Architects & Designers

Using a designer to tailor something specifically for you will give you a home that is unique and often with elements that will give you added values both functional and intrinsic terms. The foundation decision to help ensure a successful project will be selecting the right designer to guide you through the process. Finding the right designer for your project can be a relatively daunting prospect, but like most decisions, it can be easily made by setting simple criteria for selection and evaluating a small group who can offer you the service you’ll need.

Steps to Having a House Designed are here...

Choosing an Architect or an Architectural Designer

Look for someone whose work you like or an area of expertise relevant to your particular job, and who you believe you can work with. Use recommendations from friends. Look at magazines and websites like our Design Guide and Pinterest pages to find designs you like... Those who can prepare a custom-designed home are:
  • A Registered Architect (Please note – only those registered can call themselves an ‘Architect’)
  • An Architectural Designer
  • An Architectural Draughtsperson
  • Some Group Home Builders have Registered Architects or Architectural Designers who can design your
  • home from scratch
It is important that the designer you select can understand your needs and adapt to that particular architectural style. This is a good place to begin culling designers who are not suitable. On establishing a small list of suitable designers, you are ready to begin the detailed process of finding the best fit for you. In doing so you’ll need to consider what is important to you and define selection criteria. Typically the criteria may include:
  • scope of service required
  • experience
  • personality fit
Architects and architectural designers will offer a wide range of services from the purely creative aspects of designing your building to the technical aspects of preparing construction documentation and providing support to you and your contractor during construction.

It is important that you thoroughly discuss the range of service each offers to be sure that you will have the right support throughout the whole building process – and no nasty surprises.

The world of architectural design is incredibly varied and while all architectural designers will be able to demonstrate their experience in some areas, it is important that they are able to competently deliver your unique project. Looking at relevant examples of their work and talking with client and contractor referees will help you establish the designer’s competencies. Finally, given that the building project is likely to consume many hours of your time over a number of months, a key element is for you to have an effective professional relationship with your designer.

Finding this fit is perhaps the single most important item.

Be comfortable with the way your designer communicates and their alignment with your personal values. Positive relationships lead to positive outcomes. Price is a small consideration specifically not considered. The value the right designer will add to your project will far exceed any small difference in fee. While it is important to have a clear understanding of your costs, emphasis should be placed on achieving the project budget. Perhaps the matter of architectural fees could help separate the final two designers on your short list! A typical fee can range from six to 15 percent of the total cost of the job and is affected by the level of service required (full service being full supervision of the build) and size of the job. The three usual ways of charging are:
  • For small jobs you can pay by the hour (can get out of hand if you keep changing your mind)
  • A percentage of the cost of the project - this is the most popular method. You will pay more for well-regarded, high profile 'star'-chitects.
  • An agreed fixed fee.
  • An alternative and much less expensive method can be to use your architect to sketch phase and have an architectural draughtsman finish the technical drawings. The drawback is that your designer's involvement is very limited.

Registered Architects

In order to register with the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB), architects must first graduate from university with a Bachelor of Architecture Degree, and after some three years’ practical experience in a mentored environment, submit to rigorous registration assessment. Registered architects must re-register every five years, and to do so must demonstrate that they have undertaken Continuing Professional Development (CPD).  Most registered architects are members of the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA), which actively supports graduate development and CPD, provides a wide range of technical documentation to its members, and promotes excellence in design through award programmes. For more information on Architects or to find a Registered Architect visit or

Architectural Designers

To be eligible for membership of Architectural Designers New Zealand Inc (ADNZ), members must hold a recognised certificate or diploma, undertake compulsory professional development, and have their skills assessed to ensure they meet the requirements of the ADNZ Competency Standards. They are also bound by the ADNZ Code of Ethics. ADNZ (Architectural Designers New Zealand Inc.) is the national professional body representing architectural designers. ADNZ members are specialists in building design and construction, undertaking residential and commercial projects at all stages of the construction process. To be eligible for membership, ADNZ members must hold recognised professional qualifications or relevant experience, undertake compulsory professional development and have their skills assessed to ensure they meet the requirements of the ADNZ Competency Standards. For more information and to contact an ADNZ member visit

Important Information:

Not all architects are members of the NZIA, and not all members of the NZIA are architects (architectural students and graduates are encouraged to join). There may be designers who infer that they are an ‘architect’, or call themselves ‘architect’ who do not have the professional standing for this to be valid - check their registration here... Make sure the person you employ has professional indemnity insurance that provides cover in case of professional negligence. From November 2007, architectural designers and draftsmen have to be assessed for voluntary licensing by the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) as Licensed Building Practitioners (LBP Design) under one of three classes limited by size, complexity and type of buildings undertaken.  Further rules with regard to LBP design of ‘restricted work’ were introduced in 2010 which you can read about here... Written with assistance from the New Zealand Institute of Architects and Architectural Designers NZ Pitsou_Kedem_Float_house.Ext3

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