The architectural design process is a collaboration between you and the designer (Joseph) – it’s the fun part. It’s about offering advice and providing ideas, not imposing ideas and tastes on you. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to provide input and feedback throughout.

Joseph McKinstry

Joseph McKinstry

Architectural Designer / Draughtsman & Project Manager

After completing his studies in Otago and a stint with a Christchurch architectural firm, Joseph headed off to see the world and work along the way. Over nine years Joseph worked for Todd Architects London/Belfast and Building Design Partnership Dublin undertaking architectural design and detailing of residential new homes and extensions/renovations, light commercial and commercial. He returned to New Zealand with his young family and formed McKinstry Projects in 2010. He now specialises in new houses, renovations, extensions and additions.


“Joseph, Allan and the team recently completed a major renovation of our bungalow. Their clear communication, ‘no surprises’ approach, and open pricing model really helped us feel comfortable undertaking such a large project. And we’re delighted with the outcome! Thanks guys.”

Anthony & Arwen

The Design Process

The stages of design include preliminary concept design (the really fun part, which includes an initial pricing guide), final concept design (includes final pricing), resource consent application (if required) and building consent application.


Preliminary Concept Design


This is the fun part!

Joseph will start the design process by taking a detailed measure of your house (renovation or extension) or site (new house) and preparing preliminary layout options and sketches for discussion.

He’ll make suggestions on the best use of your house/site. He’ll review latest design trends, materials, layouts and discuss how you hope to use your new spaces. He’ll make suggestions as to the best use of your house / site.

This is your chance to give us your wish list. Are you looking for something really quirky, ultra modern, or would you prefer something more traditional and in keeping with your existing house? Are you wanting smaller spaces that are decadently finished, or a lower spec finish but lots more space?

The drawings are then developed a little further with some simple 3D sketches, to give you an indication of what it could look like, in preparation for the first stage of pricing.

Our project manager (Allan) will then provide a preliminary costing to ensure we are within reach of your budget. This is a ‘plus or minus 10%’ costing based on our supplier’s rates and the square metre size of your project. If there is a significant discrepancy here between cost and budget, this is the time to prioritise, trim and reshape the project, so that we can make it work for you before we get too far down the track.

  1. Is there definitely a resource consent required? What are the infringements?
  2. Is it necessary to discuss the proposal with your neighbours at this early stage?
  3. Are you looking for a ‘bold’ statement or something more ‘conservative’ and traditional? Do you have a taste for quality, do you care about nice fixtures and fittings?
  4. Are external consultants required and should we touch base with them at this stage? (kitchen designer / interior consultant / landscape architect / lighting consultant)
  5. What are the major cost items with the project? (excavation, foundations, drainage, engineering, window door joinery, roof materials, cladding materials, landscaping, swimming pool, floor coverings, kitchen and bathroom specs, heating, insulation, shrink wrap cover, scaffolding?)
  6. Are you time poor, do you want a full interior design service with our partner interior design company? Or do you want to save money by visiting our preferred supplier / subtrades showrooms and make your own selections?
  7. Does the preliminary design meet your budget?

Final Concept Design

To get to final design stage, Joseph will develop and refine the drawings further, in consultation with you. He’ll iron out complications, resolve any council issues, start to zero in on the ‘big ticket item’ decisions like the structure, cladding, roofing, windows, finishes and drainage.

3D Sketch views will be developed further to help you visualise the finished project.

We need sufficient information on these drawings in preparation for the final stage of pricing.

At this stage the drawings go out to our suppliers and sub trades for quoting. You will have the opportunity to visit our supplier showrooms and select your fixtures and fittings at our heavily discounted rates. Allan then provides you with a final fully-detailed costing estimate based on the final design.

  1. Decide on final materials / selections / fixtures / fittings?
  2. Does the agreed final design meet your budget?
  3. Confirm your timings – do you have alternate accommodation lined up?
  4. Work out timing to prepare council applications?
  5. Is a council pre-application meeting required? (complicated projects only)

Resource Consent Application

To work out whether a resource consent is required, the council planning department will assess your project in terms of its impact on the city and the environment. In order to do this they use the District Plan tool (soon to be Unitary Plan) which is a list of rules and criteria specifically for the zone in which your property is located. If your project will infringe any of these rules, a resource consent is required.

We generally try to design within the rules, however if your ideal design will be compromised, then a resource consent will be required.

Joseph will have advised you back at the preliminary and final concept design stages as to the likelihood of your project requiring a resource consent and what the infringements will be.

If your project requires a resource consent, Joseph will prepare the drawings, documentation and reports required and will lodge the application with council on your behalf. He will then manage this through council until the consent is approved.

  1. Payment of council fees and processing times
  2. Is it necessary to obtain formal approval from your neighbours?
  3. Is a council pre-application meeting required?

Building Consent Application


Most building works require a building consent. During the application process the council building department assess the drawings and documentation to ensure they meet the building code. This is about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your project. How will it be built, how is it going to be kept watertight, and which materials will be used.

At this stage, depending on the complexity of the project, a number of external consultants may be required – structural engineer or stormwater engineer or geotech engineer for instance. Joseph will advise who will be required and when, how much they will cost, and engage them on your behalf.

For the building consent application, Joseph will prepare the detailed construction drawings, documentation and specifications required and lodge the application with council on your behalf. He will then manage this through council until the consent is approved.

  1. Payment of council fees and processing times
  2. Locking in alternate accommodation, if required
  3. Placemakers account opened in your name
  4. Insurance company notified – additional policy in place for renovation?
  5. Is your finance arranged? For example, have you arranged payment drawdowns with your bank?
  6. Does the bank require a registered valuation?
  7. Does the bank require a fixed price contract or cost estimate?

Already got plans?

If you’ve already had concept plans drawn up by an architect and are now looking for detailed construction drawings, management of the council process, pricing and building... We can help. Get in touch and we’ll take it from there.

Contact Us

Our Design Partners

At McKinstry Projects we have a great team of partners to help us during our design phase. Whether it’s an interior consultant, lighting designer or geotech engineer, we choose people whose work we respect and whose approach fits ours, so together we can make your ideas into reality.

Design Consultants
HFC Consulting
Structural Engineer

HFC Consulting

EQ Engineering
Stormwater Engineer

EQ Engineers

A I Bates
Cadastral Surveyor

A I Bates

Light Plan


Trinity Interior Design
Interior Design

Trinity Interior Design