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You say that you offer a ‘one-stop shop’ service, but what does that include?

Prime Design covers all design and planning processes from concept through to building permits. Our quote for work will cover all our fees and all of our consultants’ time. We work with you to provide a timeline for your project and we stick to it. Sometimes delays are encountered during the process which are outside of our control, but we look after this for you and work with you every step of the way.

How long does it take to start building?

For an average house it takes 4- 5 months to receive your building and plumbing permits which allows your builder to start construction. Please refer to the Design Process Timeline for further information. Beware though, if your lot has specific planning overlays or zoning conditions, underground assets or bushfire issues, this time frame can take longer, and we can advise you of that.

Council told me I don’t need planning approval, and everything is ok.

Unless you have this in writing from council and from the correct council department it means nothing. We follow a set process to ensure that all approvals and exemptions are documented so you can proceed smoothly and efficiently through all the design and approval process.

My designer did the house plans and I had to arrange everything else.

Unfortunately, this is all too common in the industry. Your selected designer or architect prepares a design for you and you have to scramble around organising the rest. For most projects, you will require planning approval, a soil test, a detail survey, structural engineering, an energy assessment, a Tas Water CCW, a bushfire assessment and building and plumbing approval. Your designer or architect should include this as part of their service. If they do not, it means you have to. At Prime Design, the organisation of all of these reports and approvals is standard for all our projects. No hidden surprises.

Council told me I just need a site plan for my project.

Every application requires a minimum level of documentation. Consumer Building and Occupational Services (CBOS) have outlined the minimum level of documentation required for approvals.

I put an offer on a property subject to planning approval for my extension. Is 45 days enough?

The simple answer in NO. The planning approval process takes 42 day alone. Your designer also has to site measure, organise site contours, document, consult with you, investigate zoning, investigate bushfire issues, check infrastructure and investigate how all these items will affect your proposal. We recommend a minimum of 60 days, but 90 is safer. Always include your lawyer or conveyancer in these discussions.

My architect/designer/draftsperson was not up front with me and just keeps sending me invoices.

Before you engage anyone, whether they be an architect, designer or draftsperson, obtain a fixed process quote for their services and a list of all the sub consultants required and their costs. There is no reason these costs cannot be provided to you. Of course, occasionally you may require a report which was unforeseen, but for most jobs, an experienced professional will be able to give you a list of the sub consultants required and their costs. If they are unable to provide you this, they may either not understand what is required or they don’t want to handle this for you.

I want to renovate my house, but I don’t know if I can if I can make the changes I want.

This is quite common and the way to approach this is slowly. We need to investigate what you are trying to do, what is involved and how we might go about it. The initial process we follow is.

• Work out an approximate fee for investigation. The investigation will include: infrastructure check (sewer, water, stormwater, power, gas infrastructure checks) site measure of the existing building, and drawings up of the design concepts.
• Check planning scheme and advise how this will affect the proposal.
• Have a structural engineer review the existing building and the new sketch design.
• Organise budget costings to make sure all is on track.

This can all be done on an hourly rate with maximum allowances. We look at this process as building your “scope of works”. From this point we can provide a fixed price for the remainder of the works.

We have a budget; can we build our house for this money?

We will be honest and up front in with you to the best of our knowledge. If we feel it cannot be done, we will tell you. However, to confirm if your budget can be met, we need to undertake proper investigations - please refer to our Sketch to Permit System – Budget Checkpoints. To get accurate drawings for costings we will need a detail survey (so we understand the land on which you are trying to build), a sketch design based on your wish list, a soil test and preliminary engineering. All this is then given to a quantity surveyor for preliminary estimates. This is not a building quote or contract; however, it will give you an idea of costs and then the decision is yours to choose whether to proceed or not. This is all done before you submit for planning approval.

Why is building so complicated? It was a lot easier 10 years ago

In the past a basic set of plans on one sheet of paper is all that was required. There were only three levels of approvals: planning (barely 30% of all applications), building and plumbing. Now we have on average thirty A3 drawings, an average of three reports, two form 35 certificates and 5 levels of approvals - planning (now affecting 95% of all application), Tas Water, building, plumbing and the permit authority.

My architect/designer/draftsperson went over my budget and now wants to charge for the redesign and all the new permits.

We see this all too often and honestly, earlier in our business years we had this happen to us. This is because as designers we don’t always know the true cost of building works. We’ve since implemented systems to manage this risk. This involves getting preliminary budget estimates early in the design stage. We use a quantity surveyor or some of our customers like to have their chosen builder review the design and provide a preliminary budget figure. This the best way to ensure that your budget is on track before you get all your approvals and want to start building. Getting preliminary budget estimates before planning and then again before lodging for building approvals means we can change or alter the design before you get all of your approvals. Please note this these estimates are always based on the core of the house and a level of fit out discussed with yourself and confirmed with your final product and fit out selections – subsequent changes will affect these estimates.

What is the difference between planning and building?

Firstly, understand the order; planning approval comes before building approval. Planning - or Development Approval (DA) - is a consent to develop and use the land within size and position limits. This ensures that the proposed project is in harmony with similar surrounding developments and is in accordance with the guidelines outlined in planning schemes. Building is a separate approval process for the actual construction in accordance with the Building Act 2016 (Tas), the National Construction Code (NCC) and the relevant Australian Standards.

How does this whole building/planning thing work?

To be fair, it is not an easy thing to understand and every state is slightly different. Please refer to the Prime Design, Sketch to Permit system for how we go from sketch, defining your scope of works, putting a quote together for you, ordering a detail survey, soil test, drawing up concepts based on your scope of work and then refining these with you. Once you are happy with the design we then check planning, issue for planning, receive the planning permit, start on the building and plumbing drawings, structural engineering, energy assessment and bushfire assessments, Tas Water applications, coordinate all the drawings and the submit for building and plumbing approval. Sounds easy if you say it fast enough.

On a standard house we use a minimum of five different consultants on every project. We arrange all of these for you, we order all of your required reports, fill in all of your paperwork and get you your building and plumbing permits. Our designers have spent years perfecting these processes in depth, so you don’t have to.

How To Get Started?

Our first meeting will focus on discovering your needs and defining your project ideas. To us this is the most important step to immerse our services, your project, unpack potential regulatory issues, budgets, and potential building problems so we can come up with solutions using our specialised knowledge. We will discuss: