do you need an architect


Do you need a residential architect?

If you are considering renovation or building a new home in Sydney, there are generally three options:

  1. knock down and rebuild by a project home company
  2. an addition to an existing home by a design and construct company  or
  3. an individually one-off approach, such as an architect, building designer or draftsperson.

These three options provide services to different segments of the residential building market.

Their offers are different in terms of cost, design, quality, involvement of the client/owner and the method of project delivery.

The differences are significant and relate to project budget, the quality and complexity of design, approvals, construction, the client/owner’s involvement and the control of the project.

At the start of a project, you should consider what you need and what you are hoping for, and make sure you are on the right track.

What do you need?

pre designed and off-the-shelf: project home, fixed design, fixed price, fixed process

custom designed with some pre-designed choices for selection, fixed delivery process: design and construct, most often for specific situations like upper floor additions

individually tailored solutions and service : an architect, a building designer or draftsperson

The following resources are ways to find out more, particular to the northern beaches and north shore of Sydney:

  • Knock Down, Rebuild – Project Homes: Metricon, Lawson, GJ Gardiner
  • Design and Construct: Add Style for Upper floor additions
  • Individual Tailored Solutions and Service:
    • download MWa’s Info Pack which includes the article “What Do Residential Architects Do?”
    • Undercover Architect: www.undercoverarchitect.com
    • Australian Institute of Architects: www.findanarchitect.com.au
    • Building Designers Association of Australia: www.bdaa.com
    • Draft person – www.rapidplans.com.au
    • google search “whats the difference between an architect and a building designer?


If you are seeking an individually tailored solution and service, how do you decide if you need an architect?

Consider the following questions for discussion with your family, to prepare yourself at the outset to make the right choice:


  • What is the value of your site?
  • What is the value of your existing home?
  • Is a knock down and re-build process permitted on your site?
  • Is your existing home and site simple and straight forward, or complex? ie: existing special site conditions or zonings, steep falls, bushfire, environmental living, foreshore area, heritage conservation, flood zone
  • Is your existing home a robust and special asset, worthy of adapting to suit your ongoing needs?
  • What will you spend on your project, all up?
  • What will the $ value of your asset – house and site be, upon completion
  • How important is the home to you as a financial asset?
  • How important is the home/site to you, personally?
  • How long after the project is complete will you be living in the home?
  • How much dedicated time and personal resources do you have to undertake and contribute to the project over the next two years?
  • How much experience do you have in residential renovating and building?
  • Who will be responsible for the day to day carriage of the project?


If you home and site are of significant value to your home and your family, if it is the most important financial asset, and its renovation/rebuild is going to be the largest financial commitment you have undertaken other than its original purchase, then getting sound professional guidance is prudent.

Residential architects are trained and qualified to provide a range of specialist design, advice and management services throughout all stages of pre design, design, approvals, documentation, tendering, building contracts and services during construction.

If you think the value and significance of your project warrants the best advice possible, then continue to read MWa’s client advice article, to find out more about architects, the ins and out of the process, how to prepare and how to find the right architect to suit you.

Read on…  

2 Your Brief: Wish List and Shopping List: Decide what you need and want, before finding the right architect

3  Your Architect – A Good Match: How to find the right architect









Client Advice