Got questions about your project?
Here are some answers to the questions I’ve received from homeowners like you. Read on to learn helpful info for your project.
Sometimes I run a Q & A session on my Instagram stories. It’s always really fun, so stay tuned to my instagram account to see when it happens again.
It can be a bit of a challenge to ask your question succinctly (as the question field has a maximum number of characters!) And it can be even more challenging to respond to it succinctly so it fits on one phone screen without you needing a magnifying glass to read it!!
This blog post shares some of the top questions from an Insta Q & A session, and I’ve added some extra links and info that couldn’t fit there.
Have a read through and see if this answers your questions too!
Q: How to do entry off courtyard behind garage for north orientation on south block?
Doing this successfully relies on what you do between the street and the front door, so it’s really clear where your home’s entry is. Building shape, form and landscape design can help this.
- Episode 12, Season 2 >>> Creating a welcoming and secure home
- 9 Things to Know about Your Front Door >>> Read more here
Q: How to design a home that is easy to clear? I hate all the little nooks and crannies that end up dirty.
(Me too ) Choose everything for durability. Don’t expose tops of cupboards etc but build in with bulkheads. In external detailing, choose finishes you can hose down (which means choosing waterproof external light fixtures too). Be careful of how many nooks and crannies you create. Avoid dark floors that show up dust. In bathrooms, ensure all gaps can fit a hand (that’s an 80mm gap).
*** I’ll also add to this: Don’t do exposed range hoods, or pendant lights with big covers on them that act as dust shelves. Consider any horizontal elements such as balustrades or screens, or plantation shutters, and how easy they’ll be to clean. Consider exposed shelving in the kitchen (where dust can get combined with grime over time).
*** Also review the systems you can include to improve air quality, dust, dust mites and moisture. Passivhaus is great for this, but any home that’s built air tight and then uses air filtration can improve this situation.
Q: Designer concepts not considering orientation. Red flag? Cut and run?
It’s a concern. I find that it’s an uphill battle with designers who don’t want to prioritise passive solar design. It’s such a priority in a feel good, sustainable home … and it still shocks me when designers don’t focus on it as a priority in their designs.
- To learn more about designing for orientation, listen to Season 1 of the podcast.
Q: With building costs rapidly going up, will we see more builders going bust? And how to avoid them?
I expect so. You need to check a builder’s cashflow. One way to do this is to speak to their suppliers and subcontractors and see if they pay their bills on time. And whether they use the same people regularly. Also be frank with the builder. Ask how they’re handling the price rises. What will get passed onto you (and you need to factor in) and what will they wear. And what can be ordered and paid for early in your project to lock in the price.
*** This one got interesting feedback. Critical (from within builders), and also totally in support (also from within builders).
*** Checking suppliers and subcontractor relationships is actually a tip given to me by a builder – and it’s a great one. Just as a builder can ask you to demonstrate your ability to pay their whole contract sum before they’ll go ahead, you are also entitled to know they have the cash flow to deliver your whole project.
Q: Working up a new build design with an architect. Should we get a QS to cost or go straight to builder quotes?
My preference would be neither. I’d bring a builder on board as a paid consultant in your design phase to advise on cost and buildability.
Expecting builders to quote at the end of design is problematic, and likely to have omissions and assumptions in the price. Otherwise, get a QS (Quantity Surveyor) on board.
- Episodes 201 to 205 on the PAC Process, or Paid As Consultant Process will be a great help >>> Start here
Q: Topic – why are renovation projects generally more costly than new builds?
Great question. For starters, they’re a total one off, bespoke and unique. It’s also labour intensive to work with an existing house … things are straight or true. You’re matching to old materials and methodologies. It’s why I teach my four renovation strategies inside HOME Method to stretch your building budget and capitalise on new build efficiencies (which generally cost less per m2).
*** This is a BIG question that was hard to answer succinctly. Builders can factor in a lot of ‘just incase’ buffers in pricing renovations, because things can take a lot longer and be full of unexpected surprises. And some designers and homeowners approach renovations by trying to totally change the existing house structure (and virtually rebuilding the existing home by pulling it apart and putting it back together).
*** However, there are ways to improve your renovation costs through approaching it like a new build, and also removing as many unknowns pre-construction. (And I teach this inside HOME Method)
Q: How important do you think renders of the design are?
This depends on how good you are at visualising a 3D version of your floor plans. Rather than sexy renders, I think it’s more important you use 3D modelling to test the sun and shade situation, and walk through interior spaces. I think people get sucked in by renders, but still don’t understand if their house will perform as it needs to.
*** (Special Note: You can get a bad design to look great in a render).
Q: Am I silly to think we can design and build our home without specialty trades, architects, etc?
I’d never use the word silly. My personal take is that it’s a big and permanent investment. So if this is not your daily job, why wouldn’t you get the expertise needed to expand what’s possible, maximise the potential of your budget, and help manage your risk. I think many homeowners are really unaware (before they start) about just how much can and does go wrong, and don’t know the risk they’re exposing themselves to.
Q: Renovate in 2022, or wait until the market calms down?
Oh I wish I had a crystal ball. All I can do is look back on what’s happened previously. Construction is a big part of the economy and employment. So there’s always a desire to keep it going and incentivise it. Things may regulate slightly, but I’m not sure prices will go back down. And who knows how much more they’ll climbe before they even out. It’s got to be based on your personal situation and assessment.
*** Do you remember when the GFC hit? The government kicked off the schools program, and invested in school infrastructure to keep the construction industry going. Residential construction got more competitive because trades found work more consistent and higher paid in commercial businesses doing school work. Many builders added to their license so they could do school work as well, making them less available for residential projects.
*** This time, the government has (instead of using government funds to fuel projects as with the school programs) decided that HomeBuilder was a way to get homeowners to spend their own money – and it’s worked.Even for those that could never qualify for HomeBuilder. Plus, many have holiday funds they are redirecting into their homes, and an experience of their homes (thanks to being locked in them for so long) they’ve never had before.
*** This is happening globally, and Australia is a small country that is competing for products that sell for more elsewhere to larger markets (such as timber in the USA). Economics has never been a big love of mine, so my view could be too simplistic, but I think we’re in for more interesting times ahead.
I hope you find all of that super helpful information.
Amelia, UA x
If you’d like to get started on your renovation or new build project, my Get Started Guide is a fantastic resource to help you do just that.
It will teach you the first steps any project needs to take, whatever your dreams, location or budget, and whoever you’re working with. Learn more about it here >>> GET STARTED GUIDE
And, if you’d especially like to get started on your home design, then the mini-course ‘Happy Home Design’ will help you.
You’ll learn more about what decisions really matter in happy home design, and how you can design a home that is functional, fantastic and feel-good >>> HAPPY HOME DESIGN
If you’d like to learn how to choose the right builder, and learn how the specific checks to do, and questions to ask, when interviewing builders for your project >>> CHOOSE YOUR BUILDER