About Us

Located within the charming coastal region of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, lies Third Element Studio. As a boutique building design studio, we offer the very best for our clients, individualised to their personal needs and requirements. We are a family-run business striving for exceptional outcomes whilst offering the warmth and hospitality of well-known friends.

Exceeding expectations of what you believed possible and assisting you to ‘shoot for the stars’ with your end result, is what we aim for. Our designs are well-considered, balanced, & always striving for better, smarter spaces where functionality is optimised. Analysing how the space will be used by you is a step that is necessary for us. We believe that practicality and aesthetics can work collaboratively allowing for the perfect match to be made.

Proactively managing your project from first contact to your finished home, allows the build to run as smoothly as possible. Every step of the building process, we are with you. As part of our service, we offer contract administration which allows us to manage the construction phase of our clients’ projects ensuring that no short-cuts are ever taken. Subsequently, we can confidently present you with your dream home.

Keeping our clients up-to-date with progress is a key difference that we implement. The design-build process is an exciting time and we want to take you on that journey with us! We can inform you, or involve you, as much or as little as you would like. Offering our start-to-finish service can allow you to relax knowing your project is in our safe and very capable hands.

Bringing it all together is what we are known for. Many consultants with various ideas can be brought into the project and it is our job to ensure that everything works together, in a design-savvy, functional and cost-effective way.

Third Element Studio. We’re the building atelier that fosters your project from start to finish.

What we do

Our expertise can be engaged to cultivate the following developments:

  • Custom Architectural Design
  • Alterations / Extensions
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Multi-Residential

The Process

Our custom design process has honed over many years and is specifically attuned to each client. We are not a one-size-fits-all company. Instead, we focus on our client’s specific requirements when designing and overseeing the project. Third Element Studio’s process can be segmented into the following six steps:

  • Stage 1 – Existing Condition
  • Stage 2 – Sketch Design
  • Stage 3 – Design Development
  • Stage 4 – Town planning
  • Stage 5 – Construction Documentation
  • Stage 6 – Contract Administration

Stage 1 - Existing Conditions

We begin this stage by engaging a land surveyor to explore your site. This is a crucial step in the process as it plots existing features such as:

  • fence line positions in relation to boundary lines,
  • locations of neighbouring dwellings,
  • locations of site & street assets,
  • site soil levels,
  • neighbouring habitable room windows
  • outdoor private open spaces etc.

When the survey has been completed we can then transfer the documentation into our 3D software. This is where the magic begins and we can start to conceptualise the design for the project. For renovation projects, Stage 1 is where we complete a full measure up of the existing dwelling and import this information into our 3D model, ready for concept design.


Stage 2 - Sketch Design

Building upon the information obtained in the initial planning stage, we assess the site’s conditions and determine the best location of the building, taking into account the surrounding environment. This phase also considers the placement of the building, in terms of functionality and livability, as well as, making best use of the site’s assets.

Preparation of schematic floor plans are developed for you and we use this opportunity to discuss the preliminary layout options. Our sketch design process focuses on finding the collaborative link between the efficiency of space and being aesthetically-pleasing. At Third Element Studio, this phase is imperative as it is essential to understand the ‘usability’ of your building correctly before focusing on the external appearance of the building.

After any necessary amendments to the sketch design, and with your approval, we proceed to the design development stage.

Stage 3 - Design Development

This phase is where we establish your dream building on paper. We take the approved sketch design and transform them into a set of drawings and documents, known as the final design (although tweaks can still be made along the way.) These designs add detail and accuracy to the planning phase while focusing on the configuration of the building and the materials that may be used in the construction stage.

At this point, you may like to have your project preliminary priced by builders. This can serve to ensure we stay on track with projected budgets or if you are developing with the intention to sell, the plans can be reviewed by real estate agents.

With approval, we then proceed to the next stage, town planning. If town planning is not required we move to construction documentation.

Stage 4 - Town Planning

Town planning approvals depend on where you live and the project that is being undertaken. Third Element Studio can support you through the process by preparing documentation required for relevant authorities as well as attending pre-approval meetings. All applications with the relevant authorities will be lodged by us, as a part of our service, taking the requirement from you. During this stage, we will provide further information to the authorities when requested and monitor the entire council approval process.

When all of the required authority approvals have been collated, we can now discuss your construction pathway.


Stage 5 - Construction Documentation

The intricate details of the project, in particular, the interior design is where the next phase is concentrated. We complete interior design work in-house to ensure that the intent and purpose of each design is realised.

With every stage, we envision a close working relationship with you as it allows us to tailor the project to your specifications and requirements. Interior design can be overwhelming with the many options available, so we can guide you through the selections required. This can include assisting with selections of fittings and fixtures at showrooms or advising on the compatibility of items with pre-existing choices. If you choose to engage a consultant, we are happy to work with them to achieve the overall design you have envisioned.

You may opt out of our contract administration service, whereby all documentation prepared to date will be collated and a final document package will be compiled for you. These documents will be used for your building permit once a builder is selected.

For projects in which our services are continued to be engaged, we proceed to Stage 6, Contract Administration.

Stage 6 - Contract Administration

Selecting the right builder for your project is the next important step. We have had the privilege of working alongside many talented builders whom we are happy to refer you to. If, however, you have another person in mind for the job, we welcome the opportunity to discuss their work and previous projects completed with them.

Builder selection can be completed in two ways:

  • A preferred builder can be selected during the design process. This selection process allows us to seek initial costings from the builder and to then work closely with the builder during the construction documentation stage to refine the detailing of the project to match your budget. The builder will provide a final lump sum costing and we will assess whether this accurately reflects the scope of works.
  • A formal tendering process can be conducted where we invite up to four builders to cost the project using all the information gathered in the construction documentation stage. This process concludes with a review of the tenders and a recommendation from us of which builder to select or, if required, which builder(s) to negotiate with.

Once a builder has been selected we prepare the contract documentation & allocate a time for all parties to sign the contract documents before construction commences.

We typically use a design matters contract which allows the designer to administer the project on your behalf. This building contract provides great security to you, the home owner, during the construction process.

From here, we oversee communications between the builder and yourself, the client. These can include:

  • Facilitating site meetings
  • Visiting the site to observe construction, as well as, quality control of the design and plan management
  • Assessing variations made by the builder and seeking your approval for such amendments
  • Tracking expenditures and changes to the budget
  • Instructing builders/contractors to rectify any incomplete work or defects.

When construction has been completed, we will assess the building as being practical complete and issue the notice of practical completion. After this occurs, the builder will be able to ‘hand-over’ the property to you. If any defects occur during the liability period, we will continue to manage the process, overseeing the builder’s completion.


D. Mullett-Treloar & O. Langdon

We have been working with Tristan for 12 months and will continue to use his services in the future. We have been extremely happy with his work, ideas, drawings and professionalism throughout the process. To plan some significant renovations at home, we required council permits, surveys, BAL reports, soil reports, arborist reports and engineering, all of which were organised by Tristan in a very systematic way. The drawings and 3D computer models were vital in planning our renovations, we are thrilled with the results and can’t wait to build. We are now in the process of looking for a builder and may use Tristan to find a building surveyor. We can highly recommend Tristan, especially for those who are first-time renovators and have not been through a council planning process before.


J. & S. Hood

We approached Tristan with concepts in mind of what we were hoping to be able to construct. He had great ability to take our wish list and make it practical as well as ensure there wasn’t any wasted space and our plans were put together in detail ready for the build. I highly recommend Tristan who took our vision and made it a reality. He had great patience and stepped us through the whole planning process including liaising with local authorities to organise building over easements, gaining a better setback and approval for an extra vehicle crossing. Thanks again Tristan.


A. & C. Newton

Third Element Review Tristan provided a very professional service, with clear communication, concise plans, effective liaison with Mornington Shire Planning and an approved Planning Permit without undue delay. Can highly recommend.



Tristan at Third Element Studio designed the layout of our paint shop. He understood exactly what we had in mind, made everything easy to understand and it was above and beyond our expectations once complete. Highly recommended.