Companies
Online renovation forum gets new owner
Oneflare has acquired Australia's largest online renovation community, Renovate Forum
Startup Smart
Co-founder and CEO of Oneflare Marcus Lim
Sydney-based startup Oneflare connects Australians with over 45,000 certified tradespeople
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Oneflare is best known for its app that helps connect local renovators to plumbers, gardeners, removalists and other tradespeople. It has announced that it has acquired Australia's largest online renovation community, Renovate Forum, in a deal believed to be worth six figures, according to the Startup Smart website.

Renovate Forum has over 40,000 members and is a community for renovators seeking advice and expert opinion on home improvement jobs. The forum has over half a million visits every month, and has hundreds of threads with questions, ideas, inspiration, and common mistakes.

Sydney-based startup Oneflare connects Australians with over 45,000 certified tradespeople, and has booked over $50 million worth of job requests across Australia.

It's free platform allows users to post a job request and let professionals bid for the work.

The acquisition enables members of the Renovate Forum to connect with Oneflare's marketplace. Co-founder and CEO of Oneflare Marcus Lim says the acquisition of Renovate Forum marks an exciting new direction for the startup. He told Startup Smart:
Renovate Forum taps into the same industry as Oneflare, but in a completely different way. Oneflare is all about connecting customers with home services businesses.
Renovate Forum takes our model one step further by allowing and encouraging our customers to start conversations with each other. In the past, we have lacked the social community aspect to our site. This addition to our business enriches the experience of users of both sites.
Tradies also have free access to Renovate Forum and can easily jump into any conversation with their professional opinion and advice. This nationwide home services community is set to completely disrupt the industry - a far cry from the days of the yellow pages.
News
Compact and accurate cutter
The compact size of the WX523 makes it ideal for tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas
WORX
The WX523 Worxsaw is the latest addition to the power tool range
WORX develops power tools that offer efficiency, power and reliability
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The 20V WX523 Worxsaw can cut through most materials with ease, including wood, metal, tiles, plasterboard and plastics. Unlike other circular saws that can be large and cumbersome, the compact size of the WX523 makes it ideal for tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas.

To ensure users get an accurate cut each time, the WX523 has been fitted with a quick cutting depth lever so adjustments can be made easily and quickly.

An 85mm blade provides a maximum cutting depth of 27mm and despite its power, the WX523 only weighs 2kg. This makes it easy to control and manoeuvre while cutting, which reduces the risk of botching a job.

The WX523 Worxsaw is powered by a reliable 20V Lithium Ion battery with no self-discharge, so no matter how long users leave it on the shelf, it won't lose power. The WX523 is also Power Share compatible, enabling it to be used with any other 20V WORX batteries that are on hand.

The laser guide system will keep users on track and provide maximum precision for each cut. To keep the workspace clean and dust-free, the WX523 Worxsaw has also been fitted with a dust-extraction facility and built-in dust port.

With a speedy charge time of one hour, the WX523 will help users power through their jobs in no time.
Bigbox
Lowe's adds home automation products for Iris
Lowe's has launched new products for its Iris smart home solution
Marketwatch
The PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor has been added to Iris
The Z-Wave Garage Door Opener Remote Command Controller with Tilt Sensor is new to Iris
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US-based home improvement company Lowe's has launched new products for its Iris smart home solution. It has added a smart garage door controller, electronic pet door, window blinds controller and hose faucet timer.

These products joins the 50 existing devices currently available for Iris. It can offer a complete smart home experience with brand name products consumers are familiar with, including General Electric, Kwikset, Schlage and Whirlpool.

The platform also supports other Zigbee and Z-Wave-enabled devices. Kevin Meagher, Lowe's vice president and general manager, Smart Home explains:
Iris is a simple and affordable smart home solution that helps makes homes safer, more energy efficient and easier to manage. We offer the most extensive array of connected products on the market that can be easily customized to meet consumers' needs.

The four new Iris-compatible products can be monitored and controlled anytime, anywhere from a computer, smart phone or tablet. They include:
  • Z-Wave Garage Door Opener Remote Command Controller with Tilt Sensor. Users can control their garage door from smartphones while on the go and get alerts if they drive away and accidentally leave it open.
  • PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor[tm]. Designed so that users monitor and control access for pets with a customisable schedule and record their movement. The device will even recognise a pet wearing the collar sensor so users can be sure they are not feeding the neighbor's cat.
  • Iris Motorized Window Blinds Controller. Remotely control and schedule blinds for privacy or comfort.
  • Orbit Hose Faucet Water Timer. Easily installed on any hose faucet and allows consumers to remotely turn the hose on/off or schedule watering. Achieve greater efficiency by triggering rain delays from a smart phone.

  • Lowe's was the first to target the consumer market with a broad home automation solution and to introduce a truly open platform - allowing devices across its stores to connect with one another.

    Since its launch in 2012, Iris has helped to make home automation simple, affordable and scalable by giving consumers a single user interface that lets them monitor, control and customise a wide range of devices in and around the home.

    Iris offers benefits such as a simple user experience, value-priced products, an easy DIY system setup and free service from the day of installation.
    Products
    Affordable iPhone-based thermal imaging camera
    Flir One image of a front door showing heat escape
    FIIR
    The case attaches easily to an iPhone
    Leak detection with the Flir One
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    US-based thermal imaging company FLIR Systems is bringing the capabilities of its stand-alone products to the Apple iPhone. The "FLIR One" iPhone case converts the iPhone into a thermal imaging device. The initial price for the case and software, to be released during August 2014 is US$350. Many of FLIR's standard products cost over US$10,000. An Android phone version is also under development.

    The case contains its own thermal imaging camera, which is based on FLIR's Lepton technology. The camera is less than a centimetre square and has a resolution of 80 pixels by 60 pixels. A breakthrough, wafer-based means of producing the lens is what enables the camera to be so tiny. Images are produced by the camera in under half a second.

    The images from this camera are combined with visible light camera images using another FLIR technology, Multi-Spectral Imaging. The standard camera images are embossed over the thermal images to create a visual readout that is easy to interpret.

    The FLIR One is based on what has previously been military-spec only technology, and produces a "live" thermal image. According to FLIR's CEO, Andy Teich:
    FLIR is dedicated to developing and delivering technologies that provide users with a sixth sense. Based on technology that was formerly reserved for the military, FLIR ONE is the first in a new generation of affordable thermal imaging devices designed to inspire imaginative and innovative uses by consumers. This represents a revolutionary step forward for both FLIR Systems and thermal imaging.

    FLIR is overtly targeting home improvement with this product. Energy conservation continues to grow as a concern for home owners, due both to carbon emissions monitoring and cost-savings. The FLIR One provides contractors and concerned home owners with a convenient and relatively inexpensive means of imaging a house to detect areas where heat or cool air may be escaping.

    There are a number of other handy applications as well. Thermal imaging can aid in the detection of gas and water leaks, and provides a great way to check that air-conditioning systems are functioning as expected. Used on machinery, it can also help find "hot spots" which are receiving inadequate lubrication. It is also possible to find certain electrical "shorts", when these produce heat through sparking. Another use is clearly detecting architectural construction features, such as the exact location of hot and cold water pipes or radiant heating coils.

    This interesting information can be captures either as photographs, or in videos. This means contractors could, for example, present a thermal "tour" of a house, indicating the areas that require insulation.

    As an added benefit, the thermal imaging system also enables users of the device to virtually "see in the dark", using the heat differences between different objects to present a detailed image both indoors and outdoors.

    The FLIR One is part of a line of products FLIR is planning based on this technology, which it announced in January 2014. According to Mr Teich:
    FLIR is committed to the development of lower cost, user friendly thermal sensing technologies to enhance vision and measurement beyond light. Lepton represents our latest, most dramatic step toward our vision of becoming 'the world's sixth sense. Not only will Lepton support an array of new imaging applications, but its revolutionary price, size, and low power consumption will open new markets for the useful information and data that thermal technology provides.
    Products
    Haymes Paint consolidates range
    Haymes Paint has released a focused, exclusive version of its Ultra Premium Prep Coat range
    Haymes Paints
    The brans new range is now called the Ultra Series range
    The latest range from Haymes is also multifunctional
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    Haymes Paint has released a focused, exclusive version of its Ultra Premium Prep Coat range. It is now called the Ultra Series range.

    With core prep coat products that complement each other, the Ultra Series range provides a solution for every painting project. Previously featuring eleven predominately single use products, the Ultra Series range now offers five multi-functional solutions, providing cost saving benefits.

    Put simply, the range has products that are water, solvent and spirit based. So there is flexibility and options for a wide variety of projects.

    The latest range from Haymes is more concise and efficient. The newly condensed prep coat range is an alternative for both trade and retail customers.

    The Ultra Series range is made up of five products: Ultracover, Ultraseal, Ultralock, Ultraprime and Ultrahold. More specifically:
  • Ultracover: New Formulation is a water based primer, sealer and undercoat. It has superior adhesion, gloss holdout and excellent coverage. Suitable for interior and exterior use.
  • Ultraseal is a water based acrylic sealer undercoat. Benefits include no fumes or odours, complete coverage, first-rate gloss holdout and fantastic sanding properties. Suitable for interior and exterior use.
  • Ultralock: New Formulation is a unique rapid drying solvent based primer, sealer and undercoat. It has rapid two-hour re-coat and strong adhesion. Suitable for interior and exterior use.
  • Ultraprime is an anti-corrosive solvent based metal primer. This product has effective rust protection and adhesion. Suitable for interior and exterior use.
  • Ultrahold: New Formulation is a spirit based stain blocker. Features include fast one-hour re-coat and exceptional stain blocking. It is suitable for interior use only.

  • The sizes range from 500ml to 15litres.
    Reports
    Upsurge in high-rise construction
    The majority of new builds in Australia are apartment blocks
    Smart Property Investment
    Housing starts have grown by 14% in 2013/2014 to a total of 184,350 annual commencements
    A new report on constrcution in Australia has been put together by BIS Shrapnel
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    According to a new report from BIS Shrapnel, dwelling building activity is reaching a new high in Australia and the majority of these builds are apartment blocks.

    Currently, two high-rise apartments are being built for every five detached houses, a rate twice the historical average, according to BIS Shrapnel associate director Kim Hawtrey. He said:
    New housing starts are forecast to reach 190,000 nationwide in 2014/2015, which will surpass the previous peak of around 187,000 set back in the 1994 boom. In the next two years we'll also see the recent emphasis on high-rise units continue.

    Housing starts have grown by 14% in 2013/2014 to a total of 184,350 annual commencements. BIS Shrapnel predicts commencements will rise by a further three per cent in 2014/2015, before easing between 2015 and 2017.

    Strong population growth is a key driver behind the upswing in housing construction. Dr Hawtrey said population growth was at 1.7% per annum, so that demand for housing outstripped supply. Dr Hawtrey said:
    We estimate that it will take the next five years to eliminate the unmet demand for housing. We therefore do not see this housing shortfall closing until 2018.

    New South Wales has the strongest outlook, with housing starts predicted to grow by nine per cent, while Queensland is set for a three per cent upswing. Victoria has experienced over-building and may see a sharp contraction in the sector by 2015/2016.

    Previous growth leader, Western Australia, is set to fall by five per cent as mining investment begins to fade.
    Editorial
    Do we need a new retail culture?
    IKEA kitchens go some way to addressing customers' dreams and desires
    Hardware News Network
    Lowe's digital magazine Creative Ideas helps to indpire customers
    Martha Stewart Living at Home Depot is all about inspiration for customers
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    What exactly is the difference between "hardware" and "home improvement"?

    It's a simple question, but it goes right to the heart of another question that runs through almost all of Australian retail today: is business culture getting in the way of profits?

    "Home improvement" can seem just another marketing term slapped over, well, hardware. Yet for many of us in "home improvement retail", the newer term is about a transition in the industry - one it continues to struggles with.

    For the purposes of modern retail I think the best definition of the difference is that hardware is about things, either individual things, or collections of things. Home improvement, by contrast, is always about systems.

    To put this into fairly literal terms, hardware will sell you some copper or PVC pipes, fittings, a water tap, a pipe wrench, a stainless steel sink, work surfaces and so forth. Home improvement will sell you a kitchen.

    It is the difference between being sold capability, and something that seeks to answer your dreams and desires.
    Transition

    This type of change is not about moving a few things around and tweaking the marketing. It goes much deeper than that, all the way down to some of the basics of the business model.

    When you shift from being a seller of things to a seller of systems, this means you as a retailer have to come to understand your own business from its systems perspective.

    A good test case is to look at the difference between how a company like IKEA sells kitchens, and how Australian home improvement retailers sell kitchens. IKEA features a range of fully assembled and tastefully designed kitchens in its showroom space, as well as a range of accessories and kitchen elements you can use to change or build out an existing kitchen. These are warm, welcoming spaces, that invite engagement.

    Home improvement retailers may have one or two kitchen units assembled somewhere. In most cases these are cold and lonely installations. There is not much there to encourage you to buy. The quality is frequently quite poor, the materials uninspiring, and any accessories are either some distance away or simply not available.

    For example, where IKEA sells stovetops, ovens and microwaves right with its kitchen components, many home improvement retailers keep these quite separate.
    Online

    And now we come to the bit where I go online and compare what the larger home improvement retailers offer for kitchens.
    Bunnings

    This is the Bunnings page for one of its Kaboodle kitchens.
    Bunnings kitchen page - yes, the graphics are blanks

    In case you are wondering, nope, that's not a mistake in the graphic. The Bunnings page has taupe, blank boxes where images of the kitchen elements should be. Same thing when you click on the boxes to view the product details. Even without that mistake, it's not very inviting.
    Masters

    This is one of the pages from the new, fully-revamped Masters site.
    Masters kitchens: lots of pictures, lots of words, but few (pricing) numbers

    OK, better. But no prices. No details. Just some pretty pictures. And words. Lots and lots of words. This is true throughout the kitchen section of the Masters site, where elsewhere they have lots of pictures of great kitchens and appliances - which you can't buy at Masters. It is a little like a "lorem ipsum" site, awaiting content.
    Mitre 10

    I'm actually not surprised that of these three Mitre 10 does the best job. It's far from the "cut rate" appearance of the Bunnings site, and it provides actual useful, direct information to buyers in an attractive way. The information is limited, but what is there is direct and good.

    Click on the different small images beneath the main image, and a new kitchen, complete with new details and correct pricing appears. It is what Mitre 10 does best: not trying to be the greatest, but to deliver something that is useful and possible.
    IKEA

    However:
    People, scene styling

    Notice something? Yup: people. Having fun in the kitchen. No "architectural quality" images, but kitchens actually being used. You can just about imagine yourself being there, can't you?

    That's the kitchen that responds to dreams. Complete with pricing.

    Here is an image you go to when you click on the lower right image:
    An engaging web page

    Passion, engagement, humanity.
    What is going on?

    The websites of the home improvement retailers may not directly reflect what goes on in their stores, but they do serve as a good proxy - just as the major retailers serve as a good proxy for what smaller retailers are doing.

    In the end, the transition to home improvement from hardware comes down to one, single metric: return on capital (RoC).

    It is important to note that the infrastructure behind all four of these sites - the servers, the software technology, the bandwidth - is basically the same, and much cheaper than it would have been just five years ago. What is different is the design, the management of that design, and the intent.

    Getting to the IKEA result requires more of an investment. Some of that is in artefacts such as the excellent photography, including models and a very good stylist. Much of it, however, is in management attention, focus and purpose.

    Does the IKEA approach deliver higher RoC than the hardware approach - minimal, cheap, "work it out for yourself"?

    That's a hard question to answer. The real problem is that most Australian home improvement retailers are not even effectively asking that question. That is because, even (or especially) the hard line, profit above all else retailers do not want to have to change their company culture.

    In a growing market, that kind of inefficiency will be masked for a time, but over the long term it will clearly emerge. The difficulty is that, much of the time, when it does finally emerge, it's too late to recover from without a lot of investment. If the names of companies such as Research In Motion, Kodak, Microsoft and Nokia seem distant, Australia's Target might furnish a closer and clearer example.

    Until next time,

    Betty

    For any feedback, comments or story tips, you can contact me directly via email betty@hnn.bz or Twitter @HNN_Australia
    Companies
    PPG declares strong result for 2Q 2014
    Link to investor call on results
    Pittsburgh Tribune
    Comex is latest acquisition
    Profile of Charles Bunch, CEO PPG
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    Second quarter 2014 profit results for paint and coatings manufacturer PPG Industries rose by 13.2% as compared to the same quarter in 2013, according to the company. Profit came in at US$386 million. Sales were reported at US$4.1 billion, up from US$3.9 billion for the same period in 2013. While earnings were higher than expected, revenues fell short of analysts' expectations.

    The Pittsburgh, Ohio-based firm is now the world's largest paint manufacturer, a positive it gained after buying AkzoNobel NV's North American architectural paint unit for US$1.05 billion in April 2013. Its paint operations make up 90% of the company's revenues.

    PPG has also announced that Michael H. McGarry has been promoted from executive vice-president to the role of chief operating officer. This has fuelled speculation that Mr McGarry may be next in line to replace the company's current CEO, Charles E. Bunch. The company stated that Mr Bunch, who is 64 years old, has not immediate plans to change his work status.

    Mr Bunch stated that:
    The benefits of our new business portfolio are measurable. Strategically, we continue to complete significant actions focused on expanding our global coatings presence. We are still interested and have the appetite for more.

    PPG has recently completed the acquisition of Mexican company Consorcio Comex SA for US$2.3 billion. This is the latest in a string of 60 acquisitions PPG has made since 1999. The company will move to having a 12% market share of the global paint market. Further acquisitions are planned through 2015.

    The Pittsburgh, Ohio-based firm is now the world's largest paint manufacturer, a positive it gained after buying AkzoNobel NV's North American architectural paint unit for $1.05 billion in April 2013. Its paint operations make up 90% of the company's revenues.

    PPG has also announced that Michael H. McGarry has been promoted from executive vice-president to the role of chief operating officer. This has fuelled speculation that Mr McGarry may be next in line to replace the company's current CEO, Charles E. Bunch. The company stated that Mr Bunch, who is 64 years old, has not immediate plans to change his work status.

    Mr Bunch stated that:
    The benefits of our new business portfolio are measurable. Strategically, we continue to complete significant actions focused on expanding our global coatings presence. We are still interested and have the appetite for more.

    PPG has recently completed the acquisition of Mexican company Consorcio Comex SA for US$2.3 billion. This is the latest in a string of 60 acquisitions PPG has made since 1999. The company will move to having a 12% market share of the global paint market. Further acquisitions are planned through 2015.
    Products
    Keeping showers clean by Marbletrend
    Marbletrend's showers are now protected with Euroshield
    Bunnings
    Using Euroshield, cleaning time can be reduced by up to 90%
    It protects against staining, build-up and etching caused by soap scum, body oils, lime scale, dirt and grime
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    Maintaining clean showers is a major consideration for customers. Most people want to spend little time and effort cleaning the shower. By choosing shower screens that are pre-treated with glass treatment such as Enduroshield, cleaning time can be reduced by up to 90%.

    Marbletrend's showers are now protected with Euroshield. The protective coating is easy to clean, creating an long lasting invisible shield on all glass surfaces. The benefits were demonstrated at the recent Bunnings Expo.

    Enduroshield protects against staining, build-up and etching caused by soap scum, body oils, lime scale, dirt and grime.

    It makes cleaning very easy and there is no more scrubbing. A regular wipe over with a microfibre cloth is all it takes to keep the shower clean. It can keep surfaces looking brand new.

    Showers with Enduroshield can also promote a germ free environment and helps prevent bacteria build-up. It provides protection against the corrosive effects of hard water and chemicals.

    Marbletrend has a reputation as a leading Australian designer, manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor of high quality, fashionable bathroom fittings. The company attributes its success to its focus on fashion and design. This is supported by its commitment to research.

    The company's headquarters are based in Bayswater (VIC) and has branches in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, along with agencies in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
    Big box update
    Ryde Council in NSW has supported a proposal for Masters to open a $60 million superstore
    HNN Sources
    Ryde Council in NSW has supported a proposal for Masters to open a $60 million superstore. The home improvement chain still needs to lodge a development application with the council and the Department of Planning needs to grant approval to rezone the land. A Masters spokeswoman told the Daily Telegraph that the store, which could open by 2017, would create more than 300 retail and construction jobs and provide on-site parking for more than 400 cars. It will be located in the Macquaire Park Corridor. In other news, a development application has been submitted for a Harvey Norman store in Port Lincoln (SA) in the same bulky goods precinct which is already home to the new Bunnings Warehouse. The Block NZ is also gearing up for its third season with Bunnings once again as its broadcast sponsor.
    Indie store update
    Becks Timber & Hardware is closing one of its Lanceston stores in Tasmania
    HNN Sources
    Woolworths-owned Becks Timber & Hardware will close one of its two stores in Launceston (TAS). A spokeswoman has confirmed the closure of the original Dowling Street site with no job losses. She told the Examiner: "Home Timber and Hardware has decided to consolidate its two Launceston sites on Dowling Street and Boland Street to one location. This means that from the end of August, trading will cease at the Dowling Street Home Timber and Hardware store and will transfer to the Boland Street store." In other news, HBT member Henderson Hardware is building a yard extension on the vacant plot next door to the store. Owner Ash Stewart said he will be able to increase his steel range, sell rainwater tanks and eventually stock pine posts. Chris Lavis from newly opened Muswellbrook Home Timber & Hardware said he had no hesitation in establishing another store in town, after the success of his Scone operations.
    Battery powered range from Victa
    The Victa 40V Lithium-ion cordless 18" Steel Mulch or Catch lawn mower is new this season
    Bunnings
    The Victa V-Force+ Lithium-ion range is new this season. It has been developed using over 60 years of Victa's expertise in making garden equipment. According to the company, its latest line has been expertly designed and guaranteed to perform. A universal 40V 4.0 Ah battery should deliver reliable power and can be used across all the Victa V-Force + Lithium-ion products. It has also been tested under demanding Australian conditions. The range includes the 40V Lithium-ion cordless 16" lawn mower (3380785) which provides an easy start and optimum run time. Another model, the 40V Lithium-ion cordless 18" Steel Mulch or Catch lawn mower (3380787) has brushless motor technology and cuts up to 360m2 on a single charge.
    Hardware and building supplies retailing overview
    Porters in Mackay (QLD) is a major independent store specialising in hardware and building supplies
    IBISWorld
    An undersupply of affordable housing is contributing to industry growth, as home owners seek instead to improve their existing homes through DIY renovations. For this reason, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated its report on the hardware and building supplies retailing industry in Australia. The sector has performed strongly over the past five years. Revenue is estimated to increase at a compound annual 3.8% over the five years through 2014-15. After subdued expenditure on private homes in 2009-10 and 2010-11, revenue growth has since returned due to improving consumer sentiment and greater expenditure on home improvement projects. Rising housing prices has also contributed to this growth. In addition, the abolishment of mortgage exit fees has made it easier for home owners to refinance and unlock equity in their homes, which can also be put towards home improvement projects. Industry revenue is forecast to rise by 4.0% in 2014-15, to reach $14.8 billion.
    Colour connections at designEX 2014
    Taubmans engaged interior design experts Arent&Pyke to design a stand at designEX event
    Taubmans
    For this year's designEX event, Taubmans engaged interior design experts Arent&Pyke to devise a stand that invited guests to experience colour. It showcased the brand's colour offering through its state-of-the-art online tool, Taubmans Colour Galaxy[tm]. The company's core products, Pure Performance and Endure were also featured. The stand comprised a huge blade wall of paint brushouts featuring Taubmans range of 5,762 colours. It was a feathered gradation of colour. Where a wall was not covered in brushouts; it had a black or mirrored surface, creating an immersive and reflective contrast to the intensity of coloured surface. The vast colour wall represented an enormous painting effort comprising over 950 A4 brushouts for the stand. The designEX exhibition attracts over 10,000 industry professionals each year.
    Building confidence in Toowoomba
    Toowoomba's building industry is back in the black
    The Chronicle
    Toowoomba's building industry is back in the black after nearly half-a-billion dollars worth of construction last financial year. The dollar value of unit construction increased from $40 million in 2012/13 to $160 million last financial year. Master Builders regional manager Tony Ryder said: "That's a four-fold increase and the actual numbers of developments have gone up in a similar way. It has been fantastic for the construction industry. We have zoomed ahead. I've been with Master Builders for 10 years, and this has been the most residential construction I've seen." Ryder believes the council's unit incentive scheme has succeeded in injecting new life into the industry, despite criticism over the quality of developments it stimulated.
    Online sustainability guide for home renovations
    The Smarter Renovations Planner tool helps renovators when making green decisons for their projects
    Architecture and Design
    Sustainability Victoria and the Victorian Government have launched a free online renovation planning resource program called "Smarter Renovations", which they say will guide energy efficient practices for all scales of projects. It will provide home renovators with interactive tools, information and independent advice on how to improve and maximise the energy efficiency of their building. The organisation says it developed the online tool to combat what they called the "knowledge gap in the home renovation market." According to a statement: "There is little practical information available on energy efficient retrofits and renovations, or advice provided to help renovators go beyond minimum building standards (currently 6/10 stars). This results in missed opportunities which are crucial to the comfort and ongoing energy costs of living in the renovated house." The tool gives home renovators an accessible and free platform to calculate accurate cost savings that can be achieved by making different energy efficiency improvements.
    DIY tile setting is easier than ever
    The SimpleMat(r) Tile Setting Mat is designed to provide the quickest way to install tile
    Custom Building Products
    The SimpleMat(r) Tile Setting Mat is designed to provide the quickest and cleanest way for any do-it-yourselfer to install tile. SimpleMat transforms what was once thought to be a painstaking, expensive task into an easy way to improve kitchens, bathrooms or almost any spot in need of a tile upgrade. It replaces traditional thin-set mortar or mastic adhesive that can be time consuming, messy or costly to hire a professional contractor. SimpleMat features a double-sided adhesive mat that is specifically designed to bond tile to counters, backsplashes or shower walls. The absence of thin-set mortar means no mixing or clean up is involved. SimpleMat is offered in sheets to tile up to 10 square feet or in a value-size roll covering 30 square feet for larger projects. At the moment, US-based Custom Building Products is making the product available to homeowners through The Home Depot.
    Powerful all rounder
    The Pro Cut 50 features four swing-back blades for a better cutting performance
    Rover
    Like the majority of Rover mowers, the Pro Cut 50 features four swing-back blades for a better cutting performance and reduced servicing costs. As well as being less expensive to replace compared to bar blades, swing-back blades also protect the engine should users encounter any solid objects. They work by "swinging-back" and avoiding the sudden stop of the blades which can irreparably damage the crankshaft. The Pro Cut 50 has the ability to mulch grass clippings or catch them in the rear catcher for disposal elsewhere. Furthermore, the Hi Zone Air Intake system delivers clean air to the engine for continued superior performance.

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