It can be difficult to know where to begin planning your design if you are a first-time self-builder or are looking to consider a knockdown and rebuild. You can divide the process into four steps to make it easier to understand. Each stage’s factors must be assessed, explored, and incorporated into the design of your proposed building.
Create a house design brief
The first step is to create a general project brief. This is not a static document; it changes and is refined as the design evolves.
The brief addresses crucial features of the project, such as the number of bedrooms, natural light maximisation, high levels of insulation, and other sustainable criteria that are vital to you. It will include aspects of how you want to live, such as open plan or individual rooms.
It will also include your goals, such as ‘I want to see the sun when I get up’ or ‘this piece of art/furniture is important to me, and I want the living room to incorporate it as a focal point.’ Therefore, it might be important to take the help of a professional architecture firm that can sketch out the perfect house design as per your needs. You might want to add a few inputs to the sketch later if you feel there is a need for it.
As the design evolves, it may be influenced by planning requirements as well as your budget. However, at this time, think positively and without constraints.
Examine the site
The next step is to analyse the site, which will play a vital role in the final design. Leaving aside local planning restrictions for the time being, your site study should include the following components:
- Orientation – South-facing elevations will be significant for passive solar gain and solar panel placement. Consider whether you need to screen your home from traffic and noise.
- Views – organise the essential areas (living and bedrooms) to maximise these.
- Building and window proximity – arrange your property so that you don’t overlook your neighbours. Ideally, there should be at least 12m between your bedroom windows and those of your neighbours. The minimum spacing between adjacent living rooms is normally 21m.
- A three-bedroom house will typically require at least two parking places. So, consider whether there is enough parking space and whether you can get the correct vision splay if you’re constructing a new access point.
Prepare your building’s footprint
The next step is to determine the quantity of space needed and your preferred building design.
This will be written out on the site plan, and the design of your home will be modified based on certain effects from your site research. It is also crucial to consider how rooms flow from the entryway to formal and informal settings.
The dimensions of various rooms will be determined by the aspects described in your project brief, but ultimately by the size of your site.
Your designer will need to analyse the day-to-day operation of your home and create a cohesive plan to offer something that meets your wants while remaining within the volume of your new property.
To guide your style, consider the materials used in neighbouring buildings and the surrounding region. You can introduce new materials, but only in appropriate contexts, so that your property fits in with its surroundings.