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

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

Renovations, Tips and Advice, Lifestyle, New Homes

Not all Brisbane architects specialise in residential architecture. In fact, not many of us do. And among those of us who do, not all of us have the same design ability or experience. Why do I mention this?

Why a Brisbane architects design really matters?

Well, recently I was watching a video produced by a design and construct builder discussing why you should be concerned when engaging with a residential architect. The video seemed to be suggesting that, in the opinion of the builder, many residential Brisbane architects are only interested in creating the design, with little consideration given to things like the client’s budget. In other words, the residential architects are creating a design and then saying “Here, go and get this built” but the design is well outside of what the client can afford.

Not sure which Brisbane architects he has been dealing with, but it certainly isn’t us.

I don’t doubt that some Brisbane architects may behave this way, but to lump all Brisbane architects into the same category would be as unfair as me saying that all design and construct builders are the same as the worst in the business.

Brisbane Design Architects

Brisbane architects designs enhance their client lifestyles, not their wallets

Well, there are many reasons why design and construct builders might try to put a client off working with an architect. To start with, these type of builders specialise in easy projects with maximum margins. Which is understandable, but at dion seminara architecture we put our client’s needs first. We are a leading Brisbane architect, specialising in creating bespoke designs that perfectly suit our clients needs and budget. Residential architects don’t go around creating designs that clients can’t afford to get built. Nor do architects create designs to suit the builder’s needs. That’s not to say we make our designs overly complicated. But in the end the design is as complex, or as straightforward, as it needs to be to get our clients the very best lifestyle outcomes.

And this is the key. Our designs are all about our client’s needs with due consideration to their budgets. We make a point of getting a thorough understanding of our client’s budgets and what they want to achieve. If there is a discrepancy in what they can afford vs what they want, then to explain that to them and explore other options. We might look at staging. This can give the client the chance to create their dream home in stages as and when their finances allow. Alternatively, we look at creative ways to give our clients the outcome they want, but in a more affordable way that they had perhaps not considered.

We offer different levels of service to match our client’s needs. Clients who initially chose an entry level service can upgrade at any time. However, it is important that our clients understand that there is a tried and proven process that we work through to get them the best results. They need to engage in open communication with us and bring any issues, or concerns to the table, so we can make sure these are addressed. By working through the process in a cooperative manner, our clients are assured of a great outcome.

Camp Hill Home Renovation: Our past clients engaged with us to improve their overall liveability and lifestyle of their property. Not only did these lifestyle renovations drastically improve the functionality of the home but they also improved the streetscape of this quaint property.

Architectural designed homes will save you money

Design and construct builders are correct in saying that any design that is outside the scope of what the customer can afford is a waste of money, time, and effort. But engaging in a design and construct service does not give clients the design skills to achieve the client’s outcome within a more limited budget. And, I can say from experience, that most design and construct builders do not engage someone with sufficient design skills to overcome such challenges.

Design and construct builders often set themselves apart by selling the idea to clients that they don’t need to make a large investment in the design of their home. Instead, the money they save on the design can go towards the actual building part of the project. And for the average person on the street that might seem reasonable. But it’s actually a case of false economies.

Allow me to explain …

We are a leader among Brisbane architects. When we create a home design, we look what adds the best value for money to achieve our client’s desired outcome. If clients engage us for our platinum service we will arrange competitive tenders, or they can do this for themselves. By engaging us, a client can actually save a significant amount of money – often more than our overall fees – and get the very best design for their home. So, by not engaging us they not only get a poor design outcome, but it potentially costs them more money in the long run. And we can at times be talking a huge sum of money.

The builders we engage with who quote on our detailed documentation are able to quote very accurately thanks to the industry leading amount of detail that we provide. Based on this you might expect all quotes to be quite similar, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, a recent tender had a $750,000 difference in price from the most expensive to the least expensive quote! Now imagine if that customer had accidentally picked the more expensive builder without getting other quotes. They may have been none the wiser, but their wallets would have been all the worse for it.



Brookfield Contemporary Renovation: This Brisbane residential design was for a home renovation in Brookfield. We responded to our clients need of wanting to enhance, modernise their home built in 1980’s and create better indoor-outdoor space with much better interior spaces.

Leave the design up to Brisbane architectural professionals

Well, commonly builders who do design and construct services will recommend using their own building designers or draftsperson. The designer creates a design that is easy for the builder to construct, often using materials chosen for the margins they offer rather than aesthetics or functionality. The design outcome is poor, but that’s hardly of concern to the builder who has been paid and can move onto the next project.

It’s a system that’s good for the design and construct builder but not so good for the client. Detail is lacking and connections are often not well executed. All designs need some level of refinement. But design and construct builders often want to get the house built and move onto the next project. They don’t encourage the additional expense of refining the initial design to make it perfect before construction starts. But in the long run it doesn’t save money for the homeowner. Instead, they end up paying more as their home deteriorates faster than it should because the job wasn’t done right in the first place.

Whilst the renovation or new home may look good at first glance, the reality becomes clear when you move in. Spaces lack connection, the flow of the home doesn’t work. The home will often be more expensive to run due to the person who designed it not understanding passive design principles.

Compare that to having us create the perfect home design to suit your lifestyle needs. Our design service is second to none. It incorporates your building design, interior design, and landscape design to ensure everything works seamlessly together. Yes, you pay for our design service. But as mentioned our tendering process can save you thousands and often more than clients have invested in having us create the design in the first place. We also offer a range of other services, including overseeing the construction phase of your project. Which brings me to my final point:

Carina Heights Home Renovation

Carina Heights Home Renovation: This Carina Heights home renovation aimed to update and modernise the existing home. These before and after images show how drastically a reconstructed deck, new facade and paint colour transformed the original property into a modern masterpiece.


The best Brisbane architects can find you honest builders

With all this said we do not think all builders are bad, but we do not think it is fair for design and construct builders to cast aspersions on Brisbane architects and try to convince unsuspecting homeowners that they don’t need our services. So let’s get a few things clear about which builders you should choose and which to avoid.

If you’re looking for a criteria by which to judge builders for your project, then I suggest you look at:

  1.  the quality of their trade-built product,
  2.  their ability and willingness to communicate, their price and,
  3.  their track record for delivering on their stated price!

Some design and construct builders have a track record of giving an initial price, but then submitting ‘variations’ which blow out that price. A variation of contract is where a price has been stated but the builder requests an amendment to that price. Why? Well, there can be legitimate reasons, like an unexpected increase in the costs of certain materials, or materials being unavailable, so they need to substitute and different type of material etc. However, some design and construct builders have a habit of underquoting and then asking the homeowner to pay more as the project goes on. On the surface these variations may look justified. But often the builder should have foreseen these are costs when doing the original quote.

This is why so many clients ask us to handle their tender process and to oversee the construction of their projects, because we can help you find trustworthy and honest builders.

Dion Seminara Architecture

We believe your home design really matters

If you are looking to build or renovate, don’t start by going to a builder. That’s the expensive route that leads to poor design outcomes and frequently costs more despite what they will try to tell you. Contact us first. Let’s sit down together and plan a home that is designed to suit your needs and not those of the builder who as to build it. There’s never been a better time to renovate or build. Call us today and let’s get started on your dream home.

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.