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Building Scams and Rip-Offs – Let the Buyer Beware!

Posted by Walt on July 16, 2015
Posted in Renovating 

There’s nothing that a reputable builder or an unsuspecting homeowner hates more than a building scam. Often as not, the homeowner gets suckered into the deal because he or she doesn’t know the warning signals that should set off alarm bells. Here’s what you need to guard against:

They offer you a one-off ‘special’

Then they push you to accept right away without further investigation because it’s a ‘limited time’ offer. If a special offer is genuine, you should be able to verify it by comparing prices, and you still need to check that the builder who is offering it actually does good work.

Unsolicited offers

No reputable builder makes unsolicited offers. A common strategy among scammers is to claim that they’re busy with work in your area and have some ‘left over’ materials that they can let you have at a low price or for free. In the first place, if there really are leftover materials, someone else paid for them and it would be dishonest to accept them, and in the second place, the whole offer could be a scam. A smooth talker might ask for a small amount of money for just a few odds and ends that the job still needs or a deposit on labour and then simply vanish with your money.

Payment in full upfront

Obviously, a contractor needs to cover himself by getting certain deposits upfront, but advance payment in full is never and has never been a building industry standard. A down payment on renovations shouldn’t amount to more than a third of the total cost. Thereafter, you can agree to cover advance payments on a planned timeline, but you should get a deal in which you still hold a fairly significant amount of money until the job has been completed to your satisfaction.

A ‘show house’ offer

You may find a contractor who assures you that they want to turn your home into a shining example of what they do. They’ll also tell you that as a result, you’re going to get super-low prices. The contractor suggests a slew of additional renovation jobs that you weren’t even thinking of to begin with. Are they necessary tasks? Probably not. Are you getting a better price? Once again, the answer is ‘probably not’. A good contractor should have dozens of examples of completed work – ask yourself why he would want to turn your home into a ‘show house’. This is an unscrupulous sales tactic used to get you to take on more than you were bargaining for! That is, supposing that the work is even completed.

Building a New Home? Renovating? Know Your Rights!

Posted by Walt on June 14, 2015
Posted in Renovating 

Your home is probably the biggest and most important investment you’ll ever make. Unfortunately, not all building contractors are reliable, but at least Australian law ensures that your rights are protected – at least up to a point. However, the onus is on you to ensure that you have the necessary documentation that allows you to follow up – particularly if your contractor suddenly disappears into thin air!

Check out your contract and insurances

Your building contract should specify warranties. Here is the checklist that you need to consult when determining whether your building contract is up to speed. If you’re planning to make home improvements to the value of more than $16,000, you will need a copy of your contractor’s domestic building insurance. Ensure that you receive it before finalizing any contracts. You’ll also want to get a copy of your contractor’s public liability insurance.

Apart from the builder’s insurances, contact your home insurer and check if you are covered for any damages incurred during renovations. If not, you may need to take out extra insurance cover, but if anything goes wrong, it’s a move you won’t regret.

Implied warranties

Certain warranties don’t actually need to be stated in so many words in your building contract. For example, the tasks specified in the building contract must be carried out according to specification and the materials should be of an acceptable quality. Work must be completed in a competent way by the date specified in the contract and the completed home or extension must be fit for occupation when the contractors pack up and leave the site.

Sounds good but…

There are a couple of caveats you should know about. For instance, if your builder disappears before the work is completed, his insurance will only cover you for up to 20% of the contract value. Structural defects are only covered for 6 years and non-structural defects for only 2 years. So a bad builder can still end up costing you in the longer term. And although you do have rights, it will cost you time and money in following them up. Many consumers just accept smaller issues rather than going to all the effort of laying complaints.

What you can do about this

It’s clear that the best possible solution is to ensure that you get builders that are 100% reliable, have a good reputation and who run established businesses. What if your contractor goes insolvent while your work is still in progress? What if he vanishes? And worst of all, what if he hasn’t actually got the necessary insurances? You could lose out in a big way. Get peace of mind by ensuring that you get real professionals to execute your building work.

When a person wants to put up a fence within their yard the first thing that they should do is figure out the boundary lines of their property. The last thing that a homeowner should want is to get involved in a legal dispute over a property line. The following information from All Fencing will explain some basic ways that homeowners can avoid this type of situation.

Check the Local Assessors Office

Before a person erects a fence they should check the assessor office within the Gold Coast community to determine boundary area of their property. An assessors office can provide homeowners with a map and tools that they can use to figure out boundary lines. Many assessors offices have these features available online.

Check the Deed

A homeowner should check their property deed. Most deeds have a description of a property’s boundaries and measurements that have been written out in words.

Look for Landmarks

The assessors office and property’s deed will describe in detail the land marks on a property. Once a property owner has figured out where the land marks are located they can then begin to properly assess where to install their fence.

Fence Boundary

Use a Surveyor

A surveyor is able to measure a person’s property to give them an accurate record of their property line. A homeowner should be available with a surveyor when they perform this service so they can see the actual boundaries of their property.

The best step that a homeowner can take to avoid this situation is to discuss this issue with the real estate agent who sold them the house or former homeowner. These two sources will provide a first hand account about where a a property line is established. This is especially true for properties where a fence has already been set in place.

Properties that have an open yard area should be double checked. This way a property owner will be able to tell exactly where to establish a property line. Once a property owner has this information they can then install a fence onto their premises without incident.

The Process of Solar Panel Installation

Posted by Walt on June 18, 2014
Posted in Installation of Solar  | Tagged With: , ,

Many individuals embrace the idea of a having optimum solar efficient home. However, the thought of having solar panels installed on their roofs may be quite daunting to them, if they don’t have the vaguest idea how it’s done. Many worry that the installation may create damage to roofs or even be time consuming. Nothing could, however, be further from the truth and it is actually quite easy to do it yourself if you have a bit of know how.

Installing the solar panels is a technical process. However, it’s not lengthy. Installation can take as little as a day or a day and a half, depending of the size of the roof. For the individuals delaying the decision to purchase solar panels for their homes because of the fear of roof damage or time constraints, here is a basic idea of the process involved.

Stage 1

Before the installation process begins, a survey will need to be conducted by a reputable solar panel installation company. The surveyors will draw up a plan on what needs to be done. Bear in mind that the number of solar panels placed on the roof depends on the size of the roof, the extent of the budget and the amount of energy that one wishes to generate.

Stage 2

Once the completed survey demonstrates that your roof can handle the installation. The next step is the actual installment. The installers will mark out how the solar panels will be arranged on the roof. They will then search for the rafters by lifting tiles and setting out where the roof hooks are going to be inserted.

3KW Solar Panels

Stage 3

Once the rafters are found, the roof hooks are inserted into them. The tiles are then replaced and if necessary, it will be weathered.

Stage 4

The rails are then bolted onto the roof hooks. Once the rails are fully secured, then the solar panels are installed onto them.

Stage 5

The solar panels will begin to generate electricity as soon as installation is complete. Once there is sunlight, energy to power appliances will be generated from the solar panels. Any excess electricity during this time will be transported to the grid. Whenever there is no sunlight, appliances will be powered with energy from the grid.

There’s no need to be worried about roof damage during a solar panel installation process. This is because once the installers are professional and the correct roof bolts are used in accordance with the type of tiles, then the roof will be weather proof. For more information about installation of solar power at your home visit http://solargoldcoast.com/solar-power-installation/.

Painting Your House? Do You Call an Expert or DIY?

Posted by Walt on May 13, 2014
Posted in Painting a House  | Tagged With: , , ,

Most people see house painting as a great opportunity to try their hand at DIY. How difficult can it be? If you get it wrong, you’ll actually be devaluing your house rather than adding value. Is that a risk you want to take? There’s a lot more to a good paint-job than most people realize. How experienced are you at house painting? Do you know how to choose the best materials? Do you know how to prepare your surfaces? Let’s look at the factors you should take into account before deciding if you want to DIY or get a pro for the job.

How big is the job?

Of course, the bigger the job, the more you could potentially save on labour costs by doing it yourself, but you need to consider a few factors before choosing this option. First and foremost: do you actually have the time? If you’re not keen on spending a few weeks’ worth of your free time on the job, you might prefer to get it done quickly by a pro. It could be that your free time is worth more to you than what you’d pay a painter. The bigger the job, the longer it will take and you mightn’t like living in a space that’s in the process of being painted for a protracted period of time. And then there is the consideration of a commercial size painting job. Is yours and your staffs time better spent on that or doing what you do best? Employing the service of a team of commercial painters may be your better option.

How Big is the Paint Job

Are you painting the exterior or the interior?

If you’re looking at painting the interior of your house, you’ll want to have a minimum amount of disruption to your daily routine. Getting the job done quickly means you’ll be able to return to normal living as soon as possible. You also don’t want to have to live with the smell of paint for weeks on end, so quicker is better. At the same time, you need really good finishes indoors, so we’re looking at time and quality as deciding factors. If you don’t have the time or the skill and experience to get the job done quickly and well, you should get a pro in.

Outdoor painting requires less precision but makes up for that in terms of sheer physical labour. Your surfaces will need more preparation and you’re going to spend a lot of time on ladders sanding and scraping before you even begin with the actual paint job. If you’re not keen on spending your weekends and evenings working hard, you might prefer getting a professional to do the job.

Cost

On the surface, it looks like doing the job yourself will save you money. All you need to do is to buy the paint and brushes, but is this really true? I’ve seen paint jobs that are a complete disaster. If that happens, you’re going to need to re-paint right away. Then there’s the cost of your time. How much is your time worth to you? Personally, I find that I could make more money per hour than most house painters charge. Thus, if I really want to work in my free time, I can make more bucks than I’d ever pay a house painter. Doing the job myself actually means I lose money!

Time

Let’s assume that you’re a keen DIY-er. Do you actually have the time for this project? House painting isn’t something that you want to live with for weeks on end and a lot of painting work can’t be left halfway while you take a break. If you’ve got tons of time on your hands, do it yourself, but if (like most people these days) you’ve got a pretty full life, you really won’t want this project hanging over your head. Get a pro.

Quality

Preparation of surfaces, choice of paint and attention to detail lead to a quality result. As with all tasks, you get better at it the more time you spend doing it. A professional painter from a local painting company can take one look at a paint job and tell you if it was done by a pro or not. Of course, if you do get a bad job from a pro, you can complain or even sue them if it’s not up to standard, but if you mess up on a DIY job, all you can do is kick yourself.

Energy costs are sky-high and both the economically minded and the environmentally conscious are seriously considering the installation of solar power. These days, the systems are so much more efficient, compact and versatile than before, but the burning question is whether the actual roof will be suitable for such an installation.

Let’s look at the criteria that have to be considered for a solar installation as well as some great ways to circumvent them in the event that your roof isn’t ‘up to the job’.

Available roof space

Measuring your roof is easier than it looks thanks to Google Earth. Get the dimensions and look at your options. Most standard solar panels have to be installed in arrays of 6 – 8 panels (remember, this depends on the company you’re approaching and their product range). That means you need space for six to eight panels measuring between 1.2 and 1.5 square meters each.

Not enough space? There’s still no need to despair. The new micro-inverter panels are super-efficient and you can get away with only one or two panels. Of course, installation costs per panel are going to be higher, because for a contractor, there’s not much difference between installing one or two panels or six to eight panels.

Structurally Sound

Before installing solar panels you will need to ensure that your roof is structurally sound. If you have an old asbestos roof you may discover that you need to have it removed and replaced as the solar installation company will no doubt face restrictions when it comes to drilling into the asbestos to attach the panels. You can speak to metal roofing contractors regarding removal of asbestos roofs and replacement with Colorbond.

Aspect

For those in Brisbane which is in the southern hemisphere, a North-facing roof is a must in order for the panels to get optimum sun exposure. You can get away with East or West facing roofs, but then you’re getting less sunshine onto the panels and they’ll be less efficient. You can overcome the shaded aspect of a South facing roof to a certain extent by tilting the panels towards the sun, but it’s not very pretty to look at. This might or might not bother you depending on how particular you are.

How steep is your roof?

Steep roofs with a pitch of 10 degrees or less can still be fitted with solar panels, but the ideal is a pitch of 25 – 30 degrees. This pitch will ensure that your solar panels catch the most sunlight possible, while steeper roofs will be less efficient in capturing solar energy because of the angle of the sun. Did you think flat roofs are best? Remember that the sun is not exactly overhead at any time and a slight bias to the north will improve the efficiency of the panels. Another factor is that rain won’t wash the panels clean on a flat roof as it does when the panels are tilted and the resulting marks and dust would reduce the effectiveness of the panels over time. You can also tilt the panels from the bottom on very steep roofs to make sure you get the most out of your solar panels.

Are there times of the day when your house is shaded?

Did you know that as little as 10% shading can mean 50% less energy for your solar array? Check with your contractor what the effect would be if the spot you’ve chosen seems likely to get some shade during the day. If it seems significant, you should consider installing the panel on another spot or choosing a different aspect where the sun exposure will be more intense. You might even decide to remove the source of the shading (short of blowing up your neighbour’s house!).

Solar Panels in Shade

You can compromise

As long as you’ve considered your options properly and know what the implications of your decision are, you might decide to bend the ‘rules’ just a bit. Just make sure you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for and weigh up the various options before making a final decision.

Information supplied by: http://roofing-brisbane.com.