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Understanding building jargon

Upsizing your home and decided to build? Great! Here's a handy guide to building jargon to help you at the start of your journey.

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Orientation is the positioning of a building in relation to seasonal variations in the sun and wind. Good orientation, taking into account your climate, can increase the energy efficiency of your home, making it more comfortable to live in and minimise your heating and cooling costs.

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When building a house, particularly a two storey house, it is important to take into consideration the location of the windows and private open spaces of the adjoining houses.

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Setbacks are the controls that limit the footprint of your home and relate to all sides of your block (front, sides and rear) Setbacks also apply to building height, for example, a single storey wall may be allowed closer to a boundary than a double storey wall.  The reality is with overlooking, overshadowing and setbacks – the person who has built first has the upper hand because any new build has to ensure it does not affect the existing home.

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This controls the limit of shadowing impact your home has on your neighbour’s yards.

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Before building can commence we need to establish a level and stable block of land to ensure your home sits at the right level and that drainage, easements and neighbours’ foundations are protected. As a guide, the biggest impact to site costs will be the fall of land and the soil conditions. Therefore, site costs will vary from block to block, depending on the complexity of the work required.

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Site survey and soil test

A Geotechnical engineer will conduct the testing and will deliver a report on your block of land. The site survey records key features on and neighbouring your lot. The soil test will determine your slab classification, as well as indicate if any rock removal is expected.

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Your new home needs to be built on level ground. The land is leveled by a combination of cutting soil away from the higher end of the block, and/or adding new fill to the lower areas. The fill must be compacted properly to ensure your land is stable. If this can’t be achieved satisfactorily, concrete piers will be put in place to make it stronger. Where required by the council, crossover protection may also be used. If there are rocks underneath the surface, these will be removed and taken away where appropriate.

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Retaining Walls

These are used to retain the earth on your land if required. In the case where a block of land is too close to a boundary and we can’t fully cut or fill it, we will need to build a retaining wall that holds the soil and ensures a flat building platform can be achieved.

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Concrete Piering

Where soil conditions are not stable to a satisfactory level, or if your house is in close proximity to mature trees or easements, an engineer may specify the use of concrete piers in the ground to support the house foundations. To do this holes are dug until they reach solid foundations and concrete is poured into them to achieve stability.

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Slab Pour

The engineering company determines your slab classification in accordance with the soil report. In some instances, there may be a need to increase the stiffness of the slab, which can be achieved by increasing the steel mesh size, and the amount of concrete used.

Porter Davis Homes

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