Are you going in circles with your house renovation plans?


This month on the 101.5 FM radio Morning Magazine show, I answered this question sent in to the show by Anna.

Help, I am going in circles! I am trying to add an extra bedroom and bathroom to my house. I have come up with a few different ideas, but now I am stuck. I can’t decide how to move forward because I don’t know what my ideas will cost or if there is a better idea I am missing. I think I should talk to a builder, but I am unsure. Can you tell me who I should contact to help me move forward? I have been going in circles on this renovation for the past year, and we now just need to get on with it before the kids get any older.




This is such a common problem for DIY home renovators. Without the right advice, it is easy to get stuck trying to work out the best floor plan design, how much it will cost, and even whether you should renovate at all or sell up and move somewhere else.

To solve this problem, Anna needs professional advice that covers design, construction and cost. 

So, who is the best professional to talk to? She mentioned a builder, but what about an Architect, a Building Designer, or a Drafter?

You need to ask the right person to get the correct advice, and I will explain the difference between these four professionals.

Builders have the best knowledge of building construction and costs. However, they don’t provide design advice. Therefore, ideally, you should talk to a designer first to get some preliminary design and cost advice so you have some drawings to show your builder.

So, which of the three drawing professionals should you contact for preliminary design and cost advice?

Architects have the best overall knowledge and problem-solving skills for design, construction and cost.

Building Designers can also have good overall knowledge, but their services vary greatly. Some specialise in design and drafting and offer services similar to an architect’s. But some offer drafting services only.

Drafters (or building Designers who specialise in drafting only) prepare excellent, cost-effective construction drawings and have a good knowledge of standard construction. However, they don’t specialise in design, so don’t go to them expecting design ideas.

In conclusion, The right person to talk to first is:  

  • A good Architect or Building Designer who specialises in design and cost advice
  • Look for one that will offer advice at hourly rates if you have a smaller project and want to manage it yourself.



If you are trying to work out whether to renovate or sell, find the answers you need in two or the Renovation Collaborative Courses:

In Course 2. Houses: What to look for and avoid, I tell you what makes a house that’s a great investment and a great place to live – and when to walk away. The course contains professional architectural information, and everything I would tell you if I came to your house to give you advice on whether to buy a house or whether to renovate the house you have. It’s a 60 minute read, full of practical usable information to help you move forward, such as workable room dimensions, building materials, what to look for on the site and neighbourhood, information of climate responsive design, and links to find council information and advice if you need help.

In Course 4. What Consultants do I need? I provide information about all the typical consultants required in the renovation or new house design and building process, and help you make the right decisions for your needs and budget. Just like Course 2, it’s a 60 minute read, full of practical usable information to help you move forward.