our journey

Helpful tips

Maintenance of air-conditioners

Servicing your air-conditioning
The recommendation for servicing an air-conditioning unit is at least once per year, ideally before the cooling season begins in summer. This should only be done by qualified air-conditioning service personnel. Often, a service agreement can be arranged with the contractor, who installed the unit or a reputable air-conditioning maintenance company. Most warranties require that the air-conditioner be serviced on a regular schedule for the warranty to be valid. Improper maintenance usually voids the warranty. Always refer to the maintenance manual for specific maintenance and warranty terms and conditions.

Maintaining air filters and drains
The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air-conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged and / or dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system's efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air-conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

For central air-conditioners, filters are generally located somewhere along the return duct's length. Common filter location is the ceilings or in the air handling unit itself and it is recommended they be cleaned or replaced by a qualified air-conditioning service provider. Room air-conditioners have a filter mounted in the grill that faces into the room.

Some types of filter are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air-conditioning system's filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air-conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have pets in the house.

Clogged drain lines in an air handling unit will cause water damage in your house and prevent the unit from reducing humidity, and the resulting excess moisture may discolour walls or carpet, so please ask your service provider to clean and flush the drain lines regularly as well.

Setting the air-conditioner thermostat
Adjust the set point temperature up a few degrees — instead of cooling your home to 22°C, try 24° or 25°C. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you can save approximately 3% on electricity costs. Generally, lowering your thermostat by five degrees will make a significant impact on the energy bill.

If you go away during the summer, set the thermostat to 28C° and the fan to the lowest speed. If there is an option to run the fan on an ‘auto’ setting, do so. It will intermittently switch the fan off if the temperature has been reached. This will protect your home from adverse effects of humidity and excessive heat while circulating the air at a slightly higher temperature. It will also reduce the electricity consumption.

On a hot day
On a hot day you should:
  • Keep outside doors and windows closed
  • Keep doors to non-air-conditioned areas (eg laundries, bathrooms etc) closed
    • Note that any doorways on the return air path will need to be kept open, which may mean that doors to an unconditioned hallway will need to be kept open
  • Keep windows, which are exposed to the sun, shaded by using internal blinds or curtains
  • Operate the fan on high speed; but on humid days, a low fan speed may be more comfortable
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Swimming pools and water features

Swimming pools
If you are going on vacation, remember to turn OFF the pool lights and heat / cool unit to reduce energy consumption. However, it is important to ensure that swimming pool filtration systems are set up to work on a timer system while you are away. This will maintain the water quality and will reduce any major costs when you return. Installing pool covers will reduce dust and debris entering the pool.

You can install a timer to control the pump's cycling. If debris is a problem, use a timer that can activate the pump for many short periods each day. Running the pump continuously for, say, three hours leaves the other 21 hours a day for the pool to collect debris. Several short cycles will keep the pool cleaner all day. Your swimming pool service provider could further assist and advise in setting up a timer system if the pool pumps are not already fitted with one.

Water features and fountains
When not in use or before going on long vacations, water features and fountains must be completely drained and covered to prevent water accumulation and avoid mosquitoes and other insects breeding.

Hot water
Heating water takes a lot of energy! Hot water systems come with a thermostat, which has a variable temperature set point (typically up to 70°C). These thermostats are generally set between 65 and 70°C, but by getting a qualified electrician to adjust the set point to 60°C you can save a significant amount of energy. If there is more than one hot water heater in your home, switch off heaters in areas that are not occupied. It only takes 20 minutes to heat the water if you need to.

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Landscaping

Plants and shrubs — to keep away from
Over the years our landscaping team members have accumulated a lot of experience with plants and trees that work well in this climate and that are not invasive to property or infrastructure. But there are a few we’d recommend you avoid in certain situations:

  • Damas trees (Conocarpus lancifolius and Conocarpus erectus) — these lush green trees grow at an extraordinary rate and are often used on property boundaries — but trust us, they are not worth planting — EVER! We’ve encountered numerous horror stories of roots blocking drains, breaching pipes and foundation of walls leading to massive repair bills for residents; we’re currently striving to eradicate them from all of our communities
  • Agave — these spiky specimens are certainly nice architecturally speaking but avoid using plants with spines near children’s play areas as they can give a painful wound if run into by accident
  • Ficus altissima and Ficus religiosa — avoid planting these large specimens near roads and paved areas as their root systems are extensive and could cause damage
Plants and shrubs — that grow well
Trees and plants that grow well include:

  • Flame trees (Delonix regia) — trees grow to a modest height and provide a lovely orange halo of bloom in late spring
  • Neem trees (Azadirachta indica) — fast growing and evergreen, with white flowers
  • Bougainvillea — low maintenance, dense and colourful, these are hardy but beware the thorns!
  • Grasses — such as Cyperus alternifolius and Pennisetum setaceum or the purple variety, Pennisetum rubrum are all easy to propagate and require very little water
  • Succulents — such as aloe vera, yucca and agave all do well — although please beware of the spikes around young children
  • Climbers — such as Jasminum multiflorum, Tristellateia Asutral, Quisqualis indica and Lonicera japonica can be trained along walls and across pergolas
  • Palms — such as Pheonix dactylifera (the classic date palm) or the taller Cocos nucifera add height to a garden and have small root bases
Maintaining your landscaping
  • Mowing your lawn — a mowing height between 2.5 to 3 inches is best for most of the season, except during summer months when it should be raised by half an inch to 3 or 3.5 inches. Raising the mowing height provides more insulation from summer heat and reduces water loss from your soil
  • Think and practice water conservation — whatever your landscaping ideas, please keep in mind that should be conserving precious water wherever possible. Fix all leaks, water your landscaping as required, not every day. Apply water directly to the roots of plants and trees, which will help to minimise evaporation and water runoff.  With some simple steps, you can help maintain your gardens, trees, and shrubs and lawn without wasting water and ensure your landscape will survive and thrive!
    • Avoid mid-day watering — instead, water in early hours before sunrise to lessen water loss through evaporation and daytime winds
    • Plant selection — choose plants that are native to the arid climate of the Middle East, that require less water. There are a variety of low maintenance plants, which will add both colour and vibrancy to your landscaping
    • Monitor your landscaping — make adjustments to watering times as needed; for example, shaded or protected areas may need less water than other zones
    • Drip irrigation — one of the most efficient ways to water plants in gardens, planters and window boxes is to install a drip irrigation system; through emitters, drip irrigation lets small amounts of water drip onto the base of plants (where it penetrates into the roots) at low pressure and with minimal evaporation; once the area around the plant is moist, the drip system will be able to easily maintain the water needs of the plants without wasting water with above ground irrigation
    • Brown spots on the lawn — water brown spots by hand and check your irrigation system; lawns usually develop brown spots because of faults in the sprinkler system, such as mixed types of sprinkler heads, blocked spray patterns and improper spacing between sprinklers
Your garden whilst you’re away — villas
Mow your lawn just before leaving and arrange for it to be mowed periodically if you will be away for an extended period of time. Additionally, ensure your landscaping is irrigated on a regular basis. To effectively manage your irrigation and at the same time save water, consider installing an automatic irrigation system fitted with a timer. Also ensure that all irrigation lines have been checked for leaks and are maintained in good condition. That way you can avoid coming back to a flooded garden and thousands of gallons of water wasted.

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Fire safety in the community

Fire safety in the community — villas
Residents’ safety is of paramount importance to us and many efforts are made to create awareness about this issue. However, emergencies can occur anytime unexpectedly. In the interest of your community’s wellbeing we wish to advise you of some steps you can take to assist us in creating a safer environment for everyone:

  • Please conduct regular maintenance of the smoke / heat detectors within your villa; did you know it’s an offense punishable by law if your detectors are not working properly or they have been obstructed? Your negligence could pose a risk to the entire community
  • Refrain from smoking in non-designated areas
  • Don’t throw cigarette butts — lit or otherwise — from your property
  • Refrain from storing of flammable liquids / materials like petrol, diesel or household materials in your garage
  • Avoid overloading electrical power points with too many high voltage appliances, such as televisions and computers.

Fire safety in the community — apartments
Many efforts are made to reduce fire risks. These include regular checks of our fire fighting systems, evaluation of the escape routes, education of community staff, creating awareness among residents etc:

  • Please conduct regular maintenance of the smoke / heat detectors within your apartment; did you know it’s an offense punishable by law if your detectors are not working properly or they have been obstructed? Your negligence could pose a risk to the entire community
  • Refrain from smoking in non-designated areas
  • Don’t throw cigarette butts from your balcony
  • Refrain from disposing of flammable materials (including cigarette butts) down the garbage chute
  • Refrain setting up barbecues or smoking shisha on your balcony, they may set of the smoke and heat detectors
  • Refrain from storing of flammable liquids / materials like petrol, diesel or household materials in your allocated parking lot in the basements or on balconies
  • Familiarise yourself with the evacuation plans in your building
  • Please ensure you take part in the annual Fire Drill conducted in your building
  • Never obstruct fire doors and attempt to keep fire doors open
  • Never allow children to access fire equipment cupboards, tamper with emergency equipment and signs


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Before you go on holiday

Going on holiday is understandably an exciting event for every member of the family. Much thought usually goes into the scheduling and planning, to be sure that all of the details are taken care of. However, when finalising your plans, don’t neglect the protection of your property and belongings that are staying behind. Here are a few things that should be done before you go on vacation.

Security and safety precautions



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Pool safety

Splashing around the swimming pool is a great way to have fun but please remember to make safety your priority to protect your children and others around the water — anyone can have a water-related accident — even children and adults who know how to swim. Here are some useful tips to help you and your little ones stay safe:

  • Never — even for a moment — leave babies or children alone or in the care of another child, while in or near pools, spas, or wading pools — or near bath tubs, lakes, irrigation ditches or other open bodies of water
  • Remember, an infant can drown in just one inch of water — so make sure the supervising adult is always within arm’s length of the child with their full attention focused on them at all times
  • The supervising adult should not be engaged in distracting activities, such as talking on a telephone, socialising or tending to household chores
  • Home swimming pools should be enclosed by a fence that prevents a child from climbing over or creeping through to access the pool
    • Pool fences should be at least 1.2 metres high and should not have more than a 100mm gap at the bottom or through the vertical bars
    • The distance between any horizontal bars should not be less than 900 mm to prevent them from being used as a stepladder
    • It is recommended that all gates are fitted with a self-closing hinge
    • Check the integrity of the pool fencing and gates regularly — children will find the most unassuming ways to get into water, so take extra care to ensure the safety of our future!
  • Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR or BLS (Basic Life Support) and store a safety ring with a rope beside the pool
  • Ensure there is always a phone within easy access of the pool area
  • Supervising adults should make sure they do not leave any pool toys in the water as a child could fall in while trying to retrieve them
  • Toddlers, youngsters with an intellectual disability and children with seizure disorders are particularly vulnerable to drowning, but all youngsters are in danger if unsupervised in or near water
  • Even a child who knows how to swim may drown a few feet from safety
  • Consuming alcohol at a public swimming pool is against the law
    • Getting into a swimming pool having consumed alcohol is not only a risk to you; it could be a risk to others, so please refrain from doing this

Remember, children should be supervised at all times.

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Gas barbecue grilling safety guidelines (only for villas)

Safe storage of your gas bottle

  • Gas bottles should never be stored indoors — it’s best to store them outdoors in a well-ventilated space
  • If you store your barbecue or patio heater indoors when not in use, you should always detach the gas bottle first and store it separately outdoors
  • Gas bottles should always be stored upright
  • Do not store gas bottles near an ignition source

Where to place your barbecue for use

  • Adequate ventilation is essential when using a barbecue to allow the gas to burn and burnt gases to dissipate
  • Barbecues should never be used near flammable objects
  • Barbecues should NEVER be used indoors because of the risk of toxic fumes, smoke or fire
  • Children should be kept safely away from barbecues and gas bottles

Checking your LPG gas barbecue

  • The leading cause of barbecue fires (at over 60%) is equipment failure, leaks or breaks
  • Use the correct type of hose
    • Do not make temporary connections
    • Keep hose gently curved to prevent kinks and damage
  • Cracked or damaged hoses and / or gas regulators should be replaced before use
  • Check hoses to make sure they have not perished by brushing or spraying on soapy water and checking for bubbles
  • Check hoses for blockages, such as spiders, which might have nested inside during winter
  • Check connections to make sure that they are clean and fitting snugly

Operating your barbecue gas bottle

  • Always read the barbecue manufacturer’s operating instructions
  • Keep the gas bottle upright and on a stable base
  • When you have finished using your barbecue, turn off the gas bottle first and then at the barbecue controls
  • Always turn off the gas bottle valve when you’re not using your barbecue
  • Remember, adequate ventilation is essential
  • Be sure to shut off the bottle valve before disconnecting the bottle from the barbecue, even if you think the bottle is empty
  • A safety valve is fitted to the vapour space to allow automatic relief of any excess pressure due to overfilling, or in the event of a fire
  • Never tamper with the safety valve or other gas bottle fittings
  • Do not use undue force to open or close the main cylinder valve. If in doubt, consult the supplier

Emergency procedures — barbecue gas bottles

  • If any leakage from the valve of a small cylinder is detected or suspected, move the cylinder to a safe location at least 20 metres from any possible source of ignition
  • Keep flames and sparks away
  • Check valve is turned off and hose with water
  • If it is not possible to stop the leak, keep the leak uppermost so that only gas and not liquid escapes
  • Keep hands and face clear of any escaping liquid

In an emergency dial 997 for Fire Brigade or 999 for Police
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Pets

We all love our pets, but we also love clean parks and walkways and our pets won’t pick up after themselves! Remembering to bring a plastic bag every time you walk your dog can be one of the best ways to keep our community clean and hygienic. Please also follow the Community Rules below:


  • All dogs must be kept on a leash within the community when not within the boundary walls of your property
  • Any dog mess deposited upon any portion of the community must be promptly removed and properly disposed of in a sanitary manner by the dog handler
  • All pets must wear appropriate identification tags at all times when outdoors
  • No animal shall be allowed to make an unreasonable amount of noise, or to become a nuisance

Owners whose pets are found leaving a mess in public areas may be issued a Notice of Violation and a fine — even if they are not the one out with the pet at the time. Please be sure to discuss these rules with your dog walker and check that they understand and follow them every time. Help us keep your community green!

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Pest control

Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle. They mostly lay eggs in stagnant water — the larvae can survive in quantities as little as that left in the collecting pans of plant pots after watering. Other areas where mosquitoes lay eggs and breed include fountains and landscaping features with stagnant water, unused swimming pools and even small water bottles or beverage cans left with water inside. Mosquitoes can also breed in polluted water, allowing them to survive where other insects cannot.

What can you do?
Since mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle, you can help by preventing water stagnation in and around your house by doing the following:

  • Fountains and water features — should have flowing or moving water
    • When not in use or before going for long vacations, pools should be entirely emptied and covered to prevent water accumulation
  • Planter boxes and pots — avoid excess water from plants being stagnant in drip trays
    • Clean out as and when noticed
  • Bird feeders and containers — should be cleaned out daily and fresh water replenished
  • Empty tins and receptacles — dispose of any unwanted ones lying around in your garden
Rodents
Urban rodents (rats and mice) have been living alongside humans for a long time and are well adapted for the purpose. They are very successful breeders where food, water and shelter are available and this is where your help is needed to prevent them establishing themselves in your community.

What can you do?
  • Feeding pets — don’t leave a food source out for rodents! Some pet foods have vitamin K added to them as a supplement, which is an antidote for rodent poison — if they eat this around the same time as the poison, the lethal effect will be neutralised; so, after feeding pets, immediately remove any remaining or spilled food and dispose of it in a closed waste bin
  • Feeding birds — rodents take advantage of this food source as well, so avoid feeding birds around lakes and public areas as the left over feed will attract them as well as attracting other pests like ants and cockroaches
  • Storage of items in private gardens — store items in such a way as to prevent rodents from hiding behind them and always keep moving them out to check there is not infestation
  • Fruits from plants and trees — if you have trees or plants that bear fruits in your private garden, please collect them as soon as they ripen; fruits that fall on the ground can be eaten and stored by rodents, which may prevent them from eating the poison bait used in common areas
Flies
House flies are part of a group of flies called ‘filth flies’. They need decomposing organic matter with high humidity to progress through their immature stage — called maggots — to survive. Some examples of places where filth flies can lay their eggs and breed around your house are: bad quality manure, food waste and dog droppings.

What can you do?
Please follow the steps below to aid in the prevention of filth flies breeding:

  • When dog walking — take a pair of disposable gloves and some bags so that you can safely and securely collect and dispose of your pet’s droppings in the waste bins provided, when out and about. If you have someone that takes your pet dog for a walk, ask them to do the same. Even the smallest quantity of mess left on the ground can provide flies with a breeding ground for weeks to come, aside from being dangerous and unpleasant for other residents
  • Avoid using animal manure in your garden; instead use plant compost or peat moss and chemical fertilisers. If you have to use manure, inspect it or let your gardener inspect it for fly breeding before applying. Manure should be relatively dry, when you open the bags it should not have any living insects inside. If the bags have high humidity inside or you note small white maggots in it, do not use it — return it to the vendor or dispose of it in sealed bags
  • Dispose of your garden waste in the allocated garbage bins outside your house
  • Remove fruits as soon as they are ripe from date palms or other plants and trees in your garden to avoid pest infestation
Redback Spiders
Unfortunately, the impact of Redback Spiders is exaggerated in the media. They are actually very timid and if disturbed would rather flee and hide than attack. Not all spider bites contain venom but if you are unlucky enough to receive a venomous bite, it moves slowly inside the body allowing ample time to get medical attention. The anti-venom is currently available from several hospitals in Dubai if needed.

What can you do?
You can prevent Redback Spiders from nesting and breeding in your garden by avoiding storage of unused items for a long time. If you do store items outside, clean behind them regularly. If you find webs and suspect they are from a Redback, use an aerosol pesticide to treat them thoroughly and wait a couple of hours. Then collect the web with any egg sacks using a long stick and dispose of them inside closed garbage bags in the garbage can OUTSIDE your home. Make sure that you inspect all items left outside in the garden before using them or bringing them into your house. Children's toys and shoes left outside in the garden are examples of items where spiders and other pests can hide.

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When it rains

  • Ensure that your windows are tightly shut during the rainy season, especially if you go away on vacation
  • Check your floor drains regularly, especially those that are not used often, to ensure there is water in the P trap
  • Check balcony and roof top drains regularly for blockages — if a drain is blocked, remove the cover and use a hooked wire or coil spring-steel auger to clean out any sand or grease in the P trap
  • When the drain is clear, pour a bucket or two of hot water into it to wash out any loose material
  • Check the drain cover itself and clean it in hot water and soap in order to open all of the holes
  • Pour a bucket of hot water down the drain every so often in order to check it’s all working properly
  • Ensure that the sealant around any sliding doors and windows is intact — heat can make these deteriorate over time so check this regularly
  • In the event of heavy rain it is recommended roof and balcony drain covers are removed and kept aside in order to facilitate the rapid draining of excess water
  • For villas, it is recommended that a physical inspection be conducted periodically to check for blockages in open shafts and pipes on the roof


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