The Dion Seminara Architecture Blog


Sep
17
2014

Sloping blocks: From obstacles to opportunities

An architect designed home on a sloping block

A raised home on a sloping block

Imagine a home that sits among the trees like a modern day Swiss Family Robinson.  Or a panoramic coastal vista that can be captured from every room in your home.

A sloping block of land offers you the exciting opportunity to create an impressive and unique home.  Of course there are some extra costs associated with a sloping block including detailed land surveys and costs to access the block and get materials onsite.

But there are significant gains to be made as well.  The initial cost of a sloping block is likely to be substantially less than a level block in the same area.  There are also savings to be made in capturing the breeze for natural ventilation and abundant light in reducing your energy bills.  In years to come if you choose to sell your home you will also experience greater resale on a one of a kind home.

Leaving costs aside, there is one thing a sloping block can offer that a flat block just can’t compete with.  The view.  A sloping block generally offers an elevated hillside position that affords a greater outlook of the surrounding area and beyond.

There are two main approaches to designing a house on a sloping block – cutting and filling or creating a raised home.

CUTTING & FILLING

The first method of cutting and filling is a common solution for a sloping block. The site is excavated and the fill used to build up areas to create flat surfaces to build a slab upon.  An advantage of this approach is that the home sits on the ground, allowing you to walk out straight from the house to the yard.

A RAISED HOME

The other alternative to the cut and fill approach is to raise the house from ground.  Poles are inserted into the ground to support a level frame on which the house is built. This second approach is less disruptive to the environment and allows for a natural water course which avoids potential drainage issues that can arise with the cut and fill method.

The key to the success of this type of project is to embrace the uniqueness of the site and to treat it as an advantage.  Rather than treating a sloping block like it is a flat piece of land, your Architect will work with the site and its contours to create a home that rests lightly upon the land.

By turning obstacles into opportunities your Architect can create a home that reveals itself as you travel through it.  The different levels provide the chance to create distinct living zones, physically separating the various purposes of the home and limiting the noise from each type of activity.

Architect Dion Seminara has over 20 years experience in creating original designs in both residential and commercial architecture.  He can create an innovative design solution that takes full advantage of your sloping block.  Why not contact him on 07 3899 9450 to realise the potential of your unique block of land.


Sep
10
2014

Why hire an Architect?

The real benefit of hiring an Architect on your next project.

Brisbane Architect Dion Seminara

Why you should hire an architect like Dion Seminara

In Queensland both an Architect and a ‘Building designer’ can create a design for your residential building project.

What is the difference?

An Architect must complete a university degree followed by two years of supervised practical experience.  After this they then have to sit both a written and verbal Architectural Practice Examination.  Only after completion of this can they call themselves an Architect, and even then they must complete compulsory professional development to maintain their qualification.  They are also subject to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Code of Conduct which includes obligations to the public, the client, profession and colleagues.

The value of this process is recognised and protected by legislation in Queensland.  The Architects Act 2002 (Qld) makes it against the law to call yourself and Architect unless you are registered by the Board of Architects.

‘Building designers’, who were once called ‘draftspersons’ have significantly less formal training, requiring only a TAFE qualification and two years practical experience.

What does this mean for you?

All those extra years of training gives an Architect the skills to look at the bigger picture and consider solutions that may deliver you a result far better than you ever imagined.  A result that is perfectly tailored to your living needs, location and personal style rather than a ‘cookie cutter’ design that doesn’t work for your family’s needs.

How can an architect save you money?

  1. Architects work independently of builders.   The benefit for you in this is:
    • They can call for competitive tenders which can save you a significant amount of money
    • If you don’t like the cost proposed by a builder using a ‘Building designer’ you have to walk away from your designs which the builder owns copyright in
    • ‘Building designer’s may tailor their designs to maximise profit to the builder, not to maximise liveability to you
  2. Implementing smart, sustainable and efficient designs that can add up to big savings – both in the short and long term.
  3. You will be left with a more valuable asset. In a crowded real estate market your Architect designed home will stand out from a crowd of project homes, providing you with a unique selling point.

But at the end of the day, the most important outcome is a well-designed solution for you and your family’s needs, today and in the future.  The value of having a design that is truly customised to the way you live.  Some might say this is priceless.


Aug
19
2014

Top 6 savings tips for your sustainable home

sustainable homeOk so we often hear about sustainable building practices and lots of people quite rightly want to work with sustainable architects in Brisbane. And if you read a lot of my articles you will understand that I understand a lot about sustainable building principles and in particular how sustainable building designs can save you money in Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate.

Now sustainable practices are great for the environment and they can also be great for your hip pocket. But it’s not only renovations or new home designs that benefit from our expert understanding of sustainable practices. You can also make significant savings through some simple household additions that don’t cost the world.

So here are 6 ideas of things that you can add to your home to enhance its sustainability and therefore save money: Read the rest of this entry »


Aug
12
2014

Termites in Brisbane – how to defend your home

Termites in BrisbaneThere are termites in Brisbane. There are in fact termites in every state bar Tasmania, but the ones that we are concerned about are the termites in Brisbane.

Oh and there are borers in Brisbane too.

Now mention the word ‘termites’ to many people and they will immediately have cartoon like visions of swarms of termites devouring an entire home in seconds. And whilst the reality of termites in Brisbane is somewhat different to the cartoon versions, termites and borers are still a very real risk to your Brisbane home.

Hiding termites

You see the biggest challenge with termites in Brisbane is that they can be hard to detect even for professionals. And this is because they seldom leave much in the way of visual evidence of their presence.

You may have heard or read that termites like dark, damp places and this is true and is due to the fact that termites can very quickly dry out and die when exposed to sunlight or heat. For this reason termites tend to live in nests underground and create tube or tunnels out of mud mixed with their saliva and feces. And these tunnels are often the only way to visually spot them.

Because termites don’t like sunlight, or anything that might dry them out, they seldom eat all the way through the timber that they are eating. They will typically leave a thin layer of timber to protect themselves from exposure, so it can be hard to spot them from visual inspection alone. Oh and it’s not only timber, they can also eat through water pipes as well.

So now that you understand that, imagine you have termites (it’s estimated that as many as 1/3 of Australian homes do) that are eating their way through the timber in your walls or deep in your floor. Picture this and you might begin to see why detection is so difficult, even for professionals.

Now consider that a single termite queen can produce many thousands of eggs in just a single day and it’s not hard to see why termites are such an expensive problem.

Preventing termites in Brisbane

Now having said that termites are hard to detect, it is still worthwhile getting regular pest inspections done as professionals find dozens of cases of termites in Brisbane homes every week and can then treat the infestation and eradicate the threat.

Home owners that I speak to will typically have a termite inspection done annually, but given the sub-tropical conditions that we live in, I would suggest that every 6 months would be preferable.

But aside from inspections, there are things you can do to minimise the threat of termites attacking your home. Here are a few tips that you should embrace:

  • Termites eat wood so keep pieces of timber away from your home. Don’t leave timber lying up against your home or store it underneath your home. Same goes for firewood, if you have firewood keep it in a dry, well ventilated area away from the home itself.
  • Termites like moisture so make sure to fix any leaking pipes ASAP. Ensure that your downpipes don’t leak and that air conditioner overflows are captured or directed away from your home.
  • Termites like dark, humid places so good sub-floor ventilation and drainage under your home can act as a deterrent.
  • Keep garden beds and other vegetation away from the edges of your home. Termites cannot chew through concrete slabs that have been correctly laid, so don’t give them an easy way to bypass your slab.
  • During any renovation or building work aim to use treated timber or timber that is naturally less appealing to termites, particularly if that timber is coming in contact with the ground.

Termite barriers

There are two types of termite barriers which are physical barriers and chemical barriers.

Physical barriers are fitted at the time of construction in new homes however they can be retro-fitted to older homes as well.

Physical barriers are made from materials that termites can’t eat through effectively blocking them. But that doesn’t mean your home is automatically safe. Termites can still bypass these barriers, however in doing so they make themselves easier to see. Ant caps on stumps, whilst not a true barrier in themselves, force termites to create tunnels over them thus making it easier to detect their presence during an inspection.

Chemical barriers are typically insecticides placed under concrete slabs or around the home. These are designed to deter termites. Whilst chemical barriers can only be installed by licensed professionals, they can be fitted to existing homes as well as new homes.

Dealing with termites in Brisbane

Whilst termites are found in most places around Australia, there is no doubt that Brisbane is a prime location for them due to our sub-tropical climate. Having a professional inspections carried out on a regular basis is vitally important and pre-purchase termite inspections are a must for anyone looking at buying a home in Brisbane.

But prevention is just as important. You really don’t want to find that termites have taken hold of your property and caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

At Dion Seminara Architecture we can advise you on preventative measures that will help to reduce the risk of termite attacks on your home. So contact us today and find out how we can help.


Aug
07
2014

Real Estate Sales: Why Promote an Architect?

Everyone understands the value of an architect when developing, renovating or building a new home, but are you missing out on the value of promoting architects in real estate sales? Through a solid connection with a great architect, a real estate agent can provide helpful information to his clients and help them make the final decision to purchase a home.

How Architects Can Help Real Estate Agents

One of the biggest advantages of promoting architects in real estate sales involves explaining the possibilities of increased property value to potential buyers. Most neighbourhoods and suburbs meet the needs of a demographic by following some set of design and architectural features. As new homes are built and old homes are renovated within a suburb, new architectural designs start to take over. The homes that don’t meet the new criteria can be tough to sell, but by promoting an architect, you can overcome this problem.

Imagine that your client has a three-bedroom home in a certain neighbourhood. Almost all of the homes in the suburb have four bedrooms, but since that is what all the buyers want, the prices have gone up. Your client doesn’t have the budget to add another bedroom.  With the help of an architect, you could talk to potential buyers about how profitable it could be to purchase a three bedroom home and add a fourth bedroom in this situation. The same idea goes towards swimming pool additions, modern kitchens, bathrooms and more.

By promoting a good architect, you not only increase your competence with your clients, but you also add value for them by offering a solution and finding a way to sell their home to buyers who may otherwise not be interested. The best real estate agents go above and beyond to make clients happy and increase sales. If you would like to speak to an architect in Brisbane, contact Dion Seminara.