how to clean and maintain your home, from all corners of the site.
You've probably noticed by now that we've tweaked the BUILD newsletter a bit - we hope you like the look of this new version as much as we do!
This month the BUILD newsletter features a fantastic indoor lighting guide. Recent changes to the law mean that you're only allowed to have 5W of lighting per m2 of floorspace in new homes (with a few caveats, loopholes and exceptions) - pretty serious limitation!
Still using a VHS or VCD player and a big boxy TV? Got some other ancient AV hardware lurking in your living room? Take a photo and share with us here for your chance to win a fantastic new NAS and router package from Buffalo.
Getting the most bang for your proverbial buck when you're planning your build isn't easy - there are so many things that are 'essential', and other areas where, even if the absolute best isn't crucial, it's well worth it in the longer term. By the same token, you can save a small fortune in other areas.
Here's a few things to consider to help you make your money go further, and give you the house you want (rather than the one you have to settle for).
There's a competition running at the moment in NSW that you might well be interested in - it's a unique opportunity to live in a souped-up smart home, complete with fuel cells, solar pergola and electric car, all without paying rent for a full 12 months. Check it out here.
This month, we're also bringing you a stack of articles on common safety hazards around your home.