Our Services

Lovell and O’Connell Architects Limited is a New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Practice led by Registered Architects Ana O’Connell and Tim Lovell.  We provide Architect services from concept to completion for new build and renovation projects.


Part of our role is to advise and guide client’s  through all stages of the building project.

The following is a general guide of our typical architectural process for residential projects.
It explains the typical stages of a LOCA project, and notes of what to expect in each stage.


In our initial meeting with a client we talk through this process further with information specific to the project. The following summarise the key stages of a typical project.

  1. Initial Client Meeting

  2. Pre-Design

  3. Concept Design

  4. Preliminary Design

  5. Developed Design

  6. Detail Design and Documentation

  7. Contractor Procurement

  8. Contract Administration and Observation

  9. Project Completion

Initial Client Meeting

  •  This is ‘no strings attached’ initial meeting to walk through your brief and vision, and for us to answer any questions you may have and explain the design and building process.

  • The meeting can either be at our office, in your home or at the site.

  • We want to hear what your hopes and aspirations are for the project and we will also talk through our general design and project approach that can include a discussion about some relevant previous projects.

  • We can provide some initial feasibility information about current approximate building costs and site suitability and have an initial discussion about your project budget. This is covered in more detail in the Pre-Design section.

  • Following this meeting we will send you an Architects Services Proposal specific to your project, which will outline our understanding of the brief, scope of services and how fees and costs will be charged. This will be followed by a standard “NZIA Agreement for Architectural Services Contract” once you have confirmed you wish to go ahead with the project.

Concept Design

A concept design involves identifying opportunities and navigating constraints within the proposed site or existing building, and then developing architectural solutions at a conceptual level.  It is important for us to understand how you wish to live/work/worship/play in the building.  

  • The outputs are usually space planning floor plans and initial 3d concept drawings.

  • We will then distill the design opportunities of the site in relation to your brief and budget


We would encourage you to keep an open mind with the concept design process as it may produce unexpected but happy results. Of course, we will do the same!



At this stage the brief is examined in closer detail. We also want to have the opportunity to understand your living routines & rituals and how you want to live, to ensure any design proposal is a bespoke fit to you.

  • We will work with you to tease out your brief that covers practical layout and spatial form aims, connections to the site and surroundings. This is balanced against the budgetary constraints.

  • A good starting point is a written brief from yourselves..

  • An accurate measure of the existing house and site including survey of levels and boundaries is generally required. We facilitate the engagement and briefing of a land surveyor to provide this information, we will also survey any existing buildings by measuring, drawing and taking photos.

  • Once we have this information we undertake an in-depth analysis of the site in relation to your brief, looking closely at sunlight on the site throughout the year, wind and views, levels, relationship with neighbouring sites and available utilities and services.

  • We will review the Local authority building regulations, including district plan rules and heritage and design guide compliance requirements for the site and highlight any resource consent issues.

  • We then begin design with sketches and  3D modelling of bulk and location options and look at design options, which are reviewed against the site information we have gathered.


Preliminary Design

A preferred concept is refined in this stage. At the conclusion of this stage we will have drawings that describe the preliminary design with scaled plans and elevations.

  • We will have developed a 3D model to show how the sun will accurately penetrate the building and have a general understanding of the building in three dimensions.

  • We normally suggest a Quantity Surveyor is engaged to put together an initial cost estimate which is based on the Preliminary drawings and an outline specification of the materials and construction method.

  • We find it is invaluable to do this to ensure the design aligns comfortably with your brief and budget and we will work closely with you and the QS to resolve a design that achieves this before proceeding into developed design.

  • If required a Resource Consent application is made. We would usually apply for this on your behalf, in which case we may recommend that a specialist town planning consultant is engaged to make the application together with our supporting documents.


Developed Design

In this stage the design is refined and final decisions are made so that it is ready for Detail Design and Documentation (see below). We will look closely at the design of details and the use of materials that reinforce the vision previously developed during Preliminary Design stage.

  • The computer model is developed and the elements of the building are confirmed, including structure, building services, materials, finishes, window and wall setouts

  • If there have been any major changes during this stage, then the Quantity Surveyor can be asked to price the implications of these.

  • After Developed Design is complete, the building is sufficiently defined to give a clear understanding of the scope of work, costs and the architectural look and feel.


It is important that everybody completely understands and is at ease with the design before starting the next stage which is the set of drawings submitted for consent/ constructions (contract documentation). Changing the position of a room etc. near the end of the Contract Documentation stage can mean a great deal of time/ work altering many drawings and may compromise other earlier design decisions.


Detail Design and Documentation

This stage generally entails the most work for us. It includes detailed drawings and specifications that will allow;

  • a building consent to be applied for

  • tendering and negotiation with a builder

  • once construction begins, these documents will be used by the contractor to build from


During this stage, we also coordinate the work of any other consultants that are involved in the project and incorporate their information into the documentation.


Our philosophy is to produce thorough, high quality documentation that is both practical to build and refined design. We believe it is important to provide robust documentation to maintain cost control and build quality in the construction stage.


Contractor Procurement

In the current economic climate where builders are in demand, we are generally undertaking a ‘selected tender’ process. Other methods are available depending upon preferred timeframe, budget, desired quality and location.

With a ‘selected tender’ we first select 1-3 builders to submit a tender.  Because it is usually understood that a formal invitation to tender denotes a willingness to engage the builder (subject to a satisfactory price) it is important to evaluate them prior. This would normally occur as part of a meeting with you and the builder and the evaluation would include the following criteria;

  • ability to meet project program

  • ability to appropriately staff and equip the project

  • experience in type of work

  • reputation for quality work

  • reputation for cooperation

  • financial stability


Once a decision is made on which builders are selected for tendering the following two stages occur.


Stage 1

  • 1-3 builders are selected to submit a tender of their Preliminary and General Costs (project management fees), their Margin %, labour rates and variation fees (cost of changing something part way through the construction period).

  • We evaluate their pricing, a contract is signed with one builder, and a start date booked in.

Stage 2

  • The Contract Document set of drawings and specifications is given to the builder (usually at the same time the building consent documents are submitted)

  • The builder submits a fixed lump sum price based on this, with open book pricing and 2-3 prices for each subtrade.

  • A Quantity Survey is generally engaged to review the open book pricing.


The benefits of a ‘selected tender’ process are that;

  • Throughout the design and documentation stages the builder can be called upon if we have any questions relating to construction options, access issues and detailing reviews.

  • Cost and Quality risks are reduced by establishing a non-adversarial relationship with a builder that encourages an open book ‘no snag’ approach where hidden costs and surprises can be potentially avoided

  • Time risks are mitigated by the Builder being booked in and the start date of construction confirmed early in the project.


Contract Administration and Observation

This is the construction stage of the project. The building is built under a contract between the Principal (you) and the Contractor (aka the builder). Under normal circumstances we would only take part in a project where we will be engaged to administer this building contract.

  • Having been responsible for the design and documentation, we have an intimate understanding of what is required from the Contractor, and are therefore in the best position to protect your interests by maintaining quality and enforcing time and cost requirements using our skills and professional judgement.

  • The construction process is usually complex and most clients do not have the experience or the time to administer contracts on their own behalf.


As architects, we have three quite distinct roles during contract administration. They are:

  1. to act as your professional advisor

  2. to act as your agent

  3. to administer the contract


In the first two of these roles the architect is entitled to promote your interests. In the third, the architect must act with absolute impartiality between you and the Contractor.

During construction, it is the Contractor’s ultimate responsibility to ensure that the work is completed in accordance with the contract documents that we have drawn and written. On your behalf we will visit the site at regular intervals to observe that this is occurring

This stage usually contains the following work by the architect:

  • Prepare contract documents for signing by the Principal (Client) and the Contractor.

  • Provide periodic site visits to observe progress and compliance with the contract documents.

  • Convene project site meetings

  • Review and monitor the Contractor’s program

  • Review and annotate shop drawings, samples and prototypes

  • Liaise with and coordinate other consultants

  • Provide additional information or clarification to the Contractor to enable them to carry out the building

  • Issue variations and all instructions to contractual parties

  • Maintain records on costs including all variations

  • Certify claims by the Contractor for payment and variations to the contract are valid

  • Issue certificates for payment

  • Notification of faults during Defects Liability Period

  • Issue Defects Liability Period Certificate (project completion) and authorise release of retentions (retentions are sums held back from the builder until the agreed work has been completed satisfactorily)


Project Completion

Just before you move in, we do a thorough inspection of the built work. We issue the ‘Practical Completion Certificate’ and list out any minor omissions or defects. Following you moving in, there is a three-month defects liability period. In this period, any deferred work or defects are corrected by the contractor. At the end of this period we inspect the work to ensure the listed items have been completed and then issue a defects liability certificate.

  • We review all Material Warranties supplied by the contractor before providing them to you

  • We ensure that the contractor has received ‘Local Authority Building Consent Sign Off’ for completed building work

  • We provide you with a Maintenance Manual for your home. This outlines general maintenance requirements and cleaning guidelines for the different materials in the house where relevant. It also details your maintenance responsibilities to ensure all material warranties are maintained.


@2016 Lovell and O'Connell Architects Ltd