Planning ahead for a new home or commercial development after COVID-19

house plans for after covid-19

The social isolation measures the Federal and State Governments have introduced amid the COVID-19 outbreak have placed severe restrictions on the activities we normally enjoy day-to-day. 

However, the most serious consequences are the social and economic impacts caused by the sudden loss of employment in many industries. 

This blog is not intended to trivialise these very real impacts, but shed light on some positives that can come from some forced “time out” or the limited work that can be done at home – for example, these “idle” hours can be used to plan your next building project. 

While the actual construction might not be possible until after we resume normal life, this time can be used to get your project “shovel-ready”. After all, the time span for the early stages of a building project through to Development Application (D.A.) submission can take three to six months – the actual time taken will depend on the size and complexity of the project. 

The council itself can require a similar period i.e. three to six months to process an application, so now is the perfect time to plan ahead, gather your thoughts and design ideas, and prepare for when we’re clear of the COVID-19 virus. 

The benefits of starting the design & planning process now

Whether you are planning a private house or a property development (housing or commercial), now might be a good time to complete all the necessary design work and approvals. You now have the time to gather your ideas about the objectives you wish to achieve without the constant demands of work interrupting your thought process. 

Plus, providing stimulation to these segments of the economy will aid the overall efforts to deal with these difficult times – there are benefits for everyone if we remain engaged in productive work and support this sector of the economy.

The design and planning disciplines of the development and construction industry are not restricted by the new lockdown arrangements. In fact, the design and documentation activities of Architects, Engineers, and Building Consultants can all be completed within their offices, or if required, by working remotely. 

As Architects, our office is operating as normal while still observing the recommended hygiene and space allowances (4.0sqms/person) to avoid catching or spreading the virus. Our Consultants (Structural Engineers, Private Certifiers, Stormwater Consultants, Landscape Architects, Bushfire and Basix Consultants) are also continuing to offer their services on the same basis.

Getting your project started: a checklist

To take advantage of this enforced lull in normal business activities, there are several things you can do to get your project underway:

  1. Establish your brief. List your needs (must have) and wants (nice to have). For a house, this might be a list of the accommodation required. For development, it might be a dwelling type and anticipated yield for the site.

  2. Engage your Architect as early in the process as possible. Your Architect can assist in formulating the brief, identifying key issues and provide a road map to D.A. lodgement.

  3. Review and evaluate the design and development options provided by your Architect to finalise the design.

  4. Allow your Architect to engage the necessary consultants to put together all the reports council will require to assess the D.A. The completion of the Council forms, lodgement of the application and payment of council fees can all be done electronically.

All communication and exchange of documents between you, your Architect, the consultants and council can be done via email, telephone, and Skype. All Coronavirus protocols can be observed during this process. 

While the restrictions imposed are severe, and are necessary to ensure the health of our community, these restrictions do not prevent the development of projects particularly for the initial design and approval stages.

The COVID-19 outbreak will end – so there’s no harm in preparing ahead of time

Eventually business and economic activities will return to normal levels. 

When they do, there might be a rush to get the wheels turning again as everyone takes up new/refreshed opportunities and gets back to full production. 

Having a project designed, documented, and approved will place you at the head of the queue when builders are back in demand (note: over the next six months, any construction work that can be completed will need to be costed by builders at very competitive rates).

Thinking about an exciting new project might be a pleasant distraction from the current negatives. It can be something to look forward to when we can all get back to a normal life!

Get in touch with the team from Mark Lawler Architects in Newcastle. We can help plan for a new home or development following COVID-19.

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