Thursday, October 28, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 29 October 2010
2010 Sydney to Gong Ride

A Challenge within a Challenge

The Gong Ride is a one of a kind fundraising event. You can pedal 90km from Sydney to Wollongong on any day of the year but it's only on the first Sunday of November that you'll experience the camaraderie, fellowship, unity, safety, scenery and sense of achievement for pedalling in support of people living with MS. But be quick because numbers have been capped so places are limited! To maintain the safety and enjoyment of participants, local residents and other road users and in consultation with the NSW Police and the RTA, the event will be capped at 10,000.

More Information

Planning key to the city

Urban density and long-term strategic planning are essential if Australian cities are to meet the challenges of increased population, traffic congestion, water shortages and climate change, a report has found.

The ADC Cities Report, which is the outcome of the ADC Cities Summit that was produced by ADC Forum earlier this year, urges governments to rethink their approach to urban planning to address these challenges and maintain the liveability of our cities.

"We need to focus on better cities, not necessarily bigger cities," said one of the authors of the report, John Stanley, Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney.

"Increasing density in the middle suburbs, around public transport corridors, will drastically improve the efficiency of our cities while maintaining their liveability."

A key recommendation is the establishment of a National Centre for Cities, which would provide policy and planning advice to all levels of government and promote community involvement in policy and planning for our cities.

"Australian cities are facing myriad and complex challenges that require a long-term strategic approach with strong community engagement," Professor Stanley said.

"The establishment of a National Centre for Cities would allow these issues to be considered in a way that looks beyond election cycles."

Dr Ian Winter, Executive Director Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute agreed.
"It is critical that Australia invests nationally in the high quality research that is needed to underpin high quality urban policy development", Dr Winter said.

The Report addresses interconnected issues such as transportation, housing, productivity, infrastructure, environment, population, urban design, social inclusion and governance.

Along with increased urban density, there is a need to focus on enhancing the existing villages within our cities, embrace water sensitive development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, better utilise existing infrastructure and consider the development of new cities.

"We need to look beyond our existing cities and consider the expansion of our regional centres, as well as the development of whole new cities," Professor Stanley said.

"There is a case for resourced-based cities in the north west, which could be closely linked to our regional neighbours, while a high-speed train in the east coast corridor could turn regional centres into major cities."

Sunny future for solar industry

The sun will shine out of Newcastle, when an ambitious new solar project goes online, the CSIRO announced this week.

CSIRO has this week begun installing 450 large mirrors, called heliostats, for Australia's largest solar-thermal tower system at the CSIRO National Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle, New South Wales.

The tower is designed to demonstrate that, after the cost of carbon is taken into account, electricity can be generated by sun-power at the same or less cost than fossil fuel-generated electricity.

Creating 2.4 x 1.8m panels of glass mirrors for a solar field is no easy feat. The glass needs to be a specific concave shape to achieve a highly accurate reflection point and strong enough to withstand extreme weather events.

Once installed, the heliostats will concentrate the sun's rays to create temperatures of up to 1000°C.

The heliostats have a lightweight steel frame with a unique, simple design, specially created for mass production for the commercial market. The units are smaller than many heliostats currently being used around the world, but just as efficient, more cost effective and much easier to install.

CSIRO's Energy Transformed Flagship Director, Dr Alex Wonhas, said the economical design of the heliostats will also make solar fields more cost effective to build and operate.

"It's a local idea generated by CSIRO and manufactured by a local company, which will have global impact," Dr Wonhas said.

"We hope that one day we will see these economical heliostats used in solar fields all over Australia and the world."

The heliostat field is part of CSIRO's new solar Brayton Cycle project - a solar tower and field that generates electricity from just the air and sun. The heliostats are part of an advanced new solar technology developed by CSIRO and manufactured by Central Coast company, Performance Engineering Group.

The project has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) as part of the Clean Energy Initiative.

Loans for renovations
Personal loans are normally associated with cars, holidays and debt consolidation, but people are now using them to fund renovations as well, according to Aussie Home Loans.

In June, almost one in five people (18 per cent) who settled a personal loan with Aussie were using it for that purpose, up from 12 per cent in the previous month.

The numbers have been steadily growing over the past year, according to Aussie founder and Executive Chairman John Symond, who remarked that personal loans are an effective way of managing larger credit.

"A personal loan is a simple easy way to finance larger cost items such as a new kitchen, or other renovations which improve the value of the home," Mr Symond said.

"But most importantly, they provide a controlled means of repaying the debt so it is paid off as quickly as possible in order to minimise interest costs."

Mr Symond cautioned that homeowners thinking about going down the personal loan path for their home improvements need to ensure they are not over-capitalising on their home.

"As long as you do your sums to ensure you are not over investing in the cost of improvements you can actually end up paying less total interest by using a personal loan because you are set to repay the debt over a shorter loan term," he said.

"The rule of thumb is 'time beats rate', meaning a loan paid off faster over less time, even if it is a higher interest rate is often better than the reverse."

For example borrowing $20K for renovations could cost (in interest paid):

* Personal Loan (at 14.49% over 5 years) $8,227.68
* Credit Card (at 16.16% minimum repayments) $22,775.17
* Home Loan (at 6.50% over 30 years) $25,508.90

Mr Symond suggested that using your home loan to fund purchases is not necessarily the smartest move.

"Unless you pay it off quickly you could end up paying around three times more than on a personal loan", he warned.

"Sometimes a redraw on your home loan can be cheaper than a personal loan but only if you pay it off quickly which clearly not everyone does.

"Leaving it for the normal term is actually a very expensive form of credit because you may be paying a great deal more interest than with a personal loan", he concluded.

Lighten up - naturally

Do you let the sun brighten up your home, or simply rely on electricity to take care of it?

Apart from causing your skin to produce vitamin D (which has a vast array of medical benefits), natural sunlight will improve your health, vision and mood as well as saving you money on lighting and air conditioning bills.

Allowing natural sunlight into homes has been shown to provide a number of benefits, including -

Improvement in moods and attitude, including a decrease in the severity of clinical depression

Better actual colour rendering (colours are "true to the eye")

Reduced eyestrain

Reduced energy waste from electric lighting or air conditioning

Bringing natural light indoors can be easy - try adding more windows, or replacing walls and doors with glass. Alternatively, skylights are ideal for turning dark and gloomy areas into bright places to enjoy.

Fixed skylights will provide you with the full benefit of the light, but no ventilation, so are ideal for hallways and stairs. On the other hand, opening or ventilated skylights are better for installing in a bathroom, bedroom or kitchen. Some manufacturers even offer skylights with exhaust fans to remove smoke or steam directly into the atmosphere rather than into the roof cavity.

Most suppliers these days offer different glazings which provide radiant heat block, UV ray protection and noise reduction. For those days when the heat is too much, or the light too bright, there is a range of blinds that can be operated either electrically or manually.

The main types of skylights are:

Traditional, fixed skylights with either an acrylic dome or polycarbonate cover on the roof.

Ventilated skylights, which allow ventilation through the roof to the outside and provide living areas with fresh air. These can be operated using either handle, rod or remote control.

Tubular skylights, also known as sun-tubes, which feed light directly into small locations (such as hallways, cupboards or lavatories) where you otherwise may need to use an electric light during the day.

Fire-rated skylights, which are made with fire retardant materials.

Whatever your need or situation, it seems that innovation and technology are being applied to make it possible to have natural lighting anywhere in your house, together with ease of installation, weatherproofing and security.

Not a half-baked idea
There is definitely an art to baking a good loaf of bread. Perhaps that is what inspired designer Andere Monjo to cook up a dinner set you can eat once you've finished your meal. Consisting of plates, bowls, cutlery and napkins, the Baked Table collection is made of a basic flour and water bread mix, then decorated with seeds to create the appearance of embroidery patterns.
Three beds, two baths, one ghost

With Halloween this Sunday night, our streets are bound to be filled with little horrors roaming from door to door in search of the great candy haul. While many of us are happy to have spooks roaming the streets for one night a year, most don't take as kindly to the idea of sharing a house with ghosts and ghouls all year round.

But for those craving a slice of the macabre pie at home and looking for a good study source on the topic, a few websites have materialised in front of our eyes listing a vast array of haunted houses. is one example, while the British Tourist Board cheerfully calculates that there are at least 10,000 haunted places in the country, and the Haunted Britain website lists a top 101 ranging from the limping butler of the BBC's broadcasting house to the spectral ape of Athelhampton Hall in Dorset.

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