Architects, draftsmen and engineers – oh my! Traditional building versus MODULAR HOMES
You have your block - but what comes next?
An architect? A draftsman? An engineer? A geotechnician? A planning consultant? An ecological consultant? A bushfire consultant? A builder?
Even after securing your dream patch of land, designing and building the house you want within your budget can seem like an overwhelming task. At Prominda, we’ve streamlined this process to help you bypass the maze of professionals and skip straight to the good part - building your home.
The traditional building process - who do you need to hire?
The draftsman is usually an industry-trained service provider who will help you prepare plans to take to the builder. These plans are used for costing and construction and are required as part of the building approval process. The draftsman has an excellent working knowledge of how a house is put together, down to the very smallest details - such as the standard width of a door, where the hinges go, and how bathrooms are required to be laid out. Many draftsman are aligned to the ‘average’ of the building industry, and may not be ideal if you want your home to be something out of the ordinary or designed specifically for your site and needs.
The architect is a university-trained building designer and potential manager of the building process. They are across the leading edge of building design, including the use of solar passive and energy-efficient design and the latest advances in materials. Architecture is part science, part art. They should also help you come up with an outstanding visually appealing building.
Usually an architect can be engaged for a variety of levels of service. Different architects may have different ways in which they like to work. You may choose to engage them only for a design concept, where they give you some ‘broad brush’ ideas on how to build. You might engage them to provide full design and documentation, including plans and specifications of the build. Sometimes they can provide guidance in the building approval process as well. Many people engage architects to manage the whole building process, including liaison with the builder and supervision and quality management of building.
A possible downside of working with an architect may be keeping your project within budget. An architect, as a professional, can be a large expense in their own right. An architect may not be as attuned as a draftsman to builders’ preferences and everyday steps to keep a building in budget. Some builders may have concerns about working on projects with architectural input, leading to higher quotes or no quote at all.
The engineer may need to be engaged subsequent to the draftsman or architect. Their specialist knowledge is to know and specify how the building is to be built so it won’t fall down. They will provide design relating to footings if required, and any structural issues not covered off under the building codes. They need a building plan and geotechnical results to conduct their work.
The geotechnician is usually engaged early in the building process. They will travel to the site, and undertake a sampling and testing process to build a picture of the soil characteristics of the building site. They may also do drilling to ascertain if underlying rock will affect the building design.
A footing design can only be ascertained once soil test results are known. Footing cost can be a substantial part of build costs, so early testing is beneficial. Countering this though, some building design should be done before testing so testing is carried out in the right place - in the footprint of the building.
The Planning Consultant
The development approval process may require the services of a planning consultant. They will have knowledge of the documentation required, and the process to be followed to have your home approved to build by the local council. Often with straight-forward building sites, as within urban subdivisions, a draftsman may offer to submit the documents on your behalf. Likewise, architects may be willing to provide this service.
If this is not the case, you may decide to engage a planning consultant to navigate the way through your development application.
The Ecological and Bushfire Consultants
The ecological consultant - Many non-urban properties in NSW are now subject of a vegetation management plan. As part of the development management application process you will need to make yourself aware of whether you property is zoned as part of a plan. If that is the case you may need to engage an ecological consultant to assess the impact of your building on the environment, and is necessary to formulate a plan to counter the effects of your build. Normally your planning consultant should be aware to what level this affects your property.
The bushfire consultant- Both urban and non-urban sites may have issues to consider relating to building attack by bushfire. On many sites these are relatively simple to assess and deal with. On these sites, your draftsman, architect or planning consultant can likely deal with the issues. On more fire prone sites they may need to defer to a bushfire consultant for specialty design and specification advice. Building a home in a high bushfire attack level, or in a flame zone area can add considerably to build costs. It is important to consider these factors early in the process, and they will often determine the viability of choosing to build on the block, or on the desired building footprint.
The builder - is the person who then needs to ‘pull it all off’ and convert those plans and approvals into your ‘palace’. Often they are the last ones you get to deal with in this process. They need to deal with reality- getting you, with your budget , into your home as designed and specified. This can be where the tensions escalate. Often in the design process, aspirations can lose touch with budget. Consulting with potential builders before and during the design process can be hugely beneficial to having realistic expectations of what you can achieve. A builder can also have valuable tips to improve the manageability of your design.
But remember- a well designed and thoroughly documented set of plans are vital to finishing with what you have hoped for.
How modular homes present an alternative to traditional building
Prominda’s integrated service offers an alternative to the maze of traditional building and its many unrelated professionals.
Prominda will guide you through the hoops of building right from the very beginning of your project until you move into your new home. To begin the process, we offer basic custom designs with indicative costings for you to develop an idea of what suits your needs and budget.
At the next stage we can offer a full custom design service. This is done in-house by our own architecturally-trained building designer, working in 3D drafting software to help you visualise your project. Alternatively, we can work with one of a panel of independent architects to help with your concepts.
At the end of this no-obligation process, you will have a set of plans to move forward with building your new modular home.
If you choose to continue with Prominda, we offer an integrated building service and can engage any other professional services required. We submit and manage all your development approvals on your behalf. Our industry experience allows us to minimise hold-ups and stresses which can frequently plague new home builders.
As we oversee all steps of the building process, we can give you a budget early on and ensure we meet this target each step of the way.
To read more about the benefits of building a modular home with us, head to the Prominda Advantage.