On our drawing board

Currently on my drawing board for the last 2 weeks, I’ve been working on an exciting project at the Paris end of Collins st (love that description). I always have a job on the go doing interior designer for builders near me. The day the Vic Lockdown ended was my first chance in 112 days to get out of the home studio. I think all of us Melbournians will remember that figure for a long time to come.

Many of my projects are a matter of working directly with your builder to take a raw concept & a sketch plan from those very preliminary stages to develop a full design package that is on budget. When I’m brought on-board for this type of project, not much is known about the existing site, and the first thing I need to do is a site survey.

The site survey is an indispensable & NON-NEGOTIABLE step in the Design Process

Years ago (when I was a Junior) I worked on a project for an architect. The architect made an assumption that because the building was new & we had building plans, it wasn’t necessary to check the actual built dimensions. HUGE MISTAKE! It was discovered during construction that one area was about 1 metre smaller than the original building plans. Site checks are a key step in risk-mitigation, and also inform the design process.

This is generally a full day or even a multiple day task, depending upon the size of the space. I gather any existing drawings available and bring equipment like a Leica Disto Lazer measure to make the job so much easier. In this case, the site is 365 square metres. Yes, I take all the measurements, but that is just scratching the surface, and in order to get all the info that is needed to efficiently and successfully design this space there is heaps more information that needs to be checked.

Sometimes the site is an empty shell and core, however in this case, the previous occupant had left the fit out with walls, doors, ceilings, floors, and furnishings that needed to be surveyed:

  • The location & type of existing walls, flooring finishes and ceilings
  • Check where the columns are – it’s amazing how many existing plans I’ve been given in the past to check and discover columns are not shown. Ops!
  • Survey of existing ceiling services (lighting types, mechanical, sprinklers, emergency lighting etc) & existing plumbing locations
  • Existing furniture, window treatments, built in cabinetry & equipment sizes, quantity, finishes for potential reuse
  • In a commercial project or apartment building, the location of fire hydrants & fire hose reels – one of those things that may not occur to you, but it’s critical to know where they are and ensure that there is full coverage.

Knowing all these details allows me as a designer to plan the new design. A good designer will help identify what could be reused to save not only money but resources, and by cataloguing finishes or repairs needed, and can then work the existing into the new design seamlessly.

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This is only some of the survey information I gathered last week for this project

That’s obviously not a full list of what is gathered on site, but gives a snapshot of the critical first step in the design process. I often allow for 2 site visits, because there is always a detail that gets forgotten or a dimension that needs to be re-checked. As they say, measure twice and cut once.

One of the services I provide is Interior Design & documentation for builders in Melbourne, and I generally have a project of this nature on the go all the time. We love working with our clients, and we’re now booking into 2021. Get in touch here if you’re ready to create the perfect space for your home or workplace!

“Thank you so much for all your hard work on our brand new space…Our clients adore the new space just as much as we had visualised in our very first meeting. We spoke about how a salon should feel the moment you step through the door and how to make this happen. After purchasing this space (an empty concrete shell) I didn’t have any idea of where to start. You started creating this amazing space and brought to life what I thought was never possible”

Kara MacIsaac – Absolu Hair Salon

Let’s make something beautiful together, book an appointment to explore your dream project.

Image: Omar Rodriguez @ormphotography