Thursday, April 30, 2009

Power poles and warranties

Well the building surveyor doesn't seem concerned about the shed easement entry in the planning permission which is good.

Today I saw we have a power pole on the block, however there is as yet no power connected to it, so I presume that is coming.

Also had a call from the concreter today. It seems that the cost of the concreting has increased by $880 +GST due to our requirement for the slab to be poured on top of the strip footings rather than as an infill after the build is almost finished. And the concreter doesn't have warranty insurance as he isn't required to as he is not a registered building practitioner. I'm not in favour of the system in Victoria, there's no requirement for builders to be registered which rather defeats the whole point of registration if you ask me......

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Planning permission.....

We just got our planning permit today from our council in Melbourne and have taken it to our Surveyor for the building permit.It has a very interesting condition on it -

"It is noted that the development includes a storage shed and eaves to be built over an easement. Separate consent from council and the relevant service authority is required to build over the easment and will need to be obtained prior to the issue of a building permit"

......we don't have a storage shed in the plans............. There is a shed on the block, but it isn't on the plans, and it isn't over the easement.....

Hmmm will have to ring the surveyor and see what he has to say.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Preparations continue....

Getting ready to start now, I've checked the latest documentation from the steel frame company and it is pretty much there, just a couple of questions.

I also uncovered the sewer which is pretty much exactly where we expected to find it, but a lot shallower! -

Here's some pictures of the Bond girls in their cubby house and also some pictures of the shed (sorry - site office!) - all we need now is a house to go with them! -

Friday, April 17, 2009

The story so far....

A bit of history -

In August 2008 we purchased a block of land in Bayside Melbourne, a few streets from where we are currently renting, in a neighbourhood where we have a lot of friends. The block is 740m2, in a quiet street 2 mins walk to local shops, 5 mins walk to the swimming pool, 15 mins walk to a railway station and main shops and 20 mins walk to a beautiful sandy beach and marina.

Here is a photo looking from the road -

Notice the pile of large rocks in the back corner, these had been put there by the vendor when he was thinking of making the block part of his garden next door. They were massive and we had no idea what we were going to do with them. Also note the mature plum trees.

Here's a photo looking towards the road -

Note the 2m high fence along the road, we want to keep this as it means our front yard will be as private as our rear yard.

The block had been owned for about 10 years by the next door neighbours. Previously it had an old house on it. The house was pulled down and the block left empty for 10 years. The vendor did not want a developer to put 2 or more houses on it as is happening to all the other blocks around us, so we were able to buy it at a reasonable price for our family home.

We would not need planning permission, save for something called "Melbourne Water Special Building Overlay". This states that the block is in a zone where potential flooding could occur and as a result we would have to build about 80cm above natural ground level. This was a bit of a pain in the arse, but we would live with it, this was the first vacant block to come on the market in our area in 2 years so we didn't have much choice!

We spent the next few weeks drafting out a rough design to take to a draftsman. We decided that at this stage we would be Owner Builders, we had completed 2 renovations before and felt we could cope with the challenges. I am a project manager by trade and we felt this would come in handy.

I decided that we were not going to build in a timber frame with brick veneer. I am no fan of this type of building, I think it is poor building practice and not in keeping with energy efficiency. So we needed to fulfil three basic requirements with the design -

1. Strong structure and the best insulation.
2. Must not take up the whole block, rear yard must be at least 20 metres long.
3. No trees or large shrubs to be removed, house to be designed around existing trees and shrubs.

In addition we had the following family requirements and desires

1. 4 bedrooms, 1 to be downstairs with its own ensuite for elderly parent to have as a Granny Flat. This must have its own outdoor entrance.
2. Kids bedrooms to be exactly the same size and configuration (we have twins!)
3. No waste-of-space formal dining or lounge.
4. Study needed, must face the garden
5. Kitchen/Dining/Living to be open plan.
6. "Fun" features. For instance, one wall of the ensuite shower will open completely to a private balcony so as to create the feeling of showering outside.

We decided we were going to build on a steel frame, with 4" polystyrene cladding. This would satisfy the strength and insulation requirements. We found an excellent draftsman who specialised in steel frame, and in October 2008 we appointed him. He came with the added benefit that he was also an OB in steel!

He modified our design so that it worked, met all our requirements and met rescode and Melbourne Water requirements.

We obtained permission from Melbourne Water on New Years Eve, 2008. Over the holiday period I showed Melbourne water's requirements to a Civil Engineer family friend, and he pointed out that in order to comply with all 6 of their requirements, we would have to get water to run up hill! Back we went to Melbourne Water......

We also applied to be 6m set back at the front instead of 8.25, which would comply with rescode. Both neighbours offered no objection to a 6m setback, but even then, the council declined our request. They did say they would settle for 7.5m back. However - remember point 2 of my basic requirements - back yard to be 20m long? If we went back to 7.5m we would have a back yard of 18.5m long. There was only one thing for it - redesign the house! Back we went to the draftie and between us we worked out a variation to the design that achieved the 7.5m setback and the 20m back yard. To his credit, he charged us no extra for this.

Of course, the redesign meant Melbourne Water had to have another look.... back the new plans went to them. In response to the civil engineer's comments, they actually lowered the height above ground level, so I think someone had made a mistake. It goes to show you can argue with officialdom and win sometimes!

So now we had setback approval, and Melbourne Water approval. Melbourne Water's approval had to be taken to the council, we had been led to believe this would be a rubber stamp. Uh-uh, the council sent the plans back to Melbourne water for them to confirm their approval!!!!! They have now done this, and we should get the rubber stamp any day now.

Back to the block. Remember those rocks? It would cost us about $1000 to remove them. We tried offering them to garden centres and landscape gardeners free to take away, but no-one was interested. So we decided to Ebay them, buyer collects. Within 2 days we had sold them for $1, and in January an excavator and truck turned up to remove them -

So that was $1000 saved.

While the red tape was being worked, we got engineering done, energy rating etc and as we stand now we are just waiting for the final stamp from the council before we can apply for the building permit which takes about a week.

We have also put a shed and a cubby house on the block. The shed will be used for storage, sheltering from the rain, site office etc and then a garden shed once we move in, and the cubby house is there already so that if Miss Moneypenny (as Mrs James Bond will from now be known) is on site the kids have somewhere to play.

We have appointed a very good plumber who is organising stuff already, including an unbudgetted expense of boring under the road to connect to the water main - $1400!!

We have also appointed concreters/excavators.