Step 1. Design Brief
In the initial stages of the design process, it is important to think about what you would like to achieve with your new home. This is the time when you can let your imagination run wild by jotting down your wishlist for the home in a preliminary brief. When starting from scratch, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the range of choices available. Here are some helpful tips on how to find the perfect design inspiration for your home.
- Check out photos online. Scroll through social media, online magazines, and even real estate websites, and you will find plenty of variety for your home inspiration. Pinterest is a great place to bookmark design inspiration as it is mainly image-based. There are also plenty of house and garden shows on television and streaming channels to help you decide the style of home you want.
- Tour the neighbourhood. A drive or stroll around any area is a great way to see different styles of homes. From the outside, you can understand the type of homes that appeal, how large the block is, and the landscaping inspiration.
- Take photos when you see something you like. These days, with phones in our hands, we always have a camera, so take photos when you see something inspirational. It could be walking past an appealing property, a stunning garden, a display home, a commercial building, or a friend’s home. You never know when inspiration might strike.
- Architecture publications. Go straight to the source of inspiration by checking out architecture publications or blogs. They are a great place to start looking for innovative ideas and are experts in industry knowledge and current trends.
- Understand your budget. There’s no point having visions of your dream home and discovering you cannot afford it. By knowing your budget and keeping a close eye on it, you will likely avoid overspending or budget blowouts. It allows your builder and design team to have a pragmatic approach to your home build. They can look out for ways to add value to your project and source alternative solutions and create designs that are more conducive to your budget.
- Needs of your home, present, and future. A home is a long-term investment, so think about what your needs will be now and in the future. Our lives change, so it is important to create a home that is flexible and can adapt to the changes. Consider what your needs might be in the future and incorporate that into your design. Maybe you will be having children or scaling down as adult children leave.
- Find a location. Maybe you have already purchased a block of land, or you are doing a knockdown rebuild, but if not, choosing the location is a big deal. Take into account your lifestyle and long-term needs. This might include commuting to work, having schools close by, or public transportation. When looking at land for your new build, you must also consider the block size, shape, orientation, and soil types. It is also important to think about the size of the house you would like to build when looking at a location.
- Sketch your ideas. Whether on a plain notebook, sketch pad, or a more upmarket 3D design floor plan app, sketching your ideas is a great way to create conceptual designs. Jot down the initial thoughts with your “must haves” and complement them with a rough floor plan or sketch. This imaginative approach is often the catalyst for further ideas and can help you visualise the final space.
- Organise & refine ideas. Once the initial research has been done, organise and refine your ideas. Create lists and plans of your wants and needs for the new build. Prioritise what is non-negotiable and what is flexible. List the number of rooms you want, living spaces, extra features, designs, and styles that appeal. List functional requirements like building materials and technical details, as well as creative and fun elements like starlights and your own sauna.
Step 2: Choosing the Designer
Choosing the person to design your home is an important step in the process of your custom build. When you work with a Building Designer, Architect, or your builder’s design team, you are creating a unique design for your home. They will help you develop a floor plan, incorporate sustainable design elements like the best orientation for the home, and choose materials, finishes, and extra inclusions like appliances. The right designer will work with you to develop a design that suits your budget, lifestyle, and personality. To help decide the best designer for your home, consider the following:
- The type of Designer. The experts in designing homes are usually Architects or Building Designers, and both have similar responsibilities in creating home designs. Both have proficiency in technical designs, procedures, and dimensions. The main difference is an Architect is likely to have extensive tertiary qualifications of seven-plus years. A Building Designer does not need formal qualifications; however, most have completed two to four years of tertiary study. An Architect is often used for large projects and buildings over three stories tall. A Building Designer, formerly known as a Draftsperson, is ideally suited to residential and small commercial buildings. Forme Homes have their own dedicated Building Designers in-house, so if you’re looking to go from design to build with a single team committed to making dream homes a reality, contact us today.
- Initial consultation & finding your ideal designer. Meeting potential designers in person will help you gauge how well the communication flows, and whether they actively listen to your opinions and desires. Requesting references and client testimonials will allow you deeper insight into their previous projects. Ask to see the designer’s portfolio to help you determine if they can respond to your specific design requests or site issues. Remember that proven experience with challenging or sloping blocks can be highly beneficial. Check out their qualifications to ensure they have the appropriate credentials for your property, and compare quotes and relevant services between multiple designers to determine your budget and the best quality and value for your money.
- Talk through the brief. Sit down and talk through your preliminary brief with a prospective designer. A good designer will want to know your hopes and dreams for the project. They will be able to articulate the features that are possible and those that may be more tricky and perhaps offer suggestions or alternatives. Communication with your designer will be the key to a successful and rewarding building experience.
- Revise and review the brief. Make sure you include as much information as possible in your preliminary brief. Working with your designer to evolve your brief will ensure all your expectations and desires for a new home are properly discussed. Bring along any photos, Pinterest links, magazines, real estate blogs, and 3D floor plans to give your designer a solid foundation on where to begin. Conceptually agreeing to details like budget, functionality, number of bedrooms, living areas, wish list, and “must have” features will assist with both framing the next steps of the process and finding which designer you are most comfortable proceeding with.
Step 3: Site assessment
Once the groundwork is done and your building designer is chosen, the next crucial step toward creating a viable building design is site analysis. Examining factors like the location, zoning regulations, traffic conditions, and weather conditions of the block you want to build on gives the design team an insight into how it will influence the structure’s design and layout. A typical site analysis will include:
- Location analysis. When analysing a site to see if it is suitable for building, the designer needs to look at it from a professional perspective. This means researching all the aspects of the block to see how it will affect the structure’s design and adjusting the brief where necessary to incorporate the geographical aspects of the property. The designer will look at site topography, whether the site is flat, plain, or uneven, the orientation by analysing the sun’s path and wind direction to get strategic ideas for building positioning, and potential views from the property, which can also impact the positioning of the home.
- Examining. Zoning regulations, traffic conditions, and weather conditions will be examined to give the design team an insight into how they will influence the structure’s design and layout.
- Researching. Climate trends, site dimensions, type of soil, and service connections like water supply, waste disposal, and drainage will also be researched when buying a block for your new home.
Step 4: Formal design brief
At this stage, a more formal design brief will be created by the Building Designer or Architect. The designer will use the information from the original preliminary brief, discussions about your expectations for the project, a record of agreed decisions, and site analysis research. This informative document means you can have more control over the project. Items in the formal design brief include:
- Concept plan preparation. Your designer may give you multiple concepts with alternative options to look at, ranging from high-tech drawings to simple sketches. At this stage, the designer seeks feedback based on the brief. When you look at the concept design, consider elements such as space and layout, the look and feel, and passive design principles.
- Budget planning. A greater understanding of what is involved in the build and design from talking to the designer and the site analysis means you can start to plan a realistic budget. At this stage, it is important to realise the design brief is still a work in progress. If the build exceeds your budget, talk to your designer from the beginning to clarify any changes you may need to make.
- General cost estimations. With the site analysis and planning expectations clarified, the designer can estimate the costs and fees associated with the building design. As a rule, most designers work with a cost per square metre, and this is based on the size of the block and home to be designed, site difficulty, the construction system, materials, as well as services and accessibility.
- Signing off. Signing off the formal design brief is the first major step towards an agreed design and cost for your new home to be built. It is an exciting time when you can see the vision for your home becoming a reality.
Step 5: Concept Design
Your designer will now develop a range of concept designs for you to look at. This is the designer’s initial response to your requirements and the first true design stage. At this stage of the project, concept designs are there to gain a greater understanding of the client’s requirements. The stage includes:
- Collaborating to create the design. The concept design is an important stage for collaboration as this is when you are working towards the final design for your new home. It is important to verbalise anything you are not sure about or don’t like in the designs so that the design team can create an accurate house design for your needs.
- Major house elements. Another fabulous part of the design is choosing the major house elements. It is time to decide if you want to build a sustainable house, the type of heating and cooling, or take it one step further and have some innovative inclusions in your home.
- Choose a concept design. With concept designs, you see what your home might look and feel like. There is no formal plan or layout yet, but you will be able to agree on which concept best suits your needs.
Step 6: Developing & Finalising Design
Once you have chosen the concept design, the designer can develop it into a preliminary layout. The development and final design stage will include:
- Floor plan detail. This plan includes room sizes, window measurements and placement, and indoor and outdoor flow to visualise the living design.
- Layout and look. You can ask the designer to include scaled furniture drawings to see how everything will look in the room and experiment with the layout.
- Reviewing the original brief for clarity and continuity. At this stage, it is a good idea to revisit the preliminary brief to ensure everything is included.
- CAD or 3D software for visualisation. A computer-aided design (CAD) program is often used to help you visualise the home’s design. You can view this 3D model on a computer or tablet, and it is an invaluable tool for imagining what your home will look like.
- Fittings and finishes. Choosing fittings and finishes is a fun part of the final design and is included in this process stage.
- Landscaping. This step includes a brief of external finishes as well. At this stage, you can start to consider landscape design, creating outdoor entertainment and leisure spaces.