FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. WHY USE A BUILDING DESIGNER?
A building designer is your representative, appointed to interpret your requirements to assist in the process of designing and documenting a building. It’s a complicated process and tests the building designer’s skills and abilities. By using an experienced building designer the resulting product should demonstrate a solution which satisfies your needs, meets all statutory planning and building requirements and hopefully makes you extremely proud at the conclusion of the process.
Ken Bezant, as our primary building designer, has been designing homes for more than three decades, never locking himself into one style or method of construction, but incorporating sustainability principles into each and every exclusive design. While creativity and problem solving are the strong points of any building designer, achieving a solution affordably and practically is something which we constantly deliver.
2. ARE YOU MEMBERS OF ANY PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS?
Ken Bezant is a proud Member of the Building Designers Association of Victoria. The BDAV is a respected, active industry body representing more than 1,100 building design professionals who, like Ken, offer a broad depth of experience and expertise to meet our clients’ needs.
By using a BDAV Member, you have the security of knowing that you are engaging the services of a professional who is committed to providing the right solution for your project. In order to prepare design and construction documentation, we carry Professional Indemnity insurance.
Further, because BDAV Members regularly participate in the BDAV’s Continuing Professional Development program, we continually update our knowledge on a broad range of issues that may impact your design, including changes to regulations, environmental issues, technical matters, and much more.
BDAV Members can produce the design for your residential or commercial project, from a brief or a sketch you may have developed, or an idea you have in mind. You can be assured that your investment in the services of a BDAV Member will reap the return of a highly-successful building project.
Bezant Consulting are also members of:
Ken and Nola Bezant are members of:
Ken Bezant is a member of:
3. WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND PART WAY THROUGH A DESIGN CONTRACT?
Our design contracts contain specified stages of works, including concept design, design development and contract documentation. They can also include project administration. Each stage is individually priced and the extent of works clearly defined. If at any stage you decide not to proceed with the project we will obviously require payment for any work completed, however there is no requirement to commit to all stages from the outset.
This allows you the flexibility of withdrawing if for any reason you do not believe our services are providing the outcome you require, or in the event that your circumstances change.
You should be aware however that the designer always retains copyright of their creations and therefore it would not be possible for you to have a concept design prepared by us and then take it to a draftsman to complete. This would be a breach of the Copyright Act.
4. WHAT IS A HOUSE ENERGY RATING?
In order to obtain a building permit for construction of a new residence, the applicant must demonstrate compliance with the energy efficiency provisions of the National Construction Code. An energy rating is one method of meeting some of the requirements.
An energy rating is simply a comparison of the home’s theoretical energy use for heating and cooling. It does not necessarily bear any relationship to the home’s actual energy use. It is arrived at by entering the project details into a computer program that analyses heat flow in and out, through all surfaces of the building, based on the physical properties of the building components, and then calculates how much energy needs to be added to or removed from a space to maintain a set of comfort conditions.
The software also models the influence of prevailing winds for passive cooling and infiltration. An experienced energy rater uses their skills and knowledge to determine the most cost effective and practical solution to best achieve the desired star rating.
The star rating scheme in Australia is governed under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). The star ratings range from 0 stars (indicating poor performance) to 10 stars (indicating best performance where little or no energy would be required to heat and cool the house).
5. IS YOUR BUSINESS INSURED TO ENSURE CONSUMER PROTECTION?
Bezant Consulting currently have Civil Liability Professional Indemnity Insurance in the amounts of $2,000,000 for any one claim and $4,000,000 in aggregate; and Public Liability Insurance in the amount of $10,000,000 for any one claim and in aggregate.
These insurances cover the entire range of our Consultancy Services (including Energy Ratings, Energy Efficiency Reports, Sustainability Reports and Advice, Home Sustainability Assessments); plus Building Design and Documentation; and Industry Training.
Although these insurances are not compulsory, we believe they provide valuable protection to our clients. We happily provide policy details to our clients.
6. ARE YOU SUITABLY QUALIFIED TO ISSUE ENERGY RATINGS?
Ken Bezant has completed the short course in Building Thermal Performance Assessment (Residential) 91318NSW in all three NatHERS software options. He has completed an “Energy Code Compliance” course at the University of Sydney and continues to expand his experience by participating in several Continuing Professional Development programs.
Ken is an Accredited NatHERS Assessor No VIC/BDAV/12/1486. He is also a proud Member of the Building Designers Association of Victoria.
Ken has been an accredited assessor since 2002 and has delivered training to industry in energy rating systems since 2007. He is fluent in the use all three currently accredited software programs.
7. IS A 6 STAR HOME A GOOD STANDARD?
The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) website states “Achieving a minimum of six stars is easy, with many project home builders now offering seven star and higher designs. To see how you can design or modify your desired design to achieve a result above the minimum requirement, visit the Your Home website.” (see www.yourhome.gov.au)
Currently the minimum standard for new homes in the southern parts of Western Australia is 6 stars. Our building legislation is designed to eliminate worst practice and set minimum standards, and does not necessarily recognise best practice.
While 6 stars is a start, we always strive for at least 7 ½ stars and hopefully 8 stars when developing individual designs. While 10 Star homes are currently achievable, we believe that the costs of moving from 8 or 9 stars to 10 stars could probably be better spent by incorporating on-site renewable systems to minimise operating costs.
To find out more about how the software works visit www.nathers.gov.au
8. WHAT IS A ZERO EMISSIONS BUILDING?
A zero emissions building commonly refers to a detached residential building that produces enough renewable energy on-site to supply the operating energy needs of the household so that its net total CO₂ or other greenhouse emissions is zero.
The embodied energy used in the manufacture of all the materials used in the house, including its construction, is calculated and neutralised via carbon offsets. A house assessed in this manner has a carbon-neutral life cycle footprint.
The operating house usually achieves zero emission status through a combination of energy efficiency and demand reduction measures, on-site renewable energy supply and the application of a home energy management system; not through any carbon offset programs.
9. ARE PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) PANELS THE BEST WAY TO REDUCE MY ENERGY BILLS?
In conducting home sustainability assessments we are often asked this question. Let’s look at a comparison with the fuel efficiency of a car. We could retrofit regenerative burners to collect exhaust gases and re-burn the fuel expelled to increase fuel efficiency, but it would come at a significant cost. If we continued to drive by planting our foot on the accelerator every time we moved off and braked hard every time we stopped we may have improved efficiency, but to what end? We could have arrived at lower operating costs by simply modifying our driving habits.
So our recommendation is always to modify your habits first, then improve the efficiency of your appliances, and finally to fit photovoltaic panels as a last measure, not as a first solution.
Changing our habits by modifying how we do things doesn’t cost a thing. Something as simple as taking shorter showers saves both energy and water. We need to look at what is using energy in the home before we provide a solution to reduce it. If we are washing clothes in hot water, what’s wrong with switching to a cold water wash? Perhaps a new efficient washing machine would help considerably. Similarly, drying clothes using an electric powered clothes dryer is expensive compared to free solar power available by hanging our clothes up on an outdoor clothes line.
Each aspect of how we use energy is reviewed in conducting a home sustainability assessment and a range of recommendations are included to allow the home owner to set achievable targets and make investments that provide the best returns.
Don’t get us wrong as on our own house we have installed a 5 kW photovoltaic system which provides energy surplus to our needs, even though we run a business from home and occupy the premises 24/7. Before we installed this system however we changed our lifestyle and updated our appliances, including the air conditioner, refrigerator, washing machine and dishwasher.
PV’s will play a vitally important role in supplying our future energy needs, and we certainly encourage their use. But our recommendation is to get our “energy use” house in order before you put a system on the roof.
10. IS CLIMATE CHANGE A REAL CONCERN?
97% of published climate papers with a position on human-caused global warming agree global warming is happening and we are the cause. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believe “Climate change poses risks for human and natural systems.”
Their latest report states:
“Impacts from recent extreme climatic events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and wildfires, show significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to climate variability (very high confidence). Impacts include the alteration of ecosystems and of food production, damage to infrastructure and settlements, morbidity and mortality, and consequences for mental health and human well-being.
These experiences are consistent with a significant adaptation deficit in developing and developed countries for some sectors and regions.”
In Australia our CSIRO states “Adapting to Future Climate- Our lives and livelihoods are shaped by the climate, so adapting to future climates will involve nearly all aspects of our economy, society and the environment.”
They provide the following Fast Facts:
Since producing this data, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have now exceeded 400 ppm (401.3 ppm as of 2 July 2014) and continue to rise.
We believe climate change is the biggest problem mankind has ever been faced with and we need to do something about it urgently. Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings is just one small step along the complex pathway ahead.
If you are still sceptical about the science see http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php for more information.
11. WHY SHOULD I SPEND MONEY ON TRAINING – WHAT BENEFITS DOES IT OFFER?
There are three excuses we commonly hear for njot attending training:
According to Dun and Bradstreet (in Feb 2012) “The number of small businesses going bankrupt jumped by 48 per cent over the last 12 months, while small business start-ups fell by 95 per cent over the same period.” They believe “Changing market conditions will no doubt have an impact on all businesses.”
If you are working very hard, have no balance, and are feeling like this can't possibly be your actual life, you need to change the way you are doing business. Training can open your eyes to new methods and procedures and keep you up to date with changing legislation and trends. Many regular course attendees say that if they learn just one new great thing in each class, it's worth it.
Training is investing in the future. You should ask yourself if we don’t invest in training will we remain stagnant while the competition passes us by? Unfortunately we live in an ever changing world and we need to keep up, or be left behind.
You should not rely on your past knowledge and always need to keep up to date with codes and standards to ensure the work you undertake is at the very least legally compliant. A refresher course may highlight ways you could improve the way you do things, open your eyes to alternative methods or simply allow you to network with your peers and discuss common problems. Regularly attending training helps us all maintain a core set of competencies to enable us to perform our duties to the best of our ability.
12. CAN YOU CONDUCT CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS TO MY STAFF/FRIENDS/FAMILY?
Both Ken and Nola Bezant are trained Climate Leaders with the Climate Reality Project and are happy to present the latest climate change data in an informative slideshow to any groups or individuals.
As Climate Leaders we work to educate the public and their communities about the reality of climate change and promote both local and global solutions.
We have been personally trained by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore to deliver an updated version of the slide show featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The presentations are customised and frequently revised to include the latest climate science.
We are happy to deliver to any size audience in most locations in the Perth metropolitan area, and can often arrange talks in regional areas to coincide with our work in the regions. All we need is a power supply and space to project onto a screen.
If for any reason we are unable to personally deliver a presentation we can arrange for one of our fellow Climate Leaders to make a presentation.
13. HAS BEZANT CONSULTING BEEN IN BUSINESS LONG?
Bezant Consulting is a registered trading name of KB and NA Bezant. Although this is a relatively new trading entity, our partnership has been operating successfully since 1991.