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Set these in concrete before you build | Articles around the web

New home builds take commitment, patience and a clear understanding of what’s coming in terms of costs. Before you sign any dotted line, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

 

The most common building mistakes and how to avoid them by Domain

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Be clear, be realistic and don’t be afraid to get involved. These are only some of the points that the guys at Domain highlight. Thousands of dollars are wasted on builds because future owners don’t know what they’re in for. Nor do they want to step on anyone’s toes.

 

10 mistakes to avoid when building a new home by Fresh Home

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This piece focuses more on home design like room placement and how to utilise lighting as best you can. Once it’s built, you can’t take anything back and it’ll cost more to remedy. The article also makes a point about not letting anyone tell you what YOU want. Unless your builder or the designer is telepathic, it’s their job do satisfy your vision for the house.

 

The hidden costs of building a new home by Home Sales

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There’s a lot more to building a new home than quotes from the trades. Legal fees, stamp duty and inclusions are just some of the extra costs that building clients aren’t aware of (if they don’t do the research).

 

How to customise an off-the-plan home by Real Estate

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Buyer meets display home, falls in love, but wants to have a marble benchtop instead of laminate. This, and other customisations, will cost a lot of money that the future owners can’t spare. Real Estate takes readers through the variations and how much they cost, as well as the impact they’ll have on the home overall.

 

We have more advice about home building here:

3 areas you can spruce up with concrete work

5 finishes that add value, from polished concrete to modern art

renovation

5 sure-fire ways to make sure your renovation goes to plan

Doing a renovation or general fixing isn’t as expensive or draining as the shows on television and your friend’s stories might lead you to believe. You can keep  everything on track, and survive it, if you prepare. There’s a lot of tips out there, but we’ve narrowed down the list to our top 5.

 

  • Get your budget in order

The renovation can’t get started if you don’t have the cash. You need to meet your accountant, and someone from your bank if you need to take out a loan.

Line up the quotes you got from the concreter, the carpenter, the plumber and any other  trades you need. Can you afford to pay them? You’ll also need extra cash, about 20% of the total budget, in case of extra costs from unforeseen circumstances.

 

  • Decide where to live

You can’t use the kitchen when the concrete floor’s getting polished, or take a shower when the screed is curing. It’s up to you whether or not to move temporarily, but if the whole house is getting renovated it’ll certainly make life easier. Trades start work early; do you want to wake up to the sound of a concrete truck pouring cement, or drills going at it, at 7am?

 

  • Clean and store

Most trades respect your space, from the concreter to the plumber, but sometimes accidents happen and things break. Make sure you move the valuables and fragiles out of the house until work is finished. Mess is a given in a renovation, so moving delicates and valuables will ease your anxiety. 

 

  • Go shopping

Look at display homes and interior magazines. Speak with your contractors, too, when getting a quote. Be transparent about what you want and the money you have to spend.

Just because you’re mindful of counting pennies doesn’t mean you’ll sacrifice quality. Can’t splash on a marble benchtop? Get a stained concrete slab instead. Go to vintage shops and recycling stores for second-hand furniture. Reupholstering old furniture is cheaper than buying a new suite. You’re going to cut the cost of the renovation dramatically when you buy second hand instead of new off the shop floor.

When you’re looking at fixtures like taps and lights, favour the environmentally-friendly options. You’ll save a lot on your electricity/water bills.

 

  • Keep an open line

During the renovation, the builder is the boss, but that doesn’t mean you disappear. As a client, you want satisfaction guaranteed so it’s better to stay accessible. Builders have a good habit of sending progress reports, and that includes any problems they’ve encountered. This is why it’s better to have that 20% extra budget handy, though hopefully you’ll never have to use it.

 

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10 stencilled concrete design ideas

Stencilled concrete isn’t a new innovation, but it’s a popular option for homeowners wanting to renovate, and for investors wanting to put the finishing touches on an investment property. You might’ve seen some of these patterns before on someone else’s landscape and decided you want to ‘borrow’ one for your own.

 

  • Flagstone

This is one of the most generic stencilled concrete patterns available, but you can dress it up with bright colours to make it stand out.

 

  • Herringbone

Resembling the bones of the fish, this type of design is common with pavers  as it makes  use of their long and short edges. You can use this pattern in your pergola and barbecue areas.

 

  • European Fan

This design is made up of small square tiles spread in an arching fan pattern. It’s also called ‘fish scales’.

 

  • Wood/timber

Yes, you really can get concrete to look like wood. At least you’ll never have to worry about it rotting! Have this stencilled concrete design on the patio for a rustic feel.

 

  • Compass

This adds a touch of pizazz to an otherwise plain driveway. The compass comes in a variety of shapes and designs, just speak with your contractor about what you want. Get the creative juices flowing and pick out a few colours to make the design really stand out.

 

  • Diamond tile

This pattern comprises of octagonal tiles with square or ‘diamond’ tiles in between.

 

  • Interlocking diamonds

Placing this stencilled concrete pattern in the middle breaks up monotonous driveways. To get the diamonds to show up properly, choose contrasting colours.

 

  • Convict brick

This style mimics the crudely cut stone made by convicts back in the day when they were blasting rocks from quarries and cliffsides. You can find the real deal in heritage homes. In stencil form, it’s a cross between a cobblestone and a flagstone.

 

  • Patios and pathways

Having the patio connected can really tie a landscape together. You can go from one end of the yard to the other without having to tread a foot on the grass. This feature is good if you want to have a yard or garden for people to admire, rather than play in.

 

  • Driveways to front doors

Having an even pathway when your arms are loaded with bags saves you the worry of tripping, at least. A seamless path from the driveway to the front door will give a good first impression to visitors and potential tenants (if you’re a property manager).

 

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5 finishes that add value, from polished concrete to modern art

You need to update your office, your home, or even one of your commercial properties to get ready for resale. Or you just need to renovate because the block was built 20 years ago and it’s TIME. Fenix Concreting has completed several renovation projects, both domestic and commercial, and we list here some of the five top touches that go well with your new polished concrete floor.

 

  • Polished concrete

Industrial style living and office spaces are the new vogue, just look at the Wool Stores in Teneriffe, now million dollar apartments and lofts. Rather than rip up the old floors, contractors were briefed to resurface them, creating a polished concrete look. This gives old floors a second chance at life.

There’s also ways to use polished concrete that don’t involve flooring. Customers order custom concrete benchtops in place of stone because a  cheaper price gets the same result. You can order polished concrete with aggregate through it, or even a stained finish.  

 

  • Neutral colour palette

Don’t depend on loud colours to decorate your home or business. It’ll be distracting for you and your visitors. Reds, oranges, and the like are ‘hype’ colours that rev up the brain.

Pale blues, pinks, beiges, and eggshells are great neutral options that interior designers will easily dress. They’re also good to use on a feature wall, if you insist on having a splash of paint somewhere.

 

  • Use accessories for colour

When you use a neutral palette, it means you let the accessories do the talking. With polished concrete floors, you can lay down a coloured or patterned rug. If you have furniture with grey or white fabric, invest in some cushions and throws.

Polished concrete walls in art galleries are great backdrops for the works on display. A plain backing forces the eye to focus on the art. Plus, it’s a classy touch.

 

  • Industrial-style fittings

Restaurants, galleries, and even some homes that go down the ‘industrial style’ road purchase light fittings to match the theme. Fixtures with exposed bulbs, such as ‘plumbing pipe lights’, have become increasingly popular.

 

  • Outdoor living

One extra living area equals a higher reserve price! Patios and alfresco areas are irreplaceable as part of the Australian lifestyle. It’s a place to wine and dine, or just sit down and breathe after a long day at work. In a commercial build, having an outdoor space is vital to employee health so they can get some much-needed sun and fresh air. You can use your polished concrete patio for informal meetings with clients, or leave it accessible to employees for some fun downtime after work.

 

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Get creative with your concrete driveway

Homeowners refresh their concrete driveway when they’re looking to sell, or just looking for a change. With property prices soaring and people becoming pickier about style, the driveway is the easiest outdoor area to take care of when renovating.

the average concrete driveway has come a long way from being a grey slab with exposed aggregate finishes. The latter is certainly a classic, but smooth finishes are favoured because they’re easier to walk on with bare feet and look ‘cleaner’.

Rather than single colours and plain finishes, driveways with a stencilled pattern are the new normal. This gives the property owner the chance to put their ‘stamp’ in stone, so to speak. Stencils are laid over the concrete before it dries and then lifted, creating whatever effect the owner orders. Patterns like stars, compasses, and pavers are etched in driveways around Australia, normally in a multitude of colours. The paver effect is popular because it’s cheap, and uses less time and materials than the real thing. Another common design is a single coloured path with a paver effect at the edge in another shade.

Concreters like Fenix work closely with the homeowners so the desired effect is achieved the first time. If the owner of the property has examples of driveways they’d like to emulate, that is certainly  helpful, though contractors might have some designs on hand. They’ll also have colour charts to choose from. Colours are finalised during the quoting process.

In a world of renovation shows, an expensive property market, and choosy buyers, homeowners and property investors are more concerned with  how their driveway looks. After all, the whole facade of the house is the first thing prospective buyers  see. An old, tired, and cracked concrete driveway doesn’t make a good impression. This is easily fixed with an experienced contractor, some design ideas, and a different colour…or two, or three.

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A driveway in Coolum

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How concreting adds value

Concreting is done before almost everything else  during a building project. It’s a base material that nobody pays much mind to, until something needs to get done. Concreting adds value to properties in various ways, not just monetary.

 

Tough as concrete

The material, when poured as a slab combined with rebar, withstands a lot of pressure. Domestic blends are typically 3500 psi (pounds per square inch) and won’t crack unless you plan on dropping a few bowling balls on it.

Concreting projects aren’t always large; sometimes all that’s needed is some resurfacing. Old slabs with a few cracks are due for a facelift, and your contractor won’t need a lot of time to get it done.

 

Designer concrete

When you renovate your house, having a concrete floor can add that ‘industrial’ feel that’s so popular in magazines and television shows. There’s also concrete countertops, concrete stairs, the list goes on.

Speak with your contractor about your ideas  and how you want the end result to look. Concreting and interior design actually go together quite well. There’s plenty of finishes and colouring options. Acid staining and polishing can give the impression that a slab is made of granite or marble. This is a great look in kitchens, bathrooms,  and outdoor leisure areas.

 

Patch-ups and coverings

Cracks and the like are trip hazards. You see these mostly on old footpaths. One wrong step and next thing you know you’re eating pavement. Commercial patch-ups are disruptive if they’re large scale, like a carpark or long stretch of footpaths. For safety’s sake, though, they’re necessary after a few decades.

Covercrete, or spray concrete, is easily and quickly applied to tired surfaces. When a space needs a facelift but the ground doesn’t need ripping up, covercrete is the way to go. This type of concreting adds value to a home because you can get a design stencilled in it. This is what you see in driveways and some patios. There’s plenty of ways to design covercrete, from ‘pavers’ patterns in red ochre to a fleur-de-lis in royal blue.   

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Concreting at home: finishing touches

A lot of thought goes into concreting – it’s not just pouring liquid cement into a mould and waiting for it to set. After the technical aspects like tensile strength and dimensions are settled, the fun things are next.

 

A little polish

Or not. Domestic concreting projects, like interior flooring, will need a polished surface for comfort. Paths and driveways are more likely to have an exposed aggregate surface. This finish is achieved when the surface cement is blasted away to reveal the larger stones underneath.

Smooth, polished, concrete is a popular choice for interior decorating. Warehouses developed into housing and apartments often come with pre-existing concrete slabs that the new owners can redecorate at their whim. Some choose to leave it plain (or just re-apply some sealant). Others will spray coloured covercrete on their driveway or even do an acid-stain inside to ‘freshen up’ the space.

 

Colour

Concreting isn’t boring; you can have a bit of fun with it. Speak to your contractor about coloured options for your driveway, patio, or path. You rarely go past a house with a plain grey slab out the front. Instead, homeowners and developers will choose a colour scheme that matches the exterior of the home.

 

Design

Some like it plain, others like it patterned. Your contractor will tell you that they can ‘stamp’ concrete to mimic the patterns of wood or marble. They can also use covercrete (a spray adhesive concrete) to make designs on the slabs. You can use concrete as a canvas and get creative with it to make something unique.

Keeping it simple colour-wise is fine, though designers and homeowners might choose to mix it up with a bit of concrete cutting. This type of design is found on patios and driveways, giving the impression that the area is made of large tiles instead of a concrete slab.

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Concrete solutions for the home

Concrete for the home is nothing new. The “industrial” trend has seen warehouse conversions and new home build with entirely concrete interiors. It’s getting a better rap for its design potential, rather than its use for making council footpaths. We’ve listed some of the common uses for concrete in the home below.

 

Patios

You can’t walk into a backyard without walking on a patio first. They’re an essential part of the Australian way of life; where else will you put the barbecue?

Making a patio isn’t that much different from making a driveway. You still need to go over specifics with your contractor. This includes the size of the surface area, the type of finish you want and the required strength of the concrete.  

 

Floors

Warehouses that are converted into homes more often keep the original floor. A bonus of this is the psi strength of the concrete will be around 4000 – 5000 psi. This type of concrete is used in “high traffic” areas. Any lesser type would crack faster.  

Polished concrete floors are popular in new home builds that want to have a “modern” finish. Concrete floors are low maintenance and easy to clean with a broom or steam-mop.

 

Steps

Indoor or outdoor, concrete stairs are reliable and sturdy. They can withstand high amounts of foot traffic, unlike varnished timber. It is also waterproof. When high amounts of rain or flooding occur, the steps will remain standing.

You’re more likely to find concrete steps out the front of a home, but they’re slowly making their way indoors as a design quirk. An example of this is art galleries, museums or display homes.

 

Tips

Concrete is tough but is prone to staining, same as carpets or clothing. This is because concrete is a porous material. Penetrating sealants “plug” the pores and bonds with it at a molecular level. Topical sealant sticks to the concrete’s surface and is fine at resisting minor stains.

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Five Questions About Concrete Driveways

Home upgrades are important for fixing up a “dated” home and adding resale value when the time comes. Old, cracked or generally unpleasant-looking driveways are one improvement people might not give much thought to, but they really should. Driveways can turn into a money pit when not laid correctly.  

Do I need a base layer?

Any building needs a steady foundation and driveways are no different. Loose soil isn’t good for a construction project. This leads to cracking, costing you more than what you were originally quoted thanks to repairs. For base layers, the soil is compacted and crushed stones spread across the surface area to stabilize the concrete when it sets.

What concrete type do I need?

Different types of concrete exist for different jobs. The concrete will need to have a high psi rating, meaning it can withstand a lot of pressure bearing down. For concrete driveways the contractor would recommend a 4000 psi mix. This blend can withstand 281 kilograms per square centimetre.

Should I seal the driveway?

You can’t just have the driveway laid and leave it at that. Nature and lifestyle need consideration. Cars leak grease, things get dropped or splashed, and there are forces of nature to contend with. A penetrative sealant will protect the driveway from these, plus moisture absorption.

What’s the warranty?

Good contractors will have workmanship warranties that last for a year or more. If a contractor lacks a policy, it’s best to look elsewhere. Ask for a copy of the warranty to check what’s covered so that you’ll get the best value for money. Good contractors will take responsibility for their work during and after construction. This way if accidents happen, you won’t be out of pocket.

When can you start?

Of course contractors have slow periods, but if it’s perpetual then there’s a problem. One way workers get found is through word of mouth, and when they have a lot of recommendations they’ll be busy. If you sign with a reputable contractor, they might not be able to start work straight away. However, they’ll do their best to get to you as quick as they can.

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Three Questions to Ask About Concrete

Concrete is a necessary material to lay those first foundations when you’re building a home, resurfacing your driveway or even taking the first steps to building an alfresco dining area. But not all concrete is made equally; there are different types for different purposes. Before you call the contractor, ask yourself these three questions to make sure you’ll choose the correct materials.

 

  1.      What kind of work am I doing?

Concreting a driveway is a very different job from building a patio, and no two products will be the same for this reason. For outdoor work you need concrete that’s resistant to the sulphur found in soil. For common areas there’s a kind of concrete that’s resistant to cracks. There’s no “one type fits all”. Investing a little time in checking will save you money in the long run.

 

  1.      How strong does it need to be?

Next from the point above, it’s important to note that different concretes have different psi, or load bearing, capacities. 2500psi types are good for general construction like interiors and paving, but for strength some builders will prefer 3500psi blends. Rarely will a home need a 4000 – 5000psi concrete which is standard for warehouses, shops and other areas where there’s a high volume of traffic.

 

  1.      Is there a particular style or finish I’m after?

Finishing touches are just as important as the product itself! These last details can add value to your home and gives you a chance to personalise it the way you want. Concrete isn’t just grey anymore. There are various finishing touches to choose from. This includes exposed to polished, coloured to plain and stencilled to acid-stained.

 

Of course discuss the best options with your contractor, but knowing these questions will save time and money. They’ll help you find a product that will change your home, add value to your investment and even inspire a little envy among your friends.