Below are some of the questions we are commonly asked. As council requirements and building codes can and do change frequently, the below should only be used as a guide. They do not take into account the individual circumstances of each project.

What is a Building Designer?

Building Designers are qualified design professionals who can design structures up to 3 storeys. They are trained to design functional, energy efficient and creative homes and offer builders and homeowners the perfect amount of detail to make building dreams become a reality.

Building Designers prepare your plans, detailed drawings and documentation ready to lodge with Council or Private Certifier. Building Designers assist in the design and preparation phases, but do not work further into the actual construction phase.

What is the timeframe?

As each project is different, timeframes can vary greatly. It is important to take our time to create your home the way the best way possible to meet all your needs. Rest assured we always work in the best interests of our clients to get projects out efficiently.

How much does a custom home design cost?

Please refer to For Homeowners page for pricing and packages.

How are you different to a project home builder?

The process will be much more personalised, your design is customised to your personal needs and into the future. You will have greater input into your design allowing you to feel part of the process.

  • We work with you to design something that will suit your lifestyle and budget.
  • You can create your own unique design, not just choose from a range of pre-existing designs.

Why would I use a private building design and drafting company?

Personal dedicated one on one service from our small team. We produce custom designs from scratch with sustainability and creativity at the forefront of our decision-making. Our home designs are not pre-produced plans that only allow for minimal modifications as you could expect to receive from project home builders. Our plans our unique to your site, you and your family.

What is included in your standard package?

Please refer to For Builders or For Homeowners pages for pricing and packages.

How many meetings will we need to have?

We normally include up to two but sometimes more depending on the complexity.

Do you do free quotes?

Yes, we come to your home or property site free of charge on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between the hours of 10am and 2pm, followed by an obligation-free Fee Proposal and Quote.

When are site visits conducted?

Site visits are required, and we try to incorporate them with our client meetings to save time where possible. Site visits are available Tuesday and Wednesdays between 10am-2pm, obligation-free.

Having set times allocated for site visits allows us time in the office to concentrate on designing your home. We know everyone has busy lives and that these times may not suit you. For that reason, we like to allocate time for possible Saturday site visits. Saturday visits incur a $200.00 pre-paid flat fee. This will be applied as a credit to your quote if it is accepted. Each month we will allocate which Saturday’s will be set aside for site visits, so please contact us to arrange a time, knowing that not every Saturday is available or possible.

How do you design my home?

Initially we examine your site to ascertain the optimum placement for your house. We then meet with you to discuss what you envisage in your new home. We work with you to ensure that your home meets your expectations and is designed to maximise it’s potential. Read more about Our Process.

How many changes am I allowed in the design process?

  • Up to three major changes and many more minor changes.
  • What if I change my mind after construction has started?
  • If we need to lodge a variation for approved documents, we can do that for you.

Do you liaise with council and get all approvals?

Yes, we do all your liaising with council if you have chosen that package. See our packages here. Link to For Homeowners, anchor to packages section

What is a Complying Development?

  • Refer to Our Process. Link to Our Process page, anchor CDC
  • What is the difference between a DA and a CDC? Which one should I choose?
  • Refer to Our Process. Link to Our Process page, anchor DA

What is my involvement in my new home build?

Our clients are involved from the outset. This will be a home for you and your family to love and enjoy for years to come. Your involvement is crucial in the design process, with no question or idea too big or small. On the other hand, you may be happy to pass the reigns completely over to us, and that’s ok too. Your involvement in the process will be up to you.

Does your fee include all council application fees and approvals?

No, you will pay those fees directly to the approval authority. Read more about Our Packages. Link to For Homeowners, anchor to packages section

Do all building/alteration projects require formal approval?

No. A project can be an “Exempt Development”. These do not require approval, if they meet specific criteria. Exempt Developments include simple pergolas, decks, painting a house, barbeques and sheds.

My project is a bit more complex than Exempt. What sort of development will it be?

More commonly a project can be a “Complying Development”. Complying Developments are straightforward development proposals such as home renovations or addition, or a new home up to two stories. Providing the proposal meets specific criteria, it can be determined by council or private certifier without needing a full development application.

It is important to note that for both Exempt and Complying Developments there are strict criteria that must be met. Drafting of plans will usually still be necessary for Exempt and Complying Developments.

For more information on Exempt and Complying Developments please go to:

When is approval needed?

Anything that is not specifically an “Exempt Development” needs approval. Specifically, approval is required for any building work involving: the development of new structures; alterations or extensions; and changes in ground levels. These include:

  • Swimming pools and spas;
  • Barriers, garden sheds;
  • Verandahs and pergolas;
  • Gazebos;
  • Garages;
  • Workshops;
  • Dwellings;
  • Commercial buildings including fit outs or refurbishments of Industrial buildings; and
  • Changes to ground levels (e.g. cutting and filling soil) Retaining walls.

If I need approval, what is involved?

Approval is obtained by lodging an application through the NSW Planning Portal to be approved by your local council or a private certifier. For Lake Macquarie and Newcastle councils the process is best described as:

  1. Have plans submitted and approved by relevant Water authority.
  2. Have plans submitted to and approved by Mine Subsidence (if needed); and
  3. Submit your plans to local Council.

Your local council will usually have detailed processes set out on their website.

Lake Macquarie Council
Newcastle Council

What is needed after approval is given?

After development consent has been given, a Construction Certificate must be obtained before any building work can start. The certificate verifies that:

The construction plans and specifications are consistent with the approval and comply with the Building Code of Australia;

  • All required contributions and fees have been paid; and
  • All development consent conditions have been met.

Who can issue me a Construction Certificate?

A Construction Certificate can be issued by a Principal Certifying Authority (Council or a Private Certifier).

What are the Building Codes and where do I find them?

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) is a set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia. The BCA is produced and maintained by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). A certified builder will be aware of the current codes and how they affect your project. For more information please refer:

I have an existing structure on my property does it have to meet the current Building Code for that structure?

No. In summary, only new structures must meet the current code. The two exceptions are:

  • if there are safety or structural issues with the structure; and
  • where repairs or alterations have been conducted.

What is a BASIX and why do I need one?

A BASIX is an assessment of a proposed design that considers the environmental impacts against sustainability targets. Many developments require a BASIX to be submitted with plans. For more please refer:

What is a Statement of Environmental effects and why do I need one?

A Statement of Environmental Effects is a short report that recognises and explains the impacts of the proposal and how you will minimise these impacts. The statement includes written information that cannot be readily shown on your plans and drawings. Refer to:

Why do I need a Structural Engineer?

Structural engineers can make sure that the building components (walls, roof beams etc.) in your house can support the forces caused when you do a renovation. You might need a structural engineer if your building has one or more of these elements:

  • Reinforced concrete walls, footings and slab;
  • Retaining walls;
  • Roof structure;
  • Steel beams / framing; and
  • Suspended concrete slabs.

Why do I need a Geotechnical inspection/report?

A geotechnical engineer can ascertain existing ground conditions to allow slab / footing design. They can also do slope stability reports.

Why do I need a survey?

The system of private property and property ownership depends upon knowing exactly where boundaries lie between properties. A survey will confirm that a project is undertaken in the correct location. Existing ground levels are determined by a surveyor and unless your site is ‘as flat as a tack’ – which most are not – a survey is required to ascertain the exact ground levels to design and build your new home.