Category Archives: Uncategorized

Site Evaluation is Critical !!

Welcome to  our updated Web Site and Blog !!

In the past 12 months many changes have  involved  Southern Cross Design and Drafting relocating to Tropical North Queensland now based in beautiful Townsville.

Our focus is  providing a  more Excellence in Personalised, bespoke service to  our existing clients in Sth East QLD as well as  servicing  North Queensland and as far a field as Cloncurry and Mount Isa.

This week’s article is about  the beginnings of the design process and one  of the biggest decisions that is made. .The EVALUATION and PURCHASE of the site.


Driving through the  new Stage Release of a  brand new Residential Estate  gets the  creative  juices  flowing. We imagine building our Dream Home and the excitement kicks in as well.. But where to start?

Many of my recent clients have   visited a number of Builders’ display and  picked a plan they fall in love with. Only to find that the Builder doesn’t build on sloping sites  or the design  doesn’t fit the site.

A SITE APPRAISAL is one of the critical first steps in  realising your dream home’s full potential. In our opinion it is important that the Design  suite the site, not the other way around. Therefore is imperative to assess  your site correctly before  designing  your Dream Home.

Your Licensed Building Designer will visit your site with you to get an “feel” for the site itself and  chat initially about what  your vision is. He’ll walk over the site, making some  notes, maybe throw some grass clippings in the air, and assess any potential  opportunities and obstacles.

** Why did I highlight “Licensed Building Designer“?  Well many  clients I have seen have  visited a Display Home nearby and are taken in by offers of “FREE DESIGN”.  Ask if  the “designer” is experienced, trained and qualified. A new home is  arguably the biggest investment you’ll ever make. Why would you  engage an unqualified “designer” to design your home?

Site Evaluation

                          Our Senior Architect Ahtee discussing options with Builder Kieran.

Once we have visited the site some investigations and information gathering needs to be undertaken. This  Desktop Analysis details “

  • location of services ie electricity, sewer lines, drainage, easements, NBN
  • location of driveways and  infrastructure that may impact access
  • slope analysis (if contours are unavailable a Licensed Surveyor may need to be engaged)
  • Soil Test where geology may impact the design
  • Ecological Conditions – breezes and  sun position. (orientation to North)
  • Design Guidelines when  considering land in a Master Planned Community.

Once all these factors are collated thought then can be given to the  design of the  new home.

Case Study

A young couple building their first home were searching for land in the suburbs of Townsville and came across a block of land that was  some $40 000 cheaper  than others in the same area.

They had an appointment to  meet the agent and sign a contract  to secure  the block as it was too good to be true!! ……..and it was.

Sewer Main


Although an Easement was not noted on the Registered Plan a search revealed a very large and deep Sewer Main that  traversed the site. Some calculations  revealed that  with all the  building setbacks and constraints  on the site  the  allowable building footprint would not allow a single story home to be built.

Without  this critical information the  project  design and budget would have been seriously compromised in this case.

“Every Successful project starts with the right advice.”



Call us between now and the  end of December for a FREE 2 hour site evaluation and Desktop Analysis of your  potential Dream Home Site

Simply call  me on  0410 488 165 or email

and  mention  our Facebook Page or Web Page to qualify:  (valued at $265.00)


Stay safe and well 




RENOVATIONS (cont) – The Design Factor

An Asset or Money Wasted??

An Asset or Money Wasted??

This week  in the series about renovations I want to touch on the  “design stage”.

A renovation or extension can breathe fresh air into a dated and tired  home. After the kids have moved on a coat of paint, new doors and kitchen can do wonders for  a home over 20 years old. Significant value can be added to the property especially in established suburbs close to transport and  the inner city.

As  Sustainable Designers we  believe it  important to consider the  three aspects of  design

1. Economical – Needs to be affordable and  in the case of renovating does not overcapitalize the property.

2. Social – The renovation  suits the purpose for which it was  proposed.

3. Ecological – Designed for climate. Passive Solar Design principals and as energy efficient as possible.

Once we have all the information regarding  the existing dwelling we can then assess  what can be done while complying to local regulations.

Renovations can often be more time consuming from a drafting point of view as  we have to work with an existing structure and are often changing  the “use” of a certain part of a home. These changes usually have a knock on affect  which can affect other aspects of the home. During this stage the  design will evolve and often require some compromise and careful considerations.

An extension or renovation can:

  1.  Blend in with an existing dwelling.
  2. Enhance and  even change the  look of an existing  building
  3. Change the use of a building

Our experienced  and very talented Designers  will ensure that  your renovation is  pleasing to the eye and a valuable addition to your  most valuable. Not  a “thing” that looks like it has been stuck on to the top.

If your considering renovating for additional space, increasing the value of your old home  or the kids have left and  you want to ad that music room call us today for a  free site inspection and  site analysts valued at $225.00

Thommo Before

Our Award Winning Palmwoods Renovation



Before and After



Thommo After

Renovations !!

Renovating and or extending can be a  great way to add  value to a property. Whether the  property needs updating , modernizing  or you have  purchased the ideal “Renovator’s Delight” !!

As with any major  project  to do with the biggest investment and most valuable asset you own there are a few tips that can save you thousands of  $$$$ If  you follow a few basic  fundamental design principals.

Know Where You are Starting

When looking at  potential  renovation project the  first thing the designer’s need to know is exactly what we have to work with. If  the “as-constructed” plans are available this is a great starting point. If the  existing plans are not available then we need to measure the existing  buildings.Image result for Surveyor

I cannot stress how important it is to locate the existing  buildings in relation to the boundaries  on a suburban  block, BEFORE you attempt any renovations. This can only be done accurately by a licensed surveyor who will pinpoint or “pick up” where the  existing  buildings sit. We can then load that information into our CAD program for detailed analysts.

Some of or past clients have chosen to “save money” by not having this done and the end result has been a very costly oversight as trusses didn’t fit and wall frames didn’t fit. Your draftsman can only reproduce the information given to him. The more accurate this information, the more accurate the final design. Which means less mistakes on site.


Expectations, Budgets and Costing

These three never seem to match!!

It’s important as a designer to  manage the expectations  of our clients.  renovating is an  expensive exercise involving your most valuable asset.

Q. So how much does it cost to renovate.??

A. There is  no way of accurately estimating the cost of a renovation until designs are worked out, plans are drawn and engineering complete.  A builder is then able to do a materials “take off” and work out  cost of materials and labour. ….so a certain amount of  certainty is require before embarking on this.

As a benchmark  typically and  very roughly we always work on $1750 – $2000 per square meter. So if you want to add a bedroom then  36m2 will require an investment of around $40 – $60 K .

Hidden Surprises

Most renovations reveal some unexpected surprises. Something has moved, cracked or been eaten by termites. So be prepared for these.  A detailed inspection by your designer is vital. He may see things that you may not have.

Often what seems simple may not be as simple as first thought.

Case Study – Turn a Garage into an extra room

One of the more common extensions is to  turn a Double Garage into an extra bedroom or Rumpus Room. …….all seems straight forward??  …..wrong !!

A garage is constructed as a Class 10 Building. (Non Habitable) And is being converted to a Class 1 (Habitable) building or part thereof. This usually means that the slab has not been made  as waterproof as the rest of the house and is usually set down from the main slab.

Where do cars then park? Councils frown upon removing car parking from a residential home and as there are front setbacks that must be complied with (usually 6m) it is not  possible to erect a carport or garage in front of the home..There are exceptions to this rule and  you may apply to the local Council for a relaxation but this cannot be guaranteed. And this should be investigated prior to any final design works.

If your thinking of renovating or extending please call us today for a no obligation and no charge site assessment. We can save you a lot of  money in a very short time!!