our process

When we start your project, we need to start with a base, this often involves investigating the site constraints for major hazards or public drainage and organising site surveys & geotechnical ground testing. 

On a typical renovation project, we work with your local council to investigate the existing building archives - this helps with our own site work. We undertake a thorough site measure of your home and investigate existing load bearing lines to help inform how the concept & developed design stages will work. This is also a critical sitting step to understand where your home is located dimensionally on your property.

Following on from the Project Establishment phase, Preliminary Design undertakes a thorough investigation of the district plan rules for your area, investigating local hazards, rules, design constraints and more. On renovation projects, we often join this phase, and the concept design phase if the project doesn’t require a full phase for investigation and preliminary design. 

If there are local bi-laws for your property, these are investigated at this stage also. By this point in  your project, we generally have an understanding of whether or not a Resource Consent will be required and if we need to engage a planner to work through the Resource Consent with us. 

We undertake a bulk and location based design at this stage to provide a framework for your Resource Consent (if required) and Concept Design stages. This gives us the overall scale, and the general look and feel of your home.

Sometimes, renovations and new build projects don’t meet all of the rules in the district plan. When this happens, we can either keep designing to reduce the impact your design will have on these rules, or we can go through a resource consent with an assessment of environmental effects. It is important to know that redesigning to minimise effects often means sacrificing part of the design and the brief - this is why many new build homes opt in for a resource consent. 

If your home doesn’t meet the rules in your local district plan, a planner will usually need to be engaged to work with your architectural designers to compile architectural plans, elevations, renders and a supporting report that outlines all relevant areas of the district plan.

These reports are in depth and analyse how each rule is either being complied with or broken, and to what level it is being broken. ‍Resource consents can take some time, and some back and forth as projects become more complex. 

When your resource consent is approved, an approved resource consent letter is issued with resource consent conditions attached which inform the Concept & Developed Design stages for things like boundary non-compliance & in some cases, material selections.

Concept design is about refining the preliminary design stage. Once the design form and spatial arrangements have come together. The concept design stage works through how we can enhance the living spaces. 

This stage looks into internal arrangement more critically, refining the design to maximise your lifestyle. With a focus on the material selections, colour schemes, cladding orientations & selections that meet the requirements of your Resource Consent (if required), this phase is when the magic starts to unfold. 

As with earlier stages, we typically coordinate our design process with the project planner, your local council and any other consultants to refine and work through the resource consent

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Every project goes through this critical phase to refine your design and your project for the better. This is where we start to make design decisions that directly affect the construction methodology of your home. To make sure that your design looks as good on completion as it does in the concept phase, we work to refine structural lines, bracing and decorative elements. 

Now is the time to run through major compliance elements, often, tweaking and refining the design to deliver on the concept visually, while reducing complexity for your local council to review and for the builders on site. 

Developed design is also about material selections, colour schemes and refining how the building comes together, we often use this phase to test a few new colour palettes and various cladding types. This involves providing selections and running through these new options with you before anything is locked in.

Getting your project ready for building consent involves a lot of technical verification against the building code. We assess common and uncommon junctions and design elements to see if we can go with an accepted solution, a verified method, or if custom detailing and assessment is required. 

Detailed Design is about how your home comes together in the built environment, with our experience and working relationships with builders, we strive to provide a finished product that exceeds your expectations. 

This phase has the largest amount of coordination with consultants, like a structural engineer, as teams from various disciplines work together to collectively deliver what is required for your building consent. This phase merges into the building consent phase towards the end of the drawing set.

Your building consent requires a number of documents to work alongside the architectural drawings, things like project specifications, supporting documents, Certificate of title for evidence that you own the property - the list goes on. 

Obtaining a building consent can take between 4-6 weeks. Your local councils have 20 working days to process a building consent, however, when many consents are underway, this can often take longer. When our building consent package of work satisfies all areas of compliance and there are no additional questions from your local council, They will approve your building consent - Woo!

The process of submitting, managing, responding to queries and obtaining approved documents is normally managed by Modal. This keeps things moving more effectively and saves any confusion with technical queries the council may have about your project. Once the consent is approved and we have received the documents, you may start building work on site - although in many cases, this is when tendering the job starts.

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out more?

We offer a free consultation to meet you in your home or on your new site.
Let's discuss your project.


This stage is always tricky if you’re not involved in the industry on a day to day basis. How do you actually engage a builder for your project? Do you need a project manager, can you administer a contract, your architectural designer, or builder? 

We understand the importance of finding the right contract to use and the workflow to tender your project. Finding a suitable contractor or company to undertake your project is just as important as any part of the design process - Ultimately, skilled builders will be taking our paper based design, and turning this into your home. 

During this phase, pricing is presented from a preferred contractor, or a number of contractors depending on how this process is being run. This gives you a chance to fully understand the costs of building your home or renovation project. 

Construction is complex, and the larger your project, the more complexity it can have. Construction administration is not an area we typically manage or work in, however, we do work with dedicated contractors who facilitate this stage of work. 

Administering the contract can be done by the main contractor, your builder, your architectural designer, or yourself. Given all the moving parts - we like to recommend that a consultant is engaged to impartially manage all of these moving parts, including ourselves. This can prevent disputes and delays on site. On a renovation project, this can often be directly managed between yourself and your chosen building team, however, for large projects this is an essential service to engage.

While this phase is often overlooked as an area that can save money - This is where a lot of finesse and detail can be lost, affecting the final presentation of your home. While builders have an incredibly broad skill set, communicating more detailed design intent is key to delivering your dream home. Without communication between your architectural design and building team, a lot of assumptions can be made. 

Ultimately, your designer has complete awareness of the final design intent that speaks to your lifestyle and the original design brief. Each decision along the design process has led to this outcome. 

Your architectural designer and builder communicating simplifies the delivery process. Your builder will be busy managing multiple trades, suppliers, ordering materials, planning around weather events, managing budgets and timelines for your project - By involving your architectural designer, this is one less area for your builder to navigate, instead simplifying the delivery process.

Thank you! Our design team will reach out shortly to discuss your project.
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Mike Thompson
Residential Renovation
Modal provided excellent early engagement with us on a Wellington house renovation project. They communicated quickly and were very responsive, visiting and patiently talking us through the options and steps.
Dean Galbraith
Residential Extension
We're very happy with Modal's performance on our house extension project. They were very approachable and had some great ideas to offer. They really listened to us and delivered a design in a timely manner that was exactly what we wanted.