Renovation and Home Design

Overflowing Drains

Overflowing drainsIts not unusual to see local flooding around a house, or on streets, during exceptionally heavy rainfall.

If you are unlucky you might even see manholes ‘Pop It’s Top!’ like this one!

This is because the council drains don’t have the capacity to deal with these really heavy rains!

Why It Happens

The roof drainage to get the water off your roof will be designed for very severe storms.

This is because the risk to your property from gutters and downpipes not being able to cope is very high. (see this link: Roof Risk)

Some localised shallow flooding around the house, that will be drained away over an hour or two, however is low risk.

Council Design Considerations

To design the public drains to cope with extreme events would have huge costs.  . . Even if the pipes were big enough downstream flooding of rivers would be made worse.

For this reason although the roof drainage will be designed for a storm that may occur only over every 20, or even more years apart; the public drains may be designed for no more than a storm that occurs every 5 years.

The difference in additional rainfall between a 1 in 5 year storm and a 1 in 20 year storm can be an extra 50%. (See this link: Rainfall Intensity)

This is the water that could cause short term flooding around your house.

What You Can Do

Basically the best advise I can give is to avoid buying blocks at the bottom of slopes (These will be the worst affected by temporary flooding)

If you do get some localised flooding in your garden that either

  • Doesn’t drain away as the rain eases; or
  • Occurs every time it rains.

You should contact the council as it could be a sign of a problem.


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Roman Bricks

Roman BrickDo you like the look of the brickwork in this photograph?

It’s known as Roman brickwork as it gives a similar look to the brickwork that was used in Roman Times.

The look also emphasises the horizontal lines in a structure.

A modern Australian Roman Brick is based on the standard brick dimensions (see this link: Brick Dimensions) but is only 50mm tall, rather than 75mm.

The ‘Working Dimensions’ are 230mm x 110mm x 50mm.

Additional Cost

Although the bricks are smaller don’t expect them to be cheaper; you will be paying premium brick prices.

The labour costs will also be between 150% and 200% of the cost of a standard brick wall.


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Top House

If you are wondering why I am referring to this unusual hexagonal house as a Top House. . .

Top House

. . . . it’s because it’s even more unusual than it looks

It spins (although not as fast as a real spinning top)

It is called the Everingham Rotating House and at top speed it can do one rotation every 30 minutes.h

If you want to find out more about the house, or even book a holiday in it, check out this link:


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


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Avoid Frustration When You Move Into Your New Home

Guest post by Hubert Dwight

removal manMoving house is one of the most stressful things that we do to ourselves.

There is the relentless searching for the right house, and the right block, the waiting, the chasing up and then finally…the move.

There are, however a few things that you can do that might make your life a tiny bit easier and potentially avoid some very frustrating situations.

Handover agreed; you are set to go. . . Hooray!

However a few weeks before the move day, you should have been thinking about a few key things.

Removal Company

Shop around for a good deal on removal company.

If you have personal recommendations from people you know, all the better.

Check if the company is a member of the Australian Furniture Removal Association.

If you have particularly precious items with an emotional value that are priceless insurance wise, then it might be betterr take them yourself.


Tell your internet/phone and other utilities providers you are moving.

They will need a few weeks to change everything over to a new property and may need to make

an engineer appointment (which will probably require you to wait in for at least half a day).

Check, whether by moving, you are entering a new contract and whether there will be any additional moving home fees.

TV Antenna

With the recent switch to digital, if you want full access to all the free television and radio that is on offer, make sure that you have the right equipment and it is all tuned in to receive everything that it can.

Now we have gone, or are going,  digital you need to be sure you have the correct TV Antenna to minimise obstruction and interference.

Get this wrong and you may not be receiving half the channels that you could be.

Australian antenna companies can give your new property a full assessment.

Cancel And/Or Redirect Any Deliveries

If you have any regular deliveries to your home such as groceries or magazine subscriptions, be sure to cancel or redirect them once you have moved to your new place.

Label Boxes

Label all boxes with which room and what is inside.

If you are dismantling furniture, put screws and bolts in labeled freezer bags and attach them to the relevant piece of furniture.

It’s no fun looking for missing screws.

Organize a baby/pet sitter or help for moving day.

Should you need to move while you have small children, or pets it is handy to hire a


It’s not fun to be constantly worried and distracted by one more thing to on a day of stress.

Home Insurance.

Shop around and get a good deal.

Make sure you are fully covered for the home, contents and mortgage.


Once you are done, unpack, enjoy and say hi to the neighbours!

Hopefully, you would have made the move stress free and reduced the amount of frustration that comes with the move.


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Japanese Houses

suppose Design Office

I have certainly featured quite a few unusual japanese houses in the What The ……  section, in the time I have been writing this blog.

This has made me start to wonder why Japan seems to have so many of these unusual houses?

After a bit of research I found there are several reasons, which are somewhat interrelated:

Expensive Land

For a long time land has been very expensive compared with the cost of building.

This has encouraged people to look for ways of building on small and odd shaped blocks of land which require innovative approaches.

Rapid DepreciationMushroom House

Historically houses in Japan frequently suffered earthquake damage which meant that rebuilding is frequently required.

People thus tend to think of the house as a rapidly depreciating asset that will have no value in 20 -30 years

The Cult of ‘New’

Our own culture of liking to have the latest cars or consumer goods in Japan has extended to houses.

Many Japanese want a new house and because of the high land values are quite prepared to pull down a house that may be less than 30 years old to achieve that.

Having a distinctive design emphasizes the newness of the house.

triangular-japanese-houseFew Rules

There is little in the way of planning controls, which also makes it hard for neighbours to object to a ‘Way Out’ design.

As there is no culture of taking civil action for poor design Architects and Designers can to try more unusual designs without commercial risk.

Lack of Mobility

Historically in Japan there is the ‘Salary Man’ culture of working for one company for life.

This together with the high land prices and rapid depreciation means many Japanese really do have one ‘Forever Home’ and they don’t build with an eye on resale value.


Would you look to see more unusual designs in Australia?


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Annual Household Maintenance Guide: The Forgotten List Of Household Chores

 Guest Post by Hubert Dwight

listFor a long time you aspired to own your own home.

Now that you are the proud owner of your very own house and all the glorious responsibilities that go along with it, it’s time to step up to the title of ‘homeowner’ and look after the house!

After all, the home you live in is yours. . . Your asset. . . Your life savings.

Show some pride!

It all starts with diligent household maintenance.

We have compiled a list of household chores that should be completed.

Some may already be on your agenda, while others may not have even crossed your mind.

The concept of Spring cleaning has definitely latched on, and for good reason! It’s an

opportunity to pick up the slack and de-clutter your humble abode. Here is a list of

household chores to perform


✓ Clean windows and repair or replace any screens.

✓ Check your gutters to make sure there is nothing blocking them and preventing water from flowing correctly, away from your house. Clear out any leaves and other debris.

✓ Make sure your pumps is working if you have any. You need to make sure the excess water stays away from your house.

✓ Check your paving for damage. If you find any from the long winter, make sure you hire someone to  repair it before Winter hits again

✓ Check your roof for any signs of damage. Any abnormalities require a professional to assess the problem. Roof Repairs in Melbourne can be quite costly, if you allow the problem to escalate so nip it in the bud early.

✓ You’ll be using your lawn mower more frequently, so it is wise to inspect it and ensure it’s working.

Regular household maintenance is integral to maintaining the value of your home and avoiding hefty repairs down the line. Here is a list of chores to be performed as


✓ Check the decks for sign they need to be repainted or repaired. Prepare your outdoor living space for the regular social gatherings you’ll be having as the weather warms up.

✓ Clean your sliding door.

✓ Check and oil your garage door. If you have any problems with it, you may need to have a professional check it out.

✓ Ensure that your air conditioning units are working perfectly and that the filters are clean. You want to be prepared when the heat comes.


✓ Check windows and make sure they don’t leak. Caulk/Seal around the frames if necessary.

✓ Clean out gutters and drains from falling leaves. This will need to be done regularly to avoid blocked gutters.

✓ Bring in all outdoor furniture and grills.

✓ Take care of your garden tools and hoses and store them for the winter

✓ Make sure your fireplace is ready for winter use. Have wood delivered and chopped for use.

✓ Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries when the clocks chage to ensure they will work properly.

✓ Check your roof again to make sure the summer sun didn’t cause any damages. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you need to schedule a roof inspection. Most reputable companies will offer a free inspection and quote.


When the temperature drops consider doing the following:

✓ Vacuum the air vents so that dust and other debris doesn’t fly into the air when you turn on the heat.

✓ Check your flashlight batteries.


Household maintenance is part and parcel of home ownership.

Performing your chores throughout the year, rather than during one single Spring cleaning spree, will minimise the risk of  major repairs.

You’ll be able to nip the minor issues in the bud, and subsequently save yourself a substantial amount of money in the long run!


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David In The Front Yard

I like some sort of sculptural piece in a garden . . . . but I think this might be a bit over the top.

David Statue

A representation of the famous Michelangelo ‘Statue of David’ 4m tall.

I didn’t say copy because it looks like David has been doing some trunk curls to get that six pack since the original statue!

It created a bit of a stir in Caroline Springs last month, as you can see by an article in the Herald Sun.herald Sun david

As you might expect some of the neighbours aren’t too happy about it.

But legally there isn’t anything they can do about it.

According to the local council it doesn’t need a planning, or building permit, and it isn’t advertising anything.

For another piece of ‘Art’ that upset the neighbours see the Oxford Shark House.


For more fails and unusual houses go to What the………………….?




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Identifying signs of termite infestation.

Guest Post by Hubert Dwight

photo from Wickipaedia

photo from Wickipaedia

One of the worst nightmares for homeowners is to find that their home is being attacked by termites.

The thought of termites terrorizing your home is enough to send shivers up your spine.

If you are already aware of the damage termites can do to your home, you have every right to have a sense of fear in knowing what extent damage from their presence can do.

If not, then buckle up as we inform you of what termites can do, how they can impact your lifestyle and offer you prevention tips to overcome these issues.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure.

Before going into detail about managing termite infestations, we recommend that you take as much action as possible, such as undergoing Termite Treatments to prevent any infestations.

The cost to resolve the impact from termites can be in the thousands  depending on the extent of the damage.

Below are a few ways you can prevent your home from being infested from termites.

Building Design

The way the building is designed can reduce the risk of infestation to the home. This includes:

  • Reducing the amount of timber that is used in buildings.
  • Using properly designed concrete slabs with edges exposed.
  • Installing a reticulated system under the concrete slab that allows chemical barriers to be applied and reapplied when necessary.
  • The use of physical barriers – Such as metal shields, stainless steel mesh or granite chip barriers can all be used to stop termites getting into buildings.
  • The use of chemical barriers (termiticides) can kill and remove termites through treated layers of soil under and around concrete slabs and pipes. These termiticides can kill or repel termites and even eliminate the entire colony should the termites take the termiticide back to the nest.

Detecting Termite Infestation.

Detecting a termite colony in or around your home indicates your house is at a serious risk.

The average size of a termite colony will range from 300,000 to over a million termites made up of swarmers, workers, and soldiers that can cause serious damage to your home.

While having thousands or millions of these little critters around your home is dangerous, the termite queen poses an even greater risk as she has the power to multiply the colony substantially as she can lay over one thousand eggs in a day.

These termite eggs don’t just go away after a short amount of time neither as they can survive for up to 50 years.

So even if you take actions to remove nests and infested areas, the queen still has the ability to repopulate the colony to its previous levels if the termite infestation isn’t completely dealt with.

Where Are Common Breeding Grounds For Termites?

Termites often breed in the ground and create tunnel systems in the soil.

The mud tubes that they make connect their colonies underground to food sources such as wood materials from your home.

Some termites also live in water sources such as damp areas or leaky faucets produced by rain.

They prefer to dwell in a place with moisture so they will be able to survive and populate.

Having termites in the house can be quite stressful. They can lead to increased safety and fire hazards within the home.

If things get really bad, they may even force you out of your home as they make their way through your dwelling, room after room, growing into a plague of biblical proportions and it can become a living hell for those people that have to live in it.

You must commit to taking action before it is too late.

You have learned that the way termites are, they keep coming and coming and coming, even if you have removed nests or done some baiting yourself, if the queen still lives or if there is a colonization that hasn’t been found, they can repopulate their lost colonization.

Avoid devastation and take action to identify and combat termite infestations as quickly as possible.


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