A feasibility may be completed if required or requested by the client usually before a property is purchased. This may take the form of an initial concept sketch or report with an outline of costs/budget, programming and authority requirements or parameters.

A brief is a descriptive document that outlines the clients requirements in terms of quality, time and cost. While time and cost are readily defineable, quality isn't, therefore briefing documents usually focus on this aspect.

The quality aspect may take the form of functional requirements such as number and type of rooms and size thereof, but more importantly describes the concept of the overall building. For example, if it were a house "open-plan" may be desired, "lots of light" and "storage", or "modern" and "minimal". For a larger development, say a hotel, this could take the form of a "user-focussed" hotel where guests immediately receive a "sense of warmth and hospitality".

For more intensive developments, room data sheets will be required whereby every room is detailed with their specific requirements.

Once the brief is completed and understood, we will then consider, design and refine the design. A period of evaluation occurs and we will re-consider, re-design refine again until such time as we are happy with the design. This schematic design may take the form of several options and each may be presented to the client for their consideration prior to proceeding to the next stage of design. Green, ESD, and other sustainable objectives are also realised early so that they can be accommodated in the design rather than thrown in at the last minute.

It may also be during this stage or early in the following stage that materials selections commence along with the effect of space and light on the layouts.

Design development occurs after schematic design and after the client has agreed to the schematic design above. The schematic design is then "developed" into a workable project such that the beginnings of documentation can start to occur for council or authority approvals.

At this stage, a careful analysis of the service requirements begin to take shape in the building, along with materials if not already done (see above). More certainty takes place in the design as the plans, elevations and sections start to be developed and firmed up. Careful analysis of the 3d design continues and the design brief starts to take shape within the design. The client is consulted and advised of the design and any alterations to the design are finalised so that by the end of this stage, the design is ready to be prepared for council or other authority submission.

Once the design development is completed, the design is carefully prepared for council submission, along with many other reports and drawings. Such things may include shadow diagrams detailing any impact on neighbouring properties, geotechnical reports, landscape design, stormwater/civil designs, BASIX reports, traffic reports, SEPP 1 objections, site and water management plans, acoustic reports, statement of environmental effects, external glazing reports, area calculations, and the usual council checklists and forms.

Once all the documents are submitted along with the council fee, council will have all the documents and drawings required to assess the design against all of the codes and policies contained within the LEP's, DCP's and SEPP's.

Currently, council has 40 working days to determine an application for development. If it is a large new development or a contentious or complex project (and due to staff shortages at virtually all councils) this usually takes longer. Further, council may request additional information during the assessment phase but only during a certain period after receiving the application.

At the end of the DA process and all going well, council will have issued a DA approval with conditions. Depending on the council or authority that determines the application, the DA approval can range from 10 pages to 100 pages of detailed requirements that must be complied with. Some conditions will be required to be met prior to lodging the Construction Certificate, with the Construction Certificate, prior to construction commencing, or during the operation of the completed building.

Once the DA has been approved, it is time for the design to enter its penultimate phase by proceeding into this stage of further documentation. The design will have been subjected to many requirements in the DA as detailed above, and these must be complied with. As such, the design will have to accommodate any changes imposed by council or the authority. This stage is usually done in conjunction with the detailed documentation stage below as the deliverables are usually similar, although more detail is required for detailed documentation.

The design is now being detailed to such an extent that the design can actually be built. This is an intensive design stage and critical to the detailing of the building. There are other design consultants that come onto the design team and dependent upon the type of project but this could involve structural engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, and hydraulic and civil engineers. Details and services are coordinated to ensure an optimum design is reached while complying with the BCA and NCC. Details are expressed such as kitchen and bathroom details, stair and handrail details as well as window and door details, as well as schedules and joinery elements.

Once the client has seen and approved details of the documentation above, it is time for the project to go out to tender which is a method of asking for prices from suitable builders. They are given a set period of time to come back and submit their price and programming requirements.

All builders tender on the same documentation package so that we can compare apples with apples. Conditions are set in place so that the builders understand the requirements that must be met. A detailed specification of work is provided so the builders similarly understand that just complying with the department of fair trading guidelines is not enough.

Once a builder is selected and the right building contract is executed, it is time to construct the building. Once the builder has the required insurances and he/she commences on site, the architect assesses and inspects quality, the construction time and cost to ensure the builder is delivering what the contract expects. The requirements that the client has instructed the architect in the briefing stage (above) and which the architect has interpreted is being built. The architect will be assessing payment claims for payment by the client, as well as responding to RFI's and any claims the builder may have. Details are continually being refined while on site to ensure that the quality is being met.

Site meetings are conducted to ensure a process of order and control is maintained. Shop drawings are reviewed, cost adjustments controlled, and monthly payment claims are processed through payment schedules and certificates.

Once the builder has reached what the contract terms it as "practically complete", the architect will assess if that is the case and if so, will issue a practical completion certificate. This is an important aspect during the life of the construction period as now the owner takes back the keys of the property and retains the responsibility for insuring the property once again.

It is important to note that "Practical Completion" does not mean the building is completely finished, but only 'practically complete', meaning some minor items require attention. These items may be a paint touch up, or a squeaking hinge etc, which still get completed during the defects liability period.

Once the building work is completed and Practical Completion has been reached, the owner may choose to move into the property, have it rented out or leased.

The defects liability period usually lasts for 12 months and commences at the time of practical completion. All building items that may arise during the following 12 months that need attention get looked at and completed by the builder. A portion of the payments owed to the builder during the construction period has been retained (the "retention fund") to ensure the builder completes any items that require rectification during this period. At the end of this period, and once all items have been satisfactorily attended to, the retention is returned to the builder.

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Email: ideas@proteusarchitects.com.au