Heritage Building Designer

Realm Building Design has been working with heritage buildings for over 25 years, fostering a deep appreciation for the cultural and architectural significance of historic buildings. We take pride in balancing our clients' needs with heritage regulations and traditional building techniques.

Experienced heritage designers combining creativity and specialist knowledge

Advice on heritage design, planning, conservation and building works

Heritage assessments, impact statements, permits, and condition reports

We are specialist heritage building designers with a genuine love for preserving Australia's built history.

Hailing from historic Echuca on the great Murray River, we are uniquely positioned to appreciate important historic buildings – with the Port of Echuca being one of the most beautifully preserved historic town centres in Australia – and to understand how to preserve their historic attributes while breathing new life into them for the betterment of their patrons and the wider community.

“As a building designer I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely on many buildings and structures. The guiding principle of my heritage work is in understanding the importance of managing change on building fabric, use and significance to conserve the buildings for the future.”
– Janita Norman, Lead Building Designer

Our principal building designer, Janita Norman, has been instrumental in preserving and developing the historic architecture in Echuca, and further afield in Victoria and southern New South Wales. For the last 25 years, Janita's talents have contributed to the conservation of many of the most significant buildings in our beloved hometown.

When designing for heritage buildings, we look to preserve, restore, and emphasise the unique historical aspects of the building.

Heritage building design services

With wealth of experience and specialist knowledge, we are uniquely positioned to deliver on your heritage project. We appreciate, respect and enjoy working with all meaningful buildings, be it a Victorian villa or a mid-century modern house.

  • Heritage design
  • Heritage advisory services
  • Heritage site review and assessments
  • Heritage impact statements (aka 'Statement of Heritage Impacts')
  • Building condition assessments
  • Heritage permits (experienced with both local and state permits in Victoria and New South Wales)
  • Conservation advice and strategies for implementation of works

Learn more about our heritage services further down this page.

We are your guide from planning and design, to building and beyond.

Left Arrow Black
Right Arrow Black
No items found.
10 Heritage Design Tips

Practical tips for designing your next heritage renovation.

Our clients are often surprised when they find out just how much they can do with their heritage listed building. We created this document to dispel some of the most prevalent myths about working with heritage buildings, so that you have a solid foundation on the can-dos, can't-dos, and things to be aware of.

We are an assured hand to guide your next heritage building project.

You need a team that can design your renovation, extension, adaptive re-use, or conservation project to meet your needs and deliver a beautiful and functional space, while at the same time navigating the intricacies of heritage overlays and conservation regulations, and understanding the strengths and limitations of traditional and complementary building materials and techniques.

Building design is complex at the best of times, and adding heritage considerations can double or triple the number of considerations that must be taken into account. Only a specialist – like us! – has the ability to perfectly balance all of these factors while knowing all the traps and pitfalls to avoid.

Heritage design

Do you want to preserve the existing features of your heritage listed building with a renovation or restoration that retains the original architectural style and respects the traditional materials and techniques?

Or do you want to complement the historic aspects of the building with an extension or adaption that directly contrasts the significant historical aspects of the built environment with new contemporary elements, all while strictly following heritage regulations for your local area?

Either way, we can assist with sensitive and informed building designs that follow best practice in heritage management for buildings of all levels of heritage significance.

All of our heritage building design work is carried out in accordance with the Burra Charter, which is a set of principles and procedures for managing heritage places. Our principal building designer, Janita Norman, is an associate member of ICOMOS, the Australian branch of the International Council of Monuments and Sites.

We can design new buildings in heritage areas, alterations and additions to existing heritage listed buildings, heritage conservation and restoration works and adaptive re-use projects.

We offer a specialised heritage colour consultancy for interiors and exteriors, and also provide advice on building conservation works, remedial works and restorations.

Echuca's Star Hotel is an adaptive reuse renovation that converted a cafe and retail space into a successful bar and restaurant within two heritage listed buildings.

Heritage advisory services

We help owners, developers, architects and designers, councils, and other authorities in matters of heritage design, planning, conservation and building works.  

Our expert heritage advice supports our clients to prepare submissions to councils for planning approval and to Heritage Victoria and NSW Office of Heritage, including preparation of heritage impact statements and building condition reports.

We can also prepare designs and plans for proposals for heritage works and developments.

Heritage site review and assessment

Sometimes you need to understand the full extent of heritage overlays and regulatory requirements before you can start seriously planning your project on a heritage listed site.

Our heritage site reviews involve preliminary research to understand the level of heritage listing and the opportunities for the site. They help clients to fully understand the heritage listing and what that means in real terms, assessing the site and considering the proposed works.

Heritage Impact Statements

A Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) addresses the impact of proposed works on Heritage sites. Most planning applications require a HIS to be prepared and lodged in support of an application to carry out works on a heritage listed site.

We have extensive experience in researching and preparing favourable heritage impact statements that respect the relevant heritage requirements while achieving your development goals.

Shackell's Bonded Store is an extensive restoration and adaptive reuse project that injected new life and long-term utility into this significant Echuca property.

Heritage permits

Our experienced team can prepare comprehensive planning applications, liaising with Heritage Victoria, NSW Heritage Office or local planning offices.

Our in-depth understanding of the heritage approval process for a site listed at the state or local level allows us to prepare an application that will achieve positive outcomes for your project.

Building condition reports

Building condition assessments and reports are often required to inform the proposed scope of works or to assist in making a determination on the best course of action for the development of a heritage site.

We can carry out building condition reports as a separate service, or as part of an overall strategy for develop your heritage site.

Conservation advice

We have a wealth specialised knowledge of traditional construction methods, materials and techniques and can provide informed conservation advice for heritage buildings.

Our service includes preparing plans and documentation for conservation works, accessing skilled trades, and acting as consultants for implementation of conservation works.

Norman House is an extensive renovation project, revisited continually over a 15 year span, within a grand heritage listed home built in 1905, an impeccable example of the Queen Anne Federation style.

Janita Norman is a professional building designer with over 25 years of practical experience with heritage buildings.

Janita's expertise focuses on creating design solutions for commercial and residential heritage projects, from conception to completion, with management of town planning and development applications, guiding projects through the statutory process, and eventual project management of construction or conservation works.

Janita is passionate about working with heritage buildings and sites, with an extensive portfolio of residential and commercial projects, from both the private and public sectors, on heritage sites throughout regional Victoria and New South Wales.  

Based in Echuca Victoria, Janita has provided architectural building design and conservation advice for many of the town's substantial collection of heritage buildings. Projects include contemporary building and development within a heritage context, additions and building alterations and adaptive re-use of heritage buildings.

Janita’s philosophy is demonstrated through her work: at all times ‘treading lightly’ and minimising change to significant buildings. Janita relishes in applying best practice in cultural heritage management through consistent adherence to the guiding principles of the Burra Charter.

Janita is an Associate member of ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites).