28 Apr 2022
Designing your new home is a really exciting part of the house build process. It’s here that you can let your imagination fly, and start implementing some of those dream concepts you’ve been saving on your phone or Pinterest boards. However, while these initial stages can be full of hopes and promise, there are some practical things to seriously consider when designing your home as a finished concept. Here are the things you should be thinking about…
One of the main dictators of how your home will be designed is the configuration of your block. This will determine what can realistically be done (and what can’t) and what you will need to include to ensure it’s to code. For example, a block that has a slope with a sub two metre drop you are looking at an easier design and build than if you have one with over two metres (where the build is typically a lot more difficult and expensive). It will also change if excavation is needed and, if so, the extent of the excavation work (again, creating scaled work and financial responsibility).
Needing to know your block’s size and shape is probably something that goes without saying, however why you need it isn’t as obvious. Of course, you need your design to fit your land size. However, at a greater level, this information can help you make the most of the space you have. Is there a better shape for your narrow or unusually shaped block? Would taking a multi-storey design be better to ensure you have outdoor space, as your family and lifestyle is better suited to that? Or, conversely, extending the floor space because yard is less concerning. Also, are you making the most of the aspect? ? There’s a lot more to it than just square metres.
It’s important to get your soil tested, too. Using a geotechnical engineer, you will be able to find out if you have clay or sand issues (that could interfere with excavation), tree roots or any other issues that could interrupt a smooth building process. Your design (and budget) should include any possible solutions and reconfigurations based on these findings.
It is very likely, and understandable, that you will have a substantial list of ‘wants’ for your home build. That is after all the beauty of building your own place; it’s ostensibly yours. Even if you are building for investment purposes, there are nice additions you can have in mind that will have aesthetic appeal to your future home buyers, but may not have an actual function. It’s not to say that these wants are valuable, both in how you feel about them and in their potential return (buyers will want to love the space they’re purchasing, a batten feature wall might be the thing that gets them there).
However, knowing your needs is incredibly vital. This could be the structural work required, as we discussed earlier. Or what you need for your family; the amount of rooms you need now, and in the future. How you function as a family (or the family you’re likely to sell to), and what is legally viable in your area. The latter can be height of the home, distance from fence lines and anything that will ensure you get DA approval.
These need to be prioritised in your budget, and your wants can be seen to after this.
This can mean a lot of different things to different people, places and circumstances. Future-proofing is about maintaining sustainability of your build in whichever way is conducive to you. If you live in a flood zone, for example, there are design solutions that can prevent or mitigate risk of extreme damage. The same can go for the materials you can, and sometimes legally must, use for the exterior of your home if you are in fire danger zones. But, it’s not always about protecting your home from natural disasters. You can future-proof your home with innovative technologies, and innovative designs. Designing for what your family dynamic will be over time, and not just what it is now (extra space to accommodate teenager children, for example, who are now just infants).
These design considerations do not need to be left solely on your shoulders. Engaging with a skilled and experienced architect or builder (or both) will provide you with much greater confidence that your home build will be exactly what you need, what you want, and support those things for years to come.