Architect Brisbane: Why a real architect talks costs, while designers beat around the bush

Architect Brisbane: Why a real architect talks costs, while designers beat around the bush

Renovations, Tips and Advice, Lifestyle

I recently did an online search for ‘architect Brisbane’ and ‘Brisbane builder’ because I like to keep abreast of things in the local market. I came across an article where a builder spoke about the importance of engaging a builder before you get the design done. SO THEY CAN OVERSEE THE DESIGN ELEMENT OF YOUR PROJECT!

Sorry for shouting, but can you believe that? Some builder with no design experience thinks they should be sticking their nose into YOUR design and adding their input! I’m not sure if the builder in question has a habit of moving in with his clients, but what value would he possibly add?

He tried to justify his position by saying he could ensure that you didn’t end up with a design that was outside of your budget. Seriously, like when you search architect Brisbane you come up with a list of Brisbane based architects who create designs that way exceed your budget? Well, some actually do. But we don’t. In fact, if it’s about saving money, you engage us first and then have builders tender for you project based on the completed design. That way you get a design tailored to your needs that has been created to fall within your budget.

What you may see when you search Architect Brisbane

Carina Heights New Luxury Home Design Owner Claims A Perfect Luxury Home Design: This Carina Heights new luxury home design was intended to serve both the current and future generations of the family. This was done by being flexible enough to meet their ever-changing needs and to stand the test of time in terms of both functionality and style. 

How to budget for a custom home design or renovation project

Fortunately, if you search for architect Brisbane you’re unlikely to come across this builder. However, searching for architect Brisbane may result in several Brisbane architects who don’t actually specialise in residential home design. Not all architects design homes. Still, if you’re here reading this, you’ve already come across the perfect architect for your project.

But enough about that, let’s have a look into budgeting for a custom home design or renovation project.

Your starting point should not be talking to a builder, who knows little about designing a home. You wouldn’t go to a shipyard and ask how much to build a submarine without first having someone design that submarine for you. Ok, well perhaps the Australian government would, but any rational thinking person wouldn’t.

Your starting point is to engage an architect. As mentioned, not every result from an architect Brisbane search will find you an architect suited to residential work. Instead, come straight to us, because we do specialise in Brisbane residential house design for new homes and renovations. The main reason for coming to us is that we first discuss what you need in your home, along with your budget, and based on those two things we explore how you can achieve your goal within your proposed budget. If your budget is not a feasible amount for you desired outcome, we will be upfront and tell you. We can then either talk about alternative options such as staging or discuss what compromises might need to be made to get close to your ideal outcome, without going over budget.

Ideally, we don’t compromise at all. But understand that your best chance of getting the outcome you want within your budget, is by engaging dion seminara architecture.

Redcliffe Home Renovation: This design is for a home renovation to pre-existing pre-1946 Queenslander in Redcliffe. The home was previously renovated but a lot of its former character was removed. The objective of the new design was it bring back character and create additional amenities for a growing family. And a sub-tropical relaxation zone poolside with the re-creation of an existing shed into a poolside pavilion.

There’s no point lying about your budget to an Architect Brisbane

Before I go any further, I need to make one thing clear – there is no point in downplaying your true budget. In every consultation we will ask you what your budget is for this project. In more than 80% of these consultations people intentionally state a figure that is lower than their true budget.

Why? Well people somehow believe that if they state their real budget the person designing their home will either go right up to that last dollar, or slightly over. That’s not how we work. We are always looking for the best outcome for our clients, both in terms of quality and in terms of value for money. If we can come in under your budget and still get you a great outcome, then we will.

Recently I did an advice service where my clients told me their budget was around $500,000. But what they were proposing was going to cost more than double that. They then mentioned that they thought that would be the case and that they could afford the higher amount! So why lowball in the first place? What does that achieve? Materials and builders’ prices don’t magically change because you state a lower amount. Prices are what prices are. If you want a great outcome, then you need to be upfront about what you can truly afford.

So, let’s make a deal. When I meet with you, I am there for YOU, to get you the best possible outcome. I would invite you to give me two budget amounts. The first is the true maximum that you can afford. The second is the amount that you would like to invest in an ideal world. For example, if your true budget is $1.2 million but ideally, you’d like to keep the total project costs to $1 million, then tell me that. What I will then do, after we have discussed your project needs in detail, is tell you how much your project is going to cost to give you everything you want. I will then discuss ways that you can invest less, but let you know what you will be giving up to save that extra money. That way you can make an informed decision on what you are or are not, willing to compromise on. Trust me, this process will save us both a lot of time and effort.

Red Hill Home Renovation: This Red Hill home renovation involved internal alterations and a modern extension to the Colonial home. The home has a fresh industrial look and feel with improvements to the livability and style of the home.

The design build process explained by an Architect Brisbane

Now that you’ve engaged us to create the design of your home, this is the order in which things happen:

  1. Design Advice Service (can be Post Advice which I will explain shortly)
  2. Masterplan Concept Design

At this point you now need to make a choice. You can go it alone (typically people choose not to for good reason) or you can continue working with us in which case you will have the option of taking advantage of either our Gold, Platinum or Diamond service. From here your budget needs to allow for:

  1. Masterplan Concept Revisions / Design Development
  2. Approval Applications
  3. Tendering Service / Project Management
  4. Construction – builder, sub-contractors, materials, fixtures, fittings etc

Our Gold Package provides our clients with masterplan concept revisions to building applications, whereas our Platinum Package includes building applications but also carries through to tendering. We also offer a Diamond package that incorporates all these services from masterplan concept revisions to project tender but also offers contract administration and cost management services. You can learn more about these packages by visiting Our Packages page.

Our 6 Step Unique Design Process: Your dream home can become a reality with dion seminara architecture. No matter what sort of building you’re working with or what stage you’re at, our award-winning Brisbane architects will breathe life into your vision and turn it into a stunning design. And with an architectural design process that’s easy to follow and understand, you will enjoy a stress-free process during the planning, design and build of your project.


The critical difference that builders don’t get, or don’t want to get

Builders, particularly design and construct builders, don’t get the importance of concept revisions and design development. They prefer to skip over this stage and jump straight into building approvals. But revising and developing the design is crucial to you the customer, getting the best outcome.

In this phase you will have a skilled, highly experienced architect work with you to make critical refinements to the design. This is the fine detail, the fine tuning that is the difference between a great outcome and an average one.

You will be provided with 3D visuals, and potentially even 3D walkthroughs of your new home or renovation, putting you in your home virtually, so you know exactly what it’s going to look like before construction even begins. Builders typically want to skip over this phase or have the home designer rush through it so they can get on with building the home. But it’s vitally important that this stage isn’t rushed. The outcome of your home design hinges on the attention to detail and thoroughness provided during this stage.

Wilston New Home:  Take a journey through our latest new home design. The design for this new home in Wilston, which includes demolishing the existing house, centres on having a modern home that can be used as a rental when our clients are living interstate.

What a search for architect Brisbane won’t show you

Searching for architect Brisbane will merely give you a list of Brisbane architects, it doesn’t show you how comprehensive each architect’s process is, or their attention to detail. But worse still would be to put the cart before the horse and search for builders Brisbane before your design has been completed.

Your project MUST start with the design. Only a fool would engage a builder first and then architect second. By all means have a preferred builder in mind. But be open to the idea that there may be other builders out there who can do the same job, or better, for less money. Don’t spend more than you need to.

And we can be talking a considerable amount of money. Recently we got quotes from 3 reliable, quality builders for the same project. The difference between the lowest and the highest bidder was $750,000! That’s how much this particularly client could have paid extra for exactly the same outcome. Same specs, same materials, similar timeline.

The lesson in all of this is don’t listen to builders who tell you to engage them before your design is completed. Oh, and don’t just search for architect Brisbane and think that you’re going to get the best outcome. You will if you click on our page. But there are plenty of pitfalls in choosing the wrong architect.

To avoid any issues, simply call us today and let us help you get the best result for your budget and potential save you tens, or hundreds, of thousands of dollars along the way. We look forward to creating your dream home within your budget.

Contact us today and let us help create your perfect home design


Want to learn more? Read our other blogs:

Why should you engage a specialist home design architect for your home design?

Renovation architects. Do you need one?

Architects Brisbane: Adapting to a Changing Lifestyle

Discover the Secrets to Renovating Queenslander Homes


Dion Seminara Architect


We are experts at home design, renovations and new homes and ensure good value for money outcomes.

Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 30 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.