6 Tips to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

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We know how important energy efficiency can be for your new home. It is a big reason many of our clients want to custom build. To ensure we maximise the efficiency in every aspect of your home, we work closely with energy assessors and stay at the forefront of building technology and ideas.

1. Priorities

Before we start, we have to understand how your family lives. This will help us create the home you want. For example are you entertainers? Would you like a pool, tennis court or somewhere to keep your caravan? Designing a home based on your lifestyle reduces waste on the things that aren't important and more importantly, it adds to your life satisfaction.

2. Block Orientation

It's no secret that having a north facing home will be more comfortable and cost-effective. The trouble is, in Canberra the best views and outlooks don't often face north. Our architects and builders can work together to find the best position for your house on your specific block.

3. Design

With our experience with custom building and our team of architects and home designers, we can design you an energy efficient home on any block. But some blocks are more suited to super energy efficient homes. Working with experts from the outset before you even select a block will give you the widest set of options.

4. Construction Methods and Materials

Our energy efficient homes use conventional construction methods and the highest quality materials and trades. We are also at the cutting edge of Passivhaus concepts and have built with specialty eco friendly products such as Ecoblock, concrete "sandwich" panels, Exsulite, Hebel and more. Once we know what you want to achieve, we can give you guidance on the best construction method and materials.

5. Insulation

We use high-grade insulation in the ceiling and walls of all our homes. Upgrading your insulation density and type is a great value way to gain noticeable improvements in the energy efficiency of your home. Our energy assessors can make sure they are the most suitable for your home.

6. Windows

Your windows will influence the way you feel in your home, so choosing the right ones is important. The trouble is it can be very confusing because there are so many options on the market. To help you through the process we have an expert team in house, and trusted experts and suppliers in the industry who can guide you towards the best choice for glazing and framing.

How to Consider Pets in your New Home Design

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Pets are extremely important to the people that own them. They are so important, more Millennial first-time home buyers are looking for dog-friendly features than kid-friendly features. That was one of the surprising findings from a recent SunTrust Mortgage survey.

But the trend isn’t isolated to younger buyers. Many empty nesters also have furry family members, and having a pet-friendly home is just as important to them. The Australian Pet Products Association (APPA) notes that 68% of Australian households own some sort of pet, with dogs being the most popular (48%).

If you’re in the majority of households that has a pet, there are a number of ways you can design and personalize a new home to make it the most livable space for humans and animals.

Fewer Stairs

Just like people, as cats and dogs age it gets harder to move around. They can have joint problems, reduced vision, and hip dysplasia. The fewer stairs you have the easier it is for them to move around the house.

Secured Yard

Condos have a lot of conveniences, but being able to open a door to let your dog outside isn’t one of them. One of the top features that Millennial home buyers are looking for is a secure, fenced-in yard for their dog. It’s also a must if you have a declawed cat that likes to get outside.

Outdoor Living Space

Your pets love spending time with you as much as you enjoy being with them. If they’re an outside pet (or like to spend the day outside) designing an outdoor living space is a great idea. It’s a very popular home feature that can add value and provides an area for the family to relax outdoors.

Easy to maintain flooring options

When you have a pet accidents are going to happen. Choosing the right flooring can make life a lot easier and preserve the floors. It’s best to choose non-slip, hard surface flooring that’s very durable. If you opt for carpet make sure that it’s highly stain-resistant.

Pet Area in Laundry Room

When you personalize your own home design you can create a floor plan that makes daily activities more convenient. An option that’s perfect for dog owners is to incorporate a mudroom or laundry room right off the entry into the house so that it’s easy to clean your pooch off before entering the living space. Add a little storage space for brushes, towels, leashes, and treats. This area is also a good spot for feeding and the litter box if you have a cat.

Nearby Dog-Friendly Amenities

When you purchase a new home or one that’s in a master-planned community you aren’t just buying a house. The community amenities are also part of the package. If you’re a dog owner some of these amenities are just as enjoyable for your pooch as they are for you. Look for amenities like:

  • Green space

  • Dog park

  • Hike and bike trail

  • Lakes

All of these amenities add to your quality of life, encourage physical activity and give you a reason to get outside with your dog.

Neighbourhoods with pet friendly regulations

In addition to nearby amenities, check the animal regulations for the HOA and the neighborhood at large before you select a place to live. The city’s zoning regulations can limit what types of pets/animals are allowed in an area. The HOA may have additional limitations, including what type of dog can be owned, cleaning up after pets and where they can be walked.

Renovations: Getting the most bang for your buck!

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It’s no secret. Renovations are costly and can do a real number on your daily routine. Depending on how extensive your renovation is the time it could take stretches anywhere from a few days to a month. But, when done well, home renovations are a great way to increase the function of your home while also adding to its value. There’s a long list of things to renovate, and when you’re starting out the list of things you want will be quite long. But to get the most out of your renovation, check out these projects that bring the biggest return for your investment.

Bathrooms

Minor bathroom renovations – keeping the plumbing where it is and updating flooring, fixtures, tub and sink – can bring a return of just over 100%. To keep costs down and maximise space, take the shower doors off and replace with a glass wall covering about half of it creating an open shower to give the appearance of a bigger bathroom. Tiling your walls can be more costly and will take more time, but they are more durable in such a humid environment. New plaster and paint, however, will also work just fine. Price tag comes in around $11,000. For major bathroom remodels, you’re looking at a return in the 93% range. Still nothing to scoff at, but with a complete makeover priced around $26,000 you can have the bathroom of your dreams and recoup most of the costs.

Kitchens

Minor kitchen repairs – again, don’t knock down any walls and throw in a kitchen island just to have a kitchen island – will bring back around 98% of your investment. Replacing flooring with an inexpensive, sustainable bamboo click-lock option works. Upgrading your sink, fixtures, and countertops are a great idea. Switching to energy efficient appliances will run up the cost, but will also cut down on your water and energy bills. Instead of installing all new cabinetry, sand and refinish or paint your cabinet facing. Making small decorative changes – like new molding and trim – can also make a big difference. You’re looking at the $15,000 price range, but it will be worth it. Similar to bathrooms, with a major kitchen remodel (pretty much new everything) will total around $44,000 and return around 91%.

Landscaping

A big part of selling your house is its curb appeal. And while you may not be selling in the very near future, having a new front yard to welcome you home can also work wonders for your mood. You’re likely to spend way less than $10,000 on a newly designed and landscaped front or back yard, depending on what you want. While you’re updating your yards, consider drought tolerant plants and groundcovers to not only bring a unique new look to your home, but cut down on water usage while supporting the biodiversity of your ecosystem. Using grass and plants local to your area and implementing a stunning fixture, such as a fountain with recycled water, is a great way to bring beauty to your home and take care of the environment at the same time.

Windows And Doors

If saving energy is at the top of your to-do list, installing new doors and windows should be right up there with solar panels, energy efficient appliances and geothermal HVAC. It’s estimated that about 40% of heat and air are lost through seeping windows. You can always keep up with your windows by checking the caulking and weather stripping. But technology being what it is today, there are also a variety of options from low-e glass to argon gas inside the panes to retain heat and air, as well as prevent outside temperatures from affecting your indoor climate. In most climates, you’ll see savings in your energy bills, but also recoup about 89% of your investment.

When it comes to making home improvements for the sake of savings, resale value, and efficiency, there are a number of things you can do. Just be sure, whatever remodels you do choose to tackle, that your end product doesn’t go beyond your price range and also doesn’t price your home out of the neighborhood market. If creating a spa-like bathroom in the master bath bumps the price up too high, you could feel the effects in the sellability of your home. But with the right contractor and research on your end, you’re sure to come out on top.