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Construction is the next sector set to boom

FORGET mining, the next booming industry in the Australian economy will be much closer to home.
That’s according to CommSec chief economist Craig James, who said construction will pick up the baton from mining to become the driving force behind Australia’s economy in the next few years.
“Builders will hold the upper hand rather than miners,” said Mr James speaking at a media briefing in Sydney to release Commbank’s latest small and medium-sized enterprise confidence report.
While investment in the mining sector tripled in the four years since 2009, it’s now set to slow down as demand from China falters and Mr James expects residential construction will pick up the slack.
Multi-storey construction like that at Barangaroo is set to benefit all sectors of the ec
Multi-storey construction like that at Barangaroo is set to benefit all sectors of the economy. Source: Supplied
“We’re already starting to see that with things like home lending. If more loans are being taken out for the construction of houses and apartments you tend to expect that is going to translate into more building work happening. It’s the same in terms of council approvals to build new dwellings — they’re at record highs,” Mr James said.
He also busted the ‘myth’ that times are tough in Australia, as the economy has experienced 22 years of consecutive growth with inflation rates at 2.7 per cent.
Unemployment is at 5.8 per cent with companies holding a healthy amount of cash on the books.
A slowdown in China’s economy has implications for Australia’s mining sector. Pictured, C
A slowdown in China’s economy has implications for Australia’s mining sector. Pictured, Chinese workers in Beijing.Source: AFP
While construction might not pay the same six-figure salaries as mining, it could benefit more people.
“The builders get the money, the carpenters get the money all the people providing curtains and carpets and landscape gardeners and light fittings. You think about the whole process of building a home all these people are getting extra dollars and they’re able to spend that through the economy,” Mr James said.
“And it’s likely to be broader in context whereas mining is much more specific to certain parts of Australia...we are going to see a number of boats being lifted all at one time.”
But despite the slowdown it’s not all bad news. It could just be the end of days where people go to the Pilbara to “fill water bottles for workers and get paid $120,000 a year,” Mr James said.
“It’s by no means doom and gloom for mining services, it’s just different sorts of companies are going to get the benefit.”
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Housing boom lifts consumer confidence

More people are saying now is a good time to buy a house. Photo: Fiona Morris
A measure of consumer sentiment has rebounded as rising home prices made people feel better about their finances, while making them more confident about splashing out on big ticket items.
The survey of 1,200 people by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank showed its index of consumer sentiment rose 1.9 per cent in November, following a 2.1 per cent dip in October and a jump of 4.7 per cent in September.
That left the index up 5.8 per cent on November last year.
Consumer sentiment at a three-year high.
Consumer sentiment at a three-year high.
"After a modest fall last month the index has returned to be back near its previous peaks in 2013 registered in March and September. These are the highest reads since the July-December period in 2010," said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans.
"It is encouraging that the index has returned to these levels."
Respondents were more optimistic about their own finances, with that index surging 13.3 per cent in November. That came even as people seemed to be more worried about the future, with the measure of finances over the next 12 months dropping 7.9 per cent.
The survey's measure of economic conditions over the next 12 months edged up 0.4 per cent, while that for conditions over the next five years rose 0.5 per cent.
In a promising sign for the Christmas shopping season, the index for whether it was a good time to buy a major household item rose 4.4 per cent to a strong 142.8.
That confidence may in part have reflected rising home prices and their boost to household wealth. The index of house price expectations rose by 3.1 per cent, to be 23 per cent up on the year.
There was also a rise in the "Time to Buy a Dwelling" index of 4.2 per cent including a very strong increase in New South Wales.

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Electrolux Design Lab

Wantwashing machine in your home, but worried that it’ll take up more space than you have to spare? Well, Electrolux Design Lab debuted some awesome new pint-sized conceptual designs for washing machines called SHINE at Milan Design Week that might be just the solution. These small, sleek laundry units are designed with an awareness of our movement towards more compact living spaces. One is designed for integration into a bathroom, and the other is so mini, it can be hung on a wall!

Read more: SHINE: Electrolux's Tiny Washing Machine Concept | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building 

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Property market bouncing back

QUEENSLAND'S property market has started to fire again, but it will be a slow and steady climb back to price growth, the Real Estate Insitute of Queensland predicts.
Speaking before the release on Saturday in The Courier-Mail of the REIQ's quarterly house value data, chief executive Anton Kardash said the figures for Brisbane in particular showed a real improvement in sales activity.
"Admittedly it is off a very low base, so compared to last year this quarter is substantially better,'' he said.
"When sales go up, you expect prices to go up as well. We have seen that across the board, not huge numbers by any means, but a positive slow growth in the price of properties.''
Mr Kardash said the bulk of transactions seemed to be in the $500,000 to $1 million range, slightly higher price points than in previous quarters.
He said all the data was pointing to a strong spring selling season ahead.
"Winter is the slowest month usually and what we are seeing is an improvement in our worst month.
"Once we get the election over and some stability back in the marketplace we are expecting a very, very good spring actually.''
"What we see is the affordability of houses improving, particularly with the interest rate cut that has not come through yet.''

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Jobs hope rising for embattled building industry

NEW South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia are expected to lead Australia's building recovery with Sydney showing the most promise, according to a new report.
According to the Building in Australia 2013 report from economics forecasting firm BIS Shrapnel, the upswing in building activity needed to offset the post-mining-boom lull will gather momentum over the next two years.
While Brisbane will lead the regions as an epicentre of growth, BIS associate director Kim Hawtrey said the pace will be "uncomfortably slow".
"We're in for a real nail-biter," Dr Hawtrey said.
"We see an upswing in building but it will be uneven and slower to get going than usual. The next 12 months will
be a critical test of how quickly the construction sector can take on more of the heavy lifting, and the Australian economy will remain balanced on a knife edge."
Building, especially home construction, is not responding to low interest rates as might be expected.
"Home building has been punching below its weight and normally low mortgage rates would be stimulating the sector toward clear recovery by now. But the antibiotics are taking longer to work this time around," said Dr Hawtrey.
"High household debt, concerns about the global economy, planning restrictions in some states and lack of land supply are among the factors that explain this new phenomenon."
Baby builders put off by affordability concerns
Demographic changes are also at work. Population is growing strongly but generational changes mean it is not necessarily translating into demand for new housing.
"Baby boomers, once the drivers of home construction, are now putting a brake on building as their numbers outweigh younger generations," said Hawtrey.
"For their part, young people are discouraged by affordability barriers and changes to first home buyer grants."
The Building in Australia report provides an independent medium term assessment of
the Australian building industry outlook.
It contains demographic trends and detailed forecasts on the residential (housing, other dwellings), non-residential (commercial, industrial, social and institutional) sectors, and the alterations and additions market, by state.
The report covers key drivers for housing demand, population trends, the outlook for building material costs and the non-residential building market.
BIS report shows little growth in 2013/2014
Surprisingly, the Building in Australia 2013 Report predicts that residential building will show little overall growth in 2013/14, with gains in some areas matching losses in others.
It will be a year of change in the mix - from Victoria to New South Wales, and from high rise to bungalows - beforegaining strong traction the following year, in 2014/15.
An improvement in residential markets will be seen in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, where population growth and stronger economies will see home building respond to rising stock deficiencies.
Each market has an estimated dwelling stock deficiency and in these states, recovery is expected to be driven by upgrader/downsizer demand and strong investor demand - including from overseas investors - with first home buyers taking longer to join in because of changes to grants.
Lower interest rates, together with solid economic growth and employment, will underpin improved confidence and promote new residential building - particularly in the key state of New South Wales.
However, Victoria and other southern states will see a contraction, offsetting the above.
This will be an inevitable correction following several record years of phenomenal home building in Victoria.
These markets are generally in oversupply, notably Victoria.
Consequently the immediate outlook for the number of dwelling commencements is mixed, and is forecast to change by -2 per cent in 2013/14.
Pent up demand to sustain better overall growth
Pent up demand and solid economic fundamentals will then sustain better overall national growth in home building during 2014/15 and 2015/16.
A stronger pick up is forecast for 2014/15 (+9 per cent) and 2015/16 (+4 per cent) as the market builds momentum.
This will be on the back of low interest rates, strong population growth and pent up demand in key states. The lower Australian dollar -- compared with recent years -- will help stimulate traditional industries.
The lower construction prior to 2013, as well as an expected improvement in confidence and income growth, will underpin the outlook.
Moderating the upturn will be residual consumer caution amid concerns over rising unemployment, affordability barriers and high household debt levels.
Natural cyclical factors will then lead to a correction in the cycle during 2016/17 (-5 per cent) and in 2017/18 (-8 per cent).
Nationally, the recovery will see private detached house starts grow by two per cent in 2013/14 and 12 per cent in 2014/15, the report predicts.

Source : Sunshine Coast Daily Newspaper (

Alpha Coal Project - Galilee Basin

Deputy Premier, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning
The Honourable Jeff Seeney

Alpha Coal Project given go-ahead
The Newman Government has given the green light to what will be one of Australia’s biggest mines, the $6.4 billion Alpha Coal Project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Queensland’s Coordinator-General has provided conditional approval for the mine – the first in the untapped coal rich Galilee Basin.

Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney welcomed the decision and said the project would produce significant economic benefits for the state and nation.

“There’ll be an estimated $11 billion boost to the economy during the mine’s three year construction phase. 80 per cent of that will be retained in Queensland,” Mr Seeney said.

“Once operational, Queensland’s economy should see an economic boost of $1 billion per year from this mine alone.

“Australia can expect an $80 billion dollar rise in exports over the life of the mine.”

Mr Seeney said the Coordinator-General had approved the mine with strict conditions and the move was a major step towards opening up the Galilee Basin’s coal deposits.

“The proposal is for a 30 million tonnes per year open-cut coal mine and a 495km railway line from the mine to the Port of Abbot Point near Bowen,” he said.

The project is expected to generate up to 3600 construction jobs and 990 operational jobs.

The mine site is 130km south-west of Clermont and about 360km south-west of Mackay. The expected life of the mine is 30 years, with sufficient resources to potentially extend the project life beyond that time.

Despite the Coordinator-General completing Queensland’s assessment, the Federal Minister for Environment is yet to complete his assessment under Commonwealth environmental legislation.

“The Coordinator-General has thoroughly assessed Hancock Coal’s Environmental Impact Statement and associated materials, including 60 public submissions, and its Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS),” Mr Seeney said.

Coordinator-General Barry Broe said his 393 page report contains 128 conditions.

“Conditions and recommendations in my report will ensure that impacts are well mitigated and managed through environmental management plans, environmental licences, development permits and a social impact management plan,” Mr Broe said.

The mine plan comprises six separate open-cut pits, with a total strike length of 24 km in a north-south direction.

Hancock Coal anticipates the construction period to occur between 2013 and 2016, subject to relevant approvals being granted for the project.

The Coordinator-General’s Report can be viewed at 
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ArchiCAD 16 is coming!!!

ArchiCAD 16 – BIM Components at Your Fingertips
BUDAPEST, May 2, 2012 – GRAPHISOFT® announced today ArchiCAD® 16, the latest version of its premium BIM design software for architects. ArchiCAD 16 introduces a comprehensive ecosystem of solutions to ease the creation, sharing, and finding of custom BIM Components. Built-in Energy Evaluation turns ArchiCAD 16 into the “greenest” BIM solution available on the market today.
“Building projects – by their nature – contain numerous custom building components and structures that may require modeling capabilities beyond the standard BIM tools,” said László Vértesi, VP of Products at GRAPHISOFT. “ArchiCAD 16 introduces direct modeling capabilities and cloud-integration to help users create and find the custom objects, components, and structures they need to make their BIM models complete,” he continued.
MORPH TOOL – Redefining Modeling Freedom for BIM
Custom objects, components, and structures require a tool with extraordinary modeling flexibility. ArchiCAD 16 introduces direct modeling capabilities into the native BIM environment with its brand new MORPH™ tool. MORPH allows element creation with any custom geometry in an intuitive graphical way, featuring popular modeling techniques such as push & pull. MORPH elements can be created from scratch simply by drawing a 3D polygon or by converting any existing ArchiCAD BIM element. The MORPH tool is an optimal solution for creating custom BIM components, custom structures, and custom elements of the built environment as well as custom-designed building interiors. – Cloud-search for BIM Components
Building components is one of the most dynamically developing segments of the BIM industry. ArchiCAD’s parametric GDL technology has been a powerful tool for professionals to create “intelligent” building components. ArchiCAD 16 fundamentally changes the possibilities the average user has to obtain custom BIM Components for their BIM projects. ArchiCAD’s new modeling capabilities, connected with the cloud-based BIM Component database allow users to create, search, upload, and download custom BIM components of their choice. The fully-integrated web portal makes sharing BIM components a core community also provides a central “marketplace” for all GDL objects to directly reach ArchiCAD users when they need those objects the most.
SUSTAINABILITY – Industry-first Fully BIM-integrated Energy Evaluation
In today’s environment, sustainability is an imperative for all building projects. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the main decisions influencing a building’s sustainability features are made by the architects and not by the building systems engineers. GRAPHISOFT continues to innovate in “green” as well, uniquely offering the best workflow for sustainable design, integrated in its BIM authoring tool. The built-in Energy Evaluation functionality of ArchiCAD 16 is similar to the former standalone EcoDesigner™ product, but is based on entirely new technology (e.g. zone-boundary based building model geometry analysis, analytic weather data input option, etc.). This technology allows architects to perform reliable dynamic energy evaluation of their BIM model within ArchiCAD, relying on BIM geometry analysis and accurate hour-by-hour online weather data of the building’s location.
Together with ArchiCAD 16, GRAPHISOFT also delivers important workflow and productivity updates to its growing portfolio of solutions. These include an upgraded BIM Server™, Cloud-integrated model sharing service for BIMx users with an active maintenance contract, and support for the IFC 2x3 Coordination View Version 2.0 for facilitating OPEN BIM. ArchiCAD 16 will be released on May 30, 2012, with shipment to customers beginning within a few weeks after the official release. Following a tight release schedule, all 26 local versions are planned to reach the market by the end of Q3 2012. For more information about ArchiCAD 16, please visit: For a live demonstration of ArchiCAD 16, please register for the upcoming “BIM Components at Your Fingertips” webinar on June 19, 2012.
GRAPHISOFT® ignited the BIM revolution with ArchiCAD®, the industry first BIM software for architects. GRAPHISOFT continues to lead the industry with innovative solutions such as the revolutionary GRAPHISOFT BIM Server™, the world’s first real-time BIM collaboration environment, and the GRAPHISOFT EcoDesigner™, the world's first fully integrated building energy modeling application. GRAPHISOFT’s innovative solutions have fundamentally changed the way architects around the world design and collaborate. GRAPHISOFT® has been part of the Nemetschek Group, since its acquisition in 2007.
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Construction confidence grows

CONFIDENCE in the outlook for the Queensland building industry and the Queensland economy continued to grow during the March quarter, according to the March 2012 Survey of Industry Conditions report released by Master Builders on Tuesday.
Master Builders director of housing policy Paul Bidwell said the latest report highlights rising confidence for the fourth quarter in a row.
"We believe a range of factors have contributed to this improvement, with relatively stable interest rates and speculation of further rate cuts in 2012 at the top of the list," Mr Bidwell said.
"Positive media commentary regarding domestic and global economies and the landslide Queensland state election result have also played a role.
"While this continued growth in optimism is welcome, as it makes businesses more likely to spend, hire and invest, it is unfortunately not matched by an improvement in trading conditions during the March quarter.
"In the three months to March conditions in the residential and commercial sectors weakened. Turnover and profitability were both down, along with work in progress and average contract prices.
"The industry is optimistic that a gradual recovery is under way but, unfortunately, many businesses are not seeing any meaningful improvement in their individual circumstances, even in the regions where the resources sector is booming."
"The boom is yet to have any significant impact on many residential and commercial builders.
"Not surprisingly, the most critical constraint on business growth was the lacklustre level of demand, with the same list of usual suspects contributing to the softness in demand - weak consumer confidence, the two-speed domestic economy, the ongoing concerns about a possible second GFC, stagnant/falling house prices, the looming introduction of the carbon tax and housing affordability."
Report highlights include:
  • Businesses are increasingly confident that the industry is now entering the recovery phase. Consistent with that view, the Profitability and Turnover Indexes are forecast to increase over the next three months.
  • The majority of businesses expect their staffing and apprentice levels to stabilise in the short term.
  • Wages growth is only a problem in Central Queensland and Mackay, as a result of the resources boom.
  • Low affordability continued to dampen new housing demand, with the vast majority of respondents (86%) of the view that low affordability was having a negative impact on new housing demand.
  • The outlook for housing affordability is expected to improve slightly over the next 12 months thanks to the softening of house prices in some areas of the state.

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Restrictions on 'Design' ratings strengthen Green Star

From 1 January 2013, Green Star – Design ratings will be valid for two years after a building's practical completion, as the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) introduces time restrictions to strengthen the robustness of Australia’s environmental rating system for buildings.
Speaking at Green Cities 2012 today, the GBCA’s Executive Director – Green Star, Andrew Aitken, announced that, from 1 January 2013, a Green Star – Design rating will only be valid for 24 months after a building’s practical completion.
“Green Star is an evolving rating system, and we are committed to ensuring it continues to adapt and respond to the industry’s needs.  Extensive stakeholder research has found that one of the best ways to reinforce the value of Green Star is to place an expiry date on Green Star – Design ratings,” Mr Aitken says.
This new policy will apply to any project registered for a Design rating from 1 January 2013 – irrespective of the rating tool used. The 24-month time restriction on Design ratings will not apply to projects registered before 1 January 2013.
“Green Star ratings have been instrumental in motivating Australia's property and construction industry to design and build green. Design ratings encourage project teams to consider Green Star from the initial stages of the project development by providing best practice benchmarks for sustainable design,” Mr Aitken explains.
“The ‘Design’ rating is seen as a promise within the industry, which then provides the groundwork for a Green Star – As Built rating. The As Built rating demonstrates that this promise has been delivered in construction, which in turn provides the foundation for an ongoing assessment of the building’s performance in operation.
“Many building projects are promoted as ‘Green Star-rated buildings’ long after they have been built – despite having no certification that demonstrates the Green Star design was reflected in the construction or in the performance of the building.
“This has created some confusion in the marketplace.  By limiting the length of time that building projects can market a Green Star – Design rating, we will strengthen the robustness of the Green Star rating system, and ensure that project teams that achieve As Built and future Green Star – Performance ratings are recognised and rewarded.
The new time restrictions on Green Star – Design ratings have already received positive support from industry.
“Introducing time-bound ratings for Green Star will help to ensure that completed buildings deliver on the Green Star promises made during the design phase,” says Stockland’s General Manager, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Siobhan Toohill.
“Once a building is constructed, our focus should be on what was actually built, not the design.  The GBCA’s new measure will support the uptake of more Green Star - As Built ratings, and ensure that green design translates into green buildings,” says Grocon’s Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Grollo.
“The industry’s leaders have been following up their Green Star – Design ratings with As Built ratings for some time, proving that they can deliver on the promise.  Our new policy is a natural step towards greater transformation of the industry,” Mr Aitken concludes.
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Delays on huge mining projects all behind us now, says magnate Clive Palmer

Mr Palmer, who is the biggest donor to the Queensland Liberal National Party, still has to get the approval of the incoming Newman government for all three aspects of the project -- a coalmine in the Galilee Basin, a rail line to the port of Abbot Point and a wharf capable of exporting 30 million tonnes of coal a year.
An environmental impact statement on the project was available for public comment between September 24 and November 7 last year, and under Queensland legislation the Co-Ordinator General -- a statutory position in the state government -- has to publicly respond. "The delay we've had under the Labor Party would put the project back about 12 months," Mr Palmer said yesterday. "It's just the process was much more onerous and difficult.

Under the timeline of the previous government, the Co-Ordinator General's response was due about the middle of this year. Even if the project was approved, it would still need more environmental approvals on land use for the rail line and shipping issues for the port because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.
"Our declaration as a project of state significance still stands. I'm sure we'll get an approval in the current environment."
Mr Palmer had been aiming to start exporting coal by 2014, but conceded yesterday this could go to 2015.
One issue is the mine, which covers part of the Bimblebox Nature Reserve. The LNP mining policy states that areas of high conservation value should not be mined, and conservationists say a nature reserve is such an area.
But Mr Palmer said yesterday a nature reserve constituted the lowest level of environmental protection, and mining was still allowed in such areas.
"This was classified as a bottom-level reserve, which allowed mining and normal activities to take place, because it was judged by experts, not by us, that it wasn't a critical environment condition to protect," he said.
Mr Palmer appeared to back away from claims last week that Greenpeace was funded by the CIA. He said yesterday he had provided a distraction that had helped Campbell Newman; asked if he believed Greenpeace was funded by the CIA, he said: "That's something I wouldn't say at this stage. A mistake doesn't become an error until you refuse to correct it, so I'm still thinking about it. But let me say I don't regret making that statement."
Another mining chief who is facing a vital decision from the new Newman government is Peter Bond of Linc Energy, whose underground coal gasification project near Chinchilla was placed under review by the Bligh government after allegations gas had leaked from another UCG project at Kingaroy.
The previous government had a review of the UCG industry due by the end of this year, and the fate of the proposed $1bn plant was to have been decided by this review. But this could change under the new government, which still has to indicate its view on UCG.

  • From
  • The Australian 
  • March 27, 2012
  • Comments

    Whitsundays - Perfectly Placed


    Statewide annual valuations 2012 released

    Statewide annual valuations 2012 released

    28 March 2012
    Valuation notices today were posted to all landowners throughout Queensland’s 58 rateable local government areas.
    Queensland’s Valuer-General Neil Bray said more than 1.6 million valuations were completed in accordance with the Land Valuation Act 2010.
    “The valuations will take effect for local government rating, State land tax and State land rental purposes, where applicable, on 30 June 2012,” Mr Bray said.
    “As all local government areas were revalued in 2011, the 2012 valuations reflect any variations that have occurred in the 12 months since the last valuation.
    “Annual valuations avoid the significant movements in valuations that have occurred previously when valuations were not undertaken for a number of years.”
    Mr Bray said that with the exception of areas influenced by the growth associated with the mineral and gas resources industry boom the Queensland property market over the past 12 months had been generally subdued.
    “The volume of property transfers recorded with the Registrar of Titles has decreased by 22 per cent over the past 12 months and is at its lowest level for a decade,” Mr Bray said.
    “Value changes, both up and down, can be attributed to a number of factors including
    the strong  Australian dollar which has impacted on Queensland’s export industries, tourism and related industries; global financial volatility including tight credit conditions; growth associated with the resources industry boom and a moderation in Queensland’s population growth.”
    Mr Bray said the subdued nature of the market was evidenced by 32 local government areas recording an overall market movement of less than three percent in total rateable value.
    “The Gladstone Regional Council area recorded the largest increase of 19 per cent, reflecting the growth of mining activity in central Queensland,” Mr Bray said.
    “The Cassowary Coast Regional Council area which is still suffering the economic effects and damage caused by Cyclone Yasi in early 2011, recorded the largest reduction of 13.7 per cent.”
    Mr Bray said it was important that landowners realised that valuation notices were not rate notices. 
    “Rates are set under the Local Government Act 2009 and the City of Brisbane Act 2010 by local governments when they determine their annual budgets,” Mr Bray said.
    “The setting of rates is based on a number of factors - valuations are only one of those factors”.
    Queensland’s online valuation list for 2012 and property market data for major residential localities are available at until 26 June 2012. This information allows landowners to compare their valuations with others in their localities.  Hard copies of the land valuation listings are also available for inspection at selected Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) business centres and local government offices.
    Mr Bray said landowners who believed their valuation to be incorrect, and could provide information to support this, could lodge an objection to their valuation with the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) by 28 May 2012.
    To lodge an objection, landowners should obtain an objection kit which includes a step-by-step guide and the relevant objection form – these are available on the DERM website,, by calling 1300 664 217 or from local DERM offices.  More information including fact sheets, questions and answers and rural valuation maps is also available.

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    Proserpine and Bowen cyclone shelters

    Construction to commence on Proserpine and Bowen cyclone shelters next week

    Construction on the category five cyclone shelters in Proserpine and Bowen will begin next week, Minister for Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Business and Member for Whitsunday Jan Jarratt announced during a visit to the Proserpine cyclone shelter site today.
    Ms Jarratt said locals could expect heavy machinery on site mid next week in both Proserpine and Bowen, with work to begin shortly after.
    Premier Anna Bligh said these two shelters were among 10 being constructed in North Queensland as part of the $60 million cyclone shelter program jointly established by the Bligh Government and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
    “The start of construction on these projects represents another huge step forward for our $60 million cyclone shelter program,” the Premier said.
    “This government is getting on with the job of building these cyclone shelters for the people of North Queensland – the local community can expect to see these shelters complete by the end of November, weather permitting.”
    Ms Jarratt said Paynter Dixon Queensland Pty Ltd won the tender to construct both the $5.8 million Proserpine shelter and the $5.6 million shelter at Bowen State High School.
    “These cyclone shelters are extremely important to the people of Proserpine and Bowen,” Ms Jarratt said.
    “Not only will these facilities provide safe and secure shelters for the local community in the event of a category five cyclone, but they will also act as a multi-purpose sports facility for year-round use by the locals.
    “In addition, it’s an extremely welcome boost for the local construction industry.
    “The Proserpine cyclone shelter will support approximately 39 jobs over the life of the project, while around 38 jobs will be created in Bowen.
    “By using a select tender process we deliberately targeted local contractors, in turn maximising the opportunities for flow-on benefits to local suppliers, sub-contractors and the local community.
    “Having offices in both Mackay and Townsville, Paynter Dixon is very familiar with the local sub-contractors and suppliers in Proserpine and Bowen.
    “Through this project they have been able to stimulate the local construction industry and make of use of local resources.
    “I’m absolutely delighted to be here today to signal the start of construction on these two cyclone shelters, which will have such wide-reaching benefits,” she said.
    Minister for Government Services, Building Industry and ICT Simon Finn said the new buildings would be big enough to include multipurpose halls for sports such as netball and basketball.
    “Each facility will be greater than 1,500m2 in size, and will include a multipurpose hall for sports such as netball and basketball,” he said.
    “A sports lab classroom is also included as part of the structure for year-round use by the school – this classroom can also be used for refuge during a disaster, similar to the sports hall area,” he said.
    “There will also be office space built into the facilities, with the key purpose of providing communication facilities in the case of a cyclone – however throughout the year, it will provide office accommodation and staff amenities for teaching personnel.
    “The buildings will have 10 toilets and five showers, and two water tanks in the roof which are gravity fed to the toilets and showers during a cyclone.
    “They will also contain a kitchen, a generator room and a storage room for chairs that would be used during a disaster.
    “In the case of a cyclone, the town power supply may cease, in which case a generator will be activated – if the generator fails, emergency batteries stored in the cyclone shelter will commence operation,” Mr Finn said.
    Ms Jarratt said the shelters would ultimately make the Proserpine and Bowen communities more resilient.
    “These cyclone shelters will be constructed in accordance with the Design Guidelines for Queensland Public Cyclone Shelters and will be capable or withstanding winds of more than 300 kilometres per hour, as experienced in a category five cyclone,” she said.
    The Department of Public Works (DPW) is managing the delivery of the Proserpine and Bowen cyclone shelters, as well as the shelters in Ingham, Townsville, Port Douglas, Tully, Weipa and Yeppoon.
    The cyclone shelter in Mackay is being managed by the Department of Education and Training as part of the delivery of a new Eimeo State High School. The Edmonton cyclone shelter is being designed and delivered independently by the Cairns Regional Council through a grant funding arrangement with the State Government.
    “In total, the cyclone shelter projects are expected to support 400 jobs over the life of the program,” Ms Jarratt said.

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    What buyers will pay more for in a new home

    MOST Aussies want real grass in their backyard and are prepared to shell out an extra $75,000 for a lawn, according to a national survey of real estate agents.
    The poll of agents by Turf Australia found in Sydney, where the average house costs $440,000, a lawn could add $83,000 to the price.
    Meanwhile in Melbourne, buyers could pay almost $80,000 more on an average $420,000 home for a real patch of green.
    Nationally, a lawn could add 18 per cent, or just over $75,000 in value on the average $420,000 home, the survey found.
    The survey of 114 agents, conducted between November and January for the body representing the turf industry, found Victorian lawns add 19 per cent of value to a home, ahead of NSW at 16 per cent, Queensland and South Australia, both 12 per cent, and Western Australia, 8 per cent.
    A third of agents said buyers believe a lawn adds to the look and feel of a home while almost three quarters say buyers want a safe playing area for the kids.
    But the benefit of having your own green turf is also seen by young couples and those wanting to upsize.
    Most buyers also want a backyard to be at least a third of the size of their property, the survey said.
    LJ Hooker chief executive Janusz Hooker said house hunters factor in having a lawn or backyard as part of their budget.
    "A townhouse or larger suburban home with an area of grass is still important in 2012," Mr Hooker said.
    "For sellers, the key is to put some time into making the lawn look well cared for and perfect for the new owners. That's how they'll capitalise on the added value a lawn can offer."
    A third of house hunters have a decent sized backyard in their list of top three requirements, along with a quiet street and more than one bedroom, according to agents.
    Landscaper and TV personality Jody Rigby said the survey shows most buyers feel their backyard should be real grass.
    "New types of grass are not as thirsty as many believe, and of course, all have environmental benefits," she said.
    "It's the Australian way of life to grow up running around in the backyard and it's not as hard as many think to keep a lawn looking beautiful and green, despite the kids' wear and tear."

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    Building Boost Extended !!!!

    Queenslanders building or buying new homes will have access to the state government's $10,000 building boost for an extra three months, amid slower-than-expected uptake.
    The grant offer, which began nearly six months ago, was due to expire at the end of this month.
    But Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser said the grant would continue until the end of April, following requests from the housing industry and an increase in applications in recent weeks.
    The decision comes as Mr Fraser prepares to unveil his Queensland budget update today, amid growing speculation of an imminent election.
    Mr Fraser said the original $140 million budget allocation earmarked for the building boost would cater for the time extension, with just 3700 people having applied for the grant so far.
    The one-off grant is open to home purchasers buying or building a new home worth less than $600,000.
    Mr Fraser's office last night released figures showing uptake was sluggish in the first few months of the grant but had increased in recent times.
    “Industry has come to me asking for an extension to the boost and that's what we'll provide,” Mr Fraser said in a statement.
    “They've said to me, and the recent application numbers show, that the boost is increasingly gaining traction with potential buyers.”
    Mr Fraser said the April 30 end date would give developers and builders extra time to market the boost and give the housing industry the kick-start it needed.
    “Every housing stimulus package always has a large increase in interest at the back end of the time period, with many applications coming in after the end date.”
    The Liberal National Party opposition has previously labelled the measure as a fizzer, saying with a month to the cut-off date applications had been received for just 22 per cent of the program’s $140 million funding.
    But Mr Fraser said the building boost was having an effect.
    “The (Housing Industry Association) Home Sales report shows that Queensland is the only state that has increased the number of new home sales each month from August to November, the most recent month data has been collated for,” he said.
    More information about the boost can be found at

    Source :

    Dulux Surf Club Project