Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in natural disasters across the country. From fires to flooding, it certainly is enough to make most homeowners think about how they could prepare their homes should these disasters happen in their neighbourhoods.
Even if you aren’t currently in a flood zone, there are some things you can do to prepare should it ever happen.
One of the first things you need to consider is that the smallest amount of water can actually cause a lot of damage, particularly if the water sits in your home for a few days. Floodproofing your home starts at the foundations.
Measure Your Risk
Traditionally homeowners were encouraged to check flood maps before they purchased a new home. But if the flooding of recent years has shown us anything, it’s that we can’t always rely on past data to think that our homes will be safe.
This is not to say don’t check those flood maps – they will still give you a good idea if you are in a high flood risk area or a low flood risk area.
Insure Your Property
This is one of the big things we have seen in past years – people, whether they be homeowners or tenants, haven’t been insured; and to some extent we can understand that particularly when you see some of the figures people have been given to insure their homes.
However, without insurance you can potentially lose your home and your belongings and have no way of replacing them. There are several insurers who will insure properties in flood prone areas, but if you are having trouble finding something suitable, it’s always worth having a chat to an insurance broker to see if they can find a suitable policy.
Prepare Your Home
Preparing your home is one of the biggest steps you can take to preventing or minimising the risk of flood damage. The risks generally can’t be eliminated altogether, but there are some steps you can take to give your home some more protection.
Maintaining Water Runoff and Draining
Flooding doesn’t always come from rising water – if you’re receiving a lot of rain and your gutters or downpipes are blocked, your home can flood even if you are well away from any watercourses. Similarly, if your runoff has been blocked, this can cause water to back up. Having your gutters cleaned at least yearly, and maintaining any areas where water leaves your property is essential.
This is an area we don’t tend to think about, but elevating utilities like your external air conditioner unit, pool equipment, and even your power points above the estimated flood level in your area may help to prevent damage to your home.
It’s not something we tend to think about, but flooding can cause fires. By elevating any major electrical items, you are minimising the risk of this happening. If flood water is starting to threaten your home, turning off and unplugging your electrical appliances, and shutting off your power or gas can help.
Anchor External Fuel Tanks and Shipping Containers
This particularly applies to more rural areas, and we do often see it in footage of floods. Where possible, you should anchor your fuel tanks, shipping containers and the like to prevent them drifting off in flood water and causing damage to your neighbours’ property.
Inside Your Home
Preparing the inside of your home can happen well in advance. Something you should consider doing to help with all natural disasters and factors like house fires is to keep all your important documents and valuables in watertight and fireproof safes or deposit boxes. Take pictures of all your important household items and personal valuables for insurance purposes, and ensure you have everything scanned and uploaded to a cloud storage system like Dropbox or Google Drive. This ensures that even if your documents and photos are damaged, you still have access to them.
The most important thing you can do, when it comes to any type of natural disaster or the like, is to have a plan. Know where you will go, have a grab bag ready, and explain to your children what might happen (in age appropriate language), including the emergency services personnel who might be involved in saving them or transferring them to an evacuation centre. It is also important that every family member knows who to call should there be an emergency situation.
We all hope that flooding never happens to us, but in the current climate it is something we can’t predict. However, with some preparation, we can hopefully minimise the potential damage that flooding can cause.
Smart homes – you’ve certainly heard of them, and their popularity is increasing. Whether you’re looking for products to help automate your home or wondering about the benefits of a smart home – we’ve got you covered.
What is a Smart Home?
A smart home is a residential installation that incorporates various forms of technology, such as sensors and controls, in order to make users' lives easier. In simplest terms, it's a way of automating many aspects of daily life so that users can focus on more important tasks.
Smart homes can be divided into two main categories: those that are controlled by a central hub, and those that are controlled by sensors in the environment. The first category includes devices like smart thermostats and lights that use algorithms to learn user habits and adjust settings accordingly. These devices can be controlled through a home's built-in electronics or a dedicated app.
The second category includes devices like smart locks and cameras that monitor surroundings for signs of intrusion or theft. When triggered, these sensors can send alerts to the homeowner's smartphone, opening the door for them or sending footage of the event to authorities.
Both categories of smart home devices have their benefits and drawbacks. Smart thermostats, for example, can save people money on their energy bills by automatically adjusting temperatures according to schedule or weather conditions.
Similarly, smart locks can provide peace of mind by ensuring that doors remain locked even when occupants are out of the house.
Benefits of a Smart Home
There are many benefits to having a smart home, including energy savings, convenience, and security. By using sensors and smart home gadgets, you can automate your settings and improve your overall living experience.
Here are just four of our favourite benefits:
Must Have Smart Home Gadgets?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best smart home gadgets will vary depending on your needs and preferences. However, some must-haves include:
Have you been considering purchasing a smart home? Montane Kellyville has been built for the future with apartments that feature smart home automation including functions to control air conditioning and energy efficient LED lights.
Buying your first home is an equal mix of excitement and fear – the idea of owning your own home, painting the walls whatever colour you like, and not having to deal with rent increases is fantastic. On the flip side, the thought of having to go to open home after open home, finding the perfect house, and then missing out is enough to put anyone off.
We've put together some tips and tricks for those looking to buy their first home to help you out.
Do You Qualify for a Home Loan?
As exciting as the prospect of looking for a home is, the first step before you get too involved is finding out if you qualify for a home loan and how much you could get approved for. For those looking for a single source of information, a broker can do the figures and let you know how much you could borrow. For those who prefer to do the leg work, speaking to several lenders to get an idea of how much you could borrow is important.
It is key to remember that while a lender may have low advertised rates, that lender may not be the best option for you right now.
Get Rid of Debt
While your personal debts may be under control, it may be harder to get a home loan approved or to get a loan for as much as you would like/need. Spend some time paying off any debts you have, particularly large or high interest debts. This might mean consolidating credit cards, or loans into one to pay it off quicker.
If you aren’t sure which debt will work against you, chat with your broker or chosen lender.
Decide on a Deposit You’re Comfortable With
Traditionally, a 20% was the most beneficial choice as it meant there was no requirement to pay lenders mortgage insurance (LMI). With the introduction of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS), eligible first home buyers can purchase with just a 5% deposit with no LMI.
This sounds great and may mean you can get into the market quicker; however, it is also wise to remember that it means you have a higher loan and therefore higher loan repayments. With the expected increase in interest rates, it’s worth considering whether you will be advantaged or disadvantaged by having a higher deposit.
Research Any Grants Available
There are often other grants available for first home buyers, whether it be through the relevant Governments or through builders if you are looking to buy a house and land package. These grants could be worth thousands of dollars towards your property purchase.
It’s essential to understand the eligibility of these grants – some grants are only ever available once, and if you don’t use them to purchase your first home, you may not be eligible in the future.
New Build or Existing Build
Part of doing the research into buying a new home should be thinking about your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves”. Some people are happy to forgo any grants and purchase an established home in an older area as it may suit their family better, while other buyers prefer the idea of being able to design their home the way they want it, and therefore buying a house and land package or even off-the-plan is a better idea.
Don’t dismiss one in pursuit of the other – while you may think an established house is what you want, a brand-new home could provide a better location and more modern fixtures. On the other hand, an established home may be in an area that already has facilities built and has a larger land size that suits your family.
Adjust Your Expectations
You probably hear it all the time but adjusting your expectations may help you get into your first home sooner. This could be rethinking prices and understanding that homes are selling for more than you think they should; or it could be about buying a home that suits you for the next few years, and gets your foot in the door, over buying your forever home which may take another two to three years to save up the deposit.
Buying a home should be an exciting time. Spending the time getting finances in order and considering what you actually need in a home may see you purchasing a lot sooner than you thought.
Are you looking for a new home in NSW? 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments in Montane Kellyville are now selling and proving popular with first home buyers. Find out more today
Living Building Materials
There’s been a push towards eco and sustainable building materials in the last few years, but with the environmental issues we see happening around us, there is now a lot of research going into the use of living building materials.
But how exactly do you build a house or a high rise out of something that is living?
Living Building Materials – What are They?
These materials are also known as biological building materials and essentially it is where microorganisms play a role in the manufacturing of the material. Bacteria or other microbes work to develop building materials that can live, multiply, heal cracks and absorb harmful toxins from the air.
It is important to note that while timber is a biological material, it isn’t alive, so this is more than just using traditional timber products.
Let’s take a look at the three ways the construction industry may be able to use living bacteria and microbes in the future.
It’s an interesting concept to think of our buildings growing around us, but that’s exactly what could be happening in the future. We already use natural materials in the form of timber from dead trees and crushed limestone in buildings, but we could soon be using mycelium, which is the root network of various fungus. Mycelium needs very little to grow – think wood chips and coffee grounds – and can create structural materials in a relatively short space of time.
The challenge is to be able to design a building or structure where the mycelium can be kept partly alive, allowing it to continue growing and adapting.
Mycelium bricks were used to construct the 13-metre tall Hy-Fi installation in New York back in 2014.
Buildings with the ability to heal themselves will be a game changer. Cracks in concrete, particularly in high rises, often are the beginning of continuing issues with cracks allowing water to seep in, which in turn rusts metal reinforcements in the building.
A research team at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is just one group exploring mixing in bacterial spores into the concrete mix. As the concrete cracks and water seeps in, the theory is that the bacteria will become reanimated, and it will set in motion a chemical process where calcite crystals will grow, and essential heal the concrete.
This technology has the ability to add decades of life to a concrete building.
Circulation is so important to those working and living in a building and good natural ventilation is an important factor to consider when building a new home or commercial building. But what would happen if the walls of your building could breathe?
A group led by Hironshi Ishii at MIT have developed building materials that can essentially change shape in response to water and moisture. The materials are home to layers of bacteria spore and made with latex. When the material dries out, it contracts and changes shape. Similarly, to how clothing can respond to perspiration, this construction material will flex and open as it responds to moisture, allowing air to flow through the walls.
Biotech is certainly the way of the future, and it will be interesting to watch how the use of living building materials is incorporated into the construction industry in the future.
Sustainable building practices are becoming more and more commonplace in today’s construction industry, and as we head into 2022, the practice is only expected to increase. Green buildings that suit the environment and climate of their location are becoming expected, and there are plenty of ways that construction companies are getting on board.
What are Sustainable Building Practices?
Sustainable building is all about living in harmony with the surrounding natural environment while considering the environmental, social, and economic aspects. It is all about reducing the footprint of the building through less energy, water and better materials.
Technology is changing daily, and the latest in energy-efficient technology allows us to install smart thermostats, shades, lights, air conditioning, and many other appliances. This technology allows the homeowner to reduce the emissions from their property, while still allowing for comfortable living. There’s no need to leave the air conditioner on all day during summer when you can now turn it on as you’re leaving work.
With the COVID pandemic, modular construction became more widespread. Portions of properties can be built off-site with much less waste, and then transported to the site, where they will be placed together. With less waste and more materials being recycled, modular construction is being requested more.
The demand from homeowners and business owners for eco-friendly building materials is increasing. Construction companies are utilising non-VOC paints, recycled wood, and emission-free materials, as well as recycling where possible.
Many construction companies are now looking at building net-zero buildings; that is, buildings where energy consumption is equal, or close enough to, to the energy output. It required generating renewable energy through wind turbines, solar, and photovoltaics.
With the growing number of natural disasters, one of the top sustainable building practices is to build or incorporate construction that can stand up to modern weather patterns. This might mean that develops build stronger frames, use fireproof materials or build off the ground.
Developers are now looking at ways to incorporate sustainable building practices, allowing them to access certificates that buyers want. This includes Green Star Certification, LEED Certification, and EDGE Certification.
Sustainable Buildings in Australia
There are some great sustainable buildings across Australia, with most being in residential development. Some of the best include:
CH2 Melbourne – Built with multiple features that reduce energy and resource consumption. The building has low emissions, is designed to maximise natural light, and features green roofs and walls.
One Central Park Sydney – One Central Park was built on the 1830’s Carlton and United Brewery site, with the stacks now forming part of the sustainable energy-emitting power plant for residents. Hydroponic plants grow on the outside of the building, watered by recycled water infrastructure.
25 King Street Brisbane – The nine levels in this building are constructed using recycled or glue-laminated timber structural beams and columns. The building saved at least 40% of energy when compared to traditional concrete and steel construction.
At Laurus Projects, both our Montane Kellyville and our Pacific Drive (Port Macquarie) developments are utilising sustainable building practices, with both using smart home innovations.
It’s fair to say that not too many industries were prepared for a world-wide pandemic. Coming off the back of bushfires and floods, the construction industry has faced some very challenging periods over the last few years, and while we see the housing market booming, behind the scenes the construction industry has had to change many of their ways on the fly.
Construction has fared better than many other industries in Australia due to being classed as an essential service. In many cases, the construction industry hasn’t been exposed to full closures like many other industries have, but the industry hasn’t gotten away unscathed.
Supply Chain Disruptions
It’s not just the supermarkets that have been affected by supply chain issues. In recent years, Australia has become more reliant on importing business materials, and with countries shutting down due to COVID spread, there has been long delays in getting materials. However, one of the big changes to the industry has been the rethink in managing the supply chain.
Paying suppliers early has been one of the critical changes that is likely to remain post-pandemic. This change helps to ease cash flow issues for smaller subcontractors ensuring they can mobilise quicker.
Companies are starting to look at their suppliers (and the suppliers of their suppliers) and looking at options to diversify and potentially start to use local suppliers.
Remote Work Technology
It’s hard to imagine the construction industry working remotely, but there has been some adaption in terms of digital collaboration and coming together remotely for meetings or discussions with contractors and home buyers. Many embraced systems like Zoom, as well as Building Information Modelling and simulations allowing changes mid-build to be discussed and handled with little delay.
To the outside eye, construction may have been continuing like normal, but to those working on site there has been a marked difference to the number of people on site. Social distancing requirements set by Governments minimised the number of trades allowed on-site which has meant timeframes blowing out. In NSW and Victoria, the governments have introduced new rules allowing days of operation on site to be extended. This has alleviated some issues however some builders are pushing for 24-hour access, which will be interesting to see what develops.
Increase in Off-site Construction
In a world that requires social distancing, building components off-site is starting to pick up. Taking this away from the construction site allows for the movement and interaction to contractors to be monitored, as well as increases the speed and quality of the materials being constructed. The use of pre-fabricated components has been increasing in recent years, however COVID showed the industry just how useful it was to build components elsewhere, and then having minimal contractors on site to put it all together.
The next few months will be interesting to see what issues persist and which disappear, as well as seeing which changes stick around and which one developers and builders get rid of.
One thing that hasn’t changed during the pandemic is Laurus Projects drive to create projects that have a positive impact on the community.
There’s almost nothing more exciting than buying a home, particularly when it’s your first home or you’ve decided it’s time for the forever home. But careful consideration is needed to ensure that you get the home most suitable to your needs. Whether it be close to work so you don’t need to do a long commute, or close to family and friends, there are some key factors to consider when buying your new home.
House prices and rental prices are currently on the rise across the country, so finding somewhere affordable to live is at the top of everyone’s list. Being able to have more money in your pocket at the end of the week is important, so take the time to sit down and decide on what is affordable for you, taking into consideration all costs of living.
Commuting can take up a lot of your day, and no one wants to be sitting in traffic or on public transport for hours if they can help it. If you work for a business that allows you to work from home, the commute time might not be as much of an issue, however for those who do need to commute daily, it’s essential to not only take in the actual distance to work, but how you will get there every day.
If moving to a new location, doing your research on employment opportunities means that you won’t move to a location with no work opportunities (unless of course you’re looking to retire, or you work online, and this isn’t an issue for you). Taking time to consider income levels in the area, as well as general cost of living is essential.
Real Estate Value
Yes, house prices are currently on the increase but it’s important to think about trends. Looking at past trends for properties in the area, while not an exact science, can give you an idea on long term value for the region. When looking at buying, take some time to look at sales prices from the last two – three months; you will generally get a good idea of whether you are getting value for your money.
Are you moving with a young family? Education facilities should be relatively high on your priority list. If moving to a new state, make sure you find out how the school systems work. Some areas will have school catchments, so it may be a good idea to choose a couple of schools and then look at the homes within those catchment areas. If considering moving to a more regional area, considering the proximity to tertiary education facilities is important.
Climate & Lifestyle
One of the biggest factors to consider is lifestyle and climate. There’s no point moving to Tasmania if you can’t handle the cold winters; likewise, there’s no point moving to Cairns if you can’t handle high humidity. Also consider the facilities around and what your family needs – sports clubs, shopping centres, beaches, camp areas, museums, art galleries and so on.
If an outer city location with views and facilities is on your radar, look at Montane Kellyville. With three rooftop terraces and views out to the Blue Mountains, these two- and three-bedroom apartments offer affordable luxury in the heart of Kellyville.
You may not have heard of it, but you’ve certainly been using it. Property technology, or prop tech, was relatively misunderstood just a few years ago, but now it’s a common phrase used by just about everyone in the commercial real estate industry.
In previous years prop-tech was the domain of more high-end commercial property industry businesses, but now it is an essential tool that is changing the way we do business and grow relationships with our clients. The software that comes under the proptech banner helps with researching, buying, selling and managing properties.
Those in commercial real estate have been using technology to help in these areas for years, but the new technology on or coming onto the market really changes the dynamics of what we can do.
What Does PropTech Cover?
There’s a whole range of software that comes under the proptech area including AI powered 3D property tours, national commercial real estate property search databases, cloud-based property management software and investment platforms.
Within the commercial real estate sector, new technology appearing on the market offers those in the commercial real estate sector the ability to market properties, work with new and existing clients and develop business strategies at any point.
What does PropTech Really Do?
As proptech becomes more accessible, consumers can access more data than they have been able to before, which makes them more knowledgeable impacting the way that real estate professionals and clients work together. Proptech allows consumers to become more savvy buyers or sellers, equipping them with a better understanding of the local real estate market. But this isn’t a bad thing.
More knowledgeable consumers allow commercial real estate agents and developers the ability to share a vision with each other, as well as enhancing communication and collaboration over a project.
The rise of proptech really allows for every point of a project to be streamlined. From Contech (construction tech), development, Fintech (Financing tech), moving and more, there’s plenty of room for creativity and technology to change the way the commercial real estate market works.
Helping to eliminate time consuming tasks, automated processed powered by AI will provide faster and more efficient results. Robots will be able to perform roles 24/7 which means projects can be turned out quicker.
IoT – Internet of Things
IoT, or Internet of Things, has been making itself more well known recently. It is essentially the way that devices and appliances are becoming interconnect via the internet. Things like lighting, heating, white goods, cars and more have sensors which create data that allow us more and better control. Smart homes will use IoT more and more in the future.
You’ve likely heard of blockchain when speaking of cryptocurrency, however it is a secure system that transfers almost immediately making it the perfect platform for transferring documents, agreements, contracts and finances.
3D printing offers two main areas for growth in the commercial real estate and development sector. The first is being able to product 3D models down to the most accurate details which provides a better outcome for all parties involved. The second allows for the printing of specialist building components and parts that are only needed as a one-off. This will replace the more expensive and less reliable small batch production and manufacturing.
It’s not just the software driving changes in the commercial real estate sector. With technology constantly pushing boundaries, and regular advancement in control, delivery, design and development, the proptech revolution is going to make the real estate sector more automated and efficient, potentially cutting costs for all involved.
If you thought the COVID pandemic was slowing down construction in Sydney, it’s time to think again. With plenty of new development projects set to shape the city in the next few years, and an improved transport system, it’s time to look at some of the projects that will add to Sydney’s future skyline.
This $2.5 billion twin-tower structure is set to be located within Sydney’s Tech Central, more specifically in the western most park of the government supported technology precinct next to Central Station. Both towers are designed to sit up to 39 levels and will provide a huge 150,000 sqm of office workspace.
The interesting part? These towers are going sustainable. Developers are looking to power these two buildings through 100% renewable energies. Even better is that the buildings include features such as touchless entry points and solar glass.
Still under assessment, Central Place is sure to make an impact on the skyline.
Another new addition to Tech Central is Atlassian’s new $1 billion+ tower. It is the flagship project within the precinct, made of concrete and timber and topping out at 180 metres. This is going to be one impressive building – a glass and steel façade, solar panels built into the sides of the building and indoor and planted terraces providing natural ventilation and green space.
The Atlassian Tower is currently under assessment, and if it gets the go ahead, will be the tallest timber structure in the country.
As part of the future Victoria Cross metro station located in North Sydney, this 42-story commercial tower was recently approved and will contain around 58,000sqm of office and retail space. It is predicted that the Victoria Cross development will accommodate up to 7,000 office workers. The development provides more easily accessible office space within the city.
Sydney Metro Network
Talking metro stations, by 2024 Sydney is set to have 31 metro stations along 66km of trackwork from Rouse Hill to Bankstown and Westmead, incorporating tracks through Chatswood, under Sydney Harbour and through the city.
This $12 billion project is projected to increase rail transport services across Sydney by up to 80 an hour in the morning peak periods, with up to 40,000 people per hour being whisked across the city.
They might not show on the city skyline but these metro stations will certainly help move people around more efficiently.
It’s a development that is often spoken about and is due to be completed this year. The 72-story building is home to 82 apartments as well as a 349 room, six-star hotel, and is located on the area known as Darling Harbour East.
Upon completion, One Barangaroo will be home to 3,500 residents with a huge $650 million in pre-sales already made.
Set to grow larger, the move from Ultimo to Parramatta means even more features for the Powerhouse Museum. When finished, it will be the largest museum in NSW, featuring a 30-metre-wide domed planetarium.
The new Powerhouse Museum will be the largest investment into the arts and culture sector in a long time – since the Sydney Opera House was built in fact. With an extra 2300sqm of exhibition space that includes 60 creative residential studios, this is certainly a project that will change the landscape along the Parramatta River.
Green Square Town Centre is one of the first new town centres to be built in a long time. The Green Square train station links directly to the airport and the city, there is a new aquatic and rec centre, a new library including an open-air Amphitheatre, a creative centre and a civic plaza.
Residents in the new Elysian Apartments, by Laurus Projects, Mathieson and 360, can take advantage of the new Green Square, with residents being able to enjoy privacy within their boutique apartments and then head out and have everything close at hand.
With plenty of great developments happening over the coming years, the Sydney skyline is set to change dramatically from what it is now. We can’t wait to see how the city looks in the future.
The past 18 months have been an extremely difficult time for the population of NSW and more broadly, for Australia. The unprecedented impact of Covid-19 has been immense and devastating for people all over the country.
However, as a community, we have rallied together to face it head-on. Where for many of us this has meant staying at home or wearing our masks, there are those who have been going above and beyond to keep us safe – our frontline workers. These are the people who have put themselves at risk day after day to look after the broader community.
The team at Laurus Projects would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude towards every single person who has helped ensure that we come out of lockdown with a renewed faith in each other and hopes for a brighter future.
As we start to emerge on the other side of the pandemic, we turn our focus to what the future holds – to better times ahead. This most likely means different things for different people – whether it be seeing family, travelling, attending your favourite event, we all have things we are looking forward to.
We would like to give all our essential workers something extra to look forward to. As a small gesture to say thank you, Laurus Projects would like to offer all essential workers discounted prices on our upcoming ‘Montane Apartments’ development.
The development will be comprised of one, two and three-bedroom apartments in the heart of Kellyville. Each apartment has a superb boutique design, exceptional craftsmanship and the latest in Google home automation. Set against the backdrop of the majestic Blue Mountains, Montane draws inspiration from the surrounding landscape, where urban living meets a more relaxed way of life. Moved by the fresh air, blue skies and the open space of the Kellyville area, Covid will be the last thing on your mind. Take a look at the website; https://www.montanekellyville.com.au/ to explore everything the development has to offer.
If you’re an essential worker considering buying a home in the near future, we’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch so that we can help make your transition into a post-covid world a little bit brighter.