Design your own house
Every self-builder and creator have their individual expectations and ambitions in terms of the final result of their self-build project. The process of designing a home is very demanding and challenging, as it is a crucial stage that is responsible for making your vision a reality.
Throughout the whole project, it is important to remember ‘why’ you want to design your own home. By doing this it will help you get through the most challenging moments. There will be a lot of them.
Here is a brief overview of what you’ll need and how to typically proceed:
Step 1: Preliminary research
Step 2: Site analysis
Step 3: Concept designs
Step 4: Design development
Step 5: Final design
Step 6: Council approval; Planning and/or construction certification
Step 7: Design detailing
Step 8: Blueprints
Step 9: Build
What are the differences between starting a house from scratch or renovating?
There is no one option better or more viable than the other generally speaking, it’s entirely based on the circumstances you’re in. A few things to consider when making the decision best for your situation is to consider budget, time and the resources you have at hand.
You could renovate the home by extending and adding bedrooms, living spaces and changing kitchen and bathrooms to meet current trends. This can get costly. At times renovating seems the best bet rather than building an entire home from scratch, but is it? This is something that many people are asking today.
So why not just knock the whole place down and build a completely new property on the existing site? You already have a great block of land, why not utilise it? Re-building on your existing property could be beneficial in the long run, financially and logistically – short term pain, for long term gain.
But then again, it is all dependant on what works for you!
Why would you want to design your home?
You are able to design and customise your new home to suit you. Homebuyers have the freedom to choose the area and block of land they want their new home to reside, as well as the floor plan, custom interiors, exteriors and built-in customisations. Discussing this with your builders can help you to choose features according to your budget.
First home buyers are eligible for First Home Owner Grant from the Australian Government. The builders will have expert knowledge on the planning requirements and regulations, with everything brand new, you have the guarantee of quality of your new home.
Although, if you work full-time or are raising a family, you need to ask yourself whether you really want to live for a prolonged period with builders in the house. Even though a renovation in your situation could be superior to a rebuild in many ways, the added disruption might mean it’s not worth it.
How to design your house:
Step 1: Preliminary research
This first step is explained in detail in Preliminary research, which covers:
examining your current home and lifestyle
developing your design brief
deciding your baseline budget
exploring sources of professional advice for each stage of decision
familiarising yourself with the advice in this guide to inform your brief.
Step 2: Site analysis
Visit the site, do a ‘SWOT’ analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
On the site, consider:
climate responsive design and site-specific variables
cool breeze access
solar access
overshadowing by landforms, trees and buildings (site survey)
slope (site survey)
soil type (geotechnical report)
bushfires risks
stormwater drainage
access and transport
services (power, gas, phone, water, sewer).
Step 3: Concept designs
Designers often prepare several concept designs to communicate their thinking and allow you to assess them against your brief. They can range from a simple bubble diagram sketch on the back of an envelope, through to hand drawn concepts of form and spatial arrangements. Analyse them in light of the information in the Passive design articles that apply to your climate zone and raise any questions with your designer (see Design for climate).
Step 4: Design development
This important stage usually includes preliminary room arrangements, window opening sizes and orientation, indication of indoor–outdoor flow, furniture layouts and preliminary choice of construction systems. Spend time visualising your household living in the design at this stage. Revisit your analysis of your current home. Have problems been overcome? Have new ones been created?
Step 5: Final design
Make your final design and selection decisions of the following matters:
floor plan, house plans and building form (see Passive design; the Streetscape; The livable and adaptable house)
construction systems (see Construction systems)
window type, size and orientation (see Glazing)
shading solutions (see Shading)
external finishes (see Construction systems; Cladding)
heating/cooling system (see Heating and cooling)
major appliances (see Hot water system; Renewable energy)
water systems, e.g. rainwater tanks and water recycling (see Water)
landscape design (see Water; Landscaping and garden design)
interior design and finishes (see The healthy home; Lighting).
This stage is often the greatest test of commitment, for both you and your designer, to achieving an environmentally sustainable home.
Final design is often when budget overruns become apparent and cost reductions are then made. This point is usually the single greatest threat to the environmental sustainability of your home because sustainability features are often considered ‘optional’ and eliminated in the trade-off process even though they may have relatively low cost.
Step 6: Council approval; Planning and/or construction certification
Straightforward designs on sites that are not subject to stringent planning controls are commonly submitted to council for simultaneous planning and construction approval. One set of plans can address both planning and construction detailing. For more complex designs that challenge the standard approval process, separate submissions can be advantageous. These challenges are often associated with oversized developments that impact on neighbouring views or amenity, or are out of character with the surrounding neighbourhood.
Step 7: Design detailing
In this stage, design and construction details are finalised and documented. These documents typically include:
working drawing (details of how the design is to be built)
a specification of the materials, standards, finishes and products to be used
NatHERS (or BASIX in NSW) rating
engineering design and certification.
They (or more detailed versions) are also given to builders when they are invited to tender for the work and form the basis of your contract with your builder. You can also provide renders which is commonly provided by architects—a home design 3D.
Step 8: Blueprints
Contact a professional.
Step 9: Build
Research and find the perfect builders for you.
How much does it cost to design your own house?
Depending on permits, blueprints and other costs involved, the cost to design your house is based on these variables. Contact your local council and professionals for enquiries regarding costs.
Are there apps or online computer programs that are free, accessible and that work?