FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We love your building designs, do you also do interior design?
Short answer – Yes!
Long answer – The scope for interior design can vary immensely depending on the project and your specific requirements. It can include basic interior design (much of which is actually included in your floor plan and within the base cost of the concept design in your quote) such as kitchen/bathroom layouts, but can progress to different levels all the way up to a full service interior design including materials, finishes, colour selections etc. Depending on the project, we can offer this as a service, however we also often work closely with a number of fabulous interior designers to provide a joint service to the project. We’d be happy to further discuss the options for your specific project
How long will it take to complete my project?
How long is a piece of string!! No, it’s really not that bad! Here are some approximate timeframes for each stage of the project, lead times will vary depending on our current workload and council timeframes are very approximate.
Initial Concept Design – 3-4 weeks from design brief meeting
Town Planning – Varies between Council and projects – can be 3 -12 months. Please contact us for your specific council timeframe
Working Drawings – 6-8 weeks from approved planning permit or approved concept design
Building Permit – 3-4 weeks (with a private building surveyor)
My Project needs town planning – what does this mean?
Firstly, don’t panic! There are so many horror stories regarding town planning, but in all honesty we have run hundreds of planning applications over the years and I can count on one hands how many have not ended successfully (and all of these have been risky projects, so no surprises for these clients). If your project is risky, you will know this before we submit, and this is very rare as we generally only accept projects which we know from our experience will get a permit.
The beauty of working with us is that we have qualified planners in house, and this means we can run the project for you, without the need for external town planning consultants who can add to the cost and timeframe of the project. We typically only get an independent planner involved where the project has to go to VCAT which again is rare for ordinary residential projects.
The process itself does vary depending on the planning permit triggers, the zoning and particular council area. Please contact us directly for more site-specific information.
Can you help us choose a Builder for our project?
We work with a number of high-quality builders which we can recommend to you. While not part of our base quote, we would be happy to help further with a tender process once your design is complete, please request a quote for this once you have approved your concept plan.
How do I work out how much my project will cost to build?
Its always a difficult question. The best place to find out costings is via your builder as they are the ones who will provide a project specific quote for you in the end, but most builders response early in a project is “we need plans to quote from” so it’s the old chicken and the egg conundrum. Your builder may be able to provide you with a ball park or approx. per square metre rate which is a great place to start. Keep in mind builders prices can vary greatly – it can depend on the quality and finish of the build, but also sometimes the timing if they have an opening they want to fill that suits your timeline, or visa versa if they are very busy, their prices may go up as a result.
So how can we help? As part of the design brief we will work through details such as home size, level of fitout/inclusions, as well as any inspirational images you may have to work out an approximate build cost. We work with a range of builders and projects, so we can work with this background knowledge and your brief to ensure you are in the ballpark range. Once you have a concept, your builder may be able to give you a clearer price range to ensure you are on track, and of course once we have the plans and consultants organised, a full quote can be obtained.
Your part in this process? Work out how much you want to spend. Speak to the bank early in the process if you are financing, or just work out your budget. There is no point designing a 50 square home if you have the budget for 40 squares – its much easier to start small and enlarge or improve the fit out if the budget is healthy, than it is to pull room out of a house – nobody wants to sacrifice once they have seen the plan for their dream house! The more you know about your budget, the better home we will be able to design for you – remember size and expense does not always mean good design!
What if I don’t like the design?
This is such a great question. Engaging us to design your home is a process that you are heavily involved with, sometimes without even realising! When we sit down and go through a design brief with you before we commence a design, we will chat to you about your specific requirements, styles you like and dislike, how you live in your current home, things that you love about it, or that annoy you about it. We put all this together and come up with a design based on what we learn about you. In short, the design is a reflection of you and the information you give to us, combined with our expertise in how to put a building together, budget and aesthetics.
Can this process go wrong? Sure – sometimes we are not a good match for a client, and we are not afraid to say this up front – if our expectations don’t align then the project is never going to be successful and that is not good for either party – we want happy clients not miserable ones! Sometimes it can also be a client doesn’t really know what they want, so they are not forthcoming with information and/or we misunderstand their requirements as a result. Of course, we will continue to work through the process with the hope that we can meet your requirements in the end – please refer to your quote for the included number of design revisions.
The benefit to our pricing structure is that it is a staged process, so if for some reason we get through the concept stage and you wish to walk away then you can with no further money to pay, so the only loss is the concept fee which covers the initial design, site visits, research and admin costs for us. Alternatively, if you decide to change the scope entirely, we would be happy to discuss requoting and starting over.
It should be noted that as per all Building Designers and Architects, we do hold onto copyright on all of our designs – please see the section on copyright and contact us directly for more information.
Do you do renovations?
Short answer – Yes
Long answer – We complete a limited number of renovations per year. Because we are a design based company, in general we do not complete small internal only renovations (e.g. a kitchen makeover) which are more suited to an interior design company or a kitchen renovation company nor small projects such as a carport/garage addition which are more suited to a draftsperson where limited design is needed so a more cost effective solution is sought. Feel free to call us to discuss whether your project is suitable
What should I do to prepare for design brief meeting?
Yes, you have homework! Please take some time to think about what you want in your home – of course the obvious, how many bedrooms bathrooms etc, but go a little bit deeper and think about how you want to live in you home. Where will you relax, where will you work, where will you escape from the kids, where will you cook, gather, play. Also think about the future of your home – are you kids young so will your needs for them change? Are you downsizing, do we need to consider accessibility for the future?
How does copyright work in relation to your design?
Copyright is a complicated beast, but in short and as a general rule first ownership of copyright resides with the author of the work, in our case being The Little Brick Studio. Ownership of copyright includes the exclusive right to reproduce and publish the work. The author is defined as the person who is responsible for the realisation in material form of the work. This excludes anyone who has only contributed ideas or transcribed the work of others. Copyright does not belong to the client who commissioned a work unless the designer assigns the copyright to them.
In layman’s terms, Little Brick Studio retains copyright on your design, you may notice the copyright symbol on your drawings. This means that while of course you are able to use your design on the specific site it was designed for (that is what you have paid for!), it may not be transferred to a different site, nor may alterations be made to the design by another party without the express permission of The Little Brick Studio.
In certain circumstances, copyright can be transferred to or licenced for use by a third party. Please contact us for more information on your specific requirements of if you have any further copyright queries.
What locations do you work – can you work with clients that are not near your office?
While we are based in Mornington, our work is throughout Victoria, Australia. We have current projects throughout the state and would be happy to discuss your project and its requirements in more detail – we love a good road trip to visit our sites!
Please note, we do occasionally complete interstate and international projects, however these are assessed on a case by case basis due to the costs and logistics involved – please contact us for further info.
What other consultants might I need for my project?
Once we have discussed the brief for your project and assessed the site, we will confirm which consultants will be needed for your projects. Generally, the minimum requirements for single dwellings are – structural engineer, energy rater, soil test, building surveyor. Multi-unit developments will also need – civil engineer, landscape plan. Occasionally council will request additional reports as part of the planning process such as an arborist, bushfire management reports, cultural heritage reports.
We will organise quotes etc from our preferred consultants when they are required, noting that all consultants’ fees are paid directly by the client.
I want to do a renovation – can you come out to my site and give me advice on what I can do?
We get this question so often!! While we would be happy to meet and discuss your project and provide a quote, all initial meetings are done in our office. Once you have agreed to our quote and we are officially engaged for the project, of course we come out to your house, discuss all of the requirements, measure up the existing and come up with a design.
Why do we work like this? We get so many enquiries from people wanting to do renovations, that it would literally fill up the entire work week with site visits and we would have no time to actually do the work for our existing clients! We have a vast amount of experience designing renovations, and our skill allows us to determine a project’s feasibility and to quote on it based on a discussion with you about the existing house and your requirements. Yes, there is an element of trust from you to commit to us in that early stage – but you just have to look at our work to know that it is high quality – the evidence is there for you to see.
Do you offer a project management option for the build?
We offer a limited number of full-service project management projects per year. Please contact us for details on our availability.
In a more general sense, many residential projects do not require full project management. We are always available via phone for any enquiries you may have during the build and are happy to offer an hourly rate service when site visits are meetings are required outside of the original quote/scope of works.
I have completed a sketch myself – why do I need a designer?
There are a couple of elements to this. To start with, if you were influenced, or used another designers work to begin your design, this is not something that you or we can use without the original designers permission, no matter how small the element you have copied. We value both our own work and the hard work of others and are not interested in projects where any copying has taken place. And as a side note – copying anything from another designer without their permission is a breach of copyright, so please be aware of this if you are using other plans for your inspiration. People in our industry take copyright very seriously and most will not hesitate to pursue legal avenues if their work is stolen without permission.
The second point is that you are engaging us as experienced designers to provide you with the best possible home. Not only are we qualified designers, but we also back that up with years of providing designs for clients, builders and also working under some top architects to get to this stage in our careers. So yes – you can use an online program to design your own home – but this is similar to us saying yeah sure we could probably fix the mechanical fault in our car with a few you tube videos. Is the outcome going to be the best possible one? Probably not. Will it work and look fine from the outside – sure. Could my mechanic have done a better job, which will last longer, be more efficient, refined and won’t have that weird clanking sound when I turn on the engine – definitely!
Should I trust a professional with years of experience, knowledge of planning requirements, Australian standards, building regulations, energy efficient design, rather than doing it myself – absolutely!
I have plans from another designer – can I engage you to rework the façade, or do the working drawings?
We will only work on other designers plans with their express written permission and even then, we only accept these projects in certain circumstances. Please contact us directly for further information.