Designed to optimise the potential of your building’s altered purpose.
Converting a building’s function from one primary purpose to another is very different from undertaking a straightforward loft or room conversion. Building conversion, entails redesigning and altering part or an entire structure’s functional classification in accordance with its new purpose’s requirements as defined by the relevant classifications.
Plan Ahead Designs’ acknowledged ability to successfully merge function and aesthetics makes certain that your structure’s conversion enhances the buildings most appealing architectural characteristics and protects any heritage significant features, whilst ensuring that your building conversion plans meet all mandatory requirements as set out in the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
Almost every structure has the potential to find a renewed propose, there are many ways Plan Ahead Designs can assist you to optimise the potential and value of any building that has fulfilled its contribution to society in its current role.
In Sydney, the responsibility for ensuring building conversion proposals meet construction standards is assigned to your local council and council approved private certifiers. The NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act refers to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) as the standard of construction and the legislative framework covering the majority of local conversion related activities.
Building conversions have been considered a special alteration category in New South Wales for at least the last 15 years. NSW building approvals are classified both by the type of building (e.g. ‘house’, ‘factory’) and by the type of work involved. These classifications are often used in conjunction with one another. Therefore, a clear understanding of your local authority’s interpretation of BCA provisions that uphold applicable legislative requirements and meet local community expectations is crucial to your building conversion plans gaining the required construction certificate and building approval.
As you would expect, Plan Ahead Designs is familiar with all ten BCA building classifications and keeps abreast of legislative amendments and implementation precedents that could have a bearing on your building conversion’s design, planning and your resulting structures compliance with local authority zoning and development codes.
In recent years frequent design processes and building conversion activity in Sydney have been altering non-residential to residential structures, (e.g. conversion of a commercial office building to home units), and redeveloping public buildings into mixed classification structures (e.g. retail space, professional suites, residential apartments and car parking). All these projects have been undertaken under building controls and standards that are legislated to protect people and property while ensuring buildings meet the functional needs of the occupants or users.
A building is most often classified according to its intended major function, except when your proposed building conversion or part of the effected building has more than one classification. Under these circumstances your building or its part must comply with all the relevant BCA provisions or for each part’s classification. Where large multi-function buildings intended to have more than one purpose (e.g. a hotel, shops & casino complex), the approval details are split according to each main function. Where separate classification details cannot be obtained this is not possible, and the building is classified on the basis of the function that represents the highest proportion of the project’s total value.
BCA principal usage classifications
Every building’s (or its parts’) classification is determined by the purpose it is designed, constructed or adapted to be used for. The Building Code of Australia classifies structures under the ten principal classes below:
Class 1: One or more buildings that in association constitute –
a – A single dwelling being a detached house; or one or more attached dwellings, each being a building separated by a fire-resisting wall, including a row house, terrace house, town house or villa unit; or
b – A boarding house, guest house, hostel or the like with a total floor area not exceeding 300m2 and in which not more than 12 persons would ordinarily be resident, that is not located above or below another dwelling or other class of building other than a private garage.
Class 2: A building containing 2 or more sole occupancy units, each being a separate dwelling.
Class 3: A residential building, (other than a building of class 1 or 2), that is a common place of long term or transient living for a number of unrelated persons, including: a boarding-house, guest house, hostel, lodging-house or backpackers accommodation; or a residential part of a hotel, motel; school; detention centre or health-care building that accommodates members of staff or accommodation for the aged, children or people with disabilities.
Class 4: A dwelling in a building that is class 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 if it is the only dwelling in the building.
Class 5: An office building used for professional or commercial purposes, (excluding buildings of class 6, 7, 8 or 9).
Class 6: A shop or other building for the sale of goods by retail or the supply of services direct to the public, including an eating room, cafe, restaurant, milk or soft-drink bar; a dining room, bar, shop or kiosk part of a hotel or motel; or a hairdresser’s or barber’s shop, public laundry; or undertaker’s establishment; market or sale room, showroom, or service station.
Class 7: a building that is –
a – A car park; or
b – For storage, or display of goods or produce for sale by wholesale.
Class 8: A laboratory, or a building in which a handicraft or process for the production, assembling, altering, repairing, packing, finishing, or cleaning of goods or produce is carried on for trade, sale, or gain.
Class 9: A building of a public nature.
a – A health-care building; including those parts of the building set aside as a laboratory; or
b – An assembly building, including a trade workshop, laboratory or the like in a primary or secondary school, but excluding any other parts of the building that are of another Class; or
c – An aged care building.
Class 10: Specifically classifies non-habitable buildings or structures.
a – Being a private garage, carport, shed or the like; or
b – A structure being a fence, mast, antenna, retaining or free-standing wall, swimming pool, or the like.
BCA Mixed usage classification
In mixed usage building redevelopments and structural conversions where the BCA principal usage classifications can not be holistically applied, each part of your conversion must be classified separately. Compliance with multiple classifications will be required where parts of the structure have differing primary purposes. (e.g. a hotel with dedicated training facilities and residential medical staff accommodation in an outbuilding). BCA classification is dependant upon whether the whole or a part of the building’s primary use permanently occupies less than ninety percent (90%) of the total floor area of that part or the whole building.
For those with limited or infrequent exposure to Sydney’s local authority zoning and development codes, building legislation, heritage protection guidelines, engineering requirements and low energy standards Multiple usage classification compliance is further complicated by the varying relationships between the conversion’s principal and minor usage classifications. These complicated and interdependent building codes and classifications are well understood and have been appropriately considered in all Plan Ahead Designs’ successful building conversion projects during the last three decades.
Either demolition or complete redevelopment of the site may be prohibited for heritage or environmental reasons or it may simply be more cost effective to capitalise on the assets of the existing structure. Whatever your reasons, one of the best things about having Plan Ahead Designs on your development team is that you are involved in the creative process and have full control over your building’s conversion and the redevelopment of your assets.
Plan Ahead Designs’ drafting services provide you with digital sketches, scaled architectural diagrams and high quality building plans created to ensure your building conversion complies with the Building Code of Australia and the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. In addition to architectural drawings Plan Ahead’s animated 3D computer models will enhance your understanding and appreciation of your conversion plans and digitally rendered photomontages will convincingly illustrate how your finished redevelopment will appear from the street and other vantage points.
You can be confident that your Plan Ahead Designs’ building conversion design will comply with all relevant BCA codes that facilitate cost savings in building construction, and allow building practitioners flexibility in the use of materials, forms of construction, and acceptable existing building practices provided that the intent of the BCA is met.
Note: Australian building code classification provisions included on this site are provided for general information only. As Federal and State legislation is not constant, their accuracy and relevance must be checked and verified prior to considering any building certificate or development applications.