Category Archives: Design Review Panel

Final DRP approval

Hooray! We got final DRP approval today!

The “conditions” are about two pages long.

Basically, we have to:

  • plant an additional tree
  • remove the concrete under the timber decking. Only allowed to have natural ground below.
  • stick to the plan, using exact species, plant numbers and plant pot sizes
  • make sure no one can see the water tank, clothesline or serices
  • follow all the rules about the fences and driveway dimensions
  • provide turf to the nature strip
  • relocate the tree that’s in the middle of the driveway, at our cost, using a Landcom approved contractor
  • use natural mulch
  • make sure the plants are in edged garden beds

and some other stupid points they’ve already made before, like making sure there are no frosted windows.

We’re annoyed about having to remove the slab under the deck. We were thinking about just having coloured concrete instead of a deck and now we’re not sure we’ll be allowed.

Other than that, very pleased that it happened so quickly and we’re only up for 1 extra tree.

 

The cost of the offerings to the DRP Gods

On Thursday last week we received what is supposed to be our “final fixed price tender”. When we accept the tender it will form part of the contract that says exactly what will and won’t be provided. Understandably, we’ve got the fine tooth comb out. I have issues with the term “fixed price tender” because I can see a whole list of clauses that are “to be costed when…”, but that is another story.

It looks like we’ve changed admin person permanently as well, which is nice for us because we didn’t like the old one. The new one has been going above and beyond already and has even called the DRP on our behalf to discuss a few things. Let’s hope it stays that way. While we’ve got the chance we’re composing a list of questions to ask our new admin person, most of them we’ve already asked the old one but didn’t really get an answer.

This morning my fine tooth comb has focused on exactly how much the DRP has cost us. Below is a list of all the things we’ve had to do to comply with the DRP’s “guidelines”. It adds up pretty quick.

  • to meet higher than standard BASIX requirements, upgrade water tank to 6000L in lieu of standard 3000L rainwater tank, $2000
  • provide corner façade parapet including provide 1 18-06 aluminium awning window to external side elevation of home office, $6213
  • provide Moroka texture paint finish to porch brick piers and parapet in lieu of standard,  approximately $3000
  • provide classic 1 façade and stria cladding to front and rear of house, no charge
  • provide 600 mm eaves overhang to first floor in lieu of standard, $2500
  • provide 1 aluminium awning window to side elevation of powder room in lieu of standard (same size), $45
  • provide 1 aluminium awning window to side elevation of ensuite in lieu of standard (same size), $45
  • provide 1 06-18 aluminium sliding window to side elevation of home theatre, $360
  • provide 1 06-18 aluminium sliding window to side elevation of bedroom 2, $360
  • provide 1 06-12 aluminium sliding window to rear elevation of bedroom 4, $325
  • provide 1 06-12 aluminium sliding window to rear elevation of upper lounge in lieu of standard, no charge
  • provide 1 06-18 aluminium sliding window to rear elevation of bedroom 3, $360
  • provide 450 mm deep powder coated aluminium window hoods with fixed louvre blades to ground floor windows of the northern and western façade (7 windows and 1 door), $4390
  • to meet higher than standard BASIX requirements, provide $5000 allowance for 1.5 kW photovoltaic solar package, $5000

Total $24598

Generally, we feel like this about it:

but people keep telling us that ultimately it will make our house look better and be nicer to live in or easier to sell. I don’t know about all that. All I know is we haven’t got final DRP approval yet. And, we still have to cost in landscaping which also has to be approved by the DRP.

What do you mean, last Tuesday?

James called the DRP man yesterday and asked about our progress.

DRP man says “your plans were pre- approved last Tuesday”.

Sorry, what?

Our plans were pre-approved and Wisdom has told us absolutely nothing for a week.

I can read between the lines of James’ curt email to Wisdom requesting an explanation that he is peeved. And that is saying something, nothing much fazes James. Well, maybe apart from clear bathroom windows.

The explanation comes back saying that DRP had emailed the draftsman, not the admin person. This is not much of an excuse to me. I think what really happened is that our admin guy has gone on leave and no one has bothered to check on our file.

All I can say is that we’re lucky our block is not registered or we would have been up crap creek by now.

Either way, the good news shining through is that the plan has been pre-approved. Here is what the DRP had to say:

  1. The corner treatment is marginally considered satisfactory subject to the feature external shade structures that are provided on the northern windows of the leisure and kitchen windows also being provided to the northern and western home office windows. The northern home office window can alternatively have a permanent pergola structure between the feature parapet and main wall. These additional external shade structures will provide another wrapping / corner treatment element which is required.
  2. All windows facing the streets are to be clear glazed and not look like a typical bathroom, ensuite, laundry window.
  3. The northern home office, leisure and kitchen windows facing the street are to be provided with external shade structures (min. depth of 450mm), even if Low E glazing is provided to these windows.
  4. The clothesline and water tank is not to be visible from the street over the side fence return. No services are to be visible from the street.
  5. The fencing detailed on the site plan must be provided.
  6. No external services are to be located on the elevations facing the 2 streets.
  7. The driveway is to be a max. width of 4m at the property boundary and min. 1m from the side boundary. The front path is to have a maximum width of 900mm.
  8. It is recommended that the western office, theatre and bed 1 and 2 windows are provided with performance glazing.
  9. Please ensure the landscaping provided for this site contributes to the corner expression of the lot and is densely planted, including planting adjacent to the house.

Exactly 8 our of 9 of those points are useless information because we’ve already corrected these items or they were correct in the first place.

Item 1 is new. This is something that DRP have added in at the last minute. As window hoods on western walls do absolutely nothing for shading, I can only imagine they want these because they think they look good. Take note that our roof eaves on the western front are also a massive 750 mm.

Remember that when the plans were re-drawn there were some issues where Wisdom had made mistakes and the tender and the plans didn’t match up? We were told not to worry, the plans had already been sent to DRP for approval (despite us asking to see them first for quality control) and we can fix up these little issues when we get the approval back. No need to hold it all up for another week just to fix some “little mistakes”.

Well, just to be safe, we’ve reiterated the fact that Wisdom need to correct these items before we sign any kind of contract.

A different admin guy, who we like better, is following up for us while our normal one is on leave. He says they weren’t really “little mistakes” and we should never have been told that it could be fixed afterwards. He now has to call the DRP and make sure that the changes will be ok.

This is exhausting.

Here is the list of “little mistakes”.

  • Tender item 49 – the aluminium awning window for the study was included in this item in the original tender but has been dropped off in the second tender. It needs to be added back in. The original tender reads “provide 1No AAW 18-07 aluminium awning window to external side elevation of home office”. However, to match the front awning windows, it needs to be a AAW 18-06.
  • Tender item 57 – the concrete area is to be noted on the plans as a proposed item to be detailed during landscaping, but is not to be included in the tender. Will be done after handover. Please confirm with Linc whether removing this will affect Pre-Approval.
  • Tender item 58 – Obscure glazing in bathroom. Remove this item. DRP is not allowing obscure glazing.
  • Tender item 60 – this should be an AAW 1806, not an ASW 1206. This is to match front façade ground floor windows.
  • Tender item 61 – this should be an AAW 1206 not an ASW 1206
  • Tender item 66 — have been charged for two windows to be provided however there is only one on the plan. Please remove extra window from the tender.

I’ll let you know how it all goes.

 

Revised tender

Last night we received the revised tender, which needs to reflect the changes the DRP have requested.

In all, I think it was pretty sloppy for having taken six business days. Eight of the items were either wrong (size, type, position), not included at all, or included when they should not have been. We’ve sent it back with a list of things for them to correct. Who knows how long we will have to wait for them to correct their mistakes.

James also called the DRP to get some kind of verbal indication that we would get pre-approval. The DRP guy is a nightmare- he launched into a whole new list of things he would like us to do, including moving the whole garage forward!

Since none of that was on the DRP’s original list, Wisdom won’t entertain the idea of making any more changes unless it’s requested in writing. So, we have to wait for the plans to be resubmitted and hope the DRP change their mind between now and then.

The DRP has reached a new height of craziness in my opinion. Now they are not only inconsistent between houses but they are inconsistent between conversations. You call the guy one day and he wants one set of things and you call him the next and he wants a whole different list of things.

I can’t say I’m impressed. There are hundreds of houses at Bunya, surely by now the DRP and Wisdom should have sorted this kind of thing out.

customer service

Appeasing the DRP Gods

On Tuesday afternoon we went down to Narellan again to Wisdom’s head office. We spoke with our customer service man about our highly irritating list from the DRP and marked up our plans with the changes we need to make.

Here’s what we’ve ended up with.

  • We added a dotted line on the plans marking where the timber fence (yes, timber, it must be wooden, Colorbond is practically illegal here) will go. This is despite it being a landscaping issue, not a house plan issue.
  • We shaved a bit of concrete off the driveway, as requested, but added 6.25 m2 of extra concrete at the back door, as requested.
  • Cladding on the eastern wall above the garage that wraps around the corner on the northern side.
  • Cladding on the second story of the western wall that returns around the corner of the southern wall 2 m and returns right around the northern corner.
Eastern wall

Eastern wall.

 

Northern wall

Northern wall. Faces secondary street.

Western wall

Western wall. Faces primary street.

Southern wall.

Southern wall.

  • The parapet has been brought out in front of the wall a little bit.
  • Window hoods were added to all the downstairs northern side windows. We’ve left hoods off the top story because they will be shaded by the massive eaves we’ve had to add. We also left one off the downstairs study as it will be shaded by the parapet but we’re pretty sure the DRP will still want to put a hood on it.
  • The ensuite window (upstairs) and the powder room window (downstairs) on the northern wall were changed to larger awning style windows to match the western side of the house. They were also changed to clear glazing (instead of frosted) so they do not look like typical bathroom windows. Pretty sure you’re going to be able to see the toilet through them. I guess that won’t be typical experience after all.
  • Added a slimline window (600 x 1800 mm) to the eastern wall of the leisure room.
  • Added a slimline window (600 x 1800 mm) to the southern wall of the home theatre.
  • Added a slimline window (600 x 1800 mm) to the southern  wall of bedroom 2.
  • Added a slimline window (600 x TBA mm) to the eastern wall of bedroom 4.
  • Added a slimline window (600 x TBA mm) to the eastern wall of the upper lounge. This window is to replace the ridiculous requirement to frost the existing awning window. The slimline window must be 1500 mm off the floor for it to be clear glazing.

Wisdom sent the revisions through to drafting and estimating.

On Friday, James had a nagging feeling that it still wasn’t going to be good enough to get pre-approval from the DRP. He decided to call the DRP again himself and talk it through.

The DRP is supposed to be a panel (as the name suggests) but so far it seems like there is just one man doing all the work. James pointed out to him that there was now only one room left in the entire house that has an external wall without a window. He asked if that was intentional, or whether the DRP had (God forbid) made a mistake and forgot to add it to the list? Of course, the DRP had left it out by mistake and now we have to add another slimline window to the eastern wall of bedroom 3! So, in all, that’s 5 extra windows added and 3 existing windows changed.

Also, the DRP guy didn’t seem convinced that we’ve addressed the corner enough, even though we’ve done everything on his list. He offered to have a look at the sketch with the proposed revisions and give a verbal approval before we have the plans redrawn. Excellent idea! So, James called Wisdom and asked for them to make the call to the DRP, provide the DRP with the sketch and talk through what other things we might need to get pre-approval. The Wisdom guy we have agreed, and said he would make the call right away.

When James called back in the afternoon to see what the verdict was the Wisdom guy back peddled. He said we should just wait until our plans were redrawn and then send them in for preapproval without talking to the DRP. What the hell??? Obviously, the Wisdom guy had absolutely no intention of calling the DRP and hoped we wouldn’t check that he had. Liar liar pants on fire.

Anyway, now the Wisdom man has confirmed to us that he is, in fact, a douche bag (we had our suspicions but now it’s formally diagnosed), James will ring the DRP himself on Monday. He will work through our changes with the DRP man until we can get that precious verbal pre-approval before the plans are redrawn.

I have a feeling this could have been so much easier if Wisdom had even attempted to help us meet the design guidelines in the first place. It’s not like we didn’t ask.

I hope the chat with the DRP on Monday goes well. Short of sacrificing our first born child, I’m not sure what else we can possibly do!

In case you’re interested, here is the link to the design guidelines in all their glory.

Deep breathing

After sleeping on it, here is the polite version what we would like to say to the DRP.

  1. Yes, we know we’re supposed to dress the corners of the house, that’s why we’ve asked for cladding to wrap around the house. Your preferred builder, whom we selected because you told us they would have the best idea on how to meet the guidelines, neglected to put that on the plans. Also, did you not notice the parapet? The useless piece of brickwork that we added just for you? If this does not count towards corner treatment then why are we paying for it? And, I’m assuming street surveillance does not mean installing cameras.
  2. Fencing, as we’ve been informed by your preferred builder, is not part of building a house but is part of the landscaping. As such, you can wait until the landscaping plan (which is costing us $850) is drawn to see where the fence will go.
  3. Cladding again.
  4. So, we must have changes in materials/colours, just not on the corners? Ok. Got it. ???? I bet this wouldn’t be a problem if the CLADDING was on the plans.
  5. If your preferred builder had given us two seconds to review the plans before they sent them to you, we would have told them to change the FC sheeting to a nicer looking CLADDING, which would have concealed joints.
  6. This is the one that really boiled James’ blood- he would like to know how the bathroom window is supposed to not look like a bathroom window when we install a larger window with clear glazing? You’ll be able to see people using the toilet from the street. Go figure.
  7. The driveway dimensions actually meet your guidelines. Our block is large in comparison to the size of the house we’re putting on it and there are no other paved areas. But, you’d still like it to be smaller? The driveway is just large enough to drive two cars into the garage. Actually, you’re guidelines say we must provide two car spaces. How do we make it smaller?
  8. If I have to put all these windows in, where do I put the bed? Also, is it really that necessary to add extra cross ventilation to rooms that are about 3.5 x 3.5 m?
  9. Oh, so the bathroom windows have to be clear glazing, but the eastern window of the upper lounge is to be obscure glazing to minimise privacy impacts? Silly me! How could I get those mixed up?
  10. The clothesline is not to be visible from the street over the side fence. Seeing as you won’t let me put in a higher fence I’d better install the clothesline inside the house then. Suddenly I know what all that cross ventilation is for!
  11. Thanks for supplying us with the guideline about the driveway again. We definitely missed it the first time. Did you notice we comply?

What we’re actually going to do:

James is going to call the DRP and get clarification on a few of these points. Then he is going to call Wisdom and organise a time for us to go over it all.

The wrath of the DRP Gods

Tonight we’ve received an email from the Design Review Panel (DRP). It’s taken them two and a half weeks to get back to us and the news isn’t so great. We didn’t get pre-approval, so that means we have to make changes to the plans, go back to estimating and then resubmit to the DRP. Who knows how long that will take. The 60 days until settlement is disappearing fast.

We’re quite a bit annoyed, as points 1, 3, 4 and 5 (the major ones) would not have been in there if Wisdom had included cladding that wraps around the top of the whole house as we had discussed in our tender process. I think if the cladding had been noted on the plan then we may have gotten pre-approval, with a list of conditional items.

The other annoying thing is that they would like every possible external wall space covered by a window of some kind. It begs the question: where will we stick the bed?

Anyway, here is the list.

  1. Concern is raised with the corner expression of the dwelling. Corner dwellings are to provide a combination of architectural elements that wraps around the corner or the continuation of elevation elements such as feature walls, windows and wall finishes on both corner facades. Currently this is not provided. Without major changes to the house design it is difficult to suggest alternative design amendments, however please review window treatment (look at awning windows), material changes (wrapping of materials), articulation elements, street surveillance etc. Currently the secondary street facade is plain and needs to be improved taking into account the primary street frontage and corner treatment as there is no corner wrapping element.
  2. Please detail where the secondary street fence return is located on the site plan.
  3. The guidelines require changes of materials / colours to all four elevations. The proposed dwelling provides minimal render to the front and secondary street facades and no change in material on the southern side elevation as required. Please provide additional change of materials / colours to the two street elevations and the southern side elevation.
  4. A change of colours / materials is not to occur on the front corners of the dwelling. The north-eastern corner of the upper lounge provides a change from face brick to FC sheeting at the corner which is not considered satisfactory and the brick is to return a minimum distance of 2m along the eastern side of the upper lounge room wall.
  5. The rear FC sheeting is to be provided with flush or concealed joints.
  6. The PWD and ensuite windows are to be larger awning style windows with clear glazing. All windows facing the streets are to be clear glazed and not look like a typical bathroom, ensuite, laundry window.
  7. The driveway within the site is to be partially reduced in width due to the large area of concrete.
  8. The southern wall of the home theatre is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  9. The eastern wall of the leisure room is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  10. The southern wall of the bed 2 is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  11. The eastern wall of the bed 4 is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  12. Please provide a paved area with a minimum dimension of 2.5m x 2.5m adjacent to the dining room doors to provide a suitable transition area between the indoor and outdoor living areas. This is to be detailed on the site and future landscape plan.
  13. The eastern window of the upper lounge room is to be obscure glazing to minimise privacy impacts.
  14. The northern home office, leisure and kitchen windows facing the street are to be provided with external shade structures (min. depth of 450mm), even if Low E glazing is provided to these windows. Please provide details on the plans.
  15. The clothesline and water tank is not to be visible from the street over the side fence return. No services are to be visible from the street.
  16. No external services are to be located on the elevations facing the 2 streets.
  17. The driveway is to be a max. width of 4m at the property boundary and min. 1m from the side boundary. The front path is to have a maximum width of 900mm.
  18. It is recommended that the western office, theatre and bed 1 and 2 windows are provided with performance glazing.