How to build two houses at the same time
They might sit on the same block but the approvals for these houses were very different, writes Jennifer Veerhuis
Building a single new home can be challenging enough, so the idea of putting two new, but different, homes on one site could perhaps be considered double the trouble. And when the owners decided to seek approval through different means for each house, it became an example of just how different NSW approvals processes can be.
The Leichhardt site was a relatively small block of about 400sq m when it was purchased, but the new owners were determined to maximise its potential.
They decided to remove the existing older house, modify an existing subdivision to create two equal blocks and build two new family homes that would sit side by side, but look different to each other.
Building designer Nathalie Scipioni from NS Studio designed two homes that would sit closely on the 12m-wide site, with just 20cm between them, both overlooking the street.
“They are not attached, so they can be two separate houses with completely different designs, instead of being a dual occupancy with two symmetrical houses attached on one side,” Nathalie says.
While the internal floorplans varied, each would have at least two bathrooms and four bedrooms each, blackbutt floorboards, a blackbutt staircase and off street parking at the front. Both homes would maximise light, with skylights and large windows.
Rather than taking both homes to council, Nathalie suggested one be completed as a Complying Development. While it meant there would be some restrictions around what could be built, it also meant there would be virtually no wait for council approval.
The second house would have to go
through council because that block was less than 200sq m, so it didn’t meet the size requirements for a Complying Development.
The old house was demolished and approval for the first house — Kalgoorlie 1 — was obtained as a Complying Development.
But then there was a lengthy wait for approval from council for the second house.
Nathalie says there was no point building the first house without the second, because it’s more economical to build two at once.
She says the council was concerned about the proposed driveway for the second house.
“The driveway was a big challenge because they thought we were removing street parking,” Nathalie says.
“It was challenging to get it through and in the end we had to change the plans. We had to redesign the house and we swapped the entry and removed a tree.”
Nathalie says it took about six months to get the council approval.
Same, but different
The first house, Kalgoorlie 1, is the larger of the two, and includes a family room on the ground floor that can be converted to a fifth bedroom, using a sliding door system.
There are four bedrooms upstairs plus a courtyard part way through the house, bringing in additional light.
Sloped ceilings in the back living space provide an enhanced feeling of spaciousness and the backyard consists of a neatly presented courtyard.
In contrast, Kalgoorlie 2, which was approved by council — is smaller but has a larger backyard. It has one bedroom downstairs, three upstairs and there’s a balcony at the front.
In a bid to maximise light, Nathalie used glass as a wall midway through the home and the stairway has a glass balustrade.
“It had a small and enclosed hallway, so we used a piece of glass between the stairs and kitchen, to make the space feel bigger,” Nathalie says.
Nathalie says the second house brought a lot more angst than the first.
“There was a lot of frustration with the site and it’s a smaller house,” she says. “Council rules meant we had to stay back further from the rear boundary.”
For Nathalie, having two homes go through two different approvals processes was both fascinating and frustrating.
“It’s interesting to see what you can do with the same site,” she says. “With CDC (complying development), as long as you build within a certain envelope, you are able to get an approval in 28 days.”
A courtyard alongside the stairway and large windows brings more light into Kalgoolie 1.
Approval for the first house was quick.
It took longer to get approval for Kalgoorlie 2 and the house itself is smaller, although the outdoor area (left) is larger than its neighbour. The decision to use glass instead of a solid wall in front of the stairwell allows more light into the...