When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. In our recent article, The iron triangle, we discussed the hierarchy of the architect’s priorities and how expediency is unlikely to be as important as quality or economy. As we noted in that article, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 1st of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects. Included are indications of how much time it will need, the number of hours we spend, other specialist consultants involved, and the level of design resolution and documentation you can expect at its conclusion.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

1. Research


During the research stage, we gather as much information as we can about you and your project. We visit your site more than once and explore it thoroughly with camera, measuring tape and sketch book. We procure a copy of the title and we assess the town planning regulations specific to your site.

If the project is a renovation, we measure the house’s internal rooms in detail. We capture room sizes, ceiling heights, wall thicknesses, and the positions and heights of doors and windows. For both renovations and new builds, we commission a land survey of the site. This captures building footprints, heights and rooflines, contours relative to the Australian Height Datum, positions and heights of trees, and locations of fences and visible services. It also establishes the precise location of the title boundary.

Most importantly, we ask you to tell us about yourself, your tastes, lifestyle and your dreams for your new home. We take your answers and prepare a project brief that becomes the guiding document for the entire project.

Stage duration = 4 – 6 weeks
Architect’s time = 40 – 50 hours
Specialist consultants = Land surveyor

Documentation = Land survey, existing conditions drawings
Scale of drawings = 1:200 – 1:100
Quantity = 6x A3 pages

farmer house research


  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Clocks. Author’s own image.
  2. Research. Author’s own image.
  3. Farmer House research. Author’s own image, see here for further details.

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