Shed Permit Requirements in Victoria

No matter whether you are having a custom shed designed or you are buying one directly from the store, understanding the regulations that your local council has in place will be important. With this in mind we are going to focus specifically on Victoria today, and take a look at what is required when you are looking to build or install a shed on your property here. When it comes to sheds, garages and even custom carports Victoria has a specific set of rules and regulations which must be adhered to. Failure to meet these requirements could easily result in a fine or worse, so being informed is always best.

Sheds

When it comes to store bought or custom sheds Victoria is actually quite flexible around what you can do. The rules in fact are very simple and you are only likely to require permission should you be looking to build a large shed. If your shed is larger than 2.4 meters in height or more than 10 meters squared, you will need a permit. Additionally if you are going to build the shed within 1 meter of the boundary or if you are attaching to the building to another structure, it is worth seeking advice to see if you need a permit.

Garages

In most cases the garage construction will require a building permit, unless it is smaller than the regulations listed, which is unlikely for garages. Now for most custom garages Victoria requires a permit as well as some additional details. For example if the work will cost more than $16,000, including materials, then you must ensure that you have domestic building insurance. If the work will cost over $10,000 then you must register a major domestic building contract. Additional rules include the requirement of using registered builders and licensed plumbers if you require water access.

Carports

Carports follow a mixture of the regulations which we have already seen with the construction of sheds and garages. In most cases a carport is likely to exceed the size limits which are in place to build a shed, which will mean that you have to get a permit. Rarely will costs of a carport rise above the minimums for a garage, regarding labor costs and materials. With this in mind it is likely that a basic permit is all you will need for this kind of construction.

Final Details

Each council does differ which is why you should seek advice if you are in any doubt about your requirements for the construction you have planned. Although it may seem like a problem, the reality is that applying for and having a permit granted is a very easy process. All local councils have application forms on their respective websites, and all you need is the measurements and the details of the build you have planned.

Always ensure that you have met the requirements and secured your building permit, before you kickstart any building work on your property.

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How to Style Your Backyard For Winter

When the winter months arrive, that colder temperature doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to close off the backyard and forget all about it. In fact with some careful design tweaks you can ensure that the yard is fully available for use, no matter what the weather is doing. In most cities and towns around Australia the lower temperatures are rarely super cold, which is why using the yard still remains an option. No matter how much you enjoy using the yard during the summer months, here is how you can make changes that makes the most out of it in winter too.

Keeping The Deck Warm

A timber deck is the perfect place for relaxing in your backyard, be it summer or winter time. In order to ensure that you can continue to use this throughout the winter evenings it is important that you look to either install patio heating or buy a portable heater. In climates which don’t get very cold, light bulbs which are designed for heating can be enough to look after this particular area.

Another consideration to make for your timber decking is protecting it from the elements with wind breaks and overhead shelter. Often the temperature can be warm even if it is raining, which is why adding this protection will help you out.

Keeping it Bright

Another challenge of the winter months is the darkness which comes so much earlier in early evening. To combat this consider the use of tiki lamps or old-style street lamps to add some real character to the garden and to brighten it up once the sun has set. Half of making the space attractive is about appearance, which is exactly why lighting plays such a key role. You could also look to add some fairly lights to your timber fence, to further give the illusion of a brighter space.

Bringing The Fire

Adding a fire pit to your yard is something which you can use throughout the year and which you will especially benefit from during the winter months. This kind of installation doesn’t just provide light and heat, but also an attractive feature which will become a key talking point in your yard.

Switching Up The Furniture

During the summer we want to be comfortable when sitting outdoors, but during the winter there is a certain coziness which we crave. This is why switching up the furniture in your yard makes perfect sense, and also brings a real change of style for this time of the year. If you have garden furniture on your timber decking then you may simply wish to change the cushions and the fabric to bring this new look and feel. There is much that you can create with some very small changes, and this is a simple way of ringing in the winter in your home.

These are just some changes which you can look to make that will ensure that your timber decking and your yard are still attractive throughout the winter months.

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What Are The Different Grades of Aluminum?

When it comes to using aluminum for your next project it’s important you understand what particular grade of aluminum you are going to need. Those looking to stock up on aluminum supplies should always bear in mind what exactly the project requires regarding strength, flexibility and a myriad of other factors such as heat exposure and potential weather conditions.

And so before you head out for your supplies, be sure to bear a thought for which you grade you will need. Whether you are looking to buy aluminum tubes, sheets or planks, these are the grades which you should be using based on the project type.

Alloy 1100 Aluminum

This particular grade is pure aluminum and is a great option for those looking to use aluminum sheets on their projects. This alloy is easily workable, can be welded with any method and is known for having a high level of resistance to corrosion. This particular grade is often used in food processing and the chemical industry.

Alloy 2011 Aluminum

This is often known as the Free Machining Alloy owing to the capabilities with regards to machining. This is by far the best alloy to be used for the production of highly complex and detailed aluminum parts.

Alloy 2014 Aluminum

This particular alloy is copper based and is known for its high strength and machining capabilities. We often see this particular grade used within the aerospace sector owing to its high levels of resistance.

Alloy 2024 Aluminum

This is the most used alloy for aluminum planks, sheets and tubes, and it is a high strength grade which offers excellent durability. Those looking for a great strength-to-weight ratio will opt for this particular aluminum alloy. The weakness of this grade is the low resistance which it has to corrosion, but this can be easily remedied with a thin anodized finish to offer maximum protection.

Alloy 3003 Aluminum

There is no alloy which is used as much as 3003, a pure, commercially made aluminum which has manganese added to it for extra strength. This alloy is easy to work with and offers high resistance against corrosion.

Alloy 5052 Aluminum

Alloy 5052 offers the highest strength alloy of all those which are non heat-treatable. This offers the highest fatigue strength of all and it is often used in the marine sector given its excellent resistance to such conditions.

Alloy 6061 Aluminum

Alloy 6061 has an outstanding resistance to corrosion and can be fabricated in just about any way possible. We see this particular alloy in use throughout the mechanical world thanks to its incurable strength, durability and its flexibility too. This alloy can be welded by any method and can also be brazed in a furnace to give additional strength.

Alloy 6063 Aluminum

And finally we have the ‘architectural alloy this heat-treatable and high strength alloy has high resistance to corrosion and is often used in the architectural world for both interior and exterior structures.

Before you get started on any project, be sure that you have researched into the kind of materials you will need, and which grade of aluminum you will require for the job.

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4 Things to Do Before Starting a Business

If you’ve got a great idea for a new business, you’re probably eager to get the ball rolling and begin trading. However, launching a startup too quickly can be a recipe for disaster. Although registering a business is a fairly easy process, there are a variety of obstacles you need to overcome if you want to increase your chances of success. To learn more, take a look at these four things to do before starting a business:

1. Calculate Your Costs

A detailed business plan is a must-have tool to get your startup underway and this should include an accurate forecast of your costs. As well as including your initial startup costs in your plan, be sure to calculate your running costs too. After all, sales and revenue might be slow to start with and you’ll need to have enough funding to keep your business afloat. 

It’s easy to underestimate your costs when you’re first starting out, so take the time to complete detailed research and ensure you include everything. This will allow you to create a realistic financial forecast and avoid potential cash flow issues in the future. 

2. Get into an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t happen overnight, particularly if this is your first venture into business ownership. To ensure you’re ready for the challenge, focus on getting into an entrepreneurial mindset. One of the best ways to do this is to register for an entrepreneur coaching program. With specialist consulting and coaching, you can transform the way you work and use your newfound insights to maximize your success as a business owner. 

3. Find the Right Premises

Depending on the type of business you want to launch, you may need customer-facing premises, like a store or restaurant. However, an increasing number of people are choosing to start businesses that enable them to work from home. If this applies to you, don’t assume you can simply open your laptop and get down to work. If you’re going to run a business from home, you’ll need to set up a productive working environment that allows you to focus and which optimizes your productivity. 

4. Research the Market

Before you can achieve commercial success, you’ll need to get to know your market and your target audience. Conducting in-depth research before launching a startup can help you to get things right from the outset, which will enable you to boost the amount of revenue you generate. Furthermore, you’ll be able to make decisions based on the data you’ve obtained. This will give you an insight into your target audience’s wants and needs, which will enable you to respond accordingly. 

Planning for the Future

By taking the time to plan your startup, you can streamline the launch process and become successful much more quickly. Although it might be tempting to dive straight in and begin trading as soon as possible, being more cautious and doing the requisite prep work can pay dividends in the long-term.

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How to Save Money on a New Roof

Roof replacement issues are serious whether you are a real estate investor, you own commercial property, or it’s your personal home. This is easily one of the most important repairs to perform and one of the most expensive as well. This can put a serious dent on your bottom line if you’re operating your business from home, and there are often no alternatives. So, what can you do to reduce costs? Here are a few ideas.

Shop Around

The first thing we suggest is that you start shopping around, but don’t go overboard. Look for at least three quotes from reputable contractors. If you want to know what makes a contractor reputable, one of the best ways to do so is to check their track record. Reviews are great, and you can ask for references as well, but one of the best indicators is how well they’re standing with the BBB. If you don’t know what this is, it is a customer advocacy group that allows people to leave formal complaints about a business. Businesses can choose to be registered or not, and the reviews are a bit more credible than those you’d find on Google.

People like advantage-construction.com, for instance, have been registered since 2013 and have amassed an A+ rating during that time. That’s usually a good sign of a team that takes their work seriously. Get a few quotes from services that have a good reputation like this one and ask for details to make sure that there will be no hidden fees.

Handle Some of the Work Yourself

There are many costs that are associated with removing and refitting a roof. One of them is waste removal. If you can manage to handle that part on your own, you may be able to save a few bucks. We’re not saying you should get on the roof and rip out shingles yourself. That would be dangerous and not worth it. Instead, you can arrange for the garbage container rental and fill it yourself. This is something that you can easily do on your own and doesn’t require much effort.

Learn About Different Materials

You also have to make sure that you start learning about different materials before you start searching for a contractor. You want to know which materials are the cheapest, but which ones will give you the greatest returns as well. If you’re using your home as a formal office, you may want it to look great, so you may not want to go for the cheapest option possible. However, if you’re strapped for cash, then asphalt shingles are the cheapest you can find. They won’t last as long but will cost you much less than other options and are cheap to install as well.

Get it Replaced at the Right Time

Roofers are usually at their busiest in the late months of summer and in the fall. So, if you contact them in the spring or winter, you might be able to get better deals. You’ll have more space for negotiation and some will even offer off-season discounts, so take advantage of this.

These are just a few tips that you can use to reduce your roof replacement costs. The most important part is working with a team you can trust and who has your best interests in mind.

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Hazards in the Workplace to Be Mindful of

Accidents can happen anywhere and to anyone. This is why employers and employees both need to work together to mitigate the dangers of hazards in the workplace. No employee ever wants to risk injury or disfigurement, and no employer wants an accident on their conscience or the red tape that goes with injuries in the workplace. In order to keep everyone safe, happy, and working optimally, one needs to be able to identify the six types of hazards found in the workplace.

Safety

Number one on this list for good reason, safety hazards are unsafe environments or conditions that may cause illness, injury, or death. They are the most common of all work related injuries. These can be things like water or cables running across the floor that may cause trips or spills, or possibly moving mechanical parts that are unguarded for a worker to accidentally touch. 

Chemical

If a worker is exposed to any chemical preparation in the workplace, they are subject to chemical hazards and need to take the precautions that go along with handling these potentially volatile substances. Even routine solutions may be found to cause illness in a worker who may be more sensitive to chemicals. Safety measures should be implemented wherever chemicals or chemical fumes have a chance of coming into contact with workers, or even near open flames and welding.

Biological

Commonly referred to as biohazards, these are classified as any biological substance that may harm humans. Common biological hazards include fungi or mold, bacteria and viruses, plants, blood and other body fluids, and animal or bird droppings. Appropriate disposal measures need to be followed by adhering to the disposal procedure for the substance in question. 

Physical

These may be the least obvious hazards to an untrained eye, and they are not always things you can see or touch, like the harsh sun. Physical hazards can be anything in the environment that may cause harm to the body, even without touching it. These hazards may include radiation, exposure to high amounts of sunlight, extreme temperatures, or even excessive noise.

Psychosocial

Psychosocial hazards can be any aspect of work that may have the potential to cause psychological harm, adversely affecting people’s mental health and wellbeing. This may manifest in various ways, including through mental, physical, and emotional issues that have the potential to overwhelm, and may lead to physical harm. Be aware of happenings around your workplace, like bullying, working in isolated conditions, aggression from customers and coworkers, and fatigue. Stepping in at the right time may mean the difference between life and death for a coworker or employee.

Ergonomic

Ergonomic safety hazards happen when a worker’s body positions, working conditions, or the type of work they are doing put a strain on their body. This can be a risk from something as simple and common as poor posture while sitting in an office chair, to lifting a heavy delivery incorrectly and pulling a muscle.

Designating staff or time for yourself to appropriately train so they may identify and mitigate these risks needs to be a priority for anyone who is looking to keep themselves, their staff, and their business safe. Do the responsible thing before it’s too late.

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Security in Your Home Office

Security is a legitimate concern in today’s world, and being digitally and physically secure in your home office space should be the priority of anybody paying attention. Borrowing some ideas from the security gurus who implement security measures in cloud computing, you can bolster your home network’s strength. You can rest a bit easier knowing that you are matching some of the latest measures deployed to keep the ultra-sensitive and private information they host safe.

Physical Security

Your first step is to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe while being home for most of the day. Do this by securing doors, windows, skylights, and any external entrances to your house with simple locks. Save some time and hassle by hiring a home security provider to lend their expertise, or even do the installation of a home security system for you. 

Secure Your Router – Encryption and Firewalls

Paying a little extra for a router with a decent firewall and beefed-up encryption and security features is a good step. Updating it to the latest firmware available and changing the default access settings is normally a simple matter of following the prompts of a wizard. VPN’s will play a role in securing any sensitive data that you may transmit or receive online by adding layers of encryption to all your traveling data. 

Antivirus

Opting for a competent antivirus is always advisable, as cybersecurity threats are rife these days. Leaking information, or more devastatingly, having your identity stolen, can have far-reaching consequences for you, your business, and your family.  Secure yourself and your data before you have to learn what ransomware is.

Password Protect Yourself

Correct password protocols can go a long way in mitigating a hacker’s ability to breach your security, should they penetrate that far. Ensuring you password protect your accounts, logins, and networking equipment, as well as use complex and frequently changing passwords, will be one of the most cost-effective ways to add essential layers of security.

Backups

Losing any data can be catastrophic, but should you happen to be working from home for an employer and you suffer a hard drive crash, then the consequences would be far-reaching. Protect yourself from this by doing simple backups, either to external physical media, the cloud, or preferably, both. Bear in mind that it is always recommended to have some form of offsite backup, should a large event like a fire or natural disaster occur.

Due Diligence 

Crooks today are clever, and constantly evolving their methods to trick you out of money, information, or both. Some of the effective defenses against this are to employ constant vigilance and skepticism. Educate yourself on popular methods that these con-artists deploy so that you know when someone is trying one of the tricks in their book. Employing functional email filtering tools is an easy step to weed out many of these attempts.

Your security begins with you, and with some careful thought, adequate precautions, and a fair bit of common sense, you can avoid disaster and catastrophe.

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Can I Rent out or AirBnb a Granny Flat in Melbourne?

Granny flats are a brilliant investment for a property owner to make. These self-contained abodes can be built outside the main house on the property, and offer an enormous array of benefits. One of the benefits which most people enjoy is the fact that they can rent out their granny flat for long term stays and in some cases even through the use of AirBnb. Renting out the property means that the owner can earn some additional income and this is also an attractive feature for any potential future buyers of the property.

When it comes to granny flats Victoria has a large number being built, especially in Melbourne. These flats have been built for a variety of reasons, but renting out or adding a granny flat to Airbnb is not one of them.

Strictest Laws in the Land

Unfortunately, Victoria is one of the states with the strictest laws around granny flats and at the time of writing, it is not possible for you to rent out the abode. Councils do differ slightly in the state, but mainly there are two caveats which they require, and they are usually unchanged. The first of those caveats is that the granny flat can only be inhabited by dependents; the second is that they must be removed when that person stops living in it.

Change Is Afoot

Despite these tough laws there is a lot of talk of change being afoot with regards to relaxing the restrictions. Ultimately having laws like this doesn’t encourage the building of additional property and it shackles many people in Melbourne and throughout the state. Victorians have been trying to get the state to change their stance for a number of years now, and in 2016 the Andrews government did pledge to look into this. However, as of yet, things have not changed.

Requirements For Granny Flats

Victoria doesn’t just have restrictions around the building of granny flats, they are also strict on what constitutes a granny flat. You will also need a permit to build one if you follow the guidelines;

  • The granny flat is movable

  • Granny flats will be occupied by a dependent person

  • No more than one person lives in the unit

Is It Worth Building?

There is a groundswell of support and a great deal of hope in the state that things will change, and many are still looking at building these properties. Granny flat trends change quickly and here in Melbourne in particular there are some fascinating designs and creative approaches to these small homes. What most property owners are doing is constructing the granny flat for their teenage children or elderly parents to live in, with the hope that the law changes by the time they have moved out.

This approach means that Victorians are generally investing less in the granny flat, than people in other states such as in NSW. However once those laws are softened, it is most likely that there will be an abundance of granny flats hitting the rental market.

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How to Repurpose Your Old Garden Shed

It doesn’t take long for a garden shed to show signs of damage and wear, owing to its position outside. Even if you haven’t used your garden shed for some time, you will be surprised at just how easy and low cost it can be to bring it back to life. Many are guilty of looking at worn sheds and thinking that it would be easier to replace it, but garden sheds are far more robust than many give them credit for, and a makeover is often a much smarter option.

Replacing The Roof

It is the roof of the shed which so often gets damaged from rain & debris. Leaks occur, tears can happen and the seal of the shed weakens over time, allowing access into the shed for insects. Whilst you could add a new layer of protection to the roof, the smarter solution is to replace it with a new roof, such as a metal roof seen on Colorbond sheds. This metal roof can be easily attached and sealed. This is a much easier and more efficient option than replacing the felt, resealing and re-insulating.

Replacing Windows

Many custom sheds in particular have more windows than conventional sheds, and over time these can look dirty, they can lose their seal and provide more of a problem. However, these windows can either be resealed and cleaned, or replaced entirely with new panes both of which will make a huge impact on the overall look of your shed.

Clean and Paint

A poorly looked after shed can very quickly appear like it has gone to wreck and ruin, but giving it a new lease of life is often achieved through the simplicity of cleaning and painting. If the timber is of good quality then moss and grime can be scraped off, the timber can be resealed and then painted. Look to paint the shed a different colour from what it was originally, as this will also make you feel that it is a much newer addition to your garden.

Door Care

If the door of the shed is damaged then it is well worth replacing it entirely, if however the door is in good condition, change the hinges so that it opens and closes with ease. But keep in mind as the weather changes and the timber warps and bends, the strength of hinges and brackets in the shed could have been loosened. For this reason in many cases it makes much more sense to replace them altogether, drill new holes to ensure that the door is fully operational.

A high quality shed will last for many years and even if you have been guilty of ignoring it, or storing products away and forgetting about them, there is still much that you can do. In fact, many individuals will be surprised at just how great garden sheds look after they have been given some TLC. Make sure to begin planning and figure out which ideas will work best for your time and budget.

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Go Green: How to Choose the Best Solar Panel Installer for Your Home

Have you been putting off getting solar panels because of how much it cost in the past? The good news is that cost is no longer as big of a concern. The cost of solar is at an all-time low and is expected to keep going down in the future.

If you’re trying to find a solar panel installer, this post will help you with your search. Keep reading to learn what to look for when researching companies for solar panels installation.

Find a Certified Provider

A solar installation is a complex build that people can’t just pick up and do without training. You don’t only have to install brackets and solar panels on the roof, either. You have to design a system that will meet the needs of an individual home.

Your solar installers will need employees who can handle every step of the process. Each state has different licensing requirements, so look into your state’s regulations to familiarize yourself with what’s needed.

After you do this, ask your solar providers to provide documentation showing they fulfill your area’s licensing requirements. Since every location is different, don’t settle for someone licensed in another place. If your county has varying building restrictions and your provider doesn’t know about them, you might get stuck with an illegal solar installation.

Verify Insurance

There’s always a chance that an accident happens when someone is working on your solar installation. The problem comes when the contractors you use don’t have any insurance for their employees.

Contract companies are required to hold insurance for employees when they’re on work sites. This insurance covers any damages that occur to your property and for injuries that happen to workers.

It’s bad enough if your property is damaged during the installation process and you need to repair it. However, this isn’t the big problem. It’s when someone injures themself without insurance that you run into real issues.

If someone is injured on your property and isn’t insured, you might be on the hook for damages. If you want to avoid this, make sure anyone you work with has the proper insurance for any issue that comes up.

Ask About Subcontractor Use

You won’t only need to verify the primary company’s credentials you contract to do your solar installation. If your solar installer uses subcontractors to handle their work, you’ll need to confirm their credentials as well.

Credentials aren’t the only thing you need to worry about, either. Your solar provider might not provide the necessary insurance for people they subcontract work to. You’ll need to make sure that every person on your property has the right insurance in this scenario.

If you want to keep things simple, make sure that your solar installation provider employs all their workers themself.

Verify Warranty Information

Even a great installer won’t always perform a flawless installation. Whether it’s because of a worker’s mistake or faulty equipment, there’s still the chance that something will go wrong after your installer finishes the job.

The question is, will the solar firm you work with stand by their work?

There should be a warranty for any work done on your roof that lasts many years. Some warranties last up to 10 years, so try to get as many years as you can.

The other warranty you need to watch for is for equipment. These warranties will likely come from the product manufacturers. Your provider will know what kind of warranty your equipment manufacturer provides, so check with them to see what you can expect.

Ask About Financing

It isn’t always easy to get finances for a home improvement project. Some mortgage companies limit what you can do with refinancing, so you may be looking for other options. The good news is that some solar installation providers can give you the loan you need.

Many solar providers also offer you options if you don’t want to buy your panels outright. They work on a lease structure and will loan you solar panels. It will provide you a way to take advantage of green living without a lot of financial risks.

The leases that providers offer will vary on price and duration. Check your options to see if any make sense for you.

Look for Testimonials

Your solar installer search isn’t complete once you find a company you think can handle the job. Their job is to impress you with their services, so they likely won’t tell you about any problems they’ve had in the past. That’s why you need to find past customers and learn about their past experiences.

Ask your providers for testimonials before you commit to working with them. If they do great work, it shouldn’t be hard to find a satisfied customer to confirm their skill.

Of course, don’t just rely on the testimonials they provide. See if you can find any previous customers yourself. Looking at websites that let you talk to people in your community is a great way to find other customers.

Find Someone Local

Building codes vary a lot between different regions. A contractor experienced in one part of the country might not know what to expect if they come to your location. That makes it beneficial to look for solar companies in your area to handle the job.

If you want to find solar companies near you, start your search on Google. If you type “solar companies” in the search engine, you’ll get a list of local companies.

Your options will show on Google Maps. You can see the distance to your location, their address, and their customer ratings. Doing this is an excellent way of finding a reliable solar panels installation company quickly.

Start Your Search for a Solar Panel Installer Today

There’s never been a better time than now to install solar panels on your home. Now that you know what to look for in a solar panel installer, you can start your search. The sooner the process is complete, the sooner you can stop relying on the grid.

Are you interested in learning about more home improvement projects? Head back to our blog to discover our best improvement tips.

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