Doncaster Architect Melbourne RARA

I’ve spent a lot of time explaining why we do things how we do them to my friends, potential clients and other architects. Inevitably, it all crumbles down to the same primary reason;

Delivering an excellent home for the end-user.

Architects haven’t got a prescriptive format for how they work. Be it the design stages, what’s included in their services, the type of projects they take on board, and most especially, their fees. So it’s understandable that a newcomer can find it difficult to compare different architects.

Here are some things you should look out for in your effort to make a decision:

1. Design

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Architects have been trained for years on how to design a building.

They take on board a range of guidelines that determine the home put forward to you, including:

  • Your budget
  • Your aesthetic and personal preferences
  • Council and local law guidelines/ design codes
  • Environmental design, including sun orientation
  • Buildability, and your timeline
  • Your brief
  • The engineering/ infrastructure design

A good architect will be able to consider these aspects and design something with all of these in mind.

A bad architect won’t consider these aspects, and a mediocre architect will just take instruction from you, only focusing on the aspects that are important to you; basically like giving you a box and tacking on the ESD, aesthetics, and so on. Don’t forget, an architect’s job isn’t JUST to design for you, the end-user, but also for your family as it evolves, as well as the new users who come after you.

2. Concept

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I’m about to head into an arena that the less creative people might consider a little floral, but we need to chat about this. Less design inspired people (you poor souls) just think that as long as they like all of the things in their home, it will all gel nicely. But that’s unrealistic – we like different things and get bored of the same. In order to have a home that’s decked out with ideas that fold into each other cohesively, there needs to be a story that informs all design decisions.

So, let’s say for example, that you, the client came to me saying you loved Chanel. That would inform the colour selection, the restraint of the spaces, the furniture selection, the way the house interacts with the street. Having a grounded concept will inform every detailed decision, and, especially because you’ve hired us to make decisions for you, you want to rest assured that these decisions are those you will be happy with.

A good architect will be interested to learn more about you personally, and will observe little details about you and your existing home, like what mug you’re drinking from, what you’re wearing. Though, in want of making a positive impression, most potential clients wear all black in anticipation of meeting their architect. Just wear what you love best. Express yourselves.

A bad architect will try to convince you to proceed with an idea you don’t necessarily like, want or need just because of an idea they may have. I recently had a client with an enormous house, whose brief was to redeploy disused spaces. The client explained the architect before me had suggested putting a roof garden on their rumpus room. She never asked for more outdoor space nor wanted to hang out on her roof.

A mediocre architect will just ask you what you like and design that for you. Some people might read that and think, “what’s wrong with that?”, but if that’s what you want, then I think you’re missing an opportunity to let a professional, with years of training and practice developing ideas and solutions to design something unique for your vital living dilemmas. They have ideas you would never think of.

3. Budget

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An architect will design your home to your specified budget. Let’s set aside an industry term called “scope creep” for a minute. We are professionally responsible to deliver a design that is relatively within your budget. So, it is important to test the architect’s knowledge on the cost of things as this knowledge will be necessary when trying to negotiate with builders, trim costs and (earlier), design a building with the things you want that fall within your budget.

A good architect will tell you that option A costs more, and, where possible, will also come up with an option B that doesn’t cost more. A bad architect will not mention that extra cost and take it for granted that ‘you asked for it, and therefore you should expect a price rise’.

4. Style

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We typically have 2 different types of clients. The ones who rely on our advice and opinion, and the ones who have a fairly strong idea of what they want, and really just want you to put it together. Both are totally ok, and we all work fine with them.

Of course, if you’re the latter, then don’t come when the project is complete, complaining that it didn’t look how you’d expected.

Have you ever gone to the hairdresser with a photo of someone sporting a thick quaff, and the hairdresser had to tell you, “umm…you’re balding and unless I stuck some hair on your head, this would be impossible”?

A good architect will still warn you that “what you want is a bad idea”, and endeavour to explain why what you want won’t work in this particular application.

Usually, this has something to do with dot points a-g in item 1 above.

But sometimes it’s not, sometimes it has to do with external characteristics – like Feng Shui. You mightn’t care about Feng Shui, but future buyers may. Or it might have to do with the fact we understand the look you’re aiming for, but because we have a heightened ability to visualise space, know that this is not how it’ll look when finished.

If what you’re asking for is a bad solution, a good architect will take your request and propose a solution that will meet your design objective.

A bad architect will do what you’ve asked while muttering under their breath. And a mediocre architect will say no, not explain why, frustrate you until you simply insist on doing it that way, then give up.


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RARA Architecture
4/109 Hawke Street
West Melbourne
VIC 3003


T. (03) 9328 4220
E. [email protected]