Home Design: A Step-By-Step Guide To Designing Your Dream Home Series – Part 2
Every self-builder has their individual expectations and ambitions in terms of the final result of their Self Build project. The process of designing a home is very demanding and challenging, as it is a crucial stage that is responsible for making your vision a reality.
This is the second of three articles in our series ‘Home design: A step-by-step guide to designing your dream home’. The series will take you through the three main stages in developing an empty plot into a well-organised construction site equipped with experts who can successfully build your dream home.
In the first part of this series you found out how to create a project brief. Now it is time to gather the perfect team that will make your dreams about your home come true. The tips in this article will help you to get through this stage without unpleasant surprises.
Appointing The Right Team
After completing the optimal brief for your Self Build, it’s time to look for the right people to help design your dream home. Before you start your Self Build project, it is crucial to make sure that you have sufficient funds. Speaking to financial professionals will help you organise the sale of your existing home, or/and take out a mortgage, and set the budget for your Self Build. Therefore, avoiding any unnecessary stress.
Once your finances are in order you are ready to look for a plot for your Self Build. You may appoint a land surveyor to assess the plots you like, in order to choose the one that suits you best. It can help you to confirm the boundaries of your plot as well as the connection to basic services such as drainage, electricity and water.
An architect/architectural designer/an architect’s technician needs to be involved in each stage of your project. It is essential that an engineer is also involved. It is important that your appointed architect fully understands your lifestyle and preferences so that your vision for your home is achieved.
A structural engineer is also required for your Self Build as they play a key part in the design and are involved with the construction teams. A structural engineer is needed at the detailed design stage and during the process of acquiring a building warrant approval. At ACA we always suggest getting a soil investigation study completed on any site you are looking at or have purchases, as soon as possible. An engineer will dig some trial pits around your plot and assess the quality of soil and its bearing capacity. They can also carry out a porosity test, which involves filling a large hole in the ground with water a number of times and measuring how long it takes to sink into the ground. If the water does not drain away it means that you will not be able use standard drainage solutions.
During the process of assessing the energy performance of your proposed home, your architect will need an energy consultant or Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) designer. At this stage, all the construction elements of your Self Build, from the wall build-up to floor make-up, will be added to the location and heating sources in order to estimate the overall performance of your building. This will help to predict the heating demand and costs for your home.
Depending on the difficulty of the project and any contentious planning issues, you may also need a planning consultant. You may want a quantity surveyor to assess the detailed construction cost. It is worth to consider employing a heating engineer to develop a heating design. If you decide not to take the full self-build route a project manager will need to be appointed.
Top tips on appointing your design team:
- Interview at least 3 of each profession required. Ask for references and look into their previous work.
- Provide your detailed brief and use tools such as SketchUp and Pinterest to anyone you require a quote from. More information here.
- Obtain written quotes and ensure they are fixed fees – don’t go for % of cost quotes – because there is no incentive for them to save your money.
- Speak to professionals who regularly handle your type of project – Self Build specialists can give you the best advice.
- Don’t let price dictate your choices of your team. Don’t fight costs down too much; you want a good service and the trades need to make a profit.
- Communication is key – confronting issues or concerns face to face can sort out minor problems before they become major.
- In case of breakdown in communication, make sure you have a means for parting ways.
After you have appointed the right team, you can start the last part of your dream home designing process – the actual design stages. The last article will describe each main design stage that you will have to go through in order to complete your Self Build project.
- Make sure you have sufficient funds for your Self Build.
- Choose the plot that suits you most.
- Make sure that your architect understands your lifestyle.
- Appoint an engineer to conduct detailed expertise on your plot.
- Carry out a Standard Assessment Procedure and calculate the heating demand for your Self Build.
- Consider employing a planning consultant If there are any contentious planning issues.
- Remember our top tips on appointing your design team.
A step-by-step guide to designing your dream home series is based on a talk created and delivered by Allan Corfield for Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine, at the 2016 Shows. If you have any questions for Allan and the rest of the team, send your suggestions to us via email, or social media using #asktheselfbuildexpert.