Frequently Asked Questions

People often ask “What is the difference between an architect and a draftsman, should I use a building designer instead, which one do I need“?

The answer really depends on what you want to achieve and the regulations in your state or territory.

In NSW any building three storeys or less can be designed by either an architect, a draftsman or a building designer. Buildings larger than 3 storeys can only be designed by an architect, or someone working under their employ.

A common misconception when comparing the three occupations is that architects have superior design skills. In reality, it’s much like any other skill or trade.

An experienced and imaginative building designer or draftsman will often produce a much more satisfying and complete final result than an inexperienced architect, and usually at a lower cost.

By and large, a good building designer is more motivated to engage with their clients needs and wishes and, alongside their own design philosophy, enjoys bringing their clients own ideas to fruition.

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So often asked is the question “What is CAD?

Part of the sea of jargon surrounding building design, project development and home renovations are the modern terms 2D CAD and 3D BIM

Simply put, CAD is an acronym for Computer Aided Design or Computer Assisted Design.

BIM is a more enhanced 3D version of CAD defined as Building Information Modelling.

CAD is software used by professional designers, engineers and builders to express the layout and specification of professional plans and drawings.

BIM allows a ‘next-level’ version of CAD to exist. This means that special three dimensional software models can better illustrate photorealistic renderings of a project well ahead of construction.

Polyphony Design & Drafting have a wealth of experience in translating a client’s ideas into pre-build renderings using these latest software techniques.

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It’s natural when embarking on a building project to wonder “What does a draftsman cost?” Often prospective customers also want to know “Is a building designer cheaper than an architect?

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer, an exceptional building designer will charge accordingly. Generally though, building designers are often much more cost effective than using an architect for planning your project.

An experienced and inspired building designer is normally all that is required to fulfill your design and Development Application requirements in Sydney and NSW.

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Many home owners and developers are not sure whether they require a Development Application for their project.

The questions will often arise, “Do I need a DA from the council just to put up a carport or a small structure? Do I need a DA simply to alter the wall of my house? When do I need a DA?”

Whilst there are many types of development that require Council consent, there are also many types that don’t. Finding the right answers and the right advice can be difficult and time consuming.

Be careful not to instantly accept someone’s suggestion that “You’ll be right” when pondering the need to submit a Development Application to your council. Check with a professional!

Polyphony Design & Drafting has the relevant experience to be able to advise you on all of these questions and are happy to assist you as you navigate your local Council’s DA process.

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The Complying Development Certificate (CDC) is a recent innovation that may make the overall development process quicker for a number of applications within Sydney and NSW.

Although a good route for some applications and projects, a CDC is not suitable for every job or indeed all zones and suburbs.

Having said this, a Complying Development Certificate is now an ideal method to expedite the approval process on a large array of what may be considered run of the mill applications.

Which proposals will benefit from a CDC, compared to those which may not, is a subject implicitly understood by Polyphony Design & Drafting.

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The Building Code Of Australia (BCA) is a set of nationalised construction standards that provide the minimum requirements for safety, health, amenity and sustainability in the design and construction of buildings across the nation.

A requirement to adhere to the BCA is mandatory. It always applies and it exists for good purpose.

Compliance by you, your developer or your builders will not only expedite your path to project completion, it will also give you peace of mind that your construction presents a professional and long lasting result.

Making sure your job complies with the Building Code Of Australia is a key component to the successful attainment of your Construction Certificate.

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A Construction Certificate (CC) is required to demonstrate that your development, addition or alteration satisfies the national Building Code Of Australia.

It is the second stage of the Council development approvals process. Construction Certificates can be assessed by your Council or you may choose to employ the services of a Private Certifying Authority (PCA). The purpose of this process is to show that the physical structure you are creating is of a professional standard.

Your CC is one of a range of certifications and approvals that should be easily achieved by beginning your project with a professional set of plans and drawings as you work alongside a skilled building designer.

Be cautious not to work with builders and tradesman who say there is no need for a Construction Certificate or a Development Application. This can present disastrous legal, structural and warranty problems for you in the future.

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What Is A Council Development Control Plan (DCP)?

The DCP is one of the main sets of planning controls and guidelines used by Councils to determine the approval of developments.

The controls and guidelines in a DCP are generally focused on the external appearance of the building, how it’s positioned on the site, landscaping, vehicular parking and access, along with visual and acoustic privacy.

Each Council has their own DCP and there are specific chapters for each type of development showing different controls and guidelines for each zone within that type of development.

For instance, each council in NSW publishes separate chapters for industrial, commercial and residential developments in their Development Control Plan. Within each chapter there may be further subsets of guidelines for things such as low density, medium density and high density zones.

Although they are freely available in each shire and you can read and interpret the guidelines yourself, doing so can often lead to escalated costs when needing to constantly revise your plans & submissions.

The DCP can be a little tricky to navigate and it is for this reason that you are well advised to seek the professional assistance of an experienced building designer.

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“What Is A Local Environment Plan (LEP)?”

The LEP is an important piece of NSW State Government legislation. It is designed to work in tandem with the local council’s DCP (Development Control Plan )

Despite being a piece of State Government legislation, each Council administers their own Local Environment Plan.

Not only does the LEP specify the nature and scope of developments that are permitted in specific zones, it also provides planning controls and guidelines governing various specifications such as the maximum building height, maximum floor space ratio and the minimum lot sizes for subdivisions.

Understanding the possible outcomes and potential restrictions that arise from the LEP is one key reason why it pays to engage a professional building designer for your commercial or residential development application.

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What Is A Statement Of Environmental Effects For A Development Application?

A Statement Of Environmental Effects (SEE) is a written document that is required when submitting all Development Applications within NSW.

Your SEE is used in conjunction with design drawings and various building plans to demonstrate your development’s compliance with the relevant sets of planning controls and guidelines required in your council shire.

With the right professional assistance your Statement Of Environmental Effects can provide the perfect complement to your Development Application, demonstrating your proposal’s positive effect on your surroundings and providing justification for any minor non-compliance.

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What Is A Clause 4.6 Variation?” and “How Do I Apply For A Clause 4.6 Variation?

As the LEP is State Government legislation, any non-compliance with one or more of its planning controls and guidelines cannot be covered in the SEE. Instead, a separate document known as a Clause 4.6 Variation must be submitted with the DA.

A professional building designer can provide you with a Clause 4.6 Variation to cover any non-compliance with the Local Environment Plan.

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A State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is set of controls and guidelines that deal with important matters of State or Regional environmental planning significance.

A SEPP carries a lot weight and can override an LEP (Local Environmental Plan ). It may prohibit or allow certain types of development in certain zones for special reasons.

Some State Environmental Planning Policies deal with specific areas, suburbs or projects. Others take into account specific needs and industries such as manufacturing, farming, mining and public infrastructure.

Complying Development Certificates are assessed under SEPP (Exempt and Complying Developments) 2008 and the controls within it are often stricter and will override certain controls in the Local Environment Plan.

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Design drawings and professional plans provided by designers often present limited space when needing to go into detail about materials, finishes and how they’re applied as well as particular construction and installation methods for appliances and specialist equipment such as lifts or air-conditioning ducts.

A specification is a detailed and comprehensive set of instructions that define each and every detail of your project’s construction.

Often with residential projects a builder will provide his own specification for the client’s approval. They are usually a requirement for a Construction Certificate (CC).

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A common question – “What is a BASIX certificate and when do you need one?

The NSW Government have introduced an initiative known as the Building Sustainability Index (BASIX). The certification attempts to ensure that all building projects over a certain cost and/or size are built to attain target specifications for the sake of the environment.

The scheme can dictate required outcomes not only for new buildings but also a range of alterations, additions and even the likes of swimming pools.

Polyphony Design & Drafting are experienced in the principles behind modern energy efficient building design. We can advise you on the need and requirements for a BASIX Certificate.

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Two of the most common questions about a DA – “How Much Is A Development Application?” and “How do I get a cheap Development Application?

It is no surprise that you would want to save money on your development application. After all, the less you spend on red tape, the more you’ve got left over for the building itself.

Home owners and first-time developers can be taken by surprise when pursuing a successful Development Application in Sydney.

There can be what seems like many hidden costs when going through a DA in NSW.

Depending on the type and size of a project, a successful Development Application may actually require a number of different landscape and drainage plans, shadow drawings, council planning permissions and security deposits.

These layers of costs are actually no secret however some providers may simply leave them out of the initial conversation in the hope that they do not scare you away with the truth. By working alongside a professional building designer these costs can be clearly explained up front before they can create “bill-shock”.

Polyphony Design & Drafting believe in clarity – we try to ensure you are made aware of all the administrative costs in advance so you can have a truly fair go at creating a realistic budget for your project.

Some costs, however, are dynamic. With all the will in the world it is not always possible to be 100% certain that a government body may not come back at some stage of the process and ask for an additional response.

You can find below here an overview of many common costs and processes involved in obtaining consent for your project.

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An Overview Of Some Of The Costs & Processes That May Be Required When Pursuing Permission For Your Building Project

  • Council DA Fee – A processing fee that is often calculated based on the cost of your project.
  • Public Place Environmental, Damage & Performance Security Bond – Payable but usually refundable at the completion of works.
  • Other State Agency Fees – Potential costs & approval fees if your development is situated on land that contains easements or is in hazardous risk areas such as bush fire or flood prone land.
  • Section 94 Contribution – A compulsory contribution charged by the Council for the development of public space, recreational and community facilities.
  • Other Administration Fees – Moderate fees that can be applied to your development as it progresses for the likes of deposited plans, certificates and Council costs.
  • Long Service Levy – A levy charged by the NSW State Government to ensure long service payments for workers within the building and construction industry.
  • Other Required Services – In addition to builders and designers, at some point you may need to employ the services of Engineers, Certifiers, Surveyors, Landscape Architects and other such construction specialists.

*The information provided on this web site is intended only as a guide & it is not to be referred to for legal advice or planning guidelines.

Whilst known to be correct at the time of publishing all Errors and Omissions are excepted. Polyphony Design & Drafting bears no liability from the information on this web site.