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How to Choose a Designer

Are you about to embark on the daunting journey of a renovation project? If you have found my blog I hope that means I am your preferred builder, or at least in your shortlist, the other professional you might be in the process of selecting is the designer



How hard can it be? All a designer has to do is draw some plans so the Council can issue a building permit, you then pass the plans onto the builder and you're good to go, right?

Well, maybe.

Here's what I think, the Client - Designer - Builder relationship is a critical factor for a successful building project


There are several key considerations when choosing a designer that will factor into your Build journey being a fulfilling experince .

The single most important consideration is whether the designer has the right experience.

Yes, that's right, just like builders, designers vary in their skill and expertise. If you are renovating you will need a designer whose experience includes technical knowledge that applies to renovations. The skills required for a good renovation design are quite different to the skills required to design a new home and vice versa, a designer who only designs for renovations may not be current with modern House design. Therefore you will want to be sure that the designer you are hiring do the experience that aligns with the needs of your project. If you can find a designer that excels in both you are onto a win!


Good technical, and up to date knowledge of the products and systems that are on the ever-growing building supplies market can mitigate potential issues at the design stage before any hammers meet nails, when a designer is specifying the most practical and cost effective products and systems you are not only saving money but also mitigating potential issues that could arise during the build. I have encountered designers who don't keep up with new innovations and specify old products and systems that cause issues. Where it is easy to substitute with a more suitable product I will, but sometimes substitutions requires amendments to plans and could result in extra cost and time delays.

Ultimately it is better to get such things corrected at the design stage. A designer with the right experience for the project will save you money and hassle and can make the builder's job much easier when pricing and undertaking the work, which leads me to my next recommendation


When choosing a designer for your project it comes as no suprise that you will want a designer who has good communication and is good at collaboration.

The designers involvement goes beyond just producing the plans prior to construction, the plans , when adhered to by the builder must result in building work that is Building Code compliant.

the nature of design is to conceptualize what doesnt exist yet. this means there coul dbe small ocversights in the design, some details that miss specified or completely left out of the plans which go unnoniticed until the building work is underway. It could be a very minor detail, or it could be very significant the pivotal differnce between whther it become a crisis or not is the quick action from the designer


I had an experience on a project, where the designer had specified a composite of cladding systems that were constructed in a way that is incompatible with the building materials that were specified, if i continued it would result in a loss of manufacturers warranty for structural and weatherproofing materials.

Unfortunately it was not a minor issue and required a formal amendment to the plans and re-submission to the council. Due to inaction from the designer it took a number of weeks longer than it should have to sort the issue and have plans amended and submitted to council. during that time the work flow and the schedule was upended and there were ongoing knock on effects throughout the project.

Ultimately, it was the designers responsibility to remedy the design, in a timely manner, and at their cost. In this situation that did not happen, and if not for a gracious move from council to sign off on the amendment in a matter of days, we could have been looking at another three weeks of delays.


can you imagine the stress everyone was experiencing, everything was ready on site for the work to be done but no one could progress, sub trades that had been scheduled in advance were having to be rescheduled to inconvenient timeslots, materials that have a warranty expiry when exposed to weather are out in the elements, not a good experience at all, but made unnecessarily worse and drawn out because a designer did not fulfil their responsibilities.


A good designer will develop a good working relationship with you and your construction team, preferably one with whom the builders already have an established connection with, will have good systems for communication and will prioritise any issues with the plans and make the best effort to have them remedied in a timely manner.

Good collaboration between the designer, the builder and yourself at the very beginning will set you up forBuild journey that isn't only less stressful but inspiring.


Now that yo know what a good designer looks like heres the gold for how to find them you have decided you want to extend your home, you know you need a designer and you have also been looking into which builders suit your project, if you’re reading this blog then you have found my website and have had a glimpse at the results my clients appreciate,

Firstly contact the builder and ask which designers they recommend. They will have designers that they have already worked with and will have preferences depending on the needs of the project, they may also have designers that they recommend you avoid.


Once you have a shortlist of designers organise to meet with them and discuss your project. Ask them what forms of communication they use and how they approach collaboration with the builder.

You will want to ask them what their process is if there are issues with the design during the build and what their expected turnaround time is on solutions and plan amendments.

your decision isnt just based on whether they can produce a plan, but also how accessible they will be during the project.

Once you have a prefered designer they will issue you a proposal, a schedule of the work and a contract, be sure to read the contract to confirm the designer has stipulated clear processes for the above key concerns and establish the communication channels early on. Building or renovating a new home is a journey that is rewarding and exciting, but can also be stressful and at times a bit overwhelming.

If you follow these recommendations when choosing a designer you can reduce the amount of stress you encounter on that journey.


If you are planning a project and require some recommendations for Designers in my area then feel free to contact me


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