Cladding on your building project

We have recently completed a first-floor extension in Galston where we used Hebel panels for the cladding material. The requirement was to match the existing rendered brick home. The Hebel was chosen after considerable discussion about what choice to make for the cladding. Here is a bit more information about the cladding choices you have when you build a new home or do a renovation or extension.

‘Cladding’ is the term we use to describe the material that forms outside of the exterior walls. You may or may not be aware that in most cases the cladding is merely there for insulation and visual appeal. For example, when you see a brick house, in most cases the bricks aren’t holding anything up. The house is held up by the frames and the bricks are merely laid to create an external envelope and insulate the home.

You have many choices for cladding and each have their own characteristics and, of course, their own price tag.

The Hebel we used at above job is a form of Aerated Concrete. Aerated concrete comes in blocks and also in panels. It is easy to work with as it can be easily cut and is light to carry around. It’s light weight also makes it ideal for using in first story applications like this one as it can often avoid the need for ‘underpinning’ where we need to strengthen the footings or structural steel of the original house before we add the additional weight of a first-floor addition.

Aerated concrete can be easily rendered and painted to match the existing cladding of the home and is also relatively cheap and freely available in most areas.

Aerated concrete has excellent insulation characteristics. It is available in 100mm or 200mm thicknesses. The 100mm is very warm and the 200mm is about the best insulation that is available.

Traditional bricks come in a limitless range of colours and finishes to suit all tastes. Bricks can obviously also be rendered if desired.

Bricks are more expensive to build with because, so far, there is no quicker way to lay them than one at a time by hand. Bricks are also harder to match down the track as each ‘batch’ is largely unique depending on the clay mixture used to create them. We recommend you store 100 or so spare bricks under your house if you have them left over at the end of your addition or extension project as you never know when you might need them.

Bricks are most commonly used as a ‘veneer’ around homes with insulation installed inside them within the frames of the building. You can also build a new home in ‘full brick’ which involves a double layer of bricks around the external walls of the home and a single layer brick wall for internal walls downstairs (usually deemed to heavy for first floor internal walls). Bricks have sound insulation characteristics.

Fibre cement cladding is a common traditional method of cladding in Australia. It used to be used in sheets but most often these days it is in weatherboard strips. Finished and painted nicely (including filling under each board) it looks sensational and is very warm and robust. Particularly nice on traditional houses but also nice on the first floor of brick or rendered homes.

Then of course there is the old mud brick. It looks great but is not actually as warm as its reputation suggests. Mud bricks also require a bit more care. Render must be maintained at all times and any little leaks above the bricks will lead to them falling apart before your eyes.

Straw bales are also popular these days. I don’t know much about straw bale houses to be honest. My observation is that building with straw bales is a romantic idea that often leads to slow build times with difficulties sourcing the bales and the skills required. If you would like to build a straw bale house I’m probably not your guy, but I’ll happily come around for a beer and have a look through it when you’re finished!

Please see below a little bit of a list of the R-values of the various claddings. An R-value is a measure of how well an object, per unit of its exposed area, resists conductive flow of heat: the greater the R-value, the greater the resistance and the better it is at insulating. As you can see, the aerated blocks are the clear winner.

R Values.jpg

I hope that’s a bit of helpful information for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss any of the above for a prospective new home build, renovation or extension.

 

Richard Hoogervorst

Nicholas Barrett
New building products available for your renovation or new home

You can now get a benchtop that charges your phone when you place it on the bench. No plugs, no docking station and no wires. It just charges as if by magic.

The Corian Wireless Charging Surface can replace cables and power points to create user-friendly work and living areas.  It is a practical and simple to install technology solution for anywhere a smart device may want to be recharged wirelessly. You could use it in multiple locations throughout your home or office.

Enabled by a unit that uses induction technology, the Corian Wireless Charging Surface has a transmitter hidden under the surface, delivering the charge directly through the Corian.  Nothing is visible from above the benchtop.

 

Wireless Charging Surface

 

Wireless power, also known as inductive coupling, uses narrow magnetic fields that are a natural part of how electrical current moves through wires. It starts by creating a magnetic field around a hidden electrical coil. The receiving device has a hidden coil that can receive the magnetic energy created, thereby transferring power wirelessly.

The phone charges and stops when your device has reached maximum battery capacity. The phone will charge at about the same speed it would on a wired charger.

So if you are tired of the kids taking you charger, here is your solution!

Richard Hoogervorst

Blackbutt wooden flooring
Blackbutt Wooden Flooring for Renovations and Extensions.JPG

We are just finishing off our residential building project at Northmead in Sydney’s Northwest. The client’s have chosen beautiful Blackbutt Hardwood flooring throughout the extension and renovation. Blackbutt, along with Sydney Blue Gum, is one of my favourite flooring choices. It looks great and is extremely hard wearing. The colour remains true for many many years and the structural rigidity of the floor is excellent. All hardwood floors (and I mean ALL) will expand and contract depending on the climatic conditions, mainly humidity. As the timber contracts in drier conditions you will see little gaps between the boards. A small amount of ‘wriggle room’ is required to ensure the floor does not expand in higher humidity conditions and bow, cup or, worse still, apply significant pressure to walls. Expansion joints are used in larger floor areas to make sure the floor has room to expand without causing issues, and a small 10mm gap is left at the edges. The cupping mentioned above, where the edges of the board rise up, is more prevalent in wider boards.

The flooring in this photo has been laid over a concrete slab. We install plastic sheeting to prevent moisture rising from the slab, followed by ply board. We use what are called Splitz Anchors (big nails with an offset) to fix the ply to the slab. We use lots of them to ensure a nice firm feel and no squeaking or movement in the finished floor. We then lay the hardwood over the ply using specialised polyurethane glue and concealed fixings to hold the wide boards down and in place.

The end result is a beautiful natural floor which will look and feel magnificent for years to come.

Nicholas Barrett
Lots of non-compliant building materials this year
Building.jpg

 

In the last year we have seen increasing amounts of non-compliant materials in the building industry. We are now checking all materials that come from new suppliers to try and ensure all our building components meet Australian Standards and are of suitable high quality.

You will likely have heard of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. A building caught fire and the cladding on the exterior of the building was actually flammable. Flames accelerated up the building and tragically many people died. The cladding turned out not to be compliant with the fire resistance regulations.

Many electrical and glazing supplies are now being imported and supplied at the lowest possible price. The pressure to keep the price low inevitably leads to reductions in quality and sometimes it seems, a few short cuts on compliance with Australian building regulations.

We are being extra mindful to source electrical, glazing, steel and wood products from trusted suppliers and manufacturers. We source items made in Australia when we can and ensure quality of imported items.

The difference between a cheap build and a quality build has never been greater in my opinion. So please be careful to compare apples with apples when evaluating building quotes. We try very hard to keep prices down based on efficiency and low overheads, rather than by using the cheapest materials or suppliers.

 

 

 

Check your tradie
Building trades licence.png

Recent media stories have highlighted the need to use only licensed, qualified builders and contractors.

Unlicensed work that fails causes all sorts of headaches as unlicensed tradesmen are generally uninsured. Rectification work not covered by insurance could be costly, time consuming and stressful.

NuVision Building uses only licensed, qualified trades people that are fully insured. Many of our contractors have been working with us for over 10 years.

NuVision Building’s principal, Richard, has held a Builders licence for 23 years and has been, and continues to be, the nominated supervisor for NuVision Building for the past 5 years. A certain amount of Continuous Professional Development, CPD, must be carried out annually to maintain a Builder’s licence.

NuVision Building also has all the necessary public liability, construction risk and home warranty insurances.

If uncertain about your chosen builder or trades person, go to the NSW Department of Fair Trading website for more information and to do licence checks.

Nicholas Barrett
Colour Schemes
Building Colour Schemes.jpg

Selection of colour schemes is a significant part of your building project. Colour selections rank very highly as a difficulty for owners. If feels like it should be easy, but it isn’t. And it’s not something you can rely on us to do for you because it’s such a personal choice.

The other factor that makes colour selections difficult is that you often need to make your choices well ahead of time. For example, windows are an important part of the look of your project. Windows are one of the first things we need to order, often before we even start building because they take a long time to come.

Here is a general list of things that you will need to select the colour of:

·         Windows

·         Bricks

·         Roofing (Colourbond or tiles)

·         Cladding

·         Fascia and gutters

·         Downpipes

·         Tiles

·         Carpets

·         Wooden floors

·         Benchtops

·         Blinds and curtains

·         Cupboard door colours

·         Appliances

·         Fans and vents

·         Bathroom fittings

·         Light switches and power points

·         Decking

·         Concrete

·         Walls and ceilings

·         Timber trims such as architrave and skirting

·         External and internal doors

·         Garage doors

·         Eaves lining

·         Soft and hard furnishings and even art work

Here are some ideas for where to look to help you choose colours:

·         PGH Bricks and Pavers in Schofields have a selections display that includes bricks, pavers, roof tiles and window colours – Very helpful.

·         Visit display homes .

·         Paint supplier brochures contain lots of photos to get ideas from.

·         Various websites and tablet apps allow you to simulate the painting of building to see what the colours look like. We have found the Wattyl Virtual Painter website and Mitre 10 Accent Virtual Painter websites are quite good.

·         Houzz is a website with millions of photos of different building images sorted into categories

·         It is quite normal (and sensible) to pay for a little bit of professional advice from a designer, architect or colour consultant. They can help with combinations of colours that suit the style, size and position of the project.

You will get a better outcome if you take the time to determine the entire colour scheme before you commence your project so that all the colours complement each other. It also saves costly delays along the way if we can order items well before we need them.

Please let me know if you need any further help. I am not a colour consultant that’s for sure, but I can talk to you about common selections and point you in the right direction for some more resources.

Richard Hoogervorst - NuVision Building

Nicholas Barrett
Tesla and Solar Power in new homes
Tesla Powerwall.jpg

There’s lots of talk about the new Tesla Powerwall. What is it?

In most applications it’s a battery that stores the electricity generated from your solar panels in your home so you can use it when the sun’s not up.

With increasing electricity costs the push for residentially generated solar power is growing and growing in our building projects. One of the main issues with solar power for houses is that we want a lot of our power when the sun is not there; at night. Solar use in business has worked well because they need the power for the business during the day when the sun is there to generate it.

Generating electricity and storing electricity are two very different things. Many people are not aware that there is next to no storage in the electricity grid. It’s produced as we need it. When it’s hot and we all turn our air conditioners on, they have to literally load more coal into the power stations within minutes to keep up with the load requirements.

The Powerwall stores the electricity. Stored electricity can be used in a couple of ways. It can be used within your home at night (or when it’s raining), but it can also be released back into the grid on those hot days when they can’t shovel enough coal into the power stations to keep up. They pay you about 1/3 per kilowatt hour of what you pay them, but it all helps.

About 20,000 solar batteries were installed in Australia in 2017. A 3-fold increase from the year before. Who knows how many will be installed this year.

Demand is very high so prices will be high I hear you say. The good news is that part of the demand is due to significant drops in price and advances in technology. The new Powerwall 2 has twice the capacity of the original one released in 2015, but at the same price.

There are now about 20 brands of solar batteries available in Australia. Tesla is the big name but there are lots of others to choose from so the market is very competitive and prices are coming down rather than going up.

Electricity use varies greatly with different families and different efficiency of home design. But a solar system of between 3kW and 5 kW seems to be the norm, costing between $12,000 and $25,000 including batteries.

Obviously if the rest of your home is well designed from an energy efficiency perspective, the benefits and savings will be magnified.

We anticipate including solar systems in many of our building projects in Sydney this year.

Richard Hoogervorst

Nicholas Barrett
Christmas Greetings from NuVision Building
Christmas.jpg

Well it’s Christmas time again. The joy of Christmas is increased by the very busy time that precedes it. And this year is no different. We have lots to get through in the next 3 weeks.

We will work up to Wednesday 20th December and then collapse. After experiencing the healing properties of Turkey and Pavlova in high doses, we will return to work on Monday the 15th January 2018 to kick off the New Year.

Thank you to all our clients that have trusted us to build or renovate their homes this year.

For those of you that are tempted to undertake a little bit of renovating over the holidays whilst we are not available, I have prepared a few tips for you below.

Merry Christmas!

1.            It’s not true that your cousin the plumber will never turn up. In fact, he’ll turn up on day one, at precisely the time promised, whereupon he will disconnect your plumbing, remove a section of your roof, then disappear fishing until the end of January.

2.            Your initial budget should be seen as a work of fiction so rich and imaginative that it could be entered in the Booker Prize for Fiction.

3.            The marital argument over whether to choose the ”Calypso Blue” or the ”Ocean Breeze” for the kitchen cupboards will rise in intensity according to the degree to which the two colours are indistinguishable.

4.            The marital argument over whether to choose the ”Calico Breeze” or the ”Desert Sands” will be just as astonishing, which is surprising since both are identical shades of what used to be called ”off-white”.

5.            If you live in Paddington or Balmain you are required to paint at least one surface in the colour ”Hog’s Bristle”.

6.            If you live anywhere in the Hills District, you are required to paint at least one surface in the colour ”Woodland Grey”.

7.            Cans of paint come in quantities of 1 litre, 4 litres or 12 litres, while we builders construct all Australian bedrooms to require quantities of 1.2 or 4.2 or 12.2 litres. This is why there is no Australian shed that does not contain a stack of old paint tins.

8.            The only fabric you can bear the sight of will be the most expensive one in the shop. Ordering it will involve a three-month wait.

9.            Every Australian man, when buying methylated spirits for a cleaning job, is required to say to the guy serving: ”Have you got any cold ones?”

10.        Every Australian man when using a G-clamp, is required to say: ”It’s just one of my many vices.”

11.        Every Australian man when using a stud-finder before drilling a hole for a picture hook, is required to hold the device against his own body and when the bulb lights up say: ”Pretty accurate, eh?”

12.        Important decisions will always be made by your brother or uncle during the five minutes you are up at Bunnings, including the decision to knock a hole for a window in the wrong wall and to pebblecrete the heritage-listed sandstone facade.

13.        The height at which you place the door handles is of vital and crucial importance for the three days during which it’s an issue, but will then never again enter your mind.

14.        Cement dust, released at the far end of your backyard, will find its way into your underwear drawer by means still not understood by science.

15.        Telephone calls will always come when you are atop a ladder with a loaded paint-roller. They will always be a someone from an unknown dubious charity thanking you for your support last year and asking if you are happy to commit to the same donation for 2018.

16.        When working with electricity it’s crucial to make sure you have everything you need. These comprise: an insulated screwdriver, a pair of wire cutters, thongs, life insurance.

17.        The rubbish skip must by law be supplied by a company with a bad pun in its name, such as ”Bin-gos”, ”Dial a Dump” or ”Hop Skip & Dump”. The words ‘Do not fill above this level’ do not apply to you.

Enjoy your Christmas renovating!

Best Wishes,

Richard & Kate Hoogervorst

Nicholas Barrett