Wednesday, December 14, 2011


The Draft Australian Standard on Bushfire Water Spray Systems (DR AS 5414) is open for public comment Standards Australia announced today.

“Australia will always be at risk from bushfire, but there are strategies which can be adopted to at least reduce the likelihood of devastation,” said Adrian O’Connell, General Manager of Operations, Standards Australia.

“This Standard is about managing the risk posed by bushfires and will provide yet another option towards greater bushfire protection.

Mr O’Connell said the objective of the Standard is to provide system designers and installers with information on the design, installation and maintenance of bushfire water spray systems.

“Bushfire water spray systems are intended to complement the requirements of AS 3959, and should be considered as one component of a holistic fire management plan,” Mr O’Connell said.

“While the measures contained in this Standard cannot guarantee that a building will survive a bushfire on every occasion, the techniques outlined in the Standard go some way towards mitigating the risk.

“There is increased community vigilance when it comes to managing the threat of bushfire, so this Standard is about meeting the need for a wider array of bushfire management strategies,” Mr O’Connell said.

The public comment period closes on 8 February 2012. Comments can be registered through

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BDAQ membership fees made easy for 2012

The BDAQ management council has considered the current economic times and the state of the building industry in Queensland when setting the membership fees for 2012. 

The decision has been made to reduce the fee for the full member category and to hold the student, associate and corporate fees at the 2011 level.  There is also a range of easy instalments plans for members to make it as easy as possible for those members doing it tough to retain their membership. 

BDAQ is only asking that some commitment is made before the due date of 1 January 2012. 

All the details are on your membership subscription invoice. If you haven’t received yours by November 30 please contact the office on 07 3889 9119.


The 2012 Queensland Building Design Awards are officially underway with the launch of the Regional Awards Entry Form. 

If you have designed a project that you are proud of, don’t keep it to yourself. This is your chance to share it with the rest of the world. 

In 2011, BDAQ ramped up its media release program and achieved some excellent coverage for the design awards right across Queensland. You can become part of that and get promotion worth thousands of dollars for nothing more than the entry fee. When you make it through to the state awards, you are guaranteed to get at least a photo of your project and your contact details into the glossy magazine sold in newsagencies all over Queensland. 

We have made some changes to the awards procedures this year to simplify the process. The key points to note are as follows.
1.      There will be no branch design awards coordinators in 2012. The Design Awards Coordinator for all regions is Russell Brandon (contact details see p5 of the Entry Form).
2.     All submissions regardless of the branch of origin will be submitted to the BDAQ office. Should branches wish to conduct their own judging, they will need to coordinate their judging with the awards coordinator.
3.      We are now requiring one set of photographs only but have clarified the required resolution and file size range.
4.     Winning entries will automatically proceed to the state awards judging. The original presentation submitted to the regional awards will be used in the state judging. There will be no separate state awards entry form and no opportunity to change entry submissions between regionals and state awards. The awards coordinator may choose to judge the state awards at the same time as the regionals are judged. Regional award winners will be automatically invoiced for the state fees.
5.     You will notice that the Environmental categories and Product categories are no longer listed on the entry form. All entries submitted are eligible for these categories and the judging will be based on points awarded during the category judging. 
 6.     We have clarified the rule about re-entering projects that have previously won an award to permit projects which have previously won a category to be entered into a different category in subsequent years. For example if you have previously won a residential category, you can now enter the same project in the residential interiors category. Also we have removed the restriction on projects which have been awarded a commendation to be re-entered in any category. 

You’ve got to be in it to win it. Why not give it a go this year but don’t put it off, start planning now. If you have any queries, please contact the office on 07 3889 9119 OR DOWNLOAD THE FORM HERE


1 January 2012 is fast approaching and as well as ushering in a brand new year, this 1 January sees the commencement of the new harmonised Workplace Health and Safety legislation in Queensland. The Act will require building designers to consider the health and safety of people who work in, on or around the buildings they are designing. 

The major difference in this legislation with regard to the existing Queensland legislation is that there is no exemption of any class of building. 

In regard to designers of buildings the current Act states;
structure does not include a structure that is a class 1a building or an associated class 10a building.”

The new legislation contains no such exemption and also makes it clear that the designer’s obligations for health and safety of people apply to a building, part of a building or change to the design of a building.

That means that houses are now included as are extensions, renovations and refurbishments of any building. A workplace is defined as anywhere where someone is employed to do any type of work. So the designer’s responsibility extends to persons employed to construct, maintain, extend or refurbish and/or demolish the building as well as those who work in the building, in the gardens or even on the footpath outside the building. 

The responsibility of the designer is to;
1.       identify the hazards related to working on or in the building;
2.       assess the risk posed by the hazard;
3.       eliminate or minimise the risk
4.       communicate any residual risks.

According to the Draft Code of Practice for Safe Design of Buildings and Structures;
“The WHS Regulations require a designer to provide a written report to the person commissioning the design on the health and safety aspects of the design. This report must specify the hazards relating to the design of the structure that, so far as the designer is reasonably aware:
      create a risk to persons who are to carry out the construction work, and
      are associated only with the particular design and not with other designs of the same type of structure.

The information should include:
      any hazardous materials or structural features and the designer’s assessment of the risk of injury or harm resulting from those hazards;
      the action the designer has taken to reduce those risks, for example changes to the design; or changes to construction methods; and
      any parts of the design where hazards have been identified but not resolved.”
At the BDAQ RoadShow in March 2012 we will be workshopping these requirements and providing templates and checklists to assist members to comply with the Act. We will start to roll out the material as it becomes available between now and the RoadShow to ensure that members are as prepared as possible before 1 January. 

The Code of Practice will be clear about what is expected of designers and the draft gives some clues as to the extent of consultation required.  
“While designers may not have management and control over the actual construction work they can discharge their duty by consulting, co-operating and co-ordinating activities, where reasonably practicable, with those who do have management or control of the construction work, for example by:
         providing guidance on how a structure might be constructed safely
        applying risk management processes to more traditional designs and considering whether new or innovative approaches to design will eliminate or minimise risk and result in an intrinsically safer building or structure
        providing information of any identified hazards arising from an unconventional design to those who will construct or use the building, and
        carrying out the above in association with those who have expertise in construction safety.”
This will be an important change to how building designers carry out their work and the March RoadShow will be important training for every member. You should program it into your 2012 diary now to ensure you don’t miss out. 

In the meantime building designers should be including time for research, consultation and reporting in every quote prepared for work to be completed after 1 January 2012.

Below are the RoadShow dates:
GLADSTONE   Mon 12 March      BOONDALL              Wed 21 March
MACKAY          Tue 13 March       SPRINGWOOD         Thu 22 March
TOWNSVILLE  Wed 14 March      TOOWOOMBA          Fri 23 March
CAIRNS             Thu 15 March       HERVEY BAY           Wed 28 March
DARWIN           Sat 17 March        SUNSHINE COAST   Thu 29 March

Put yours in your 2012 Diary NOW. We look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Draft Code of Practice released for comment

Safe Work Australia has announced the release of draft Codes of Practice to accompany the new national Workplace Health and Safety regulations for public comment. A draft code has been developed for “Safe Design of Buildings and Structures”. The biggest change for Queensland building designers is that their responsibilities for design for safety during construction will in future apply to houses as well as other classes of building.

BDAQ is planning to deliver detailed training on the codes of interest to building designers during the postponed road show in March 2012. We are currently considering making comment on the Code of Practice for Safe Design of Buildings and Structures and would like to share some of the key issues for designers now.
In the same way that designers consider the future impact of a building on environmental sustainability, designers should consider how their design will affect the health and safety of those who will interact with the building or structure throughout its life.
This means thinking about potential hazards and design solutions as the building or structure is constructed, commissioned, used, maintained, repaired, refurbished or modified, decommissioned, demolished or dismantled and disposed or recycled.

In addition to core design capabilities, the following skills and knowledge should be demonstrated or acquired by a designer:
·         knowledge of work health and safety legislation, codes of practice and other regulatory requirements
·         understanding the purpose of the building or structure and how it could be used in the future
·         knowledge of hazard identification, risk assessment and control methods
·         knowledge of technical design standards, and
·         the ability to source and apply relevant data on human dimensions, capacities and behaviours.
This is the reason BDAQ will be using the March Roadshow for some in depth training on the issues included in the relevant codes and the legislation. Members should take the opportunity to update their skills and knowledge in these important areas.
BDAQ is also reviewing our existing documentation proformas to ensure that all members have access to the information and documentation that will make it easier to comply with the responsibilities under the legislation and codes of practice. The revised documentation will be available for the March Roadshow.
If you would like to have your say about the draft codes or would like to add your comment to the BDAQ submission, you can access the drafts at

Monday, October 3, 2011

Intext Wins Documentation Awards

Bert Priest, principal of Intext Design, has taken out the 2011 BDAQ Documentation Awards in both the Residential and Commercial categories from several high quality entries.

The documentation stage begins once the design process has been completed. This stage of work is commonly termed within the industry as the ‘working drawing and specification stage’.

The building industry has recognised that poor documentation is the cause of billions of dollars being wasted on construction sites annually. BDAQ is committed to promoting good documentation to its members and to give recognition to its members who produce first class documentation.

Bert is a prolific winner of the Documentation Awards and BDAQ congratulates him on another demonstration of quality documentation in 2011.

Twenty Years of Building Design - A History of BDAQ

The world has changed a lot in twenty years!

Imagine a world without internet, email or mobile phones!
Now imagine a few business people who happened to hear about pending legislation that would utterly destroy their business and that of many other similar businesses.

This is not fiction, this is the story of Building Designers’ Association of Queensland Inc.
The story of how this news spread throughout Queensland in a flash, of how the fledgling group took on the might of the a professional institute with a hundred years history to first delay and then utterly defeat the legislation, of how the few became hundreds and of how business competitors became business colleagues, is the story of the Building Designers’ Association of Queensland.

It is a truly David and Goliath story that transformed the design industry forever. It is about the creation of a whole new profession and about the men and women who shaped the future and where good building design was given back to the people.
And it was all done without internet, email or a mobile phone! Read more click on the link below!
Mission Accomplished? 20 Years of BDAQ

Monday, August 29, 2011


A luxurious home renovation design on the outskirts of Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast has earned Building Designer Gerard Smith the Premier Award at the 2011 Queensland Building Designers Awards.

Mr Smith was honoured last night at a glittering ceremony hosted by the Building Designers Association of Queensland (BDAQ) at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

It was the first time in the Awards’ 20 year history a renovation design had won the main prize and BDAQ President Greg Pershouse commended Mr Smith on his triumph.

“It’s a testament to the absolute star quality of Gerard’s work that he has won this award,” Mr Pershouse said.

“Renovations are a category often handicapped by budget limitations and existing building restrictions, so this was no easy feat.”

Working for Noosa Heads’ Mojo Design, Mr Smith completely reworked an existing three bedroom home into a palatial abode complete with new master bedroom and ensuite, media room, gym and powder room.

The design also incorporated a range of sustainability features including passive solar design, subterranean concrete tanks for water harvesting, pre-wiring for a solar energy generation system, and energy efficient hot water systems.

Mr Pershouse said it was a truly fabulous home that would be a delight to live in.

The inspiration for the palette of materials and colours was drawn from the native bush surrounds,” Mr Pershouse said.

“The design objective was to match the warmth and texture of the interior to the neighbouring trees and this sympathetic approach to the natural environment creates a harmonious balance between interior and exterior.”

The Queensland Building Designers Awards are the centrepiece of the BDAQ’s calendar and showcase outstanding examples of innovation, style and quality in the industry.

This year’s event recognised designs from across the industry, including new houses and renovations, commercial and industrial projects, multi-residential and special feature categories. 

See a full list of winners and finalists by clicking on the link to the right.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The Building Designers Association of Queensland (BDAQ) has urged new builders to consult its members and beat next month’s rush on the State Government’s $10,000 Queensland Building Boost Grant.

Aimed at stimulating the state’s struggling housing sector, the grant will be available to any Queenslander constructing or purchasing a new home for under $600,000.

The Bligh Government and the BDAQ is planning for hundreds of applications.

With the six-month application window opening on the first of August, BDAQ CEO Russell Brandon said people with building plans finalised early would avoid costly and frustrating delays.

“We expect the industry to take a huge leap when this grant comes in and builders across the state will be pretty busy from the word go,” Mr Brandon said.

“Now is the ideal time for people to get in touch with their local building designer, finalise their plans, and get a head start on the rest of the applicants.

“Getting in early will allow you to secure a better price from builders and set your own timetable.”

Mr Brandon said contacting a BDAQ building designer should be the first port of call for anyone looking to take advantage of the grant.

“Building designers aren’t involved in involved in selling buildings, so we provide unbiased, comprehensive, and expert advice,” Mr Brandon said.

“We also provide a unique set of housing plans that you can shop around to different builders for the best quote.

“That way our clients can stay in control of how their house is built.”

Mr Brandon said building designers designed homes according to the specific requirements of their clients.

“Most builders can only offer ready-made designs, but building a home isn’t about that kind of one-size-fits-all approach,” Mr Brandon said.

“Your local building designer will tailor a home to your needs, not make you adjust your needs to a home that’s already been designed.

“Building designers also have an in depth knowledge of building materials and engineering and construction techniques which puts us at the forefront of the industry when it comes to sustainability and energy efficiency.

“We urge people to go to a building designer first with their brief to ensure they get the design they want.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maybe it's time to think about the REAL WORLD

I get seriously concerned about the future of this country when listening to decision-makers discuss the economy. It appears that a huge gulf exists between what is happening in the real world and what data is being used to make the decisions that impact on people’s livelihood.

It has been reported that over one hundred thousand people in Australia are homeless. Another report suggests that 1.2 million people are suffering from financial stress.
This coincides with a slowdown in building design activity which does not bode well for the housing industry for the next little while. The Herald Sun reported (June 1) that “Australians appear to be shelving plans to build or renovate their homes”. That’s not news to most building designers.

Meanwhile there is continued speculation that interest rates will rise again in the second half of the year. JP Morgan economist, Ben Jarman, was quoted as saying that the “current path, combined with our expectation of further policy tightening in coming quarters, supports our view that building approvals will continue to lose ground”.
I have always tried to remain positive about the future prospects of building designers but we all know that the industry is bleeding and needs an urgent shot in the arm. Many building designers are doing it tough and it’s time that the decision-makers realised that a booming mining sector doesn’t mean that everything is rosy in the real world.

It sometimes appears that the economists believe that people are just an inventory in the pursuit of low inflation and, more recently, sustainability.
The reserve bank believes that interest rates still need to move higher even though growth is restricted to just part of the economy.

“Members noted that the significant divergences between different sectors of the economy presented challenges for policy-making, but that monetary policy had to be set for the needs of the overall economy. In this respect, members judged that if economic conditions continued to evolve as expected, higher interest rates were likely to be required at some point if inflation was to remain consistent with the medium-term target.” (From the minutes of the May 2011 Reserve Bank Board meeting)
I have another idea that could be considered.

A one off interest rate drop may just stimulate some of the “divergent sectors” of the economy and get rid of those “challenges” allowing more real people to share in the growing economy.
Speaking of economists, I have some concern about the direction of Australia’s climate change response. The great hope is that the carbon price will change the attitude of all Australians, encourage investment in renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All are worthy aims which I heartily endorse.

I fear that the reality is that those who can afford to use power irresponsibly right now, will continue to be able to pay to use power irresponsibly after the carbon price is implemented. Most of us have already been hit by huge power price increases and are taking appropriate steps now. For an increasing number electricity is becoming (or has become) unaffordable. That is really sad in a country like Australia.
Again. I have another idea that could be considered.

The government could legislate for a mandatory reduction in emissions by industry, build more renewable energy generation infrastructure and place a carbon penalty on households with higher than acceptable energy usage. We would then see some real results.
To those who say we can’t afford the renewable energy infrastructure without a carbon tax, my response is that if faster broadband is more important than climate change, what are we arguing about?

Russell Brandon

Monday, May 16, 2011

Would you like pets with that?

Australian houses are increasingly being built to owner specifications that include priorities such as solar power, the latest technology or energy saving appliances. With the launch of a free and non-commercial resource on pet-friendly housing design, pet owners will now be able to specify design elements for their four legged friends.

"Over sixty percent of Australian households enjoy the companionship of a pet and yet, until now, most houses have not been designed or built to allow for simple devices that make life better for pets, their owners and the community in which they live," says the author of Four Legs//Four Walls, town planner Virginia Jackson.

According to Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS), a quarter of all residents now live in medium to high density housing which makes it important to have both domestic and public spaces that support the well-being of pets and their owners, as well as to create opportunities for the broader community to benefit from the presence of pets.

Four Legs//Four Walls is targeted at planners, designers and architects and provides information on incorporating the needs of pets into the early stages of housing development, particularly in areas of higher density.

This new resource can be downloaded at:

You can also see what communities around Australia are doing by downloading Living Well Together at:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Design for Deconstruction

The web site advises that the factors influencing deconstruction are:
The local cost of landfill tipping fees
The local cost of labour and equipment
The ease of disassembly which affects labour cost
The value of the materials recovered
Having adequate time available for deconstruction

The buildings we are designing right now are expected to have a life span of around 50 years. Think of that in terms of the factors influencing the practice of deconstruction.

The rate at which we have been using up landfill sites over the last 50 years means that the sites themselves will become a rare commodity within the next 50 years. "The local cost of landfill tipping fees" in 2061 will make the practice of putting a wrecking ball through your building at the end of its life and carting it away to landfill a very expensive exercise.

We are also now using up building materials faster that the planet can reproduce them. This means that the materials we are using now will be quite rare in 2061. Rare material is of high value.

So by the end of the expected life of the buildings you are designing right now two of the five factors influencing the practice of deconstruction will be in play. The rest is up to you.

The cost of labour and materials and the available time is out of our hands so that only leaves "the ease of disassembly".

Your role as a building designer is to consider the materials you use, think about the connections and fixings you use and make it as easy as possible for the principle of reduce, re-use, re-cycle to be applied at the end of your building's life.

To find out more just "google" "design for deconstruction". You may be surprised at how many results you get.

Russell Brandon