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Rebuilding the Hermitage

From the Ashes

After many years of planning, and overcoming countless obstacles to obtain the necessary planning and building permits, the re-construction of the Hermitage has now begun. The completion of the project will enable Vimokkharam to once again become a suitable home for the practice and embodiment of the qualities of the Noble Triple Gem for our community.

In January 2014, an electrical fire burned down the main facilities of Vimokkharam Forest Hermitage. Thus, one of the main missions of the Hermitage is to rebuild its premises.

February 2022 / 2565   

Full Recovery

Over five years ago, Vimokkharam was in a coma. There had been many discussions and heated debates about whether to 'pull the plug' or not, but it was ultimately decided by the committee to invite a monk to come and hope for the best.

Yesterday -- 8 years, 1 month and 3 days after the fire that burned down the old facilities -- we finally received our occupancy permit for the new Vihara and can now use our generational home to the fullest for learning and practising Dhamma together. I would expect the new hermitage to last for about 100 years. Today marked the first day of 'normal life' at Vimokkharam after a long convalescence.

December 2021 / 2564   

Practical completion

We have passed our final inspections for the building project and paid the 'practical completion' stage to the buildings. The site and the temple was then handed back over to us by the builders. We will see them here and there over the next few months in order to finish some details and deal with defects, but for the first time in many years, the whole of the hermitage is in full possession of the monks and the community again!

October 2021 / 2564   

Fixing stage

We have hit yet another building milestone as we are now processing payment for the 'fixing' stage of construction. 'Fixing' stage means that all 'fixtures' -- walls, ceilings, doors, cabinetry, plumbing, electrics, etc., -- are completed and installed. There are still lots of small details to attend to before we can move in, however, and part of those details involves the demolition of our current makeshift sala and kitchen, and completely re-doing the driveway.

July 2021 / 2564   

Lockup stage

After enduring several rounds of 'Lockdown' here at Vimokkharam, we have now reached 'Lockup' stage with our building project. Lockup stage means that all the structural and external aspects of the building are complete, and it looks reasonably finished from the outside (lockup itself refers to the installation of doors and windows, as well as roof and walls, so the building is finished and sealed and can be locked up). This is a major milestone for building in the Kallista winter as it means that the project can now proceed regardless of the weather -- almost all work now is happening indoors.

April 2021 / 2564   

Building frame

As the weather is getting cooler here and we head into April, I am pleased to announce that we have now officially passed inspections for the framing stage of our temple rebuilding project. This means all the structural elements are in place and approved, and leaves us with only one final inspection to complete before the temple is finally ready for use.

November 2020 / 2563    

Foundation pouring

After months of obstacles and problems, we managed to pass our first five inspections for our temple rebuilding. On November 6th, we had 31 concrete trucks coming and going as we poured 167 cubic metres of concrete to complete our foundation slab.

July 2020 / 2563    

Ready to begin construction

On July 15th, we finally received our building permit for the construction of the Hermitage. Construction is scheduled to begin shortly.

November 2019 / 2562 

Phase 1 Complete

On November 20th, we have been issued a final certificate of completion for the retaining wall and now have Council consent to proceed to Phase 2.

June 2018 / 2561           

Ready to begin construction

After a long and complicated process, we have now succeeded in gaining planning permission approval for rebuilding Vimokkharam (see plans below). We are now able to proceed with the building stage. As one of the conditions of our permit, we must build a retaining wall on the northern bank of the site before we can begin building the temple itself. We have engaged the services of a Building Surveyor to help with contract negotiations with our contractor and also to facilitate the application for a building permit for the wall.

October 2017 / 2560    

Hermitage Design Finalised

As of October 17th, we are still waiting to hear back from Yarra Ranges Council about our planning amendment. In the meantime, we have been focusing on our working drawings and making inquiries with contractors in the hopes of being able to move forward.

December 2017 / 2560 

Waiting for Council

We heard back from Council in late October with a very encouraging response, but with a request for more documentation and updates to our current Land Management plans, etc. We have now responded to the Council’s request for further information on our amendment and are waiting to hear back once again. With no major issues left to be discussed, we feel cautiously optimistic about being granted full planning permission on our amendments. We hope to hear the official response from Council before the end of the year.

September 2017 / 2560 

Waiting for Council (reprise)

As some of you know, we received a conditional planning permit last November, but this came with nearly two dozen conditions that had to be fulfilled. With the inclusion of conditions like the retaining walls and taking into account geotechnical issues and other regulations, the building sub-committee has come up with a great final design which aimed to balance some very strict regulations, aesthetics, cost concerns, and many varied opinions.

These plans have just been submitted to city council on Friday, September 8. Once we are able to amend our planning permission, we will finally be able to go forward with rebuilding the Hermitage.

December 2016 / 2559 

Getting Started

The Planning Permit for the redevelopment of the site comes with some arduous demands before any actual building works can proceed.

The most significant of these is the design and construction of a number of retaining walls.  Most people may be aware of these areas that are largely made up of cuts into the hill, one at the back of the previously existing building extending along to the carport and behind the Kuti and the corresponding bank behind the sheds and compost toilet.

The Building Subcommittee have sourced fee proposals for the services of the following; a Land Surveyor, Building Surveyor and Structural & Civil Engineer.

We have also engaged the services of a draftsperson to produce the documentation required to call tenders on the works and to obtain a building permit.  He will work in conjunction with the Architect who has kindly donated his services to prepare the Schematic Design for the new Hermitage and will continue to assist with the Design Development.

Once all the various fee proposals have been received the Building Sub-committee can make the important decision how best to proceed forward with the relevant documentation.

Some of you may already be aware that we also hope to reconnect the mains power supply before the building works commence in order to make the living facilities on site at little easier.

From the Ashes
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