The calm before the storm: the site the morning that construction began

Architects – This Must Be the Place

Brad Wheelerby author page

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In my previous columns we have talked about budget and the initial briefing. This month we are going to look at your first ‘site visit’ with your architect.

Taking it all in

This is critical to an architect because he or she will want to design a home that best responds to the peculiarities of the land you have bought. I have heard of architects who have camped on house sites for days at a time to take in all the qualities, including bird life, frosts and night sounds. I admit that I have never gone that far but visiting the site a few times is important to most architects before they put pencil to paper.

Where’s there a will

I do remember one client who asked me to look at a site he was thinking of buying where I initially poured a ‘teaspoon of doom’ on his plans; the site was very steep and while the views were great, the cost was going to be high and it wasn’t child friendly. He bought it anyway and after we worked on his home together, he lived in the house for a good few years until the kids needed a backyard. Only you know what you are willing to live with and it’s important you communicate that to your architect.

Kicking dirt

Anyway, be prepared to spend some time on site with your architect as they walk up and down, look around, mutter to themselves, take notes and generally take in what your block of land has to offer. This is time well spent. Your home will take a while to be ready for you but, if it’s planned well, it will last you many years.

This is a great opportunity to talk about why you bought this site and while it may be simply because “it’s close to the city, or “it’s peaceful” or even “I could afford this”, this is yet another opportunity for your architect to get some insight into what is important to you.

More info

Your architect will talk to you at this time about getting a proper survey done by a land surveyor, and going to your local council to gather some of the initial details of your site from a planning perspective. Your architect will also need a copy of the Certificate of Title so they can see what easements and covenants are on your property.


They are starting to gather the basic parameters required as they start on their first designs for you.

In my next column we will talk through the first design sketch and how to avoid the temptation to say “what the hell is that?” when you see it.


Brad Wheeler is president of the Tasmanian chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects


This article was previously published in The Mercury and appears with the permission of the author


Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.

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