F A Q

The first step for any design project, regardless of whether it’s a styling project or a full scale design and build, is to meet with the client onsite and take the brief. See our full description in The Process. This might include:
  • A tour of the house or space to familiarise the designer with the layout, as well as, give the designer an insight in to their clients personality, likes, dislikes and way of life.
  • Discuss the clients ideas, needs and wants – this is where a scrapbook of ideas or a Pinterest page is really useful to show the Designer.
  • Discuss budget – clear communication of budget is extremely important so that the designer can work accordingly.
  • Discuss timelines and any deadlines the client may have.
  • Take any measurements of rooms or spaces if it’s a smaller project.
For larger building projects The Designory will often bring our building advisory consultant with us to the briefing meeting.   Where possible we always aim to work closely with them during the design phase to ensure that the final designs are produced in a way that can be built practically and within the budget allocated.   It also allows us to speed up the design process internally and ensure that the end product for the client is build-able, on time and on budget. The aim of this initial briefing session is to gather as much information as possible about the project, the client and their lifestyle so that the next step of Concept Development runs smoothly!
Every design firm works differently when it comes to fees and billing policies. The Designory prefers to work on an open book policy where we charge on an hourly rate and all time and expenses are recorded in a detailed manner and invoiced accordingly via our time billing systems. Our standard rates for services are outlined in our Schedule of Fees which is available upon request, but would be discussed with you during your Initial Consultation. We also offer various trade discounts once you have signed your contract and become a design client. These are detailed in your Estimate, which you receive after your Initial Consultation, and can be discussed at any time with the design team.
The Designory provides a complete, end-to-end design service incorporating all levels of building design, interior design, project management, and decorating in-house. Our talented team of designers, draftsman, decorators and building advisory consultants, specialise in residential, small-scale commercial and hospitality projects. Rarely seen in the industry, our unique end to end in house team offers a seamless transition from the conceptual beginnings of every project through to the building + interior design, documentation and detailing, approvals processing, project management, and the final layers of decorative elements and styling. Our team help create functional, beautiful and cohesive buildings and interior spaces by understanding how the clients will use each area as well as the building as a whole. We consider light, acoustics, function and other design aspects when planning, but also take in to account structural considerations and building requirements. As well as designing and decorating buildings interiors, The Designory team have a solid working knowledge of construction practices, approvals processing and documentation requirements, and can work confidently with other industry professionals and tradespeople to ensure that the spaces they design are appropriate and properly implemented. The design team is usually involved with a building project from the beginning, often overseeing the build as well.
For the majority of residential projects technically the answer is No. In Australia, for a building under 3 storeys high you can utilise the services of a building designer, interior designer, interior architect, or a draftsman to complete your construction drawings, approvals processing and detailed drawings. An architect generally takes an external focus on the building and it’s surrounds and the impact of the building on it’s environment. By definition, to “practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design and construction of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings, that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use”. Whereas a Designer or Interior Designer is focused on making sure that the internal spaces of the building work well for the client and the required amenity first before moving on to the exterior construction and finishes. We believe that for most extensions, additions and renovations, using the services of an experienced design professional in a design practice who understands your requirements is often far more affective than working solely with an Architect. You will find though that individual design professionals or firms will have different skills sets, experience and preferred methods of working so it’s worth asking the question about what capabilities they have. Of course, working with a design firm with end to end design and build project capabilities and experience and an in house building advisory consultant – like The Designory – is ideal!
With so many elements involved in a project, working with a team of design professionals ensures that you achieve the very best outcome. A Designer has the knowledge and experience from numerous previous projects so are well positioned to draw on best practice ideas and combine them with the latest technology, products and techniques to create a unique solution custom-designed for you. A Designer is best hired at the very beginning of a project when you are starting to think about ideas, budgets and what might be possible. They will be able to work with you to create the vision and concept for the project as a whole along with managing the process in it’s entirety from conception to construction.
Put simply an Interior Designer can design as well as decorate, but an Interior Decorator can only decorate. An interior designer creates interior living or work spaces to accommodate people’s needs. A designer problem-solves difficult structural living arrangements to create spaces that enhance its residents’ quality of life. They research, analyse and plan interior layouts and installations to make them physically, socially and aesthetically functional. By definition “Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building”. Interior design projects incorporate all elements of space planning; internal detailed designs including Kitchens, wet areas and joinery; the sourcing, selection and documentation of finishes, fixtures and fittings; as well as all of the elements involved in decorating and styling the spaces including wall and window treatments; flooring; lighting; furniture; artwork, soft furnishings and decor. An interior design project often includes all the elements of interior decorating, however is capable of going beyond the limitations of a decoration project by also encompassing:
  • Structural changes and designs including approvals process lodgment DA/CC, CDC & ED
  • Detailed planning
  • Sourcing and selections
  • Project management
Interior Decoration is primarily the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design”. Unlike Interior Design, Interior Decoration does not include any structural design changes to a room or building, it is focused purely on the decoration of the existing space.
Of course you can project manage the build yourself, but without the in-depth knowledge of what has been designed and the intention behind it, or the experience in end to end completion of building projects, you will be at risk of making poor decisions, thus increasing time and costs, and missing vital elements of the design. Spending the additional time and money with your Designer will be well worth it in the long run – and most certainly will help with your sanity during the project itself.  
How long is a piece of string? Each project is extremely different with its own goals and requirements. We can certainly provide a very high level “guesstimate” during our initial consultation, but can only advise on more accurate estimated costs after the initial concept is completed as until this point we won’t understand the full parameters of the job. We find it is a much better approach to decide on your budget and then design the project accordingly taking in to consideration the list of priorities you have and the level of finish you are after.
This is where your design professional will pull together all of the information you have conveyed during the brief to create a visual direction for the project. They may collate images, samples, colours, and textures that reflect the look, feel and style of the new space. Concepts have traditionally been presented on a foam board or pin board, with everything pinned neatly and expertly grouped together in a cohesive way. But with the increase in software capabilities and brilliant image sourcing websites such as Pinterest, Remodalista, Houzz, concepts are now more commonly presented digitally in PowerPoint or InDesign, often with a collection of physical samples accompanying it. A great way to speed up the design process is to collate your own inspirational images or samples online or in a scrapbook and share them with your designer during the briefing stage. They’ll use those elements to expertly pull together a finished product which is uniquely yours and a reflection of your home and way of life.
This is where the real work starts!! If the project involves any renovation work to the exterior of the house or needs to be lodged as a Compliant Development Certificate (CDC) or Development Application (DA) it will require a detailed site survey. This is where all of the specifics of the site are taken – actual ground levels, the footprint of the building on the land, height of the building and any fences etc. This document will be included in the final package given to the approving body but, more importantly, the information is uploaded into drafting software package and forms the basis of the initial drafting work. It is also used by your building professional during the construction phase of the project.
This is where the measurements for the internal space are taken in detail – rooms sizes, locations of doors, windows and fireplaces etc. It’s important for this information to be extremely accurate so measurements will be recorded in millimetres and most professionals will use a laser measure. The site measure will be undertaken for most projects, although may not be applicable for some decorating jobs where the designer will just check measure the relevant spaces.
A Development Application (DA) is a formal request for consent to carry out development. This type of Development Approval is the most common way of getting development consent in NSW. Development Applications are suitable for more complicated developments that don’t meet the requirements for Exempt Development or Compliant Development. A Development Application consists of a collection of documents (including application forms, site plans, consultants’ reports and the like) and is submitted to your local Council.
In a nutshell, a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) is issued by a private certifier rather than your local council and is assessed against a state government code (SEPP) rather than your local council code. It is much quicker to approve, approximately 3-4 weeks, assuming that all the correct documentation has been lodged with the application.
On a renovation project, while everything is being accurately measured and recorded inside and out, a site review will be undertaken. The first step is always to review the “149 Planning Certificate” which is generally attached to the Contract of Sale when purchasing a property. If you’ve owned your property for more than a year you will need to get an up-to-date copy to be confident it contains the most accurate information. It is available from your local council for a small fee. It relates specifically to your property and the site itself, as well, as the surrounding area and land. It advises clearly what type of development is applicable to your land and what constraints or issues may need to be taken in to consideration for example acid sulphate soil, coastal protection area, and heritage zones. This information will assist your designer with determining the most appropriate approvals process and what planning laws are applicable.
Having planning permission for compliant development is only the first step. Your site must comply with some set parameters in order for you to be able to do a CDC – such as boundary set backs, minimum lot sizes and street frontages.  These are set out within the SEPP and are much tighter than local planning guidelines such as a DCP or LEP. If you can build within the parameters, then yes a CDC is a great option for a building project!

CC – Construction Certificate A Construction Certificate (CC) is a certificate that is issued by an accredited private certifier or a consent authority. The Certificate allows for building work to commence on a project.

PCA – Private Certifying Authority It is the responsibility of the PCA to ensure that any required Compliance Certificates are provided and that an Occupation Certificate is issued prior to the development/building being occupied. Statutory building requirements state you must appoint a PCA to inspect each stage or component of a development.

ED – Exempt Development Many types of minor home renovations and small building projects such as the erection of a carport, balcony, deck or garden shed don’t need a planning or building approval. These types of projects are called exempt development.

OC – Occupation Certificate An Occupation Certificate verifies that either the Council or a Private Certifier as the Principal Certifying Authority is satisfied that the building is suitable to occupy and/or satisfies the relevant requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

DCP – Development Control Plan A development control plan provides detailed planning and design guidelines to support the planning controls in the LEP for your local council.

LEP – Local Environment Plan Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) guide planning decisions for local government areas. They do this through zoning and development controls, which provide a framework for the way land can be used.

SEPP – State Environmental Planning Policy State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) deal with matters of State or regional environmental planning significance. They are made by the Governor on the recommendation of the Minister for Planning and may be exhibited in draft form for public comment before being published as a legal document.

SOEE – Statement of Environmental Effects A Statement of Environmental Effects is a document detailing a proposed development and its potential impacts. All Development Applications must be accompanied by a Statement of Environmental Effects.

BCA – Building Code of Australia The Building Code of Australia (BCA) is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia. The BCA is produced and maintained by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), and given legal effect through the Building Act 1975.

BASIX – BASIX stands for Building Sustainability Index. BASIX is an initiative that was introduced by the NSW Government to ensure homes are designed to be more energy and water efficient. Every development application or compliant development certificate for renovations or new builds above $50,000 must be submitted to Council or the PCA with a BASIX Certificate.