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FAQ

I am a little overwhelmed, and not sure what to do?

This is a great question, and we pride ourselves on helping and assisting our clients along the way. We always recommend anyone who is looking into a project to book in a free call, all you need to do is visit our website at www.itaa.com.au

A phone call with the architect will help you by answering questions you might be worried about giving you clarify and confidence to move ahead with your project.

Architect fees!! why are architects so expensive?

Being a business there are overheads and expenses we need to cover as well as some profit otherwise what is the point of all this. I find it quite disappointing that there is a mindset architects are expensive but at the end of the day business have expenses, overheads, staff, insurances and list goes on. I have found a surveyor will charge up to nearly $2,000 for 1 site survey that they might spend a day or 2 preparing. Our office provides designs and plans for council up 3 times the cost of survey this amount for a standard home but could be working with you up to 12 months even more

The fee structure we have adopted, working in this industry for 17 years is a fixed fee bases so our clients know the maximum amount they will need to invest. We applying our hourly rate to the estimated hours we believe it is going to take our team to provide design, plans and council. We of course have allowed for risk, but as an architect we must coordinate with consultants and so time needs to be allowed for this also in the hours we estimate.If you wish we are also more than happy to work at an hourly rate and bill you every week. We are very flexible and can work with you with a payment plan by adding additional payments in the schedule, if that helps with your finances. We want to work with you so of course we want to help you.

What is the difference between architects and draftspersons?

Anyone in NSW can draw plans for you, however council and builders do not care where or who prepares the plans so that means anyone can call themselves a draftsperson or building designer without any qualifications or government regulatory body. However an architect can only be an architect if they are registered with the board of architects within the state they have registered in. For me while I was studying I was a building designer and while studying architecture at university this lead me to keep working toward registration so that I could provide a professional and accountable service for my clients.

Over the years I have seen so many clients who have spent so much money on plans, only to have to walk away with a design they hate and outlaid a lot of money for, to then also find out there is nothing they can do to recoup costs as there is no regulatory body checking on these business. Unless they take legal action which they need then to pay for legal advice and court costs.Your architect however is required to meet the Architects Act and in the Architects Act there is a lot of information on what an architect can and cannot do. One major point we should highlight, if you have a budget the act requires the architect to manage that budget. Now if this is not adhered to, and you believe it was out of your control, then you have an opportunity to contact the board of architects who will then investigate and take further action as required for you. I think we need to stop worrying about the cost of plans and look at the overall service an architect can provide and what we must do for our clients to ensure they are happy and well looked after. When you compare the service, time architects assist you through the duration of the project, follow up consultants, emails, deal with builders, phone calls, meetings then compare to costs of consultants who only off advice in their specialist field for a very short period of time, you start to see that the plans are only part of the service architects provide.If you’re looking for an architect please we would love the opportunity to provide you with a fixed fee quote based on your project size. All we need is your budget, brief and some inspirational images of what type of project you love so we can get a feel of the scale and impact you are trying to get out of your project.If you are looking for more of an experience with development of concept and looking at a few design options, we have sister architectural firm Innovative Seaside Homes which offers this unique way of designing a home through testing of concepts and ideas that is based on connecting you to the site and area in which you love. Please check out the website and call Lauran on 0432 641 697 or email at innovativeseasidehomes@gmail.com

Do I need to commit to all stages, if I only want a design initially?

No not at all, we provide you a fee for all stages so it is clear on our fees from start to finish. if you do wish to end working with us we need to be notified and we will issue the final invoice if there is monies outstanding.

What is the process working with an architect?

I have a great link to download which explains the process and stages in working with us.
Generally there are 5 major stages and have listed these for information.

A. Free 15 min consultation callCall the architect to talk about your project, discuss your brief and budget, talk about your intentions, are you going to live here for another 10 years or are you selling in 2 years? If that all sounds great and you request a fee proposal, our office will email across a fee proposal for your consideration. If you choose to accept we will email you a commencement invoice as well as send you out a welcome pack.B. Pre Design Stage Initial onsite meeting to talk about your project, talk about options with your design and feasibility of your project. We will have reviewed the council’s DCP & LEP. But this tsabe we organise a current copy of the planning certificate and site survey. If you are planning on alterations and additions the surveyor will need to prepare existing measured plans of the existing house, this is an extra cost for the client so you need to factor this consultant into your costs. Once the survey and existing plans have been send across we then proceed with the next stage, the design stage.C. Design Stage We prepare a concept design with plans, elevations, and 3D views. These plans become developed enough to take to cost consultants and builders to provide you with cost estimates.We have a few separate stages in the design stage which we start with the Schematic Design which we provide 2 options with a floor plan & 3D views. We then meet to discuss the schematic design which we then prepare amended floor plans, elevations and 3D views which we then send to you to review. Once you have reviewed we meet again to discuss theD. Approval Stage We prepare the DA plans and other associated forms for the council. We also coordinate with the required consultants depending on the complexity of the project and council. We lodged on your behalf and also follow up with council during the council assessment stage.E. Contract Documentation/ Construction Certificate
Stage
We review the DA approval and adjust plans if needed, however, we
also organise the required consultants and coordinate to prepare a construction
certificate package so then we can start to contact builders to tender for your project.
Being architects, we offer tender and construction management services, which we
will be more than happy to discuss with you.

What types of projects do you do?

We work on renovation to existing dwellings, secondary dwellings, new homes, dual occupancies, mix use developments, town houses, childcare centres, schools, libraries, amenities, shops fitouts, commercial projects, industrial projects, factories, clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and aged care.

I have reviewed the fee proposal, terms of agreements, NSW Architect Act and architect insurances, and want to proceed?

Great, all you need to do is give our office a call or email us to let us know. on confirmation our office will email you a commencement invoice which is also explained on the fee proposal.

Our office will send you a digital pre design pack , this takes us 7 days to send across as we need to research your site and council rules.
A copy of the fee proposal, terms of agreement, NSW Architect Act and PI Insurances

LT Office mind map – this is a great reference to keep on track of the project.
Detailed selections planner
Council or PCA forms, council checklists etc – for when your ready to proceed with the DA
Scope of works , A site specific compliance table, and list of consultants
Dial before you dig package
A helpful reference on contactor selection
A copy of our trusted dream team so you can a quick reference for consultants when needed.

I have cuttings, photo’s, pinterest board and sketches what I like, can I share these?

Of course and these are great. Please keep them and share so we know what you like and what inspires you. Our office designs homes you and your family and so the more information the better.

What do I need to give to the architect to start?

We need a brief, this can be a written description, a list of rooms you need or a sketch. Photos and sketches of example which inspire you. Once we have this we will review and rewrite this out for your review before starting and comment on before any design work is undertaken.

How long will it take?
Depending on the size and complexity of the project as well as consultants it can take our office a few weeks to just be able to start on the design. So we always say 2 weeks to have schematic floor plan of a medium sized project about the 250m2 in size. This will include the street view with external 3D’s which is all explained in the fee proposal. if there are design changes our office like to complete the changes within 7 working days of the meeting or email requesting these changes. Depending on the number of changes will determine the time it takes for the for the design stage.

For the DA stage this takes our office 4 week to prepare the DA package, at 3 weeks we email the draft plans and documents for your review as well as the invoice for this stage.For the construction certificate stage this can take u to 2 weeks, but takes longer due to waiting on consultants and the PCA So allow up to 4 weeks to have your construction certificate from the day you ask our office to organise this on your behalf.If you wish to proceed with full construction drawings this will add an additional 2 to 3 weeks as we are preparing the detail plans as well as coordinating with the engineers etc.How long does council take to approve our plans?Council are to response to your DA within 42 days, and the best way of gauging how long council is going to take is to call them when they are assessing your DA.

What consultants do I need?

In most cases for a standard project the minimum you will need is the following;
Architectural Plans
Surveyor
Engineer – Structural
Private certifier is you choose not to use council

If in more populated areas or for more complex projects you need to allow for;
Engineer – Stormwater
Engineer – Acoustic – if on a main road, train line or flight path.
Sewer main water coordinator – if you building over the sewer easement
Landscape architect/ designer
Heritage or conservation architect

For site in bush areas or environmental areas you need to allow for;
Bushfire consultant
Waste Water
Floody study/ report
Flora & Fauna report
Arborist report
Geotech report
Aboriginal heritage consultant

This is just a guide and you should always consult with council if unsure on what information or consultants are required for your project.
When we start a project in your welcome pack we put together a list of consultant we fee the project will need as a minimum. However for those more complicated projects council may request a report from a consultant which as not been listed or we have tried to avoid on purpose as it seems unnecessary.
So please allow for the unknown extra reports council may request for.

When do I send the plans for estimated? and who should I send to, builder or estimator?

When you are happy with the design and we have provided design development plans, glazing schedules, schedules of finishes and a basix report. Please note more complicated project the Basix might be to hard as it might require modelling. As it is just an estimate builders are either going to give you a quick estimate or some will send of to trades and so their times vary. In most cases builders do this as a free of charge, and so they may take a few weeks to a few months.

If you are in a hurry and want a more detailed estimate and trades breakdowns and cost of rates the next best option is a cost estimator. They do charge for this but you do get so much more information on what has been allowed for such rates of trades, materials and finishes, allowances for fixtures and fittings compared to a 1 figure estimate which there is really no explanation on what has and has not been included.

The cost estimate is more than we expected

The reason why we start with the design stage is to look at your brief cmme up with a design then send of to builders to get some estimates. We have factored this in our fees and we then will amend the design until the design meets your budget.Unfortunately the budget you have and works you would like to do sometimes just doesn’t line up.

The sketch design stage is a great way of making sure of this as otherwise you will never know unless you go through the exercise. We also provide great references for costing new homes with a online calculator but it is hard for alterations and additions as a lot of the work is labour which is hard to work out on a square meter rate. Again our fee for a sketch design will always have a design which will be at your budget but it may just not be what you expected if you have a very limited budget and a lot work you want. I strongly recommend you book in a free 15 minute phone call consultation to discuss your budget and weather it worth going ahead or not. Visit our website www.ltaa.com.au for our contact details.

We are happy with the design and budget what do we do now?

The next step is to have your design approved. I strongly suggest to go to the bank or your financial planner to make sure you have the funds available to proceed and also add a bit for more unforeseen items and variations. If all is ok, then the next step is to have your plans approved by the local council or PCA.

If you wish to proceed please notify the office via email that you to proceed with the DA application and approval stage. In most cases we would have given you a fee for this but if you do not and wish for our office to provide you with a fee proposal please also email us and we will get a fee proposal out to as soon as possible.

What if we are happy with the design but would like someone else to prepare the plans for the rest of the project?

This is fine, the usual copyright laws still apply and would like the opportunity to take photo’s of the project once completed if the design has not changed of course. If you do choose to move forward with the design or plans we provided for you with another please note we take no responsibility for the any documentation provided and any associated costs as this is to be taken over by the owner, draftsperson, designer, builder and architect.

If you need to talk, seek clarification, email or meet in regards to the design plans after completing of our services we will require you to book in a time and will be charged $110 + GST as out min charge and will need to paid before the booking. If you require a meeting not in our office then our standard $340 + GST will apply.In some cases the other person will request the drawings files, we can provide the DWG files at a cost of $800 + GST and on payment of the invoice and a release form filled, signed and returned we will email across the files to the prefered email. Visit our website www.ltaa.com.au for our contact details.

We have council approval, but feel we can organise the construction certificate.

Once the DA approval has been issued by council LT & Associates have completed their agreed services and issued a completion of works email. The applicant or owner now takes responsibility of organising paperwork, reviewing all documentation from council and organising the construction certificate.

As our services are completed and If you need to talk, seek clarification, email or meet in regards to any development application or construction certificate documentation after completing of our services we will require you to book in a time and will be charged $110 + GST as out min charge and will need to paid before the booking is confirmed. If you require a meeting not in our office then our standard $340 + GST will apply. Visit our website www.ltaa.com.au for our contact details.

We have questions with the consent and what things mean in the approval consent?

If you also have questions with regards to your development application or complying development approval you are best to seek the advice of council and the PCA. Depending the scope of works you have engaged us for if We have just provided the DA as per our scope of works and you choose to take on the CC yourself then we cannot comment our our services have been completed. As architects we do not act or represent, or speak for on council’s behalf and if in doubt you must seek the advice from council or the PCA.

If you do engage our office for the construction certificate we will of course act on your behalf and contact council to seek clarification. If there are conditions you wish to have removed or amended this is outside our scope and would suggest seek legal advice as well as engage a planner to assist.Once the CC has been approved and you do not enanage our office the for the contract administration services it then up to the applicant, owner and builder to liaise directly with the council or the PCA and to ensure all the documentation and forms, notification are completed as per the approval documentation.If anytime you need to talk, seek clarification, email or meet in regards to the project after completion of our services we will require you to book in a time and will be charged $110 + GST as out min charge and will need to paid before the booking.If you require a meeting not in our office then our standard $340 + GST will apply.

We have the construction certificate, do we need an architect to administer a contract or can the builder just project manage?

We strongly recommend full construction drawings as this will reduce variations and the builder guessing and you being disappointed. We would really appreciate the opportunity to provide you will a fee proposal for this service.

As architects if you choose to we can administer the contract, which means we act on your behalf with your project answering RFI’s, reviewing invoices and approving payments, on call at all times and ensuring the builder builds based on signed contracts plans.If you do choose to move forward with the builder and a contract between you both then please note it is now the responsibility of the both parties to ensure the PCA or council have been notified and all works have been carried out as per the approval documentations.If you need to talk, seek clarification, email or meet in regards to the CC documentation or any other stage after completing of our services we will require you to book in a time and will be charged $110 + GST as out min charge and will need to paid before the booking. If you require a meeting not in our office then our standard $340 + GST will apply. Visit our website www.ltaa.com.au for our contact details.

We have DA approval but just want to change the design slightly as we didn’t realise the in the design and we want to change it?

Once your DA is approved and if you wish to make a change to the design in most cases you need to go back to council and resubmit.

Please review your plans, if it takes another week to spend time on the plans please do this. If any doubt you need to contact our office during the design stage or the DA stage. As after we have completed our services any changes after will be charged for the additional unforeseen time. We require clients to sign of on the plans by signing the plans, other taking a photo on your phone or scanning the plans which have been signed returning the signed. This signing is to also make you aware that any changes after the DA approval your plans need to go back to council and will incur additional costs from our office but also council.However if your plans are approved through a CDC application then slight changes are not as bad and not even a big deal as long as the changes you’re proposing do not impact on the CDC compliance. As the complying development application is not notified to your neighbours like council just a call to the private certifier asking the question. And again if you need our help with the CDC and changes after you have signed of on the plans and have your CDC approval and have not engaged our office for the contract administration stage.

Do I need to sign of the plans?

Yes you do and we cannot proceed with the next stage until this step has been completed. For the design stage we cannot proceed with the DA plans.

For the DA or CDC plans we cannot lodge the plans to council or the private certifier until the plans are approved and signing off. By signing means that you approved the design and that if you change your mind after the approval there are going to additional costs from our office and possibly council.

Do I need to tell council the external materials and colours? When do we need to choose external materials and colours?

Over the years I have seen a great benefit on the starting on the materials and colour selections as soon as the project is being designed. To many times it’s left just before lodging to council and then submitting to council an idea of the colours which in some cases is ok but other will delay council approving the application as they are seeking this information.

Council do require a schedule of external finishes and so rather than leaving to the last minute and rushing it is best to start thinking about it now.
In your welcome pack I have a very simple to fill in schedule of finishes document for a basic spec home. Not only is this essential for the estimate stage but also easier at time of preparing the DA application as this information is known.

The locations in which you work in?

Yes you do and we cannot proceed with the next stage until this step has been completed. For the design stage we cannot proceed with the DA plans.

We offer our services to sites located in Sydney, Parramatta, Carlingford, North Rocks, Westmead, Calga, Hornsby, Westleigh, Thornleigh, Turramurra, Wisemans Ferry, Nelsons Bay, Salamander Bay, Lemon Tree Passage, Port Stephens, Newcastle, Boolaroo, Teralba, Lake Macquarie, Toronto, Warners Bay, Belmont, Redhead, Swansea, Catherine Hill Bay, Murray’s Beach, Gwandalan, Lake Munmorah, Budgewoi, Touckley, San Remo, The Entrance, Erina, Shelly’s Beach, Long Jetty, Wyong, Gosford, Woy Woy, Northern Beaches, Whale Beach, Mosman, Cremorne, North Sydney, Neutral Bay