Here are my take away thoughts:
- Get a number of quotes from architects and builders before making a final decision.
- Have a good ongoing relationship with your architect (they can also help when talking with the builders, especially if issues arise).
- Be prepared to compromise if necessary for practicality sake (it's incredibly expensive to take a purist's view on sustainable design and building!) and be wary of "green washing".
- Be available regularly at least to stay in touch with progress, especially if there are suggested design changes.
- Engage builders who are knowledgable in sustainable building practices, materials and approaches (including minimising on-site rubbish and disruption where possible).
- Be realistic (and well prepared) about budget and timeframes!
- Think beyond the initial build/renovation (i.e. future proofing and ongoing maintenance needs, etc).
- Be prepared for a relatively stressful time throughout. :o)