Educational posts about architectural, building and construction industry

guide to home renovation

We have put together a guide on what to expect at each step of the home renovation process, how long each stage will take and how you can work with an architect to create your dream home.

Cost of Works:

  • Construction Cost
  • Architect’s Fees (10%-15% of construction cost)
  • Consultant Fees (5%-15% of construction cost, depending on project complexity)
  • DA/CC Fees & Certification Fees (varies between Councils, and whether a private certifier is used)
  • Contingency Sum (10%-20% of construction cost)
  • Builder’s Margin
  • GST

Other costs to consider:

  • Furnishings
  • Loose Equipment & Electrical Items
  • Landscaping
  • Rental/Accommodation Costs during construction

Project Unknowns:

  • Archaeological finds
  • Contamination Issues
  • Structural problems with existing buildings
  • Geotech
  • Bushfire prone land

Issues affecting budget:

  • A building is the sum of its parts – size matters. The biggest impact on a project cost is the area.
  • Builder’s experience and type of building contract
  • Site conditions and access
  • New building vs. alterations & additions


  • The Client provides a design brief, budget and program.
  • GWA prepares a Return Brief listing specific project requirements;
  • The Client reviews and approves the Return Brief.
  • We talk about the process and estimate time required for the proposed works. Project fee is discussed.
  • GWA researches and assesses the development controls and authority requirements;
  • GWA prepares a DA checklist and Council Code Study;
  • GWA assesses conditions, constraints and opportunities of the site based on a site visit, survey and photos; (other consultants may need to be engaged depending on site conditions)
  • GWA assists the Client with the engagement of a building surveyor to undertake a site survey;
  • GWA prepares a set of ‘as existing’ drawings of any existing structures on the property, including plans and elevations;
  • Meetings with the Client as required.


  • GWA produces drawings that show the general planning and proposed style of the design options;
  • The Client reviews options and recommends updates. GWA incorporates changes or refinements based on this feedback;
  • GWA reviews the proposed design in relation to planning controls;
  • GWA may suggest a Pre-DA meeting with Council;
  • GWA provides preliminary sketch design documents, including basic materials and finishes, for costing by Quantity Surveyor or Builder if required;
  • Meetings with the Client as required;
  • The Client signs off approved concept design before proceeding to next phase of work.


  • Based on the approved Concept Design, GWA prepares documents to lodge an application for planning approval.  This may include:
  • ‘As existing’ drawings of the site and existing building(s), including Plans, Sections & Elevations;
  • CAD drawings of the proposed scheme; including detailed Plans, Sections and Elevations, suitable for submission to Council or other Authorities;
  • Site Analysis drawing;
  • Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE);
  • BASIX Certificate;
  • Waste Management Plan;
  • Shadow diagrams.
  • GWA assists with the preparation of Consultant briefs and obtains fee proposals;
  • GWA co-ordinates work carried out by consultants and integrates this work into the architectural documents;
  • GWA may meet with neighbours;
  • Meetings with the Client as required;
  • The Client reviews and approves all documents before submitting the Application;
  • Approximately 2-4 months for Council to assess DA. (Timing can vary)


Whilst more detailed than a DA, the level of detail in the documents produced for this stage is generally not enough for a builder to provide a tender. Often it can be possible to run this stage concurrently with the detailed documentation stage.

  • GWA develops documents to incorporate Conditions of Consent and meet CC requirements;
  • GWA coordinates and integrates secondary consultant’s designs;
  • GWA prepares a Certifier’s brief and obtains fee proposals;
  • GWA consults with the Certifier to manage the Construction Certificate process;
  • The Client approves the documents for CC and it is lodged in the Client’s name.


  • The concept design is refined and fully detailed to meet our Client’s requirements.
  • Together, we further develop the return brief with more detailed information about façade design, interior design and finishes, joinery requirements and kitchen and bathroom fittings and other technical details;
  • GWA undertakes technical research to identify suitable materials and products;
  • Cost, aesthetic and environmental performance of the proposed design(s) is evaluated at this stage.
  • GWA prepare and present design options for each part of the project;
  • The Client reviews the options and recommends updates. GWA incorporates changes or refinements based on Client feedback;
  • GWA provides preliminary drawings and schedules for costing by Quantity Surveyor or Builder if required;
  • GWA and the Client meet as required;
  • The Client confirms approval of the detailed design elements;


  • GWA prepares detailed working drawings and schedules, sufficient for construction of the work;
  • GWA provides information to secondary consultants and coordinates and integrates their work.
  • GWA meets with consultants as required. This may include meeting with builders to discuss their experience and suitability for the project;
  • We evaluate different procurement methods;
  • GWA can assist the Client with builder selection and/or the tender process;
  • GWA and the Client meet as required;
  • We decide what building procurement method will be used;
  • It may be possible for the documentation of some items to be completed during the construction process to minimise delays.


  • The level of service required by GWA in this phase may vary, depending on a range of issues including the client requirements, site conditions, and the building contract selected;
  • GWA generally administers the building contract between the Proprietor & Contractor and issues certificates as required under the building contract;
  • GWA assesses progress claims submitted by the builder;
  • GWA responds to site queries and provides ongoing details and documentation to the builder;
  • Regular site meetings are required to discuss issues on site with the builder and client;
  • Client attendance at particular site meetings is encouraged;
  • Client’s involvement and decisions made at this stage is critical to minimise delays.


  • GWA visit the site and monitor defective works during defect liability period;
  • GWA provides other post completion services as required;
  • GWA responds to requests for information from Client if requested.


  • The Client provides a brief for maintenance work. This work may be ongoing or immediate;
  • GWA prepares a return brief listing specific project requirements, which the Client reviews and confirms;
  • GWA assists with the preparation of consultant briefs and obtains fee proposals for the required maintenance work;
  • GWA organises for specific work items to be carried out by various suppliers/ tradesmen;
  • GWA monitors the progress of the work and provides updates to the Client as required.