Most builders will change their standard designs to some extent.
The builder of the last house we built, Metricon, was fairly flexible.
Here are some of the changes that you could talk with the builder about if their standard is close to what you want.
Handing. This means swapping the design around so rooms on the left become rooms on the right. Generally this should be available at no cost.
Partial handing. This means swapping either the front or the back of the house while leaving the remainder the same. We have done this when we wanted the bedroom and the garage on the opposite sides of the house to the original plan. (Again this didn’t add to the cost)
Raising the cill height of windows. We adjusted the cill height of most windows on the south side of the house decreasing the the size . At that time this was a no cost alteration. N.B. The builder will not usually allow any changes to the front of the house.
Swapping position of windows. We wanted to change the position of a patio door with a window, this was a no cost for this as long as the total of windows and patio doors stayed the same.
Providing additional internal walls and doors. We wanted this to reduce the amount of open plan living. This was achieved at what we thought was a reasonable cost.
Relocating internal walls. This was a no cost alteration.
Decreasing the size of rooms. We wanted to reduce the size of one room by 1 metre which reduced the overall length of the house by the same amount. For this change we made a saving.
Additional power outlets, light fittings and switches. These were standard extras.
Extra outside taps. Makes watering the garden, and washing the car easiser. These were standard extras.
What have your experiences been when looking to change a standard design?
These days there are a vast number of house plans available of the Internet.
There are very many high quality companies that provide plans on the net.
However as with all internet based service you need to be careful.
There are many variations of climate across Australia to what is suitable foe Tasmania may be totally unsuitable for Darwin.
This may be even more pronounced for plans that come from other countries.
Building standards are again something that varies widely from state to state and between countries
Different countries have differing construction methods. . . . there is no advantage in saving on plans if its going to cost extra to get a material which need to be specially imported..
The Big trap here is buying plans from the USA which use feet and inches, something the modern tradesman may no longer understand.
I would be very reluctant to use an overseas plan provider for my house and then be faced with delays due to ensuring compliance with local standards.
If you find a plan on the internet that you really like you will need to be sure that the company that can provide you with:
1. A full set of drawings, with dimensions in metric units, including:
A block plan based on survey information, that you will need to organise.
Foundation plan these will need to be signed off by an engineer based on the soil investigation.
Interior details of kitchen, bathrooms and laundry.
Roof plans showing adequate information for a truss manufacturer and builder to construct the roof.
2. A full specification and material list.
3. The ability to modify drawings to meet your exact requirements.
Some plan providers can provide additional drawings for plumbing, electrical and heating. Alternatively it might be easier to get these services directly through the builder you select.
Generally the process will be:
Find a design you like on the internet from a company that will provide all the above services.
Pay an initial deposit to get a copy of the plans.
Make modifications to the plan to meet your requirements.
Receive final plans and specification of a standard you can use for planning, energy rating, and building approval and for use in a contract with a builder.
When we first came to Australia and started looking at display houses we often saw En-Suites with two wash basins.
We thought it looked fairly classy so that’s what we got in our first Australian new house.
Ever since we have always gone for a single basin. . . here’s why:
We found that we are never in the bathroom at the same time. Even when we used to travel to work together I always got up first to take the dog for a walk which gave my wife a clear run.
Having a single basin gives more counter space on the vanity. (sometimes too much!) We do have fairly strict demarcation lines. My wife’s stuff is on the left and my stuff is only allowed on the right.
Having one basin with only one set of waste plumbing leaves more room in the vanity cupboards for fresh towels, hair dryer, toilet rolls, spare toiletries, etc, etc.
Cost saving of basin, tap fittings, and labour. Even with basic fittings this gave us a few hundred dollars we could use on things we really wanted. If you have expensive plumbing fittngs the savings could be thousands!
Do you know that in spite of the standard block getting smaller over the past 20 years the actual size of the houses has been getting bigger. The builders are doing a good job of selling us on the idea of more space.
There are three sizes of house you could buy:
The size you need . . .. SMALL
The size that you would like. . . . BIG
The size that the builder wants to sell you. . . .ENORMOUS
Get a bigger house and it could blow your Budget. To keep costs in check you need to do some preparation. Here are some suggestion:
Avoid starting by visiting show houses.
Go through your existing house throwing away all the junk you haven’t used in the last year or two. You could even raise some money and have a garage sale.
Measure the internal size of each room in your house, in m2 and think about whether that room needs to be bigger, or could be smaller.
Don’t forget to include the wardrobes, the pantry, and the garage.
Don’t measure the hallways but allow 15-20m2 for hallways and passages.
Allow around 15-20m2 for internal and external walls.
Decide what additional rooms you need, for example an extra bedroom if you have another child on the way.
Add all the areas to get the total area of the house.
You could also convert the sizes to Squares for easy comparison when looking at adverts.
Start looking on the builders web sites or adverts for houses plans that are close to this size.
When you are looking at plans use the dimensions you originally took for each room to get a feel for the room sizes.
Only go and look at houses that are within the dimension you calculated, plus say no more than 10%.
To help I have prepared a Google documents Checklist which can be accessed from the link or the Checklist tab at the top of the page.
How have you made sure you haven’t finished up with a house that’s too big?
A basic floor plan is the sort of plan you will see in the developer’s brochure or on their web site.
Most people aren’t used to looking at plans and relating them to what they are going to get.
So here is a way of helping you understand.
1. Get a pad of metric graph paper. These usually have smaller squares with 2mm sides and heavier lines every 10mm. 2. If we are going to draw a plan at 1 in 100 then the side of every small square is equivalent to 200mm, or 20cm. 3. Start in a simple room, say a bedroom, and measure one wall. Draw a thin line along one of the lines of the graph paper. 4. From one of the corners measure to the next corner and draw this line on the graph paper, don’t worry about the doors or windows at this stage. 5. Carry on measuring and drawing until you have gone right the way around the room. You should now have drawn a box that looks something like the picture below.
6. Mark the position of the doors and the windows. 7. Thicken the outside of the lines to the thickness of one square for external brick walls. 8.Thicken the outside of the lines to the thickness of half a square for internal walls. 9. Draw in a quarter circle to show the way that the door opens. You should now have a drawing that looks something like the picture below.
10. This will help you relate the size of your existing room to one you see on a plan.
11. If you want to see how the furniture looks its better to cut out sections of graph paper the same size as the furniture rather than draw on the paper. You can then move these around.
Once you have got the hang of this you can expand the drawing to include all the rooms of the house.