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  1. #1
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    Default Building your own custom designed house

    We're planning to do this next year, so we're at the stage where we're talking to architects and construction companies and trying to work out what they all do and who to use.

    So, have you done it? And did you use an architect or a design & build type company? And why?

    Also, any advice on what to look out for/ avoid would be much appreciated!

    Anything you would have done differently if you did it again?

  2. #2
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    Hi, I work for a builder who do custom design floor plans. Part of our process is meeting with the client and sitting down and establishing what they actually want/need often clients will come in with their own hand sketched design and we work from there for our company in terms of pricing we base the price on one of our own comparable sized homes. If you are in victoria there are many builders who do custom floor plans - just stay away from the big guys like porter davis, metricon etc.. as they will not even alter the position of a wardrobe although I have had many of my clients complain that the sales consultant in the display will lie and say they do and once they pay a deposit inform them they cant. For our company we have a small fee to draw up a custom design for the client. If you go to an architect they will generally charge anywhere upwards of $5k for their service and you will then need to find your own builder to do the construction.

    Hope that helps, if you are melbourne based and would like some information and contact details for the construction company I work for pls let me know - I used to be in the construction area and have drawn up many custom floor plans but I have taken on a different role and would be happy to give you one of my collegues contact details

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  4. #3
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    It's a lot easier to approach a builder, and either a. Get them to design a house to exactly what you need, or b. look at the designs they have and edit accordingly.

    Personally for us, it was a huge hassle to find a drafts person, as they can cost upwards of $5,000+++++ where as most builders can include it into your house price of you do decide to go ahead. If not then that's where you pay for plans.

    A few things I would do differently.... Ask for more detailed updates on how the build is progressing.

    Another thing to consider is to REALLY research your builder. I work doing building certifications and can't count the number of people who thought they were getting a good house then ended up with problems weeks, months, and years later!

    Some things I would change about our house, you can never ever over estimate the amount of storage space you will need!!! Hahaa seriously, I wish I had more. I suggest walk in pantry/appliances cupboard, large linen cupboard big enough to fit winter doonas, spare pillows, sheets, towels, and even like the idea of having hanging space for your winter/big bulky items you don't want hogging and sitting in your robe. I also wish I had a general "storage/shelved room"... For things like Christmas decos, travel bags, and other nicknacks.

    One thing I wish I changed was getting a larger sliding door for the laundry door - at the moment it opens to the size of a normal screen BUT I have a big laundry Basket and being pregnant I have to do the side shuffle to fit out haha.

    Just remember......... It is actually easier to fill space, then have a home that is not functional and too small and doesn't fit all your stuff. Take into consideration your furniture, discuss sizes and where you will put things before you sign off on a final plan.

    Good luck!!!!


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  6. #4
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    We took our plan to the kit home builder's we going to use and they did all the drawing etc.... At no extra cost to us.

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    Hubby and I did and just moved in a couple of wks ago. Tbh our experience sucked!
    We did a rough plan ourselves just on paper (looked through lots of display homes to get ideas etc) then took that to an architect for it to get tweaked And scaled. It had I be changed 3 times due to stupid suburb convenance laws.
    We stupidly built through BIL- big mistake... Cost us more than through a reputable building company, our house still has a few thing incomplete, dodgy tradesman have made mistakes and weren't checked, and took over one yr to build! Not happy jan!
    Go trough a reputable builder and avoid family help at all costs! Continuously check after each thing to make sure it was done correctly (it's amazing how many taps can b put in the wrong spot, or holes drilled in the wrong place etx!!!)
    I would recommend metricon or
    Xsmaybe hallmark if u want something a little cheaper without bells an whistles.
    Good luck... Very exciting times ahead! X
    Last edited by PinkIsTheNewBlack; 22-12-2011 at 16:27.

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  10. #6
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    Thanks everyone

    Quote Originally Posted by lovelymum View Post
    Hi, I work for a builder who do custom design floor plans. Part of our process is meeting with the client and sitting down and establishing what they actually want/need often clients will come in with their own hand sketched design and we work from there for our company in terms of pricing we base the price on one of our own comparable sized homes. If you are in victoria there are many builders who do custom floor plans - just stay away from the big guys like porter davis, metricon etc.. as they will not even alter the position of a wardrobe although I have had many of my clients complain that the sales consultant in the display will lie and say they do and once they pay a deposit inform them they cant. For our company we have a small fee to draw up a custom design for the client. If you go to an architect they will generally charge anywhere upwards of $5k for their service and you will then need to find your own builder to do the construction.

    Hope that helps, if you are melbourne based and would like some information and contact details for the construction company I work for pls let me know - I used to be in the construction area and have drawn up many custom floor plans but I have taken on a different role and would be happy to give you one of my collegues contact details
    Thank you - I appreciate that, but I am QLD based. We're after a full custom design, so hopefully should avoid some of the more 'rigid' companies. That's the plan, anyway!

    Quote Originally Posted by Atlantic Puffin View Post
    Some things I would change about our house, you can never ever over estimate the amount of storage space you will need!!! Hahaa seriously, I wish I had more. I suggest walk in pantry/appliances cupboard, large linen cupboard big enough to fit winter doonas, spare pillows, sheets, towels, and even like the idea of having hanging space for your winter/big bulky items you don't want hogging and sitting in your robe. I also wish I had a general "storage/shelved room"... For things like Christmas decos, travel bags, and other nicknacks.

    One thing I wish I changed was getting a larger sliding door for the laundry door - at the moment it opens to the size of a normal screen BUT I have a big laundry Basket and being pregnant I have to do the side shuffle to fit out haha.

    Just remember......... It is actually easier to fill space, then have a home that is not functional and too small and doesn't fit all your stuff. Take into consideration your furniture, discuss sizes and where you will put things before you sign off on a final plan.

    Good luck!!!!


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    Yes - some very good points there! We do want a storage room, and I agree - the more space the better. I hadn't thought of a laundry cupboard that would store duvets too - good idea! And that's a very good point about the laundry room door too - wouldn't have thought of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by PinkIsTheNewBlack View Post
    Hubby and I did and just moved in a couple of wks ago. Tbh our experience sucked!
    We did a rough plan ourselves just on paper (looked through lots of display homes to get ideas etc) then took that to an architect for it to get tweaked And scaled. It had I be changed 3 times due to stupid suburb convenance laws.
    We stupidly built through BIL- big mistake... Cost us more than through a reputable building company, our house still has a few thing incomplete, dodgy tradesman have made mistakes and weren't checked, and took over one yr to build! Not happy jan!
    Go trough a reputable builder and avoid family help at all costs! Continuously check after each thing to make sure it was done correctly (it's amazing how many taps can b put in the wrong spot, or holes drilled in the wrong place etx!!!)
    Thank you. Luckily (?) I have no family in the construction/ trades industry, so that shouldn't be an issue. Sorry to hear you didn't have a great experience though. Definitely agree that we'll need to check all the time.


    We're planning on knocking our house over and building on the same spot, as we love the land/ area but want some more space. So we'll have to rent somewhere while it's being done. For those who have done it, how often did you go to check on what was happening? Every day? Every week?

    And please keep the tips coming - very helpful!! Thank you

  11. #7
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    Hi I would say just go around to any builders and ask them to look into ur hand drawn sketch. talk to as many as u can. I work for a huge building company all over qld do I'm happy to help u out as much as I can( not saying u have to build with us)
    Another thing before u see anyone just remember display home arnt what u will exactly get unless ur willing to pay heaps more than there normal adverted price.

    I work for a building company and we always change our plans to suit people. Another thing is with knocking down ur house u don't have to do this until everything is certified so u will only be renting for the build time
    Have u spoken to demolishing people bout knocking down ur house include the price of that.
    If u have anymore questions I'm happy to help

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    I think if this is going to be a 'dream' house or a 'forever' house getting an architect or designer will be money well spent.

    They will also help you translate the plans and the vision to the builder. We used a designer to do up our plans and he was really helpful when we were first talking to builders. He could translate my 'watched lots of property programs' speak into 'actual proper builder' speak so we were all on the same page.

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  15. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wantmore View Post
    Hi I would say just go around to any builders and ask them to look into ur hand drawn sketch. talk to as many as u can. I work for a huge building company all over qld do I'm happy to help u out as much as I can( not saying u have to build with us)
    Another thing before u see anyone just remember display home arnt what u will exactly get unless ur willing to pay heaps more than there normal adverted price.

    I work for a building company and we always change our plans to suit people. Another thing is with knocking down ur house u don't have to do this until everything is certified so u will only be renting for the build time
    Have u spoken to demolishing people bout knocking down ur house include the price of that.
    If u have anymore questions I'm happy to help
    Thank you! We have a few meetings booked for early Jan, so will see how we go with those. All of the companies we have spoken to have said they will take care of everything - including the demolish, so hopefully we won't have to worry about that too much. And yes - good point about only renting for the build time.

    Quote Originally Posted by LucyB View Post
    I think if this is going to be a 'dream' house or a 'forever' house getting an architect or designer will be money well spent.

    They will also help you translate the plans and the vision to the builder. We used a designer to do up our plans and he was really helpful when we were first talking to builders. He could translate my 'watched lots of property programs' speak into 'actual proper builder' speak so we were all on the same page.
    We would definitely go with either an architect or a designer, rather than just a builder, but we're not sure which way is best to go yet - either an architect who then organises the build (we have spoken with one of these), or a 'design and build' company.

    Both seem to do the same thing, so I'm not sure which is the best way to go.

    Both will design a custom house from scratch, incorporating all of the rooms/ features we want.

    Both will take care of the interior design.

    Both will also take care of pool installation and landscape design/ driveway.

    The difference seems to be that the architect takes twice as long to design - which could be a good or bad thing, and then you have to pay them an additional retainer if you want them to be around for the build process (but they still use a builder they recommend and have worked with before).

    The design/build companies are quicker - but does that mean it will be more 'stock/ display home' type house rather than something as unique? (We're not bothered about it being 'unique' for the sake of it, but we are after something a little bit special/ different). And they put the work out to tender between builders they know - so potentially you get a better price.

    The architect charges a % of build cost - so perhaps not so much incentive to keep costs down. The builders charge per square metre, adding on any fixtures. Seems cheaper, but I can see that it could blow out.

    Ermmm... I don't know! Will see how our meetings go in Jan, and go from there.

    The architect asked us to keep a book of designs we liked - like a scrapbook, and said that they design (with us) every detail inside every room - including furnishings. The design/ build place does the same, but didn't mention a scrapbook.

    I felt more positive about it after speaking to the design/ build company, but I'm just worried they might not have the artistic touches that an architect would (for want of a better way of putting it).

    Hmmm... thank you for the thoughts so far!

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    Oh sorry I misread your post!

    It is a tough call. I think I would lean towards an architect because they do have some very clever design ideas as well as a good idea of how spaces can be workable taking into a count all your wants and needs.

    Whereas a design and build firm would be more focused on making it quicker and easier (for them) to build.

    Does the architect have to oversee? Often try will have a builder they know and trust who they can pass their vision onto.

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