Are You Prepared for a Bushfire?

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It will soon be Summer . . . . and Bushfires will be in the News!

Live close to the Bush? . . . . Are you and your new home ready in case a fire is heading your way?

Its not just making your new house Fire Resistant.

Questions You Need To Answer

  • Have you cleaned up your garden
  • Will you leave based on a Fire Danger Rating?
  • Where will you stay?
  • Which routes will you take? (don’t just have one route in case a fire is already in the area)
  • What will you take with you?
  • What about your pets or livestock?
  • How will you stay informed about warnings and updates?
  • What will you do if there is a fire in the area and you cannot leave?
  • How can you defend the house?

When thinking about questions like these remember that a fire can start at any time . . . . so think about what to do if only one person is at home.

Check With Your Fire Authority

This isn’t a comprehensive guide just a reminder to start you thinking.

Check with your State Fire Authority for more detail about how to make a fire plan.


See Bushfire for more posts


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Sleeping in a Car Wash

V8 Hotel im Meilenwerk Stuttgart auf dem Flugfeld Boeblingen.
I can sort of see the point of having a car themed bedroom.

As for a car wash that’s a bit harder to get my head around!

This is in the V8 Hotel, Böblingen, Germany

Other car themed rooms, include

  • A Morris Minor Garage
  • A Route 66 theme.
  • The Love Bug
  • Drive In Cinema

Want to see more? . . . Then check out the web site


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



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Light Bulb Comparison

incandescent bulbIn a previous post on Lighting Levels I talked about using lumens to plan lighting. . . . . but which type of bulb should you use?

There are now 3 types of bulbs in common use

  • Halogen (A more efficient version of the old incandescent light bulbs)
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)
  • Light Emitting Diode (LED)

Light Output

Typical values of light output are:

  • Halogen – 15 Lumens/watt of power
  • CFL – 54 Lumens/watt of power
  • LED – 90 lumens/watt of power

Actual values will vary from manufacturer and also depending on the  colour temperature of the light.

From the above figure it can be seen that a LED provides a significant power saving, even compared with a CFL.

Initial Cost

For an output of around 450 lumens enough for something like a desk lamp you can expect to pay:

  • Halogen – $3
  • CFL – $6
  • LED – $20

Bulb Life

  • Halogen – 2,500 hours
  • CFL – 10,000 hours
  • LED – 50,000 hours

The long life of LEDs meant that though the initial cost of $20 seems expensive over the life of the bulb you would have needed 5 CFL bulbs ($30) or 20 Halogen bulbs ($60)

Other Issues

CFL lamps do contain a small amount of the toxic element mercury, and do take several seconds to Warm up to full brightness.

Both halogen and CFL lamps tend to have limited durability if subject to vibration or rough handling.

A dimmable LED is around 40% more expensive than a basic LED.


For More posts see Electrical


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Pre-Wetting your Site


Reason For Pre-Wetting

If you are Building On Clay that is dry there is a risk of Soil Heave.

This is due to expansion of the clay if the moisture level increases with particular risk factors being:

  • Building after a long period of very dry weather when large cracks in the surface are visible.
  • Knock down and rebuild projects where there is a risk that part of the new foundations are on drier land than other parts.
  • Where there are trees, or trees have recently been removed.

To minimise the risk there is often an Engineers requirement to pre-wet the site to stabilise the moisture content.

Pre-Wetting Requirement

A typical requirement is to run sprinklers for 2 hours a day for 8-10 days which should increase the soil moisture to a depth of approx 1m.

Then the fill/construction pad below the slab should be laid within 2-3 days,

You are aiming for the equivalent of 20-25 mm of rainfall a day (20-25L/m2) The intention is on each day to thoroughly wet the top layer of soil and fill all the cracks with water without actually waterlogging the site.

For maximum effect the best time to do the pre-wetting is the late evening to minimise evaporation.

I have hear of builders saying the pre-wetting isn’t needed. Don’t accept this without soil moisture tests that have been accepted by the engineer who made the original requirement.

Effectiveness of Pre-Wetting

Although pre-wetting will minimise the risk of Soil Heave

  • It doesn’t mean that good foundation design can be neglected.
  • Letting the site moisture content stabilise through a winter, after removal of buildings/trees, is likely to be more effective.


See Ground Conditions for more Posts


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Avoiding the Neighbours!

Katskhi Pillar

No this hasn’t been photoshopped . . . . and somebody does actually live in that building which is a restored monastry!

It’s been occupied since 1995 by a religious hermit who wants to be closer to God.

The limestone monolith is called the Katskhi pillar and is located at the village of Katskhi, Georgia.

For moe information check out this Wikipedia Entry


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


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Lighting Levels

There are two elements when considering Lighting levels for your new house.

  • Electrical Power (Watts)
  • Amount of Light (Lumens)


incandescent bulbIn the old days with incandescent bulbs it used to be simple, bulbs came in 40, 60 and 100watts and you were allowed up to 25 watts/square metre of floor space.

Now for your new build, in order to limit energy consumption, you are only allowed:

  • Indoors 5 watts /sqm (5W/sqm)
  • Outside 4 watts/sqm (4W/sqm)
  • Garages 3 watts/sqm

This doesn’t mean you have to have a gloomy house. Modern light fittings such as Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFLs) and Light Emiting Diodes (LED) give much more light than Incandescent Bulbs.

The above power consumption figure are for the initial construction. (After handover you can add additional lights)


Probably the best way to think about lighting is to consider what task you are going to do. Then look at how you will provide enough light in that area rather than the whole room.

Here are some suggested light levels for various tasks.

Under 10 lumens/sqm – Outside Security.

10-20 lumens/sqm – Conversation, Eating, Watching Television, General Circulation.

20-50 lumens/sqm – Cooking, Casual Reading, Bathrooms.

50- 100 lumens/sqm – Detailed Craft Work, Study.


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Understanding Display Homes

Display Home

I have compared the Cost of a Display Home with the price for the advertised price of the standard house, so here are what the differences are:

What you won’t get in the Basic House (unless there is a ‘Special Offer‘)

  • Premium Kitchen Cabinets
  • Premium Kitchen Fittings and Appliances
  • Stone Benchtops
  • Glass or Premium Tile splashback.
  • Large Stacker Doors in Family Room
  • Downlights and other lighting upgrades
  • Premium ‘Walk In Robe’ fit out
  • Premium Bathroom Fittings
  • Premium Bathroom Tiles
  • Premium Flooring Options
  • Premium Internal and External Doors and Door Fittings.
  • Air Conditioning
  • Premium Facade Option
  • Premium Bricks
  • Premium Roof Tiles
  • Premium Driveway front path
  • Decking / Barbecue area
  • Landscaping (Including Paths)
  • Pool

Here are some things you probably won’t see but I recommend you think about budgeting for.

  • Extra Power Outlets
  • TV / Satellite Antenna
  • Extra TV/Data Points
  • Extra External Taps
  • Better locks
  • Washing Line
  • Automatic Garage Door Opener


For more advice see the   ‘Guide to Choosing a House


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Great View . . . . But?

Refuge-Gervasutti-Alpine-Hut dining room

How would you like a spectacular view like this from your Dining Table?

Just a few problems getting to that dining table.

Refuge-Gervasutti-Alpine-Hut-2To give you a clue here is the outside view of the ‘House’.

You would need to climb a couple of thousand metres from the nearest valley . . . and need some warm clothing!

This is an Alpine climbers refuge called the Refuge-Gervasutti.

It was built off-site and ‘delivered’ by helicopter.

For more pictures see Refuge-Gervasutti


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


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