what we do

development types

New Homes

We have designed many new homes, some on clean sites (just grassed land) but the majority of new homes are typically on sites where an existing house already stands, this doesn’t require too much additional work drawing wise but require council permission and a building permit for the demolition of any existing residence before the new work can commence.

A good house design should takes into consideration your site orientation and site features, neighbouring properties, view lines and many other contributing factors that can affect the location and layout of your home, while also taking into consideration any specific requirements or outcomes you want to see form the design layout.

New homes will be a collaborative design between yourself and Vistalab to achieve a responsive design to you site and your family’s lifestyle.


Some people are looking for refresh or update to their current home lifestyle especially when the alternative of relocating to different area may not be desirable when your happy with your local community, friends, family and amenities etc.

One thing that needs to be considered when renovating is the extent of structural works needed to the house to achieve the outcome you’re after, there needs to be a balance of works vs the extent of building to stay, at some point to many modifications to an existing house and its structure can render the works more costly in the time and complexity working with existing building layout that may be in any sort of condition, and not known until you start removing plaster,tiles or flooring and there could be terminate or rotten members or just poorly constructed elements from previous alterations, in some cases it has been more easier for a client demolish completely and start with a clean slate, this means that the builder doesn’t need to hide extra costs for potential complications with working with an existing structure, also the design doesn’t need to be restricted with existing room configurations or door and window locations etc. we can advise on when we should consider the possibility that a new home maybe a better alternative to save cost.

Some renovations where it maybe just an extra room like a bedroom or bathroom addition, may seem like they would only require minimal drawing work but often this is not the case.   The drawings required to be produced for the building permit can require just as much information as that for a new home, with the entire house being accurate measured and drawn with site features and layout and adjoining homes near the new works to show the impact, including plans of walls to be demolished and the layouts of the proposed works, sections that have considered existing structure. However there can be less time required as Town Planning can typically be avoided when renovations remain under the existing roof line.

However it may be beneficial to you build the renovation no matter the extent of works so that you can continue living at the property as it would be too costly for you to have to move out of your house during the construction process, and we can work the out a solution to the build if this is your circumstance by staging works to reduce the impact on your life during the construction.

If the budget is tight and the renovation requirements become complex and out weight the need to retain an existing dwelling we would ask you also consider the option of going to a volume builder as this maybe a better option to help reduce your overall spend, as mentioned on another page, there are pros and cons to volume builders but sometimes they are a better alternative to help save money. We recommend this to help you out, its means you will no longer need our services, but we have you in our best interests and wont recommend something if there’s a cheap alternative.

Townhouse developments

With Townhouse / unit developments, we can come up with recommendation for you site on the number of homes that could fit on your block, there are many number of requirements when design townhouses that need to be considered that differ from council to council or even between streets in the same neighbourhood, there can be different requirements for setbacks from fences,  overall building height, vegetation requirements which could include the need for new mature trees or keeping away from any existing significant vegetation either on your site or on neighbouring properties, and restrictions on overall density that can be achieved based on garden area requirements and site coverage limitations which can be site specific.

Other things that can impact can be bushfire requirements and setbacks and or flood prone provisions.

Our preferences and where council permits for a standard block facing a street of around +600m2 site we try to recommend exploring 2 townhouses (side by side) to split the lot down the middle along the longest length of the site, and when we can have 2 driveways accessing the street (when the road reserve is free of trees, pits or poles) as this provides minimal need for large concrete driveways, 2 separate titles to each home which looks better when selling as there’s no common driveway no body corporation’s required and generally provides the possibility for much larger homes, than in the alternative scenario of house front and back down the length of the site.

Side by side often looking like the mirror image of the neighbouring townhouse, I try to keep my side by sides looking different from one another to give them their own identity which you can see from my designs such as Valetta Street, I believe this is a more appealing look but have also done some developments that are the traditional mirror image where council have advised to do this.

Some councils have a preference on front to rear developments with one driveway access as this is in keeping with neighbourhood character, you can typically have a good indication if this allowed in your area if there are already other developments in your immediate area that are side by side.

The benefit of front and back come in when you have a longer site than standard that could fit more than 2 homes then a front and back would be a better option in this scenario.

Dual Occupancy Developments

This is an ideal option when you have a traditional block with a house to the front half of your site and maybe a large garage in the back yard and a driveway beside your house or at least space for a car to pass the house, ideally with about 3.5-4m of clear access, typically homes form circa 1940’s – 1960’s are in this sort of format, we would separate the site into 2 lots and with a shared driveway for access to garages and the driveway becomes common property.

This is a great way for first time developers trying to get into developing townhouses/units, or just helping to give a step up and pay of a chunk of your home loan, as the front house can be kept as is maybe with some minor improvements if need like painting and generally tied up or updating, is recommend to make selling the site at the rear more appealing, and you can remain living in the existing home from start to finish.

We often recommend dual occ. developments to owners that have the space, you do spend a bit of time going through the process of getting Town Planning approval for the new home at the rear, but once approved then you have the option of either borrowing more money against your existing home to build the new house and moving into that new home and selling the front house, or keeping both and renting one. This is also a good if you don’t want to relocate to a different suburb but want a nicer house!

But if extra funds can’t be obtained the rear block / subdivision once approved can be sold off with the Town Planning approval to make a bit of money without spending on construction.  A property like this with Town Planning approval is just what builders like to look for as they can buy and start building pretty much straight away and don’t have to worry about fighting with council to get what they want, they can build and keep their trades busy between other projects and building at cost allows them to sell to make a nice profit afterwards, which works out for everyone involved.

Commercial Developments

Although this is not the main source of work, from time to time I have been involved with commercial or retail developments, with experience with large concrete tilt panel and steel portal frame style designs for factory / warehouse builds, our experience includes many forms of commercial developments such as car dealership, fire stations and even some work at Melbourne Airport prior to Vistalab’s inception, the majority of commercial jobs are usually a collaborative design effort between Designers and Engineers as the form is mostly worked around steel column layout and panel design, Vistalab would work with in the confides of the engineers structural limitations to come up with a design that would suit the client’s needs as well as complying with building and planning requirements.