Perfect match: How to assemble your project dream team

The right tradespeople are the ones that will understand your vision and deliver on your current home’s full potential, or help you build a modern home that meets your every need. We consulted Adam Butcher from Darklight Design for some top tips on finding the best home builders, building designers and other tradespeople who can work with you to identify and achieve a look you’ll love.


How do I find the right building professional?

Building your team starts with the research. Look on Instagram and Pinterest to get a sense of what you like before approaching different builders and building designers to find out more. “Go to sites, ask existing customers about their experiences, and get references,” recommends Adam from Darklight Design. “Get exposed as much as you can to the day-to-day operations of how the building process actually works.”

Get inspired: Follow and pin the James Hardie Pinterest page to keep abreast of trending looks in exterior style.


Who makes up my dream team?

Who you need on your team depends on the scale of your renovation or new home build. For a smaller project such as a kitchen, it might simply be a kitchen installation company. A larger project with multiple elements will benefit from a builder, and a whole home renovation or new build may require a builder, building designer, interior designer, landscape designer and landscaper. Or, you may choose a knock-down rebuild specialist.

Get inspired: We collaborated with Futureflip to create this handy video series on finding the best builder for your job.

Who does what?

Builders: They manage and coordinate new home builds or renovation projects. This includes delivering materials and scheduling trades.

Interior designers: Multi-faceted specialists who are responsible for the internal layout or space in a home, usually specifying materials and finishes as well as furniture.

Building designers: Once known as draftspeople, they’re responsible for designing and planning functional homes, translating their clients’ dreams into reality in creative ways.

Landscape designers: They design outdoor spaces and prepare detailed concepts for clients, and have an understanding of horticulture.

Landscapers: Adept at many trades, they can handle horticulture as well as hardscaping.

What qualities should I look for in a building designer?

It depends on your project. Is it a particularly difficult site, or do you have a tricky council? Adam at Darklight Design recommends looking for problem solvers: a team that can deal with red tape, sloping sites or bushfire zones might be what you need.

Together, designers, owners and builders have to balance the world of design against the vision they have in mind. The best relationships share a vision, which helps avoid bumps along the way.

How do I specify what I want?

Knowledge and understanding are key ingredients to building a good relationship with your team. Establish the look you want before you approach a builder or building designer. “Articulate your vision with the use of example images, magazine articles and style guides,” says Adam. This helps with the design process and achieving your vision.

Get inspired: Try the Style Sourcebook platform, where you can build up a mood board. It gives you an interactive opportunity to use real products from a huge range of retailers, including James Hardie.

What about my budget?

Be transparent with your team. According to Adam, the more information you can provide, the better – and that includes your budget. Have this conversation before a shovel goes in the ground. It’s important for you all to have a clear understanding of expectations, including what has and hasn’t been included in your budget. Having a contract that establishes all these details is crucial.

Collaboration is key to success

While it’s great to have the ideas and looks locked down, Adam also is a big proponent of a ‘living brief’. Be open to changing things along the way – this may be crucial for your budget, or for the quality of the finished project. “The best brief from owner to designer is a ‘green brief’ – one that is living and ever-evolving,” Adam says. Just be mindful of any adjustments you make to avoid a budget blowout.

“We have clients who come with a preconceived idea of what they should be getting, but then we’ll come up with a design, and give the rationale behind the method and how we got to that point – always for the better.” Adam Butcher, Darklight Design.

Open communication

Above all, Adam values honesty and transparency. “Having clients who understand the outcomes they’re getting and what they’re spending their money on is critical to them being happy,” he says.

Adam’s approach is to always be detailed and truthful throughout the process. This works both ways – a lot of the time, the best way to resolve potential problems is with a quick chat.

We’ve got every step of your renovation or new home build journey covered. For more information on how to find the right builder for your new home, or to find a builder in Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane, visit our Find a Builder portal.

Find a Builder

Whether you are building your new dream home or renovating your existing, finding the right builder who can achieve the look you want is critical. We created our Find a Builder tool to help homeowners like you choose the right builder to help you bring your vision to reality.

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