AddBuild: Deciding on the Decorations

By the time your project is underway, you’ll probably have some idea of how you’re going to complement the changes you’ve made. For some renovators, these decorating decisions were made before the plans were even drawn up. But for others, design inspiration is harder to come by.

It might sound like a cliché, but inspiration really is everywhere. The hard part is differentiating between what you like, what you really want and, most challenging of all, what you can afford. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the potential choices, it’s best to go back to the basics. AddBuild suggests to stay true to your motivation: do you plan to sell up soon after your project is complete or are you creating a space you’ll never leave?

If it’s the former, then your decorating decisions should be guided by the bottom line of your budget. Seriously, keep it simple. This means streamlined and subtle. You want prospective buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in your home, not distracted by your choices. However, if you’re decorating your forever home, then by all means, go as crazy as your taste and imagination (budget permitting) allows!

But where to start?

First off, consider the top three; the walls, the floor and the window treatments. Because these are the biggest areas you need to cover, they have the potential to dictate the tone of the room. Sometimes a particular piece will dictate your direction. It might be a painting you’ve never hung, a rug you’ve coveted or a couch you can’t afford to replace just yet. If this is the case, try to imagine where in the room that ‘hero’ piece will be placed and how you’d like it to relate to the colour of the wall, floor and windows. If the solution isn’t immediately obvious or you don’t have a particular element to focus on, you’ll need to do a bit of research. This is where it gets fun!

Rooms that work don’t just happen by magic. They come together when colour, texture and pattern collide in a harmonious manner. Whilst not many of us have an interior designer on speed dial, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. Check out your favourite magazines, go to the library, visit your local home-maker centre and roam the internet. The following are links to design sites that might help you out:

http://www.completehome.com.au
http://www.designattractor.com/
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/
http://theinteriorsaddict.com/
http://www.absolutelybeautifulthings.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.remodelista.com/
http://www.designsponge.com/
http://thedesignfiles.net/

Once you’ve identified a style you’d like to emulate, try to figure out which elements appeal and why. Be honest about whether the look you like would really suit your lifestyle. (Minimalism, for example, rarely works out for the committed clutterbug!) Take notes and take photos, make diagrams and be sure to keep all your ideas in the one place. If you’d rather not crack out the glue stick, check out Pinterest, which is a social site that allows you to collect images you like but also peruse the pinboards of others, which can be an invaluable resource.

Usually, the purpose of the room will create a natural focal point, therefore identifying what this should be will also guide your research. In considering your options, be sensible! There’s no point in choosing a completely out-there colour scheme, if you can’t afford to replace your furniture to match.

Consider inexpensive ways to update your existing pieces, whether it be a coat of paint for your tired dining room chairs, new scatter cushions, or a cosy throw rug or bedspread. Additionally, if budget permits, reupholstering or re-dying slip covers quickly give older pieces a fresher look. Think about whether indoor plants and window boxes would work for you. Not only do they purify the air, but bringing the outside can help smooth hard edges and soften your space.

Whichever way you feather your nest, we hope that when your project is completed your space is everything you’d dreamt it would be. Home is where the heart is, so be true to your instincts when decorating and you’ll be sure to create a space you love.

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AddBuild: How to Build an Eco-Friendly House

Eco Friendly House AddBuild

When Kermit the frog sang, ‘It’s not easy being green,’ he was talking about skin colour, not the building game! While an ecologically sound home may not be on the top of your list of priorities, there are many reasons why going green should be a renovation consideration.

Environmentally sensitive homes use water and energy more efficiently, are warmer in winter and cooler in summer, they’re healthier to live in and save the owners serious money year in, year out.

 During the construction phase of an extension, addition or renovation, a green building project will also reduce and/or recycle waste.

The GreenSmart principles relate to 8 key areas – some relate to how the property will work once construction is completed, while others relate to how the building process itself will be carried out. They include:

  • management of energy and water
  • indoor air quality
  • material selection
  • universal design
  • landscaping
  • stormwater management, and
  • resource efficient practice

If you want your home to receive GreenSmart accreditation, you’ll need to get in touch with an HIA GreenSmart Professional before you submit your plans to council.

Even if going the whole hog isn’t part of your plan, have a quick look over the following ideas.  In many ways, applying GreenSmart suggestions is just a matter of old fashioned common sense.

Orientation and Solar Benefits

Firstly, check the orientation of your proposed changes. If possible, the areas you spend the most time in should face north so you capitalise on passive solar access. Clever eave design and overhangs will ensure that sun penetration is maximised in winter and minimised in summer. This cuts heating bills and reduces your reliance on artificial cooling.

Trees

Also look at what trees currently surround this area of your site; if you already have an established tree, investigate whether judicious pruning or crown lifting might improve the amount of sun you receive. If you’re in the landscaping market, a deciduous tree that loses its leaves in winter is the better choice.

Insulation

Next on the green housing agenda is insulation and thermal mass. No matter where you live, good insulation is imperative as it inhibits both heat loss and heat gain through floors and flooring systems, roofs and walls. During winter, your home can lose up to 35 per cent of its residual heat through inadequate ceiling insulation, up to 25 per cent through your walls and up to 20 per cent through your floors. By insulating these elements, you can reduce heat loss and effectively ‘cocoon’ your home.

You can always contact AddBuild for advice on how to properly insulate your house to ensure that you preserve as much heat as possible, making a big difference in your electricity and heating bills.

Thermal Mass

Thermal mass on the other hand, refers to materials such as concrete, bricks, tiles and rammed earth and their capacity to absorb heat during the day. Correctly positioned, on the inside of the building, materials with a high thermal mass will cool your house during the day. As the temperature lowers in the evening, this stored heat is re-emitted, keeping you warm and cosy. When thermal mass and insulation work together, you’ll see significant savings when your gas and electricity bills arrive each month.

Flooring

Your choice of flooring is another way to improve the environmental attributes of your home. Carpeting, for instance, blocks the re-radiance of heat and acts as an insulating layer, which makes tiles and concrete floors a better choice if maximising your thermal mass is a priority. However, if your floors are timber, which stores heat poorly, carpet is an excellent choice as it will complement and improve the performance of the insulation below.

The AddBuild Master Builders have extensive experience in flooring works that find the best possible insulation solutions, while still taking into account comfort and individual preferences of clients, so you can contact us for any consultations on the matter.

Ventilation

Ventilation is another key area to consider. Sustainable design aims to enhance the occupants’ experience by improving air quality in and around the home. This can be achieved by using mechanical methods, like ceiling fans, externally ducted exhaust fans or roof mounted systems that extract hot air from the ceiling cavity, to complement natural cross breezes. Minimising draughts and gaps around windows, doors and exhaust fans can also reduce heat loss by up to 25 per cent.

Planning and carrying out a home extension, addition or renovation can be an expensive undertaking. The beauty of going green is that your ongoing cost of living comes down through the many savings that can be achieved.

AddBuild: Renovating Your House – Clarify Your Goals and Objectives

Some keen renovators keep a scrapbook with every image or idea that’s ever taken their fancy; some are more influenced by a general sense of the space they’d like to create; others have more practical situations to resolve, like a new baby on the way and the existing walk-in wardrobe is the only place for them to sleep!

Balancing the motivation behind your need to redevelop with the available budget and the outcome you seek is the single most important place for any would-be renovator to start.

The first question you need ask is whether your improvements are for your ‘forever home’ or a property you plan to sell in the near future. Here is what we at AddBuild have to say about it:

AddBuild-Renovation

The ‘Forever’ Home

Forever homes can be a tad tricky as depending on the size of your family and requirements, the wish list can very quickly outstrip the budget. This is where writing a list becomes handy. Start big, jot down every change you’d like to make and then whittle it down.

Needs vs. Wants

First you must answer what has to happen for you to live in this home forever? And then, what would be nice, but secretly, you know isn’t essential? These are your Wants. Decide on the non-negotiables (your Needs) and work out your budget – then see if there’s any wiggle room for the more fanciful of your Wants.

Renovating for Resale

If your renovating eye is firmly set on resale, it’s often best to consult a few local real estate agents for advice. Most are very happy to have a wander through your home and advice as to what modifications will make your property stand out, particularly if they scent a possible commission.

Ask them what they think your property is worth currently and how much of a difference making changes would achieve, but do keep in mind these will only ever be ballpark figures. Getting this type of feedback can make all the difference when renovating a home for resale; it’s their business to be objective, a quality that can often be lost when you’ve lived in the property for some time.

If you don’t agree with the agents’ recommendations, get proactive and do your own research. AddBuild Master Builders advice keeping an eye on what prices similar properties are fetching and spend some time going to open houses in your neighbourhood. Try to look at your home as unemotionally as possible and remember, when resale is your motivation, be prepared to be utterly ruthless and realistic with your renovation plans.

So whether your plan is anchored in the happily ever after of a forever home, or the financial motivation of a profitable renovation and resale, talk with the people who share your home, both friends and family. Explain what you’d like to achieve and ask them what they would do in your position.

It’s easy to get hung up on one particular vision and one way of seeing things. We at AddBuild suggest, sometimes getting other opinions can be just the thing you need to re-orientate your perspective but alternately, you just might confirm you’re on the right track. Happy planning!