The process of seeing your ideas become a built reality is exciting and challenging. Here is a summary of the phases involved, from a broad discussion of possibilities through a series of strategic choices to your selected design, which is documented very carefully and built by a contractor selected on quality and price.


When we offer our services, we let your know how we can help you with your land purchase or building development, to help you meet your work environment or lifestyle aspirations. Budget and fees form part of this discussion but equally important is the ‘good fit’ between your goal and our skills, with a shared confidence about the process and ultimate result. Once this is established, we both sign the Agreement for Architects Services contract.

1. Pre-design  

We start by scoping your project. We research basic data about your site and requirements. As part of pre-design phase, we set a realistic time frame for the design phases and the subsequent consenting, procurement, and construction programme. During the pre-design phase we discuss other resources that will be needed to complete your project. Depending on the complexity of the work involved, this can include specialists such as engineering consultant, geotechnical engineer, services engineer, quantity surveyor, land surveyor, or landscape designer. We have in-house specialist experience in sustainable design techniques and building automation to ensure renewable energy – for example natural ventilation , solar hot water, solar thermal mass, solar photovoltaics – is managed efficiently in buildings of all types.

2. Concept design  

We collect base data, for example land title survey information, contour plan, and local authority regulations such as maximum building envelope in a CAD (computer aided design) file. Over this, we apply a series of relationship diagrams, microclimate notes, concept sketches, and alternative plan ideas to highlight all the key issues.

We often provide hand-drawn plans and 3D sketch views to give you an idea of possible solutions. If have provided us with a business case, we ensure its parameters are observed as part of our brief. We typically work in multi-media methods at the concept stage – appropriate to the project.

3. Preliminary design  

If Resource Management Act considerations apply, we prepare documents and apply for resource consent during the preliminary design phase.

We explore concepts that have potential with simple digital models and 3D views of designs. This shows the character of alternative concepts and helps you identify your preferred design. Other consultants add their basic advice and services at this point to further validate, or steer towards a variation of, the design, which has to be fully informed by all key disciplines and regulations before it can be reliably critiqued. This can involve meetings and presentations, with design adjustments made on a cyclical design/present/review/ process over several weeks. The key to discovering the best solution is good communication and postponed judgement.

4. Developed design 

The developed design stage typically occurs several months into the commission. This is the phase where we and you share a clear vision of the final building development, knowing this is the best available solution. We resolve the finer aspects of the design and incorporate any changes required as part of any Resource Consent approval. We assemble the contributions of other consultants and confirm the likely contract value before inviting you to approve the final plan, budget estimate, and specification of materials and systems.

5. Detailed design 

The detailed design phase is essentially the production exercise. We prepare contract and consent documentation to describe the project in sufficient detail to enable it to be approved by the territorial authority and be priced by building contractors. We prepare drawings and specifications in electronic files. We apply rigorous review processes to ensure standard building codes and specific design details are referenced and that no surprises emerge during construction; and incorporate working drawings and calculations from other disciplines into the project package. We follow our standard quality management process to reduce the risk of delay and misunderstandings during the construction phase and undertake a final check to ensure we haven’t lost any fundamental quality of the project, as originally specified by you.

6. Consent and procurement  

Procurement takes a comparable time, and can run in parallel with the consent process. It typically starts with a 15–20 day pricing period comprising competitive main contract tendering or nominated contractor negotiation. It can also involve sub-trade tendering under a construction management service, charge-up work based on agreed rates and margins, or one of many other structured and staged contract types. We advise you as to the best route to follow for your particular project – normally competitive tendering – and ensure that builders under consideration have proven skills appropriate to the project at hand. We also carry out credit checks and reference past customers of any less well known contractor under consideration before signing a building contract.

Territorial authorities have a statutory maximum of 20 working days to review and authorise, if satisfactory, an application for building consent. Consents are rarely approved without a request for clarification and/or some supplementary data so 30 working days is a more realistic processing period.

7. Construction: Contract observation and administration

The best conceived plans are worth little if the building phase is mismanaged and the results end up in disappointment or worse, for example uncertifiable workmanship or bankruptcy of the builder. A full architectural service ensures the building contract is documented and properly signed and thereafter stays on track as to timing and quality. This is achieved through ongoing observation of the work and regular meetings to discussion specifics that always arise during building. Nearing completion there are typically opportunities for you to decide, amend and/or confirm earlier decisions on finishes, fittings, and colours etc. without impediment to efficiency. All this requires a cooperative builder and an observant architect maintaining open channels of communication to ensure a good design solution becomes a great finished result.

For three months after the contractor reaches practical completion he has to remedy any teething problems in what is called the defects period. We retain sufficient funds from earlier monthly claims by the builder to ensure remedial work is done so that the final project is signed off in as close to perfection as is possible. We ensure all required warrantees are provided by the suppliers and builder.

The last part of our service involves receiving verifying, and certifying the contractor’s final account.