Aug 08, 2014 3:12 pm
I've been enjoying and learning from the forum for the last two years, and now it's time to add my own building thread with the hope that my experiences will help others.
Our purpose in building a new house is to get the perfect layout and features I want, and I found the only way to achieve was with a custom design. The main outcomes we hope to achieve: space for everything so it's easier to keep tidy; easy to clean fixtures; sustainable design and environmentally friendly materials. Our constraints are BAL40 on south side and BALFZ rating on other 3 sides and of course, budget
15 Oct 2012 we bought a block with a 1960's fibro house which we'll knock down, and a brand new pool! The previous owners had just had DA approved to build a 2 storey house, but decided to move instead. That gave us confidence that we'd get permission too.
As you can see from the date, we have a bit to catch up on, so I'll break it up for readability.
Aug 08, 2014 4:27 pm
I came up with floor plans myself using a free program called Sweet Home 3D (having been thinking about it for the previous 2 years). Because we wanted to essentially stick to my plans, not get an architect's flight of fancy, the plan was to get them drawn up by a draftsman.
But then we heard about a service from My-Architect - a 3 hr consultation and concept sketches (after 1 or 2 weeks) for which we keep copyright of the design, for $1400. The intention was to confirm that my design ideas were sound & workable, or fix any issues with it.
That service was a complete waste of money & time! The 'architect' we met couldn't answer basic questions like how much set-back do we need to allow on each side of the house and seemed to know nothing about solar orientation. Instead of using the 3 hrs to get a full brief or discussing the plans I had, he insisted on wasting time, drawing up his own ideas - without asking what we want or need, so he had no useful input. Time was up so I had to email our brief to him for him to draw up the plan we wanted. I made a typo in my brief specifying bedrooms to be 6.6m long instead of 3.6m long so his sketch was unusable. Even if he'd done it the right size it would have been no more than what any draftsman could do, as we got no input or advice from him.
23rd January 2013
We hired an architect who specializes in cost-effective sustainable design & is someone other architects go to for thermal comfort star ratings etc. So, although it’s another $4300 for a sketch design, it could save us in building costs and running costs.
Again we basically wanted him to do our plans with any small improvements he could make, but of course he came up with his own completely different and unsuitable (& stupid) deisign. He did also drawn up my plans as I wanted, and we should have stopped at that point (Feb 2013) but I guess he offered to improve it. It was a fixed price contract, so any number of plans & changes was included in the price. Thank goodness, because his "improvements" and my correcting his "improvements" went on until September, until we settled on a design, not so different from our original but bigger.
When we got tenders on this 'final' plan they were well over our budget and substantially over the initial estimates the same builder had done off my original self-drawn sketch.
Feb 2014 we hired a draftsman to once more redo our plans, removing about 23 sq m that we didn't really need, and turning them into working drawings for DA & builder. I kind of wish we'd just gone to this draftsman in the first place, even though we did get a few improvements along the way, the process with the architect took so long and became more and more frustrating as some changes I'd have to tell him twice to do, and other changes I wanted, he argued against, and I had to fight to get what I wanted. One of the frustrating things was, if there was ever a choice b/n sustainable design and the current aesthetic fashion, he'd happily ditch the sustainable feature (which is what he was hired for) in favour of an aesthetic that I don't even like. I thought he'd understand that we'd prefer a house to be comfortable and functional than looking trendy - until it looks dated.
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone3
Aug 08, 2014 4:43 pm
+1 for SweetHome 3d. I designed my house which is two storey with the ground floor also having split level.
It's great. Allowed me to visualize what everything would look like and achieve a proportionate look and feel throughout.
Luckily my block orientation was pretty good and with double glazing we are achieving 6 plus energy ratings.
I just passed the SweetHome file to the builder and they turned it into final drawings. I think from a copyright stand point as the plan and design elements are pretty much what I wanted it would hard for the builder to claim sole ownership rights.
It just takes such a long time though.
Aug 09, 2014 2:50 pm
15 Oct 2012 settlement on our new land
25 Oct 2012 consulted with My-Architect
23 Jan 2013 hired new architect
4 Sep 2013 got 'final' plans from architect
8 Oct 2013 sent plans & specs to builder for tender
12 & 22 Nov got tenders from builder
Jan 2014 met with builder to discuss ways of reducing cost of build
11 Feb 2014 hired contour surveyors (we had the pdf of survey done for previous owners but it had to be redone)
14 Feb 2014 hired draftsman
6 Mar 2014 sent contour survey, but later found an extra tree shown
28 Mar 2014 revised Contour survey finished
3 Apr 2014 Draftsman finished our revised plans
7 May 2014 I submitted our DA to council
8 May 2014 got tender from builder for revised plans
19-25 Jun 14 Storm-water plans done
26 Jun 2014 council approved our DA
2 Jul 2014 got final tender from builder
5 Aug 2014 hired private certifiers for Construction Certificate
7 Aug 2014 signed contract with builder
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone6
Aug 09, 2014 3:14 pm
Haha I wish. Just sent a chaser mail asking for the revised list of variations that will be included in the contract. I want everything fixed price and in the contract for what the builder is doing. The house plot has been ready to start with the old house demolished since mid January. I expect they will get the final variations either next week or week after.
From there I will turn it around quickly for them and a contract will be drafted. It will take some time for me to go through that and once signed I will pay and they will start.
All the council approvals and everything has been done for a year now. The delays are coming from the 20+ pages of variations as not one standard item has been left from what the builder supplies so every single item has been changed to what I want and envisage.
Although it is no grand design is is everything I want and will be my dream home. Hopefully it is practical as well. It does have a number of indulgences but what dream home doesn't. I have resisted the urge to post up the plans and choices largely as more opinions will make me second guess and I want no more delays.
I will make an effort to document the journey. Oh and another reason it is taking so long is because I live overseas and everything it being done via email. This is where SweetHome3D was invaluable in helping me clearly articulate what I wanted with precise measurements.
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone7
Aug 14, 2014 7:45 am
Good luck with the bal FZ kdr
We are very close to completion of a large addition to our home
We are in Ryde NSW and in Bal FZ. The FZ requirements have been very challenging
Is your builder familiar with Bal FZ
This impacts he whole build
Windows, cladding, roof, services finishes etc etc
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone8
Aug 30, 2014 6:06 pm
Hi Tony. The BALFZ restrictions get annoying and expensive don't they. I believe my builder has experience in this area, but I've also had consultations with bushfire consultants during the design stage. They were surprisingly helpful in suggesting the cheapest methods of complying.
The south side of our house is BAL40, and by recessing the front door on the east (FZ) side, it is also shielded and therefore only requires BAL40, so no shutter required. I wish it was the north side that was BAL40 as all the big windows are on that side of course, but C'est la vie.
It was interesting when we started and I rang a list of project builders - ~ half of them said, no they wouldn't build in a FZ area, the others said "What level of flame zone is it - 12, 29 or 40?" Even when I explained that Flame Zone is the level above 40, they still didn't get it!
Aug 30, 2014 6:38 pm
I hope my list of costs is helpful to someone, even though these things vary.
Contour Survey $990 I think this was less than normal
Soil Test - already done by previous owner
Concept Design by "My Architect" services $1450 (complete waste of money)
Concept Design by architect (different one) $2035
Design Development by architect $2260
Working drawings by draftsman $5313
Stormwater design $1265
Engineering plans - I was quoted about $4000 I think, when I went directly to a recommended engineer, but actually the builder got it through his contact for about $1000 and included it in his fees
Basix certificate (did it myself) $50
Council DA fees $9245 - this is partly based on the cost of the build ( higher build cost = higher DA fee) but also varies from council to council. My brother's house will cost more to build but his DA + CC was only ~$8000
Construction Certificate through private certifier - we had quotes from about $1000 to $3300 and took the middle one of $2420
Sydney water building plan approval $17.50 (quick stamp at Reece)
Demolition of weatherboard clad house on piers with asbestos, carport & driveway - 2 quotes so far - $16,390 & $22,616
Lower one excludes disconnection of services & removal of trees & garden, which second one includes and prices at $1700.
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone10
Sep 01, 2014 11:02 pm
Just read your costings with interest. Currently going through custom owner build myself and nice to know that what we have been charged so far seems to be about the going rate. Yet to receive engineering bill though!
Just wandering if you have to provide insurance for your build or do you have a builder who will be providing this? I cant decide who to go with and forum so far has been not helpful in this regard. TIA
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone11
Sep 28, 2014 1:56 am
Our builder got the insurance. We are not owner building but I am doing alot of stuff myself that is often taken care of by either the builder or architect. I've recently discovered my first big mistake, actually: We weren't required to submit a bushfire report with our DA, so I didn't, in order to save the $400 for the report. Now, after we have DA & CC, I've learnt that our requirements are stricter than we expected & than they would have been if we'd submitted the bushfire report with the DA. The point of difference being $8000+ worth of shutters required on our BAL40 side. We can should be able to fix this with a section 961A application $500 with the bushfire report ~$400. Sigh.
The good news is, the old house has now been demolished so the build can now start.
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone12
Feb 27, 2015 9:21 pm
I have been reading your posts with interest. We are deciding whether or not to do a second floor addition in wahroonga having just found out three sides are flame and front is bal-40. Have you got any recommendations re design, windows, roofing, etc?
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone13
Jul 15, 2015 12:57 am
When we started looking into building in a Flame Zone, I was told the FZ requirements can add $60,000 to $80,000. I didn't believe it, but now I think it may not be that far off. It's hard to tell because we didn't get quotes on a standard house or components (eg. windows) that we can't have. The shutters alone cost just under $25,000! If any one is interested I'll try to list the extra costs/requirements involved in the bushfire requirements.
UPDATING Custom KDR in Flame Zone14
Jul 15, 2015 1:12 am
Well in the 9 1/2 mths since I last posted what was happening with my build - my house is almost finished! I really wanted to keep a diary of the whole build, particularly dates of when things happened because I thought it would be interesting to see how long each stage took; and I did start, but once building actually started, I got too busy to keep it up!
I think they started site works early October 2014. It will be at least August before they finish so that's 10 months + (not including demolition).
Oh the demolition was a doozy! They found more and more asbestos, so the price kept going up. Then they said they couldn't remove the wall tiles which were stuck directly to asbestos sheeting because it would put asbestos fibers into the air, so the tiles had to go to the asbestos disposal place too. And then there was asbestos inside the concrete steps, so the concrete steps had to go with it. You pay extra for asbestos disposal and it's done by weight, so dumping tiles and concrete with it added significant costs. Final price to demolish small fibro house on brick piers, and driveway: $23,886.
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone15
Jul 15, 2015 1:22 am
Tiling was finished today, plumber is meant to do fix-out this week and next week they will start painting. Then the electrician fix-out. Then I guess they'll be cleaning up.
I curious/anxious to see how well they clean up the yard that they've littered with rubble, scraps, lunch wrappings and piles of sand.
Can't believe it's almost finished - although I've come to realise that after the builder is finished, there's still much to be done! Landscaping, driveway, window furnishings, moving of course, fence, letterbox, 'floating' timber floor will all be done after hand-over.
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone16
Jul 18, 2015 4:35 pm
Turns out tiling wasn't finished after all. They left too large a gap around the wall mounted tap and will have to pull the tile off and cut a new one to fit. This will be the forth time they've had to pull tiles off the wall & redo it. They used the wrong tile for skirting in the powder room, and in two separate areas they laid some of the tiles in the wrong pattern (long story). (sigh)
Re: Custom KDR in Flame Zone17
Jul 28, 2015 5:35 pm
Some things I've learnt along the way:
We have sourced and supplied most of the non-structural stuff for this house we are building, including: all bathroom fittings, all cabinetry, all flooring, all tiles, lights, fans, locks, appliances, electric shutters, even the front door. This was partly to save money - saving on builder's mark-up but also buying cheap & finding bargains. But also because I didn't want my choice limited to the brands & styles the builder could supply.
This has caused some extra stress for both me and the builder. A few of the products we had delivered were the wrong size in one way or another, and it was not apparent until about to install it. If the builder was doing the supplying, and this happened - at least it wouldn't be my responsibility.
I've also had the builder complain a number of times because some of the stuff I've bought is apparently poor quality - it looks fine, but supposedly takes longer to install.
Eg. I bought cheap kitchen cabinets from Ikea for my laundry. I was going to install them myself, but the builder said my kitchen installer should do it. I just got a bill for over $1000 for the installation of those 7 cabinets and 3 vanities. I wish I'd done it myself!
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