services & process.

The following guide is a general outline only and doesn’t take into account anomalies for various councils.


The initial meeting usually occurs on the site and is free of charge. Mike will give you a brief site assessment, some general ideas about what can be achieved with various budgets and advise you on the best way to proceed. He then creates a fee proposal that outlines his services, the various stages and an anticipated timetable for your project.

Construction work, whether a new home or commercial project, is a major investment so it’s important that you employ an architect whom you can trust and who understands your values. We encourage you to talk to a number of designers before selecting the best fit for you.



The design process begins with a thorough site analysis, a measure up of existing buildings, an assessment of the site services (water, gas electricity), an outline of the council building controls, and the preparation of your brief for the project.

At this stage, depending on the site, you may need to engage some consultants. For example,

  • A surveyor, who provides a full site survey including features of the neighbouring properties,
  • A structural engineer, who reports on existing building conditions,
  • A geotechnical engineer, who reports on ground conditions,
  • A bushfire consultant, who reports on potential fire hazards.

Mike prepares a list of preferred consultants for each stage, obtains competitive fee proposals and engages with them on your behalf, although they are contracted directly to you.
Using the site information and your initial ideas, Mike begins to sketch up design options for you to review. The options start as simple planning layouts and, with your input, the brief becomes refined to the point where the sketch plans can be developed into elevations, sections and sometimes simple 3D models.
The design process typically explores all the parameters, from your original ideas and feelings about the project, through to materials and construction methods. They all stay in play as a path through to the finished house is gradually mapped out.




If your site has no complicating factors, such as proximity to bushfire zones, flood zones, conservation or heritage impacts and the design meets a checklist of limitations, you can obtain a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) from a registered certifier (Principal Certifying Authority or PCA). A CDC application requires a full set of drawings (plans, elevations and sections), a BASIX energy certificate, and a checklist of complying conditions. In addition the certifier will require a current site survey, and possibly structural engineer’s details. This documentation is part of Mike’s architectural service, although the client pays consultants’ fees separately. The CDC is a combined development and building application, so once it is approved the building can commence immediately.


If your site is more complex, you’ll need to obtain a Development Approval (DA) through your local council. This is a lengthier process than the CDC and involves more investigation by council. A DA can be required for sites with issues such as bushfire, flood, heritage or conservation or with sites that are being ‘developed’. This can include opening a new business, moving a business into new premises, making additions or erecting particular types of buildings… basically, any change that can affect neighbours. To help in the preparation of a DA, some councils offer a process called a Pre-DA, which allows you to canvas the issues with various authorities, such as town planners, heritage consultants, engineers, flood specialists, environment assessment officers to name a few. The Pre-DA can take about 3 weeks (although this varies), is not advertised to neighbours or the community (as is a standard DA) and attracts a nominal fee from council. The architect uses this information as a guide in producing a more compliant design. A Development Application will require, at the minimum, a full set of drawings, a site analysis, a Statement of Environmental Effects, a BASIX energy certificate and shadow diagrams. Unlike the CDC, a DA will be advertised in the community and the application will be assessed by a range of council departments and external consultants, such as heritage, flood, geotechnical, bushfire and conservation experts, to name a few. The application is then subject to a series of internal committees before consideration at a full council meeting. Any person objecting to the proposal may make written objections. Generally, if less than 3 objections are received, the town planner may give approval without going to a council meeting. If more objections are received the planner may recommend that the councillors attend a site meeting. He or she then prepares a report and makes recommendations for approval or rejection, or approval with modifications and conditions. During the DA assessment, the council may ask for additional supporting information and for design modifications to satisfy a development control or neighbour’s concern. This process can be dynamic and relies on good communication with the council planners, which is which is one of the key roles of the architect.



While the initial designs submitted for approval represent the broad scheme with respect to the site and neighbourhood, the construction documentation is the nuts and bolts of the design.

It includes:

  • Fully detailed, notated and dimensioned drawings of the project in plans, elevations and sections to a scale adequate to the project size and detail requirement
  • Lighting and electrical diagrams
  • Window and door schedules, and details
  • Paint and finish schedules
  • Internal finishes and details
  • External finishes and details
  • Bathroom details
  • Kitchen details
  • Cabinet and storage details
  • Staircase and balustrade details
  • Construction and trade specifications

Putting this package together involves consulting a range of specialist trades and installers, visiting showrooms for materials and fittings, and submitting designs to manufacturers such as window makers or kitchen companies to obtain comparative quotes. Other professionals, such as structural engineers, hydraulic or civil engineers and landscape designers will be commissioned to contribute drawings and written specifications.

Your project will develop an individual library of material samples and brochures to help resolve the building and the interior design.

Mike oversees the coordination of these various components and their integration into the building process, so that the resolved design is consistent and cost effective.

For DA approvals, a Construction Certificate (CC) is needed before building can begin (CDC approvals don’t need this certificate). The DA Approval considers the impact of the building within the community, while the CC ensures that the design of the building is fit for construction. This can be done either by council inspectors or by a private certifier (PCA). We recommend the latter, being generally more efficient and flexible than the former. He or she will review the documentation, approve it, and then conduct building inspections at various stages throughout the building process.




Once the CC is issued (or the CDC approved), the package, including architect and consultants’ documentation, is sent to a select list of builders so that they can prepare prices and programs for constructing the project.

Each tenderer is briefed on construction methodologies and site conditions, and other information that they might request.

When reviewing tenders we compare:

  • Price range
  • Inclusions and exclusions
  • Construction timetable
  • Omissions
  • Labour and material rates

On receipt of tenders Mike organises for you to interview the builders that offer the best value package and program for the construction and to review their current and past projects, before a decision is made and negotiations begin for the building contract.


The Building Contract sets out terms and conditions of the construction.

Generally there are two different types of building contracts. A “Lump Sum” contract is an agreed price for the whole job whereas a “Do and Charge” contract means that the owner pays for the work as it’s completed.

There are good and bad points for each, and the best one to use comes down to the quality of the relationship between the owner, architect and builder.

Standard contracts are issued by various organizations such as the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Australian Standards, the Master Builders Association and the Department of Fair Trading. Mike supports you to negotiate the appropriate contract and conditions with the selected builder and once these are agreed upon, he mediates the signing process.



Once the building contract is signed and the Construction Certificate is received, then the building work can begin.

A Contract Administrator:

  • answers the builder’s queries
  • checks the builder’s program
  • assesses and certifies the builder’s claims
  • assesses the builder’s requests for variations
  • provides additional design details as required
  • prepares building defects lists
  • administers the defects liability period before the final payment
  • ensures that works are trade certified
  • ensures that certification inspections are completed to schedule

Many clients elect to administer the contract themselves and employ Mike as a consultant on site where needed. Other clients engage Mike as the Contract Administrator who, for a fixed monthly fee, acts as their agent in all dealings with the builder.

After the building is completed, and the Certifier carries out the final inspection, you’ll receive your Occupation Certificate and your job is done.


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