Friday, October 5, 2018

How to build a Home Part 4: Design Basics

There are many aspects of building design that need to be done properly.  Put simply, it is worth spending the time and money on getting a good design on paper, rather then having to deal with the expensive consequences of fixing it when building, or even having to live with a poorly designed building.

Here is a checklist of the most important design aspects for a successful home:

1. Site plan - sun angles, winter, summer; prevailing winds (eg sea breezes), hot northerly, or cool southerlies (this is for southern Australia); size of site, other site constraints eg building setbacks

2. the number of rooms, and their intended uses

3. style of home - exterior look, internal flow for example open plan, construction method (eg single or double storey), cladding of home - brick veneer, weatherboard, modern designer boards etc.

4. 'features' of the home - 'designer' kitchen, multiple garages, granny flats, work/study spaces etc.

5.  Budget.  I've put this last, but it really dictates all the above, and in fact it is one of the areas that demands a lot of time, effort and research, and perhaps is the one that many people fail to get right.

As you can see there are many aspects of good building design to get right. A good design contributes to the 'livability' of the home,  a poor design can mean a cold, dark home in winter, or a home with poor airflow in summer.  Good designs minimise noise, allow light and warmth into the home.

Many many homes are poorly sited, and have the orientation wrong.  It usually comes from buying a project home from a plan, and putting it on a site that it doesn't suit. I don't wish to be too critical here, just merely making an observation. Sometimes people are overly concerned with the street view.  This usually means having living spaces and living room windows facing the street. But what happens if the house front is facing south?  Well you don't get any light or warmth into the living space in winter.  A better design has the living spaces on the northern side of the home, and carefully designed street view that incorporates the sleeping and other non living areas into it.  Perhaps with landscaping if privacy is an issue.

Another issue I have seen is the garage placement.  Why would you place a garage in the sunniest corner of the house?  It doesn't make sense!  Good design eliminates these problems.

So spend your time and your money wisely. Engage an architect or a skilled building designer who is familiar with your area - especially if it is your first build or renovation.  The pay-off will be a much better designed home that will suit your needs for now, and perhaps well into the future.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How to build a home Part 3: Ask questions

How do I do it?  I am lucky that I am good with ideas.  I understand how things go together or a made - whether it is a car engine, a building or sometimes an obscure piece of art.  I seem to be able to understand these things that to others might seem complicated.  Sometimes it is just a matter of looking - observation is the word - observing how the professionals do things.  What do they do?  What do they use?  How do they use it?  Ask yourself these question. By breaking something down into smaller pieces, and asking these questions, we can start to understand how to make things.

Another tip - if I am not sure about something, I usually ask the professionals.  If you are nice, and don't ask too many questions they will tell you quite a bit.  For example, the other day I asked a builder why he was using a special type of framing timber, for the construction of walls. He replied because they are nice and straight and you don't have to spend 3 days straightening everything.  Makes sense ha?

I have applied this technique to my own building and saved myself tens of thousands of dollars.

Not only can I build a home, I can work on my car, I can fix things for friends and neighbours.  I can have a go at most things.  I can (sort of) weld.  I can knock pieces of timber together.  I can wire a light switch, plumb gas line, dig footings, lay insulation, gyprock a ceiling, mix concrete, make windows and doors from scratch.  Many of these tasks are not that 'hard' or require the hands of a surgeon.  Most just simply come with the reading of installation guides, looking on the internet, asking the right questions of professionals, and just simply 'having a go.'

PS: if you are not sure about building your own home - ask me and I will do my best to answer!