The complete guide to the development approval process – Part 1 of 2

We recently spoke with Property investment gurus OnProperty who were keen to give their readers an easy to understand rundown on the design and development approval process. What follows is a 36min interview covering the 7 stages of a typical building project where an architect is commissioned.




Yes, this is not really a stage but it is an important step. (so download our FREE guide on how to go about this) A friend recently told me a story to highlight this point which went something like this:

A man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted that God would rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”



“No thanks” replied the man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”



A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”



“No thanks” replied the man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”



All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”



“What more do you want! I sent you a canoe and a helicopter. But you never got in!”


We are there to provide you with the best result. All you have to do is ask…


Design – the great buildings of the world (and I’m not just talking about the Opera houses and Guggenheims of the world) were built by great builders BUT they were designed by great architects. Not builders, not draftsman and not building designers.


Training – We have spent 6 or more years at University being trained on the myriad of issues involved with designing buildings. We have been trained in design, construction, environmental sustainability and the cost implications of different material and construction techniques, development approval processes, coordinating the numerous other specialist consultants involved with building and the list goes on. As registered architects we are certified by the Architects Registration Board for the role.


Cost – Architects are able to tailer your project to your budget. This starts in the planning stage to ensure cost is addressed in the earliest stages. As this is often the most important consideration for a client we take this very seriously and often involve costing consultants through the course of the project and work closely with the builder to ensure the design is constantly being checked against the client budget. Prioritise design and you prioritise budget.


Submitting to Council – We have the skills required to take your project from the design stage through to council and construction.


Engineers and other consultants – The role of the architect is typically to act as the lead consultant in coordinating all the other specialist consultants required on a project. Architects are the ones best placed to understand and manage each of the different parts of the pie. We are part specialist and part generalist.


Builders – We work closely with builders helping you to find the right fit when it comes time to turn drawings into something real. We can manage the tendering and builder selection process and during construction we remain involved to ensure the process is a hassle and stress free undertaking.






Probably the most important stage in the whole process this is where we flesh out what it is you want to achieve in your project. Often this is a process that reveals ideas that hadnt been previously considered. Importantly time spent here ensures that expensive decisions later down the track are avoided.




This is where we put pen to paper. It is a collaborative process between yourselves and us. We start working on floor plans with pen and paper looking at how best to accomodate the brief that was reviewed in stage 2 while ensuring it aligns with your budget. Initial floor plans are developed and turned into 3d perspectives. This may involve physical and/or computer generated models. Ask us about our virtual reality capabilities to have your snocks knocked off! We start to look at material selections and prepare drawings suitable to have a building cost estimator or builder look at them.




This next stage of the process involves preparing the documents required for council to assess the project against their rules/codes/controls. Often we will meet with council for a pre-development application meeting to ascertain if there are any particular issues council may have. Having prepared the DA documents and co-ordinated any other consultant input we lodge the application on your behalf and wait for council to assess your application. This is a highly variable length of time which we unfortunately have little control over. Most projects are assessed and determined within 3months. An alternative to the council DA process is called Complying Development. This path avoids council altogether. Read more about Complying Development here in a previous post. Assuming your project is approved we commence the detailed documentation required to take the documentation/drawings from a DA level of detail to a level at which a builder can both price the project and build it.


This next stage will be further outlined in Part 2 of the development approval and building process. Signup in the little subscription box to your left to make sure you don’t miss this one or drop us a line here


P.S In the meantime download one of our FREE guides to help you get started on your new project



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