Monthly Archives: March 2013

5 Biggest Mistakes No 3.

I Know-itis………….

Or as we commonly call in the office the “I know Boats Syndrome“.

Case Study….

The family  are moving to a new home!! We’ve decided to build a new home.  We’ve purchased  the perfect block of land and this will be our  dream home. everything we always wanted. It will have everything we ever wanted.

OK so we’ve got   ?? $$ to spend  and  the ads in the paper  show we can build a house for  $750 per  square meter. Wow we can have   a really big house!!  The builder  we talked to wants us to give him some plans so he can work out a price.  Well we had better  start designing…………..

We ‘ll save heaps of  money by  doing the design ourselves and not waste money on and Architect or Designer.  We know what we want and we’ll just get a  draftsman to draw it up..After all  we KNOW what we want!! ” Those  designers charge a fortune!!! And how do they know more than me about what I want?”

Armed with their sketch plan drawn on graph paper the  family rings around  a few  drafting  offices to get the plans drawn up. Often looking  for the cheapest price possible  to “save some money”.  Adamant that they don’t want to pay extra for any design work they just want the plans drawn up  a draftsperson. Too often we hear the  family say “we’re not very good at drawing , we’ve never done this before”.  And “if you have any better ideas we’d like your input.”


“Oh we didn’t know that   you had to be  6m from the front”…..”What does it mean when there is an easement on the land?”…….. “How do we make the home  energy efficient?”……..”Can we just get a relaxation?”……..”Just put a retaining wall in there”………”What’s the QRDG??” ……. “the driveway won’t work and we didn’t know  it  had to be like that?”………………and so the  design needs some changes.  Often a change such as raising the driveway has a major impact on another aspect and therefore  changes keep going on and on. All e costing time and money. In the end the house doesn’t really look like what  the family had imagined their dream home to look like.  It’s just a box.

The builder who has looked at the original sketch starts to  price the  drawing sand  it comes back nearly $100 000 more than they expected.  “But why is it so expensive??  Well there is a lot of  wasted space in hallways, traffic areas, the  retaining walls needed are      $40 000 and the scaffolding required  etc…. “Oh we hadn’t thought of that. Looks like we’ll have to change it again”  sigh.

Designing a home  is not just drawing  a plan… There is a minefield of regulations, standards, planning schemes, Building Codes et that  must be adhered to and  mot of all considered while  designing the  home. If your like our  family above and  have spent  years in industries not related to the building industry then these regulations will probably be like a foreign language to them.


The Solution:

Our second family has written a list of all their  inclusions, ideas,  and must halves in their new home. They’ve taken some pictures and what they like and have  worked out  their budget  and how much they want to spend  at the end. They want to be sure they don’t over spend. They’ve also decided to make their home as energy-efficient and want to  have their home designed to be sustainable  for their family as it grows and  changes.

 One thing we  ask is that our clients  not to try to  draw the plans themselves. Our qualified, trained and very experienced designers and architects are EXPERTS in design and will incorporate EVERYTHING that is on that wish list into the design while taking into account  all the other criteria such as  regulations, site geography, passive solar design,  future use, materials, and the list goes on. 

The most common comment we here when our clients are presented with their first  sketch design is……...”Oh I would never have thought of that!!” 

We’re often asked  what type of CAD (Computer Aided Design) package we use…………”A pencil” !!

While it is  virtually impossible to take into account  all the costs involved at this stage your  design  SHOULD be within 10% of your budget.  We in fact guarantee it!! 

At this stage there may be a few changes required. This is  easy at this  point as these changes, often being minor, can be incorporated into the  preliminary  CAD drawings.  This is where  the   plans are then sent to our Architectural Technicians.  They’re the  team members who all the technical and  construction issues are nutted out. From here we can generate some  true and lifelike Rendered Images.  


Now we can start to get a good look at what your new home is going to look like and some choices in materials and colours can be made.

the final stage is to produce the   technical drawings for Building Approval. Or Working Drawings. These are  documents that will  form part of the Building Contract and will be the  Approved Plans.

 So our family has now a comprehensive set of drawings  and may now obtain quotations from their selected Building  Contractors.  As they have pid for  their  design and  all the documents they are free to use these.   (many companies who advertise “free plans” or at severely reduced rates  often retain copyright  so as to not have  competitors  give  quotes on the same plans) …..Apples for apples we say.

The quotes have  come back and there is a $60 000 variation in the  prices.  From now can  work out just exactly  where the  costs vary and  which builders  provide the best VALUE with their inclusions etc. Ultimately a builder is chosen who can start immediately and  our family has   saved themselves around $10 000 on what they had budgeted. They have a home that is energy-efficient and  now sell  power back to the  grid and  is water efficient. It’s cool in Summer and  warm as toast in Winter. So they have decided not to put in those air conditioners.


Conclusion: Your new home  is the biggest  monitary investment you’ll ever make. Why woulkd you want to “save money” by spending the least on the most important stage of the  process. Architects, Building designers, and Drafting Technicians are all  trained  professionals and  really know how to  Would you really want the cheapest, least experienced  mechanic working on your new Mercedes?. Or would you even contemplate  servicing your  new Mercedes yourself to save a few dollars.


An investment in the Design of your new home isn’t a cost but a  massive saving in the  medium and long-term, and every successful project starts with the right advice. 


Call us today for an obligation free assessment of your project and  lets start saving money from the very beginning!!


5 Biggest MIstakes.No 2.

2. Right House, Wrong Site

We had to make some changes to capture the winter sun.

A lot of clients  get ideas from  display homes or   home design brochures from  some of the larger project builders. Often they are  “sold”  the plan and its advantages (usually price).  But putting house A and Site B doesn’t work unless careful consideration is given to the principles of air movement and passive solar design. We see so many house designs that look sensational in a book but put on a particular site just don’t stack up. 

Recently I was asked to do a renovation” on a clients home who picked a plan out of a book and built the home. But it turned out to be cold, dark and very hot in summer. To renovate and correct the orientation to get light in was going to cost over $150 000……They sold the home!!



Obtaining a site survey is essential BEFORE any design work is commenced. A site inspection may then be required to look at the surrounding environment, and discuss the possibilities. Then write down all the personal requirements of your new home. Each site is as individual as the family who is going to move in. Making a list of  the  constraints that are   likely to affect the design.  There are two types of  constraint. “negotiable” and “non – negotiable”. Non Negotiable are   local,  state and  federal building regulations and covenants. Bon Negotiable Constraints are  positions of  rooms, driveways, size and budgets. The slope can be a negotiable constraint as  changes can be made  to the  site  using   site cut and retaining walls.

Your designer will use his skill and expertise in Architecture and Design to put everything you need and want into the home right from the start. Cutting corners at the design stage in an attempt to save money always ends up costing  more in the long-term.

Every new home is  unique, every  client is  unique, and every design  should be unique.

Call us today for a no obligation, free  assessment of your site. This can be done in person or via  the internet as  most local authorities  today have excellent mappung capabilities and an assessment can be done from the desktop.

Mining Accomodation

According to research by Murdoch University,  AUSTRALIA’S growing army of fly-in,  fly-out workers – which now numbers around 200,000 people in the mining sector – suffer from severe stress on their family relationships, and many believe their companies don’t care about them, new research has found.

Mining is the main employer of fly-in,  fly-out workers in remote locations around the nation, many of whom work up to four weeks away from home, for pay rates usually at least double those in the big cities.

But while the pay is better, there is high turnover – one in three mine workers don’t last a year in the job, a parliamentary inquiry was told last year – and a growing body of evidence on the social impacts.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald    Read more:

The Big Commute


Traditionally  mining accommodation was and still is for that matter has been  quite poor as far as  amenity and comfort goes.  With 12 hour shifts  and  little time for  “relaxing”  the  units or “Dongas” as we have come to know them provide the  basics at best.

With the mining sector continuing to grow and  more accommodation being needed  a higher standard of accommodation is  being  asked for.  With the stress  of  working away from home and  the high staff turnover driving  up production costs companies are now seeing the benefits of  investing in purpose-built  and designed  facilities in an attempt to make life away from home  just that bit more comfortable.

Photo: Jacky Ghossein


A Home away from Home


One of our latest developments is an example of  what can be  done with a bit of planning, some  specialised design and  thought for the  occupants and how  their  working life in remote ares can be enhanced  just a little.

Comfortable and stylish these units can be provided  by the private sector at no cost to the mining companies and  can also be a lucrative and positively geared  investment for the astute  developer.

A comfortable place to unwind.


With  China’s hunger for our commodities  predicted to continue for the next  20 – 25 years and  a fast growing market in India there will be a huge demand on suitable and  more comfortable  accommodations.

For further information on our  design options  for  specifically  designed worker accommodation call our office today on (07) 5478 0222