Faq

Q: WHAT DOES A BUILDING DESIGNER DO?

A Building Designer sees things from your point of view and puts many years of practical design experience into taking and shaping the client’s brief to a final concept. A Building Designer initially interprets client briefs and prepares and develops sketch plans for the client’s consideration. The Building Designer analyses the design, and prepares preliminary sketches and detailed instructions .  Once approval is received from the client, the Building Designer prepares detailed architectural drawings and documentation, showing internal and external layouts of the building. Prepares working drawings showing plans, elevations, sections, materials and finishes, as well as other aspects such as layouts, plumbing, drainage, car parking and landscaping.  Liaises with relevant consultants (engineers, quantity surveyors, building surveyors, planning professionals etc) to ensure all aspects required for the project are adequately addressed. Examines relevant codes and local council by-laws in the course of undertaking project documentation

Q: WHAT AREAS DOES THE HARGREAVES DESIGN GROUP SERVICE?

We offer our services to the whole of Victoria, Tasmania & Western Australia.  We have dealt with many of the councils in Melbourne , Perth & Bunbury Regions. We have completed projects from Yarrawonga to Inverloch, Mansfield to Foster, Bunbury to Port Hedland & Hobart to Ulverstone.  No area of Victoria, Western Australia or Tasmania is too hard for us so give us a call & let us help you out.

Q: WHAT IS INCLUDED IN MY WORKING DRAWINGS SET?

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.  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.

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.
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.
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.
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.

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.

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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.  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.  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.  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 ‘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.  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.  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.  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.  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.

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.  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.  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 ‘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.  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.  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.

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.  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.  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.

Q: IS MY HOUSE IN A BUSHFIRE AREA?

Bushfire zoning is constantly changing to reflect the possible risk of bushfire attack in areas of Victoria, Western Australia & Tasmania.  Local councils can provide further information on these requirements. Bushfire maps are freely available online & we will determine your level of risk prior to starting your project.  We are the preferred designers for Durisol Australia, a new zero energy building product which has zero flammability & flame spread & is suitable for construction in flame zones.

Q: WHY USE A BDAV / BDAWA MEMBER?

Being a Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) & Western Australia (BDAWA) member, we provide a professional service, have up-to-date knowledge of industry issues, trends and regulations along with the experience and expertise to provide individualised designs to suit our clients’ needs.

Q: IS A BUILDING PERMIT REQUIRED?

Building permit requirements are now based on the scope of building work rather than the value of the building work.  This now implies the need for small jobs like garages, carports and pergolas to have a permit. If you are unsure if your project requires a permit feel free to contact us for clarification

Q: BUILDING PERMIT DETAILS & PROCESS?

Once you have lodged your application with a building surveyor, they will check for compliance with the regulations and can issue a permit with or without conditions. In Victoria the building surveyor who issues the permit must follow the project through to the end, carrying out building inspections and issue an occupancy permit or a certificate of final inspection on completion of your building work.  This process varies from state to state so let us help you out with our local knowledge.

Q: PLANNING PERMIT APPLICATION & PROCESS?

A pre-application meeting with council is the starting point and will provide a guide of councils’ opinions and may raise any concerns they may have. Lodging the application and having it allocated to a planner is the next step. The planner will carry out an assessment of the application. The application is then sent to advertising and objections can be lodged. The objections are then considered and the planner may take the application to a peer meeting for a decision or if possible, recommend an outcome for the proposals.  A fact sheet detailing the planning process is issued with all of our written quotes where planning is applicable.

Q: WHAT IS RESCODE?

Rescode is a guide to the application of 34 residential development standards in Clause 54 and Clause 55 of all planning schemes in Victoria. The purpose of this standard is to ensure a common interpretation and consistent application that applies to all dwellings across Victoria.  Many local councils have made significant & numerous amendments their planning schemes,to add a variety of schedules to each of their zones, requiring careful investigation to ensure compliance.

Q: WHAT ARE THE 6 STAR ENERGY REQUIREMENTS?

A minimum 6 Star energy rating (Thermal Performance Report) is required for all new homes, home renovations, alterations, additions and relocations in Victoria, WA & Tasmania. A 6 Star energy rating is about good layout, simple adjustments at the concept sketch stage, insulation adjustment and designing a house to suit the site.

As preferred designers for Durisol Australia we are able regularly achieve rating of 9 stars & better.  Durisol, incorporates concrete filled core walls with concrete slab & roofing, along with triple glazed windows, to achieve a building fabric requiring no heating or cooling all year around.

Q: IS MY LAND IN A FLOOD PRONE AREA?

Floods have recently affected large areas of metropolitan and rural Victoria . As such the flood zoning has been changed to accommodate the possible risks. Local councils & the MMBW can provide further information on these requirements as they add ‘Land Subject to Inundation’ overlays in their planning scheme to susceptible areas.  Occasionally the local council will also require report & consent for overland flows in certain areas.