Sustainable House Day sponsor, the NSW Architects Registration Board, explains working with an architect on your house build

Achieving the sustainable house of your dreams involves more than just creative ideas; it requires the expertise of a licensed architect. Sustainable design is not only about energy efficiency and resilience but also about a genuine commitment to combatting climate change and transitioning to net zero. When you use a licensed architect, you are supported by a professional who is highly qualified in design, documentation, and project delivery essential skills for realising your sustainable home. 

Choosing an architect 

The journey to achieving your sustainable home starts with selecting the right architect. The title ‘architect’ is protected by law. Only individuals who are on the NSW Register of Architects may use this title. You can find a registered architect or check your architect’s registration status by searching the NSW Register of Architects available on the homepage of the NSW Architects Registration Board’s website. 

However you go about choosing your architect, you should make sure they are the right one for your project.  The relationship you will have with your architect will be a close one. 

Finding the right architect for your project involves several key steps: 

  • Outline your requirements: Clearly define your project goals and budget. It is wise to get quotes from 2 or 3 architects to compare. 
  • Check qualifications: Ensure your architect is registered by checking the NSW Register of Architects. If in doubt call the NSW Architects Registration Board on 02 9241 4033. 
  • Review past work: Visit the architect’s website to view their portfolio. Their previous projects should resonate with your vision for sustainability. 
  • Ask for references: Client feedback can offer invaluable insights into an architect’s approach to budget, timelines, and overall project satisfaction. 

Typical architectural services 

Understanding what architectural services usually entail can help you navigate the process more effectively. An architect’s work is typically divided into three phases, each crucial to the project’s success: 

  • Design phase: This phase includes briefing discussions, the preparation of sketch designs exploring possibilities, and design development for detailed plans and material selections. 
  • Contract documentation: Your architect produces detailed drawings and specifications necessary for obtaining building approvals and guiding construction.
  • Contract administration: If you engage your architect to administer the building contract, they can advise on suitable contracts for the project. During construction, your architect will liaise with the builder to ensure that the project is delivered as agreed and will keep you informed of progress. 

Your role as the client 

As a client, your active participation is key to the project’s success: 

  • Be clear about your expectations: Articulate your goals, needs and budget. A written agreement between you and your architect is required by law.  It should define the scope of work and set the foundation for your collaboration. 
  • Engage in the design process: Your active and early involvement in the design phase can prevent costly changes later. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and provide input. 
  • Understand your rights: Familiarise yourself with your rights as a consumer. The professional conduct of your architect is governed by the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct. 

Should issues arise, communicate openly with your architect. Many problems can be resolved through early dialogue. For unresolved concerns or advice about the professional conduct of your architect, you should contact the NSW Architects Registration Board. 

For Sustainable House Day enthusiasts, realising a sustainable dream home is an exciting journey that begins with choosing the right architect. By understanding the typical scope of architectural services and recognising your vital role as a client, you’re on your way to creating a home that’s not only beautiful and functional but also kind to the planet. 

Remember, every sustainable house starts with a vision and comes to life through the collaboration between you and your architect. Visit our website [] for more tips on working with your architect and making your sustainable dream home a reality.