Your DIY dream could sour if you don’t think through the whole project and what to consider when designing a house. For instance, how many bedrooms should we have? Can we have a games room? And what about that study I was always promised?
Designing your own home is the perfect chance to be as creative as you like and unleash your inner architect, but for those looking to live the dream, there are at least 5 potential pitfalls you need to avoid unless you want to end up paying through the nose. Our top 5 tips when designing your own home generally involve being realistic, and doing your homework.
What to consider when designing a house
|Is the land right?|
|Are the rooms well-aligned|
|Pros and cons of open plan|
|Future family needs|
|The right construction techniques|
1. Make sure your land is right for you
Site constraints are clearly going to affect the design of your home and could even mean added construction costs. Soil conditions are particularly important for slab and footing construction, and the wrong type of soil conditions can provide many difficulties for home construction, according to masterbuilders.com.au.
It’s simple – the flatter your site is, the more economical it will be to build on. You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. So if you don’t want to spend a fortune, try to avoid slopes and rocky areas, and give serious consideration to your location in the first place.
For example, you may need to have a powerful sprinkler system in place should your block of land be in an area prone to bushfires.
2. Make sure your living spaces face the right direction
A common mistake is simply facing your most commonly-used living spaces in the wrong direction, which is likely to result in a hot house in summer and cold house in winter. If you want the best of both, orientate your bedrooms and living areas to face the north in order to provide sun penetration to as many rooms as possible (get the advice of an architect!).
Of course the importance of room alignment varies depending on what part of Australia you live in. According to archicentre.com.au, homes built in the tropical north can become unbearable after a hot spell, especially those built with high thermal mass construction as these will absorb heat during the day and retain it for longer periods during the night.
Simply put, you’re probably not going to want the hot afternoon sun beating down on your bedroom in summer, so you could be well advised to build it in the north-east area of the house – particularly if you’re a morning person.
3. Think about how “open plan” you want to be with your design
Open plan is not the be all and end all, and can cause privacy and acoustic problems that are difficult to reverse, according to homedesigndirectory.com.au. However, an open plan house can also bring many benefits; light flows much easier throughout the house and they generally look more aesthetically pleasing.
The modern trend for living spaces is to design houses with a good compromise between the large open plan spaces you might want and the intimate, cozy spaces you will almost certainly want for a degree of privacy.
Large open internal spaces, combined with flat walls and hard floors, increase the internal reverberation of all noises created inside and outside the home. You might want to design your open plan areas with a few more walls and doors than you had originally planned.
4. Make sure you design your house for your family
Unless you want to pay for some extensive renovations later on, make sure you analyse the way you and your family live and ensure this is reflected in the design of the home.
For example, your kids are probably going to want to play outside, so locate your outdoor play area next to the kitchen where you can see them. You might also want to not have any stairs, and a fence around the property to begin with.
5. Get advice on construction techniques
The final trap people fall into regularly is not getting advice from experts in the field. While you know what you want and shouldn’t stray too far from your original plan, there will always be limitations and things you can’t do. This is where you need advice and recommendations from an experienced professional.
Just because you’re building your own home, don’t try and get too clever about it. Using standard construction methods will keep costs down. For example, keep your ceilings to the standard 2400mm height, says homedesigndirectory.com.au. Any higher and the costs go up.
Designing your own home can be very difficult and there will no doubt be many people during the process that will have an influence on the final product. But you are the one who is going to live there, so keep these influences in check and remain focused on your original plan. Consider your budget, ideas and the scope of the project before searching, and remember to ask a lot of questions.
For some home owners, the dwelling and the land on which it stands is a major asset, and for many it is their main asset. After all, your home is probably going to be the single biggest investment you ever make. So take your time, make sensible decisions, and design a realistic, functional family home.