Renovation and Home Design

Six Thoughts On Basin Choice


Last week was ‘Bathroom Week’ on ‘The Block’ and all the contestants were out shopping for basins with the WOW factor.

Fine for the judges. . . . . but some of these design concepts don’t think about the splashing of soapy water that can mean constant cleaning is needed.

Here are some of the practical things I have learned about wash basins.

  • Basins with a flat internal base, or that have a mixer that directs flow at the drain tend to cause more splashes than a bowl shaped basin.
  • For basins on the vanity a straight back that can be sealed against the wall avoids having a hard to clean area behind the basin.
  • A mixer set to the side, rather than centrally, allows you to lean lower over the basin minimising splashing outside the basin.
  • Having a medicine cabinet in front of the basin can prevent you leaning lower over the basin, thus increasing splashing outside the basin.
  • Square mixers result in water drying on the top surface of the mixer rather than running off, so they need cleaning every day.
  • Splashes really show on mirrors so have at least a couple of rows of tiles between the top of the basin and the bottom of the mirror.
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Tacky Facade

Tacky FacadeI have been in England recently . . . and of course couldn’t resist spending some time looking at houses.

This house has just about the tackiest facade I have seen in a long time.

I don’t have a problem with people spending a bit of money on the front of the house. . . but this house breaks two of my rules for good design:

  1. Think about looking at the house from the side rather than just from the front. If you have a clear view of the side it needs a transition, or in this case a continuation of the white render along the side of the house.
  2. Make sure that the ends of the facade are well detailed. This looks so obviously ‘Stuck On’, but if it had been set between two projecting walls it would look much better.

For more thoughts see this link: What’s the Side View?


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


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Don’t Forget Curtains!

curtainsIt’s well known a lot of heat is lost through windows.

With single glazing the Thermal Resistance, ‘R’ Value  is 0.16.

Although they aren’t considered in energy calculations (see this link: Energy Rating) curtains can significantly decrease the heat loss from a window.

They also improve the feeling of comfort.

Insulation Value

With different materials its not possible to give a definitive value for the insulation value of curtains  however there are some indicative values in this post.

An effective curtain can increase the ‘R’ value of the window to between 0.3 – 0.5.

Even with a double glazed window curtains will typically further reduce the heat loss. (‘R’ value increased from around 0.33 to around 0.6).

Effective Curtains

To be fully effective curtains must:

  • Provide a ‘seal’ around the window to stop air movement at:
    • Top – Pelmet
    • Bottom – Overlap window sill by at least 300mm, or down to the floor
    • Sides – Overlap edges of window by at least 300mm.
  • Use heavy close weave material, preferably lined.


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When Did Your Construction Contract Start?

If there has been delays in a house building contract the question of compensation comes up (see this link: Liquidated Damages )

A key factor in assessing damages is knowing when the construction contract started; as it isn’t written in the signed contract.

In order to avoid paying out damages many builders will dispute when the start date is!

They may argue about the date, or even try to say the start date is when the slab is constructed.

Here is some information to make you better informed about the start date.


Well here are the definitions in the two most common forms of contract for new houses

Master Builders Contract (2015 Victorian Edition) :
Commencement Date – means the date by which the Builder will commence to carry out works on the land” ( according to the standard contract the builder is supposed to advise you of the start date, but this doesn’t always happen)

Housing Industry Association HIA (2015 Victorian Edition):
Commencement – means the day on which the Building Works commence on the Building Site”

To me that means  ‘The day the builder erects a temporary fence, and installs a portable toilet’.toilet and fence

Recording  the Date

Once you know the temporary fence goes up make sure this is recorded by:

  • Taking a photo with a camera with a date stamp; or
  • Taking a photo with a phone camera and Emailing it to your self.

It also doesn’t do any harm to Email the Builder saying you have noticed the contract started on a particular date. . . . This will put the builder on notice that you are aware of the issues relating to delays.


To check up about delays during the build follow this link: Contract Period


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Taking A Good Hard Look At Yourself

If your friends and/or colleges think you need to get your act together perhaps you need to spend some time in this bathroom!



I think I might find it off putting using the toilet. . . . because it would feel as though there was a crowd in there with me!

I found this photo on the Hooked on Houses Website:


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


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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 a manhole ‘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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