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getting plans drawn up for your new home



At some point in your adventure of getting a new home built, you’ll need to be getting plans drawn up – the builders and all the other people that get involved in a new home need a clear set of drawings and diagrams to help them construct it to exactly what it should be.


But how do you get plans drawn up??


Well, there’s a few different ways you can go, and they all have different costs, timing and outcomes. Let’s talk through some of these methods so you can get a grasp of them. Bear in mind that this blog isn’t about how to find the right architect or draftsperson, but about the ins and outs of getting the plans to a point where they can be used to build your home.


The first step is to identify whether you’re going to get a custom built or pre-designed home. Getting a home custom designed from scratch just for you could take you down quite a different path than if you decide to utilise a design from a builder that’s already been thought out by a designer.


Let’s say you decide on the custom build option. So you’ve got a couple of choices here – scribble out as many ideas as you can on paper and then find a draftsperson to draw it for you. Or reach out to an architect and download your thoughts to them and let them come up with the concept, which will then lead on to the drawings and plans. Pretty simple. But is it? Let’s drill down a bit …


Say you scribble out your ideas on paper and hand them to a draftsperson. This is very cost-effective – a draftsperson will charge a reasonable hourly rate, and shouldn’t take them too long to spit out a floor plan and elevations based on your scrawls.


Then you get it back, and … help, it doesn’t look anything like I’d envisaged! And that’s probably because when the drafty starting putting it all together, they had to massage a lot of the rooms due to sizing, orientation, layout and flow to get it to actually all fit together. Bit like a jigsaw puzzle. Or more like Chinese whispers. And the key here is that – without being insulting – the draftspersons job is to draw, not design or consult in an advisory manner.


So you go back to them with changes, they draw them, and then it’s back to you. And then you make more changes because it’s still not working. And on it goes. And goes. The little secret here is that many people that go through this process overlook that there’s a science to house design, and it’s a bit like a dentist or lawyer – not everyone’s cut out for it. But hey, you might be the sort of person that has the capacity to carefully draw everything out and think it through in detail before you go the drafty, and all is sweet.


But if not, that’s where an architect comes in. They’re trained to truly design a home.


So perhaps you sit down with an architect, and pour out your vision of your dream home to them. The architect is hastily writing their notes, and then you site and wait for a few weeks for the initial concept design to come back. Which it does – and you absolutely love it, even though it’s only a rough concept sketch. Then you happen to notice their invoice attached.


Now architects are professionals and we have a lot of respect for them, but like a good surgeon, they demand an hourly rate to match their level of expertise and skill, and for many people this is just way out of their financial comfort zone.


But say you decide that it’s worth it and push ahead. And when the next set of plans come through in more detail, you’re in raptures over it. But then you notice that invoice again. And then you find out that to actually get the plans drawn for the builders and surveyors to use – sometimes called the shop drawings – is going to cost a lot more money. And will take a lot more time. Not to mention what the cost of the home might come in at when you ask a builder to quote it … But, having said that, for some people, this is an option that really works for them and their finances and timing. And the outcome can be remarkable sometimes.


So then we come to pre-designed homes. Homes that have been designed at an earlier date by someone who knew what they were doing. And these designs are available in a couple of different modes.


There’s the option of simply buying a set of plans online. Spend a couple of hours at night googling, and hey presto you’ve bought yourself a full set of house plans for a few hundred dollars, apparently everything ready to roll – just add water. Or sweat maybe more realistic. The plans of course are generic – which means they’re designed as a one-size-fits-all. Now, in some situations, this may work well. The block may not have any restrictions or limitations so that the home can be placed exactly as it is on the block without any changes. Of course, you’re going to need a site plan drawn up – something to consider.


But what we’ve noticed over the years is that no two people are alike, and every single home has its own intricacies and nuances adjusted to suit the lifestyle and personality of the owner. And these cut and paste plans just don’t allow for that sort of flexibility. And the other challenge with these plans is when it comes to the time for the builder to start building it, or the building surveyor to approve it, there will be details missing or not applicable to the region that you’re building in. Once again, it might work for some people, but as always, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


And then there’s the method where you reach out to a home builder that has home designs available for you to choose from. You get walked through the different designs – or even concepts – to help you narrow down on what would work best for you and your site. And the reality is that you may not find what works for you and have to wish them farewell and move onto another builder – or another option that we’ve discussed above. But ultimately there are many builders out there with many good designs.


Depending on the builder you choose, one of the upsides of this method is that it’s a very cost-effective way of getting the plans drawn for the home you need with the nuances you want in it to suit you and your lifestyle. And the builder will already know what they need in the way of detail for the guys on site and the council permits.


Of course, it won’t be an architecturally designed home from scratch just for you and your block, but starting with a design that’s been proven and tested, and then getting it tweaked to work for your block is a heck of a lot quicker than the ‘drafty’ method, easier than the ‘online’ method and cheaper than the ‘architect’ method. The trick is to find the right builder who has the right home designs and can tailor them enough to suit ‘you’.


By the way, there’s nothing inherently right or wrong with any of these options we’ve just discussed, but the reality is that they don’t suit everyone, and what someone may see as a disadvantage won’t be to someone else.


Our advice is to go into it with your eyes open, knowing that a good – or even perfect – set of plans is the only way to achieve a good outcome in the actual construction of the home. Flawed drawings equals a horrible time building the home. So whichever way you go, find a system that you can trust, which often involves finding someone you can trust. Remember, it always takes more than just you to get a good plan set – it takes a team of professionals to get it exactly right to tick all of the boxes.


And as always, reach out to us for more information.


Disclaimer. This blog is our opinion only. The information provided in our blogs is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. The information presented in our blogs is for informational purposes only and we are not professionals, so the content we provide shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. We strongly recommend consulting with a professional before taking any sort of action. We reserve the right to change how we manage our blog and we may change the focus or content at any time.

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Reach out to us. We’re here to help.

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