Tag Archives: Tasmania real Estate Blogs

Is your deck ready for the cooler months?

Is your deck ready for the cooler months?It’s been a long, hot summer and, with Christmas and all the associated entertaining behind you, it’s time to take a look at your long-suffering deck.

Caring for your home’s deck before the weather turns cooler can actually make it much easier to enjoy when summer rolls back around again. When it comes to deck maintenance, it’s like the old adage – a stitch in time saves nine!

Here are few tips of keeping your deck clean and healthy.

Choose your timing wisely

Although a nice sunny day might seem ideal, don’t subject yourself to the potential UV and heat stress. Cloudy days are perfect for cleaning decks. You won’t get sunburnt and you’ll find the task far less taxing. Plus, if you’re using an expensive cleaner, it’s not going to evaporate before your eyes.

Cleaning up

The harsh summer sun is destructive enough, but cold winds and rain can really take their toll on your deck. Stains and dirt can ruin your deck’s appearance, and, if you leave them there over winter, they get a lot harder to remedy. A rainy winter can also breed mould and mildew in the grain, which can be very hard to remove.

Protecting from the elements

Cleaning your deck prepares it for the next step – protection. Consider a water-repellent treatment when you’re preparing your deck for a change of season. Rain and frosts can cause the wood in your deck to split and deteriorate, but a sealant can help maintain your deck for months – or years – to come. Make sure you remove any flowerpots or furniture from the deck before you start – these often hide marks and stains. You should expect to re-apply clear sealers and toners annually.

Look for signs of rot

Look around the areas of your deck that are within 15 centimetres of the ground, or close to water sources such as planter boxes and drain spouts. Starting with stairs, probe structural members with a screwdriver and pay attention to where the stairs meet the ground. Also check perimeter posts, handrails and their supports. If you can push the screwdriver in more than a few millimetres, you probably have rot. Small areas of rot should be removed with a chisel but if you find rot in structural members, consult a professional carpenter or builder.

Natural timber decks

There are a couple of different ways to look after natural timbers. You can give raw timber a good scrub with a stiff bristle brush and a specialist wood cleaner like Oxalic acid. You’ll be amazed at its restorative powers and how even quite old, natural timber surfaces can be freshened up. However, don’t forget less expensive alternatives like Nappy San. Add two cups to half a bucket of hot water and add the cleaner while scrubbing with your bristle brush.

Oiled or stained decks

If you’ve just built a new timber deck, allow the timber to season for at least two or three months before applying oil for the first time. With older decks, it’s best to re-apply oil every six to twelve months, so autumn and spring are the ideal times. Clean the deck before you start, leaving it to dry overnight. Then, grab your decking brush and extension pole and apply your oil quickly and evenly, with continuous strokes. Have some turps and a rag on standby to clean up spills. Always wear protective eyewear and gloves when using oils and stains.

Painted decks

Painted decks can be a little trickier to maintain. If the paint has started to peel off, you’ll possibly have algae in the wood grain to contend with as well, so it’s best to strip the paint completely and give the deck a pressure wash with bleach and water. Allow the deck to dry fully and the grain to open up before starting with new paint. Choose a ‘high grip’ primer and brush it into the wood grain as deeply as possible. Don’t rush this step. The better the primer is applied, the more chance of a long-lasting upper paint layer. Allow it to dry completely before starting the painting process.

Fixing popped nails

Popped nails aren’t just unsightly; they’re downright dangerous! They’re a trip hazard and an early sign that your deck is starting to fall apart. Don’t just hammer them back in as they’ll simply pop up again. Remove the nail with a cat’s paw or hammer, then use a screw that’s longer than the nail you just removed to re-attach the board.

Ultimately, taking some preventative measures, year round, will save you a lot of effort. Trim nearby bushes and trees. Sweep leaves and debris out of corners, and, move pot plants, planter boxes, tables and furniture around. This helps spread the wear and avoid deck discolouration.

So how is your deck looking?

Your end of financial year property depreciation checklist

With the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) encouraging rental property owners to be vigilant when preparing their annual income tax assessment this year, it’s important that investors understand the depreciation deductions they are eligible to claim.

Depreciation continues to be an area that investors find complicated and many investors lack the knowledge of complex tax legislation necessary to accurately assess what deductions they are entitled to. This can often lead to investors failing to maximise their depreciation deductions and a potential audit if incorrect claims are made.

To assist rental property owners, below are four must know points about property depreciation. These points include depreciation checklists to assist investors to understand some of the rules and terminology behind claiming property depreciation.

1. What is property depreciation?

As a building gets older and the items within it wear out, they depreciate in value. The ATO allows property investors to claim depreciation deductions related to the building structure and the plant and equipment items contained within any income producing property.

2. What is deductible under the capital works allowance?

A capital works allowance can be claimed due the wear and tear of the structural elements of a building. Examples of some of the structural items which can be claimed are below:

Deductions for these items are based on the historical costs of the building, the construction date and the type of property.

Residential property owners can only claim the capital works allowance at a rate of 2.5% for properties in which construction commenced after the 15th of September 1987, while commercial property owners can claim capital works allowance at a rate of 2.5% or 4% dependent on the property type and construction commencement date.

The below chart provides a visual explanation to help investors work out the relevant capital works entitlement for their property type.

3. What are plant and equipment assets?

Plant and equipment assets are the mechanical and removable assets contained within an investment property. The ATO has identified more than 1,500 items that rental property owners can claim as depreciable plant and equipment assets.

The depreciation for these assets will be calculated based on the individual effective life of each asset as set by the ATO. The checklist below lists some of the plant and equipment assets found in most investment properties.

To find the depreciation rate of any depreciable asset, BMT Tax Depreciation have developed Rate Finder, a free app available to download here. Investors can search by asset name or industry type within the app.

4. How can a rental property owner ensure depreciation is claimed correctly?

Investors are encouraged to enlist the services of a specialist Quantity Surveyor to arrange a tax depreciation schedule.

Quantity Surveyors are one of a few select professionals recognised under Tax Ruling 97/25 with the appropriate knowledge for calculating construction costs for the purpose of building depreciation.

A specialist Quantity Surveyor is likely to ask a property owner to supply the following information when they call to arrange a depreciation schedule:

A specialist Quantity Surveyor will perform a site inspection of the property when arranging a depreciation schedule. By doing so, they may identify plant and equipment items which may otherwise have been identified as capital works. Thus increasing the rate at which items within the property can be depreciated.

In commercial properties, Quantity Surveyors will ascertain which items can be attributed to the owners’ deductions and to their tenants, as tenants are also entitled to claim depreciation deductions. They will also ensure that the correct deductions are applied for assets dependent on the type of commercial property, as the effective life of assets in commercial properties vary significantly industry to industry.

By arranging a depreciation schedule, the owner of the property can rest assured knowing that the correct and maximum deductions can be claimed. The schedule will outline all of the deductions available for the owner’s Accountant and provide evidence to support the owners claim should the ATO complete an audit.

Article provided by BMT Tax Depreciation.
Bradley Beer (B. Con. Mgt, AAIQS, MRICS) is the Chief Executive Officer of BMT Tax Depreciation. A depreciation expert with over sixteen years experience in property depreciation and the construction industry, Bradley is a regular keynote speaker and presenter covering depreciation services on television, radio, at conferences and exhibitions Australia-wide. Please contact
1300 728 726 or visit www.bmtqs.com.au

3 tips for the conveyancing process

3-tips-for-the-conveyancing-processWhen it comes down to the nitty gritty of buying or selling a home, there are several legal processes that can be quite tiresome to deal with. One of those is conveyancing, which is the process of transferring title between a buyer and seller during a sale. But what are the basics you need to know about the task?

Do you get a conveyancer or a solicitor?

Either of these professions can conduct the conveyancing for you, but in many states it is specific conveyancing specialists who are employed most often. They should be registered with the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC), which is a national body that maintains best practise in the conveyancing industry.

Clarify the fees

One of the first things to do when you engage a conveyancer after checking they are qualified with the AIC, is determining the fees that will be charged. This includes stamp duty and possibly more, dependent on which area you are buying in.

The conveyancer can organise the fees for you, but make sure it is clear exactly what you will be charged and how much the conveyancer will be paid before you get down to business. The conveyancing cost is generally linked to the difficulty of the transaction.

Make sure they are working in your interests

It is not illegal for a conveyancer to work for both the buyer and seller in a transaction, but it can cause difficulty if a conflict of interest develops during a sale and be a breach of AIC best practise.

Get someone who works independently and for your best interests, and remember – all AIC registered conveyancers come with professional indemnity insurance, which will protect you if the process goes awry.

By engaging a conveyancer you can cut out a lot of technical work involved in completing the purchase or sale of a home – meaning you can rest easy and wait for the moving date.

Think buying heritage is for you?

Think-buying-heritage-is-for-youIt’s not hard to see why buying a historic house is so attractive. The stories, the architecture and the character of an old building are entirely unique – but there can also be some unexpected costs and restrictions along the way. So what are some of the things to look out for when buying a piece of your region’s history? Here are a couple of points to keep the search for your dream home on track.

Reno-able?

Make sure you ask lots of questions during the inspection period and before you sign on the dotted lines. Is the property heritage-listed? If so, there might be limits on what structural or cosmetic changes you can make, whether it be old walls or one-of-a-kind features like fireplaces or chimneys. It’s all too easy to be charmed by an old home, but keep an eye out for government regulations surrounding historic properties in the area. These are in place to preserve the original nature of the home or neighbourhood, so you might have to get hold of special permits if you want to do any renovations.

Is it worth it?

With that in mind, think about the extra costs involved in owning a historic home. The last thing you want is a house full of rot and asbestos! You don’t want any of these unexpected costs to pop up along the track, so examine everything thoroughly – take pictures, open windows, stamp on the floor. A specialised inspector or structural engineer will give you a second opinion and price estimates. And don’t forget to put things in perspective. Consider any repairs relative to the sale price – are they worth it? This depends on your budget, but any major structural problems could cause headaches down the road.

That being said, some local bodies also have incentive schemes for historic properties that encourage people to undertake conservation work on their historic homes. Check with your local council or similar historic trust or organisation to see if they have an ongoing program, or if the property fits their criteria – you might be eligible for reimbursement in the future.

3 things every landlord should know

3-things-every-landlord-should-knowRenting out a property? It can sometimes seem like the tide is against you, but don’t fret. The exact laws will vary, but as a landlord you have a number of general rights and responsibilities that you should be aware of. Here are three of the most important things to remember.

1. Taking bond

Bond is your No. 1 safeguard against any damage to your rental property. You should take a bond from your tenants at the beginning of a lease as a security deposit, and it generally gets lodged with a government agency to be held on your behalf. In the case that the tenant breaks your agreement, you can make a claim to take some or all of the bond. This usually applies to major damage, not just your everyday wear-and-tear scenarios, so have a clear idea of what damage was or wasn’t there before the tenant moves in.

2. Doing repairs

Your tenants are usually responsible for keeping the property clean and tidy, but it depends on what’s outlined in the tenancy agreement. Be aware of any legislation and regulations surrounding your responsibilities as a landlord because they can vary. In any case, the property should meet all health and safety laws, and be sure to respond to any major issues like electrical mishaps or leaking taps immediately – otherwise you could end up with a large repair bill or in front of a disputes tribunal.

3. Should I stay or should I go?

You might own the property, but this isn’t license to come and go whenever you please. Respect your tenants’ privacy and personal items and your relationship should stay pleasant – a happy tenant equals a happy rental - but keep in mind both you and your tenants have distinct responsibilities to each other. You might have the right to enter the property every now and again, but it’s polite (and generally obligatory) to inform tenants when you are going to drop by for a routine inspection or to fix something.

Abiding by the general rules of renting will help to avoid problems, as well as making the experience a lot more enjoyable – for both you and your tenants!

Home gardens can flourish regardless of space

Home-gardens-can-flourish-regardless-of-spaceThere’s no better way to eat healthy, save money and make the most of your property than to plant a garden.

Some home owners may feel overwhelmed by the idea – after all, not everyone is born with a green thumb. However, creating a varied and delicious garden full of herbs and vegetables can be easier than you think.

Herbs

Planting herbs is a great first step for burgeoning gardeners. Best of all, because they require such little space, even property owners with little room can have a stunning herb garden. In fact, herbs can even be grown easily indoors!

For instance, all you need to do in order to always have fresh basil on hand without visiting the supermarket is place a basil plant in a window that gets at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day.

The same can be done with delicious herbs like rosemary, sage, mint and chives.

Veggies

Vegetables like carrots, radishes, onions, tomatoes and lettuce are also very easy to grow for amateur gardeners.

Additionally, just like with herbs, there are plenty of ways to grow fresh veggies if space is an issue.

For example, while garlic cloves are a popular cooking ingredient, they are often too bitter to the taste to cook with when they sprout. But instead of tossing these in the garbage, you can simply place sprouted cloves in a glass of water and grow new sprouts.

These sprouts are not as overpowering as garlic cloves, and can go great in a number of dishes or as a garnish.

Lettuce stems from a head of romaine lettuce can also be used to grow fresh produce. All you need to do is place the intact stem in a bowl with approximately a half inch of water and place it on a windowsill that gets some sun.

Soon enough, new leaves will grow and you’ll be on your way to crafting a delicious salad.

Solutions to storage problems

Solutions-to-storage-problemsStorage space may not be the first thing that jumps to mind when considering must-haves in your home, but as those will little storage space know, a tiny bit of room goes a long way.

Fortunately, there are plenty of crafty ways to give yourself more storage space, whether in the bedroom or the kitchen.

Think vertically

Most homeowners think in terms of floor space, but there is plenty of room being unused higher up.

Whether you invest in tall bookshelves, hooks to hang from walls and doors or simple shelves installed in bare areas, make sure you maximise how much of your vertical space you’re taking advantage of.

Stay out of sight

If you have a lot to store, chances are you’re worried about a cluttered home. After all, no one likes to look like a hoarder.

Luckily there are plenty of out of the way spaces in which to store items. Under beds is one great option, as guests will not notice if you expertly pack boxes and bins that can easily slide under where you sleep.

Closets should also be utilised to the fullest degree, whether this means taking advantage of the coat closet in the entryway or simply adding shelves to your bedroom closet in an attempt to create more space.

Slim down

Perhaps the best but least popular piece of advice regarding storage is to get rid of what you don’t need.

Many people are unable to part with their possessions, even if they’re broken or no longer needed. However, holding on to these things makes storage an issue and turns an already stressful time like moving into a nightmare.

Think long and hard about what you can part with and then have a garage sale. Pocketing some extra cash will help soothe the sting of saying goodbye.

Approaching neighbours about a nuisance

Approaching-neighbours-about-a-nuisanceIn a perfect world, all our neighbours would be our friends and we’d regularly trade cups of sugar and lend out lawnmowers with smiles on our faces.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Be it a noise issue, a property boundary dispute or any other problem, there will likely come a time when you’ll need to approach a neighbour about some kind of nuisance.

When this situation arises, it’s important to keep your cool and follow some general guidelines in order to keep the peace and have your home remain a sanctuary, not a battleground.

Timing is key

If a problem arises, it’s a good idea to speak with your neighbour sooner rather than later. This will give you less time to stew on something they may not even be aware of.

With that said, if you’re angry, it’s probably a good idea to hold off on approaching a neighbour until you’ve had some time to cool off.

Either way, when you do approach your neighbour, do so at a convenient time that will give you ample opportunity to talk. Banging on someone’s door in the middle of the night is not ideal.

Cordial is better than cranky

A neighbour that keeps you up at all hours of the night with blaring music may lead you to write a nasty note or yell some choice words over the fence, but this strategy has the potential to backfire horribly.

After all, it’s not as if your neighbour will suddenly pack up and leave overnight. You have to live next to this person, and if you start a feud, it could turn your homelife into a living hell.

That’s why it’s important to be polite and reasonable in all dealings with your neighbour. Honey really does attract more flies than vinegar in the end.

Organise your pantry, especially if you’re selling!

OrganiseYourPantryIt may be one small space in your home, but a disorganised pantry can lead to plenty of trouble.

After all, food is likely one of your biggest monthly expenses, and if you’re unable to find and identify the food you have, chances are you’re buying more than you need to. Additionally, if you’re selling, a messy pantry can turn you off buyers as well as turn you off from the idea of cooking, leading to more dining out – a more expensive and often unhealthier option.

Fortunately, organising your pantry doesn’t have to be World War III in your kitchen. There are plenty of easy ways to make the process simpler and make your kitchen more appealing.

Start bare

Your first step should be completely clearing out your pantry. Don’t leave any stone (or jar of herbs) unturned. Once your pantry is completely empty, you can get a clear picture of the space you have to work with.

After all, you wouldn’t start painting without a blank canvas, so get rid of the clutter before you start in earnest.

Give everything a home

Once you start determining what can be put back in the pantry, zone off certain products for specific areas.

For instance, all canned food could go in one area, while all boxed foods could go in another. All out of date products – yes, you’ll have plenty – can go straight in the bin.

Homeowners often use pantries for more than just food stuffs, so placing things like light bulbs, screws, pet food and other non-human consumption material in a special area is also a good idea. Not only will this help you keep better track of what you do and don’t have, it will make finding something specific easier.

Figure out your routine

It’s also a good idea to arrange products based on how often they’re used. You’ll make less of a mess if your favourite canned foods are front and centre.

With this in mind, place your food items in a way that makes the most sought-after products easy to reach with the lesser-used cans and boxes in the back.

Insulation options for homeowners

Insulation-options-for-homeownersInsulation is an often-overlooked piece of the homeowner puzzle. Not only can it keep you warm during winter and cool during summer, it can do wonders for your energy bill.

With this in mind, if you find yourself making decisions regarding the type of insulation to use inside your home, it can pay off to understand exactly what the pros and cons of each option are.

Fibreglass

Perhaps the most well-known type of insulation, fibreglass is created using rock slag, recycled glass, quartz sand, soda ash, limestone and boron. This insulation comes in blankets, segments and loose fill.

It can be found at your local hardware store, and is probably the most widely used insulation material by DIYers.

Wool

Comprised of either new or recycled sheep wool, this type of insulation is often blended with other preservatives and materials to make it stronger. It is also usually treated to make it resistant to pests, mould and fire.

Wool is slightly less effective than fibreglass at containing heat, but the chemicals it is treated with make it more fire-resistant.

Synthetic

Synthetic insulation can come in various forms, including polyester and polystyrene. Polyester is more affordable than fibreglass while offering the same heat-containing properties, while polystyrene is actually better than fibreglass at containing heat.

Both types of insulation are long-lasting, but are also vulnerable if exposed, especially to water. Additionally, polystyrene can shrink over time.

Foam

Made out of urea and formaldehyde, foam insulation is pumped or injected into existing walls before it dries and becomes a solid shape.

This can be very beneficial to home owners who do not wish to remove wall linings or cladding. However, foam insulation can lose its heat-containment strength as it dries, and is not suitable for brick homes.

These are only a few of the options available for home insulation, and regardless of which you choose, it’s important to take effectiveness and cost into account, as chances are you’ll be living with the choice you make for quite some time.