Each month, we aim to find stylish solutions to all your decorating and design dilemmas from those in the know. And this time, it was your home’s location/positioning that sparked the questions…

We’ve just bought a home in a bushfire zone and want to extend. How will the regulations affect the build? Dave, via email

The main restrictions are in regards to what materials you can and can’t use for construction. They are in place to reduce the risk of hot-ember attack on your property during a bushfire. This is likely to include finishes such as toughened glass, metal downpipes and guttering, and non-combustible wall and roofing materials. It’s difficult to be specific as there are different bushfire risk classifications for different areas. The higher the classification, the higher the risk and the more stringent the restrictions. And generally speaking, the higher the risk area, the more expensive it is to build. Your local council will have maps showing what the risk classification is. – Wayd Munro, Builder.

What plants do you recommend for a shady front verandah? It gets little sun, except in high summer. Tabitha, via email

“Select plants that contrast with each other in texture or colour,” says landscape designer Peter Fudge. “They need to thrive in extreme conditions; succulents are tough and come in many forms and colours. I use Crassula ovata and Glauca to form an under-planting to a fiddle-leaf fig tree, or try Euphorbia lactea ‘White Ghost’, or Yucca elephantipes ‘Variegata’: all good options in shade. Keep the under-planting rounded and to 400mm high. Choose large pots to add scale, then add medium and small pots. The result is a varied, layered garden in pots.”

Our new house is on quite a busy street. How can we cut out the noise? Jess, via email

“The weakest link in any room is the windows if the noise is coming from outside,” says Millicent Aaron from Soundblock Solutions. “But the solution isn’t to replace existing windows with traditional double-glazed, as this method can be very costly and, because the air gap needs to be between 70mm and 100mm to break noise down to heat, you won’t cut out noise. Secondary retrofitted windows can achieve a better noise result as well as a thermal barrier and still allow access to existing windows for air and light. As for doors, a solid-core front door with no recessed panelling and acoustic seals to the perimeter and base will give you around a 15-decibel improvement over a hollow-core door. Every 10-decibel reduction will cut noise in half. These fixes to your home will not remove the noise, but reduce it to be more background in nature, rather than invasive.”

Send us your questions via Facebook or Instagram, or email insideout@newsltd.com.au.

Want more? Check out our January cover home for some Hamptons style inspiration: