What to consider when designing your new home

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3

I have been designing homes since 1975. There are many options and processes to be aware of when you decide to build a new home. Planning your design to meet your budget can be a very stressful period. I advise that during the design stage, all partners should be fully involved.

Planning is the key to your project’s success and consulting with an accredited building designer or architect is the best place to start.  They offer invaluable guidance in new home designs. If you are looking to upgrade upsize or downsize your living arrangements, they can recommend options you might never have considered; potentially saving you lots of money, prevent delays in council, speed up project completion and decrease your stress level!

There is a process all new home planners will have to go through. There are no shortcuts and once the home is built there is no cheap way to make changes later, so it is extremely important to get the new home planning right from the start.

Land Choice

A very important part of your planning is the purchase of the land. Make sure that there is no flood history, mine subsidence, land that has been filled in after draining a dam or garbage tip, another very important issue is the land prone to bushfires and at what level?

Let’s assume your land is fairly level even, and if it is not, the construction of the residence floor would be an issue here. Either a concrete floor if the site is fairly level or a timber Bearers & Joist Timber floor if the land is uneven or hilly.

Once you have purchased the land it would be a good idea to have a surveyor issue you with a surveyor’s certificate and Site drawing. If the land is very hilly then a surveyor drawing with contours is a must, to get the right ground levels.

The issues regarding Bushfire ratings will be discussed later. At this stage let’s assume that the land is in a great area and good to build a new home on.

Home Design

To plan for a new home we must consider what is the purpose and function of your new home. In most cases homes are getting sold after 7-9 years of occupation by families and these families will be moving on to larger homes because the children have grown up. Or sold to downgrade because the children left home the present home has become too large and want an easier lifestyle due to age.

First new home buyers have to consider how many children will be occupying the new home. This will affect how many bedrooms you will need. Will, there be extra adults be using the home, this will also affect bedrooms and bathroom facilities. Are elderly parents being part of the first new home buyers by building a separate “granny flat” on the site? First home buyers will need to consider if they will entertain more often than now that they have their own home. Would this mean a larger entertainment area with an Alfresco and/or BBQ area for outdoor entertainment and eating area? Theatre and gyms are now rooms that the first home buyers would like to have to keep fit and be entertained, if the homeowner has his own business an office or study would be an asset. So you can see that the young first home buyer wants a lot of space and rooms to extend their family and don’t forget the 2-3 car garage.

Most of these questions could be asked of third, fourth time home buyers as well but the emphasis will be based on less bedroom space because most of the older new home buyers have children in their late teens and twenties and no longer living at home. These families are “downgrading” into homes that are practically maintenance-free easy to maintain, larger entertainment/BBQ area’s, smaller homes with less gardening or lawns to look after but more “free time” to travel and see Australia and the world.

Gone are the days that first home buyers like myself had to be contended with a 10 Square 3 bedroom new brick-veneer home on an 850 sq meter piece of land and a one-car carport. (Land & home a total of $ 13,500.- in the early 1970s)

It is most important to include and involve your partner in the design and function of your new home. 85% of domestic chores are done by the lady of the home.  Remember the adage “Happy wife – happy life!”  In all my years of designing new homes, it is only when the female partner is not involved in the design that spoke volumes in the final outcome of the home. Needless to say, the total design had no character, style or warmth, but the guy was a “control freak”.

This is the first part of a series of design advice blogs.   I hope you will find these helpful and I look forward to your comments.

Some Future Topics
  • Building orientation
  • Style of your new home (contemporary, colonial, federation, modern, art deco etc…..)
  • Eco/environmentally friendly designed home (save on power & water bills)
  • Your wishlist – put everything in… you can choose what to eliminate more easily than you can add after you start
  • Building materials for the new home (concrete or timber floors, etc….?)
  • Consider negatives of the building site (bushfire rating)
  • Consider positives of the building site (close to public transport, location)
  • Future constructions (pool, tennis court, separate garage, storeroom, pool pavilion, granny flat, dual occupation etc…)
  • Sewer, septic tanks, enviro-cycle/Econo-cycle type tanks, pump out tanks, pit & trench systems, extra water tanks, drainage offset
  • Access to the construction site
  • Price of construction per square meter
  • Price of architectural & structural engineering design process
  • Any many more!