There is always something to learn when it comes to property development and this week was no exception.
My new lesson was to do with drainage and subdivision. We'd designed what I thought was a fabulous looking duplex (two attached dwellings).
My brief to our draftsperson was to make the duplex look exciting and interesting from the street, making sure each villa/unit whilst attached, has a different front façade.
This duplex was to be built in a premium estate and I really wanted to create the look that each villa was unique even though they will be attached.
We came up with a great look using various gables to break up the roof line. This offered an interesting contrast to the usual large hip style roof commonly used on duplexes. Generally speaking, the more detail in the roof design, the more interesting but also the more expensive.
With our Development Application (DA) we were also applying for a two lot Torrens title subdivision.
We lodged out DA and it wasn't long before Council came back with what we thought at first, to be a weird request. Included with our DA a detailed stormwater design had been lodged showing a stormwater drainage easement system to drain water from the roof.
Here's what council said...
The Development Control Plan (DCP) requires roof and gutter systems to be graded as such that each lot drains independently of each other. The current roof form does not meet this requirement. I note that the subdivision plan includes a Proposed Easement to drain roof water over whole of lot. The easement to burden the whole lot for roof and gutter drainage is not considered appropriate and each roof is to drain independently of the other lot. Council will require an amended roof design to this arrangement. A simpler Hip roof design should be considered.
Our Surveyor responded by arguing that it should not matter given the appropriate easements were in place to drain the roof water adequately and that there have been recent presidents set where this has been approved by Council. Council’s response was that it is still an issue and any previous approvals were in error (?). We found this interesting as we'd just received a DA Consent on a duplex with a similar, multi gabled roof design. When you consider that there is possibly a number of factors that determine where the water on any roof, even a simple hip roof, drains to - wind factors being one.
My question was...in a case like this, shouldn't council weigh up the benefits of a better design and street appeal over pedanticism around water drainage? Remember, our engineer's drainage plan met all requirements regarding water volume flow rates to the street.
So what were our options? We could argue our point and draw out the planning process and perhaps even end up in the Land Environment Court. This would add to holding costs not to mention court costs and added risk to the project.
Or, we could design a simpler roof, resubmit plans to council the next day and have our DA approved quickly. The later would bring cost benefits to the project in time and in roof costs.
As project managers, we need to quickly assess what the best outcome may be for our clients, present it to them and keep the project moving forward. At the end of the day, the roof redesign was not a deal breaker and may not even add actual value in itself to the project. The savings we will make on a simpler roof design was more appealing to our clients.