How to choose a home design to suit your land

The growing demand for 2-storey home builders in Perth is no surprise considering the push by city planners for greater inner urban density. We also know many downsizing retirees are cashing out their R25-zoned quarter-acre blocks for a tidy, subdivided return. 

Two-storey home designs help maximise value in building on these ever-tightening footprints. Perth retains the smallest median lot sizes of any Australian capital at 375 sqm [UDIA]. On the ultra-slim end, the smallest green titles lots — in Ellenbrook — are just 80 sqm. That’s a far cry from Perth’s minimum green title lot size in the 1970s, a sprawling 597 sqm.

As such, we’re seeing more unusually-shaped lot arrangements and narrow lots, which, as custom home builders, puts us in our element.

So what do you need to consider when designing a home to suit your lot? 

Rather than fight the land to squeeze a home ‘as is’ from an existing architectural plan, many see more value in custom home designs (or at least, making a few alterations to an existing design). Odd lots can be a blessing; some highly unusual lot shapes have inspired award-winning designs.

Find your best side

In keeping with the need for an energy-efficient future, when looking to build any two-storey home design in Australia, a central consideration for maximum ROI and enjoyment should ideally be orientation.

In Perth, north-facing homes are considered by many to be more desirable as they can maximise sunlight in winter and are efficient to cool during our beating hot summers. 

You may think you need to forego much of a garden in favour of maximising the space inside a home. However, it’s worth considering where you might include some private outdoor space. Depending on the outlook of neighbouring homes and the orientation of the block, that may mean swapping the traditional ‘backyard’ for an enclosed front yard, upstairs terrace, central courtyard or side patio. 

A rash choice on the position of your outdoor area could land you in the umbra of a downright chilly entertaining area with plants that struggle to survive due to a lack of sunlight.

luxury display home

Slopes, site works and stumps

A level block is a rare find, especially if you’re planning to build beachside, in the Perth Hills, or around the Canning and Swan Rivers. The gradient may affect the materials suitable for your two-storey build as well as the scope of site works required. If you’re looking at a concrete slab and brick home, every additional square metre of floor space will require more fill sand in the pad, retaining walls and often associated engineering tests. A sloping block may mean reconsidering the size, style and home materials to maximise your budget.

Where can you invite the light inside?

Surveying your lot at various times of day will help gauge where you can harness natural light, or plan around shade from street trees and neighbouring buildings. If you’re fortunate enough to have a second-floor outlook, a combination of correct glazing, overhang and window covers is best planned early (at the risk of becoming a tacky afterthought). Similarly, think about your entrance and whether there’s a way to keep it airy and well-lit, potentially with a mezzanine, second-story windows or feature pendant lights.

Street or rear access for parking?

The cul-de-sacs of newer suburb designs have made rear lot access less common. But in long-established areas such as Leederville, Shenton Park and Wembley, those century-old laneways were designed for ‘nightmen’ with horses to cart away effluent from outhouses. These days they create an opportunity to put a secure garage at the rear for a few luxury cars. If you’re looking to build with a narrow envelope (under 11 m frontage), the Jolimont and West End offer an ideal fit.


Consider setback requirements

You’re likely familiar with setback requirements which, generally, state where a structure or fence can sit relative to your boundary. Early on, check your local bylaws to see what’s possible, and consider that there may be other reasons to avoid building right up to the ‘line.’ For example, homes that face onto a bushfire or flood-prone area would do well to consider building further back to protect their home. 

These are just a few principles to consider before settling on the design for your luxury home build in Perth.

If you wish to discuss your requirements with a custom home builder, get in touch!