Dual Occupancy: Speers Point

This design was for a new house to retire to at the rear of an existing house with a view.SmthBack.JPG The front house was designed to allow the residence to the rear to retain their view.

The Council Planner assessing this design had a few issues, all of which vanished when investigated.

Before they even got going they misused the title ‘architect’ and called up "good design" creating implications for the application of the Architects Act 2003 for Council planner’s assessments. My design was not "good design" as this slender house was "bulky" amongst other things.

The assessing officer said to me that the council architect had backed up their assessment of the design quality. The discussion was lengthy, as I explained the nature of the design process and the subjective nature of the meaning of the word ‘quality’, and I also asked if we could organise a meeting between the council architect and myself to deal with the architectural quality issues (which the assessing officer was reluctant to do). At all times I was stressing that one needed to have qualifications to call oneself an ‘architect’. I have discovered on talking to the person the officer said they had spoken to that they were not an architect and did not even have an architectural degree.

It is an offence with penalties under the Architects Act to call someone who is not a registered architect an ‘architect’ or to imply they have the abilities of an architect. The Act says that the directors are responsible for employee’s assertions regarding whether an employee is an architect.

This whole issue showed that there may be implications of the Architects Act 2003 on Council planner’s assessments.

LMLEP 2004 Clause 15 (c) requires assessment of residential development based on design quality.

“ensure that housing development respects the character of the surrounding development and is of good quality design”

According to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 a ‘qualified designer’ is an architect as defined under the Architects Act 2003. Therefore to assess under their own LEP LMCC need a fully qualified architect to carry out the assessment. (Actually as it turned out the planner wasn't fully qualified for anything...)

The quality of a design should only be assessed by a person having an understanding of design. This is why juries for design competitions are declared and always are composed of people recognised by their peers as expert practitioners or expert critics. I would suggest that the quality of design can only be assessed by a qualified designer. It follows that if Council planners desire to assess an application on the basis of ‘good quality design’ that they must involve an architect as defined under the Act. SmthFront1.JPG

There was also a letter from the Council questioning the amount of solar access and light to the living.... when any design professional could have understood from the plans, elevation and section provided to Council that the living space with windows on 3 sides including North receives sufficient solar access, and more than sufficient light. If a window of sufficient area has solar access to it's full area at 12 noon, there is sufficient solar access to the room. The space receives significantly more light and ventilation than required by the Building Code of Australia!

But there's more! The clients were going to live in the house and so the plants shown on the landscape plan were personally picked by them, and LMCC came back with over a page of criticism for the plants on the landscape plan. This followed though to occupation, where the inspector insisted on more plants than were on the plan!

Another Council planner said to me when the house was completed that the house fitted well into its context. This is real praise and exactly what I'd told the assessing planner.SmthDeck.JPGAnd in fact I had already proven with drawings.

The new house is owner-built with the help of a builder friend.SmthDeck3.JPGBut the deck tiling cut perfectly to the curve is by the client, who is a painter by trade.