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The design process

Getting expert assistance in the early planning stages is a definite advantage. Experienced HIA builders or building designers will work with you to explore designs that fit your home, lifestyle and budget. They will also advise you on the level of design assistance you might need, before you can get a firm cost estimate and the work can get underway.

  • For a simple renovation project, you and your builder may be able to work out the design details in the course of your conversations about the project. If your renovation is large or complex, the builder may suggest that you consult with a professional building designer as a first and separate step of your project.
  • A growing number of renovation companies have a designer on staff. Alternatively, builders may recommend a designer or architect from their network of professional associates. Either way, having a builder involved at the design stage helps to ensure that your design is practical and feasible from a construction standpoint.
  • Typically, the design process begins with a discussion of your ideas and a look at photos, drawings or product literature that you may have collected. The builder or designer will also ask you to take them on a tour of the house and explain what you are trying to accomplish and what do you really need and want.
  • Based on this information, ‘concept sketches’ are developed, usually more than one to give you a range of options. Additional finetuning is often needed to complete the design of your choice.
  • At the end of the design phase, you will have a set of drawings or plans that are the basis for getting cost estimates. The drawings should be ‘working drawings’ completely dimensioned and detailed and should show clearly what the final project will look like. Further structural details may need to be provided, depending on the complexity of the project, and plans should be accompanied by a specification list of the products and materials to be used.
  • If your renovation requires approval, working drawings are required by the local council or private building certifier. For a planning permit, permission is generally granted by the local council. Planning drawings are required in this case and may not need to be as detailed as full working drawings. Other documentation such as soil reports and engineers’ calculations may also be required; professional builders can take care of all the details, including dealing with building officials.