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Cooltown Beta Posts

Risks of Asbestos During Construction Jobs

August 14, 2015 • Josephine

Here in Sydney, any house that was built before 1985 has a pretty good chance of containing asbestos. (However, this date may vary in some places.) This is why it’s important for anyone who is renovating or repairing an older home to realize what risks may be involved. Know what materials were used before you start tearing anything down.

The Health Risks Of Asbestos Exposure

The people who are most in danger of being exposed to asbestos are carpenters and tradespeople. This is because such people are more likely to do the repairs necessary to homes and other buildings that contain this dangerous material. When the fibres are released into the air, danger is imminent. However, this is only when the asbestos is inhaled, ingested, or otherwise gaining entrance into the body.

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to make minor adjustments to the bathroom or adding a whole new room to the house. You need to know the facts of what is in your walls and what they might do to your health. This includes not only your health but the people working on the project and even those who live there.

Where Might Asbestos Be Located In The Home?

It’s true that most residential structures phased out the use of asbestos by the late 1980s, but other places, such as manufacturing plants, may have continued to use materials containing asbestos well beyond that. Even equipment isn’t safe. Such materials can be found both inside and outside of infected areas, and can be in wet or dry environments. The best way to find out whether or not you have asbestos is by having a licensed asbestos removalist Sydney come in and do the necessary testing on any products or materials. Don’t do this on your own. You bring significant danger to your health if you do so.

Making Sure The Asbestos Is Handled Properly

Absolutely do not attempt to handle, touch, remove, or dispose of asbestos on your own. Not only is it dangerous, but it’s also illegal.

You should hire a professional asbestos removalist if you are renovating or building and come across asbestos on the property. Attempting anything on your own or without a professional can release very fine fibres into the air that you will inhale without realizing it. Removalists are also good for anything that is in poor condition. Friable asbestos needs a professional with an A class license to remove everything.

Ensuring That Asbestos Is Responsible Disposed Of

Do not leave any materials that have asbestos out laying around, especially if it could be further broken by foot traffic. Once asbestos materials have been disturbed, they must be properly removed and disposed of.

Sustainable Roofing on Bali Huts

April 26, 2015 • Josephine


Here at CoolTown Beta we are always looking for sustainable ways to enhance our lifestyles through better building practices.

Think back to your most exotic tropical vacation.  The smell of the air, the relaxation, and digging your toes in the sand probably all made you fall in love with the tropics.

No resort is complete without the Bali Hut.  A Bali Hut usually houses a bar and is one of the most popular hangouts on the beaches.  While you cannot bring the sandy beaches of your vacation to your backyard, you can bring a Bali Hut to your home. Best of all, bali hut kits, are topped with sustainable thatched roofing.

As many people build treehouses for their kids, you will be enjoying your own type of adult tropical getaway right in your backyard.

Bali Huts Sydney

 Great ways to get the tropical feel at home:

Bali Huts are an incredible way to remind you to slow down and enjoy life.  Even if you don’t have much in the way of landscaping for your backyard, there are some simple ways to make your Bali Hut look perfectly at home in your backyard.

  • Once you decide where your Bali Hut will go, start planting some foliage and tropical looking plants. You can add a small pond or water feature by your Bali Hut.


  • Look for larger sculptures made of resin, wood, stone, marble or metal and put them on either side of the entrance.


  • You will add more comfort and ambiance to your backyard by adding some lighting and comfortable furniture to your Bali Hut.


  • You can hang a hammock in your hut. Hammocks range from inexpensive simple designs to extremely soft, plush and expensive.  You can relax while swaying gently in your hammock with a good book and a cold drink in hand.


Additional Benefits

Your social life will immediately improve once word gets out that you have a Bali Hut.  People are drawn to them and your friends will be no different.  You can throw dining parties or cocktail parties all in your Bali Hut.

You can move a large television or even a projector into your Bali Hut and have a night out at the movies.  Your friends will love you for it.

To make your Bali Hut more meaningful to you, what was most important to you while in the tropics?

Recreate the things that you remember.  If it was beach type décor, you can decorate your hut with anything that says beach to you.  Use blues, greens, grays and white colors in your hut.

Set up an awesome speaker system and pipe your favorite reggae bands or tropical inspired music.


Search the internet and Pinterest for ideas that inspire you.  Write down everything that you see that you like.  Keep a list.  After a week, go back and look at the ideas to decide what you can incorporate in your yard.

Whatever you decide to use to make your Bali Hut tropical will be perfect and personalized for you.  You can’t go wrong!

Don’t Over-Capitalize Your Outdoor Space

April 24, 2015 • Josephine

Making Sure Your Landscaping Plan Does Not Overcapitalise Your Property

More and more people each year are opting to renovate and improve on their homes for various reasons – landscaping outdoor areas has become a popular trend. While improving, investing in or expanding your home could be a sound financial decision with many potential benefits, it’s often difficult to tell when you’ve gone overboard and when your investments are not likely to pay off.

Home renovations/improvements have become a big business (fuelled by numerous television shows on the subject); everyone seems to be renovating and we don’t want to be left behind. But how can we avoid making the mistake of overcapitalising? First, lets take a moment to understand what overcapitalisation actually is.

Modern Backyard

What is Overcapitalisation:

You know you’ve overcapitalised your property when you’ve spent way too much on home improvements to increase your home’s value, but are not able to get the return that you had hoped for from your investment.

We all know that home improvement (for example, a new kitchen, bathroom or garden) can increase the value of a property – this is in fact the case, but only when it’s done carefully. For example, you could buy a house for $150,000, and spend another $50,000 on a swimming pool, waterfall, gazebo, etc. You would then expect your house to be worth over $200,000 – unfortunately this is not always the case.

Assuming the real estate industry does not experience any fluctuations and markets remain stagnant, you may well get the $200,000 you would be expecting. Markets however, often do not remain stagnant for too long, and just as they can tip in your favour, they can also go horribly against you – this must be accounted for in your calculations when you assess the risks involved in investing in home improvement schemes.

Avoiding Overcapitalisation – A Few Things To Consider:

  1. The Upper Limit:

You may want to consider how much your property is worth and what its upper limit may be; most houses have an upper and lower limit, and getting your house upraised by a professional will help you get an approximate figure. Once you know the upper limit, you can make sure your renovations do not exceed the market value of your property.

  1. Location, Location, Location:

Keep this real estate motto in mind when you’re deciding on how much to spend on your home improvements. If for example your area is likely to have a noisy highway or large shopping mall in the future that blocks the view, your property could experience significant loss in value; its upper limit is likely to fall and expensive renovations are not likely to do too much good, no matter how much money you spend on your landscaping scheme!

  1. Less Can Be So Much More:

Instead of focusing on extravagant landscaping projects such as gazebos, waterfalls, etc., you can focus on what will make your home more buy-able no matter what. For example, if your home is in a family-friendly neighbourhood, close to schools and parks, you can assume that your buyers may have a family and some pets – a child-friendly playground and garden could go a long way for such a property. High-end stone finishings and expensive wooden floors that may be prone to damage are not likely to appeal to buyers with pets and children!

If done carefully, appropriately and with the right considerations in mind, home improvement (and landscaping features/designs) can indeed add value to your property – the trick is to do it properly and avoid going overboard, spending too much money unnecessarily!

Of course, if your home improvement is done solely for the purposes of improving the home for yourself or for lifestyle purposes, and you do not plan to put your home on the market any time soon (so do not necessarily need to add value to your home), that’s a completely different story. For those of you who are interested in making well-informed decisions about home improvement and are eager not to make the mistake of overcapitalisation, hopefully the above tips will help to set you on the right track!

Eco Friendly Lawn at the Office

January 13, 2015 • Josephine

The Cooltown Beta office is always undergoing some kind of work, it’s an ongoing joke around these parts.

Recently we had a little courtyard makeover, when we were designing the space, we knew we wanted some green up there amongst the pavers and benches, but we weren’t sure we wanted a living breathing lawn, it wouldn’t really be practical, especially having to mow it in summer.

So we opted for some very real looking Matte synthetic grass. I say matte, because it is the shine on normal synthetic grass that gives it that real plastic-fake look.

Here’s a picture of the finished product – installed by Ez Synthetic Turf in Perth and supplied the fellows at Grassman, a leading fake lawn manufacturer.


The reaction to the new courtyard has been awesome and in particular the ever-green lawn, that doesn’t require mowing, weeding or watering.

Eco-Friendly Paint Choices

September 29, 2014 • Josephine

These days you can go green and still use high quality paint in fabulous colors.

Today’s eco-friendly paints are just as durable, last just as long and provide coverage just as well as standard paints. They come in vibrant colors, but they do not contain added solvents and chemicals. Furthermore, they don’t give off harmful odors. One thing you should keep in mind when looking for eco-friendly paint is that it should be low-VOC or no-VOC. This should apply to both the colorant and the paint, itself. The painters choice should always be influenced by the job details and the budget of the job as well.

It’s easy to test these paints on your application because most offer generously sized color cards as well as small samples of the paint.

Paint by Farrow & Ball

Farrow & Ball has offered water based paint for a number of years. This innovation results in a significant reduction in the amount of solvents used. This means these products have little or no VOC impact. The colors of these paints are naturally derived. They are made using linseed oil, lime putty, china clay and natural pigments. Additionally, the company foregos the use of formaldehyde, ammonia and other harmful ingredients. A gallon of paint from F&B costs about $95.



Paint from Marston & Langinger

Marston & Langinger is a company based in the United Kingdom. This company specializes in garden rooms and greenhouses and needed a type of paint that was not toxic for use with delicate plants. They developed their eco-friendly paints in 72 shades with both matte and eggshell finishes. Interior paints come in both finishes. Exterior paints come in eggshell only. The cost is about $75 for five liters. These paints are non-toxic, water-based and non-flammable. They are practically odor free after drying. They pose no threat to children and pets.

Paint From C2 LoVo

C2 LoVo offers a non-toxic, premium paint that is low-VOC. It comes in a vast array of colors. This company boasts the only pigment system using European Colorants in the US. It is possible to customize this paint to any shade or color. The pain is available in all of Philip’s Perfect Colors. You can view these by looking at Paints & Palette. Just search Philip’s Perfect Colors. The most recent addition to this line is C2 Studio. This is a value priced paint that is low in VOC content and can be had in nearly 500 of the C2 colors. You can get both of these types of paint at G&R Paints.

Eco-Paint From Yolo Colorhouse

Based in Portland OR, the Yolo Colorhouse provides eco-friendly paints for both indoor and outdoor use. Their paints are premium quality and boast a color palette that is user friendly. You can get this great value in paint at Home Depot for only $35 a gallon in Semi-Gloss.

Collagen Paint From Ecotrend

Ecotrend Collagen Paint uses old fashioned paint production methods to create odorless, no-VOC paint that contains no petrochemicals. Instead, it uses collagen as the binder for the paint. This collagen is sourced from the lining of eggshells discarded by bakeries. This paint has remarkably high coverage ability.

MilK Paint Is Eco-Friendly The Old Fashioned Way

The company bearing the name Old Fashioned Milk Paint produces a product called SafePaint. This paint is made using a historic formula that makes use of milk protein (casein) as a binder. This wall paint is biodegradable and organic. It also contains no VOCs. When you apply milk paint, you will smell milk a bit. The paint is completely non-toxic and safe for the environment. It is also nicely priced at $45.95 a gallon.

Interior Paint From Natura Zero-VOC

Benjamin Moore makes an eco-friendly line of paint called Natura. It is almost completely free of VOCs, and it is eco-friendly and non-toxic. This water based paint can be had in every color Benjamin Moore offers for the modest price of $56.99 a gallon.

Non-Toxic Paint From Mythic

Mythic Paint produces a low odor paint that is durable, provides great coverage and is non-toxic. It is a premium quality paint that contains no toxins or VOCs. It is well known that standard paints release these elements into the air for many years following application. Mythic is produced by a German company called Auro, which recently began US distribution. A gallon of Mythic Flat Paint costs $43.99.

British Designer, David Oliver from Paint & Paper Library, created the colors available in Stark Paint.This water based paint contains no VOCs in either colorants or the paint, itself. All of the colors can be had in three different finishes. They are lacquer gloss, porcelain shell and velvet emulsion. You can get a sample pot of this fine paint for $9.75.

British Designer is one that this house painter Perth has used extensively with great success. We particularly love the egg shell color.

Artist, Gretchen Schauffler founded the Devine Color paint company in Oregon. Paints from this company are held to strict green standards. They are low odor and provide great coverage with a single coat. The finish is luminous. The best palette offered, in our humble opinion, is the one inspired by the colors of the Northwest. You can get a gallon of Devine Color Delicate Wall Finish for only $59.95.

Got a Building from the 70s/80s – Read This!

September 12, 2014 • Josephine

If you are involved in the renovation, demolition or even inhabitance of a building that was built in the 70s or 80s in Australia, then you may well have asbestos containing materials in that building.

Every workplace having identified asbestos or ACM (asbestos containing materials) is required by law to have a written plan for its maintenance in such a way that there is no release of asbestos fibres. Written specific to a portion of the facility or the entire facility, the asbestos management plan (AMP) should also contain response procedures for any possible episodes of asbestos fibre release. Details of materials assumed to contain asbestos by the asbestos assessor are also to be included in the plan, unless they have been tested and proven to be safe. An asbestos management plan is not required for domestic premises.

Everyone in the building must be aware of the presence of asbestos which must be clearly labelled and signs posted. They should also know the consequences of asbestos exposure and appropriate control measures required.

Aim of the plan: To prevent exposure of staff and site visitors to airborne asbestos fibres. To achieve this, it should contain information on what will be done – when and how the asbestos is going to be managed. The plan must be updated regularly to keep the information current. The plan should be maintained by a person who has management and control of the workplace.

What it must contain?

There are clear guidelines as to what is contained in an asbestos management plan. The law specifies that an AMP must contain:

  • The workplace’s asbestos register. This document records each and every occurrence of asbestos or ACM throughout the building.
  • Details on any maintenance or service work done. This includes details on what was done, who did the work, when it was done and any necessary clearance certificates.
  • Safe work procedures, control measures and procedure for handling accidents or emergencies involving asbestos.
  • Information and training arrangements for workers and contractors who carry out work involving ACM.
  • Clear-cut division of responsibilities for each person included in the asbestos management.
  • Air monitoring procedure, if required.
  • An action time table which includes priorities and risk assessment review dates.
  • Any special circumstance which might affect the time table.
  • Procedure and time table for review and update of the management plan as well as the asbestos register.

Review of AMP

The AMP must be reviewed and revised at least once in five years or when:

  • There is a control measure or a review of the asbestos register.
  • There is any disturbance, asbestos removals, sealing or enclosing of asbestos at the workplace.
  • The plan proves to be inadequate for asbestos management at a future date.
  • A review is requested by a health and safety representative if they feel that the health and safety of any member of the work force is affected or that the AMP was not reviewed adequately.


Access to the AMP

The person responsible for maintaining the AMP must ensure that it is kept at the workplace and is easily accessible to:

  • Any worker, who has worked, is working or intends to work at the facility.
  • All health and safety representatives who represent those workers.
  • A person conducting a business who might work at the workplace or require work to be carried out at the workplace.

For more information or for a consultation please feel free to contact the guys at Asbestos Clear for inspection and testing services in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.