top of page
Architectural staircase featuring a hardwood stair wrapping around off form concrete walls.



Johnstone and Johnson adopts a holistic approach for sustainability and solar passive design by pushing site controls and building envelopes to the limit in creating bold and modernist high-end residential designs. Our multidisciplinary design studio is passionate about the interaction between built forms and the environment, striving to deliver designs that are sympathetic with the surrounding environment yet engaging and compelling beyond their function.

With over a decade of experience, Toby Johnson, the founder of Johnstone and Johnson, has created an exciting and diverse portfolio of high-end residential projects, not limited to any particular building typology. By treating every project as a unique challenge, Toby has designed buildings that are intimately connected to the circumstances and needs of each client, from multi-level waterfront residences and inner-city terraces to rural retreats. But no matter the budget, size, shape and location of a building, the overriding philosophy behind every Johnstone and Johnson project is that the design should speak for itself.

As a small bespoke practice, Johnstone and Johnson is able to provide clients with a personalised service throughout all stages of design and construction. Toby’s skillset encompasses all aspects of design, from conceptual modelling, detailed documentation, building approvals and interior design as well as the construction process itself. He is convinced that design excellence comes only from the application of rigour to the design process, as well as continual dialogue with clients, councils, consultants and contractors. 

Principal of Johnstone & Johnson, Toby Johnson.


Toby has always loved Architecture, especially the interaction between the built environment and nature. After completing an honours degree in Construction Management at Newcastle University in 2011, Toby took time-out for twelve months, teaching English language and literature in Taiwan, before returning to Sydney to take up a new graduate position with a Sydney-based mid-size Architectural firm that specialised in high-end residential design. Within the space of a year, he was promoted to Project Lead, juggling his full-time work commitments with studying part-time for a bachelor degree in Applied Science (Architectural Science) at Curtin University. Toby continued his career progression over the next seven years, being responsible for designing and delivering high end residential projects - from concept design through to approvals and final handover after construction.

Armed with a wealth of experience of development in the built environment space and  a deep understanding of all facets relating to high end residential design and construction, Toby accepted the position of Design Director at a start-up company in Surry Hills, a role that offered a great challenge for him, as well as an opportunity to revolutionise the residential architectural space in Sydney. In his new role, Toby was responsible for not only the complete design and construction process,  but also the design and implementation of company procedures and real-time project management. In addition, he set up various customer relationship management tools to ensure that every client, at the click of a mouse, could see the status of their project, any items that required their input and an accurate project timeline that tracked original proposed dates to actual delivered dates. The project transparency this bespoke software offered to clients gained the company a huge advantage over other firms in the industry.

Two and a half years later, with all systems in place and a doubling in the number of employees, Toby decided to branch out on his own and start up his own boutique company, Johnstone and Johnson. The overriding reason behind this decision was that a small firm would be more committed to guaranteeing client satisfaction throughout the process of designing and building a house. 



Before any work commences on the preliminary concept design, a project kick-off meeting and site visit / measure-up of the existing building (if undertaking an Alterations and Additions project) is completed. This allows us to gain an understanding of client requirements for the proposed project, along with the existing topography of the land and the surrounding environment,  including any neighbouring properties.

After the site visit, we will require a detailed site survey to be undertaken in order to accurately model the block of land associated with the development as well as pin-pointing the neighbouring properties (required later for the detailed documentation to accompany the Development Application or Complying Development Certificate). Once the detailed site survey is received from the surveyor, we can commence work on the preliminary concept design.

The preliminary concept design presentation is a chance for us to present our initial concept design (both in plan and walking through the 3D model on screen, allowing us to make changes to the design in real-time) to ensure we are on the right track, before proceeding with finalising the concept design and completing the renders for the proposal. After the final concept design and design direction have been signed off by the client, we can start work on the Planning and Pre-Approvals Stage.​


With the concept designs and design direction approved, we can commence work on the detailed documentation required for either a Development Application (DA) or Complying Development Certificate (CDC), depending on which approval route best suits the proposed lot.

During this stage, depending on approval requirements (relating to either Council or Private Certifier checklists), we will engage consultants to complete their works as stipulated in the approval checklists. These services include Structural / Hydraulic Engineering, Acoustic Assessments, Bush Fire Assessments and Reports, Arborist Reports, BASIX / NatHERS Energy Assessments, Landscape Architecture, Quantity Surveying, Geotechnical Engineering and Heritage Impact Statements.

While the consultants are working on their documentation and reports, we will go about finalising our drawings and other documentation required as part of the DA / CDC submission. After receiving all of the required documentation from the associated consultants, we will cross-check their details and specifications to ensure our original design intent is maintained and that the documentation we submit to Council / Private Certifier is in line with what we proposed in our original concept design.

Upon client review and acceptance, we will then lodge the DA / CDC application through the NSW Planning Portal.​


After submitting the DA / CDC documentation to either Council (Development Application) or the Private Certifier (Complying Development Application) for approval, we will wait for any correspondence regarding the application and address any concerns or questions by Council or the Private Certifier if they occur. During this period, Council may request additional information, which in turn might prolong the period associated with receiving development consent and approval. In these cases, we will always keep the client updated on the situation at hand and will provide real-time updates (both written notifications and an updated project timeline) through our customer relationship management software.​


As soon as planning approval has been obtained and we receive either DA Approval from Council or Preliminary CDC Approval from the Private Certifier (final CDC Approval is gained upon the selection of a builder and the payment of all levies and insurances associated with construction) we move on to preparing the detailed documentation for Tender. This documentation details all aspects of the building (both internally and externally) and its proposed construction methodology, including detailed drawings, schedules and interior design documentation to create a comprehensive package for the selected builders so that they can prepare their Tenders.

We will work with the client during this stage to provide documentation that includes fully detailed and dimensioned floor plans and internal elevations for all areas requiring custom detailing, joinery and fit-out (eg. kitchens, laundries, bathrooms, ensuites, wardrobes and cabinetry) as well as comprehensive schedules that specify everything that forms part of the proposed construction (external / internal materials, colours, finishes, appliances, hardware, light fittings, hydraulic services, PC items, etc.).


After completing the Tender Documentation we will arrange a meeting with the client to talk through the documentation in detail to ensure that the new home is detailed exactly the way the client requested it (down to the last door handle!) and also to ensure that the selected builders can price the project as accurately as possible. Upon client confirmation, all documentation will be provided to the selected builders to Tender. After all the Tenders are received, we will then talk the client through each Tender submission to ensure that the submitted prices have similar inclusions, exclusions, provisional sums, allowances, etc. so that we can be compare Tender submissions like-for-like.

It is important during this stage for us to have each of the builders tendering on the project to show the client several of their recently completed projects in order for the client to gain an insight as to the quality and craftsmanship they should expect. Every builder we put forward to a client has been carefully selected based on their previous project portfolio and our experience with using them in previous buildings, thus ensuring the project can be built to the highest possible standard.


After a builder is selected and the building contract is signed (with all parties in agreeing on the stipulated price, inclusions, exclusions and any other special conditions outlined in the contract), construction can commence! During this stage Johnstone and Johnson will be in continuous communication with the builder on and off site and also attend site meetings as required by the builder to talk through and problem solve any issues relating to the design and construction of the proposed dwelling.


During construction, there will be times where the Private Certifier and engineers will have to attend site to ensure the building is being constructed in accordance with the approvals, compliance with all relevant regulatory building standards (Building Code of Australia, Australian Standards) and all detailed engineering documentation prepared for construction. Johnstone and Johnson will also attend site meetings as required by the Private Certifier and engineers.

bottom of page