We’re feeling confident

Making headlines this week, building approvals rise; one in three borrowers opt for fixed rates; and the penthouse that’s out of our world…

Approvals show confidence

Increased consumer confidence is flowing through to the home building industry, lifting approvals for both houses and units.

Building Approvals data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the number of dwellings approved rose 3.1 per cent in February 2013, in seasonally adjusted terms, after falling for two months.

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Penthouse raises the bar - and the pool

Renowned for its tax breaks and lavish tourism drawcards, Monaco is adding another jewel to its sparkling crown. Tourists won't be able to visit it, but a multi-storey penthouse perched atop the Tour Odeon is set to become both the tallest building in Monaco and the most expensive apartment in the world.

With completion expected in 2014, the soaring 170-meter tower will house a range of saunas and private spas, swimming pools, private limousines, a cinema and 70 luxury apartments each with floor-to-ceiling panoramic views.

None so impressive however as the Sky Penthouse, which offers 3,300 square metres over five storeys, with a private water slide from an upper floor into a large outdoor infinity pool that overlooks the picturesque coastline and city.

New home sales ebb

New home sales stumbled in February, following four consecutive months of growth, according to a survey of Australia’s largest builders.

The HIA New Home Sales report shows that total seasonally adjusted new home sales fell by 5.3 per cent in February, reflecting a 4.0 per cent reduction in detached house sales and an 11.0 per cent drop in multi-unit sales.

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Get the buzz on this builder

If you find a new wasp around your home this month, don't panic just yet. It is possibly the solitary Mud Dauber Wasp, which is not only harmless but will help control spiders and other bugs.

April is the month when the female Mud Dauber Wasp goes out of her way to prepare a warm nest and a juicy feast for her babies, before jetting off to warmer climates for a well-earned break. Click here for all the gory details ....

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Fixed rates in high demand

Nearly one in three new borrowers locked in fixed rates on their loans during March, according to a monthly industry review. Unsurprising, given that rates are currently as low as or less than 5 per cent...

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Not too heavy, not too light

Light is weightless; everyone knows that. Until Malaysian designer Junji Kawabe decided to challenge our conceptions with his Light=Weight, a lamp that converts weight into light.

Looking rather like a set of retro household scales, the lamp changes brightness depending on the weight of the objects placed on the scales: the heavier they are, the brighter it shines.