Solari Architects specialise in multi-unit, residential and commercial throughout NZ

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We take your vision from pictures, words, half-formed or full-formed ideas and “ya knows” and translate them into architecture representative of your values, goals and personality. Our strengths lie in multi-unit, residential and commercial architecture projects where we work on the small and the large.

We’re all about less ego, more client. We know it’s cliché but the world is a village and our reputation is everything. Our work is the most vocal representation of our brand.

That’s everything from the way we communicate with our clients, consultants and local authorities, the documentation of our work, our interaction with contractors and of course the quality of the build.

We are all a bunch of architecture nerds at heart. The challenge of a project, be it a complex site or budget constraints, is exciting as it forces creativity and ef ciency. We crave opportunities to solve real housing problems through great living solutions more than chocolate, coffee and wine combined. We continue to educate ourselves at all times to be the trusted advisors that our clients need us to be.

Our process at Solari Architects

It all starts with a chat

We get together and you tell us what you’re hoping to achieve.

The things we’re interested in are: the project site, your timeframes, your expected budget and your vision. We’re always happy to show you our previous work and talk to you about how we can work with you. You can bring cuttings, mood boards, words, scribbles, Pinterest boards, music - just anything that helps us get an idea of what you’ve got in mind. Also, tell us who you are. Knowing a little more about your lifestyle, family, hobbies, goals and an entertaining story helps us put together a together a complete picture of requirements and allows us to give you an accurate quote for our services.

From there you can decide if you want to partner with us to work on your project (fingers crossed).

Just so you know: Useful Info

We are members of the NZIA. It’s useful because we will provide you with a copy of our comprehensive ‘Agreement for Architect's Services’. This document outlines every step of the process from first sketch designs through to completion. You know, all that useful information.

Refining your vision

You decide you want to work with us. Good choice.

Now we work on refining your vision. We flesh out all the inspiration and ideas from our initial meeting to get an in-depth understanding of who you are and what we will be working towards together.

We form a clear brief that will act as a starting point for the concept development.

Getting to know the site

Depending on the requirements of your project we begin gathering information. This includes things like the Certificate of Title, drainage plans, zoning and town planning information. We will take pictures of the site and can organise to have the site surveyed on your behalf for its contours and boundaries.

Concept development

This is the first time we’ll put our initial ideas in front of you for your feedback.

From here we will work with you to initially develop the basic spatial relationships of the building and importantly the site. We will work with you to develop floor plans and some sketch imagery of the look and style of what is proposed.

Turning a concept into drawings

It’s still early in the piece and the point of concept drawings is to encourage discussion. They can help you articulate what you do and don't like – and might even result in a complete change of direction.

Developing the design & budget revisit

This is all part of the process – it's important to remember that at this stage it's not about being in total agreement on every detail, but to get a strong sense of whether we are heading in the right direction and have really listened to what you've talked about up to this point. During this stage you also need to have a clear sense of budget and any issues that might impact upon that.

This is the stage where everything begins to take shape. We’ve agreed on the concept and now it’s time to show you the details. We do this with 3-D CAD drawings, floor plans, flows, elevations, cut-through section drawings, virtual reality fly throughs and detail drawings.

It’s a very exciting part of the process, but to stay on track we will revisit your budget again and talk over your priorities in terms of cost, time and quality. It is likely that a Quantity Surveyor will be asked to make an independent cost estimate.

Deciphering architectural plans

We know it can be hard to visualise the finished product from architectural drawings. So please ask lots of questions and by all means do not gloss over anything you don’t understand. It’s really important to us that you see exactly what we see.

The nuts & bolts phase

The nuts & bolts phase: Working Drawings & building consents

In this stage your project is documented, co-ordinated and made “build-ready”. We finalise a comprehensive package of drawings and literature that builders will price from and councils will process for Building Consent. The complexity of the project will determine how detailed this package needs to be in order to achieve building consent.

We apply for a building consent on your behalf. Each local authority has its own fee structures, processing times and way of working. To ensure a stress free consent process we work in consultation with councils as much as possible.

Naturally we will keep you in the loop every step of the way so you know how things are tracking.

What building contractor?

What building contractor? Tendering & Procurement

There are a number of ways to procure a building contractor. We can work with you to ascertain the best approach for your specific needs. There are a lot of issues to consider such as timeframe, budget, and desired quality that will have a bearing on your final decision. We will discuss all of the responses with you and we will work together to choose the best contractor for you and the project.

Contract administration & site observation

This is the construction phase of the job. We work with you and the construction team to ensure that what we have designed with you is realised. The degree to which we administer and observe the building process will depend on the scope and complexity of your project. While a small simple project might only require occasional site visits, more complex projects where risk of non-compliance is higher, will require more frequent visits to review the work and approve payments to the builder.

Throughout this process more often than not changes can occur. This is expected and we are experienced at managing and dealing with formal variations to the contracted works.

Almost finished

As the build is nearing completion we undertake comprehensive inspections of the completed project and advise the builder of any defects that need fixing before signing off on practical completion and applying for code compliance certification from the local council.

Upon a satisfactory level of completion we are able to certify practical completion ready for you to move in. (Hooray!)

Defects period

Following practical completion there is a period of time in which the contractors are responsible for finishing any minor defects. At the end of this period we will inspect your project and make sure that any blemishes are addressed by the builder prior to issuing a defects liability certificate.

Final monetary retentions are not released until this certificate is issued.


It is our preference is to be involved with you right through the construction process. We have years of experience in the successful delivery of numerous types of projects – being on your team means we bring all that to the table and more.

Construction is a complex process and is generally / naturally unfamiliar territory for most people. We therefore strongly believe we bring great value to this part of your project. There are different ways we can structure our involvement and we have specific NZIA construction contracts depending on our exact role.

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You’re not supposed to know it all before coming to us. Whether it’s your first time working with an architecture firm or you’ve lost count, there’s never a bad time to ask questions like:

  • How involved should I be in the architectural design process?

    You can have as much or as little to do with your project, as you like. We can steer the ship or simply fill the gaps in your plan. Remember, your project is exactly that – yours. It is your vision guided by our experience and expertise.

  • How should I communicate what i want to Solari?

    Words, pictures, examples, feelings, thoughts – in whatever way you choose! Share your pinterest board or note pad of ideas…it could even be an interpretive dance. We’re open to whatever it takes to get us all on the same page.

  • What technical programs do you use?

    We use 3D-CAD to bring your project to life before putting a nail in anything. We understand that even with all the mood-boards and scrap books in the world, it can be hard to visualise the final product. Designing a 3D render always erases the guesswork or confusion for our clients.

  • What types of insurance do you carry?

    As registered Architects we are subject to a statutory code of practice and have ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance’ to protect our clients.

  • How can you be sure a project doesn't go over budget?

    Firstly – you can relax in knowing this isn’t the first time we’ve done something like this. Our vast experience has taught us what to look out for and to always be 20 steps ahead of everyone else. To add to this, we’re transparent, honest and have an obsession with planning - but are equally quick on our feet and able to calculate a new direction if need be. From start to finish we will always revisit your budget and provide accurate quotes, so there are no unexpected surprises.

  • What sized project is Solari capable of taking on?

    MYTH: The bigger the team, the more capable they are of taking on a bigger project.

    Every industry is changing in this respect. A task that once took a team of 10 to complete can now be done by 1 – thanks technology. Our focus is on being the smartest firm in town – not the biggest. You see, at Solari, we don’t like waste. Wasted time, wasted material and most of all wasted money.

    Everything is streamlined from our process to the development stage and we believe having a small, tight-knit team allows us to do this. We’ve minimised the amount of stepping-stones it takes to develop a project – because nobody likes a game of Chinese whispers when there’s a lot at stake.

    Over his time spent in Australia, our founder James has developed fantastic working relationships with companies such as Woods Bagot, Cox, Scott Carver and GHD Woodhead.

    Across the board these firms have international experience in sectors such as Aviation, Hospitality, Workplace and Retail. Because we love collaboration we can always partner with these firms to offer the best international expertise whilst still dealing with a local firm.

  • Why use an architect?

    Architects are design focussed. Now that doesn’t mean we just make our projects look good – although we do that too. We make them feel good and function well. We design structures that respond to their wider context. We look past the “now” to deliver a product that will stand the test of time. Ensuring it will respond to future changes in the economic environment, lifestyle and demands of future buyers, investors or your growing family.

  • It seems so expensive to use an architect?

    We hear this often, to which we say; every dollar goes somewhere. And we can assure you we’re not having a good old laugh on our private yacht, popping bottles of Champagne once your project is completed. We’re firm believers in truly giving our clients what they pay for.

    Your project is an investment. If it’s your own home it may be one of the biggest investments you make in your lifetime. So take the opportunity to do it right and ensure its long-term value. As your architects we will fuss over quality products, creating a space that is right for you now AND in the future and squeezing every drop of value out of your site with a design that is tailored to your “wish list”. We don’t cut corners and you’re not just another job that needs to be “processed”. We genuinely care for our client’s satisfaction and spend a lot of time putting ourselves in your shoes to design a project that is uniquely you.

    On a practical note: Registered Architects are subject to a statutory code of practice and have ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance’ to protect their clients. So you can sleep well at night knowing that we’ve got your back.