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How big is that room and which way is North?

Do you know how to read building plans?


Simple enough question. There are lots and lots of people out there that can, but guess what…. they’re not the only people that want to live in brand new homes.


Is having a new home built something you’ve thought about? Are you one of those people that can say they know how to read building plans? If you are, great…. enjoy the journey, If you’re not however I’m guessing, it’s just plain scary. We’ve all heard the nightmare building stories or read about them on the internet. So how can you give yourself the best chance at smooth sailing?


Firstly, you need a design which can come from either a builder or for those who want something custom you’ll need to find a designer. You need to go through the process of mark-ups, changes and reviews until the design is just what you’re after. This can be a daunting process and one that can take quite a bit of time. It’s imperative you understand what is being presented and have some concept on scale to be able to visualise the spaces and their relationship with each other. Even if you can read and understand the concepts clearly its always worth getting advice from friends, family or even professionals before you sign off on a design, think about the huge investment you’re about to make and what a small investment a design review would be in comparison.


Then you need “Working Drawings”, that is assuming you don’t need Town Planning. Town Planning can be the subject for another day. The working drawings are the plans that everything revolves around and everybody relies on. You need them for permits, engineering, material and colour selections, estimating take offs and construction, and because they are so important, they need to be correct. So, who’s checking them? The builder will (should) but how do you know everything you’ve selected and paid for is shown or if there are mistakes. If you are not able to read the plans and understand them fully then the first you’ll know about errors or omissions is when there’s a problem, a hold up at permit, a cost over run or delays and extra costs …. and arguments on site.


There is a growing trend for people to hire their own private building inspectors to review building techniques and ensure compliance with standards whilst their home is being constructed. This is purely because most people don’t know what to look, understand the construction process or just don’t trust the builder. Unfortunately, the same sense of security is rarely sought leading up to signing the contract, meaning plans are generally not independently checked against the specifications, colour selections, developers’ requirements, council requirements, codes or standards. An independent plan assessment performed by an experienced person can save time, money and lots of heartache if engaged at the right time…. prior to contract signing.


Independent advice when you are about to make one of the biggest investments of your life – if not the biggest is hugely important especially when you’re not familiar with the process.



Good Luck

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