Building Design, Drafting & Energy Efficiency

Build Budget

How much money do you intend to spend on your building project?

This is one of the first questions I ask in my initial consultation with clients. The reason for asking this question is to ensure that the design is buildable within budget. It would be a total waste of time and money to have a design fully documented only to find out that you can’t afford to build it. You would then need to have the design re-done at extra cost and extra time.

In the past I have found that some clients are a bit guarded and reluctant to let me know what their budget is. It might seem a bit personal to ask someone how much money they have, but it is important from the designer’s perspective to be aware of the budget in order to steer the project in the right direction. Just to reassure any prospective clients, my fees ARE NOT based on a percentage of the build cost. My fees are based on how many hours it takes to do the job. I provide a fee estimate after the initial consultation once I am aware of the scope of works, (refer to my step-by-step procedure).

So, in summary, at the start of the project, have a budget figure in mind and let the designer know what it is. If you have no idea about build cost, ask the designer for some guidance. A frank discussion about build cost at the start of the process will avoid ugly problems later.


House star ratings

Question:   How many stars does a new house require?

  1. 5 stars
  2. 6 stars
  3. 10 stars
  4. No stars

Answer:   4. No stars, (although there is a bit more to it).

The actual requirement is that the house needs to be compliant as per the NCC (National Construction Code) in accordance with the Performance Requirements.

There are a few ways to do this:

  1.  Conduct a Thermal Performance Assessment using approved simulation software (where the result must be minimum 6 stars).
  2. Use the NCC Deemed to Satisfy method. This prescriptive method involves specifying thermal requirements as prescribed in the Code.
  3. Proposing an Performance Solution that satisfies the NCC Performance Requirements.
  4. A combination of the afore mentioned methods.

As you can see, the original question is actually a slightly misguided one. Most people relate new houses to ‘star levels’ but this is not the actual requirement.

So, what is the best approach?

The best approach is to choose the method best suited to the individual circumstance. This can vary from job to job.

One important thing to note is that a Thermal Performance Assessment, (star rating) only assesses the thermal fabric of the building in relation to heating and cooling loads. It does not assess:

  • lighting
  • services
  • hot water systems
  • condensation

As part of our energy compliance reports we  make sure to address all components. Our approach is to not look at  thermal performance in isolation but to address it as part of a holistic system of achieving a comfortable,  energy efficient and healthy home.

new website

After 5 years of having a half-built website I finally decided to do something about it.

Having the ability to write HTML code and build websites from scratch, I had always intended to do exactly that and finish off my site. The problem I faced was ‘time’, or lack thereof.

Although WordPress doesn’t give me the ability to endlessly customise & optimise pages, it does provide a simple and quick way to establish a professional and comprehensive web presence. It is also easy to keep up to date, and is viewable on desktop and mobile devices.

The simplicity of WordPress allows me to spend less time on web related input and therefore  frees up my time to do actual work.

I hope you find all the information you require on my new site. I will fine-tune it over time and add extra content via blogs.


Greg O’Beirne

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑