If your question does not appear below, please visit our contact page, complete the form and we will answer it for you.

  • What does the Gecko in the logo symbolise?

McKiernan Design Drafting uses the trademarked Gecko Logo with permission from the McKiernan Investment Trust. The Gecko represents our efforts to ensure our building design and building construction methods consider the environment and sustainability and the balance that must be achieved.

  • Can I see the 3D concept visualization on my computer?

Yes you can. After we complete the concept design plans, we can save our 3D file of your project as a DWF file. We then email the file to you and you can open it on your home or work computer. All that is required is to download the FREE viewer program by Autodesk. http://usa.autodesk.com/design-review/download/

  • Who owns the copyright?

McKiernan Design Drafting remain the owner of the copyright for any work (whole or in part) designed by McKiernan Design Drafting. Permission is given to use the design as a one-off for the intended purpose only, unless written permission is given.

  • So you want to be an Owner Builder?

Refer to our owner builder page.

  • What will it cost to get plans for my project?

Generally plans and services are tailored for your personal situation and quoted accordingly.

All prices are exclusive of GST and are subject to confirmation following the FREE initial consultation.

  • Do you offer a free initial consultation?

Yes, we do a free initial consultation at your office, or your home or site to discuss your plans and ideas and determine the possibilities for your proposed building design. We will also advise of council regulations relating to your site and offer identifiable issues.

  • Are you a licensed building designer?

Yes. McKiernan Design Drafting holds a Company Open Design License and a Company Supervisor License with the QBCC. We also hold Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

  • Do I need a building permit?

All building works greater than 10 sqm in area or over 2.4 metres in height will require a building permit. If your proposed building is attached to an existing building, you will need a building permit regardless of size. Also any retaining walls over 1.0 metre in height will require structural engineering as well as a building permit.  Please consult your local Council for any questions.

  • What is a Development Application?

A Development Application (DA) is issued by the local authority after being assessed against the Town Planning regulations relevant to that region. A report will be need to be prepared by a Town Planning Consultant together with supporting plans prepared by a licensed Building Designer. This is different to a Building Permit.

  • What is Energy Efficiency and Building Energy Rating?

Energy Efficiency assessments are now a requirement for all approvals of new work, renovations or extensions when new habitable areas are created. An assessment is undertaken that considers the orientation on the block, types of windows used (timber or powder coated aluminium), roof construction and colour (concrete tile or metal sheet roofing), wall construction and colour (brick veneer, blockwork or timber clad) and floor construction (timber floor or concrete slab).

The outcome sought is a 6 star Building Energy Rating with current guidelines in the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Elements  that  then be used to achieve the required minimum required include using 1.5KV photo voltaic solar panels, having an outdoor covered area 12 m2 minimum with a ceiling fan, using bulk insulation in the walls, ceiling and roof areas or under the floor.

Careful design of your building project using Sustainable Building Concepts can take all these elements into account at the design stage and potentially save thousands of dollars of your building cost.

  • What do I need to know about building in Brisbane after the floods?

Building Regulations have been amended following the recent 2011 floods in Brisbane. Brisbane City Council have new guidelines relating to the minimum flood level for habitable areas and garages. Maximum building height for dwellings have also been relaxed. Brisbane City Council have a free service on their website so you can identify your land and how it may be affected.


  • What bushfire requirements do I need to know?

Each local authority has local planning requirements pertaining to your subject site regarding Bushfire Hazard Overlays. These are integrated into low, medium and high risk areas. Depending on the positioning of your home on the block will depend if you are affected. Construction methods and materials will need to be designed to suite the requirements as prescribed in the Australian Standards and your Building Designer will be able to discuss how you are affected. Planning consent will also be required by lodging a Bushfire Assessment Report prepared by a qualified consultant. We can arrange this on your behalf.

  • What is the timeframe and process for building plans?

McKiernan Design Drafting will organise all your building plans, consultants and documents right up to being ready for tender and building applications. This allows the client the peace of mind to deal only with one person and not have to run around the countryside. The most common question we are asked is “How long will this all take?”. We have prepared a typical scenario to give you a better idea of expected timeframes.

New Homes / Additions and Alterations

Site Meeting or Initial Consultation week 1
Design Development Stage week 1-4
Soil Testing week 4
Contour Survey week 4
Working Stage week 5-8
Engineering week 9-10
Energy Efficiency week 9-10
Issue plans for tender/building application week 11

  • How do I build on a sloping block or difficult site?

Building on sloping and difficult sites requires careful assessment, design and planning to ensure the architectural and aesthetic elements are integrated into a well thought of and detailed structural design. Our background in Structural Engineering Design in projects allows us to consider all of these elements and provide a finished project that is coordinated and cost efficient.

  • How do I build on a small lot in Brisbane?

Building on a small lot block in Brisbane requires a design that is considerate of the local regulations and requirements as well as being aware of demolition and heritage precincts. McKiernan Design Drafting is experienced in single storey, two storey, Cottage style, Queenslander style and Heritage Listed Developments.

  • How can I raise and build in under my house?

Raising your house and building in under is a cost effective way of increasing the living area of your home without requiring large areas of land. This style of development is popular in the Brisbane City area where land size inhibits large houses on single level. Generally as a home is raised, posts are removed from underneath and replaced by steel beams to ‘open up’ the layout on the lower floor. The design of the lower floor will be designed to suit the lifestyle of the owner where open plan living is a popular choice and converting existing upper floor rooms to bedrooms.

  • What is Sustainability?

By considering energy efficient and sustainable options and building choices into your home at the building design stage, you are not only making a decision that helps the environment and reduces your carbon footprint, but also improve the running costs your home. Please refer to our website for more detailed information.

  • How do I add disabled or accessible provisions in my house?

Certain family situations require homes to be redesigned to take into consideration the needs of a person with disabilities. Elements that need to be taken into consideration are:-

the slope of the ground, step height to the front door, width of doors and hallways and accessible facilities such as toilets, showers and kitchen bench heights. The needs and requirements for access are varied and best dealt with by a qualified Building Designer.

  • How do I design a home theatre room?

Media rooms and home theatre rooms are now a popular inclusion in most new homes, extensions and renovations. Consideration to the size of the room to ensure it is proportional to the size of the TV or projector screen used is critical. The type of wall and floor construction can also be altered to provide different levels of acoustic isolation to the other areas of the house. We have experience from simple home design solutions right up to commercial recording studios.

  • Can I build a granny flat without a planning permit?

A granny flat or relative’s accommodation is considered an acceptable use in most residential and rural zones and generally will always require planning or development permit before applying for your building permit.

Situations where a planning permit is not required is when an extension is added to an existing building and basic facilities are provided such as bedroom and ensuite with the other facilities being shared with the existing dwelling such as a kitchen and laundry.

  • What is a Private Certifier?

Most local Councils no longer offer building application processing services so the only way to get building permits approved is to use Private Certifiers. They are licensed by the QBCC and offer services in Residential, Commercial and Industrial Projects.

  • What does ESBD mean?

ESBD stands for Environmentally Sustainable Building Designer. It is the new recognised benchmark for all Building Designers to be able to offer design advice in accordance with social sustainability, economic sustainability and environmental sustainability principles. McKiernan Design Drafting is recognised as an Endorsed Sustainable Building Designer and is proud to have been recognised as a past winner of the Best Energy Efficient and Sustainable House in the Building Designers Association of Queensland (BDAQ) Regional and State Awards.

  • Can you design individual custom house plans?

Yes. We specialise in providing custom designed house plans to suit your ideas, your block of land and your budget. We will work with you for a fixed price so you have peace of mind you can make changes to the design without costing any more.

  • Do you have any standard house plans?

Yes. We have a selection of base plans of different sizes and styles from past projects to start the design process. We generally find that we are able to make individual design suggestions to tailor the plan to suit your personal requirements.

  • What is a spec home?

A spec home is a home built by a builder based on their standard plan that they put up for sale during construction. The new prospective owners can then have the option to select the paint colours and tile selections.

  • How will a building covenant affect my building design?

Building Covenants are created by land developers to set a minimum standard of finishes, minimum house size and particular style of house design. These building covenants are written up and all new land buyers must sign. They are for the benefit of the land developer so that earlier house buildings do not affect the long term sales for new prospective buyers.

  • Does my kitchen or bathroom renovation need approval?

If the kitchen or bathroom renovation is simply replacing fixtures or doing a new floor, then a building application is not required. If the renovation involves any structural modification of existing doors, windows or walls, plans need to be drawn by a Building Designer and Engineer Certificates will need to be obtained. If new plumbing fixtures are added or moved, a Plumbing Application as well as a Building Application will be required.

  • What does building classification mean?

DOMESTIC BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES (Ref: Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia)

Class 1a – a detached house or one of a group of two or more dwellings separated by a fire resisting wall, including a row house, terrace house, town house or villa unit.

Class 1b – a boarding house, guest house, hostel or the like with a total area not exceeding 300 sqm; and in which not more than 12 persons would ordinarily be resident, which is not located above or below another dwelling or another class of building other than a private garage.

Class 10a – a non-habitable building being a private garage, carport, shed or the like.

Class 10b – a structure being a fence mast, antenna or the like, retaining or free standing wall, swimming pool or the like.

COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS (Ref: Volume 1 of the Building Code of Australia)

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, which is a common place of long term transient living for a number of unrelated persons including – a boarding house, guest house, hostel, lodging house, back-packers accommodation; or the residential part of a hotel or motel; or the residential part of a school; or accommodation for the aged or children or people with disabilities; or the residential part of a health-care building that accommodates members of staff; or a residential part of a detention centre.

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, 9.

Class 6 – shop or other building used for the sale of goods by retail or the supply of services direct to the public, including – an eating room, café, restaurant, milk of soft drink bar; or a dining room, bar, shop or kiosk part of a hotel or motel; or a hairdresser or barber shop; public laundry or undertakers establishment; or market or sale room, showroom or service station.

Class 7a – a building which is a carpark.

Class 7b – a building which is for storage, or display of goods for sale by wholesale.

Class 8 – a laboratory or a building in which in which 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 9a – a building of a public nature being a health care building, including those parts of the building set aside as a laboratory.

Class 9b – a building of a public nature being an assembly building, including a trade workshop, laboratory or the like in a primary or secondary school, but excluding any parts of the building that are of another Class.

Class 9c – a building of a public nature being an aged care building.

Important: A building or structure that can not be given a BCA classification shall be classified as a “Special Structure”

  • How far can I build from the boundary?

Generally 6.0 metres from the front boundary, 1.5 metres from side boundary for single storey and 2.0 metres for two storey.