Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Is length better than width?

It has felt like a slow and frustrating week in DestinationTranmere land.

Although we're loving the basic floor plan, I'm still not happy with the entry and how the house is sitting on the block, particularly in regard to the height of the entry vs the back wall.  Basically I've got to deal with a drop 1.4m or bury 1.4m of wall.  The advice to avoid buried walls with all their waterproofing issues has been almost universal (which appears a rarity in the building world, generally everyone gives you conflicting advice). 

On the plus side my "saviour" introduced me to another designer who was really helpful and is in the process of preparing a quote.  Hopefully he will wave a magic wand and solve all my entry / height dilemmas!   Again on the plus side, he confirmed that a flat hidden roof shouldn't be expensive, it should be a pretty economical way to build (less siding etc). 

On the plus and minus side, I've finally found the elusive definitive information about the Tasmanian "Planning Directive No 4" which is almost as hard as finding the right answer to life the universe and everything. 

I finally found it here.  Its aim is to streamline the planning process for the majority of single dwellings in residential zones in Tasmania (i.e. most houses).  It became effective on the 29th August 2011 and it basically overlays the various "planning instruments" that are published by each local council (would be nice if the local councils had links to it!!).

It sets common "Acceptable Solutions" and "Performance Criteria" for six key areas:
  • Setback from frontage for single dwellings
  • Site coverage and rear setback
  • Building envelope (incorporating height)
  • Frontage setback and width of garages and carports
  • Privacy for single dwellings
  • Frontage fences for single dwellings 
Which local council planning zones it applies to can be found in Attachment 2, generally it has been applied to most residential zones.

Basically, if you meet the "Acceptable Solutions" criteria you skip through the planning permit process.  If you have to resort to trying to meet the "Performance criteria" then it is classed as a Discretionary development and you have to go through the planning permit process.

Up until now, I've been working to the Clarence Planning Scheme.  Now with the Planning Directive No overriding it, it is a bit of a mixed bag.

From what I can work out at this stage:
  • We are on a corner block with two road frontages so the Clarence road setback of 4.5 metres changes to 4.5 metres in the "Primary Frontage" (which is defined as the shorter side) and 3m on the other frontage.  Overall, a plus for us, we could potentially move the whole house up the block a bit.
  • Clarence allowed us a 2.5 metre setback from the side and rear boundary.  The planning directive allows for 1.5 metres from the side boundary but increases the rear setback to 4 metres.  On the plus side the Clarence height setback of 7m has increased to 8.5m (but they don't make it easy ... it starts at 3m on the boundary/front/rear setback and goes up to 8.5m on a 45 degree angle from there).
On balance ... We've gained a metre on the street side and lost 1.5m at the opposing "rear" (which I actually think of as the front as it looks down the street at the view).  On the other hand we've gained a metre in length. 

So, is length better than width?  In our case, with the current design it pretty much balances out,  everything just shuffles SW a metre.  Overall, I think it probably makes a more flexible site (but I'm loath to start re-exploring other possibilities).

Anyway, what are your thoughts?  Is length better than width?

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