building project has key documentation stages.
THE DESIGN AND THE DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION
The Project Brief (Defining
a realistic project brief)
Surveying the property (see
No design can commence until an accurate and comprehensive
survey of the property has been prepared by a qualified
surveyor. The survey not only confirms the boundaries
but has to show levels and contours, site features such
as trees and existing buildings, street items such as
driveway crossings and services pits, adjoining buildings
and their windows, doors, floor levels and roofs, as
well as easements and encroachments. We brief the surveyor
on your behalf.
If an existing building is to be altered, measuring
If altering and adding to an existing building, we will
have to measure and document the plan, elevations and
sections through the building and insert this into the
survey so that we have a combined survey and measured
drawing. In preparing these drawings, it may also be
necessary to undertake a structural engineering assessment
to ensure that any additional loads can be adequately
supported. There may be a requirement for a dilapidation
report, a full photographic record of the building,
a heritage assessment, or other investigative reports.
Carrying out a geotechnical investigation for structural
design of foundations
Our structural engineer requires that a geotechnical
engineering report be prepared after appropriate site
investigations, which may include a number of test bores
to document sub-surface foundation structure. We need
to understand the foundation conditions so the footing
can be properly designed. This geotechnical investigation
will also help the hydraulic engineer design stormwater
Analysing Councils code requirements
Ensuring the design complies with the mathematics
of the development controls
(or if it cant demonstrating that compliance is
Ensuring the design meets the merit conditions of
the development controls
(or if it cant demonstrating that compliance is
Apart from our clients project brief, Councils
codes determine how we must approach design.
Councils codes will determine not only how you
can use your property, but also will set rules for how
much floor space you can build, how much land you can
cover with building, drives, terraces and paths, how
much you must set aside for landscaping, how close you
can build to boundaries and how high you can build.
The codes will also influence the shape and appearance
of the building and set measures for the impact on privacy,
sunlight and views of your neighbours. Council may have
controls for what the building should look like from
the street, for how you may or may not alter a building
subject to heritage controls, for how you must retain
stormwater on your land before it is discharged from
the site, for preservation of native vegetation and
species, for removal of noxious plants, for control
of water run-off from the land, and other issues.
Determining which codes may be applicable to your project
requires assessment of a Section 149 Certificate which
can be obtained from Council. Even draft codes have
to be taken into account.
The code requirements of Council determine which consultant
needs to be engaged as Council will require professional
reports to be lodged as part of the development application.
In lodging a development application it is necessary
to demonstrate that the design complies with all the
code requirements, or if it does not, why it meets the
intent of the code while not complying and to seek Councils
approval for that variance. Such variations are allowable
under SEPP 1.
This demonstration involves both geometric illustration
example) and written statements describing how the
design meets the merit requirements (see
example). It may also require construction of a
model of the design, the site, and the surrounding buildings
and landscape, and use of photomontage showing an artists
perspective inserted into a photo of the environmental
Shadow diagrams will also have to be prepared to demonstrate
the extent of shadows cast at the winter solstice at
the times of the day required by Councils codes.
These are required as Council is required to assess
the impact of the proposed design on solar access on
In some projects it may be necessary to seek specialist
planning and legal advise on interpretation of the codes
if difficulties with Council or neighbours are anticipated.
In such cases the possibility of needing to appeal to
the Land and Environment Court needs to be assessed
prior to lodging the development application if it is
anticipated that Council may impose unacceptable conditions,
or refuse the application. Such refusal may occur for
a variety of reasons which may have little to do with
the merits of, or compliance of the design and the application
with Council or State Government Codes.
Analysing relevant State Government planning codes
Your project may be subject State Government planning
policies and codes such as State Environmental Planning
Policies (SEPPs) which cover such matters as retirement
development, design of apartments, protecting endangered
species, etc. (For further information on SEPPs go to
These policies set controls which take precedence over
Council planning codes. The SEPP(s) that apply to your
project will set development criteria which must be
complied with, and by which Council will assess your
Assessing the impact of relevant Australian Standards
All buildings must comply with the relevant Australian
Standards. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) incorporates
many of these standards. They can effect and determine
many aspects of the design, detailing, finishes, equipment
and fittings of your building ranging from the design
of the building structure to the height of balustrades
and the space around toilets in bathrooms for the disabled.
These standards may start to impact the design even
at conceptual stage. For instance, retirement housing
must comply with AS 1428 Design for access and mobility,
and the spatial requirements of this standard will impact
on the size of dwelling units and consequently the number
of units which can be built on your property.
Ensuring compliance with the Building Code of Australia
At the design stage it is essential to ensure compliance
with the Building Code of Australia.
In a complex project Council will require as part of
the development application a report from a construction
certificate certifier demonstrating that the design
complies with the BCA for those aspects of the design
that Council must assess for development consent.
Even in simpler buildings we apply the requirements
of the BCA at the design stage to ensure that later
there are no problems when preparing the construction
PREPARING THE CONSTRUCTION CERTIFICATE
Co-ordinating architectural and engineering compliance
with the BCA
Complying with the relevant Australian Standards
Before the construction certifier can issue the construction
certificate stating that the design meets the requirements
of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) all the engineers
engaged on the project must complete their designs and
drawings and issue certificates of compliance with the
BCA and any relevant Australian Standards. This requires
co-ordination of all drawings and BCA specification
requirements, architectural and engineering, as well
as detail design of all components of the building which
must meet the requirements of the BCA.
All of this design and documentation has to be prepared
in accordance with the relevant Australian Standards.
Completion and certifying of the engineering design,
drawings and specification means that these documents
are ready to be used for construction and thus for tendering,
and therefore, all of the clients requirements
(such as airconditioning and mechanical ventilation)
which effect any engineering aspects of the project
must be incorporated prior to applying for the construction
There are other legal requirements of the construction
certifier which must be satisfied such as ensuring that
the Home Warranty Insurance (HWI) for housing is in
place, and the Long Service Levy has been paid.
While the construction certificate can be prepared it
cannot be issued until the preferred builder has supplied
evidence of HWI usually immediately prior to the signing
of the building contract.BACK
PREPARING FOR TENDER AND CONSTRUCTION
Ensuring appropriate practice in construction detailing
Keeping water out, reducing the risk of settlement and
cracking, choosing materials that will wear and weather
well, and many other aspects of construction, require
the application of experienced construction detailing
to ensure that the building will perform when built
in accordance with the requirements of the project brief.
Ensuring architectural detail drawings and specifications
meet the clients brief
Before calling tenders, the architect needs to complete
the detail drawings and specifications which cover such
non-BCA components as finishes, fittings and equipment.
This will require detailed input by the client to ensure
that the selection of these items meets their expectations,
the project budget and the character of the design.
We also ensure the tenderers provide all necessary information
to allow us to evaluate their tender.
Apart from the cost of construction and the time the
builder proposes take to build, the following information
needs to be provided:
We require tenderers to submit a trade breakdown
to understand how money is allocated across various
parts of the construction, to provide various rates
for items where we may anticipate variations could
arise (eg, rates for excavation in rock).
path diagram and anticipated cash flow for progress
In comparing tenders we may also require submission
of a critical path diagram to illustrate the sequencing
of work, a cash flow of anticipated progress claims.
To provide contact details from three architects
and three clients for whom they have completed similar
projects and if required the obtaining of a credit
We may also call for further clarification of details
of the tender, suppliers, or sub-contractors to
determine that the quality of construction that
is expected will be delivered.
this information is necessary to check that the tenderer
has a realistic understanding of the project and to
check that they are equipped to complete it in accordance
with the tender documents, their tender, and contract.BACK
PREPARING THE BUILDING CONTRACT
Crossing the ts and Dotting the is on the
The contract between the client (in the building contract
the proprietor) and the builder is a standard contract
issued by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects
and Master Builders.
While most of the clauses are standard the contract
requires decisions with respect to insurance, and completion
As your architect we prepare these schedules in agreement
with yourself and the builder and ensure that the contract
documents, which will include the building contract,
the builders tender as finally agreed, the development
consent, the construction certificate, the architects
and engineers drawings and specifications, the
site survey, any geotechnical and other relevant reports
are assembled for signing and initialling.
Once signed the contract and its associated documents
is legally binding, and forms the basis for what will
ADMINISTERING THE BUILDING CONTRACT
Minuting decisions at site meetings
We hold regular site meetings, usually on a weekly basis,
with a representative of the proprietor present as well
as the builder, any engineers or other consultants who
should attend, and any subcontractors or suppliers who
should also participate.
During these meetings the construction is inspected,
any questions concerning the construction or interpretation
of drawings or specifications are answered and we minute
the meeting. Minutes are distributed to all relevant
These inspections do not relieve the builder of the
responsibility for properly constructing the building
in accordance with the contract. The builder is the
Issuing architects instructions
There can be a number of reasons why the Architect may
issue instructions during the building contract.
Ground conditions after excavation may require adjustment
to the construction; the proprietor may add or delete
work, the builder may request further information about
construction. If the project involves alterations to
an existing building its condition when walls, floors
and roofs are opened may require adjustment of construction
methods, final selections of finishes, fittings and
equipment which will have to be conveyed to the builder.
All or any of these, or other requirements of the contract
will require the architect to issue an instruction to
These instructions may, or may not vary the contract.
If they do vary the contract the instruction will identify
whether a cost is associated with this variation, and
require quantification of the cost by the builder. Similarly,
an instruction can cause an extension of time and a
similar processed is followed.
It is essential that the proprietor only instruct the
builder through the architect to ensure that the proprietor
and the builder are properly instructed. Any instruction
may constitute a variation to the contract with possible
financial and time consequences. Experience and the
contract provides the architect with the knowledge and
authority to make those instructions.
Certifying that the builders monthly progress
claims are reasonable
The building contract requires that the builder submit
progress payments. These are usually submitted monthly.
The claim is broken down by trades, and may involve
claims for provisional or prime cost sums for finishes
or fittings. The claim is evaluated by the architect
and the building cost consultant to check that it represents
a reasonable claim for the work carried out in the previous
month. If there are any questions adjustments may be
made to the claim. The reason for these adjustments
are included in the certificate requiring the proprietor
(the client) to pay.
Ensuring that costing of any variations are reasonable
There can be many reasons for variations. The foundations
conditions may vary from the test bore results produced
by the geotechnical engineer which may effect excavation
costs and require adjustment to the footings. Sub-surface
drainage conditions may vary from that assumed requiring
adjustment to the drainage (nobody can see under the
ground). If the project involves alterations and additions,
opening up of existing construction may reveal unsatisfactory
conditions requiring additional work, and even re-design
of details, finishes and methods of construction. The
client may, after watching the building come into existence
see additional work that they decide they want done.
Selection of finishes or fittings, which may have been
deliberately left until during construction, will result
in adjustments to provisional or prime cost sums. Wet
weather may delay construction. Strikes, or unforeseeable
delays in transport if materials or products are imported
can cause delay.
All of these, and other causes which the contract allows,
can be a reasonable basis for a variation to the contract.
With the building cost consultant we check that any
variation claims are allowed under the contract, and
if so, priced realistically.
Ensuring that extension of time claims and any costs
arising are reasonable
Variations and other contractually valid reasons for
delay can be the basis of legitimate extension of time
claims and associated costs, if so defined in the contract.
We determine whether such claims are legitimate, and
in conjunction with the building cost consultant if
the costs claimed are reasonable.
Documenting the final construction accounting
At practical completion the final contract accounts
are prepared. These include a statement of payments
made against all the trade breakdowns, adjustments of
provisional and prime cost sums, accounting of all variations
and any costs associated with extensions of time.
At the issuing of the certificate of practical completion
half the retention sum is released. The other half is
retained until the end of the defects liability period
and all defects have been fixed.
Issuance of the final certificate the when all defects
have been properly rectified and the remainder of the
retention is released completes the building contract.
Obtaining an occupation certificate from the construction
The construction certificate requires that a occupation
certificate be issued to demonstrate that the building
has been completed in accordance with the requirements
of the development consent, the construction certificate,
the Building Code of Australia, and relevant Australian
Standards, the requirements of insurance, and any other
matters covered in the construction certificate.
This occupation certificate is different from the architects
certificate of practical completion required to be issued
under the building contract although many of the requirements
of the occupation certificate are similar to the requirements
to be satisfied before the certificate of practical
completion can be issued.
The certificate of practical completion required by
the building contract states that the building is "substantially
complete and any incomplete work or "defects remaining
in the" works are of a minor nature and number,
the completion or rectification of which is not practicable
at the time and will not unreasonably effect occupation
The occupation certificate is issued by the construction
certifier not by the architect, and arises from the
State law. The certificate of practical completion is
issued by the architect and arises from the conditions
of the building contract.BACK
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