How to plan your dream home

We share three essential steps, before you break ground
Andy MacPherson

Planning your forever home can involve years of collecting ideas and inspiration.

Once you have all your ideas gathered together, take note of these three crucial elements to consider before you begin.

1. Decide on design

Great, lasting design starts with a list of clear objectives. First, factor in all of your current and potential future needs – your home should support you and your family as circumstances change. “One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not putting enough time into the planning phase,” says Dan Miegel, company director and senior builder at Planbuilt. He says when plans are not properly understood, expensive construction changes often follow. “Using 3D drafting technology allows a building designer or architect to clearly illustrate existing and proposed floor plans and elevations,” says Bill Derrin, director at Action Plans. Don’t forget the details that will enhance your lifestyle. For instance, as the weather cools, do you crave the cosy atmosphere of a fireplace? Plan services before putting your slab down. For a green option, and convenience, consider a gas-log fireplace that starts with just a touch of a button. Visit Brighter for more home and lifestyle tips.

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How to plan your dream home
(Credit: Getty images)

2. Budget right

With your design objectives in mind, crunching the numbers is critical to helping you identify whether a renovation, custom-build or design-build package is best. Do up a spreadsheet of estimated or known fees for the design, planning, approval, demolition, construction, fit-out and furnishing phases of the project. Take into account whether you’ll need to rent during the construction period, and any moving and storage costs. “When looking at quotes from builders, understand all the inclusions and exclusions,” says Dan of Planbuilt. “Those exclusions may still need to be budgeted for in the overall project.” Also factor in variations and allow for fees from experts such as bushfire consultants, heritage consultants and geotechnical engineers.

“Make sure you love the past projects of everyone you engage – these represent their style stamp and show the look you will get”

Katrina O’Brien, Home Beautiful

3. Recruit your crew

Make a shortlist of professionals you’d like to work with. Quiz friends or colleagues who’ve recently renovated or built, and monitor social media to see whose work and style appeals to you. “The time to approach a builder is prior to any approvals or lodgement to council,” says Dan Miegel. Whether you engage a building designer, draftsperson, architect or design-construct operator is a personal choice that may be based on their previous work and how they fit with you and your budget (note: for architects and building designers, regulations and registration vary between states). Regardless of your ultimate choice, ensure they have a sound understanding of relevant planning controls and a good working relationship with local government authorities.

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