Brisbane renovation architect: The myths around involving a builder in the design phase

Brisbane renovation architect: The myths around involving a builder in the design phase

Renovations, Tips and Advice, Lifestyle

As a Brisbane architect I have been reading things about the current state of building a renovating in Australia and how people should look to proceed. Some of what I’ve been reading just isn’t true. As a Brisbane renovation architect and new home architect I understand the local building industry. I thought it was important to address some of these misconceptions.

So, that’s what this article is about. I’d recommend continuing because it’s important to understand the truth.

Brisbane renovation architect: Is now a good time to build or renovate?

Renovation Design Red Hill: The original colonial house façade remains at the front of the property, with the seamless transition to the modern extension that reflects the changing tastes. With a family that needed more space and a home that needed light and airflow; our clients now have a place that provides them with comfortable living and a gorgeous view every day.

This is the million-dollar question and in short, the answer is yes, but now more than ever you need to consult with a quality, experienced Brisbane architect.

There is no getting away from the fact that supply of some materials, fixtures and fittings have been impacted by the pandemic. There is a timber shortage at the moment. But that’s predicted to ease at some point in 2022. However, the backlog of orders could see prices still impacted some way into the future.

Delivery times have blown out, some suppliers have had a rethink about the products that they supply in the Australian market. Not all products are profitable. Some suppliers have been using profitable products to prop up those that aren’t profitable. They’ve now decided to stop doing that and drop those products that don’t make them money. In fairness that was always going to happen at some point. But there are always alternative materials and products available.

Renovation Design Red Hill: Our client’s love of music meant significant attention was focused on creating the perfect balance between hard and soft linings so that the acoustics were correct for their practice sessions.

So, should you hold off on your project?

None of us have a crystal ball, so we have no way of knowing what the market will be like in 12 months or several years from now. Materials could become scarcer. As a result, the cost of materials could increase. We don’t know if builders will be busier in the future and what that means to your project if you wait.

The one thing we do know as Brisbane architects, is that right now you can access cheap money. Borrowing money is essentially buying money. You get the money from the financial institution and then pay it back over time with interest. At the moment interest rates are incredibly low. This is perhaps the cheapest money you’re ever going to ‘buy’.

Nobby Beach Renovation & Extension Value Of Home Improved By 350%: The design for this renovation and extension in Nobby Beach includes an improved streetscape & pool entertainment area at the rear of the home with a deck extension. The home is almost unrecognisable from its former self. The streetscape has been dramatically enhanced, giving the home a fresh, contemporary feeling. At the rear of the home the extended deck overlooks the gorgeous inground pool which has become a feature of this beautiful home.

Brisbane renovation architect designs can take 18 months to build

What a lot of people don’t realise, is the length of time a project takes, even for a Brisbane renovation architect or new home architect. You’re not ordering an ‘off the plan’ home design here. And for good reason. Yours is a bespoke design. Your design will be custom tailored by Brisbane architects to suit your needs. It’s going to take time.

This is relevant because nobody knows what the market is going to be like are going to be in 18 months’ time, not even Brisbane architects. It’s quite a gamble to think that prices will have dropped. And if you did decide to wait and see, then your project might not be completed for another 3 years!

Here’s how a typical project for both a Brisbane renovation architect and new home architect will run:

  1. Pre-design services 1-3 weeks
  2. Masterplan sketch design with measured drawings (if renovating) 6-8 weeks
  3. Design development 7-9 weeks
  4. Design approval & development and/or building application documents 4-12 weeks
  5. Design approval & documentation. Construction documentation 4-12 weeks (can be longer)
  6. Tender process 4-5 weeks
  7. Contract administration (Building process) 16-78 weeks (average is 26-32 weeks)
  8. Defects liability period 12-52 weeks

Depending on the size of your project that’s potentially a lot of weeks. So, should you start now? My suggestion as a Brisbane architect would be yes. Get your design done now. Brisbane architects don’t know what’s going to happen over the course of the next year and a half. Have your design ready to go and make your decision from there.

Supply impact on Brisbane renovation architect project prices

The supply issues will have an impact on some products and materials going forward. The fluctuations are such that many suppliers are warning that they will only honour a quoted price for 30 to 45 days.

A typical Brisbane renovation architect or new home architect project can take 9 months or more to complete, after the design has been finalised and tenders arranged. Builders typically purchase materials in stages, not all up front. So that means that the price you were initially quoted, could end up being significantly more.  This is through no fault of the builder who quoted. It’s out of their control. But it does mean that careful planning and project management is required. It’s imperative that you have detailed construction documentation, the type that we supply, and a sound contract in place with your builder. Again, something that we can help you with and something that not all Brisbane architects offer.

So, about those Brisbane renovation architect untruths

I mentioned earlier that I have been reading somethings that just aren’t entirely true. For example, I recently read an article that said you need to engage a builder during the design phase of your project.

Why? Well, according to the article, it’s because suppliers are constantly updating builders about changes in prices and material and product availability. The comment suggested that only builders would have their finger on the pulse when it comes to pricing. Therefore, a builder should be engaged to oversee the design rather than a Brisbane renovation architect, or new home architect!

Ok, in fairness some Brisbane architects might not pay close attention to the price of materials, but certainly not this Brisbane architect!

I am a registered builder myself. But even I leave it up to the professionals when it comes to pricing. We use quantity surveyors whose job it is to know the current prices in the market. They are more attuned to price variations than any build I have ever met. Which is understandable. After all, a builder also has to build the home, the quantity surveyor’s full-time job is keeping abreast of prices.

We also research where products come from. So, we know where to source products and which products are going to be hard to source or overly expensive. How many builders are researching these things in their spare time?

Bardon New Home: The design for this new home in Bardon includes a modern design home on a sloping block. The materials used combined with a tonal colour selection really topped off this stunning new home design. 

Our tender service is more important than ever

One way to offset the rise in material prices is to make sure you get the best quote for your project. Our tender service can literally save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. We recently had a $750,000 difference in quoted prices on a project that we took to tender. $750,000! That could build you an investment property! So, if prices are going to fluctuate, then getting the best price upfront is vital from a Brisbane renovation architect, or new home architect such as us.

The storage solution

Another potential solution to changing prices is to purchase materials in advance. It might not be practical for a builder to buy 100% of the materials at the start of the project, but they might be able to buy most of what they need and then store it onsite. Storing materials onsite can be risky. But if the builder, has it insured then it’s less of a problem. Just make sure you sight the certificates of insurance.

Ascot Interior, Landscape & Streetscape Renovation: The newly designed entrance greatly enhances the appearance of the home. However, whilst the entrance to the building itself had received a stunning contemporary makeover, the streetscape itself was uninspiring. To improve the front of the property a new gatehouse and walls were constructed. The gatehouse steps up to the front path, with a custom-designed handrail blending in perfectly with the rest of the structure.

Engage a quality Brisbane renovation architect

It’s fair to say there has been a bit of upheaval in the building industry of late, that looks like it will continue into the future. So, it’s now more important than ever that you engage a Brisbane renovation architect, or new home architect. We use the best quantity surveyors in the business, so you will have the latest information on prices. Our tender system and project management services can save you thousands and take the stress out of the building process.

But more importantly, you will get a great Brisbane architect design that suits your needs.

And this is what is lost on those who promote design construct builders. A bad design is a bad design. Just because circumstances change in terms of price and materials, doesn’t mean that design quality goes out the window.

Whether you have an existing home and need a Brisbane renovation architect, or you’re looking for a new home architect, we have the experience and skill that you need.

We live in different times. Shipping prices have increased, material and product availability has been affected in some areas. But now is still a great time to build or renovate. But now, more than ever, you need professional quality Brisbane architect advice. Contact us today and let’s discuss your project needs and any queries or concerns you may have. We look forward to hearing from you.

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


Want to learn more? Read our other blogs:

Here’s why design really matters, and why not all Brisbane architects are the same

Renovation architects. Do you need one?

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

Get the best design, best builder and best price for your renovation. Here’s how …


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.