“ We focus on our clients brief, provide designs in 3-dimensions and we can manage just one stage or every stage of the process. We also give pre-purchase advice, obtain council or complying development approvals and design passive solar energy efficient homes.”
What is a 'Registered Architect' and how do I know if an Architect is 'Registered'?
In Australia, a 'Registered Architect' is:
Someone who can legally use the title 'Architect' and can advertise that they offer 'architectural design or services'. Use of the term 'architect' is protected by legislation known as the 'Architects Act 1997', so the word 'registered' is actually redundant because you must be registered to use the word 'Architect' anyway!
Someone who has attained the necessary qualifications, completed specific practical experience and has passed the Board's examination to become registered in one or more states of Australia
Bound by a Code of Professional Conduct
Required to maintain professional indemnity insurance
Someone who must undertake a minimum level of professional development / education every year, appropriate to the services they provide
To check if an Architect is 'Registered':
A registered architect has to include their registration number in all correspondence
Carries a card which is updated every year and carries an expiry date
Appears on the Roll of Architects which can be found at http://www.aaca.org.au/archsearch/index.html or contact the Board of Architects in each state of Australia
A registered architect must also provide you with a copy of the Architects Code of Conduct, evidence of their professional insurance and prepare an agreement when quoting to provide a service.
There are three main ways architects charge for their services, and some projects may include all three types of fees, which are introduced at different stages of the project.
1. Percentage Fees
This is probably the most common method because it requires the least work. The architect offers a range of 'Full Service' fee percentages, which vary depending upon the type and size of the project.
Example: New homes are usually cheaper than additions / renovations, and small projects command a higher percentage than larger ones. Most projects would fit within the 8% - 18% range of the projects total 'Construction Cost' for the Full Service.
Initially where the actual 'Construction Cost' is not known the architect bases their fees on the budget for the project.
If the scope or work represented by the project's construction budget grows because of changes in the brief or because a design evolves, then the architect is automatically covered for the cost of the extra work
Not everyone likes to committ to a big fee at the begining of a job
If the architect suggests additional design elements during the project, which add cost to the job, there can often be a perception that they are doing so to add padding to their fees. (Although this is rarely the case, it can cause strain on the working relationship)
The original fee percentage quoted, may have come from the architects experience on other projects, but will not necessarily be related to the current project causing the fees to be too high or too low
The architects fees are related to the cost of the project, and not necessarily to the amount of work they do
2. Fixed Fees
This involves the client providing a detailed brief to such a degree that the architect can provide a quote for the work. Whilst it is called a 'fixed fee', it must be altered when there are significant changes to the scope of work.
This method requires the scope of work to be really clearly defined and with all 'Fixed Quotes' there is often a considerable 'extra or margin' built in to keep the architect out of trouble.
The client has a fixed fee, so unless the scope of work changes, the fees are fixed
Often the architect can begin to run out of fees during a project and their ability to do the job properly is diminished. Jobs can consequently end up being done 'to a price' rather than 'to a quality'
If the project goes well, the architect can pocket the 'extra or margin' initially added in the quote resulting in the total cost of the job being more than a cost plus project
3. Hourly Rates or Do and Charge
This method involves the architect specifying their hourly rates, then keeping an accurate record of all time spent on the client's behalf, and invoicing monthly or at the completion of each stage.
If a stage by stage estimate is provided then the Hourly Rate Fee can be better than a Fixed Fee because it has no 'extra or margin'
The client does not have to sign up for a large initial fee and can see how the costs develop over the course of the project
The architect can give their best for every stage of the project without worrying about running out of fee. This is ideal for 'high quality' projects, which require a high level of thought and detail
This is also a good method where the design or scope of work is evolving; is unclear; or where the building is under construction while the documents are being completed
The architects fees are not at all related to the cost of the project
The client can be up for higher fees if they make a lot of changes, but this may be true across the other fee types also
What does an architect mean by 'Full Service Architect' and 'Partial Service'?
Full Service is a term used to encompass all the stages of a project, and these are generally as follows:
1. Concept Design
Where the project brief is projected into an initial design.
2. Design Development
Where the project is altered and refined, reviewed with regard to council controls, fully drafted and prepared for costing.
3. Development Application
This is where all the documents are put together for council, including the involvement of consultants such as engineers, landscape architects and town planning reports. This stage ends with a submission to council.
4. Construction Certificate
Following council approval, a CC set of documents is prepared for approval to build.
Where details, specifications, schedules, finishes and product selections are made for the purposes of tendering to builders, and for construction.
6. Contract Administration and Site Works
This is where the architect is engaged by the client to administer the contract between the client and builder. This includes the architect making periodic site inspections, processing the builders progress claims, and issuing certificates.
Partial service is a term used when not all of the above stages are completed by the architect.
Example 1: A common 'Partial Service' might be to employ the services of an architect for 1. Concept Design through to 3. Development Application, where it is then submitted to the local council for development approval.
Example 2: To save on architectural fees, a client may decide to undertake 'full architectural service' but leave out 6. Contract Administration and take the risk on doing this themselves.
For further and more detailed information on each stage of the process including a Pre-stage called 'Feasibility Study', please download the following guide:
This is a complex question and depends on many factors as listed below:
How large will the house be? Example: 300sqm, four bedroom, three bathroom, two cars
What materials will the house be constructed from? Example: Full brick and render
What quality of fit-out will the house have? Example: Timber and stone
What area is the house located in? Example: Regional or council area
What type of site will the house be built on? Example: Steeply sloping
What environmental factors may affect the house? Example: In a bushfire prone area
What sort of access does the site have? Example: A narrow lane only
How complex is the design? Example: The 'wow' factor or high perimeter area
Without considering the above factors, there are some square metre rates that are frequently used for 'ball park' estimating:
Project homes cost between $900-$1800 / sqm
Custom designed homes can cost between $2500 - $4000 / sqm or more for luxury homes
These square metre rates usually only refer to the area of the house measured to the outside of the external walls, and do not include work outside of this area such as swimming pools, driveways, decks, and siteworks or landscaping.
To accurately find out the cost of a project you can use a Quantity Surveyor (QS) or Building Cost Estimator. Builders costings are often not reliable early on in the design process and can increase greatly when the full scope of work is revealed. Builders also do not tend to provide a detailed costing list as a QS would.
Pre-purchase development advice is a good idea if you are looking at purchasing a home and considering the option to extend or renovate.
Architects can discuss with you on the spot the feasibility of any home renovation ideas you may have, or offer design advice in order to start you thinking on whether a property is the right investment for you. This can involve foreseeing any structural problems and researching zoning and specific council controls.
When giving Pre-Purchase Development Advice, we consider a number of factors in order to sort out what the project might be (if anything).
Some of the things we consider are as listed below:
Your best development possibilities including rental and resale
It is important to consider your site holistically when deciding to undertake any small scale renovation. A masterplan for a project does not isolate the specific area to be renovated without considering how this will effect the property as a whole.
At All Australian Architecture, we discourage starting a small scale renovation without considering the property as a whole, or without getting a 'masterplan' design done prior. Often when it comes time to further build or renovate in the future, the previously renovated bathroom or kitchen, for example, needs to be relocated.
How can an architect save you money on your home design or renovation?
Architects are skilled at planning. A well planned home design or renovation can save you from the costs associated with building larger and less flexible spaces.
Architects work with you to discuss your individual living needs and tastes, so that your home complements the way you live, both in the short and long term. Architects are capable of ensuring how best your property can cope and evolve with changes.
Architects can also advise you on how to minimise ongoing running and maintenance costs over the life of your home.
What is 3D home design and why is designing in 3D useful?
Designing in 3D involves using specialised computer programs to create a 'virtual model' of your project to be viewed on the computer. This is also known as 'Building Simulation' or 'Building Information Model'.
Three dimensional models communicate home designs in the form of virtual walkthroughs, 3D snapshots, and photo-realistic renders.
Why is it useful?
Architects understand that clients are not generally accustomed to reading 2 dimensional architectural plans and elevations. When home designs are produced in 3D, it makes it easy for clients to see exactly what they are getting, and allows architects to successfully explore all of the design opportunities available to them
Designing in 3D allows architects to easily share design ideas with their clients at all stages of a project in various detail. These can vary from general concept and site arrangements, through to detailed fixtures, fittings and material selections
A 3D computer model is a valuable asset to clients in all stages of a project, not just design. Council drawings can be created faster and more accurately, while 3D images of your home design can be used to show builders for tendering, resulting in more accurate costings
Photo-realistic renders of a home design are a great way for clients to share their designs with others and promote / sell drawings off the plan
At All Australian Architecture, we find designing in 3D helps us design and deliver the best architectural solutions possible, in an easy to understand format.
What building options do I have to build a residential home within a budget?
Your building options will vary depending on whether you are renovating or building new.
These are homes which are designed to be built in large numbers from a range of off-the-shelf designs.
Represent excellent value for money
Are very affordable
Not designed to suit your particular block
The design does not take into account factors such as orientation to the sun, views, neighbours, etc..
Can usually only be built on level or near level sites
Not specifically designed to be 'in-keeping' with an area
Usually have a shorter effective life span
Can only be used to build new homes, not for renovations or additions work
Many are considered ugly and their standardised style can be very 'in' at the time they are built, but date quickly
Always cheaply built
Easily recognised so can have a reduced resale value
Design and Construct Projects:
This is where a building company quotes to build or renovate your home and includes the design as a package. It is a good way of knowing what the final costs are from the beginning and some of the better ones use architects for the design work.
Are designed specifically for your site and needs
Total cost includes the design process
Saves you the time and trouble of finding a builder and going to tender
They are designed more for profitability than for good design, quality or aesthetics
You get a design that you must build with this builder, there is no tendering or taking the design elsewhere
Not every style of home is suitable for this kind of service. For example, some companies do upper level additions to certain types of homes only
Architect / Designer Homes and Renovations:
This is the best but also the most expensive way to design your home or renovation. Some architect-designed homes can be very inexpensive, while others can be quite lavish and fit into the luxury category. Reasons that architect-designed homes can be more expensive than project or design and construct homes, are because of closer attention to detail, greater use of glass, more expensive finishes, and the designs being one-offs to suit your site and your brief.
Custom-designed to meet your individual needs
Unlimited choice of style or aesthetic expression
Enhanced resale value
Generally well-built with excellent attention to detail
Designed to optimise your site's orientation to the sun, capitalise on views, enhance privacy and generally increase enjoyment
Can be more expensive
The process can take longer as the design and construction methods are not standardised
We are planning a home renovation - how do you start the process and what are your costs??
Our architectural process & client service:
In the first instance I discuss the project over the phone to determine if we are suitable. A suitable project for us is;
Within the 10 council areas we operate
USufficiently large enough or of high enough quality or complexity to justify the services of an architect
A project in which the brief and budget are in accord
Assuming this is so, I would then arrange a site meeting with you to;
Meet you and your partner / family
See your property
Discuss your brief in more detail
Provide more information about our services, discuss similar projects we have completed and answer any questions about our service
Give you further feedback on the viability of your project
Enable us to go away and prepare for you an indication of the likely time we would spend on a Stage 0 Feasibility or Stage 1 Concept Design
Up to this point there is no cost. Should you wish to engage us, we would normally work on an hourly rate do and charge basis. We give regular estimates of the likely time to be spent. We invoice regularly and include detailed itemised statements of work done.
We don't charge % fees and each stage of your project is discreet and you are not locked into completing further stages with us. We can be engaged to complete just the design stage or as many of our clients do, engage us for the full service.
Has the Exempt and Complying Development Codes changed?
The NSW Housing Code (otherwise known as State Environmental Planning Policy -Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 has been significantly amended to expand the amount of exempt and complying development across NSW and increase the area to which the Code applies.
A summary of the most significant changes is as follows:
The Code now applies to Bathurst Local Government Area (LGA) and Warringah LGA
Complying development can be carried out on low risk bush fire prone land and low risk flood prone land
A Reduction in the minimum lot area from 450 sqm to 200 sqm and lot width from 12m to 6m
Zero lot line construction (i.e. building walls to boundaries) on lots less than 10m wide be permissible under certain conditions
Basements under dwellings are permissible as complying development under the Code. The size of the permissible basement will depend on the width of a lot
Minimum landscaping dimension is reduced from 2.5m to 1.5m
Detached studios adjoining rear laneways will be permissible as complying development
Detached outbuildings in heritage conservation areas will be permissible as complying development
Nine additional exempt development forms have been introduced, including solar hot water systems, tennis courts and minor subdivision works. If the works comply with the exempt development standards under the Code, no approval is required
External works to an existing dwelling such as changes to external windows/doors, attic conversions, dormer windows or rear roof windows can be complying development
These changes came into effect on 25 February 2011.
Further information on amendments is available from the NSW Department of Planning Website www.housingcode.planning.nsw.gov.au