Here’s a list of commonly asked questions. If you can’t find the answer here, email us.
What licences does Blue Mountains Building Company have?
Building licences are granted by the NSW Department of Fair Trading. The Department is also an overseeing body managing complaints and queries.
Blue Mountains Building Company is the trading entity of Olix Pty. Ltd. which holds the building licence no. 215687C. This is a residential licence granted under the Home Building Act 1989.
Fair Trading NSW can be contacted to check licence status and to see if there are any complaints about a builder’s work. View the Fair Trading Licence Check page.
What's the ABN for Blue Mountains Building Company?
Blue Mountains Building Company holds its license under Olix Pty Ltd and our Australian Business Number is: 47 334 880 610
Will I need Home Building Compensation Cover?
All home building projects over $20,000 require Home Building Compensation Insurance. This is taken out by the builder on behalf of the home owner. Its purpose is to provide protection for the home owner to cover costs of repairs if needed in the future.
In 2014 the NSW Government Home Building Compensation Fund took over provision of this insurance from private insurers. It is mandatory for the builder to provide the home owner with this insurance.
Please see Home Building Compensation Insurance information on the State Insurance Regulatory Authority website.
What types of developments are allowed in the Blue Mountains?
Every property in the Blue Mountains carries a zoning which determines the types of permissible development. One of the most significant limitations on developments in the Blue Mountains will be the Bushfire Rating of your property. Other factors include designated set-backs and site coverage limits. The Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) website contains information about your zoning.
To view this go to: www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au
There are 3 categories of development in the Blue Mountains:
1. Exempt Developments (ED) pertain to very small developments and is unlikely to apply to projects other than garden sheds and small decks.
2. Complying Developments (CD) has recently been expanded by the NSW State Government (Feb 2011) so your building project may now meet the new criteria. Unfortunately, Blue Mountains City Council caters for few zoning types in this category of development. If your development falls within the category, a CD Certificate is usually issued two weeks after the application is lodged.
3. Development Applications (DA). DAs apply to most building projects in the Blue Mountains. Preparing a DA involves site plan preparation, a Sydney Water check to ensure construction does not affect sewers, compliance with Building Code of Australia regulations and a Statement of Environmental Effects. Normal time frames for approvals of DAs is 2-3 months. If Council request additional clarification or plans require amendment the time frame is considerably longer. For a new home, Development Applications fees could be as much as $4000, smaller projects attract smaller fees.
What if I live in a heritage zoned area?
Within the Blue Mountains there is a complex series of Local Environment Plan’s (LEP) in force. These are enacted to preserve the particular feel of localities, and are easily identified in places like Leura Mall, Wentworth Falls and Glenbrook Village.
Different streets and areas within suburbs may be zoned as Heritage. This will dictate the style and precise architectural elements that are acceptable in any building project.
What is BASIX and when it is required?
BASIX is the NSW Government’s building sustainability index. It applies to residential construction projects over $50,000 and to pools over 40,000 litres.
BASIX uses specific formulas to calculate anticipated water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and expected thermal performance of the residence.
A BASIX certificate is a requirement of building approval and the on-line BASIX assessment will be completed by either Richard or the designer/architect as part of the submission process.
Do you build eco-friendly houses?
Yes, we do. An eco friendly house is a complex interaction between good design, material choice and construction.
If the guiding principles of sustainable design are followed in the design stage; living areas positioned to the north and east sides of the house where light and sunshine can be easily accessed; eaves deep enough to shade interior spaces during summer; and flow-through ventilation and air circulation made a priority, then much can be achieved in liveability.
Good design can then be supplemented with selected building materials and environmentally-friendly systems to manage waste, water and power requirements. There are a number of high-quality, innovative products now in the domestic home market including, double glazed windows and doors, water retention and reticulation systems, solar power generation and storage systems, and a range of sophisticated thermal insulation choices.
Your preferences for sustainable building materials will be governed by budget, council requirements, and bushfire restrictions.
There are several architects in the Mountains who specialise in sustainable design – just ask Richard if you would like a recommendation.
What are the bushfire restrictions in my suburb?
Many properties in the Blue Mountains are subject to strict bushfire restrictions. Building materials are regulated for building work on the basis of your property’s fire rating. These have recently been updated (AS 3959 – March 2009).
The new categories are determined by kilowatts of heat per metre squared and are abbreviated as BAL (Bushfire Attack Level). The categories are now referred by the following terms: BAL-Low, BAL-12.5, BAL-19, BAL-29, BAL-40, BAL-FZ (flame zone).
More information can be found on the NSW Rural Fire Service website: Building in a bush-fire prone area.
For some building projects this may have significant impact on the choice of permitted building materials. At Flame zone, the most severe rating, no exposed timber is permitted, all glass must be toughened and window shutters may also be required.
My house is in Flame zone. Can I have a deck?
If you want to build a deck in Flame zone the best solution is to use a steel frame with compressed fibre-cement sheet and tiles. No exposed timber is allowed including external stairs and all handrail components.
Have a look at our gallery on the Home page. Photos of steel framed decks can be found on the same page.
Can I use hardwood timber on my deck?
It might be handy to note that:
- flame zone requires a steel framed deck with cement sheet and tiles;
- at BAL 40 the engineered composite decking board by Mod Wood called Flame Shield is permitted.
- BAL 29 is the highest zoning where hardwood boards are accepted.
Whichever timber suits your project, you can rely on Blue Mountains Building Company to screw down every board. When comparing quotes be sure to ask about the method of fixing as nailing timber boards, especially treated pine, will result in lifting or nail popping as the timber shrinks and is not considered industry best practice.
Richard can advise on secret nailing and some of the new concealed fixings available for decking boards.
Can I use horizontal balustrade wiring on my deck?
The National Construction Code limits the use of horizontal wiring to decks below 4 metres above ground level. Wire spacing is required to be 80mm. Blue Mountains Building Company can supply vertical wire balustrading systems suitable for use on decks higher than 4 metres above ground level.
Our preferred supplier of stainless steel balustrading is Stainless Steel Worx, a local company who provide stainless steel wires and components. Beware of inferior products: best choice is 316 grade stainless steel.
PLEASE NOTE: If you choose stainless steel balustrading for your deck please be aware that measurement of the wires can only be done after the posts are in position. These measurements need to be made to the millimetre and are critical in the fitting and tensioning of the wires. This may mean that there is a wait of up to 10 days for delivery and installation of the wires to occur. Fitting of the wires can be time-consuming requiring specialist skills because of the complex nature of the mechanisms.
Having a finished deck without compliant balustrading poses a significant safety issue and under Workplace Health and Safety legislation the deck MUST NOT be used until it is fully secured. This is of paramount importance with young children in the house. Ensure all doors are locked and prevent access to the deck under all circumstances.
Deck screws versus nails. What's the industry best practice?
In all cases when fixing the decking board to the treated pine or softwood framing, screws are absolutely necessary regardless of the type of decking board chosen.
When fixing to decking boards to hardwood framing, nails are adequate. Screwing into hardwood framing is time consuming, meaning its more costly to you, and screws are inclined to break due to the density of the timbers.
For clients with metal framing Blue Mountains Building Company uses a wooden batten screwed to the frame and then screws or nails the decking board to the batten.
Several secret fixing options using either screws and nails are available. Clients sometimes prefer this as a seamless finish can be achieved. There is also less chance of the decking board splitting during installation.
If you are comparing quotes decks its important to know which method of construction is being offered as screwing boards down will increase costs.