4 RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECT PROCESS: How it all works. Strategy, Vision, Detail & Delivery


4: RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECT PROCESS – HOW IT ALL WORKS. Strategy, Vision, Detail and Delivery.

“I’m thinking of renovating.  I want to get it right so I’d like to use an architect.  I like your website and your work.  So what’s the process and how do you work?”

A beautiful question and nice way to make an enquiry with an architect.

If you’ve contacted a good architect, they will love to answer this question.

Most architects deliver their services based on stages, inherited from the Australian Institute of Architects historical approach to the Architect & Client Agreement and scopes of services.

Not all architects offer exactly the same services.

At MWa, we offer our services in four main stages:

  • Stage 1: SKETCH DESIGN
  • Stage 2: APPROVALS


However, before we launch on into a project and get into the detail of the process, the work we do at MWa with our prospective clients at PRE DESIGN is also important.

We know clients generally want to know what’s the process, how long it takes, and how much our services and the project will cost.

We provide information to assist prospective clients with their research and preparation, their first enquiry with an architect, an information pack, a 2 hour on-site initial consultation and a written architect and client agreement and fee proposal.

And this is all before we start with the actual work of the STRATEGY, VISION, COMPLIANCE, DETAILS AND DELIVERY.

Read on for more details about each stage of the process.

Stage 1: SKETCH DESIGN: Setting the Strategy and Vision

The sketch process investigates the design possibilities for your site & home, so you can make strategic decisions before proceeding with the further stages of project delivery (stage 2, 3 and 4).

This stage will assist you to decide your preferred design, the likely scope of construction works, required approvals and project budget.  It includes:

  • site survey (by consultant) & existing dwelling measured drawings, site analysis, development controls assessment
  • initial sketch design, including design layout options, character & materials inspirations & 3D studies
  • preferred sketch design
  • written outline scope of works
  • initial budget estimate by a consulting builder or quantity surveyor


Stage 2: APPROVALS: The Necessary Compliance

The complexity of the approvals process will be affected by the zoning and sensitivity of the site (ie conservation area, bush fire area, waterfront property etc), the neighbours, and also if a DA (development application) or CDC (complying development certificate) is required.  It includes:

  • approval submission including survey, architectural drawings, BASIX, required reports
  • co-ordination of required design consultants ie stormwater, heritage, bushfire, landscape etc
  • lodgement of DA submission (fees, forms, copies)
  • services during approval process
  • (note: complying development certificate (CDC) is a combined approvals & documentation stage and is lodged like a Construction Certificate at end of Stage 3)


Stage 3: DOCUMENTATION: The Detail and the Details

Detailed design and documentation of your building project ensures a thorough & co-ordinated set of documents for tendering, contract documents, obtaining a construction approval (CC) or Complying Development Certificate (CDC) & for on-site construction.  It includes:

  • architectural drawings with construction information, outline specification, compliance with DA conditions of consent
  • co-ordination of required design consultants ie: independent certifier (PCA), structural, stormwater
  • additional documentation for tender / construction ie:  architectural drawings, electrical layouts & schedules, window & door schedules, detailed specification, schedules of items by proprietor, schedule of PC sums, interior & exterior finishes schedule
  • detailed design ie: kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, staircase, robes fireplace, outdoor kitchen
  • tendering
  • building contract
  • lodgement of CC of CDC
  • construction certificate (CC) or complying development certificate (CDC) submission


Stage 4: SERVICES DURING CONSTRUCTION: Delivery on-site.

Contract administration by architect (architect, owner & contractor) or design advisory service through construction (building contract owner & contractor only).  This stage of service ensures the design is co-ordinated and carried throughout construction, including detailed design development with site / contractor / sub contractor input and final purchased selections.

Download this article and MWa’s PROJECT STAGES diagram to explain each stage of the design and building process and where you are at on your journey.



Read on…click below on MWa’s client advice articles:

1 Architects – Do you need one? Is your project suitable?

2 Your Brief: Wish List, Shopping List & Priorities List: Decide what you need, what you want and what you can spend – before finding your architect.

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

4 Process: Strategy, Vision, Compliance, Detail & Delivery: How it all works 

5 Costs & Cashflow – Case Study: A recent renovation case study which shows you where the money goes and the cashflow from start to finish.

6 Time – How long will it take?: How to cut six months off a renovation time frame.

7 Fees – Myth vs Reality

8 Manage Costs, Save Money: 10 Ways to Manage Costs, 10 Ways to Save Money





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