Confirm a new house is the right approach
- you have considered the impacts your project will have on energy and water use, health and comfort, waste and place (see 'Approaches to Sustainability' in the Sustainability hub for more information)
Understand the level of commitment
Establish a knowledge base
- talking to people that have been involved in similar projects
- looking at books and magazines for case studies and ideas, or you could use online apps such as Houzz and Pinterest to start collating case studies, materials and products that appeal to you. The more information you have, the better you will be able to communicate what you want to your designer.
- finding out the cost of similar projects in similar locations
- learning where and when to get help
- having an informal conversation with an architect or architectural designer about the design and build process.
Develop the Outline Brief
- Build a house that respects the style of the existing neighbourhood while taking into account the taste of potential buyers.
- Create an infill development where both houses have equal access to sunlight and privacy.
- Create a green building that has no impact on surrounding ecosystems.
- Vision Statement: This communicates the project’s overarching aims and objectives and becomes the guiding principle of what is to be achieved in the end. It should be a constant reference point throughout out the project.
- spatial requirements: These should be described in terms of quality, not quantity (e.g. open plan living for socialising and entertaining, with private and quiet spaces to retreat to).
- user requirements: Both present and future users should be considered (e.g. ramps instead of stairs for old age, wide doors to allow wheelchair access, room for family boat).
- performance requirements (e.g. no need to heat the home in winter).
- location requirements (e.g. lifestyle preferences, access to transport or amenities).
- how the building integrates with the local context and environment.
- an overall budget
- a general schedule.
Consider money matters
It is important to consider economic matters at this early stage of the process. In estimating a budget for the project there are some key issues to take into account:
- Define a realistic budget and try to stick to it. It can be easy to overcapitalise by spending money that will not be recovered if the house is sold in the future. The house’s estimated market value should always be kept in mind, even if you intend to use it yourself for a long time.
- Consider all costs. There may be costs you are unaware of. The budget should cover not only the price of the land, designer’s fees and construction costs, but also a range of other costs including fit-out furnishing, landscaping, sub-consultant fees, legal and finance costs, development contributions and consent application fees.
- Consider long-term costs. Solutions or approaches that may seem expensive at first can reduce the running costs of the home (e.g. energy, water, maintenance) and save money over the life of the building. Studies on homes built to a 5 or 6 Homestar rating show that the initial investment to improve the performance of a home is paid back within seven years, with such houses saving between $573 and $729 per year.
- Keep in mind that every requirement captured in the brief will have a cost associated with it. This understanding will help to set realistic expectations regarding what is possible within your budget.