Innovative Living Homes Quality Residential Builders, South Australia






Innovative Living is an experienced Quality Builder of New Homes and House Extensions based in the Adelaide Hills. Our passion is to build your Dream Home or House Renovation.

After 25 years in the building industry I have come to appreciate new and innovative building ideas and designs. It's so good to see people being creative with their building projects and thinking outside the square. I believe the most important part of a new home or extension is the client. The people who will live there. Is it really what they want, what meets their expectations and budget? To me the building process is forming a relationship with the client and working together to see their dream come true. It's an exciting industry to be in and I’m passionate about building.
I love my job.

Buying Land - Which way should it face?

Just a quick bit of advice for those buying a block of land to build a house on.

 

I find it amazing that Real Estate Agents will use any sort of spin to describe the land and make you feel good about buying it. How many of us have heard the saying ‘It’s a North facing block’.

 

Is that supposed to be good or something?? Well here’s the real story. We’ve all heard about the 6 star energy rating that all builders are supposed to constructing their houses to (I’m not sure that I have seen too many complying it though), well in our climate that will require a lot of glass facing the sun and minimal glass facing south.

 

So how do you do that with a North facing block having the front of the house (small windows) facing the road and the living areas (big opening glass doors going onto the pergola area) are facing South.

 

There you go – stay away from North facing blocks of land and buy preferably South facing. Who knows you may get it cheaper.

 

Happy building!

 

 

Bruce

 

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Owner Builders - Can You Build Your Own Home?

Can you build your own home?

 

I often get asked this question. Is it still possible to be an ‘owner/builder’? Can you build your own home or house extension?

 

Well the answer is - Yes. But…………. The process is not easy and there are many traps for the inexperienced. Yes you can do it yourself. It is very rewarding and can save you a lot of money. We will look at some of the obstacles here and if you prepare yourself you can avoid some of the costly mistakes that are common.

 

Building Codes and Council Requirements

I once asked a friend of mine who worked in a council in the Building and Planning Department about this – can someone build their own home? They said that if the plans and engineering have been certified and the finished product on site complies with those plans and specifications then the method of how it was constructed is of little importance. The main concern is that the structure must comply with all the codes and requirements and be inspected. This is done by the mandatory notifications to council when that stage of the work is complete and by either a licensed builder or inspector.

 

Now in most cases the council will be wary of someone building their own construction project without the appropriate license. They will normally require that you contract a builder or building inspector to oversee the works.

 

This is a service that we at Innovative Living Property Solutions can offer. I will come back to that later.

 

What about Plumbing and Electrical work?

Both of these construction components must be carried out by a licensed tradesperson. As for the plumbing work, the council must be notified when the drainage pipes are ready for inspection. You must also submit a plumbing layout with your plans showing the location and sizes of the drains pipes, vent pipes, flood gullies, hot water type and location, etc. The authorities are not so interested in the type of your tapware, etc. as long as they comply with the water efficiency ratings. If you require more info for this, contact our office for some advice.

 

As for the Electrical work, the electrician will issue you with an ‘Electrical Certificate of Compliance’ when the work is completed. A copy of this must be sent to the council for their records.

 

Home electrical systems are very complicated and the rules are changing continually. I strongly recommend that you don’t even consider doing any of the work yourself. What if there was a fire and the problem is traced to some unlicensed work. Opps – no insurance cover.

 

What you can do yourself is some of the non 240 volt wiring. The sky’s the limit these days with data cabling, home theatre systems, door bells and monitoring, intercoms and lots of other clever stuff.

 

Owner Builder Finance

Now this is a big problem! I get this all the time. People want to build their own home to save money which usually indicates that they don’t have all the funds and need to lend money and the banks don’t want to know about them. Why?

 

Well think about it like this. When a bank lends you money for a new home or extension it is usually in the form of a mortgage. Yep, they take part ownership of the property. Now if there is no building contract with a builder showing the contract price the bank will be worried about the actual cost and whether you are lending enough money to complete it. This is not an easy one and the situation has been made worse by the ‘Global Financial Crisis’.

 

If you are in this situation you may need to talk to us. It is an almost impossible hurdle to jump without nominating a builder to help out. Some form of documentation to show that you are serious and realistic about what you are doing.

 

Planning and Approvals

This is one area where most people don’t know what they are doing. They get confused by the ‘red tape’ and are totally stressed. I have helped some people who thought they knew the system and have wasted years (Yes years!!) trying to get their building consent.

 

All I can say is talk to someone who knows what they are doing. If you submit all the requirements it is a speedy and inexpensive process. There is no going back and forth with extra info and plan changes which can take months. The other thing to consider is that by using an experienced project manager the application will carry credibility. That is well worth paying for!

 

Certificate of Occupancy

Now you may not know that there is such a thing. The bottom line is that the dwelling cannot be occupied until you have permission to do so. I know, the temptation of any owner builder is to set up camp in an incomplete building. Two problems, it is very easy to never complete the project and it is illegal (watch that insurance).

 

You don’t need to have everything complete but there are some things that are essential to finish off. All the structural work completed and inspected. All electrical, plumbing, wet area water proofing, tiling, sanitary ware fitted, storm water connected and bush fire requirements met and inspected.

 

Before you move in there is a document called a ‘Statement of Compliance’ which must be signed by the builder and the owner. This is part of the Development Act 1993, and basically states that the work is completed as per the approved plans.

 

Summary

To sum it up, yes you can build your own home or extension. Although some of the above may have put you off, it should not. It is a wonderful experience and the reward is yours for life. Hard work? Yes, but anyone with a few handy skills, some tradie mates and a supportative family can do it.

 

We at Innovative Living Property Solutions have been working with owner/builders for many years. We can assist you with your project. Every job is different and every individual’s level of involvement can vary.

 

Talk to us about your next project and we can arrange a package that suits your requirements. It can save you money and will definitely save you time. In the end you will have a fully certified dwelling that you can have the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

 

Happy building!

 

Bruce

 

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Grey Water Re-Use

So what is grey water? Is it safe? How can we re-use it?

 

Well firstly grey water is basically all the waste water from our domestic homes but excluding the toilet and kitchen water. Here's the first problem. How do you separate them? Well this will depend upon your existing plumbing that you have. If you live in a house where the under floor plumbing is accessible, the task is simple. With a few modifications to that plumbing the waste water can be collected and sent to the treatment system. When the house is a more common concrete slab foundation the plumbing will need to be inspected by a plumber or consultant who is trained in installing grey water systems. We may be able to assist you with that information.

 

SA Regulations

Sadly SA is slow to act in the re-use of grey water. In all other states except WA treated grey water can be re-used inside the house to flush toilets and for use in the laundry and washing machines (one of the major users of water in our normal household). In SA we can only use it for irrigation purposes, which is better than nothing. One could ask the question why bother treating it before putting it on the garden? The garden is a natural environment with loads of bugs and worms which great for the process of breaking down matter and waste for of the soil and plants to use. Grey water which has passed through a treatment system is clear, odorless and hygienically safe for many applications other than human consumption.

 

Treated Grey Water

What do we mean by treated grey water? There are commercially available grey water treatment systems that can be fitted to an existing home. It is much easier to fit them when you are building a new home or a substantial home extension though. One of the systems that we like is the "Nubian Water System". You can check them out at www.nubian.com.au . There are other systems available and over time we may add them to our site as recommendations.

 

Septic Tanks

Another way of re-using your household water is to install a specially designed septic system that will treat the waste water. This is usually done when a new home is built and it will be a system that will treat all the water including the toilet and kitchen. Some of these systems that we can recommend are called 'Envirocycle', www.envirocycle.com.au , 'Ri-Treat', www.ri-industries.com.au and the 'Biolytix Water System' www.biolytix.com.au . I especially like the Biolytix system, a Queensland company that have made a septic tank that uses a natural process of worms that do the task of breaking down the nutrients in the water to be safe for reuse. Brilliant! Just like it is in nature. This system doesn't use the chemicals and power that the other systems require (although there is a small pump). They will send the system to SA and there are installers here to do the installation work

 

Well there are a few ways of re-using your waste water. If that sounds all too hard then there is always the length of black pipe that you can buy from the local hardware or bargain shop and hook it up to the washing machine and place out on the garden. Not only doe's it help the water shortage situation but you don't get such a large water bill – that's gotta' be good!

 

If you want to discuss your own grey water re-use situation please feel free to contact me on the contact page.

 

Bruce

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HIA GreenSmart Builders

Australia’s peak residential building and construction association, HIA provides leadership in the recognition of environmentally responsible residential building and land development through its GreenSmart program.

GreenSmart was established by HIA in 1999 to promote practical, affordable and durable environmental solutions for residential design and construction. The growth of the HIA GreenSmart initiative since its inception has been significant and is now widely recognised as a leading industry initiative for achieving more environmentally responsible housing and residential communities.

At Innovative Living Property Solutions, we are a recognised GreenSmart Professional Builder. We have had a passion for environmentally friendly building practices for many years and have devoted a lot of time and energy into searching out the latest products and techniques to improve the way we design and build our homes.

If you have any questions regarding the GreenSmart initiative or sustainable building techniques, please feel free to talk to myself or one of our friendly staff.

Bruce
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What's the best material for roofing?

In Australia we have 2 main roofing materials. Iron roofs (or what is commonly known as ‘Colourbond’) or tiled roofs. Tiles come in two main types being either concrete or clay tiles. Both have been used extensively in the past few years although there is a general trend towards the use of iron roofs in recent years.

To help you decide on which way to go with your roofing project we have listed some advantages and disadvantages of both materials;

Tiled Roofs – advantages;
  • Lower embodied energy (this is the energy that has been used to manufacture and transport the material from its original raw state to the finished installed product on site).
  • The embodied energy for terracotta (or clay) tiles is 271 MJ/m² and for concrete tiles 251MJ/m².
  • Appearance. Some people consider tiles to be a little more prestigious, although this view is slowly changing.
  • Can easily be removed for roof access for any trades who require to do work in the roof cavity.

Tiled Roofs – disadvantages;
  • Heavy to transport and handle
  • Can break easily
  • They require a stronger roof structure which adds to construction costs
  • They hold moisture which can reduce the first run off for rain water collection and can also tend to go moldy in wet areas
  • They tend to be hotter in summer and will hold heat for longer (‘thermal mass’).
  • Can easily be removed – a security problem for entry into the roof cavity and possibly the house.
  • Can fade after time
  • More susceptible to storm damage

Iron Roofs – advantages;
  • Lighter weight and less roof structure required to support it
  • Relatively easy to install
  • Large range of colours
  • Good for rain water collection
  • Modern look
  • Lower cost
  • Will not hold heat (thermal mass) like a tiled roof
  • Easy to upgrade/renew

Iron Roofs – disadvantages;
  • Can dent
  • High embodied energy – 330 MJ/m²
  • Can rust after time

Both types of roofs are suitable for timber or steel frame construction. In general you would find the use of tiles more common in the cooler climates.

When it comes down to it I think it is really a personal choice about appearance. What will suit the area and style of house that you are building? It does seem as though the advantages outweigh the disadvantages with the iron roof compared with that of the tiled roof. Maybe that’s the better way to go.

As for me I would choose the Colourbond roof any day.

Bruce
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6 Star Energy Rating – Is it a good thing?

On the 1st September 2010, SA will be adopting the BCA (Building Code of Australia) 6 Star Energy Rating requirements for all new homes and additions built. This will apply to all building approvals that are granted after this date –one can only imagine how many applications will be made prior to that date. This rating system is in operation in Queensland and will probably find its way to all states eventually.

What this will mean is that every house plan will have to go through a very rigorous evaluation as to the energy rating of that house. There will be computer programs similar to the ones being used now that will have the parameters of the house entered and a star rating will be given. Some of these programs are ‘NatHERS’, ‘AccuRate’, ‘BERS’ and ‘FirstRate 5’.

The process of rating is fairly complex and too hard to explain here but factors like the house size, construction materials, window size and location and the type of insulation and the list goes on. Gone are the days of simple answers like ‘what is the best type of window glass?’. It will depend on its location and application. We will have to look at planning a lot more carefully. This will be interesting for the lazy developer who picks out a house that will fit on a block of land and gives it no more thought. That just will not work any more.

What the 6 star rating is based on in simple terms is a house that is air-conditioned or heated and its ability to maintain that altered atmosphere inside the house in regards to heat loss or gain from the outside air.

Sounds good so far. Build the house right and you won’t have to use so much cooling or heating. Great! The trouble is that it only addresses the outside shell of the house and not what happens inside that house. The house itself is designed to save energy but what about the people inside. We may feel good for doing our bit for the planet and move in with all our energy inefficient Plasma TV’s, fridges, washing machines, etc. Then we stand in the shower for ages, leave the fridge door open, have the air-conditioning up too high, leave the lights on, leave the curtains open and……. well there goes the energy rating.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s about time we built houses right rather than trying to fix then later. I just think we have a long way to go before we can feel good about ‘doing our bit’ for the environment. People just need to get back to basics and change their lifestyles.

Bruce
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