Investing in a House: Is Homeownership Right for You?

Posted on by Linda Knight in Digi-Serve | Comments Off

homeownershipThere is more to homeownership than getting a mortgage or paying the down payment on a loan. Getting ready to own your first home means that you need to prepare for a new lifestyle. It requires you to make both life and financial plans.

It is important to consider your finances and current standards of living before purchasing your dream home. Here are the signs that you’re ready to invest in a house:

Ready for a Commitment

Home ownership is a long-term commitment. It is unwise to purchase a house you’ll own for less than three years, as the high transaction costs of buying or selling properties may cause you to lose money. If you plan to stay put in a single location for a decade or more, then home buying is the right move.

Reliable Income

Taking out a mortgage means entering a long-term financial commitment. Experts from VisionOneHomes.com.au and MoneySmart.gov.au say that you need to be confident that you can afford your monthly payments 10 or 20 years from now. You need to have a stable income and at least one year of employment history in your current job.

Savings for Down Payment

Having significant savings is important for soon-to-be homeowners. This is because you’ll need money for your down payment and other moving expenses. While it is much better to pay a larger down payment, this does not mean that you have to sacrifice your savings. A 10 per cent down payment is the minimum, but 20 per cent is much better.

Good Credit Score

Most home loan companies implement credit score requirements for you to qualify for mortgage. Having a poor credit score may mean higher interest rates over the life of the loan. It is always better to have a stronger credit score so that you pay less.

While home ownership will make your life so much easier, it takes a lot of time and energy. There are many responsibilities involved in maintenance and making sure it remains an ideal place for you and your family. Even if you can afford to buy one, you shouldn’t just do it because you can. Make sure you are financially and emotionally ready for this big step.

Building the Impossible Bridge

Posted on by Linda Knight in Digi-Serve | Comments Off

bridgeThe Rio-Antirrio Bridge, also known as the Charilaos Troupikos Bridge, is a two thousand eight hundred meter bridge connecting the towns of Rio and Antirrio over the Gulf of Corinth. The bridge joins two of the country’s busiest and most successful towns, making it an essential piece of infrastructure to the economy and industry of Greece.

What makes the Rio-Antirrio bridge so special, though, is that it shouldn’t even exist. According to Service Steel, almost every stage of the bridge’s construction was beset with challenges that would make any master engineer pull all their hair out.

Despite being the ideal location for a bridge, the region lies in one of the world’s most active fault lines. Due to the constant movement, the sea floor is nothing more than sand and silt, with the only solid rock suitable to build a foundation on lying sixty meters under that surface. There have been bridges built over such surfaces before, but nothing near the size of the Rio-Antirrio.

In such situations, engineers got to the solid bedrock by creating a dam around the build site, drain the water, remove the sand and silt, and then start building the foundation. This is impossible for a bridge that’s supposed to span less than three kilometres. Engineers needed to build the foundations on the sea floor as is, but that’s not the biggest problem with the sea floor though.

Seaquakes are a regular occurrence in the region, and the constant shaking makes anything sink into the ground. A sinking bridge isn’t a useful one. Engineers needed to think of a way to isolate the colossal bridge from the violent shaking, and keep it from sinking into the sand.

The solution they came up with was ingenious and frustratingly simple. To keep river banks from eroding, early farmers planted herbs along the side of the river. The roots grew long and held the muddy earth in place, ensuring the river doesn’t grow any wider, keeping crops safe. The engineers tried the same principle with their bridge foundation; if they can keep the sand from vibrating, the structure above it won’t sink.

Engineers inserted long metal rods into the sand where the foundation would stand, and that was it. Just like the herb roots, the steel rods kept the sand from shifting during earthquakes, making it as firm as any rock. The strangest part of it is, the rods aren’t even touching the solid floor or the base of the bridge.

Interior Design Strategies That Make Your Small Granny Flat Look Bigger

Posted on by Linda Knight in Digi-Serve | Comments Off

living roomGranny flats are smaller than the regular home, but they do not need to feel cramped and claustrophobic. Even if it’s not as big as the full-sized home you’ve always dreamed of, you can always do something to make your tiny pad feel like a palace.

With these easy space-expanding tricks, you can modify your granny flat intelligently, maximise your square footage, and open up a vast range of possibilities for the space:

Pull the Furniture off the Wall

Pushing the furniture up against the wall makes everything look and feel cramped. Try angling your bed, or “float” the sofa with a thin console behind it. The breathing room around your furniture can make the space look more open.

Use Mirrors

Grandesignswa.com.au and other interior design experts agree that using mirrors is the quickest and easiest way to make your granny flat space look larger. Place them across a window, as this can reflect light and makes it look like a whole other space is behind it.

Use Multi-Functional Items

Don’t waste precious inches of space to accommodate something that does not contribute to the function of your granny flat. Invest in furniture that serves many functions instead, as this is a simple way to restructure and streamline your space. Try getting an ottoman with built-in storage or a vintage steamer trunk to tuck away all your books and other items.

Let There Be Light

The golden rule is to use the three point lighting technique. For example, get an overhead fixture and two table lamps. This will illuminate the entire space in your bedroom, for example. This is important because any space that’s in a shadow is space you do not have. You may also ditch the dark-inducing window treatments and leave your windows open to let in more light.

Hang Large Works of Art

Hang large and bold art pieces, instead of opting for a gallery wall. One interesting advice is to start on the floor and measure 69 inches up. The centre of the art should hang on that mark. Why does this work? 69 inches is the average height of most Australians. This opens up more space above the work, making the space appear taller.

Living in a modern granny flat means you need to be really organised, make compromises in your decorating plans, and adjust your lifestyle so you won’t feel cramped. Remember that it’s not the size that matters; it is how you make the most of it.

More than Just a Car: What Else You Can Get from Renting

Posted on by Linda Knight in Digi-Serve | Comments Off

car rentalAs a customer, you want to get the best service possible. When you rent a car, you expect it to work properly and take you to your destination safe. This is the reason you compare rental companies and check their background. You make sure everything is all right before you get behind the wheel.

It takes more than just a car to make your journey more enjoyable. Renting allows you to get a vehicle that suits your needs perfectly, but it offers more than just that. You’ll learn how many benefits you can get when you work with a company that offers car hire in Perth.

Access to Immediate Help

Rental companies know what you need to ensure a comfortable journey. They provide well-maintained vehicles to give you a smooth ride. In case the vehicle breaks down in the middle of your trip, immediate help will come. Most rental companies in Australia provide roadside assistance services to their clients. You can be sure there will be someone to help you get out of trouble.

Peace of Mind

Working with a company that provides insured rental services is advisable. It would be good to know that you are covered in case something bad happens during your trip. Insurance policies usually cover the damages to rental cars, so you can stay clear of repair costs. Talk to the company owner to learn everything about the coverage.

The Experience

Experience is one of the most important benefits you can get from renting. You can enjoy your trip if you’re driving one of the newest models on the market. Whether you need a car or a more spacious 8-seater commuter for the whole family, your service provider will help you find the best deal.

You deserve to get the best travelling experience in Australia. Look for a trusted rental company and check if they offer the additional benefits mentioned above. Safety, quality of service and value for money should be the criteria for choosing the right provider.

Living the Expat Life: Your Guide to Living in Hong Kong

Posted on by Judy Holcombe in Reviews | Comments Off

living in hongkongMoving to a new country is a decision worth thinking over and over. There’s a need to weigh your options and plan for your future in a foreign land. You might face sudden changes in different aspects of your life, such as your lifestyle. Be prepared to deal with new people with a different culture. Of all the things to think about before that big move, finding your new home could probably be the one that matters most.

Hong Kong is one of the best options for people who are looking to start a new life in a foreign land. The country is famous not only for its high-rise buildings, but also for its booming economy thanks to its tourism industry and industrial facilities.

Spacious, a popular property-listing site in Hong Kong, shares a simple yet informative guide to living in one of the most thriving places in the world:

The Hunt for a New Home

Your journey will start with finding the right residential property in the best location. The demand for properties in Hong Kong is so high that you are more likely to see new buildings and developments in different areas. This means you have many options and a greater chance of finding that perfect place. Whether you’re moving alone or with your family, or you’re staying temporarily or permanently, your choices are immense. If you’re not familiar with the country’s property market, an experienced agent can help.

The Cost of Living

The cost of living in Hong Kong may be higher compared to your country of origin. This is probably due to the country’s inflated property market. Majority of commodities is imported, making them costlier. High expat salaries, however, will help you manage the expenses and enjoy a better quality of life.

The Transition

Transition might be the hardest part, so you should plan carefully and get as much information as possible. You should be better at managing your finances and making decisions. When it comes to accommodation, renting is your first option. This will give you a chance to see if the property or the location best fits your needs. Once you’re sure about everything, you can start thinking about buying a property in that area.

Moving to a new country is an exciting and memorable experience. Make the best of it by taking all the necessary precautions and making the right decisions. Browse listing sites or consult an agent to learn what kind of life awaits you in Hong Kong.

When You Go Beyond Being a ‘Keeper’: Telltale Signs of Hoarding Disorder

Posted on by Linda Knight in Digi-Serve | Comments Off

shipping containerYou’re not a collector per se (the likes of coins or postcards collectors), but you like collecting. Your assortment is equal parts astounding and peculiar; it includes old junk that others may perceive to hold no value, such as empty boxes, unsharpened pencils, tattered clothes and even candy wrappers. What’s more distressing is that you start to run out of space because you can’t simply throw them all away.

It may appear thoughtful that a person keeps some things because they have sentimental value, but there are instances where this habit goes overboard. Such is a behavioural pattern called compulsive hoarding. Uncontrolled or obsessive hoarding is a form of anxiety disorder which usually begins during childhood. It’s driven by a person’s attachment to objects and his tendency to personify them.

Below are some indications that will help you identify if your way of keeping things has become pathological in nature.

Your Living Space Has Become a Clutter Box

Instead of renting a space for storage, you keep things at home until it turns into a giant box of mishmash. Cleaning to you may mean clearing the space to form a path or a sleeping area. Everything else is covered with things, from couches to dining tables. Your home’s loaded to the point where moving around becomes uncomfortable.

To avoid cluttering your home, you can rent a separate space for storage. Perth collectors suggest choosing shipping container storage over traditional self-storage for more security.

You’re Ashamed of Your Collection

Unlike someone engaged in philately or collecting action figures, you’re not particularly proud of the things you keep. To you, what you keep has intrinsic value, but others may deem them worthless. You know this for sure, but you can’t stop yourself from keeping things. And when you’re confronted regarding this, you become defensive.

Your Home Starts to Smell Gross

Due to the number of things you keep, you find it hard work to clean and keep everything in order. Things in your fridge get past their expiration date and moisture-sensitive objects get damaged. Your home starts to smell funny. Things get worse if you hoard animals.

You Keep on Buying Things

Compulsive hoarders can be compulsive spenders, too. You won’t debate to buy something if you find it interesting or valuable. In turn, your home is filled with things you’re less likely to use.

Compulsive hoarding may sound like a joke to others, but it’s a recognised mental disorder. Don’t hesitate to contact a specialist if you think you have some of these signs. You may also look for a support group if you believe you have some mild symptoms.

Know Your Enemy: Common Pests at Home

Posted on by Judy Holcombe in Reviews | Comments Off

termites on booksPests are common problems in many households. While they create serious damages on properties, they also bring sleepless nights and terrible headaches to homeowners.

The first crucial step in preventing pests at home is knowing your enemy. Here are the most common pests found in the house.

  1. Rats

Rats may grow up to a foot long, while mice are smaller. If you hear sounds of swishing and scratching in the attic, walls, basement or ceilings, this may mean that you have rodents at home. You may also find furs, small bits of droppings and urine in areas where they nest. The presence of rats at home may cause health problems for the family, such as hantavirus, lypus, and leptospirosis. To prevent rats from entering your home, cover up or repair holes and take out the garbage that may be a nesting ground for them.

When rat infestation becomes severe, it’s important to call pest control experts to ensure that the entire place will be cleaned out and your family is safe from potential health risks.

  1. Bed bugs

You may recognize them as the little creatures that have flat, oval bodies hanging out in your bed. Although adult bed bugs can live over a year without food, they enjoy sucking blood. People who have been bitten by the bugs may experience itching and serious allergic reactions. The inconvenience these bugs can do to a home may also cause anxiety and insomnia for family members, so while the infestation is not that critical, it’s best to get professional pest control services.

  1. Termites

Termites are called the silent destroyers because of the overwhelming damage it can do to the property, even before homeowners have the slightest clue. When wooden furniture begins to have small holes or the doors and floors start to weaken, you may have termite infestation at home. It’s important to have licensed pest control experts regularly check your home to ensure it’s free from these pests.

Be aware of the most common pests that may damage your property and compromise your comfort. Prevent these pests from entering your home and get regular inspections from the experts.

Developing an Environment-Friendly & Sustainable Landscape Design

Posted on by Linda Knight in Digi-Serve | Comments Off

landscape designDesigning a landscape requires the creation of a master plan. This saves the homeowner both time and money. When developing the plan, it is important to think about the resources and environmental conditions. This is especially true if the goal is to develop a sustainable landscape design.

According to Oakleighmanor.com, creating a sustainable landscape means building a garden that promotes the conservation of natural resources. This involves saving water, protecting native plants, and maintaining the health of the soil.

Conserving water

The problem with most landscape designs is the use of wasteful irrigation. This happens when the homeowner and the landscaper do not look at water as a valuable natural resource. With a sustainable landscape design, water is used responsibly to the point that rainwater is even harvested for irrigation. To maximise rainwater, watering schedules are based on real-time weather data. If an actual irrigation system is used, water-efficiency should be the priority. Tools such as low-output sprinkler heads are used for this purpose.

Growing native plants

Most homeowners would rather remove natural-growing plants from their property before starting their garden. The problem with this, however, is that it disrupts the natural occurring processes in the area. For sustainable landscape designers, this is a great opportunity to create a native garden with a vibrant, water-efficient system. The trick is growing the right plant in the proper location. After all, indigenous plants and flowers are easier to grow in their native surroundings as they have perfectly adapted to the climate and soil. They have better chances of thriving without requiring pesticides and other chemicals.

Maintaining soil health

The soil’s condition affects the selection of plants and means of irrigation. For example, if the soil is packed in, it restricts plant growth and may cause erosion as well as flooding. Compacted soil also tends to runoff. Sustainable landscape design uses soil management techniques such as waste composting to maintain and improve soil health. Mulching also helps in slowing down evaporation and avoiding erosion.

The idea of developing a sustainable landscape design is not just to create a gorgeous garden, but also to minimise environmental impact. Efficient use of natural resources makes this possible. In the long run, sustainable landscapes do not just save the environment but also the homeowner’s budget for maintaining a beautiful garden.

Achieving the Best Pre-Nuptial Photos

Posted on by Judy Holcombe in Reviews | Comments Off

weddingRecently weddings have become more and more of a big event, from the proposal to the pre-nuptial preparations to the wedding itself. The couples can call in experts for the job: wedding gown designers, stylists and make-up artists for the photos and the parties, the photographer and videographer for the documentation.

Fortunately, these services are readily available in Perth especially the city’s esteemed wedding photographers. It’s just a matter of finding the right photographer to suit your needs and moods.

The First of Many, Together

There are few things that couples should know if they decide to do the prenuptial preparations themselves. My Wedding Concierge advises couples that there should be a concept behind the pre-nuptial souvenir. Some ideas are the couple’s favourite movie, a throwback fashion editorial, a narrative of their courtship or simply photos of them in Perth’s scenic spots.

Pre-Nup Photography

Creating the perfect romantic shoot entails a seamless and hassle-free collaboration between the couple and the wedding photographer. In fact, couples will spend more time with the photographer, especially when creating the pre-nuptial photos. Typically, the couple can hire a team of stylists and artists to take care of the necessary preparations but still the groom and bride should be on top of it.

When discussing plans, the pair should confer with the photographer. This concerns them because the lights, lenses and other equipment will depend on the concept. For example, if it is outdoors, then the photographer will use a different set of lighting and camera lenses.

On Props, Location, and Wardrobe

The wardrobe choice and props should come next after finalizing the concept. Better, in fact, if there are props to make the shoot more fun and lively. After this, the team must secure a location for the shoot. Typical pre-nuptial shoots last from half-a-day to a full day depending on the concept.

Once everything is finalized and double-checked with the photographer then it’s all about setting the date and, yes, even the exact hour if the couple intends to have sunsets in their photos. Most of all, of course, remember to have fun and cherish the romantic moment – it only happens once in a lifetime.

4 Essentials to Guide Your Website Personalisation

Posted on by Colleen Waddell in Dig-IT | Comments Off

website designPersonalisation and branding are design essentials when it comes to web design and development. Personalised websites result in higher conversions and happier visitors.

The goal of personalisation is to make your site and everything in it more engaging, so that visitors stay longer and are encouraged to become clients. Making your site reflect your brand and business, however, requires a clear strategy.

With that, here are four best practices to help guide your website redesign and personalisation project.

What They Use

Personalisation isn’t all about including everything about your brand on your site. It’s also about personalising the design and content to suit your customer’s needs and platform.

Based on a research by Google in 2012, 61 percent of visitors said they’d quickly switch to another site if they don’t find what they are looking for in a mobile site.

In Australia, for instance, there were at least 19.6 million subscribers who accessed the Internet via a mobile handset, as of June 2013. This means if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on millions of potential customers.

Who They Are

Aside from knowing what customers use to access your site, it’s also important to know who your customers are.

Personalising the content and layout of your site to suit your target audience streamlines conversions from a more practical point of view. The more they relate to your site, the more likely they will trust you, which eventually results to lead conversions.

VoodooCreative.com.au, a web development company in Canberra, adds that prioritising the location closest to your website visitors is the best approach if you have offices in multiple locations. This local SEO strategy gives customers in the area information they need much quicker.

What They Think

Be in your customers’ shoes; the better you understand their various personalities and browsing behaviours, the better you can adapt your site elements to meet those interests.

Also, it’s a great way to find out what visitors don’t like about your site. You can then use this data to reduce clutter in your site, keeping only the things that customers want to see.

When Do They Want It

Timing is everything; you can’t force visitors to make a decision when they’re not ready. Forcing visitors into a demo or conversion when they’re still gathering more information about your product or service leads to friction, which could turn them off.

Let the customers come to you when they’re ready. Give them the option to buy from or work with you, but don’t push the sale.

Buyers nowadays are faced with endless information and choices. Be one step ahead of the competition by creating relevant, seamless, and useful interactions on your website.

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