Archive for the ‘New Homes’ Category

National Construction Code (NCC) 2014 AMENDMENTS

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Changes to the BCA 

Improving early response to residential fires through interconnection of alarms
For a number of years now the BCA has required smoke alarms, or where appropriate,heat detection alarm systems throughout residential occupancies. The location of the alarms in strategic positions such as a hallway serving bedrooms is designed to allow an early response by occupants to a fire.

The size or layout of some residences can create situations where a number of alarms may be distributed throughout the occupancy (eg two storey dwellings). In a Class 1  building, within sole‐occupancy units of a Class 2 or 3 building and in a Class 4 part of a building, alarms  will be required to be interconnected so that when one alarm is activated it will activate all other alarms in the occupancy.
This feature will increase the likelihood of occupants being aware of the presence of a fire.

Whilst acknowledging that the final Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) demonstrated a net cost, the Board considered the following factors in its conclusion to include a  requirement for interconnection of smoke alarms in sole occupancy units in Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 buildings where more than one alarm is provided:
The life safety of building occupants, and particularly those in residential buildings (acknowledging additional risks associated with being asleep), was considered to be of paramount importance.

The cost to the community of interconnecting alarms at the time of construction is  not considered to be large.

Acknowledging that the RIS meets COAG guidelines, the Board was of the view that  saving of a life through the interconnection of alarms represented a greater value to  the community than that presented in the RIS
For many years, the BCA has contained requirements for stairway treads, landings   and ramps to have slip‐resistant, non‐skid or non slip properties. However, the BCA did not identify what level of slip
resistance was required or how it could be measured. This situation created uncertainty, risk and disputes about what was considered acceptable.

An Australian Standard for measurement of slip resistance existed but was not considered appropriate for referencing in the BCA. A recent revision of this standard (AS 4586) resolved these issues and, as a consequence, we are now able provide an answer to the question, “What does slip‐resistant, non‐skid and non‐slip really mean?” NCC 2014 includes minimum slip resistance classifications for different scenarios and references AS 4586 –2013 as a means of determining slip resistance.

It should be noted that the NCC will allow acceptance of test reports based on the  2004 edition of AS/NZS 4586 and issued prior to the 2013 edition of AS 4586 being referenced in the NCC. However, test reports prepared after the BCA reference date of the 2013 edition of AS 4586 must be based on that version

New 2014 Building Regulation Amendments

Monday, December 30th, 2013


Melbourne Builders,  we have just received a couple of important Building Regulation amendments that have been in the pipeline for some time now.

1.Walls on boundaries now can be up to 200mm instead of the 150mm from the boundary and still be deemed on the boundary. Yes for those of you that have been around long enough it used to be 200mm.

2.The averange wall height on the boundary has been increased to 3.2m which was previously 3.0m. Not a huge increase but significant enough to avoid unnecessary report and consents for nominal falls in the natural ground level.

Also the planning schemes have been amended to incorporate these changes, so there will be no conflict on these Regulations.

The Team at Fast Track Plans & Permits wish all our loyal customers, contractors and trades a happy and healthy 2014.


Bushfire Management Statement Consultant – Sample Report

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

This Bushfire Management Statement template has been prepared to assist applicants respond to the requirements of Clause 44.06 Bushfire Management Overlay, and associated Clause 52.47 Bushfire Protection: Planning Requirements. The statement contains two components:

• A locality and site description, that is used to identify the existing conditions of the site and surrounds, in accordance with the application requirements of Clause 44.06-2.

• A bushfire management statement, that is used to calculate the defendable space and construction requirements and show how the application meets the relevant objectives, standards, mandatory standards and decision guidelines of Clause 44.06 – Bushfire Management Overlay and Clause 52.47.

Download the full report as a PDF here
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Building Controls for Bushfire Safety – Interim

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

This updates the previous Interim Practice Note 2009-42 issued August 2009

Reference to the BCA in this Practice Note means Volume One and Volume Two of the National Construction Code Series.


Building in bushfire areas requires careful planning, siting and design. Class 1, 2 or 3 and associated Class 10a buildings must be designed and constructed to reduce the risk of ignition from a bushfire while the fire front passes. The building requirements are set out in the Building Code of Australia (BCA).


Following the 2009 bushfires in Victoria, the Regulations were amended with effect from 11 March 2009 and subsequent further amendments coming into affect from 9 March 2010. The Regulations as amended have the effect that a reference to a ‘designated bushfire prone area’ in AS 3959 – 2009 (the Standard) and Volumes One and Two of the BCA means the whole of Victoria.

As a result of the amendment all proposed Class 1, 2 or 3 buildings and associated Class 10a buildings throughout the state are subject to the site assessment provisions required by the Standard, though many sites will be assessed as BAL-LOW and will not be required to comply with additional construction requirements.

The Standard sets out construction requirements for a building determined according to the highest Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) of the site.

The BALs for which specific construction requirements

are set out in the Standard are:

  • BAL-12.5
  • BAL-19
  • BAL-29
  • BAL-40
  • BAL-FZ

There are no additional construction requirements for an assessment of BAL-LOW.


The applicant must arrange an assessment of the site and provide the Relevant Building Surveyor (RBS) with his or her analysis of the BAL. The BAL can be determined using either the simplified procedure set out in Clause 2.2 (Method 1) of the Standard, or the detailed procedure set out in Appendix B (Method 2).

Method 1 can be used for sites that have an effective ‘downslope’ under the classified vegetation between 0º and 20º.

Method 2 can be used for sites where the effective downslope under the classified vegetation is between 21º and 30º and the slope of the land between the site and the classified vegetation is no more than 20º regardless of slope type.

Method 2 should only be used to determine the BAL by a person with appropriate bushfire expertise, such as a fire safety engineer.

The Standard does not apply where the slope under the classified vegetation exceeds 30º downslope and where the slope of the land between the site and the classified vegetation is more than 20º regardless of slope type. In these instances the site assessment and design of the building’s construction requirements will need to be undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced person such as a fire safety engineer. When a site is beyond the scope of the Standard, a site analysis will not result in a BAL being determined under the Standard.


The role of the RBS is to independently determine compliance of a design with the Building Act 1993 (the Act) and the Regulations prior to issuing a building permit. As the site assessment is part of the design process, the RBS must not undertake the site assessment for the purposes of an application for the building permit. The RBS may carry out an on site checking process for the purpose of verifying the BAL and adequacy of design. The site assessment should include the appropriate information to enable the RBS to verify the assessment.

The application should include a site plan and other information that clearly identifies all the information regarding predominant vegetation and exclusions, slope location and direction, and relevant distances as set out in Clause 2.2.1 or Appendix B.

A pro-forma site assessment report for Method 1 is available on the Building Commission’s website. The pro-forma has been endorsed by the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors.

In some cases where the allotment is clearly in an area that can be easily designated as BAL-LOW, less detailed information may be acceptable to the RBS.


The Standard sets out a process using Method 1 in a sequential order for determining the BAL for sites where the effective slope under the classified vegetation does not exceed 20º downslope.

(5.1) Clause 2.2.1

Step 1 – Determine the relevant Fire Danger Index (FDI). In Victoria the FDI is 100 except for Alpine areas where it is FDI 50.

(5.2) Clause 2.2.3

Step 2 – Vegetation classification

The classification process is set out in Clause 2.2.3. The intention is to identify the predominant risk vegetation that may impact on the building in the event of a bushfire. In the majority of cases, the predominant risk vegetation will consist of naturally occurring formations of the groups of vegetation identified in figure 2.3 of the Standard (such as forests or woodlands). There will often be a definitive and identifiable ‘line’ of the edge of the vegetation.

Isolated trees that are forward of this line can be disregarded when measuring the distance from the building site to the line below the canopy of the predominant risk vegetation. Following classification of the vegetation, some vegetation groups may be excluded by being classified as BAL-LOW under Clause Appendix 1 demonstrates the exclusions under Clause

(5.3) Clause


Clause requires vegetation to be classified by Reference to Table 2.3 and Figures 2.4(A) to 2.4(G). This requires assessment of all vegetation to at least within 100m of the buildings including garages and carports within 6m of the Class 1, 2, or 3 building.

Note: Where predominant risk vegetation extends beyond 100m of the building it should be taken into consideration along with vegetation within 100m of the site.

After the vegetation has been classified, low threat vegetation and non vegetated areas can be classified as BAL-LOW in accordance with Clause

(5.4) Clause – (see Appendix 1)

Exclusions – Low threat vegetation and non-vegetated areas

Clause sets out vegetation that is regarded as low threat and non-vegetated areas that can be ‘excluded’ from the classification of the predominant risk vegetation.

This is achieved by classifying the types or groups of vegetation identified by the Clause as being BAL-LOW. Sub-clauses (a) to (e) are self explanatory. Subclause (f) refers to ‘cultivated ornamental gardens’. This exclusion will apply to trees on private allotments where they are part of a garden, whether on a suburban, township or even lager rural allotment. The heat energy release of a bushfire is generated mostly by ground fuel and the understorey.

The canopy of a tree is regarded as low risk where there is not enough fuel in the understorey to promote ignition of the canopy. Generally, maintained gardens on private properties, where there is little or no understorey under trees to fuel a fire, are considered to be an exclusion under sub-clause (f).

(5.5) Clause 2.2.4

Step 3 – Distance of the site from classified vegetation

The distance is to be taken from the nearest part of the building, excluding the allowable encroachments listed in Note 1 of Figure 2.1, to a vertical line below the canopy of the classified (non-excluded) vegetation determined under step 2. For each vegetation type classified in Clause 2.2.3, determine the distance of the site (building) from the classified vegetation, measured in the horizontal plane. As stated in Note 2 of Figure 2.1, the area between the building(s) and the classified vegetation may contain vegetation that can be excluded in accordance with Clause 2.2.3.

(5.6) Clause 2.2.5

Step 4 – Effective slope of land under the classified vegetation

The ‘slope’ refers to the slope under the classified vegetation in relation to the building, e.g. a ‘downslope’ is sloping downwards as it runs away from the building. For each vegetation type classified in Clause 2.2.3, the effective slope (in degrees) of the land under the classified vegetation and whether it is an ‘upslope’ or ‘downslope’ in relation to the site must be noted.

(5.7) Clause 2.2.6

Step 5 – Determination of Bushfire Attack Level

Using the information obtained from steps 1 to 4, the BAL can now be determined for the site by selection from the relevant row and column from Table 2.4.2 for FDI 100 and Table 2.4.4 for FDI 50. This should be done for all classified vegetation from each part of the site, the highest BAL determining the design and construction requirements of the building.

(5.8) Clause 2.2.7

Step 6 – Determination of the appropriate construction requirements

Having determined the appropriate BAL, it is the responsibility of the designer to incorporate the appropriate construction requirements in the design from the relevant Clauses 3 and 5 to 9 of the Standard. These should be clearly indicated in plans and specifications provided to the RBS in the documents lodged for a building permit.


Some concern has been raised about the assessment of areas that have been burnt during recent bushfires. The Standard requires vegetation to be classified into one of seven groups dependant on vegetation type, not on current fire load. Foliage cover is an element of the classification system but not the sole determinant of vegetation type.

For example, an area of more than 1ha of trees with a height greater than 30m should be classified as Group A Forest, even though the foliage cover may currently be less than 30 per cent. Having identified the height of trees and density of trunks and allotting the vegetation to a Group in accordance with Figure 2.3, the Standard assigns the appropriate fuel load to that Group when the BAL is determined under Table 2.4.2 or 2.4.4.


The Building Appeals Board (BAB) can deal with applications for modification or determination of compliance in the usual manner (refer to Practice Note 2006-39). An application could be made to the BAB to modify or vary certain requirements of the regulations, the BCA or the Standard, or for confirmation that a design complies with the BCA.

(7.1) Modification or variation of a building regulation

Section 160 of the Act provides that the BAB has the statutory jurisdiction to determine that a provision of the Regulations does not apply or applies with the modifications or variations specified in the application to a building or land specified in the application.

It is unlikely that the BAB would consider that all the provisions of AS 3959-2009 do not apply where the site is assessed as being in one of the five Bushfire Attack Levels that require a construction response.

However, there may be circumstances where an application for a modification or variation of the Regulations relating to the construction of buildings in bushfire areas is a valid alternative where it is considered that the building design or a component of the design need not fully comply with the relevant deemed-to-satisfy provision.

As is customary, the BAB will scrutinise applications for modifications or variations of a provision of the Regulations diligently in relation to the particular design and the circumstances applying to the site.

Any application to the BAB to modify the Regulations applying to construction requirements in bushfire prone areas should include a clear and well considered discussion as to the reason the particular regulation should be modified or varied.

The application should also include statistics, data, or other material that supports the discussion seeking the modification or variation and if applicable, it should clearly indicate any additional measure that is proposed that may substitute or mitigate the modified or varied regulation.


(7.2) determination in respect of building design

Section 160A of the Act provides that the BAB has the statutory jurisdiction to determine that a particular design of a building or an element of a building complies with the Act, the Regulations or any document applied, adopted or incorporated in the building regulations.

This provides an opportunity for an applicant to seek confirmation from the BAB that a design of a building or an element of the building that does not necessarily comply with the requirements of AS 3959-2009, still complies with the Regulations by meeting the relevant performance requirement/s of the BCA.

As with an application for a modification or variation of a Regulation, the application provided to the BAB to assess a determination under section 160A must clearly articulate a convincing case supported by statistics, data, or other material that will assist the BAB in making a determination that the design or element of design meets the relevant performance requirement.

(7.3) Alternatives to the deemed-to-Satisfy provisions – Alternative Solutions

There are a number of design solutions that may be used to achieve compliance with the Performance Requirements GP5.1 in BCA Volume One or P2.3.4 in BCA Volume Two as amended by the Regulations.

External Water Sprinkler/Drencher Systems

An Alternative Solution may include the installation of an external water sprinkler or drencher system. An EWSS should only be considered as one part of an entire property fire management plan. Other considerations include:

  • Deciding to stay and defend the property, or evacuate early
  • Preparedness
  • Building improvements, e.g. fire-retardant treatment
  • Siting and access considerations
  • Fuel management
  • Water supplies
  • Ongoing maintenance.

As there is no approved standard for such a system, it is recommended that verification of its suitability should be sought from the Building Appeals Board (BAB).


In some areas a Wildfire Management Overlay (WMO) may apply in a planning scheme. The WMO identifies areas where the intensity of wildfire is significant and likely to pose a threat to life and property.

The purpose of a WMO is to ensure that building development in areas subject to high fire risk includes appropriate fire protection measures.

These measures include:

  • Adequate water supply
  • Access
  • Building siting design
  • Fuel reduced areas around buildings.

A planning permit is required in an area covered by a WMO for buildings and works associated with specific land uses, including a new dwelling or a dwelling extension of more than 50 per cent of the existing floor area. An application for a planning permit must demonstrate how it will meet the fire protection measures.

(8.1) Interaction of Wildfire Management Overlays and bushfire building controls

The CFA document Building in a Wildfire

Management Overlay – Applicant’s Workbook 20101

provides a set of tools for the assessment of bushfire risk and management requirements, standard planning permit conditions that could be applied and guidance for Alternative Solutions if the standard conditions are not appropriate.

While managing for bushfire risk is complex, the workbook provides tailored solutions for less complex sites. In more complex sites applicants may need to seek professional assistance. The workbook will help you to identify if further professional assistance is necessary.

The workbook takes you through the necessary steps to apply for a planning permit in an area covered by a WMO, and provides instructions to help:

  • Assess the bushfire risk
  • Choose the most appropriate dwelling site, and
  • Choose management actions to address bushfire risk by either:

» Selecting from a set of standard permit conditions which in less complex situations meet the requirements of the WMO, or

» Developing an Alternative Solution where the standard permit conditions cannot be implemented due to site constraints, or are not acceptable to the applicant or the council. The Alternative Solution will need to demonstrate that fire protection objectives will be met to the satisfaction of the CFA.

The workbook contains three options to obtain a planning permit in a WMO.

The appropriate option will depend on the features of the land, the risk of bushfire and other land management constraints that may apply. The CFA workbook prescribes minimum levels of construction (AS 3959-2009) of BAL 12.5 for Option One and BAL 29 for Option Two. Option Three requires an alternative means of addressing the requirements of the WMO.

The information required to assess a permit application is different for each. For further details refer to the CfA website.

Regulation 804

Regulation 804 provides that where a planning permit is required for the construction of the building, and a site assessment for the purpose of determining the bushfire attack level for the site has been considered as part of the application for the planning permit, then the relevant building surveyor must accept that site assessment for the purpose of determining the construction requirements that are applicable to the building.

Appendix 2 provides an outline of the implementation process under planning and building controls.

If you have a technical enquiries please email or phone 1300 815 127

Building Commission 733 BourKe Street Docklands VIC 3008

1 The CFA Applicants Workbook 2010 will be updated as recommendations of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission are implemented through the remainder of 2011. This Practice Note will be updated as these changes occur.



This diagram also demonstrates exclusions considered under clause and the distances (where relevant) between the excluded vegetation and other excluded vegetation or classified vegetation, and the distances to the building.


building controls for bushfire safety example 1 fast track planning and permits

Building site Road (see (e) Less than 0.25 ha, less than 20m width, ≥20m from site

Vegetation more than 100m or other classified vegetation (see (c) & (d))

from site (see (a)

Less than 0.25 ha, ≥20m from site or other areas less than 0.25 ha (see (c)) Allotment boundary



Implementation process for Bushfire Building and Planning Controls

Implementation process for Bushfire Building and Planning Controls fast track planning and permits
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Can I use my shed as a permanent dwelling?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Buildings in Melbourne such as sheds are not normally approved for use as homes or dwellings as they may not have been constructed to comply with the requirements of the Regulations for a residential dwelling. Following the 2009 bushfires, certain concessions for temporary accommodation in buildings on bushfire affected properties were introduced to the Town planning scheme. These concessions will expire on 31 March 2012 by which time all buildings must comply.

If you are considering building a shed with a view to later using it as a dwelling it is important that you seek professional advice before you Draftsperson, as it may not be the best or most cost efficient option for you. The first choice should be to construct a new dwelling that fully complies with the Building Regulations 2006 (the Regulations).

The following information on sheds (Class 10a building) and dwellings (Class 1a building) may assist you in considering your options carefully.

What are the building permit requirements?

A building permit is required for most Melbourne building work including the following buildings:

• Construction of a shed (Class 10a building) greater than 10 m2 in area;

• Construction of a dwelling (Class 1a);

• To change the use of an existing building from a shed (Class 10a) to a dwelling (Class 1a).

A shed used temporarily as a dwelling is not exempt from the requirement to obtain a building permit for its construction. You should consult your draftsperson or local council for further advice on building permit requirements.

Are there exemptions for people rebuilding following the 2009 bushfires?

People rebuilding following the 2009 bushfires may be exempt from the requirements to obtain a planning permit until 31 March 2011 to complete the construction of the building for temporary accommodation or a new dwelling because of amendments to the Victorian Planning Provisions.

The use of a building for temporary accommodation will need to cease by 31 March 2012 unless the building is brought into compliance with the planning and building legislation requirements for a dwelling.

Can I retain a building used as temporary accommodation on my site permanently?

It will depend on the type of temporary building, whether you had a building permit for its original construction and what your planned use of the building is as to whether you can retain it permanently. You may need to obtain a building and planning permit for a change of use or works to bring it up to a suitable level of safety or amenity.

To assist you in determining whether you may be able to retain your building permanently, a number of different scenarios are provided below. Further advice can be obtained from the building and Town planning departments of your local council.

Town Planning and building legislation contain provisions relating to sheds on properties where they are not associated with a dwelling. Where a shed is proposed to remain on an allotment and a dwelling destroyed by the bushfires has not been re-built the local council may have additional controls and requirements that need to be addressed. Further advice on this can be obtained from the planning and building departments of your local council.

Building legislation issues that will affect your change of use application

A key point to note is that a building permit and occupancy permit cannot legally be issued after the building has been constructed (except where additional new work is proposed).

Where a change of use is proposed, Regulation 1011 of the Regulations allows a municipal building surveyor (MBS) or a private building surveyor to issue a building permit and an occupancy permit to allow the change of use of a building to occur.

The Regulation states “A person must not change the use of a building or place of public entertainment unless the building or place of public entertainment complies with the requirements of these Regulations applicable to the new use”.

There is some discretion given to the building surveyor to allow partial compliance with the Regulations applicable to the new use, however they must take into account structural adequacy of the building, health and amenity and fire safety requirements when assessing your request to change the use of the building.

As many of these buildings will be in bush settings a major issue for consideration in determining if a change of use to a dwelling is feasible will be the construction requirements for buildings in bushfire prone areas.

The following scenarios may help you understand the factors that may allow or prevent you from retaining your temporary accommodation or shed.

Scenario 1

You obtained a building permit to build a shed and would like to retain it as a shed

• This is acceptable;

• You should ensure that a Certificate of Final Inspection has been issued for the shed; If you have used your shed as temporary accommodation following the 2009 bushfires and installed facilities such as a kitchen, toilet, bathroom and laundry, you will need to remove these by the 31 March 2012 when the occupation of the shed as temporary accommodation will no longer be allowed.

Scenario 2

You did not obtain a building permit to build the shed and would now like to retain it as a shed

• Building Surveyors cannot legally issue a building permit and certificate of final inspection after the building has been constructed.

• MBS from the local council could issue a Building Notice (show cause) and possibly follow up with a Building Order to carry out building work, and if satisfied, could allow the structure to remain, however the structure will not be issued with a building permit.

• If the MBS doesn’t allow the structure to remain the owner would either remove it or appeal the Building Order to the Building Appeals Board (BAB), however the BAB would need to be satisfied that the building was safe to remain as a shed.

Scenario 3

You obtained a building permit for a shed and would like to change its use to a dwelling

An owner may apply for a change of use permit however the building surveyor would need to be satisfied that relevant requirements applicable to a dwelling (Class 1a building) have been met.

The change of use may mean you also need to obtain a Town planning permit from the local council.

The building surveyor would also require plans drawn up by a draftsperson, to show as constructed details and proposed building work still to be carried out. The building surveyor will be concerned about non-compliance and defects, especially with the safety of current and future owners and would need to be satisfied that the building was safe to be occupied as a dwelling.

It can sometimes be very costly to change the use of a building as you may need to replace concrete slabs, footings and other building requirements (see other considerations below). You may also need to consider the requirements in the building standard for construction in bushfire prone areas.1

The building will need to be assessed for energy efficiency and the installation of insulation and other energy efficiency measures may be required.

A building permit will be required for the works to convert the shed to a dwelling and an occupancy permit issued upon completion.

Scenario 4

You do not have a building permit for a shed and would like to retain it as a dwelling

It may be more difficult to justify retention of the shed as a permanent dwelling because the construction details may not be known.

Building surveyors cannot legally issue a building permit (or an occupancy permit) for a dwelling after the building has been constructed without approval.

The Municipal building surveyor (MBS) could issue a Building Notice (show cause) and possibly follow up with a Building Order to carry out building work, and if satisfied could allow a structure to remain; however the owners will not have a building permit or occupancy permit.

The MBS will be concerned about non-compliance and defects, especially with the safety of current and future owners.

Building owners may appeal the Building Notice or Building Order to the Building Appeals Board (BAB), however the BAB would need to be satisfied that the building was safe to remain as a dwelling.

Other considerations

Seeking to change the use of a shed to a dwelling is not simple. There are many considerations and it is recommend that you seek professional financial, building and regulatory advice before you make your decision.

Some other considerations include:

Is it feasible and cost effective to upgrade the temporary building to a standard that it can be used as a dwelling (Class 1a building)? The first choice should be to construct a new dwelling that fully complies with the Building Regulations 2006.

• To successfully change the use of your temporary building to a dwelling you will need to ensure that the structure meets the requirements of the Regulations and the Building Code of Australia. This will include the preparation of suitable plans of the building and a site plan, and the provision of a number of reports such as a BAL assessment, energy rating, geotechnical (soil) report and structural engineering design where required. Key construction elements that you will need to consider include:

o Bushfire construction requirements for the site;

o Energy efficiency requirements;

o Structural construction requirements for footings/slab on ground (soil test required), wall and roof framing; Slabs for dwellings have different requirements to those used for sheds. If the shed slab does not meet the requirements for a dwelling then it is not feasible to consider a change of use.

o Damp proofing under concrete floors;

o Termite protection where required;

o Minimum ceiling heights (2.4 m for habitable rooms and 2.1 m for laundry, bathroom, corridor and toilet);

o Minimum window sizes (including openable portions for ventilation);

o Required facilities for cooking, laundry, bathroom, toilet and damp proofing of floors and walls;

o Certificates of compliance for electrical, plumbing and glazing;

o Septic Tank system (where required);

o Complying steps, landings, balustrades (where required) and

o Hard wired smoke alarms.

1 Australian Standard, AS3959-2009 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas.

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Monday, July 9th, 2012

Defendable space is an area of land around a building where vegetation is modified and managed to reduce the effects of flame contact and radiant heat associated with bushfire. It comprises an inner zone and an outer zone.

The Defendable Space Requirements:

An inner zone distance as specified by AS 3959-2009 for a particular BAL, an outer zone developed using the methodology of AS3959-2009 – Appendix B but with the following changes:

a Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) of 120 (instead of 100) a flame temperature of 1200Kelvin (instead of 1090Kelvin

a building is located so that it is not exposed to a radiant heat flux more than 10kw/m2, based on he AS3959-2009 Method B approach using an FFDI of 120 and a flame temperature of 1200Kelvin. This standard is considered the most suitable performance requirement because: it is the maximum a fire fighter in personal protective equipment can be exposed to for a short period of time (less than 10 seconds), providing some potential to evacuate or defend buildings occupied by people with special needs, it aligns with the criteria for Neighbourhood Safer Places in Victoria and it provides a conservative approach for determining defendable space for uses at particular risk.

Inner Zone Standard Conditions

• Grass must be no more than 100mm in height

• Leaf litter must be less than 10mm deep

• There must be no elevated fuel on at least 50% of the area. On the remaining 50% the elevated fuel must be at most, sparse, with very little dead material

• Dry shrubs must be isolated in small clumps more than ten metres away from the dwelling

• Trees must not overhang the roofline of the dwelling

Outer Zone Standard Conditions:

• Grass must be no more than 100mm in height

• Leaf litter must be less than 20mm deep

• There must be no elevated fuel on at least 50% of the outer zone area

• Clumps of dry shrubs must be isolated from one another by at least ten metres

These tables must also consider:

• Vegetation type;

• Slope;

• Distance of vegetation from a proposed dwelling; and

• Suitable fire weather conditions to reflect the events of Ash Wednesday (in 1983) and Black Sunday (in 2009)

The use of view factor is contingent on determining flame geometry. As such, the process of

determining radiant heat using view factor method is a staged approach in which initially the

bushfire behaviour equations are used to determine flame geometry, and secondly the use of

appropriate inputs to derive radiant heat from the flame. This overall ‘site assessment methodology

planning purposes is

Commercial Building Guide for Investors

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

There is no doubt that commercial building plans are at the very heart of real estate construction industry in Australia. Any person who wants to undertake construction of commercial property should know and observe the rules of building as stipulated by town or city councils across different regions. Some of the important considerations for any builder include applying for building plans and ensuring safety in the commercial buildings.

Applying for Replica of building plans

If you want to build or upgrade your commercial property, then you will be glad to know that you can apply for replicas of building plans. If you also intend to carry out home extensions, then you can still qualify.  It is important to seek the consent of the current owner of a building to obtain or view existing building plans. Replicas of building plans and permits for new homes can be acquired by providing the following information.

  • Address of the property
  • Name of applicants i.e. person requesting for copies of building plans
  • Type of commercial building plans-commercial or residential for estimation of fee
  • Extra information about particular building plans being sought

These are just some of the vital information that you should provide. But, you are also at liberty to provide details/information on particular renovation, building area, and the permit number if you have it.

Besides submitting requests for copies of commercial building, you should also take time to consider the essential safety requirements of maintaining commercial property. Town planning and builders Melbourne and areas factor this issue when planning and developing business property.

Maintaining safety measures in Commercial Property

Despite the fact that town and city councils have a mandate of enforcing regulation on building safety within their jurisdiction, owners are expected to observe basic safety measures. Generally, regulation on construction of commercial building states that the owner of the property is responsible for maintaining the property. More emphasis is placed on the safety features such as prevention of fire situation on buildings and maintenance of desired operational levels in the lifetime of the building. The kind of maintenance to be implemented depends on the complexity or nature of service, equipment, features, and experience of the person doing the inspection or survey.



What the Local Authority Requires from You

Every year, owners are required by town councils to prepare and submit essential service reports on the safety measures implemented on their buildings. The owner may do so as an individual or delegate the task to agents or maintenance contractors.

Besides being maintained properly, commercial buildings that were constructed before 1st July 1994 ought to be installed with safety equipment and safety fittings. Records of maintenance checks and service repairs should be kept so as to be checked by municipal building surveyor(s).

Given that regulations on maintenance and safety are bound to change, it is worth checking out or consulting with private building surveyors to see whether you comply with the regulations enforced by the building commission or not.

Building a Home- Tips for Attaining a Cooler Home Environment

Friday, June 29th, 2012

The design of your house is a very important matter when building a home. And, by using the right building plans, you can save a considerable amount of money. It is possible to build an effective home by using the right design and construction process.  If you are thinking of applying for building permits to execute a specific building plan, then you should take time to evaluate the suitability of options available.

The choice of plans has direct influence on whether or not your home will become cool and hospitable especially in summer. You might think of installing air-conditioners, but the most effective way to regulate house temperatures is to design the interior to enhance coolness.

The secret to a comfortable living home

Each year thousands of homes are built in Australia. Sadly, most of them can be labelled “hot boxes” because designers and home builders used ineffective building plans. Most builders ignore the solar aspect and the orientation of the home. To help you maximize on the design of homes and businesses and avoid hot homes, we suggest that you do the following.

1)    Select a South facing land orientation – this allows the outdoor living area to face North East, thus making it ideal for outdoor living and outdoor activities.

2)    Choose home design for land block – majority of home plans typically vouch for north orientation. However, you can choose the East, West, or even South orientation.

3)    Minimize heat transfer- you can achieve this by eliminating ordinary windows and using high under eave windows, double glazing, or cool glazing in permanent windows.

4)      Construct high pitched roofs- these are effective in reflecting heat away and holding more volume of air which has an insulating effect. Besides that, it will also maximize the harvesting of rain water.

5)      Reduce Size of roofing facing West – a west facing block can lower temperatures and make the home cooler. With a narrow roof side facing the West, more heat will be deflected away.

6)      Insulate the garage area – do this if you have a West facing block. You should also use eaves and insulate the west facing garage door.

7)      Insulate west facing walls & ceiling space – other than the summer heat, you should also take note of the cold westerlies in spring. Use thermal wrap foil and invest in batts too.  Also, given that the roof is the largest area facing the sun, heat radiates on this space. Insulating it will prevent the transfer of heat to living areas.

If you implement these tips, you will save a considerable amount of money. But don’t forget that you may need building permits required by local council to modify or make changes. You can find advice on town planning and insight from builders  Melbourne to help you get the best results in your home.

A Handy Guide to Getting Good Building Plans

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

If you intend to build a residential home or commercial property, you should at least be aware of the sort of building plans that you would want to use during construction. Municipal regulations state that commercial buildings and business should be constructed within the framework of building regulations. Given that building permits required by local council form the foundation of any building project, you should ideally know how to go about accessing these blueprints.

Reasons why you might need Planning and Building Permits

There are quite a number of reasons as to why you may need to apply for a planning permit. And, it is not only limited to subdivision of land. Some of the common reasons which drive people to get these permits are listed below.

  • Demolish a house/structure
  • Extent a house
  • Remove a tree
  • Build units
  • Put up advertising signs
  • Set up or run a home business

Besides the requirement for planning permit, home or commercial builders are also required by law to apply for a building permit. Some of the reasons for this include constructing a new building, fence, outbuild, safety barrier, retaining wall, and making alteration or renovation to a business or house.

How to Get Designs of Building Plans

The law states that homeowners and commercial property developers get building permits required by local council. You should not take anything for granted and therefore, you should know that activities such as painting and starting a new business all require town planning. Back to plans, you should follow the steps below to get the best plans from draftsperson(s).

1)      Get a builder to draw your future home. If you get a builder to draw the house plan for you, you won’t own the copyright and this allows different builders to quote them. It is very important to ask the draftsman if you will own the copyrights to the design of commercial buildings and business premises.  And, if the quotes become more than expected, then you will have to get someone else to draw up the plans for you.

2)       The cost is a major determinant and therefore, you should be able to identify builders who can draw up really good plans at affordable costs. It is important to get concept plans plus elevations and directions on copyright before you consent to the development of the building plans. To get good value for your money, get as many quotes from builders first to determine whose pricing fits your building budget.

Don’t forget that building plans and planning permits center on managing development and use of land to minimize negative impact on human settlements. Generally, building permits address the issues of safety and construction and modification of buildings.

Choose a Draftsperson that Completes Projects on Time

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Most people think that the services of an architect is the only necessary thing when it comes to building a home or carrying out home extension, or a commercial project. Although the architect plays a central role as far as conceptualization and design are concerned, an experienced draftsperson cannot be left out of the consultative building process. These professionals can deal with design of building plans for small to large projects.

Getting the Necessary Permits

Before you embark on construction of commercial or residential property, you should acquire building permits required by local council. This is very important in ensuring that your building meets the regulations on building safety as provided in council by-laws. And, if you are seeking sub-division of land for the same purpose, then you should still inquire from council officials and get directions on how the procedure is carried out.

Enlisting a Draftsman in Building Projects

There is no doubt that the design phase of a building and the corresponding plans are very important in construction. A qualified draftsperson will meet your expectations and even provide you satisfactory services on all design requirements and aspects of planning at a fraction of the cost.

It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for guidance on town planning and builders across Melbourne by experienced draftsman and town planner, you will find the assistance of this professional timely and invaluable. The reason is that the builder will build on the very foundation of planning as laid down by the draftsman. And, with the right plans, you have the guarantee that your plans will be implemented just as you want them.

It is not a secret that the cost of building for business and organizations alike has risen significantly. Therefore, if you intend to cut down the costs of building then you have to maximize on the most effective designs fulfilling the building requirements within your municipality. Also, to reduce costs, you may want to focus on speedy completion of projects.

An experienced draftsperson will undertake all kinds of drafting, detailing, drawing, and modelling within a reasonable time frame. To ensure that all the standards have been met, drawings should be subjected to 3 level quality checks before being presented to you. Experience is the key to getting high quality drawings.

If you are looking for town planning and builders across Melbourne, then you will be glad to know that we can help you find building plans for new homes and home extensions. We shall also guide you on all building Permits required by local council. Please, check our services page for a listing of all planning and permit services. Start your enquiry by filling and submitting your planning query form.