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Make Sure Your Builder Understands Council Regulations

When it comes to custom home design renovations or building a new home it can be a lot of fun! From choosing bathroom fittings and choosing paint colours, to installing that butler’s pantry you always wanted – adding to or building a new home is a dream come true. BUT – before you get too carried away it is important to do any pre-planning and to make sure all the legal boxes are ticked so your renovation doesn’t end up costing you money – or even is a risk to your own safety.

The two best ways to choose the right builder for you are –

  • Choose some of the best builders you know directly and ask them for quotes for the work you want done.
  • Ask friends, family and co-workers for their recommendations. This is a good way to find a reliable and trustworthy builder if you haven’t used any previously.

Depending on your project your designer will usually know the right person for the job, remember ultimately your choice of builder is just as important as your choice of designer.

The role of your builder is to coordinate all the building work and can include supervising each tradie, sourcing materials and the delivery of materials and most importantly quality-assuring the whole process.


Read Also: Things to Consider Before Designing Your Home


You need to ensure you builder is aware of any and all council regulations that apply to the work that is being carried out. Custom home design has to be done correctly from the start, you do not want to have to remove a room or a wall because you builder didn’t know or understand all the council rules and regulations.

If you need be contact your council directly to find out what type of building or renovations require council approval – you may need a building permit if your renovation requires any alterations to the building especially if it is a heritage listed home/area or you are removing trees.

In most cases renovations still need a building permit whether the planning permit is needed by your local council or not. A building permit is issued by a registered building surveyor to confirm that the planned renovations meet all legal requirements.

If you have decided to manage the project yourself instead of using a registered builder you will still need to apply for the correct building permits, supervise all the work yourself AND make sure the building or home renovations meet all the right building regulations and standards.

Always hire only licensed tradespeople – builders, electricians, plumbers, engineers and architects – they all have to meet set standards and obligations to get their accreditation and they all have to take out insurance to protect the homeowner. All licensed tradespeople are required by law to certify their work; this also ensures your insurance company will cover you should anything go wrong. Shoddy work performed by unlicensed tradesmen will not be covered by your insurance policy.


How Environmental Factors Impact the Type of House You Can or Should Build

The excitement of planning your custom built home is a rush. Yet, before settling on a design, it’s important you determine if all your wishlist items are possible. In particular, the type of home you can build may be limited by a number of environmental factors at the site.

The type of soil, topography of the site, the amount of sunlight and wind, the site’s drainage and other factors can all affect the type of home that can be built. For example, some soils are not as stable or well-draining as others. In this case, a three-storey home would not likely be legal or safe to build. Other factors like sun and breeze direction can limit the orientation options for the home, while topography may require a slope or geologic feature to become a major design element.

That’s why it’s best to consult with a custom home builder before you begin to determine your design. This will ensure you don’t land on a home that’s just not well-suited for the site.


Read Also: Top Two Consideration Before Your Build or Renovate


Key Factors to Consider in Custom Home Design

When looking for a site on which to build a home, you should be aware of environmental factors of the site. A few to keep in mind include:

  • Soil Quality: The soils in the Sydney area range from soft, sandy and unstable soils, which are typically near the coasts, to denser soils further inland. A soil test can reveal how “reactive” the soil is, which means how likely it is to move, shift or expand. Sites with highly reactive soils may be more costly to build on, require excavation to prepare, or place limits on the height and materials that can be used to build the home. Plus, since the Sydney area can experience earthquakes, softer, unstable soils may require abatement efforts prior to building to properly secure.
  • Drainage: Strict building codes apply to homes built in floodplains. For example, the code in New South Wales requires residential floors of homes built in flood-prone areas to be of a specific height, and the design must also incorporate flood risk prevention features and flood-resistant materials and finishes. The site’s drainage characteristics may also influence soil quality, or require a proper drainage system to be built.
  • Wind Strength: Wind can influence home design in a few ways. First, homes built in high-wind areas may have specific limits on height, roof pitch and floor-to-ceiling height, and special bracing may be required to properly secure the home. Also, wind is an important source of passive cooling, meaning cool summertime breezes can be harnessed to create draughts in the home for cooling. A site sheltered from the wind by ecological features or neighbouring properties will require careful orientation to achieve maximum passive cooling.
  • Amount of Sunlight: Sunlight is very important in home design. A home that’s properly oriented to the sun will receive great natural light, and solar heat gain in the summer – when the sun can overheat rooms – will be greatly limited. In general, Australian homes are typically east-west oriented, with northern windows facing the sun. This maximises the amount of sunlight that reaches the home in winter, which acts as a natural heating source, and limits the potential heat gain in summer.
  • Topography: Hills, slopes and rocky surfaces can all affect the design of the home. For example, a slope is a significant design factor, and the home must be properly oriented to achieve maximum sunlight. A home built on a south-facing slope, for example, might suffer from inadequate light in winter, spending most of its time in the shade, resulting in higher heating costs. Some topographies might also require excavation or fill before building can begin.

Before you start planning the custom home of your dreams – take a good look at the site you plan to build on. Typically, the best option is to design your home to properly fit the site’s unique environmental features.


Summer Reno’s: When A Change is As Good As A Holiday

As the winter blues melt away, the season for sun, sand and surf is fast approaching with the promise of long, warm nights around barbeques and pools. For many Sydney-siders, a custom design home can make a world of difference for families entertaining friends and loved ones, and can turn the home into a much needed summer sanctuary.

Not only will a renovation turn your home into the perfect entertainment space for Christmas and beyond, but the mild weather means that there are fewer delays during construction – so this means less waiting and more time to enjoy your new home. We scoured our favourite summer home ideas to bring you our list of options that homeowners are exploring this season to turn their house into more than just a home.



‘Go on, live a little!’ – open up your home

Open plan living lends itself to homes where connection, multi-usage spaces and visibility is paramount.

A kitchen/diner that sweeps into a living room or expansive deck can turn a hot, pokey space into an entertainer’s dream. With the kitchen often becoming the heart of the home, an open plan can enable hosts to cook and prepare while entertaining and watching family and guests mingling in a sprawling outdoor entertainment area.


Read Also: Custom Home Design Vs Existing Property


Healthy habits

An outdoor area that is as inviting as it is practical can stimulate your health and wellbeing regime more than any gym membership ever could.

A crystal blue pool hemmed by a sweeping sun-drenched deck can become your morning haven and evening sanctuary. Combined with gourmet outdoor kitchenettes and stunning landscaping, your outdoor area can be as versatile as you need it to be.

Whether it’s a spot of waterside yoga or a total body workout before a cooling dip in the pool, you can turn your outdoors into a personalised health retreat.



Enlarge your liveability

If you’re looking to welcome a new addition, or your brood needs a little more space to stretch their wings, a summer renovation can give you and your family some much needed space before the challenges of the New Year begin.

Extending and converting your home to add in new activity spaces, bedrooms and bathrooms not only adds to your liveability, but can also rapidly increase the value of your home.



Brighten your outlook

Shady, pokey and dreary areas of the home can unleash new life with a thoughtful renovation.

Extending rooms, adding new windows, knocking down walls or even making some simple changes to the home configuration can see an average three-bedroom home turned into a palatial space with a panoramic parent’s retreat, peaceful self-contained guest quarters, luxurious butler’s pantries, home theatres and more.

With summer fast approaching, now’s the time to start looking at your renovation plans before the New Year. Whether it’s a dream home cook’s kitchen, entertainment zone or you’re something a little more adventurous, if you would like more information on a custom house plan or home renovation, please contact our Sydney office on 02 9988 4522.


New Technology in Home Lighting

With the recent changes and improvements in home lighting technology, there is a lot of talk about energy efficient home lighting applications, mainly LED and CFL solutions are the most popular.


While many homeowners are intrigued by the trend toward greener options in lighting, choosing the right fixtures and sources for your home’s lighting needs is simple. Here are some of the available options in new home lighting technology that will go great in most any application:


Incorporating LED lighting into your home design

LED lighting has evolved into a viable solution that provides long-term energy savings and aesthetically pleasing light output.


Recessed Lighting

Replacing recessed lighting fixtures with LED sources is an easy way to create beautiful ambient lighting with energy saving benefits. Available in a variety of sizes, recessed LED fixtures contribute to a sleek, contemporary environment with minimal intrusion. You can pair recessed fixtures with other sources like pendants, chandeliers and sconces to account for general, ambient and task illumination.


Accent Lighting

LED sources can add visual interest to any room of the home through accent illumination, LED accent lights such as step lights and surface mounts can be used to highlight visual features of a room, while enhancing the safety and security of the space.


Decorative Lighting

With the importance of energy efficiency on the rise, more decorative fixtures incorporate LED sources. Homeowners are now able to create fixtures with completely new form factors, without the constraint of a bulb.


Task Lighting

LED fixtures designed for task applications, such as under cabinet lighting, offer an easy way to enhance work areas. These lighting applications can be used to brighten kitchen counter spaces and improve functionality to complete everyday tasks such as preparing meals or reading recipes.


CFL Sources

CFLs are also a cost-effective and efficient option for homeowners. Like LEDs, CFL fixtures reduce maintenance and use less energy than traditional sources.


Although CFLs improve efficiency, the color consistency and spiral shape of the lamp often deters consumers. However, there are many new and attractive options in CFL lighting available that will fit well with most any decor and application.


The lighting you choose for your home can completely change the look and feeling of any room in your home and with the new technology available in home lighting there is a cost effective, efficient and attractive solution to any home decor application.


Custom Home Design Vs Existing Properties

If you’ve outgrown the place you are living in, you are ready to downsize, or move up, or move out, then you will need to decide whether to build or simply move into an existing home. Here are a few points to consider when making your decision.


Getting exactly what you want


Whether it’s your fittings, the suburb, the amount of bedrooms, or a dedicated wine cellar, there are a lot of items that people jot down on their “Need to Have” and “Would Be Nice to Have” lists when it comes to choosing a new home.

And while you might just find that perfect home that meets – and sometimes exceeds! – all of your expectations and is within your budget, oftentimes the endless search is disheartening.

If you have been searching for many months, then it may be time to consider purchasing land (either with or without an existing property) that is the right size and right area, and then building – so you can have everything on your list.



Property upkeep


While there are many gorgeous old properties around Sydney and NSW, if you are looking at purchasing a property that was built 25+ years ago, you will need to take into account the upkeep that is required for the property. This is even more important in significantly older homes.

That diamond in the rough may require extensive renovations both inside and out which will add to the cost and time to occupy. A custom home design that includes nods to times gone by may be a better option to stand the test of time.



Leveraging land value


Sydney real estate is at an all time high. Which means that sub-divisible blocks are hot property. If you manage to find a suitable block in a clever area (with or without an existing property), that has room for your home plus another one or two (or units), then you might like to consider snapping it up.

Building your own home on the preferred slice of land, and then either developing or selling off the rest of the block, either straight away or after sitting on it for a while, is a clever way to get a great return on investment.

At Oppidan Designer Homes we help you with custom home design tailored exactly to your requirements. We collaborate with design and then can help oversee the entire process from permits through to construction. Whether it’s a whole new home or a renovation of your new property, we can help.


5 Secrets of Stress-Free Home Renovation

We’ve all heard the nightmare stories from our friends. Contractors doing shoddy work. Having to go in and inspect every minute detail yourself. Incorrect permits. The list goes on!

So what are the top 5 secrets to a stress-free renovation? Read on to find out…

  1. Leave it to the experts to coordinate

While it seems like a good way to cut costs, managing your own home renovation is fraught with difficulties. The best way to prevent tearing your hair out over renos is to trust your project with the experts. Think about it – you wouldn’t try and manage your business tax affairs just to save a buck, would you? The same thing can be said for overseeing your renovations.

  1. Choose a trusted provider

Experience counts a lot when it comes to overseeing building works. You will want to pick a company that has a wealth of experience in renovations – with the client testimonials to back them up. A company or provider that lacks experience is likely to make more mistakes, which can in turn lead to cost and schedule blow outs.

  1. Ensure all building works are council compliant

While you can generally leave this part up to your overseeing company, checking what permits and approvals need to be followed ahead of time is a good way to double check that everything is being done by the book. Errors in this area may mean that you need to remodel your house after all the work is finished!

  1. Pick a time-frame that works

Oftentimes schedules can blow out. Although this is less likely with a trusted provider overseeing works, you will still want to build in a bit of a buffer in case your home is not completed exactly on time. For example, don’t have a completion date of December 1st if you are having a whole herd of the relatives over for Christmas. A buffer of 1 month plus is reasonable.

  1. Don’t let feelings simmer

If you are truly unhappy about any aspect of your building works, then don’t wait until it’s too late to bring it up. Address any issues as they arise to prevent it causing a bigger problem down the track!

Trust your home renovation to us at Oppidan Designer Homes. We offer a free initial consultation and are with you every step of the way from design, through to compliance, and construction.


The top two considerations before your build or renovate

Upgrading your home living to create your dream lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pull up sticks and build a new house. Renovating is still a very popular and affordable choice for families improving their homes or expanding on usable space.

Home renovation

While building a new home can be incredibly exciting, it also comes with its own unique pitfalls.


We looked at the top two things to consider when homebuyers look to either renovate their existing home or move on to a new project:



Location, location, location!


Renovate an Existing Home

Pro: An existing home in a mature area will have established neighbourhoods and links to schools, shops, public transport and health care providers.

Con: Homebuyers can have their dream plans blocked by Council overlays and local petitions to prevent certain types of developments or styles in specific areas.


Build a New Home

Pro: A block of land in a newly developed area is not only largely more affordable, but will often allow homebuyers a broader degree of freedom to develop a home design that is right for them.

Con: These new communities rarely offer the same amount of certainty as an established location; homebuyers can’t be sure how their new neighbourhood will look, and if or when local Council will introduce new services or green-light commercial projects.


custom home design


Things to consider:

  • Does your family rely on local conveniences?
  • Is a long commute an issue for you?
  • What sort of design overlay exists in the area you wish to live in?
  • Are there social and familial ties to keep?
  • Can you wait several years after moving in to a young community for new commercial and educational precincts?


Value-adding features

Renovate an Existing Home

Pro: Many homeowners are reaping the financial rewards of renovating their homes by capitalising on unique features (like period style fireplaces) while adding modern conveniences and touches. This can be as simple as a room-by-room refresh, through to more intensive multi-story projects with vaulted ceilings, windows and tech-savvy upgrades.

Con: Older buildings can often unveil a host of issues as renovations are underway: infestations, compromised structures, hidden horrors, dodgy old DIY jobs, and more. These are all costly fixes, so homebuyers need to do their due diligence on the structural integrity of the house and anticipate budget blowouts.


Building a New Home

Pro: With a clean slate to work from, many homeowners have free rein to design and add dream kitchens, bathrooms and entertainment areas with far fewer project obstacles.

Con: As a new build, value-adding features are often limited to the exclusivity of the design (e.g. a custom home design build) and external factors such as land size and the physical location of the home to other amenities.


Things to consider:

  • Are you relying on your home design to boost your resale value?
  • Are the features in the existing home strong enough to carry the design?
  • What are other homeowners doing with their properties in the same area?
  • What sort of unplanned costs can you manage if there was an issue?
  • Can you manage a building delay of several weeks or months?
  • Can you afford the design features needed to make your home unique?


While there is no ‘cut and dry’ between renovations and new builds, location and value-adding features remain valid and top-of-mind years after the build has been completed. Having helped thousands of homeowners create the home of their dreams, we understand how important it is to take the time to consider all the options.


If you would like more information on a custom home design or home renovation, please contact our Sydney office on 02 9988 4522.


Things to consider before designing your home

If you’ve made up your mind to design your house and take your home décor to the next
level, it is important that you consider a few necessary things that will best fit your needs and
help you create a beautiful, cohesive, and thriving landscape!

If you’re all set to assemble your fantasy home or redesign your landscape or simply make a few
changes to it or something like that, it is important that you consider a few necessary factors
first before starting up with the designing process.

You know precisely what you need and need to have in your home, however, have you thought
about what you don’t need and what you needn’t bother with? Have you really thoroughly
considered the entire thing? You have given much thought and thought to what will work for
you, however, have you taken the time to think about what won’t work?

It is important that you take as much time as required and do your exploration both online and
in person. Make sure to take the time to meet with experts in the business. Poor outline
decisions can make your home uncomfortable, as well as out and out unfortunate. Designers,
architects and manufacturers are all prepared to help you settle on viable choices.

Written below are a few tips that you must consider before designing or building a new

Tip #1: Pick a suitable design

If you are really looking forward to building or renovating your home, you will definitely need a
design. There are basically two ways of discovering a decent design. The first thing is to find out
a planner or architect that you like, the other is to search for pre-drawn house arranges on the

Tip #2: The Ground You Build On

Whether your chosen site is the center of an urban neighborhood or lies somewhere in rural
areas, it is necessary that you verify the area and make sure it is a good fit for you. This may
appear utterly evident, however, in some cases, our heart chooses before our head. You must
hire a soil engineer, likewise called a Geotechnical architect. Take care of business! It’s
extraordinary protection. Not just will you get some answers concerning the ground under your
new home, you may even turn away catastrophe. Soil architects can let you know about the
quality of your soil as well as if your soil is outlandishly abnormal and what sort of alleviation
would be obliged to manage that peculiarity.

Tip #3: Take care of your budget

Building a house is costly. On the off chance that you need a well constructed house, WHICH
YOU SHOULD, plan to spend a few bucks. Every home construction venture is one of a kind and
things don’t generally go as arranged, so it is important that you hire an incredible group of
constructors and instruct them to hold it within proper limits, which they will strive to do, and
turn your dreams into reality!

For carrying out the home designing process effortlessly, it’s better to take help from the
experts, i.e. Oppidan, located in the upper North shore, St Ives. To know more about us, visit us
at http://www.oppidan.com.au/


Designing the Perfect Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor living spaces are becoming very popular in new homes. They take advantage of outside space, are a great place to unwind after a busy day cooped up inside and they maximise every square foot of living space in your home.

When designing an outdoor living space there are a number of things to consider that will lend to creating a beautiful, functional and comfortable area outside your home.


Color Scheme

When designing the perfect outdoor living space the first place to start is by looking at the exterior colors and design style of your home. This gives you the palette and style direction to ensure the an outdoor space feels like extension of your home’s interior.

You should choose the color palette from the surrounding natural landscape. Examples would be, green tones inspired by trees, grass and shrubs; blue tones inspired by the sky and water, and shades of brown inspired by branches and ground coverings. These are all colours that lend to nature, and integrate the landscape into the exterior spaces.

For colour accents, choose any flowering landscape your grounds contain; yellow and orange are two excellent examples of accent colours that can be used for cushions or pillows in weather resistant fabrics.


Solid Surface Decor

When designing an outdoor space it’s critical to make sure that it feels like an extension of your home’s interior. To ensure a seamless transition outdoors, extend the interior finishes to the exterior space. Taking the flooring from the interior to the outdoors is a critical element. Other considerations are utilizing the same countertop materials, similar lighting fixtures and even ceiling and beams as the interior to create an unhindered flow from the inside to the outside space.


An Extension of the Interior

Consider the exterior area of the home as just another part of the home, except with weather resistant furnishings and fabrics. Today, there are hundreds of options available for outdoor furnishings. Sofas, chairs, chaise lounges, dining and cocktail table and bar stools.

Add pillows, drapery panels, rugs, artwork, ceiling fans and specialty lighting fixtures to make your exterior rooms look more like interior rooms, but more importantly, bring all of the spaces together so they all flow together.


Custom Amenities

Take into account your family’s lifestyle and preferences, when choosing what amenities to add to your outdoor space. If it’s cooking and dining that is important to you, include an outdoor kitchen and dining area with grill, fireplace and dining table.

The possibilities are seemingly endless and definitely a personal choice. There are several different options including media and seating areas, cabanas and bar areas only to name a few.

Let your imagination be your guide in creating an outdoor space that is tailored to your family. One that offers a wonderful and relaxing place to get away.



Oppidan Services

A strong, safe and beautiful home is something that everyone desires. Getting your dream home constructed as per your demands and wishes are the best feeling you could ever have. If you’re looking for someone to redesign your house, why not choose Oppidan Homes for new home construction. You’ll get energy-efficient construction, customized design, and all the benefits of having a home that was built just for you! Having a house custom-built for your family offers numerous advantages and can actually help you save money in the long run. With a new home construction, you can plan your house around your specific wants, desires, and demands. The style, quality, and designs of these homes are impeccable.

Building a home can be a tricky business. When you factor in the lengthy process of obtaining council approvals, the complexity of meeting ESD guidelines and the difficulties involved in getting multiple contractors to do, timely & high-quality work, it’s no wonder most of us balk at the task. Building or renovating a home can be a complicated and costly process. Hiring an architect or designer can be an effective way of making sure the job runs smoothly and efficiently.

Few people have the time, expertise or experience to mastermind the design and construction of a high-end home. That’s where Oppidan Homes enter the picture. “Our clients are all professionals and business owners,” says Steve Gild, Oppidan’s Director. “No one has time to spend on building a home – we take that responsibility and stress away from them.”

With 30 years’ experience building quality homes throughout NSW, Oppidan has the knowledge and the networks to provide a ‘construction to completion’ service that truly covers all bases. “We like to get involved with the client, even at the early stages,” says Gild. “We’ll do free site inspections and give advice prior to the client purchasing the land, so our clients make the purchase knowing what the end cost will be.”

Whether remodeling an individual room, renovating a custom single family home or building a premier house, Oppidan gives you real value for money and unmatched levels of service and satisfaction. No need for time-consuming and costly architect’s plans: “We give you more than an architectural service, for much less money,” Gild asserts. “We also aim to shorten the process, which can be very complex these days.”

With everyone from town planners to interior designers, colour consultants and landscapers on the Oppidan team to prepare documents, fast-track council negotiations, make selections, organise and implement the work, you can rest easily, knowing that the design and construction of your new home is in competent hands. “We offer the full development process, including council approval, construction, interiors, landscaping and everything else: it’s a one-stop shop,” assures Gild.

And if you’re planning a reconstruction or renovation, Oppidan Homes can streamline that process too. “Over the years, we’ve never advertised that we also do major renovation work,” says Gild, “but we realise there’s a big demand for it, so we’re now taking the company in that direction as well.” We work with you to identify project priorities, define visual preferences, and explore cost options before the work of remodeling begins. In doing so, we aim to balance project beauty and function with your budget and needs. Once construction begins, our team of talented craftsmen brings your vision to life.