Building a new home always starts with a design brief. Even if not formally, you’ll discuss your building ideas with your partner, family and friends then set out to create or find your ideal home design.
This post is part of a series about building your very own custom home with a boutique home builder, using Your Building Broker to achieve the best possible results. The information is taken from real projects, so you can see just how we have helped others before you.
So lets get started.
You’re about to embark on an exciting process that will not only produce a brand new unique home purpose built to suit you and your family, but you will also get a helping hand from Your Building Broker to ensure you get the right home design at the best price.
Firstly, we will need to start with the Design Brief which comprises two steps:
- Site Survey
- Client Brief
Once you’ve completed the purchase of your block, you will need to have a feature / site contour survey completed.
Now, some of our clients have asked: “Do I really need a site survey?” The answer is yes, every time.
To make it easy for you we will organise our qualified land surveyor to get this done quickly. They’ll visit your block and prepare a plan that shows the site orientation, boundaries, views (if applicable), contours and levels, soil description, sewer lines and building easements.
Most importantly, the site survey will show where all of the services are and this may impact on the design and features of your home. For example: Easements may impact the position of the home, sewer runs are common obstructions and will need design consideration if they run through your block. This could also affect the location of a swimming pool, or a fixed feature such as a gazebo. Land levels also impact the design with retaining walls or more expensive treatments such as shoring.
The site survey information is also crucial in terms of ascertaining the amount of site works needed, where the boundaries of the building can be positioned and capturing any potential views.
In our experience it’s quite common for the survey to produce information that was previously unknown and as a result may require a re-think in terms of the home’s layout.
An example of this was our client in Guildford with a 554m2 corner block. The site survey is shown below (Click on the image to enlarge);
Originally our clients had hoped to position their garage and driveway access off Howell Court to the eastern side of the block. However, at completion of the site survey it was evident that there was a restrictive covenant due to car parking bays positioned on that road. Armed with that information, we were able to produce a design with the garage re-positioned to the south of the building which altered the ‘desired’ floor plan for the house.
The outcome however was more than satisfactory to our clients and we’ll show you their fantastic home design in the next part of this series.
Below is another example of a completed survey, this time for our clients in Swanbourne with a narrow lot design on a 444m2 corner block.
In this particular case, our clients were adding a swimming pool and children’s play area so location of the services (sewer lines, electrics etc) was critical. Also, with narrow lot double-storey designs where the neighbouring properties are similar, any overlooking issues had to be considered.
Again, our designer came up with a fantastic new home design for these clients so stay tuned for the next report and we’ll show you the elevations and floor plans.
In terms of timing, the site survey will usually take around two weeks. Then we can meet with you to discuss the design brief.
For any new home design it’s important to achieve the maximum amount of client ‘wants’ as possible.
At this design brief stage – when we first meet with you to discuss your new home design – it’s handy to have a scrapbook of ideas ready with clippings from magazines, newspapers and websites that you’ve collected.
We do however ask that you do not bring any floor plans along to the meeting for a couple of reasons;
1. We cannot copy any part of a floor plan designed by another person. There are common misconceptions about only having to change 10% of a design to avoid copyright – this is simply untrue.
2. We will produce a far better home design if we bring each component in ourselves. Design isn’t a 2 dimensional process, it’s a 3D thought process and is always better when completed in totality.
In your scrapbook we recommend including anything and everything you like for both the interior and exterior of your home.
If you haven’t already, you can start collecting photos or drawings of building elevations, landscape and pool designs, kitchens and bathrooms – even right down to individual materials and pieces such as exterior renders, interior flooring, tapware, balustrading and light fittings. The finishing items aren’t important for the design but they help us understand your vision of the completed home.
While we recommend the above scrapbooking ideas, they aren’t necessary. We’ve helped dozens of clients bring their perfect house design together without any visual guides.
Now let’s take a real life example of what happens at the Design Brief stage.
With the Swanbourne residence we had a real challenge put forward as the home was on a narrow block with two corners and only one common boundary to a neighbouring home under construction.
We considered all of the factors during the client design brief to give us the best opportunity to get the home design right.
Following is a copy of the initial brief taken with the client.
• Overall building budget including site costs under $400k (excludes pool and finishing costs like carpets, main floor coverings etc)
• Views to the front of the home (aerial shot using NearMap)
• Block is elevated from front street level with limestone retaining and steps leading up to proposed front entry/decking area
• Elevation Style; Client likes more modern elevation/style than contemporary or traditional. Would prefer flat roof if budget allows, if not pitched roof is OK.
• Also, the home should incorporate some splashes of nice bright colours both inside and out – not all neutrals or white. IE: A red entry door would be nice as a colour statement.
• Green Smart – Where possible get as good a rating without over the top costs. May be difficult with the pool on the western side – will need some cover solutions for any larger windows looking over the pool.
• Grey water ready, solar panels ready
• Definitely no void areas to the first floor!
• Cost efficient design where possible.
• Neighbouring home has a large parapet boundary wall (refer above image)
• 31c ceiling heights
• Bed 1 – 3.5×3.5 minimum with large 2.5×2.0m WIR or with robe area behind bed head wall
• Ensuite off Bed 1 – large shower area and double vanity (no bath required)
• Powder Room with access from Ensuite and main areas
• Open plan living areas – Kitchen/Meals/Family. Living areas to front of house with Alfresco and deck area. Incorporate a fireplace to the open plan living – will consider this if it comes within budget.
• Theatre or second ground floor living area NOT required.
• Sliding doors between Family/Alfresco
• Swimming pool to the western side of the block (minimum internal dimensions are 3.5×5.5). Note: There is retaining on the western boundary so survey is required to see extent of backfill behind retaining which may increase pool offset. Discuss after survey received.
• Study/Bedroom for guest. Note; no ensuite or bathroom required.
• Laundry area – functional but doesn’t have to be huge. Better to have additional storage space than bench space.
• Desk nooks to Living/Kitchen – enough room for 2 x PC’s. Note: can be 2 separate nooks if design allows.
• Double garage with storage area 3.0×2.0
• Trampoline area required with grass underneath.
• Covered portico which may be incorporated with the alfresco/decking area
• Storage area under stairwell stairs for cellar (not sunken)
• Internal Balustrade to be brick with MDF capping
• External Balustrade to be powder coated aluminium with glass infill panels.
• 30c ceiling heights
• 2 bedrooms with double door robes. Min size 3.0×3.0
• Activity area at least 5.0×4.0
• Balcony to front elevation off Activity area at least 4.0×4.0. This will be used to entertain guests on occasions and needs to be big enough for sitting area/small BBQ area (note; will be free standing BBQ, not built in).
• Bathroom with 1650 bath, single vanity and standard shower
• Separate WC (NOT powder room)
• First floor linen to be at least 3.0×2.0 for storage.
• Client currently has 3 good storage / linen areas (2.0×3.0) and would like similar in new design.
Stop! Don’t Stress!
As you can see from these notes, we do get some quite specific information from our clients right off the bat. This can often be overwhelming if you’re trying to come up with this list by yourself. Don’t stress! We’re here to make it easy and the above ideas will be drawn out of you during our design brief conversation. We know what notes to make which gives us the best information needed to translate your ideas into a functional and beautiful home design.
If you know what you want in terms of desired room sizes, storage requirements, exterior façade / elevation and any particular landscaping features (eg. pool, kids play area), these will all be incorporated into the first concept sketch, which we can usually produce within two weeks.
If you have a really good idea exactly what you want from the start this enables us to produce a final plan drawing reasonably quickly for our clients without the need for too many revisions.
Of course, at this briefing stage we also discuss your budget. It should go without saying, but sticking to your budget should be of primary concern. Having enough money left at the end of your build to fully finish your home will give you a lot more satisfaction than being at the end of your tether and living in a half completed house.
As a guide you’ll want to reserve 15-25% of your building price for the finishing touches – carpets, landscaping, blinds, light fittings, clothes line, mail box, reticulation, air conditioning etc. You’ll also need to allow money for site works which most builders are adding as $12,000+ to the house price. We cover a lot of these points in our free Building Guide.
Remember, we’re here to help you and make building your new home easy. Give us a call today to discuss your design ideas and get started on your very own building journey.
You can read the next part of our series Stage 2: Design Concept here.