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How to build your dream home

How to build your dream home
December 23, 2017 Gemma H
dream home

Can’t stop dreaming about your dream home? What does it take to make your dream a reality?

When you build your dream home, you go on a journey of discovering more about yourself, your family and how you live and interact with one another.

There’s so much more to it than just practical decisions such as budget and bedrooms. As Taras Wolf, award winning architect and founder of Wolf Architects, told us,

“It’s about identifying the experiences that create happiness in your life. There’s a big difference between the experience and the product. It’s not just about designing a beautiful kitchen; it’s about encompassing the art of cooking with family and friends.

You can have all the money in the world and still not get the house of your dreams if you can’t identify what makes you happy”.

So, what does it take to build your dream home?

Create a wish list

Imagine how you want your dream home to look and feel from both a practical and emotional point of view.

The practical side includes things like:

  • Budget
  • Demands (like number of bedrooms and bathrooms)
  • Structure

The emotional side includes things like:

  • Taste and style
  • Colours
  • Spaces and how you interact with them

Set a budget

Your budget will not only depend on what the bank will lend you, but what you can comfortably afford. After all, your home won’t feel quite so dreamy when the repayments kick and financially cripple you. Be realistic and factor in how the cost of your home fits in with your overall financial plans.

A mortgage calculator can help you estimate your borrowing capabilities and what your repayments will be. Keep in mind that interest rates fluctuate and you may be hit with rate rises over the term of your loan.

When you’re ready to get down to details, you’ll need to factor in all the costs that go into your building project: land, soil and contour tests, council fees and taxes, permits, design and engineering fees, materials, accessories, labour, furniture and decorating…

Add a healthy contingency of at least 10% to be on the safe side. As with any complex project, costs can easily blow out.

Find a plot

When looking for your plot of land, it’s all about location. A great location will not only offer a lifestyle, it will also make your dream home a worthy investment. The most sought after locations are those close to schools, shops, transport and amenities. But ultimately, it comes down to…

Where do you want to live? Farmhouse in the hills or hip inner city townhouse? Choose a location that complements your lifestyle.

Land these days is hard to come by close to CBDs, so city-dwellers may need to find an old knock-down property where the value’s mostly in the land. If it’s the bush you’re after, consider the risks of buying within a fire or flood zone.

Assemble a team

Your architect and builder will be the most important people in your project. They’ll become your leader, guide and therapist throughout the process. Pick wisely and you’ll not only achieve the house of your dreams, but the journey getting there will be more pleasurable.

“A good architect uses both imagination and skills to connect everything together in the right way,” says Wolf. “An architect can only achieve what he knows in his head, so both ability and experience is important. Young architects without experience can make novice mistakes. On the other hand, an architect with no talent or natural creativity will produce a pragmatic, soulless design.”

Your team is likely to grow as your project develops; cabinetmakers, interior designers, landscape gardeners—depending, of course, on your budget and requirements.

Create your dream design

Your architect or builder should work with you (using your wish list) to create a design that embodies your family’s lifestyle, desires and needs. To begin with, dream big and build grand plans. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Once you have your ultimate plan, you can deal with the realities and cut back as your budget and restraints require.

When thinking about design, consider the experiences that make you happy. “Even if it’s sitting in bed with a bucket of chips watching a movie,” says Wolf. “Those moments add up and if they’re happy ones, THEY are what create a dream home.”

Once you have your ultimate design, you then need to get realistic. “People think architects are miracle magicians, that we can make it happen regardless of budget,” says Wolf. “Even if you have a huge budget, we still can’t make it happen if expectations aren’t realistic.”

This stage of the building process is about compromise, restraint and perhaps a little heartache when you have to give up some of the luxuries your budget doesn’t cater for.

When identifying your tastes and style, use a home design site like Houzz for inspiration and to visually communicate ideas to your architect or builder.

Once you have the nuts and bolts of your design, you’ll move onto the blueprint stage. Blueprints are the plans you send to council to get your building permit. They will also become the guideline for your building team.

Let the magic happen

You’ve sorted your finances, created the plans, assembled your team; the only thing left is to build your house! The best advice you can follow is to stay calm and keep a sense of humour throughout the building process.

Stuff happens.

It’s how you react that counts. Having a sharp architect or builder makes all the difference. They’re used to hiccups and they have the experience to deal with situations swiftly and minimise negative impacts.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. What does a dream home mean to you?


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    The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of REALas.