The Design is the single most important element in establishing a new house or addition to an existing house. The design process need not be complex and requires a thorough understanding of planning issues, the construction process, how best to maximise any unique aspect that the building block/or existing house has, and your individual needs and wishes.
Engaging a qualified architect, design and building company or building designer that is a Master Builders member will ensure these issues are all taken into consideration. It will also help if you engage a professional who specialises in the type of project you are proposing, for example, project home, custom home, extension, remodelling, or renovation.
The architect or designer will usually prepare an initial design concept plans. This is usually a rough outline sketch showing the approximate location of rooms, windows, views and internal circulation. Your designer will then discuss this concept with you and work with you until agreement is reached on the basic layout. Once you are satisfied, this design is developed in more detail to show furniture locations, building materials, architectural detailing, structural detailing etc.
When you are satisfied with the design concept, it is time for the preparation of the working drawings and specifications. These documents are very important. First of all, they allow all builders who are tendering on your house to quote for exactly the same thing. If the documents don't have enough detail or are unclear, different builders will quote on differing things and you will be unable to accurately compare your builders' quotations. The second reason that the working drawings and specification are important is that they form part of your contract with your chosen builder.
When considering where you should go to have your new house designed, it is important to understand who owns the copyright. Copyright of a design rests with the person who created it. Thus, if your builder prepares your plans, your builder owns the copyright. You are not permitted to use the design with another builder unless the design (plans) are purchased from the designing builder.
Remember, also, that nothing is free. Good design takes time and requires investment. It will cost more to have a house individually designed than it will to adopt an "off the shelf" design or a "cheap set of plans". However, the benefits of a good individual design will repay themselves many times over during the life of the house. The advantages of having a house individually designed for your building site, for you and your family tailored to the way you want to live cannot be underestimated. The cost of having your new house individually designed is money well spent however it's important to remember to design a project that will fit your budget.
Once you have finalised the detail design and prepared working drawings and specifications it is time to get building quotes from your preferred builders.