Australian home designer


Archetype Homes, House Design and Project Management services in Lismore, Alstonville, Ballina, Byron Bay and surrounding areas!

This is a starting point checklist for designing your new home.

It is not intended as a comprehensive checklist, but a guide to get you on your way.

It is assumed that you already have land to build on.

This guide has some specific advice applicable only for clients based in Australia.

We can assist with any aspect of the following process.

1. Choose a preferred location of dwelling / renovation/ extension on your land.

2. Easements: Note where your restricting factors are, restricted land use, flood zone, watercourses, council setbacks , bushfire zones etc. At this point, it can be very helpful to talk to your local council town planning officer, to get some pointers as to what issues you have to consider for your particular block of land.

Most local councils have development control documents such as a DCP (Development Control Plan) and an LEP (Local Environmental Plan), Bushfire control plan and others. Your proposed construction/development will need to comply with these guidelines.

Exceptions to the guidelines can be applied for, but approval for variations is not guaranteed.

2a. A copy of your land survey(sometimes part of sale contract)in the form of Deposited Plan (DP) is very helpful for placing the home and will also be required by your designer later on.

3. List all required rooms: bedrooms, bathrooms, rumpus, media etc. Which rooms require access to views, bathrooms or balconies etc. Also note which rooms require direct access to each other, and which require acoustic access and acoustic isolation from one another.

For example: kitchen and master bedroom may require accoustic access to nursery(to hear baby crying), and preferably bathrooms are acoustically isolated from living room.

4. List preferred room sizes. Be sure to consider outdoor living areas, storerooms, location of staircases between levels(if required).

5. List all must have/keep furniture and which room it belongs into. Include the size of each piece furniture to ensure it can be brought into the required room. Be sure to allow access for the larger pieces (big doors etc).

6. List requirements for views to include AND views to exclude.

While considering views, remember to keep in mind the aspect of your land relative to North. Living areas should be(if possible) on the North and eastern side of the building. Utilities to the West, bedrooms to the South. (this is assuming you live in the southern hemisphere. The opposite applies if you live in the northern hemisphere).

7. Note the prevailing breezes on the land. The nice and the not-so-nice.

With breezes and views in mind nominate preferred location of:

1. Windows, Doors and Balconies.

2. Septic/sewer treatment and/or rainwater tanks. (avoid placing septic systems upwind, as they often "breathe" stinky air.)

Natural breezes can provide fantastic natural air conditioning if windows and doors are placed well.

This will also be favourable for your BASIX (sustainability index) required for most developments in NSW.

7a. once you have some ideas about the layout, you can start sketching ideas for the scheme or look of the outside. Alternatively, collect pictures from magazines of styles that you like.

8. Nominate a construction budget. This will influence final design and inclusions. Be prepared to be a little flexible with final designs as the Designer and Engineer may advise on issues not considered. Most things are possible (for a price), and we may be presented with a similar less expensive solution.

8a. At this point, firm decisions need to be made of what materials you would like to use. Final drawings are dependant on material choice. If you need to get some preliminary quotes, a set of basic sketches can be produced by your home designer for quoting purposes.

9. Set a manageable realistic time schedule for the project. Discuss it with your designer. Being realistic with this makes the whole process much more enjoyable. Setting a very tight timeline causes uneccessary stress. Remeber weather delays need to be allowed for especially during the initial construction period.

10. Discuss how much of the home design and building project you would like to manage, and how much you would like an intermediary to take care of. Even managing a builder/construction manager will take an apprciable amount of time.

11. Once you have decided on a rough design, placing some markers or wooden pegs at the corners of the proposed building location will be helpful for the following trades. A surveyor can place these accurately if required.

12. Organize Contour survey if required (sloping residential building blocks usually require this) Alternatively a competent owner or builder can use a “Dumpy Level” or " water level" to accurately plot levels on a scale plan in order to gauge the fall of land and proposed building levels. Always refer all heights to a single fixed Datum(a clear permanent mark on either the footpath or Kerb, or a nail on a fence or telegraph pole).

13. Bushfire prone land- this was considered earlier, but now is the time to arrange a bushfire report which will detail the classification of the building envelope. this depends on surrounding slope and vegetation. It helps to have weeds and non native scrub cleaned up, to help lower the risk classification, as this will save money in compliance measures.

14. Now its finally time to arrange for the designer or draftsman to draw proposed plans with close reference to your local council DCP(development control plan) This will ensure minimum resistance to council development application approval.

15. Organize a Soil Stability Test / wind load assessment and classification. This will be required by the Engineer for Foundation and Wind Bracing design.

Remember that slight design changes may be needed in light of these tests.

16. Depending on Council requirements, you may have designs drawn and Development Application submitted now or after Engineering has been done.

16a. When designs have been finalised, its time to organise a BASIX certificate. This certificate is required for developments in NSW. We can provide this document. The cost will depend on the size and style of the development.

17. Organize Engineering drawings.

18. Most councils require a detailed "Statement of environmental effects" to be provided with the development application. This document can be provided by your designer or a certified independent town planner (recommended for more involved developments). We can provide this document.

17. Finally you can submit your plans to council.