Your Guide to Different Types of House Extensions

Houses are extended for a variety of reasons, but generally the extension addresses deficiencies that exist within an older house or to provide additional facilities or spaces to the property. Houses built from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s typically have a lower level of accommodation than contemporary standards require. These houses are quite modest in terms of the number

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5 reasons to choose an architecturally designed house

5 reasons to choose an Architect designed house

There are many reasons why people choose to engage an Architect to design their house. An Architect can add immense value to a home and improve the ease and enjoyment of your everyday living. Whether you’re designing the ultimate family home or creating a unique entertaining space, an Architect experienced in residential architecture can bring your vision to life. Transforming

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interior design – how much input does an architect have?

How Much Involvement Does an Architect Have With Interior Design?

When most people think of an architecturally-designed building they picture grand exteriors with interesting forms – but this isn’t the whole picture. Architects have more influence over interior building design than you may think. Read about the ways an Architect can elevate the interior of a home with clever design. Does an architect design the inside of a building? The

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View From First Floor Extension

11 Design Considerations for First Floor Additions

Is adding a second storey to your home the best solution for you? Find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of first floor additions. For many Homeowners in need of additional space, a First Floor extension is often the first solution considered. While in some cases adding an extra storey may be the best solution for the Owner’s accommodation

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Architectural design

Should I Use an Architect? 7 Reasons to Consider Using an Architect

Should I use an Architect? If you’re preparing to build a new property you may find yourself wondering “Should I use an Architect?”. Is it worth it? Will I get good value from an Architect’s services? The truth is an Architect isn’t required for every project while others absolutely need the input of a highly skilled expert. So, which is

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Architectural Drawings — Freehand vs. Digital Drafting

Most people realise that these days Architectural drawings are often done using a computer, known in the industry as Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), however, there is little awareness of how those drawings are produced. A common misconception around the drawing production process is that an Architect or Drafter simply presses a button and all the drawings magically appear, full of

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outdoor deck

Home Design 2023: Your Guide to Home Design & Renovations in 2023

In Australia, our way of living has changed massively over the past two years. Major shifts in work habits and living arrangements have altered our priorities when it comes to home design, with flexible solutions that make the most of interior layouts on the rise. Read on for our breakdown of home design trends in 2023. Dedicated workspaces continue to

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trendy kitchen

Building trends VS Good Design

What’s “on trend” in building right now? Anyone who’s watched “The Block” or other home renovation TV shows will have heard the question: “what is on trend?”. The judges on The Block seem particularly stuck on this concept as they try to heighten the drama, hinting at some secret knowledge only they possess.  Unfortunately, this type of language is misleading

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men standing on a apartment construction site

Improvements in apartment construction quality now legislated

In June 2020, the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) took effect (DBP Act).  The registration and certification regime which follows the DBP Act will come into force on 1st July 2021.  The DBP Act applies to residential apartment buildings. These are defined as Class 2 buildings under the National Construction Code i.e. buildings containing four or more apartments

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Planning ahead for a new home or commercial development after COVID-19

The social isolation measures the Federal and State Governments have introduced amid the COVID-19 outbreak have placed severe restrictions on the activities we normally enjoy day-to-day.  However, the most serious consequences are the social and economic impacts caused by the sudden loss of employment in many industries.  This blog is not intended to trivialise these very real impacts, but shed

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bushfire prevention and controlled house

Bushfire prevention & controls: what it means for the everyday homeowner

The extensive bushfires over the past six months have highlighted many of the issues involving environmental management, climate change, the adequacy of the fire fighting resources, and the construction standards of our houses. Bushfire protection measures for residential construction were first introduced in New South Wales in 1999. These measures were extensively revised in 2009 with the introduction of Australian

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men building a house

When is the best time to build?

Everyone seems to have their own unique set of criteria for determining the ideal time to embark on their house building project. The same applies to people’s views on the right time to buy or sell a house.   In this blog, we discuss various factors people consider when deciding to begin their house building project.   It is not intended to

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architecturally built deck

7 key considerations for building a raised deck

In previous blogs, we’ve covered the design factors involved with outdoor living spaces located at or near ground level.  This month, we take our exploration of outdoor living space design and construction one step further and discuss the essential elements required for a deck – an outdoor living space attached to a house and located a half-storey (i.e. 1.5 metres)

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stairs in hickson residence

5 elements you need in your architecture plan for a modern staircase design

Houses with two or more storeys have become increasingly popular in recent years due to a range of factors like smaller lot sizes in housing subdivisions, the desire of homeowners to preserve as much yard space as possible, and an attractive view from an elevated position.  Today, a two storey house is regarded as a standard and acceptable solution. For

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6 considerations for your outdoor living space design

An outdoor living area is a common requirement for any new house or residential renovation. Often this exterior space can be just as important as some of the living areas within the house.  An outdoor living area can extend the useful internal living areas of a house, providing an essential alternative and an additional space during pleasant weather conditions.   In

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Architect Profile: Stephen Coon

Education & Experience Stephen graduated from the University of Newcastle in 1992 with a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons II). After graduating, Stephen started working with Crone Architects in Sydney. At Crone, he was part of a large team involved in the design, documentation and contract administration of high-rise apartment and office buildings including but not limited to: After five years

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private certifier

Your 4-step D.A. approval & construction certificate checklist

When it comes to building private houses, there are two kinds of documents we prepare as Architects. These documents serve different purposes and are used to gain different approvals. This documents can be broadly defined as: Design documents – these can be used to obtain a Development Approval (D.A.) Construction documents – these can be used to obtain a Construction

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Your ultimate guide to the benefits of small house designs

Your ultimate guide to the benefits of small house designs Over the past few decades, the attitude of “bigger is better” has dominated most people’s thinking when it comes to home ownership. The project home industry has been willing to meet this demand with ever expanding floor areas in their house plans. Most people are familiar with the term “McMansions”

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Architect Profile: Mark Lawler

Education & Experience Mark Lawler completed his Architectural studies at the University of Newcastle, obtaining a Bachelor of Science (Architecture) and a Bachelor of Architecture. After completing the practical experience required, Mark qualified for registration as an Architect in New South Wales. Before establishing his own practice, Mark worked for a number of Architectural firms throughout Newcastle & Sydney. This

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Home Facelifts: Your Guide To Rejuvenating Exterior Home Renovations

For most people, the family home is their most valuable asset and the biggest investment they will ever make. Fortunately, a house will increase in value over time, unlike other purchases like cars which depreciate rapidly after the initial purchase. Our houses are also where we live and raise our families, so they need to be comfortable and secure with

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belford residence

Navigating estate design controls with an experienced Architect

Quite often, new residential subdivisions now include design controls as part of the planning requirements for new houses. The reason for the introduction of design controls varies with each subdivision and the developer’s or Council’s overriding objectives. For example, in some instances, the design controls aim to ensure a reasonable standard for houses to be built, ensuring consistent quality or

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architectural planning

4 crucial elements to consider when creating an architectural design brief

Image: Pexels Developing a brief for a new home is exciting. There are countless things to consider, including the placement of the house on the block, the size and position of rooms throughout the house, and even the colour scheme. However, when creating a brief for a new building, people tend to focus more on the aesthetic of the new

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architect looking at plans

7 building sites that do not suit project homes

Once upon a time, all houses were custom built in a traditional manner by a local builder. Each site was assessed individually, if not from a design perspective, certainly with consideration of the building issues the particular site presented. The local builder would then bring his experience into discussion with the owner, offering advice about the best way to build

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Mark's Point Residence

6 considerations to make before embarking on a home addition project

Before embarking on additions to an existing house, the deficiencies of the house and its siting must be carefully considered. From these considerations, it is possible to propose solutions that maximise the benefits of additions. These benefits could include increasing the value of the property, improving your lifestyle, or in most cases, achieving both of these objectives. At Mark Lawler

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project homes

Characteristics, disadvantages & advantages of project homes

The prominence of project homes in the Australian housing market is a relatively recent phenomenon commencing in the 1970’s and growing through the 1980’s. Today, project homes account for the vast majority of freestanding houses built in Australian residential subdivisions. For the purpose of this blog, a project home is defined as a standard house design which is replicated on

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caves beach renovation

13 renovation strategies to help reinvent your home

In this blog, we describe some of the strategies that can be used to maximise the benefits of a house renovation. These strategies are most relevant to our clients who are planning to stay in their home long-term and are focused on providing increased comfort and space for their families, rather than looking for a quick makeover in order to

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A guide to adopting the Hampton’s style into your Australian home

    A guide to adopting the Hampton’s style into your Australian home:  The “Hamptons” style seems to be mentioned in every second article in current popular house media.  The frequent reference to this style has lead to a lot of confusion about what Hamptons style actually is, everyone seems to have their own interpretation.  Talking to many of our Clients

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mark lawler architect slider

Designing regional homes vs city homes – What’s the difference?

What’s the difference in designing and building a house in the city vs a regional area? The houses we see published in magazines and featured on TV are generally the best examples from the major capital cities within Australia. These projects have set a high bar using the very best materials, finishes, with large spaces and are usually located on

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caves beach renovation

What elements do I need to create a modern kitchen design?

The prominence of the kitchen within our homes has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last twenty years – from planning and materials to appliances and lifestyle. The kitchen is now a major priority in the planning of any residence, given its location in open-plan living and dining areas. Traditionally, the kitchen was placed at the back of a house,

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incorporate a garage into your design

Incorporating a garage into an architectural design

A garage is no longer regarded as a basic shed to park a car. It can serve multiple functions – an occasional social space, an indoor gaming area, a place to practice hobbies, essential storage and sometimes even a place to park a car! Driveways and council requirements The garage is a high priority in terms of a homeowner’s requirements.

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designing a small house

How to design a small house

Australians now reportedly build the largest houses in the world (average floor area) –  even larger than the houses in the USA! Our houses have increased in size as we have become more affluent and seek to keep up with the neighbours. Before World War II, a typical family of six or more people lived in a house with two

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residential renderings - mark lawler architects

How to pick external materials in your house design

A building’s appearance and performance are largely determined by the materials selected for the external elements: walls, roof, windows, decks, etc.  There are many factors influencing the selection of each element. This blog lists the main considerations, however, you should always seek specific advice for a project. With the selection of any external element the following considerations are relevant: Appearance

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Architect explaining home design

How do architects charge for their services?

There are three main methods architects use to charge for their services. There are advantages and disadvantages for each of the three methods as summarised below.  The most suitable method must be discussed with each individual Client based on the particular circumstances of their project. Mark Lawler Architects can provide project specific advice to assist each client. Percentage Fees This

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Architecturally designed home for a lifetime

How to design a house to last a lifetime

A house designed by an architect and custom built for an owner is a serious commitment to lifestyle and financial investment. A house of this quality will stand for many years and can serve several generations of a family. The design must cater for flexibility of occupation and have the durability to suit all stages of the owner’s life. When

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architecture trends on murrays beach

Architecture trends: Following the crowd isn’t always the smart choice

What is “on trend” right now If you have seen an episode of “The Block” or other similar home renovation TV shows, there’s no doubt you will have heard the question: “What is on trend?”   Judges and contestants alike seem to be laser-focused on this concept as they try to heighten the drama by hinting at some secret knowledge

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Can an Architect make a guarantee of success?

Can an Architect make a guarantee of success?

Some clients seek a guarantee that their project will be approved by Council or can be built into their budget at the very first meeting. Before a line has even been drawn, this is a tough request. Many other professionals face the same request for absolute certainty. You may be tempted to ask for a guarantee your surgery will be

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australian home with pool and screens

How are houses designed for the Australian climate?

Australia is a large continent with a variety of climate zones.  Under the National Building Code of Australia (B.C.A.) eight climate zones have been defined. These climate zones range from the cold alpine areas of the Snowy Mountains through to the hot, tropical conditions of the Northern Territory.   Under each State’s legislation and the BCA, there are different construction requirements

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how do australian building and safety codes impact my home design?

How do Australian building and safety codes impact my home design?

This blog article will run you through the different building codes in Australia, and how they will impact the design of your home. The primary building regulation governing the construction of residential buildings in Australia is the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA is produced on a national basis. The intention was to produce a uniform building code which

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wide block house plans

Wide block house plans

A house designed for a wide or an unusually large site can take advantage of design strategies that are not suitable for smaller, more restricted sites. This article examines the potential for some very exciting and innovative wide house block plans that are used in modern architecture. Orientation A key design aspect on any house design is consideration of the

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sloping block property

Everything you need to know about home designs for sloping blocks

Sloping blocks have a reputation for being difficult and expensive to build on. However, with the correct approach, a sloping block can offer unique opportunities that a level site can’t, and with the right expertise can be affordable and rewarding to build on. The key to success with a sloping block is for the sloping site house designs to be

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the architectural design process

The architectural design process

An architecturally-designed home is a collaboration on the part of many people. It is the coming together of ideas, with the process culminating in the creation of a unique, inspiring space that is ultimately an expression of you and your lifestyle. The architectural design process is unique for every project. It is initially determined by whether you are building a

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architectural vs ready made house plans

Architectural vs Ready Made House Plans

Ready made house plans, or the standard plans that are available from project home builders, are designed for standard, residential subdivisions. In these situations, the house is typically in the centre of the block, with small side setbacks. The living spaces face the street, with bedrooms and the family room opening on to the side boundaries or rear yard. Due

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design to construction – how long will the architect’s design process take?

The architectural design process from drawings to completion

As Architects, one of the first questions our clients ask us is how long does it take to design a house and when will the project be completed? Unfortunately, there’s no standard answer to this question because several factors are involved in the architectural design process. Every building and project is unique, and every client has different requirements — plus,

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advantages of architect percentage fee pricing

5 advantages of Architect fee percentage pricing

The setting of fees and valuing Architectural work can be complex. Every project for an Architect is unique, requiring a different level of expertise and scope of services. Therefore, the Architectural fee scale can vary drastically. Initially, the Architect may be asked to help define the project, assess the feasibility and to provide a free proposal when many factors remain

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construction documentation - mark lawler architects

Why construction drawings & documentation are important in architecture

All buildings require construction drawings and documents to provide instruction to the builder on what is to be built. Construction documentation can range from very basic drawings (with or without a specification) through to fully complete drawings and specifications with comprehensive details and schedules. The more unique or complex the project, the greater the need for more comprehensive and complete

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lake house

Lake Houses — How we built this Lake Macquarie home

Our client wanted to make the most of lake house living — Here’s how we designed their Lake Macquarie home We were commissioned to design a contemporary four-bedroom house on a single level with open living spaces to gain lake views and natural light. The Owners of this stunning home located on the southern end of Lake Macquarie are semi-retired

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beachside apartments


Houzz is a great website for collecting ideas on building and design… like an online scrapbook!

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what do architects do?

What Do Architects Do? An Architect’s Role in Construction

The Architects role in a construction project Both the work of an Architect and the Construction Manager of a building project play significant roles in the construction of offices, residential homes and apartments. However, these roles are fundamentally different, and often open to misinterpretation. Let’s explain the two disciplines, and clarify the distinctions between an Architect and a construction manager

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five things to consider about your home at christmas

Five things to consider about your home at Christmas

The Christmas break is a time when a you get to enjoy a well-earned break and spend some quality time with friends and family. It’s the time of year when it’s not uncommon to have lots of friends and family over for lunches, dinners whether it be a casual outdoor BBQ or extending the dinner table to double it’s normal

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Planning for a swimming pool

Thinking of Adding a Swimming Pool? Read This First

Having a swimming pool is a quintessential part of the Australian dream, and with our warm climate and sunshine, having a pool is an absolute must-have for many homeowners. If you are designing a new home with a swimming pool or looking to add a pool as part of a home renovation project, there are several important factors to consider.

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hand holding house keys

Resale value factors: How to add value to your home

How to increase property value for a better resale price As an Architect, many of my Clients ask me about ways they can increase the value of their home. The advice in this article can apply equally to the construction of a new house or the renovation of an existing home. The emphasis will be slightly different in each case,

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