What is involved in getting plans done for my house?

Before you engage a designer/architect to prepare plans for your house it’s a good idea to write a client brief to document clearly your family’s requirements, objectives and budget of your project. This will hopefully provide the basis for a smoother and more timely design process. Details to consider include type and number of each room/space, any specific needs (i.e. boat storage, disabled access etc), preferred styling (traditional or contemporary), likes and dislikes, preferred ceiling heights, number of levels, aspects of an existing house that needs to remain or anything else that you would particularly like to convey to the designer. It is also a good idea to collect any images or photographs of houses that you like to incorporate any particular style elements in your design.


Getting plans completed for your home will vary depending on the requirements of your location, site and scope or type of build but can broadly be categorised as follows:


  1. Information Gathering – This involves collecting all relevant information about your house, the site and local planning requirements specific to your home and neighbourhood. It may require the engagement of specialist consultants which will give you and your designer key information to be considered when designing your home. Some of these will require a site visit to conduct studies or assessments. The type of consultants you may need to engage include, surveyors, soil tests, plumbing exploration, bushfire and flood studies, building certifiers and townplanners. If you are renovating an existing home, during this stage your designer will also need to measure up your existing home which will form the basis of your proposed house plans
  2. Design Concept – Your designer will prepare initial floor plans and design options for your consideration based on the information above combined with your design brief. During this phase, you would review the various options available to refine your initial brief to better understand which design options best suit your needs, budget and site.
  3. Draft Architectural Drawings – The final concept design is now progressed to finalising the architectural details of your house. These include external materials, window and door type, placement and style, minor refinements in floor plans. Your designer will prepare more detailed floor plans, window & door schedules, a site plan and elevations of each facade.
  4. Construction Drawings – With all architectural detailing settled, the services of another expert consultant is now engaged to complete engineering. They will provide structural information which, combined with the architectural drawings, will provide your builder all of the information he will require to price and construct your house. These plans along with all expert reports gathered to date will now be provided to a building certifer for a building approval.


The timeframe to complete plans for your house will vary depending on how quickly you work through the concept stage with your designer, local authority planning requirements and the individual workload of your designer and any consultants engaged. As a guide you should allow 2-3 months to work through all phases.

Ben Phillips