Frequently Asked Questions

Engaging an architect can be a daunting process. To help with this, we have answered some common questions we receive from clients.

We haven’t worked with an architect before, how does the process work?

All architects work in a series of stages; it starts with a client’s dream to create something special, and ends in the final completed project. About 80% of the architect’s work happens before the project starts construction, which at Bower we call the Design Stages.

Each of the Design Stages add a layer of refinement and detail until the project can be built by an experienced architectural builder using our set of drawings and documents.

While most of our work is done prior to the construction starring, we are also here to help guide you through the Builder Selection and Construction Stages to watch it all come to life.

The Bower process for the Design Stages has been honed over our nearly two decades of designing homes. You can download a helpful description of the Bower Process and the stages of a project from your first call to a completed home here.

Is there a minimum value for the projects that you work on?

Yes. Many clients come to us because they love the feeling of quality and the robustness of our projects, along with the seamless connection to landscape, feelings of openness and space, a journey of natural light and fine attention to detail. We believe there is a minimum scale of project that can capture these aspirations and allows us to give our clients and their project the attention and time that deliver the quality of projects we are known for.

For architecture and interior design projects the minimum project budget is $800,000 + GST. Most of our projects sit between $1million to $5million excluding GST.

How much do architectural new homes cost?

Architectural homes cost more than kit or ‘off the shelf’ homes from a volume builder. The two key factors that make up the cost are project size and quality.

We live by the mantra of quality over quantity and we are skilled in designing spaces that you will use, and enjoy, for many years to come. We will help you refine your brief so that your home is just the right size for you (and not too big!). Our new homes range in size from the Hover House at 224sqm and the Brighton White House at 232sqm, upwards.

Most of our recent projects have cost approximately $4,500 – $6,000/sqm + GST.

What value does architecture add?

Many of our clients understand the value of architecture before they approach us but the three key components of the value of the work we offer are:

1. Seamless experience

Our team’s experience, our processes, our design and our project management skills ensure a smooth experience for our clients during the architectural journey.

Clients often praise us for our friendly, open and approachable team, which we think makes it such an enjoyable process for Bower and our clients.

2. Quality design

The long-term wellbeing, joy, comfort, wonder and ease that comes from quality design is what sets a Bower Home apart from others.

We believe the true value is clear when you wake up each day inside your new home and discover how the design is completely unique, and tailored to you.

3. Return on investment

While few of the homes we have designed have been sold by our clients, those who have moved on noted that the sale prices were significantly higher than the average, with some setting records for their area. Various results suggest that the long-term financial value of an architecturally designed home is higher than a non-architect designed home.

The University of Melbourne and Architeam conducted further research into this here and here.

How do you manage the project budget?

The project budget is a key element of your brief. We will help guide you when it comes to setting the budget, and working towards it is a key part of our work.

At the very start of your project we will ask about your budget goal and your relationship to your budget. This means that we ask you to think about the following three elements and put them in your personal order of priority:

  • The brief/wishlist
  • The quality of spaces and detail
  • The budget

How you prioritise these three elements will help us make informed decisions and assist us with how to best advise you throughout the project.

For example, if budget is your number one priority, we will choose not to show you options that sit outside of your budget, such as plans for a size that would exceed the budget, or options for services, appliances or finishes that don’t fit within it.

During the Bower Process, we will discuss the budget at every meeting with you and will always let you know when a decision will affect the budget. We have accumulated years’ worth of experience and insight that we will share with you so that you can make informed decisions relating to specific inclusions. You can then weigh up what value you put on that addition and instruct us to include it or exclude it.

How long does a project take?

Every project is unique but we generally suggest six months to one year for the Design and Planning Permit Stages and about one year for construction.

You can download a helpful diagram and description of the Bower Process stages and timeframe of a project here.

Do you have builders that you recommend?

Yes, we have worked with a number of quality architectural builders on our projects who share our values of honesty, transparency, excellence, teamwork, respect, a love of their craft and a positive can-do approach. Like us, there is nothing they want more than a happy client who has enjoyed the overall process.

As we get to know you, we will match and suggest builders to you that we feel will be a good fit for you. We consider our builders the essential professionals that build our clients’ dream home and execute our architectural vision

I have already chosen a builder, will you work with them?

Yes, we frequently meet great architectural builders via our clients who may have a connection or recommendation from friends or family.

How do you charge?

For full architectural services we charge a percentage fee based on the budgeted and then the final cost of the project.  

We charge as a percentage because throughout our years in practice we have found that the cost of the project is the clearest reflection of the quantum of work, time and number of drawings required to deliver the quality of work we are known for. Fixed fees may be the mark of a less experienced architect (we were guilty of this when we first started!) or a cookie-cutter approach.  

It is very uncommon for our clients to know how much they want to (or need to) spend to achieve their vision at the very start of the journey. As such, we start every project with an initial stage called Concept Plan Design. This is a lump-sum fee that is credited back to you if we continue.  

This package will help you understand how the project might take shape, allows you to get excited about it, and helps us determine the project’s scope and budget. We find this is a great way to start a project and get to know one another, and there is no obligation for you to proceed with us beyond this stage. At the end of this stage, if you chose to continue the journey, we can agree with you on a project budget that we can then base our fees.   

The total architectural fee for the project is broken into each stage of the architectural journey. When the final build cost is known our fee is adjusted to be based on this figure, if it differs. We invoice monthly based on the progress of the stage underway. 

Am I ready to start a project with you? Do I need to have a site?

Embarking on a journey to create an architecturally built project is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For us and our clients, the outcome and the process of creating and revealing your special place are both significant.

The following series of questions are designed to help you decide if you are ready to dive into your project with us. A ‘YES’ answer indicates that you are ready to go.

1. Do you have an existing site or are you currently searching for a site for your home?

Many of our clients started their journey with us whilst they were still searching for the right site and found our input and assistance valuable when considering the right property.

2. Are you committed to a long-term vision for a home that you will love and enjoy for many years?

We work with clients who are committed to creating a home that they want to live in and enjoy for at least the next five years.

3. Are you currently in a comfortable and stable personal position to give a project your attention?

While we endeavour to make the process as enjoyable and smooth as possible, your project will require your thought and energy throughout.

4. Are you in a financial position to invest in quality design and the long-term wellbeing, joy and value that good architecture brings?

Most of our clients get financial advice about how much they can spend before (or just after) our initial stage: Concept Plan Design.

Do you have a waitlist?

As a studio, we have made the decision to take on one new project per month. This allows us to give our clients and our projects the time and attention that we are known for. It also allows us to feel proud of delivering a smooth architectural journey that our clients enjoy.

As a result, we normally have a waiting period of a few months.

Should I renovate or rebuild?

This is a great question and one we hear lots! As such, we have written a short piece with three simple questions that will you help you make this important decision. You can read it here.

I’d like to speak to you about my project. What’s my first step? And then what happens?

Firstly, let’s have a casual chat and you can give us the big picture: is it a house or a large renovation? Where is the site and what do you love about it? What are the key desires or drivers for your project? You may have some burning questions for us too. You can book a call with Anna here.

If after this initial conversation it sounds like we could add value to your project we will arrange a Zoom meeting with you (free of charge). This introductory meeting is about getting to know you, listening to you and hearing about your goals, hopes (and fears) for the project. We can also spend time talking about the process of working with an architect and the value we can bring. If we seem like a good fit for each other, we will then use the information you have shared to tailor a Proposal for Services for you.

We will email the proposal to you and then meet again (preferably in person and at the site) to present it to you. Here we run through the proposal, answer your questions and show you a real-life example of the architectural journey and deliverables for each stage. We find clients love this presentation and it really helps to paint the picture of how a project is revealed and what to expect.

After the presentation we encourage you to call some of our previous clients and builders we work with to hear about their experiences and the quality of our work. You may like to visit a previous project with us too.

Choosing your architect is a big decision and we encourage you to do all the research and exploration you need to to feel confident in your choice.