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41A Foss Street Forest Lodge

The Adventurous – 41A Foss Street, Forest Lodge

Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.

– W. Somerset Maugham

This was an adventure that millions of people in Australia followed. The Grand Designs episode showed 41A Foss Street house as a fight on many levels. When the house was completed it turned out that the spirit of the fight and willpower of its creators – Chris Knierim and Belinda Knierim – translated into the design.

This review will look at how this happened and why it works.

41a Foss Street

Picture: Jennifer Aaron Real Estate

To begin with, the house pushes you back physically. it is not very easy to look at this house from the street – you have to step back as far as you can till you hit the wall on the other side of the narrow road. If you dare to approach the house you have to be careful balancing on the narrow footpath while raising your head to look at the detail on the balcony underside.

Elements you notice first.

Elements you notice first.

Compared with the other houses nearby this one makes a completely different impression. It stands there aloof and reserved. The geometry is sharp, the edges are expressed and even the plants on the green wall are spiky. This is not soft and friendly ivy. These plants will cut your finger with their sharp leaves if you play with them.

Even the city pattern on the door has a diagonal direction as if it has been slashed. The pattern itself shows an aerial view of the neighbourhood – this is one more element that has the association of being higher than others.

Sharp, high, aloof – these are the three words that make up the first impression. Also, notice the font used to make the house number plate – very architectural Futura.

Lines go in a diagonal direction creating movement.

Lines go in a diagonal direction creating movement.

The materials come from the hardened range: steel, stone, frameless toughened glass. Strong and masculine is the other way to describe the look of this house.

Heavy metal door. Picture: Jennifer Aaron Real Estate

Heavy metal door. Picture: Jennifer Aaron Real Estate

While aloof, the house is not quiet. The sound of water coming from the courtyard is added to the visual impact.

Reflections are everywhere.

Reflections are everywhere.

Once inside, you see large expressed lines. They dominate the interior geometry. Another word that gets added to the house vocabulary is “reflection”. The reflections are everywhere: the ceiling, the walls, the furniture, even the floor. Moreover, when you were outside you also noticed that the window in the first floor shows the reflections of other houses.

The spikes that you first noticed outside on the green wall made their way into the house: the artistic photographs unexpectedly depict the Opera House as a group of spikes.

The spikes inside.

The spikes inside.

The ceiling looks almost as if someone slashed it with a long blade and light burst through the cut.

The "slashed" ceiling.

The “slashed” ceiling.

The design alludes more and more to physical alertness. The strong, shiny materials and rapid lines remind us of adventures, risk and… look at the floor! Here is the trophy!

The trophy - cow skin rug.

The trophy – cow skin rug.

Heavy materials inside.

Heavy materials inside.

Everything in this house speaks about confidence and strength. Even the water feature at the back is not a simple pond but a powerful waterfall. However, the water has been tamed and is now gushing between two glass blades. This is the symbol of man ruling over the nature. It wouldn’t be surprising if this waterfall were in fact a mini hydroelectric station. This is a decidedly yang house.

Tamed waterfall. Picture: Jennifer Aaron Real Estate

Tamed waterfall. Picture: Jennifer Aaron Real Estate

Only once you get to the private section – the first floor ­­– the yin nature reveals itself. The black and white contrast gets toned down into a range of greys. The materials become less reflective. Transparent glass becomes opaque, softer timber replaces concrete, straight lines are accompanied by intricate ornaments and, as the epitome of yin, the master bedroom only receives low hanging lights that are of course made of glass but in the shape of balls. All this makes the private part of the house softer and giving in to the personality of its new owners.

More subdued tones on master bedroom. Picture: Jennifer Aaron Real Estate

More subdued tones on master bedroom. Picture: Jennifer Aaron Real Estate

There are many other unexpected elements and each of them will surprise you with the depth of design thought. This house is for someone brave and with a sense of adventure.

To get a review of your house email katrina@designprojector.com or call 0407 174 434.


10 ways to create luxury home oomph. Part 5: sloping ceiling

What does your dream home look like? Chances are that if it is a contemporary house you are after some wow effect. But there are dozens of ways to do it. In this series of posts I will try to cover 10 ways that really make a modern house stand out.

Sloping ceiling – what do you do about it and why does it work in some case and does not work in other ones?

Why is sloping ceiling important?

It is one of the largest surfaces in the room. It is probably the biggest because on the floor you normally have furniture. When a ceiling slopes it naturally attracts attention because of the change. Our eye picks it up and the brain registers. This is why it has a big potential in design.  How this potential is realised can make or break the design as we will see further.

Now that we know why it is important let’s look at what role it can play in the design.

First, the ceiling can be the prima donna on the stage or it can be a singer in the choir. Either can be great but what conditions allow it to be the main character in the drama?  The drama is the key word here. The drama will require some strong contrast, conflict. It will evoke strong feelings. For example, in this Finnish church drama is unfolding right in front of you as you walk down the passage.

Kuokkala Church by Lassila Hirvilammi Architects

Kuokkala Church by Lassila Hirvilammi Architects

In this case the conflict is built around height – at the sides the ceiling is low and mundane and in the middle it soars to immense height. The ornament emphasizes the difference changing from small to large.

Can this tension be achieved in a house?  Yes it can. But in a house we seldom can have even a two storey atrium, let alone many meters more. Still, we can create a strong contrast through a high pitched ceiling.

In Australia, however, this type of roof is less common and even not recommended or allowed due to local climate.  For this reason in Australian houses sloping ceiling is more likely to be one of the musical instruments in the trio where other two are floor and walls. Or it is part of a larger band where is can create rhythm and pulse or harmonic foundation.

The materials of the ceiling will set the mood while the geometry will convey the role.  For example, a symmetrically sloping cathedral ceiling “sounds” differently from an asymmetrical raking ceiling.

timber clad sloping ceiling

Bernardo Bader Architects Location: Vorarlberg, Austria

Expressed rafters will create rhythm. The size of the rafters will matter a lot for whether you prefer drums or chimes.

sloping ceiling rafters

House by Klopf Architecture

exposed ceiling rafters

Image via Designboom.com courtesy of förstberg arkitektur och formgivning (FAF)


Ceiling can be clad in timber, in which case it will be the first violin as in the example below.

timber cathedral ceiling

Seaview House designed by Jackson Clements Burrows


timber cathedral ceiling

Bromont Residence by Blouin Tardif Architecture Environnement,

If the ceiling is smooth plasterboard in an all-white room then it blends in with all the rest and harmonises everything. It allows other elements of the design to come to the foreground.

white sloping ceiling

ZeroEnergy Passiv House Retreat

If the room is rather elongated the sloping ceiling will be more prominent. It will be constantly vying for your attention. It is only logical that in rooms like this the ceiling has to be really well considered and its potential realised in full. Otherwise it could be a flop – you could feel that the room proportions are not quite right, the ceiling it hanging too low and the whole impression is one of a very confined space.

sloping ceiling narrow room

School classroom by Bof Architekten

In this example the ceiling is resolved as two planes. The combination of materials not only manages acoustical properties of the room but also allows to set the mood.

By Jorge Hrdina Architects

In this design the ceiling slopes in an unusual direction. The shelf also adds draws the eye upwards and towards the clerestory windows.

As you can see sloping ceiling is quite a character that can have a very strong voice. Whether this voice sounds in unison with the rest of the orchestra or creates cacophony is something a good designer should consider.

Most of the images are found on Pinterest.

10 ways to create luxury home oomph. Part 4: natural stone

4/10 ways to create luxury home oomph: natural stone

What does your dream home look like? Chances are that if it is a contemporary house you are after some wow effect. But there are dozens of ways to do it. In this series of posts I will try to cover 10 ways that really make a modern house stand out.

From the Stone Age
natural stone interior

Stone, or rock, has been essential to human civilization. From stone knives to Stonehenge and Easter Island, to mediaeval castles, baroque marble sculpture and Victorian sandstone architecture. The interest in stone develops in us probably as early as two years of age. Whose kids did not pick up little stones or pebbles on a walk? Today many of still have this inclination and this post is for those who like using stone in house design.

The never decreasing popularity of stone can be explained by several reasons.

  • One is that there is a lot of variation – colour, texture, finish – stone can be honed, polished or rough.  It can help to create a rich tactile experience, especially if you have small children who need to develop their fine motor skill. Stone can be cut in different manners to create interesting layered effect.
  • Another reason is that it is a natural material which we are always eager to have in our houses in the age of synthetic materials.
  • Yet another reason is the emotional or spiritual connotation. Stone is very old and there is some kind of reverence in having a piece of our planet’s history in our house.

The problem with stone is that it is hard to get, it is heavy and hard to handle. It is also expensive. For these reasons we do not build solid walls out of stone anymore. In most cases we can afford a feature wall. To meet this demand manufacturers offer stone cladding – stackstone, which is a brandname used generically to denote engineered stonemasonry.

What I am going to say below is only my personal opinion. Feel free to argue in the comments. My opinion is that if you would like to use stone in your interior or exterior design, it is preferable to go for solid stone, rather than stackstone. Of course, in this case you will not be able to build a feature wall. Instead, you will be able to introduce stone in other ways that will create a similarly powerful visual effect and will have one unbeatable advantage.

The advantage of using solid stone is that it allows to avoid the fake effect. It is the imitation, which robs stackstone of the power of natural stone. Once the stone is reduced to a just a cladding, once it loses its structural strength, the stone, in my view, loses its appeal. It becomes flimsy, hollow, even sterile, if you wish.

image from maxistone.com.au

The appeal of the stone is in its strength. This is why the stone castles induce such awe in us. We admire the effort of the ancient builders, their craft and the beauty of what they created out of such hard material. This is why today rock chips do not create anywhere near effect. Stone cladding simply does not work as it should. It is not better that any other cladding and wallpaper is just as good as a feature wall internally. Wallpaper in this case is even better because it is honest and quite often it is a piece of art. Wallpaper does not pretend to be what it isn’t. Stackstone does.


stackstone feature wall

photo from spec-net.com.au

So how can you introduce stone into your house design without paying too much? The answer to this questions lies in the features of the stone.

Stone is strong and comes in different sizes, therefore you can consider using it as support. For example, a bollard can be a base for a coffee table inside. A piece of rock can be used as a bench, or a shelf, or a threshold – in other words, something that will carry weight.

Natural stone in interior design. Let me know if you know the author.


bollard as table

Rock as a coffee table. Found on artefactdesignsalvage.com

rock shelves

Rock as shelves. Pinned from bloodandchampagne.com

Stone also comes in all sorts of shapes. Consider getting a naturally shaped large rock and using it outside as part of landscaping. It is hard to think of something that belongs to landscaping better than stone.


rock landscaping

Rock in landscaping. Happy to credit the author if you know them.

However, if you would like to create a statement in the hall, consider using rock as a centrepiece. Add some light, enough room around it and voila!

bollard rock stone interior design

Bollard in interior design. Photo from disdigs.com

As an option to larger rocks you can use gravel. Again, it could be rough gravel or pebbles. These work best in multitudes and in geometrical application.

gravel house design

Courtyard House / Buensalido Architects

For example, pebbles look great inside along the junction of the walls and the floor.


gravel pebbles luxury house

Gravel at the junction of the walls and the floor. Design by DeForest Architects. Found on Homeadore.com

They also help to separate areas. The best example would be the one below where the pebbles are used both inside and outside with only a pane of glass dividing them.

luxury homes pebbles onside outside

Pebbles in the interior design. Fung + Blatt Residence | Fung + Blatt Architects | Archinect

A separate thing to consider is using marble as internal cladding. It is hard to disagree that it looks very impressive in the example below.


Marble looks impressive in palatial interiors that project power. Happy to credit the author if you know them. Found in wordpress blogs.

The key to this is that marble is a symbol of wealth and luxury. It works because there is a lot of it and the volume of the rooms is quite large. Marble is a palatial material that represents power. In a regular house it will become pretentious and ostentatious. It is like gold. However, if you can add a little humour or employ contrast you will be able to use marble quite successfully.


marble in interior design luxury minimalistic home

Marble success in sensuous minimalistic design depends on the contrast. Casa AR by LUCIO MUNIAIN et al. Fount at architizer.com

In the example above marble is the only visually “rich” and heavy material. The rest creates an atmosphere of lightness. Restrained white on white palette bring to the foreground the beauty of the marble veins.

To sum up, there are many other ways of using stone which will maintain and emphasise its spirit and still look impressive and creative.

Let me know what you think!

10 ways to create luxury home oomph. Part 3: brick

3/10 ways to create luxury home oomph: brick

What does your dream home look like? Chances are that if it is a contemporary house you are after some wow effect. But there are dozens of ways to do it. In this series of posts I will try to cover 10 ways that really make a modern house stand out.

architectural house design brick

Tank Architectes’ College Levi-Strauss in Lille. Photo by Julien Lanoo

Brick could probably be one of Australia’s most loved building materials. It is hard to withstand its charm – there is something solid about it. However, the brick could be much more versatile. Today we will look at 5 ways of making brick the main character of the design.

What are the prerequsities that will allow to uncover the design potential of the brick?

First, it is the fact that in comes in fixed sizes. Nothing new. But the fact is that using this small size designer can create rhythm, which is one of them main pillars of visual appeal.

Secondly, brick comes in different colours and textures the colour itself can send a very strong message.

Thirdly,  brick is structural. It is loadbearing and it can be used exclusively to build a house any height.

Bearing these three things in mind let’s look at examples of some great brick projects.


architecture brick

House of Representation | FORM | Kouichi Kimura Architects

Wherever brick is creating a pattern everything else should become flat and recede to the background. This is because brick pattern is very busy due to its size and attracts attention from the first glance. In this example all other lines are also restrained and minimal. There are no wide trims and even window frame is recessed into the wall so that the glass seems frameless. This approach helps to bring forward the geometrical nature of the brick and makes it play the main role in the whole combination of surfaces. By the way, there are many surfaces located one behind another. This still does not look complicated, in fact the ensemble of the walls looks refined and very uncluttered. The planes and how they reflect the light allow the eye to travel.


brick interior design

Found at intensifyit.eu. Will be happy to credit designer or photographer.

There is a very powerful way to emphasize the inherent property of the brick – its texture. It can be done using directed light. In this example the windows are located so that the light falls at the brick wall at a very low angle bringing forward the mortar joints and the brick texture. In this example this is the only property of the brick that is emphasized – the colour is neutral, virtually black. It is also important that it is the only dark surface in the room. Dark and textured.


modern architecture

Iberia Center for Contemporary Art / Approach Architecture Studio

modern brick architecture

RE-ST Architecten . photo by Philippe Van Gelooven via afasiaarq.blogspot.com


Brick also allows to build not only solid rectangular walls but also curved and even with openings. Robots these days can build a wave-like wall – out of brick. However, in residential situation we cannot freely employ robots. But we can think about using brick for simpler curves and openings. In this case that form will become the dominating feature. It will immediately bring forth the fact that a square brick can be used for sinuous curves. So to make sure this shape is the only thing standing out all other properties of the brick will be subdued. The colour should be monochromatic so as not to detract the viewer’s eye from the form of the walls. And most likely the texture will tend to be flatter.

modern brick house design

Waterloo Lane / Grafton Architects via archdaily.com

Finally for today, let’s look at the project built entirely from brick and a little bit of steel, which we don’t see anyway. In this project the structural strength comes to the foreground. The texture in non-existent, the colour is black. There is some pattern but it is a three-dimensional pattern that is created using the thickness of the brick rather than mortar joints as in the first example.

contemporary brick house design

IJjburg house by Marc Koehler via designboom

Again, the lines are as clean as possible. The building approximates a black box part of which is cut out and slightly shifted. The slither of the window shows minimal frames and the landscaping is simple too.

There are more ways of using brick effectively in a modern design based on the three properties of the brick mentioned in the beginning. To see more examples of great projects, check our Pinterest account http://www.pinterest.com/designprojector.


10 ways to create luxury home oomph. Part 2: entry and exit

2/10 ways to create luxury home oomph: entry and exit

What does your dream home look like? Chances are that if it is a contemporary house you are after some wow effect. But there are dozens of ways to do it. In this series of posts I will try to cover 10 ways that really make a modern house stand out.

luxury home entry

Progetto Arquitetura & Interiores – Brazil


In a well-designed house you can feel the atmosphere before you go in and when you are leaving.

It means that a design is able to create apprehension. When you arrive first time you already have some expectations of what the interior is like and while you are waiting at the door you are drawings some pictures in your mind. The best way to create a wow effect is to completely blow people’s expectations the first moment they come in. This can be done by designing something that they would not expect. Surprise them.

However, a surprise does not necessarily mean that interior should be the opposite of exterior. On the contrary, people tend to expect that the internal design will differ from the external. Yes, you see what I am driving at. Make the entry a continuation of the outside and you will immediately make people gasp.

modern house hall

Image found at Pinterest

There are several ways to do it. Let’s start by looking at what elements of the exterior design can continue into the house. We have: floor, walls, ceiling. On the walls we probably have some finish. These are the physical elements. There are also such elements as line of sight, scale, proportion and light. This list is not exclusive of course but let’s just concentrate on these tricks for now.

If we start with the elements with the largest surface, we will look at the walls. If your exterior walls have some special finish, like this timber cladding in the photo above try to budget for bringing this cladding into the entry hall. You can try to create an effect of a band so that your cladding would look like it goes around uninterrupted, dives into the house and dives out to the exterior again.

Floor is the second largest surface. Again, if you continue the same material into the hall the effect will be just as powerful. You will immediately create this flow which will work too for a situation when you leave the house. Think whether you can continue your polished concrete to the porch or farther or whether you can use your timber flooring externally. Alternatively, consider extending your exterior floor into the hall only if you do not want it throughout the house.

beautiful house landscaping

Photo from designhunter.net

The same approach will work for the ceiling. Ask your designer to consider the porch in consonant with the hall. You might think not only about finish of the ceiling but also about its shape.

This brings us to the idea that in addition to the materials your entry could be also surprising in terms of height. Think about the contrast between a modest porch and a double height entry hall, which is not new but still very powerful. It also allows you to create a welcoming point where you can display your family photos, portraits or other accessories that will create a homely atmosphere.


luxury house porch

House Roces / Govaert & Vanhoutte architectuurburo. Photo from ArchDaily

Since entry is often not a very large space you might consider a special light effect. A simple and traditional approach is buying a designer light. It works very well but aim to plan for it right from the start to make sure your designer light and your room proportions complement each other.

Another approach is to use daylight and windows. Skylights work particularly well in a double story entry and can create a dramatic effect.

modern house windows

Special effect windows designed by Floissand Studio. Photo from Houzz.com

Custom made windows can also be used for equally strong impression. Forget about standard windows. Place your windows strategically: at the floor level to see outside gravel path (the gravel then must be very good and in pristine condition – no dirt), or in a corner to cast light on the wall at a very small angle (in this case your wall will have a 3D finish). Or consider a window of a unique shape. Again, this window will not be used to provide general or task light – it will be your design statement. See how it works in the example below.

modern house interior

Slither window. Via Dane Caldwell

As you can see, entry point is very important in terms of design. Even though it is relatively small, if you pay attention to the design you will be able to set the mood the first second you arrive. Similarly, it will be the last space of the house that you go through before you leave. And you know of course, people remember the last several seconds better so think about what you want to remember each day when you will be heading out. It will flicker in your mind for some time and it will be your feeling of a home that you will be carrying with you every morning.

10 ways to create luxury home oomph. Part 1: natural materials

1/10 ways to create luxury home oomph: natural materials

What does your dream luxury home look like? Chances are that if it is a contemporary house you are after some wow effect. But there are dozens of ways to do it. In this series of posts I will try to cover 10 ways that really make a modern house stand out.

I will start today with one approach – combining natural materials with strict geometry of the building.

In this duo geometry comes first and serves as the background for the natural materials. The reason is that these materials often create some rhythm because of the format in which they come. Think timber cladding for example. To really bring the rhythm to the foreground all the rest has to be toned down and very much under control so as to make a backdrop for the nice changes in shape or even texture that happens in natural materials.

So what is this strict geometry? How do we put in under control? Well, the first thing is to look at  the junctions of the walls and the roof. The fewer details there, the cleaner the form. Traditional gable roof with a barge board adds extra details that may detract your eye. In fact, all details that are there to cover, like bargeboard, fascia or, for that matter, any external embellishments, really work against the sleek effect that we are trying to create. This is why how roof meets the walls becomes very important and may actually bring some cost at design and construction stage. However, it pays off if you want to have this visual orderliness.

modern house timber

Tutukaka House in New Zealand by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects

Secondly, windows become extra important. Even though it is hard to underestimate the role of windows in any design, in this case they become part and parcel of the whole look. There are two main options how to resolve windows: they can be set back into the wall so that they are not in the same plane as the wall, or they can be brought forward and have a large tree-dimensional frame around them.

modern house timber cladding

Timber cladding by www.imbercladdingmelbourne.com.au

As you can see the idea is to make the plane of the wall pronounced and uninterrupted – in the case of a sunken window. Alternatively, if you have to interrupt the surface of the wall, it has to be emphatic and the window is brought forward significantly. It again makes the wall look as an independent surface.


modern house timber balcony

Tetris Social Housing by Artist Studios 51arch

In the examples above you can see that natural cladding can be used in three ways. One is to make in one and only material for the exterior. That may be expensive and require some upkeep so it is really an important decision.  Using cladding throughout makes a very strong effect especially if you mean it – like in timber shutters made of the same material. These shutters can open and reveal windows or even a patio behind.

luxury home timber shutters

Torquay House by Wolveridge Architects

Another way is to clad only part of walls like in this example here. In this case all the rest has to be toned down so as not to argue with the cladding. It means that other surfaces should be flat and have no detraction. This is why, I think, brick to ground floor and timber cladding to first floor never achieves this effect. The reason is, face brick and timber start talking too loudly at the same time. There is a difference in patterns, difference in texture and often, difference in colour. The result is often not bad, but not something we are discussing today. For this reason, if you are a great fan of natural timber  cladding, think about your other materials carefully.


modern house western red cedar

Western Red Cedar in a self built house in Nortumberland. Photo by Silva Timber products www.silvatimber.co.uk

The third way of using timber cladding is just to trim your main focal points, for example, large windows, or entry porch, or a pergola. Again, the rule of the background is true in this case as well.

For example, you can use natural materials in your landscaping feature, but then it should be designed at the same time as the house so that they together make a composition.

Yet another approach is to bring some of that natural material seamlessly into the interior, but I will cover this topic in a separate post.

An important thing to consider when you decide to use natural material is the texture. There are dozens of types and each creates a particular effect. If you want a very warm and homey feel you might choose timber with a fair bit of grain and knots. It looks busy but so tactile and inviting.

modern house timber entry

Timber cladding to entry by Resolution: 4 Architecture. Peconic Bay house

The form and size of the cladding also will play a great role in the overall effect. You can vary the size or use the same format everywhere – either way will help you to tell your story but you want to know what you are trying to convey at the very early stage of design. This is why it is important to talk to your designer not only about your dream house but also about yourself. An attentive designer will be able to elicit your story from you.

To wrap up, I would like to reiterate that natural cladding may be expensive but even if use sparingly can help to create a very strong impression.

How to design and build a house in five steps

There are five steps to building a new project or extending existing.

You can choose how to complete these steps with us selecting our Standard, Extended or Custom services. The difference between these packages is in the amount of responsibilities you take in the selection of finishes, fittings and fixtures and whether your project requires extra drawings.

  • Sketch design is the first step in planning your project and it starts when you give your brief. We visit your site, take photos, analyse orientation of the site, views and microclimate.  Then we measure up the building. Depending on the size it may take two to three hours.

    You will also need to get a surveyor to prepare a detailed survey suitable for designing the house. This survey contains a lot of information such as topographic level, trees, sewer line, pits, trees, roof and gutter level etc. You may want to engage your own surveyor or we can request quotes from you. A survey takes a good part of the day and can be as long as six hours depending on the site size and complexity. You do not have to be present all this time.

    While you wait for the survey we research the council regulations applicable to your site. Once we get the survey we can start working on the sketch design.

    We prepare the main option and allow up to two revisions after which revisions happen on hourly rate. The sketch design includes plans, section and elevations if necessary. Once you are happy with the sketch design we proceed to the next stage.

  • As you can see from the name of this stage, design development is about getting to finer details of your project – its structure, materials, location and type of services such as rainwater tank for example, and how all that influences the exterior and interior of the building.

    This is also when we work on the interior features of your project and prepare required drawings. (Some items may not be necessary for development application (for example, interior features and joinery that do not affect structure and exterior) so they may be prepared later so as not to extend design time.)

    We will coordinate the work of specialist consultants such as hydraulic and structural engineer, bush fire consultants and so on as required. Their recommendations and findings may play a significant role in designing the house and construction budget.

    We will provide a schedule of proposed finishes, review the developed design against the budget and coordinate, and prepare an updated estimate of the cost of the works.

    To sum up, we will:

    • develop the approved concept design and provide documentation to explain it to you,
    • coordinate the work of specialist consultants,
    • provide a schedule of finishes,
    • review the developed design against the budget and
    • coordinate, and prepare an updated estimate of the cost of the works.
  • We will prepare drawings and supporting documentation to lodge your development application or complying development certificate. Every Council has different requirements and every project is unique.

    What is Development Application?

    A Development Application  is a set of documents using which your Council can give you an approval to develop your land. The package includes:

    • plans, elevations, sections and a number of special drawings with notes, dimensions and calculations to show how the proposal meets Council and State regulations
    • Statement of environmental effects, Waste management plan, BASIX certificate, Schedule of finishes and materials, Opinion of probable cost
    • other documents different in each case as it depends on where your land is and what you are planning to build.

    If your project does not quite comply with regulations, which is happens quite often, it is good to have a pre-lodgment meeting with the Council. There is a fee for it but it is an opportunity to see what may be the Council’s response the proposal and whether the Council appreciates our arguments for incompliance.

    Once this package is ready you pay the council’s fee for lodging the development application. The fee is based on construction cost. There may be other fees and levies pertinent to the proposal. 

    What happens in Council

    The application may spend several weeks in the Council. We start chasing your application on third week to remind the duty planner about it and notify you on its status.

    First, the proposal goes on notification. The Council will put a sign on your property and send letters to your neighbours. If there are objections we may have to meet the objector and the duty planner to resolve it. Therefore, it is always recommended to be upfront with your neighbours if your proposal is likely to affect them.

    After two week’s notification the Council starts reviewing the application and any objections. The strongest proposal is the one that complies with State and local planning policy. It has the best chances of being approved without conditions.

    If the application is refused

    If your application is refused you can submit another one having addressed the issues or you can go to Land and Environment Court. Again, success in the court depends on incompliances. The fewer of them the better.

    If you change your mind after DA is approved

    If you decide to change design after it is approved, you can lodge a so called Section 96 application. In this case we will prepare drawings showing the changes. Other documents may also be required.

    If your project complies with the code it can be approved faster through Complying Development Certificate.

    Complying Development Certificate

    Complying Development Certificate is a combined planning and construction approval.

    It is supposed to be a fast track, 10-day approval process where a building meets all of the predetermined standards established in either a State or local council planning document. A complying development certificate can be issued by either your local council or an accredited certifier.

    Currently it may apply to single and two storey dwellings, dwelling additions, swimming pools, granny flats (secondary dwelling), outbuildings in the domestic realm of development. Also complying development certificates can now be issued for commercial development in relation to change of use of a premises and internal alterations.

    In addition to preparing drawings we will:

    • write specifications
    • obtain supplementary information and
    • coordinate consultant’s reports with our documents.

    If your project was approved through development application to Council the next step must be getting a Construction Certificate. But if you have a Complying Development Certificate you can skip the next step and go straight to tender.

    Construction Certificate

    Once you receive a development consent from your Council we will prepare documents required by Private Certifier who gives you a permission to actually start building.  The Certifier checks that the proposal complies with technical standards and regulations.

    This set of documents is different in each case. Council often gives consent with conditions. We update the drawings to meet these conditions. The Certifier lodges the Construction Certificate with Council once they are satisfied that all the requirements of the Development Consent are met.

    The Certifier also inspects the site before and during construction and issues occupation certificate upon completion. In this case, the Certifier acts as a Primary Certifying Authority (PCA). However, you can also request the Council to be your PCA.

  • Working drawings

    These drawings are drawn at a scale 1:50, 1:20 and 1:5 where necessary. They provide the builder with the information they need at a high level of detail including method of construction, locations, joints, thicknesses, finishes and many dimensions. Together with a document called Specifications these drawings make a full set using which the builder can do the work.

    If you consider the standard package remember two points:

    1. Changes = Time = Money, and
    2. The later the change, the more expensive it will be

    Therefore, changes in plans cost much less than changes during construction known as variations. Variations are one of the two reasons costs spiral. The other reason is the unknown (excavation and weather). For this reason we recommend that you consider our Custom package on Services page.


    If you do not have a preferred builder we organize a tender:

    1. We give each builder a copy of working drawings and Specifications.
    2. Builders prepare their quotes
    3. We analyse and compare the quotes for you. We do not recommend a builder because it must be your decision.

    There are several different forms of Building Contract, so you should always seek legal advice before signing.

  • What happens during construction?

    During construction you are likely to have fortnightly site meetings with the builder during which you will be checking how construction is going and verifying that you are happy with work done so far and that you can pay the builder’s next progress claim. You will be answering questions and checking that work is done according to the drawings and terms of contract, that materials used are exactly what you want.

    If you do not have the knowledge to answer the builder’s questions you will have to rely on their professionalism and judgment. However, it cannot be ruled out that even with builder’s best intentions you will not like the result because you thought it would be done differently.

    How your life can be made easier

    We take care of all this:

    • meet on site with you and the builder
    • prepare minutes
    • check progress claims
    • resolve upcoming issues
    • amend drawings as required
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