Terrible service from Safestyle as window fitting goes wrong – twice | Money

I experienced UPVC windows and doorways fitted by Safestyle United kingdom around a 12 months in the past.

Given that then I have wanted to question for a number of visits to rectify production and fitting faults and, 12 months afterwards, Safestyle agreed to replace two sets of window frames.

Throughout the installation I was informed that these were also defective and would require to be changed and I was offered a date two and a fifty percent months away. I’m left with a hole so vast in one of the home windows that I have experienced to seal it with tape.

Safestyle United kingdom does not respond to emails or call by means of its webform, callers are held for up to an hour and letters just get a generic acknowledgment. PL, London

Safestyle Uk offers of getting the “No 1 installer of windows” and promises good quality and skills on its internet site. Communications are yet another subject.

Only when I received in touch did it reveal that your replacement windows were being, in fact, completely ready and that it would be in contact as a make a difference of “urgency” to prepare set up.

Urgency in Safestyle’s lexicon turned out to indicate a further 18 times and two chasers from me before it named you. An installation date was agreed, but exceptionally the substitute home windows had been also defective.

A additional a few weeks of chasing passed right before yet one more set up date was agreed – 15 months following the original fitting the job was last but not least finished.

Safestyle suggests: “We are sorry to hear of the customer’s knowledge, which fell beneath our usual significant criteria, and apologise for any inconvenience.” As for compensation, the agency has supplied you £150, which you reject as derisory.

Compensation ranges are a gray location which client law does not tackle and you would have to just take your case to the arbitration assistance CEDR to check out for an enhance.

If you have to have help email Anna Tims at your.complications@observer.co.uk or create to Your Difficulties, The Observer, Kings Location, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include things like an deal with and phone amount. Submission topic to our phrases and circumstances

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Home improvements customers need stamina to conquer Everest | Money

The thrill of Everest is adventuring into the not known. Even the most doughty stamina and take care of cannot assure all those who dedicate to the journey will achieve their intention. Which is why Britain’s next-largest double-glazing firm would seem aptly named.

Everest was the second selection of Michael and Catrin Poole when its rival, Anglian, declared the arched doorways and home windows they demanded could not be created in uPVC. The Everest salesman, in distinction, was seemingly confident even however his pc resisted his tries to make a style.

So, past May well, the pair signed a £45,000 agreement to switch the doorways and windows and to develop a conservatory and sunroom in their residence in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan. Unwittingly, they had been committing to a 10-month suspense drama. In July, the surveyor mentioned the arched home windows and doorways promised by the salesman could not be equipped. In August, he changed his intellect and promised a complex alternative. In September, the Pooles acquired of source complications with the sunroom door frame. In October, they have been informed the sunroom experienced been cancelled but that the conservatory would go ahead that thirty day period.

Poole, an airline pilot temporarily primarily based in Abu Dhabi, utilised his yearly go away to return to the Uk for the installation, but the appointment was cancelled at the very last minute because of harmed areas. In November, Everest announced offer troubles would hold off set up right until January this yr . By then, the couple experienced shed religion in Everest. They experienced continue to not witnessed the design and style option for the doors and windows and had been likely to be based mostly in Abu Dhabi by means of 2019.

Everest refunded £6,300, which it declared was the worth of the sunroom, but Poole claims it refused to let them cancel the agreement. “I considered picking out a family title would be a sleek and seamless system. How incorrect I was,” says Michael.

It took Everest more than 15 months to complete an set up of three home windows for Mary Ford*, and two and a 50 % years to make good the damage it prompted to her household in Croydon.

“My initially insight into their awful service was when they cancelled on the day of installation since the windows, which experienced taken six months to make, have been way too heavy for them to lift,” states Ford, who paid out £11,000 for the operate in July 2016. “I experienced to make several phone calls to set up a new appointment, offer immediately with the scaffolders and endure a two-month gap concerning the installation of the upstairs and downstairs windows.”

She claims she was still left with hurt to her walls right after windows were mounted with no sills, making it possible for rain to seep in, deserted particles blocked the drains, and a gap was still left in her roof. “On countless situations they did not answer when I tried to get them to end the perform and, on at least 10 instances when they arranged to come, they cancelled or did not flip up,” she says. “They requested for estimates to repair service the partitions which I provided 6 months back, but I have not listened to because and they’ve available £350 compensation for in excess of two years’ headache.”

Inside correspondence sent by an Everest personnel to Michael Poole suggest disorder within the enterprise, which declared value-chopping measures in 2016 to offset plunging revenue. Turnover fell from £122.3m in 2015 to £113.2m at the end of 2017.

A salesperson told Poole that communications had suffered soon after a rapid turnover of call centre staff and claimed the company’s status was getting compromised by “embarrassing” client service. A senior supervisor complained that the operations workforce experienced “consistently failed” to respond to his requests for updates on the Pooles’ scenario and that he felt “desperation” over the “unjustifiable” consumer working experience.

Poole suspects the sunroom was cancelled since it was going to cost far more than contracted. 10 months soon after the door body had been requested the expense was continue to mysterious, according to team email messages. “Somebody Remember to Enable!” finished one determined missive to the functions team.

Everest explained the Pooles’ account was inaccurate and untruthful, insisting the sunroom was cancelled owing to complex motives. It insisted it had supplied to install the windows, doorways and conservatory in January but the Pooles refused.

This thirty day period, it verified to the Observer it would cancel the contract but the £6,400 deposit would not be refunded, even even though it admitted it was “not sure that goods ended up at any time fully manufactured”. It included: “Everest stays, on the other hand, really satisfied to operate with Mr Poole in the party he alterations his brain,” while it did not make Poole knowledgeable of this.

When the Observer lifted Ford’s issue, Everest accused her of “steadfastly refusing to make payment” for the set up. It later on retracted this, due to the fact Ford had signed a credit rating agreement which begun as before long as set up was entire. It explained: “I settle for that the installation of the windows, and in unique the snagging that adopted, took for a longer period than we experienced all hoped, I sincerely apologise that this was the circumstance.” Only immediately after media involvement did it agree an undisclosed settlement, it seems.

Dwelling enhancements are lined by the Consumer Rights Act, which states contracts should be fulfilled with due treatment and ability in just “reasonable time”. Everest maintains both of those contracts stated a “target” day for set up and, remaining a “target”, was not binding. It mentioned Ford and Poole were being at fault for not declaring, in creating, time was of the essence if they had wanted function concluded faster.

Poole reckons the sector should really be ruled by the exact compensation demands as airlines when perform is delayed or cancelled. “Why simply cannot Everest confess it messed up, apologise and return our income. That is all we are inquiring,” he suggests. “The pressure has commenced influencing our work. We saved for eight several years to enhance our household. Instead, we found ourselves climbing a mountain called Everest.”

*Title has been adjusted

Know the regulations

If you want performs finished by a specified day make sure this is specified in the agreement.

If you pay by credit card (even the deposit) or by a credit rating agreement organized by the trader, the credit history company is jointly liable for breaches of agreement.

If you agreed to the contract in your house you can terminate within a minimum amount of 14 days. This does not utilize if you indication in the trader’s premises.

If the position is botched the trader should repair or change within realistic time and devoid of leading to “significant inconvenience”.

Communicate difficulties by letter or e mail and abide by the procedure in the T&Cs.

If the difficulty remains unresolved, state a deadline in writing. Should this pass, ship an ultimatum expressing you will get somebody else to complete the operate and recoup the cost from the business except if they comply by a specified day.

If the enterprise is a member of a trade affiliation with an different dispute resolution scheme, you could use this.

The previous resort is the tiny promises court if the sum is in the restrict (£10,000 in England and Wales £3,000 in Scotland and Northern Eire).

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Pools, ponds and 40ft aquariums: planning disputes of the stars | Life and style

To Suffolk, in which it appears that Ed Sheeran has been operating up against objections to his a variety of property enhancements. Points the singer has been permitted to develop in the vicinity of his home include a 4-area treehouse, an indoor swimming pool, an orangery and a wildlife pond. He has also won scheduling permission for a soccer pitch, a personal seaside and an underground “man cave” – I use the Times’s vocabulary here – which will include things like a tunes space and cinema.

But what of points that Sheeran hasn’t been permitted to construct? They involve a 24-seat chapel. Also, he has now been questioned to take away a 5-metre-prolonged indication connected to the outdoors of his in-back garden pub, on the basis that the barn which homes it is a stated making.

Certainly, most likely displeased by a common sense that Sheeran is using the piss on the modifications front, some locals have questioned whether or not his “wildlife pond” is seriously a wildlife pond at all. Possessing appeared at the aerial images from the Situations report, I appreciate the glance of this wildlife pond, which is pale blue, kidney formed, seems to be completely tiled, and has sets of steps and a handrail top down into it. This would be of fantastic help to the animals getting the waters, and I am only sorry to read that the sauna erected upcoming to this wildlife pond – presumably to support the creatures make a complete spa stop by of their working day – will now have to be taken down as organizing authorization for it was not attained.

Rather in which this tale slots into the four wonderful groups of superstar preparing permission tales is debatable, but they are right here laid out for your records.

Superstar objectors
It is not sufficient for you to be famous the man or woman objecting to your architectural folly must also be renowned. Jimmy Website page v Robbie Williams is a person of those disputes wherever you would like the two could somehow eliminate. The Led Zeppelin legend and the Consider That legend have been embroiled in a bitter five-yr dispute around Williams’s plan to build a basement swimming pool in his residence in Holland Park, London, exactly where Site is a neighbour. Previous December, Robbie at last won conditional approval from the council, but the row life on chiefly as a usually means for neighborhood chancers to make amusing complaints. Before this yr, one particular wrote to Kensington and Chelsea town corridor complaining that Mr Williams experienced been playing loud 70s audio – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd – specially to bait Mr Webpage. On top of that, ran this malarial piece of correspondence, Williams was in the routine of dressing up as Page’s previous bandmate Robert Plant, by “stuffing a pillow below his shirt in an endeavor to mock or imitate Mr Robert Plant’s beer tummy that he has acquired in his older age”. This is “embarrassing”, the letter went on, because “Mr Plant was remembered for executing with his shirt open up on phase, and obviously he are unable to complete in his latest problem as it would be quite embarrassing”.

Genuinely random celeb objectors
Objectors are a single thing celeb objectors are yet another, but what seriously works greatest in these tales is when the movie star objecting hails from really a further arena of general public everyday living. Let us see this in action.

Despite remaining the owner of a £10m north London home that was only 13 many years outdated at the time, the former Arsenal star Thierry Henry was beset by that regular homeowner’s problem: what do you do if you want to establish a 4-storey fish tank in your dwelling, but it only has 3 storeys? The respond to we’d all ultimately arrive at – even so reluctantly – is that you knock the entire property down, and make a new a single. This was in which Henry located himself in 2012, and duly submitted designs for a new making to the council. It is not for me to speculate what most effective stirs the heart of council preparing committee customers in this state – a person barely desires to – but superior on the record of points that do not could be a demand for an essential 40ft-large aquarium. Hold on, you could be crying, this state of the aquariumist’s art would have held 25,000 litres of h2o, price £12,000 a year to preserve, and essential £2,500 a year on fishfood to retain its residents joyful. And you are appropriate. What Henry hadn’t banked on, alas, was a delegation of outraged neighbours, led by acting’s Tom Conti. As it would flip out, Conti would earn the struggle but drop the war. By abandoning designs for the fish tank, Henry obtained his style and design via. Acquiring expended the intervening time complaining about the sounds, Conti not too long ago marketed his dwelling to Tim Burton, getting had to drop the selling price as a outcome of what he named “immoral” prices of stamp obligation. Consequently, it only went for £11m.

The dogged local council member
There’s often one killjoy, is not there? Typically, it’s Bear Grylls, insisting you drink your own piss to endure two days without having your agent. On this event, on the other hand, it was a Welsh council official demanding that Grylls reveal the extensive metal slide framework he’d experienced bolted on to one steep cliff face of the island he owns off the coastline of north Wales. The slide can only be applied when the tide is in, with Grylls telling his followers: “You strike the drinking water really quickly!!!” Eager that Grylls ought to collide with actuality even a lot quicker, Gwynedd council introduced an fast investigation. In accordance to officials, the slide was taken down. As a single councillor noted with fulfillment: “He was hardly ever likely to go away it there.”

If you wouldn’t head just knocking it all down yet again
Threatened at just one phase of the excellent Garraway-Draper v Islington council feud, this is the nuclear possibility. All around the turn of the decade, you could hardly move for woeful interviews with ITV breakfast exhibit presenter Kate Garraway and her husband, New Labour bag provider turned psychotherapist Derek Draper. These worried the loft extension they experienced assumed they could get retrospective arranging authorization for, with explained interviews judged a fantastic way of earning income to shell out for the £15,000’s really worth of alterations the council demanded for the construction to stay up. Regionally, Garraway’s selection to attack the nearby people group voicing concerns about it was one thing that a person of their variety judged “tells you all you have to have to know about her”. As much as formal channels went, Garraway’s choice to scream at councillors in the course of 1 assembly, demanding to be listened to, was anything that Draper afterwards felt moved to easy above. As he put it to the officials at the future meeting: “I believe you guys know how psychological persons can get about their homes.”

Really true. Certainly, maybe the only real phrases he had spoken that 10 years, while that is by the bye. With an £80m net worthy of, Ed Sheeran almost certainly won’t have to give doleful interviews to Okay! to fund the sauna takedown. Even so, he should be conscious of how mad it can get, while we glance to the next twist in his modification programme with fascination.

Madame could not give a XXXX

Madonna, 2019

Who’s that girl? Why, it’s Madame X. Photograph: Steven Klein

Together with a new single and video clip and a forthcoming album, Madonna has produced a new artistic persona for herself: Madame X. Keen to attract enthusiasts into this most up-to-date character in the Madonnaverse, Madge has been portray various pen portraits of Madame X, most of which aim on her wild, carefree and wholly unboundaried mother nature. Or, as Madonna place it in a chat broadcast on Wednesday: “She doesn’t treatment. Zero you-know-whats.”

What is not to really like about “zero you-know-whats”? While I do not nonetheless know if she has a swear jar, I am working on my possess idea that Madame X may be Ned Flanders’s sister. Only time will exhibit, but even at this stage it’s tough to feel of anyone much more fully b****y abandoned. Significantly: no f-term limitations. Could not care liddly-ol’-less.

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Bunnings flatpack homes fly off the shelves – but only in New Zealand | Society

For individuals seeking to get on the housing ladder a journey to Bunnings – and New Zealand – could be in get.

The Diy professional has noted a brisk trade for its selection of flatpack households which have been on sale across the Tasman.

The components giant is supplying the pre-fabricated two-bedroom residences for about A$65,000 (excluding GST), and up to $107,000 for 4 bedrooms.

But so much Bunnings says it has no ideas to include things like the assortment in its Australian merchants.

Little homes in Australia face bureaucratic purple tape and principles vary amongst states and council regions.

Bunnings NZ has marketed additional than 50 of its Intelligent Living Co properties in 12 months.

The company’s New Zealand professional supervisor, Des Bickerton, explained the flatpack two- and 3-bed room properties were being well known with retirees and initially property prospective buyers with young children.

“The early result is encouraging,” Bickerton said.

The flatpack layouts are designed with multi-proof certification so any council throughout New Zealand can approve consent in just 10 functioning days.

Christchurch builder Richard Trent stated his business enterprise is obtaining at the very least two enquiries a 7 days about the Bunnings flatpack residences.

“We can at the moment establish a a few-bedroom [flatpack] home in six to eight weeks,” Trent stated.

There is some discussion in New Zealand in excess of regardless of whether men and women are lawfully permitted to Do-it-yourself the Bunnings flatpack households.

The two-bed room flatpack homes array from 37.5 sq metres up to 59.6 sq metres.

Australian Very small House Association secretary, Jan Stewart, stated the pint-sized homes are gaining popularity but rules have been but to catch up right here.

She reported a ton of tiny houses in Australia have been operating “under the radar” of authorities.

Small properties on wheels are in a gray zone, she reported, and are categorized like a caravan.

Stewart reported people adore small properties because they are sweet, low cost and functional.

“For some individuals, they are being priced out of the housing marketplace so tiny households are an reasonably priced possibility,” Stewart told Guardian Australia.

“For some folks, they are hunting to down sizing or they are worried about sustainability and weather change so tiny homes appeal for those people reasons.”

She hopes to shift into her individual very small house in the following a few yrs but has previously examined out the concept with an Airbnb remain.

Little Residences Australia manufactures little properties out of a manufacturing facility in Ringwood in Melbourne.

Product sales manager Henry Hangan stated in the past 18 months they’ve crafted 22 orders and despatched them throughout Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and South Australia.

Small business is split about 50/50 in between older and youthful people.

“Some people today really like the environmentally friendly idea of it, you can have a little something that’s fully off the grid,” he stated.

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Bathstore collapse leaves householders inconvenienced | Business

Households have been left devoid of washing and rest room services after Bathstore’s collapse left a path of unfinished installations.

Bathstore’s administrators, the accountants BDO, wrote to all the firm’s subcontracted plumbers on Wednesday evening terminating them “with speedy effect”.

Confronted with not staying paid the plumbers have in transform all downed equipment – no matter if the residence experienced a performing loo, or not.

Bathstore collapse leaves householders inconvenienced | Business

What’s the issue?

Actual physical stores have been hit by a blend of shifting routines, unseasonably warm temperature, mounting charges and broader economic troubles. In 2018 Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld disappeared as a outcome.

In terms of behavior, buyers are switching to getting on the web. The likes of Amazon have an unfair edge because they have a lower enterprise fee monthly bill, which holds down costs and permits on the web retailers to woo purchasers with lower charges. Enterprise prices are taxes, primarily based on the value of commercial property, that are imposed on traditional shops with actual physical retailers. 

At the similar time, there is a move absent from acquiring ‘stuff’ as more people today reside in scaled-down properties and rent relatively than acquire. All those pressures have appear just as growing labour and merchandise costs, partly fuelled by Brexit, have coincided with financial and political uncertainty that has dampened consumer confidence.

What enable do suppliers require?

Merchants with a superior-road presence want the govt to alter company rates. They also want a lot more political certainty as the potential for a no offer Brexit suggests some are not only incurring supplemental expenses for stockpiling products but are not sure about the impression of tariffs after Oct 2019. Vendors also want additional investment decision in town centres to support them adapt to shifting developments, as very well as a slash to superior parking fees which they say place off customers.

What is the government accomplishing?

In the October 2018 price range the government announced some relief on company fees for impartial shopkeepers. It has also established up a £675m ‘future high streets’ fund under which community councils can bid for up to £25m towards regeneration projects this kind of as refurbishing regional historic structures and improving upon transportation inbound links. The fund will also spend for the generation of a higher avenue taskforce to give skills and fingers-on assistance to local areas.

What is the outlook in 2019?

Some suppliers could go less than. Weakened by a difficult Christmas – which accounts for the entire annual income of a lot of retailers, and with even more Brexit wobbles to arrive – retailers are experiencing a rough 2019. An additional rise in the countrywide minimum wage in April and the slipping worth of the pound in opposition to the greenback, which is utilised to purchase products in the much east, have also additional to expenditures and strike earnings.

Shoppers waiting for a new rest room to be delivered may possibly also shed the income paid out to the firm.

Bathstore, the UK’s biggest bathroom professional, collapsed into administration on Wednesday after BDO unsuccessful to obtain a consumer for the decline-building enterprise.

Much more than 500 work opportunities seem established to be lost at its 132 stores. On Thursday, 89 men and women ended up laid off at Bathstore’s head business in Welwyn Backyard garden Town.

Sarah Gavin

Present-day rest room situation. @bathstore shipping delayed by above a 7 days and just observed out that #bathstore have long gone into administration! Occur on #bathstore, get those deliveries out? #onlybathroominthehouse #bathroomrefurbgonewrong #assist pic.twitter.com/MKV2ug1THx

June 26, 2019

Bathstore is just the most current high avenue retailer to collapse, and it will not be the previous, retail experts have warned. The chain’s demise has also remaining a trail of not happy prospects, some of whom could be still left with no working toilet because the previous 1 had been removed prior to the new one was installed.

Some of these impacted facial area the prospect of investing numerous months without a functioning rest room as they are forced to hunt close to for alternative installers.

Anne Maskell, who life in King’s Sutton, near Banbury, was still left with an empty lavatory, and no upstairs rest room. Again in April she paid out Bathstore £6,000 for a new suite with installation involved.

“My installer experienced entirely gutted my bathroom and was about to set in the new a person. I am comparatively lucky in that most of the new 1 had been sent – minus some tiles, which we have been in a position to resource independently,” Maskell explained.

“Last night, my installer was informed by the administrator that his agreement was terminated immediately, and thus he could not do the do the job. I am by no usually means by itself. I comprehend there are whole lot of individuals with unfinished loos out there.”

She mentioned she was blessed in that she had paid for the get the job done by credit history card, this means she can maintain Barclaycard liable for the get the job done. She said she has now agreed to pay back the unique fitter to total the get the job done, in the expectation the credit card agency will refund her.

Other Bathstore shoppers have not fared so well, submitting images of bare partitions and areas in their loos on social media.

It is not obvious if they will receive the bogs and other items purchased. Ryan Grant, the joint administrator, said on Wednesday that Bathstore really should be able to fulfil the bulk of outstanding customer orders.

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Even so, customers have now been sent an email telling them to get in touch with their card companies to request for a chargeback or refund.

Bathstore experienced subcontracted out all its set up get the job done to an army of small organizations. Many of them will have misplaced hundreds, if not hundreds of pounds in unpaid invoices. They have been instructed by the company that they are unsecured lenders.

Shopper professionals stated the scenario shows the significance of making use of a credit rating card when earning massive ticket buys that are due to be sent some time right after payment, as consumers are protected on buys above £100.

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The next asbestos? What you need to know about silica | Australia news

TV programs and tightening credit are prompting more Australians to renovate their homes while evidence mounts that kitchen upgrades can have deadly consequences for tradesmen.

Silica from stone benchtops is responsible for serious and sometimes fatal health problems for the workers who cut and install these products.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about adding one to your home.

What’s the problem with silica?

Crystalline silica has been implicated in the deaths of numerous stonemasons who have worked on benchtops. The law firm Slater and Gordon announced in March it was in the early stages of mounting a national class action against manufacturers, as authorities brace for a health crisis that could be worse than asbestos.

Silica is found in stone, rock, sand, gravel, clay, bricks, tiles and concrete, and in artificial stone, natural stone and some plastic benchtops.

Silica dust is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, and exposure can lead to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.

WorkCover Queensland has accepted 164 worker compensation claims for silicosis from stonemasons in the benchtop industry. WorkSafe Victoria received 28 claims for silica-related conditions in 2018, and 15 workers have died from the disease since 1985. SafeWork NSW has had 12 silicosis claims. Tasmania has had five cases.

In 2011, about 587,000 Australians were exposed to silica dust at work and an estimated 5,758 will develop lung cancer over the course of their lives, according to the Cancer Council.

What should customers ask prospective kitchen suppliers?

Paul Sutton, the Victorian Trades Hall Council occupational health and safety expert, urged consumers to be proactive in asking kitchen benchtop suppliers about their safety measures for stonemasons.

Suppliers should be managing the silica dust with local exhaust ventilation, water suppression and dust collection attachments, and ensuring workers have appropriate personal protective equipment including respiratory masks.

Sutton said techniques involving wet cutting were preferable to dry cutting.

All states and territories other than the ACT have banned uncontrolled dry cutting, in which the dust is not controlled by water or extraction.

Canberra designer Stephen Collins said his family was conscious of the occupational health and safety issue when they started researching kitchen designs, having read about silicosis cases in the media.

“It’s all very nice to have a granite benchtop … but if someone is potentially going to die in 20 years because of your granite benchtop, then that’s not a good reason to have one,” Collins told Guardian Australia.

Collins toured the Granite Transformations factory in Goulburn to satisfy himself that the company was looking after workers’ safety.

He said the tradies who installed the family’s benchtops were “completely paranoid about safety”.

“Everyone on the site on the day was wearing a face mask, not just a surgical mask, but a mask with breather [valves].”

He said the tradie cutting the stone benchtop in his garage was wearing a Hazmat suit, and an industrial-strength extraction fan was in action.

Which materials are safer?

“One thing consumers could do is ensure they order natural stone, not artificial ones [because of the lower silica content],” Sutton told Guardian Australia. “That’s a massive difference to the worker in terms of exposure levels.”

Artificial stone benchtops can contain more than 90% silica, whereas natural stones such as granite contain between 25% and 40%.

However, natural stone benchtops tend to be a bit more expensive compared to engineered stone benchtops.

Engineered stone benchtops range from $400 to $600 a square metre, excluding installation.

Marble is a more expensive option – $800 for a square metre but up to $3000 after installation.

Granite can range from $700 to $1,700 per square metre, including installation.

Before and after benchtops were replaced at the Collins family home in Canberra.

Before and after benchtops were replaced at the Collins family home in Canberra. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Supplied

What are authorities doing about silicosis?

Safe Work Australia, the national body that develops work health and safety policies, has decided to cut the silica dust exposure limit from 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre over an eight-hour shift to 0.05 milligrams.

But the new limit won’t come in for three years and has to be ratified by state and territory governments.

The Cancer Council of Australia, unions and Victorian government wanted the limit to be set at 0.02 milligrams per cubic metre, which would make the nation a world leader. But business groups had been arguing for the status quo.

Victorian Michael Nolan, 33, was diagnosed with silicosis in March after cutting stone benchtops for a decade, and has a life expectancy of only five to 10 years if he does not get a lung transplant soon.

“What they really need to look at is banning the products at 98% silica and having some sort of limit [on silica content],” Nolan said. “We may as well be making benchtops out of asbestos.”

The engineered stone is manufactured in countries such as Italy and Israel. Raw stone slabs are imported into Australia, where workers cut, grind and polish the stone.

Documents obtained by the Guardian show the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, last year requested that Safe Work Australia consider putting in place “importation controls on engineered stone products”.

Michael Nolan

Father-of-two Michael Nolan is on a waiting list for a lung transplant. Photograph: Nolan family.

Hunt wrote he was “extremely troubled by the recent surge in cases of silicosis”.

The government’s new $5m national dust diseases task force began work this month on a prevention, early identification, control and management plan. It is working on getting a national dust disease register up and running by the end of the year.

Jonathan Walsh, the principal lawyer for dust diseases at the Maurice Blackburn law firm, said there’s merit in considering an importation ban similar to asbestos.

“I think the market forces are going to be innovative and products will be created in order to replace those silica-based products that are coming in,” Walsh said.

How is the industry reacting?

The Australian Stone Advisory Association, an industry group which covers 70% of manufacturers, insists that calls for import controls and moratoriums on engineered stone are unnecessary and the focus should be on safe work practices.

“Silicosis is preventable – what we are seeing now is the re-emergence of an old disease reflecting inadequate work health and safety practices with a comparatively new material,” the association said.

“Work practices that allow the safe use of engineered stone include wet cutting, the use of local exhaust ventilation, on-tool extraction and respirators to ensure the protection of worker health.”

Stone benchtop manufacturers are keen to emphasise their products are completely safe once installed.

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Never too small: the aspiration and nauseation of micro-apartments | Money

It’s hard to explain the exact appeal of Never Too Small. The YouTube series takes viewers on meditative tours of tiny homes from across the world. Yes the spaces are beautiful and the design innovative, but there’s a curdle in the architectural cream. The residences, which range from 22 to 40 square meters in size, are a curious mix of aspirational and off-putting. Part of you wants to live in these dreamy matchboxes, another wonders how anyone could.

Never Too Small began as a pet project for director and design fan Colin Chee, a way to engage with the architects he admired. It only took four episodes to realise he was on to something. With views growing daily, his employer – Melbourne-based production company NewMac – encouraged him to develop the series. Two years later the channel has drawn a huge following, boasting over 700,000 subscribers, with videos regularly bringing in millions of views.

A popular episode of Never Too Small.

The episodes are as spare and exacting as the designs they celebrate. Chee spends half an hour with the architects – speaking with them and being shown the spaces – then cuts the interviews into clips of five minutes or less. Sometimes it takes him two days to select the perfect piece of background music.

He has featured homes in Australia, Hong Kong and London (with more European profiles in the works). The subjects are largely young inner-city professionals without children. Which hints at Never Too Small’s appeal. There’s a comfort in seeing people managing the mythical task of finding affordable, beautiful homes in central locations. The series suggests maybe you can have the life you want – it just might be on a smaller scale than you imagined.

Chee began the series after moving into a 40 sq m studio in Melbourne’s CBD. Despite growing up in a five-bedroom home in Malaysia, he found micro-living suited his lifestyle and made him feel more connected to the city. “The way I think of it is the supermarket across the street is my pantry,” he laughs. He’s not alone in prioritising location over size. Architect and urban designer Katherine Sundermann reflects that, “There has been a return to the city, a lot of people want to live in urban areas … a way to make that work financially is to live in a much smaller space.”

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Micro-living is appealing to those who want to live in central city locations. Photograph: Colin Chee/New Mac

Money isn’t the only concern. Since many Australians have spent time living overseas in cities like New York and Tokyo, Sundermann observes that by the time they come home they may have discovered smaller apartments “can be a really high-quality experience and a great way to live.” This chimes with Chee. Before downsizing he was already reconsidering his relationships to space and possessions. Like many of us he found himself wanting to own less, consume more thoughtfully and be less controlled by debt.

There’s also a growing focus on the environmental benefits of micro-homes. Smaller-living advocates point out the lifestyle is inherently greener. As Sundermann explains: “The amount of energy and water you’re using (in comparison to living in a larger home) aren’t insignificant. Especially if you have a well-designed new apartment. You might not even need to turn on your heater in winter, compared to living in a detached weatherboard in the suburbs where your energy costs can be very high.”

The homes in Never Too Small are aspirational, but most tiny apartments aren’t a conscious choice of the young, rich and stylish. Scrolling through the comments below Chee’s videos, you quickly realise they rub many the wrong way. Viewers point out that these homes are only available to the wealthy, where many first-homebuyers and young people are more likely to be stuck with poorly designed and overpriced “dog box” apartments.

The majority of Never Too Small’s views are from the US, Germany, UK and Canada, where these designs still feel like a novelty. The channel is notably less popular in Asia. Local commenters on tours of Hong Kong residences don’t deplore the lifestyle choice – they marvel that by their standards these “micro-apartments” are quite large.

A ‘tree house’ micro-apartment in Hong Kong.

Looking to Hong Kong offers a glimpse at the possible future of this trend. There micro-apartments are nothing new; reporting on the increasingly tiny new developments has become something of an observer sport. Recent builds include apartments that are smaller than standard prison cells. Despite the insistence that smaller living is a way for more people to become part of the property market, they’ve done little to impact housing affordability. In 2016 a 19.4 sq m apartment in Pok Fu Lam set a city record for micro-apartments and made international headlines when it sold for over US$1m (AU$1.4m).

Conscious of these realities, Melbourne and Sydney have introduced reforms to dictate minimal dwelling sizes and ensure the liveability of smaller spaces. In 2016, Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne explained the government was “plugging the hole in the planning rules which allowed dog boxes to be built, because we want future apartments to be constructed for long-term living”. The regulations came in the wake of a 2015 report by City of Melbourne planner Leanne Hodyl that detailed how “weak, ineffective or nonexistent” regulation had created an environment where developers went largely unchecked, and apartment building in Melbourne had exceeded maximum densities allowed in Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo.

These conversations exist against a backdrop where many are beginning to interrogate how urban Australian living will evolve in the next few decades. Australian houses are the biggest in the world, but that could change as a building boom transforms our largest cities. Between 2014 and 2015, apartment-building activity in Victoria grew by 22% as the numbers of apartments caught up to the number of houses being built. Melbourne is predicted to become Australia’s largest city by 2037, with the population hitting 8 million. This growth means Melbourne residents may need to get used to living in smaller spaces and build a city that accommodates them.

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The episodes of Never too Small are are as spare and exacting as the designs they celebrate. Photograph: Colin Chee/New Mac

Chee is optimistic that through regulation, design and city planning, a future populated by micro-apartments needn’t evoke the crowded homes of Hong Kong. In an email after our chat he stresses that, “Instead [of] limiting the apartment size … we should put an emphasis on the design and quality … If we have good-designed dwellings for everyone, it also creates opportunities for a better community.”

Sundermann agrees, although concedes that all housing has drawbacks: “There’s something about living in a detached house in the suburbs that can actually be quite isolating.” She argues there’s a middle ground between sprawling, lonely suburbs and extreme micro-living. This is the “missing middle”.

“At the moment we have the very high towers in the centre with the little one-bedroom apartments, and then we have the suburban three-to-four-bedroom homes. But we’re missing some nice, modest, six-to-seven-storey apartments in well-serviced inner suburbs.” She’s interested in programs that are looking to consolidate existing suburban homes to build moderate new apartments, with a focus on shared gardens and spaces, natural light and a variety of apartment types. She points to more recent developments such as Nightingale Housing and Assemble Communities as examples of how that might work.

While the thought of redesigning our cities, lives and homes is daunting, our exploding population means major changes are inevitable. And if Never Too Small’s ever-growing views are anything to go by, we might be more drawn to a micro-living future than we admit.

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Household haze: how to reduce smoke in your home without an air purifier | Life and style

On 1 January, Canberra skilled its worst air high quality on record. Smoke from Australia’s devastating bushfires has now blown as significantly as Queenstown, New Zealand, forcing millions to develop into fluent in a new type of jargon: AQI, PM2.5, HEPA and “hazardous”.

Since December, main merchants have reported advertising out of air purifiers. Guardian Australia referred to as JB Hi-Fi, The Very good Fellas and Bing Lee in Canberra on 2 January: all 3 equipment merchants verified they had operate out of air purifiers across the location. Highway closures and uncertainty all-around maker delivery dates suggest it can be complicated to predict when additional will get there.

This is unfortunate, as preliminary item testing from shopper advocacy group Alternative suggests that air purifiers can assist lessen the presence of bushfire smoke in households. “Those do function,” suggests Chris Barnes, who manages residence product or service testing at Option. “Removing smoke is a single of the items that air purifiers are created to do.”

Selection have unveiled an air purifier buying guideline, and they intend to exam additional models above the coming months “assuming that we’re actually ready to get our palms on most of people models”, Barnes says. The only unit Choice presently recommends, the Philips Blueair 205 (paywalled), fees upwards of $699. At time of checking it was offered out on Amazon and unavailable for residence delivery by means of Harvey Norman, but was however obtainable for acquire, with delivery, on-line through Bing Lee.

Nevertheless, lots of persons do not have a spare $700 to commit on white merchandise, and are facing dangerous air high quality now, not inside of a 4 to seven working day shipping window. Shopping for an air purifier is “maybe a thing to assume about, at this stage, for upcoming season – God forbid”, Barnes suggests. “Plan forward.”

In the meantime, the 1st and most critical matter you can do is comply with govt suggestions and near all your doors and home windows. “Read the warnings, know when the smokey days are coming and test and seal the household yet again in progress,” Barnes advises.

There are some other steps you can get to enable minimize the presence of bushfire smoke indoors. Sealing your property correctly has a secondary gain of generating your property additional electrical power effective also.

Block out draughts

“Really the vital is to hold [smoke] out in the very first area,” Barnes says of working with hazardous air times. Even if your doors and home windows are closed, smoke can nevertheless creep in by the gaps.

“Australian properties, by world requirements, are pretty leaky,” Alan Pears, a senior marketplace fellow at RMIT specialising in clean power and climate coverage, advised Guardian Australia in Oct 2019.

Pears endorses a incredibly expense-efficient diagnostic software to uncover in which air is leaking into and out of your home. “Put a little bit of cling movie across the bottom of a dresses hangar and just stroll all-around close to the base of doors and home windows, all-around the edges of the skirting board, and see if there is a lot of air being sucked out of or into your dwelling area.”

Pears clarifies that loos and laundries are the main culprits when it arrives to air leakage, simply because they usually have mounted air flow or ducts top to the outside the house, to aid avoid condensation. Simply remembering to shut rest room and laundry doorways, or setting up computerized door closers so you do not have to keep in mind, need to help continue to keep your household air-limited.

When you’ve figured out where leaks are coming in from, “there are plenty of strip-things you can put alongside the bottom of your door to seal [it], and there are heaps of foam and rubber tubings you can put around home windows to seal people up appropriately.” He implies employing YouTube as a resource for figuring out how to install these.

If you just cannot make it to a hardware retailer, Barnes indicates that rolled up towels at the bottom of doors must support. Whilst he suggests it does not make significantly of a distinction if the towel is damp or dry, “in basic principle [a wet towel] would likely enable entice a small little bit much more smoke, but truly you’re not likely to get that much smoke coming in by means of all those sorts of gaps”. A moist towel will, even so, “help hold some of the heat out as well”.

Vacuum up

Air filters aren’t the only house merchandise with filters. “The HEPA filter in an air purifier is seriously what does most of the function in trapping smoke particles, so if you have a person in your vacuum cleaner you are placing it as a result of the similar type of filter,” Barnes suggests. “An air purifier processes the air,” he adds, so it just cannot do anything at all about the soot particles that have presently settled around your dwelling. “Just do the vacuuming, simply because you possibly want to get the smoke and dust and soot off the carpet and off the flooring anyway.” Barnes also recommends wiping down furnishings, “to check out and get as much particulate out of the dwelling as possible”. This does not suggest you can flip a vacuum cleaner upside down and use it to suck in the air in your residence however. This does not work.

If there is still a lingering smoke smell after your dwelling is sealed and tidy, all you can actually do is “open your home up once again when the air’s refreshing yet again outside”.

Use air conditioning, if you have it

If your property has break up-method air conditioning set up, you need to already be operating it with a sealed-up home. Although air conditioner filters are made typically to catch dust and other greater particles, Barnes implies that “they may perhaps properly help” with haze too.

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