Working with
An Architect

The 2019 National Commendation for Residential Architecture | Empire | Austin Maynard Architects | ACT | Photographer: Derek Swalwell

Working with an architect


Architects are more than just designers, they provide services that go far beyond drawings. 

With five years of university training, mandatory practical experience and a registration exam, architects are uniquely equipped to manage your entire design project for you, to see it through the whole construction process and ensure its success.

On this page you will find all the inspiration and resources to get started on your big project and connect with one of 14,500 members.



Living Architecture explores the ways in which architects make a genuine difference to peoples’ lives. 

It is only someone with the qualifications, experience and unique skills that allow them to practise under the title ‘Architect’ who can provide the experience and design outcomes that truly meet the individual needs of a client, whether it be in a residential, community or commercial setting.

Over the next 12 months Living Architecture will focus on just how qualified architects have made a real difference in the way their clients now live, play, work and simply enjoy life, as well as providing useful insights into the process and experience of working with a design professional.

 OFFICIAL LAUNCH – COMING SOON – exciting Partnership announcement!



Inter-war Cottage Rejuvenation

Northcote Residence lll: a residential home for a growing family of four undergoes a modest rear extension and renovation to find more space, functionality and privacy in the inner city suburb of Northcote, Victoria.

Architect: Project 12

bushfire rebuild

The Cobargo Santa Project

This is a story of rebuilding a home and a family after the devastating 2020 Australian bushfires in Cobargo, and how the community came together to help rebuild the lives of those who needed it most.

Architect: Breathe Architecture

the benefits


Working with an architect means working with a professional who can deliver creative spaces that are cost-effective and match both your style and needs. Creative thinking, highly developed problem solving skills, attention to detail and understanding of functional performance underpin everything an architect does.

Architects bring to the table:

Value for Money Well-designed homes with greater liveability and higher resale value.

Imagination Inventive designs built within the budget.

Peace of Mind Knowledge and expertise in the building process.

From pre-design stage to project completion, an architect will be there each step of the way to help you maximise your investment.

Riley's Terrace | Adele McNab Architects | Photographer: Clinton Weaver

An architect will guide you through:

Concept Design Understanding your needs and helping you prepare a brief that is in line with your budget.

Design Development Translating vision by developing concepts that are cost-efficient and add value to your project.

Town Planning and Development Application Assisting in the preparation and submission of applications to local councils for approval.

Construction Documentation Processing building permits and overseeing documentations of other consultants.

Contractor Selection Helping in contract negotiations and the selection of reliable builders.

Contract Administration Assessing the builder’s quality of work and compliance to agreed specifications.

Helpful Resources


Your Free guide to working with an architect

Whether building a new home or developing a commercial space, working with an architect gives you the best chance of archiving your vision.

Finding the right architect that suits your project is key to success.

Unlock your project’s potential with an architect. Let them bring value for money, an imagination and peace of mind.


before you start


1. Choosing an Architect Before engaging with an architect, make sure they are registered with the Architect Registration Board in your state or territory. All member architects of the Institute are registered professionals and are further bound by our Code of Conduct.

2. Design Brief A design brief covers everything the architect needs to know about your project. It outlines essential details such as requirements, the desired function of the building or home, timeframe and budget.

3. Client & Architect Agreement When you have selected an architect, it is important that both parties agree on the scope of the architecture services to be rendered. The agreement should be in writing and should also include information on costs and other terms and conditions vital to the project.

4. Fees & Expenses An architect’s fee is a matter of negotiation and may vary depending on the scale and complexity of the project.

5. Copyright Any design an architect imagines and creates is an ‘artistic work’ and is protected under the Copyright Act. See more information on the Copyright Act below.

Mawehera Avenue Extension | Preston Lane | Photographer: Adam Gibson

The Copyright Act

Architecture and copyright

The following information is intended for property owners who are considering engaging, or who have already engaged, an architect to prepare a design for their project.

The Copyright Act is a piece of national legislation that protects and controls the copyright and rights of creators. Any design an architect imagines and creates is an ‘artistic work’ that will be protected by copyright under the Act. The architect also has a legal right (known as ‘moral rights’) to be acknowledged as the original creator of their design in the work.

In Australia there is no legal requirement for an architect to assert copyright or to include a copyright notice on their designs, drawings, plans or renderings. Australian law protects a designer’s work by automatically applying copyright to it the moment it is created.

Bear in mind that an architect’s designs not only have hard work and skill put into them, but that the design, plans, drawings and renderings themselves are also commercially valuable to anyone intending to use them to develop a project.

The default position under the national Copyright Act says that typically whoever conceives of and creates the design, that person owns the copyright in the design. In nearly all cases, the architect will have combined your ideas with others and taken them to the stage where they amount to an ‘artistic work’ that is protect under the Copyright Act. For you to own copyright, the architect must agree in writing to transfer the copyright to you.

No. This would in almost all cases be a breach of the copyright of the original architect. But why merely copy a design when you could ask an architect to apply their design skill to the particular qualities, context, problems and advantages of your site and your project needs?

Yes. Section 73 of the Copyright Act permits the reconstruction of the building if the original construction was not in breach of copyright.

It depends. You should look at the terms of the express or implied agreement about copyright between you and the original architect. If this is what was contemplated when the architect was first engaged, and it was clearly understood that the architect would be engaged for an initial stage but not necessarily be engaged for expansion or of later stages, there is probably an implied licence to use the architect’s copyright to the extent that it is necessary to ensure consistency. In most other cases there would not be such a licence or permission.

If you are intending to extend or alter a building you should also be aware that the original architect may well have moral rights which, under the Copyright Act, also need to be respected. In particular, altering a building is likely to infringe the moral rights of the original architect unless that architect has:

  • been given notice of the proposed changes
  • been given the opportunity to make a record of the work before it is altered
  • been consulted in good faith about the proposed works, or
  • given a written consent to the original owner which allows you to alter or extend the building without consult with the original architect.

Copyright continues to protect an architect’s work for 70 years from the end (i.e. after 31 December) of the year in which the architect died, or 70 years from the end of the year in which the work was first ‘published’ to the public.

If the previous architect or designer owns copyright, you must apply to the architect to use the plans and design in order to pass a licence to the new architect or designer. You must also make appropriate arrangements for moral rights attribution of the previous architect in relation to the drawings and the project, unless the original architect has consented in writing to moral rights infringement.

If there is any doubt about whether you (the client) or the original architect owns the copyright, or if the previous architect refuses to grant copyright permission or transfer copyright, you should obtain legal advice.

For more information on Copyright please visit the Australian Copyright Council

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