Archive for September, 2013

House that follows the sun wins GreenSmart Home of the Year

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

An innovate home design which enables the property to follow the sun has won Australia’s 2013 HIA GreenSmart Home of the Year.

MAG Constructions and DNA Architects, of the ACT/Southern NSW region were awarded GreenSmart Home of the Year, and received the GreenSmart Spec Home Award for their innovative project, “Girasole”, which is Italian for sunflower.

The four-bedroom home is built on a steel-framed motorised turntable and is controlled by a touch screen pad. Supported by 28 wheels and driven by two whisper quiet motors, the home can rotate through 360 degrees and has been designed to literally track the winter sun through the living areas and avoid the harsh Australian sun in summer. It is able to operate at three speeds and represents high tech, environmentally-friendly living at its best.

Continuing on the sustainable living theme, electricity for the home is provide by 24 photovoltaic cells (situated on top of the four-car garage) generating 10,500 kilowatts of power per annum. Beneath the garage is a huge rainwater tank of 120,000L capacity which will allow the new owner of the home to live independently of traditional power and water services.

The award was presented at the national HIA – Stratco GreenSmart Awards ceremony, where builders from around the country were acknowledged for their efforts in environmentally-responsible housing.

The worst design features in homes

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Each decade has had its share of questionable home design, from the extensive wood panelling and Harvest Gold appliances of the 1970s to the next decade’s overuse of glass blocks, vertical blinds and country-style decor.

Some of these serve as powerful buyer-repellant; others just ding the price, as people figure in the cost of covering up, ripping out or otherwise correcting these home fashion faux pas.

Shag carpeting

This deep-pile carpeting, named for its shaggy texture, was popular in the 1970s in a bright array of colours, including ‘Apache Flame’ and ‘Arroyo Gold.’

Sure, it was kid-friendly, but it trapped dirt and got matted easily, requiring the regular use of a shag rake to keep it from looking like a dog with mange.

While shag area rugs are now making a minor comeback with hipsters, agents say most buyers recoil at the old wall-to-wall stuff.

Popcorn ceilings

This ceiling treatment was popular between the 1950s and 1980s and was designed to reduce noise and hide imperfections. But this spray-on stucco has become the pariah of interior finishes, spawning a ‘cottage cheese’ removal industry. Agents and designers alike say they have seen far too much of this messy stuff.

What’s worse is that the earliest versions of this finish often contained asbestos fibres, so homeowners should get it tested before they try to scrape it off.

Colourful sinks and toilets

Real-estate agent Michelle Fitzgerald of Century 21 Affiliated in Beloit, Wis., has seen toilets in blue, green and pink. She says tubs are easier to hide from sellers, behind a shower curtain.

But the toilet and sink are front and centre.

‘It brings down the price they are going to offer, because they know they are going to have to fix it,’ Fitzgerald says.

Wood panelling

Big in the 1970s, this homey treatment is best left to vacation cabins, say designers and real-estate agents.

Installed on walls to convey a warm feeling — often paired with the aforementioned shag carpeting — buyers these days consider it dark and hard to deal with.

Mirrors everywhere!

Yes, mirrors do make a room look larger. But when glued across large expanses, they’re downright tacky.

Agents and designers often find themselves ripping out mirrored closet doors, backsplashes and — yuck — bedroom ceilings. We don’t have to tell you why that’s seedy, do we? Think rent-by-the-hour hotel rooms.

Source: Melinda Fulmer, MSN Real Estate

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