Many of us may fondly recall our first ‘starter home’ with its pokey kitchen and second-hand furnishings or have perhaps enjoyed our own ‘renovation rescue’ to flip a home for a solid profit. But choosing to design a custom home is a vastly different journey, one that can be boundlessly rewarding.
Our home is a big part of our life story, a desire deeply rooted part of the ‘Great Australian Dream’. Building a custom home can be an exhilarating experience; planning to get everything ‘just so’, dreaming, doodling, hunting for inspiration. But there can be a few mistakes that people make when deciding to build a custom home.
Here are some tips to make the custom home building experience everything you’d hoped for:
Knowing your site and designing custom homes
Whether you’re choosing to demolish and rebuild, or to start from scratch, it’s worth knowing what existing landscape features might cost you. Unusually large slopes, sensitive trees and unstable in-fill can add to costs, especially on raw land. The direction your block faces is another consideration – it can be challenging to find an off the plan design which would be both solar-passive and offer premium views of natural features.
Understand what custom home variables add to costs
One benefit of a home from a plan is that it’s been costed and likely been built before. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. With a custom home design, we’re venturing into the unknown, so the process can take a few rounds of revisions, or even working with new suppliers to get exactly what you desire.
If, for example, you’ve always dreamed of having ornately carved vaulted ceilings, we can add this to the design immediately, but understand that costing that part of the building process and getting building engineering approval may take additional time. A different coloured stone benchtop though? That’s a cinch.
What are the constraints with a custom home?
When designing custom-built homes with our clients, we always say ‘dream big and work backwards’. We do have to design in line with building codes and gain council approval — starting out with knowing your local building guidelines; that’s the maximum footprint, height limits and set back requirements allowable for your block.
Depending on your location and your council, a three-storey home may be entirely possible, or we may need to consider different window finishes, for example, to ensure privacy between your neighbours’ backyards.
Designing for now and the future
While this is your dream home we are custom building, the design should also consider the investment value at sale or rental value down the track. Maybe you’d love to have a home designed like Super Mario World; just know that you will be limiting your potential buyer pool with anything too off the wall.
Simple additions like having an elevator as well as stairs could help you age gracefully in your own home, or add to the appeal for an older buyer. Of course, put your needs and wishes first, but don’t lose sight of how life might change, such as designing a floor plan to offer separate, private zones for teenage children. When it comes to your car parking, consider how your life might change as the kids grow up, or you finally get that boat.
Style in the neighbourhood
Custom designs are, by their very nature, unique, but they’ll align along existing architectural styles. Some neighbourhood councils have caveats on new developments that would jar with the ‘traditional streetscape.’ If you desire an ultra-modern home where the street leans towards ‘heritage 1900s’, there are ways to fit in more closely with the community, such as adding wooden elements on the fence-line, or opting for natural materials such as exposed brick. Of course, this sort of path will always be ‘pending council approval.’
Get to know the language of architectural design
Providing reference photos will offer a great starting point for your custom home designer, but knowing a few of the key terms can take a lot of the stress out of designing and signing off on a custom home construction contract.
Getting familiar with terms such as gable, rake, dormer and fascia can reduce the friction of communicating what’s in your imagination and making it a reality. A good custom home designer like Stannard Homes will help you understand the lay of the land, but knowing the difference between your heritage, mid-century modern and Hamptons is a good place to start and get the best result.
Construction sign off for a custom home
This home has never existed before, and although you can’t visit an exact display, you can see elements in our existing display homes and/or homes under construction. It’s also important to look at sample materials and architectural sketches. Once building has commenced, changing one’s mind on elements could lead to additional costs and construction delays, so be confident that the plan is what you want and get ready for the next exciting stage of your life.
For more information on custom home building in Perth, talk to Stannard Homes.