Renovation architects. Do you need one?

renovation architects image of carina heights queenslander renovation

Renovation architects. Do you need one?

Renovations, Tips and Advice, Services

There’s no better feeling than buying a new home (especially your first new home!). But often the job isn’t quite done then. After taking the perfect family pics in front of the big ‘Sold’ sign and unpacking your shoes and toiletries, you could just find that not everything is exactly how you want it to be. And that’s when you might want to consider renovation.

Australia is a nation of renovators. A survey of over 1,000 Australians found that of the people who owned a property, 37% of respondents were altering or renovating their homes in 2021. So, what are these renovators doing to ensure that their renovations give them the home that they want and deserve? Well, the savviest are getting in touch with renovation architects.

Why Do You Need a Renovation Architect?

We firmly believe that engaging with an expert before any project is a great idea, regardless of how big or small you expect your renovation to be.

Building permits and approval applications

Even relatively small projects need building permits and approval applications (especially with our beautiful, iconic Brisbane architecture). And applications, permits and dealing with local council can be challenging even for those experienced in those areas. There’s a lot of jargon, red tape and paperwork to cut through!

But renovation architects, like our team, can help you navigate those requirements. We can manage and coordinate the approval application process on your behalf and make your life simpler and your renovation smooth and stress-free.

Understand your real lifestyle and practical needs

Working with architects you get the expertise that comes from understanding the ins and outs of home design. That means that your architects can respond to the challenges and opportunities that arise from the size of your block or other site needs and help you design around real-life issues like climate and lifestyle requirements. As opposed to builder or draftsman designs, there are no cookie-cutter solutions when you work with architects.

Bring everything together

One of the best skills that a renovation architect has is their ability to see how everything connects together. Most other contractors on the project will come and go, dipping in when and if you need them. But renovation architects are there from the first drawings through to the completed project which offers a level of consistency and quality that might otherwise be lacking. Your architects become your renovation team to steer your project through to the end.

They’re also there to do all the stuff that owners don’t typically know need doing. From haggling with planners on permits, to keeping the budget in check, renovation architects go much further than just doing up some drawings.

Bringing everything together – This award-winning 2015 Camp Hill renovation seamlessly connected the character home with a new, modern front entrance and outdoor area.

Respond to changing circumstances

Renovations don’t always proceed in a direct line from plans to building and from building to living in your new home. In fact, as soon as you start any works on your home, you will likely find that things are different then you expect. Challenges come up (asbestos, hidden pipework, variations) and that means that your design needs to evolve to meet those challenges. And you need renovation architects to take care of that.

Manage quick decisions

Sometimes problems come up on a project very quickly and they need prompt managing. If the architect isn’t there to protect the project, then things can easily go wrong, and quickly. But professional, expert renovation architects are available (and often onsite) throughout the entire life of the problem. And they can help make quick decisions when necessary.

Offer independent professional counsel

Renovation architects can offer independent, expert professional counsel. And in the building industry, independent advice is really important. For example, as renovation architects, we can advise you on whether a more expensive glass will give you cost-savings benefits in the end, or whether you’re better off going with a more budget-friendly option.

Architects don’t get paid by suppliers or kickback from builders, so you can trust that we’re working for you and no one else.

Blocks to Hiring a Renovation Architect

Sometimes people don’t want to hire a renovation architect because there is generally an upfront fee. But it’s important to rethink the cost.

Architects might charge what may appear to be 10-15% of the project cost or more, especially if your service includes cost management, interior design, landscape design and full project management. However, they also might work on your project for two or more full years (we worked on one job for 4 years), making adjustments and variations, managing challenges and just keeping you on track.

These are the kinds of things that can be much more expensive and time-consuming for you to handle yourself on a day-to-day basis, and that makes hiring an architect well worth it.

How to Hire an Expert

Hiring an expert, like a renovation architect, starts with finding someone you trust. For many people, undertaking a renovation could be one of the most expensive tasks you ever undertake. And that makes decisions stressful. Sometimes your architect may have to give you information or advice that you don’t really like, or that isn’t ideal, as well, but that is in your best interests. That’s why you need to work with an expert that you trust to have your back, and who you know will advise on the best course for you and your specific situation.

Next you need to put together your brief. Start by splitting your renovated home into quantity – how many bedrooms, bathrooms etc. that you want – and then the feel and function which are equally as important. The more clearly you can name your goals and ideal outcomes, the easier it is for you both to stay on the same page.

There’s no need to try to design or do any sketches as this may be counterproductive for you.  Your brief doesn’t have to be technical – but a game plan is a great place to start and a good way to build trust.

Finally, you’ll want to understand your budget. You want to know what you can spend and where you want your monies focused. And the great thing about an architect is they can ensure that your project is sticking to the budget throughout your renovation, keeping you in the black and moving forward.

three images of multi-award winning toowong queenslander renovation

Multi-Award Winning Toowong Renovation – Expert architect Dion Seminara completed these renovation designs in 2018, which later went on to win an ArCHomes Design Award for Design Excellence and a Bronze A’Design Award for Architecture, Building and Structure Design.

Working with dion seminara, Renovation Architects

The best renovations start with expert advice. And that’s what we’re here for at dion seminara architects. We can help you create designs that embrace modern innovations while remaining sensitive to Brisbane’s iconic architecture and your particular home. And we can help you manage the entire process from start to finish.

We make your life less stressful, less hectic and can save you money in the long run with expert advice, while still ensuring you end up with the renovated home of your dreams.

While some builders on social media might say that you don’t need an expert architect for your renovation, it certainly can be in your best interest. To get some honest and ethical information about when to hire an architect, read some articles below.

Read more, Your Architect is Your Guardian Angel, Part 1

Read more, Your Architect is Your Guardian Angel, Part 2

Read more, Your Architect is Your Guardian Angel, Part 3

Read more, Your Architect is Your Guardian Angel, Part 4

Read more, Your Architect is Your Guardian Angel, Part 5

At dion seminara architects, we’re expert renovation architects. Get in touch today and let’s have a chat!
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.