What are design guidelines and why do I need them?
So, you have decided to purchase vacant land and build your new home at Dennis Family Corporations’ Westbrook residential estate. Before you do, it’s really important to understand exactly what obligations, rules and restrictions you’ll have to work within.
The design of your new house will need to comply with DFC’s design guidelines for Westbrook. Why do we have design guidelines?
Importantly, we also need help from the estate homeowners and those who live within our communities to complete the picture by ensuring their properties match the character envisioned for the neighbourhood by adhering to the design guidelines.
Design guidelines aren’t intended to restrict design or development. Instead, they are there to benefit you by…
encouraging visually appealing and cohesive streetscapes; and
providing you with confidence and comfort about the standard of housing you can expect in your estate.
In other words, DFC creates design guidelines to help you maximise the value of your investment, complement Westbrook’s natural surroundings and help enhance the quality of the community.
What sort of design guidelines will apply to me?
The best starting point for understanding what design guidelines apply to Westbrook to look at the estate masterplan, which will give you a good idea of how we foresee it will look and feel.
Applicable design guidelines will also be available for downloading from Westbrook’s website and/or from the estate’s land sales team.
Typically, design guidelines will set out a minimum requirement for house designs, landscaping, fencing and how the house should be positioned on the land. Some blocks will have special requirements additional to these, which you will have to take into consideration.
Design guidelines can include:
Facade design. These may stipulate what the façade should be comprised of, or include. For example, a covered front entry; specific building materials; a certain style of veranda or garage; or roofing must be a certain colour and/or made of specific materials, etc.
Architectural style and façade variety. Design guidelines will specify a variety of accepted facades. They will also specify that the façade selected must be different from the houses around them.
Setbacks. Setbacks, the minimum distance your house must be from your block’s boundaries, are usually specified.
Corner lot treatment. There are likely to be specific guidelines relating to the presentation of corner blocks. For example, you might be required to replicate features from the front façade, such as eaves, or windows, on any side that faces a second road.
Landscaping, fencing and tree protection. To create a coherent look throughout the estate, you may be required to adopt a certain layout and look for your front yard and possibly a timeline within which it needs to be completed.
Types of plants and trees used. The design guidelines might encourage or enforce you to plant native and/or other specific varieties of flora.
How to ensure you comply with design guidelines
Design guidelines will be included in your contract of sale and you should also request a copy when you get close to purchasing your block of land. It is important to ask your land sales consultant to explain the guidelines in detail and discuss the various design options available to you before you purchase your land to avoid any confusion or disappointment down the track.
Have you chosen your builder?
Likewise, it’s also vital to provide a copy of the design guidelines to your builder before you sign a building contract to ensure your selected building design will comply with the guidelines and to avoid the likelihood of having to amend and alter your design later – which can delay the start of construction and incur additional expense.
Plans for all new homes must be approved by Westbrook’s Design Review Panel before building approvals can be granted.
What other regulations and restrictions may apply?
Design guidelines do not replace standard building regulations and permits. Your builder will need to engage a Building Surveyor to obtain a building permit before building works can commence.
Additionally, there may be other government imposed covenants on your land, for example fire and flood mitigation restrictions to protect the entire community. These will be included in the Section 32 within your contract of sale if relevant.
Always use due diligence when reviewing contracts and discuss any questions with your conveyancer or the local Council.