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Homes Must Be Safe and Comfortable

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Homes Must Be Safe and Comfortable

by Carol Staines

Homes are the heart of civilization and have been since time began. The place where we live, express our desires and rear families according to the norms of the time. Ours is a complex world so we crave high levels of comfort. Let's look at several issues that affect the home renovator in this regard.

Safety: this doesn't stop at external security devices and theft deterrents. Smoke alarms can save lives so fit them, whether or not it is the law in your State.

Anti-scald measures: Lowering the temperature of hot water saves electricity costs and helps prevent burns. When renovating, be sure that hot water taps throughout the house are uniformly placed, hot on the left hand and cold on the right. Mixing these up in the one house can lead to accidents.

Handrails: internal and external must be of regulation design and construction to prevent falls whether you are seven, seventeen or seventy. Regulations require that they are climb-proof and that toddlers cannot climb through rail spacings.

Fit a poisons cupboard or at least a childproof lock to the bathroom and under-sink cupboard.

Wet, slippery tiles are dangerous. Apply an anti-slip coating on a regular basis to existing tiles. Buy anti-slip tiles for new areas.

A safety switch fitted to the power board is a must. If you're in an older house, make sure you have one installed if not already there.

Place power points where required to avoid extension leads and double adaptors. Older homes should have their wiring and power boards checked for safety. These can deteriorate and become a fire hazard.

Safety is a design issue. It needs to be built in up-front - not considered later on. We live in a wonderful but unpredictable landscape - bushfire and storm protection is essential in many parts of our country. Increasingly, this issue will influence insurance premiums, so do your bit - it may save your life, as well as a few dollars. Get specific advice from your local insurance and protective services providers.

Recently I visited a renovation with a delightful entertainment area. On second glance, I noticed that the gas barbecue was perhaps positioned a little too close to a wooden handrail, posing a potential fire hazard. There were rock steps of differing heights and widths, and a pathway beside an awning window where the opening panel protruded at eye level. All these features may look great, but for the unsuspecting visitor unfamiliar with the terrain, they could be accidents waiting to happen.

Comfort: If you are above or lower than average height, you could request adjustment to the standard height of kitchen benches and cupboard shelving before building. Bending over a low hand basin is hardly an enjoyable way to greet each morning. Specify plumbing fixtures be fixed a little higher. Minimalist style pedestal hand-basins may look enticing, but where do the kids put the soap and toothpaste? Or will they not use it because they can't see it?

Your renovation may look dynamic but if it has design faults, you won't stay satisfied for long. You could discover too late the passageway is too narrow or the lounge suite won't fit in the new alcove because it's 25mm too long. And you could be stuck with this for the next ten years!

Marry practicality to looks and you will always be happy with your renovations.

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