Our design process has been refined through years of  experience to be specifically attuned to each client and their unique project.

Every project at Third Element begins with an initial meeting and ends with the final handover of your dream design. We understand that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to creating your perfect space, which is why we'll guide you through every step of the way.

Third Element Studio’s process can be broken down into the following seven steps:

Stage 1 – Consultation
Stage 2 – Existing Conditions
Stage 3 – Sketch Design
Stage 4 – Design Development
Stage 5 – Development Approvals (Council Planning Permits)
Stage 6 – Construction Documentation
Stage 7 – Contract Administration

Our Process

Stage 1


We’ll connect on your vision, brief and budget.

Our consultation stage is a deeply personal part of the process that centres around our client's individual needs. This is a chance to connect on your enquiry, determine your specific requirements and map out the road to success.

It's an opportunity to ask questions, set expectations and connect on inspiration. Whether you're a high-end developer or building your dream home, we can guide you through the steps required to bring your vision to life.

Stage 2

Existing Conditions

We’ll gather the information required on site.

We begin this stage by engaging a land surveyor to explore your site. This is a crucial step in the process as it plots existing features such as:

  • fence line positions in relation to boundary lines
  • locations of neighbouring dwellings
  • locations of site & street assets
  • site soil levels
  • neighbouring habitable room windows
  • outdoor private open spaces etc.

When the survey has been completed, we then transfer the documentation into our advanced 3D software. This is where the magic begins, and we can start to conceptualise the design. For renovation projects, Stage 2 is where we complete a full measure up of the existing dwelling and import this information into our 3D model, ready for concept design.

Stage 3

Sketch Design

We’ll begin to prepare your preliminary floor plans.

Building upon the information obtained in the initial planning stage, we assess the site’s conditions and determine the best location for the building, considering the surrounding environment. This phase also takes into account the placement of the building in terms of functionality and liveability, in order to make best use of the site’s assets.

Preparation of schematic floor plans are developed for you, and we use this opportunity to discuss the preliminary layout options. Our sketch design process focuses on combining efficiency of space with aesthetically-pleasing design.

This phase is imperative as it allows us to understand the ‘usability’ of the space before focusing on the external appearance of the building.

After any necessary amendments to the sketch design, and with your approval, we proceed to the design development stage.

Stage 4

Design Development

We’ll establish your dream design.

This phase is where we establish your dream building on paper. We take the approved sketch design and transform them into a set of drawings and documents, known as the final design (although tweaks can still be made along the way.) These designs add detail to the planning phase, focusing on the configuration of the building and the materials that may be used during construction.

At this point, you may like to have your project preliminary priced by builders. This step ensures we stay on track with projected budgets, or if you are developing with the intention to sell, allows plans to be reviewed by real estate agents.

With approval, we then proceed to the next stage, town planning. If town planning is not required, we move to construction documentation.

Stage 5

Town Planning

We’ll take the stress out of council permits and approvals.

Town planning approvals depend on where you live and the style of the project that is being undertaken. Third Element Studio will support you through this process by preparing the required documentation and attending pre-approval meetings.

As part of our service, all applications will be lodged by us, minimising stress and responsibility for the client. We will oversee and monitor the council approval process and provide authorities with further information as required. After all of the necessary approvals have been collated, we can then discuss your construction pathway.

Stage 6

Construction Documentation

We’ll focus on the finer details and deliver the final documentation.

The next phase concentrates on the intricate details of the project, in particular, the interior design. We complete interior design work in-house to ensure that the intent and purpose of each design is fully realised.

At every stage, we empower you through a close working relationship, allowing us to tailor the project to your specific wants and needs. Interior design can be overwhelming to navigate, but we can guide you through the selections required. This can include assisting with selections of fittings and fixtures at showrooms or advising on the compatibility of items with pre-existing elements.

If you choose to engage a consultant, we are happy to work with them to achieve the overall design you have envisioned.

All documentation prepared to date will be collated during the next stage, and a final document package will be compiled. These documents will be used for your building permit once a builder is selected.

Stage 7

Contract Administration

We’ll work with the builder to manage construction and deliver the design.

Selecting the right builder for your project is the next important step. We have the privilege of working with many talented builders whom we are happy to recommend. If you have another person in mind for the job, we welcome the opportunity to discuss their work and previous projects with them.

Builder selection can be completed in two ways:

  1. A preferred builder is selected during the design process. This selection process allows us to seek initial costings from the builder and work closely with them to refine the details of the project to match your vision and budget. The builder will provide a final lump sum costing, and we will assess whether this accurately reflects the scope of works.
  2. A formal tendering process can be conducted where we invite up to four builders to cost the project using all the information gathered in the construction documentation stage. This process concludes with a review of the tenders and a recommendation on which builder to select.

Once a builder has been selected, we prepare the contract documentation and arrange for all parties to sign off before construction commences.

We typically use a design matters contract which allows the designer to administer the project on your behalf. This building contract provides security to you, the homeowner, during the construction process.

From here, we oversee communications between the builder and yourself, the client. This can include:

  • Facilitating site meetings
  • Visiting the site to observe construction and ensure quality control of the design and project management
  • Assessing variations made by the builder and seeking your approval for such amendments
  • Tracking expenditures and changes to the budget
  • Instructing builders/contractors to rectify any incomplete work or defects.

When construction is complete, we will assess the building and issue a notice of practical completion. After this occurs, the builder will be able to hand over the property to you. If any defects arise during the liability period, we will continue to oversee the project until completion.

McCrae house by Third Element Design


Every step of the building process, we are with you. We believe that practicality and aesthetics can work collaboratively allowing for the perfect match to be made.

Our Work