Never-Ending Story

The problem with buying property is that it’s never done. That’s a little-known piece of information, and you can thank me later if you weren’t already aware of it. It’ll help when you inevitably find yourself questioning life as you slowly find yourself unsatisfied with your status quo as a homeowner. 

I’m not just talking about the process of buying an individual house, which in itself feels never-ending – from observing the market, organising finance and interpreting a Section 32 through to conveyancing and settlement, it’s a stretch to say the least. Nor am I referring to the lengthy period of repayments, which people seem to forget is a part of the buying the buying process that generally goes on for decades. 

I’m actually referring to the fact that, once all of that is done and dusted, you’re still not done. Why? Because by then, you’re ready to sell up and buy another property. You’ve spent the past years coming to terms with the fact that your ‘perfect’ house is not so perfect – that, or it was clearly imperfect to begin with – and now it’s time to level up, whether that means upsizing, downsizing, moving two streets away so you’re further from the main road, or adding room for a pony. 

You’re in a position to conceive of this, having dodged the bullet of paying off someone else’s mortgage for the past however many years, and you’ve also learnt from your previous buying mistakes. That means you’re obliged, on some level, to go through with it. It’s time to once again pick up the dance of constantly scanning the real estate market, obsessively checking your finances and organising conveyancing solicitors. ‘Mentone townhouses’ suddenly becomes a go-to predictive text term in your phone. Before you know it, you’re officially back in the game.

You see, it’s always possible to do better in this pursuit, and most people who’ve bought property find it difficult to settle for second best when there’s another option. That’s fair, I suppose – life is dynamic, and no one wants to be  unnecessarily stuck in one place forever.

Powering with the Sun

Who’d have thought that selling powdered broccoli would be such an energy intensive business? It was only supposed to be a small side-hustle, and I could not have foreseen how quickly it was going to take off. Still, here I am, saddled with not only three organic broccoli farms in Tasmania but also a large manufacturing plant in the suburbs of Melbourne. Granted, we’re leasing most of it to other businesses – the chocolate team, the probiotic jam crew and a couple of others.

This is good, I suppose, because it means I can keep producing the broccoli powder like I wanted to. On the other hand, I’m now responsible for powering this big ‘ol factory, which is completely outside my range of expertise. My guides tell me I need to get the place onto solar, but it’s a massive job and I don’t rightly know where to start. Between processing invoices from the broccoli growers and recording the podcast, I’ve barely got time to think about it.

Bernard says I should just bite the bullet and go the 100kW route. How much power does a 100kW solar system produce? It seems like it would be too big for our needs, but then I guess there’s always selling the power back to the grid, or starting a solar farm or whatever. That’s a thing, right? I know virtually nothing about this. This is why I never officially signed up to run a factory, but I guess it’s happening now I have to roll with it.

When it comes to commercial solar installations, Melbourne probably isn’t a bad place to be positioned relative to the rest of the country – not so much on a geographic level, but at least in terms of customers getting behind it and paying a bit more for a product with a lower carbon footprint. Putting the price of the product up to accommodate the transition to solar seems a tiny bit counter-intuitive, given that solar is supposed to reduce operating costs, but the fact is that it’s a big upfront investment.

 

Melbourne’s Newest Homeowner

Ten years ago I backpacked across Australia and fell in love with the country. I was born and raised in Italia, but have been looking to move to Australia ever since I travelled there. I’ve always been a free spirited person, which in my mind means I can’t stay in one place my whole life. Italia was the place of my child and young adulthood, but the rest of my life needs to begin. Moving to Australia is the start of my next adventure. 

When I was travelling Australia, Melbourne stood out to me as a place I would love to live. The cafes, restaurants and culture reminded me of Italia, so it had a nice comforting sense of home about it, whilst being different enough that I knew I was out of my comfort zone. Six months ago I made the arrangements to move to Australia on a working visa, and I will be living in Australia for the next five years. I am in the process of looking for a house now that my visa has been granted, and I am liaising with someone who does conveyancing. St Kilda is where I’m looking to buy, because from memory it’s an extremely vibrant suburb and is close enough to the city that I can walk the laneways on my days off. I also like being near the beach, and the theme park seems like it would be fun too!

As soon as I’ve got my house sorted, I am ready to start my new life. I’ve already got a job lined up as I work for an international company and so I’ve been transferred to the Melbourne office. It’s all working out perfectly, really. I just have to finalise a few things with my conveyancing solicitors and I’ll be ready to start my new life. When I’m all settled in, I’ll invite my family and friends to come and stay with me. I don’t think I’ll be moving back to Italia for a long time, so I’m sure they’d like to see where my life has taken me. I’m so excited.

Bright’s Alright

What’s people’s take on bright colours in offices? Personally, I’m in favour of it, but I understand that some people struggle with it and believe that neutrals are the only proper choice. The receptionist at my office made a faux-retching action at me this morning when I acknowledged the new fushia paint job and coordinated turquoise upholstery in the lobby, and I’m just wondering if her response is closer to the norm than mine.

I guess it depends on the context. A pink wall would have very different effects in, say, a corporate law firm’s offices compared to those of a fashion magazine. That said, I think it could work in either context, provided the design was of sufficient quality and sensitivity to the purpose. Here in Melbourne, office space design is something that’s taken seriously across many fields, and you won’t be thought any less serious for having stylised aesthetic elements incorporated into your work environment.

Presumably, there are different ways in which people respond to colour. Generally speaking, people find large expanses of bright colour somewhere between invigorating and somewhat full-on, but perhaps some people lean more to one or the other side of that, or even have a different response altogether. If done well, I find that it puts a light pep in my step, while perhaps Kirsty at reception finds it distracting or overwhelming in some way.

When it comes to office space  fitouts, Melbourne designers do tend to take the ball and run with it, often to extremes. I’m in favour of that, and there seem to be plenty of others like me – enough that we tend to forget about the Kirstys of the world and expect them to tailor their sensory experience to meet ours. That’s why I’m interested to know if there’s a dominant inclination around this. I suspect there is, and that it’s the one I identify with, as that would explain a lot.

Dad’s Ute

My name is Effie and I’m in high school.

I write lots of blogs and send them to lots of different sites in the hopes of getting posted. When I leave school I want to be a writer like my Mum. She proof reads everything I write so that I only send the very best articles to websites. She told me it’s never too early to start writing… she started writing stories when she was eight! I’ve only written two stories, I’m just trying to get on social media first so then when I decide I’ve written a story I really like I can send it to everyone! 

Today’s blog post is about my Dad!

He is a builder and drives a ute. It’s massive. Mum’s car looks like a little bug when it’s parked next to Dad’s ute in the garage. He has this cool thing that’s one of those under tray tool boxes for utes. When I was a kid, he used to tell me that it’s where he hid all his treasures and that one day he would tell me what’s in there. Now I know, it’s just tools in the boxes. He was a bit offended when I was disappointed about the discovery, he said they are his treasures. I thought he meant actual treasure when I was, like, eight years old. Obviously real treasure is way better than tools, but as Mum always says, each to their own!

I think what makes his ute actually seem massive is the big ute canopy. Melbourne is a really big city and so his car has to be really big because he drives around it and builds stuff all-day everyday. I find it really cool how he has built stuff in the city. When we drive around he points out places he’s worked on. He’s actually creating peoples homes and everything! It makes sense that he has to have such a big car. I’ll have a small car like my Mum, because all writers have small cars. 

Smugged Up

In general, it’s pretty hard to contemplate the state of your heating system in mid-January, but these are no ordinary times. I’m actually wearing a jumper and sheepskin boots as I write this, and I’ve got half a mind to turn on the heater. I’m not going to, because that’s ridiculous and I’m not going to be that person. But the fact is that it’s pretty darned close to being cool enough to justify it.

Unseasonal temps aside, I’ve always thought summer was the best time to get someone in to look at the heating. People say it’s too early, but while I might be a stickler for ducted gas heating checks, Melbourne residents seem to be following suit. Each year, the heating companies seem to be more and more booked out as winter approaches, so I’ve been scheduling my annual service earlier and earlier.

Now that it’s ended up in my calendar for January, I can’t help but feel a bit smug, because it pretty much feels like late autumn outside. Still, I don’t feel great about it. All signs point to the fact that people like me, running their heaters with abandon, are actively contributing to these weird seasonal temperatures.

When it comes to heating services for Melbourne at large, questions invariably arise. Is it resource efficient for everyone to have central heating? If it’s not sustainable for everyone to have it, then should anybody have it? What are the alternatives? These thoughts (and then some) occur to me every time I turn my system on. I’m not sure what the solution is, although I can refrain from running the heating during mid-summer.

That doesn’t mean I can’t get it serviced, though. The truth is that I’m bound to be using it come winter, so I might as well make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible. I’ll just try not to be overly smug about it.

Look Ute, Feel Ute

I should have thought twice before agreeing to go shopping with Trisha and Stephen. If I had, I might have realised that their idea of that activity differed somewhat from mine. See, I thought we would be hitting the mall, demolishing a few sales, grabbing a smoothie, doing some more window shopping, maybe catching a movie afterwards. So I was taken by surprise when I realised we were trekking out to a place that fabricates aluminium accessories for utes.

Not that I’ve got anything against utes – they’re all well and good with me; I just don’t know much about them, and more to the point I don’t own one. I don’t think I’ve ever expressed even the vaguest interest in buying a ute. So, in short, it was a bit of perplexing exercise. I can only put it down to the fact that Trisha and Stephen want to get me in on their 4WD adventures, and do so by simply exposing me to the wide array of add-ons on offer. 

I won’t deny that their enthusiasm proved just a tiny bit infectious. I mean, I’d never imagined there was such a thing as a custom-built ute toolbox for sale. Melbourne tradies might roll their eyes at this, which seems fair – of course this is a thing. Again, though – I don’t own a ute and I never have, so why would I have given a passing thought to ute toolboxes? Evidently, I’ve been too busy stacking shoeboxes. 

Moreover, there’s a whole world of aluminium ute canopy designs out there. Before today, I probably would have heard that and figured it was some kind of hot new canapé, with aluminium being the last word in trendy, unconventional ingredients since charcoal. Hey, that’s just how my mind works. 

So, am I going to join the ute brigade? Maybe. Stranger things have happened, like that time I found those new-in-box Manilo Blochnik shoes at a car boot sale for a fiver.

Secret Hyperbaric Society

Well, I have to admit it, this was a pretty good idea after all. When Daniel first mentioned getting a portable hyperbaric chamber for the lodge, I thought he’d lost his mind. The funds in the treasury were low enough already and I honestly couldn’t see the use. But ever since we got one, it’s been incredibly popular. All of the British noblemen of Melbourne are enjoying it, so much so that we’ve had to establish a half-hour limit to hyperbaric sessions.

I asked Daniel how he got the idea, and he said that he’d recently been getting mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Melbourne residing British noblemen don’t usually need such things, since we’re all pretty healthy and rich, but Daniel explained that it’s not just for physical health purposes. Hyperbaric therapy can apparently reduce anxiety and stress. He seemed to know what he was talking about, so I voted in favour when the Lodge Master brought the topic up. Now it’s so popular in the lodge that you have to book two weeks in advance if you want the hyperbaric chamber. We might need to invest in a second one.

I’m not really sure where Reginald managed to find the money for our first hyperbaric chamber, though. A week ago it was looking like we’d have to close the lodge after a few of our members lost access to their family trust funds and couldn’t pay their one million dollar tithe. I still think Reginald is up to something, but I swore that I wouldn’t look into it any further, and that I’d try to leave the fact that I wasn’t made treasurer behind us. For the good of the British Noblemen of Melbourne Society, I won’t investigate anymore. I’ll just check the spycam set up in the treasury before I go to bed tonight, and then I will be done. Who cares if suddenly Reginald can get hyperbaric chambers for all of us? I’m sure there’s nothing suspicious about it at all.

Beach House Build

My boyfriend and I are at the peak of our professional careers so far. We are in our mid-thirties, and collectively we are earning the most money we’ve ever earned. As a result, we’ve decided to buy a property of land in a Victorian beach-side town, and we will build a home together that we can use as our beach house for years to come.

As neither my boyfriend or I are tradespeople, we will be leaving the build and design to the experts. I have made a number of requests of features that I would like in the home, with the first being an awning window installation. I have always been a massive fan of awning windows. They have a real character about them that, in my opinion, makes any home feel instantly more homely. I feel like having awning windows in our beach house makes a lot of sense, as we will be able to open them and let in the sea breeze, but don’t have to commit to completely open windows. 

My second request for the design of our new home is to change the designers choice of our front door. I don’t mean to be picky but the door doesn’t allude to the vibe I want my house to give off, which is why we’ll need a door replacement. Melbourne builders and designers are incredibly talented and eager to incorporate the ideas of their clients, which is why I feel I am able to make suggestions such as these to our designers.

I’m really glad that we’ve employed people to help work on our home, as it is really important to me that our money is being spent wisely and that the house will last my boyfriend and I for many years to come. I am so certain that he’ll be the person I spend the rest of my life with, which is why building this home together is so exciting. We’re entering the next stage of our relationship, and I am filled with joy because of it.

Family Betrayal!

I’m not happy. Not. Happy. Stan. And I’m especially not happy with you, Gran.

I thought this family was united, all metaphorically linking arms and skipping into the sea to start a new life in a dome home. The boat’s all ready to go, I got Melbourne’s best stainless steel marine fabrication on the case to make it the perfect carrier vehicle. Then there’s an emergency meeting of the McCann Clan, and it turns out that Jan, Stan and Gran are all going to stay on land.

Can you imagine? Such betrayal! And then Dan stands up, saying that their passion has sawyed him; he and his wife Fran are out as well, as well as their triplets: Bran, Lan and Tyran.

That just leaves me, Yan, Han and Xian. We’ve booked ourselves quite a large dome home, and I’m just not sure the four of us are going to be able to pay the rent all by ourselves, or perform the daily tasks that come with owning that sort of property. Someone needs to feed the fish, check that the rod holders are still functional, and scrub the barnacles off the surface of the entrance tube. Oh, and don’t even get me started on how Stan was supposed to be the one who did all the emergency marine welding when we were out on the ocean and couldn’t get them to the actual, professional marine stainless steel fabrication people. He did an apprenticeship with Old Man Gilligan that one time for two weeks. Old Man Gilligan unfortunately perished at sea when he mistook the fishing rod holder cable for his bootstraps, laced them up good, let down the cable in the middle of a storm (to catch the legendary Melbourne Storm Fish) and…um, well, you know. He will be missed. He will be avenged! In fact, a large part of why we’re moving under the sea is so that we can better plot our dark revenge against the ocean itself.

But that’s neither here nor there. I’m going to have to go find some great bait board experts, and use their…expertise. Ask them if a dome home can be maintained on a skeleton crew, you know? And of course, now we’re adding over half the family to the revenge list, so that’s even more of a time sink.

-Ann Azerbaijan McCann