Conversations with the Designers - Blueprint to a successful renovation or new build

I can't tell you how many times we've heard our clients make the following ambitious statement.

'We aim on being in our new home by this Christmas'...When we're already 5 months into that same year!

As Interior Architects and Building Designers, our reply to their statement (without hesitation) is ..."Definitely not this Christmas! If you want all to go well, then you'll have a much better chance if you aim for next Christmas".

No matter what your aim or deadline is for settling into your new home, you'll need to start the planning process at least 12 months prior to your deadline.


Twelve months may sound like a long time, however it will fly by once you start the process. Many first-time home builders or renovators don’t realise what is exactly involved & just how much time goes into the preparation & planning of a new build or major renovation of a home.

Unfortunately, things don't just fall into place by themselves.  There are a series of stages leading up to & including the construction stage.

The main stages of a new build or renovation are as follows:

  1. Project Inception / The Pre-Design Phase. Includes the research, feasibility  & preparation.
  2. Conception - Engagement of the required Professionals. Concept draft of the intended design.
  3. Documentation which is the working drawings (including the selection of finishes, fixtures & fittings) all of which requires your approval.
  4. Council approval & certification. Also requiring engagement of additional consultants.
  5. Construction phase. Engagement of a builder.

Each stage of the process is critical to the success of your renovation or new build, therefore skipping or skimming over any of these stages will only have a detrimental effect on your result & often leads to costly mistakes.


Many home builders & renovators are unaware of the importance of the pre-design phase to the success of their project therefore tend to overlook this stage & jump straight into the design stage.

On the contrary, the pre-design phase is imperative to setting the precedent as to how the rest of the stages unfold.

In the Pre-Design phase there is a particular process that needs to be followed. Each step within that process prepares & sets you up with the knowledge & understanding to tackle the next step. As you progress through these steps, you become more mindful of what it is you are trying to achieve, resulting in the clarity to keep you focused & on track in achieving your desired outcome.

There are so many decisions that need to be made along the way. You most definitely do not want to be constantly changing your mind & going round in circles throughout the design phase or be placed under the pump to make critical decisions throughout construction. Giving yourself sufficient preparation & planning time in the beginning, only brings about the best results when it comes to building and renovating.

So what is it that you develop by including this pre-design stage of the process?:

  • An understanding of your reasons 'why' you are renovating and so can set clear goals as to what you want to achieve.
  • Clarity with your goals so you can remain focused on the project at hand.
  • An understanding of what your budget is and how far you can comfortably stretch that budget if needs be.
  • An understanding of the 'style' you are drawn to so that you can base your selections around this.
  • Direction & focus by formalising a concise 'design brief'. 

The Pre-Design Phase will enable you to move confidently onto the 'Design Phase' & make informed decisions that will inevitably affect the remaining stages of your project. Putting the time, effort & thought into the pre-design phase, avoids the overwhelm that many home owners find themselves caught up in if they aren't well prepared. Being unprepared is to the detriment of your project, where time consuming and costly mistakes are a common occurrence. 

If you master the pre-design phase, it will have nothing but a positive affect on the outcome of your project. You will be able to go to your chosen Architect or Building Designer and Builder with a clear plan in place. This will enable you to better understand the design and construct process & place you in a position to confidently make informed decisions without the associated panic as well as avoiding being distracted by the things that only send you off track.

To be well prepared ultimately saves you time and money...and who doesn't want to save money! After all, any renovation or new build comes with a hefty price tag, so any savings when it comes to time and money along the way can only be a positive thing.

And if we have one BIG tip to give it is...To allow yourself the time to become well prepared for your project before you start the design process

Make all of the decisions in the very beginning of the project when it comes to the selection of your finishes, fixtures and fittings to avoid making rushed uninformed decisions that you'll only regret making once you have to live with it! 

By having clear direction & focus from the beginning will prevent you from being distracted & misled by some new thing that you've seen on the latest instalment of those renovating shows. Well meaning friends and family members will always have their opinions too, being well prepared will give you the confidence to only take on board the suggestions that work within your plan.  

Just remember that once construction starts, it’ll cost you time and money if you keep changing your mind!

Need assistance with the pre-design phase?

Check out our online course on our website.

'Blueprint to a successful renovation or new build' 

Course link



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