Wood Waste, The New Building Material


Wood waste could become the building material of the future, creating stronger, more watertight homes with a lighter footprint on our environment. Researchers from the National University of Singapore have come up with an innovative way to turn biochar from sawdust into cement, as an alternative use for the large volume of wood waste being produced. Wood waste from furniture factories makes up a large part of the waste generated in Singapore. 2016 alone saw more than 530,000 tonnes of wood waste produced, much of which was in the form of sawdust.

Now, instead of being incinerated or going to landfill, wood waste can be recycled to make biochar, a porous, carbon-rich material that absorbs and retains water. When a small amount of dry biochar powder is added into concrete or mortar, it enhances the curing and hardening of the mixture.

In their experiments, the researchers found that the strength and impermeability of the concrete and mortar mixture can reach up to 20 and 50 per cent respectively. This can facilitate early removal of formwork, which substantially saves construction time and cost. What’s more, biochar 'locks in' carbon in its structure, which would otherwise be released to the atmosphere by decay or by incineration of biomass. Associate professor Kua Harn Wei said that close to 50 kilograms of wood waste can be utilised for every tonne of concrete fabricated.

“We typically require 0.5 cubic metre of concrete for every square metre of floor area built in Singapore”, he added. “This translates to around six tonnes of wood waste being recycled to build a residential apartment with a floor area of 100 square metres."




I'm Ready To Build. Who Should I Choose To Build My Home?


In this article I will outline some of the options available when choosing a Builder for your project.


Choosing the right builder is one of the most important decisions you will have to make, because the wrong Builder will make your life a nightmare, while the right Builder will be a pleasure to work with. How can I know which is the right Builder for my project?


Without a doubt the best company to build your home would be the one who designed it because:

•    The designer would be familiar with all the issues and requirements discussed with the Owner.
•    The designer would also be familiar with construction issues which were encountered during the process of preparing the plans.
•    The designer would already have built a working relationship with the Owner during the design and plan preparation process. 
•    A good working relationship is the key to having a smooth construction process.


If your designer is not a builder then this is not an option, and you need to find the best Builder for you and your project.

I always recommend asking yourself: What qualities are you looking for in the Builder you want to work with?

•    Is quality workmanship the highest priority?
•    Am I looking for honesty and integrity?
•    Can I communicate well with this Builder?
•    Do they listen to my concerns? Treat me with respect?
•    Are they reliable? Did they turn up for our meetings on time?


Other considerations would include:

•    Does this Builder want to work with me?
•    Are they experienced in my type of project? Have they built something similar?
•    Do they have good references?
•    Are they available?
•    How many projects are they currently working on?
•    What are their trades like?


Notwithstanding the above, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. “Gut feel” is important in any decision making process. Your “gut feel” is usually a warning device to be aware of who to avoid choosing. Gut feel is used to eliminate prospective Builders from your list of options.



Choosing the right Builder for your project will make your building experience a dream one. The wrong Builder will make it a nightmare. So, choose carefully.

- Roman Pazniewski


Do I Need Approval To Do My Home Renovation?


In this article I will discuss some of the approvals you will need to obtain before you are able to start building that dream renovation. However, if your project is only minor and only internal changes, it might be classified as “Exempt Development” which does not require Approvals.


If your project involves structural work and/or additions, you will need either:

•    Development Approval (D.A.) from your Local Council    OR
•    Complying Development Approval (C.D.C.)
You will onlybe granted a C.D.C. if your project complies with all the requirements listed by State Government.


It is good practice to make an appointment for a “Pre Lodgement Meeting” with the local Council if you suspect there are any issues with your project.


If your project involves a D.A. or a C.D.C.  you might also require some of the following approvals:

•    Rural Fire Services Approval -  if you are in a bushfire hazard area (Flame Zone)
•    Heritage Approval if you are in a Heritage Conservation Area or your home is Heritage listed.
•    Water Board Approval (for any additions to your home or you are adding any bathrooms or toilets.)
•    Building over Sewer approval if your building is located above or adjacent to the Boards Sewer.
•    Finance Approval – if you are needing to borrow funds for the construction.

A good Designer / Builder will outline all the approvals you will need to obtain as well as the costs associated with them. It would be wise to consider which approvals you will need to obtain before embarking on your project, as this will determine when you can start building. Some approvals only take 4 - 5 weeks (eg. C.D.C.)  while others can take many months. One project I was involved in took almost 2 years to get approved because it was a Heritage listed home, and the proposed additions needed a lot of negotiation to get accepted by all involved parties.


- Roman Pazniewski


HIA Affordability Index Shows Affordability is Improving


Housing affordability is improving across most Australian capital cities, helped by recent falls in property values. The Australian Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) Affordability Index rose by 0.2% in the March quarter, largely reflecting price declines in Sydney.


“Affordability improved in most of Australia’s capital cities during the first three months of 2018 as house price pressures eased,” said Shane Garrett, Senior Economist at the HIA. “Affordability in Sydney improved by 1.9% as a result of the reduction in dwelling prices over the past six months, while in Melbourne the outcome was largely unchanged as price growth remains solid.”


Garrett says that despite the improvement, housing affordability still remains very challenging in the larger capital cities.


The HIA Affordability Index takes into consideration movements in dwelling prices, mortgage interest rates and wage developments over a given quarter. Importantly, it does not take into account deposit requirements, something that has prohibited many first home buyers from entering the housing market.





How Do I Find The Right Designer?


Who will I engage to design my dream home?


Once you have decided that renovating your home is the right solution for you, you will want to find the best/right person to help you design the most useful, cost effective, and beautiful home renovation. The right person will help you navigate through the many challenges of designing a home and help you create your dream home.


In this article I will outline 4 different approaches you can take. You can:


Design it yourself

Engage an Architect

Engage a Building Designer or Drafter

Engage a Design and Construction Specialist


There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options.


Designing it yourself


Designing your own home can be fun and exciting, if you have the basic skills and tools. You will need a plan of the existing home drawn to scale, some skill in drawing or in using a computer drafting programme, and some knowledge of construction.

You need to know how a floor is constructed so it is properly supported, how a roof works, and how walls are used to support both.

It is a real advantage to know optimal room sizes and proportions, where stairs work best, and how large windows and doors should be for ventilation, light, and aesthetics.  

Knowing about load bearing walls will save you engineering costs.

Engaging an Architect


Architects are trained to design buildings and often architects specialise in larger commercial projects. Many are not experienced in home design. Find an Architect whose projects you have seen and admire.

Architect designed projects tend to cost a lot more than conventional projects because of the cost of building unusual details. Many Architects are not familiar with building costs, as their focus is on the design. It can be disappointing if the building quotes are received and they are outside your budget.

A good Architect should have excellent knowledge of construction and provide a practical and aesthetically pleasing plan, which is the best option if you want an iconic design or a particularly difficult or complex building.

Architect fees can be as much as 10% of the building cost if they also manage the build.

Engaging a Building Designer


Building Designers, like Architects, are trained to design buildings. They should have a working knowledge of construction, but I have seen many plans where it is obvious that the designer has little idea how a building is put together making construction difficult and costly. They are not expected to have the imagination or design flair of an Architect.

Most will simply prepare drawing as per your instructions, without questioning your ideas.

Designers and Drafters tend not to be familiar with building costs as that is not their focus or experience.

Engaging a Design and Construction Specialist


A Design and Construction Specialist will have good design flair, and also be familiar with building techniques and construction costs. They can produce a realistic budget before proceeding with detailed plans and costly approvals.

Many Design and Construction companies will include the design cost in the overall cost of your project.

Because they also build the project they will accept full responsibility for any design challenges that may arise, avoiding complex and costly discussion about who is to blame for poor plans.

During the design process you have the opportunity of deciding whether you enjoy working with this Builder and whether you want them to build your project.

If a Design and Construction specialist is the preferred option, check out some of their projects before committing to a design.



Choosing the right designer for your project is one of the most significant decisions you will have to make with your building project. It is well worth investigating the options and making sure you choose the person who best understands your situation, listens to your concerns and offers helpful suggestions.


- Roman Pazniewski


First Home Buyers Undeterred By Affordability


Buying a home became less affordable during the last quarter of 2017, but that doesn’t seem to be deterring first home buyers, according to research from the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) and Adelaide Bank. 

The latest edition of the Adelaide Bank/REIA Housing Affordability Report found the proportion of median family income required to meet average loan repayments increased by 1.3 percentage points to 31.6 per cent over the December quarter 2017. 

“At the same time, the number of loans increased across the country by 1.5 per cent, with increases in each state and territory except New South Wales and Western Australia,” REIA President Malcolm Gunning noted. 

Lending to first home buyers continues to improve with 30,894 new loans, the highest number since December 2009. The number of first home buyers increased by 6.8 per cent for the quarter and by 32.6 per cent over the twelve months. 

“First home buyers now make up 25.8 per cent of the total owner occupied housing market (excluding refinancing). This is the highest rate since December 2012 after dropping steadily over the past 5 years,” Gunning said.



Source: EPS Property News


Sell, Renovate or Knock Down and Rebuild?


In this article I will explore the options available if you want to create a better home for your family.

Are there better alternatives than renovation?

Can’t face the hassle of renovation?


Renovating your home might not be the only solution or even the best solution. If you can’t stand the thought or the hassle of tradesmen traipsing through your home, there are other possibilities. A great design and build advisor will likely take you through the process of deciding on alternatives. The main alternatives to renovating your home would include:


1. Knock down and rebuild.


Sometimes this is more financially feasible than doing renovations, and it removes the limitations of the existing home.

Other times it may cost more than doing renovations but having a new home would be more valuable and desirable. So before committing to a renovation, discuss the knock down rebuild option with a builder who specialises in new homes.


2.  Sell and buy elsewhere.


Sell this home, and buy another which has all you want in it.

If you are happy to move from your neighbourhood, this can be a great option.

However, it is not always easy to find the perfect home.

Can you buy the perfect home and sell yours at the same time?

Be aware that the stamp duty, agent's fees and commission as well as moving costs can often exceed $160 000.


3.  Don’t do anything.


A simple freshen up might be adequate for the moment. You don’t have to do anything, if you can put up with living with the current limitations of your home.

Make sure you consult a professional designer/builder who will help you evaluate the best alternative in your particular and unique situation.


- Roman Pazniewski


So You Want To Renovate Your Home But Don’t Know Where To Start


So you have decided you need to renovate but you don’t know where to start?


In this article I will outline some questions you can ask to get you started. 

I have been designing home renovations for over 20 years, and I am often asked, “What suggestions can you make to improve my home?” 

Great question… but not the right place to start! 

Because in my design process I need to find what the real problem is before I suggest solutions.


1. Explore what you need in your renovation design 

I want to hear from all interested parties: the owners, their children, parents, close friends, before giving my opinion as the designer. 


Yes. They live in the home and sometimes their fresh and unconditioned perspective can be eye opening and unbiased. Children see things simply.
For example: some clients wanted me to design a special room for their 8 year old son so he could set up some of his play equipment in it. When I spoke with the boy we realised that he just wanted a small space to build a “cubby house” in. we were able to accommodate this space under the stairs we were providing and he was thrilled. It saved the parents a lot of expense building a special room...

So, our design process begins with finding the problems with the current situation.


2. Home Renovation Questionnaire

Questions that could be asked to help discovery might include:


•    Why are you doing this?
•    Are you happy living in this neighbourhood?
•    How long do you plan to live here?
•    What frustrates you most about this house?
•    Are there enough bedrooms?
•    Are they large enough?
•    Is there enough living space?
•    Is there a private living space?
•    Is the kitchen comfortable and efficient to work in?
•    Does the kitchen overlook the outdoor area as well as the Living area?
•    Do the living areas flow out onto the outdoor living spaces?
•    Is the house comfortable to live in? Is it too hot in summer? Too cold in winter?
•    Is there enough natural light in each of the rooms – particularly the living areas?
•    Do the main living areas face North? Do they get sunlight?
•    Is there enough storage space?

Make sure that your designer finds answers to your challenges before offering any solution. 


- Roman Pazniewski


Gender Trends Shifting In The Property Market


Women across Australia are taking over the reins when it comes to the property market, with findings from Westpac’s annual Home Ownership Report showing women are now significantly more likely than men to be considering a range of housing actions in the next five years (71% vs men 61%). The research surveyed over 1,000 Australian home owners and first home buyers about their home ownership aspirations over the next five years. The latest report shows women are taking the lead across the board, including buying a home to live in (28% vs men 20%), buying an investment property (16% vs men 13%), renovating (29% vs men 27%), and selling a home (17% vs men 14%).


This is supported by the latest ABS housing statistics, which show 60% of women live in homes they own outright or are paying the mortgage off on, compared to 56% of men, and more women (23%) than men (20%) own their homes outright. Female attitudes towards home ownership have also seen a major shift in the past year, with significant increases in female first home buyers who strongly believe that ‘owning your own home is a reflection of your success in life’ and that ‘property is a pathway to wealth’, increasing by 26% and 10% respectively since 2016. Women are also more likely to strongly believe both statements than their male counterparts.


Head of Women’s Markets for Westpac Group, Felicity Duffy, said that many women are increasingly looking to build their wealth through purchasing an investment property or buying a home.


“Women have a lot to take into consideration when it comes to looking after their finances throughout their lifetime. Whether it’s taking time out of the workforce to have children or care for elderly relatives, concerns about gender pay gap issues or just living longer lives, all these things can impact a woman’s short term and long term financial security,” Ms Duffy said. “It seems women are becoming savvier in the property market, and understand that home ownership can lead to greater financial security. Our research also suggests that women are outpacing men when it comes to property investment.”  


Finding a home that is move-in ready has become less essential to female first home buyers, decreasing by 19% since 2016, while male first home buyers are more likely to consider this an essential, suggesting women may be more willing to undertake a renovation project than men. This report also shows female first home buyers were twice as likely as men to consider good investment potential in a home as essential (35% vs men 18%) and were also twice as likely to consider buying an investment property in the next five years (22% vs men 11%).




UMD Researchers Create Super Wood Stronger Than Most Metals


Engineers at the University of Maryland have found a way to make wood more than 10 times stronger and tougher than before, creating a natural substance that is stronger than many titanium alloys. 

“It is both strong and tough, which is a combination not usually found in nature,” says team leader Teng Li, professor of mechanical engineering at the university. “It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter, and takes ten times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and moulded at the beginning of the process.” 

The team’s process begins by removing the wood’s lignin, which is the part of the wood that makes it both rigid and brown in colour. It is then compressed under mild heat, at about 65°C. This causes the cellulose fibers to become very tightly packed. Any defects like holes or knots are crushed together, and the treatment process was extended a little further with a coat of paint. The scientists found that the wood’s fibers are pressed together so tightly that they can form strong hydrogen bonds, like a crowd of people who can’t budge – who are also holding hands. The compression makes the wood five times thinner than its original size. 

“Soft woods like pine or balsa, which grow fast and are more environmentally friendly, could replace slower-growing but denser woods like teak, in furniture or buildings,” says Liangbing Hu, leader of the team that conducted the research. “This kind of wood could be used in cars, airplanes, buildings – any application where steel is used."


Source: EPS Property Search


2017 Awards


As part of the End of Year Celebration we present awards for quality workmanship and excellent customer service. Here are the winners from 2017:


Outstanding New Team Member- John Puliafico


Outstanding Work Ethics - Walter Ma


Outstanding Customer Service - Patrick Chapman


Quality Workmanship Award - Neil Hassett


Outstanding Attention to Detail - Paul Trecartin


10 Years Partnership - Pat Gibbons and Tony Wakefield


2017 End Of Year Party


We held our annual end of year Christmas party at the Pazniewski's home in Pymble. Over 40 friends, family, and colleagues were able to attend.


A big thank you to everyone who came and here's to a great 2018!


Australian Home Sizes Shrinking


Australian homes are the smallest they've been in two decades, according to CommSec's Home Size Trends Report, released this week. The report found that the average floor size of an Aussie dwelling (combining houses and apartments) is now around 190 square metres, down 2.7 per cent over the past 12 months and the smallest since 1997.


CommSec attributes the shrinking trend to the increased prevalence of apartments, particularly in the eastern capitals, with around half of all new residential buildings being units. And while there are more apartments, they're getting smaller too, shrinking from an average floor size of 140sqm over 2004-09 to 130sqm in 2017.

But although more apartments means smaller floor sizes overall, Australian detached and freestanding homes are actually getting bigger. The report found the average new house built during the 2017 financial year was more than 233sqm, the largest in four years and more than 11 per cent bigger than 20 years ago. "Aussies are still building some of the biggest detached houses in the world. In fact, the size of the average new house has grown slightly over the past two years," said CommSec Chief Economist, Craig James.


Around the states, Victorians are building the biggest houses in Australia, with an average floor size of almost 243sqm, just ahead of WA. The smallest houses can be found in Tasmania (195.5sqm on average).


1980s Houses Creating a Reno Boom


The boom in house building during the late 1980s is set to provide big opportunities in the renovations market over the next decade, according to a review of Australia’s $32 billion home renovations market. The latest edition of the Housing Industry Association’s Renovations Roundup Report shows a strong correlation between the volume of renovations work and the age of the housing stock. HIA Senior Economist, Shane Garrett said that the more houses between 30 and 35 years of age, the greater the need for renovations and improvements. 

“The really good news is that the number of houses in the key renovations age group will increase substantially over the next decade – a result of record volumes of detached house building during the late 1980s. Houses belonging to the ‘1980s Club’ will become increasingly ripe for renovations work over the coming years.” 

Garrett remarked that a recent Renovations Market Survey indicates that two in every five of those operating in the renovations market intend to increase their employee headcount over the next 12 months. 

“This is a strong vote of confidence in the durability of the current renovations market recovery,” he concluded. 

HIA’s updated forecasts for the home renovations market indicate that the activity is set to inch up 0.2 per cent during 2017 overall, with a further small increase (+0.4 per cent) during 2018. In 2019, the pace of expansion is predicted to accelerate to 4.9 per cent with a further rise of 2.9 per cent in 2020 bringing the value of Australia’s renovations market to $35.12 billion.


Source: Housing Industry Association, EPS Property Search


Interest In Tiny Houses Grows


A 2017 survey has found a marked increase in people building or wanting to build a tiny house. Some 20% of current respondents (173 to date, but the survey is ongoing) had built or were building a tiny house. Another 61% intended to build one.


Most of these tiny houses were fully mobile, partly mobile (that is, a container house) or on skids. Only 20% were intended to be permanent. Interest was equally divided between urban and rural residential areas.


There was a statistically significant relationship between preferred location and type of tiny house. Most of those preferring rural locations wished to build a permanent or container-type tiny house. Those wanting urban locations preferred mobile tiny houses. This is likely the result of urban land costs, although more than 50% of survey respondents stated that they would prefer to build on their own land.


Demographically, interest in tiny houses is biased towards older women. The majority of respondents were women over 50.




Record Levels of Home Building to Continue


New home building activity in Australia remains at elevated levels, despite a drop from the peaks of 2016, the housing industry was told this week. Speaking at an Industry Outlook Forum in Canberra, HIA Senior Economist Shane Garrett said that new home building starts are clearly in a downward cycle. 

“This down cycle is unique because we expect that the bottom of this current cycle will be in 2019 when building activity will still be higher than at the peak of the previous boom in 2010”, Garrett said. 

“The peak of activity in 2015/16 dwarfed all previous peaks and has resulted in a significant backlog of work which will ensure that the industry is busy through 2017 and into 2018. The housing boom was not consistent across Australia and now, with NSW and Victoria cooling, all indicators are that the market is well past its 2016 peak when over 231,000 new homes were commenced. 

“Even though new dwelling starts will decline over the next couple of years, the annual volume of new home starts is not likely to fall below 170,000 at any stage. By any standard, this is still a very elevated level of activity."


Source: EPS Property Search


Sydney Adds Some Beauty to Construction Sites


Inner-city construction sites could soon be plastered with Australian art, thanks to an “artwork bank” developed by the City of Sydney.


The council has collected a range of designs from Australian artists, illustrators and photographers for developers to use free of charge as temporary hoardings on building projects.


“This program will bring the temporary hoardings around building sites to life, making them works of art in their own right,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.


The city is expecting “unprecedented” development over the next few years, with major projects around Central Station, Barangaroo, Martin Place and Circular Quay in the pipeline.


“While work is underway, we want to make sure our public spaces are as attractive and welcoming as possible for the 1.2 million people who live, work or visit the city every day,” Ms Moore said.


“It’s also a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of Australia’s most talented artists, whose work will be seen by thousands of people.”




Budget 2017 - Benefits For First Home Buyers


The government is to impose a 50 per cent cap on foreign ownership in new property developments. This measure has been framed by the government as a way to ‘increasing the housing stock for Australian purchasers’. However, it is bound to be very unwelcome to developers who specialise in overseas marketing to foreign investors.


First home buyers will however have something to take away from the budget — they will be able to use their voluntary superannuation contributions to build tax protected savings for a home deposit. The move is a risky measure from the Turnbull government creating a new exemption to taking money out of super which until now had been restricted to cases of severe financial hardship.


Under the plan first home borrowers can accumulate voluntary contributions savings in their super and then withdraw some of those savings to buy a home. The most that can be contributed in one year is $15,000 the cumulative maximum that can be put in is $30,000. If popular, the measure may do something to assist first home buyers build a deposit — the government expects it to cost $250m from July 2018 onwards.


In contrast, the government’s “home downsizing’’ assistance plan is only expected to cost a tiny $30m.


The measure is extremely limited representing a variation on so-called non-concessional (after -tax) super contributions rather than any allowance in relation to the much broader pension system.


Specifically, the government will allow a variation on the non-concessional caps where an individual over the age of 65 can put in up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling their home (providing they have lived in the home for at least a decade).




Kitchen Renovations Going Strong Four Years in a Row


Australian homeowners are splashing out on new kitchens and bathrooms, new research indicates. 

The HIA-GWA Kitchens and Bathroom Report for 2016/17 shows that the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms in Australia is worth $11bn a year alone. 

HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale remarked that the sector has been going strong for four years in a row. 

“It is estimated that across the kitchens and bathrooms sector there should be around 637,000 new installations in 2016/17”, he said. 

“As new home building activity begins to ease back from this year, the baton of growth is projected to pass to the renovations side of the kitchens and bathrooms sector. 

“The process is already underway, with the recent development of K&B renovations once again assuming the mantle of being near the top of Australians’ preferred renovation jobs. 

The age of Australia’s dwelling stock was found to be the single largest driver of renovations demand. 

“The stock of housing due to come ‘on line’ in the key 11-20 year renovation age range for detached houses augers well for growth in K&B renovation jobs in approaching years”, Dale said. 

“It is a positive short-term outlook for the Kitchens and Bathroom sector, which is good news not only for the sector itself but also for the broader domestic economy”, he concluded.


Source: EPS Property News and HIA


New Solar Technology for Australia


Recent power outages across the country have reinforced many homeowners’ determination to become less reliant on the grid, and new tech out of Queensland might put us all a step closer to that.


Australians are rapidly transitioning to low-emission energy systems, with one in five homes around the country already equipped with solar. Yet daily consumption continues to be one of the biggest issues faced by homeowners everywhere. 

Redback Technologies have come up with a system which helps owners with solar power to take control of their energy consumption and make the most of the energy captured on their own roof tops – they can decide if they want to use it right away, store it or even sell it to the electricity grid. 

The Generation 2 Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter System is scalable and easy to install. It can be run from a smart phone and is battery and solar panel agnostic, which means it will work with existing systems. 

Redback’s solar solution runs on a cloud-enabled intelligent system for analytics and remote control, so households can control when they use their energy such as during evening demand peaks. The technology uses machine learning to gather intelligence over time, learning from user preferences as well as drawing data from external factors like the weather. 

Redback recently cut a $9.3 million deal with EnergyAustralia to promote the system throughout Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia. 


Source: Latest Property News


2016 End Of Year Party


Every year we have an end of year party where our staff, trades, and partners get together to chat and celebrate the year. This is an opportunity for our team members to meet the rest of the team and their partners.


We celebrated this year at the Pymble Golf Club for a great lunch with a few drinks. We also celebrated 25 years of Family Homes.


A big thank you to everyone who came out and had a good time.


2016 Awards


As part of the End of Year Celebration we present awards for quality workmanship and excellent customer service. Here are the winners from 2016:


Outstanding New Team Member- Alex Bourke


Go the Extra Mile Award- Patrick Chapman


Outstanding Customer Service- Peter Hall


Invaluable Support Award- Shane Bridekirk


Dedication and Attention to Detail- Marie Bastoli


25 Years of Service Award- Neil Hassett and Tim Avenhouse


2017 PQI Interior Colour Forecast


Colour trends in interior design are often fickle, swinging from one side of the spectrum to the other. But for once, forecasters say that a single hue has entrenched itself as the current and future favourite: grey! 

Grey, in all its variations, has emerged as the overwhelming choice of designers for spaces ranging from home interiors to elegant office settings, and everything in between. 

Versatility is the secret to its success; it is neutral, so can work alongside other soft tints or serve as a perfect foil for vibrant accent colours. 

One reason grey is so versatile is that it is not a stark primary colour. What we call “grey” actually refers to a wide range of complex greyish colours that often contain hints of red, green, blue, yellow or some other hue. 

This subtle tinting is what enables various greys to work well with so many complementary and contrasting colours. For example, grey paints that contain a little yellow pigment work well with gold, beige, or brown, while those containing red pigment coordinate beautifully with burgundy or purple. 

Yellowish-greys paired with beiges or off-whites create neutral colour schemes that are not only classic, but also calming. Similar results can be achieved with blue-greys. Meanwhile, red or green-leaning greys often appear ultra-sophisticated. 

Greys are practical, too. Since they work with so many colours, it’s easy to change the overall appearance of a room by simply repainting an accent wall in a different hue. Or, easier yet, introducing a new “punch” colour by adding accent pieces like bright pillows and pottery. 

If you’ve decided to use grey as the dominant colour in a room, first select an attractive grey paint for the walls; then ask the salesperson to show you the colour formula. Pigment colours blended into the “grey” paint point to the colours you should choose for trim paint, accent walls, and even furnishings. 

Using the colour ‘clues’ hidden in the paint formula is a great place to start when putting together a colour-coordinated interior. But grey is neutral enough to work with nearly every hue. It’s almost impossible to go wrong when using it as the basis for your colour scheme. 

So, if you jumped on board last year with the migration to grey, be assured that your home is still trés chic, according to the design community. And if you want to join the ranks of interior colour fashionistas moving forward, it’s still not too late to “go grey”!




Almost Two Thirds of Aussie Homeowners Have Renovated in the Last Twelve Months


A new survey by Roy Morgan Research found 62% of Australian homeowners have undertaken renovations work in the past year, up from 57% when the survey was last conducted in 2013.


Newer homeowners were more likely to have undertaken renovation work. The survey found homeowners who had lived less than a year at their current address were more likely than longer-term homeowners to have redecorated or refurbished, painting or have spent money on electrical or plumbing work.


While minor repairs or alterations were the most common type of renovation work undertaken, 17% of homeowners said they had spent $5,000 or more in the past 12 months on renovating or extending their home. Homeowners who own a detached house were more likely to have done renovation work than those who owned a terrace or flat.




Harmonising Nature and the Built Environment

As populations continue to grow and expand geographically, the building industry is looking for new ways to adapt to accommodate this growth. By developing new materials and approaches, the construction industry as a whole is advancing more sustainably, continuing to improve project outcomes and industry trends.


Today’s driving industry trend is to build sustainably, with increasing numbers of projects attaining environmental certifications, such as LEED, in the process. These investments, whether they are new builds or retrofits of existing properties and spaces, have proven to increase social and environmental wellbeing while improving cost-effectiveness. Using sustainable materials, methods, and approaches, and adopting new technologies and focusing on energy efficiency and resource preservation advances not only how we build and the materials that we use to build, but also sets new best in-class standards for the industry, emphasising both aesthetics and functionality.


One example of environmental design is green rooftops, as these can reduce the impact of construction projects on the surrounding landscape while simultaneously increasing the structure’s ability to withstand harsh weather patterns, helping to regulate temperature and the internal environment. Soft and hard landscape design can contribute to a project’s efficiency and effectiveness.


In other rooftop news, MGM Resorts have taken the lead in environmental design by installing a 6.2 megawatt rooftop installation at the Mandalay Bay. This is one of the largest solar energy installations in the world and the company’s first foray into solar projects in the United States. The power from the project will satisfy 20 per cent of the resort’s power demand, reducing power usage and operating costs in the process.


In Japan, the Shinkansen Bullet Train is the fastest in the world, travelling at over 200 miles per hour. Due to its speed, the train causes air pressure changes that were responsible for creating loud noises, disturbing locals as it passed through tunnels. By modelling the train after the beak of the Kingfisher, the train is now quieter, travels 10 per cent faster and uses 15 per cent less energy.


A more advanced example of environmental design, La Casa Vergara in Columbia is a sustainable earthbag solution designed by architect, José Andrés Vallejo. This environmentally friendly, naturally cooling build, made from earth and soil – a superadobe system – is cost effective, helps create a balanced flow, has low environmental impact, and offers seismic resistance.


To be sure, many construction projects use significant amounts of resources, generate significant waste and are a major contributor to emissions. Natural designs have inspired many architects and engineers who use the patterns found in nature, as well as biological systems as inspiration to create projects and designs that are environmentally responsible and energy efficient, improving design and functionality.


The main objectives of sustainable design are to optimise site potential, reduce or avoid natural resource depletion, prevent environmental degradation, and improve overall design, aesthetics, functionality, resiliency, operations and maintenance. As a result of this growing trend, a new discipline has emerged to encompass systematic innovation in every industry.




Retrofitted fibro cottage wins Solar Decathlon

In May a team of students from Wollongong University headed to China with a prototype zero-emissions solar house they had built for the Solar Decathlon.

This week the team’s renovated fibro cottage was announced the winning entry, possibly because it was the first house in Solar Decathlon history to demonstrate a retrofit of an existing home. But probably also because Team UOW displayed some pretty impressive technology.

Modelled on a 1960s Aussie fibro house floor plan, the Illawarra Flame House shows how to make existing houses energy efficient and comfortable to live in.

Team UOW transformed the contents of seven shipping containers into a beautiful, modern and technologically advanced, net-zero energy home in just 12 days. This was the culmination of two years of planning and design, three months of initial construction and a six-week journey across the Pacific Ocean.

According to Professor Paul Cooper, the Team UOW Faculty Advisor and Director of the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Wollongong, the Flame House will be shipped home and opened to the public.

“Importantly, it will provide not only a test bed for new sustainable building technologies, but a vehicle to accelerate the adoption of sustainable retrofit technologies for homes in Australia and overseas”, he added.

Project Manager Lloyd Niccol told the ABC this week that the project started by removing the asbestos cladding, re-insulating the home and replacing single glazing with double glazed windows. They then fitted solar panels and added a ‘really, really innovative heating and ventilation system’.
"It's called th

e photovoltaic thermal system, so we actually remove hot air from our solar panels, which we can then use to heat and cool the home."

Mr Niccol believes the team's competition entry could form the basis of a commercially viable design for a home.

"We think it's definitely practical to retrofit homes in Australia similar to what we've designed for the competition," he said.


Electricity use drops

Perhaps it is due to the horror prices or because more of us are going solar, but Australian households are using less electricity than they were three years ago, according to a report released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

"Electricity use by households has fallen 12 per cent since 2008-09," said Mark Lound from the ABS.

"But total household energy expenditure on all forms of energy including natural gas, petrol, diesel, LPG, solar, wood and wood waste has gone up by nearly 60 per cent”, he added.

Households and the manufacturing industry were the two largest domestic energy users, accounting for around one quarter of total energy use each, followed by transport and mining which used around 15 per cent each.

The really good news is that we are tapping into the sun for more of our energy requirements.

While renewable energy remains at a pitiful two per cent of domestic energy production in total, solar's contribution increased by just over 20 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12.

  Souce: EPS property report


Unplug the kids

A new report into Australians’ health has found that children with televisions, computers and other media equipment in their bedrooms spend more time using them than those without the ease of access.

It also found that these kids take on average 1000 fewer steps each day.

The Australian Health Survey report looked at behaviours linked to the high obesity rates across the nation, including sedentary behaviour and household rules regarding screen-based activities.

Juanita Pettit, Director of Health Surveys at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, said that in 2011-12, children aged five to 17 years spent on average nearly one and a half hours per day watching TV and close to half an hour a day using the internet for non-homework purposes.

"Despite what they may tell you, homework represented the smallest portion of screen usage at an average of only six minutes per day – only rising to 17 minutes for 15 to 17 year olds”, Ms Pettit said.

Screen equipment in a child’s bedroom was available to half (51 per cent) of those aged five to 17 years.

Children with these items spent on average two and a half hours per day on sedentary screen-based activity compared with less than two hours for those without screen equipment in their room.

"15 to 17 year olds were "big" screen users, with three-quarters reporting having access to a TV, computer, video game console, and/or other screen-based equipment in their room.

The trend also starts at a young age with close to one in six toddlers (two to four year olds) having access to media equipment in their bedrooms.

"Children with a screen item in their room also took, on average, 1000 less steps per day," Ms Pettit said.

So if you want your children to get active, remove the screens from their bedrooms.

Source: EPS Property Search


Nike Trash

Miniwiz Sustainable Development Ltd., a Taiwanese architectural firm, completed a building in Shanghai, China, at the end of July, built with 100% trash. The building, Nike’s newest concept store, used 5,500 soda cans, 2,000 PET water bottles and 50,000 old CDs and DVDs, the company says.

The suspension ceiling system of the Nike X158 Hyper Nature was designed to adapt to different exhibitions and retail programs over time: almost everything is adjustable, freeing the floor plan for future installation and lighting conditions. All materials used are urban mined 100% recycled from consumer lifestyle trash. No glue, all single material assembled mechanically ensures that all materials can be 100% re-recycled seperately.

One thousand translucent origami RiceFOLD ceiling panels are made from 50,000 recycled DVDs from greater China, reinforced with Rice Husk SiO2 (natural organic mechanical strengthening additive). The 2,000 yards of tension cables are made from 2,000 post-consumer recycled water bottles from greater China, also reinforced with Rice Husk SiO2. The 1,000 connection joints are made from 5,278 aluminum cans from greater China.

Source: Environmental Leader


Build your house with green timber

Want a house with timber in it, but don’t want to be responsible for another patch of trees being cut down? There are several ways to have an environmentally-friendly timber house.

One is to make sure you use plantation timber, which has been harvested from a forest grown specifically for “sustainable” logging, rather than from native forests. Fortunately, the most common framing timber is radiata pine, which is a plantation timber. It is both readily available and cost-effective. Black Wattle and many species of Eucalypts are also certified sustainable timbers.

When considering sustainable timber, you can check its origins through organisations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Greenpeace Good Wood Guide.

Another option is to source second-hand timber from a demolition yard or building recycling depot.

If it can be incorporated into the design of your house, second-hand timber has lots of potential, both aesthetically and ethically.

Not only does it have character, with its colouration, nail holes and other markings, but non-renewable timbers such as Baltic or Oregon Pine, Jarrah, and Victorian Ash can often be found at a bargain price, giving you variety without destroying any more of these valuable trees.

While not exactly timber, bamboo is becoming a popular alternative, especially for flooring. It is strong and durable and unlike most hardwoods, does not shrink or swell. Bamboo is also a renewable resource, since it is a grass and will re-grow from new shoots when it is cut.

Source:  EPS Property Search


New life for old mobiles

The mobile phone is possibly one of the most rapidly obsolete products of the past decade. But if we don’t want them to end up as landfill, what is the alternative?

The good news is that when they are recycled through Mobile Muster*, over 90 per cent of the materials will be recovered and used to make new products.

According to their website, one tonne of mobile phone circuits can yield the same amount of precious metals as 110 tonnes of gold ore, 123 tonnes of silver-bearing ore and 11 tonnes of copper sulphide ore.

To recycle your old mobiles and accessories, drop them off at collection points across Australia (including many retailers and local councils), or post them in using either a reply paid MobileMuster Recycling Satchel available from Australia Post or by downloading a reply paid mailing label from the mobilemuster website.

* the Australian mobile phone industry's official product stewardship program


Client invites all trades to a BBQ

It is not often that a client will invite all the trades from a building project to see the results of their work, but that is what happened when Kristie and Simon invited all the trades who worked on their new home back to see what the finished product looks like.

The tradesmen were all touched by the kind gesture and were very impressed with the home.

"We hardly ever get to see what the home we help to build looks like when it is finished" said Peter – one of the carpenters. "It is great to see what a beautiful home we helped to build looks like after it has been occupied."