Green Architecture, Excellent house design, Healthy living

Work in Progress


The house took a while with the difficulty in finding builders who were competent in Perth. I scrutinized builders thoroughly but sometimes when you come across people who just bald face lie to you there is nothing you can do about it. The builders told us they went on site with apron and hammer and completed some of the building work. It turned out they knew nothing about building and the result was a crooked house. Fortunately I managed to find a team of builders who could complete the work and in the time they specified, to a high standard. They couldn’t rectify all the mistakes the previous builders made though as that would mean removal of the whole top storey, but they did have to re clad the upstairs to fix the leaks because the cladding was not installed correctly even after the clients sent the installation details to the Builders.

I was not allowed to mention anything previously for fear of jeopardising negotiations but all is sorted now and Superior Homes is no longer trading in Perth that we know of but they are supervising other homes, so how that will work heaven knows. Here’s hoping they learn as they go and they have superior who can teach them the right way to build.

View from Garage DoorView to Road20140402_093949Front Entrance

Cladding installed incorrectly and had to be removed.


Shocking workmanship leaves the client without a house and with remedial work required to complete not to mention the extra money to finish. How some builders can sleep at night is beyond me.

I reckon if the builders had a choice they would have left off the entry pool as they paid no attention to the requirement to have it filled from a natural source, namely the roof water, instead they installed another two soak wells at an extra cost to the clients which could have easily been the cost of water tanks which the clients requested and was shown on the plans so they could water their gardens. Now they have to use town water supply.

The stair landing had to be removed as the steelwork was substandard and the builders clearly did not want to put in the glass floor landing. The finished product is amazing and a real showcase and a minimal cost. Under $5000. Look at the previous photos to see what the builders did instead of following the plans. The difference is a light, bright and airy home.




Plasterboard to the timber frame render to the brickwork.

10mm plasterboard is fixed to timber frame after insulation is installed to reduce temperature fluctuations whereas a hard plaster render finished with white plaster all ready for painting is applied to brickwork. You can see the lines to the plaster board provide much cleaner sharper lines.

This is where the glass landing was supposed to be, instead the builders carried the floor all the way over the entranceway.


Clean lines to the garage roof.

Slowly but surely the builders are working backwards and filling in the blanks. Normally roofing would be constructed over the whole build and then external cladding so it can all be properly flashed against the building not tearing and building papers or building wrap. The builder in this case has opted to put the cladding on first and then cut it back and slide flashing’s into position. There are always two ways to do everything but timing has been extended again.




Exterior finished with fibre cement board

The cladding has been changed to a fibre cement board as they felt it was a cheaper option than the Plywood cladding the client had requested. The client is to paint the squares different colours so it will be interesting to see the finished product.





Second floor timber frame means the roof goes on faster.

Metal roofing using colorbond corrugated iron profile simplifies construction, reduces heat build up dramatically compared to tile roofing. The option here was to use a sandwich roof which is made with polystyrene sandwiched between two sheets of metal, the top sheet would be a profiled roofing with the underside being flat metal or a neat ribbing. This system provides even better insulation and minimises build costs even more. The client in this instance chose for traditional construction, timber frame but will skillion ceilings throughout.




Second floor built in timber frame reduces costs.

Frames up on second floor could all be standing in one day for a build this size. These frames have been built in place but to save time and ensure the walls are true and square it is usual to build them on the ground, brace them temporarily and then stand them in place. Easily constructed in a day that way.





Second floor built in timber frame.

2nd floor joists laid over brickwork, it could take one day to lay the joists and a second day to glue and fix the flooring. Care in proper design minimises sound transference from one area to another to reverberation through floors don’t affect quiet areas.



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First Floor Slab Down, Brickwork nearly finished to Two Storey Home Perth.

The Brickwork has taken just over a week to complete to create the ground floor walls for this new Two Storey Home in Perth. The next stage will be construction of the Steel Frames to take the top storey along with the timber joists and Plywood flooring along with timber frames to the complete the Top Storey.



Video showing the site with narration.


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Slab Down

Foundations set out.

With new sand brought in to establish the correct levels after the asbestos has been removed it is now time to dig footings. Footings provide bearing for the house securing it to the ground in such a way it prevents the house from moving over time.

The deeper the footings the larger the building that can sit on top of them but generally in Perth a 300mm deep footing will suffice even for two storey which this house is.

There is so much preparation at this time even to placement of pipes and treatment of the nasty Termites. This treatment under the slab lasts for 10 years, and without spending another $2,000 at this stage there is no way you can renew that treatment. Fingers crossed the little nasties don’t get under the slab and climb into the building through slab penetrations. It is therefore important to keep all penetrations at a minimum so you can see we have allowed for a ‘P’ strap for the toilet as opposed to an ‘S’ trap.

Other wastes and floor gully wastes along with Downpipes are all laid at this time and once the slab is poured the rest of the pipes are placed and joined up to the drainage.

Wastes looking from ensuite corner back to DownpipeEnsuite Basin WastePipes to KitchenView of whole site
praying the Termites for underslab, they will return once the walls are up and spray the perimter which will need repeating every 5 years to keep nasties away.

Trench to Garage Zero Lot wall
Next is damp proof course DPC or polythene laid and taped to ensure no gaps and breaks in the DPC and mesh laid out in the trenches and the for the slab ready for the concrete pour.

All it takes is one concrete truck and an hour later the whole site changes dramatically.

Short of concreteFootings pouredlooking from Garage

Slab is to be poured on Monday. Watch for the posting. Fingers crossed for no rain even.

Siteworks begin

This gives a simple preview for what we could see on site once all the ground work has been done and the slab is about to be poured. Keep watching the updates in the New year as it progresses through construction of this new two storey home in Perth

Simple copy and paste into you address bar,

When a New home is designed on a subdivided lot, it is assumed that the proper preparation has been carried out during the subdivision to ensure there are no problems in relation to strata title laws.

We find this block has 3 different issues one of which is going to cost in the vicinity of $6000 plus a delay of 7-8 days while we organise the removal contaminated soils. It appears the property had a shed in the rear at one stage and was demolished and materials where buried in the ground which is ok but here we find it was spread across the property.

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The contaminant is Asbestos and there are bricks and broken concrete and timber also strewn across the block. So be cautioned if you are looking to purchase a rear site that their are guarantees that the site is cleared of all debri so you don’t have to remove layers of soil before you begin building and import soil to build the land up again.

New Build Ideas

Now we have the permit to begin building we have also settled contracts with the selected builders who are more than happy to work with the clients allowing their input in the construction with labour and even material contributions. It took us 9 months to find such a builder but they seem to provide a good standard of workmanship and feel free to check them out for yourself.

Now we have our budgets for the first stage of the job and while we had originally considered the builder charging their time and then allowing a 10% overhead cost on every cost in relation to the job we eventually settled on a builders fee which covers their costs in overseeing the project and they will supply materials at cost, their cost all the way through the project. Everyone is happy and now we are ready to go.

No one can ever give an accurate price on a build without someone loosing money however small. There is always a balance on everything in life and in construction you can get a fixed price for construction and if there is a shortfall the builder looses income and can quite often go bankrupt and they do. I want to prevent that from ever happening with builders I work with. The other side is the new owners could end up with a project half finished due to a shortage of funds to build and I don’t want that either. The only choice to balance the whole equation and ensure each person is satisfied is to provide budgets. So we do that in time by way of project management and also financially by way of cash books.

Any fluctuations are clearly seen as we go through the build and adjustments made so we make sure the house is finished and the builder doesn’t loose money.

The other interesting thing about building is the emotion. It is like dating I guess in that as a client talks to suppliers for the first time they get to like them and emotion comes between them and the financial decision. we have to balance that also so that finances are kept at the forefront. We cannot afford gold taps, neither have we priced for them so we need to watch every expense all the way along to ensure the client gets value for money and the only way to safe guard that is to have a partner in the decision making process so no choice is made unless there is 100% unanimity.

At the end of the day we have a building 192m2 of passive solar design, a building that will breathe and sit in its environment to bring pleasure to its inhabitants all of its life. The cost is pipped at $290k but we have written contracts at $350 to give freedom in choices as the construction proceeds. I am personally hoping that we will build for the base price with everything the way we have structured but only time will tell.

This is a build of honesty and integrity and one I hope will become a benchmark for future builds.

Time LineBudget

Yay!! We finally are beginning to see light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel where legislation once again is proven to be an ass.

I have had to involve the Building Commission and am very grateful that in the bureaucratic world there is at least one person who has good sense and can guide through the barrage of laws and interpretations to provide a suitable outcome. If they wrote laws properly in the first place they would not need half the organisations to manage them and correct what was wrong I guess.

It doesn’t matter who you are no one likes rejection and the builder we originally nominated is no exception even though he must know his workmanship is sub standard to what we require after spending more than 6 months longer than he advised on a simple project in Claremont.

Anyway we had to email the old builder as there was no physical address due to his relocation and in order to obtain an expedient result had to advise that the Building Commission had been involved. His response was immediate that he would seek legal advice. He has now spoken with the Building Commission and informed them he will provide the council with a Notice of Cessation.

However there is another issue under the craziness of local government law and that is that all monies be returned to the applicant and under law it is deemed to be the builder. Imagine the costs and delays now that would occur if the council in their stubbornness to follow the letter of the law returned the funds to the builder and to his old address? How do you circumvent that issue I thought. I included in my email to the builder advising him that I aware of his decision and that could he please advise the council that he didn’t pay any fees that the clients in fact paid all the fees in relation to the application.

Now it is to get the new builders to provide timelines and material breakdowns so these can be advised to the client and we can begin construction. Hopefully it will not be in the too distant future.

I have today had a phone call from the local council regarding this project and the issuing of a Building Permit. When I made the application I discussed at length the procedure because I had no idea what to do. I signed as representative for the owners, you know those people who fund the project and pay all the bills. They provided the money to pay the council fees, nearly $1,000 in total. The council required a builders licence number included in the application and I had since learned that it would be very difficult to remove that builder IF they turned out to be no good. Ashamed to say he did turn out to be irregular in his attendance for another project I employed him on and he made choices without consultation with either the client or myself for materials and the whole project has been fraught with issues around his not reading and following plans and specifications. So we consequently had to erase him from this application but now have learned that he has t write and remove himself from their files. For some reason the council has identified the builder as the owner of the plans which clearly have my name and number copyright all over them and any funds to be returned will be returned to the builder.

It is obvious the reason why the public is fed up with builders in Perth and trust them less than car salesmen. They take liberty, do not price jobs correctly or allow for times properly and the council supports them totally through the legislation they are bound by.

The only good thing is that apparently the Building Commission has since April this year allowed for an independent to make application but I have yet to see that application and determine any pitfalls to keep you informed.

Watch for the next update.

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The latest update just brings home the uncertainty in any project where it is so heavily legislated from the building construction design to meeting the by-laws, the council requirements to satisfy legalities set down by the governments and the local bodies to satisfy and or protect neighbouring interests.

As I said 10 days ago we have a builder and we submitted the loan application for final approval while our clients took a much needed holiday for 5 weeks. The banks have now stated that the application has expired so we have to wait until the clients return before they can lodge a new application with the banks.

In any project there are bound to be run overs especially when you have priced everything so finely to begin with and this project is no exception so the preference is to borrow more funds than are needed from the banks as the clients have nowhere else to raise funds from. It will be interesting to hear the banks decision once the application is resubmitted so keep watching for the next stage in this project we call Works in Progress.

Yee Ha!! After months of searching we have finally found a builder who is prepared to work on a cost plus basis to provide our clients with the best service and the ability to substitute their own time, materials and sub-contractors into building the most expensive item they will ever buy in their lifetime, their new home.

The pricing has come in at $290,000, well really shaving a little off that but pricing a home is a difficult task and no one really knows how much it will cost until it is built and all of the costings have come in. There are many factors that can cause a building to cost more along the way the least of which would be material price rises. Council delays, compliance costs, weather and delays from subcontractors all contribute to increases and the worst is the banks in the interest they charge while the building lays empty and rent is being paid at the same time.

With all of these possible increases in mind and history as it shows it is generally better to allow a 10% contingency at least but my experience and in the Perth building environment it is better to allow 15-20% so we have asked the clients to seek funding at $350,000.

So we now have to wait until the funding is approved and then wait for the council to finalise the drawings and issue the building permit which could not be concluded until such time as we have a nominated builder providing their building license number and also the builders insurance. Keep a watch for the next up date.

Welcome to the first house design.

This project was lodged with council on the 14th September 2011 after paying a fee of $699.09 for them to grant approval on the design and siting of the house.

You can view the House on youtube
This project began with a clear brief, 3 bedrooms open living kitchen and dining facing an Alfresco area. Double Garage and ensuite to Master Bedroom and study. The clients wanted to utilise the suns energy for winter warmth but also provide adequate ventilation to cool the house in summer and reduce the amount of summer sun minimising utility expenses.

The Alfresco roof area creates shade from the summer sun while allowing the winter sun to penetrate the home, warming the concrete slab and kitchen area. The wall separating the dining room from the Entry is brick for solar store gain. The winter sun will penetrate the window to the east and warm that wall in the morning which will then emit warmth into the dining space. In the summer time the sun rise to the south east and therefore will not penetrate that window. The west facing windows provide for a similar passive solar effect which should heat the area around the staircase to warm the house at the end of the day. Again the sun will set to the south west in summer so the staircase will not be a heat store in that season.

The Kitchen was designed by QN Designs of Morley and they give a free service with exceptional results carried right through to installation and also provide a fully erected kitchen to view prior to assembly in their workshop Boag Street Morley WA.
The design provided for a waterfall edge to the island unit but was not carried at both ends as any work completed at the garage end of the kitchen bench would be marked too easily with movements from one side of the bench to the other, so the decision was to carry the waterfall edge to the end of the sink bench and provide a kickboard at the garage end of the Island unit.

Stepping slabs have been used in the Entrance access across a pond. This provides not only a unique entrance before the front door but also creates a micro climate in that the winter the sun will warm the water and reflect light and heat around the entranceway but also in the summer it will reflect light off the building. Water is a great medium to use in solar design and also provides for great effect in the gardens if used correctly.

After a visit to the site the designer had thought there was a greater fall to the rear of the block, however a site survey revealed that not to be so, we had to therefore reduce the number of steps to one single step. The effect will still be great as you walk in from either the front entry or the garage you will feel the height of the room even though it will be at nominal height due to council restrictions within the building envelope.

The staircase is a feature in the build as it provides for a glass floor at the top landing, this not only creates a unique feature but also gives a greater feeling of space and light and aids in the movement of people through the area to slow down before negotiating the spaces.

The site is very small and compact complicated with easements running both sides of the site for Water Corporation access to their block at the rear of the building. Coupled with the boundary set backs, height restrictions and overlooking issues set down in the R-codes it will be interesting to see what changes will come back once council has had a chance to review the drawings.

For those of you considering building your own homes, the process to this stage has cost the client $10,600 for first interviews and the design process, providing them with all of the drawings and a working model. Consultation to fine tune and explain the design philosophy and preparation of drawings to lodge for council approval.

The council takes a fee to examine the design and provide any issues that may need to be addressed. This takes time in addition to the design process and the next update will identify the time it has taken and any issues that may need to be addressed.

Please leave your name and email address should you like any updates on this website or to follow the progress of work under construction.



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