7 Stars is coming
News today that the minimum energy requirement for new homes will definitely move from 6 stars to 7 stars from May 2022. This gives the residential building industry 19 months to come up with more effective products to achieve this rating for every new build. Single glazed windows will disappear, double glazed will become the standard and triple glazed even will make an appearance in larger homes.
NCC changes for 2022
An excerpt from the NCC (National Construction Code) 2022 FAQ page reads as follows;
“What changes to the residential energy efficiency
provisions are being considered in NCC 2022?
The ABCB is exploring two possible options. The first
involves raising the minimum level of thermal comfort of
residential buildings to the equivalent of 7 stars under the
Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) and
implementing an overall energy use budget equivalent
to net zero for the regulated elements of the home
(i.e. space conditioning, heated water systems, lighting and
pool and spa pumps). The second option also involves
raising the minimum level of thermal comfort to the
equivalent of 7 stars NatHERS. However, unlike the
first option, the second option will allow the regulated
elements of the home to use a moderate amount of energy.
Importantly, the two options will apply on a whole-ofhome
basis, which will allow some trading between
the energy efficiency of the different elements. This will
provide practitioners with greater flexibility in how they
What does this mean for home owners
Individual design of new homes will become even more important as orientation and window size and placement play a big part in achieving the required star rating. Larger homes will find 7 stars particularly hard to achieve as the bigger a house is the harder it is to make it rate well. In these things, as always, the extra build cost will be passed on to the home owner.
What will it cost me?
Currently the average added cost for a standard new home to achieve 7 stars ranges from $4k to $23k depending on the home style & size. Normally this is only undertaken by homeowners who feel like they should future proof their new homes. Unfortunately the average length of time we stay in our homes ranges from 4-5 years at the moment. This means the major beneficiaries of mandatory 7 star increased energy efficiency will likely be the 2nd, 3rd & 4th owners of the home.
The ‘Internal Elevations’ sheets are ancillary to the main working drawings set. They are not required in the minimum working drawings set to gain a building permit. They are, however, requested often in order for our clients to be able to visualise the internal cabinetry items in their wet areas.
Useful for accurate quoting
If you are having plans done in order to get quotes from a number of builders, it is always a good idea to have internal elevations of your wet areas & cabinetry done. This way each builder will be pricing the same cabinetry details & comparison of quotes is much more relevant.
Walk in Robe Fitout Details
With the wide array of tiling choices available today the detailing on this sheet can make sure mistakes are not made due to the tiler doing what he thought you wanted. Having these sheets as part of your set also helps remove necessary clutter on the floor plans trying to cover cabinetry details by notes. Most robes & walk in robes are fitted out these days & the detailing should be particular to each client’s needs.
Carpet, Tiles, Timber & Laminate
The ‘Floor Coverings’ plan identifies the different floor coverings in each room of the house. This is mainly required for the completion of the 6 star energy rating which takes into account the different thermal properties of each floor covering.
Areas for quoting
The areas shown are accurate & allow clients to order their floor coverings with accuracy. You will find, however, that the flooring suppliers won’t trust the figures shown & will still measure the plan with a ruler to estimate their own areas to allow for wastage & cutting.
Depending on the flooring chosen a rebate in the slab may be required to ensure there are no tripping hazards where different coverings meet. These plans indicate tiles through the shower recesses which will mean a 50mm recess in the slab to create fall to the drainage point.
Fitting & fixtures
The ‘Electrical Plan’ details the electrical fixtures & fittings placed in your house. All power points, light fittings, TV points, data points & switching for lights are shown on this plan.
Maximum Wattage Allowed
Also required is the total number of light fittings & their wattage to ensure the total wattage complies with the building regulations. This is indicated by the ‘Artificial Lighting Table’ which shows the maximum wattage allowed per m2 for each area of the house.
Heating & Cooling
Ducted heating points are also shown either in the ceiling or floor depending on the style of house. Location of the heating unit in the ceiling is indicated close to the manhole. The return air & thermostat location is important as nobody wants a return air grille as a feature in their house.
The importance of details
The ‘Section & Details’ sheet is the most unloved sheet in the drawing set. Clients mostly don’t understand it, builders sometimes overlook it & engineers can ignore it. However, the information on this sheet is very important for regulatory compliance & building inspections. It ensures the builder is using the right details when constructing certain areas of the house.
Details do vary
Most good builders will know exactly how to build the standard details shown on this sheet but they do tend to vary from builder to builder. Details of lintels over garages, for example, are constructed in several different way depending on the garage wall & roof structure.
Standard section only required
There may be one or more sections through the house depending on the requirement to demonstrate two or more construction techniques in various parts of the building.
Whilst this sheet used to include slab edge beam, weep hole waterproofing & other standard details, these have over time been outsourced to engineers & other consultants who specialise in these areas & have the insurance to cover the structural design.
Timber framing schedule
The Timber Framing Schedule indicates all timber sizes to be used in the house. The caveat on this is that, if the wall framing is over 2.7m high, then the whole timber structure will need to be justified by a structural engineer.
Refer to the engineers drawings
Roof trusses are usually provided with truss computations from the truss company to justify their spans. Likewise, steel lintel spans to support brickwork over external windows & doors need to be engineers if the spans exceed those shown in the external lintel schedule.
How will your house look?
The ‘Elevations’ sheet is where our clients really start to understand what their house will look like when built. However, sometimes this sheet can be misleading. The idea of detailing elevations is for each orientation of the house to be notated & dimensioned externally. The misleading part is you have to be omnipresent to see it this way.
Don’t be fooled
The elevation assumes that your eye is perpendicular to all points of the building at the same time. The only time your windows will look symmetrical, or centred under the ridge, is on the elevation because on site your eye will never see it like this in real life.
Important things notated on the elevations are allowable boundary height profiles (shown in pink), floor to ceiling height, overall building height, window head or sill heights, extent of external cladding, services locations & roof pitch.
Site cut & fill demonstrated
The cut & fill of the land is shown to indicate floor levels & cut levels in relation to the natural surface level. Retaining walls should also be shown along with retention of soil behind the slab edge beams as is the case on this sheet.
Full colour with shadows
As we use Revit software, which can accurately locate the position & orientation of the building, shadows can be shown at any day of the year or time of the day. We can show the elevations in single line or fully coloured (a shown here) depending on the builder’s/client’s preference.
The ‘Floor Plan’ sheet is the most frequently referred to sheet of the whole drawing set. ON this page the layout of the rooms, structure of the walls & cabinetry items are specified. Most of the following sheets in the set refer in some way back to the floor plan. Section lines are cut which reference cross sections on other sheets.
The importance of clear & concise dimensioning is paramount to ensure the builder knows the exact sizes of each room for set out purposes. Window and door sizes are noted & placement of smoke detectors, manholes and exhaust fans shown for compliance. Section lines are cut which reference cross sections on other sheets.
Floor levels are shown here also to reference back to the site plan & indicate any change in floor levels. External services like water taps, recycled taps, clotheslines, meter boxes, gas meters & hot water services are located to demonstrate compliance.
Some details are shown which are often overlooked but make all the difference in the finished product. Some of these include return air vent locations for ducted heating, deepened fridge space to allow for the fridge to be flush with the cabinets, cavity door pockets clear of wall plumbing & cabinetry drawer units shown to control what is visible when Walk in Robe doors are left open.
Last, but certainly not least, is the location of down pipes to allow for storm water to be taken away effectively. Most houses do not have enough of these & it can lead to overflowing gutters every time it rains.
The ‘Site Plan’ sheet identifies the positioning of the house on the site & in relation to neighbouring developments. This is important if the neighbours are existing as your front setback is often determined by an average of the houses either side of your site.
Excavation & Site Fill
The amount of cut & fill required to provide a level building platform is shown shaded to allow the builder to calculate volumes of earth to excavate out and/or import to site. These are included in the infamous ‘site costs’ which are added to your building contract.
Easements (areas which are set aside for council & sewerage use) are noted on the plan along with the size, depth & offset of any pipes within. Legal points of discharge are also shown for storm water & sewerage connections as well as the location of down pipes & drainage pipe runs to connect to them.
Site Coverage Calculations
A table indicating area of the site covered by buildings & hard cover like driveways & paving is shown in a table. This will indicate compliance with site coverage & green area regulations imposed by council planning schemes.
20 Critical Criteria
Along with all this there are over 20 other criteria to take into account including driveway gradients, overlooking, overshadowing, neighbour’s northern windows, wall heights on boundary, minimum setbacks & encroachments, private open space, carparking, maximum building height, site permeability, & solar access….just to name a few.
A small miscalculation at this stage can cost you big time during the building permit process.
Building Regulation Compliance
The ‘General Notes’ sheet is normally glossed over by most clients but this is important in listing areas of compliance with the current Building Regulations.
Authorities & Consultants
We identify relevant governing bodies, external consultants used, bushfire attack levels & wind speed ratings for the site.
A list of amendments to the plans is also kept to keep track of who has worked on the file & when. Every time the drawing set is updated a new issue it is recorded here.
People often ask us,
“What do I get on my final set of plans?”
This is a great question, particularly if you are dealing with a Building Designer for the first time. Every designer has their own level of detail they provide in their finished set.
Clear plans win work
We often win new work based on the clarity & presentation of our drawing set so we have decided to explain what is included in a standard set of construction drawings for a new house.
Stay tuned to this blog to be better informed about what goes into a great set of plans.