Your architect is your guardian angel: Part 4

Your architect is your guardian angel: Part 4

Renovations, Tips and Advice, New Homes, Services

Following on from my earlier articles on understanding the value of working with an architect, I will now focus on protecting your interests during the actual building phase of your project.

Please note that the comments that I am about to make are true for any building work, be it a renovation or the building of a brand new home.

So let’s start by looking at the importance of having me create your detailed design drawings.

It’s all there in black and white:

A lot of people do not realise this, but not all building designs are created equally, nor do they need to be. In fact, drawings can be quite vague as there is no legal requirement for them to have a high level of detail. Yes, they do need to cover the basics in order to gain relevant permits and approvals, but beyond that designs can lack much of the detail that is required to achieve a high-quality result.

And whilst you may think that this will not impact on you and your project, the reality is that it can and probably will.

Draftspeople and other non-architecturally qualified building designers often create designs that lack fine detail. But this is not only true of non-architects. Some architects offer very low-cost design services. How can they afford to? Well for some, they manage to maintain their high margins by spending less time creating the final drawings. That’s not to say that they rush the job, instead, it means that they leave out the time-consuming aspect of the drawings which is putting in the intricate detail. The very detail that can be the difference between all your dreams coming true, or the realisation of your worst nightmare.

I need to point out here that I am referring to detailed contract drawings, not the standard design concept or building application drawings. Our details contract drawings include not only an outline of raw materials to be used in your project but also how they are placed together to ensure that they look good, feel right, function well and will be built to stand the test of time.

When I create final drawings, the very drawings that builders need to quote on and then build off, I ensure that they are incredibly detailed. Detail takes time, and time costs money, therefore I am not the cheapest option, but I also will ensure that your building project does not end in an expensive disaster.

So exactly what type of detail are we talking about? Well, the type that ensures that there are no shortcuts.

My drawings include such things as materials to be used and quality of workmanship. By clearly spelling this out in your design drawings, there can be no arguments later. If these things are not spelt out then costly errors can occur.

For example, if your designs do not specify a certain standard of materials, then the builder may quote on cheaper quality materials than you originally wanted. When it comes time to actually build your project, the builder will then claim that because the standard was not clearly stated in the drawings, it is not covered in their original quote. You then have the choice of either
a) accepting lower standard materials being used on your home or
b) you will have to pay extra, over and above their quoted price, as the higher standard of materials are now a variation (we will talk more about variations in a moment).

As you can imagine this can all run into quite a few dollars. But even more so if it is not picked up until after work has commenced. If the builder has already purchased and started building using these lower quality materials, then you will not only have to pay a for a variation on the existing quote, you will now have to pay them for pulling down what they have already done and starting again. You will also quite probably have to pay for the poor quality materials as well. At the very least you will be paying for those materials that have been used that are no longer in a returnable condition.

By creating detailed drawings, and clearly spelling out the type, size and standard of materials to be used, you can avoid these costly mistakes.

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.