Thinking do-it-yourself?

Designing your own surgery can be intimidating and you should make a realistic assessment of your ability to allocate enough time to the project.

As much as all those interior design shows on TV make things look easy, there is a lot more work that goes on behind the scenes. These shows together with all those design magazines are generally more about decorating rather than the whole design picture.

When tackling a surgery, there are a lot of things to consider:


The floor plan is often confused with the design. The floor plan is a merely a space plan or layout showing the locations of each of the areas in your space. It is a starting point for the project. Accurately measure your space and draw it up to scale, then fit in each room considering workflow and spaces required.


Once you have a layout, consider “the look” you want to achieve – coming up with the right aesthetic or design is a specialist skill that not everyone has. But if you feel you are able to get the right look for your project – go for it!

State and local government regulations

Local councils often have very specific requirements that need to be complied with. While a conceptual design that misses these can be fixed relatively easily at full design stage, you may have to compromise your design an incur additional expense. If a full design does not comply with council regulations, you may get delayed at the planning approval stage. Worst case, if the regulation is overlooked and built, you may end up having to make very costly changes. So, its import to do your research – speak to the council involved, get a copy of all of the relevant regulations and study them. Or consider getting expert advice.

Health regulations

Making sure your surgery complies with state and federal health regulations is critical. One common assumption is that tradespeople know and understand health regulations – in our experience this often isn’t the case. So once again, do your homework. Get a copy of all the regulations that apply to you, and study them. Or once again, consider getting an expert to review your conceptual and full designs.

Access to trades

Once you have your design underway, you will need to involve a range of tradespeople to help estimate costs and time to complete. Set aside enough time to verify that tradespeople have the required certifications as well as experience. You should also set aside time to walk through the design with them to make sure they understand it. When you receive a quote from a tradesperson, you want to make sure the quote covers all of the work required – if they leave out some tasks, you may be billed for these later (at a time when you can not afford delays without creating additional costs). It would be worth considering engaging a project manager for the construction of your project. (Note: In Australia any work over the value of $12,000 must be completed by a registered builder).

Cohesive Finish

Getting the look you are after will often require you to get tradespeople to do things in a very specific way – not necessarily their way. There are many good tradespeople who will be willing to work for you with a strong sense of professionalism. Make sure you can communicate to them the overall finish you desire, and give them specific instructions where you need them to achieve a specific result. Getting a cohesive design is often a matter of getting all your tradespeople to co-operate toward a common goal.