Dangerous Number

dangerous number 1
I saw this house number a couple of weeks ago.


Wondered what that white backing to the numbers was.


Got a bit closer and the photo below is what I saw

Dangerous number 2


Looks suspiciously like asbestos cement!


Sometimes I think that you people need to provide a certificate of sanity before being allowed to do DIY work!


For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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Design – Controlling Costs

When you are planning a custom home costs can quickly run away with the initial budget!

Just watch a few episodes of ‘Grand Designs’ and you will see people with costs out of control!

If you are planning a custom home here are a few thoughts.

Expensive Main Features

expensive house

  • Overall Size If you buy Bigger Than You Need its not just the house cost, but the extra rooms you need to furnish
  • Lots of Different Shapes – Irregular Floor Plans, Unusual Shaped Rooms , Other Than 90 Degree Corners, Complex Roof Shapes (see Photo), all mean that prefabricated components can’t be used and increase both labour costs and risk of mistakes.
  • Site Slopes – Even with split level houses there will be additional foundation costs and extra area for stairs.
  • Underground Garages – Structures below Ground Level have to be much stronger and consequently are more expensive.
  • Large Open Spans – Extra Engineering Design Costs and more complex structures.
  • Masonry Internal Walls – More expensive than timber frame walled and add to the cost of installing services.
  • Bushfire Protection – The lowest level of Bushfire Risk can add $10,000, build in the Flame Zone and  $100,000 may not be enough.

Expensive Details

  • Ceiling Corners – Square set or shadow line corners look good but are more expensive than traditional cornices.
  • Lighting – Downlights everywhere, especially in lighting bulkheads can add thousands.
  • Expensive Appliances – Some of the kitchens I see have more appliances than a commercial kitchen but are only used for warming up take away food.

What do you think adds to the cost?


All this and much more in the Guide to Choosing a New House


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Post Boxes & Security

post overflowingDo you think the people at this house are away?

Is this overflowing post box telling a thief that they are unlikely to be disturbed?

It used to be easier when I was young as we knew our neighbours and we could ask someone to check the mailbox.

Otherwise we could get a family member to call round every 2-3 days.

These day people seem more mobile and may not live in the same state, or in my case, the same country as relatives.

Working long hours and driving everywhere many people don’t really know their next door neighbour!

Rather than get the cheapest and smallest post box when you move in perhaps you should think about a box Big Enough for several days post (and Junk Mail)


See Letter Boxes and Numbers for more posts


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What’s With Spiders

spider 1


I thought most people didn’t like spiders!


I know a few people who are scared of them!


So why are spiders, and spiders webs such a common motif on the outside of houses, and in gardens?T


These three  examples are only the most recent of many ‘Spiders’ I have seen on and around houses in Melbourne!



For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?

spider 2
spider 3

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Sustainability Modifications to a Standard Design

Lots of people say you can’t get a sustainable house from a standard builder . . . . but I disagree!

my-pad__Floor PlanAs an example I have started with this standard floor plan from the ‘MYPAD’ design of HomeStart, Perth first home buyer grant specialist.

Here is how I would look to get most sustainable performance from this layout.


The best Orientation will be with the house facing East.

That means the Family Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen will all face North and be able to look out onto a garden.

The Bedrooms, Bathrooms, and Laundry will all face South and act as a ‘Buffer Zone‘.

If your block faces East you will be able to get similar performance by asking the builder to ‘Hand’ the floor plan (build it as a mirror image)


In order to keep the Summer sun out of the house, while letting the winter sun in, I would look to provide approximately 1m of Shading to the north facing windows.

This could be either by having the house built with eaves or building a pergola after you move in.

Window Locations

Windows that face East, and especially those that face West, can be a real problem as they get too much sun in summer and hardly any in Winter.

The window in Bedroom 3 would be best relocated to the other external wall.

The Family Room window at the end of the house would be better deleted altogether. There will still be plenty of window area and with one less window the layout will actually be more flexible!

Although the Master Bedroom windows will face East the application of a reflective film, after you move in, will prevent the room overheating in summer.

Window Sizes

Both bedroom windows would be best with a sill at least 1m from the floor level. This will give adequate light but the Smaller Window, and more solid wall will result in better thermal performance.

Laundry Door

The Laundry door in this design is a patio door. By changing to a solid wall with window and conventional door you will significantly reduce the heat transfer.

Overall Effect

Making alterations like these to a builder’s standard design allowed me to increase the energy rating of my last home by the equivalent of 1.5 Stars!


See Passive Solar for more Posts


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Sleeper Wall – Appearance

concrete sleeper 1
Have you thought about about concrete for your sleeper wall?

As well as plain concrete it’s possible to have a wide variety of other finishes, and colours.

Here is an interesting ‘Stacked Stone’ appearance wall I saw the other week.

Some of the other options include ‘Exposed Aggregate’ and ‘Split Stone’ and even ‘Wood Grain’.

Just do a ‘GOOGLE Images‘ Search for “Concrete Sleeper Retaining Walls” and you should find a range of styles.

An advantage of concrete sleepers is they don’t rot, which means a quality lasting finish with no maintenance!

Prices start at around $25 for a 2.00m x 200mm panel, rising to $50 for some of the more attractive finishes.


See Retaining Walls for more information


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Vintage, Collectibles, and Crafts Fair


A new house can look lifeless without a few interesting pieces of craft or collectible items around the place.


If you live in the Melbourne Area why not come along to a Fair with over 50 stalls of interesting items!



Saturday 15th November 2014, 10.00am – 4.00pm


Baden Powell College, Baden Powell Drive ( just off Derrimut Road), Tarneit

Melways 202 G4

An initiative of Hoppers Crossing Rotary Club  Funding Youth Projects in our Community

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Zombie Proof Cabin

Zombie Proof Cabin

Frightened by the Walking Dead?

What you need is a Zombie Proof Cabin from Tiger Log Cabins for only $140,000 (plus additional shipping from the UK)

Comes with a 10 year Anti Zombie Guarantee!

Water Cannon, Search Lights, and Flamethrower are all extra.

For more information click on the Tiger Log Cabin Link above.


For Melbourne’s Zombie Proof House see Battleship House.

For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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