Choosing your new home to build
Know the rules
First, it helps if you can find out the requirements for homes at your chosen location. You can do this by checking with your builder and with the local council. If you’re buying into an estate there may also be additional requirements made by the developer that you need to follow.
These requirements can cover a range of different things including types of building materials, façade style, fences and hot water systems, to name a few. Often these are called ‘design guidelines’ or ‘covenants’ for the estate.
‘We discovered there’s so much more to it than cost per square metre… our home has character and spaces that work well for us.’
Looking at builders’ floor plans is where you can start to compare your ‘must haves’ and ‘wish list’ with what’s on offer. You can make choices based on how many square metres you can get for your money, but smart investors know that there’s much more to a good investment.
Think carefully about what you really need. It’s tempting to want more area for your money but bigger isn’t always better – you’ll have less garden space and more house to heat, cool, light, clean and furnish. This adds to your costs now and into the future. Good design that doesn’t waste space feels great to live in and holds its value better.
Make sure the homes you’re considering will fit well on your block. For example, check the width of the home frontage and any setback requirements (the distances you have to leave between your home and your site boundaries). Your builder should be able to help you here – and do the work for you!
Choosing a floor plan that faces the right way on your block will make your home more comfortable, and you won’t need to spend as much on heating, cooling and lighting.
Here are some tips for positioning your living areas:
- If the front of your block faces south, place living areas at the rear of your home – an easy solution!
- If the front of your block faces east or west, place living areas at the rear of your home, facing onto the north side of your block.
- If the front of your block faces north, try placing your living areas at the front of your home and increasing your setback from the street with a private, spacious front garden.
If you have a sloping block, think about the kind of home that would make the best fit with minimum excavation and drainage costs. Discuss this with your builder and ask them to suggest a suitable home design.
Check with your builder that the position of your home will maintain privacy for you and your neighbours. Keep bedrooms away from noisy areas like driveways or neighbours’ living areas.
Now is also a good time to think about where you’ll put cost saving features like an outdoor clothesline and water saving features like a rainwater tank.
North is the best position for rooms you spend a lot of time in because north-facing rooms get sun for the longest part of the day. They are also the easiest to shade from unwanted sun. In summer when the sun is high, the right size eaves will shade north-facing rooms, while in winter when the sun is lower, sunlight will come in under the eaves.
If it looks like your living areas won’t get good sunlight ask your builder if you can flip or rotate the plan for better positioning on the site, or make minor modifications to the plan.
Choosing our new home
- Homes our family is considering:
- Our preferred home:
- Is it a functional floor plan without wasted space and with plenty of storage?
- What would we change about this plan?
- Will our preferred home fit well on our block with living areas facing north (or close to nort