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Tagged with 'home'

Tips for Buying Your First Home and Mistakes to Avoid

Buying your first home is a huge step in life, a pivotal moment that is a mix of dread and thrill. The repercussions of it could stick with your for a lifetime, so, you better not rush things here.

The steps can look a bit different from state to state, but underlying principles remain the same. Take your time to assess your finances, life situation, the market, and opportunities out there. There is a slew of moving parts to keep an eye on and many costly mistakes to avoid.

[caption id="attachment_14049" align="aligncenter" width="1280"]buying your first home Photo from:[/caption]

Setting the financial house in order

Not knowing what you can afford is the first on the list of pitfalls to steer clear of. Believe me, you don’t want financial problems to come and haunt you later, once you have taken the plunge.

You must do the math and have a sound financing plan in place. A mortgage is a viable option, provided that you figure out the total costs over its lifetime. It’s also a good idea to fulfill all the tax saving formalities and get the loan pre-approval ahead of time.

Furthermore, note that there are some first-time buyer loans with a lower down payment minimum than the conventional counterparts. Feel free to consult agents regarding referrals for mortgage brokers or turn to your bank/credit union.

[caption id="attachment_14050" align="aligncenter" width="1280"]buying your first home Photo from:[/caption]

The question of where

Knowing where to look is the key to fulfilling your dream of homeownership.

Don’t make the mistake many property hunters make and rely solely on what you find online. Yes, you can do a plenty of things via the internet before ever setting foot in the home. However, there are certain aspects that you cannot spot on an image, which can often be misleading. You are better off scheduling several home visits at a time and seeing it all with your own eyes.

No amount of digital mumbo-jumbo can replace a good old home inspection, the only surefire way to get to know what exactly you are buying. In some states, inspection is a contract contingency, but even if it’s not, you should never skip this step.

Seek real estate agents

Trying to keep spending in check by avoiding any professional help is one of the most common mistakes that first-time buyers make.

Rest assured that reputable real estate agents can save you a lot of time, headaches, and money. They are the professionals who know the market backward and forward and have access to hot information, such as listings that still haven’t been made public.

Moreover, they can review targeted homes for you, gather crucial documents, sniff out overpriced properties, and uncover problems and faults that sellers try to conceal.

[caption id="attachment_14051" align="aligncenter" width="1280"]buying your first home Photo from:[/caption]

The price of dreams

Know that prices of homes are not set in stone: they are a reflection of what a seller wants to get in the certain market.

As a rule of thumb, the first offer is a bit inflated, so don’t hesitate to reject it. Of course, it helps to carry out research and take a look at pending and comparable sales (similar type and condition of the property) in the area.

Use acquired insights to work out a realistic price range and manage your expectations accordingly. Then, you can develop your negotiating position and prepare a list of questions.

A broader view

You buy what you see before you, but also what you are able to envision in terms of the home’s potential. Problems can be solved and fixed, sometimes via a Request for Repair to the seller. An unfortunate paint choice is not a deal breaker and some redecorating can make new space truly feel like home.

In any case, you shouldn’t skimp on renovation, especially if you think it could make a real difference, whether in terms of your satisfaction or resale value. I have seen trusted home builders from Sydney helping numerous Aussie homeowners design, revamp, and remodel their homes, boosting their appeal, comfort, and value in the process.

Beyond face value

Never lose sight of the big picture.

The neighborhood that surrounds your home has a profound impact on the quality of life, as well as the value and true appeal of the home.  Keep an eye on amenities, institutions, shops, parks, and other things in the vicinity. Get to know the society and its rules.

Ask around to make sure that the neighborhood is not plagued by problems such as crime. Finally, you could also check whether there are some large infrastructural projects that could enhance the value and allure of the properties in the area.

[caption id="attachment_14052" align="aligncenter" width="1280"]buying your first home Photo from:[/caption]

Getting on the property ladder

For unseasoned newcomers, a residential market can be a real jungle. Many people are lead astray, finding out that buying their first home is a time-consuming, budget-guzzling, and emotionally draining process.

Therefore, you have to do your homework: arm yourself with knowledge and summon professionals to your aid. There isn’t much room for mistake and no reason for hastiness. The basic rule is this: check, research, look, and inspect.

That way, you can gain a foothold in the property market without blowing your budget or go out of your way to reaching your goals.

Home safety tips to keep your family safe

Protecting your family and creating a safe, comfortable home is a paramount concern. It's important to be prepared for any potentially hazardous situations that could arise in the home, as well as taking steps to prevent them from even happening in the first place. Read on to hear our tips on ensuring home safety:


Locks and bolts

Making sure your home is equipped with functioning door and window locks is one of the most obvious parts of ensuring home safety. This will obviously deter any potential intruders being able to gain access to the home. Make sure you get into the habit of keeping all the windows and locked whenever you leave the house. Mortice locks are a fantastic safety option.



Be vigilant about fire safety

Make sure your fire detectors are checked every three months, and that they contain functioning batteries. It's also always a great idea to keep a fire safety kit in the kitchen, incase of emergencies. A fire blanket can be an important safety fixture for your home, and can easily tackle dangerous situations such as stove fires.  You should always make sure that any fires, from the stove to open fire places are never left unattended. For more tips on fire safety, click here.

home safety


Lighting options

Having a house with a well-lit presence, especially at night, can be an effective security measure. Having motion sensor lights can deter intruders from attempting a break-in. Strong lights for the back yard will boost your sense of security, whereas subtle lights in the front yard will give an understated and discrete feel of comfort.

home safety lighting


Landscaping matters

It's always a safer idea to limit large trees and leafy bushes upon the entry of your house. Having a neat, clean and tidy front yard gives an 'open' appearance, and means that possible intruders aren't able to hide behind foliage.

home safety landscaping

Social media habits 

In this day and age, you never know who could be monitoring your online habits. Be careful not to share too much information about the location of your house, photos of the interior, or splash details online about lavish purchases.

home safety phone information

Do you have any home safety measures that we've missed? Share them in the comment section below!

Garden lighting ideas to inspire your backyard

Is your backyard feeling a little lifeless? Want to add some character, warmth and safety to your backyard? Adding garden lighting to your backyard will add another dimension to your home. The trick is, however, to not go overboard! Too much lighting and the effect will be lost. Check out these ideas to lift the atmosphere of your backyard:

Adding lighting to your decking 

decking garden lighting

Adding lighting to your decking is a great idea for not only aesthetic reasons, but safety reasons also. By creating a lighted walkway, you'll have a beautifully lit path around your outdoor deck. It'll also get you more use out of your outdoor living areas at night.

Incorporate lighting to make an outdoor feature wall 

outdoor lighting screens

We love these laser-cut steel pieces for a feature wall! Ground lighting points up and illuminates the pieces, resulting in a striking and modern outdoor feature.

Illuminate your plants with garden lighting 

garden lighting inspiration

Showcase your greenery by installing lights underneath your plants, for a whimsical effect. This is an eye-popping design technique that will have you admiring all your green-thumb handiwork!

Add fairy lights

fairy lights garden lighting

Fairy lights are sure to add that rustic, shabby-chic feel to any outdoor garden space. Fairy lights are no longer associated just with party decorations, instead they add a soft, warm glow that's appropriate for use all year round.

Stair lights

garden lighting stair lights


Ambient stair lights provide a warm and welcoming pathway to the front or back door of your property. Forget stumbling around in the dark trying to find your door! The soft glow helps to illuminate surrounding plants and features, also.

Use backlights 

garden lighting backlights

Backlighting is a powerful effect that works best on strong lines and architectural shapes rather than soft plants. Again, this effect is all about less lighting to achieve more.

Have fun with your lighting options

ball outdoor lights for the pool

Have some fun with your lights! We love these floating water-proof ball lights for something magical and different.



Feeling inspired? Let Renovator Store help you with your outdoor lighting needs by browsing our options here


Outdoor kitchen - Why you need to consider one for your home!

Always loved the idea of an outdoor kitchen area? Wanting to add value to your house? Looking for a fun new renovation project the whole family will enjoy? Love entertaining? Everyone enjoys eating outside as a family, but why stop there? Let us tempt you with the top reasons as to why you should consider building an outdoor kitchen to lift the overall value of your home!


outdoor kitchen renovator store


With an outdoor kitchen, you're going to become a master entertainer 

Everyone loves dining al-fresco, especially in the summer time. Why let the fun stop there? By building an outdoor kitchen, you're creating a fantastic entertaining opportunities right in your own backyard. Be able to interact with your guests outside whilst you cook for them, whether it be for large parties, intimate dinners or get-togethers on a balmy summers night.

outdoor kitchen


Keep mess confined to outside 

Just set up a bin outside, and you're good to go. All the mess you accumulate while you cook is kept outside. You can view plenty of bin solutions here.

outdoor kitchen

.... and odours!

Lots of people enjoy eating fish and other foods that are likely to give off a lingering odour. By building an outdoor kitchen, you can confine the cooking and eating of these delicious foods to outdoors.

outdoor kitchen renovator store

You'll save on your air-conditioning bill 


Cooking indoors during the summertime can be a nightmare. By having an outdoor kitchen, you're able to cut costs on your air-conditioner working overtime to keep you, and your whole house cool.


It's really low-maintenance to manage an outdoor kitchen

[caption id="attachment_12348" align="alignleft" width="258"]outdoor kitchen shaynna blaze swedia Australian design Queen, Shaynna Blaze, features a stainless steel SWEDIA tap on her Lifestyle AU series, Deadline Design[/caption]



When building an outdoor kitchen, choose entirely stainless steel products. Stainless steel has a natural protection and high tolerance for the Australian outdoors. Not only does stainless steel have a timeless aesthetic appeal, but it's incredibly easy to clean AND maintain. By choosing stainless steel products, you're not going to have to worry about replacing taps and sinks that have started to crumble after a few months in the Australian sun.









It will expand your living space 

There's no need to add walls here, you can simply build upon your existing patio or outdoor space. By having an outdoor kitchen and seating area, you're adding another living space, also increasing the overall value of your home.


You'll save on eating out costs 

If you've gone to the effort to create a gorgeous outdoor dining space, why would you want to venture out when you've got your own outdoor oasis at home?!

[caption id="attachment_12349" align="aligncenter" width="625"]outdoor kitchen renovator store SWEDIA stainless steel featured by Shaynna Blaze (Vanessa Hall for Lifestyle AU)[/caption]

Do you have an outdoor kitchen you're really proud of? Share your photos with us!

How to Keep Your Home Safe When You Go on Holidays

As lovely as holidays are, one of the big worries you have to face when you go on vacation is keeping your home safe in your absence... Or so you thought. If you take these easy steps to keep your home safe when you go on holidays you'll have no need to fret at all. In fact, if you plan it well enough burglars won't even know that you're gone!


Outdoor Lighting


Efficient outdoor lighting can make your home a lot safer all year round. Invest in motion sensors that switch on lights when movement is detected, giving the impression that someone is home. The lights then switch off after a pre-determined period of time. These are a great way of deterring people who step into your garden who really shouldn't be there.


Indoor Lighting


Indoor lighting can also be utilised to make it appear as if someone is home. This can be done via use of timing systems. Set them before you jet off for your holiday to turn on and off at specific times in the evening.

Alternatively if you have a 'connected home' you can use you smartphone to control your lights from wherever you are in the world. Use this to randomly switch lights on and off to discourage potential thieves.


Security Cameras

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Install security cameras in your home to add additional security. If you wish you can opt to have them monitoring by an external company who calls the police on your behalf if any disturbance is detected. Again, you can use your smartphone or any other connected device to monitor your cameras via an app. The app can even send alerts to your phone if there is a potential issue!


Security Alarm Systems 

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Security alarm systems are available with various features. You can choose a DIY system and install it yourself, or alternatively you can consult a security specialist who can advise you on the best system to suit you needs, and install it to maximise its potential to secure your home.

The type of system that'll suit your home best depends on your budget, and what you intend to protect with your system. Always make sure your system is monitored when you are not in town, or set it up so that you can keep an eye on it yourself while you're away.


Friendly Neighbours

Friendly Neighbours

This is an old idea, but very effective so it's definitely worth the mention. No matter how much technology you have in your home, the eagle eyes of friendly neighbours are invaluable in keeping your home safe when you go on vacation.

Tell them when you will be away and when you expect to return. Get them to remove any junk mail from your letter box (your other should be held at the post office). If they're especially nice they might even be happy to feed the cat!


Author Bio:

Sara works as a content strategist at Five Star Locksmiths (Melbourne). Five Star Locksmiths provides 24-hour locksmith services in Melbourne’s CBD and its suburbs.

Smart Apartment Renovation Tips

Apartment renovation can be something truly outstanding, but only if you do it right. There are so many options to choose from and decisions to make it can sometimes seem a little overwhelming. Therefore, here are some smart apartment renovation tips that can help you achieve successfully attain the home of your dreams!

Use the 5 year rule 


What is the five year rule you say? It’s actually quite simple – any items that you haven't made use of for at least five years should be donated or recycled. This is to minimise clutter and make your home feel new again. Trust me, its a simple, yet very effective!

Begin with inexpensive fixes


Clean windows, a new coat of paint and some new door knobs can do wonders to a tired old home. Painting is especially effective as it can completely transform the mood of a room, at a relatively low cost.


Check your appliances


Its always important to check out your appliances and other home machinery semi-regularly. This includes washers, dryers, central air conditioning, heated bathroom floors and dish washers. You might find that A: they're become faulty and potentially dangerous, or B: that they're a little outdated. Opting for newer, high tech appliances can not only make your life easier, but also increase the value of the property if you are wishing to sell.


Redo the bathroom? 

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Bathrooms are said to be the most financially beneficial room to renovate in the house. Why is that? For starters its one of the most used rooms in the home. Secondly, reinstalling the older plumbing reduces the chance of disasters such as burst pipes, which can be even more costly in the long run. So update your room with fixtures such as new tiles, modern tap ware and rain shower heads.


Kitchen renovations


A kitchen renovation is another wonderful idea for any home renovator. You spend so much time in this room of the house, so its really worthwhile to play around with the layout of the space, and spending effort to make it as simple and helpful as possible. Replacing cabinetry is another costly, but very rewarding decision to make. Finally finish with some simple tasks such as cleaning out the oven, cleaning the floor and investing in new kitchen gadgets to vamp up the space.

4 Things You Must Do to Prevent a House Fire

One of the most important tasks of being a parent is keeping your family safe. That is why you should do as much as you possible to prevent a house fire from occurring. House fires take more than 2500 lives every year, and cause around $7 billion in damage costs. Therefore, making sure you're prepared in case of emergency is very important, and something you should invest and little time, money and effort into. 


1. Install Smoke Detectors

Fire Safety at Home by

The first thing that comes to your mind when talking about fire prevention are smoke detectors. 2 out of 3 deaths due to fire are a result of not having smoke detectors installed. Furthermore deaths have also occurred when someone had smoke detector installed, but it did not signal in response to fire.

Therefore it is very important to install smoke detectors in multiple locations around your household, and check if they're working properly from time to time. This will include changing the battery once a year.


2. Install Escape Ladders

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If your home has more than one level, installing escape ladders is a good idea. If there were to be a fire it is possible someone could get trapped in an upstairs room, and having escape ladders installed next to a window can be the difference between life or death.

It is recommended to have one of these installed next to every occupied room of your home. Make sure you choose the ladders with standoffs, as this will keep them separated from the wall. Standoffs increase the stability of escape ladders, and make them easier to use. After installation always test how much weight your ladders can hold.


3. Invest in a Couple of Fire Extinguishers

The most effective way to extinguish a small fire is to use a fire extinguisher. It is a good idea to have at least one extinguisher on each level of your home. You should also ensure there is one kept in rooms where a fire is likely to start, e.g. the kitchen or garage.

After purchase it is also important to familiarise yourself with how to use the device. Finally, always remember that if the fire gets too big you should call 000, rather than trying to take measures into your own hands.


4. Make an Escape Plan

Fire Safety at Home by

In a large house fire you might only have as little as 30 seconds to escape. You don't want to waste this precious time thinking about where to run. Because of this you should always have an escape route planned. If you are unsure where to start you can turn to the experts in fire safety and have them make one for you. Once you have a plan, you and your family should rehearse it a couple of times, in order to be prepared if the actual fire starts.


Overall, you can never do too much when it comes to safety. Always make sure your fully prepared against emergency so you can minimise the risk of losing your home, or your family.

4 Free Online Interior Design Planning Tools

When designing homes and drawing up room plans you often change your mind. Instead of facing the tedious task of having to draft and redraft copies of a paper floor plan, you can alternatively opt for using free online interior design planning tools. These programs are not only fun to play with, but can provide you with accurate 3D renderings that'll allow you to visualise what the room will look like from all angles. Therefore, you can try out all your ideas before you have to commit to them in real life.


1. Autodesk Homestyler

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Autodesk Homestyler is a super simple and quick way to produce 3D floor plans. Just drag and drop rooms and expand with room additions to quickly design your dream house. This program additionally allows you to play with decorations and accessories, really allowing you to visualise what your rooms will look like. It also gives you access to the library of designs other people have created using the program which is handy!


2. Homebase


Like Homestyler, Homebase offers you a room planning program. Its a little harder to work than the aforementioned program and often takes time to buffer and load, but it still provides you with a high quality 3D representation of your design. Although, where homebase really proves its worth is with its range of free calculators. The flooring calculator, paint calculator, wallpaper calculator, tiling calculator and insulator calculator can all help you determine the quantities of materials you will require to build, eliminating wasteful excesses and irritating shortages.


3. Magnet

Magnet is a tool specifically designed for kitchen design. You can either start from scratch, or use one of their predesigned rooms if you need a helping hand. You can then choose where to place your kitchen cabinetry, worktops, lighting, chairs etc. You can easily swap between 3D and 2D, and also between top and front views.


4. SketchUp

Lastly we have SketchUp: an incredible popular and well functioning modelling software commonly used by interior designers worldwide. You can opt for either the free or paid version, but either gives you a wide range of functions. Unfortunately its not the easiest software to use, but lucky for you there are many tutorials on offer. I would highly recommend investing some time and money into understanding the software to save time and stress.


So if your looking for a simpler and more flexible alternative to paper floor plans check out these 4 free online interior design planning tools. Each has its merits and disadvantages so test them all to find the one that is best suited to you! Check out this article from 'Interior Style Hunters' for more information.

5 Futuristic Home Improvements

In 2016 technology is constantly experiencing rapid advancements and the demands of modern life are continually increasing. Therefore modernising our homes to cope with these societal changes is a necessary task, which can reward you with numerous benefits. Here, we will look into five futuristic home improvements that are so innovative and useful that you will be left wondering how you ever survived life without them!

[caption id="attachment_10577" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Nick DeLena adjusts his thermostat from Nest Labs in his home on August 12, 2013 in West Newbury, Massachusetts. The simply designed thermostat was created by the Palo Alto, California-based company, Nest. (Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images) Image credit: Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images[/caption]


In-Duct Air Filtration

Maintaining good air quality within the home is vital. A lack of fresh, healthy air can seriously impact your health, potentially causing allergies and sinus headaches.

While air conditioning provides a much-needed source of cool air during the summer months, it can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and other toxins. In-Duct Air Filtration is a particle and carbon removal system, which incorporates neatly into many home A/C systems.

In-Duct BE Tube Illustration-with callouts

How It Works

Rather than simply blocking toxins from entering the home, In-Duct Air Filtration systems attack them with UV rays, sterilising them and making them harmless. This ingenious method of air filtration can help to keep the air within your home clean and healthy for all the family.


Circadian-Rhythm Lighting

Put simply, our Circadian Rhythm is our 'body clock', which controls the times at which we want to fall asleep and wake up. In recent years, research has concluded that overexposure to static light is one of the major factors that can affect this natural rhythm.

The problem with the lighting systems installed in many modern homes is that there is no way of tailoring the lighting to your sleep pattern. As anyone who has been woken up first thing in the morning by the bedroom light will tell you, it's not a pleasant experience!


How It Works

Circadian-Rhythm Lighting systems are designed to be adjusted to your individual sleep pattern. The lighting can be set to become gradually lighter or darker at the times you would usually wake up and fall asleep, stimulating and relaxing the body much like natural sunrise and sunset would do.

As a versatile lighting option, Circadian-Rhythm Lighting systems can be purchased to replace existing home fitted lighting, or as a stand-alone lamp for the bedroom.

Want a cheaper alternative?

Don't want to fork out an arm and leg to purchase Circadian-Rhythm Lighting? Alternatively opt for an adjustable LED Downlight Kit. This LEDified one allows you to adjust the light colour, wattage and gives you control over dimming. Therefore you'll be able to manually adjust the lighting to fit different stages in the Circadian-Rhythm.


Electronic-Open Systems

Electronic-Open Systems are one of those inventions that you may not previously have considered but have the power to revolutionise the design of your storage space. Electronic-Open Systems also replace the need for clumsy-looking handles on the front of traditional draws, cupboards, and appliance doors. This makes the system a perfect solution for those wishing to create a kitchen with a stylish, streamlined feel.


How It Works

With just one light push of the front of a cupboard or draw, this electronic system will open up the storage space automatically, with minimal noise and effort. Aside from looking great, Electronic-Open Systems also have some very practical benefits such as creating more storage space than standard cupboards and draws.


Steam Oven

If you enjoy cooking, you'll notice that there is always a new gadget on the market promising to be better than the last. Despite this, the steam oven is a truly unique product that has the potential to change the way we cook forever.


How It Works

By boiling water in a reservoir, the oven creates a cloud of steam which encapsulates the food inside the oven. As the heat created by the steam is far more intense than that created by electric ovens, food is cooked quicker and  more effectively.

However, where the steam oven really excels is the way that it preserves vital vitamins and nutrients within the food, which would otherwise be lost through utilising other cooking methods.


Door Handle With Self-Sterilisation System

Upon discovery that many traditional sanitising products contain harmful chemicals, there has been a huge fall in their popularity. Therefore, the market for products with self-sterilising surfaces has grown enormously.


How It Works

Harmful bacteria are often spread throughout the home via surfaces that are regularly handled. To combat this, the Door Handle With Self-sterilisation System has been invented.

The door handle features a built-in UV lamp which stays on when not in use. This UV technology kills bacteria and viruses by bombarding them with radiation in the UV light spectrum. Although this is not harmful to humans, it is lethal to the pathogens that cause infections and viruses.


Overall, whether you're looking to add value to your older home, or simply make everyday life easier for you and the family, there's now a huge variety of futuristic home improving products available that will improve your lifestyle, and impress the neighbours for many years to come.