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2

Feb

Ways To Ensure An Energy Efficient New Home

From installing solar panels, to the latest in insulation to installing skylights, there are loads of ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home. You may not realise it, but even the paint colours you choose can have an effect on lighting and heating levels. The best time to consider how to make your home energy efficient is when you are building, so that it’s done the right way from the very beginning – saving both energy and your hip-pocket now and in to the future.

Solar Power

Solar panels are a great way to drastically reduce your household energy usage. Once installed they require little maintenance, can be expected to last 20 years or more, and the electricity they generate is free.

You can also install solar-powered lighting in your garden or wrap solar-powered fairy lights in trees. This will add atmosphere to your garden and won’t use costly energy sources unnecessarily.

Upcycle

Before you start building your new home, identify building materials and appliances that can be re-used. Windows, doors, roofing tiles and dishwashers can all be salvaged and used again in a new build, adding charm and character to your property whilst cutting down on waste and spending.

Recycle

Make sure your builder has a waste and recycling plan in place before commencing a build and work with them to minimise waste. Try to recycle as much of the leftover building materials as you can in order to reduce landfill. Buying recycled building products not only saves on energy that is required for the production of new materials, it can also lead to considerable savings and add to the atmosphere of your home.

Internal temperature

In warmer climates, the presence of elevated flooring and light construction materials can help to keep your home cool without the need for air conditioning. Consider a metal roof, which can effectively reflect sunlight and keep the internal temperatures down. Using solid materials such as brick, concrete and stone in the right areas of your home can also provide sufficient thermal mass to absorb and store heat during the winter months and save on energy.

Hot and Cold

When planning the situation of your home on a site or block, face the living areas north to take advantage of the winter sun. North-facing windows get sun for the longest part of the day in winter and are easy to shade in summer. Since living areas tend to be the most occupied, it makes sense to naturally heat these rooms. Including windows or openings on more than one side of the living area will allow for cooling breezes, whilst high windows or skylights get rid of any rising hot air. Reduce the heat losses of your pipes by locating the appliances that require hot water as close to your hot water services as possible.

Ask An Expert

The friendly and experienced team at PJ Burns Builder can help you to create the home of your dreams that’s also energy efficient. We offer you direct one-on-one service, so browse through our extensive range of designs or contact us today. Your dream home is closer than ever!

18

Jan

Making The Most Of Vertical Space At Home

Designs for narrow lot homes don’t have to mean space issues. In fact, with the right amount of creativity and clever thinking, you can make your vertical space a stunning and very functional asset. A properly designed narrow-lot house plan “lives” just like any other quality home and offers you more lot options once you make the most of your vertical space. Take our tips below, and you’ll never consider narrow lot homes as limiting again!

Embrace Natural Light

Making a small space seem more expansive means maximising the amount of light coming in the space. Integrate extra windows into your home design for lots of natural light, as this will make your home look larger and feel more open despite its narrow plan. Cleverly placed mirrors and glass create reflections and bounce light around, so hang mirrors at each end of a room in the upper third of the wall to reflect light throughout the whole area. You can tuck mirrors into corners of rooms and hang art in glass frames to create more reflections, and also try using a glass coffee table instead of a bulkier wooden one.

Reduce Dead Space

Spaces such as hallways and beneath staircases are often just areas of dead space. Try using bookcases to fill these areas, freeing up space in bedrooms or living areas for other functional furniture. Try connecting your bookcases together to create a full wall that not only displays all of your favourite literature as decorations, but stores them neatly as well. Extending your bookcase from the floor to the ceiling and over doorways can also give the illusion of more space as it draws the eye upwards.

Multitasking Furnishings

Get clever with sleeping arrangements, particularly in a child’s small bedroom. Keep the top bunk bed of a set of bunk beds for sleeping and convert the bottom bunk into an open space that can be used as a computer workstation, wardrobe or storage area. Bunk beds take advantage of the available vertical space with stylish flair and functionality.

Clutter Free Space

Small or narrow homes can easily feel cluttered, so it’s important to keep things as simple as possible. A soft, light coloured theme running throughout a small or narrow house allows the focus to remain on the sweeping views outside the living room windows, and can make the space feel larger than what is contained within the walls. The absence of rugs and small trinkets on tables can keep the “fussiness” to a minimum, and having only a few selected light framed artworks on the walls can also keep the space from feeling closed and cramped. If you like to keep trinkets and photo frames out, open shelving uses the notion of hiding things in plain sight to transform common objects into decorative collection, without the bulk of cabinets – just remember to keep it stark and minimalistic to avoid the feeling of clutter.

Ask An Expert

As an award winning residential and commercial builder, the friendly team at PJ Burns Builder can offer you direct one-on-one service to provide you with a home to suit any block, regardless of how narrow and it may be. Browse through our extensive range of designs or contact us today!

4

Jan

Designing A Small, Functional Outdoor Area

Limited outdoor space doesn’t mean you have to entertain indoors. Even with limited space, you can plan a functional outdoor area through creative ideas and techniques. From gardening techniques to furniture arrangement, we’ve got the tips you need to create a charming outdoor entertainment area with minimal space.

Think Vertically

No outdoor area is complete without plants! Small balconies or patios can have luscious green or colourful gardens too! If you like gardening, make the most of your space by embracing a vertical garden; the difference of placing your plants up higher can really add an element of natural beauty. You can create this look by purchasing a modular plant kit, which can be found in most gardening or hardware stores. Fix to a wall and allow your imagination and creative spirit to run wild, adding all the colour and texture to suit your style. Hanging ceiling plants and screens with climbing plants can also provide more privacy and add shade to patio and balcony designs.

Take A Seat

Provide guests with somewhere to sit and relax in your mini oasis by using horizontal space for seating. Bench style seating can be inexpensive, stylish and a great way for friends to sit, relax and catch up. If you’re on a tight budget, simply use some crates with cushions piled on top to create the same ambience. You could even get some large, colourful seating cushions on the ground to provide extra seating. If you have a little more room, a cute table and chairs is the ultimate addition to a balcony or patio. If the area is covered from the elements, use a rug to define the seating area, adding colour and really bringing the style from your indoor rooms into your outdoor area.

Light It Up

Embrace the intimate nature of a small space by enhancing that cosy feeling with lighting. Hanging lanterns add height, warmth, interest and ambient light to the area, so the entertaining can continue long into the balmy summer nights. Try hanging different lanterns together at different heights to create a chandelier effect, or even drape fairy lights over a wall or railing to create a pretty curtain of lights. Outdoor lighting can be underrated, but it really helps set the tone and atmosphere of your space, no matter how small it may be

Tidy and Level

Get rid of uneven or mismatched flooring and level the area before putting down new pavers; this will automatically make the space feel larger. You also need to tidy up any grass or flowerbed areas that have been neglected for some time. The neater and more streamlined the garden is, the larger it will look.

Multitasking

Create a functional area for food preparation, eating, and outdoor entertaining by setting up an all-purpose island and add barstools around one or all sides. Using a narrow shelving unit or decorative ladder shelving adds interest to the space as well as handy storage to keep the space functional. Whatever furniture you choose, keep it around the perimeter. Leaving the space in the middle clear will give the illusion of a larger area.

The PJ Burns builder team can offer you direct one-on-one service to get the most out of your home. Contact us today for a consultation

21

Dec

The Perfect Kitchen Design For Entertaining

Lots of people are using their kitchen as the primary space for home entertaining. There are a lot of ways to ensure the functionality of this home hub, both for cooking and entertaining! Here’s some simple tips on how to either design or look out for kitchen designs that provide an ease of conversation and movement, while still allowing plenty of room for the chef of the house to get on with what they do best – cook up a storm!

Bring The Indoors Out

If your kitchen opens out to an alfresco area, large bi-fold doors look super chic and can easily transform the kitchen into a large entertainment area. An indoor/outdoor design makes the most of the space you have available and encourages movement between the kitchen, the living area, and the deck or patio. Do away with the dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room too, so even when you’re playing the perfect host, you can still enjoy the party and mingle with guests.

Get Organised

It’s much more inviting for guests to arrive to a tidy space. Think carefully about what needs to be stored or presented in your kitchen and how to do it. Deep drawers are a great way to store plates, pots and pans as they provide easy access to your most used kitchen supplies. Maximise the space you have to avoid cluttering work surfaces, and utilise that space under the sink! Most importantly, you need a functional kitchen that you and your guests will enjoy being in.

Out Of Sight

If you can afford the space, a butler’s pantry is the ultimate utility room to keep storage and cleaning away from the main kitchen and entertainment area. Fitted with a sink, it keeps dirty dishes out of sight, showcasing your kitchen as a glistening focal point for eating and socialising in.

Install An Island

An island in the kitchen provides guests with room to sit, eat and socialise on one side, while still giving adequate preparation space on the other. This allows everyone to gather together and share occasions without feeling overwhelmed or confined. Islands can be placed vertical, horizontal, or diagonal to the rest of your kitchen and can be made even better with bar or stool seating, which also makes a fantastic breakfast bar. Adding a second sink or small wine cooler to your island can transform it into a wet bar to further impress your guests and make it even easier to entertain while cooking.

Functionality Above All

The kitchen design should never come at the cost of functionality, as you can’t effectively entertain at home if you can’t prepare and cook efficiently.  Plan for the essentials first: your stove and oven, fridge, and sink. Where each of these appliances is located will impact your ability to cook and socialise in your new kitchen while entertaining guests.

For more ideas on designing the perfect kitchen for entertaining, browse through our extensive range of designs and display homes or contact the PJ Burns team today for a consultation.

7

Dec

Choosing A Builder On A Limited Budget

Choosing a builder on a limited budget can be a daunting task, especially if you’re unaware of what things you should be looking out for. Many people are distracted by extravagant display homes and don’t investigate factors such as builder experience, reputation and the existence of hidden costs in their contract. Use our simple checklist below when choosing a builder to ensure you end up with a quality built house to call home for years to come.

Interview the Builder

Many people make the mistake of just meeting their builder, but it’s far better to treat the meeting like a job interview. Ask the builder detailed questions about how they can meet your budget and timeline expectations. After all, you’re going to be dealing with your builder for many months and a close working relationship will be critical to ensure a successful outcome. Make sure you understand who it is that you will be dealing with from day to day, as some builders will prepare the quote and be the primary builder on site, while other building companies may have a team of people and you may never see the person who prepares and presents the quote.

Reputation

Not talking to current or past clients can be a crucial mistake. Asking builders for references results in them providing only the details of those people who will say the right thing. Instead, ask the builder for the contact details of some current clients who can provide you with more useful feedback, as they are still immersed in the process.

Hidden Costs

Contract documents for building your home may look scary, but it’s so important that you take the time to thoroughly read and understand them. Your contract is the key to learning exactly what you’re paying for. Far too many people choose a builder based on quotes that have a lot of important items missing and that are not transparent. Beware of contracts with a long list of ‘estimates’ and ‘TBA’s’ and to avoid a blow-out in costs, ask for a fixed price.

Understand What’s Included

Leave no stone unturned and ensure you have information about every cost. Keep an eye out for clauses such as ‘pending soil test’. Regardless of how detailed and exhaustive the drawings may appear there will generally many things missing that the builder needs to prepare a comprehensive quote. Some builders won’t even construct many of the impressive features they have on show within their displays, so it pays to ask if they will build the home ‘as displayed’ and to provide you with a fully itemised cost.

PJ Burns Builder is an award winning residential and commercial builder. Our team can offer you a direct, personalised service to provide you with a home to suit any block on any budget. Browse through our extensive range of designs or contact us today!

23

Nov

Customising House Designs To Suit Your Lifestyle

Have you found a floor plan that is almost your dream house design, but it’s lacking a certain feature or two? There are lots of ways to customise house designs to perfectly suit your taste and lifestyle. Whether it be an entertainment room, a chefs pantry, a study nook or a garage, the most important thing when building is to ensure it will function for you and your family. Customise an existing floor plan to build a home, not a house.

Build For The Future

If you’re planning on expanding your family in the future, customise an existing floor plan master suite by having a nursery that’s adjoined. For when the kids are older and not fond of sharing, add an extra bathroom or a larger one. Hoping to start spending less time at the office in the coming years? Customise your floor plan to include an alcove that’s just the right size for a home office.

Build For Extra Space

If you prefer more of an open layout in specific areas of your home, you can easily modify some of the interior divisions to give you more flow through, and a sense of space. You can relocate a single or double garage to a location that will provide more space for storage and, of course, parking. You can even customise a plan to have a different foundation from the one specified, like switching from a slab to a basement. Of course, the availability for this will depend on where your site is located geographically.

Build To Entertain

If your lifestyle includes entertaining regularly for friends or family, customise a floor plan by adding more outdoor entertainment space, either covered or open to take full advantage of the weather. An entertainment/theatre room provides a more closed off space for watching movies in comfort. Add a dining room that flows into the kitchen for fun social and family gatherings.

Build For Age Or Disability

If you’re building your dream home for retirement or catering for a live-in elderly family member, special bathroom fittings and fixtures are available for easier accessibility. For a person with physical challenges, opt for indoor ramps for the easy maneuverability of a wheelchair.

Build For Sustainability

Opt for the use of “green” sustainable materials for custom framing and install insulated concrete slabs to prevent up to 40 per cent of your home heating or cooling energy from leaking away. You can reduce this loss by up to 80 per cent by choosing energy-efficient windows. Choose double-glazing and a timber or insulated frame for a high WERS rating. If you use timber for windows, frames, flooring or decking, make sure it comes from certified sustainable managed forests.

Speak to an Expert

The list of customisations to a floor plan are endless, including pre-defined custom options, but whatever the changes you require, it’s good to know that customisations are possible. If you need a little help or advice on deciding on the perfect floor plan and home design, our team can offer you direct one-on-one service to provide you with a home to suit any block on any budget. Browse through our extensive range of designs or contact us today!

12

Nov

How To Choose the Right Floor Plan

When choosing the right floor plan for you and your family, there are a number of things to consider to ensure you make the right choice.

The Building Site

It’s often recommended that you have a specific site selected before choosing a floor plan. This allows you to envision how your home will sit on the site and to compare floor plans with the features of the site you’ve chosen. For example, if your lot is narrow, you might consider a two-storey home to maximize on your allotted space.

Regulations

Before you get too carried away building your dream home, you should check with your local council and other relevant authorities regarding zoning and regulations. There may be a limit on the height of a house in your selected area, or restrictions on the minimum and maximum home size in terms of a percentage of the total lot size.

What New Features Does It Offer

Consider what a floor plan will offer that you don’t have in your current home. How will it improve your lifestyle? Your answers may include increased storage, more bathrooms, more bedrooms or a bigger space for entertaining. It may include a great home office or a larger garage for bikes and sports equipment. Try making a list of the things you don’t like about your current home, which will guide you with choosing a new floor plan.

Ease of Extension

Consider how easy it will be to extend in the future if you decide you need more space or wish to add value to the property. Even if you don’t need planning permission for your extension, as you are using permitted development rights, you must get building regulation approval.

Existing Furnishings

Unless you’re planning on buying completely new furniture to fill your home, you’ll need to accommodate the existing furnishings you wish to bring with you in to your new floor plan. Factoring in adequate walking space around each item of furniture will help you avoid the possibility of your beloved furnishings not quite fitting.

Who Is Living Here

Considering how many children you have or plan to have in coming years will make a big influence on the floor plan you choose. If you still have children living at home, elderly family members who reside with you, or other family members who visit often, this will help you determine the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that are necessary. For your situation, would a floor plan with split bedrooms, all bedrooms on the second floor, or a handicap accessible bathroom suit better? Considering these factors will help you make your decisions more wisely.

Privacy

Once you decide on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll require, consider how best to locate them in terms of privacy. Are you comfortable with guests using the bathroom in your master suite, or would you prefer a specific guest bathroom or half bath? Do you want the master bedroom secluded from the other bedrooms? If bedroom privacy is a concern, opt for home designs with enclosed patios, porches or deck areas to help create more privacy in personal spaces.

Our team can offer you a direct one-on-one service to provide you with a home to suit any block on any budget. Browse through our extensive range of designs or contact us today!

1

Nov

House Designs Perfect for Entertaining

When dreaming of their ideal house design, many homeowners take in to consideration the entertainment aspect of having friends and family over for dinner parties, drinks and special occasions. When deciding on floor plans for entertaining, you should consider your home fully occupied when planning kitchen, dining room and living room areas to ensure you will have enough space for hosting guests. Here are our top kitchen ideas to keep in mind so that your finished home is a perfect layout for entertaining all year round.

Open Layouts

Some of the most popular house plans available today are those with open layouts. Open layouts increase the options for entertaining guests, fostering a sense of togetherness in the heart of the home. Choosing an option that combines larger spaces, such as the kitchen and living room, creates a shared experience of cooking and eating. Look for plans with wide openings or walkways, where the dining room flows effortlessly from the kitchen into other living and entertaining spaces.

Without walls limiting flexibility, smaller tables can be joined to a dining room table to accommodate extra guests, or the space can be left open to allow guests to move around, mingle and chat. In addition, house designs with open layouts can make your home feel larger than the square footage would have you believe. By removing constricting doorways and widening passages, you obtain a sense of spaciousness even with a smaller, less expensive floor plan.

Big Kitchen

This seems an obvious one, but as a family who has food and entertaining as a focal point, what you define as a ‘big kitchen’ may vary. When choosing a spacious kitchen, look for floor plans that offer spacious central islands, abundant countertops and workspaces, cupboards and butlers pantries. Some cupboards and the butler’s pantry will often be situated off to the side or behind the kitchen and overall, the convenience and style of this type of kitchen will create a space that is suited for easily hosting many guests. Having a central island bench is also quite popular in that it creates a link between the family and meals areas without interfering with each individual space.

Indoor/Outdoor Dining

Entertaining at home is a breeze when you choose a house design which incorporates a spacious, covered outdoor area with the internal kitchen, dining or living area. Not only does an indoor/outdoor dining area allow your guests to flow from the kitchen to the outdoor entertaining area with ease, it also gives your home a sense of spaciousness and increases overall ventilation. Combining this layout with a designer kitchen as a focal point is absolutely perfect for entertaining.

Before You Start

Before choosing a floor plan, it’s important to assess your lifestyle. Is a single story sufficient or would you like a multi story home? Do you prefer an open floor plan or individual rooms? Do you want your new house plan to include formal dining? Or do you simply prefer relaxed family gatherings in an open planned space around the kitchen?

If you need a little help or advice on deciding on the perfect floor plan and home design, our team can offer you direct one-on-one service to provide you with a home to suit any block on any budget. Browse through our extensive range of designs or contact us today!

13

Jul

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