Remote working is not new to WSA

Remote working is not new for WSA

As engineers we are accustomed to coming up with novel solutions to solve problems.  Who would have thought that this time last year that we would have had the biggest shift in the way that we work and play in decades and that it would all have occurred in the matter of a few weeks?</span.

I could be lamenting the fact my family and I had planned to be in Italy celebrating a family friend’s wedding this Easter. Instead I’m here in Brisbane with my family and continue to steer our clients through this altered paradigm we find ourselves in.

Remote working, teleconferencing, and video calls are in no way new to the WSA team. We have been using these tools to our advantage for years. In fact, we have allowed direct bookings with key staff via our website for some time using these technologies.

I myself have been actively working remotely for over 12 years. While the amount of remote working actively changes week-to-week, and even year to year, the biggest uptake was adopted with the birth of my first child in 2007.

While I may not physically be at my desk or in the Richlands’ office I am still receiving emails and all of my landline calls. If I don’t answer calls it is most likely that I’m in a meeting or on another call, not that I can’t physically pick up.

As technology has changed remote working has become easier and more collaborative.  Gone are the fax machines that helped us to convey the sketch we were talking about on the phone.  This was replaced by email and now collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams.  I can now take over a team mates’ remote computer and point directly to the issue that I want to discuss.

Despite the advantage of remote working, I must stress however that the technological advances still do not replace face-to-face discussions but it can help minimise the requirements when dealing with experienced parties.  Direct supervision of all of our engineering work is paramount as an RPEQ.

In my experience whilst the digital transformation is progressing projects at a faster rate, the old-school skills of preliminary sketches on paper have all but disappeared. Often we jump straight into our design package and start manipulating data. But sometimes we need to step back and get out that pencil and scale rule and do the preliminary work by hand.

By all means use a calculator or rules of thumb to help you, but look at the contours of the site, determine where things are flowing and what the intensification of the development will mean.  Do the calculations to determine the approximate size of a detention basin if you divert the catchment without programs. Believe me it can be quicker than a program!

Fortunately, some things haven’t changed at WSA. We will always work with technology to enable our clients to meet their project objectives now and into the future.

Why a detailed physical survey is worthwhile

Why a detailed physical survey is worthwhile

When you’re planning to invest time and money into a project there’s some things you shouldn’t skimp on. This includes a physical survey of the site to ensure you have accurate information about the topography, existing structures and services, natural features, boundaries, and other relevant details. 

A physical site survey is an expense upfront that will, without a shadow of a doubt, save you time and money in the long run. Once you have accurate knowledge of the site, this can be provided to your consultants to use as the basis for their designs, whether that be for buildings or other works.

If consultants have correct information, they can adjust the design and ensure it will work with the constraints of the site as they are currently. Outdated or no information leads to designers making assumptions and that can be a problem once you get on site. If something is not as expected changing the completed design will cost you time and money.

Variations made when you are already on site are guaranteed to be more expensive than if you had invested in a survey upfront. Whilst you cannot foresee every issue, you are more likely to capture most of them with a detailed, physical site survey.

Information from councils should not be relied upon as a substitute for a survey as it is not always complete or correct. Usually council expects property owners to provide them with information about where services are located on a site.  Site surveys are also an opportunity to pick up on where existing fences and walls are built relative to the boundary line. There’s always a chance your neighbour could have built over their boundary, which may have flow on impacts for your project.

The Wilkinson Shaw & Associates team provides survey briefs for each of our projects to the surveyor and is happy to provide further information about what’s involved.

Get in touch with our team via office@wilkinsonshaw.com.au or call (07) 3555 9888 to discuss your survey needs.

Please note that whilst every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, Wilkinson Shaw & Associates does not guarantee that this blog is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Standards and requirements change frequently so every proposal should be thoroughly investigated.

What is a Civil Engineer?

What is a Civil Engineer?

Civil Engineers are responsible for the infrastructure that underpins many facets of modern life. Their job is to apply scientific, mathematical, and physics principles to provide solutions that enable infrastructure to be built, function, and be safe for users over a very long period of time. 

The role of a Civil Engineer also encompasses managing the growth of cities by designing systems that enable development to occur whilst minimising its impact on the environment. Any infrastructure that is required will need the input of a civil engineer at some point in the process. 

Civil Engineers can undertake many tasks related to bridges, roads, railways, dams, tunnels, ports, harbours, flood mitigation, sewerage, and water supply. The role is broad, but there are opportunities to specialise as well. 

The range of specialisations within civil engineering, include:

  • Construction and management
  • Geotechnical
  • Structural
  • Transport 
  • Water. 

Communities could not function without the expertise of Civil Engineers as part of the development process. Their input is critical for building the roads and bridges we drive home on; the protection of our houses from water; the removal of sewage from our bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries; and the buildings we work in every day. These are just some of the ways civil engineering make your life possible on a daily basis. 

The engineering team at Wilkinson Shaw & Associates has expertise in urban development and hydrology as well as water and sewerage supply. 

Get in touch with our team via office@wilkinsonshaw.com.au or call (07) 3555 9888 to discuss your project.

Please note that whilst every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, Wilkinson Shaw & Associates does not guarantee that this blog is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Standards and requirements change frequently so every proposal should be thoroughly investigated.

Victoria’s introduction of registered engineers a timely reminder


Victoria’s introduction of registered engineers a timely reminder

Last month the Victorian Parliament passed the Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 making it compulsory for civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and fire-safety engineers to be registered in the State. 

Queensland has had a register of engineers in operation since 1930 and helps consumers identify that the person they are appointing is competent and suitably qualified. Until last month, Queensland was the only jurisdiction with a comprehensive and mandatory registration system for engineers. 

You can check if someone is registered by going to the Board of Professional Engineers Queensland and searching the register.

Given the role engineers play in delivering communities it is of the utmost importance they are held to high standards of professionalism to keep people safe. 

Engineers Australia said they hope the introduction of these new laws in Victoria will allow faux engineers to be weeded out and prevented from calling themselves an engineer, and those who do not uphold the highest standards will be subject to greater accountability and penalties.

Wilkinson Shaw & Associates has registered civil engineers with almost 40 years of combined service that can assist with your project. By using a professional engineer you can have confidence they have the required expertise to complete the work. 

Get in touch with our team via office@wilkinsonshaw.com.au or call (07) 3555 9888 to discuss your project.

Please note that whilst every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, Wilkinson Shaw & Associates does not guarantee that this blog is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Standards and requirements change frequently so every proposal should be thoroughly investigated.

Operational Works explained

Operational Works explained

Operational Works is defined in Queensland’s planning legislation and is work – other than building, plumbing or drainage – that impacts a site.

Basically, the term encompasses a wide variety of tasks that will change the land.

Types of Operational Works (OW) include:

  • Earthworks including excavation, filling of land or changing ground levels
  • Removing vegetation on site
  • Civil work for subdivisions like connecting to existing infrastructure or other works that need to be done as part of changing the use of a site
  • Roadworks
  • Stormwater, water, and sewer infrastructure
  • Driveway crossovers
  • Car parks
  • Streetscape modifications
  • Putting up an advertising device (e.g. billboard)
  • Prescribed tidal works.

In all cases a development permit is needed to undertake any Operational Works on a site. This approval might be required separately to, or together with, a development application.

Civil engineers complete the Operational Works application to council for the required works. This process includes reviewing the site, gathering all the documentation required by council and preparing designs as well as plans related to the Operational Works needed.

Each site is unique so the Operational Works required can vary greatly. The expertise of a civil engineer will help you identify and appropriately plan for the application and execution of the work.

Wilkinson Shaw & Associates can help you obtain Operational Works approval for your project. Get in touch with our team via office@wilkinsonshaw.com.au or call (07) 3555 9888 to discuss your project.

Please note that whilst every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, Wilkinson Shaw & Associates does not guarantee that this blog is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Standards and requirements change frequently so every proposal should be thoroughly investigated.

Guide to subdividing land

Subdividing land can be a difficult process with many complications and site constraints.

We frequently receive questions including:

  1. What is the subdivision process?
  2. How much does it cost per lot for a subdivision?
  3. What are councils infrastructure charges?
  4. What is Councils application fees for subdivisions?
  5. How many lots can I yield when subdividing my site?

In this article Development Project Manager – Registered Architect Dan Everett from EVERETT Property Development Management chats with Directors and Civil Engineers of Wilkinson Shaw & Associates, Steven and Kym Wilkinson about their experience and challenges with subdivisions. This article looks into what Civil Engineers do in the process of a subdivision and explores the subdivision process for undertaking a reconfiguration of lot (ROL) development in South East Queensland (SEQ).


Civil engineering has evolved over the last few decades.  While the guiding principals that were used are basically unchanged the way in which we attack our workflow has dramatically changed.   Slide rulers have been updated by calculators and spreadsheets and drafting boards have been made almost obsolete with the introduction of computer aided design (CAD) and drafting packages.  Our last design that used hand drafting was undertaken in 2006 and it was only approximately 2 years ago that we finally retired the old drafting board, tracing paper and scalpels.  For those that never ventured onto a drawing board, a scalpel was used to scratch out a mistake.

(Source: https://designyoutrust.com/2018/10/amazing-vintage-photos-that-show-how-life-before-autocad-looked-like/)

As time has progressed the involvement of a civil engineer in the development industry has become more regulated.  While some documents have basically remained unchanged, apart for some updating for environmental consideration, the way the regulators apply these documents has become less flexible.  Go back not even 10 years ago and major design changes that were undertaken on the fly during construction would be addressed via the “as constructed drawings” and certification.  These days we are lodging Generally In Accordance With (GIW), stopping construction and waiting for approvals to ensure that the authority doesn’t reject the changes.

Have you seen a newly completed development and wondered what the whole at the lowest end of site is for?  It is now standard practice to have stormwater quality and quantity devices, such as wetlands, bio-retention basins and detention basins in a subdivision with more than 6 lots or 2,500m2.   This requirement has eventuated due to an increase awareness of our environment that has evolved over the last 15 years.  The awareness has been incorporated into the Environmental Protection Act via different mechanisms, but the main trigger is the State Planning Policy.

Mentioned previously was as constructed drawings, oh how the requirements have changed!  Once upon a time, the majority of our as constructed drawings were undertaken as “mark ups” on the design plans.  Then slowly we started providing details of exact locations of manholes and other structures via offsets from RP boundaries along with the mark ups.  Move forward a little further and we are reproducing stormwater long sections, including the analysis, within the as constructed drawings.  At this stage we are submitting the drawing on paper and microfilm!

Out comes the next advancement – PDF.  Council’s start to allow electronic submissions of the as constructed drawings.  This is a huge win and time saver for everyone.  Then with a couple of steps along the way the as constructed process further evolved to include ADAC, or As Designed As Constructed, documentation.  This was meant to be the messiah of as constructed documentation.  There was to be no more mark ups, no more PDF electronic signatures and a 3d special representation of all infrastructure would be available to the regulatory bodies.  But alas it hasn’t eventuated as proclaimed and now the majority of Council’s and Authorities request ADAC in addition to electronic mark ups!

Technological advances have altered the way we inject data within our designs and how we release our final deliverables on a project.  Surveys are provided with a 3D terrain and service models that are spatially located.   We are then able to design directly over the top of this information and in some instances this information is then sent via the cloud to a contractor in the field to undertake the construction from our design model.  Progressive earthworks quantities can be quickly evaluated using a drone and photogrammetry software without the need for a surveyor on site.  By using this technology, a site can become effectively “pegless” once the initial site control has been undertaken by a surveyor.  The surveyor can then be called in to “pick up” the required as constructed information and peg the lots once the chances of the pegs being dislodged is minimised.


For a reconfiguration of lot (ROL) development application / subdivision.

  • Site serviceability due diligence
  • Developable area investigations
  • Civil design
  • Urban design
  • Earthworks
  • Roadwork design
  • Stormwater systems
  • Stormwater management
  • Sewerage systems
  • Water reticulation
  • Inspections of contractors work during construction


Wilkinson Shaw & Associates as civil engineers with years of experience with subdividing land, have a good grasp of minimum lots sizes, minimum frontages and average block widths and can give you an indication of your expected lot yield. What civil engineers can also do, that generally a town planner or surveyor can’t, is tell you which engineering issues are going to stop your project before it even starts. There are 3 engineering requirements for a subdivision to occur:

  • A connection point for sewer;
  • A connection point for water; and
  • A lawful point of discharge for stormwater

In addition to the big three, a civil engineer can also help identify areas of risk or constraints such as steep slopes, flooding or traffic requirements that may require further investigation by other specialists.  It is also possible for a civil engineer to provide you with an indicative construction budget on your project.  It should be noted that this can entail a lot of work when there isn’t a design available and the contingencies may be large.


The first step in a successful subdivision development is the appointment of the project team members; development manager and a civil engineer to assist with the feasibility study.

We have included items that EVERETT Property Development Management includes in their feasibility studies below.

Feasibility Study

  • Due diligence
  • Market research
  • Town planning assessment
  • Site serviceability study
  • Highest and best use study
  • Yield study
  • Project program
  • Detailed feasibility investigation

How can a civil engineer and development manager assist during the feasibility phase?

Civil Engineer – Assist with investigations into yield and site serviceability of the lots.

Development Manager – Assist with coordinating the Feasibility Study

  • Development Application (DA)

Contact Dan Everett and Steven and Kym Wilkinson to discuss the subdivision process after the feasibility study

  • Engineering Design / Operational Works (OPW)
  • Construction (Including Tender + Marketing)
  • Plan Sealing, Titles and Sales


Case Study 1 – Park Ridge

We were undertaking the design and construction supervision of a repeat client’s project (Developer A) when the neighbouring upstream developer (Developer B) had to obtain stormwater discharge approval.  Over months of design checks and meetings, a satisfactory discharge arrangement from the proposed detention dam was agreed and both parties commenced construction of the first stage of their developments.

As the first stage of construction for Developer B came towards the end, we were approached to provide a quote on Stage 2.  The layout had changed significantly, and we were provided with a layout plan that contained:

  • 29 lots
  • Combined detention and bio-retention basin.

We put forward to Developer B that we would be able to remove the detention component of the layout and possibly remove the bio-retention component as well.  Worst case scenario was a yield increase of 2 lots.  Developer B told us that their current consultant said they couldn’t remove either detention or bio-retention.   Our tender was accepted and we moved into helping the Planner’s lodge a negotiated decision notice (NDN).

The NDN amended conditions that were unclear or not required by the Planning Scheme.  We undertook a detailed stormwater management report and capacity assessment based on the detention allowed for as part of Stage 1 of the development.  The outcome was that we had to upgrade a small section of pipe at the upstream end of Stage 1 due to a redirection of the assumed catchment and NOT provided detention or bio-retention.

In the end our Client ended up with:

  • 33 lots (increase of 4 lots or almost 14% yield)
  • No detention or bioretention.
  • Construction cost savings

Spending a little bit of extra money to undertake a more detailed analysis and report can result in a huge return on the investment!

Case Study 2 – Importance of early service locations

A philosophy that we adopt at WSA is to ask for potholing and location of critical service prior to commencing design.  This can be difficult to obtain as the surveyors are unable to locate underground services that don’t have manholes or access chambers.  Gas requires extreme caution when potholing, watermains are often through intersections and communication blocks can be encased in concrete.

We have been engaged on numerous projects to find a solution when service locations were not confirmed prior to undertaking detailed design.  It is standard industry practice for the civil contractor to confirm the location of services prior to construction but this is often too late.  If a service clash is detected once the contract has been commenced there is the possibility for costly delays for all parties while the designers attempted to find a solution around the services.

A recent example of this is a residential subdivision in Ipswich City Council.   We have been engaged by the Principal Civil Contractor to try and minimise the delays experienced on the project due to the services not being located prior to design.  Currently this project has been delayed in excess of 6 months due to design changes, reapprovals and relocation of services.  Leaving location of services as the contractor’s responsibility is often too late for design purposes.

Developers also need to be aware that there is an increase in density of services located around schools, hospitals, telephone exchanges and major intersections.  Prior to entering into a sales contract, we would advise undertaking a Dial Before You Dig at an absolute minimum.  Also talk to both your civil and electrical engineer to determine if these existing services could be problematic.

(Source:  https://www.12d.com/product/bim.html)


  • Call your civil engineer at the beginning of a project. They can help you identify key concerns and constraints early.
  • Get the entire design team engaged and COMMUNICATING early. We can’t do our best work if we work in isolation!
  • Invite your engineer to pre-lodgement meetings.
  • Ask your client for the feasibility study. If they don’t have a feasibility study engage with a development project manager and assist with the cost items of the feasibility study.


  • As a developer you need to be extremely careful of what each proposal is incorporating and be warned that going with the cheapest price can often cost you a lot more than the difference in fees. If you are in doubt on what is included ASK and if you don’t like the response RUN!
  • The big 3 – sewer, water and stormwater connections. If the connection point isn’t in your property it could cause problems.
  • It can be more cost effective to engage a civil engineer before signing a contract. A small upfront fee may stop you from making a poor purchase.
  • Spending a little bit of extra money to undertake a more detailed analysis and report could result in a huge return on the investment!
  • Engage with your development project manager early and before acquiring a site to assist with site due diligence and the feasibility study.


To discuss Feasibility Study’s / Development & Project Management contact Registered Architect Dan Everett of EVERETT Property Development Management


To discuss Civil enquiries for your next project contact Steven or Kym of Wilkinson Shaw & Associates  office@wilkinsonshaw.com.au


  • Logan City Council
  • Redland City Council
  • Brisbane City Council
  • Ipswich City Council
  • Moreton Bay Regional Council
  • Gold Coast City Council

Re-posted from the original blog located at http://daneverett.com.au/2018/11/01/guide-to-subdividing-land/

Continue reading Guide to subdividing land

October Property Feed

Its not long until the very last PROPERTY FEED for 2018 and Wilkinson Shaw & Associates are the sponsor.

October Property Feed


Come along and have a drink and mingle with:

– Property investors and developers
– Consultants and service providers
– Finance and investment professionals
– Real estate agents and marketers
– Construction contractors and subcontractors
– Government and planning authorities

We’re going to be sharing a few of our tips and tricks relating to subdivisions and residential projects.

Aerial surveys and imagery

Did you know that Wilkinson Shaw & Associates have the ability to undertake surveys and aerial imagery with our drone?  Drones are cutting down surveying times to hours instead of days.  While traditional survey will still be required there’s a lot that drones can help with on your project.

A few areas that drones are advancing the civil design and construction industry are:

  • Cutting down on times to start conceptual design.  In some instances you can capture some preliminary site levels and have the data available to start conceptual earthworks design within a day.
  • Speeding up site verification of levels.  You no longer have to rely on a surveyor taking shots with a GPS rover and then wait for the data to be processed as drones allow you to quickly survey a site when construction is in full swing.    Once we have flown the site the data is uploaded and processed.  From here we can provide cut/fill volumes and other information such as difference in levels from the final design surface.
  • Verifying progress claims.  Undertaking regular drone surveys can also help contractors and/or the superintendent to verify claims for earthworks quantities and percentage of works completed.
  • Resolving disputes.  As drone survey data provides a visual record of works undertaken it can be used as a tool to help resolve disputes with contractors.

If you are interested in drone surveys of your site please give us a call on (07)3555-9888 to discuss what we can do for you.

Rockhampton Development Opportunities Await

With the recent announcement that Rockhampton will be the Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) hub for the Adani Carmichael Mine it would be expected that property prices will continue to firm in the area.   WSA have been involved with developments in Rockhampton and Livingstone Shire Councils since 2006.

Adani is expected to create 1,700 new jobs in Rockhampton due to the Council negotiating with Adani for both construction and FIFO jobs on the mine project.   With construction commencing in just a few weeks the demand for more housing in Rockhampton will start to rise almost immediately.   Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor, Margaret Strelow, has been quoted as saying that “As a Region, we need to open our arms and embrace this opportunity which lays the foundation for the future success of Rockhampton – it is up to us as a community to build on it and make the most of this hard-won opportunity”.

We have a proven track record working in challenging sites in the area.  Varsity Park at Norman Gardens is an example of one of our projects undertaken in the region.   Give us a call on 07 3555 9888 to discuss your project in the region today.


Can I subdivide my property? – An engineering perspective

There are numerous factors that determine if a property can be subdivided. Each Council has its own set of rules and regulations (known as a Planning Scheme).  These rules set the framework for what is considered allowable development. While the rules change from Council to Council, what remains relatively the same is the engineering requirements that need to be met for a subdivision to occur.

As Civil Engineers with years of experience with subdividing land, we have a good grasp of minimum lots sizes, minimum frontages and average block widths and we can give you an indication of your expected lot yield. What we can also do, that generally a town planner or surveyor can’t, is tell you which engineering issues are going to stop your project before it even starts. There are 3 engineering requirements for a subdivision to occur:

– A connection point for sewer;
– A connection point for water; and
– A lawful point of discharge for stormwater

At WSA we offer a service called a “Discovery Review”. For a cost of $550 including GST, we will undertake a desktop review of a site in relation to sewer and water connections and a lawful point of discharge for stormwater. We will then hold a meeting with the client at our office or on the phone for up to one hour with either a Director or Principal Engineer to discuss the outcomes of the review.  A small up front free from an experienced civil consultant such as WSA could save you a fortune in fees from surveyors and town planners if a project is not viable from an engineering perspective. Give us a call on 3555 9888 to discuss your site today.



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