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1. Pre-design: Feasibility and Briefing

Project Feasibility:

Before purchasing a property it is enlightening and prudent to commission an Architect to evaluate the architectural potential of a site.  A site visit and consultation with council can provide a lot of useful information relevant to any potential building development. There may be restrictive legal covenants or easements, problems with ground stability and/or limited building services, restrictive site shape, contour and orientation, all of which may impact on the ultimate building form, building functionality and the financial feasibility of your project.


When you first meet with us to develop the project brief it is important to articulate your needs clearly. Why are you embarking on this journey? What are your expectations? What do you like and dislike? How do you see your building being used in the long term? What are you priorities? Time, quality and cost are important factors to consider prior to your first meeting. These drive every architectural project and ultimately shape decisions. It is up to you to determine which of these matter the most to you in this project. Open, honest communication will help create a brief that is satisfying for everyone and will form the basis for a successful ongoing relationship. Take your time on the brief and don’t be afraid to think outside the square. We are trained to turn a creative idea into a practical solution.

Discussions generally focus on the establishing the scope and complexity of works together with key design issues. In residential projects consideration should be given to factors such as client lifestyle and accommodation requirements; inter-relationships between family, friends, neighbours; relationship to the natural environment; functional and technological aspects of the project; budget and timing for design work and construction; preferred architectural styles and design agendas; Site analysis should be carried out that this time. A land surveyor might be engaged to provide accurate dimension drawing of boundaries, existing features and levels and site contours. Geo-technical engineering and drainage engineering investigations may also be required.



2. Concept Design


When we have developed the brief sufficiently, we will progress to concept development. The concept for your project will come to life as we consider the project’s scope, budget and any special requirements. During concept design, your architect is essentially offering a solution, or solutions to the brief. Concepts may be developed through a series of drawings, floor plan and perspective sketches, computer renderings or physical models.

During this design stage a partial three-dimensional computer model of the proposed building will be created. We use this model in tandem with hand sketching as a means of generating and testing design ideas. The model also provides the means to design the floor plans (to scale) and investigate the building’s exterior appearance and relationship to any existing structures; exterior living spaces and the natural environment. At the end of this concept design process we typically present basic floor plans and design perspectives for client review

During concept development, we will play with ideas and it is not unusual to receive several different visions for your project. We will be thinking about broad issues and they may challenge your thinking during concept design. You will need to communicate clearly what you do and don’t like about each concept.  It is advised that you revisit your brief and assess whether all your needs have been considered and responded to appropriately. This stage forms the basis for further development.

Landscape or Garden Design (*This may be a standalone contract or integrated into the Architects Agreement for Services as an extra)

During the concept stage the landscape aspects of the project may be examined. We typically develop the three-dimensional computer model of the building and refine the building’s relationship to exterior living spaces. Designing the landscape so that it blends sympathetically with the built elements of the project is critical to the overall success of a development. Landscape elements that require careful planning and design range from the small and intimate to the large scale,  and/or rural: Including courtyards, decks, terraces, pavilions, tennis courts, swimming pools, water features, trees and other soft planting; hard landscape surfaces, driveways, and the creation of scenic vistas and park like settings, ponds, rural gardens, orchards and working landscapes. At the end of this process we typically present site plans and occasionally design perspectives for client review.


3. Preliminary Design



When you have agreed on a concept, we will test the ideas again during the preliminary design stage, and refine the design further. At the end of this stage we would normally obtain an outline budget of costs from a building company or may a engage an Quantity Surveyor to estimate costs. While it is enormously difficult to predict the final cost of a building, the architect and the external specialists they collaborate with are trained to identify all potential costs and will form an estimate based on that knowledge. Be honest about your budget and work with us to find solutions to suit your needs.

At the end of this preliminary design process we typically present reworked floor plans and design perspectives for client review

Landscape or Garden Design*

During the preliminary stage the landscape aspects of the project may be re-examined. At the end of this process we typically present reworked site plans and design perspectives for client review.




Design for Sustainability

We have some expertise in sustainability consultancy and creating ecologically sensitive architecture. Areas of interest include design for comfortable energy conscious buildings; passive solar domestic design; healthy homes and interiors. If requested we offer a general review of the proposed building in terms of sustainability and environmental comfort, and for commercial projects we can take the analysis further and critique the design using the National Australian Building Rating Scheme (NABERS), 


4. Developed Design & Resource Consent


Developed design is a key phase – at this point you will need to communicate any further needs or requirements as it is the last opportunity to refine the overall nature of the design before project planning commences. Your budget will come into play during the developed design phase. Think about your priorities in terms of time, quality and cost.

At the developed design stage the building and landscape may be reworked to incorporate any changes/altered requirements you may have prior to beginning the consent drawings. Once you are happy with the overall design, more detail is added, facilitating the development of elevations and an outline specification of materials. At this stage we strongly recommend that a Quantity Surveyor provide an estimate costs for the project.

Planning and Resource Consent

Once the developed design is completed there are a range of options to move the project forward. If all of the elements within the design appear to comply with the Territorial Authority’s District Plan we it may be useful to submit the project for a Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM). This process should identify if Resource Consent is required. If no Resource Consent is required then we can move onto the Detailed Design Stage and apply for Building Consent.

If the project does not comply with the District Plan it will be necessary to apply for a Resource Consent. We have a range of Planning and Engineering Consultants that are able provide assistance. At this stage the Architect will co-ordinate the production of a folio of drawings, an assessment of environmental effects together with any relevant consultants reports in support of the Resource Consent Application, and submit them to the Territorial Authority. We will present documents and negotiate with council, and their consultant representatives, supplying extra information if requested at your discretion, in order to progress the consent through to where we are able to obtain a decision. Generally this work is done on a time and expenses basis.

Landscape and Garden Design*

During this stage the design of landscape may be re-examined. At the end of this process we typically present reworked site plans and design perspectives for client review. If the landscape development is likely to create any (temporary) detrimental environmental effects, for example construction earthworks we will have to address these effects as part of the Resource Consent. In many cases a good landscape design may act as a mitigating factor for some other aspect of the built development, and very often will form a critical part of a Resource Consent submission.

5. Detailed Design: Construction Documentation and Building Consent


When your resource consent approved or near approval, your project will progress to the detailed design phase. At this point we will advance your design to the level of detail that allows a construction contractor to assess the full scope of the project prior to tender. This will include construction details, materials, components, systems and finishes.

Because the architect is at the heart of your building project, they are best positioned to understand the relevant codes and standards and articulate to the Building Consent Authority the particulars of your project. We are trained to understand the building consent process  we know the jargon and technical issues that you may not fully grasp. We will communicate with the Building Consent Authority and foster understanding of your project from an early stage.

At this stage for example, we will typically produce: Site plans; dimensioned floor plans; elevations, foundation plans and framing plans; cross-sections and details; drainage plans; a plumbing axonometric; electrical and lighting layouts; and a specification of materials for submission to obtain Building Consent. These documents form the basis of a tender and building contract and are to be used as a reference to build from. The architectural drawings will be co-ordinated with other consultants’ drawings and reports: Other consultants that are likely to be engaged at this time may include a Structural Design Engineer; Environmental Services Engineer and Fire Engineer for multiunit or commercial developments.

Architectural drawings and specifications; plus consultants’ calculations drawings and reports will be submitted for a Building Consent (typically Compass Building Consultants) who processes these on behalf of the Territorial Authority. We prefer to use a building consultant company to process consents because of their high standards of customer service.

Landscape and Garden Design*

During this stage drawings and specifications related to the landscape design will be prepared. Some of these drawings may have to be submitted to obtain Building Consent.  Others however may not require Building Consent but will form the basis of a tender and building contract and are to be used as a reference to build from.

6. Procurement: Tenders and Contract Documentation

We have an in-depth understanding of the current state of the construction industry and can be an invaluable guide in choosing a quality builder and other contractors to execute your design. We can help with the tendering process and can take your particular needs into consideration when choosing a contractor.

Our office carries out the administration of projects including tendering, writing contracts between owner and builder; and the administrative aspects of the job including processing of variations and certification of project payments. For large or complex projects we sometimes make use of specialist administration architectural consultant who will form part of our team.  Their primary focus is the project paperwork and the negotiation of fair prices and contact rates. This allows our designers to better focus on the design work and the project’s finished quality.



7. Contract Administration and Project Observation

We are trained to manage contractual and financial transactions during the construction of your building. Projects do change and there are always unforeseen elements that may require contractual consideration – we are well placed to help with such developments. Let us know if you have any particular preferences about the contractual nature of your project or issues with financing.

Project observation

The Architect play’s an important role in overseeing the construction phase of your project with onsite visits and monitoring the construction contracts that are in place. An Architect knows best practice and can observe the quality of construction, as well as point out any potential issues that may arise.

The recent changes to the Building Code that came into force in March 2012 require greater responsibility to be taken by all parties involved in the process of design and construction. Council require a producer statement, and/or ‘sign off’ on the work as part of the new Restricted Building Work regulations.  If we are to provide a written statement,  we the Architect must be involved in regular project observation. Naturally, we cannot sign for work that we have not seen.


8. Additional Detailed Drawings and As-Built Documentation

Further drawings and details may be required during the construction process to assist with the easy flow of work on site. These may include extra drawings to clarify any design changes or complex aspects of the building or its finishes. Council may also request applications for amended building consents (to account for any changes during the construction phase of the project) and/or as built drawings for their records.


The Architect team will inspect the project to ascertain that everything has been completed in accordance with the contract and check for defects. Guarantees can be obtained and as-built plans may need to be prepared for some aspects of the job. The Building Consultant will carry out the final inspection on behalf of the Council and a Code of Compliance Certificate should be issued. At this point the final account can be settled with the Contractor and the building handed over to the client.