Accurately defining the client’s needs and wants (the brief) is critical and lays the foundation for all subsequent design decisions.  Through close consultation we will work together to ensure the detailed functional requirements are understood and documented. Edmiston Jones takes a carefully considered approach to interrogating our clients’ brief and, separately, investigating the site which is proposed to accommodate the project.

Our briefing process relies heavily on collaboration and conversations that elicit our client’s fundamental needs as well as their aspirations.  Various graphic devices and tools are used to capture the activities to be accommodated on the property recognizing that external areas can be as important as the internal spaces.  Schedules, a relationship matrix and bubble diagrams can be used to document the competing and complementary demands of the activities.

Prior to concept plans being prepared, we ask the question “will it fit?”.  Using ‘bubble diagrams’ we check whether the summation of the spaces required will fit within the constraints of the site and be affordable in terms of the project budget.  Recognising that the solution is not just about the building, programming activities and sharing of spaces is explored.

Site Analysis

The opportunities and constraints presented by the property are thoroughly investigated and documented as a Site Analysis drawing. The experience of the property owner is complemented by Edmiston Jones’ fresh insights and local knowledge.

Our approach is that the land on which the project is to be developed should be respected independently of what our clients plan to impose on the property at this time.  The site has a history prior to the current use and will have a future that will continue beyond the proposed activities.  Characteristics such as the topography, microclimate, views and impact on neighbouring properties needs to be researched and documented.  A Site Analysis Plan is prepared benefiting from the owner’s experience as well as a fresh perspective from the consultant team.

Prior to concept plans being prepared, we ask the question “will it fit?”.  Using ‘bubble diagrams’ we check whether the summation of the spaces required will fit within the constraints of the site and be affordable in terms of the project budget.  Recognising that the solution is not just about the building, programming activities and sharing of spaces is explored.  Staging the development is also a strategy when the long-term requirements exceed the current financial capacity.  Our built solutions need to be both sustainable and sensible.

Site Assessment

At times, a preliminary assessment of the potential site yield is required to inform the project feasibility. We are able to consider the site constraints and assess the potential development yield. This service includes the preparation of a site analysis plan, to the extent that information is currently available, as described above.

For a mixed-use/ residential development, the layout of units is shown indicatively with ‘bubble diagrams’ showing the footprint of the dwellings so that Building Code and the NSW Apartment Design Guideline (SEPP 65) requirements can be assessed. We rely on our experience with past projects for the internal floor layout. Close attention is given to the car parking layout as the number of car spaces, allowing for servicing, storage and mechanical plant etc., is often the determining factor for the development yield.

This process gives a good indication of the potential number and mix of dwellings with sufficient detail for the approximate value of individual units to be determined. We meet with you to discuss the suggested layout and agree on the next steps. At this preliminary stage, we do not involve other consultants or need to incur any authority costs.


Concept Sketches

Concept sketches are prepared to explore the general layout of the building and its relationship to the context and local environment. The Concept Sketches focus on the floor layout and site planning with a general idea of the form of the building. The sketches culminate in an overall plan for the site, floor layouts, schematic cross sections and an outline 3D model to be signed off by you before the design is considered in detail.

A review of codes and regulations, as well as preliminary liaison with relevant authorities, is required to determine the statutory design parameters. This may involve research by specialist consultants into particular conditions.  The project budget is a prime consideration from the outset of our engagement.

The sketches culminate in a location plan, an overall plan for the site, floor layouts, schematic cross sections and an outline 3D model to be signed off by the client before the next step is taken and the design considered in detail.


Detailed Design

After the general concept is resolved, the design is developed looking at the external appearance, planning of the floor layout in detail as well as consideration of suitable construction methods. The probable construction cost is monitored to ensure it complies with the project budget.

This stage of the service culminates in the drawings showing furnished floor plans and the building in the context of the site. Side views (elevations), cross sections and three-dimensional images are used to clearly convey the form and massing of the building to ensure that the functionality and appearance of the building is resolved and understood.


Development Application

Detailed design drawings are packaged for submission to the local Council as a Development Application (DA). The preparation of the DA, including the application forms, is the culmination of the Detailed Design. We can be your advocate with Council monitoring the progress of the DA and answering any queries as they arise.


The ‘nuts and bolts’ drawings and specs

The design is translated into detailed and dimensioned working drawings together with schedules and a purpose written specification that describes the building and facilitates construction. At the time, the project budget is reviewed again to take into account matters that have affected or may affect the overall cost.

Every component of the building is carefully thought through in collaboration with appropriate engineers, suppliers and contractors. Construction Documents are comprised of detailed drawings together with a purpose written specification defining materials and the standard of workmanship.

The Construction Documents are submitted as a Construction Certificate application to the local Council or a Private Certifier and form the basis of the contract with the builder. Adequate detail at this stage minimises ambiguity with the builder and decisions that need to be made under pressure during the construction.


The Construction Phase



Reliable builders are selected in consultation with the client. We then carefully manage the tender process to obtain competitive quotations. Builders are issued with the Construction Documents (the working drawings and specifications) accompanied by appropriate tender forms. The construction documents, together with a standard contract, from the basis of the legal agreement with the builder.



Administration of the contract with the builder during construction includes inspection of the works, clarifying details, checking progress claims and issuing certificates approving payment.
Cost control is crucial in this phase of the project and can involve negotiating variations, assessing claims for extension of time and other matters relating to the building contract.
When all work is completed in accordance with the contract, the building is handed over from the builder for occupation by the client.


Defects Period

After occupation, the building is monitored by us for a period of at least six months. Any defects identified in this time should be rectified by the builder before final payment is released.

Project Brief

The “brief”, in the context of a building project, is….

“A statement of all the relevant information necessary for the commencement and execution of an architectural design and the program for its implementation.” Terms in Practice – A Dictionary for Australian Architects – David Stanton

The architect works with the client in close consultation to ensure the detailed requirements are understood and documented by all parties involved in the project.

  • Accurately defining the brief at the outset of the project is critical to lay the foundation for all subsequent design decisions.
  • The possibility of the project ‘drifting’, and time wasted, is avoided,
  • The success of the outcome of the project can be measured,
  • The possibility of a dispute due to misunderstandings is reduced and
  • The architect can do the best job if the objectives are clear.

A brief is a written document that might be anything from a single page to a multiple volume set of documents. There are no absolute rules and the information may be comprised of written statements or lists; clippings from magazines; images of existing spaces; samples of materials etc…

The temptation is to do the architect’s job by preparing a draft of the plan to capture your ideas. Offering a part solution dilutes the raw data driving the project and limits the opportunity for an imaginative and innovative solution.

Any project brief should, ideally, address the following:

Aspirational Statement
A succinct overview of the prime objective of the project or the key issue to be resolved.

The key players and their roles and responsibilities should be defined.

The Process
The sequential steps to be taken to achieve the outcome must be documented possibly in a chart with milestones or hold points identified.

Functional Requirements
The spaces or activities to be accommodated in the building should be listed noting their relationship to each other and the site. Priorities should be established for the orientation and aspect of each space as well as its size. The size of the space is best specified by defining purpose,for example, the number of people to be seated or the furniture required for the activity.

Environmental Performance
The expected level of environmental performance should be established. Minimum standards are stipulated by Government regulations however higher standards are ideal.

The level of quality, and what this means to everyone involved needs to be discussed and agreed.

Budget and Time Program
And, most importantly, the financial and timing constraints for the project need to be stated and reaffirmed through the design process.

Although this does not need to be finalised at the outset of the project, the client should consider the process of procuring the building. Think about the extent of your involvement and your availability.


Expect the design process to challenge your presumptions. It should test each element of the project from the standpoint of the objectives articulated in your brief.

Long Services Levy

The NSW Government has put a levy on all building and construction work in NSW. The levy is paid into a fund, administered by the Long Service Payments Corporation and from this fund, the Corporation makes long service payments to building and construction workers.

The levy is payable to work valued at $25,000 or more (inclusive of GST). It is calculated as a percentage of the cost of the work as determined by a consenting/certifying authority.

The levy rate is 0.35% of the total cost of the work.

The building applicant, or the person for whom the work is being done, is liable to pay the long service levy.

In the case of a Council or an Accredited Certifier approving a Construction Certificate or Complying Development Certificate, which would allow work to commence, the levy must be paid before the Construction Certificate or Complying Development Certificate can be forwarded or delivered to the person seeking such approval.

If you are an owner builder, a church or a non profit organisation, you may be eligible for an exemption of up to 50% of the levy payable. The exemption is calculated on the content of voluntary labour performed.

For further detail refer to work not requiring approval by Council or Accredited Certifier, the levy must be paid before work commences.

For work requiring approval by a Council or Accredited Certifier: Payments can be made online at Conditions apply. All Council’s are agents for collecting the long service levy and levies can be paid direct to these Councils. Some Councils however, are unable to collect the levy for work not approved by the Council. In such situations, you will need to make the levy payment direct to the Corporation.

For work not requiring approval by Council or Accredited Certifier: Complete a Levy Payment Form (available from the Corporation, Councils or Send the completed form to the Long Service Payments Corporation, at the address shown on the Levy Payment Form, together with your payment (personal cheque, bank cheque or money order).

As well as construction of structures, maintenance involving renovation and replacement of parts of structures is also liable to a levy although routine maintenance is generally exempt.

The cost of building and construction work in broad terms is the cost of labour and materials, including excavation, site preparation, concreting, carpentry, bricklaying, tiling, gyprocking, plumbing, structural steelwork, electrical and painting. External permanent structures such as retaining walls, paving and kerbing etc are also included.

The local approving authority whether a local council, private certifier or government body will rely on their own estimating methodology or contract prices with building firms.

Terms & Conditions