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Countdown to summer starts now!

Talk about a deserved break! While I am no meteorologist, i’m pretty sure that was the wettest winter in the history of winters. Now bring on summer!

We look forward to welcoming you all to Omaha, dont forget the suncream, towells, jandals, hats, and of course kids. Cold drinks and warm weather are just around the corner…


5 locals secrets in and around Omaha

The beach, the Golf club, and the Matakana Markets seem to be the staple of everyone’s trip to Omaha, so we decided to compile a quick list of 5 things to do that are a bit out of the way, and only really known to locals.

  1. Warkworth Cement Works

warkworth cement works

It’s a bizarre, almost ghostly place, but fascinating and comes with an awesome swimming hole. It’s quite hard to find – it is on the southern boundary of Warkworth, and down a dirt road. Well worth a family picnic.

 

 

 

  1. Mt Tamahunga

    Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

    Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Drive out towards Leigh, and turn left up Omaha Valley Road to find the Mt Tamahunga track. While it is only a few KMs, it is a hard walk, steep, and you will need to be fairly fit. The views at the top (Aucklands highest peak) are worth the effort.

  1. Whangateau Rugby ground

whangateau sports groundAcross the water at Whangateau is surely NZ’s most beautiful rugby ground. Home to the Rodney Rams, whose clubhouse is being rebuilt after a fire destroyed it, the park also has a great kids playground, a basketball court, and some good little walks for the kids.

  1. Tawharanui- Pink Beach walk

Tawharanui-beachVery few people know you can actually walk the coastal route from Omaha to Tawharanui. It is only about 4km as the crow flies, but you will need to watch for the tides. The walk covers staggeringly pristine beaches, and will require a good level of fitness.

  1. Warkworth shooting range

OK, so not such a secret, as everyone does drive by it, but for a rainy day with kids it is excellent. There is a full indoor cricket pitch, golf, baseball batting cage, indoor slug shooting range, and a mini golf course. It is also very cost effective.


The pros and cons of living by a golf course.

omaha beach golf club

omaha beach golf club

The pros and cons of living by a golf course.

New Zealand has hundreds of golf courses, but despite the relative abundance, there are actually very few courses that are lined by residential properties. Omaha is one of the lucky ones, and as a result we are constantly being asked if it is dangerous living besides a course. Some families have even turned properties down for rent in fear of kids being hit by golf balls. This article will help you understand the pros and cons if you are looking at renting or buying a house on a golf course.

The main thing you need to consider before deciding to live on a golf course involve where you will live on the course. Each position has its drawbacks or advantages. We will start with those:

By the tee:
– Advantage: You get to see the power shots at the beginning of the hole.
– Disadvantage: Cursing is usually worst on the tee, frequently repeated as each new group comes through.

Mid hole, right:
– Advantage: Sometimes this position gives you a good view of the entire hole.
– Disadvantage: Most golfers aren’t very good. Most right handers tend to slice the ball (it goes to the right), so unless your home is well-protected, lots of balls will be flying on to your property.

Mid hole, left:
– Advantage: Good view of the entire hole
– Disadvantage: Better golfers tend to hook; since there are fewer of them, you will experience fewer incoming missiles. Unfortunately hooks tend to be hit harder and go farther, so they could do more damage even to well-protected properties.

Near the green:

– Advantage: If you want to be right on a golf course, being near a green could be the best position. You get a pretty view and the generally shorter shots tend to be less wild and therefore dangerous. Cursing and talk is more subdued than elsewhere. If there is a big tournament at your course, you will have the cat bird seat.
– Disadvantage: If you are too close to the green your home could be hit by an errant shot. Greens are mowed very early in the morning, so be prepared for loud noises to interrupt your sleep.

Other Considerations

– Noise: In addition to loud talking (and worse!) there is a lot of machinery that tends to operate in the early morning. – Pesticides: Chemicals are a fact of life on golf courses. You won’t be able to control what gets put in the atmosphere immediately adjacent to your home – and those could include herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
– Beauty: Obviously so many people wouldn’t live near golf courses if there were no advantages. The lifestyle can provide you with a peaceful, beautiful neighbour if you choose well.
– Distances and protections: There are recommended distances that homes and yards should be from an active golf course. Unfortunately many projects were either built a long time ago or choose to ignore them. An important due diligence element is to compare those distances to the home you are considering. Lexan windows and other barriers can also provide important protection against golf balls, which can cause death and serious injuries.
– Water holes: These are usually very beautiful. But be prepared for bugs or even bigger critters!
– Do your research: Talk with your potential neighbours and try to get a feel for what happens in your new neighbourhood. And of course, play the course a few times to understand the hazards you might face as a homeowner.

-Your golf game: A big plus is the access – you will have no excuses to not be playing and your game should be all the better for it…!


Exercise junkies guide to Omaha

omaha holiday houses paddleboarding

padddleboarding at Omaha Beach

While most people come to Omaha to relax, the region now has a range of options for super serious athletes down to the not so serious weekend warrior. Here is a quick guide for people looking for options:

Cycling:
With the new bridge in Matakana, you can now safely ride from Omaha, over the causeway, up Jones Road and over the cycle track into Matakana. While it is only 7kms one way there is a very steep hill that will get the lungs going for even a strong rider. If you are a bit keener, head up Matakana Valley road and up over into the Whangaripo Valley – this is a decent workout, considering the return journey. Allow for 2 hours. For the insane, try riding the Pakiri loop – Omaha – Matakana, over the Whangaripo hill to Pakiri and back over the Leigh hill, then back to Omaha – while this is only about 60km, it has some solid hill climbs, and unless you are fit, this represents a tough day on the saddle…
There is also an unmarked BMX style track in the forest besides the Takatu / Jones road cycletrack. It is a great little track and a good challenge for the junior – intermediate rider.
Running:
Omaha Beach is 4km long, and with the paths network you can carve out an interesting 15km run. A good test is the southern end quarry track – it is about 160 steps up each side, but is steep, and a few laps will get the lungs screaming. The best we’ve heard is 12 laps – good luck. There are also plenty of good runners around – and you’ll probably spot a few celebrities while you are at it. If you want a really long run, take the cycle track to Matakana and back…
Swimming:
The Omaha Ocean Swimming club meet each Sunday morning, and there is a good range of serious to not so serious swimmers. If you go it alone, Omaha does provide excellent swimming conditions. Given the ease of access Omaha is a great training ground for Junior – intermediate triathlon training. The water is remarkably warm…even in spring.
Paddleboarding:
Omaha has hosted the National champs the last 2 years and there is a reason for that – excellent, small to medium swells with mild winds make for great boarding. There are clubs and arranged events that cater for all sorts, but Omaha would have to be one of the most accessible and easy beaches to paddle board at.
Everything else?
The beach is very large and flat when the tide is out and it is not uncommon to see NPC level rugby teams, along with the odd representative team from soccer or hockey training on the beach. The 9 all-weather tennis courts are in good shape, and then there is the golf course…if you have had a crack at the app Geocaching, you will notice heaps of good adventures around the place. Mt tamahunga (4 minute drive) is the highest hill in the Auckland region and whilst only a short walk (3km) it is very steep and very difficult…even fit runners struggle to complete a return outing under 45 minutes.
So there you have it, options a plenty to burn the fat you gained from the BBQ!



How to have a perfect Deck

Because decks in Omaha are exposed to the elements all year round, it’s a good idea to establish a routine of upkeep that’ll protect your deck and prevent expensive repairs.

Here’s a simple maintenance schedule to help keep your deck safe, sound, and looking great.

Late Spring: Wash the Deck

An unwashed deck is an invitation to mold and mildew, which can cause rot. Here’s how to wash your deck:

1. Remove debris from between deck boards using a putty knife. Pay special attention to the areas where deck boards cross the joists — the structural members underneath the decking.

TIP: For a makeshift extension that’s a real knee-saver, try pushing the handle of your putty knife into a length of 1¼-inch PVC pipe. Some putty knives squeeze right in. Or buy a pole-type groove and crevice cleaner.

2. Protect all shrubs and plantings. Wet them and cover them with plastic sheeting.

3. Thoroughly sweep the deck.

4. Choose an appropriate cleanser.

  • Wood deck: Use a standard deck cleaner and follow its directions. Some require the decking to be wet first. Some don’t. One good tip is to use a product called Sodium Percarbonate – also known as Oxygen Bleach – it wont kill the grass or plants, and is a great natural option.
  • Composite deck: Use a cleaner specifically formulated for composite material. Attack grease and oil stains with a commercial degreaser and detergents.
  • Vinyl (cellular PVC) deck: You’ll only need to use warm water and a mild soap to remove mold, mildew, and dirt.
  1. Clean the deck.Choose a cloudy day when the decking is cool and the sun won’t evaporate the cleaner.
  • Wood deck: Use a paint roller, a garden sprayer, or a stiff-bristled brush broom to apply the cleaner. Don’t let it pool. Don’t let the deck dry until you’ve scrubbed it clean. Then let it soak according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually about 10 minutes). Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

    TIP:To clean wood railings: Working from the bottom up, apply the cleaner, scrub, and then rinse. Working from the top down splatters the cleaning solution onto dry wood where it can double-bleach the surface, leaving marks that don’t go away when the lower area is washed. Working from the bottom up means you’ll be splattering onto a wet surface where the cleaner is diluted, leaving no marks.

  • Composite deck: Scrub with a soft brush. Do not use a pressure washer — it can permanently damage the decking and will void any warranty. Remove rust and leaf stains with a deck brightener containing oxalic acid.
  • Vinyl deck: Scrub in a circular motion using a stiff broom, then rinse thoroughly.
  1. Let deck dry.Wait two days before sealing.

   Late Spring: Seal the Deck

There are a number of options on which product for the deck is best. Here is the selection:

  • Clear sealer that lets the wood’s natural grain and color show through
  • Toner that adds a bit of color but fully reveals the grain and provides some protection against sunlight (ultraviolet or UV light)
  • Semi-transparent stain that tints the wood, but lets some grain show
  • Solid stain and opaque color that seal weathering damage and completely cover the grain

 Expect to reapply clear sealers and toners annually. Reapply stain finishes as needed (every other year is a good routine) using the same or a slightly darker color. Be sure to wear gloves, a safety mask, and eye protection when applying stain and sealers.

1. Choose a two-day period when you’ll have clear skies and moderate temperatures.

2. Lightly sand the deck. Use a pole sander equipped with 80-grit paper to remove any furriness caused by washing.

3. Replace any missing or popped nails and screws. Replace protruding nails with deck screws slightly longer than the nail. If a nail only slightly protrudes, you may do more harm than good trying to pull it out. Pound it home.

TIP: When pulling out the nail with a hammer or pry bar, use a scrap of wood as a fulcrum for greater leverage and to avoid damaging the deck.

4. Apply the sealer or stain. Use a roller to apply the sealer to the decking, covering three or four boards at a time. Use brushes and small rollers for railings, planters, and benches. Don’t let the sealant dry or puddle. Two thin coats is better than one thick one.

TIP: Deck sealants aren’t required or recommended for composite decks, although some composite decking can be stained to restore its color. Be sure the product is intended for composites. Don’t expect the same density of color that you would achieve with wood

Midsummer: Inspect and Repair Your Deck

When the weather is warm and dry, it’s a good time to give your deck’s structure a close inspection. Pay particular attention to any areas within 6 inches of the ground or close to sources of water, such as downspouts and planters.

1. Look for signs of rot. Probe structural members with a flat-blade screwdriver. Begin by checking stairs, especially where the stringers (the saw-tooth notched pieces that support the steps) meet the ground. Also check each perimeter post. If you can push the screwdriver a quarter-inch or more into a suspect area, you probably have rot.

TIP: Areas of rot that are no bigger than a silver dollar can be removed with a chisel, and the hole can be treated with wood preservative. Larger areas may require the structural member to be replaced. Consult a professional carpenter or builder for an estimate for repairs.

2. Inspect the ledger. Using a flashlight underneath your deck, pay special attention to the ledger — that all-important piece of framing that attaches the deck to the house. A damaged ledger is the cause of 90% of all deck collapses.

TIP: The ledger should be attached with lag screws, not just nails. The flashing — the metal cap that covers the top of the ledger and prevents moisture from getting behind the siding — should be free of rust and holes.

3. Check remaining joists, posts, and beams. Check all the hardware underneath, especially joist hangers, and replace any that are seriously rusted. Probe for signs of rot on the posts and joists. If anything looks doubtful, call in a pro to provide an estimate for any needed repairs.

TIP: If a framing member can’t be easily removed and replaced, reinforce it. For example, if a joist shows areas of rot, you can add a splint of comparable pressure-treated lumber alongside it, attaching the splint with two or three 3-inch deck screws every 12 inches. Then chisel away the rotten area and paint the raw wood with preservative.

4. Check for cracks or rotten decking boards. Not all cracks are a structural threat, but they’ll get worse with time. If you find damage, replace the piece.

5. Check the railing. Give it a good shake to be sure posts are not loose or damaged — loose connections may be remedied by drilling pilot holes and adding galvanized lag screws. Look for cracks that, over time, may have developed around fasteners such as nails or screws. To remedy, remove the fastener and seal the crack with an exterior-grade adhesive. Then, drill a new pilot hole and add a new galvanized deck screw.

Early Autumn: Preventive Measures

Autumn is also a good time to wash and seal your deck if you didn’t get a chance to in the spring. The point is to do it when temperatures are mild.

Otherwise, to keep your deck in good shape:

  • Trim nearby bushes and trees. They need to be at least 12 inches from the deck to slow mold, moss, and rot.
  • Don’t let leaves and other debris pile up in corners.
  • Move planters, chairs, and tables occasionally to avoid discoloring the decking. Keep nearby gutters and downspouts in good repair.

Finally, if you don’t have the time or patience, give the crew at Omaha Holiday Houses a call, they can get it sorted for you in no time. For a bit of fun, check out this “deck” video!


Tips for better photography

The challenge in this crowded rental market (there are now over 15,000 in NZ alone – and growing) is to have your property stand out among the hundreds of rentals available in any given vacation spot. In this case, travelers will literally judge a book by it’s cover. If your listing doesn’t have many photos or low-quality photos, it is very difficult for travelers to feel comfortable booking your home. When it comes to your vacation rental, improving your photographs can significantly increase your bookings!

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to ensure that your vacation rental looks its absolute best. Follow these guidelines and you may be on your way to more bookings.

  1. Prepare your rental:

Vacation homes are the alternative to staying in hotels, to which hotels are professionally staged and photographed, giving guests a warm and enticing welcome. You can do the same. We suggest that you style your home with items that come with the rental, such as tableware, or adding a small flower arrangement or fresh fruit! Arrange pillows or a throw on your furniture for a cozy and comfy appeal. Small details matter. People want to see the comfort your home has to offer.

  1. Hire a professional photographer:

This is the easiest way to get all the pictures you need. Hire someone who specializes in real estate photography. Talk to your property manager about this – it will cost more, but if you want to increase your yield, the extra cost is well worth it.

  1. Prepare your lighting:

This can make a huge difference in appealing to your guest. Good lighting will make any room feel warm and inviting. Keep your blinds open and shoot at dusk or dawn to keep the photos warm and not overexposed or shadowed. Turn on lamps or smaller lights as an alternate light source, and take one picture with a flash and one without to compare natural light. Avoid tilting, keep your photos straight on and try to capture the entire room. The more photos you have of each room (showing a 360 degree view), the better result in booking. Travelers want to see all areas and angles of your home.
Photograph each room, the exterior, and make sure to get the view.
The more areas of your house you can feature, the more confidence your guest will have when booking your home. Showcase the best attributes of your home, such as the exquisite kitchen, or yard with a BBQ. Include an exterior shot as well. Don’t forget the essentials, like the kitchen and living room (since these are more of a bonus by choosing a vacation rental over a hotel). Photograph each bedroom and bed – this encourages your guest to envision themselves in the cozy sleeping quarters. It’s all about creating a sense of inviting comfort with your pictures.

  1. Put your best shot first:

Which picture of your home will get your guest to click? The one with the most appealing attribute. Give your potential guests a tour of your home by starting in one room and working your way through, creating a virtual experience as if they were personally walking through your home. Edit your photos, but not out of context. Enhance colors and create depth.

  1. Keep your pictures updated:

If you make updates in the house, re-photograph your home. Vacation rentals will see some wear and tear and it is your job to keep your home fresh and appealing. So if you update your home, update your photos!


How to avoid fraud and disasters with your holiday rental.

The media has been busy lately reporting plenty of incidents of either fraud or widespread damage from people renting out their house or apartment on websites such as AirBNB, Bookabach or HolidayHouses. The money on offer can be big – think of an $800 a night house and a 14 night booking – that’s over $10,000, so no wonder criminals are interested.

A recent Fair Go report also highlighted a scam that nabbed 90 people off a Holiday Houses scam, so it is fair to say that there are significant risks with letting out your home. So how do you minimise them?

Let’s start with a checklist to make sure you are in good “online fitness”

  1. You have a current antivirus, malware and security program installed and working eg Norton
  2. Have a strong and hard to crack password. And change it every year…
  3. Be careful with email – phishing scams will “pretend” they are google and ask for your password – so never put your credit card details into an email.
  4. Check your email settings to ensure there are no unknown redirects.
  5. Be careful with online messaging tools eg Whatsapp, and make sure you have an alias name and same as email – do not broadcast your credit card details.
  6. Shop safely – make sure any site you buy from has excellent security features – generally speaking all major retailers will be OK.

If you are confident with the above 6 points, then you are halfway there…!

Now let’s look at the other risks with holiday rentals. Do you?:

  1. Meet and greet all tenants face to face?
  2. Take a bond and deposit prior to the booking, and only give them the keys once the final balance is paid?
  3. Visit your property regularly and keep it properly maintained
  4. Have people on call who can visit the property at short notice in the event of a party / issues.
  5. Screen all tenants over the phone, and use social media or even reference checks to check them out.
  6. Have terms and conditions agreed by the tenants
  7. Have an insurance policy that covers short term rentals.

There are some horror stories out there – from cooking “P”, to having a drug fuelled party, to owners “losing online control” of their bach to a scammer.  Having a risk minimisation strategy is absolutely essential to making your experience a good one.

Perhaps the best option is to use a well-known local property manager – but make sure they too have their house in order and use a secure 128 bit encryption on their software. A good manager will be well connected locally, live near to your property, and also have anti-fraud measures in place to make sure your holiday rental goes smoothly.omaha beach house-party21


Will your insurance policy cover short term rental?

Having a comprehensive insurance policy on your holiday home is a no brainer – but have you checked with your insurer about renting your property as a short term holiday rental?

Many property owners automatically assume that because they have insurance on their holiday house that they are covered by their insurer for holiday rentals. We urge all of our owners to check, and double check this with your insurers as every insurance company has different levels of cover and rules that could have a major effect on your ability to lodge a claim.

In 2012 Bookabach published an article (that is still on their site today) regarding the different attitudes of the insurers to holiday rentals. In that article they canvassed the three major house and contents insurers in New Zealand with a theoretical situation regarding a holiday house in Mt Maunganui. The findings highlighted just how different each insurer treats the concept of holiday rentals.

However, times have moved on from 2012, and due to the growth and popularity of holiday home rentals, each of the major insurers now provide cover – however, you MUST specify to them your intentions.  Some insurers may even consider a short term rental as a business operation, while others might specify limitations to the amount of rental activity you can conduct. The excess charged will also be up for consideration depending on what is specified.

The key questions you need your insurance policy to cover are:

  1. Are you covered in the event of damage or theft caused by a tenant?

This is a critical question, and you must have an assurance from your insurer. There have been some reported incidents of “P” being cooked in rental properties and the damage bill from this can be very expensive. Another example involved an out of control party on the Coromandel that resulted in over $100k of damages. If you use a property manager, make sure that they are conducting face to face check ins and check outs, as well as screening all potential tenants prior to confirming bookings. We also recommend that you adopt a family preferred option for your house – It has certainly been our experience that these groups are far less likely to have parties, uninvited guests, or generally do anything that could be termed “damaging”.

  1. If a tenant has an accident at my house, am I covered?

Check the policy wording to make sure that there is adequate liability insurance. Accidents do happen – it could be something like slipping down stairs, or a kid running into a ranch slider door. Many traditional kiwi bach’s have DIY alterations or repairs, and as a guide, please make sure that things are safe for potential tenants. Check things like your locks – are they all working, and are things you do not want tenants to touch locked away. Also check things like the nails on your deck – are any exposed? Are your electrical plugs and sockets all compliant and are you cleaning the moss off your outdoor areas to reduce slipping risks. Regular property maintenance is essential. Again, talk this through with your insurer and make sure you are covered properly.

 

Things to watch:

In working with our own property owners we have come across some interesting variations in policy that are also worth noting. One insurer made a provision that a property was not to be rented out more than ten times in one month. Another insurer stated that a property could not be vacated for more than 60 days – this is an interesting clause and worth having a think about – there was an incident in Omaha last year where a property owner had not visited their house for over a year and on return found the house completely overridden with mice. The damage was extensive, and for that reason please either arrange from someone to keep an eye on your house, or have your property manager arrange maintenance for you.

So in summary, here is our check list for you to run through with your insurer:

  1. They confirm in writing that your policy covers short term holiday letting.
  2. They confirm in writing coverage for theft and damage
  3. Ensure that furnishings and chattels are covered under your contents insurance – also check that appliances are also covered.
  4. Check your policy covers periods on vacancy – as mentioned before, if you have a 60 day lapse and damage occurs on the 61st day, you may struggle to get a claim paid.
  5. Make sure there is coverage for liability. The law states that you have a duty of care to your tenants and guests, and in the event of an accident make sure that personal injury or damage to a tenants property eg a car in a garage is covered.

Finally, absolutely make sure that regular cleaning and maintenance is being carried out on your house. If you can’t do it yourself, have your local manager supervise the work for you.


Winter maintenance

File 10-08-16, 2 14 33 PM

Omaha has experienced some terrible storms over winter, and as a result many properties, particularly up the North end have suffered some flooding damage. To put it in perspective,  the rain experienced in early July was the most intense rainfall ever recorded in the Auckland region.

Some properties in the south were also affected – mostly surface flooding, and the properties under management by Omaha Holiday Houses have all come through OK.

The Omaha Beach Committee (OBC) hosted the Auckland Council stormwater team on the 17th July, and 70 affected residents were in attendance. The Council have agreed to work with the OBC to deliver a suburb wide set of solutions, in addition to the set of solutions designed after the Christmas Eve flooding.

If your property has been affected, please contact the OBC at us@omahabeach.co.nz . Alternatively, the OBC website – www.omahabeach.co.nz will be publishing updates.