Future-Proof Your New Home

Almost all projects Moss Brothers designs these days have a comms hub. So what is one of these things? ‘Comms’ is short for ‘communications’ and ‘hub’ us short for ‘in one location’.

 Hills-Home-HubHere is a photo of a Hills Home Hub and inside (I haven’t taken a photo of the inside because to me it looks like organised chaos) is the electronic nerve centre for the house. I think it should be noted that these days a reliable connection to the internet is just as vital as water, sewerage or power connections.

Initially the hub has telephone and or fibre cables that come from the street directly into the hub – located in this photo on/in the garage wall. From there items to be connected to phone or fibre or installed into the hub are things like, but not restricted to; a security alarm system, data cables to various jack points located throughout the house, telephone cables to various jack points located throughout the house, a data router for wireless laptops or smart phones, and Sky cables.

Once you have this in place you really have gone a long way to electronically future-proofing your house. Other configurations could be a house inter-com system, sound or stereo systems, and of course with smart phones more and more appliances including CCTV monitoring could be introduced – not to mention Cable TV – its coming, plus things I haven’t mentioned or things we haven’t even thought of.

Also, having a hub like this, even if you only pre-wire at the ‘build’ phase, makes it so much easier for the technician to work on any existing and future electronic work.

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-2058.

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this or anything else written by Moss Brothers on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

 

 

Great Looking Traditional Kitchens

The extractor is in the chimney

The extractor is in the chimney

With traditional-looking homes comes traditionally-looking Kitchen joinery. What we have done here is make the modern cooker look like it’s been inserted where there used to be an old coal-range. We have the joiner build a lightweight joinery cabinet to look like part of the internal section of the chimney, put a mantelpiece on the front, insert the extractor where the flue would have gone and, wallah – simple, attractive and effective.

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-2058.

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this or anything else by Moss Brothers on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

Stone Retainer walls & Moss Brothers Period and Historic Replica Homes

I’m working on the landscaping at home and was wondering what sort of retaining wall would look good with a replica home and also roll with the contours of the land. Ah – A wall made of river-stones would be perfect.

The next challenge was to find the right tradesmen. I have employed a block-layer for many years who I knew had the skills for a stone wall but he was almost 70. Was he still up to it and was he available. Yes – he agreed to do the job and made a cracking start. However about half way though he disappeared – what had happened? It had become too much for him.

Stone Wall

Then on the way to the office I noticed another old tradesmen building a stone wall – fantastic. When I stopped to have a chat he said he could complete my wall but I’d have to wait as he had plenty of work and because he was 73 and therefore quite slow – bugger-me 73. Anyway I said I would help him and he said he would complete my wall for me. He’s just started so it’s good to see things moving again.

My point is; this kind of work is hard. It’s hard on the hands. It’s hard on the back. It’s very weather dependant – can’t allow the mortar to get wet. It doesn’t pay that well and the work is not that glamorous although the end-results look great. However, how many young stone-masons or block/brick-layers are being trained today? Not many I’d suggest.

This old tradesmen (remember he’s 73) told me today he has 12 months of work ahead of him. How many businesses can say that?

The building industry and the customer must have these trades-people but I can see the shortage going from bad to worse. Further to that they need to be skilled and motivated or else even more of our building projects will become disaster zones – like the leaky homes.

Another real problem – and don’t laugh because it is a problem as it happened to me. I remember when I was in my 20s and operating a small building firm as a sol-trader. During my early years of business and marriage and after working in the mud and with concrete all day I’d go home to a wife and want to enjoy a cuddle but the cry was, “Get those rough hands off me”. How does a frisky bloke deal with that?

Anyway, these old fellers started their careers when a trade was a good option. But nowadays we are told that a higher education is the only way most people can get ahead. Not only is that untrue but it’s not solving the problem. The fact is a motivated tradesperson can easily go on to build a multi-million dollar business who could earn more than a university professor. That means it’s all about attitude, belief, desire and persistence.  Other than that if you are looking to this article for an answer I’m sorry I don’t have one. I can only suggest that if the education system were to push the trades as a career option (don’t talk about the hands getting rough) and the industry pays more with better conditions things might change?

Soon I’ll post photos of the finished product – it’s starting to look fantastic.

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-205

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this or anything else by Moss Brothers on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

 

Engineered Wood-Strip Over-Lay Tongue & Groove Floors Installed By Moss Brothers

I’m often asked the question about over-lay tongue and groove floors.

The over-lay tongue and groove floor in this photo is now 10 years old and it was taken in the eighth year of the house being a Moss Brothers show home. By this time it had had thousands of people across it and since then the house has been used as a private residence for just over a further 2 years. Today it looks almost as good as the day it first went down.

So what is it? It’s a pre-finished kwila wood-strip. It’s not solid kwila but a 3-ply. The 2 substrate layers are downgrade radiata (2 x 5mm) and the top and finished layer is of course kwila. Making it into a ply strip product has some enormous benefits. Firstly it’s a great use of a limited recourse because only a 4mm veneer is used – the less trees removed from the forest the better. As a plywood product it’s incredibly stable – little or no buckling, twisting, warping or shrinking etc.

Floor&Chimney 012

The strips are approximately 180mm wide (but other widths are available) by 2.2m long. It’s pre-finished so once down that’s it – and also very easy to clean. It’s easily cut (if need be or where required) and can be fitted to either concrete or particleboard floors as an overlay. This system of board just locks together but otherwise floats. What we mean by floating is that it is not nailed, screwed or glued down and that means with minor fluctuations in room moisture content it can move but you wouldn’t know.

How much longer will it look this good? I see no reason why it won’t last the life of the house but realistically not less than 50 years. I think the manufacturers have made a great product here. It’s

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-2058.

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

 

Project Management Is An Investment, Not A Cost

Today I’m going to talk about how to reduce the risk of a contractor cutting corners on your building project.

I’d like to think the problem of contractors cutting corners was on its way out but I’m not so sure. Even I just about got caught out – or at least they tried it on.

Just recently I had a security fence with an electronic sliding gate fitted to my business premises. The gate is always open on week days but electronically controlled after-hours and on the weekend. However across the main drive there had to be a 300 x 300 concrete ground beam installed for the gate to slide on. The workers had dug and boxed for the beam but as they began to pour the concrete I noticed there was no reinforcing steel installed. I told them about it but then got distracted.

When I came back the pour was complete but one of the boys came over and said’ “Just to make you happy (hello) we’ve put some steel in”. “Oh good” I said, “What did you use”? Thinking he would say something like, D12 reinforcing bars (the same as a house foundation) but he said, “Waratah standards”. What? At least he told the truth.

That afternoon I contacted their boss to discuss the matter and he assured me that after that event the boys went away for some proper reinforcing bars to install while the concrete was still wet. The boss went on to say that, no problem, he’d guarantee the work if it failed.

The ground beam under the gate had to be replaced.

The ground beam under the gate had to be replaced.

A few days later I get the invoice. Checking it against the quote I noted the beam had been quoted at 300 x 300 but there was no way it was that size. Once again the boss assured me that they’d guarantee the beam for any failure. For the record, guarantees are there in the case of failure if the job has been done correctly in the first place and then fails.

To cut a long storey short I have had them replace the beam at their cost, with the right size steel reinforcing bars and at the quoted size. The staggering thing here is, if they’d done it properly in the first instance the additional cost would been less than $100.00 greater than what it actually cost. I am now satisfied with the job, however not overly satisfied because there are still things that could have been done better but I now believe I have a strong and tidy job that will last.

What lessons can I share with you here? The first is; if you are not familiar with building work, building quotes, or building contracts then engage an independent experienced project manager. It will be an investment and not a cost. It’s vital that that project manager is on site to inspect and oversee critical parts of a project like before and during the pouring of concrete – without distractions. There are of course a lot of other areas that get covered over when building a house and not seen again unless there are problems so regular unannounced inspections are the key.

You may ask, “What about the council building inspector”? Generally they do a great job but they may only make 5 or 6 30-minute inspections throughout the duration of an entire new house ‘build’ project. Besides it’s not the inspector’s job to make sure work is carried out in the best trade practice.

For the record I did not choose the cheapest price. I choose on inspecting a previous job carried out by them. However, I did break my own rule by not carrying out enough due diligence and speaking to any of their past customers and I should not have allowed myself to be distracted.  In saying that, in this instance it may not have mattered because the job they did looked good on completion – a bit like a paint job that fails a year or two later.

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-2058.

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this or anything else by Moss Brothers on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

 

Winter Tips To Efficiently Heat Your Home And Save Heaps

Today I’m going to talk about how to use all of the heat you’ve spent money on generating or retaining. Actually you could even come close to halving your annual heating bill.

A huge part of our energy bill is heating. When I was at school we were taught that heat rises, and as far as I know that is still the case. Just recently, that is over the past couple of years, the government has offered subsidies and encouraged people to better insulate their homes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for energy efficient living but unless physics has changed or unless you are Lionel Richie and can dance on the ceiling you won’t easily be able to take advantage of the heat that’s up there.

 

The Most Unlikely Hero

The Most Unlikely Hero

Even with a well insulated house, regardless of how high your ceiling is two-thirds of the heat

in a room will be up near the ceiling. That means it’s probably about 10 dec c where our feet are at floor level and about 30 dec c at the ceiling. How smart is that?

There is only one way to use all of the heat generated and retained and it’s not a transfer fan or heat recovery ventilation system (HRVs). The best and most efficient way is to use a humble ceiling fan. Not only will a ceiling fan average the temperature out to say 20 dec c from floor to ceiling, it would probably run non-stop all year for little more than just $15 worth of electricity. So even though they are cheap as chips to run and can be supplied and installed from about $350.00, hardly anyone uses them – why not?

There are 2 main reasons; no one before has previously pointed it out and if they have most people don’t like the look of them. I.e. it’s better to spend more on energy and go cold than to install this simple device that may not look very pretty.

Oh, there is one more vital point; to mix the room air most efficiently and to make the fan almost completely silent, have the fan sucking up, not blowing down – blowing down is for summer.  By sucking up the moving air will track across the ceiling and down the walls and you won’t even notice it.

I have 3 fans at home and our annual heating bill for a 300m/2 house with an average ceiling height of 3m is only $1,800.00.

Oh one more thing; don’t forget the best way to get the most efficient use of your heat pump is to set it and forget it – and to keep the dust filter clean. Playing around with timers and turning them off and on to save power will cost you heaps more. These few simple tips will help to keep you smiling this coming winter.

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-2058.

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

Want A Zero Power Account?

I’m often asked the question about using solar energy.

Initially I respond by asking if it’s in regards to generating electricity or hot water – there is a huge difference.

Greg Hoskins, the electrician Moss Brothers has employed for more than 20 years who also specialises in solar energy to generate electricity put it to me like this:

“If you could pre-purchase all or a portion of your power for 25 years at just 11 cents per kw or unit would you take up the offer? Currently most of us are paying between 25-30 cents per unit.”

He then said/asked:

“Do we think power prices will remain stable and not rise for the next 10 years”??????? We know they won’t.

Domestic Roof Mounted Panels

Domestic Roof Mounted Panels

He finished by saying:

“So why would you not install grid-connected solar-energy system at your place”?

I told him that the main reason why most of us don’t buy into this technology is because most of us don’t have a spare $25,000.00 floating around. I say that because that is the capital setup cost for a system that can generate the same amount of electricity as would be used by the average household.

In saying that, if $25,000.00 per-purchased a zero power account and you borrowed all of that money at 10% interest pa, that equals $2,500.00 annually. However with an average monthly power account at say $350.00 x 12 months the annual power bill equals $4,200.00. That means in 7 to 10 years (depending on how much principle is paid off per year) the system is paid off and has paid for itself and the power account is then nil – zip.

The solar panel system comes with a guarantee of 25 years so that’s fairly impressive too?

Greg is an alternative-energy guru. Even BRANZ consult with him and he’s been known to have written articles on the subject for them.

The best way to speak with Greg is to email him and get him to phone you. I suggest it this way because he is in such demand and always in meetings that he seldom answers his phone – believe me. His email address is: greg@hoskinsenergy.co.nz

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-2058.

Frame-Mounted Panels

Frame-Mounted Panels

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this or anything else by Moss Brothers on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

 

Barn Roof Mounted Panels

Barn Roof Mounted Panels

Wolf Of Wall Street – Great Movie But Also Some Lessons To Learn

In life, it doesn’t matter what we are doing, even going for job interview, we have to sell ourselves. Sales, marketing and negotiation are all skills that most could improve on – I for one.Wolf

 A couple of weeks ago I saw the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ staring Leonardo DiCaprioJonah Hill, and Margot Robbie. Based on a true story, what an eye-opener.

If you take out the sex, drugs and foul language and watch the film from the angle of marketing, selling yourself, sales, persistence, determination, and self-belief , there are very powerful messages that I believe can make a difference in our lives.

Moss Brothers Expose Myth About Double-Glazing

Today I’m going to talk about the myth that if you have double-glazed widows you will have solved your condensation problems.

A few years ago we built a house in the Wairau Valley west of Blenheim. It gets very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer – great grape-growing country. Anyway we finished the project in June and the owners moved in. Just a couple of weeks pasted when we got a phone call to say that their drapes had stick (with ice) to the window frame. Remember, this is the inside and this house has a veranda right around it.

I rang BRANZ to discuss the situation and they said, with tongue in cheek, “tell the owners to move out and the problem will go away”. In short, that although the double-glazing had prevented condensation forming on the glass it will not solve the problem of airborne internal moisture.

My fault really. No external clothes line yet meant the owners dried clothes inside. That although the extractors in the bathrooms and in the kitchen were good models, windows were fully closed and the house was airtight. I should have been more pro-active in educating them.

This Is Ice On Single-Glazing.

This Is Ice On Single-Glazing.

Opening windows, even a small amount, will make an enormous difference. Most people have a problem in doing this because it’s freezing outside and by opening a window the warm air is escaping. However, moisture can only travel through air if it is heated. That means the only way to get rid of internal moisture is to heat it and extract it outside otherwise it’s not going anywhere – except into drapes etc.

I find fanlight windows very good to controlling internal moisture. Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRVs) systems are also very good providing they are installed properly.

Thankfully we got the problem fixed quickly up the Wairau Valley and they could get on with enjoying their new home.

If you have any questions or comments please ask them using the Enquiry section of the website or phone on 06-370-2058.

Oh just one last thing, you have our permission to forward this or anything else by Moss Brothers on or share it with others that you think could benefit from this advice.

How To Create A Traditional Looking Ceiling That Meets Today’s Building Code.

I have on my business card as a job description ‘Illusionist’. That’s because what you think you see is not necessarily what is reality. Take this picture of a ceiling. It looks like a traditional board and battens ceiling where in fact all we’ve done is fix traditional profile battens directly over the plastered Gib board. The end result is very sympathetic to the heritage architecture while meeting today’s strict building code and only a fraction of the cost. It’s one of hundreds of tricks we use.

We Don't Do Things The Way They Used To Because We Are Not Allowed To.

We Don’t Do Things The Way They Used To Because We Are Not Allowed To.