Home & Garden

Flooring Guide for Homes & Businesses

Flooring Guide for Homes & Businesses

Home & Garden

Flooring choices can be confusing. Most people might not put that much thought into it, especially after the project has been completed, but it’s one of the only elements that’s essential in every room in some form or another. Finding high quality commercial flooring that’s suitable for you may mean something that’s extremely practical and cost effective, while in the home you may be looking at something that emphasises the best features in your room and might make more of a statement. Here are some of the benefits and features of the main materials you may be considering to help you decide.

Concrete – A simple but very effective as a flooring solution in some cases, concrete can be suitable for ultra-modern homes or businesses alike. It’s a top choice for people who are installing underfloor heating, too, because it conducts heat well. The main drawbacks are the high cost (since it has to somehow be poured into the flooring area and set) and the fact that it’s not exactly comfortable to walk on, let alone fall over!

Tiles – Easy to clean and maintain, tiles made from porcelain or ceramic are a classic choice for bathrooms or kitchens that can be used fashionably today, with a bit of clever styling. Expensive marble or granite tiles are available at the higher end of the market, or you might choose slate or terracotta for a more rustic feel that’s also more affordable to install.…

How To Incorporate Net Curtains in Your Home

How To Incorporate Net Curtains in Your Home

Home & Garden

Net curtains have been used for hundreds of years when decorating rooms. Compromise is a key thing with these curtains. The best net curtains will be the perfect balance between all your requirements: offering privacy without blocking out the light, looking attractive on a low budget, and adding some subtle detail to your interior design without overwhelming your main features. There is a wide variety available today, from the standard cheap net curtains to made to measure ones. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose between different types.

Firstly, measure your space and make sure you’re going to have enough material to actually cover the window. If you fail at this point it doesn’t matter what design you go for, it’s never going to look classy. You might use just one panel of net curtain but it normally makes it much easier if you stick with tradition and have a pair that can be opened and closed at the centre. Another common rule is to use a curtain twice the width of the actual window, so when the fabric is hanging it looks simply relaxed rather than stretched or too excessive.…

Get Your Garden BBQ-Ready

Get Your Garden BBQ-Ready

Home & Garden

Summer is the ideal time to host a barbeque, especially with plenty of friends and family to join you. In fact, you can get away with it for much of the year as long as it’s not raining. People may blame the weather for not having a BBQ regularly, but often they’re hiding a secret – garden shame. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare preparing your garden for an outdoor party, though. In fact, just a few easy steps should get you completely ready to host the BBQ of the summer!

1) Tame the lawn

If your garden consists mainly of grass then you’re perfectly suited to a BBQ party. You just need to get it under control so it’s comfortable for people to walk around on – wading through knee-height vegetation to get to the food isn’t ideal, plus in the summer you can expect insect bites all round. Cutting the grass neatly can make an incredible difference, and probably only takes about half an hour maximum for a large lawn.

2) Fix up paintwork

Fences, gates, decking, seating and even your garden shed probably need a new coat of paint every few years at least. If the paint is looking a little tired, this doesn’t even have to take long to get sorted. Pick out a brand new colour and freshen up your garden furnishings with bright colours if you feel you need an extra bit of excitement in the garden.…

Making Electrical Cabling Accessible

Making Electrical Cabling Accessible

Home & Garden

No matter if you build a new home or renovate your current one, it is better to have greater accessibility to your electrical system. There are many reasons why you would want to have accessible electrical wires, and there are plenty of ways that you can make it happen. The following are some considerations for you to make when it comes to the electrical wiring in your home.

Benefits of Making Your Cabling Accessible

When fuses keep blowing, or electrical equipment doesn’t operate properly, you will ultimately want to check the electrical wiring in your home to identify the problem. Unless your wires are highly accessible, however, then this will suddenly become a very tedious task. Not only that, but if you want to maintain, upgrade, or replace existing electrical components in your home, you will need to have easy access to them.

Easy access to electrical panels is also important for the safety of employees, construction workers, or even your own family members, so they should never be blocked or inaccessible. In fact, in a workplace, obstructing electrical panels – such as behind a shelf or table – is actually a violation of Health & Safety regulations.

Lay Out an Electrical Plan

To ensure your electrical wires and panel remain accessible, it’s important that you make a detailed electrical plan for your home before you start renovating or building. Choose a site where the panel is least likely to be disturbed, such as in a closet or basement – but that is easy to access. Consider how you will route the wires through your home, so that they end up at the panel itself, and take note of where any switches, power points, or other devices will be located.

If you’ll be staying in portable buildings throughout the duration of the remodelling or building of your home, then you will also want to devise a plan for how you will direct some electricity from your home to your temporary dwellings.

Selling Power Back to the Grid

Selling Power Back to the Grid

Home & Garden

Does the idea of generating your own energy appeal to you? Generating your own power can help the environment while helping you cut your energy bill.You’re probably already aware of the various renewable energy options, but did you know you can sell excess power back to energy companies to reduce your energy bill and even make a profit? Here’s how you can generate your own power at home, a quick outline of the feed-in tariff system, and how to know if you’re eligible.

Generating your own power at home

Power is the one resource we just can’t seem to get enough of at home. Essential appliances, the latest gadgets, basics like heating and cooling — these things could be mereluxuries to dream about if we didn’t have access to plenty of electricity, gas, solar, or other energy sources.

If your electricity bill seems to be climbing by the month, perhaps you’ve considered installing your own solar panels or otherwise generating your own energy at home. You can generate power to augment your existing power supply or even to become completely energy self-sufficient.

One thing’s for certain: generating your own power will save you on energy costs over time and free up more funds for your monthly car payment or home-loan repayment.

Building Benches in Your Backyard

Building Benches in Your Backyard

Home & Garden
Nothing is as relaxing as lounging in the shade with your favourite book and a cool drink. If you are looking to add a bench to your backyard, the good news is that you don’t have to purchase one that’s not exactly what you want. All you need are some power tools and timber in order to make one on your own.

Choose the Location

To start off, you need to decide where to put the backyard bench. The most important aspect in this regard is to place it under a shady spot. This way you’ll be able to enjoy your bench in both summer and winter.

Draw Up a Plan

Once you have chosen the perfect spot for your bench, take measurements and then hit the drawing board. Planning is the most essential step in this project, because you don’t want to waste your time or your resources. A well-thought-out plan will make the process easy and manageable. If you’re not great with conceptualising a plan on paper, you can always find plans on the internet.

Keep It Simple

Unless you have experience in building wooden objects, keep things simple when building a bench. The easiest design to make would be a simple wooden bench with four legs and a contoured or straight back.

Remodelling Your Outdoor Entertainment Area

Remodelling Your Outdoor Entertainment Area

Home & Garden
Enjoying your home lifestyle becomes much better when you have a fun and relaxing outdoor entertainment area. However, if your backyard or patio has seen better days, then you will want to do some remodelling. Read on for ideas to improve the look of your alfresco area and give it a makeover.

Shelter

Investing in some type of shade is vital for any outdoor entertainment area. This will provide protection from the sun and rain. Sheltering options include outdoor awning and blinds, pergola, shade sails, retractable sunroof and shade umbrellas. Your choice of shade will be the foundation of your outdoor entertainment, which will encourage your guests to venture beyond your house and mingle.

Furniture

Your outdoor entertainment area will not be accommodating without somewhere to sit. You will at least need a dining table, enough chairs for your guests, and some smaller and portable tables for placing food and drinks. If you want a laidback outdoor seating area, you can set up an outdoor lounge and armchairs for your patio under your awnings. Also add cushions with interesting prints, textures and patterns that will go well with your furniture. For a simpler look, you can turn some timber boxes into seats by placing comfortable sitting cushions on top.

Other furniture options you might want to include are day beds and hammocks. Whatever outdoor furniture you use, ensure the fabric is durable and UV resistant.

What Types of Damage Does Home Insurance Cover?

What Types of Damage Does Home Insurance Cover?

Finance, Home & Garden
While every home needs to have at least the basic amount of home insurance coverage, you may need more depending on your home, property or lifestyle. To be able to make the right decisions regarding how much coverage you need, it’s important to know what kind of damage you are already covered for. The following is a list of the most basic types of home insurance coverage that are offered in standard policies.

Dwelling Coverage

The most obvious form of home insurance coverage is for the dwelling itself. Insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home in the event that it is damaged or lost due to wind, hail, lightening or fire. Depending on the insurance policy, you may not be covered for damages that come from earthquakes or floods, so you may need to have it added if it’s relevant to you.

Coverage for Other Structures

Detached garages, granny flats, sheds and fences are typically covered under most standard home insurance policies should they be damaged and need repair. You need to check with your policy to find out how much is actually covered, because the typical coverage for these other structures is generally only around 10 per cent of your dwelling coverage.

Chemical Safety Around Your House

Home & Garden
When the sun comes out, many of us begin to use fertilisers and other chemicals to make our backyards or gardens look nicer for summer. For those who have swimming pools, chemical pool cleaners come in very handy. But sometimes we forget that these chemicals can be very dangerous. The last thing you want is a mishap, because your chemicals were not stored safely, away from the reach of children. Here are some helpful tips for chemical safety around the home:

Install Locks on Cabinets

The first step to ensure that chemicals are stored safely in your home is to install safety locks on all cabinets that contain hazardous materials. If you have little children in your home, it is essential that you purchase childproof latches. Knowing that your children cannot access harmful chemicals will give you great peace of mind.

Store Away From Reach and Sight

Once the accessibility issue is addressed, you have to make sure that the physical location of the chemical storage area is appropriate. It should be away from the reach of children – in fact, it is best if your children do not know where the chemicals are stored at all. Preferably, store all harmful chemicals outside of the house, in a tool shed or garage.

Leave Chemicals in Original Containers

A common mistake some parents make is to store harmful chemicals in food containers such as plastic water bottles, soft-drink bottles, or coffee cans. This can have horrible consequences if your child mistakes the container for a food or drink item. This is why it’s essential to leave chemicals in their original containers or packaging.

Home Improvements for Big Spaces

Home & Garden
Buying a bigger house block is always a great investment. In fact, you may consider saving money by building your own kit home, so you can spend more on the land. But there is always a difficult balance between enjoying the space and using the space to its full advantage. If you have the big block and aren’t sure what to do with it, here are some ideas:

Vegetable Gardens

Putting in vegetable gardens will see you saving money on produce, as well as giving your kids or grandchildren the thrill of growing their own food. This, in turn, will encourage healthy eating habits.

Depending on the space you have, this might go from a single garden bed to rows of beds. It is possible to build your own beds from scratch using recycled timber or you can put in block beds. Seek advice on types of wood, tin and block that are suitable, as the materials will be exposed to water, fertilisers and plenty of sunshine.

You may also be able to enhance the area with some paving and cut down on mowing between the beds. Consider the location of the garden beds as well and which areas of the yard catch the best sun in all seasons. Installing an irrigation system is an excellent idea to avoid losing produce for want of time to water. Also think about incorporating a compost bin, and possibly even a small garden shed.

Playground and Gazebo

Having a deck or entertaining area set off the back door is a terrific idea, but have you considered a stand-alone staged gazebo in the backyard? A gazebo offers an idyllic shaded spot for meditation, reading and entertaining guests. Gazebos can be landscaped in almost any style, from Balinese to Victorian.

If you’re thinking about adding this type of relaxation area, it may be worth considering putting in a fort or playground close by. A play area for the kids is no longer relegated to a rusty, old swing set. Features that can be added include a giant chequerboard or cubbyhouse. A gazebo with an accompanying playground means you can enjoy a cuppa while the kids blow off some steam in the fresh air.

Can Solar Energy Light Up Your Home?

Home & Garden
With the price of electricity on the rise, using an off-the-grid energy supply has a lot of appeal. Solar energy is becoming more popular as a means to provide power to homes, pools and even businesses. As a primary renewable energy source with less environmental impact than coal-powered electricity you can see why. But few people do their research. If they did, they would find that generating this sort of power comes at high start-up costs, despite its long-term money saving attributes.

Does Solar Energy Generate Enough Power For My Home?

The short answer is that yes it can, if you have the space and the money. Generating the kind of energy you will need to power your entire home will mean purchasing a great deal of solar panels. At home, we use a lot of energy every day – most homes have dishwashers and washing machines as standard, all of which add to our electricity usage. The energy we can capture using solar panels is limited. This means it will take a lot of space and money to constantly power your home with solar. When you add to this the storage of energy for very overcast days and other factors that will deplete the energy you have stored, you can see that this is a complicated business.

Is It Expensive?

Given the high volume of panels you will need to power your entire home, and the other equipment required to capture and store energy, you are looking at an extensive investment to get started – something similar to the investment to put down a deposit on a home. While this is the case, in the long-term you will save on electricity bills, and if you generate excess power, you can always sell it back into the grid and start to recuperate costs that way.

On the positive side, the warranty for materials used in solar energy systems is very high, so you shouldn’t need to worry about repair or replacement costs for a long time.

What Type of Gate for Your Home

Home & Garden
Installing a gate at the front of your home can be an excellent addition for the sake of security, but determining what sort of gate to get is never easy. The installation of a gate will have a positive affect on the security of your home and it can greatly reduce the cost of car insurance quotes too. There are endless types of driveway gates and each has their own benefits to consider. This article considers everything from the rustic look to the maximum-security gate.

The Rustic Look

The rustic picket style look is a very popular choice of gating for homes. These heavy wooden gates provide good security for your home and look attractive whilst they do so. They are available as manual or automatic gates and will require only very low levels of maintenance to treat the wood every year. The biggest problem with these rustic style fences is that they require a great deal of space in which to swing open. This can be very limiting in a small driveway and you will need to be careful to ensure that the gate can actually open and close with the cars parked in the driveway.

Security Barriers

Security barriers are in many ways a less attractive option for security in your home. Security barriers often look like the ones found in car parks, but they can be purchased in more subtle colours too. The main benefit of a security barrier setup is that they take up very little space and are very secure. Security barriers generally open vertically so they only really use a very small amount of space to provide the security.

Key Elements for Your New Exterior

Home & Garden
It’s a big decision, but finally deciding to turn your outdoor space into a useful and beautiful landscape is one that many homeowners make when they want to extend the enjoyment their living space. If you are about to do up your yard, then consider the following as some key features you should include in order to get full enjoyment out of the space.

Lush Garden

Not only is a lush garden aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but it also has many practical purposes. Gardens and large plants also help to define spaces and create a comfortable environment by modifying light, temperature and humidity. You can also use plants in your yard to control noise and odour, and even to provide food for your family and the local wildlife. Having lots of plants of varying sizes and varieties will make your space far more fun, interesting and comfortable for you and your family to enjoy.

Swimming Pool

For those hot summer months, there is no better way to cool off than in your own backyard swimming pool. By adding a pool to your landscape, you will make it far more diverse and dynamic, and greatly increase its practicality. Not only will your family love having a pool as a chance to play and cool off together, but don’t be surprised if you start getting more visits from your mates, too! Make your pool really fun by getting heaps of pool supplies for the kids, such as a slide, inflatable raft and other pool toys.

Guide to Moving with Toddlers

Home & Garden
 Moving with children may require a little bit of extra work. Toddlers are at the age where they can be taught about moving and be involved in the process. While some parents might find that their toddler adjusts to a major move with no difficulty, other parents can find that their young child needs a little bit of help with settling in.

Here are some ways to involve your toddler in a move, take care of them during the move, and settle them in after you’ve moved:

1. Introducing the Concept of Moving

While there’s usually no need to involve your toddler as early as the house-hunting stage, letting them understand that you’ll be moving in advance could help. If your toddler is particularly inquisitive, you could start telling them about the move a few weeks before the actual move, around the time you start contacting removal company.

If your new house is close by, consider taking your child to the new site and showing them their new room.You could also explore the parks and playgrounds in the local area with them. This can allow them to get used to the concept of moving.

2. Packing

Think about involving your young child in packing. Ask them to help you pack up their items, and use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that their things will be coming with you to the new place. Explain that nothing will be lost. Let them know that all the items are being sent ahead of you in the move.

Pack your toddler’s favourite items in a travel bag to take with you during the drive or flight. This can include toys, books or blankets. Let them keep these special items close during the journey.

When you’re about to leave the house, you could help your toddler say goodbye to their old home, which can help themprocess the move.

3. During the Move

It’s usually best to keep young children away from the home during the move. Set up a babysitter for your toddler, or drop them off (along with any pets) to a relative’s or friend’s house for the day. This will help you coordinate the move more effectively, without stress.

It can also help you to use a babysitter and have your toddler away from the home when you’re doing major packing work. Obtain plenty of supplies, such as boxes and double-sided tape, and have someone take care of your young child as you pack up and get ready for the move.

4. Settling In

It’s not uncommon for children to be upset at such a major change, though some children will adapt more quickly than others. Make sure you give your toddler

Saying Hello to Your New Neighbours

Home & Garden, Social
New neighbours are entirely hit-or-miss when it comes to how pleasant, tolerant, and friendly they may be. You can unluckily get neighbours that seem to actively want to cause you trouble, but you can also form life-long friendships with the people next door. When you move in, it is important to say “hello”, and just this can make a big difference. This article considers befriending the new neighbours.

Meeting the New Neighbours

When you see a removal truck pulling up next door, it is very easy to discern that you will soon be getting some new neighbours to share your street with. A friendly gesture can go an extremely long way, and simply going round to say “hello” to those unpacking the truck can make a big difference in welcoming them to the area. It is very likely that they will not have the basics set up in their new home before they arrive, so taking some cool drinks to refresh them, whilst they work, is an act that will immediately win you friends.

A Friendly Gesture

Despite being very exciting, moving into a new home is incredibly nerve-racking and difficult to do. Anyone that has moved into a new house will invariably be tired, and somewhat worn andstressed out for, at least, the first few weeks. Making a kind gesture to welcome them to the neighbourhood can be exactly what they need to boost their confidence once again, and to get them feeling happy in the new area.

Taking some welcome gift hampers to their home is a very good deed, because it will provide them with some much-needed snacks, and some creature comforts with which to unwind in their new home. A thoughtful gift will make a hugely significant difference to your long-term relations with them.

How to Add Value to Your Home

Home & Garden
If you are looking at selling, or just want a better place to live, then adding features to your home can be the best way to do this. Adding features adds value to your property, but this is only true if you carry out the right renovations and do so in the right manner. Here we consider how to add value to your home through renovations.

Repair damage and signs of aging

Properties will age and get damaged over the years and it is important you do not sell or even get your home valued with these signs of ageing and damage visible. Repairing damage is a simple place to start, but even this can be expensive. You will need to repair any damage properly so that the home is both safe and secure. You will then need to repaint the property to make it sparkle in the sun so you can benefit from the right light.

Compare your property to the market

To gauge what you could be getting for your property you will need to compare it to similar homes on the market. There is often a clear reason why your home is not valued as highly as other comparable properties, and it is possible to amend this in many cases.

Having a master bedroom without an en suite bathroom, for example, can knock a great deal off the value of your home, but putting in an en suite will not necessarily cost you that much. To add value to your home it is important to consider why your property is valued lower than comparable ones on the market.

4 Reasons for Investing in Real Estate

Finance, Home & Garden
So you’ve saved a good sum of money and you want to start earning some real returns from it – not just the interest you can make from keeping it in the bank. Deciding what to invest your hard earned cash in can be really difficult. You have the option to turn to something a little left of centre but offering high returns if done correctly, by investing in art. Investing in stocks offers a comparable risk/gain investment. Or you can turn all of your money into a deposit, take out a home loan and put your cash into an investment in property. But why invest in property? Here are a few good reasons:

Low risk

Standard real estate is a reasonably safe bet when it comes to investing your money. While the economic situation of late, and lower levels of consumer confidence, may mean the real estate market is down, it certainly isn’t out. Lower prices now will almost certainly go back up if investors looking to sell can wait for the sale, and realistically it is incredibly rare for the actual value to go down over time – it just may not go up as quickly as you want it to.

Earn two ways

Real Estate also offers you the unique opportunity to earn in one of two ways – firstly by investing in a property that you will make a rental return from. Secondly, you can buy, move in for a short time to reduce costs, get a handy removal company to move you back out, then re-sell when the market becomes more lucrative. The latter, if done carefully and if you are well-informed, can be a quick turn-around, not to mention a big return! Rental return, on the other hand, provides a steady and consistent form of income, with most of your costs tax deductible.

Temporary Fixes for Your Radiator

Home & Garden
Car engines generate a lot of heat while they are running, and radiators work hard to ensure this heat is dissipated and the engine is preserved. So when there is a leak or other issue with your radiator and smoke starts coming from under the hood of your car, it’s important that you stop and fix the problem rather than keep driving. Before you call an expensive tow company or start walking, however, a temporary fix will buy you enough time to get your car to the nearest auto repair shop. After all, car finance can put a big enough hole in your pocket without adding to it. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Locate the Source of the Steam

Sometimes you can easily see where the steam is coming from when you look at the radiator, and you’ll most likely see a pinhole or a ruptured seam. Before you do anything, however, you need to give your car some time to cool off so that you can open the hood safely. If you can’t see where the leak is coming from, then try washing down the radiator and hoses with water and start the engine again. As it runs, watch for the leak.

Step 2: Let the Engine Cool Off

Once you’ve located the leak, you will still need to allow some time for the engine to cool before you can touch it or remove the radiator cap.

Renting vs. Buying Outright

Finance, Home & Garden
Households and businesses have a variety of options available to them when purchasing new equipment or goods. Two key alternatives are leasing and buying outright. Leasing, such as through a finance lease or hire agreement, can give purchasers the option of ownership, without the need to make a full outright payment at the outset.

These are some of the major differences between leasing and buying outright:

1. Instalments vs. Upfront Payment

Lease payments are made in instalments, while outright purchases attract a full upfront payment. Depending on your situation, you might find that payments in instalments are more preferable to a large upfront payment. Paying in instalments means businesses can divert precious cash flow to other areas of the organisation, rather than spending it all on equipment or technology assets.

Many businesses find that instalment payment arrangements are considerably better for their cash flow than upfront purchase arrangements, particularly as these payments are usually tax-deductible.

2. Repair and Maintenance Costs

While outright purchases confer ownership over the purchase item straight away, leases usually do not. Depending on the type of lease, this can mean that the lessee or the person leasing the item is not responsible for repair and maintenance costs. Instead, the hire-purchase company or financing company might be the party that covers certain repair and maintenance costs, though of course, this will depend on the specific terms of the agreement.

Investing in your Own Home

Finance, Home & Garden
Investing in your own home can be a fantastic way to increase its value and bring you a great return on your investment, especially if you decide to sell, rent or increase your home loan later on. What are some of the best ways to invest in your own home and boost its worth?

Extending

Extending your home will undoubtedly add the most value to it, since it makes your home much bigger and offers more to buyers. This can be particularly beneficial in popular metropolitan areas, where finding a large home is a challenge. Things like building a second storey, converting your attic, adding a bedroom or even a home office can all be easily done. If you don’t currently have the funds, consider whether a construction loan or renovation loan might help you. If you’re planning to sell in the near future, you might just be able to pay back your loan and make a profit on your investment.

Renovating

Renovating is one of the biggest ways to increase the value of your home, especially if it’s quite old or run down. While renovating might send a shiver down your spine at the amount of money you need to spend, it’s important to remember that renovating doesn’t have to be huge. One-off jobs like replacing your kitchen cabinets, redoing your flooring, replacing your shower or simply repainting your home can all be done in cost-effective ways, especially if you are keen to DIY. The best way to decide what to renovate is to determine exactly what is detracting from the value of your home or what will add the most value to it. Kitchens and bathrooms are good places to start.

Unique Craft Ideas with Flowers

Home & Garden, Seasonal
Flowers have been used in craft and decoration for a long time. From pressed flowers to candles, there is something for all crafty people. Just remember to pick flowers that are appropriate to the task you plan to undertake and don’t be scared to experiment. Trial and error can pay big dividends in the end. Here are some crafty ideas to get you started.

Dried flowers

These are very popular because you can let your creativity run wild. Not only that, but dried flowers are easy to make and can then be used in many different ways. Flowers can be dried by hanging them upside down in a wardrobe or cupboard for 2 to 3 weeks until ready. They can then be used in bouquets, arrangements or almost anything else crafty that takes your fancy. Don’t be scared to mix and match different types and colours together. Dry them as a bunch for the best results

Pressed flowers

Just like dried flowers, these are very simple to make. All you need to do is lay them flat between sheets of paper and leave them to dry completely before removing. They work best with some weight on them, so placing them on white paper in the middle of a telephone book would do the trick. Just be careful when drying flowers as some of the colour will come off. Don’t use one of your prized books for this task just in case. Dried flowers can then be used for all manners of craft, but one of the favourites is placing them in a picture frame.