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Cooper Scaife Architects offer comprehensive services from sketch design through to project completion. In order to meet differing client needs, we offer two levels of engagement: Full Service and Building Permit Service.

Full Service


As the name suggests, ‘full service’ covers all aspects of the design and construction process. The work is broken into a number of stages and will often run over several months. Through the evolution of the design we establish a close working relationship with our clients and their input is a critical part of each stage.

Every element of the building is designed and specified, from the ‘big concept’ down to the selection of door handles. The finished construction documents can include as many as 40 drawings, a specification and comprehensive selection schedules to fully describe the project.

Using these documents we then assist our clients to turn their project from drawings into reality. We manage the process of obtaining permits, selecting builders, tendering and awarding the building contract. Once construction commences we work closely with the builder to ensure the best possible result is achieved. A program of regular site visits is established to monitor progress, answer queries, resolve any unforseen issues that may arise and check that the building is being constructed in accordance with the architectural documents.

Building Permit Service

This is a reduced scope of services and is best suited to clients who want the input of an architect in the early stages of the design process but are willing to make their own decisions in relation to the detailed selections and deal directly with a builder during construction.

The building permit service includes the same ‘conceptual’ design stages as the full service; however the construction documents are limited to those required to obtain building permit approval. It typically includes up to 10 drawings that describe the external materials and general layout of the building. The design of cabinetry, the selection of internal finishes & fixtures and management of the construction stage are handed over to the client.

When choosing the appropriate level of service, we encourage our clients to consider the complexity of the design and the level of finish they wish to achieve. In general, our designs for building permit service projects utilise simpler, more standardised methods of building and lower levels of detail, to enable construction to be undertaken without ongoing architectural advice.

Services in Detail

The typical stages involved in a project are listed below.

Concept Design

  • Confirm the project brief;

  • Visit the site and prepare measured drawings of the existing buildings (if required);

  • Engage a land surveyor (if necessary) to conduct a site survey;

  • Make a preliminary assessment of authority conditions and constraints;

  • Prepare the sketch design (concept drawings);

  • Present the design to the client for review;

  • Revise the design, if necessary, in response to these reviews.


Preliminary Costing

  • Prepare an ‘outline specification’ to describe the general level of finish and methods of construction for the purposes of costing;

  • Obtain a ‘preliminary budget estimate’ from either a quantity surveyor or a selected builder;

  • Review this estimate with the client.


Design Development        

  • Undertake an energy rating, to assess the thermal performance of the design;

  • Develop and refine the sketch design in response to the energy rating, preliminary budget estimate and further client feedback.



  • Attend a pre-application meeting with the local planning authority to discuss the project (if necessary);

  • Prepare the necessary documents and lodge an application for planning approval;

  • Assist the client to obtain approval by negotiating, providing additional information and making design changes (if necessary).


Documentation (Building Permit)

  • Engage specialist consultants (such as a structural engineer and building surveyor);

  • Prepare drawings for building permit approval, including the coordination of structural members with architectural drawings;

  • Select external materials and finishes, in consultation with the client.

  • Completed drawings typically include a site plan, floor plan, roof plan, elevations, section(s), window schedule and electrical layout.


Contract Documentation (Full Service)

  • In addition to the steps undertaken for building permit documentation, prepare further documents to fully describe all elements of the building and enable the project to be competitively tendered.

  • Detailed drawings typically include the design of joinery and wet areas throughout the project as well as critical large-scale construction details.

  • Select both the internal and external finishes, with a range of samples presented for the client to approve.

  • Prepare a project specification, to describe the quality of workmanship and other requirements necessary for the builder to complete the project.



  • Advise on the selection of builders and the most appropriate method of tendering;

  • Manage the tender process, including responding to tender queries, assessment of tenders and discussing the result with the client;

  • Conduct post-tender negotiations with the preferred tenderer;

  • Prepare a tender recommendation.


Contract Administration   

  • Prepare the contract documents for signing by the client and builder;

  • Make regular site visits during construction to monitor progress, quality and check that the building is being constructed in accordance with the documents;

  • Answer queries from the builder and provide instructions or additional details to clarify the documents where required;

  • Work with the builder and client to resolve any unforseen issues that may arise on site;

  • Maintain regular contact with the client throughout construction, to report on progress, time and cost and address any queries or concerns;

  • Assess claims for payment from the builder and issue progress payment certificates;

  • Manage, assess and obtain the client’s approval for any cost variations;

  • Assess and approve any claims from the builder for extensions of time;

  • Coordinate any additional advice required from consultants;

  • Conduct a detailed inspection of the project prior to ‘practical completion’ (when the building is virtually complete and ready for occupation) and notify the builder of the defects to be rectified;

  • Inspect the rectification of defects and issue a certificate of practical completion;

  • Assess the final claim for payment from the builder;

  • Conduct another detailed inspection and prepare a final list of defects;

  • Issue the final certificate, upon the rectification of all defects or outstanding work,;

  • Project handover.


Fees are quoted for each individual project and vary according to the nature of the work.  The project size, complexity, brief and level of finish all affect the amount of work involved and this is reflected in the fee.


Some points to consider in relation to fees are:

  • Fees for full service are generally calculated on a percentage basis of the final cost of construction.  As a guide, our fees can range between 8-14% of the cost of construction (plus GST).

  • Fees for building permit service are calculated as a lump sum, based on an agreed scope of work.  They are generally about half the cost of full service fees.

  • Alterations and additions to an existing building usually attract a higher fee than the design of a new building.

  • Quality is remembered, long after price is forgotten.


To discuss your specific project requirements and obtain a FREE, no-obligation quote please contact us.


“We are delighted to be able to recommend Cooper Scaife as architects. Our whole experience in the design of our Helm View house at Melville Forest was fantastic. The process itself consisted of a delightful balance of careful listening by the Architects to what our needs and desires were, while suggesting better and more effective ways of getting to our objectives. It was all very easy and pleasant. Even more importantly, the end product is wonderful. We have ended up with a practical 8.2 star energy rated farm house, that is kind to both the eye and our environment. We couldn’t be happier.”

Mark Wootton & Eve Kantor


“Building a new house in Hamilton was a pleasure and easy for us, as Cooper Scaife did a great job. They were involved from the purchase of the block until the final handover of our new house. We gave them quite a broad brief and they developed a very innovative set of plans in close consultation with us, resulting in a house that is very attractive inside and out, and is turning out to be very nice to live in. An important element of the whole process was the ongoing easy communication between ourselves, the architects and the builder. The professionalism of Cooper Scaife Architects makes them very easy to recommend.”

Liz & Leo Cummins


“We are delighted with the house designed for us by Cooper Scaife Architects. They were sensitive to our needs and expectations and worked with us to produce a warm, comfortable and highly practical living environment. The living area flows beautifully and the central courtyard and library are highlights of the design. We have nothing but praise for the dedication and professionalism of Cooper Scaife Architects and would highly recommend them to anybody seeking to build a quality home which reflects their personality and lifestyle.”

Chris & Wyn Ingham


“The design of our new house is thoughtful, practical and beautiful. We had no ‘Grand Designs’ disasters, suffered no stress during the build, had no difficulties whatsoever with our wonderful team of builders and have had no dramas since moving into the house. The siting is perfect, the comfortable atmosphere is a dream to live in and the configuration of rooms makes it feel natural, cosy and beautiful.”

Roz Greenwood & Marg Phillips


“Having proceeded with a vast multitude of complex buildings over the past decade, I have been entirely satisfied with and grateful for the work of Cooper Scaife Architects. They are meticulous to detail, highly proactive, communicative, consultative and very innovative. Our new Middle Years Positive Education Centre has exceeded our expectations in every way.”

Bruce Simons, Principal, The Hamilton & Alexandra College

"Cooper Scaife Architects were very professional at every stage of our project. It is a pleasure to deal with people who are so good at what they do."

Richard Mann


"The design that Cooper Scaife Architects created for our family home has made so much difference to our daily lives. Every morning when I wake up I‘m just so happy to be living here. We will spend the rest of our lives in this house. I can’t recommend Cooper Scaife highly enough."

Dr Lauren Alexander-Shrive


“Cooper Scaife Architects had a great commitment to the project and worked effectively with the builder, to ensure that it came in on time and on budget. After being involved with many building works within schools over the years, these are words I love to hear.”

Darren Stanbury, Principal, Sacred Heart Primary School, Casterton


“We are delighted with the outcome of our new Visual Arts Centre so expertly and meticulously planned, designed and project managed, from start to finish, by Bianca Scaife and Daniel Cooper. Our students and staff, together with our Board and Foundation love every corner of the centre, built to savour young people’s creativity and expression; a great credit to all concerned at Cooper Scaife.”

Bruce Simons, Principal, The Hamilton & Alexandra College


“Heather and I purchased a small, working farm at Mooralla some fifteen years ago. In the middle of 2009 we decided it was time to do justice to this beautiful location. We interviewed two architects and chose Cooper Scaife because they understood what we wanted. The design phase resulted in set of plans which we were delighted with. Cooper Scaife Architects worked hard to ensure that the vision was realized and the quality was to the highest standard. Today we have a beautiful home which is energy efficient and a pleasure to live in.”

Dr Phillip Reece


"Cooper Scaife Architects worked on the extension of our house in Tarrington. Our brief was to add on to an old federation house - a living, dining, kitchen - and to take advantage of the wonderful views of the Grampians. From the outside it is hard to see where the new begins - it looks like the extension was always there. The space itself has double glazed windows all along the north side with a verandah. This keeps the temperature even in all weathers. It is a great space to be in and we are delighted with it."

Judy Koch

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