Architects are trained to advise you on, and guide you through, all facets of a building project. Following is an outline explaining how a project is typically broken down into stages and some notes about each stage. This process is discussed at the initial meeting together with information on our services and fees.

  • Initial Discussion

  • Pre-design

  • Concept Design

  • Preliminary Design

  • Developed Design

  • Detail Design and Documentation

  • Contractor Procurement

  • Contract Administration and Observation

  • Fees


For a potential new project we normally meet with clients for an initial no-obligation discussion. This allows both parties to get a measure of each other while discussing the project. The meeting can either be at our office, in your current home or at the site.
We want to hear your hopes and aspirations for the project, and we can take you through our general design philosophies and illustrate how these have been applied to previous projects.
The information below is intended to give an indicative outline of the process involved in procuring a building (especially a house for a private client) in New Zealand. Our services are customised to suit clients’ needs so at an initial meeting we would discuss the services required specific to your project and our charges. You can ask us anything about the process of building procurement and we will advise on alternative methodologies and their advantages and disadvantages.

The building process can be a complicated one and part of our job is to advise clients when they should use other specialist consultants. Taking advice from specialists early in a project can often save money and time in the long run.
Depending on the complexity of the project we can provide some initial feasibility information about building costs, programme and site suitability in this first meeting. This is covered in more detail in the Pre-Design section.
The design process works from the general to the particular, so it is important that you are completely comfortable with the design at the end of each stage, before we proceed to the next step.


We can make a valuable contribution to your project before any design work begins by helping prepare a comprehensive architectural brief, advising on project feasibility including analysis of the site.

The success of the project greatly benefits from a good quality brief. A brief is a description of the desired outcomes and it can include such things as the requirements and functions of the building, the activities and spaces to be accommodated, desired materials and finishes and your budgetary constraints.
It is also essential that the proposed building be considered in qualitative terms too. We are trained to translate your hopes and aspirations into built form, but these are often more difficult to convey than the more prosaic requirements such as number of bedrooms required. We want to hear about your likes and dislikes in all aspects of design, architecture, art, fashion and way of life, and this can be prompted by images from books, magazines and the internet.

We work hard to make our designs particular to their site and specific to their owners. Clients sometimes perceive a dilemma that displaying their own preferences and ideas will in some way restrict the creativity of their designer. We believe this fear is unwarranted for a number or reasons: there is usually broad scope for creativity and originality around any requirements; robust discussion of issues between architect and clients will usually lead to richer designs; the more input we have from clients the greater the chance that we can find individual personal aspects that can tie the design to its owners.
This stage involves deciphering opportunities and constraints within the proposed site or existing building, and then developing architectural solutions at a conceptual level. The outputs are usually space planning and site planning diagrams and plans, and initial 3d concept drawings.

Together with you, we will come to terms with all the major items that will affect the design. These include prosaic, philosophical and aesthetic issues. It is important for us to understand your tastes and how you wish to live/work/worship/play in the building. However, it is worth noting that people’s tastes are based on their experiences so keeping an open mind may produce unexpected but happy results. Of course, we try to do the same.
An analysis of local authority regulations, Resource Consent requirements, orientation, views, levels, heritage implications, legal requirements, relationship with neighbouring sites and available utilities and service routes all help give everyone some certainty with which to make decisions on the project’s direction.
A survey of levels and boundaries is required in all but the most simple of site situations. We facilitate the engagement of a land surveyor to provide this information by briefing them on what is required. We will survey any existing buildings by measuring, drawing and taking photos.

We will also assist in the decision on whether to engage a GeotTech engineer to gather soil conditions information and, if so, at which stage.
During this stage we will develop some key conceptual ideas that will drive the design. These develop in tandem with working through issues of the general form of the building and its relationship with the site and surrounding environment. We will begin by drawing space schematics and diagrams and refine these to scaled floor plans. When we feel that we are on a worthwhile path we will begin to model the design in three dimensions. This provides a feedback loop where ideas are tested on the model and the results provide stimulus for further design ideas.
A preferred concept is refined in this stage. At the conclusion of this stage you will have drawings that describe the preliminary design with scaled plans and elevations.

We normally recommend that a Quantity Surveyor (QS) is engaged to provide a Preliminary Estimate of Costs based on the drawings and an outline specification.
Once an estimate of costs has been obtained that everyone is comfortable with a Resource Consent application is made. We would usually apply for Resource Consent on your behalf unless the project involves particularly thorny consent issues, in which case we may recommend that a specialist town planning consultant is engaged to make the application together with our supporting documents.
In this stage the design is refined and final decisions are made so that it is ready for Detail Design and Documentation (see below). We will make recommendations for the design of detail and the use of materials that reinforce the vision previously developed during Preliminary Design stage.
For a residential project there will be design of bathrooms, laundry and kitchen, and decisions made on fixtures, fittings and cabinetry throughout the house. We will also develop the detail contained in our computer model, giving it materials and working on the relationship with its landscaping.
If there have been any major changes during this stage then the Quantity Surveyor can be asked to price the implications of these.
It is important that everybody completely understands and is at ease with the design before starting the contract documents. For example, changing the position of a room near the end of the Contract Documentation stage can mean a great deal of work altering many drawings and may compromise other earlier design decisions.
At the conclusion of Developed Design the building is sufficiently defined to give a clear understanding of the scope of work, costs and the architectural look and feel.
This stage generally entails the most work for architects. A detailed description of the building work is put together that will form the contract between you and the builder. This includes general arrangement drawings, detail drawings, schedules (lists), specifications (written instructions) and contracts. This set of documents will be inspected by the council before they issue a building consent, and by the tenderers in preparing their competitive tender prices. Once construction begins these documents will be used to build from.
During this stage we coordinate the work of any other consultants that are involved in the project and incorporate their information into the documents. It is important to document thoroughly to ensure a high quality of work and to maintain control over costs and design outcomes during construction