Winter Warmers

A Little Help From Nature

Take advantage of the warmth of the sun….. Leave your curtains and blinds open during the day to allow the natural sunlight to warm up your home throughout the day. Then once the sun goes down, close all window coverings so they act as insulators to keep the heat energy the sun generated through the window during the day inside.

Have you ever thought that all that winter cooking can heat up a room.  The heat that is generated from cooking can be put to good use by leaving your oven door slightly open after you have finished – this will help warm up your kitchen & living area.  The heat is there anyway so you may as well use it and cut down on using your heater.

Check Your Heater

We all have to use our heaters on most cold days at some point during winter so it’s a good idea to have your gas heater serviced every 1 to 2 years.  It is far more beneficial and economical to have your heating system working efficiently….it will save you $$$$.

Electrical heaters should be also checked for damaged cords or fans/bars and the age of the heater.

 Block those Draughts

Most of the heat loss around the home is through leakage. Check for gaps around your windows and door frames and patch them up if need be  –   use draught strips or use an old fashioned door snake along the bottom of draughty doors to block off the cold air flow.  A little bit of effort can go a long way and save you money in the long run.

Insulation

A large percentage of your home’s heat loss in winter occurs through the ceiling.  Insulating your home is essential to trap the heat in winter and cool in summer.  If you live in an older property and really feel the chill in winter, it might be worth considering retrofitting insulation to your ceiling. Your heating (and cooling come summer) energy bills will thank you for it!

Little Luxuries

Ceiling fans are not only useful in summer, they’re also an asset in winter time for circulating hot air in your home. Most modern ceiling fans come with a reverse winter setting where the fan pushes the hot air that accumulates near the ceiling downwards into the room.

 To look forward to rather than dread your winter morning shower routine, think about adding underfloor heating, heat lamps and heated towel rails to your bathroom. There’s nothing better than warming up in a toasty dry towel after a shower to start the day.

Dress Up to Warm Up

It is always a good idea to keep yourself warm with correct clothing and footwear to minimise your heating costs as well.  Socks/slippers/long pants/long sleeve shirts/jumpers/jackets/mittens/beanies/scarves and a nice rug on the couch will all help in keeping you warm this winter!  Toasty toes…….

We hope these tips get you on track to creating a warmer and more efficient home this winter. So just relax on the couch watch some Netflix with a hot coffee whilst your casserole is cooking away warming up the kitchen!  Bon Appetit!

Winter warmers

Maximising your Tax Return – Claiming on your Investment Property

accountant-accounting-adviser-advisor-159804[1]The end of the Financial Year is only a few weeks away. Time to start thinking about what deductions you can claim on your rental property.

Always get sound advice from accredited professionals to help you through the minefield of what can and can’t be claimed.

You will need to keep records right from the beginning of your investment journey if you invest in a rental property or rent out your current property.

Declare all your rental-related income in your tax return and work out what expenses you can claim as deductions.

So, what can you claim

  • Property Management Fees
  • Council & Water Rates
  • Insurances
  • Interest incurred on your loan
  • Maintenance & repairs expenses to the property
  • Advertising for tenants
  • Strata Fees
  • Building depreciation plus depreciation of fittings and fixtures like stoves, carpets and hot water heaters
  • Pest control and gardening
  • Phone costs, stationery and any travel costs to inspect the property

While this is not the full list of what you can claim and there may be deductions that you are not aware of – always discuss any possible deductions with your accountant or tax agent before lodging your tax return.

So, what can’t you claim

  • Utility bills that the tenant has paid
  • Any expenses associated with your personal use of the property
  • Borrowing costs
  • Any costs relating to the purchase or sale of an investment property

The end of the Financial Year in Australia is 30th June.

Is your home winter ready?

rain-boots-umbrella-wet[2]Winter is only a month away – Now is a good time to start thinking and preparing your home inside and out. A few precautions could save you a lot of heartache and Money!

With heavy rains and storms comes damage to property, you can avoid some of this by just taking a little time to ensure your house is prepared. The last thing anyone needs is a leaking roof due to overloaded gutters.

Here are some basic tips to protect your biggest investment –  Severe weather can challenge us all.

Outside

Gutters

Inspect your gutters for debris and leaves and remove all, even get the hose and flush them out.  Full gutters can cause your roof to leak and even collapse, when the water has nowhere to go when the gutters are full it backs up and flows into the roof space.

This can be quite devastating.  Nobody wants water pouring into their home and over your belongings or even worse over you whilst you are asleep in bed.  It will always invariably happen in the middle of the night!

It is also wise to have a professional clean your gutters to avoid any personal injury, particularly if you are elderly or need to get on the roof.

Trees

If you have any large trees on your property – have them cut back. Particularly ones that are hanging near power lines or your roof.  A large branch snapping off a tree is extremely dangerous and can cause major damage.

Once again please get a professional to lop a large tree – make sure you use a reputable tree lopping service – there are some ‘cowboys’ around that can be a bit unscrupulous.

Backyard

Storm forecast? Secure all loose items outside to prevent them becoming missiles causing bodily injuring or property damage.  Anything that can be put away in a shed – store over the winter period.

Inside

Heaters

Check your gas heater – particularly the hose – if it is showing any signs of wear and tear – you will need to replace. If your heater is an older model, you may need to have it serviced to keep it in good working order.  Check and clean your filters.

Electric heaters –   Check the cords and ensure in good working order.   Make sure they are dust free as settled dust could spark a fire.

Food

Excellent time to clean out the cupboard – clear out any flour, breadcrumbs etc that may be open and put any similar items into sealed containers.   These are the type of things that will attract rodents whilst they are looking for a warm place in the cold.

No one wants a family of Stuart Little’s making themselves at home in your HOME!

At the end of the day being prepared for the winter weather will only be beneficial to you and your home.

IT’S WORTH DOING

ANZAC BISCUITS

In honour of Anzac Day we have pleasure in sharing the good old fashioned recipe for Anzac Biscuits from The Australian Women’s Weekly

Make a batch over the weekend!

Anzac biscuits Ingredients

  • 1 cup (90g) rolled oats
  • 1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (40g) desiccated coconut
  • 125 g (4 ounces) butter, chopped
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or treacle
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)Anzac biscuits
  • Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Grease oven trays; line with baking paper.
  • Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. Place butter, syrup (spray the measuring spoon with cooking-oil so all the syrup comes away) and the water in a small saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth. Stir in soda, then stir into dry ingredients.
  • Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls; place 5cm (2-inches) apart on trays, flatten slightly. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden; cool on trays.

Tips

Anzac biscuits must feel soft to touch, when they’re done; they will become firmer on cooling. If you like the biscuits soft, decrease the oven temperature and/or the baking time; experiment with a few biscuits until you achieve the texture you like best. Make a note on the recipe of the time and oven temperature that the biscuits were baked.

Happy Baking!

anzac-biscuits-73688-1[1]

Vintage Kombi Promotion

It was a pleasure having the legendary 1973 Vintage Kombi ‘Bella’ on display outside of our Doubleview Office during the month of February.

This formed part of Mike Ferraro’s Kombi themed postcard flyer which had been distributed in the local area over the month.

Vintage Kombi Promotions kindly provided “Bella” the Vintage Kombi for 3 days over a period of a week. This created quite an atmosphere to our office surrounds and attracted a lot of attention from the locals!

This was two-fold – Promoting Vintage Kombi Promotions with all they offer For Hire from Weddings/Hens Nights/Concerts/Wine Tours/Milestone Birthdays – there are endless possibilities and adding further interest to Mike’s Kombi campaign.

Mike made himself available each day of the event from 11.00-12.30 to speak to people walking by and was more than happy to help with any real estate questions they may have.

The Kombi Campaign Flyer

Copy of mikes summer postcard

The Display

In addition to “Bella” Mike also created a display with the use of sandwich boards, balloons and streamers all set up to capture the curiosity of passer’s by.

Photos were taken during the promotion and all posted on social media via Facebook and Instagram.

 

Is your pool running swimmingly?

pexels-photo-611291 

For many people, a backyard swimming pool is part of the great Australian dream. However, installing one can be a source of major headaches for home-owners.

The common issues

Defects or unsatisfactory workmanship. Supply issues, including incomplete supply and delays. Domestic building charges, relating to variations, provisional sums, compensation and excessive stage payments and deposits. Damage caused to the owner’s property during construction.

Tips to help you avoid these pitfalls and make your project run swimmingly.

Check permit requirements

You must have a building permit for:

A swimming pool or spa deeper than 30cm (300mm), including above-ground pools and spas. Temporary inflatable pools and portable spas shallower than this do not require a building permit Pool and spa safety barriers, including windows, doors and gates that open into a pool or spa area.

Shop around

Choose your builder carefully. Show your selected builder examples of pools, and have detailed plans and specifications that suit your budget, your land and the regulations.

Have a written contract

We recommend that you have a written contract with your builder, regardless of the size of the project. The same laws that cover home renovation and building projects cover your swimming pool or spa construction.

For work costing more than $5000

The builder must use a written major domestic building contract. The builder must be registered with the Building Practitioners Board – ask for their registration details. Seek advice from your own experts to check your project – for example, a building lawyer and building consultant. Pay the amount set by law for deposit and stage payments.

Foundation report

Your pool contractor should get a foundation report to give you an accurate estimate of costs. We recommend that you discuss getting foundation data before signing the contract.

Exclusion clause

Some pool and spa contracts have exclusion clauses that can add substantial costs to the contract if additional work or material is required for specific reasons.

If the contract excludes things you want the contractor to do, ask them to provide costs for these and include them in the total price.

Costs sometimes excluded in contracts

Shoring up unstable soil around a pool excavation. Excavating rock from the pool site. Getting a comprehensive foundation report.

Insurance

Before work starts, check with your home and contents policy insurer that you are covered for the work – you may need extra cover.

Keep your home cool this summer

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Summer’s here and we’re all looking forward to days at the beach, BBQs and long cold drinks. With it will undoubtedly come hot weather, air conditioners on full and increases in power bills. There are many ways to keep cool at home without running up unnecessary energy bills. Have you ever stopped to think about how many hours you need to work to pay a power bill? 

Here are a few ideas to try and keep the heat at bay this summer.

Shade your windows

Keeping the sun off your windows during summer is key to keeping your home cool. Shading can be provided by external shade blinds, shade cloth or trees. This simple strategy helps to reduce heat build-up in the house, increases comfort and defers the need for air conditioning for a while.

Why shade the glass? Did you know that for every one square metre of glass the sun directly hits, the heat is radiated inside by over 35%. That’s equivalent to a one-bar electric heater being on in the house for every square metre of glass the sun hits. Stopping that with shading devices can make a big difference.

Fans first

Using fans to circulate the air produces a cooling effect on the skin of between 3C to 6C. This helps you to feel cooler without having to use an air conditioner. Depending on your local energy rates, fans cost about 1.5 cents an hour to run, air conditioners cost around 50 cents an hour upwards to run. Fans are a great way to put off turning on that air conditioner and much cheaper to run.

Let the hot air out Efficient cooling

If you have evaporative cooling be sure to leave a few windows ajar.

If you have a reverse cycle or refrigerated air conditioner you’ll need to close off the area you are cooling to keep the cool air in while the system is on. Regularly check and clean the filters to ensure the system operates efficiently.

Regardless of the type of system you may have, consider increasing the temperature. Instead of having the temperature set at 20C, set it to 24C. It will still be cool, and for every 1C you save cooling, you could save up to 10% of the running cost.

The combined approach

To get a really efficient cooling use a fan in conjunction with the air conditioner. You can set the temperature on the air conditioner higher which will save on energy costs. With both running together you’ll get a great cooling effect for less energy, and less cost.

By implementing a few of these cooling tips you should be able to keep your cool this summer without breaking the bank on energy bills.