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abn. 78 010 589 661
rpeq. 1546 (Robin Russell)
204/6 Babarra St
Stafford QLD 4053
p. (07) 3872-5555
f. (07) 3872-5566
e. rr@robrus.com.au

contact us

abn. 78 010 589 661
rpeq. 1546 (Robin Russell)
204/6 Babarra St
Stafford QLD 4053
p. (07) 3872-5555
f. (07) 3872-5566
e. rr@robrus.com.au

FAQs

  • How Can Robin Russell & Associates Help Me?
    1. Our design will be "least cost".
    2. We'll arrange for you to purchase materials direct from Energex, at the cheapest prices.
    3. Our tenders attract the lowest contract prices.

    For these three reasons, we can usually get the job done for up to 20 percent less than others can.

    From paperwork to specifying the last nut and bolt of construction, we'll take care of everything. We'll negotiate effectively with Energex and Council on your behalf. We'll obtain the necessary approvals from Council, Transport & Main Roads Department and other relevant bodies.  We also handle all arrangements for NBN greenfield fibre (if available) or Telstra.

    If you want to reticulate gas, we can co-ordinate its installation in shared trenches. And our service doesn't end with the design. We provide full Contract Superintendent services to AS 4000:1997. We remain on the job until the installation has been completed satisfactorily and your Energex bond has been returned. (Lower-priced consultants only go as far as the design.)

    No time is wasted. Also because we know that timing is critical for developers, we won't accept a job if we can't get started immediately.

    As an added service: by means of this website, we give our clients and associated consultants on-line access to drawing downloads, job details and job progress.

  • How Do I Provide Telecommunications In Community Titles Developments?

    In the lead up to the installation of NBN fibre, Telstra ceased installing conduits and pits at Telstra's expense, on 1 January 2011. Now developers must pay the full cost. So what does this mean for community titles developments?

    NBN will install fibre immediately in qualifying greenfield developments. To qualify, a development must intend to produce at least 100 new residential dwellings in the next 3 years. For those (smaller) developments which do not qualify for immediate NBN fibre, Telstra will provide telephone services under its Universal Service Obligation, until such time as NBN Co rolls out its fibre into "brownfield" areas. That may take several years.

    GREENFIELD (LARGE) INSTALLATIONS

    Greenfield installations require NBN-compliant conduits and pits. Each unit requires an individual NBN service drop. The design must be submitted to NBN Co for approval. RRA can design and supervise installation of NBN-compliant conduits and pits.

    BROWNFIELD (SMALLER) INSTALLATIONS

    The situation here is more complex, but with the help of advice from Telstra, this is the story. There are two possible configurations of telecommunications wiring in community titles developments, which would generally be served by Telstra in the immediate term:

    1. For units arranged in separate buildings - all at ground level ("lateral" developments), Telstra to provide an individual service to each unit, or to an MDF (a Main Distribution Frame - the equivalent of an electrical switchboard) at each building, with private wiring running between the MDF and each unit within the building,
    2. For units under the same roof ("vertical" developments), Telstra to provide service to one MDF, from which private wiring serves each unit.

    Note: Wiring between the MDF and the units will likely become redundant for the supply of public network services under proposed NBN arrangements, because the NBN fibre will run to each individual unit, bypassing the MDF and the existing wiring.

    LATERAL DEVELOPMENTS (ANY SIZE)

    1. Individual Service to Each Unit or Building

    This is our recommended option. Individual conduit to each unit is recommended (rather than to an MDF at the building) for the reason stated in the above Note. The conduit and pit installation should be NBN-compliant. The installation would then be "fibre ready" for the upcoming NBN brownfield rollout in a few years' time.

    At present, we recommend that Telstra design and install the conduits. Telstra will require access to a shared trench, however. If the conduits and pits are designed and installed by other than Telstra, there is still some uncertainty about how Telstra will respond to its Universal Service Obligation.

    2. Private Reticulation

    If this option is selected, we strongly recommend that conduits and pits be NBN-compliant. In fact, local authorities will probably mandate this as a development condition very soon. Saving money on a cheaper installation now will certainly increase costs later, when NBN fibre is installed.

    If the intention is to reticulate a lateral development of any size from an MDF located in a freestanding cabinet or located at a building detached from the other buildings, you need to be aware that this MDF is not a valid network boundary for any services in the detached buildings (under the legislation, the MDF must be in the same building as the end-user). For this reason, Telstra will generally refuse to connect its network to the MDF, to avoid service complications.

    Additionally, if the radial distance between any two units is 500 metres or more, or the aggregate of the radial distances between all individual units exceeds 5 kilometres (equivalent to about 20 semi-detached units), the body corporate must obtain a Category 1 Carrier Licence under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

    We advise against this approach.

    If the intention is to use the private reticulation for non-NBN or non-Telstra purposes (e.g. operation of a PABX), the private wiring must be installed in separate conduit and pits to the conduit and pits to be used by Telstra or for the NBN.

    VERTICAL DEVELOPMENTS (ANY SIZE)

    For multi-storey units/apartments, the installation of an MDF in a common area and private wiring between the MDF and each individual unit is unavoidable, notwithstanding that the MDF and the private wiring is likely to become redundant for the supply of public network services post-NBN. Additional space needs to be set aside in a common area of the building for the NBN fibre distribution hub (FDH) and allowance made for the distribution of fibre between the FDH and each individual unit in a few years' time.

    In the case of a vertical development, the MDF is a valid network boundary because it will invariably be in the same building as the end-user. For this reason, Telstra has not had any inhibitions about connecting its network to the MDF (as long as it complies with Telstra and ACMA requirements) and a Carrier Licence will not be required by the body corporate for the private wiring no matter how large the building is.

    MORE INFORMATION

    For more information about Telstra requirements, refer to the Telstra Smart Community web site http://www.telstra.com.au/smartcommunity/mybuilder.html" . (And thanks to Telstra for their valuable assistance in preparing these notes.)

    For more information about NBN requirements, refer to the NBN Co. web site.

    For more information about the Telecommunications Act 1997, refer to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy web site.

    For more information about Carrier Licences, refer to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) web site.

  • What is the process for subdivision development in Energex's area?

    Energex's Subdivision Guidelines for Developers - Form 8051 can be downloaded from their web site.

    On being engaged, we request Energex's design parameters and obtain full details from associated consultants (civil engineer and surveyor). We then prepare the electrical/street lighting design and submit it for council approval. When that approval has been received, we send the approved design to Energex. (Energex approval is not required, because RRA is "A"-rated by Energex, so our designs are self-certified.)

    Energex responds with an Agreement offer to the developer. The essence of this Agreement is that Energex agrees to accept the proposed installation if the developer pays certain charges and ensures that the installation complies fully with Energex's specifications. When the developer signs the Agreement, lodges the required bond and pays Energex's fees, Energex issues a Certificate for Electricity Supply. This must be lodged with Council in order to get the subdivision plan sealed.

    Energex no longer supplies transformers and cables free of charge, so approved materials can be sourced anywhere. At present, the cheapest source of other materials is Energex's own store. So we prepare detailed materials lists and obtain Energex's quotation to supply these. An Energex-accredited contractor must be engaged to construct the installation. There are about 12 contractors presently operating, ranging from large, experienced contractors to small, two-man crews. We work with most of these contractors. Their work is generally of a high standard.

    Our normal process is to call tenders from three contractors, whom we think could get the job done on time and from whom we expect to obtain the best prices.During construction, we provide full Contract Superintendent services, according to AS 4000:1997, on which our specifications are based.On completion, the contractor hands the installation over to Energex. When they are satisfied that the installation complies with their specifications, they issue their Certificate of Acceptance and release the developer's bond.

  • How long does it take to get electricity installed in a new subdivision?

    ENERGEX'S AREA

    Typically, 20 weeks, give or take a little, depending on the complexity of the job. This time is comprised as follows:

    RRA design: 4 weeks
    Council approval: 3 weeks
    Energex processes: 8 weeks
    Construction: 5 weeks
    Total: 20 weeks

    A Certificate for Electricity Supply (to enable sealing of plans by Council) can usually be obtained by the end of week 12 after the bond has been lodged with Energex. Final acceptance of the new installation by Energex usually takes a further 8-10 weeks; the bond is released about 4 weeks later.

  • Why does Energex refuse to allow private design and construction of certain works which are fully funded by developers?

    Energex will only allow "contestable" works to be designed and constructed privately. They define "contestable" works as:

    • subdivisions,
    • lot reconfigurations,
    • most community titles developments,
    • most retirement villages and caravan parks,
    • street lighting projects.

    Other works, even if funded entirely by a customer, are classed as "non-contestable" and Energex insists on doing the design and construction themselves. The customer is charged Energex's full cost - up to 30 percent more than it could be done for privately.

    Examples of this sort of work include:

    • extending electricity supply to serve existing lots or new street lights,
    • undergrounding existing overhead wires,
    • relocation of poles or cables for road widening, etc.

    This policy dates back to a historical agreement between SEQEB and the union not to allow contractors to take up work which had traditionally been done by day labour. However the labour situation today is very different from what it was in 1990. Now the need for skilled contract labour is well accepted all around. So it is to be hoped that Energex will review its present restrictive policy - sooner rather than later.

  • What sort of Street Lights can I install?

    Have a look in our Street Lights section, by clicking here.

  • What does design and construction of electricity and street lighting cost?

    The cost varies greatly from job to job. Factors which increase the cost include:

    • external works to bring high voltage to the estate
    • major road lighting required
    • council requirement to convert existing overhead to underground
    • new transformer required
    • length of new road per lot.

    At present (2011), the net cost of design and construction of electricity and street lighting (in Energex's area) averages about $5500 GST-inclusive per lot for large residential subdivisions, but this cost varies greatly from job to job. The GST-inclusive net cost of commercial subdivisions currently ranges from $16 000 to $22 000 per lot.

    Our fee is based on a scale which takes into account the size and complexity of the job. It presently averages about $440 GST-inclusive per lot for large residential subdivisions. However, like total costs, it varies greatly from job to job, for the same reasons. The "per lot" cost is, of course, higher for small subdivisions.

    In Ergon's area, our fees are generally higher, mainly due to travel costs. Construction costs are also higher, because (currently) Ergon's policy is not as "developer-friendly" as Energex's. Please contact us for indicative costs.

    We are pleased to provide our current scale of fees upon request.

    Often it is not possible fpr us to provide a firm fee proposal without first preparing a preliminary design, in order to gauge the full scope of the job. That requires us to obtain network maps for the area, gather load data for the existing transformers and do computer calculations. Often a site visit is also necessary.

    When clients require a firm fee proposal (and total cost estimate), we are happy to provide one, for an agreed fee. If we are later engaged for the project, part of this fee is deducted from what we would otherwise charge for design.

  • Basic Telephone Service

    NBN fibre is available for installation in "greenfield" estates which expect to produce at least 100 lots in 3 years, and which fall within the NBN "footprint". It costs the developer nothing. We'll lodge the application on your behalf if your estate complies.

    All other estates will be serviced by Telstra, by virtue of its Universal Service Ogligation
    Universal Service Obligation, under the Telecommunications Act. Just how Telstra provides a basic telecommunications service is entirely up to Telstra. It may do this by installing copper wires, or by providing fixed wireless telephones.

  • Broadband Service

    If NBN greenfield fibre is installed, broadband services will be offered by retailers who elect to do so. Details have yet to be advertised.

    If Telstra provides a basic telecommunications service using copper wires, ADSL broadband may be available, depending on the equipment at Telstra's local exchange. If Telstra installs a fixed wireless telephone, then the householder will need to obtain a wireless broadband connection from Telstra or one of the other retailers who offer this service.

  • Conduits & Pits

    Whatever telecommunications service is available, it will always be necesary for the developer to install NBN-compliant conduits and pits, to ensure that the estate is "fibre ready" - at the developer's cost of course.

    There are contractors who offer a design/construct service for NBN-compliant conduits and pits. However we recommend that it be done in conjunction with the design and installation of electricity reticulation. The conduits and pits are installed in shared trenches with the electricity conduits, so that has to be the cheapest way to do it. This is part of the seamless service we provide....

  • How should builders provide for NBN Fibre?

    NBN Co has now begun rolling out fibre in the larger estates and developments (100+ lots/dwellings in 3 years) which fall within the NBN "footprint". Smaller developments will have to wait for the general rollout, which has also started and will be completed progressively over the next few years.

    So virtually all homes will have access to high speed broadband communications very soon, if not immediately. Builders should therefore ensure that the homes they build are "fibre ready". In fact, this should become a marketing slogan. Like electrical wiring, communications cabling can vary from the very basic to the gold standard. In this regard, NBN Co has published an excellent Guideline: NBN Co In-Home Wiring Guide for SDUs and MDUs.

    ("SDUs" are single dwelling units. "MDUs" are multiple dwelling units.)Further useful information regarding wiring MDUs is found on the NBN Co web site.

  • What about installing Gas in my estate?

    We recommend that you give serious consideration to installing gas reticulation in your estate - especially if it is a large development (i.e. 100+ lots). As concerns about the environmental impact of electricity generation grow, gas is being promoted more and more as an environmentally-friendly alternative. (With gas, the greenhouse gas emissions are half those for coal-generated electricity.)

    Progressive changes to the electricity cost structure are balancing the up-front cost of installing gas reticulation in new estates. Electricity tariffs are expected to rise twice as fast as gas tariffs in the next five years, so gas will become increasingly attractive as an energy source.

    RETICULATED NATURAL GAS

    There are two main natural gas distribution companies in Queensland: Envestra Limited and APA Group. However APA Group has a contract to manage Envestra's installation, so that makes it simple. To open up discussions for any area, send an email to APA's Business Development Team, at businessdevelopment@apa.com.au.

    The deal they will offer you will depend on a number of factors, which will vary from job to job, These include: the proximity of the nearest gas mains, the size of the subdivision, and whether the developer can guarantee that gas will be installed in all houses. You will certainly be asked to provide the trench for the gas mains - usually a shared trench with electricity. This could cost up to $200 per lot extra However Energex allows us to reduce design loads when the developer can give a guarantee that gas will be installed in every house. (It means fewer transformers.) So gas can be particularly attractrive to developers offering house + land packages, who can guarantee a gas installation in every house.

    If the numbers don't stack up, APA Group might ask for a small capital contribution.

    Developer/builders should seriously consider the installation of gas reticulation along with gas water heaters in their new homes. By comparison with a solar water heater, a gas water heater costs around $4000 less to install. There is even a saving in comparison with heat exchange type water heaters. This saving can dwarf the relatively small extra cost of gas reticulation.

    That is why we think this is certainly worth considering.

    APA Group has an informative website for developers - view website here.

    METERED LPG SUPPLIED FROM A NEARBY STORAGE TANK

    If there is no nearby natural gas main, then reticulated gas can still be provided by Origin Energy. They will install a large storage tank near the estate, as the source of supply. The site must be provided by the developer - that is the main down side.

    The Origin gas mains are installed in a shared trench with electricity, similar to natural gas. Gas supply to individual premises is metered. Consumers do not have to bother with individual gas bottles on their premises. This saves space, and offers a safety benefit also.

    The gas installation is owned and operated by Origin Energy. In some instances, a contribution fee is required from the developer. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

    Origin's contact is: David Fraser. His telephone number is (07)3867 0915. e-mail: david.fraser2@originenergy.com.au. Origin's web site is http://www.originlpg.com.au.

  • How long does it take to get electricity installed in a new subdivion?

    ENERGEX'S AREA

    Typically, 20 weeks, give or take a little, depending on the complexity of the job. This time is comprised as follows:

    RRA design: 4 weeks
    Council approval: 3 weeks
    Energex processes: 8 weeks
    Construction: 5 weeks
    Total: 20 weeks

    A Certificate for Electricity Supply (to enable sealing of plans by Council) can usually be obtained by the end of week 12 after the bond has been lodged with Energex. Final acceptance of the new installation by Energex usually takes a further 8-10 weeks; the bond is released about 4 weeks later.

    ERGON'S AREA

    Unfortunately in regional Queensland (Ergon's area), the design and installation of electricity takes about one year. The design and construction takes no longer than in south-east Queensland, but Ergon's processes take about 6 months longer. Not only are the processes unweildy, but response times vary from 6 weeks to 3 months. We suspect that Ergon suffers from the dual problems of a shortage of skilled staff and geographic dispersement.

    Our advice to developers is to engage us as early as possible.

  • What does design and construction of electricity and street lighting cost?

    The cost varies greatly from job to job. Factors which increase the cost include:

    • external works to bring high voltage to the estate
    • major road lighting required
    • council requirement to convert existing overhead to underground
    • new transformer required
    • length of new road per lot.

    At present (2011), the net cost of design and construction of electricity and street lighting (in Energex's area) averages about $5500 GST-inclusive per lot for large residential subdivisions, but this cost varies greatly from job to job. The GST-inclusive net cost of commercial subdivisions currently ranges from $16 000 to $22 000 per lot.

    Our fee is based on a scale which takes into account the size and complexity of the job. It presently averages about $440 GST-inclusive per lot for large residential subdivisions. However, like total costs, it varies greatly from job to job, for the same reasons. The "per lot" cost is, of course, higher for small subdivisions.

    In Ergon's area, our fees are generally higher, mainly due to travel costs. Construction costs are also higher, because (currently) Ergon's policy is not as "developer-friendly" as Energex's. Please contact us for indicative costs.

    We are pleased to provide our current scale of fees upon request.

    Often it is not possible fpr us to provide a firm fee proposal without first preparing a preliminary design, in order to gauge the full scope of the job. That requires us to obtain network maps for the area, gather load data for the existing transformers and do computer calculations. Often a site visit is also necessary.

    When clients require a firm fee proposal (and total cost estimate), we are happy to provide one, for an agreed fee. If we are later engaged for the project, part of this fee is deducted from what we would otherwise charge for design.

  • How do I include the cost of Electricity when calculating the Building and Construction Industry Levies?

    For projects costing $80 000 GST-inclusive or more, the developer is required to pay a combined Building & Construction Industry levy calculated at 0.35% of the estimated total GST-inclusive cost of the job. For details, please refer to the QLeave website.

    When we are engaged, we provide you with a rule-of-thumb method for estimating the cost of design and construction of electricity reticulation and street lighting. That produces a very rough estimate - but better than nothing. Then, when we have prepared our design, we give you a more reliable cost estimate.

    Finally, on completion, we tell you what the job actually cost - just in case you have to lodge a variation with QLeave.

    You can also access your job's cost on our website, but until costs from the Energex Agreement have been entered, and the electrical contractor has been appointed, that figure means little.

    Give us a call if you have any questions about the levy.

  • How can I gain access to secure content including details of all my jobs?

    The following details are available for all current projects:

    • subdivision definition
    • type of street lights
    • job progress
    • current cost estimate (incomplete until Energex's costs and tenders received)
    • RRA staff member responsible.

    Access is available to anyone associated with a current project, including

    • developers (clients)
    • project managers
    • civil engineers
    • surveyors

    If you have a current job with us and you do not already have access, register here.

    Once we receive the registration request, it will be approved promptly and you will receive a confirmation email with your login details.

    You will then be able to view all jobs for which your company is responsible.