What does an architect do?

AVL works closely with clients to establish what you need from the project. Our role is to translate your ideas into a comprehensive, integrated design that takes your ideas (and budget) into account. We analyse the physical character of each site; we will consider a building's orientation to the sun and prevailing weather, its address to the street, its environmental impact and the character of surrounding buildings when developing a plan for a renovated site or new building. AVL works closely with clients to ensure that the form and finishes of the proposed building result in the creation of a beautiful space.

AVL also manages the progress of a client's plan through council, as described below.

How much does it cost to renovate an existing building or plan a new one?

We will establish what your budget for a project is, and use this to develop a set of sketch plans. From this, we can engage a Quantity Surveyor to provide a detailed breakdown of the building's cost. This gives us a working document which is used to make informed decisions when selecting items such as bathroom fixtures, the level of finish or extent of built-in joinery.

Projects in the inner areas of Sydney have a base building cost starting at approximately $3,500 per square metre depending on the size of the project and level of finish.

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What is the first step in starting a project?


A survey of the building site needs to taken by a qualified surveyor. It will take account of all existing features of the site including current wall layouts, the proximity of neighbouring buildings and the level and height of all adjacent elements.

Sketch Design

The first stage of the architects work is to use the survey information to create a set of drawings which represent the existing built context. This will become the base for the proposed design which will be presented to the client in the form of pencil sketches. This Sketch Design will describe the layout of the planning and give an indication of the overall form and "look" of the project.

What comes next?

Detailed Design

When the client is satisfied that the Sketch Design will meet their requirements, we move into the second stage known as Detailed Design. Here the documents are transferred to the computer using CAD to be refined to a level where they will be acceptable for submission to council for a DA. The length if time it takes the council to assess the DA ranges from six weeks to about six months depending on the complexity of the proposal and the volume of applications the council is assessing.

Construction Certificate

After you have a DA the next approval process is the Construction Certificate. Extra detail is added to the DA documents to demonstrate compliance with Australian Standards and codes. The CC documents will also need to address any Conditions of Approval from the DA. The client can choose to have the CC assessed by the council or by a private registered certifier. At this stage we also need to elect the Principal Certifying Authority which will become the building inspector for the construction process and issue the final certificate to occupy the building.

Construction Documentation

The next stage of architects services is to draw all of the details which are important to describe to the builder how to make the building so that each part of the project is consistent with the expression of the whole building. AVL will also prepare a schedule of fixtures and finishes in accordance with the clients preference and the budget as mentioned above.

During Construction

There are many options for the building stage of the project. Whilst the choice of builder is the clients decision, many AVL projects are built by Detail Construction our sister company. This partnership allows a seamless integration of architectural and building services to achieve the highest possible level of finish and detail for the available budget.

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When do you need to go to the council for a DA?

If you are planning a new structure or substantially changing the structure of an existing building, a Development Application (DA) must be lodged with your local council to ensure that your plans comply with their Development Control Plan (DCP) and Local Environment Plan (LEP). We can advise you if a DA will be required.

If a DA is required, AVL will produce a detailed set of drawings and submit them to council. The minimum length of time most councils spend on assessing your DA is six weeks; six months is the average.

Who builds what the architect has designed?

AVL can offer clients integrated architectural and building services through our associated company, Detail Construction.

How long does it take to get from the sketch design stage to a completed renovation or new building?

The length of time of a project depends on a number of factors, including the size and scale of the work proposed. A project that requires a DA will typically take twelve months in development and approvals before it is ready to build.

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