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Budgeting for Your Melbourne Interior Design and Architectural Project

By Anne Hindley, Hindley & Co


Turning your dream home vision into reality is incredibly exciting, but navigating the budgeting for your design and architectural project can feel overwhelming. 


This guide aims to equip those planning a Melbourne Interior Design and Architectural project with the knowledge and tools to budget for your architectural and interior design project confidently.


Understanding Your Project: The Foundation of Your Budget

Before diving into numbers, let's define the project itself. There are three main types of residential projects:


  • New Builds: Constructing a new home from the ground up offers the most design flexibility.

  • Renovations: Revamping an existing space within your home, like a kitchen or bathroom.

  • Extensions: Adding extra square meters to your current home, potentially with a new room or an entire floor.


Each project type influences the budget, with new builds generally requiring the most significant investment. 


The next step is crucial: identifying your needs and wants. Imagine your ideal home. What features are essential for your lifestyle (a dedicated study space, a home gym)? What aspects would be wonderful but aren't deal-breakers (a walk-in closet, a built-in barbecue area)?


Prioritising your wish list helps you to allocate the budget strategically. Here's a simple exercise to get you started:


  • List down all your desired features.

  • Categorise them as essential (must-haves) or desirable (nice-to-haves).

  • Assign each item a weighting based on its importance to you (e.g., essential = 3 points, desirable = 1 point).


The above will help you to visualise where to focus your budget.


Architectural Fees Explained

Let's talk about the professionals who bring your vision to life. As your Architect, I typically work in distinct stages.


Concept Design: We'll explore the design with schematic floor plans, conceptual 3D models and flythroughs, and style and materials mood boards.

Design Development: We'll refine the concept and develop detailed drawings and material selections.

Construction Documentation: We'll create comprehensive technical drawings for builders to construct your project accurately. This stage should also capture costs such as: 


  • Consultant reports, e.g. structural engineer's report.

  • Appliances, fittings, fixtures, materials, and finishes

  • Subcontractors and suppliers.


You may need to consider additional factors concerning the costs, such as extensive site challenges or heritage overlays, which can influence the final price.


There might be additional architectural services needed for your project, like:


  • 3D Modelling: Creating digital models to visualise your design in a realistic, immersive way.

  • Heritage Consultations: If your property is heritage-listed, involving heritage specialists can add to the cost.

  • Complex Engineering: You may need additional engineering input if you have a structurally intricate design.


As your architect, we are responsible for making the costs as clear and accurate as possible. 


Creating Your Interior Design Style

Interior design plays a vital role in transforming a house into a home. An interior designer typically works through phases like:


  • Space Planning: Optimising the layout of your rooms for functionality and flow.

  • Furniture Selection: Curating furniture pieces that complement your style and spatial needs.

  • Material Selection:  Choosing finishes like flooring, cabinetry, and tiles to create a cohesive aesthetic.

  • Colour Palettes: Develop a colour scheme that reflects your personality and enhances the space.


Like architectural fees, interior design fees can vary based on the project's scale and level of involvement. Custom-designed joinery, furniture, or artwork can add to the interior design budget.


Understanding Construction Costs

The cost of constructing your project is a significant factor. But here's the thing: construction costs can fluctuate depending on several key elements:


  • Material selections: High-end finishes like marble countertops, solid wood flooring, or designer fixtures will naturally cost more than standard options.

  • Building complexity: The more intricate the design (think curved walls, complex rooflines, or extensive glazing), the higher the construction cost might be due to specialised labour and materials.

  • Market conditions: Fluctuations in building material prices and labour costs can impact the overall construction budget.


It's challenging, if not impossible, to estimate the cost of a project without details of your design requirements. However, you can use ballpark estimates to get you started using a cost per square metre. In Melbourne, high-end residential projects can range from $8,000 to $10,000+ per square meter for construction costs. It's crucial to remember that this is a starting point, and a more accurate estimate will emerge through the design process.



Transparency is key. As your architect, we will guide you through obtaining quotes from registered (https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/tools/find-practitioner) and reputable builders to ensure you stay within budget. These quotes will detail the estimated cost of construction based on the finalised architectural plans and specifications.


Beyond the Basics: Additional Budgetary Considerations


Now that we've covered the core expenses, let's explore additional budget considerations. At Hindley & Co, we include these costs in the overall budget so that our clients have transparency on all the costs. Still, you may need to factor these separately. 


  • Permits and Approvals: Obtaining necessary permits and council approvals can incur fees. We'll factor these costs into the overall budget plan.

  • Contingency Budget: Life (and construction projects) can be unpredictable. Allocate a buffer in your budget, typically around 5-10% of the total project cost, to account for unforeseen circumstances or last-minute changes.

  • Furniture and Fittings: This includes furniture, lighting, appliances, window treatments, and other elements that bring your home to life—factor in the cost of these items based on your selections.

  • Fit-out and Finishes: Consider the cost of flooring, paint, cabinetry, countertops, tiles, and other elements that define the interior aesthetic.

  • Smart Home Technology: Integrating smart home features like automated lighting or security systems adds convenience but can also impact the budget. We'll discuss the cost implications based on your desired level of technology integration.


The Importance of Communication and Expertise

Budgeting for a significant project like this requires open and consistent communication. As expert architects, we guide our clients through every step, make informed recommendations, and identify cost-saving opportunities without compromising quality or design intent. We'll work collaboratively throughout the design and construction process to ensure your vision aligns with your budget.


Similarly, as experienced interior designers, we can strategically optimise your budget by sourcing furniture and materials. Our expertise in maximising space, utilising cost-effective alternatives, and creating a cohesive aesthetic can significantly enhance your project.


Building Your Dream Home: The Next Step

The key costs above provide the foundation for budgeting your dream architectural and interior design project in Melbourne. Remember, this guide is a starting point; the specifics will vary depending on your project.


The most important takeaway? Don't be daunted by the budgeting process. Working with a team of experienced professionals – your architect, interior designer, and builder – ensures you confidently navigate the journey and achieve the stunning, functional dream home you deserve.


Handy Resources: 



Ready to discuss your project and develop a personalised budget plan? Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Let's turn your vision into a reality!


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