Thursday, May 27, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 28 May 2010
Quote of the week....

"If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present.

And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present."

Affordability drops in March Quarter

The decline in housing affordability continued early in 2010, according to the latest HIA-CBA First Home Buyer Affordability Report.

Housing affordability fell in the March 2010 quarter, dropping by 4 per cent to be 28.7 per cent lower than 12 months ago.

Through the quarter, affordability fell by 4.2 per cent in the capitals and 5.3 per cent in regional areas to be lower by 30.5 per cent and 24.8 per cent respectively compared to March 2009.

The largest falls were recorded across Victoria (down by 10 per cent in Melbourne and 15.9 per cent for Regional Victoria), Western Australia (down 6.6 per cent in Perth and 14.2 per cent in regional WA) and regional New South Wales (down 12 per cent).

Remote to cut costs

A new web-based smart metering system has been developed by CSIRO to enable householders, small businesses and electricity retailers to remotely control energy use over a broadband internet connection.

The aim is to help small-scale energy users cut energy use, costs and carbon emissions.

CSIRO project leader, Dr Martin de Groot, said the system would give householders the flexibility to cutback their electricity use at times when it's needed elsewhere on the grid.

The system involves installing a mini smart-meter in a household or business electrical switchboard, which can then be managed remotely from a centralised control platform.

"The householders can even receive alerts on their mobile phones notifying of any significant changes in energy use in the home."

CSIRO has estimated that in Tasmania (where the new technology was developed) alone, the State's annual electricity expenditure could be cut by $10.9 million, even if less than 10 per cent of Tasmanian customers used the system.

If just 10 per cent take up the technology, the annual savings for those users is estimated at up to $200 for householders and $1,300 for small businesses.

The infrastructure is cheap, can be retrofitted to existing buildings and complements other technologies such as local generators and intelligent home automation systems.

CSIRO worked with energy service company Energy Response to develop the remote control system software and with hardware designer Saturn South to build the mini smart meters.

The system was on display at the CeBIT technology conference in Sydney this week.

Love food, hate waste

Did you know that food waste is the largest single component of our garbage?

Council waste audits show that each year, NSW households generate 800,000 tonnes of food waste and businesses generate 300,000 tonnes. This means $2.5 billion worth of food (about $1,000 a household) is thrown away each year.

So it is that the NSW Government this week launched Love Food Hate Waste - an internationally successful campaign to help thousands of households and businesses reduce growing amounts of food waste.

"Food waste makes up a massive 40 per cent of the total rubbish in our household bins; that is 315 kilograms a home," Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, Frank Sartor said.

"There are also major consequences for the environment when we throw away food - it goes directly into landfill where it turns into methane - a gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

"There are simple things we can all do to waste less food, including buying only what we need, preparing and cooking correct amounts, and storing food items properly.

"Love Food Hate Waste - is a partnership program based on a successful campaign in the United Kingdom which supports households to adopt simple and easy behaviours that work to reduce food waste."

The website offers help in the form of a portion calculator, tips on what to buy and when, recipes and how best to store food.

Mr Sartor said the program will help NSW meet its municipal waste reduction target of 66 per cent and commercial and industrial waste reduction target of 63 per cent by 2014.

"This target is equivalent to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in NSW by about 640,000 tonnes of CO2 per year - that's the same as permanently removing 159,000 cars off the road," Mr Sartor said.

"For every tonne of food waste prevented from going to landfill, 0.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide can be saved.

"To put this into perspective - by preventing all household food waste from going to landfill we would save more than 720,000 tonnes of carbon pollution in NSW each year.

"When food is wasted, the energy, water and natural resources used to produce, harvest, process, package, distribute and market it are lost.

"By reducing the amount of food we waste, the community can play a simple and positive role in reducing the environmental and climate change impacts of the nation's food supply system."

The UK's Love Food Hate Waste campaign commenced two years ago. Research to date has found that the campaign has reached more than 1.8 million people and has prevented more than 137,000 tonnes of food from being thrown away.

How waterproof is your bathroom?
Guidelines for the waterproofing of wet areas in residential buildings have been re-defined in the latest version of the Building Code of Australia, as the issue has consistently been one of the most commonly recurring major building defects, with home-owner complaints about defective waterproofing ranking third highest over all complaints received regarding building work.

Water damage is second only to fire as a cause of building decay and deterioration. Apart from the obvious casualties such as rotting of timber structures and finishes and the corrosion of metals, damp can cause plasterboard to swell, ceramic tiles to come loose and carpet to rot.

From a health aspect, electrical hazards and respiratory problems are more prevalent in a damp house.

Leaking showers represent a significant proportion of wet-area failure, followed by bathrooms then laundries and toilets. Here's a checklist to help track down the source of the leaking.

* The main tell-tale sign of trouble is peeling, bubbling or stained paint or efflorescence salts on the wall behind a shower, bath or basin - this may be evident in the bathroom, laundry, etc itself, or in an adjacent room. Plaster and render can also be affected, often causing it to become detached from the wall.

* Look at the general condition of the shower. What is the condition of the grout and sealant? Cracked or loose tiles are a significant cause of shower leaks. Unfortunately, simply removing the loose tiles and re-fixing them is not the answer. Dampness may be rotting the base to which the tiles are attached, and all affected areas need to be redone.

* Next, check if the shower, screen or drainage system is leaking. Make sure that the shower screen has been properly installed and sealed. (It should be flush with the inside face of the hob).

* Check the roof drainage connections for signs of leaks - does the leak only ever happen when it rains?

* If none of these exposes the culprit, it is time to check if the shower tray is damaged. Plug the shower drain hole; fill with water up to 25 mm from the top of hob or 10 mm from the top of the step down and check for leaks. Allow water to sit in the shower for at least 12 hours.

Once you have determined the source of the dampness you can then decide on the best method to treat the problem. In most instances you will probably require a professional to assess the problem, suggest a treatment and quote for the repair work.

Holding Costs

The term "holding costs" in property refers to the outgoing expenses incurred by an owner of an investment property pending receipt of rental income from a tenant or the sale of the property to another party.

Holding costs generally include such items as council rates, insurance, strata levies (if applicable), maintenance and interest costs and any mortgage interest paid. For property investors most holding costs can be offset for tax purposes against income.

It's what's inside that counts

A home-cooked meal is always worth the effort, though sometimes it seems you can spend a lot of time finding what you need - especially if there are other "cooks" in your kitchen.

Maybe that's what prompted the design of custom kitchen cupboards that have translucent white panels and a backlighting system that casts silhouettes of the objects inside each cabinet.

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