Building Design Awards 2014

Building Design Awards 2014

Building Design Awards 2014 is conducted each year by Building Designers Associate Victoria.This year’s BDAV Building Design Awards were just announced at the BDAV’s Annual Dinner.

Top honours went to Melbourne Design Studios Pty Ltd for their exemplary design project Birkenstock Australia HQ which won a total of four awards, including the coveted Building Design of the Year. The new Birkenstock headquarters – who specialise in healthy footwear – is a testament to the brand’s core values of craftsmanship and quality, honesty and integrity, sustainability and healthiness.

To view all of this year’s stunning winners, CLICK HERE. to to see a range of the winners for this year’s awards.

Your Home – Guide to Building

Your Home – Guide to BuildingYourHome

Your Home is your guide to building, buying or renovating a home. It shows how to create a comfortable home with low impact on the environment – economical to run, healthier to live in and adaptable to your changing needs.

This Australian Government Web site is an excellent starting point for your home project. The web site deals with 4 main segments of sustainable housing.

Your Home – guide to building is a web site very worthwhile to research before you begin. Reviewing items of location, orientation, heating and cooling to enable home owners to understand more about the real cost’s of owning and maintaining your home.

It allows couples to try and decide some important principals for when they are briefing their designer or in fact when considering a building block to ensure the location and options for siting a dwelling are provided to a specific block of land.

We trust you will find this web site worthwhile.

New Colorbond Colours released

New Colorbond Colours Released 18th October 2013

As is a usual practise every 2 or 3 years Bluescope change their colour range for Colour. The new colorbond colours released 18th October 2013 entails not only new colours but also removal of old colours. Not always is this met with acclaim or agreement but it becomes what it is over the next few months as the only colours available subject to stock in market of discontinued colours.

This new release seems very earthy and lacks a real new fresh colour. The emphasis somewhat aligned with recent rendering colours and general exterior paint colours which by nature change and develop more quickly than the bluescope economies allow. I hope this new range is the future not the past.

colorbond logo follow this link to the new range.

Colorbond is a leading trademark for pre-coloured metal. Fact’s are that other local and imported producers compete into this market segment with arguably comparable performance outcomes but coloured steel is known purely as Colorbond. Not all suppliers offer the exactly the same benefits as Bluescope Colorbond. So if you want Colorbond ensure thats exactly what is supplied or, check what other manufacturers offer in terms of performance and warranty.

For Consumers – The bottom-line is Colourbond does provide the better warranty, service and support for their consumers and these benefits should not be ignored.

For Bluescope Clients – it would be nice if they appreciated their Australian and overseas partners, resellers and general industry partners better as their reputation isn’t so glowing. In fact quite the reverse. With almost closedown profit results over last 2 -3 years, and way to big executive salaries and bonus for poor performance, they need to earn back some respect with less arrogance and better hands on staffing and customer focused business.

What the new colours mean – Certainly the loss of some colours will be annoying for latter matching and continuation, although other suppliers may fill some of the gaps, but the addition of new colours will provide designers and builders with some more current colour options and is a reasonable step forward although maybe a bit too earthy without a fresh colour.

icon-roofing this link will tie you to features and benefits of Colourbond

Product development – Design wise the recent development of colour metal walling profiles beyond the standard corrugated, tray and mini orb options. The Fielders Finesse is an excellent example of moving forward indesign with coloured steel. As Bluescope have made a play for Fielders will be interesting if newness will be arrogance in this merger.

finesse-logo  check out this link for more information on this product.

Looking forward to seeing the your comments and discussion on the colorbond colour changes from this release.

Do it Yourself Pergolas

Do it Yourself Pergolasapproval stamp

Do it yourself pergola is very much a common father / son, mate / mate project carried out throughout the suburbs of Australia during the spring to autumn months. Pergola or Verandah structures have grown from a simple “lean to corrugated roof” structure to nowadays full on outdoor rooms with kitchens, tv’s, pool table etc., etc.,.

Solarspan---Outdoor-room-p10As those structures are considered an extension to your dwelling (unless less than 10m2 and not attached ) then generally a building permit is required.

The Project Centre has been offering plan and permit solutions for now well over 15 years for those serious do it yourself pergola builders within the Melbourne metro area. Ensuring your project is properly planned, permitted and executed ensure a successful project. We can provide the experience to assist achieving those goals.

Check out our do it yourself brochure for some ideas and things to consider. Link to Do it Yourself Projects

Check out our plan and permit link to do it yourself service

Do I need a building permit – check out this link for  Building Commission

Contact us if your considering getting professional advice and plans prepared for your outdoor pergola or verandah. Ring on (BH) 039796 6899 or provide us your enquiry by

emailing us here  email logo 2

We are a member of the Builders Designer Association of Victoria bdav logo

Abu Dhabi Designs

Abu Dhabi Designs

On a recent trip I decided to stop over in Abu Dhabi in the hope to see what buildings new and old could be labelled truelly Abu Dhabi Designs. Upon arrival I noticed that the new Abu Dhabi was a modern oasis with little architecture of bygone days. Open highways modern glass filled building and orderly sparse population and struggling parks and gardens dealing with a climate unsuited.

The new Abu Dhabi is not unlike the original new Dubai just in a much smaller “newer” phase. I guess I had a disappointment at what was on offer for the tourist like me but again I wasn’t sure what I should see.

The options for the government seem to be to create reasons for tourism via F1  car raceway, Louvre (currently being completed) and of course a serious selection of first rate hotels. What I struggled with is why they seek this. Certainly not real sure the incredible cost will really deliver anything to the ordinary citizen. I’m also unsure what will bring someone back in a world filled with many natural wonders including the ability to interact with the citizens and their customs when you travel. For me half the reason I travel. The other a break from working.

These matters aside the buildings are very well finished and a credit to the designer’s, organisation and skill employed to achieve ‘progress” on a new Abu Dhabi. The newer area of the city of Abu Dhabi is dotted with 50’s and 60’s buildings with new mainly 5 star hotels rising from the sands.

We visited the Emirates Place Hotel which, I’m was assured, is a 6 or 8 star establishment. Certainly a high level of gold coloured features and remarkable workmanship displayed through the public areas and gardens. The entrance (see featured picture) make for a picture perfect opportunity with forever changing lights and textures of this very Roman styled entrance. This hotel with all the glitter seemed cold and removed whilst be spectacular and stunning in finishings and design. I liked it but felt it didn’t quite hit the never of wow for the money spent.

Would I say Abu Dhabi is a location for design and tourism. Not quite now but certainly they spending plenty of money working there way to a new Abu Dhabi. Like the Place hotel not sure they really making a jewel they seem to crave.

The people we had contact with were friendly and helpful from hotel staff (we stayed Jumeirah at Etihad Towers) to taxi drivers. As is known in these area’s very little contact is possible with actual locals as they represent a small number of the many overseas workers brought in to manage, built and provide services to locals ad tourists. Locals simply seem somewhat removed and possibly uncomfortable with direct contact. Difficult to know due to almost no contact over 3 days.

In terms of design I believe Dubai provide a more vast and established example of both Arabic design and feel that I felt the planners were missing in their developments in Abu Dhabu. I feel a more Arabic design, texture and landscape would create a jewel within the sand that Dubai is heading toward. The new extensive place being built might hit the target but regrettably for very few to enjoy from the resources that provided it.

I would return because I felt safe and welcomed but not for design difference.

My next blog will deal with our visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque certainly one of the  architectural wonders of this area




Moroccan Doorways

Moroccan Doorways

On our recent trip in June 2013, I was taken back by the beauty, sights and design of many things in Marrakech and Morocco but I was impressed by the many moroccan doorways I saw. This blog study features particularly the moroccan doorways that appeared along the many whining  alleyways that make up and are the attraction of the historic Marrakech medina area. They reminded me a lot of Nepal and their individuality of doorways and windows.

This trip was to investigate what feature’s and designs could be incorporated into our varied projects. The doorways stood out from the high walled alleyways as their personal statement and apparent welcome of the owners behind via their doorways. Well thats what I romanced about them.

Our Arrival: From after leaving Abu Dhabi at 2am via Casablanca to Marrakech we found us without our scheduled pickup, phone dead and computer that for some reason decided not to work in other word stuck. Nevertheless our trip from Airport, by taxi, to Rihad in the Marrakech Medina certainly woke us up. As vehicles are not allowed into main medina area, it wasn’t long before we were walking the alleyways would be whining through a maze of different shops selling many locally produced handicrafts, restaurant’s and street food stalls. Unless you been there the pictures only tell part of the experience you feel as you meander your way in the medina. We hoped it would be and it was enlightening.

The all of a sudden, I realised, the doorways were a feature of otherwise continuos rendered on painted concrete walls that could be upwards of 7 to 8 meters straight up from the alleyway. These wall, doorways and windows would be fascinating and make the medina a truly special place along with the Moroccans citizens  themselves who were polite and encouraging.

The Morrocan Doorways seemed to appear from nowhere and one could only guess what was behind the doorways.

The picture (above) was the starting point of me starting to take particular interest in Moroccan Doorways for the all of the brief stay we had in Marrakech in June 2013. Note the detail and sensational workmanship put into what could only be described as a works of art as much as just another doorway.


Hope you like this small selection of moroccan doorways and hope they help provide inspiration for your projects and designs.







These blogs are written to create discussion and inspiration for those involved in architectural design but also those who love to travel and seek to discover and explore new, historic and varied cultures.

Look forward to any comment and contributions


Deck Verandah and Spa Project

Deck Verandah and Spa Project

Its always great to receive some pictures from a client on the successful conclusion of their own Do t yourself Deck Verandah and Spa Project.

Owner wanted to provide his house with an outside inside room concept that would provide a range of uses within the one project

Areas being

  • Living – lounge type of area
  • Dining
  • BBQ area
  • Spa enclosure

Owners wanted both roofed and unroofed outcomes from proposal. The existing alfresco to dwelling would be used as main dining area with Spa area enclosed with full and half walls and a full roof.

Decking covering was merbau. Selection of this timber was due to its colour and durability fitting the varied uses of both covered and uncovered areas.

Walls were of blue board painted and rendered to provide both colour and privacy. Nice use of window areas also we added to provide light and contact with the remainder of the property.

Lighting – client used a range of lighting options aim at specific needs plus ambient outcomes to highlight specific areas and walls.

To add value to your home is a simple a ensuring your budget is relative to the outcome you desire. So remember provide the right budget or wait a liitlle longer you won’t be dissappointed.

“Do it yourself” Deck verandah and Spa Project may not be your thing, but knowing what you want and having your outcome professionally designed may just be what you need to ensure the outcome for your outdoor living is what you want. Having your design professionally prepared ensure your quotes are addressing the outcome you want.

We at The Project Centre, have over 20 years experience at over 3500 home improvement projects. So when your ready give use a call you might be surprised at how we can help.


First Home Buyers Boost

First Home Buyers Boost

In times where the public is being superbly massaged by Labor spin doctors to save their skins (please review their performance over last 6 years fellow Australian voters), the Victorian Governments new First Home Buyers Boost Grant of $10,000 from the 1st of July 2013 is a great example of government doing something as against nothing. With little fanfare to earn votes or praise Victoria couple have a little window of positive to help them.

As times roll on where young couples being able to even conceive buying a home, with Bankers, Corporate Employers and Governments all equally competing and ensuring (making the) elite wealthy even stronger, these small handouts to the future moms and dads, the future of our country, important and critical. As a tax payer I see it as money well spent against a Prime Minister his wife and kids flying to Indoensia for an 18 hours tea party. Give us a break. Hopefully Australian voters do not get sucked in again. OK back on track now Ross your frustrations are showing through.

The new deal is that First home buyers in Melbourne who purchase a new home from 1 July can look forward to saving an average of $5258 more than those purchasing an existing home.  This clearly to encourage house building and therefore economic activity.

Reforms to the First Home Owner Grant to boost the housing market in Melbourne as more first time buyers take the plunge to capitalise on the bonuses and stamp duty savings.

For contracts entered into on or after 1 July 2013 to build or purchase a new home, a payment of up to $10,000 is available for eligible first home buyers. For contracts entered into prior to 1 July 2013, a payment of up to $7000 is payable to eligible first home buyers. This grant is not means-tested nor is it restricted by the price of the property for contracts entered into prior to 1 January 2010.

On reviewing media releases I noted “Master Builders Deputy Executive Director Radley de Silva said that targeting the grant to newly constructed homes would give residential builders in the region a much needed boost and support jobs.” “New housing starts in Victoria have dropped dramatically and measures like this will help stimulate a positive turnaround in activity,” Mr de Silva said. Those buying a new house off-the-plan in Melbourne will now receive an average of $12,798 in stamp duty discounts and bonuses – up from $9098 (a difference of $3700).”

“Incentivising first home buyers to purchase newly constructed homes is a win-win situation for the local economy. More people will be able to afford a home and more builders will remain viable,” said Mr de Silva

“These initiatives will help our industry to rebound, support local businesses and stimulate investment in the community.”

The State Government announced reforms to the First Home Owner Grant in April.

First home buyers boost is that buyers will receive a $10,000 grant when purchasing a new home from 1 July valued less than $750,000. Their stamp duty concessions will also rise for properties valued up to $600,000 from 30 to 40 per cent, followed by another increase to 50 per cent in September 2014.


Whilst the First Home Buyers Boost is very welcomed I would like to see Federal Government (Labour or Liberal) also provide weight to this segment of the economic market. Its not rocket science that housing and general construction market is of long term value to the country. Federal incentives should be weighted with emphasis to “long term green purchases into new and existing homes within a new home to reduce long term energy production”. maybe one or two hundred reductions in politician overseas holidays (oh sorry research trips…) and fantastically paid consultants to be on government sponsored committees could be a step from the clear corruption’s we are seeing within our political bureaucracy.


 New housing starts in Victoria have dropped 20 per cent over the past two years from 59,170 in 2010/11 to 47,600 in 2012/13.

 New housing starts are set to rise to about 48,600 in 2013/14.

 The median cost of a vacant block in Melbourne is $212,500.

 The median cost of a house in Melbourne is $448,000.

Master Builders press release
State Government revenue Office – click to review more info



Louver Opening Closing Roofs

Louver Opening and Closing Roofs.

Recently we have been designing a range of projects featuring Louver Opening Closing Roofs. Not always are we required to nominate a final manufacture we have reviewed a number of manufacturers within Melbourne Metro area. Our review included types of  Louver blades  available, benefits and design styles and limitations both related to louver and their related systems that we could recognise to advise our clients their possible design options. There are certainly some variation between suppliers that are worth considering beyond the general final cost of the project. In other words their not all the same.

Key issues seem to be

Material types of Blades – Colorbond or Aluminum appear to be the two selections available. We have been asked about clear (see through) but I have not seen an option to date.

Spans – Maximum Spans range from approx 3.6 meters to maximum 3.9 +/-. suppliers dependant Bottom line – wider blades seem to provide longer spans. Longer spans seem to encourage more blade defection (sagging). This factor to be considered in blade performance. We have found the need for extreme spans can be overcome with good design. Our preference is to ensure spans are within blades capacity.

Durability – Steel base (with Colorbond or coloured finish against Aluminium (raw or powder coated). Certainly Aluminium blades seem to be popularly favoured. Vergola, Straco for example and a range of other manufacturers still maintain Colorbond blades. The durability is not known but can only assume if installed per manufactures requirements then warranty indications will be achieved. Aluminium seems not to have rust and defection issues that colorbond web conversations suggests. Certainly not the only issue under review but certainly if your near the sea or if warranty of product limited this might be a factor to be considered.

Shape of Blade – shape of blades certainly can vary between manufacturer’s. This seems to a large degree a personal choice issue, although some of the wider blades clearly relate for span issues. No blade I reviewed was what I would call horrible. Frankly, if blade considered can tick off all the building issues then its down to which one appeals and cost.

Colour of Blades – Colorbond blades do seem to have a narrow range of colours available. This can vary between manufacturers – check what your manufacturer can offer as certainly it is generally restricted. Aluminium blades have not colour restrictions as they seem to be powder coated to order. This can help is matching a colour on existing building such as door or window colour. Having raised this issue, I personally favour lighter blade colours due to benefits of light bounce provided by lighter colours. Dark colours tend to close down the feel of the area.

Mechanism of Opening and Closing – the motors, sensors, connections (blades to turning components) are certainly a factor to be considered. The warranty’s all seem to be minimal so the cost to replace a motor in 5 years for example should be considered. Currently, we have only heard of minimal issues related to this factor with no manufacturer being a standout “good or bad” to our knowledge. My own feeling is if the system simple and easily maintained, then less possibilities for things to go wrong or to be costly to repair. Check the opening capacity of blades up to 90 , 120 or 180 degree. Some blades can open a full 180 degree and this I consider a benefit to controlling light.

Warranty – Certainly there does seem to be some variation between manufacturers with the best warranty I have reviewed for blades and pins being Totally Outdoors supplying Eclipse Opening and Closing Louver Blades.

Frames – Our main position on fames essentially comes down to visual outcome. Personally if considering the most expensive roof option (which louvers seem to be if fixed glass not considered) then to “knock up a cheap timber frame” may not offer the best outcome. The general options seem to be Colorbond and Aluminium in the sleek modern feel (I have viewed some some bulkheads in merbau – see top picture), bulkheads using conventional blue board rendered (adjacent picture) or some new hardboard options painted. No right or wrong on what selection you decide on except ensure it blends and adds to the visual outcome of the area you have envisaged. We have designed a range of all of the above.  Note: Note all suppliers offer a full range of frame options.

How can we assist – The Project Centre can provide drafting related to any manufacturer you may chose. There will be manufacturers engineering and specifications be required to ensure design / product requirements are in sync. Contact us to discuss your project.

Links of Interest for Louver Opening Closing Roofs are provided below to assist your review of options, warranties and styles.

Totally Outdoors Pty Ltd – Melbourne Metro & surrounding areas builder using aluminium blades plus a wide rang of frame options. Display Centre available  – click

LouverTek – Melbourne Builder using aluminium blades – click

Stratco – Supplier providing only clorbond blades and frames – click

Vergola International – Supplier using colorbond blades – click


The Louver Opening Closing Roof is an exceptional roof option if your outdoor area would benefit with the option of controlling the amount of light / shade / heat to both the outdoor area and possibly to the actual dwelling (i.e.: internal room) or public area (restaurant -internal section).

We hope we have provided a reasonable overview of main and important issues you might consider beyond just the final price of your project. Final cost does relate, as we know, very much to performance, durability and usability of the project. We would have loved to provide a tick off comparison but as products specifications and site situation vary it makes it somewhat difficult to review in that format.

We suggest review of web sites and general web forums may also assist you with choosing the right blade and builder for your project or why not contact us to design and provide advice to consider.

Making Projecte Come Alive



Obtaining a Building Permit

Obtaining a building permit might seem like a straight forward process.

Generally when consumers involved with a new home or extension the plan and permit details are often undertaken or organised by others. However when undertaking small extensions such as a verandah or decking or remove a wall or install a Carport then all of a sudden managing and applying for a building permit becomes a reality and is required.

The requirements of issuing a building dictate the need for plans and other documentation be complete. This includes items such as any other approval such as a design panel approval, easement, Bush Fire assessment  or council approval have already been obtained. Items such as engineering, soil test’s etc to support plans must also be in place. Not only can these items be costly, but they take time and experience to ensure they fully reflect and provide permission (where applicable) for works that are proposed.

Why is it so?

The government has a general mandate and responsibility to ensure that building codes, planning, neighbourhood impacts and general items such as health and safety have been considered and fully reflected in plans. Essentially it about keeping things orderly, safe ad predicatable amongst many other issues. Without these checks and balances almost anything can happen. Given the high level of activity by councils related to illegal building activity without permits then clearly it does happen. Not having a permit at this stage can be a very expensive item to review, manage and achieve compliance to a completed building. Not always to owners advantage as not always can building or structure remain as built. For example it is our experience that it is not a given that permission will be provided for an existing building.

Good Things about obtains a building permits -when someone else building then there’s a process to review and ensure any impact to your property is considered.

Bad Things – when your undertaking your development all things are to be considered and factored into your plans and approvals prior to seeking a building permit. Not always can you build what you want where and how you may want to do it.

Who can apply for a Building Permit – certainly the owner builder (or their agent) or builder.

The Project Centre – Narre Warren (as agent for builder or owner) does offer a service for arranging in applying for a building permit when incorporated as part of our drafting brief.

The review of all matters known and applicable is taken out and considered. Often this does as part of design phase and conveyed to clients, if known, as part of plan process. We however even with our 20 year experience we still can have from time to time difficulties establishing all and every local requirements, such as council by-laws etc., or site restrictions that may be applicable. Hence we do understand when clients approach us because they simply can’t manage the process from scratch.

So applying for obtaining a building permit can be quite an event.

Costs of Obtaining a Building Permit

The cost of obtaining a Building Permit can vary as to extent and cost of project. Building Surveyors are generally independent and therefore their fees for permit and site inspections can vary. HINT: do what we do general an estimate prior to lodging and applying for a permit.


When proposing to undertake building works consulting your local council, a building surveyor, registered builder or designer for example are step one in the process. Omitting this stage may provide delay, costs and frustration that might have be avoided.

Links – Building commission – certainly review this web site to understand what requirements may be required. Click here