Ducted heating, otherwise known as central heating, is an efficient way of heating your entire home. Besides being unobtrusive it also can offer additional functionality like controlling which rooms are heated (zoning). Zoning lets you divide your home into numerous sections, so you can specify which areas are heated when and to what temperature. Ducted heating can be run by a gas driven heater or a reverse cycle air conditioning system.
It is typically installed when a new home is built, but retrofitting is also feasible and an increasingly popular option.
A typical ducted heating system consists of:
- A gas heater or reverse cycle air conditioning unit
- A network of insulated ducts in your ceiling or floor cavity
- Vents or grills to circulate the air into designated rooms
- A programmable control panel (and thermostat) for managing airflow and temperature settings
Ceiling mounted ducted vents (iStock).
How does ducted heating work?
Hot air, generated from either a gas heater or reverse cycle air conditioner unit, is pushed through a series of ducted pipes into the home via vents in the ceiling, wall or floor. A return vent is also
If you own a period home, you might be wondering how to restore it without sacrificing valuable original features.
While it’s wise to consult a professional, this guide to preserving period features should serve as a good starting point:
1 Know your options
What you keep and discard in your heritage home may not be entirely your choosing. There are often regulations regarding renovating older properties, so ask your local council or building authority before making plans.
Next, consider the quintessential period features of your property. For instance, an Edwardian abode will have different distinctive features than a Federation or Californian bungalow home. A builder and tradies who specialise in heritage homes can also help you understand what to retain and what to update.
2 The front door
Let’s start at the start – the front door. A beautiful, ornate front door sets the scene for your period home and provides an elegant entrance to the indoors. It’ll also make your home stand out on the street, enticing prospective buyers and eluding to a hearty home within.
3 Down the hall
Now let’s address the hallway. Most modern homes
You want a lawn in your garden. The area isn’t too large, so you think laying your turf may be a simple DIY project. Here’s what you need to know before you buy turf and lay it yourself.
How to Prepare Soil for Turf
The soil in many parts of Australia isn’t naturally suited to growing a lawn, so the first thing you need to do is prepare your soil. Some of the steps you may have to take include:
- Determining the pH level of your soil and correcting it
- Removing all weeds
- Turning the soil to a depth of at least 150mm
The ideal soil for grass is a sandy loam. The pH level should be between 5.0 and 7.0. After you’ve determined the pH level, you can add lime if your soil is below 5.0 or gypsum or sulphur if the pH level is greater than 7.0. Test the soil again after you’ve completed the next steps.
Removing weeds requires more than just pulling out existing weeds. It’s better to remove all visible weeds and then apply weed killer twice, leaving two weeks between
Is the front of your home looking worn or do you want to give it a makeover? Before you take out a loan to do major renovations, consider these five easy and inexpensive ways to update the front of your home. They can be DIY jobs, but it won’t cost much to hire a handyman to do the work for you.
One: Paint or Replace Your Entry Door
Your entry door says a lot about you and your lifestyle. A few coats of paint can lift the appearance of your entry or, if your budget allows, consider replacing your entry door. That may be all it takes to create a “grand entrance” and update the front of your home.
Two: Install Pot Plants
You don’t necessarily need to re-landscape your front garden to update the front of your home. Maybe all you need to do is to install some pot plants in strategic locations. Don’t skimp on the pots. Choose attractive pots that flatter your home and go well with the plants you choose. Choose large pots and plants for greater impact, but also use smaller pots in select areas. Be sure the plants you choose will thrive in the sun or
When you renovate a single family home, you may need to get council approval. Renovating under strata title can be more complicated. Because you share space with your neighbours, you have to keep their needs in mind. To ensure this happens, strata by-laws exist. Before you make arrangements with a contractor for renovations, here are some things to consider when renovating under strata.
Why Strata By-Laws Exist
Strata by-laws exist to help neighbours in apartments and condominium units live more peacefully in close proximity and to ensure neighbours don’t encroach on each other’s rights. You do have a right to renovate your strata title unit, but you do not have a right to create undo problems for your neighbours, encroach on their property or modify common property.
If you intend to renovate, you will first have to notify the Owners Corporation or the Executive Committee that represents the Owners Corporation. Their job is to ensure you are not in violation of the by-laws and that your renovations won’t have a negative impact on your neighbours.
Tips to Consider Before Renovating Under Strata
Regardless of the type or extent of renovations you undertake, you will need to give your neighbours 14 days notice before
You’ve narrowed your flooring choice down to carpeting. That’s a good start, but your work has just begun. What material will your carpeting be made of? What style of carpet is best for the different rooms in your home? Here’s everything you should consider when buying carpet.
Why does one carpet cost so much more than another carpet? The material it’s made of is one of the biggest reasons. The three most popular carpeting materials are:
- Polypropylene carpeting is the least expensive. It is often used in apartments because it is inexpensive and durable. It has the drawback of looking synthetic, which makes it a poor choice for a living room or bedroom.
- Nylon carpets cost more, but can look great. Nylon is stain-resistant, making it a good choice for families.
- Wool carpeting is the most expensive. It’s a great choice for a plush carpet, but it is not stain-resistant. A wool/nylon blend costs less and may be a better choice for a family room.
Natural fibres like coir, jute, sisal and seagrass are also popular. Although they don’t have a plush pile, they are durable, easy to clean and better for allergy sufferers because the tannins in natural fibres repel dust mites. Another
How does your garden grow? Ever considered going up? That’s right, vertical gardens are the latest creative landscaping idea – and they’re super simple to set up.
Here are 5 vertical garden ideas that are sure to spruce up your space:
1 Water wise
Vertical gardens look gorgeous. But they can also add an environmental element to your abode. This vertical garden, part-way through installation, does it all – prevents flooding, conserves water, and becomes a clever water purification system. It also doubles as a fence for added privacy and security.
2 Work of art
When creating a vertical garden, think outside the pot. For instance, you could design a beautiful, living work of art framed on a wall in the kitchen or living room. This creation adds a pop of colour and 3D art that looks like it’s worming its way in from outside.
3 All in a row
Ever seen a horizontal vertical garden? Now you have. This handy design pots plants along three horizontal rows – keeping your garden off the ground, and adding visual interest. You could also add your favourite herbs and veggies, to make it edible.
4 Sculptural style
Another wonderful way to plant your vertical garden is in colourful pots placed on
When you’re designing your garden or looking for a way to improve your existing garden, don’t overlook ground cover plants. Ground covers spread outwards, not upwards, making them ideal for covering empty spaces. They also help prevent erosion, keep weeds at bay and help the soil retain moisture. What are the best plants for effective ground cover?
Best Plants for Effective Ground Cover
Ground cover can be green foliage or studded with brilliant flowers. Several varieties of grevillea provide excellent ground cover:
- Grevillea “Bronze Rambler” gets its name from its bronze coloured new growth. It produces long red flowers throughout the year. Its one drawback may be that it does not provide full ground cover and you may have to weed periodically.
- Grevillea “Cooroora Cascade” is a good choice for rockeries and embankments. It produces vibrant yellow flowers from summer through autumn. One plant will spread as far as three metres.
- Grevillea “Poonda Royal Mantle” looks similar to Bronze Rambler, but each plant can spread for up to 6 metres in just a few years. It grows well in most parts of Australia and tolerates frost well.
- Grevillea obtusifolia Meisn. is native to Western Australia. It has dense foliage and sprinkles of red flowers. It is
Thinking of upgrading to or installing LED lighting but not quite sure what you are getting into?
This article will help you get up to speed on all the jargon as well as give you an idea of the various options and costs involved.
Just a few years ago LED lights were a niche curiosity and carried eye watering price tags. Back to the future and LED lights are on sale in supermarkets – no surprise given their energy efficiency and longevity. They are also available in a number of different forms for general, task or ambient lighting, indoors and outdoors.
‘Smart’ LED bulbs are also being promoted, with embedded Wi-Fi that allows you to control them remotely, and change their colour – all done via an app. Then there is LED strip lighting which can be easily installed as task lighting, under a kitchen or bathroom cabinet.
No wonder the traditional incandescent bulb (remember them?) are fast becoming a rare sight in our homes.
Why should you install LED lighting?
LED lighting has a number of pros, including:
- being extremely energy efficient (up to 85% cheaper to run than an incandescent bulb)
- producing relatively little heat (compared to other bulbs)
- having impressive longevity (35,000+ hours is not
Having a pet adds a few extra responsibilities, especially if you’re building new, renovating, or simply need to make your existing place pet-friendly.
Here are 5 ways to make your home safer for your furry family members:
1 Locked up
Don’t worry, we don’t mean your dog – we mean locking up potentially poisonous food in the kitchen. Even something as simple as a grape or slice of ham can make your pet sick and even be fatal.
So be sure to put locks on all kitchen cabinet doors and the pantry – or invest in soft-close doors that are hard for pets to open, like the one pictured below. And if you have a cat, be aware that they can jump up to incredible heights, so even food left on a bench or table can be a risk.
2 Clean from street to door
Another top tip is to create a solid walkway from the street to the front entrance, as this can clean any muddy paws after a wet walk. Paving, gravel, and grass are a good combo – you may not even need a towel to get the job done.
Best of all, this gives you the chance to spruce up your front yard
While we’re busy choosing bathroom fittings, tiles and other details, it’s easy to overlook the importance of lighting. In any bathroom, lighting is important. In a small bathroom, lighting can make the difference between bathroom design success and failure.
Using Lighting for Maximum Impact in a Small Bathroom
One of the biggest design mistakes you can make in a bathroom is to assume one overhead light is all you need. While an overhead light will illuminate the room, it does nothing to improve the ambience of the room and does not even make good task lighting.
The best way to design bathroom lighting is to consider task lighting and ambient lighting together. For example, If you’re shaving or applying makeup at your vanity and have only an overhead light, your face will be in shadow. If your electrician has installed lighting around your vanity, it can serve a dual function, allowing you to see what you’re doing and flattering the appearance of your bathroom.
If you have overhead lighting and wall lighting on separate switches, your small bathroom can be a cosy place to relax when bathing and you can use task lighting when you’re getting ready for work or a night out. For
What can you do when all you have to work with is a tiny courtyard? You want it to be beautiful, but you also want to be able to relax or entertain in your courtyard. Others before you have creatively faced and overcome the problem of a tiny courtyard. With the help of landscaping experts, they’ve created multi-functional outdoor spaces in surprisingly small spaces.
Hardscaping and Softscaping Your Courtyard
Landscapers look at both hardscaping and softscaping when they design an outdoor space. Hardscaping includes paths, decks and other “hard” features. Softscaping includes your plants, lawn and other “soft” features. The challenge in a tiny courtyard is in fitting both hardscaping and softscaping into the picture
No matter how small your courtyard is, you have both horizontal and vertical space to work with. Using the vertical space for softscaping is the key to getting the most out of the ground space you have. Planting tall plants against a fence or wall is one way to have a verdant courtyard without sacrificing too much space. Another space-saving solution is to install a vertical garden.
A vertical garden takes up very little ground space, but gives you a lush garden to enjoy.
When you start thinking
Your kitchen needs a makeover, but you have neither the time nor money for a complete kitchen renovation. What can you do in a weekend? You won’t be able to do all of these kitchen updates in a single weekend, but you can tackle them all over a series of weekends. In ten weeks or less, you’ll have a low-cost kitchen update
These are 10 ways to update your kitchen in one weekend:
- Paint your kitchen doors
- Update your kitchen handles
- Add kitchen drawer inserts
- Install a new benchtop
- Install new acrylic splashbacks or paint your wall tiles
- Replace your kitchen taps
- Update your pantry
- Replace your flooring
- Install extra shelving
- Replace outdated cabinets
You will need professional help with some of these projects. For example, a plumber will need to replace your kitchen taps and if you want a new benchtop, you should have it professionally installed.
Plan Ahead and Update Your Kitchen a Weekend at a Time
If you decide to replace your flooring or paint your cupboard doors, you can finish these projects in a weekend, but you’ll need to plan ahead and buy your materials and supplies ahead of time. You’ll also need to have your tools on hand and know the steps you need to take to do the
Succulents are set to be a big gardening trend in 2016, given our preference for easy-care outdoor living. But how should you grow succulents in Australia?
Simply follow this handy checklist:
1 Choose your succulents
Don’t feel silly if you don’t know exactly what a succulent is. Turns out even botanists can’t agree! But basically a succulent is a plant that stores water in its fleshy or ‘juicy’ stems and leaves.
There are hundreds of native succulents in Australia, and a visit to your local nursery should turn up myriad varieties for your consideration – as well as glorious exotic species.
2 The right light
Succulents are incredibly hardy and resilient, making them perfect for the Australian climate year-round. But they still need some care and maintenance.
First up, plan where you’ll plant your succulents. They should get a good dose of sunlight each day, but check the growing guide for the variety you choose as some will prefer more direct sun than others.
Keep an eye on your succulents. If their leaves start to fade or ‘burn’, remove them from direct sun and give them some shade relief.
3 Give them a drink
How much water do succulents need? Well, because their fleshy parts store water,
How many gadgets and gizmos do you have that use a USB cord for charging?
Chances are most homes have a couple of smartphones and tablets at the very least. Not to mention any one (or more) of the following: digital camera, Go-Pro, fitness tracker, video camera, mp3 player, GPS, bike computer and game console. That’s enough to induce cord rage – an unruly tangle of cables and overloaded powerpoints – a very real concern.
So why don’t we have USB sockets built into our powerpoints yet? Thankfully, wall-mounted USB powerpoints are widely available and have become standard installs in new homes. They are also a popular item to retrofit – a simple swap out/replacement for your existing powerpoint, though you will need a licensed electrician for this task.
- The benefits of having dedicated USB powerpoints in your home are obvious, and include:
- Rapid charging of multiple USB devices
- Reducing cable clutter
- Freeing up powerpoint sockets for other uses
Using power boards or extension cords can also become unsafe as you risk overloading your socket if you have multiple devices plugged in.
What is USB?
USB (Universal Serial Bus) is an industry standard that defines the cables and connectors that a whole range of electronic devices use for
Three Types of Underfloor Heating
There are three types of underfloor heating:
- In-slab heating
- In-screed heating
- Under-tile or under-carpet heating
Both electric and hydronic (water) systems are available.
As the name implies, in-slab heating is installed in a concrete slab when it is poured. It is the slowest to heat because it first has to warm up the slab before the heat is transferred to the tiles or concrete. Hydronic systems are usually installed in the slab. A separate boiler heats the water, which is pumped through the coils and recycled.
A screed is a thin layer of concrete poured over a slab. In-screed underfloor heating coils are embedded in the screed. With less concrete to heat, in-screed heating warms the floor more quickly than in-slab heating.
Under-tile or under-carpet heating is the easiest to install. The heating units are mats with very thin coils embedded in them. Some heating mats can be laid under a rug and plugged into the wall while larger systems may need professional installation. In no case should you attempt DIY installation in wet areas like the bathroom or kitchen.
Choosing Underfloor Heating
Hydronic heating is more expensive to install than electric heating, but is the most cost-effective type of underfloor heating over
Sheds today aren’t just for storing tools. Modern sheds can be used as a home office, a workshop, a play area or even a spare room for relaxing and enjoying your outdoor spaces. You can find dozens of stylish shed designs or have a shed builder construct a custom shed for you. Whether you choose a kit shed or a custom shed, it will only be as good as the foundation it rests on.
If your shed isn’t too large, laying a concrete slab is a viable DIY project, but there are some things you need to know before you start pouring the cement. First of all, you’ll need to find out if you need council approval for your shed. When you get over that hurdle, you’ll need to plan your shed and learn what you need to know about laying a concrete slab for your shed.
Laying a Concrete Slab for a Shed: What You Need to Know
Before you tackle the project, you need to know how to lay a concrete slab. What kind of concrete do you need to buy? How much concrete do you need? Your concrete supplier can recommend that right type of concrete, but you’ll have
Wouldn’t it be nice to go into your yard and come back inside with an armful of homegrown produce? If the idea sounds intriguing, you may be holding back because you think growing veggies requires special skills. In fact, growing your own produce can be fairly easy. You need to give it some thought first, but once you get started, you’ll probably start growing even more produce.
5 Things to Think About Before Growing Your Own Produce
Many homeowners grow their own produce because they want it to be as natural and organic as possible. They prefer avoiding chemical fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides, but also don’t have time to spend tending to their veggie garden. If you’re still sitting on the fence because it all sounds too complicated, think about these five things:
- You don’t have to start big. Find a sunny area and start with just a container or two.
- Once established, compost heaps are easy to keep going and provide perfect fertiliser for your produce.
- Some veggies are easier to grow than others.
- Growing veggies in a raised bed makes taking care of them easier.
- If you’re short on space, consider growing your produce in a vertical veggie garden.
These are just some ideas that will
You don’t need to have a large garden to have a beautiful garden. Even if you don’t have enough room for outdoor furniture, you can create a beautiful garden space you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. If you have a little more space, you can create a perfect small garden you can relax in every day.
The Latest Ideas for Creating a Perfect Small Garden
Our gardens are becoming smaller as block sizes shrink and more Australians move to densely populated urban areas. This has created a challenge for landscapers and garden designers. Everyone wants to enjoy a soothing natural environment after a hard day’s work. How can you create one in a postage stamp sized yard? Landscaping professionals have come up with brilliant solutions to the problem.
One solution is to create a focal point. A focal point draws the eye and distracts attention from the size of the garden. If the garden is long and narrow, creating a path to the focal point and surrounding the path with plants, natural stones and other natural features gives the viewer a natural vista. A sculpture or other garden feature finishes the picture, offering the viewer a soothing garden focal point.
You’re getting ready to renovate your bathroom. One thing that’s going is your old bathtub, but you do want to replace it. Today, you have more baths to choose from than ever before. Will you install another built-in tub or do you want a freestanding bath? How do you choose the right bath for your space? A good starting point is our Bath Design Ideas pages, where you’ll see dozens of types of baths and bathroom layouts.
Built-In or Freestanding Bath?
As you look at the photos, you’ll find examples of both built-in and freestanding baths. Which style should you choose? Each type of bath has its advantages. If you’re leaning towards a built-in bath, you can create a stylish nook for it.
If you have less space, you aren’t limited to the style of built-in bath you choose. Do you want your bath to be a feature? Choose a sculptural bath that will be an eye-catching feature of your bathroom. Surround it with modern bathroom accessories and your bathroom renovation will be complete.
One advantage of freestanding baths is that they make a bathroom appear larger because you can see the floor space underneath them. Freestanding baths today come in hundreds of styles