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Ask the Experts

Custom builds stand out from the crowd

One of the biggest reasons people give for choosing to buy a block of land and build as opposed to moving in to something established, is that they dream of owning a home that is unique and a true reflection of their own personal style.

Fences enhance street appeal

As block sizes continue to shrink and home owners are forced to make the most of every available square centimetre of land, front boundary fences are becoming more common place.

Endless ideas for new cladding

Take a drive through the leafy suburb of Shenton Park and you will see a myriad of timber-framed weatherboard homes, many of which were constructed at the turn of last century.

New methods offer efficiencies

Traditional methods of construction have been extremely popular in Western Australia for decades, and for good reason.

Pool barriers go to the wire

Nearly one in five West Australians have a swimming pool in their back yard but along with all the benefits of being able to relax at home comes the responsibility of ensuring the facilities are properly secure.

Homework helps assess risk

Parting with big sums of money always requires a huge amount of research and careful consideration, yet when the transaction involves a person’s potential future home, it can be difficult to keep emotion out of the exercise and remain objective.

Save heartache, money and time

With so many important elements to consider, from big picture structural aspects right down to finer design details, it is little wonder many people are fearful of building a new home.

TV show sparks demand for fires

One of the things practically all new home builders and renovators take into consideration when making plans for their new abode is climate.

Personal finishes add touch of class

Even homeowners who don’t have a creative bone in their body like to feel a sense of pride about the space in which they and their family live.

Acrylic nails it in innovation stakes

One of the most common ways for new home builders and renovators to gather ideas for their upcoming project is by window shopping at the homes of family and friends who have just completed the same process.

Spray foam to fill any gaps

With no-fuss engineering and high performance capabilities, Australians have long held the humble foam esky in high regard.

Systems aim to help reduce bills

It makes sense, given the abundant supply of sunlight in this region, that some of the most successful energy efficient products are those that look at ways to harness the power of the sun.

Look to the sky to let sunshine in

In the past few decades, West Australians have become increasingly concerned about the negative impact of the sun on health and the rising costs of keeping our homes cool.

Privacy glass a natural choice

One of the best things about living in Western Australia is the abundance of wide open spaces, not just in public spaces like parks and bush land, but also in residential areas.

Sculleries perfect cooking ingredient

As ratings continue to soar on the TV smash hit, My Kitchen Rules, more home cooks realise that preparing restaurant quality meals at home is an entirely plausible proposition.

Focus on detail is key to quality

When the last remains of dust and traipsed dirt have been cleaned away following a new build or renovation, it is often the attention to detail that sets outstanding apart from average.

Quartz carpet a flooring gem

With Perth’s building and renovation industry still cranking, it seems everyone whether they are creating a new home from scratch or giving their existing abode a spruce up, is on the look out for a special element which will make their space shine.

Experts to help new renovators

Building or renovating a home can be a completely overwhelming prospect for many people, particularly the uninitiated.

Climate control arrives on wings

Even with the official start of Autumn being just days away, daily maximum temperatures continue to threaten to soar past the 40 degree mark while routinely hovering in the mid 30s.

Tile roofing tops in efficiency

The roof is one of the biggest external surfaces of any home and choosing the right covering will result in a home that not only looks the part but also is environmentally efficient.

Clever storage can control home chaos

The pressures of a modern lifestyle - longer working hours and increasingly hectic schedules, mean it is very easy for homes to become cluttered and disorganised.

The wonder of retaining walls

Choosing the perfect piece of land on which to build a dream home is rarely a simple proposition.

Open up to new garage door ideas

Talk to anyone who is building or renovating a home and they will tell you they spend immeasurable amounts of time planning the finer details of the job to ensure the end result is as close to perfect as possible.

New ways to create your ideal bathroom

Many people will tell you one of the things they love most about going on holiday is showering in a luxurious hotel bathroom.

Glass a window to heat build-up

Often it is not until a heat wave strikes that homeowners get serious about creating strategies for keeping their internal living environments at a constant temperature, despite the extreme conditions outside.

The benchmark for kitchen style

Regardless of whether you harbour secret desires to strut your stuff on MasterChef, or have champagne taste on a beer budget, or feel as though you deserve nothing but the best, your choice of bench top will largely determine your success in building a kitchen that caters perfectly to your needs.

Waterwise gardens

As we come face to face with the hottest months of the year, many people are forced to think about their household water consumption and whether they are doing enough to conserve the community’s precious liquid supplies.

Reviving by DIY, tired home areas

Now that the festive season is in full swing, many West Australian families will be opening their homes to families and friends. For many homeowners, summer is the season for entertaining and the fun will roll on right through to Easter.

Decorative extras for beach chic

In the last decade the Perth building scene has been awash with home designs featuring relatively simple, rendered and uniform facades.

Screens fuse art and functionality

These days, everyone is looking for a way to make their house stand out from the crowd. It makes sense because our homes are a reflection of our personal style and individuality.

A hard beauty set in concrete

There is no disputing that outdoor living is now an entrenched part of the Australian culture.

Hamptons beach-chic on rise

Replicating the laid-back yet sophisticated style of the Hamptons has never been so easy, particularly when you incorporate a few stand out products into your design mix.

Eco-friendly can also mean living in comfort

Community interest around sustainable housing is growing as more people realise the benefits are not limited to preservation of the environment.

Solar savings a bright idea

Few people would dispute that one of the biggest concerns facing many West Australian households is the rising cost of living.

Let grass grow under your feet

Whether you are looking at a complete yard makeover or just throwing in some perennials to create some Christmas colour, Spring is the perfect time to get your hands dirty in the garden.

Many smart options for lawns

Given the amount of time the average West Australian family spends outside during the summer months, it makes sense that creating a dream backyard has become an important consideration for homeowners.

Putting a roof on all that stuff

Packing up clutter and dusting off cobwebs and restoring order following the cold winter months, is an age-old springtime tradition.

Perfect pools now part and parcel

Clean air and a beautiful Mediterranean climate are some of the most obvious benefits to living in Western Australia.

Double glazing twice as nice

With global warming causing increasing concern and the rising cost of power adding pressure to family budgets, energy efficiency seems to be the top of everyone’s priority list when it comes to building and renovations.

Plenty of shady options

As much as West Australians love to bask in the warmth of our Mediterranean climate, at the peak of summer the sun can be scorching –making being outside unbearable.

The outdoor kitchen revolution

Few things are considered more symbolic of the laid-back Australian lifestyle than the barbecue and it is little wonder many West Australians celebrate the arrival of warm spring weather by cranking theirs up to entertain family and friends.

Retractable and near invisible

As yet another long, dark and somewhat wet winter draws to a close, homeowners across the State are celebrating the arrival of spring.

Bricks build a renewed interest

It’s no secret that the West Australian housing shortage continues to drive a steady stream of new home construction across the metropolitan area and beyond.

Quick fix can give top results

Fashion-forward homemakers are increasingly taking their cue from constantly evolving catwalk trends, changing the look and feel of interiors as frequently as their budgets permit.

Sky's the limit for steel frames

Traditionally, double brick and tile construction has been the most prolific form of building in Western Australia and it is only natural that when it comes to building a new home, people tend to gravitate toward methods that are tried and tested.

It's much more than a face lift

With more people living longer than ever before, services, infrastructure and the economy all need to be geared toward accommodating the needs of seniors.

Decking catches public interest

In the past decade or so, West Australian homemakers have embraced the trend of creating outdoor rooms, whether they be alfrescos or elaborately furnished open gardens, in a bid to make the most of the State’s spectacularly pleasant climate.

Service offers 3-D look at designs

Part of the reason many people find it stressful to plan a major renovation or new build is because they find it difficult to visualise the end result

Cost-effective range of extras

Often it’s the detail that can turn a good home into a fantastic, memorable abode. But the problem for many new home builders and renovators, is that unless they have access to an open-ended cheque book, it is virtually impossible to install the best of everything.

Speedier process gets tick of approval

Whether you intend to build a house, install a new patio or erect a new shed, in Western Australia the law calls for official building approval before work can commence.

Controlling the light elegantly

When it comes to interior design, there are a few internal fixtures which are used as much for their visual appeal as well as for their practicality, and when homeowners incorporate them into their designs, the results always speak for themselves.

Lighting way to personal style

With West Australian home owners becoming ever more interested in design, there’s a growing trend to find ways to turn fixtures and fittings that were once considered purely utilitarian into eye-catching expressions of personal style.

Dress for success with good planning

Reality television has exposed the addictive and rewarding nature of home building and renovation and it is not just kitchens and bathrooms that are being spruced up as a result.

Great possibilities with printed glass

Incorporating an interesting feature into a home’s interior design can help add instant appeal and value to a property, but finding an item that is truly unique is not as simple as it sounds.

Concrete versatile and very colourful

It’s probably the most basic building block in the world of construction and modern living would not be where it is today, without it.

Keeping the home fires burning

There’s nothing more comforting than the flicker of firelight on a wet and windy winter’s night.

The art and craft of stone features

Given the propensity for mass-production of just about every commodity available, it’s easy to understand why there’s been a recent resurgence in the arts and crafts movement.

Not all flat packs are the same

With the cost of living in Western Australia at an all time high, more people are being forced to look at creative ways to improve their homes without adding increased pressure to their budgets.

LED there be light

After spending hours considering floor plans, orientation, ceiling heights and elevations, most home builders and renovators have given their creative juices a severe workout.

Take the plunge with a beaut bath

It doesn’t matter who you talk to, these days it seems everyone has the same complaint - today’s hectic lifestyles leave little time to stop and smell the roses.

Underfloor heating beats winter blues

For many people, getting out of a warm bed on a cold winter morning is not exactly one of life’s most pleasant experiences.

Bringing light in from the sky

The days when skylights were used as an after-thought to provide natural light to a poorly lit area such as a hallway or toilet, are long gone.

Timber laminate easier to install

There was a time when homeowners who loved the look and feel of timber underfoot could only indulge their desires if they had suitably deep pockets.

Opening statement always vital

When it comes to breathing new life into an older home or creating wow factor in a construction, there’s probably no better place to start than with the front door.

Picture your way to a inspiring home

Whether you call it a mood board or a visual brief, experts agree that collecting a series of images that inspire and excite your senses is the perfect way to begin any building, decorating or renovation project.

Spring into yard action

While autumn is not the time for abundant growth above ground, the arrival of cooler weather actually brings the perfect opportunity to plan and plant a dream garden.


Many home makers have turned their attention to creating kitchens which are not only a pleasure to spend time in, but also which can help them turn out amazing dishes.

Brokers aim to simplify building for clients

With more and more building broker companies popping up in the Perth market I spoke to Greg Balogh from the House & Land Company to find out more about this type of organisation and what the benefits are.

Watch for hidden costs when building

For most of us, building a new home will be our biggest financial investment.

Energy efficiency is all in the stars

Last year, the Building Code of Australia (BCA) increased energy-efficiency requirements for all new homes from five star to six star.

Ideal time for developments

With the current economic downturn, many people may think that diving into property development is not a smart move.

Waterproofing will stop messy problems

When building a new home, it is often the elements of the building which you cannot see after completion which are the most important to get right.

The dream, green grass of home

With the football season behind us and the weather warming up, many of us start thinking about rejuvenating our backyards and outdoor entertaining areas.

We need to build for our climate

Despite improvements in the regulation of energy-efficient home designs I still see so many new homes without eaves or external shading devices.

Good space not rocket science

Homes are becoming smaller, making the way we organise available space more important.

Window of opportunity to save

With higher energy-efficiency star ratings coming into effect across the country by next year, finding ways to improve the performance of homes is a big issue for designers, builders and new home owners.

Course answers your new home questions

At our New Homes course, the second session is presented by an architect who is also a registered builder. There are several questions which frequently arise during his presentation on the residential construction process

Now you see it, now you don't

About two years ago, I was watching a home building show on pay TV and saw a fantastic product installed in a new home. The owner installed clear glass bedroom walls facing a common hallway; however, with a flick of a switch the glass could be turned opaque and appeared frosted.

Be prepared for that renovation

Renovating gives you the benefit of remaining within a community, close to family and schools.

Appliances make or break kitchen

The kitchen is the hub of the home and takes up most of our time in the design, layout and choosing of appliances, accessories and finishes.

Bathrooms welcome bold designs

Over the past decade the household bathroom and ensuite have moved away from being utility rooms to rooms which are a focus of good design.

New Acts aim to streamline building

In March last year I wrote about the bureaucratic maze facing developers and builders in WA. Predictably, the greater the bureaucracy the higher the costs and the longer the delays in getting on with the business of domestic and commercial development.

Alarm system a potential life saver

My father recently took a bad turn while at home alone and was able to activate his duress button which notified his neighbours of his situation.

Think ahead and include a home office

When my niece built her home she decided against creating a home office in favour of a formal dining room.

Ideas to put a spring in your step

With the change of season only weeks away, I caught up with interior designer Natalie Boyd, who had these suggestions on how to prepare your home for spring.

Beware devil in contracts

At our New Homes course, the first session is presented by a lawyer from Tottle Partners who covers what you’re signing when entering into a contract to build.

Kitchen appliance choice important

These days the kitchen is the first room we go to when we get home; it is a room for entertaining, a place for children to do homework and for a family to catch up.

New technology in cooking options

As the adage goes, the kitchen is the heart of the home but where do you start when choosing kitchen appliances?

Chutes replace bins in kitchen

As block sizes become smaller, using the space within the home in the most efficient way becomes more and more important for home owners and designers.

Design professional is a key player

The first person you will need to find is a designer who understands your overall vision for the home.

Fire alarms can save your life

House fires are most common during winter months, so it is a good time to remind all homeowners about the importance of smoke alarms.

Storm study results in new methods

In 2008, James Cook University undertook a study of the damage caused to homes in Roleystone and Shoalwater by tornados in June of that year.

Homing in on housing dream

If you’re a first homebuyer, there are things to consider before getting into the market.

Various ways for winter warmth

The recent spate of chilly mornings reminds me that it’s not all beach balls and bikinis and new home owners should be aware of their options for maintaining a warm and energy-efficient home during the winter months.

Choice of ways to stop termites

The destruction to homes and buildings caused by termites has been an age-old problem across the world.

Interior Designer does outside too

I know what you’re thinking: aren’t interior designers concerned with, as the name would suggest, the inside of the home? Yes and no. To help answer this question I caught up with interior designer Kirsty Blane.

Water heating options abound

Hot-water systems are often silent partners at home, making our lives more comfortable and convenient. We don’t usually think about them until they break down, invariably on a chilly morning.

Gutters set for a winter workout

With winter just around the corner, if you are building a new home it is timely to think about what kind of gutters will be installed.

Licensed to thrill owners

Changes are afoot to legislation which governs the regulation and licensing of the building industry.

Selecting the correct grade of tile is crucial

Choosing colours, finishes and accessories when decorating a new home is often the most exciting part of building.

Bricklaying work needs research

Finishing a home can include tiling, cabinetry, painting and landscaping and I have written in the past about the important contribution of these finishing trades to the overall enjoyment and value of your new home.

Raise your glass type

Most new homeowners are aware of the energy-efficiency schemes associated with housing. But with all the rebates, star-rating systems and industry jargon, it can all get a bit confusing.

Food for thought in design

When designing a kitchen for your new home, the first step is to decide what you and your family expect from it.

Right service must be rendered for lasting finish

Driving around Perth, I have noticed the number of new-home owners who opt for a rendered finish. Rendered finishes give a very modern and European appearance but it is important for owners to understand the background preparation required to ensure a rendered home looks as good 20 years on as it did new.

Best laid plans need checking

Some people may not immediately know how to read their home plans so they do not spend enough time studying what their builder has given them.

Builders need land, faster approvals

Since July 2000, the First Home Owner Grant has been providing first-time buyers with much- needed assistance to enter the housing market.

Rust proof off harsh conditions

I was recently at a building site in Cottesloe and noticed the rusted state of the neighbour’s air-conditioning units. This reminded me of the special considerations new homeowners must have when building in coastal areas.

Latest trends for a happy home

I recently sat down with interior designer Priscilla Busher, of Priscilla’s Classic Design, to find out more about the latest trends and her tip for successful interior design is to select a floor plan which suits your lifestyle and needs.

Brush up on painting work

Many new home- owners make the choice to use a registered builder to build their home to “lockup” and finish off the homes themselves. This leaves the important finishing trades in the hands of homeowners who are often inexperienced.

Check that your home is secure

Homes subject to high-wind forces such as cyclonic areas or exposed coastal areas must be built to resist these forces.

Bamboo floor a hard option

In recent years, bamboo has surged in popularity and become a competitive alternative to wooden floors.

Opening the right door

The entrance to your home creates a significant first impression, so it pays to put some thought into the options available.

Young people move to the city

As Perth develops, buying or renting a house near the CBD becomes a costly affair.

Creating the perfect alignment

Furniture placement is one of the least considered aspects of home design and yet it has a great impact on the flow and balance of the room.

Make building a rewarding time

For most of us, building a new home will be the most significant investment we will make in our lifetime and so research is essential.

Important steps in buying land

Selecting the right block of land is the first step to building the right home for you and your family. Just as important as researching the type of home you want to build is researching where you are going to build it.

Now is the time to consider solar

Electricity prices have almost doubled in the last 18 months and many Australians are feeling the pinch.

Air bubbles can raise home energy rating

No one wants to spend excessive amounts of money making a home comfortable during the summer. When designing a new home, placing emphasis on sustainability will very quickly save money.

Cool down your power bills

As Perth’s hot summer months rapidly approach, I thought this would be an ideal time to talk about air-conditioning.

Riding the wave of innovative design

Kitchen design presents a challenge to owners, builders and designers alike.

Brokers guide to home builders best result

It’s no secret that building a new home can be a time-consuming and stressful process.

Quality paving finishes the job

The football season has wrapped up — signalling the beginning of a mad rush to do various landscaping and paving jobs.

Quality bi-folds make a difference

Bi-fold doors have become an increasingly popular feature in new homes over the past decade but they can be expensive and need to be incorporated into the structural design. New home owners should always ensure they are getting the best-quality product as poor- quality bi-folds can be frustratingly difficult to use.

Your cabinet may be gassing you

At a meeting late last year of the Home Base Expo Owner Builder Support Network, one of the members, Glenys, spoke about her experience in finding appropriate building materials as she has severe allergies to chemicals used in wood treatment, including urea formaldehyde.

Fast build way to go

Building a new home in WA generally means building in double brick. There are plenty of benefits of double brick but what if you could build your new home in under two weeks?

Make neighbours green with envy

Synthetic grass has become popular with new home- buyers looking to improve the appearance of their gardens and decrease their water bill.

The basics for bushfires

As another summer approaches, I was reminded of the importance of bushfire preparation by the recent release of the royal commission findings into the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

Window dressing vital to true style

Window treatments are often an afterthought when planning and building a new home.

Rare design transforms the home

Often a new product comes along that makes me want to build again.

Timber floors make a good choice

Of all the elements in a new home, flooring seems to promote the most discussion.

Build ageing needs into the home

While none of us likes the idea of ageing it is inevitable that we will all experience a change in our level of mobility as we get older.

Get it all sorted for an easier life

“Decluttering” has been the buzz word for a decade now, but how many of us have taken an old problem and actually dealt with it?

We're going back to the stone age

A strong trend in new home design is to use natural stone tiles for flooring.

Get in the swim with aquariums

Some of us love the thought of having a pet as part of the family. They can, however, be time- consuming and expensive to look after.

Stones stand the test of time

In the 1970s, I distinctly remember my mum and dad starting some renovations on our house in Northam. As was the fashion in those days, they added a “sunroom” to the front of the house and the main feature of this room was a wall made of green Toodyay stone.

Windows a make or break decision

Windows have a two-fold purpose — to let light in and to keep the weather out. But the materials chosen to house them and the way they are installed are what will keep them doing their job properly for many years.

Tips on how best to keep your cool

We want to install air-conditioning in our new home but there are so many options on the market. How can we do it so the system is effective and works within our building design and budget?

Tapping into hot water

I didn’t realise that choosing a hot-water system could be so complicated. We are building a home and we just want to know our water will be hot when we want it. What does all of it mean?

Tanks provide added benefits

I want to incorporate a rainwater tank into my house design but I don’t want to lose a lot of space on my already small block with a big tank. Any suggestions on how I can be more waterwise but maintain aesthetics as well?

Streamlined recycling bin

I am having a new two-storey home designed with a kitchen upstairs and I hate the idea of having to cart the kitchen garbage, recyclable items and normal household rubbish downstairs daily and then out to the council wheelie bins. Is there anything available on the market to cope with this situation?

Smoke alarms are lifesavers

With most house fires occurring during winter, it’s a good time to remind people about fire safety in the home.

Smart system lights the way

At HomeBase Expo, Clipsal has one of the most innovative, interactive and functional displays I have seen in my many years in this business.

Screen out pests, not views

There’s nothing worse than building your dream home with lovely walls of windows to capture views of the perfectly landscaped back garden, then having to fit ugly flyscreens to keep pests out.

Scheme aims to swell brickie ranks in WA

I recently attended the launch of the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation as a guest of Tom Guthrie, general manager, new residential retail sales and marketing for Midland Brick.

Safety of children is not by accident

We have a young family and feel there must be some considerations we should be making to our house design. Can you tell us what things we should be looking at before we go ahead and find ourselves and our children in a potentially dangerous home?

Roll-on lawn is easy and convienient

The last job I did to finish my house was to put in the roll-on lawn, which was a bit easier than the first house I had when Mum, Dad and the neighbours supplied grass runners and a busy bee levelled the area and planting the runners.

Pool tables bring families together

Most people would associate the name Mal Atwell with the game of football, because he was a great player and a fierce coach back in his heyday.

Pick your letterbox

Q: I’ve seen the quaintest little letterbox on an international website which I think would perfectly complete our new home but my husband is convinced that it will be too small. Too small for what — are there some rules I haven’t heard about?

New bench top will combat bacteria

I have collected so much information about my benchtops, and now have no idea what I need for my kitchen. I have a young family, and we lead hectic lives, so please help me decide what is going to be best for us.

Making an entrance

Q: My wife and I are doing the pre-start for our new home and door hardware is frequently mentioned. What does it involve?

Lights shine focus of good design

I think people greatly underestimate the value of good lighting in their new home.

Heading towards the finishing line

Last week, we talked about the first three major elements you need to consider when choosing your timber flooring. This week, we’re continuing with information on installing your timber and choosing the right finishes for your home.

Granite tops it off with classy finish

I’m often lamenting decisions I made when I built my home, as I continue to learn more and more about products and the choices I think I should have made.

Farewell to ugly home skylights

I’m thinking of installing a skylight in my new home but don’t really like the look of some I’ve seen on roofs. Is there a modern alternative that will complement my roofline?

Ducted vacuuming so quietly efficient

Q. I’m at the planning stage of building a new home and my building designer has asked if we are installing a ducted vacuum system. How do they work and what are the advantages?

Designer, architect: what's in a name?

I’m following on from last week’s column about the difference between architects and building designers.

Ducted vacuum a breath of fresh air

Like taxes, cleaning the areas we live in is a constant in our lives.

Spend money where you spend time

When building a new home, investing time and energy in the design process will really pay off.

Make your new floor a real corker

One flooring option to consider when building your new home is cork. It is often overlooked because some consider cork old-fashioned or a cheap option.

Planning the perfect outdoor kitchen

During my years living in Mandurah, I learnt a lot about lifestyle, including how to set up the perfect backyard and entertainment area.

Recirculate to accumulate

When I surface in the morning, I have a routine where I turn on the shower and while I wait for the hot water to come through, I set up my toothbrush, hairbrush, shaving foam and shaver. By then the water is hot.

Double-glazing good insulation

As a keen viewer of pay-TV lifestyle programs on building and renovating, I am always coming across double-glazed windows and doors, which are a popular choice in Europe.

Warm floors a hot idea

Underfloor heating was first used in ancient Rome when hot air or steam was channelled from an outside furnace into a cavity under the floor.

Council rates a necessary impost

Next month is a month of highs and lows for me; the high is that it is our wedding anniversary and the low is that we receive the city’s annual rate notice.

Levy gives industry brighter future

People often ask me why their builder has charged them a “BCITF levy” — is it compulsory and what is it for?

Heat your water on a shoestring

Stiebel Eltron should be a household name in Australia. While it’s not easy to get your tongue around the name, its hot-water heater is a product which households need to hear about.

Designers untangle surprises

When we were building, it was hard to visualise the “big picture” from small samples such as laminate chips, paint swatches and curtain fabrics.

Safes secure as houses

On a recent holiday to Thailand I was reminded of the importance and convenience of having a safe in our hotel room for passports, flight information and other important travel documentation.

Ranking puts data on tap

I was having a coffee with Home Base Expo chairman John Baron Hay when I heard a voice say: “Hey Smithy, I love the new Access Flooring display and it’s good to see you got them to display the Janka rating along with the species name for each of the timber floors.”

Easy update from early wiring plan

Before starting to build our home I remember sitting down for some time with the house plans and checking where the lights, power points and communication outlets would be installed.

Options for aged-care living vary

This week Professor Fiona McKenzie director, Housing and Urban Research Institute of WA at Curtin University, provides an insight into housing the Builders generation.

Generation X has different needs

This week Fiona McKenzie, director of the Housing and Urban Research Institute of WA at Curtin University, gives us an insight into housing Generation X.

High density to deliver for Gen Y

For several years I have contributed to a weekly breakfast radio program on 100.1 Curtin FM.

Planning needed for home cellar

A couple came into Home Base Expo the other day and asked if we had any information about building a wine cellar.

Cool room the obvious answer

When Jo and Sheena Meling entertained Norwegian friends in Perth in the 1980s, they were surprised to hear that domestic cool rooms were the norm in Europe.

Keeping out the termites

As part of the process of obtaining a building permit for your new home or extension, your builder will need to submit a building application to your local council for approval.

Don't fear a trip to the letterbox

At a recent function, I was pleased to meet a banker from the Eastern States whose expertise is in real estate finance.

New file keeps you in control

Home Base Expo’s new Home File is the product of six years research and development.

Tasty new treats to top off your house

One positive to come from the housing market slowdown is that building material companies finally have more time to focus on the development of new and innovative products.

Garage can be invitation to burglars

For some months, I have been aware of a new way in which home invaders are gaining access.

Cooking up a storm

Wood-fired ovens have become the must-have outdoor accessory over the past decade and one is certainly an item on my wish list.

Greater choice in door frames

The more knowledge I gain about building a home the more I realise that the better-finished homes are those where the owners, builder and designer have an eye for detail.

Make the most of roof space

With more people choosing smaller block sizes, the need to design and plan living and storage space is more important than ever.

Building on a dream needs work

Finding the right builder to build your new home is essential because they not only determine the quality of the final product but also make the difference between a bad and a great building experience.

Avoiding the pitfalls

Some people opt to engage a registered builder to build their home to lock-up stage and finish the home themselves.

Rich choice to make a grand entrance

When building a new home a front door is the cherry on the cake.

Check soil classification

Last week I spoke about the importance of the orientation of your block and the lifestyle and amenities of the area before purchasing land.

Vital keys to good land for housing

Select the right block of land when building your new home.

Polished concrete not a hard option

When building, you may look at the concrete slab of your new home and visualise how it will look when covered in floorboards, tiles or carpet. But have you ever thought what your slab would look like polished?

Shutters a modern, practical solution

In our previous home, we had timber shutters. Not only were they durable and kept out the heat, they also gave the entire home a modern, sleek look.

Light up your life

When choosing lighting for your new home, you should consider the look of the fitting and the effect it will have on the area. The days of a single fitting in the middle of each room are long gone; what’s more, continually evolving technology means there are more choices than ever.

Vinyl a viable option to timber floors

It’s no secret that timber flooring is often the more expensive choice, but there is a product that can give you the look of timber without having to worry about damage to the floor or to your finances.

Japanese screens offer versatility

During a recent holiday in Japan, my adventurous wife decided we should experience as much traditional Japanese culture as possible.

Roof space an extra option

How many homeowners have difficulty accessing or simply dread the thought of going into their roof space?

Versatile travertine stands the test of time

There are a number of options when choosing flooring for your new home. It is important to have something that is comfortable to walk on and easy to clean, all without compromising on style and quality. A flooring option that is versatile, attractive and can be used inside and outside your new home is travertine stone.

Style, safety dictate choices

Choosing the type of balustrading to include in your new home will centre on two main objectives — style and safety.

Modern way to lift your home

Over the last few weeks Home Base Expo has been buzzing with construction activity, installing one of my favourite new toys, a residential lift from Lift Shop.

Infill makes lot of sense

I have long been an advocate of urban infill as a way to slow the effect of urban sprawl.

Display homes a good strategy for homebuyers

One of the best-known methods builders employ to showcase their home designs is with a display home. This strategy allows potential owners to see the final result rather than having to visualise the home from a set of working drawings.

Roof window a bright idea

Lighting can be used to create a mood or to highlight features of a room. A natural and cost-effective way to achieve these results is by including skylights or roof windows into your new home.

Make your move as easy as possible

Moving into a new home is exciting, and something most will only do a handful of times in their lives. A new house can mean a fresh start or a lifestyle change and, after building your dream home, a sense of achievement now that all the hard work is behind you.

Gates give security, add value to home

When you think of security gates you may think of wrought-iron monstrosities straight out of a haunted house, but the addition of a modern and secure automatic gate system may be the finishing touch your new home needs.

Making life easier

Everyone loves a new idea, and one of the most exciting parts of building a new home is discovering the new gadgets and design innovations that will make life easier, and then finding ways to incorporate them into your house..

Last, but not least

One of the last tradesmen to work on your new home will be the painter. Painters are one of three trades registered in Western Australia, the others being plumbers and electricians.

Sweet dreams made of this

An important purchase for any new home is the right bed. To get independent advice, I caught up with Michael Eastcott, who has spent 23 years in the bed business.

Make your home virtually perfect

When I was looking at buying a new car, I made use of the company’s online program that allowed me to look at my options when it came to colour, upholstery and even wheel type and size.

House finished? It's time to party

It is understandable that with the new home being constantly on your mind, spending time with family and friends may become secondary to that spent with with tradespeople and looking at colour samples.

Ensure wet areas are waterproofed

When I build again, my No. 1 priority will be to ensure the bathroom and other wet areas have been waterproofed correctly.

Treat your garden like another room

Garden landscaping has become big business, and more products are appearing on the market to cater for those who think of their garden as another room in the home.

Water from air is pure magin

When I first heard about a machine that could supposedly turn air into drinking water I was curious ... and maybe a little sceptical.

Getting your garage all sorted out

Imagine this. You are driving to your new home. The front of the house looks fantastic but when you hit the button to open the garage door...

Planning is key to owner-building

In 2007-08, the Builders Registration Board reported a total of 22,592 building approvals for houses and other dwellings.

Music room a sound idea

Recently we conducted a survey through the Home Base Expo website to see what products or information people would like to see on our website.

Inspecting the lie of your land

Who am I? I’m one of the first professionals to go on your building site. I give the architect or building designer and engineer details they require to draw their plans for approval. I don’t have any noisy machinery.

Shade provides a cool solution

As the threat of climate change becomes more apparent, the need for more sustainable architecture is increasingly important.

Good decisions are made early

People put a lot of thought into locations for their wide-screen TV, barbecue and furniture and carefully select colour schemes when building a new home.

Whole new flooring at your feet

I was watching a TV program a few months ago that featured a hard-wearing and unique flooring product made with epoxy resin. Leaves were suspended in the floor creating a unique flooring effect.

Future-proof your home

I recently received an email from a couple who had just completed their new home.

Product gives class to your shower glass

We have a display at Home Base Expo that I think is a great example of how new technology can make life that little bit easier. The display shows what water and soap scum can do to your shower screen and tiles over time.

Warm up in style with gas fireplace

I recently spent a weekend in Margaret River and the apartment where we stayed had a beautiful gas fireplace which was a bit of a novelty for me because in my own home we rely on reverse-cycle air-conditioning.

Looking good while doing the hard work

In the average kitchen, the benchtop will be the hardest worked material. It must be able to deal with mess and potential stain-causing spills, handle knocks and scratches.

Tips to save your from a crack-up

We all want the finishes on our new homes to be perfect when we move in and remain that way forever. One of the most common complaints of new homeowners is the plaster work cracks.

It’s a question of choosing your roof

I am often asked the difference between a traditional “stick” roof and a timber or steel truss roof and which is better.

Tap into good planning for bathroom

When looking to buy, the realty catchphrase is location, location, location. When it comes to building a new home, the mantra should really be plan, plan, plan.

Know your soil before you buy

Last week I wrote about changes I would make to housing industry legislation if I were a politician. In my second week at Parliament House I would tackle site soil classification.

Make most of the sun and save energy

There is a lot of hype in the community about energy efficiency and carbon emissions.

Splash out on a fashion classic

Splashbacks are an essential part of any kitchen design. They help protect your walls from day-to-day cooking spills and splashes and can also offer a contemporary look.

Thermal mass a good heat store

In the past few years we have all seen the emergence of numerous energy-saving gadgets for the home. While I am far from being a green crusader I do believe we should all do our bit to improve the energy efficiency of our homes wherever we can. One of the simplest ways to improve the performance of a new home is to take advantage of the principles of thermal mass.

Way out of the bureaucratic maze

Two years ago I was invited to a lunch hosted by the Urban Development Institute of Australia. More than 500 attended and they were eager to hear about the topic of the day, the approvals process.

Lighting way to outdoor ambience

Outdoor lighting can be much more than getting a few lamps or lights from a hardware store and randomly placing them in the garden. It’s about making the most of the “outdoor room” of your new home and creating a look that suits the space you have.

Add style with unique steel designs

When it comes time to add accessories to your new home to create a look or fill some empty spaces, it’s fine to hang some pictures on the walls or put some interesting looking vases in a corner, but sometimes it’s still not enough to create the look you want.

Planning is a kitchen must

When we designed our home we knew the kitchen was going to be the hub so we spent extra time on its design and functionality. Three years on, I thought I would take a look back at what we got right and what we would do differently.

Dangers exist when kids play

Last week I wrote about the need to provide a safe environment for young children when building a home. Consideration also should be given to the outside areas of your new home, including gardens and play areas.

Making homes safer for kids

It was my brother and sister-in-law’s turn to host Christmas lunch. Their grand-daughter, Lucinda, had arrived with her parents from Melbourne and their kid-safe plan was put into action.

Variable factors add to build cost

Many people ask me what is a reasonable price per square metre to expect to be able to build a home for.

Simple ways to survive a fire

We live in a country where the hot, dry summers increase the risk of fire. As recently seen in WA, fire can destroy property and livelihoods in minutes.

Functionality key to a good kitchen

Last week I wrote about kitchen designs in new homes and how you can be involved in the decision-making process. This week we’ll look at some useful ideas when it comes to the layout of your new kitchen.

How to plan the hub of your home

In so many homes the kitchen is the centrepiece. When it comes time to move in to your new home, the kitchen will be the room where family members greet each other in the morning and where the day’s events are discussed in the evening.

Controllers puts watering at your fingertips

Reticulation systems or, as the professionals call them, irrigation controllers, have been on the market for about 40 years. Modern controllers, however, now have several new features.

Pool ideas before taking the plunge

Over the past six weeks I’ve had a great view, watching the construction of a display pool outside the front doors of Home Base Expo.

More to tiling than a good look

Q: My builder has given me a prescribed sum to select the tiles throughout my new home. Can I put any tiles in any position in my home, whether it’s on the kitchen floor or on the bathroom wall?

Construction loan spelt out

My builder advised that I would need a construction loan to build my home. What type of loan is this and do I have to pay the entire amount when I sign the building contract?

Door choices open wide to new styles

One of the last decisions I made when building my home was choosing the front entry door.

Consider your options with the laundry

o now that we all know where we want to have our laundry, what we need to store in it and what washing machine we are going to have, what else is there to think about?

Help to colour your world

When you think “interior design”, you immediately think of the colour choice and material selection you have to make inside your home. These selections include colours for the cupboards and benchtops, flooring, window treatments and accessories.

Clipsal C-Bus just the ticket

Our resident integrated systems consultant Ian Goddard recently installed this system at the new Exmouth Resort using longitudinal and latitudinal readings as a base measure for the resort’s electrical integration.

Finding the clear balance

I am often asked if I built again what would I do differently? To date I have a list of about eight items, one of which is to choose different glass options for our windows and doors.

Making a clean start

Most people view the laundry as a very functional area but it is often overlooked in the design of a home. More time is spent in this area than we realise...

Enjoying the company of a china baron

Formed in 1748 by the French Villeroy and the German von Boch families, the company is celebrating its 260th anniversary this year.

Secret doors define a space

Cavity doors allow homes to be open-plan, or separated into intimate rooms. They also ensure the effectiveness of heating or cooling systems, which can be cost-prohibitive in big open spaces.

Installing outdoor barbecues

I want to install a barbecue as a permanent fixture in my outdoor area but I’ve heard there are some strict regulations about fitting gas into this type of space. How can I ensure I am doing it safely and legally?

Keeping all your building sites as safe as possible

At the Master Builders Housing Excellence Awards the highlight was the announcement of the overall winner, A. Di Bucci & Son, for a home they built in Sorrento.

Insider tips for bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring has become a popular choice in many homes due to its ease of maintenance and environmentally friendly attributes — once the bamboo plant is harvested it doesn’t die, it regenerates and produces more shoots.

Codes point you in the right direction

Do your homework because there are many points to consider before you decide to renovate or demolish your existing home.

Coastal building advice now on hand

Last year Sonia from Mandurah wrote to me seeking advice on what materials should be used and what she should check for when building on a canal-side block.

Checklist keeps up with modern life

Save money and future proof your new home by checking you have allowed for enough power points, data points and light fittings. To help, Clipsal has produced the Essential Checklist.

Check soil classification

If you already have your block and are ready to sign with a builder, make sure you know which soil classification your block falls into.

Check first to avoid building hassles later

caught up with Nigel Lilley for lunch just before his retirement after 24 years as registrar of the Builders’ Registration Board and asked him what advice he would give people before building their dream house.

Check covenants before buying

I am interested in buying land in a couple of different developments but have heard conflicting stories about restrictive covenants and how much jurisdiction they have over our design decisions.

Care needed with timber flooring

There seem to be so many options for timber flooring in my new home and I don’t really know what is going to be the best option for us. Can you please tell me what it all means?

Bringing the outdoors in

How can I make sure I maximise on light and airflow, even though our block is small?

Bridging the generation gap

I have had a lot of feedback from families and builders, most wanting to know how to house the different generations.

Boomers home in on fruits of labour

As baby boomers have evolved so have their needs and desires in housing.

Biggest around not always best

I am thinking of buying an LCD or Plasma flat screen TV but don’t know what size is best.

Bathroom Options

I like a clutter-free bathroom, so I am looking for ideas for all those bits and pieces that sit on my vanity...

Architects help with priorities

Michael Green, from Q3 Architecture, is one architect working in conjunction with Home Base Expo towards making architectural services more affordable for a wider range of people.

Architect's role clearly defined

I’m often asked at our new-homes seminars: What’s the difference between an architect, building designer and draftsman?

Another brick in the recycled wall

When I was building my home, I was horrified that 10 3cum skip bins of rubbish were removed from the site.

Allow children their space, colour

The debate continues whether to allow children to decorate their own rooms or maintain the existing scheme throughout the home.

Acquiring art for its own sake

Even though we’ve been in our new home for some time, there are still a few projects to finish, including some built-in furniture and artwork to bring the home to life.

Abide by the Rules for Balustrading

There are some legal requirements which need to be adhered to when designing your balustrades.

A store of new kitchen ideas

I always seem to be talking about what I would do in my next home and what improvements I would make.

A star turn in sustainability

Eight stars is out of the ordinary for any home and I wanted to know how this rating was achieved.

A place for the one who has everything

Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to find a well-organised garage showing different storage systems

A ceiling needs master of illusion

One important aspect of your home is the ceiling and choice of cornice

Think before you sign

Before signing any building contract, ensure you are using a reputable registered builder. Once you have decided on a builder, make sure you read and fully understand everything in the home building contract

Top 10 tips for home renovators

The amount of money spent on renovations and additions in WA each year far outweighs the amount spent on building new homes.

Open doors with your fingerprints

We live in an age where security and safety are paramount. But what we sometimes forgo in this quest for a personal home fort is convenience.

Lifestyle change dictates design

Although getting older is something we try not to think about, there comes a time when we have to consider the future, and this includes whether the design of your new home is suitable for a changing lifestyle.

Vegie patches back in favour

When I was growing up in Northam my grandmother had a magnificent vegetable garden in her backyard. Because of this I had the luxury of eating produce that had literally just come out of the ground.