Over the last couple of months as I've been walking my dog in the early evening, I’m noticing more and more houses with the glow of blue light in the front room and behind that light is a head buried in a screen. About 80% of these “heads” are working hard at their desks, in their working from home spaces, which are effectively “glassed-in front verandahs”. Two things stand out to me: Do they know how clearly, I can see them and what they are doing?Are they comfortable in this space? Feeling the cold? With increasing numbers of people working from home due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, creating a functional and comfortable home workspace is key. A space away from the rest of the household is desirable, and if you have a verandah, it is a perfect spot.... it's quiet, out of the way, a space where you can remove yourself from the family; potentially more office-like and with the added benefit of allowing you to see out to your streetscape and feel part of the world around you. If you are currently using your verandah as your working from home space, is it working? Traditionally the verandah was designed and built as a transitional space between public and private, where you were meant to see, as well as be seen. In the '60s and '70s, many of these spaces went through a transformational change of purpose, they were enclosed using a combination of timber panelling with fixed and operable windows; to be used as additional storage spaces; sunrooms and sometimes combined with the adjacent bedroom. Originally these spaces were constructed of a single leaf of brickwork between brick piers and a lined tiled roof extension over it. The timber and glazed infill elements were a very cost-effective solution; however, this form of construction has poor thermal and insulation qualities. To heat or cool these spaces now requires all manner of devices, and these aren't generally your highly energy-efficient varieties, and the benefit is soon lost. Moreover, in winter, the combination of internal warmth, a cold and damp outside and poor insulation also leads to condensation and mould growth. In essence the verandah updates of the 60’s and 70’s were not designed to house a suitable home office space. Notwithstanding the temperature issues mentioned above, unless you're careful, being in the front of the home without the right privacy elements in place, means your home office space could now be considered a "shop front" for your neighbourhood thief displaying all your expensive computer equipment and allowing the watchful to easily monitor your daily routine. So if your expensive computers, stationery, or reference materials aren't pinched, they are in for a shorter than usual life span. What are some of the common requirements for creating the perfect working from home workspace? A dedicated work surface that’s large enough to accommodate your remote working technology.A supportive and ergonomically designed … [Read more...] about Is your working from home space working?
If you have a heritage-listed home or a home in a conservation area and want to do alterations and additions, there are some things that you will need to know. Buildings are given a listed status to mark their historical and architectural significance and to protect them from damage and inappropriate alterations. The NSW Heritage Office defines a conservation area as "Area located on the State Heritage Register or on a Local Environment Plan (LEP) for their heritage significance. They also contain individually listed heritage items. We would recommend that you research the neighbourhood's era and as much as you can about your property's period and style, especially if you're trying to restore your period home. Remember, renovating doesn't necessarily mean replacing everything in the existing style; you can keep some of the period features and have a design that successfully integrates the old and new. Before you start any design works, you need to investigate what kind of modifications you can and can't make on your property as there is a good chance you can't make specific changes. An experienced local architect will help you identify these and tailor your dreams to obtain the council's approval. As you may know, there are two approval options available to obtain a building approval in NSW; A Council Development Application (DA) and Construction Certificate (CC) orA Complying Development Certificate (CDC) via a private certifier. Being in a heritage conservation area will rule out the CDC approval option. There are many challenges that an architect needs to negotiate when designing alterations and additions under the DA process. These include: The council's Planning Controls (LEP and DCP)The National Building codes (known as the National Construction Code)Client budgets andNeighbours However, the council imposes more significant restrictions on what can be designed by your architect, as they must consider in greater depth areas like Streetscape, Character, Scale, Form, Material and Colour. Some council controls can restrict your design to: A single-storey development and/or an attic conversionRetaining existing elements of you home like roofing materials, chimneys, dormer windows, filaments etc.Front façade treatments and colour schemesAnd even your front fence And as part of the documentation submitted in the Development Application, you must include a Heritage Impact Statement (HIS). The HIS must comply with a particular presentation style and delve into your building's history and how what is proposed complies with their heritage overlay. In most cases, your architect can provide this additional report if they choose to. But on some occasions, and for some projects and council areas, the council will require a suitably qualified Heritage Architect to write the HIS. In summary, we recommend appointing a local architect who knows the council requirements and … [Read more...] about What you need to know if you’re renovating a heritage-listed home or you’re in a conservation area
Homeowner Warranty Insurance Homeowner Warranty Insurance I was recently talking to a builder friend of mine and we got talking about “Homeowner Warranty Insurance” and the value of it. Basically the builder has to be “dead or dead broke” for the client to use it he said. Anyway, he mentioned that he’d just taken over a couple of projects because the previous builder had gone “broke”. It seems that the previous builder had convinced that home owner that they should get an “owner builder’s license”, to avoid having to pay the Home Owners Warranty fees and he would “manage” the projects for him. Little did the home owner know that the builder in question, have exceeded the limit of his insurance and therefore shouldn’t have taken on any more work at that time. Needless to say the previous builder had taken on too much work, got himself into cash flow difficulties and had to cease trade. Not only were the home owners not covered by the insurance, they also found out that the builder had been claiming too in his progress claims. The owners had paid about 20% more than the works done and now had a budget problem of their own. The Home Warranty Insurance scheme, now called Home Building Compensation Fund, is a JOB SPECIFIC insurance required to be taken out by all builders for projects over $20 000. In short it covers you (and subsequent purchasers) if you “become aware of defective or incomplete work” and can not get the builder, trades person or developer to complete or rectify the defective work. Those with an owner builders license also can be called upon if you sell your home within 7 year of the Occupation certificate being granted. So a word of warning! make sure the builder take’s out the Homeowner Warranty Insurance and think about appointing your Architect to do the contract administration for you. We’ve been trained to help protect you. For more details on the Home Building Compensation Fund see the NSW Government – Fairtrading website or follow this link. http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owners/Home_building_and_renovating/Home_warranty_insurance.page Leave a reply. … [Read more...] about Homeowner Warranty Insurance