What kind of house do you want to live in? What houses do you like?
Before designing that new house, renovations or additions, it’s wise to sit down and decide what you want. Do you want a house or an apartment, how many bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, what size rooms, do you need a garden and how big, do you require parking for vehicles and does this need to be undercover and secure, where is your desired location, what is the style you would like, and what kind of fixtures, fittings and finishes are you looking for in your new home?
It’s useful to visit houses that are for sale – even if they’re in the wrong location or out of your price range. They frequently offer opportunities to gather ideas – to see what features, styles, layouts and houses you like and don’t like. Even if you don’t like a house don’t simply rush out, but take your time looking around. Understand why you don’t like the house – are there particular features, styles or layouts that put you off? Are there some features that you do like – what and why? Always keep in mind the various prices. Understand why some houses are more expensive than others. Know what can be purchased with your budget. You may want to live in a multi-million dollar dream home that’ll grace the cover of popular home and garden magazines – yet for most of us this is a dream that isn’t going to happen, and anyway it's usually unnecessary and doesn't guarantee that you will end up liking living in the home.
Look through house and home magazines to obtain ideas for interior finishes and architectural styles. Visit display showrooms that offer various options for tiles, lights, bathroom fixtures and kitchens. See what can be achieved so that you and your family can live happily in the home.
Scan the internet for ideas and styles that you like. Always try and understand why you like something, or why you don’t like it.
Take photographs, make notes, collect brochures, collect pictures from magazines and the internet. Create folders of ideas.
What do you need in your new home?
Now this is where the voice of reason needs to step in.
There’s often a competition between what you want and what you need. You may want an expensive sports car which, however, could be impractical if you require the car to take the family on vacation. The same goes for your house. We usually all want the best, state of the art, iconic, architect designed structures and yet we probably only need the basics. Though, you mustn’t confuse the word basics with producing something of poor quality, or of skimping on costs so you have a house that’s not fit for purpose. To go back to the car analogy, you may not need a sports car, but you’ll need a car that’s reliable, safe, that can accommodate the family, is comfortable and which retains resale value when you decide to sell it. You want to enjoy using the car. So too with your house, you want somewhere that you can enjoy living in, that will satisfy your and your family’s requirements, and that will be appreciated by others when the time comes to sell and move on. And yes, inevitably you will eventually sell and move on.
Some home renovation projects are started on a whim – you saw something, a feature or style, and thought it would look nice. How often have you bought an item of clothing only to find when you got home that it wasn’t the right size, or wasn’t an item that you needed? Our closets are filled with items of clothing that have never, or seldom, been worn. Unfortunately building or renovating your house costs lots more money, and can’t simply be changed when you find it’s not suitable. You can sometimes return an article of clothing because it’s the wrong colour or size, but, increasing the size of a room, or ripping out floor tiles because you don’t like their colour isn’t so easy and often costs lots of money - if it can be done at all. So you simply shouldn’t one day get out of bed and decide you’re going to renovate and extend your house, then immediately call a contractor, or worse, get out the tools from the shed and start smashing down walls.
It’s therefore important before embarking on a new home construction or renovation project that you list all the items required from your new house. This would then normally be the minimum set of requirements for the house.
Indeed, during this process of deciding what you like and dislike, what you need and don't want, that you may find that your current home already fulfils all your family’s needs and there’s no need to undertake major renovations or build a new house. Maybe all your house needs are a few minor repairs and a new coat of paint. Perhaps even throwing out that accumulated junk, putting in some additional storage, rearranging the furniture and replacing items that are unsuitable could be the simple solution – in a future articles I'll discuss some simple solutions to improving your home. These are also discussed in more detail in my book 'Building and Renovating Your Home With Your Eyes Wide Open'
It’s always important to also consider your future needs, which might be characterised by short term and medium term needs. So for instance, if there’s a new baby on the way you may need that extra bedroom quite soon. If you’re planning to have more children, then maybe you need to be considering more than one extra bedroom. On the other hand, if your children are about to leave home, your current house which could seem very crowded right now, may in a few years suddenly have surplus rooms, so would it be wise to be adding an additional bedroom that may only be needed for a year or two.
Conclusion - Making the right design decisions for your home construction project
Your early design decisions and choices can live through the life of your home build and renovation project and come back to haunt you if they’re bad decisions. It’s important not to be impulsive, but rather to carefully consider what you and your family require, what you like, what you don’t like, what you can afford and what your abilities are. You should be clear as to why you want to build a new house, or why you’re going to renovate.
In future articles I will discuss taking cognisance of what your family wants and needs, lifestyle considerations impacting your design choices and the impact of architectural styles - all ensuring that you design the best house for you and your family.
For more valuable home design and renovation tips and advice read: 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses - Volume 1 Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home' and 'Volume 2 Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home'
This is an extract from: 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses Volume 2' by Paul Netscher. Available in paper or eBook from Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Amazon AU and all online bookstores. To read more
© 2019 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.
I’m a construction professional, author of several successful construction management books, and a home owner. I’ve made mistakes in construction management, I’ve seen others make mistakes, but importantly I’ve had multiple successful construction projects and I’ve learned from the mistakes. I want to share these lessons and my knowledge with you.
Also available from:
and 'An Introduction to Building Houses - Volume 2 Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home'
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases