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How to Choose a Building Designer

When choosing a Building Designer, you should consider the following helpful hints:

  1. Many Building Designers obtain the majority of their work 'by word of mouth' and therefore you should check with family or friends as to whether they can recommend a Building Designer that satisfied their needs and expectations.
  2. Building Designers usually advertise in the Yellow Pages under either or both of the headings 'Building Designers' and/or 'Drafting Services'. Some Building Designers also advertise in the local newspaper.
  3. Alternatively, you can obtain the names of Building Designers in your vicinity via the Building Designers Association of Victoria's website, in the 'Find a Designer' section.
  4. It is not essential that your Building Designer be located in the same vicinity or municipality where your project is to be located.
  5. Building Designers are always pleased to show you a portfolio of their designs and you should ask for the addresses of at least three of their past projects, so that you can see the Building Designers' design work in three-dimensional form.
  6. Where possible, talk to the clients about their relationship with the Building Designer and ascertain whether they were happy with the relationship, and the design work carried out by the Building Designer.
  7. Always check with the Victorian Building Authority to verify that the Building Designer is registered as a building practitioner under the Category of Draftsperson, Class of Building Design (Architectural).  This can be done via the VBA's website, at and go to the section "Find a Practitioner". Or phone the VBA on 1300 815 127. 
  8. Ascertain whether the Building Designer is a member of an industry association and what support can be provided by the Association to assist the parties. For example – refer to our website section on 'Design Matters Mediation of Disputes'. Membership of an industry association also demonstrates that the Building Designer is not operating his business in an information vacuum, and is likely to be across current industry trends, developments, and regulations.
  9. There are no recommended or prescribed fees that can be provided to you relating to the cost of the work carried out by Building Designers. Fees will vary depending upon the nature and complexities of the design brief, the site itself and planning issues such as neighbourhood character, heritage overlays, etc. Fees may be based on an hourly rate, a lump sum basis or as a percentage of the total construction cost.
  10. Remember, the lowest price does not necessarily mean the best. Analyse carefully your quotes to ensure that the scope of services that are to be provided are similar in nature when making your comparison of quotes.
  11. Always ensure, when you select your Building Designer, that you enter into a written contract that sets out the terms and period of payments, time lines and details of the precise nature of the scope of services to be provided. A written contract properly detailing the rights and obligations of both parties reduces the potential for any disputes that might arise.
  12. If planning approval is required, ensure that the Building Designer explains carefully to you the pitfalls that sometimes occur in making application for a planning approval. Planning issues have become more and more complex and time-consuming, and objections are regrettably commonplace. This can become very frustrating (unless you are forewarned), particularly when lengthy delays and negotiations occur.
  13. You should also note that not only are the plans and drawings an integral part to the success of your project, but properly detailed specifications are also essential, as this document details the quality and standard of materials and workmanship to be carried out by the builder on your project. Your Building Designer can assist you in the preparation of the specifications document.
  14. Make sure you also read carefully the website section on 'Moral Rights Obligations', particularly where your project involves changing, relocating, demolishing or destroying an existing building.
  15. Finally…….We wish you every success with your project!