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  1. #1
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    Default Useless Certifier

    We have just had our plans knocked back by council because our certifier forgot to tell the architect that we were in an overland flow area.

    The architect says we'll need to start again from scratch which means all the money we've previously given him, the certifier, the engineer and the council is down the drain.

    It has been suggested that I compain to the BSA but I have been told that they won't/can't do anything. Is this true?

    The only other option I can think of is a small claim against the Certifier.

    Any ideas? Please!
    If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. - Dan Quayle

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    How come your certifier was briefing the architect in any case?

    Surely you knew your place was in an overland flow path, or didn't your solicitors tell you when you bought it?

    Maybe you should be looking a bit closer to home?

    P

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    ian
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    So how come the certifier knew you were in an overland flow area and YOU didn‘t?
    Sounds to me like you may have A Claim against the certifier‘s or THE architect‘s professional idemenity insurance.
    The basis of the claim would be failure OF one or the other or both to act IN accordance with expected professional standards.  I mean how does council know it‘s an overland flow area unless it`s on one of council`s zoning maps?


    ian

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    Pretend my avatar moves! bitingmidge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian View Post
    Sounds to me like you may have A Claim against the certifier‘s or THE architect‘s professional idemenity insurance.
    The basis of the claim would be failure OF one or the other or both to act IN accordance with expected professional standards.  I mean how does council know it‘s an overland flow area unless it`s on one of council`s zoning maps?
    Now that's a big call in the absence of any information?

    Who was responsible for briefing the consultants, or were they asked to go and do all the relevant searches? If so, why?

    What would have happened if the place had been in a freeway resumption area? Would it have been up to the architect or certifier?

    At what point does the owner take responsibility for his own negligence?

    What was the real loss?? Presumably the cost of amending the drawings. How much are lawyers going to cost?? Presumably a lot more!

    Out of curiosity, is the term "architect" being bandied about here as it usually is??? Why haven't you spoken with the board of architects if it's really his/her fault?? (which I really can't see)

    cheers,

    P

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    As a Building Designer, my first action when approached by a Client would be to check for any zoning requirements & overlays for the site.
    I would assume this would be a normal course of events for anyone designing from a clients brief.
    The Building Certifier should have done the same before approving the plans and they are also at fault as it is their responsibility to check that the plans meet the requirements of the BCA and local government etc.
    At the end of the day the primary onus is on the designer. It is their responsibility as a 'professional' to make the client aware of any restrictions that may impact upon the design.
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    Pretend my avatar moves! bitingmidge's Avatar
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    I agree with you Peter, but I suspect there's more to it than meets the eye.

    For instance, if there is a Building Surveyor involved, assuming its a house in Qld and therefore no planning issues, the first time Council would see the project would be when the Building Surveyor files the Approval.

    Council doesn't get to "knock back" plans?

    Or is there a separate operational works application involved?

    I'd rather see all the facts I'm afraid. It looks to me as though the architect/designer was briefed by the Certifier. Fair enough I'd say, and overland flow isn't something that bobs up every day.

    If you had an overland flow path on your property, you'd surely know about it, and why wouldn't you tell your consultants?

    cheers,

    P

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    Building Designer ausdesign's Avatar
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    Totally agree with your assumptions 'biting' that there may be more involved.
    Altough registered in Qld i'm not familiar with the terminology - I assume that the reference is to our equiv. in Vic. of 'flood plain levels'
    My reteric was that to my mind at the end of the day the onus is on the designer to explore the restrictions that may be in place [ legislation wise ] on a design for a particular site despite the owners lack of divulgance.
    The certifier only examins the drawings as presented by the designer or [architect] & has no responsibility or requirement to liase with the owner either before or during the design process, but when presented with the plans they have an obligation to reject the plans if they don't comply to all relevant legislation.
    In summary when the proverbial hits the fan - the designer wears the cost.
    Peter Clarkson

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    The fact that the property was in an overland flow area will obviously have been in the details provided to our solicitor when we purchased the property but that didn't really make a difference to our decision to purchase, as the property is in the street we have been waiting to buy in. Furthermore, as it is such a good location, we are willing to build a house to fit the block rather than buying a block to fit our house.

    It was actually a build over stormwater application that was submitted to council. This on its own would have passed but the certifier hadn't checked that the property was also in an overland flow area.

    We have spoken to the head of the department in Brisbane City council that failed the application (they actually deal with stormwater and overland flow applications in the same department) and he has confirmed that all certifiers have access to the same data as them and it clearly shows the overland flow on the database.

    He also made reference to the question on the certifiers "tick sheet" which must be completed prior to all plans being passed. It clearly asks "Is the property in an overland flow area? Yes or No". This box has been ticked "No".

    Regardless as to what we may or may not have told the certifier, he is paid to fill in forms correctly having made all relevent checks HIMSELF. Afterall, it is his career on the line so why should he take our advice on filling in his own forms. On this occasion, he simply hasn't bothered to do the job we have paid him to do properly.

    The plans submitted to the certifier by the architect met all his requirements and this is why the architect is clearly as upset as us. Why should he have to pay for the certifiers mistake (at least that is how it appears to both us and the architect).

    We are considering asking the certifier to pay for amanded plans, engineering and council fees. What reply do you think we can expect?
    If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. - Dan Quayle

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    1K Club Member journeyman Mick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobydogger View Post
    ................We are considering asking the certifier to pay for amanded plans, engineering and council fees. What reply do you think we can expect?
    "I'll see you in court"

    Toby,
    if this is the beginning of your owner builder journey then it doesn't auger well for the future.
    Simple question: Were you aware that your block was in an overland flow area?

    If yes, and you didn't tell your architect or certifier then that was pretty foolish.

    If no, then I can only assume that either you didn't ask your solicitor to do the neccesary searches (foolish) or that you had a negligent solicitor.

    When you start owner building how much responsibility will you take for the job?

    Mick
    "If you need a machine today and don't buy it,

    tomorrow you will have paid for it and not have it."

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    Have you spoken to the certifier and if so what did they say .

    Have they admitted they ticked "No" when they would have known the answer was "Yes"? (Have I got that right they MUST have known, not assumed but categorically would have known?)

    If it was thier mistake then fairness would indicate they would be liable for the architects redraw to take into account the modifications required. You can ask them to do this and if they dont then advise them in writing that you will be seeking compensation in the small claims court. You dont need a solicitor for this (unless qld is different) and will save you money.

    It also sounds a bit dramatic that they have to start from scratch, unless of course there are living areas within the flood levels and I doubt that unless everyone is wearing baggy pants and fake red noses. Wouldnt the changes be to the plumbing / stormwater / piers etc, not to the design itself, which would indicate minor alterations.

    Maybe a little more detail of the situation / costs is needed so the correct advice can be given.
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    Building Designer ausdesign's Avatar
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    I'm a little bit confused.
    Who fills out the building application?
    Does a 'Building Certifier' carry out the same role as a Building Surveyor' here in Vic.?
    Peter Clarkson

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    If I'd have filled in the forms and done all the searches myself then I'd take it on the chin. The fact remains that I have paid good money for a certifier to fill the forms and carry out the searches on my behalf. As such it is his responsibilty to ensure they are completed correctly - isn't it?

    The solicitor didn't mention anything to us about the property being in an overland flow area. If I'd known what an overland flow was perhaps I'd have asked.

    Regarding the plans, as we can't have any permanent structure on the groundfloor the existing plans are totally useless.

    Now we have had time to take stock we plan on having a meeting with the certifier next week.

    Watch this space!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. - Dan Quayle

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    Quote Originally Posted by ausdesign View Post
    I'm a little bit confused.
    Who fills out the building application?
    Does a 'Building Certifier' carry out the same role as a Building Surveyor' here in Vic.?
    Yes Ausdesign, "Certifier" and "Surveyor" are interchangable terms, but as certifier would hardly be the applicant? They may fill in the form as a service, but .....?

    I'm still not clear.

    One would normally get a certifier involved AFTER the drawings have been done, the certifier then checks them for compliance, and this case would have found the overland flow path presumably, after the fact. IF you've asked the certifier to get all the information to brief your architect, fair enough, but that's a bit irregular?

    It all seems pretty clear, if you're building over a stormwater line, there's a fair chance that overland flow would be involved, and an experienced architect may have picked that up anyway. On the other hand, if you have stormwater running across your land, your solicitor SHOULD have alerted you to that fact when you bought, AND the overland flow path SHOULD have been also documented:

    As I thought:
    The fact that the property was in an overland flow area will obviously have been in the details provided to our solicitor when we purchased the property but that didn't really make a difference to our decision to purchase, as the property is in the street we have been waiting to buy in. Furthermore, as it is such a good location, we are willing to build a house to fit the block rather than buying a block to fit our house.
    So if it was in the details, surely that's a pretty important part of briefing your architect?? You've said you wanted to build a house to fit the block, so how do you do that if you don't provide all the information?

    I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but if you knew it was there you have a bit of an obligation here too I think. Put it this way; I wouldn't be wasting too much money on solicitors.

    Cheers,

    P

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    In Vic we have a "section 32" which goes with every sale. this includes pretty much everything a prospective buyer neeeds to know, including overlays. As the buyer it is in your own best interest to thoroughly read it.

    When we bought our current place it clearly stated that part of the land was on a flood plane. There is a creek at the end of the street, about 6 metres below street level. I figured that the house is about 10 metres above street level, so i should be safe. It was a decision i made based on the available info, and I take full responsibilty for it.

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    People keep suggesting that we knew about the overland flow and simply decided not to tell the certifier.

    THE FIRST TIME WE'D EVER HEARD THE TERM OVERLAND FLOW WAS WHEN THE BUILD OVER STORMWATER APPLICATION WAS REJECTED.

    If we'd have been advised of its existance by our solicitor or our architect then of course we'd have told the certifier.

    From what I can gather this should have been picked up in the first instance by the solicitor when he was doing the conveyancing, by the architect when he visited the site, and then by the certifier before he submitted the plans to council and we should have been advised accordingly before spending our money.

    The fact that we havn't been advised at any stage by anyone doesn't make it our fault.

    If this is what I can expect in the future from all trades people I'd probably be best doing a course in law, design, certifying, carpentry, plumbing, roofing, electricals, aircon, kitchen fitting, tiling, landscape gardening, concreting, etc, etc, etc.... as it appears that no one is willing to accept responsibility for their work and I could obviously do a better job myself.

    If this is what being an owner builder means then how far does it go.... Do I need to forge my own nails????

    I think on reflection that I've just been unlucky. Reading posts on this Forum gives me some hope that not everyone in Australia wears a ten gallon hat and chaps.
    If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. - Dan Quayle

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    Quote Originally Posted by tobydogger View Post
    People keep suggesting that we knew about the overland flow and simply decided not to tell the certifier.
    I apologise for any inference that it was deliberate, but you opened with six guns blazing looking for someone to blame!

    THE FIRST TIME WE'D EVER HEARD THE TERM OVERLAND FLOW WAS WHEN THE BUILD OVER STORMWATER APPLICATION WAS REJECTED.
    So again I ask, if you are looking for someone to blame, why not look in the direction of the solicitor who did the searches when you bought??

    Or did you do your own conveyancing?

    If we'd have been advised of its existance by our solicitor or our architect then of course we'd have told the certifier.
    In your first post, you said your certifier hadn't told your architect, now you are suggesting your architect should have told you? The chain of information is not clear, and could be one reason why no one found the problem earlier.

    From what I can gather this should have been picked up in the first instance by the solicitor when he was doing the conveyancing, by the architect when he visited the site, and then by the certifier before he submitted the plans to council and we should have been advised accordingly before spending our money.
    You are close to the mark, although I am still not sure why the certifier would have had access to the project before the designs were prepared, unless you engaged him to do the searches to brief your architect?

    I'd certainly be asking the solicitor why he didn't do the search, or draw your attention to this, as at purchase time it's an issue which can seriously devalue your property, and you should have been made aware then.

    The fact that we havn't been advised at any stage by anyone doesn't make it our fault.
    Well that's where we differ I'm afraid. If you are running the project, then you do require a certain amount of expertise. As you have just discovered quite painfully, it pays to know what questions to ask, as sometimes if they go unasked, things go awry.

    If this is what I can expect in the future from all trades people I'd probably be best doing a course in law, design, certifying, carpentry, plumbing, roofing, electricals, aircon, kitchen fitting, tiling, landscape gardening, concreting, etc, etc, etc.... as it appears that no one is willing to accept responsibility for their work and I could obviously do a better job myself.
    That's pretty much what you have to do to be a builder, and that's why, if you read numbers of other owner building threads, so many experienced people advise against it. If anyone could be a builder, there'd be no need for all that legislation.

    The Building Services Act ensures that the builder is responsible for the work of ALL those trades as well, and that's why you'll get little assistance from the QBSA as an owner builder. You are expected to have a basic knowledge of the process I'm afraid. No one is there to pick up the pieces if you don't properly manage the process.
    If this is what being an owner builder means then how far does it go.... Do I need to forge my own nails????
    No, but you need to know what alloy they need to be made of for differing situations! Don't think that every subbie is out to rob you, but at the same time be aware that not everyone won't cut corners if they aren't being expertly supervised either!

    I think on reflection that I've just been unlucky. Reading posts on this Forum gives me some hope that not everyone in Australia wears a ten gallon hat and chaps.
    Perhaps you have been unlucky, but remember, most people make their own luck!
    Even people who aren't dressed to round up cattle make mistakes occasionally, and the job of the supervisor, in this case you, is to pick them up before they do any harm.

    Let's go back to your first post, where you thought your only option was a claim against the certifier. That didn't sound like someone trying to solve a problem. There were at least three other options:

    A claim against your solicitor, to cover the costs of the aborted work and probably for the devaluation of your property if you want to get all gung-ho.

    A claim against your "architect", which if you think about it and he really is culpable, you could solve by getting him to redo the work properly at no cost.

    Ditto for the Building Surveyor.

    You've lost a bit of time, but if the house can fit, you've got off lightly. What if it couldn't???

    IF you are going to keep the "blame" thing happening for the whole project, it's going to be a long battle.

    Cheers,

    P

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    Tobydogger, the reason that people keep suggesting you knew about the situation is that you said:

    The fact that the property was in an overland flow area will obviously have been in the details provided to our solicitor when we purchased the property but that didn't really make a difference to our decision to purchase, as the property is in the street we have been waiting to buy in. Furthermore, as it is such a good location, we are willing to build a house to fit the block rather than buying a block to fit our house.

    WTF ????

    Ian

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    I have just written a long response but what it really boils down to is who is responsible. The only way to determine this is for tobydogger to outline the steps involved, including who was engaged, by whom and at what stages.

    With this information it would be possible to determine who may be at fault.
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    You get this type of response, Toby, when you use this forum to let off a bit of steam. Don't take it personally; they mean well.

    What I'm interested in knowing is what changes need to be made to the design of your house in an overland flow area?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Smith View Post
    Tobydogger, the reason that people keep suggesting you knew about the situation is that you said:

    The fact that the property was in an overland flow area will obviously have been in the details provided to our solicitor when we purchased the property but that didn't really make a difference to our decision to purchase, as the property is in the street we have been waiting to buy in. Furthermore, as it is such a good location, we are willing to build a house to fit the block rather than buying a block to fit our house.


    WTF ????

    Ian

    Ian - You are assuming that the solicitor told us about the overland flow. That argument forms the basis of this post...

    Sir Stink - Top advice. Now the dust has settled and everyone is back from their holidays we'll be getting to the bottiom of this over the next couple of weeks.

    Ross - As the original plans were for a two level home with living accom on the ground floor they will all have to be more or less scrapped.

    Midge - As they say in France "you appear to know your onions!" The fact is I earn my living doing what I do and as such I would prefer to pay trades people to do the things they do best (electrics, carpentry, plumbing, etc). The fundimental point here is that if I decide to pay a licenced carpenter to construct a studwall for me and I subsiquently find out that he has decided to cut corners by using balsa wood instead of the correct timber, I expect him to accept responsibility for his shoddy workmanship - providing I find out of course!!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobydogger View Post
    Midge - As they say in France "you appear to know your onions!" The fact is I earn my living doing what I do and as such I would prefer to pay trades people to do the things they do best (electrics, carpentry, plumbing, etc). The fundimental point here is that if I decide to pay a licenced carpenter to construct a studwall for me and I subsiquently find out that he has decided to cut corners by using balsa wood instead of the correct timber, I expect him to accept responsibility for his shoddy workmanship - providing I find out of course!!!!
    I've eaten a few onions in my time!

    By all means expect your trades guys to accept responsibility, and expect to get stuff built properly (it does happen mostly btw!). Just remember who has responsibility for SUPERVISION and SPECIFICATION of the work.

    So have you spoken with the Solicitor yet? I'd really like to know what possible reason they can give for inadequate searches.

    Cheers,
    P

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitingmidge View Post
    So have you spoken with the Solicitor yet? I'd really like to know what possible reason they can give for inadequate searches.
    I too would be interested in the outcome. I, and I am sure other members would be willing to offer advise which may be of assistance however without all of the facts, eg who engaged / briefed who, it is all speculation and will be of no use.

    I have tried to trace the line of responsibility and I have a good idea where it may lay ..... however that is assuming that everything is done as per the standard arangements. But by reading the first post again and noticing the frustration directed towards the certifier then it may suggest that the regular steps / procedures may not have been followed.

    Toby ..... if you posted this to let of steam so be it ...... if you wanted some advise (good and perhaps not so good after all it is a public forum) then outline the facts from day one and you will get some educated responses.
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    Toby, by all accounts your upper floor may well be close to what you are after the lower floor must be non-habitable and you can then use it in a fashion where anything of value can be moved to higher ground ie upper floor if you flood.

    We used to put on the lower floor (back in the days when I did house plans - and thank God don't anymore) garage, laundry etc and people used them for rumpus and family open living areas including billiard rooms etc but ensured these regions were vacatable if need be. A workshop can have a sink and wow it looks just like a kitchen

    Pehaps your changes are not so big?

    Obviously you don't do brick veneer lower floor but cavity brick or similar etc etc. Tiles on the floor etc etc.
    Cheers

    TEEJAY

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    Teejay,

    NOTHING goes in an overland flow path, not even battens!

    Cheers,

    P

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    I feel it is the responsibility of the project manager to inform the person drawing up the plans of issues such as this. Having said that an architect really should check before they commence that there are no issues that could inhibit the structure, the same as building heights and the like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitingmidge View Post
    Teejay,

    NOTHING goes in an overland flow path, not even battens!

    Cheers,

    P
    On "open flow" you can build nothing that reduces the flow of water - hence you can build a home but up on piers with no walls under??

    Open carport - no laundry??

    Or are you saying absolutely NOTHING goes there including piers?

    So infact what they have is a reduced building block footprint for the house to fit upon?
    Cheers

    TEEJAY

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    Piers are ok, no cupoards, tubs, battens, fencing or anything that will restrict the flow.

    Overland flow is a designated open drain basically for use when the stormwater drain below it is in overflow, so they want to get rid of big heaps of water very quickly.

    Nifty eh?

    Of course they can't stop you parking your old bus there!

    cheers,

    P

  28. #28
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    I blame the architect first, what is the point of hime preparing a design if the relevant property information has not been sought, why start designing before you are aware of the limitations. I see this happen all to often in flooding areas. Once you raise a floor all walls on the bpundaries etc are suddenly to high.

    I am not familar with processes in queensland, however, I imaguine you would have had to pay the building surveyor fees on application, and part of his job is to check these things out, so whether it was picked up just after you lodged it or later when the build over the easement was applied for it does not make much difference.

    These things happen often and you may have some luck if you take it to a small claims tribunal, but it will bring on a lot of stress and in the end a big headache. Hit the architect up for free amended plans and the building surveyor to re-asses the new plans for free and be on your way.

    Probably your main greif is that you cant build on the block what you want, that is neither of their faults.

    It is a setback but you should (hindsight is a good thing) find out all info about a block before you buy it. The info about flooding would be as readily avaible to you as the architect and building surveyor.

  29. #29
    Wood - Hunter/Gatherer TEEJAY's Avatar
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    How much off the ground does it have to be in this case to comply?
    Cheers

    TEEJAY

    There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness"

    (Man was born to hunt and kill)

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    Pretend my avatar moves! bitingmidge's Avatar
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    It has to be clear of the overland flow path, so in this case, ie, above the Q100 flood level so we can't say!

    The worst case I've seen was over three metres!

    It MAY be just a corner of the building and a few hundred mm??

    Cheers,

    P

  31. #31
    ian
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEEJAY View Post
    How much off the ground does it have to be in this case to comply?
    while unlike tobydodge we don`t know, an easy first check is if neither of the adjoining properties is affected by the overland flow restriction, the height can be no higher than the lower ground level at the adjoining fence line.

    if the depth of the overland flow restriction is only a few hundred millimetres, tobydodger might be able to build what he has had designed using a suspended slab rather than slab on ground.


    ian

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    Wood - Hunter/Gatherer TEEJAY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian View Post
    while unlike tobydodge we don`t know, an easy first check is if neither of the adjoining properties is affected by the overland flow restriction, the height can be no higher than the lower ground level at the adjoining fence line.

    if the depth of the overland flow restriction is only a few hundred millimetres, tobydodger might be able to build what he has had designed using a suspended slab rather than slab on ground.


    ian
    Yes I know Ian, my question was so he could tell us and we could make a valued assessment of his predicament and offer some worthwhile advice.

    I am surprised we haven't been told already the amount.
    Cheers

    TEEJAY

    There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness"

    (Man was born to hunt and kill)

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    Mr Sexy Beast dazzler's Avatar
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    You lot still talking to yourselves
    I just love sheepies!

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    t

    Quote Originally Posted by ausdesign View Post
    I'm a little bit confused.
    Who fills out the building application?
    Does a 'Building Certifier' carry out the same role as a Building Surveyor' here in Vic.?

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    Default Useless Architect

    The title of this thread should have been "Useless Architect".

    To cut a long story short I got the BSA involved and they got the architect and myself together to discuss the situation.

    The BSA have ruled that the Architect was at fault and have ruled against him.

    They confirmed that he had not shown due diligence in producing the plans by not investigating whether the property was prone to flooding.

    There is a section on the council application form that asks if the property is prone to flooding and it was ticked "no" when it should have ticked "yes".

    I will not be taking the Architect to small claims to get my money back and will let you know what happens.
    If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. - Dan Quayle

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    Hi
    In overland flow if you have enough height to play with you can use a suspended timber floor and cantilever the bearers or joists depending on the size you need to over hang. ALternatively you can have piers but you need to have a hydrological engineer do a study and outline how the flow will not be restricted and other measures you need to undertake. Option way is usually way cheaper but sometimes you can't avoid the study. This can allow you to still have your useful layout. If neccessary you can often argue your way through to an a relaxationj on the 8.5m height rule also. BB

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