Rara + Blog = rar-og = Rarog
Rarog = is Slavic for 'Fiery Demon', depicted as a falcon,
and since Rara has a common bird theme, we thought it was only too fitting
and since Rara has a common bird theme, we thought it was only too fitting
Step 2: The Design Process
The stages involved in designing your home are:
After discussing the client brief, the architect will usually conduct a site measure, then move on to preparing a schematic design. The first design is really there to facilitate a discussion - it will never be perfect. Perfect usually happens by the 3rd iteration.
This drawing is similiar to the Domain liftouts, showing a colourful plan of a house along with some accompanying photos to better define the intent behind the concept.
This stage takes your concept plan to the next level - the architect prepares the external elevations as well as a couple of 3D images. Again, perfect happens at about iteration 2.
TOWN PLANNING PERMIT
Often, clients confuse the different permits required for their project.
Town Planning Permits are carried out by Council's Statutory Planning Department. Council's goal with a planning permit is to ensure that all the developments remain a consistency with that area's identity or character. In other words, Council is involved in how the proposal impacts the street and the neighbourhood.
The applicant does NOT need to be a registered building practitioner or architect. The owner must, however, give consent (If someone purchases a property with a 3 month settlement and hopes to lodge a permit during the settlement, this is ok provided they obtain a signed document from the current owner).
A town planning permit is not strictly required for ALL projects. This depends on the zoning of their building, as well as the overlays (if any) that affect the site or area. A Heritage Overlay is the most known, but there are around 50 different overlays that cover all sorts of issues. One thing to look out for are the "Schedules to an overlay" or "Schedules to a zone". For example, a property might be in a standard 'Neighbourhood Development Zone'. This zone is generally the same across all Victorian Councils with minor variations. In this instance, the proposed design might have a minimum 40% garden area according to that zone. The Schedule, however, is an addendum to that zone, which may ask for a minimum 50% garden area on the property. The schedule overrides general zoning rules.
The Architect's town planning submission will address these schedules in the report as well as in the town planning drawings.
After the drawings are completed and submitted, Council may request to advertise the project to neighbours. If the project meets all of the rules stated in the planning scheme (often referred to by Professionals as Clause 54/55 OR ResCode), then clients have nothing to worry about if a sour neighbour places an objection. I have read the funniest objections from angry neighbours. One was from a woman who lived a few streets away and her complaint was that she believed the proposed building was ugly and didn't want to see it when walking her dog. Council will generally dismiss these objections, but that doesn't mean they can't take it further to VCAT. We often recommend that clients try to please their neighbours or settle things amicably. For example, if a building is overshadowing a neighbour's house, offer to pay for a skylight. Sometimes, neighbours will object and even go to VCAT to delay a project because they have plans to sell their own property or carry out their own renovation. I would try to suss this information out.
The whole Council process tends to take 6-12 months. The more detailed and informed the planning submission, the faster. At Rara, because we complete planning permit applications so frequently, we know what Councils will generally accept or deny. We also know what information they'll ask for, so make sure to include this in the initial application. A single query from Council could delay the process by 2 months. A minor change can delay the process by up to 6 months.
We also take it upon ourselves to chase them up, discuss the planner's intention, especially with what they call 'Conditions'. A planning Permit may eventually be granted, but with conditions. Sometimes the conditions are so drastic that the design needs to be drastically changed.
This is the other main permit that most people will confuse with the planning permit.
Unlike a planning permit, almost ALL projects require a building permit - even a backyard deck.
Building permits today are carried out by private building surveyors. The building surveyor will still lodge an application (on the client's behalf) to the Building Department at Council, but generally, Council's Building Department no longer deals with the public. The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) provides licences to building surveyors (and builders) and resolves disputes.
Many builders have their preferred building surveyors, and will recommend organising the building permit instead of letting the architect carry it out. This is generally fine if the house is less custom designed, but harder for the architect to control if taken out of their hands at this point.
A warning for the wise - i've experienced some 'suspicious' builders who insist on using a particular building surveyor - to the point that they convince the client to fire the original building surveyor to hire theirs. This suggests to me that the builder may intend on cutting corners they know their surveyor will overlook.
The Building Surveyor's job is to grant a building permit for the drawings, allowing the building work to commence. during construction, a building surveyor will also inspect the site at important check points to authorise the work as being consistent with the permits.
The building surveyor has a lot of power - they are hard to fire and, at their command, request newly built walls to be demolished, or even worse, put an access ban on the construction site. my advice would be to always be respectful, honour their requests, and use a recommended surveyor. Surveyors can be suspicious of an unknown builder or dodgy client, so can really comb through paperwork and demand many additional documents. some building permits have taken a year to get because our building surveyor didn't trust the builder, so he wanted the documentation to be especially detailed.
More in the next blog post :)
After some recent discussions on a Facebook group called "Building, Renovating and DIY Forum" about what next to discuss, it became quickly apparent that there's an interest in learning more about the process of building... well actually, the bit before the building part. So i'm going to give you a guide through this process, what you can expect, and what you should look out for when undergoing this process.
I've broken this up to multiple blog posts to keep the articles short enough and to avoid information overload.
Feel free to comment or ask questions.
Step 1: Choosing your Architect
Architect vs Draftsperson
There are many articles on the subject of whether one should use a draftsperson or an architect. Unfortunately, most of these are written by folks trying to place the draftsperson on an equal footing and inevitably end up undermining the gained skills of the architect in the process. Let's set this straight.
a) An architect has completed 5 years of training to learn HOW to design - this includes how to respond to challenging briefs, history, construction law, construction methodology and environmental impacts. In contrast, a draftsperson has spent 2 years in training and is taught how to draw, not how to design.
b) An architect manages the whole project. After designing the building, their job is to make sure the builder knows how to build it and, that after it's built, it stays standing. The architect finds the engineers and organises all the permits for the job, then goes on to make sure the builder has everything they need during the build. A draftsperson will draw your house, hand it over to the client and, well, they then have to figure out the rest. Sometimes, clients justify their choice for a draftsperson because of the lower fees. Often, during the permits stages, there is a need to make changes to the drawings to meet compliance. Clients should factor in that they will often pay the draftsperson double, if not triple the quoted fee for making these changes, not to mention having to wait in line because the draftsman is busy for the next 3 weeks.
c) like a lawyer, architects have a code of conduct and an Act. Like a lawyer, we have to meet stringent requirements to be registered, pay insurance and registration fees, as well as maintain professional development training. Why does this matter? Because as architects, we take on the responsibility of what gets built. While draftspeople also need to be registered, their obligations and indemnity is lower. This point highlights how seriously architects take their client's projects.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked when speaking with a potential client is, "Have you worked in my Council before?". I'm here to explain that it doesn't matter. All architects registered with the Architect's Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV) are qualified to work in any Council jurisdiction. Also, the planning scheme guidelines are very similiar, and any responsible architect SHOULD conduct a council pre-application meeting before they lodge, so you have nothing to worry about. While all architects are qualified to do all jobs, they tend to drift into particular niches - medical centres, shopping centres, houses, skyscrapers and offices generally won't all be mastered by one architect (except for the huge firms).
Instead, what i would ask an architect is, 'how many projects have you done in my budget range?'. If you have a high end budget, you want to make sure that the architect understands what you expect in terms of the detail, and if you have a low end budget, then you want to know that what they design is indeed realistic and not crazily over. The same applies to any particulars of your project - how many medical centres/ subdivisions/ owner-builder/ 3+ storey, etc.
Circle peg for the circle hole
When you interview your architect, make sure you get along. Unlike the structural engineer (for example), your architect will determine how you live, where you keep your socks and what you look at when having breakfast - if you all don't see eye-to-eye, then find someone else - there are plenty of great architects, but the whole process will be frustrated if your architect thinks there needs to be a banquette and all you want are dining chairs, or if your architect keeps choosing black finishes (Guilty) but you want daisies and melon walls.
I may get in trouble by my fellow architects if i am too specific - many architects charge differently.
The spoken rule of thumb is that architects charge around 10% of the total construction cost.
This is an old rule and architects are constantly confronted by baffled clients who had this expectation. In the past few decades, architects are slowly being asked to produce more and more. You will all know this if you have access to the original hand drawn architect drawings completed in the 70's. The whole house could be drawn in 2 or 3 pages. Architects back then charged 10% of the construction cost. Famous ones a little more.
Today, a contract package includes about 40+ pages of contract drawings, 2-500 pages of specifications, engineers documents as well as the planning permit drawings, which now require several 3d drawings and multiple revisions to cater to the quickly changing construction laws. Architect's fees should be sitting around 14-15% for jobs between $400k-$1.2m. The percentage then rises as the job gets smaller, and drops as the job gets bigger. Typically, the same hours of work is involved in a $250k job as with a $700k job.
If you happen to have two adjoining properties and your total spend is greater than $1.6m, expect to be quoted for 2 separate $800k jobs, since these will involve separate permits and drawings.
This percentage is then divided by the various stages (see future blog post regarding stages) and often billed monthly based on how much of that stage was completed. It's all a bit confusing. Even more so when the cost estimate of the job creeps up and subsequently the fee gets adjusted to reflect the new budget.
Some architects charge hourly, especially if the job is small or the final outcome not entirely known. Expect hourly rates to be in the area of $200 per hour.
Some architects, like my practice (www.raraarchitecture.com.au), charge a fixed fee. So clients know how much they need to budget for the architect from the start of the project - this is often important because architects fees tend to be paid off before the construction loan has been approved by the bank. Of course, if there is a change in the scope, the client will need to pay for the extra time spent making adjustments. In our office, the fixed fee also includes responding to Council, consultants and the building surveyor (who grants the building permit). Look out for sneaky architects who only quote up to lodgement (to Council or building surveyor), then charge hourly to address these responses - often the hourly fees paid addressing responses exceeds the original fee. Also, check the wording of what's included in the lodgement packages - more of that in a future blog post.
There's often a question of "who owns the drawings if..."
Ultimately, the architect always owns the copyright of your home design. You're then given permission to use that copyright one time for the site it was designed for in exchange for an agreed fee.
So let's say, half way through the building permit a client decided not to go ahead with the build and due to their changed circumstances, decided not to pay the invoice due to their architect, but they have a Council planning permit that their architect completed (and that the client paid for) which might boost the sale of the house. In this instance, the client's copyright license is revoked until ALL unpaid invoices are paid in full.
If the client completed a stage that was paid for in full but then decided to carry out the rest of the project with a draftsperson (a choice i would never encourage), they may do so as long as they get a 'release', which is just a letter from the architect, confirming that they have indeed paid in full and retain an express license to use this design. Some architects find terminating the contract midway through the project disruptive to their workflow, especially if it's a small practice or it's a large project, so they may have a termination clause involving a termination fee to be paid to the architect. Most architects I know, however, won't have this.
Cart before the horse
Moments after signing the agreement, i'm often asked "when do i get to choose my carpet and tiles?" as the client waves their phone with a Pinterest page at me. clients shouldn't be offended if the architect avoids entertaining them. There are many steps (and many months) involved in the project. Everything will happen in the necessary time - the architect will address what is required at that stage - otherwise, the architect will spend hours listening to requests that aren't relevant to one stage, then have to listen to them all over again at the future stage.
The future post will run through stages and what's included.
PS. there are a so many fads these days - often clients will have 1 choice at the beginning of the project and completely change their mind by the time construction commences.
Ok, i trust this covers the main questions people have when looking for an architect. Look out for Step 2 - Stages coming soon.
Hi there, ok let's do a sun lesson one-o-one.
There are many misconceptions concerning room orientations, glazing, eaves and north facing properties, so let's get a few things straight.
1. If you're BUYING A NEW HOME, no doubt you've come across "North-facing block" as part of the agent's sales pitch. Darlin' forget it! A North facing block is the worst orientation you want for your home.
Because, the space you spend most of your time in - aka, the open plan living/ dining / kitchen i'm going to design for you is located at the back of the house and is south facing, subsequently, always in shade - especially if you have a pergola or covered deck. Meanwhile, your front rooms - i.e. master bedroom or study will sizzle during summer. You want a south facing block. you also want your bedrooms to face south or west - this will mean they're extra warm from the afternoon sun during winter and not the other way round. Yes, your home's facade will be in constant shade, but that just means it'll look extra scary on Halloween.
2. We all want the outside to come in to the house, especially if the back garden looks great, but that doesn't mean we want NO WALLS AT ALL. Having walls along the back of the house means you have somewhere to hang artwork, as well as a space to hide the ugly bbq and piled up alfresco furniture in your backyard. It also means you can landscape and decorate sections of your yard instead of committing you to tending to every square inch of the space. More importantly, too much glass, especially on a north or west facing wall is a really bad idea. It'll force you to pump the AC all summer long and won't stay cool because most modern living spaces are large open plan and involve a lot of traffic to the outdoor space, allowing the cool air to escape. Consider pockets of windows in different areas to allow you to look out from each part of the space, windows on opposite walls for cross flow ventilation, and, my latest personal favourite, floor windows (i.e. windows that sit on the floor and only go up to your knees), allowing you to admire the garden bed while also having wall space to hang artwork (or the TV).
3. While DOUBLE GLAZING is the next big thing since sliced bread (well, not really - most Europeans would laugh at this as an innovation), it is not your solution to warding off the summer sun - if you have too much glass, no number of glazed layers will stop the heat or cold from coming in. The most efficient way to stop the heat is to block it before it comes in - i.e. an external blind.
4. What about EAVE? Eaves are tremendously useful, as are correctly positioned arbours - you will need to get your architect (moi) to perform a sun study that demonstrates the effectiveness of these. The goal here is to position it to block summer sun (at a higher altitude - zenith) while letting in the winter sun. Some people think that extending a 400mm eave to 600mm will make all of the difference. In fact, no. In most cases, especially when the window faces east or west, the difference of extending the eave by a further 200mm will only be a few minutes of additional shade. Sometimes, calculations often show us we need to extend the eave by 4-6 metres.
5. SKYLIGHTS - took me a few years to stop calling these 'sun-roofs'. If you fell for the sales pitch and live in a dark north facing house, consider a small investment in a sky-light. These cost between $2,000 to $5,000 installed, and you can get all sorts of bells and whistles like remote control blinds and rain sensors.
6. the Japanese COURTYARD. If you have already gone down the path of engaging an architect, for your renovation, one thing you'll notice is their affinity to use courtyards between spaces. I'm a staunch advocate for this - courtyards let the light in, allowing individual rooms in your home to have cross flow ventilation and sunlight at different time of the day. this also means you can have different outdoor spaces you can landscape differently, giving you different sites from each room. Yes, this reduces your backyard a little, but seriously, when was the last time your kids went out there and played cricket?
The team at Rara are a dedicated but diverse group of individuals who love architecture and design. We each have different sources of inspiration that come together when we collaboratively design your homes and businesses.