Posts on Oct 2017

MWa: Invest in our fees and reap a return on your investment. Guaranteed.

Architects Fees: A common resistance to engaging an architect is the myth that architects will cost a lot in fees.

With some of the building shows on TV where contestants are doing it for themselves, why spend money on an architect? What you save on fees, you can spend on construction, right?

After 10 years in practice, here’s the reality to bust the myth.

MWa’s fees are the first up front costs incurred on a renovation project.

As a client, you need to have money to pay the architect and other consultants, at the start of the project.

You need capacity to pay from savings or from a mortgage redraw, as fees and charges are not part of a renovation or construction loan.

That said, MWa urge prospective clients to consider fees in light of long term value, not short term costs.

In every case over the past 10 years, our clients are better off financially at the end of their project, having invested in MWa architect’s fees and their project.

In every case.

In a combination of ways, from savings made during the process, the creation of intangible value such as quality, by minimising risk and saving time, and the building of a bricks and mortar asset, MWa’s fees have paid off as an investment.

Some clients have had a measurable return of up to 300%, (even excluding the capital gain of their renovated homes).

Here are 10 specific examples, starting with the big savings first. (*names and suburbs have been changed).

Some of these scenarios are common to all our projects but make great examples, some are just great opportunities which MWa have worked to our client’s advantage – tricks of our trade.


1         Nancy in Newport saved over $150K by engaging MWa as her architect and turning her existing “five year plan” house to a “forever home”.

Nancy faced a common dilemma. Her older home was in a great location but it has been untouched for decades. While in good condition, it was not a practical site for a family with three young children, nor was the layout of the home suitable for a contemporary family.  She wanted to update the home to be suitable for the next five years, then sell and move on to her “forever home”.

By the end of MWa’s sketch design process, Nancy was delighted with the vision for her new home and was convinced beyond a doubt that it could be transformed beyond her expectations, to meet the ongoing needs of her family.

The strategic advantage in adapting an existing home, and avoiding the transaction costs of buying and selling, can save clients significant amounts of money in today’s Sydney real estate market.

In mid 2017, one third of suburbs on the northern beaches of Sydney (15 of 42 suburbs) have a median house price of $2mil. The 2.5% agents fees for selling are $50K for such a sale, an average advertising budget is at least $5K and  stamp duty on your new purchase (assuming your new home is $2mil also) is $95,768.  Transactional taxes are even greater if your property is subject to capital gains tax.

In Nancy’s case, it was MWa’s  design that turned her five year home into a “forever home”.

The end results speak for themselves. With some great design work, this renovation saved Nancy at least $150K, rather than selling her home and buying another. Total MWa fees: $50K. Return on investment: 300%.


2         Melanie in Manly is a repeat client of MWa, with two homes designed by us. Good design served her well when selling her properties. Her return was ten fold within five years.

The first home was sold in a slow market on the first “open for inspection”, getting a fabulous price ($550K over the original purchase price and renovation costs combined) and saving $15K on marketing campaign and auction fees.

The second home was sold privately, without agents fees, as soon as she decided it was time to move. Her friends made an off-market private offer, which was a suburb record.

In Melanie’s case, it was MWa’s design that made her property aspirational and desirable, and delivered a premium.

Total MWa fees for home number one: $30K.  MWa fees for home number two: $45K.  Savings on sales campaigns, agents fees and considering capital gains of both properties selling at a premium approx $750K. Return on investment: well, you do the calculations. Rising real estate prices helped, but MWa’s design delivered a premium.


3         Frank in Fairlight saved $25K in fees & charges and six months of time with MWa’s advice on the best strategy for gaining development approval for his addition.   He avoided going through an expensive and lengthy DA process with council. MWa fees for Stage 1 Sketch Design: $15K. Savings to client: $25K Return on investment: 160%.  And this is even before construction commenced.


4         Bonnie in Balgowlah saved $15K in stormwater infrastructure costs associated with her renovations including a new pool. MWa’s design included liaison and negotiation with the engineer and tailoring her landscaping surfaces to avoid triggering On-Site-Detention (OSD) as stormwater infrastructure.  MWa fees for Stage 2 DA: $15K. Savings: $15K. Return on investment: 100%.


5         Sally in Seaforth saved $30K during MWa’s documentation services with trade discounts of 10% to 15% on interior products past onto her, including timber flooring, tiles, bathroom fixtures and fittings, lighting, door hardware and kitchen appliances. MWa fees for Stage 3 Documentation: $30K. Savings: $30K. Return on investment 100%.


6         Lindie in Lindfield is earning in excess of $20K pa, reaping a 100% return annually on her MWa fees of $20K for her outdoor space. It’s hired out each year as a venue for TV commercials and catalogue photos shoots for companies such as Harvey Norman. Return on investment: 100% pa ongoing. Who knew this was going to be the outcome of such a fabulous renovation?


7         Mark in Mosman, a retired bachelor, is earning over $30K a year from his secondary dwelling. MWa helped Mark with the conversion of his large existing family home into two homes; a large 4 bedroom family home and an upper floor studio apartment with balcony, water views, separate entry and parking. The project was so successful that Mark continued with the renovation to include his entire home once the studio apartment was complete. The benefits to him are that he can stay living independently in his family home for the next 10 years while it generates income for him, the home is now renovated throughout providing capital gain at the ready when it passes as a family asset to his adult children, and he is now free to travel several months of the year, while his home generates income. MWa fees: $30K.    Income: over $30K in rent a year. Return on investment: + 100% return a year, excluding the growth in capital gain of the asset.


8         Bruce in Balgowlah saved $22K on his renovation, with MWa arranging his building contract to exclude Items by Owner, so these items didn’t attracting a builder’s margin. Building contract: $300K. Items by Owner: $150K. Saving on builders margin $22.5K. MWa fees for CDC application and advice on contract: $20K. Return on investment: 100%+.


9         Allan in Allambie saved $1,500 in one afternoon, when MWa question and clarified a consultant fee proposal. It took 5 minutes and its what we do, but he was thankful for our intervention and this saving.


10         And lastly, me, Michelle in Manly Vale.  I renovated my own home which not only gave me great satisfaction but another bedroom so that my two oldest boys didn’t have to share a bedroom during their high school years, and a new kitchen (plus a huge external make over).  I had the house re-valued and re-mortgaged post renovation, giving my family a $300K cash buffer so that my partner and I could invest in a new business, while still managing to keep our heads above water while the business was set up and running smoothly with income. Return on investment: Priceless.


So, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t lose? What if you are guaranteed, in one way or another, your investment in MWa’s fees would be returned?


Don’t let the assumption that architects fees are “a cost you can’t afford” stop you from getting the best advice possible.


Call MWa today. 0421 088 110.

Architectural Residential Construction: MWa Spring 2017

Architectural residential construction: MWa provide a comprehensive service during construction which incorporate traditional contract administration as well as design advisory and interior design development throughout the process.  Our role is to guide the client and the builder throughout the build and with a collaborative approach, ensure the best result on-site possible.

This spring, we have five amazing architectural residential alterations and additions projects under construction in Pymble, Gordon, Narrabeen, Fairlight and now Artarmon.

Residential construction is also soon to commence on our latest project in Mosman – a residential alteration and addition to an existing dwelling with significant interior works.

Take a look at some of these great images of architectural residential construction work on-site.

gordon on site construction

Click here on links to our partnering builders:







MWa Celebrates 10 Years in Residential Architectural Design

residential architectural design

Residential architectural design: This year, MWa celebrates the milestone of 10 years of residential architectural design practice.

It is with a huge sense of satisfaction and pride that we reflect on all the changes we have made to “our” homes and the daily lives of our clients.

Our portfolio is showcased on our website gallery, but what photos can’t show are our portfolio of clients and their experience with their renovation journey with MWa.

Houses are usually our client’s largest financial asset.  Their homes are the incubators of family life, a place of comfort and refuge.  A sense of home plays a huge part in one’s wellbeing.

So its not a small undertaking to become a client and take the first steps in engaging MWa as their residential architect,  to be their agent of change.

So, benefit from our services, backed with our ten years of hard won experience:

Here’s what we do:

  • MWa design contemporary residential architecture for good living (reference to Robin Boyd – Living in Australia) and enduring value.
  • We bring practical experience, technical building knowledge and aesthetic judgement to the design and construction of your home.
  • Our design is tailored and individual, specific to your site, house, brief, budget and circumstances.
  • We provide a personal service, giving advice and guidance throughout the design, planning, approvals, documentation, tendering and building process.
  • We offer you complete control over all aspects of your project.
  • MWa’s unique sketch design process ensures you get the right strategy to maximise the opportunities of your site and home.
  • Our approach to “style” is to create spaces for comfortable living that suit contemporary notions of family, lifestyle and environment.
  • Documenting your project with MWa is the best way to manage your project costs.
  • We consider value not costs, in relation to your project budget.
  • Our fees are an investment in getting the best result and value for your building and renovation money.

Find out more about MWa’s qualifications & registration:






MWa SustainAble Architect – Sustainability Design Specialist

Sustainability Design Specialist

MWa Sustainable Architect: MWa are now a qualified SustainAbility Design Specialist,  having completed a recent masterclass with Australian Living and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

In a global context, sustainability development goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

A sustainable architect and sustainable architecture seeks to minimise the negative environmental impact of buildings through conscious passive design, energy efficiency, choice of materials to minimise embodied energy and ongoing energy consumption, conservation of water and minimising waste.

To put the impact of architectural residential design into an Australian context:

  • 79% of NSW energy supply in 2016 was from coal (14% from renewable, 7% gas)
  • residential electricity use is responsible for 44% of all building emissions
  • the largest two uses of residential energy are space heating for air conditioning 40%, appliances 25% and water heating 23%.
  • a CSIRO 2014 report found that 5 star energy efficient homes cost less to run and build than compared with 3.5 to 4 star homes (The Evaluation of the 5-Star Energy Efficiency Standard for Residential Buildings_.

What does sustainability mean in terms of architectural residential design and MWa’s work as a sustainable architect?

Sustainable residential architecture is about creating your best home: healthy, efficient, comfortable and connected to community.

So while the overall objectives of sustainability are global, the benefits are local and as personal as the comfort of your own home and hip pocket.

And there’s plenty of effective measures you can take to really make a difference.

So, what to consider when renovating your property?

The following are 10 liveability house actions which will reduce the running costs of your home and increase comfort:

1 exploit the orientation of your property

2 create zones within your home

3 create lots of cross ventilation

4 choose the right building materials

5 use insulation (but allow some air flow to avoid mould)

6 optimize window glazing for solar heat gain in winter

7 use shading to glazing to prevent heat gain in summer

8 pick efficient devices (star ratings) including energy and water conservation appliances, heating and cooling devices, hot water, lighting

9 install a PV solar system (and you can even to do this without any upfront cost)

10 install a rainwater tank

Contact MWa to find out more about how we can help guide your renovation or new build.

Other useful references:


Interior Design: MWa Sneak Peak

pymble interior design

Interior Design: At MWa, we provide our clients with a comprehensive design services which includes the architecture, interior design and outdoor living spaces of their home.

The benefits of our MWa interior design service include:

  • a thorough and consistent design intent throughout the architecture and interiors of the home
  • an efficient detailed documentation process for tendering and construction
  • cost management of all items to be purchased and supplied by the client during construction
  • reliable, tried and tested MWa suppliers and sub contractors and
  • we pass on all of our trade discounts to our interior design and documentation clients, which add up to substantial savings (our way of offsetting the costs of our professional services)


Take a look at the sneak peak photos of our almost completed interior design of our 1930’s Pymble alteration and additions.


With a nod to the 1930s and lead by our client’s adventurous taste, the home features:

  • brass detailing in the kitchen and ensuite (joinery by MS Interiors, brass detailing by Property Techniques)
  • American Oak timber veneer
  • London Grey ceasarstone
  • urban brass tapware by Astra Walker
  • rainforest mural tiles by Di Lorenzo and
  • no less than four types of feature wallpaper by Cole & Son throughout the home

Consistent with the 1930s, this home also features interior design details of the era including the colours, wet area tile size and format, batten and board ceiling profile and construction, etched glass in joinery cupboard fronts to match existing decorative motifs.

The contemporary interior design details throughout the home include the new joinery in the library and for storage throughout the bedrooms and kids playroom and a resin floor – to satisfy the client desire for a low maintenance, durable, no-mess floor in the kitchen and dining – perfect for ease of living with young children.


Our 3D sketch up models of these spaces, side by side with our own site photos, show how effective our modelling capabilities are in the design process – in exploring and communicating design intent and detailing.


See the links to some of our MWa favoured suppliers: