Owning a home will generally be the largest asset for most people. Whether it be building a new home or renovating an existing home you need to protect your asset and the only way to do this is to use registered trades people. In Queensland to be a registered Building Designer you are required to be licensed with the BSA (Building Services Authority).
When you begin looking around for a designer there are a few things you should be aware of:
Know what you want to achieve. Before you meet a designer have a clear picture of what it is that you want to accomplish from the project. The motivations and ideas of an investor can be completely different to the motivations and ideas of a home owner.
Research design preferences. Good communication with your building designer is the key to a great outcome. Grab magazines and have look, cut out pictures, take photos of things you like. There are a number of display home villages around Brisbane (a new one at Roachedale) which are good for getting some great design ideas. The ideas that you generate doing this process can be used as part of the design brief for your project.
Talk to a number of building designers. Finding the right building designer for your project is directly related to the success of the project. The easier you find it to talk to your designer the more rewarding the relationship will be.
Be aware of your budget. Have a realistic budget in mind and if you need to borrow money go the the bank and see how much they are willing to lend you before you start design process. There is nothing worse then coming up with a great design with amazing inclusions only to find out that you can not afford it.
Use the building designers expertise. To become a registered building designer you need to have years experience in the industry and with the experience comes knowledge. Use this knowledge to its full potential.
Find out about fees. The building design industry does not have a standard schedule of fees or services so variances of prices between designers will be found. When deciding on a building designer find out what is included in the fee structure and what level of service the fee covers.
Sign a contract of engagement. It is a requirement of the BSA and most industry insurers that a contract of engagement between the client and designer is signed. This protects both the client and the designer if any problems arise within the process.
I hope this gives you some idea of where to start when looking for a building designer and what to look for in a designer