The key part of my architecture practice is providing clients with the documents to get their designs consented by their local authority, in order to progress with their new build or renovations. Often the process isn’t well understood, so let’s look at it from start to finish.

The design stages and the building consent process

  1. You have decided to take on your new building project
  2. You need an architectural designer or registered architect to design and provide construction drawings to obtain a Building Consent for a building contractor to undertake the project
  3. A good designer will ensure that the challenges of the journey are worthwhile and exciting, as you work alongside them.

    Brief and fees proposal

  4. Your confidence will develop at the start, if you establish a great Brief with your consultant This includes the Fees Proposal, which clearly describes the work through all the complex stages of design and documentation for construction. As preparation for the first design stage, the Brief, in discussion with you, provides a clear understanding of your needs, vision and expectations as a family or business. Our research brings together all the information on your site environment: sun and wind orientation, view, topography, existing / proposed planting, streetscape and neighbourhood. We also determine any local Planning Controls. The Brief may typically indicate potential ways forward.

    Preliminary sketch design stage

  5. The first of two design stages, is the Preliminary Sketch Design. Providing on paper one or several options that capture the Brief, in essence, at this first concept stage. This works directly with your intention, while also successfully opening up options possibly unknown to you. Your design professional is a good communicator in guiding you to develop a rewarding and open-ended design journey with room to propose and change and consider and redesign along the way.

    Resource consent

  6. As soon as possible, either within the Brief or at this stage, your designer will advise if any Resource Consents may be required, when important aspects of the proposal may not comply with District Planning Regulations, but are worth retaining in the final design

    Other consultants

  7. Your designer will advise if other professional consultants need to be involved and will co-ordinate their services for you. These may be Structural Engineers, Resource Consent Planners, Land Surveyors.

    Final sketch design stage

  8. On approval of a particular option or path forward the Final Sketch Design stage commences. This is a developed design, determining the optimum floor layout design and finalising such materials as the roof and wall claddings and floor construction systems whether concrete slab or timber pile. It is a detailed process, using skill and experience to maximise the physical resources of building most effectively, to deliver more than the sum of the parts. To achieve in architecture, a dwelling that your ambitions suggested from the first discussion. This stage also indicates that it aligns with your budget. Completion of this stage is an important and exciting milestone - it allows the designer to commence Working Drawings.

    Working drawings

  9. The working drawings comprise the largest part of the architectural fee and you need assurance that the design is within budget, before proceeding to this next stage. Your designer is not qualified to provide an estimate and most building contractors won’t provide a price until they can view a complete set of working drawings with specification notes. However, a good design process keeps your budget firmly upfront as decisions are made along the way. Employing a Quantity Surveyor can be arranged at your request, if you prefer a confirmed estimate at sketch design.
  10. The Working Drawings are the construction documents for Building Consent, Tender and Construction. The production time for completion of these detailed drawings could be two to three months or 6 or more, depending on complexity or if the job is drawn out.You will be involved in making final decisions on cladding material types and fittings and systems that require specification for the consenting office. A complete set of Working Drawings and specifications comply with all relevant building codes, standards and building by-laws. All of the structural engineer design documents are co-ordinated into this set of documents.

    Building consent application

  11. Completion of these Construction Drawings, including calculations, specifications and other consultant documentation, enables application for Building Consent. Required calculations include insulation, bracing, stormwater, soil test and soakage. The application is completed online by your designer. The stated local authority fees are then paid by you and the 20 day consenting processes commences. Your designer will be available to respond to Requests for Further Information. These RFI’s come toward the end of the approvals period so you and the designer know that once these are answered, your project is almost ready for Approval and uplift.
  12. You may have already provided these Construction Documents to various Building Contractors for competitive pricing or to a pre-selected contractor for pricing. However, no Building Contract requiring a Building Consent, can commence until the uplift of the fully approved Building Consent drawings. These are to be held always on site and are the documents referred to by the Contractor, sub-contractors and Local Authority Building Officers during site inspection.

Contract administration and observation

Administering the Building Contract and Observation of the Construction through to Contract Completion are the next stages of architectural service. We are available to support you within this stage, which are a whole new series of challenges for you, to be discussed in following newsletters.

What the law says: Section 49(1) of the Building Act (NZBA 2004)

Grant of a building consent

A BCA must grant a building consent if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the provisions of the Building Code would be met if the building work were properly completed in accordance with the plans and specifications that accompanied the application

(BCA is Building Consent Authority)