A structured design process is key to a successful renovation. The design of the renovation evolves over a period of time during which you and your chosen architect/designer will discuss, adapt and rework ideas until the best solution is achieved.


Providing a tailored, individualised design takes time and patience.

There are normally three stages to the plans that your architect will create:

• The ‘Concept Sketch’ plans (or also known as: initial sketch, concept plans, preliminary or discussion drawings)
• The ‘Developed Designs’.

• The final documentation, (tender, building consent, construction or working drawings and specifications).

These phases, while appearing fluid, follow a linear process. Major decisions and issues that affect the renovation as a whole are dealt with in the initial phases and develop increasingly in detail as the process progresses.

Design & Build Builders


The Concept Sketch stage will usually have the inclusion of the council files or any drawings the home owner may have. In some cases it may be necessary to obtain the services of a registered land surveyor to confirm boundary locations, building locations and levels (to determine daylight to boundary expectations, site coverage, impervious surface areas and the like.)


Once the concept plans have been agreed and signed-off, the architect will create the Developed Designs. These will also include any changes you’ve asked for in the initial sketch plans.

The types of materials that will be used for the renovation will be discussed in detail such as the exterior cladding, flooring, roofing, windows, doors and interior fittings and fixtures. Additionally, power point locations and lighting design / fittings would also be discussed.

At this stage it would be a good idea to establish a build cost. A quantity surveyor could be used to estimate the costs of the renovation.


Once the renovation project is agreed upon, the next stage is to produce plans and documentation to submit to council for resource and/or building consent. Details will be attached to your project information memorandum or approved building consent, if resource consent is also required.

For example, a resource consent is required if the extension to the house is going to be built closer to the boundary than allowed on the district plan.

Additionally, if your are building over public drains you will require Watercare approval before you lodge your building application with the council.

The complexity of the renovation tends to dictate the degree of detail in the plans needed to achieve consents. A detailed design might include plans for landscaping, electrical wiring, hardware and lighting, but this detail is not always required for approval from the council before proceeding to the construction phase. However, detail is required for the quantity surveyor and subcontractors who will tender for the work.


Speaking to the Council at the concept, preliminary design or draft stages of your project will ensure you have a good understanding of what needs to be done to progress your renovation.

For simple enquires the council offers up to 15 minutes of free assistance at all of our area offices, where you can speak with a planner about your project. They also offer this service over the telephone or via email for those who are unable to make it to one of our offices.

If you’re not sure whether you need a pre-application meeting, call the council on 09 301 0101, fill out their online contact us form, or visit one of their customer service centres.


The architects fees for providing the agreed services may be calculated on a Lump Sum Fee Basis, a Time Charge Fee Basis, a Percentage Fee Basis, or a combination of these depending on the budget, services offered and complexity of the project. Ask your architect for a copy of the NZIA Agreement for Architect Services for more information.

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