Light filters through smoke on the site

The Site

Andrew Kerrby author page

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Located 35 minutes south of Hobart in the delightful town of Flowerpot (yes – it is a real place in Tasmania!), the site is 1.5 hectares (3.5 acres) – around 210m long by 70m wide. The block used to be part of the famous Domeney Bros fruit farm (although I don’t think it ever had any productive fruit trees growing on it) and is nestled between the Channel Highway and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.


There are water views to the east out towards Bruny Island and views up the valley to the west. The block is situated between a heritage apple orchard and a newly established organic vineyard, and stretches from the top of a small hill down a north facing slope to a creek with a dam. It has dual access and is part paddock, part bush with large eucalyptus trees. Sounds like something out of the real estate guide, doesn’t it? It’s a lovely place, somewhere I enjoy escaping to.


Looking east - D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island

Looking east – D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island

Looking west - heritage apple orchard and valley

Looking west – heritage apple orchard and valley


In Australia we have a lot of land, and traditionally it has been cheap because we have so much of it. The Australian dream of owning a ¼ acre block is a thing of the past: block sizes are getting smaller and house sizes are getting bigger, meaning that backyards are rapidly shrinking. Housing is being pushed further away from the city, beyond the urban fringes, as urban sprawl leaches into the countryside.


FACT: 2006 was the first year in the history of civilisation that the majority of the world’s population lived in urban areas.


The town of Flowerpot gets its name from an oddly shaped rock – complete with small tree growing on top – down at the waters edge. Much of the early transport utilised the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Like many communities in the area Flowerpot was devastated by the 1967 bushfires. The remnants of the local school are located just over my fence; the old tennis court is on the other side of the road. Recently there have been an increasing number of commuters moving to the area. 60k House will help consolidate the previously established town of Flowerpot.

Aerial imagery

The below image has been sourced via LISTmap. The Land Information System Tasmania is a geospatial database maintained by the state government.  In other words, the LIST is where you can find a broad range of information related to land within Tasmania, ranging from title documents to hazard risk mapping, including high resolution aerial imagery (often much better than that available through Google Earth) and contours.


Map Report

From the State Aerial Photo accessed via LISTmap

Site survey

In the excitement of having bought a block of land I quickly engaged a surveyor to conduct a site survey – I wanted to know exactly what I had just bought! I instinctively knew that I would only be building near the top of the site so only commissioned a detail survey for this part of the site (this saved some money). The cost was $800 + GST and was the first money I spent towards the design.


A site survey can be a valuable tool when designing because it accurately locates a variety of information including: the boundary of the site (not always where you think it is), any fences and gates (not always on the boundary), access (driveway and crossover), any easements or right of way (you will not be able to build across these), trees, views, other features, and the site levels. The slope (levels) of the site are shown as contours, or as one client recently described them – squiggly lines (after Mr Squiggle). A contour line traces the same height level across a site, meaning they never cross. If the land is nearly flat (a lecturer at university told us: there is no such thing as a flat site) then the contour lines will be spaced far apart; if the land is steep then the contour lines will be very close together. Contours are usually measured at even increments and depends how accurate the survey needs to be: anything from 200mm intervals up to 1.0m for a detail survey, or 5m or 10m for larger scale surveys.


Below is part of the contour and detail survey for my site. The contours are at 500mm intervals (every one of those curved lines represents half a metre height difference). Individual trees are marked, both the trunk circumference and the canopy (hard to see in this image – will be clearer in later posts). The boundary dimensions are marked, so too a couple of view lines and reference markers (identified as ‘stake’) to make it easier for me to measure from onsite.


R:GeofilesGEODATAkerra01598710-detail.dwg Model (1)


The need for a survey depends on the degree of reliability of information available. It also depends on how close to things you are going to build – the proximity to the boundary for example.


Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.




  1. In your description you said “In the excitement of having bought a block of land I quickly engaged a surveyor to conduct a site survey”. I just wondered if you were to have taken more time would you have done anything differently with regard to the site survey?

    1. Andrew Kerr

      No, I didn’t need the survey so soon after buying the block – spending time onsite over a period of time and seasons is a great way to gain understanding. I would have commissioned a site survey anyway because it is a useful design tool. It was also necessary to locate the surrounding trees to establish the Bushfire Hazard Management Plan (will talk about this in a separate post shortly).

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