designing your vision
Not sure where to start? Not sure what to ask?
Perfect! You've come to the right place.
Not everyone is a full-time property developer. Most clients will only build 2-3 times in their lifetime. Building costs and processes can change so much over time and its important that you have as much information as possible at hand. The services and processes below are what we use in our practice. It will help you better understand the design process ahead and will also help you understand what our services include.
An initial consultation is the best place to start, if you don't know where to start. Just pick up the phone or send an email to request an initial consultation ($397).
Initial consultations are a service that very few construction professionals offer. We provide an in-depth on-site consultation that provides you with lots of information on design, site constraints, council controls, building in bushfire prone areas and much more. This service is perfect if you are planning to build a new home, undergo a major renovation, or are planning on adding more space to your existing home.
During the initial consultation we can provide the following information. See more here...
Every situation is different and after the initial consultation it's worth solidifying these ideas with pencil sketches drawn to scale scale. They look something like below.
Client Brief & Proposal
We try to keep our proposals to 2 pages but depending on the complexity it may be larger. All proposals will vary in their inclusions and pricing depending on many factors including site difficulties. Here’s an example of a standard proposal. We break down the costs so you can see exactly where the money is spent and decide exactly what you will need.
If it's not possible to meet on site to discuss your proposed renovations or new home design we are able to provide an online & over the phone service. The service can include all the services above as well as a fee proposal (outlined below) but delivered via apps such as Zoom, Google Meet, WhatsApp or via traditional phone. This design option is perfect for clients: living overseas, located in remote locations such as cattle stations and islands and well as people confined to their homes due to disabilities or pandemics. The Design by Distance service is currently $1,500 (for an average size home)
If you are not having a full survey done a deposited plan will need to be
located. This will outline; boundary dimensions, locations and dimensions
of easements and other physical things that can affect where you can build on your lot.
Dial Before You Dig (DBYD)
You will need to register with DBYD and request information for your property in relation to water, sewer, power, telecommunications and gas.
After analysing the above information it will confirm if you can build what you were planning on your property.
Depending on what you find during all stages so far you may need to engage the following:
Authority document review
Each council has their own DCP (Development Control Plan) and LEP (Local Environmental Plan). These need to be read in relation to your particular development proposal. There are also SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policies) that need to be reviewed.
Accepting the proposal
If you choose to accept the proposal we will request that you send us any documents you may have that may pertain to your property. If you do not have any we may gain these on your behalf or you will need to gather these documents as only the owner can.
Depending on your budget we will engage consultants as required and move through the items outlined in the proposal.
Time frames and the design process
A common question clients ask is "How long will it take to prepare our application?". We say 4 weeks. Sounds great right? If we had no other work on and if we get no input from consultants, authorities or the client it could be done, but this is not the way it happens.
It's important to know that there are many people involved in the process of preparing design documentation and each of these people can hold up works that the affect the timeframes of other people on the team. It works exactly like a construction site, for example; the plasterer cannot install the wall sheeting if the wall frames are not constructed. Similarly we cannot submit a DA application if the geotech assessment has not completed the assessment, or the the bushfire assessor has been off sick or client has taken longer than estimated reviewing the initial design drawings.
We start the design process with undertake the following research on our clients behalf.
Councils online mapping
The e-mapping on councils website gives you essential information such as;
zoning, mines subsidence area, basic level of bushfire threat, if acid
sulphate affected, flood prone or not, floor space ratio, permitted building
height, erosions and flood lines. It will also show properties affected by
heritage, bush reserves and protected tree areas and lots more.
The planning certificate is a document pertaining to your particular
property. It outlines what items may or may not affect your property.
Many of these are noted on the NSWPP or on council mapping but some
are not, such as: prone to slip, soil contamination and what can and
cannot be built on your lot and other items affecting your property.
The site analysis is different from the Initial Consultation. It's our opportunity to look at the building and the site without input from the client in its entirety. We take lots of photos inside and outside the existing home or of the vacant site. If there is a dwelling on site we undertake a measure up of the building - sometime partially, sometime entirely, depending on the scope of works. We also take some dimensions on the outside but we usually engage a surveyor to measure external distances.
More than often the client is keen to jump straight into this stage, and waives the conceptual design. The initial design usually includes; 3D drawings (so the form and finish externally is understood), floor plans, elevations and a section. The initial design should be presented in person but sometimes this is not possible and drawings can easily be presented using online meeting software. After the initial design presentation it's highly recommended that the client prints off copies of the plans and marks up the plans with red notes. It's wise that the client doesn't provide a quick turn-around with their feedback. It's far better to keep the plans for a few weeks and then send the plans back to the designer. This provides considered & clear instructions from the client to the designer on updates to the plans so the developed design drawings can be prepared. Remember as the client, always include as many changes as possible in one go. Little changes made "here and there" always take more CAD time than if you send one big list. The designer is often happy to accommodate a few little extra changes but if there are a lots of change requests the building designer will often charge the client for updates to documentation. Check your agreement. If they're not charging extra, be kind with their time.
Every design is different, and depending on the complexity, a conceptual design phase maybe offered to the client. The conceptual design provides a simple way of relaying to the client in the early stages that the designer has understood the client brief. The conceptual design may only include imagery or it can also include 3D form models and a floor plan. Often if the client creates a Pinterest board or mood board of their own and shares this with the designer it may well be enough to get everyone one on the same page in relation to design style.
Make changes to drawings in big chunks. It will reduce design fees.
Feedback from the client on the initial design drawings is essential at this stage. The designer will take all the clients feedback and produce developed design drawings. The client will then have another opportunity to provide another big chunk of feedback on the developed design drawings. Again, hold onto the drawings over a few weeks at least to let the revised drawings sink in. This provides time to think about the design and to confirm that the design really meets the client brief.
You may notice the building designer has added design items that were not requested. Unrequested changes are often incorporated into the plans by experienced designers, and for good reason. Many clients are unaware of the repercussions of the individual design requests, especially when it comes to renovations. The client brief as well as site constraints and building restrictions all have varying degrees of impact on the overall design and the clients budget. The building designer needs to massage the client brief to meet over-all goals.
DA, CC & CDC
What do they all mean!
After the developed design feedback has been provided by the client the building designer can start to prepare the the DA/CC or the CDC drawings for authority approval.
Acronyms - in short
DA - Development (application) minimal info. for council approval
CC - Construction certificate (application) detailed info. for construction
CDC - Complying development certificate (application) detailed information for certifier approval and construction
The explanation of acronyms above are a simple description. There is a great deal more information around these types of applications and which one is appropriate to your development. The above applications require more than just plans to be submitted to the appropriate authority. The following documents will most likely be required to accompany your application and possibly others (check with your local council).
Plans (see examples)
Owners Consent form
Waste Management Report
Statement of Environmental Effects
Water board information
Vehicular crossover application
Shadow diagrams (2 storey)
Long service levy
Your building designer, certifier or council planner can confirm exactly what you will need to submit. The examples listed can vary in content requirements between councils. DA's are generally advertised for 2 weeks and assessed and release 4 weeks later. Of course this is if everything goes according to plan, the application is simple build & the application is not lodged just before Christmas etc.
Get your builder involved in the structural
engineering before a decision is made on structure type
So what happens after DA or CDC lodgement?
Great question. After the DA has been submitted (to council) or the CDC has been submitted (to council or a private certifier) your project will be assessed and the assessor may ask for further information to be provided. Once all the different departments at council have reviewed the application & your proposal has been advertised the assessor will start processing the application.
Once the DA is approved the applicant will then need to lodge another application - the CC application. The certifier will require that any extra DA conditions be added to the CC plans. The construction certificate phase is a much quicker application than the DA and if you have everything ready it can take 7 days to receive the construction certificate. The only thing that usually holds things up during this process is the engineering, so get onto this asap ( before DA lodgement if possible). Once you have chosen an engineer it's not unusual for their lead time to be 3 months, depending on your location.
OK, so have your construction certificate.
Almost there... You should have started speaking with builders (or even better, one particular builder) during the initial design phase. Bringing a builder into the process early can help you meet your budget and get pricing done early. They can also start preparing contracts and insurances etc.
Once you have the stamped CC plans and documents the builder can: provide final pricing, prepare the construction contract & organise home warranty insurance. Then construction can begin.
Window and door schedules
3D walk-through models
Detailed working / construction drawings including:
Wet area details
Full specification documents
Landscape plans including set out and plant specification
Interior design services including:
Sample and mood board creation
Colour and finish selection
Door hardware selection
Understanding - where the service of an building designer finish, and where the services of an interior designer begin
Like other professions there can sometimes be a cross over of services (depending on the personal preferences of the business providing the service). But generally building designers prepare all the working documents for council and construction, and stop specifying where the lining of the walls, ceiling and floors finish. So anything to do with internal finishes including: paints, carpet, tiles, wall linings (other than plasterboard) door handles, sanitary fitments (taps & toilets), appliances, windows treatments and lights. Building designers generally specify the doors, windows & external claddings.