February 6th, 2021 in

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What toilet paper should I use?

Spoiled by the plethora of choices in toilet paper? Don’t worry. You can narrow down what is right for you.

You can narrow down your toilet paper choices based on 5 factors.

Strength and Durability

There is nothing more annoying than finger poking through the pile of toilet papers amidst the process. Some sheets are better than others and it is not always determined based on the number of plies alone. You need to look into the fine print for GSM and other percentages to understand more about it.

2 Ply paper is where you should start. But some low quality 2 Ply is lesser in strength than the 1Ply. Understand the types of toilet papers before choosing is very important

 

Comfort

Comfort usually refers to the texture of the toilet tissue– the feel of it to touch and the absorbability. The need for comfort is where luxury toilet papers come in. They tend to offer the best toilet paper experience by offering scented, printed, quilted tissues.

The material composition needs to be watched. The higher the polymer, the lower the absorption leading to ineffective use of toilet tissue.

Some people might require hypoallergic toilet paper (aloe vera flavoured) for sensitive skins and to prevent rashes.

 

Prices

Prices shouldn’t be either of the extremes. Toilet paper is something you use all day- consume forever. So you don’t want that to inflate the budget.

Don’t be swayed by the discounts and offers. Not all discounted products offer great value and not all discounted products are bad. Do your research on whatever huge and tempting the discounts are.

Consider the quantity and ply to the factor. Only the “price per use” matters as it might vary a bit based on the ply and thickness.

 

Environmental Viability

The toilet paper industry is an ever-growing industry that depends on wood pulp as a major source. With growing needs comes the demand for more trees. But the forest dependency can be reduced by opting for controlled sources and recycled wood sources.

Bleaching is another big environmental issue that tissue papers have to go through to achieve the pleasing white colour we see. Brown/un-bleached toilet tissue is an alternative that isn’t bleached at all. You can also find some alternatives in white that uses other bleaching agents like Hydrogen Peroxide.

You can also rely on certifications like FSC and PEFC to understand the toilet paper’s environmental impact.

 

Toilet and Flush Suitability

Once everything is done, the paper ends in a toilet waiting to be flushed. And that, flush and the septic system must be able to handle the sheets of toilet paper you are sending down the drain.

 

The best way to get started is by getting one pack of your choice and see if it ticks all your boxes. Also, make sure to have a rough requirement of your house’s monthly toilet paper needs.

 

How much toilet paper do you need?

An average person requires around 57 sheets per day which would account for a single roll of toilet tissue lasting 5 days.

But your mileage could vary largely based on your frequency of toilet usage, members in the household and the type of toilet tissue you use. Read our elaborate article on how much toilet paper you need.

January 30th, 2021 in

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What are the types of Toilet paper? Uses, features and more

Toilet paper is a basic necessity, especially in the western world. So why go blind on toilet paper purchase. Here are all the types of toilet paper and what difference it makes to you, your toilet and the environment.

Toilet paper was adopted for mass use by the rich in the 1850s in the name of the medicated paper. Since then, toilet paper has grown and taken over as a huge market with a 35.53 bn cap in the US, led by Kimberly-Clark.

Enough history, let’s get to the types of toilet paper that are available in the market.

 

Pile of toilet paper

 

Types of toilet paper

There are a lot of different yet unique toilet papers in the market that comes with different features and sources with a purpose of their own.

1 Ply Toilet Paper

Toilet paper with one layer to it but not as thin or very light to the point of unusable. It is generally the cheapest of most toilet paper options because of the easy manufacturing process.

However, some people tend to use multiple sheets at one instance for ensured cleaning and comfort. If you are one of those, don’t buy one-ply toilet paper.

On the other hand, it is the easiest and fastest to dissolve hence ideal for narrow toilet bowls and easily clogging septic systems.

Excerpt: What is ply?

Ply generally refers to the count of layers that are put together. In toilet paper, a ply refers to a layer of paper that are rolled together. Ply count doesn’t have a direct relation to the thickness or the dissolvability of the toilet paper.

2 Ply Toilet Paper

Two-ply toilet paper has two layers rolled together. The thickness however is not always higher than that of a 1 ply counterpart even from the same brand. However, you can find it by simple math (total weight of the roll divided by the number of sheets in it).

The same goes with the dissolvability, but most of the times two lighter sheets is easier to break down than one thick paper. And two layers of tissue paper also adds to the absorbability, comfort and ease of use which makes it the most common toilet paper in the whole world.

Ask for a toilet paper roll without any specification and you are most likely to get a 2-ply toilet paper.

3 Ply Toiler Paper, Multi-Ply Toilet Paper

More ply means more absorption and getting the job done with lesser pulls. 3 Ply Toilet Paper is common in the market. But if you are looking for something more than 3, you still can get it. But beware there are high chances of clogging the toilet. More on how to deal with flushing issues and picking the best toilet paper to suit your toilet will follow by.

I would recommend not going beyond 3plies as it is the middle ground of comfort, price per head and toilet maintenance.

Coloured Toilet Paper

Coloured toilet paper was considered a luxury in the 1950s which gained popularity. However, the popularity fell due to the impact of dyes used affecting the environment and the user. The trend slowly faded and came to an end by the start of the 21st century.

Now, they are available again in the market. How safe are they to the skin and environment? Is a question we don’t have an answer to. They usually come in 2 to 4 plies and have texture and softness like generic toilet paper.

Printed toilet paper is another variety similar to coloured that is purely done for the fanciness and nothing else. Remember those trump toilet paper?

 

Coloured toilet paper

 

Luxury Toilet paper (or) Extra Soft Toilet Paper

Luxury toilet paper can have any one or more of the features mentioned below on 2 to 4 ply toilet paper.

  • Ultra-soft
  • Quilted
  • Scented/perfumed
  • Lotioned
  • Coloured

It is more of a lifestyle statement than a need. Ultra-soft toilet paper is preferred by some to prevent rashes and added comfort. Otherwise, every other feature is just luxury, including the price tag.

You can find luxury toilet papers claiming premium, super soft and a lot of other things. True to its nature, it is well received particularly in the USA with demands increasing faster than ever. But the environmental impact is not on the bright side.

When buying luxury toilet paper do not buy multi-packs. Try a single role and if it suits go for bulk.

Hypoallergic Toilet Paper (or) Toilet paper for sensitive skin

Just like soaps and other cleanliness products some people are sensitive and get allergic to generic toilet papers. The making of toilet paper involves a lot of chemicals of which chlorine, formaldehyde and bleach are prominent.

The hypoallergic toilet paper either avoids using the above-mentioned chemicals or use fewer chemicals and adds anti-allergens like aloe vera to counterbalance it. Why aloe vera for sensitive skin you may ask. It is one of the best anti-allergen for the skin.

An ideal anti-allergic toilet paper for sensitive skin is chlorine-free (PCF), formaldehyde-free and enriched in aloe vera. Do check for these three before buying.

Brown Toilet Paper (or) Non-Bleach Toilet Paper

Often named Non-bleach toilet paper or No-chemical toilet paper differs from the rest by skipping the bleaching process and hence appears in a shade of brown, the natural colour of wood pulp. This is similar to hypoallergic toilet paper but with a different motive.

Toilet papers are used in abundance and also the bleach to make it white. The choice to go without bleach will save a lot of environmental pollution.

Recycled Toilet Paper

As the name suggests, this toilet paper is made out of recycled paper. You can spot varieties of the recycled toilet paper unbleached in different plies and textures. A conservative method to keep tree cutting under control for the never-ending need for toilet paper.

Recycled papers are assumed to be coarse and rough on the skin which is why people fear using them. But modern manufacturing methods have managed to give a better texture all while saving 50 per cent on water consumption, manufacturing energy and pollution.

Bamboo Toilet paper

Using bamboo for toilet paper manufacturing is the modern solution to the long-existing problem of cutting down the trees. Bamboos are grass that has a very high growth rate compared to trees and hence producing tissues out of it is more sustainable.

Bamboo toilet paper is usually made from a mix of bamboo and sugarcane and uses an eco-friendly manufacturing process. The best eco-friendly and green solution to produce toilet paper without dependence on trees.

Unlike recycled paper, bamboo toilet paper is soft and silky. However, there is a significant downside of price. Right now, only a few households are willing to pay the extra to preserve the earth’s greenness.

RV Toilet Paper

Also known as travel toilet paper and marine toilet paper is designed with the waste system used in RVs and ships in mind. It is a very special case toilet tissue that is required for a black-box septic system and other similar systems.

Wax and plastic-free nature help in easy dissolving and soft on the skin, usually come in 1 or 2 ply rolls. If your toilet clogs due to toilet paper, using travel toilet paper should solve your problem for the time being.

 

Is that all?

Yes, this is the classification of toilet papers widely available in the market.

Wait, I see you still confused about what toilet paper to buy and how much. I get you, it’s common to be lost between options. There is more to it than the colour and the price. This is why we have a guide on buying the right toilet paper.

For more help regarding the home, bathroom renovation and expansion look at our courses, templates and other blogs.

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April 3rd, 2021 in

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How to unclog a toilet? DIY unblock the drain

A clogged drain is a common household issue. The block in the drain can be due to accumulated toilet paper, flushing foreign objects or even the malfunction of the flush itself. Do not worry, we have got DIY solutions with household items to unblock the toilet drain.

 

Toilets blocks can cause unrest at home. It is the place where you get to at the start of every day. Malfunctioning toilet leads to unpleasant user experience, bad odour and worst of all, overflow of water which is very undesirable and unpleasant to clean. But why leave it until it overflows or wait for the professional to arrive.

Most of the times toilet clogging is due to blocks in the toilet bowl or a little ahead of it which can be DIY unblocked with readily available household items. We have got a lot of easy methods, but before that, we will see why drains get clogged.

 

Why is my toilet clogged?

If you notice the dump not being flushed out properly or the water draining slowly, your drain is clogged or about to be blocked completely. It can be of varied reasons. Here are some of the most common ones,

Dropping unwanted objects into the flush:

The toilet drain can flush toilet paper because it is easily dissolving and the trap is sized enough to pass it through. Anything bigger or thicker than that like regular wet wipes can be a problem in the long run. And throwing in other toiletry disposables like dental floss can lead to immediate clog development.

Not enough force in the flush:

With time, flushes can get less effective. Due to mineral sediments that accumulate in the pores of the closet or the flush tank itself. This will reflect in a slower release of water at a speed not enough to flush the solids through the toilet trap.

Hard water usage:

Hard water is often a reason for plumbing related issues. The salts can sediment anywhere in the water path. In the drain line, sewer or even in the flush tank. So, check thoroughly and avoid using hard water, if possible.

Block deep in the line:

There is a chance of a block appearing further deep in the plumbing line or in the sewer. It can be hair and other small particles causing a block or sewer filled to brim causing slow intake. Multiple toilets and drains having slow draining or no draining issue is a sign of a block deep in the line or sewer. You will need to call a professional plumber in this case.

Inefficient toilet trap:

The toilet trap or (commonly known as) the bowl is the S-shaped part that retains the water and prevents reversal of odour and waste from the sewer. Some traps are narrower especially the low flow ones. Especially the first-generation low flow closets which were infamous for their inefficient flushing.

Quality of toilet paper:

An ideal toilet paper dissipates and dissolves in water very easily. If you go for luxury toilet paper chances of it sticking to the sides or developing a clog is high. Now comes the question of quality vs quantity in choosing toilet paper. 1ply is the easiest to dissolve but you end up using more of it compared to a 3ply toilet paper. But we still recommend 1ply if you have a smaller toilet trap as it dissolves better and passes through even when used in a higher number. 2ply toilet paper is the middle ground between usability and readiness to dissolve and most abundant in the market.

Unblocked toilet drain

How to unclog the drain?

Method 1 – Toilet plunging

It is always advisable to start with a plunger, not because it is the most common toilet unclog-er for ages, but it is a one-stop solution for most common clog situations.

How to use a plunger to unblock the drain?

A plunger is a tool that seals the toilet drain airtight and enables to push and pull water in the trap with force to unplug the clogged portion. Modern plungers come with an extendable flange which also can be multi-purposed for showers and tubs.

Ready yourself for some splashes of water. A rubber glove, apron, face mask and a towel at hands reach would help.

  • If your toilet plunger has a flange, extend it and gently try to seal the drain.
  • Start with a gentle plunge and gradually increase the pace. The speed of pushing and pulling will create a force that will unblock the drain.
  • You might have to keep plunging for some time for it to loosen and break open.

Also, make sure to have enough water to cover the mouth of the plunger for it to work the best.

Don’t worry if your toilet remains clogged after plunging we have got few more handy tricks to unclog.

 

Method 2 – Drain snake

What is a drain snake?

The drain snake is a flexible yet strong wire coil that can be used to break the clog in the drain or floor level pipeline. It ends with a corkscrew-like tip and has a handle that can be repositioned. It should cost you less than $10 and readily available in most stores.

How to use a drain snake to unclog the toilet?

  • As always follow safety guidelines to prevent yourself and the floor from getting messy. (more on that towards the end of the article)
  • Place the handle touching the water in the closet and use the handle to unwind the snake (wire coil, also called an auger) into the trap.
  • You might feel slight difficulty when the tip is passing through turns but don’t worry. It is designed in such a way that it bends before it scratches the inner wall of the closet or plumbing. If you find it hard to crank it in, pull a little bit and push in with pressure. Exert pressure and pass the auger deep as possible.
  • You might feel a small wall breaking which means you have removed the clog successfully. If not run the drain snake as far as you could before pulling it out.
  • The tip breaks only a narrow portion of the block. To avoid slow draining in the future pull and push with pressure a few times to get rid of the block in the drain completely.

Go for the modified/advanced version of toilet snake called closet auger that is designed to hook and pull objects in the drain. The wider hook at the front and a long handle that partially goes into the trap is a plus for this model.

The functionality of the drain snake is not limited to toilet drains. You can use it with bathroom sinks and most other drains.

 

Method 3 – unblock the drain without a plunger or drain snake

Tools like plunger and drain snake aren’t the only go. There are simpler and intense ways to deal with clogging using kitchen ingredients. Let us start with something light and readily available. You don’t need to plunge into the drain and handle the dripping mix of debris and water anymore.

 

DIY toilet unblocking – Dish soap + hot water

The simple combo of dish soap and hot water works wonders because both soapiness and heat loosen the debris that might have clogged the toilet. Added with a forcible entry easily unblocks if it doesn’t have any foreign objects.

How to use dish soap and hot water to unblock the toilet fast?
  • To attain the maximum soapiness, take a few pumps of dish soap in a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with hot water (not boiling-hot which is harmful to the porcelain).
  • Now dump it from a height enough to add pressure to the water but not splash outside of the closet.
  • If the above method doesn’t work use the same mixture and slowly add it to the drain and wait for 30minutes to soak and loosen before dumping the mix again.

 

Use the fizz of Baking soda + vinegar to unblock the toilet drain

Introduce one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar into the drain. The mixture is going to make a lot of fizzes but let it be. Wait for some time before you force water or a mixture of dish soap and hot water into the drain again.

A water bottle could break the clog

If you don’t have a plunger lying around you can simply use a water bottle to exert pressure. Take an opened water bottle that is squeezable. Dip the tip into the drain and squeeze it at one go. It is not as effective as a plunger but can be put to use as a DIY alternative. Keep in mind this might turn out messier than the plunger.

DIY drain unclog & toilet flush repair using a metal hanger

Yes, a simple metal hanger could solve your drain issues. Not just toilet block it can be used for most drain issues.

Unwind the metal hanger into a strip. Some hangers are not wound. In that case, use a pair of pliers to cut close to the neck and stretch it apart. Voila! You have a DIY drain snake of your own. Follow similar steps as a drain snake.

It can also be used to clear the deposit in the flush pores inwards of the rim of the toilet. Flush cleaning is another vast topic to be dealt with.

If something stays unclogged still, you should be looking for your phone to dial a plumber. You might even require a complete re-do or change of toilet.

 

 

Safety measures to be followed before, during and after cleaning or unclogging the toilet and drain

The two aspects needing protection are yourself (the DIY enthusiast), the floor and nearby fixtures.

  • Remove objects that are around the splashing distance from the toilet.
  • If you can’t displace it just cover it up with a disposable polythene packer or tissue.
  • For your protection use rubber gloves without fail.
  • A face shield or mask will help work close to the closet and not get splashes. A splash-proof apron will also be a nice addition.
  • Keep a disinfectant handy.
  • Open the windows so that you aren’t suffocated with bad odour.

 

Before winding-up

Unblocking a toilet is a pretty easy task even for a DIY newbie. So, never be afraid of DIY home improvements. Check out our blog for more.

I also train people to be their own builder for home renovation and complete constructions saving thousands of dollars. Check out my courses and personal one-to-one training options for more.

By the way, don’t forget to clean the toilet before leaving.

 

 

 

March 12th, 2021 in

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How to spot the rot when hiring a builder or home improvement contractor?

A builder or home contractor, depending on where you live, is the person at the top of any construction project right below the owner. Having a skilled and trustworthy person at that level is very important for the project to come up as desired. But is it that easy to find the right home contractor?

Construction and renovation are ranked number 2 in consumer complaints based on a survey in the USA. So, do you want to be the one complaining? I guess not. We will help you find if the person is really qualified, dedicated and experienced in his role and filter contractors to find the right one suiting your needs.

 

Who is a builder? Who is a home contractor?

But before that, we will clear the air on who is what.

Home contractor, building contractor, principal contractor, builder, general contractor all refer to the same person who manages the whole construction project, directs the subcontractors.

Similarly, Home Improvement Contractor, home addition contractor, renovation contractor refers to the same role of taking up renovation projects.

 

How to spot the rot when hiring a building or renovation contractor?

 

Red Flags Before Hiring a Home Contractor

From Visually.

 

 

Ask for the builder’s license

The easiest and straight forward method to know the contractor’s qualification to do the proposed job is their license. Every country, state has a regulatory body that issues builder licenses to professionals to carry out various construction tasks. So, someone without a license is a big no-no.

 

Is the home contractor’s portfolio work outdated or untraceable?

The portfolio is the next step in getting to know the workmanship of the home contractor. An experienced person and an outdated portfolio don’t match. Which can mean most of the work is not on par or they weren’t active during the period. Having random house images that lack details is even more sketchy.

 

Is the builder’s quote suspiciously low?

It is very common to get quotes from multiple builders. What if one gives a quote way lesser than the rest? He is probably compromising on the material or cutting corners elsewhere. If in case you decide to go with the lowest bidder, make sure to read the contract in and out.

Check out the Contractor Price Request Template that can speed up your process of getting the quotes and comparing.

Always finds a way to skip on the contract

If you don’t sign a legal contract with the builder chances are you can’t claim insurance, demand work or even complain. A legal contract is a key to any contract work. Someone deflecting from signing a contract is a clear sign of chaos.

 

Does the home contractor ask for advance payment?

A home contractor usually gets payments in parts after work commencement or in whole after completion. Pre-payment is very unusual and unadvisable.

 

Builder prefers cash

Paying by cash to a certain limit is fine. But demanding the whole of the builder’s payment by cash is not ideal. It is possible the contractor can’t account the money as income or doesn’t have the legal in place. It can also reflect back on your taxes in a negative way.

 

Does the builder advise against permits?

The system of seeking permits from various departments is not to complicate the building or renovation process. It is to ensure safety standards are met and to coordinate the working of the public amenities. It is essential to get the right permit before starting work.

The absence of permits might void your insurance and also lead to legal action for skipping on it.

 

Doesn’t value insurance?

Insurance can be a saviour in some cases and is a necessity in most cases. Most state regulations require insuring the property and the people working in it. If a builder is cheap out on insurance or leaving it out, you must definitely avoid them.

 

Is stubborn with the choice of materials, mostly sub-par?

Choice of materials matters to the strength and the looks of any construction, be it renovation or building it ground up. The owner gets a say at every level. If you find a tradie forcing materials of his choice every time, chances are he is commissioned by the brand.

Be clear in terms of material right from the start of the contract period and always have a watch over the builder to avoid such circumstances.

 

No branding, listing or references

It is very difficult to see a builder without branding. Some logo on the van, construction board ensures the dedication to work. The absence of the same should leave you wondering why.

 

 

How to hire a builder?

The above list of red flags applies to everyone in the hierarchy of contractors for home construction and remodelling starting from the principal contractor.

The construction process can go wrong at any part of the process. It is the responsibility of the owner to always stay attentive and take part in the whole process. Always look for suspicious moves and know the consequences.

Sure, sites like houzz.com are great. But sourcing a contractor through word of mouth is safer and less prone to issues. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try hiring a contractor online. Look for contractors in sites where every listing is verified as in Craftjack.com.

Read our guide to hiring a builder/contractor for more insights. Or you can directly connect with me on a free 15min consulting call to get things clarified.

 

If you are afraid of all these and you are available with time, get an owner-builder license. Becoming an owner-builder not only saves hassles but also money up to 30%.

 

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February 28th, 2021 in

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How to clean the grime and grout of tiles? DIY tile grout cleaning

The grout often turns out to be the misfit, darkened or yellowing with the grime collected over time. The unintended colour shift of the grout lines brings a new look to the tile but it is unhygienic and unpleasant in most cases. Find the best DIY tile grout cleaning solutions.

The dust and debris that gets caught in the pores of the tile grout is the reason behind the change of colour in grout. A little effort coupled and the right cleaning solution can bring back the original looks.

So, do you need to spend on commercial grout cleaner? Not necessarily. We have brought you a side-effect free home made tile grout solution and cleaning technique that requires nothing more than household items and very little time.

PS. We have also covered common grout cleaning alternates and their effectiveness so that you can make an informed decision.

 

Grout Vs Grime

People tend to mix-up and get confused what is what. Let’s get it clear and simple.

What is grout?

Grout is the cement-based semi solid that is put in between the tiles to hold them on place. Grouts can be white or coloured to match the colour of the tile.

What is grime?

Grime is a mix of dust, dirt and greasy substance accumulated over the surface, mostly on the tile grout and sometimes on the surface of the tile itself.

So, to be clear, we are gonna dealing with both cleaning the grime in the grout of the tile and the unnecessary grout over the tile.

 

 

Why is grime on grout so hard to clean?

Grout though looks smooth on the outside is actually rough and has a lot of pores when looked closely. These tend to collect microscopic dust that the broom or vacuum tend to leave behind. With time microbes start to breed and form a greasy layer that is responsible for the colour change.

The grout is deeper than the tile forming a crease in-between enabling them to collect dust and debris that are not captured by the broom. Some modern tiling methods level the grout with the tile to prevent grime collection. You can also use a sealant over the grout for a better longevity. More on grout sealers towards the end.

Worser are bathroom tiles, both floor and wall, especially the shower area. The wetness and humidity favour the mold and mildew to develop over time. The pores in the grout escape the usual tile cleaning routine which is why it feels hard to clean.

But the magic lies in the right combination of Cleaning solution and equipment used to clean the grout.

 

How to clean the grime in the grout of tiles?

There are at least 10 different home-made solutions to clean the tile grout on the internet. But I will be covering what works best, why it is ideal and why you shouldn’t use the rest.

Before that, what are the tools and ingredients required,

  1. A brush – A specific grout cleaning brush or an old tooth brush (electric ones are gonna reduce physical effort required). Do not use wire wool or anything harsher and thicker than tooth brush.
  2. A bowl – to mix and apply the DIY tile grout cleaning solution on the surface. Preferably glass due to its non-reactive nature.
  3. Safety aids – rubber glove, goggles to protect yourself.
  4. Warm water
  5. Mop/wet cloth/sponge
  6. And finally, the ingredients of choice are Hydrogen Peroxide and baking soda and little bit of dish detergent.

Yes, you might have all are most of it at home already.

How to use home-made grout cleaner?

  • Mix ½ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 table spoon of dishwash detergent in a bowl. Aim for a higher consistency for application on wall tiles, for which you can add little bit more of dishwash soap or baking soda.
  • Clean the tile and grout with damp cloth or sponge.
  • Now with a spoon apply it on the grout lines and let it be there for 10 minutes.
  • Take your weapon of choice and start scrubbing the grout. Start with covering the grout along one direction/line at one instance. Make sure all of the grime is agitated and pushed out of the grout pores before moving on to the next zone.
  • Once you are satisfied with the scrubbing the grout, use a clean cloth to wipe it away. Rinse the area with warm water and a mix of mild floor cleaner to get rid of the residue completely.
  • Try repeating steps 2 to 4 for one more time, if you not happy with the results.

Note: If this is the first time, you’re attempting grout cleaning do trial of the routine in a corner or less visible portion to make sure the tile and grout does not show adverse effect to the DIY grout cleaner and brushing.

 

Why is the Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking soda the best DIY tile grout cleaner?

Baking soda is naturally abrasive which helps bring out the dirt and grime from the grout pores.

Hydrogen peroxide bleaches the outer layer by killing the germs and moulds and brightening the surface. It is a natural alternative of regular bleach without the side effects of emission of toxic gases. The hydrogen peroxide dissolves into water and oxygen.

Dish detergent on the other hand is a nice addition that helps to remove hard stain and greasy substances on the surface and inside the pores.

Alternate DIY solutions to clean tile grout

Most common DIY grout cleaning solutions uses a mix of vinegar, baking soda, bleach, citric acid (lemon) and salt. The issue with the combination of vinegar and baking soda is its high reactiveness.

If you are wondering if what’s wrong in it. There is nothing right about it actually. Vinegar is acidic and baking soda is alkaline. Combining both forms a base which is similar to water. So, the most satisfying reaction that we see happening between the ingredients isn’t cleaning the tile.

Bleach also is commonly recommended by people to be mixed with baking soda. While it has similar cleaning, power compared to hydrogen peroxide + baking soda mix, bleach emits chlorine making breathing difficult unless used on a properly aerated room. Bleach is more acidic than hydrogen peroxide leading to tile surface corrosion in long term.

Adding more ingredients might sometimes add to the ease of cleaning. But the ingredients might get rare, pricey or makes the process complex. The hydrogen peroxide + baking soda mix is excellent and gets the job done in one go that you need not spend extra time and money complicating the tile cleaning process.

Special tip 1: To avoid frequent grout cleaning sessions, spray diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and clean with warm water to prevent grime and mold accumulation.

Special tip 2: Another tip to prolong durations between grout cleaning sessions is using a grout sealer. Grout sealer. Grout sealers are ready made pastes available on hardware stores that form a protective coat over the grout. It prevents collection of grime, dust and microbe breading. Application is fairly simple – wait for 48 hours after grout cleaning and apply the sealant and let it dry.

Special tip 3: If your grout is coloured to go along with the tile colour or go against it, panic not. Use 1/4th of the recommended hydrogen peroxide level and test it on a small portion. If you notice wearing of colour use baking soda and dish detergent alone. If it doesn’t affect colour you are good to go with the mix.


 

How to remove grout on tiles?

Now let’s get to the more serious part of getting rid of left-over grout on the surface of the tile. It is not a common sight to spot grout over the tile. But it is prone to happen if you have experience with tiling. Grout is very quick drying.

So, a shabby tradie or a newbie DIY enthusiast can be the reason to have patch(es) of grout on the tile. Don’t worry, there is always a DIY solution to every home maintenance chore.

Hardened grout is the toughest to scrape out of. So instead of full-on scraping and scrubbing, loosen the grout first. Loosen how?

Something as easy as warm water can loosen the grout depending upon the grout composition used. If that doesn’t work add 1 parts of sugar in 10 parts of water and leave the grout soaked for at least an hour before scrubbing.

Vinegar might also help dissolve the grout but with the risk of staining and corroding the ceramic tiles. Use proper protection and test it first in a not-so-significant tile area to know if it stains.

The above household DIY Grout dissolvers all have the same procedure. Leave it soaked for an hour, scrape it, rinse, repeat until all if it gone. The procedure is same for quarry stones and tiles.

It is very common to scratches the tile. So be precise and aware of where you are using your metal scrubber. If nothing goes north simply change the tile. (which we will teach you how in an upcoming article) Until then feel free to reach me out for any advice over call. Yes, I am available for consulting over call for free.

If you endup scratching the tiles. there is always an way. Simply replace the tiles and the grout.

 

Conclusion:

Grout cleaning is never a daunting task that is gonna haunt your cleaning to-do list ever after this. Yes, it wall take time to soak but you are gonna be done with it easier than before. Keep up with a monthly schedule so that the grime doesn’t get accumulated.

 

 

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October 3rd, 2020 in

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Butler’s pantry: Why and what to add for the best use of the space

While homeowners are moving towards open plan kitchen design, butler’s pantry also is considered by many. But not all have the same taste and space to have it. So, this article is all about what and why’s of a butler pantry and should you have one.

Butler’s pantry is gaining popularity after decades not without a reason. It has many reasons other than serving as a butler’s food prepping area which we will see in detail.

We know most of our homes do not have butlers and the kitchen is your personal space. Still, a butler’s pantry could make a lot of sense in this age and time both functionally and aesthetically.

 

What is a butler’s pantry?

Butler’s pantry traditionally is a transition space between the kitchen and the dining area. It houses cabinets and shelves for storage and countertops to lay out food and decorate.

The butler’s pantry is usually a narrow walk-in space with shelves and counters on two sides, located as part of or adjacent to the kitchen. It is one of the recent trends that is retrieved from the pasta and modernised for the present.

Back in those days when butlers where common and kitchens were a separate room hidden from the vicinity, butler’s pantry was a very essential space in most houses. The current housing scenario has taken a fresh approach to the design and functionality of the Butler’s pantry.

So, what all functions can it take? Come let’s discuss

 

Why do you need a butler’s pantry?

After all, the kitchen is the most custom-made space in any home. It is catered to the needs and convenience of the homemaker from start to finish. Same goes with the Butler’s pantry. It is customizable to a good extent.

Below are some of the noticeable reasons homeowners tend to include a butler’s pantry in their home.

Hide the mess of the kitchen

One of the motives of moving towards open kitchens is showing of the kitchen. But you don’t want to show everything to your guests, particularly the mess that is created during bulk cooking. Some even set up a stove in the butler’s pantry making it their second kitchen.

Storage

Storage is the biggest issue of open kitchens. Adding a wall of storage is a nice way to keep everything in one place, well organized and easy to reach. You can store all of your exquisite china, silver and cutlery in the butler’s pantry.

Preparatory space

When you are hosting guests, it is nice to surprise them with a variety of dishes. But the open kitchen easily gives away on it. Having a backup kitchen allows for suspense and hype up until the big reveal.

An additional place to stock food and drinks

While the party is on, you can set up a drinks counter in the butler’s space. You can also place extra dishes for a refill or a dessert counter there. Not just that, the kitchen pantry is an apt place for the excess groceries too.

Additional cooking appliances

Sometimes you have a lot of cooking appliances like a slow cooker, toaster, air fryer which are not used regularly. It might make a clutter in the main kitchen. You can have it in the butler pantry countertop plugged and ready to go without bothering about the mess.

 

Types of butler pantry implementation

Butler pantry can be a walk-in cabinet, a single wall shelf or a complete expanse of space to store all your fancy dinner sets. Let’s see some of the common implementations of the butler pantry and their functionalities.

The extravagant pantry

Your ultimate pantry requirement with all the storage space and working area. Usually requires a lot of space so not ideal to add during a renovation.

The partitioned pantry space

The wall containing the kitchen cooking counter hides the pantry space from the vicinity. You either get storage space on both walls or just one depending on the availability of space. Most often void of doors, it is like walk-in storage with a countertop and a sink in it.

 

The hidden pantry

This implementation takes the aesthetic aspect to a whole new level. The doors to the butler’s pantry are fitted flush like a cabinet in the kitchen. Your guests won’t notice there is storage space inside until you open it. Though it might be difficult or unusable if you have sink and kitchen equipment in it.

 

The simple kitchen pantry

A modest pantry with minimal open shelves and a basic counter.

The wall-mounted butler’s pantry

A simple wall shelf near the dining area to help with serving and storage. It is more like a side table but also doubles as a butler pantry during house parties.

 

Butler’s Pantry Combo

Not all of us have the requirement to have a full-fledged pantry. Likely, not all have space to add a butler’s pantry into our house plan. So then is when laundry can double as a pantry for you. It has some difficulties like being distant from the kitchen. However, it is a good alternate storage space to have the rarely used.

Ideas for an ideal butler’s pantry

Let me say it again, all of us won’t like the same kitchen design. Same goes for the butler’s pantry too. Instead of giving you images of completed pantry spaces let’s take a different approach.

We will be covering aspects of a butler pantry that will make it more functional. You can choose what you want and forward it to your designer for a very functional and personalized butler’s pantry of yours.

Shelves

Well, it doesn’t make a butler’s pantry if it doesn’t have shelves. But how do you have them is the topic of discussion for now. Open shelves are the most sought after as butler’s pantry is more about convenience and less about flaunting the finishes. You can go a step ahead and include modular shelves so that you can change the space between shelves to fit all of your kitchen needs. Include draws for cutlery and other smaller objects.

Sink

The sink is an essential part of any countertop. You will need a sink for cleaning when using it as preparatory space.

Choice of finishes

Butler’s pantry is a hidden space where most of your guests won’t make it. So you are well off choosing a less priced and more durable material.

Countertop

Your countertop should be spacious enough to place all the plates, decorate them and also house the occasionally used kitchen appliances like an Air fryer, Food steamer, etc.

Power Sockets

You can’t miss on power sockets. It is very essential for kitchen appliances. You don’t wanna change plugs when you are serving a large group of audience. Make sure there are enough wall sockets in the right places.

Other ideas

Some even have a proper cooking setup for the maids to work when the guests are around. In that case, you will need to have a chimney. It is common to have storage until the top row. So, having a ladder is advisable.

Check out Pinterest for more Butler’s Pantry Ideas.

 

Should you build a butler’s pantry?

Now getting to the most crucial part – do you need it? It’s time to find yay or nay. I have seen people setting up a full-fledged kitchen pantry area and later regretting not having proper use to it. On the contrary, many of us would are in need of some extra space to store and prep the party dinners.

So what type are you? Most of us are somewhere between the extremes. To understand yourself better find the answer to the following questions.

  • Do you engage a lot of guests? If you are frequently hosting house parties you will have many china and silverware and you could make use of the additional space too.
  • Do you have a lot of kitchenware and appliances to store? You always have additional kitchenware for the special occasion. Having it in a butler’s pantry is easy for access and use.
  • Do you have the space for a butler’s pantry?  The main deciding factor is the availability of space. If you have enough space for hidden pantry space, that’s well and good. or go with a wall-mounted minimal pantry.

You can even add a butler’s pantry when you are renovating. Enrol with me for a free live session to explore the possibilities of placing a butler’s pantry in your home.

 

Signing off:

Butler’s pantry is a conventional form of adding space for storage, meal preparation and decoration. The above-mentioned types and ideas are just the most popular ones.

Like any other kitchen design, the possibilities are endless. You can add anything that will make your workflow easier. And do not forget to keep in mind the practicality of the place.

 

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September 19th, 2020 in

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How to repair a broken glass window? DIY glass replacement for windows

 

Window glass is the easiest to get damaged. It can be your kids’ ball or the wind that banged the window doors hard. It’s not always about breaking, some fibre starts to yellow with time which spoils the aesthetics of the home.

So, how do we handle it? Calling a professional for a single-window glass change will usually cost around $200. You can potentially save 80% of the cost if you have the time and will to change it yourself. Yes, almost any kind of window glass pane replacement can be DIY-ed.

We will see how to replace window glass and reglaze by yourself with minimal tools. Don’t worry we have covered it all – wood, aluminium and vinyl frames, double glazed, sliders, mechanical fastening and everything else.

 

 

Broken window glass

 

Why do you need a window glass replacement?

The obvious reason for the window glass replacement is having a broken glass and its downsides of an ugly window and possibility of glass hurting people.

But what if you had a cracked or fogged glass which is about to break? Should you change it right away or wait for it to break by its own?

Ideally, anything other than the untouched state of glass is not good. Cracks might seem small from the outside that you would skip on it. But cracks in glass reduces the energy efficiency of it, especially insulated double pane windows.

Fogging means that the glass has gone beyond its lifetime. Usually fogging and yellowing glasses are brittle and are at the verge of breaking. So never leave them as such. The earlier you change, the better.

Sometimes you might have a perfect window without a crack but the latest glass tech might urge you to change. Low-E glass (less heat loss) or the Laminated glasses might be best options if you can afford to spend on it.

 

 

How to change window glass pane by yourself?

 

Things to note before starting the window glass replacement process

Before rushing into the materials required and stepwise procedure of replacing window glass, we have an additional step of finding what kind of window and glazing you have in your window. It is very important because only based on that the tools required and the procedure I to be decided.

 

Types of window frames

  • Wood – Earliest in use and is one of the easiest to change glass panes if broken or cracked. Also, can take new looks easily.
  • Aluminium – Very similar to wood in terms of structure, glazing and even easier for repairs. Required least maintenance of all the three. Sometimes you might find other metal window frames.
  • Vinyl – Vinyl are the most modern-looking and most commonly found window types in houses from the last few decades. Vinyl windows usually use double glass or IGU (Insulating Glazing Unit) which are pricier than the usual.

Types of glazing

Glasses differ by the material, application of it and nature of it. Here is the most common glazing you will find in windows.

  • Plain Glass – This is your regular glass, clean and transparent.
  • Special glasses – Special glasses can be tinted, tempered or textured. With the addition of these, the glasses gain characters like low emissivity and glare control.
  • Fibre – Naturally stronger than glass and long-lasting. If you have frequent glass breaks, try using a fibreboard instead. Fibre costs a little more but lasts even longer when compared to glass. There is also a downside – it starts to get foggy with time (usually decades).
  • Insulating Glazing Unit – IGU is the two glasses held parallel by a metal or rubber cladding. Most vertical window sashes and sliders take this type of glazing. It is superior in high light transmission and low on heat transmission.

Type of sealing

Apart from the frame and glass pane, there is another important thing that holds them in place.

Usually, it is the putty. There are a lot of putties in the market. You can choose any as they don’t make much a difference. When working on modern vinyl windows you will be using vinyl stops. You can use putty in that too but won’t give you the same output as the vinyl snap bead.

 

missing window glass pane

DIY window glass replacement

With many windows and glazing types, don’t expect the Guide to be linear. We will run through the whole process and if the particular windowpane replacement requires extra steps you will find them branched then and there.

Let’s start with picking up the tools required. Every window glass replacement will need the following tools,

  • A new glass
  • Putty (not required for vinyl windows)
  • Glazier pins/push points (required for wooden windows only)
  • Putty knife
  • Transparent silicone (adhesive)
  • Strong gloves
  • Eye protection glasses
  • Duct tape
  • Chisel

And common tools like screwdriver and hammer.

A stepwise guide to replace glass in all types of windows:

 

1. Removal of damaged glass

  • Stick a duct tape in grids so that the broken glass pieces are held together.
  • Wear protective gloves and eye shield.
  • Spread cardboard or cloth on the floor for easy disposal.
  • If possible, remove the window frame, sash or the door and keep it over a table for ease of use.
  • Start loosening the window glass hold.
    •  For wood and aluminium windows use the putty knife to scrape the existing putty or use chisel and hammer combo to break it. You can use linseed oil or heat gun to loosen the existing putty.
    •  If snap beads are used make sure to snap them out carefully. There is a very good chance of breakage as they get brittle due to continuous exposure to varying temperatures.
    •  In mechanical fastening sashes, you need to remove the sash and unscrew at the corners to let the glass fall.
  • Most glasses are stuck from both sides. It is often stuck by silicone or putty. Either way, use a prying tool or a utility knife to loosen the hold.
  • Once removed safely dispose of the glass in a bin.

 

2. Preparation of the window

  • Scrap all the leftover of putty with a putty knife and run a vacuum if possible. Make sure the inner surface is smooth and even for the new glass to stick properly.
  • Now measure the size for the glass. Measure frame to frame in at least two different position and reduce it by 1/8 inch. The adjustment is to accommodate expansion and contraction due to climatic changes.
  • You might have to run to the glass manufacturer amidst the process. If you are well-versed get a glass cutter and a standard size glass in the beginning so that you can cut it at home.

 

3. Fixing the new window glass

For wood and aluminium frames,
  • Test fit the cut glass and see if it fits properly.
  • Use the silicone tube to apply an even strip of silicone on the inner wall of the window frame.
  • Place the glass and make sure it lines up on all four sides equally.
  • Use glazier pins or push pins from any brand to hold the glass in place on wooden windows. One pin every 10inches is enough. Make sure each side has at least one pin.
  • Take a ball of putty and roll it into a thin rope of ¾ inch in diameter.
  • With your finger press it in the gap nicely so that there is no place unfilled.
  • Use the putty knife to neatly shape the putty and draw out the excess.
  • If you are planning to do any paintwork on top of it wait for a few days. Ideally, the putty takes around 2 weeks to harden.

 

For Vinyl frame windows (fusion welded),
  • Start with applying an even strip of silicone on all four sides.
  • Place the glass and make sure it is rightly spaced.
  • Fit the vinyl beading and you are good to go.

 

For mechanical fastening vinyl frame windows,

The process is fairly simple. Put on frames in the right order and screw the corners.

 

Signing off:

It is easy to start with one and gradually go up the ladder. Like every other DIY, you might end up damaging more than what you repair. You might break the adjacent glass panes. Be careful as you work with glasses.

Time is not the limit. Take your time and get it done perfectly.


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August 14th, 2020 in

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Bathroom renovation tips: Wall lining, painting, Joinery and shower screens

Bathroom renovation is all about refreshing the tangibles of the bathroom. Most won’t touch on the plumbing and fixtures but sure touch on the paint, joiner and shower screens.

You can find “how-to” guides anywhere and everywhere. The following tips are rare which I have learnt myself with 20+ years of experience.

 

Tips for Painting Bathroom Walls

Depending on your design, the painting could take place on items such as ceilings, walls, doors, skirting boards, architraves and windows.

Below are my top 3 bathroom painting tips.

 

1. MOULD RESISTANT PAINT

My main piece of advice is to choose a good quality mould and bacteria resistant paint.

Bathrooms tend to contain high humidity and moisture levels that can easily lead to mouldy rooms if they are not ventilated correctly.

To avoid this happening, try and have a good mechanical ventilation fan installed.

Painting Bathroom Walls mould resistant

2. THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAIL

Like all painting, the detail is in the preparation work that is initially done.

The more time and effort you put into puttying holes, patching and sanding any imperfections along with applying good quality undercoats, the better the finished result will be.

3. COVER ALL FIXTURES & FITTINGS

Again it’s not rocket science but make sure all fittings, fixtures and tiles are completely covered to prevent any paint getting where it’s not supposed to be.

Prevention is better than cure – and you really don’t want to spoil your shiny new fixtures!

So that covers painting bathroom walls. Now let’s move on to shower screens.

 

Tips for Choosing Bathroom Shower Screens

Below are four of the most common types of shower screens available.

  • Fully framed shower screen.
  • Semi-frameless shower screen.
  • Frameless shower screen.
  • Shower rail and curtain.

1. FULLY FRAMED SHOWER SCREENS

These are generally the cheapest of the glass screen options. They primarily consist of an aluminium frame that runs around each piece of glass. i.e. top, bottom, doors and all frames.

Whilst this option may be one of the cheaper ones, it’s also considered one of the most watertight (something to consider if you have small children).

This style of the screen can also be purchased pre-made, online from various stores. And if your handy, it can also be installed on a budget. Here is an example of an online store that sells this style of the screen – Aqua Bathrooms.

Some more examples can be found here.

2. SEMI FRAMELESS SCREENS

Just as it sounds, this style of screens only has a partial frame – usually on the top and bottom of the glass, with a frameless door.

These look a little more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and are usually pretty cost effective.

Again, this style of screen can be purchased off the shelf (or online) but I generally get these screen customs made by a professional who will also handle the installation.

Here are a few examples.

Bathroom Shower Screens frameless

3. FRAMELESS GLASS SCREENS

This is more your designer style of screen and looks the most visually impressive.

These screens are basically all glass with just a few fixing brackets and hinges. They are also silicone sealed around all joints along the floor and wall.

But with all wow factor fixtures, they come with a price. This style is the most expensive of all the options, and funnily enough is probably the least waterproof due to its design.

Here are some examples for you to see.

3. SHOWER CURTAIN AND RAIL

Other than the glass options, this is your most cost-effective screen. That said its also terrible for containing water, so keep that in mind.

As far as installation goes, if you’re handy with a hammer drill this could also be something that you chose to install yourself and save a few dollars.

Here is an example of how cheap they are on Amazon.

 

Bathroom Wall Lining Tips

Depending on your bathroom, your wall linings will usually come under two categories:

  • Drywall linings – plaster board sheeting or cement sheeting.
  • Hardwall plaster – cement render over brickwork, or solid brick walls.

You would have determined what your bathroom is constructed from back in the preliminary stages of the project. So, by now you should be fully aware of your wall construction – especially after the demolition and removal of any wall tiles.

bathroom wall lining drywall

1. TIMBER FRAME WALLS

If you have timber frame walls you’ll most likely be looking at option 1 above and installing new sheeting.

It’s recommended when installing this sheeting that you use a product that is designed for a wet area such as villa board which is a fibros cement sheet. There are also other wet area boards such as “Aqua check” or green board.

But it’s best to consult with a manufactures technical department for the right board for your application.

2. BRICK WALLS

If you have brick walls you will more than likely be going with option 2 – a hardwall plaster.

This means using a cement render to re skim the walls straight and flush to be ready for tiles. I highly recommend using an acrylic render with faster drying times for this type of finish.

Standard sand and cement normally have longer drying times to fully cure. This can effectively delay the installation of your waterproofing membrane if it’s not completely dry, or worse cause your membrane to fail.

bathroom wall lining hardwall plaster

3. PHOTOS OF ALL YOUR SERVICES

Take plenty of photos of all your services (plumbing and electrical) in the wall, and your room in general before you sheet your walls.

These photos may come in handy for future reference down the track.

With either option this is generally a pretty messy stage of your bathroom renovation. So kindly ask your contractors to stay on top of any mess they make and clean up after themselves.

Once all your bathroom wall linings have been done the next step is to move onto Waterproofing.

 

Bathroom Joinery Tips

Bathroom joinery (or cabinetry as it’s sometimes known), can be classed as things such as vanities, shaving cabinets, and benchtops to name a few.

Below are a few things to keep in mind when choosing these items.

Bathroom Joinery: Cheap vs Custom Made

Depending on the design of your bathroom, you can opt for custom made bathroom joinery or off the shelf, pre-made, or flat packed cabinetry.

Generally speaking, something custom made will cost you slightly more than purchasing something already manufactured. But it really comes down to design and budget when choosing between the two.

1. BUDGET MAKEOVER = PRE MADE, OFF THE SHELF

Are you going for a budget makeover or just a freshen up of your bathroom? Then a standard pre made or flat pack vanity and mirrored cabinets will get you out of trouble.

Often times a budget of between $200-$300 will suffice for this.

Here are some examples of the type of vanities I am referring to.

If you go for a pre-made bathroom joinery unit, this will generally be something that your carpenter or plumber can install. But I suggest you nominate it on someone’s scope of works so that you don’t get the carpenter saying it’s the plumbers’ job, and the plumber saying it’s the carpenters!

Bathroom Joinery tips

2. DESIGNER LOOK = CUSTOM MADE

On the other hand, are you going for more of a designer look and require something custom made? Then you could be looking at anywhere between $1000 – $3000, depending on the style and finishes.

Here are some examples of custom made joinery in bathrooms.

Lead Times: Make Sure You Factor These Into Your Project Timeline

With any custom made joinery, you need to factor in lead times for manufacturing.

Most companies will have between a 4-6 week lead time from deposit to installation. Some more, some less depending on your finish

The lead time is something you need to factor in when you’re in your early preliminary stages of the renovation project.

Check Measure: After the Tiling Stag

Another consideration with custom made joinery is that there is usually a check measure that will be required. This comes after the tiling stages and before they start with their manufacturing.

So if this is what you plan on doing with your bathroom there may be a long manufacturing time. Make sure you also factor this into your planning schedule.

You’ll get a gauge of this from the contractors when in the initial quotation stages, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Generally speaking, the installation of the joinery is one of the final items to take place. So there may still be some fit off of services needed around part of the joinery. But either way its towards the end of the project.

Last of all, when everything is installed and completed its time to give everything a good clean down. That way you’ll be ready for those beautiful before and after photo’s that you can share with your family and friends (and don’t forget to share them with us!)

 

 

August 1st, 2020 in

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Home design apps: Design your own home within an app

Mobile apps do everything. So why not design your home with an app? Floor plan, interior design, augmented reality – name anything and apps can do it with ease.

Mobile or PC, there are a lot of apps to start with. We know you might have not given it a thought that apps could help you design and visualize the home. It makes the whole process easy and doable from your handheld device.

Don’t worry about the hardware specs, the apps we mention are not resource-heavy. Most modern phones can support all of the apps listed below.

We even got some advanced apps for PC for those in the motive to make perfect house plans like an architect.

So here we go,

 

Home design app for mobile

Measured (by Lowe’s)

Did you forget to bring the measuring tape to the client location? Or finding it difficult to stretch the tape all alone? Well, no problem. Just download the Measured app. It measures the distance between two points through your camera.

There are a lot of apps of this kind for Android and iOS. But Measured is only available on iOS as of now. Check out Measure by google if you are on Android.

A simple yet effective tool to get the measurement across the room, the house and even across the street.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

Magic plan

Can you imagine that an app can make a floor plan on its own by just showing it around the house? It does feel like magic when Magic Plan does it. unlike most other similar apps. This really works and works without hiccups or errors.

The features don’t end there. You can do a lot more. Throw in furniture, décor and render walkthrough in 3D. You can even build and task and material list along with the pricing. Which means the initial part of the renovation plan and estimation for your customer is going to be ready within no time.

This house design app can be a very handy tool to convert what you see into a floor plan with just a few taps. It is primarily designed targeting realtors, and people in the construction business. But the app is really simple for anyone to use a floor plan which is why we recommend it for anyone putting up a floor plan for their home renovation.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

 

iHandy Carpenter

Not really an app to design your house but a tool very useful in executing the house design. By the name, it is a handy carpenter’s tool.

Plumb bob, Surface Level, Steel Protractor, Steel ruler – are the main features you will find in the app. Place it vertical, horizontal or flat, this tool works very well.

The use case is endless. You can use it to check for alignment or angle when you hand a photo. Comes for a one-time payment of $2. YOu can also get the free version in the name of iHandy Level Free with limited functionalities.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store
iHandy Level Free: Google Playstore Apple App Store

 

IKEA

Wondering why a furniture retailer got a place in the list of house designing apps. They are not just any furniture seller. IKEA is a leading furniture designer, manufacturer and retailer in the world. The reason to have scored a place on the list because it has a feature that shows the furniture right on your floor.

Using augmented reality, you can make appear any of their furniture in your home. That way you will know if it goes well with your interiors and spacing. You will be able to try all of the furniture that they sell for free.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

house paint colour picker
PC: Snowing from Freepik.com

Color Capture

Have you ever struggled to replicate the wall colours of your friends are the cool blue of the sky? Don’t worry Benjamin Moore has got a solution.

Start by snapping a picture of the wall or object you like the colour and the color capture will come up with the best matching paint options. With over 3,300 interior and exterior colour options from the brand you are most likely to get the colour you want.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

Havenly

The go-to app to find the best designer to suit your needs. There are costly designers and then there are ones who charge less. But that is not the only way to filter home designers. You might be looking for a different style in a designer.

Havenly’s AI quiz puts you in the right direction to collaborate with the designers. You have the option to choose and work with anyone. They are not just that. They also have a lot of resources to work together in designing your home within the app. You will have to spend a little to get good results.

Download link:  Apple App Store

 

Houzz

It is the best of all worlds when it comes to home design apps in my opinion. You get home design ideas like Pinterest but more refined and the best only. You get 3d augmentation in the form of ‘My room’ to add furniture and decors to your space. That’s not all. The app has products with customer reviews and professionals listed for hire.

The feature pack app also has DIY tutorials, articles and the list goes on. If you are about to get into renovation you might wanna check this out as a one-stop solution for home design and professionals sourcing. With a total of 16 million design ideas and over 10 million reviews, it is also one of the house design apps with the highest user base. No wonder it won the best App award in Google app store.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

Home Design 3D

A proper designing tool that can get real work done. You can do a floor plan, 2D design with furniture and décor and 3d walkthrough. This house design app is common among professionals for this purpose. Being able to do it on a mobile or iPad is the biggest wonder that has made it popular.

Homeowners can use Home design 3D to build and visualize a home of their own liking instead of going back and for to the designer.  You can try out homes of all type, colour the walls with the color of your choice and furniture from the catalogue to visualize your dream house.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

Planner 5D

It is more or less same as Home design 3D app except it is more advanced. 2D plan, 3D plan walkthrough and a lot more to deal professionally with your clients.

It is also user friendly and is very ideal when you use it on an iPad. App has a few glitches that you have to put up with.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

Decorator

Another augmented reality app to work on interior design with a lot of real-life furniture and décor. So what’s special about this app?

You have an inbuilt community of active interior design professionals and enthusiasts whom you can share with and get ideas for your home design.

Download link:  Apple App Store

mobile app for interior design

Design Home

It is a game app. Yes, a home design game. Like the cake game we used to play decade back, this app will give you a brief of what the design must be.

It is in your discretion to use the available floor mat, furniture and other decors to design the room like expected. Though sounds simple, it is one of the addictive games that you won’t stop playing. Especially professional interior designers.

Novices too can play it to get an idea of what will work together before buying for your home.

Download link: Google Playstore  Apple App Store

 

Home design software for PC

If you feel claustrophobic with mobiles or your mobile is too old to keep with all the home designing apps, here are some of the apps for PC.

Smartdraw

Though not designed specifically for home design, the app is capable of it. The capabilities go beyond and further. You can draw floor plans, edit and export complex images. You can also do flowcharts, project charts and most other business visuals. The example of how effective Smart Draw is, Elon Musk uses it.

The software is currently available for windows and web only. Plus, only the first-week trial is free.

Download link: Windows    Web

 

My virtual home

A comprehensive home design software for all 2d and 3d design needs. Like mobile apps, you have real-life furniture, adjust them to your design and 3d render it for your viewing.

The app is available in Windows and costs a high as it is prosumer grade software.

Download link: Windows

 

Sketchup

A professional, high-end home design software for every platform that most of the architect and design professionals use. The renders are true to life and the plan is very much customizable.

You can use the app in Mac OS, Windows and web. You even get a free version with limited features.

Download link: Web   Mac/windows
Signing off:

Converting the dream home from your mind to digital output for others to see is no more a chore. With these apps, you can achieve it within no time. Plus, you can do a lot more using augmented reality.

No more hiccups in your owner builder project or renovation project. Do your own house renovation planning and be a master at it.

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE MONEY

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

Enrol Now!

July 19th, 2020 in

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How to get Owner Builder permit in Australia: A State-wise Guide

 

Owner builder is the most sought out way for DIY enthusiasts. You can save up to 30% if you choose to play a major role in building or renovating your existing home. It not only saves money; you get an opportunity to get creative with your home.

As interesting it sounds, so confusing it was for myself to find the right resource on ‘how to become an owner builder?’. If you haven’t known, the process and the eligibility and the options vary with state.

Then is when I thought enough roaming around the internet to find the exact procedure. I have put together the complete information set you need to know to become an owner builder in Australia.

 

 

Who is an owner builder?

An owner builder is someone managing and/or doing a part of the construction process taking place in the land they own or lease. In general, Owner builder will hold the place of general contractor for the building construction.

The person is responsible or sub-contracting, managing and supervising the whole process for which the owner builder license is granted. He/She can also do construction work that does not require specific licensing like plumbing and electrical work.

Simply said it’s the owner who is licensed to build in his own premises after going through certain formalities which we will see in a bit.

But it is nowhere close to a builder’s license (except in the state of South Australia). An owner building permit is only applicable to the land mentioned in the application. Anything beyond that requires a new license and development approval from the local commission.

 

Do you need an owner builder license?

You need not go through the procedure of acquiring an owner builder license to painting your home. Some work like painting the tiles does not require any license or approval. If you are doing some serious work like taking down a wall you need to be aware of the license and permits.

First and foremost is the reasonable market cost threshold (labour + materials). Every state has its own threshold ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. Only projects that are evaluated higher than the threshold value require a license.

Development approval is another important factor influencing the need for the own-build license. If your reasonable market cost is still below the threshold value, but your work requires development approval, you must apply for the license.

Then there are other factors like property type (commercial/residential), ownership and type of building (single dwelling, multiple, etc) that contribute to the requirements of owner builder consent.

These factors are different across the states which is why we have developed a state-wise guide on owner builder license application.

 

house planning

Why should I become an owner builder?

The most common reason people choose to build their own houses or renovate is because of the potential for saving money. You replace the position of a general contractor with a pay scale of $30 to $50 an hour by carrying out owner builder construction.

Here are the benefits of owner building,

  • Savings in term of money is the obvious benefit of owner building
  • You get complete control over the creative process. Building your home by yourself means creative control in every aspect.
  • Making use of friends and family and hiring the sub-contractors that best suit your needs.
  • Pride of doing it by yourself. For the DIY nerds, the self-satisfaction that they get by doing their stuff is priceless.

Benefits are not the only thing you need to consider before submitting the owner builder application form. There are risks too, big ones if you are not trained enough. And it requires a lot of time, sometimes equivalent to having a full-time job. So, evaluate homeowner building risks vs benefits and make sure if it really suits you before moving forward.

 

 

Owner builder construction site

How long does it take to acquire the owner builder license in Australia?

The owner builder certification is governed by local bodies of respective states and territories in Australia. The eligibility and application process varies slightly.

The expected timeline of acquiring the owner builder license from the date of applying is 4 weeks in most states. But there are other requirements like Development Approval, Certificate of Title, Safework White Card that you need to submit along with the application form.

Everything other than Development approval can be arranged within a weeks’ time in my experience. Development Approval and other legal clearances need to be addressed first either by yourself or with the help of building supervisor.

 

Steps to acquire Australian owner builder permit:

Since managed by state governments the process of getting an owner builder permit is not the same across the country. The differences are not drastic but are worth noting if you are looking to do owner builder construction.

Some allow construction pools, while in some states you can’t demolish under an owner builder contract. Let us see everything about owner builder licensing in every state, but before that, let’s see the basic steps in getting your owner builder consent.

 

  • Find if you can really handle owner building. There are a lot of responsibilities and benefits that come with building your own home but not without risks. So, see if you are the right fit before proceeding.
  • Make sure you meet all the eligibility criteria
  • Older than 18 years of age
  • Ownership of land the construction/renovation is intended to happen. Provide lease agreement for more than 3 years if you’re a lease.
  • The house to be constructed/renovated must be a single dwelling. Dual occupancy is permitted in special cases in some states.
  • Once you are sure about becoming an owner builder, get your building plan ready, you will need an Architect or a draftsperson to design the plan. You can also hire a building practitioner or supervisor to help you through the process of planning and knowing the estimated value of construction work.
  • Apply for Development approval, if your state requires a DA for the type of construction you intend to do.
  • Apply and get your construction induction card (work safety white card). You might require to attend certain induction program to be eligible for this.
  • Take up the owner builder course accredited by your state construction board that issues the owner builder permit. Clear the assessment which is most often part of the application process.

 

Note: Every state has a different syllabus for owner builder courses. So, make sure you are attending the one that is valid in your state. Though it is mostly about work safety and how and what to do as a subcontractor, the source of the course matters for validation. If you are looking for some advanced owner builder course, get on the one-to-one training program. Book your free trial session here.
  • Get your documents ready – DA, search statement, certificate of title, approval from water and sanitation board if required.
  • Submit your application for owner builder permit to the corresponding board (QBCC, CBOS, VBA, etc.)
  • You will be contacted if the application requires any changes. If everything goes well you must get your owner builder license within 4 weeks of application submission.
  • Set-up display board notifying it is an owner builder project with the license number. Some states do not require this.
  • Once the building work is complete, some states require a permit before the house can be inhabited.

 

house improvement

State by state owner builder requirement and application process:

 

New south wales owner builder license

You need to attend the white card course in person and do an owner builder course accredited by the NSW Fair Trading and to get an owner builder permit in NSW. New South Wales is one of the few states that allow people other than individual owners to take up owner building. But does not allow any commercial buildings to be constructed under the same.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Must have completed 18 years of age when submitting the application.
  • Estimated value of labour and material exceeding $10,000 (including GST).
  • The intended construction project must be a residential property.
  • Development consent from the local council.
  • Ownership of property: you must be the owner or joint owner of the land, (or) a shareholder in the company that owns the land (or) a lease of more than 3 years
  • In case of renovation or extension on an existing building, it must be single dwelling or dual occupancy (special cases). Apartments and multi-dwelling strata complexes are not eligible.
  • You intend to live in the property after then construction.
  • Complete owner builder course specific to NSW if the cost estimation is above $20,000.
  • A current construction induction card

Click on this link to know your eligibility and to find the right application form to submit for owner builder permit NSW

 

Required documents

  • Any 3 active Australian proof of identity documents (Passport, driving license, Medicare card, etc).
  • Copy of evidence of ownership document or registered long-term lease agreement with land and property information (council rates or water rates notice, Certificate of Title or Settlement Notice, ASIC company extract, Lease document)
  • Estimated cost of development
  • Copy of development consent (development approval (DA) or complying development certificate (CDC) approval from a certifying authority (council or private certifier))
  • Valid general construction induction training card issued within the last two years (safework white card)
  • NSW owner-builder course certificate (if the work value is over $20,000)

 

Application for owner builder permit NSW

Create an My Service NSW Account and take the eligibility test which will give you the right application form for you to fill in.

Application fee:                $183 + 70 (processing fee)

Replacement fee:            $48 + 48 (processing fee)

 

Before build

The owner builder cannot proceed with the construction unless a Construction Approval is issued by the local council or certifier.

 

Limitations

  • Owner builder license in NSW region is restricted to only one property in five years. The rule applies to joint owners who are listed in the application even if they do not have a building license to their name.
  • You can do any work that is not covered under DA or CDC that is submitted with the owner license permit application.
  • The owner builder cannot perform specialist work unless you hold the specific trade license (electrical, gas fitting, plumbing, air-conditioning, etc)
  • Selling the house that is built or renovated under an owner builder permit requires the sale contract to mention the work done under the owner builder. If the house is to sold within 7.5 years of issuing the owner builder permit in NSW.
  • It is required to have owner builder warranty insurance under the Home building act 1989 If the work done exceeds $20,000.

 

Insurances required

  • Workers compensation insurance – if the contractor is classified as a worker (depending on arrangements)
  • Contract works insurance – insurance that the subcontractors should have.
  • Public liability insurance (recommended)
  • Owner builder home warranty insurance (if the value exceeds $20,000 and if sold within 7.5 years)

 

 

 

Victoria owner builders license

Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has an assessment of their own that you need to get through to become an owner builder in Victoria. Being a beneficiary of the trust or director of a company that owns the land where the construction is planned are also eligible to apply for VBA owner builder.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • You must be the owner of the land or director of the company that owns the land or beneficiary of the trust that owns the land.
  • Building work planned is a single dwelling residence or ancillary to it.
  • The value of building project (labour + material) is over $16,000.
  • You reside or intend to reside in the construction land.
  • You are not in real estate business and not entered into a contract to sell owner build home.
  • Have not been a VBA owner builder in the past 5 years.
  • You have completed VBA owner builder eLearning assessment (Victoria owner builder course completion)
  • Completed construction induction training and hold an active WorkSafe Victoria white card, if your property will become workplace under Victorian OHS law. (If you employ sub-contractors to work for you)

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity – photo, driving license or passport
  • Proof of ownership – a Registered Search Statement (RSS) or Certificate of title. In case of joint ownership or owned by a company the co-owners or the director of the company needs to give written consent to the person applying for the owner builder license dated not less than 28 days of filing application
  • A site plan may be required in some cases like building a detached studio, conversion of a commercial building into a dwelling.
  • Copy of white card
  • Proof of clearing the VBA owner builder course assessment

 

 

Application

Register as a user on VBA 360 portal. Log in and apply for owner builder Victoria.

Fees: $102.20

 

After build

  • The Victoria owner builder must notify the VBA if the cost of construction has exceeded the estimated value towards the end of construction.
  • You need to get a work completion certificate, occupancy permit or a certificate of final inspection.

 

Limitations

Owner builder permit does not allow carrying out demolition, sub-floor work or home relocation (as it involves re-stumping and re-blocking)

Only one owner builder permit is allowed based on a land every 5 years. The restrictions may be lifted in special cases if the applicant is proven to go through economic hardship.

Selling the owner built home, not 6.5 years old from the date of issue of an occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection requires Domestic building Insurance. You also need a defect inspection report signed by a building surveyor, building inspector or engineer which is not more than 6 months old.

 

Insurance

Domestic building insurance, if the owner builder is selling the house 6.5 years from the occupancy permit issue date. This needs to be purchased before entering into a contract to sell and can be cancelled if you do not sell the house.

 

 

Australian Capital territory owner builder license

Becoming an ACT owner builder is one of the straight forward processes. You need to complete the Owner builder course and do Construction induction program and submit every necessary document including the Building approval. ACT does not force you with any insurance throughout the owner building process.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • The planned building work must fall under Class 1, 2 or 10a building classification of the Australian building code.
  • You must hold and owner builder course certificate or complete and owner builder examination recognized by the construction occupations registrar which is not older than 5 years. Or the applicant holds a Class A, B or C Builder License or an interstate equivalent.
  • Must own or lease the land where the construction is intended to happen.
  • Building Approval (similar to DA) from a private certifier.
  • Do training for construction induction card (white card).
  • Complete asbestos awareness training.

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity of the applicant.
  • Proof of ownership or lease.
  • Building Approval certificate copy.
  • Certificate copy of Owner builder course ACT.
  • Copy of Safework White Card and
  • Copy of Asbestos awareness training if required.

 

ACT Owner Builder Application

 

 

Fees

Class 1 & 2 –        $245 (online), $263 (Via post or in person)

Class 10a –           $183 (online), $192 (Via post or in person)

 

Limitations

An ACT owner builder is not deemed to carry out specialist building work like swimming pool and demolition.

Only one owner builder license is allowed for a person in a 5-year period.

 

Insurance required

Owner builders do not require residential building insurance (owner builder home warranty insurance) but require other insurance like workers’ compensation insurance.

Public liability insurance is not a must but recommended.

 

Queensland Owner Builder License

The sunny state of Australia allows for the construction of a farm building up to a worth of $27,500 as a QLD owner builder. That is the highest value commercial building that you can build with an Owner builder license in the whole of Australia. Applying for an owner builder permit in QLD, you need not require a White Card. Instead, you have to take up Asbestos awareness course along with the usual Owner builder course.

Projects coming under Schedule 7 of the Planning regulation act of 2017 do not require owner builder permit in Queensland.

 

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Estimated construction value (labour + material) of $11,000 or above.
  • Completion of QLD owner builder course.
  • Completion of asbestos awareness course from a registered trainer if the intended work involves asbestos or if the intended home to renovate is built before 1990.
  • Farm buildings are permitted if the value is less than $27,500 and the owner can personally do that work. (otherwise commercial buildings including farm buildings are not permitted under owner building)

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of ownership-
    • If you are the owner, original or copy of Title search or Registration Confirmation Statement submitted or directly mailed from Titles office that is not older than 30 days.
    • If you are a lease occupier, land owner’s detail, proof of land ownership (not older than 30 days), lease agreement and a letter of consent from the owner.
    • In case of the land owned by a company, proof of company directors from an ASIC Historical Company Extract Provider. All company directors need to be included in the application form.
  • Proof of completed owner builder license course or exemption approval if any.
  • Certificate of completion of the asbestos awareness program, if required.
  • Details of previous owner builder permit, if any.

 

Queensland Owner Builder License Application:

Fees: $420.80

 

During work

  • A person with an Owner builder license in QLD is exempted of the Qleave levy (0.475% of the total cost of work) that you need to pay otherwise.
  • Responsible for carrying out safe work practices (similar to work safe white card in other states)
  • Display of signboard indicating that the site is built under an owner builder permit. The signboard must contain your Owner builder permit number in letters 50mm or high printed on a weatherproof material not less than half square metre so that it is clearly visible from the street.
  • Disputes can be solved via Queensland’s official dispute resolution centre

 

Limitations

  • If any of the applicants listed in the application has got their owner builder permit cancelled by QBCC within the 3-year period preceding the application filing, you can’t get an owner builder permit in QLD.
  • Only one Owner builder license is permitted in a period of 6 years unless until exceptions like severe illness or financial difficulty is reported.
  • Work done under the owner builder permit in Queensland cannot be covered using Home warranty insurance which protects against incomplete or defective work.
  • Fire construct work above $1,100 requires licensed professionals to do the work.

 

Insurance required

None

 

 

Tasmania Owner Builder License

Consumer, Building and Occupation Services board (CBOS) of Tasmania has got a lot of relaxations for their owner builder. So, before putting in your effort to apply for the owner builder permit in Tasmania make sure if it is really required.

Though having some of the best relaxations, CBOS has got a lot of procedures to be done at every stage if you happen to get the owner builder license.

 

Construction work that does not require owner builder consent in Tasmania:

  • Building farm sheds under 200 m2 (class 7b)
  • Perform repair or maintenance work using similar materials as present ones.
  • Shed, garage or carport up to 18m2, or up to 36m2 if prefabricated.
  • Porch or veranda up to 9m2
  • Deck up to 1m high
  • Temporary swimming pool up to 9m2 with a child safety fence

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Single person owned, contracted to be bought and joint ownership properties are only eligible for owner building in Tasmania. (company and trust owned properties are not allowed)
  • Intend to live in the space after the construction is completed.
  • The building work comes under class 1a, 8, 10a or 10b.
  • Completion of Tasmanian owner builder responsibility course except for class 1a buildings.
  • Completion of construction induction card course. (safework white card)
  • Must have engaged a licensed building surveyor regarding the work to be performed.

 

Required Documents

  • Certified building plans from a licensed building surveyor.
  • Certificate of title with every person in it completing the application.
  • Proof of completion of owner builder responsibilities courses, if required, not less than a year old.
  • Copy of construction induction white card.
  • Public construction liability insurance not lesser than 5 million dollars.

 

Tasmania Owner Builder License Application

 

Fees

Owner builder permit fee – Class 1a                                          $388.80

Owner builder permit fee – Class 10a, 10b and 8                 $194.40

Replacement card fee                                                                    $40.50

 

After approval of owner builder permit Tasmania

Once the letter of confirmation is issued with the Tasmania owner builder permit number, the building surveyor you have engaged will issue a Certificate of Likely compliance.

As an owner builder, you are required to forward the two certificates (owner builder certificate and certificate of likely compliance) along with the design documents of the construction to your local council to apply for building, plumbing and planning permit (as per your requirements).

Once the building permit is approved you need to submit ‘Start work’ notification and authorization form (form 39) to your building surveyor before starting work.

 

After construction work completion

Owner builder will send an application to the building surveyor for occupancy permit which will be issued after the surveyor assesses the works completed. A copy of the occupancy permit is to be sent to the local council.

 

Limitations

  • Unlike other states, you are allowed two 1a owner building projects in 10 years.
  • Companies, trusts cannot apply for an Owner Builder license in Tasmania.

 

Insurance required

Single insurance that covers personal and property damage caused by the work done by the owner builder. It also includes construction liability cover for workers and the public valued 5 million or above. The owner builder public construction liability insurance is to be purchased before the commencement of work and should be valid till the issue of the certificate of completion.

 

Western Australia Owner Builder License

If you are looking out for upgrading your residence in Western Australia, you are luckiest. WA is the only state that allows construction and renovation on a commercial building to an extent under an owner builder permit. Other than that, the procedure to become an owner builder in WA is usual.

 

Types of building work permitted under Owner builder license WA

  • Renovate or extend an existing single dwelling.
  • Construct a detached dwelling (including a granny flat).
  • Build a non-habitable building or ancillaries to a dwelling (private garage, carport, shed, etc).
  • Construct, extend or alterations to small commercial building restricted to two-storey, floor space of 500 m2 that is not a detached house, class 10 building or farm building.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • You must either be the owner of the land, in a contract to buy or be a lease occupier with written consent to proceed with construction work.
  • Intend to occupy once the building work is completed.
  • Estimated building value (labour + material) of $20,000 or above.
  • Complete owner builder course.
  • You are not granted owner builder permit in WA in the past 6 years. (Special cases: if the owner builder application was previously refused/cancelled (or) if you are applying for owner building the same building that you were granted permission in the last 6 years)

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of ownership – certificate of title, contract to buy or lease agreement with written consent from the landowner.
  • Owner builder course WA completion certificate (not required if you are a building practitioner).
  • Site plan document that shows site detail, floor and elevation plans.

 

Western Australia Owner Builder License Application

 

 

Fees

residential building                          $174.00

Industrial/commercial building   $467.00

 

After approval of owner builder permit WA

You have to apply for building permit from your local building authority once the Owner builder permit WA is issued. The owner builder approval will expire, if you fail to get a building permit within 6 months or the building permit is rejected.

 

During build

A signboard of reasonable size that is readable from outside the site that contains your name, telephone number and owner builder approval number.

 

Limitations

  • Only one owner builder license for a person in six-year unless special conditions are met. (approval denied during the last attempt or applying for the same land as the last time.)
  • Owner-builder approvals can only be issued to individuals and not to companies or trusts.
  • Sale of the owner-built house within 7 years from the issue of owner builder permit requires home indemnity insurance.

 

Insurance required

Provide home indemnity insurance to the purchaser if selling the house within 7 years of issuing builder permit under owner builder. As a seller, you are liable for the faults caused by owner building even after the sale. (not required for “associated work” like pergola, fence or swimming pool)

 

 

South Australia Owner Builder License

The procedure to become an owner builder in South Australia is quite different compared to other states. The good news is you don’t need to take an owner builder course or attend construction induction program.

Instead, you need to go through the same licensing process as building practitioners. Equipping yourself as a licensed builder is a lot of work and you end up taking a course even if it isn’t a necessity. This is why South Australia has the lowest owner builders of all Australian states.

Note: There is not enough information on the process to acquire a south Australian owner builder license. All we have got is the owner builder responsibilities handbook.

 

Requirement

Same requirements as licensed builders (as in development act of 1993 and Development regulation of 2008)

  • Obtain development approval.
  • Home Indemnity insurance, if the estimated value is over 12,000.
  • Notify adjoining property owners of the intended construction work that may affect them.
  • Notify local council at various stage of work.
  • Pay Construction Industry Training Levy of 0.25%, if the estimated value exceeds 15,000.
  • Sign contracts for buildings cost over 12,000.
  • Engage a registered building supervisor or private certifier to oversee the building process right from the start to completion.

 

Limitations

Having to get through the complex process of getting your permit is itself a limitation when it comes to becoming an owner builder in SA. Though you will save money here and there as an owner builder, make sure you are capable of clearing the assessment before you start.

 

Insurance required

Sub-contractors need to have Indemnity insurance for all domestic work valued over $12,000 to cover non-completion, failure to rectify faults and or contractor dies, disappears or declared bankrupt. If you have finalized on contractors the insurance documents must be submitted for assessment when lodging the owner builder application, if not the insurance must be submitted to the council before the start of particular contractor’s work.

 

Northern Territory Owner Builder License

Becoming an Owner Builder in NT is a fairly easy process. You do not need to attend an owner builder course or get a Worksafe white card. You just need to go through the Northern Territory owner builder manual and declare it completed in the application along with the usual documents for proof of land ownership.

 

Building types permitted under owner builder license

  • Class 1a – Single dwelling or detached house
  • Class 10 – Ancillary to 1a, attached to and built at the same time (garage, carport or shed)
  • A retaining wall that is unattached to class 1a or 2 building.
  • Extensions of any of the above.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Building type 1a, 10, an extension of it or a retaining wall.
  • Construction value over $12,000 (material + labour)
  • Only individual property owners are eligible – no company or trust.
  • Compliance with building control certification
  • Residential building insurance before the start of work
  • Declare you have read the Northern territory owner builder manual

Note: You do not need the owner builder permit if you are registered as a building contractor.

 

Required Documents

  • All individuals’ names on the property title must be included on the application.
  • Complete and sign declaration that comes with Northern Territory owner builder manual.
  • Search title for property not older than 28 days.

 

 

Northern Territory Owner Builder Application

Usually takes around 6 weeks to get the owner builder certificate in NT.

Fees: $278

 

Before build

The obtained Owner builder permit needs to be submitted to a registered building certifier to apply for building permit.

 

After build

Legally-binding declaration within 14 days of completion of construction. Send a copy to building certifier to enable the issue of occupancy permit.

Limitations

  • Only one owner builder certificate every 6 years.
  • Valid for 3 years. Can be renewed for another 3 years.
  • You need to rectify defective work for up to 6 years if you sell the property.

 

Insurance required

Residential building insurance in the form of Fidelity certificate is required when applying for building permit. The same covers future owners of the building for the period of 6 years (if the owner builder happens to sell the home within 6 years from building permit approval).

 

Conclusion

Owner building is not a difficult process for anyone willing to save money. You just need to prepare yourself with appropriate courses and be available with plenty of time to make sure the renovation or construction process you intend to do is done properly.

Ideally, it is for those willing to inhabit the property after construction. If you are planning to sell anytime soon, owner building is not worth the time and extra money that you need to pay in the form of indemnity insurance before selling.

You can use this government search portal to find any documents, forms, regulations in Australia.

If you have any doubts regarding the owner builder permit or want a complete training throughout the process, check out my one-to-one live training sessions.


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May 6th, 2021 in

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How to Paint on tiles? Bathroom floor, kitchen wall and more

Tiles are generally long-lasting and durable. But why stick to the same colour or design for so long when you can paint over tiles.

The accumulation of soap scum and carbon residue will make them look bad over time. The colours might not match your current bathroom renovation plan. If that’s the case changing the tile is not the only option.

whatever the colour or finish of a traditional tile can be achieved by painting over existing tiles. While painting on ceramic is not a common practice, it is definitely do-able and comes with certain manageable limitations. Painting on tiles and ceramic countertops is a cheap DIY home improvement technique that can save money compared to the replacement of the same.

 

Can you paint on tiles?

Yes, tiles can be painted with any colour and finish of choice if gone through proper preparation. Be it wall tile, kitchen tile, bathroom floor tile it can be painted.

Tile painting is the best alternative to re-tiling that comes for the fraction of the cost. The quality of application matters to how long and how strong the paint will last on ceramic. Because tiles are naturally very smooth and glazy which is not ideal for painting.

The choice of paints, primer and other tools also contribute to the process. The target is to use the right choice of paint over the well-prepared tile to get the desired results.

 

Benefits of tile painting

  • You need not shell out a lot of money removing and laying a new tile to match the colour scheme of your house. The ceramic tile painting costs is $4 to $10 per square foot which is 4 times or more lesser than the cost of tile re-installation.
  • Give a new look to the floor/wall and eventually to the whole room.
  • Unlimited choice of colour on tiles.
  • Cover cracks and dings on the tiles.
  • Extend the life of tiles by painting over it.

 

Limitations of paint on ceramic tile

  • However high the quality of paints used in the process, they can’t withstand extreme conditions. You might see wear and tear with time.
  • Even the normal friction caused by walking over painted tile is a factor of the reduced lifetime of painting over tile. (You can escape this by using tile paint kits)
  • Might decrease the value of the house when reselling.
  • Shorter lifespan than the original tile colour. Mind that, painted tiles are not going to last equal to a new tile. You are subjected to spend on the tile sooner but the cost of tile painting two times combined is still cheaper than a professional re-tiling. Plus, you get to change the looks of the tiles now rather than getting bored with the tile’s baked-in colour throughout the life of it.

 

How to paint on tiles?

Painting over a ceramic tile follows the same basics as on any shiny surface, requires a lot of time and attention to detail. Failing to do would result in paint peeling off sooner than expected.

So do not take any step lightly especially the preparation stage. You will need to undergo multiple stages of tile cleaning to look as new.

 

Clean the tiles:

Clean the tile from dirt and residue that it has accumulated over time. Unclean tile is a hindrance for the paint to stick to the ceramic. Often, tiles in the kitchen accumulate greasy residue and those in the bathroom and cleaning area has soapy scum.

Use heavy-duty cleansers like TSP (Trisodium Phosphate). Apply the mixture of half cup of TSP to a gallon of water on the tile and let that react for a few mins. Now scrub if required and wipe off everything with a sponge. Rinse twice or more with water until no residue is left. You might want to follow a different procedure if you see grout stains left out.

While at ti don’t forget to clean the grout. It is equally important a bit tough. Don’t lose hope yet, we have got some easy DIY techniques to clean the grout.

Repair the tiles:

Now look deep for cracks or breaks in the tiles. You need an even surface for the best application of ceramic paint. Fill in the cracks with caulk and replace the ones that are not repairable. Make sure to take off the left-over caulk filling on the surface.

Clauk might require a day to heal. Letting it heal before layering primer and paint is ideal.

Repairing the tiles

Sand the tiles:

Sanding the tile is very important for the paint to stick on it. Tiles by default have a glaze that resists any kind of liquid to be stuck to it. Sanding not only rubs of the adamant scum accumulated but also weathers the glazing creating a slightly rougher surface for the paint to hold.

Use 220 grit or finer sandpaper by hand or use an electric sander if possible. Do not sand with force as a slight removal of glazing is enough. Making the surface rough like the sandpaper itself will ruin the finish. Sanding creates a lot of dust and left-over particles all over. Wipe them with a wet cloth or sponge.

Wipe clean:

Rinse the wall again with water and leave it to dry. Wipe a small portion of the ceramic with a tack clock. If you still find it unclean repeat step 1 again. Wait for at least 48 hours before you start with the painting process.

Apply primer:

It’s time for the primer. Apply high-quality epoxy-based acrylic primer over the tile. Epoxy-based primer is highly adhesive and can be used even without sanding the tile.

Start with the brush to cover the edges and grout. Switch to a good quality lint-free roller in the main area. Do two coats of primer allowing time in-between for proper drying. If you can still see the original tile colour, give it another coat.

Some ‘tub and tile kit’ does not require a primer. The paint is strong enough. So choose a paint/kit and look at the instructions before going for the primer.

Paint on the tile:

Finally, it is time to paint the tile. Paint the completely dried primer coated ceramic. Tile paints are usually thicker than usual paints. You might want to add some thinner to get a consistency that is ideal for painting on a roller without forming bubbles. Like with primer, cover the edges with a paintbrush and rest with the roller. Paint too require a double coat. Try to cover up lines created by the roller edges and paintbrush during the final coat.

The drying might take 48 hours to 7 days. Look at the instructions to be sure about it.

Tip: Use an artist brush to paint the grout with a contrasting or accent colour. It takes a lot of time and patience to do but will give you great results.

Urethane coat

To finish it off give it a urethane coat after the paint dries. Apart from providing a lint-free gloss it also prevents chipping off the paint layer to an extent.

The time taken to paint the tile might range from 3 days to one week depending on the time taken to dry between each process. You need to wait for another 2 weeks for the multiple layers of paint to settle and dry to the core. Leave it untouched till then for the best results. Also, get ready with an alternative till then if you are planning to paint your bathroom floor tile or kitchen wall tile.

 

What tile paint should you buy?

You can find paints that are made specifically for tiles and ceramic with almost any manufacturer. It is usually latex-based acrylic paint with a mix of epoxy. These paints are originally designed to be rolled or brushed.

You can also find advanced paints that are purposed for fibre, glass and other smoother materials that can also be used on ceramics. Some of the special paints might require spraying which will increase the cost. Valspar Terracotta Touch is a special paint which adds texture along with the colour.

Paint kits specific to bath tabs and tiles that can speed up the process. they usually require one or two coats without sanding. And the paint also dries faster accelerating the process.

 

Precautions

  • Cover the portions adjoining the tile area, be it a cabinet, door or window so that the paint does not affect any of those accidentally.
  • Use high-quality gloves, apron to prevent yourself from paint. These primer and paints are a bit harder to get off your skin.
  • A paint mask is recommended to safeguard from the various smells and dust during the process.

 

Tile painting alternatives:

Bathtub and shower area: these are highly abused with moisture and soap scum which can wear off the paint over the tile quicker than expected. If you are looking for renewing these areas industrial-grade refinishing is a better option that goes cheaper than replacement cost. Something more than paints are used in the process which might limit the choice of colours.

Kitchen countertop: Heated vessels, water and knife cuts are common for the kitchen counter which is why it is not ideal to paint it. But you can still get away with it by using a cutting board over it whenever required and not placing hot vessels directly.

New tile over the existing one: You can directly lay new tiles over the existing one with or without using a backer board depending on the condition of the existing tiles. Though it will only save a small fraction of tile replacement cost, it is easy to do.

 

Painting on tile is a great alternative when you have budget constraints. It also is a great option to explore new looks all by yourself.

I would classify the painting bathroom floor and wall tile as a hobby project that easily changes the looks drastically with less expense. You can essentially do it if you have time to learn the process and do it yourself. The budget can be as low as 1,000 dollars.

Regarding designs, you are no more limited to plain colours with contrasting lines. Your imagination is the limit. Check out some of the fancy floor tile painting ideas I found on Pinterest.

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July 4th, 2020 in

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What renovation can you do with $20k in 2020? Budget renovation ideas

You can get a lot of things done with just $20,000 in your pocket. You can even do a complete budget home renovation if you spend it the right way. But all of our needs are not the same.

Some would like a whole refresh, while some require a deep bathroom renovation and others might want an extra bedroom. And the rest would simply look for opportunities to boost the house value with minimal expense on their investment property.

Whatever category you fall in, there are enough budget renovation ideas you can choose from. All you need to know is how to renovate within the budget.

 

How much does house renovation cost?

An average full house renovation in Australia costs between $40,000 and $200,000 at the renovation cost of $2,500 to $4,000 per square metre. It is around the same in the US.

Comparing these numbers, the said budget of $20,000 might seem smaller. But you can renovate a lot more than you think. You can even do significant changes to your house with just $5k. You just need to be wise about where you spend the money. More on that later.

Home is one of the prized possessions and the biggest investments we ever do. To maintain the value of it, for an investment property or the home you reside, renovation from time to time helps.

A well-maintained home not only translates to good money when sold but also adds to your value in every other means. So, it is always worth spending on house renovation.

The renovation cost of every part of the home is going to be overwhelming at first glance. Once you start researching, planning and micromanaging you can surely do wonders within the 20k budget.

House renovation budget

What renovations can you do with $20,000? Renovation under $20,000

As said earlier, the possibilities to renovate under $20,000 is countless. It is the needs and the best value for money that makes all the difference. So before knowing what can be done, you must know what kind of changes you want for your home.

The needs can range from anything to just repainting to doing a complete changeover. We can’t say what you need. But we can help you find what you need and make it more achievable within the budget.

Try answering the below questions to narrow down your needs,

What type of property you are looking to renovate? – Your primary house or investment property. Be it flipping the property or rental investments you can look for value for money investment. Why because increasing house value for rental property too will get you a long-term client with good rental income. On the other hand, residential renovation projects revolve around adding comfort, safety, etc.

What kind of renovation are you looking at? – an overall appeal, improving particular space (kitchen, bathroom, landscape, etc) or adding space. This can clearly give an idea of where to concentrate on.

Do you have anything to be repaired or mended? You need to look for leaking pipes, aging roofs before even considering renovation work.

 

bathroom renovation

Here are some of the options that you can choose based on your needs:

Once you are clear with the needs, let’s go renovation plan hunting. Do a lot of research, look for inspiration of tried and tested plans. There are a lot of renovations on the internet and on TV shows. Keep in mind, TV shows often skip the margin that the builders charge over the labour and material cost. So, add 15-20% over it to get the final price.

Here are some of the interesting renovation ideas under $20,000 I have done myself or found on the internet,

  • Bathroom renovation: $20,000 is an easy budget for bathroom renovation. In most cases, you won’t even need to cut corners if you are spending 20k on the bathroom alone.
  • Kitchen renovation: The same goes for kitchen renovation. You can easily cover most of the needs including cupboard refinish, tile work, countertop.
  • Kitchen and bathroom renovation: This is where the budget is going to be a constraint. The normal split up would be 65% for the fund for the kitchen and the rest directed towards the bathroom. You can change it based on your needs. But remember you don’t get to replace everything. You will have to compromise like painting the countertop instead of replacing and changing the shower screen and resurfacing the bathtub instead of swapping for a new one.
  • Adding a bedroom: That’s a common occurrence especially when the family starts to grow. You might have to skip on the long-planned kitchen renovation to accommodate the extra person. Doing it within 20k you will have to look for existing opportunities to build a new room. In the attic, below the stairs are some great places to start.
  • Taking down a wall: Taking down a non-load-bearing wall that has been a divider that doesn’t affect the structure will make the home spacious instantly and effortlessly. You don’t need to spend the full budget even. Taking down can be done even at $5,000. These kinds of projects work wonders in investment properties as you get high ROI in terms of the house value.
  • Overall house makeover: Wondering how to do a full home makeover with as little as $20k. Your doubts are valid. You can cause significant changes to your home without breaking the budget. Here is Cherrie Barber from renovating for profit doing a home makeover for 20k under 5 days.

 

What else do you need to know if you are working with the 20k budget for a home renovation?

The biggest factor that will help you achieve big within the budget is putting in your time. You have to put in your time and effort to shape the renovation project. How far you spend time planning, that sure you can be at finishing the project on time and within budget. So do not skip on the pre-construction stages.

Another way to improve the efficient spending of your money is DIY. You can save a good chunk of labour by doing some simple DIY work like painting or tiling. Do note DIY can cost blowouts too. So, take proper practise and get into action only if you are sure about it.

The contingency fund is the next thing you need to aware of. Though the budget is not big, I recommend having at least 10% of contingency fund especially when you are doing complex renovation gigs.

Insurance can save you from some blowouts. Do not fear to direct a little of the fund towards insurances.

Permits and approvals are necessary for renovation projects that require structural alteration or house extension. Check for the requirement of development approval with your local council.

Grants help you expand your budget. Right now, there are two major grants that you need to check.

HomeBuilder Scheme (valid till Dec 31st 2020)

Early access to Superannuation fund (valid till Sept 24th 2020)

 

Signing off

So, that’s the short brief of renovating under the 20k budget. You will develop questions and confusions when you are in the research phase. Check out our step by step guide on how to renovate your bathroom for more clarity.

We all so have other articles covering DIY and renovation if you are interested in.

Remember the possibilities are endless.


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June 28th, 2020 in

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Early access to super fund for renovation: why should you consider it?

 

The federal government recently announced temporary early access to your super fund for a limited time. Though it is in two instalments of $10,000 and there is a confusing eligibility criterion, everyone can access it easily. I and my wife had our first instalment out recently.

Superannuation funds are forced savings created by the government to help you after retirement. The government rarely allows early access of super fund. Thanks to the pandemic, at least you get access to the super fund.

The news is pretty old and most might have known about it already. But here is my view on it and how it can help your home renovation/construction project. As I am a construction expert and not from the finance department, you need to take everything with a pinch of salt.

Financial experts keep advising against touching your super fund. Is it really worth to wait 20 more years to get hands-on your super? Is it worth investing the money into your home? Come let’s find answers.

 

COVID-19 early access to Superannuation fund:

One of the many financial aids that have been flowing in due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the temporary early access to the Superannuation fund. Both the permanent and temporary of Australia and New Zealand residents are eligible.

While it is definitely going to help people, who lost their job or had their business shut, many are planning other uses for the same.  Investing in property is wise if you do it right. More on that after going through the process of getting your super fund out.

The temporary early access comes in two instalments of $10,000. Once for the financial year 2019-2020 which you have to apply before 30th June 2020. You can apply between July 1st to September 24th to get the rest $10,000 for the upcoming 2020-2021.

There is more to it. You are not required to pay any tax for the amount withdrawn from the super and the application process is totally free. So, if you get an email or phone asking to pay for COVID-19 early access, you can be sure it isn’t legit.

early access to super fund

Eligibility to access super fund:

The eligibility criterion is where most get confused. Don’t worry we have got it simplified for you. The criteria are going to be different for permanent residents and temporary residents.

Permanent residents and citizen of Australia and New Zealand

You need to fulfil at least one of the three conditions:

  1. unemployed.
  2. You are eligible for any of these benefit schemes.
    • Jobseeker payment
    • Youth Allowance for Jobseekers
    • Parenting payments
    • Special benefit
    • Farm Household Allowance.
  1. Met this condition on or after January 1st 2020
    • You were made redundant
    • Working hours reduced by 20% or greater.
    • Your sole ownership business was suspended or facing a reduction of 20% or more in turnover.

 

Temporary residents

If you are a temporary resident you must be rushing to get your COVID-19 super early release. Because you can only avail it for the 2019-2020 year. Yes, that means you have to act fast and apply on or before June 30th 2020.

You need to be under one or more of the circumstances listed below:

  • Hold a student visa for more than 12 months and unable to meet immediate living expenses.
  • Have a temporary skilled worker visa, employed and yet unable to meet immediate living expenses.
  • Temporary Visa holder other than the above two and unable to meet immediate living expenses.

If your Temporary VISA has expired during the COVID-19 period you can make use of the Departing Australia Super Payment (DASP) for returning to your country.

 

How to apply for COVID-19 early super access?

The application process is carried over at ATO online services with myGOV. So, you require a myGov account to apply for the early access of superannuation fund.

Things you need to know before applying for the superannuation early access.

  • Know your current super balance before applying. Because applying for higher values will lead to application rejection.
  • You can only apply once per financial year under the COVID-19 early access scheme. That is, once before June 30th and once after. Even if you don’t apply for the full $10,000 the first time you don’t have a chance of applying again. So, decide well in advance before filing your application.
  • You can apply under the COVID-19 early access even if you have accessed your super the same year under any other scheme.
  • You can apply for a total of $10,000 from more than on super funds. If you have two super funds you can access $7,000 from one and $3,000 from other by applying once.
  • Check your insurances linked with the super fund. You might lose it based on the left-out balance after early access to super.
  • You are required to have your Australian bank account to withdraw super. There is no way around it.
  • If you are super is with the State-administered fund, Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) or Exempt Public Sector Super Scheme (EPSSS), make sure they allow early access before applying.
  • For ATO-held super, you need to move it to super fund first before applying under the COVID-19 scheme.

You won’t be able to change information like contact details and bank account information. So double-check on those before submitting your application.

 

The COVID-19 early super access application process:

  • Create a myGov account and link to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  • You will find the application available within the portal.
  • Apart from entering the required information, you will have to answer a few questions regarding your current state which will be a deciding factor for application approval.

Once your application is approved your super fund will reach your account within 5 days. The time taken for early super access application approval is also quick.

 

Can I get early access to super fund?

I know the application process seems overwhelming. In reality, it isn’t that hard.

I went through the application process myself. I and my wife applied for the early access of super fund and have got it credited in our bank account. It was a usual application process followed by a series of multiple-choice questions answered.

In my opinion, most of us are eligible for early access. I am no expert in this field, but if you require money just give it a try.

Now that we know everything about how to get your super fund during the pandemic, let’s discuss should you access it right now and what should you use it for.

 

Home improvement as an Investment

Should you spend your super fund for home improvement?

Let me start by taking my scenario as a case study. As I already said we (me and my wife) got early access to our super fund for the year 2019-2020. We are planning to spend it on the new home that we are in the process of construction right now.

For those wondering why to take the extra money when I have everything planned and going right, here is my answer. Though I take some of the important roles in the construction process, there is still a lot that needs to be paid.

This additional $40,000 (20,000 from each of us) can allow room for some significant additions like the addition of swimming pool or upgrading the finishes to luxury ones. There is a possibility of improvising on something that might add value to the house for the years to come.

I am no financial expert, but with my experience in the construction field, money spent on construction can make returns, either directly or indirectly which is why I would like to count it as an investment.

Not just for investment properties, even for your own residences, the $20,000 budget can make a lot of difference.

 

What are the consequences of accessing the super before retirement?

I know there are a lot of debates going on already especially involving financial experts. They claim ‘a wholesome amount of $20,000 withdrawn from the super fund by a 25-year-old could contribute to $64,000 during their retirement. So, it is not wise to access it right now for depreciating goods like cars and big-screen TVs.’

I agree to most of it. But my argument is that you should see spending on your home is an investment. Even a small expense of $5,000 can boost your home’s market value by a significant amount. Or it might help you materialize a home extension project you were thinking for a long time.

After all, home is one of the biggest investments that most of us make in our lifetime.

I suggest now is the right time to do all kinds of home improvement work. Here is why.

 

Why is this the right time to do home improvement work?

With all due respect, with everything going around the pandemic right now, I wouldn’t say now is the best time for construction work. It is ideal to do home improvement work if you are in the thought of it.

Firstly, there are a lot of grants, concessions and rebate schemes that you can make use of right now. The most important of which is the Homebuilder scheme that has announced $25,000 grants for building or substantial renovations.

Banks have lowered their interest rates on loans to encourage loaning during the pandemic situation. Do not consider loaning and starting a home renovation work unless your income is guaranteed to continue.

The pandemic economic fall is said to be one of the worst in decades. It has led to slow down in every industry including construction. Taking up any construction work now is going to provide more employment opportunities for construction workers.

You can choose to do your home renovation work within the super fund alone or you can make use of other schemes and loans to even build your new home. Are you wondering what can $20,000 get you in 2020? Here you go.

 

What home improvement work can you do with $20,000?

For those planning to do home improvement work only with the $20,000 from the super fund, you still have plenty to choose. You can simply spend all the cash on a bathroom renovation and make dramatic changes. Or you can do a cosmetic overhaul for the weathered aspects of the home alone.

The options are literally endless. Be it your residence, rental property or investment property, even $5,000 spent on the right things can boost home value more than itself.

So here are some of the best home improvements ideas for you within the $20,000 budget.

  • Transform the aesthetics (paints, tiles, finishes) of the house with $20,000 in just 5 days.
  • Target on the home renovation areas that improve the market value of the house. This approach is generally used for investment properties only.
  • A complete Kitchen or Bathroom renovation can be fit in the 20k budget easily. Or you can try and renovate both within the same cost. In that case, you will have to do simpler work like painting and tiling by yourself.
  • Spend on one particular aspect of the house like painting the exteriors, upgrading the living room, etc.
  • Spend on one luxury product like Sunken baths which starts at $10,000.
  • Or you can target on improving the home security by adding high-end security cameras.

Check out our full article on what you can get out of $20,000 for a better idea.

 

In my opinion, accessing the superfund is not the difficult part. Spending it the right way that will count as an investment is important. So, take your time planning and setting up everything.

It is okay if you already got your early access to super. The money can wait in the bank while you are working out the renovation plan that will add value to your home.

To remind you again, the advice regarding accessing your super fund is purely my opinion. An opinion from an experienced guy in the building industry and not from finance.

Until next time, see ya! Stay safe!


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June 21st, 2020 in

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The $25,000 new HomeBuilder Scheme: Is it for you?

A grant of $25,000 is announced for homebuilders across Australia by the federal government. The HomeBuilder Scheme that is effective starting June is only available for a limited duration.

There has been a lot of talks about the grants ever since it got announced. There are also contradictions from the expert if the scheme will really bring the necessary change for construction professionals.

More than that, I know many of you are eager to know if you can avail it. The eligibility is mainly based on the value of house construction/renovation and the income. There are other constraints too. Don’t worry, we have covered all of it.

 

What is the HomeBuilder scheme?

You might have already heard about it in the news. It provides a tax-free grant of $25,000 for construction or substantial renovation projects in Australia. Announced by the federal government on June 2nd 2020, it is valid throughout 2020.

COVID-19 has brought in a lot of unpleasant things into our lives. One of which being the economic downfall has hit Australia with a recession not seen in decades. To help stabilize the economy, Morrison’s government have come up with a few stimulus packages.

HomeBuilder Scheme targets the construction workers who are jobless due to the COVID climate. Estimated to provide over 27,500 grants the total cost estimation of the scheme is around 688 million.

This is expected to help over 1,000,000 jobs in the construction field directly and indirectly. That’s not all. You can make use of the first home buyer benefit with this grant saving a good percentage of your total expenses.

The property industry is one of the most important industries in Australia. Some experts say, stimulus package is said to bring back momentum to the construction market. The low interest on loans will add to the convenience of getting into construction for many.

home builder

Eligibility criteria for the HomeBuilder scheme

The federal government has really narrowed down on who can make use of the HomeBuilder Scheme. Mainly based on the yearly earnings and value of the build.

You have to satisfy the following conditions to apply for the house stimulus package.

  • 18 Year of age.
  • Citizen of Australia.
  • Natural person.
  • A salary cap of $125,000 per year for singles and $200,000 per annum for couples based on 2018-19 taxable income.
  • For newly build houses the house value is capped at $750,000 inclusive of land. In case of Substantial renovation, the estimated value of the project must be somewhere between $150,000 to $750,000 and the house to be altered is valued less than $1.5 billion.
  • Investment properties and commercial establishments will not be eligible for the grant.
  • The applicant’s intended place of principal residence only qualifies for the HomeBuilder scheme.
  • The owner-occupier needs to sign a contract on or before December 31st 2020 to be eligible for the grant. Further, HomeBuilder Scheme specifies that all the professionals entering into the contract must be licensed professionals. Professionals who are licensed after the date of June 4th are not eligible.
  • The construction must commence in three months from the date of entering into a contract with the builder.
  • An owner-builder is not eligible for the scheme as it is targeted to benefit the construction market.

 

What kind of home can you build under the HomeBuilder scheme?

Off the plan, apartment, individual dwelling all of which can be bought under the HomeBuilder Scheme with the limitation of $750,000.

It also applies if you are already in the talks or pre-construction phase and haven’t signed the contract. On the contrary, if you have just signed the contract before June 4th, you are not eligible.

For those owning land and want to construct on it, the same condition applies. The cumulative value of land and house that does not exceed $750,000 are eligible. The same goes for complete demolition and rebuild.

 

What is a substantial renovation?

Substantial renovation, according to the fact sheet provided by the treasury means anything that changes the dwelling substantially and does not involve cosmetic changes only.

Even if replacement of foundations, taking down walls are not part of the plan, it must improve on accessibility, safety and/or liveability of the property. So,  Swimming pool, granny flats, sheds, landscaping that are detached from the main dwelling can not be included.

So, cosmetic changes to the kitchen and bathroom probably won’t be eligible for the grant. If you are looking for anything of that sorts your super fund can help.

Home renovation project

How to get $25,000 for your house renovation or build?

The grant is fairly new and the application process is not structured yet. The criteria, itself is said to be means-tested. For now, the applications process is taken care of by the state treasury after your state or territory has entered the National Partnership Agreement with the Commonwealth Government.

You will have to submit certain documents of the owner-occupier and some related to the property. You will need to hire valuation professionals for house value and an architect/building contractor to estimate the project value.

For a clearer view on the application process, we will have to wait or contact your state treasury personally. But do not idle till then. If you have plans of applying for the grant, you should start right now.

The signing of the contract with the building professionals before the end of 2020 is one of the qualifying factors. But signing the contract comes in at the middle of the construction timeline. You can’t get to contracting the next day you decide to build or renovate. There is a lot of preconstruction work that you need to do like applying for development approval etc.

Only buying off-the-plan houses have very less or no pre-construction work as the seller takes care of most of the work.

 

How can you make the best out of the current situation?

The construction market is facing a never seen recession like most other economic sectors. Though it is bad for professionals like us, end customers are going to be benefitted in the form of grants, rebates, stamp duty relaxation and low-interest loans.

Let’s see how much you can save if you have renovation plans in mind. The home renovation costs in Australia range from $20,000 to $300,000 which is well under the scheme limit of $750,000. If you fall under the salary limit mentioned, then the $25,000 grant is already yours. Plus, you can use the superannuation fund up to $20,000 if required. That is a total of $45,000 of relief in the renovation budget.

What about those looking for a new home? For most it is the same as above, you can enjoy a maximum of $45,000. If you are a first home buyer you have grants and relaxations raining. Because the HomeBuilder Scheme does not restrict or demean any other grants/relaxation scheme. You can avail any scheme to its fullest on top of the $25,000 home stimulus.

That can mean savings above $60,000 in some states for first home buyers. ($25,000 Homebuilder grant + up to $20,000 Superannuation fund + $15,000 first home buyer grant + rebates and stamp duty relaxations)

I wish I had these benefits lined up when I planned my first home. But never mind, at least you make the best use of the situation.

But don’t let the offers direct you to a hasty decision. Make sure your financial situation is strong and check for any major expenses expected in the near future.

Spend time on planning and research rather than regretting and repaying.


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July 13th, 2020 in

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Paint laminate benchtop and save thousands: DIY renovation hack

Laminate benchtops are moisture resistant and long standing. It is the best option for kitchens done economically. What if, there exists a snag? it happens when the food permanently stains on the benchtops and yellowing process starts over time.

Many a time it may cause inconvenience and it won’t fit your style. This, in turn, leads to disinterest doing stuff in the kitchen over 20 years in a row.

Get the better of laminate benchtops! Give your laminate benchtops A second life!

There are so many alternatives to renovate a benchtop but that might be over the odd. Painting the laminate benchtops is the easiest and cost efficient of the bunch. And the best part is, you can do it yourself with a budget of $200.

 

Can you paint on Laminate?

I know many of you have the question in your mind – ‘Can you paint on the laminate surface?’. Yes, laminate can be painted but not with regular paints. You will require special paints that can stick to the shiny surface of the laminate and a lengthy preparatory process.

Both laminate and paint repel kitchen spills and moisture. So, the paint won’t stick to the glossy laminate surface, readily. The laminated benchtop surface needs to be prepared in prior for the paint to hold on for a longer time.

It is the same with painting over any smooth surface like polished wood, cabinets, furniture, tiles etc. It might be fascinating for many to consider painting as an option to renovate your existing wooden and stone surfaces. That too with a budget as small as few hundred dollars.

Read our special on Tile painting to get a clearer idea on its application and durability.

 

Benefits of painted benchtops:

  • Replacing the laminate benchtops with stone benchtops or going for the other options cost significantly higher. So, going with the affordable option of painting laminate benchtop is like getting big things done in a smaller package.
  • Painted Laminate benchtop with proper finishing withstands moisture better than laminate benchtops.
  • Innovative designs are possible as there are colour options. You can even draw patterns over the benchtop which is not possible otherwise.
  • Painted laminates with gloss coating are more resistant towards stains.
  • Attractive than the laminated benchtops.
  • Easy to do even for beginner DIY enthusiasts.

Limitations of painted benchtops:

  • The quality of benchtops depends on the durability of paints, so choosing the paint is more important. So, choose your paint right.
  • Paint might wear off sooner if exposed to excessive heat. Use stands when placing hot vessels on the painted kitchen top to extend the life of it.
  • Sharp objects like knife cut might affect the paint. A simple alternative is using a cutting board.
  • Shorter life span than getting new benchtops or other alternatives.
  • If DIY is not perfect, the paint might peel off from the surface sooner than expected.

 

How much does it cost to paint a laminate benchtop?

The cost-effective method of painting the laminate benchtop is not gonna cost you more than $300 for a normal-sized kitchen tabletop. The price might change with the surface area of the laminate to be painted.

The cost of tools is lesser, the major cost is going to be paint and the finishing coat. Still, the total expense is estimated to be at least 4x lesser than getting a new laminate benchtop or any stone options.

A new laminate benchtop starts at $150 per square metre. There are a lot of options like timber, natural stone, processed stone that costs up to $3000 per square metre.

 

Transformation kit:

Transforming the laminated benchtops requires good quality material to ensure long life. So, choose the required materials without quality compromise.

  • Laminate paint
  • Sandpaper
  • Drop sheets
  • Laminate cleanser or Sugar soap
  • Painter tape
  • Disposable gloves
  • Rags
  • Roller brush
  • Stirrer
  • Tray
  • Respirator
  • Gloss and Activator

Laminate benchtop transformation kit

Painting kitchen Benchtop:

Painting laminate isn’t a tedious process. Despite it is an easy task but it requires a dwell time spent on it. The selection of paint for kitchen benchtops is a tedious and important process.

Some of our recommended paint brands are Giani granite paints, White Knight’s Laminate paint which are formulated to bond the difficult substrates that include Laminate. More on the types of paint and what to choose in the latter part of the article.

Get everything ready. Let’s begin the DIY process of painting Laminate Benchtop in 5 simple steps.

Wipe off:

Before starting the DIY Kitchen benchtop, measure the benchtop Length*Width to know the area of the benchtop. It really helps to find how much paint to buy. Wear disposable gloves and respirator for safety right from step 1.

With years of usage causing spills and cuts, the benchtop desperately needs a clean-up. Use a laminate cleanser or sugar soap which contain materials that degrease the stains and tarry spills. Make use of the rag and pat to dry the laminate benchtops.

 

Prepare the Laminate for paints:

Laminates, as you know, are smooth and water repellent. To make it suitable for paints, the upper layer of glazing needs to be removed. It can be done by sanding the exposed are of the Laminate benchtop.

Begin the sanding process. Use medium or low grit sandpaper and sand the entire surface of the laminate benchtop to remove the glossy surface so that the paint can adhere properly.

Do sand the corners of the benchtop for a neat finish. Clean up the surface with rags and ensure the benchtop is dust-free.

 

Apply paint primer:

You need to be precautions with laminate paints as they easily stick to any surface. Cover up anything like adjoining tiles, taps, and sink with the painters’ tape to avoid the paint spilling over it.

Choose the primer that has good adhesion to paints and laminates. Primer ensures the better adhesion of paint to the surface and increases the durability. Lay down a drop sheet on the floor tiles or cover the objects to protect from paint.

Use a fine bristle paintbrush to apply primer at the corners and short nap roller to apply all over the surface for the best finish. Let the primer surface remain undisturbed for an hour allowing the surface to dry.

 

Paint the Laminate:

Let’s get to the main process of painting over the laminate benchtop. Dry clean the benchtops before you start painting. Remember choosing the right paint contributes to 50% of successful completion of the DIY laminate painting process.

Use the roller brush to have a perfect finish. Paint laminate using up and down strokes to apply a paint coat on the flat surface. Apply another coat after 1 hour, if needed. Allow the surface to dry for 2 more hours.

 

Give it the perfect finish:

You are not done yet. Though the paint has a natural shine to it, applying gloss and activator is recommended. Applying Gloss activator gives a mirror-like smooth finish and improves moisture resistance. You can even find ‘Benchtop protective coater’ that covers on the protection and aesthetic front.

Mix and stir the gloss and activator for 2mins. Cover the entire surface by applying the gloss activator evenly. Let it stand alone and dry for 2 hours.

 

Kitchen Benchtop after painting

Choosing the right paints to use for laminate benchtops:

Primer:

It is used as the base coat that provides a neutral surface and ensures adhesion for paints and laminates. It is used on the instant surface that may be a rough texture and contain pours.

This smoothens the surface by drawing into the pores and acts as a bonding intermediate between the surface and the paint. Primer being a neutral colour help hide existing stains to an extent.

Primer is a necessary part of any painting process. Choose the paint first and pick the primer that suits it to get the best output.

Latex paints:

Latex paint, also known as acrylic paints is good to protect the surface with unlimited colour options. This type of paint is available in various price ranges. Latex paint is a water-based paint with some significant advantages over the solvent-based alternatives.

Alkyd paints:

Alkyds are modified polymers which are known for high resistance to wear and tear. Alkyd paints are used for a second coat, it forms a thick texture that will be hard on the surface.

It resists towards the water; therefore, it can’t be washed away easily. Alkyd paints are good for high use surfaces like Bathroom and kitchen. This kind of paint takes more time to dry.

Laminate paints:

Laminate paints are the most preferred, as this paint is formulated specifically to smoother surfaces like laminate and tiles. This type of paint holds to the glossy surface to the maximum extend.

Laminate paints are mostly oil-based. You can also find water-based Laminate paints in the market. Either way, choose a primer of the same kind to get the best results.

Amongst the three main options that you can choose from, I personally recommend Laminate paints. You can still choose the other one and do a perfect tabletop renovation based on your need.

There are modernized kits to get an even better outcome designed for benchtops. Try out Rust-Olem’s Benchtop Transformation kit for that offers custom finishes like that of granite.

 

Signing off:

Painting the laminate top or any smooth surface for that matter is a very cost-efficient way of renewing an existing part of your house. With this process, you can renovate many parts of the kitchen like doors, windows, cabinets, tiles and benchtops. That’s almost 50% of the aesthetic changes you are gonna do on a kitchen or bathroom renovation.

A usual kitchen or bathroom renovation will cost upwards of $20,000. If you choose to DIY paint benchtops and cabinets, you can easily save a large chunk of it and direct your budget elsewhere. Here is our latest article that will give you more insights into the costs of home renovation.

Keep in mind painting can get you any design and colour but the durability will not be as good as a new laminate benchtop or stone benchtop. On the contrary, you can paint at least thrice with the cost of replacing a benchtop.

If you are into DIY, the laminate painting will surely open new doors of possibilities for your home improvement.

Check out our blog section for more DIY help, or book a free one-to-one training session with me where I will help you with the process.


SAVE 20% ON YOUR BATHROOM RENOVATION EXPENSES FOR FREE

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK NOW