Woo hoo! Brand new car smell!

Buying your very first new car is a fabulous way to start a new year. But I’ve such a lot to learn- having a new car comes with a lot of new rules and I’m not 100% that I understand them all just yet. Luckily I found out I can use my preferred Ringwood mechanic, because I’d be lost without him!

To begin with, I thought I had to get the manufacturer to do all the servicing up to a certain point. Apparently having someone work on your car who isn’t registered to repair it can void your warranty and you need someone who is licensed, to fit the very extremely particular standards that the very serious manufacturer insists upon.

I’m assured that this is a good thing.

My mechanic has serviced both my rides since I first started driving, and I was worried that I’d have to find a new mechanic to provide a quality car service. Ringwood has some good choices but I had to find someone I could trust. All it took was one bad experience with a dodgy mechanic who charged me for a load of repairs that were never carried out. So after doing some groundwork, I found a place that have like, a huge promise to consumers, that they won’t repair anything until you sign off on it. They’re total professionals, and I’m telling you, I’d be the last to know the difference in the way my car runs until it is way too late, so that trust is really really important.

Apparently my new car is a great choice too.

I feel chuffed to have that pat on the back from the experts, even though I spent more than I was going to. Right now, I’m planning out my first long distance trip- something I could never have done with confidence with my old wheels…I’m headed to Robe, South Australia for a week and a half away.

Why the Big Sell doesn’t scare me (any more)

This morning I received an email from my brother in law Jack. He’d been talking to my partner about  our recent decision to purchase our new home and didn’t want me to miss a beat when it came to the sale. My partner mentioned needing to find a good property conveyancing team in Melbourne but to be honest, everything was going in one ear and out the other. He’d had to fly to the states to pull off a work contract right in the middle of the sale and he’d clearly called in the extra hands where he imagined they’d help.

“Grace, Jase has told me how stressed out you (both) are about the sale. I know you’ve been really frazzled by the idea of leaving, and I know it’s only going to get busier for you in the next few weeks, so I just wanted to help where I can.

Jase told me you’re at the stage of needing property conveyancing. Melbourne agents move fast, and I know someone that can really help. It’s like having a translator!  But I also wanted to break down a few things about the whole process as well so you can make ends of it before you reach out.

So here it is.

Bless him, this email went on in great detail to explain the key steps of selling including the section 32 statement. It was probably one of the most helpful things anyone has done for me over email. Jack had sold his home only a few months earlier, just last year and we were lucky to learn off the back of his experience. Skyping Jase later in the afternoon, I realised how much he’d been affected by being away when I saw the relief in his face, after I told him that I’d been able to make contact with a conveyancer and had an appointment tomorrow.

I feel much more secure knowing  I can ask all these crazy questions about our sale tomorrow. Suddenly, things don’t seem so overwhelming and challenging any more.

Paperwork, Unfamiliar to Many

BIG plot twist tonight on The Great Australian Trade-Off, as the tradies were forced to contend with property management. It’s by far the least ‘practical’ task they’ve had so far, after all the other weeks were about fixing things and creating…more things. But it’s week four now. The weak ones have been weeded out, and there’s nowhere left to hide from the judges.

Yes, I’m a little bit addicted, but paperwork is my jam. I do it all day at work, so seeing someone else put through it on national television is just amazing. Just think of all the conveyancing lawyers who’ll be watching this episode, yelling at their TV screens as the tradies mix up their sale of land act with the mortgage payments. It gets pretty complicated, though, and you don’t realise until you actually have to sort out this stuff for a living. Property conveyancing is a whole lot of admin, and if you’re not organised, you might as well just do another job. Like real estate agency. Ha! Burn!

Anyway, the tradies had to do all sorts of conveyancing and property shenanigans, and it was clear that they were outside their comfort zone. Makes sense, though…if these people want to run their own businesses, they need to learn to sift through paperwork. People get pretty upset when it comes to payday and you’ve lost their tax file numbers, or you need to find a receipt for work completed seven months ago and it’s somewhere in a massive pile next to your desk.

Of course, as per usual they had an actual conveyancing expert in the tent. A professional, I mean…not that they have an Elwood conveyancing professional in there every single week, no matter the task. That would’ve been silly when they’re fixing boat propellers. But wow, they went there. A whole week on paperwork, and now I am hooked.


The Old Friendly Home Advice Agency

My days of violence are behind me, I like to think. I was quite the firecracker back in my youth, and Wagga Wonga Primary School knew it. Hattie Borden made the mistake of making fun of my stockings, so I knocked out six of her teeth. It beat the previous record (when Archie Mason knocked out four teeth in a freak draughts incident) by a whole two teeth. I was quite proud of that until I grew up a bit and realised that there are better things to be remembered for.

And while property advocates in Melbourne are now running around everywhere, I like to think that I at least had SOME part in helping the industry along. My pretty older sister wanted to be a real estate secretary (women couldn’t be actual agents back in those days). At that time I adored my sister and it was my life goal to do whatever she did. No internet back in those days, obviously, If you wanted to buy a new home, your options were limited to looking in the newspapers and having an estate agent TELL you what it looked like. Then you could go and look at the property yourself, of course. My first ‘business’ was Helena Naismith’s Friendly Home Advice Agency. Think of a buyers advocate, but a lot less formal, you didn’t have to pay for the privilege and I had no real training or expertise. People would contact me, I’d run along to the place where they wanted to buy and I’d give them a full run-down of the lovely houses I found, preferably over tea. I only ever got about eight customers, mostly friends and family (then that one fellow who fancied me and was using it as an excuse for us to chat). Anyway, I did that for a while before my pretty sister moved into her nursing training. Naturally, I dropped the buyers advocacy stuff and took up full-time veterinary services, with a focus on disabled rabbits.

And lo and behold, decades later, look at all the property advocates! Trustworthy, Melbourne-based…and I can’t really prove that the original idea was mine. Still, I like to think the spirit of Helena Naismith’s Friendly Home Advice Agency lives on, in the modern era.


Dry Needling, For the ‘City Folk’

When the snowman brings the snow, well…you just might like to know: he puts a great big smile upon somebody’s face.

Not here though. We’re sadly relegated to a hot and dusty Christmas in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Here we sit on the edge of the outback, in a town of a hundred, isolated from anywhere interesting. You’d think since everyone knows everybody else’s name, we’d all get together for a big old Christmas party or something. Nope! Mrs Renshaw doesn’t even decorate the town hall, even though she keeps a draconian watch over absolutely everything else that goes on in there.

It’s just SO provincial. The biggest news of the entire year was Sheila Bryant going off to the big smoke in Sydney, doing a dry needling course. Everyone in town reacted like she’d come back and started brewing potions, and casting spells. Dry needling is ‘new’ and ‘fangled’ and ‘new-fangled’, it would seem, so the people of Jurumbee are suspicious of it. Some people here still get their water from a well and think that the internet is a secret government plot to steal your soul, so the fact that Sheila is now making a career out of something they’ve never even heard of is scaring everyone stiff.

I wonder how long it’ll be before Jurumbee gets dry needling? I’m going to say…never. Like, not at all. I was shocked when we actually got internet, although it’s still deathly dial-up speeds. It takes the nearest internet technician two hours door-to-door to get here and fix any problems, and yet there are so many that I’ve basically become the town’s resident technology fixer-upper.

But dry needling, eh? I bet Mrs Renshaw thinks that it’s some kind of advanced bush magic. Doesn’t matter that Sheila Renshaw is one of the only people around here with some sense. I should take a leaf and move to Sydney. I’d surely be casting off the trust of the community, but…whatever. Do dry needling courses do group bookings in Sydney? We could get the whole town in on it, make it our first actual community event. Now wouldn’t THAT be something…


Eleventh Hour Disaster for Christmas? Sorted.

My mother in law Stephanie has very nearly arrived for the holiday season. I’ve spent the last three weeks in a sweat preparing for it, but I needn’t have gone overboard. What I didn’t think I’d need in the last minutes of preparation, was to find Melbourne’s fastest glazier.

Stephanie was hailing a cab and would be here at any moment. This meant that a last minute swoop ( because seventieth impressions truly count) was needed. Naturally, disaster struck. I was dusting the guest room (Stephanie is highly allergic to dust) and I knocked my favourite ceramic planter off the dresser with my elbow. In addition to spraying potting mix everywhere, the planter jettisoned into the bedroom window, leaving a spidery, stretching crack through the glass.

I felt my heart rate jack up to threat-mode. I’m normally terrible in stressful situations, but these kind of conditions created the perfect storm. Racing to plug in the vacuum cleaner, I reached for my phone to find the residential glazing team we’d had to replace our balustrade last year. The gods were on my side that day, they would be here within a few short hours.

I raced around with the vacuum, thinking of ways to distract Stephanie from the fact that I’d all but thrown a pot plant through the window at the thought of her arriving.

A knock at the door snapped me out of my racing thoughts, and I opened to the door to Stephanie who air kissed my cheek and immediately announced how tired she was.

“A terrible flight. I’ve a raging stress headache.”

“I’ll get you a big glass of water!” I almost yelled.

“Water won’t do much. Turbulence shakes me to the core.”

“How about a gin and tonic?” I suggested, a little too brightly- and thankfully she leapt at the offer. Just as I’d poured the drinks, the glazier arrived. Leaving Stephanie to the particularly strong drink, I showed the glazier to the cracked window, I then returned to the living room, where Stephanie sat, reclined and fast asleep, a half finished G&T on the coffee table.

Peeping Children

I love the apartment block I live in, but there’s one thing about it that bugs me. It’s the fact that it’s squashed up so close to the neighbouring block. The blocks are staggered, so it only affects a small bit of my apartment, but it’s starting to wear thin, especially since it’s the bathroom that happens to be the problematic area. Seriously, my bathroom window is about two metres away from my neighbour’s kitchen window. You can look directly from one into the other. Major planning flaw!

Well, it’s just occurred to me that I could have that window tinted. From what I understand, it’s possible to have this done using reflective films that are pretty opaque from the outside, which means I could enjoy my bath time in privacy. Yes please! Residential window tinting, here I come.

I think there are some other benefits as well, like blocking UV rays and glare – although, in this case, that’s kind of beside the point. The buildings are so close together that it feels like hardly any sun gets into the bathroom anyway, except when it’s at a very particular angle, so I doubt I’m at much risk of getting sunburnt. Still, it might help a little bit with controlling the temperature in the room.

I probably wouldn’t be that concerned if it wasn’t for the particular nature of the neighbours in question. The woman that lives across the way tends to be pretty discreet, but she has eight year old twins who are mischievous. I don’t even know what to make of it. I’ve actually seen them point and giggle while I’m in the bath! Okay, yeah… that’s it. I need this done, stat!

In the meantime, maybe I should look into all the options. I’m sure I’ve seen windows with a kind of decorative frosting effect that makes them more opaque; that could look good in a bathroom. I’ve only seen it in offices, though. What are the best home glass tinting and window frosting services in Melbourne? Time to do some research.


A DIY Den for The Beast

My fifteen year-old sister, Hayley, is on a mission to revamp her bedroom (also known a The Lair of the Beast, a murky domain into which our parents occasionally make tentative offerings of food). She told me that she’s going to get her artistic friend to ‘throw up a piece’ on the wall with spray paint, but I’m not convinced that the parentals would take to kindly to the use of aerosols in such a confined space. Aside from that, they’d probably be totally fine with it, to be honest. But if I told Hayley that, she probably wouldn’t be so keen on the idea anymore, and I’d kind of like to see it take off.

I’m thinking of suggesting that she look into getting a custom graffiti wall decal instead. Her mate, if she’s as into art as Hayley claims, should be capable of drawing up the graffiti design on paper or with software, or whatever the kids are using these days. This can then be uploaded to one of these online wallpaper design tools I’ve read about, digitally printed and sent out for Hayley to install at her leisure. The outcome? Hayley gets to personalise her space with one-of-a-kind wall art, and our parents don’t have to put up with paint and fumes all over the shop.

I doubt that this will fly with Hayley, though – she’ll say it lacks authenticity. I can see the argument. Then again, being an upper-middle class teenager from Kew doesn’t exactly qualify one to comment on the authenticity of references to street art in interior decor. If anything, the decal option is more authentic – she’s constantly online, ‘redecorating’ her social media profiles, which seems suitably paralleled by the notion of self-adhesive digital wallcoverings that can be made to order via the internet.

For the time being, all that sis is aware of is a need to establish ownership over her space, while powerfully differentiating it from other spaces in the family home. Unfortunately for her, with parents as open-minded as ours, she’s going to have kind of a hard time rebelling.

Branching Out A Bit Too Far

I’ve been renting this house for a little while now, and I’m starting to get a bit concerned about the integrity of the roof. Over the past few days of heavy rain, a few leaks have sprung up – actually, there are more leaks than I have buckets and saucepans to place under them. It seems like there’s probably some pretty bad damage going on, and my nervousness around this is compounded by the fact that the old eucalyptus tree in the backyard has a huge branch hanging out directly over my bedroom.

I can’t believe I haven’t noticed it before. I can’t see what’s going on that clearly, but I suspect the branch might have actually started to break off and is currently propped up on a couple of other branches. If my suspicion is correct, then that’s a real worry, and I kind of want to get it checked out immediately if I’m going to be sleeping in that room! I wonder if there are any arborists in the Ashwood area that will come out on a Sunday?

I emailed my real estate agent about it the other day, but she hasn’t responded (as usual). As a rental tenant, I shouldn’t really have to take this matter into my own hands, but I might at least seek some professional advice as to whether this is, in fact, deadwood that needs to be removed for safety reasons. I’m not very familiar with the rules around tree pruning in Caulfield, or the finer points of how the operation works. But I would think that a professional tree surgeon would be able to assess the level of threat presented by a given branch.

All other things aside, I’m curious as to whether such an assessment can be made from ground level, given that I personally can’t make out what’s going on from down here. It’s a pretty freaking tall tree, and I’m interested to see what’s involved in climbing it. What’s more, I’m particularly keen to satisfy my curiosity if the property owner is footing the bill.

Termites? Manage the Damage

Today I visited the home of a family who had recently been devastated to find out their roof was infested with white ants. They’d noticed a few suspicious creatures and fearing the worst, chased up pest control experts in Mornington with desperation.

Sometimes part of the job involves counselling, people are often really upset to learn their house is affected by termites. But it doesn’t always spell disaster, especially if you get onto it nice and quick with a  company that specialised in termite inspections. Mornington is like anywhere else, termites can be found in every 1 in 4 homes-so,  knowing how likely it is to draw the short straw, this puts a lot of homeowners on edge.

I arrived at this home first thing in the morning after a distress call from the home owner, Andrea. They had bought the house almost ten years ago and until now, never noticed the telltale signs of termites in their roof.

I helped Andrea because that’s what I do, and I understand her grief. She was worried that it would get bad very quickly, and she was right to worry, because that’s how termites roll. The treatment I applied, however, will continue to work for ten years if the family keep an eye out and follow all the instructions. I like that in my job I can reassure people and help them manage the damage in a trusted way.

I’ve visited some truly devastated homes over the years during my career as a termite control expert. Fighting them off takes a lot of good strategy and state of the art equipment – we even use thermal imaging to detect termite activity these days. Sometimes the damage truly takes your breath away, these things are tiny and look innocent enough but their strength is in numbers and I can tell you where there is one, there are many, many more. No one deserves that. I’m glad I can help.