Process ... how it all works


  • Let's chat
  • Design
  • Council approval
  • Drawings
  • Let's build it

The first thing to do is to get in touch so we can have a quick chat about your project. We can then set up a time to meet at our office where we can give you an overall understanding of what a project requires, who is involved, how much things cost and how long the process can take.  After that meeting we may well have further discussions about your brief and your budget and try and understand whether those two critical pieces of the puzzle align. We would then come to the site, look over the existing conditions and chat further about the brief and budget. When we understand the extent and the complexity of the project we can send through a fee proposal for your review.

Click here to download a document which lists the stages involved.

Once we have been engaged we embark on what we call a pre-design stage during which we will produce a booklet that tries to resolve the following and often competing interests: what you want, what you can afford, and what can be done on your site. This booklet is a way of arriving at a design tactic that will steer the project in the right direction when the design work starts in earnest.

We then embark on a Sketch Design stage where we use the tactics identified in the preceding stage to guide the design. This is when the design really starts to take shape and during this stage as we resolve layouts, form and materials.

In some cases, before construction can begin, a permit issued by a local council may be required. This need can be triggered by a host of issues such as a Heritage Overlay, a Significant Vegetation Overlay or a Special Building Overlay. Don’t worry, as part of the pre-design stage we identity if your project requires a local council permit and what constraints may be  imposed on your property as a result of these local council rules and regulations.

A guide to Victoria’s local planning scheme can be found here.

We pride ourselves on producing beautiful drawings at every stage of the project. During the initial design stages we produce diagrams, sketches, perspectives as well as architectural plans to help you understand how the design looks and feels. During subsequent stages we produce technical drawings that describe to the builder, in every detail, how to build the design.

These drawings form part of the building contract between the client and the builder and therefore include every detail right down to the location of power points.

Typically we like to be engaged for the entire project, including the construction stage. During that stage, we administer the contract agreed between the client and the builder. Basically we act as a middleman to ensure that the fixed price, fixed time contract is adhered to. We don’t project-manage, that’s the builder’s job. What we do is make sure that the design documents we produced are being followed, that any changes to the contract are fair and reasonable, and finally, we check and then certify all the payments to the builder.


Design and Collaboration

Our clients are involved in every stage of the project because we understand that the project is not ours, that we are the tool to make it happen. We take inspiration from our clients so that the finished product is a reflection of them and a backdrop to their lives. Of course, we love the photos, awards and everything else that comes from a great project, but first and foremost come the aspirations of our clients. 

These are some of the design tactics we use to help guide the process, whether it be a residential or commercial project:

    • First of all, we try to make things as small as possible, and then incrementally make them bigger as required or requested.
    • We steer away from ‘open plan’ arrangements as walls and corners create intimate and contemplative spaces.
    • The simple ‘box on the back’ trick is just so boring it’s much more interesting to try to integrate the new with the old. 
    • Thresholds, where one space ends and another space starts, are seen as spaces in their own right so that rooms are not simply bound by other rooms.
    • The garden and outside spaces are seen as part of the project and never left behind.
    • Similarly, the interior is just as important as the exterior, and in some ways informs what the outside looks like.
    • Simple materials that have a history or a story embedded in them are preferable to shiny new materials.



The following graph shows an approximate timeline for a typical residential project with local council approval process.  The size and complexity of each project will affect the overall timing.

Time should also be allocated for clients to consider the design, make changes to the brief or make changes to the design.  A protracted local council application process or an appeal to a local council regulatory body may also affect the overall timing.

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