This stage is a research stage where the property (ie block for a new house or existing house for an extension/ renovation project) is analysed by the Architect, and the Owner’s requirements for the project are assessed.
At this early stage the architect will also select a Builder for the project. The selection criteria will be based on several factors such as :
- Owner’s schedule/timeframe
- Owner’s budget
- Builder’s availability
- Builder’s schedule/ timeframe
- Project complexity
- Project type
- Project size
- Project location
The Builder will assess the property and advise the Architect and Owner of any potential cost issues that should be addressed during the design stages. This early input will help the Architect keep the project on budget going forward.
During this stage a contour and feature survey of the property should also be carried out so that the Architect has that information prior to commencing the Concept Design stage. The survey can be carried out by a licensed surveyor. Perth Residential Architect can organise the survey on behalf of the Owner if they wish.
Based on the assessment of the Owner's needs and requirements, a sketch design is prepared by the Architect. The Sketch Design is a basic floor plan, that indicates the arrangement of the rooms in the house. It gives the owner an idea of how all the rooms relate to each other and the size of the spaces. The Builder can then provide an estimate of what he believes the construction cost will be. At this early stage the Owner will know whether what he wants can be achieved with his budget.
If the Owner is happy with the budget estimate based on the Sketch Design, the Architect can then prepare a Concept Design. The concept drawings are more detailed than the Sketch Design and include the following information:
- Site Plan
a drawing indicating the building’s position on the property.
- Floor Plans
drawings of each floor level showing the size and locations of the various rooms.
- Main Elevation
an external 2 dimensional drawing of the most prominent part of the building.
- 3D Visuals
3 dimensional computer visualisation of the building showing how it will look from various angles.
- Preliminary Cost Estimate
the Builder will provide a more accurate estimate of the construction cost based on the concept design.
At the completion of the Concept Design stage the Architect will meet with the Owner and present and explain the concept design. The Owner will then take the concept design away with them in order to absorb all the information and consider whether they want any changes to the concept.
Design Changes & Design Development
When the Owner has considered the concept design, they will then meet with the Architect to discuss what changes need to be made to the original concept. This may involve changing the layout of the various rooms or possibly reducing the overall size of the building if the preliminary cost estimate is higher than the Owner’s budget. The Owner may also want changes to the external appearance of the building.
The Architect will make the necessary changes by incorporating the Owner’s feedback and will continue to refine the design. This process may take several changes until the design is perfect. As well as finalising all the floor plans the Architect will complete all of the external elevations. The external elevations will also have information describing the materials and colours used. These drawings will be more detailed than the concept drawings and will include floor levels of each of the floors as well as floor finishes.
The Architect, Builder and Owner will meet to discuss materials and finishes to be used throughout the project. The selections will not be specific or final but will provide a clear direction for the project going forward. The selections will also provide the Builder with more information to be able to provide a revised cost estimate which will be more accurate than the preliminary cost estimate.
Once completed, the finalised design drawings will be submitted to the local council for preliminary planning advice. The council will prepare a brief report/summary, which will outline if there are any design issues that need to be addressed regarding compliance with the Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) or the council’s Local Planning Policy (LPP).
If there are aspects of the design that do not comply with the R-Codes or LPP, then a formal planning application will need to be prepared by the Architect and submitted to the council for a planning approval. If there are no issues that need to be addressed then no planning application is required and the project can move onto the next stage of the process (Construction Drawings & Schedules).
If a planning application is required, then the Architect will update and add more information to the finalised design drawings to address the issues outlined in the council report/summary. For example, heights of the building in relation to the natural ground level (ie on the elevations). Also the site and floor plans will have dimensions that show how far the walls of the building are from the property boundary.
The Architect will also need to prepare a written report that justifies why the design doesn’t comply with the various regulations and codes. The report may need to be supplemented with drawings/diagrams that help with explaining the written report. The report and drawings are then submitted to the local council for planning approval.
Construction Drawings & Schedules
When the planning application has been approved or if no application is required, the Architect can commence the Construction Drawings & Schedules Stage of the process. The purpose of this stage is to prepare technical information in the form of highly detailed drawings and a specification/ schedules, so that the Builder has a clear set of instructions as to how the building is to be constructed as designed by the Architect.
The construction drawings are very detailed, complex and extensive. Most people will have difficulty in understanding these types of drawings. In addition to the drawings, a specification and schedule of all the materials, finishes, fixtures, appliances and colours is completed. Together with the drawings these documents form part of the building contract.
When all the documents have been completed, the Builder will have all the information to be able to provide a final price in order to build the project. The more detailed the drawings and specification/ schedule the more accurate the price.
In order to be able to complete this stage, certain consultants will need to be involved in the project. Their expertise will be critical in making sure the building is built to the required standard and governing regulations. The type and number of consultants required will vary from project to project and usually depends on the building’s size, complexity and specific requirements.
Some of the required consultants may include:
Air conditioning Consultant/Mechanical Engineer
The Architect is responsible for the co-ordination of all the consultants. During this stage the Architect will liaise with the Building Surveyor to ensure all standards and regulations have been met prior to applying for a building permit.
When all the construction documents have been completed a building permit can be applied for. This can be done after this stage has been completed or the Owner may decide to wait until a building contract has been signed by the Builder.
If the owner is agreeable to the Builder’s final price, a building contract is signed by the Owner and Builder. The building contract outlines the responsibilities of both parties, who are required to comply with the terms of the contract. Put simply, the Builder is required to build the project as per the architectural and consultant drawings for the agreed price.
During the construction process the Builder should have enough information to build the project as designed and detailed by the Architect. Perth Residential Architect has a policy of producing extremely detailed and extensive construction drawings. The benefits of this are:
- Reduces confusion and misunderstanding during building and eliminates delays.
- Reduces the number of variations during construction.
- Ensures the project is built exactly as it has been designed by the Architect.
- Reduces the number of times the Architect needs to attend site to sort out problems/issues.
If there are issues during construction the Builder will call the Architect to try and resolve the problem. If the problem cannot be resolved via a phone call, the Architect will visit the site during construction to help the builder fix the issue as quickly as possible so that there are no delays to the project. The Architect, Builder and consultants will all work together as a team to ensure the project is built to a high standard and completed on time and on budget.
Perth Home Design Guides
We have developed 2 unique home design guides for people wanting to build their perfect dream home. These guides were developed as a result of 30 years of expertise and experience designing new homes as well as extensions and renovations for clients all over the Perth metropolitan area.
Please feel free to download the guides.