Town Planning – Review overlooking for your project

Town Planning – Review overlooking for your project.

When embarking on a new home, extension or even a deck you need to consider if you might trigger an “overlooking: issue. Hilly sites, incorrect fence coverage or heights, proximity to adjoining homes (windows) and private open space are all factors when a floor level rises above 800mm from ground level.

What rule: Under the planning standard A15 and B22 Overlooking is designed to protect existing windows and private open space from overlooking.

What does it cover: A habitable room window, balcony, terrace, deck or patio should be located and designed to avoid direct views into the secluded private open space and habitable room windows of an existing dwelling within a horizontal distance of 9 metres (measured at ground level) of the window, balcony, terrace, deck or patio. Views should be measured within a 45 degree angle from the plane of the window or perimeter of the balcony, terrace, deck or patio, and from a height of 1.7 metres above floor level. For additional extensions gallery and other renovation, one could contact contractors and draft a plan.

Reasons for Review: This to provide some protections (up to 9 meters from proposed development to adjoining owners private space and habitual windows. So essentially this and many other regulations are designed to review for adjoining owners any implication from an adjoining development. This is fundamental to your design development and is carried out by The Project for each project brief.

To help you visualise what “overlooking” means the following diagrams from planning authority.

  1. This diagram sets up the basis for review. If an area is affected (is within hatched area ie: a window, major entertainment area etc.) this this triggers the need to provide a solution. Please follow this link for PDF here

The following diagrams provide some idea of how to calculate any impact

Why Us: The Project Centre with over 20 years experience provides our client’s with helpful feedback on impacts & solutions when we are undertaking their new building design. By commissioning a professional design company ensure your design is compliant or applications undertaken to seek council approval when applicable.

Planning and Subdivision Fees Review – Oct 2016

Planning and Subdivision Fees Review – October 2016victoria-future

The Victorian Government have released information concerning significant increases to a range of fees in their Planning and Subdivision Fees Review. The stating that council costs to deliver services and fact that successive governments have failed to review fee’s for 12 years have therefor allowed this Victorian Labor Government to increase the many fee’s by approx.150% or more.

The introduction of a new fee structure for dwelling under $10,000 demonstrate lack of any real awareness to costs (I would love a house built for under $10,000) and continues the inefficiency of the department and its administration of regulations to the detriment of the public. Simply can’t believe they think this category square things up. Really?

The following link to proposed fee’s can be found here

Planning and Subdivision Fees Review

A few snap shot review of a few classic segments of planning developments:

Developments – single dwelling development and  also used for extensions and projects like Verandahs, Sheds and garages

  • Up to $100K        Was $239 Proposed $592 Increase $352 or 147% Increase
  • $100K to $500K  Was $490 Proposed $1213 Increase $723 or  147% Increase

Some new levels are introduced. Sneaky new fee’s not discussed.

  • $500K to $1 Million Was $490 Proposed $1310 Increase $820 or 167% Increase
  • $1Million to 2 Million Was $490 Proposed $1408 Increase $918 or 187% Increase

Amendments to Permits had fee such as listed below

  • $0 to $10,000 Nil
  • $10,000 to $100,000 $239
  • $100,000+ $490

Proposed is now a complicated calculation which is sure to cause significant and unnecessary confusion and costs for owners wanting small extensions or additions to a lot which already has a planning permit and therefore requires that permit to be amended. It is unclear what they proposed to charge but it could be classed under schedule attached.

Amend an existing planning permit – 75% of fee applicable to the original permit class plus the difference in fees if the amendment moves the permit into a different class. The lowest fee starts at $1080 but will they charge 75% of this or the original development cost. Even if at lower end the increase is

  • $0 to $10,000             Was $ Nil    Proposed $810 Increase $810
  • $10,000 to $100,000  Was $239  Proposed $810 Increase $571 Increase 239%
  • $100,000+                  Was $490  Proposed $810 Increase $320 Increase 65%

Lack of a community and business opportunity, and therefore critical response, will ensure Labor Government, who have demonstrated no real care for consumer consultation (our company was asked only 2 weeks ago but no indication of proposed fee’s were provided), to smash consumers with this exceptionally unrealistic increase based on their previous and continued incompetence is wrong. Strong words but true.

I do feel sorry for council planning staff, at the coal face, with the negative responses they will need to field over the coming months. Somewhat feel the same for our company who initially have to advise a client’s first then take the negative flak or the cancellation.


I was expecting change and my first thoughts were

  1. It was wrong that fee’s were not raised yearly similar to the building & other government department. But why had they not? But rise then by 147% Really?
  2. It is true current fee’s do not cover costs fee’s needed to be raised. But is this the right and responsible way?
  3. It is true significant numbers of time wasting applications are triggered for no real public advantage. Why no real significant change particularly to NIL impact projects cluttering the system.
  4. It is true some fee’s are realistic for some more complicated projects but many are not particularly class 10 projects and small dwelling extensions.
  5. it is also true that the government has such lack of transparency, just look at the infrastructure issues, CFA and rail development for other examples that no reasonable consultation with industry was undertaken to those who deal with the consumer. Either that or our association BDAV have failed us building designers and our clients.

The new fee’s will ensure consumers will continue pay for lack of real planning improvement or desire for improvement which successive governments, Labor or Liberal, have simply failed in their elected duties and the Planning Department who seem to have no grasp on their duty.

If your not happy consult your local member I’m sure they will provide the applicable lip service do not blame the council staff or my staff we don’t make the fees.

We, at The Project Centre hope this information will assist those consumers with understanding some of the associated unseen costs of building within Victoria.

Illegal Building Works

Illegal Building – Think again

complaintIn now over 40 years of supplying, designing and being involved with the  building industry the cost to the home owner of being found with illegal works (building or structure) has never been greater. Roll the dice or better still we recommend think again and then again before proceeding without a building permit.

In years past quick fixes have been allowed whereby if building or structure might have been considered by Municipal Building Surveyor as somehow acceptable or minor through undertaking either minor further works –under building permit or compliance via designers and engineer’s was enough. Often cost was low and the world went on.

Today things are vastly different. With so many more building & planning controls and careful enforcement of every dot and T within the Building code has made enhanced requirements the minimum standard. This includes requirements of full building plans, engineering, all applicable council or government approvals, building surveyor review and compliance reports etc. etc., depending upon the project. Even from our perspective our involvement and requirements from client double and triple to find a way to get existing project “over the line”. Our fee is generally twice or three times what is normal for the same project if done prior to building.

Often now pulling down the project is valued under say $20K might be the solution as the minimum cost to gain compliance could be well over $8000.

We find ourselves recommending starting again as the reasonable outcome hard to say and ofter even harder to hear. With normal permit and plans generally under $2K for say a verandah or a shed / garage., Why we might recommend to pull down – if any further works required such as reducing area, significant modification of building method, applying for approvals after the event with no guarantee of outcome isn’t a great starting point and outcome not always assured. Roll the dice or start again always a hard call.

What to do when building a structure – any structure.

Building PermitOur suggestion is “get a building permit”.

Its that simple. The stories of significant cost or heartbreak abound. Most won’t tell you what happened or what it cost to retain their extension, carport, retaining wall or verandah. Illegal building become a secret and a problem best kept to themselves and I do understand why.

At present I have a client who is rebuilding the whole project with costs and fee’s in excess of $8K just to see what can be done and to get a permit plus and this the killer now the cost to remove and replace. Simply it will cost $25 to $30K more than it should have.

So think again and get a permit first and don’t trust the builders word. Seek out and discuss with a registered building surveyor to confirm if your project needs a building permit.

Builder’s without Registrationregistered builder

To undertake a project above a cost of $5K a builder he or she must be registered. By choosing a registered builder provide owner’s with a level of confidence the builder has demonstrated to government competence and experience plus financially viable to undertake projects back by insurance safety net.

What type of Builder – A registered Builder either DBU xxxxxx or BD-Lxxxxxx

There are different levels and types of building registration. When getting your permit, the building surveyor checks this out for you prior to issuing a permit. This assist’s with ensuring the builder is registered, insured and qualified to undertake your project. Also ensure your builder and their registration noted on your permit application.

If project exceeds $16K in Victoria – home owner insurance is required if employing a builder.

Can I be the Builder

In Victoria, an “owner builder” you can undertake a project if under $12 without building authority consent (if above $12K then consent required). But you still need a building permit. Not just a Planning permit which some owners get confused by.

A Sad StoryUnfair

A client recently trusted the tradesman (as noted above) and it went like this

Builder – “Oh you don’t need a permit for this project”

Owner – “Oh that’s great when can you start because your $3K cheaper”

but look what they have left them. $25K+ extra because work was not only done without permit but was not done correctly. Clear visual deterioration of works within 12 months and now needs full rebuild to comply plus also expensive compliance and investigative work undertaken to try and save work done or as was the case reveal the worst case – full rebuild. These matter plus council work works and notices threaten different outcomes. It’s a disaster.

Can We help You Now!

Yes – The Project Centre does undertake coordinated building design of illegal building matters for domestic & industrial projects and can assist with process based on our prior experience in a range of projects.

Frankly however we would prefer to meet you prior to building and assist with getting the right design and outcome for you.


Do things once and get it right this include getting building permits for all structural works. Yes, I also feel system not perfect. Certainly more costly for small home projects than it should be and could be vastly improved but the its cheapest and safest way forward is be getting a building permit first and this will not change.

Building a Pergola without a Permit

Building a Pergola without a Permit

building permit

No one should be thinking if building a Pergola without a permit. Many clients ring us seeking answers to this is a commonly asked question. Does my Pergola need a Building Permit!.

Facts are clients are generally considering a Verandah or Carport (roofed structures) and sometimes also a deck generally for the external outdoor entertainment area and to provide shelter to rear or side exit from dwelling. Pergolas are strictly non- roofed structures.

Generally by the time client have contacted us we find they have been provided, for some reason, many different responses. Often incorrectly. This information might from a friend, a tradesman or even from council. Reason being often the term “I want to build a pergola” can be met with a “no a permit is not required” response. Often this response is not qualified because Items such as height, location, size, roof etc. etc., needed to be known for the correct response haven’t been requested or provided.

Essentially there is not many times a pergola doesn’t require a building permit. Pergola’s if above 20m2 it will always require a Building permit. Whether your project requires council or developer’s approval will relates specifically to your project and your site.

Do I need a Building Permit

The following links will provide you valuable info on if a permit required or not.

VBA logo

Link to Victorian Building Commission to see if your project needs a permit CLICK HERE. Download PDF info HERE

Local Council – these valuable local council pages providing details concerning building permit’s.

City of Casey logo

City of Casey web site page dealing with Building advice CLICK HERE



Shire of Cardinia web site page dealing When are building permits required? CLICK HERE


one stop shop


What we can offer you! -‘The Project Centre with over 20 years experience can provide proven professional design and building advice covering a wide range of home building projects from ‘start to finish'”.

We can provide

  • Architectural Drafting
  • Town Planning applications including Easement & Report & Consent application
  • Soil Test, Engineering and related reports including Bush Fire reports
  • Building Permit

Louver Projects P1

What you need to provide

  • Copy of Existing House plans.
  • Copy of tiles, sub-divional plans and any covenants or agreement including Design Panel agreements with land developer (if applicable)
  • Measurements and details on your project idea.

Contact us on (03) 9796 6899 during business hours to arrange your FREE consultation at our offices.

Offices & Display Centre – Factory 1, 26 -28 Abbott Road Hallam Victoria Australia.

“Making Projects Come Alive”

Bayside Council Planning Amendment

Bayside Council Planning Amendment.Bayside CC logo

Developers, Home Owners and those considering major or minor developments on there home in Bayside should be aware that Bayside City Council has announced a proposal to amend the Bayside Planning Scheme.

Some of the main points include

  1. Amends Schedule 3 to clause 32.09 – Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ3) to:
  • Introduce a minimum lot size for subdivision of 400 square metres (this means that if your lot is less than 800sqm, you will not be able to subdivide it)
  • Vary Standard A6 and B9 to increase the permeability requirement to 35%
  • Vary Standard A10 and B17 to introduce a 4 metre rear setback requirement
  • Vary Standard B28 to increase the private open space requirements to 75 square metres, with one part secluded private open space with a minimum area of 60 square metres and a minimum dimension of 5 metres
  • Introduce decision guidelines to support amenity considerations in accordance with the Housing Strategy
  1. Update the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS – Clauses 21.02 – 21.12) to reflect recommendations and policy within the Bayside Housing Strategy 2012
  2. Amend clause 22.06 Neighbourhood Character Policy to update terminology to accord with the Housing Strategy
  3. Amend clause 22.07 Discretionary Uses in Residential Areas Policy to provide further guidance on the preferred built form for these types of applications in accordance with the Housing Strategy

Interested owners and other practitioners are urged to make a submission, as the proposal has the potential to significantly impact development in Bayside. For more information, CLICK HERE.

I can see many disappointments coming, even on simple renovations and extensions as simple as Verandah’s and Patio’s, where rear boundary restrictions and increases in minimum private open space to 75 square metres and permeability requirement to 35% may impact single home developments if this proposal allowed to be pushed through. No refection on restrictions due to land affordability due to planning requirements is considered. Certainly any multi-town house or simple land splitting will now increase in difficulty significantly no matter what brightly painted outcome council paints to support this proposal. Already considered over governed and unresponsive in terms of planning and under performing in terms of real services this continues the Bayside story.

Be warned If you live here be interested or be sorry. Problem is however no matter what objection will be noted they will propel this proposal forward then say “well you had your chance to object” even if we didn’t listen. I see another sad outcome on the way.

Submissions to these proposals close on 17 September 2015.

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

Planning Red Tape under fire from Government.

As associated with a number of planning application every year I was please to read recent advice from BDAV which advised ” Victoria’s Planning minister, Mathew Guy, has declared war on planning red tape in a media release which the minister has announced cuts to planning red tape. In a move to reform the planning system the media release has not yet been posted to Governments website, you can access the details CLICKING HERE.”

As The Project Centre is directly involved with the Extension side of the building segment the need to obtain a planning permit is triggered constantly due to reduced lot sizes, questionable parameters such as Verandah having maximum height of 3m and decks above 800mm. The facts that almost 99% of applications are approved and for good reason indicates the some trigger parameters must be changed to reflect usual outcomes and reduce planning application numbers. its gotta help the community deal with the real planning issues.

My hope is that the planning review committee is able to understand residents constant frustration to the added cost and delays that a 99% approved outcome provides. Simply there are many planning triggers outside planning real community service domain. To have building and planning at odds due to poor base regulation is producing substantial non productive cost to community at a time when all budgets are under stain. The system should not be based on the community should just pay for ineffective regulation. I note I’m referring mainly to one segment I’m generally involved in the planning area not all planning controls.

As Drafting  Company providing building services we are constantly embroiled in the time delay and extra costs whereby our professionally is questioned by clients for delays beyond our control.. Clearly the Planning community cannot accept ResCode as a reasonable outcome. This should be reviewed. The costs to councils in processing these applications also must be factor that is hurting the community services for no real gain. Yes there is good reason to have planning overlays but they should be reasonable in structure, impact and deliver communities with real gains.

So lets hope changes made will be productive to the planning departments massive workloads and therefore the community.

Congratulations to the Planning Minister Mathew Guy for starting the process let’s hope he keeps his nerve amongst the vested parties.

To see more ….

The Victorian Planning System Ministerial Advisory Committee’s report and the government’s response are available online at

Oh by the way “Remember have you say”

This is another community service new release from The Project Centre  – Narre Warren

“Making projects come alive” 

Its all a new beginning

Yes its been some time since our company relaunch and our old web site has been a sad relic of the last 18 years.

For those who remember, or maybe just have a slight interest and I’m not sure why, we closed our Retail business in August 2010 after 17 years of tirelessly providing 7 days a week retail timber and hardware services.

The shape of market plus the change in priorities provided the catalyst for change. Our Drafting business had been held back for sometime and our investment in Totally Outdoors a premium distributor and builder was also ready to take the next step.

Closing was a surprisingly painless exercise although my family had plenty of blood sweat and tears involved but it was over. Frankly my son and I didn’t know what to do on Saturday’s and Sunday’s but we now do. Christmas came with the holiday we had never had and breakfast with my wife on Saturdays became normal fare.

Now having moved to Hallam premises 18 months ago and pleased to say our clients have grown for both businesses and almost 18 months later we still here.

So yes it is time to relaunch a new web site. Thanks to David from InteractiveWebs for his assistance and perseverance in allowing me to develop the site and understand this new web building tools they now have.

The Project Centre – with my daughter Taya and Craig Corefield has steady made ground since we needed to stand on our own feet.

Craig with his long background in drafting provides the experience and skill in major developments drafting including homes, town house and unit developments and extensions and renovations provide not only great technical drafting but inventive designs and practical approach.

Taya, still completing her drafting diploma is a wizard on the smaller projects  such a decking, Verandah’s and Pergolas etc., and drafting skills ensuring I don’t have to draw much. I like that.

On me, well I’ve got a handle on design, the rules (as best anyone has) and hopefully the skill to blend our total ingredients into one professional team to provide a design experience that it should be. Just don’t blame us if your council drags the chain.

Our new web site is a statement in who and what we are and our skill base based on over 18 years of experince in the building, design, council applications  and service industry.We hope to be able to provide an honest professional approach to what is becoming a more difficult field.

Drafting is no longer an isolated field. It has many requirements and responsibilities that are growing in importance. The need to provide a solid surrounding service structure to support the “plans” is unavoidable. Energy, Engineering, Bush Fire Reports, Town Planning and Building applications and the list goes on.

Government and Council laws and planning scheme are making a minefield of red, green, and purple tape littering the building sites of Australia. With planning scheme’s a somewhat discretionary in approach and outcome this ensure’s lengthly delays, costly changes and frustrating time consuming resubmitting of proposals to the person who doesn’t make the decision. Oh yes I’m referring to the loosely knit phrase “Town Planning” which has become the major player in dumb government and policy. Its structured to ensure corruption is possible and networking (another word for you scratch mine and I’ll scratch yours) a must. It’s required but not in present format. Oh let comment on this is many planners I deal with are great, but the system is wrong.

Oh you guessed I’m not happy well that not true as my client have to pay us for this system. The one’s who are not happy are the client who are subjected to the power plays of sheltered low productive bureaucrates.

However this is a happy time so to our previous customers thank you for helping us get to here. To current and future clients we look forward to be better focused to assist you than ever before.

I still love to walk the ground of a future project and try to see it’s outcome and formulate the design based on my clients needs, budget and lifestyle. We hope to be able to provide some good news and views to add to our service.

We hope to continue to “making projects come alive’, for another 18 years I also hope to give it a go so when you need a project draft you know who to call…….

Comment by Ross J. Seddon

Prepared for  The Project Centre – Narre Warren

Location Factory I,  26-28 Abbott Road Hallam Vic. 3806

Telephone: 9796 6899

Web Site:

Dated April 2012

Check out our Verandah & Pergola Display Centre

Display Centre built by Totally Outdoors 

“Making Projects Come Alive”