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10 things to consider when designing a new home


January 8, 2020 7min read

New year, new… house?

If you’ve decided your New Years’ resolution is to bite the bullet and get into the home you’ve always dreamed of, then you’ve probably already spent endless hours picking apart various builder’s websites, whilst trying to find a free bit of bench space among interior design magazines.

Designing a new home can sometimes prove an overwhelming process for first time builders, but don’t let fear snowball into doubt, as creating something of your own is exciting and the perfect opportunity to get those creative juices flowing! If you’re feeling a little stagnant or stressed when it comes to bringing your new home design to life, we’re here to help with our top ten tips for nailing a true architectural masterpiece.

Why do you want to build a new home?

If you’ve had building on the brain for a while now, it’s apparent there’s something that’s just not working in your current home. Try to break it down: is it lack of space? A dated interior? Does it just not feel like you?

There are a million reasons why people opt to build their own home, and it’s important to figure out yours. In doing so, you’re highlighting your non-negotiables and eliminating any factors that aren’t going to make the cut in your new home design. 

What is your budget?

Ah, finance. The fun stuff. While a rooftop pool with city views may seem like a fabulously innovative use of space, it’s probably not a realistic design feature for the average home builder.

For first time buyers, chat to your bank and source pre-approval so you can see what you’re working with. For those who’ve purchased before, doing a deep dive into your financial situation and working out the equity on your current home is a great way to see what’s viable for you moving forward.

Once you’ve got a rough figure in mind, you’ll have a much better idea of which new home designs are going to be appropriate and which ranges to look at. While the cost of build can seem daunting upfront, keep in mind that between factors such as lower energy costs and less maintenance your new home is going to save you money in the long run.

Are there any easements or restrictions on your land?

An easement is basically the legal right to use another’s land for a specific limited purpose, and they can impact what will work on your block. It’s important to be fully aware of factors like this before designing your new home, as sometimes they can prevent important aspects of a build.

If you’re unsure of any restrictions on your property, this information can be obtained by contacting the owners of the easement (ie: council, water authorities) or from your Plan of Subdivision.

Haven’t chosen land yet? We’ve got you covered with our guide to choosing the right block for you. On the hunt for something easier? Check out our pick of the lots (get it?!) under our House and Land Package tab.

What does your family need?

Are you expecting? Expecting to be expecting? Maybe you have kids that are looking for homes of their own? Whatever the case, you need to make sure you’re creating a new home design that has your family’s well being top of mind.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; thinking about your 5-10 year ‘vision’ is a fantastic way to ensure you’re covering all the bases when it comes to efficient designing. Perhaps you want to start hosting the family get-together at Christmas, so a large, open plan entertainment area is important to you. Or maybe you’re planning on a bit of travel, so a smaller block in closer proximity to neighbours is important for peace of mind on those long stints away. Regardless of your lifestyle choices, thinking these things through in detail in your design phase will ensure that you build a home you love, decked out with features to make your life easier.

What inclusions are important to you?

Different home ranges carry specific inclusions and on top of that, there’s also a tonne of optional upgrades to consider. Doing your homework and finding out what’s included and what’s not on your top designs will help guide your decision, and also support you in sticking to your budget.

Classic or contemporary (or both)?

Two opposing forces some would say…

While these themes sit at home on opposite ends of the design spectrum, this doesn’t mean you can play with elements of Classic in a predominantly Contemporary home and vice versa. In fact, when traditional elements like wall panelling and warm timbers are contrasted with bold splashes of colour and textured accents, the result is one that’s sure to turn heads.

Our advice, start off by figuring out your main style and go from there. During your build process our World of Style Interior Experts are on hand to assist you with how to effectively mix and match elements of various themes to get the look you desire.

How can you optimise entertaining areas?

If you love to host, you’ve probably already got a Pinterest board filled with built-in barbeques, butler’s pantries and a million different alfresco configurations. While these are all valuable elements of outdoor design, perhaps the most important consideration to make for your entertaining space is how you’ll seamlessly mesh zones. Imagine being able to open up the hub of your home to outdoors in summer with floor-to-ceiling bi-fold doors, providing multiple dining zones and plenty of space for the kids to play. This is a particularly effective example of what we like to call indoor-outdoor flow.

If you live somewhere like Melbourne, you’ve likely experienced a random downpour of rain in the middle of a gloriously sunny afternoon. Sufficient shelter is key in stopping your outdoor area from being summer-specific and ensures you get the most out of the space.

Looking for some more outdoor inspiration? Read our top entertaining area ideas for summer.

Make sure to emphasise light

Let there be light! Said every architect, ever.

Glass doors — particularly leading to your outdoor area — are a fantastic way to optimise natural light while making your home feel more expansive and open.

Some additional features to consider are above-counter windows in your kitchen, skylights, windows adjacent to stairwells and strategically placed large mirrors (reflecting natural light if possible!) The more you have of these varied features, the more fresh and inviting your new home design will feel.

Have you factored in sufficient storage?

A big tick box when it comes to resale value (and convenience) is ensuring you have designed your home with sufficient, built-in storage, as this is one of the driving factors of a functional floorplan.

Stuck for ideas? Think about integrating features like a permanent TV unit, in-seat storage in any outdoor benches or bay window seats you may have, or cupboards under the stairs. There are a million creative ways to store your belongings, just look for areas that feel underutilised or bare and fit them out with a storage savvy creation.

Have you got the right team by your side?

This last point is crucial, as a highly qualified team will make all the difference to your design and build experience. The main benefit of choosing a volume builder is access to a variety of experts — right at your fingertips, whenever you need them. While it’s definitely handy to brush up on your individual knowledge about the build process, there’s no way to become an expert on everything, so having a personalised team with all the answers will save your sanity and help you make more informed decisions.

A house is undoubtedly one of the single biggest financial commitments made during your lifetime – and we totally get that! Design your new home with functionality top of mind to ensure it remains a fit for your family well into the future. While it’s important to set out with a clear budget in mind, don’t over-compromise on the features you love that give your space personality, and make your house a home.