How to choose a builder, your design layout and add the final touches
Building a custom home or renovating your existing one has many benefits, so when you get the opportunity, make the most of it by covering all your bases. We’ve teamed up with Spacemaker Home Extensions, experts in home extensions in Melbourne, to share six of their most useful tips when building a home, and finalising the design and finishing touches.
Tip #1: Select the right builder
You probably already have an idea of how you want your home to look, so now you need to find a custom builder to bring that vision to life with practical and functional features. The quality of the builder will set the tone for the entire construction and renovation experience, so choosing a credible one is critical.
Keep the following in mind while doing research:
● Experience: Builders with years–or better yet, decades–of experience from working with various teams on numerous projects can become invaluable partners on your building journey. They’re likely to bring a wealth of expertise and skills to your project, so it runs without a hitch.
● Recognition and awards: Look for builders belonging to prestigious organisations that recognise and reward excellence in all aspects of construction. Membership in, and accolades earned from reputable institutions like the Master Builders Association of Victoria (MBAV) show the builder’s commitment to high standards of workmanship.
● Sustainable practices: Eco-friendly and energy-efficient homes are better for the environment and can be more cost effective for homeowners over time. Look for builders who choose natural construction materials, integrate solar features or use passive design principles, along with other sustainable practices.
● Referrals and testimonials: Word of mouth is powerful because it’s reliable. Hear about the service first-hand from trusted sources, and see the results for yourself. Read online reviews to find out what past and current clients say about their experience with the quality of service and delivery provided by different builders to help guide your decision.
● Project management skills: Take note of what is specifically said about the project manager. Did they stick to the budget? Were they approachable? A competent project manager can make all the difference to your building experience.
What to expect from the design process
Once you’ve chosen a custom home builder that meets your criteria, the home design process can begin. Our building partners at Spacemaker Home Extensions share their six-step design process:
Step 1: Introductory visit and discussion
First, meet with the building team to discuss your ideas and goals for the project. The team brainstorms ways to bring your vision to life and make it work within an estimated budget. They’ll also explain what to expect throughout the construction process.
Step 2: Concept plans and specifications
When you’ve agreed on the design and possible investment involved, the team measures your house and drafts a concept plan, including 3D drawings, specifications and a budget estimate.
Step 3: Project planning and budgeting
Once you approve the budget and concept plans, the engineer, estimator and draftsperson prepare a more detailed plan, refined quote and specifications.
Step 4: Finalising turnaround times and budget
The team confirms a fixed price for your project. A building contract is drawn up and signed by you and the team.
Step 5: Building and town planning permits
If permits are needed for your project, the building team applies for them on your behalf and works on getting them approved so you don’t need to worry about paperwork or administration. Construction only starts when all necessary permits are approved.
Step 6: Construction begins
Renovating or building your dream home begins. The project managers and skilled tradespeople will ensure the entire process is as stress-free as possible. Each builder has their own design and building process—ensure your chosen builder’s process is thorough and transparent so you know what to expect upfront, and your construction project will run more smoothly.
Tip #2: Refine the kitchen
Some building challenges are not unusual during the construction process. When designing the ultimate kitchen, think about how the layout, workflow and space can meet the needs of your household.
Layout and functional workflow
Your kitchen must work for you – all design elements should take your cooking style and your family’s lifestyle into account. Chat with your builder about your kitchen habits, the size of your family, who cooks regularly and how you like to entertain. These details help direct the design to efficiently meet your requirements. The resulting layout may have dedicated areas for food preparation, cooking and eating, giving you a well-organised and functional kitchen.
Limited storage can mean chaotic and disorganised spaces. Prevent or remedy these with clever ways that make good use of space, even in smaller kitchens, such as:
● Corner units and shelving
● High-reaching wall units
● Door-hung shelves
● Pan drawers
● Pull-out baskets
● Hidden spice racks
Custom shelving for smaller, or handheld appliances can declutter countertops and increase bench space.
Benchtops are needed not just for food preparation, but for almost every kitchen task. Common complaints include not having enough bench space opposite the fridge or next to large kitchen appliances like the oven and stove top — a safety concern because it’s risky to carry hot food across the kitchen.
Tip #3: Polish up the bathroom
The two biggest bathroom building challenges are implementing the plumbing and air flow correctly.
Older homes can have corroded and damaged plumbing systems. If this is the case, it’s safest to replace the pipes to prevent further deterioration, or worse—having them burst and flood your bathroom. Sediment and debris can accumulate in the pipes, lowering the water pressure, clogging up the plumbing system and, in severe cases, contaminating the water. Ensure that your plumber double-checks all pipes and flushes them out.
Properly installed ventilation systems prevent moisture buildup and mould. An exhaust fan and outside vent are essential to effectively remove moisture and reduce humidity. Telltale signs of poor ventilation are foggy mirrors and drywalls that sweat after showering.
Tip #4: Perfect the laundry
Whilst the laundry isn’t always a top renovation priority, there are long-lasting advantages from improving its functionality.
Present and future accessibility
The majority of Australia’s ageing population wants to stay independent and live a self-sufficient lifestyle, so ergonomic considerations are now influencing home renovations for each room, including the laundry. Some laundry building challenges—such as accessibility and practicality—can be fixed, or even avoided completely.
● Position your laundry appliances at a height that doesn’t require bending over, stretching up or standing on tiptoes to reach them
● Install lower shelves with pull-out storage baskets for easy access
Think about both your current and future needs, then discuss them with your builder for a custom solution.
Energy efficient appliances
Water- and energy-efficient washers and energy-efficient dryers are better for the planet and your pocket. Increasing your home’s energy and water efficiency can help to reduce electricity and water bills, lowering your household expenses over time.
Tip #5: Choose tasteful tapware
Kitchen and bathroom trends are continually evolving, with tapware becoming more versatile and practical without compromising on elegance. Some of the latest styles include:
Matte black tapware
Bold and glamorous, matte black taps draw attention to themselves. The black tapware trend is simple to integrate into your theme and colour palette, and matches a variety of tiling.
Brushed nickel tapware
The golden-brown tint of brushed nickel works with most colour schemes. Nickel is scratch-resistant, making it easy to maintain, and it’s simple to keep clean. It’s no wonder that the popularity of brushed nickel tapware has soared in Australia since 2022.
Taps mounted on the wall save space and offer more room when washing up–ideal for smaller bathrooms and kitchens, too. Enjoy a minimalist look or spa-like experience in the comfort of your home.
Motion sensor taps automatically shut off after each use, saving water and improving hygiene. Because they don’t have handles, they help reduce the spread of germs. Homeowners have increasingly been choosing touchless taps since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tip #6: Finalising fixtures and fittings
The latest home style trends are moving away from linear designs toward asymmetrical and organically shaped fixtures and fittings. Consider these stylish finishing touches:
● Teardrop light pendants
● Arched wall mirrors
● Curved stone basins
● Wallpaper with irregular shapes
● Bathtubs with flowing lines
Rounded walls and curved glazing incorporate the newer trend of organic shapes to create a softer, more relaxed atmosphere at home.
Create your dream home by seeking out the home design experts
Before starting your next home renovation project, do your research and seek out the experts in your area. Design 10 is an award-winning leader in developing and designing kitchen, bathroom and laundries for Australian homes. We work with trusted boutique builders, such as Spacemaker Home Extensions, to bring your dream home to life. Book a free consultation or visit a Design 10 showroom to see for yourself what dream homes are made of.