Custom Home Design Process

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Stage 1: Design Brief and Analysis (1-2 weeks)

I am Derek Sallans, principal designer here at Longhouse. You’ll most likely see my name on a lot of our Learning Centre articles and on your Plan Set when you get it. I am located in Bundanoon in the NSW Southern Highlands, and I offer full custom home design services for the local region. This area is from Sydney to Canberra, including the South Coast and Southern Tablelands.

If you are looking for a custom home, more complete documentation for one of our standard plans, or project management help for your build, I’d be happy to discuss your project. Below is the typical design process that I follow, which is generally priced at 3% of your build budget. We will work out the full scope of services and fees during Stage 1 of course, so don’t worry if you don’t know your budget if if that percentage fee sounds a bit vague.

Stage 1: Design Brief and Analysis (1-2 weeks)

I will meet with you at your home, at your site, or via video link and discuss your aims for the project and the services you require. This discussion, along with your answers from the design questionnaire, will be compiled into a Design Brief, which is a summary of the design parameters and guides the process through Stages 2 and 3. The Brief is a “living document” which means it is continually reviewed and adjusted as the design evolves, to ensure that we are both working toward the same goals.

I will undertake a remote site analysis to get an idea of the land and it’s dominant parameters such as slope and sun exposure.

 At the completion of this stage, we will have a Design Brief, Scope of Works, and Design Contract.

Stage 2: Schematic design (2-4 weeks)

The existing site conditions are fully modelled, and an initial conceptual building model is created. An existing site plan, conceptual floor plans, and several perspective views of the model will be exported and presented to the client at this stage.

We will open this stage with discussions informed by the Design Brief, with the aim of establishing styles, desired features, and your particular needs and desires. During this stage I will undertake both remote and in-person site analysis to determine zoning and planning restrictions, slope, vegetation, sun exposure, views and a range of other factors which will inform the design.

Once all the requirements are laid out I will establish the building’s position as well as the size, general location, and relationships of the rooms and spaces. From here I will develop some initial sketches which will lead to the final design during Stage 3.

This stage involved a great deal of sketching and discussions, and is where we work closely together to figure out how to get the best possible results for livability, efficiency, character, and budget.

At the completion of this stage, we will have sketches for a site plan, floor plan, elevations, and potentially some perspectives to show scale and relationships in more real terms.

Stage 3: Design Development (3-4 weeks)

Once the schematic design is complete, it is further refined and detailed during this stage. We will get down to specifics on materials for interior and exterior, windows and doors, fittings, details, and features.

During this process I will guide you through the vast range of options with an eye to creating a healthy, sustainable, and extremely durable building which will last many generations.

As materials, styles, building methods, and features are set in place, the exact dimensions of the building will come together. At this point a cost estimator will be able to give a good indication of final budget, and we can discuss engaging their services.

This stage includes an initial full design based on our collaborative discussions, plus two (2) rounds of revision after presentation of the design. Any further revisions at your request will attract an hourly design fee.

At the completion of this stage, we will have a full 3D model of the building and site. I will create a dimensioned set of plans and elevations along with an image book showing interior and exterior perspectives. I will also provide a video link to a final 3D flythrough so you can undertake a virtual tour of the building.

Stage 4: Planning Documentation and Working Drawings (4-5 weeks)

Full design details are added to the model at this stage including all elements required for construction.

A full set of drawings is compiled with a design package tailored to the specific council area of the project. Documents are created at this stage to support the planning application including window and door schedules, materials selections, building specifications, Bushfire Report, Environmental Reports, Engineering, BASIX and any other documents required.

I fully model an indicative segment of each part of the building, down to the trim and fixings, which then go into a drawing package which your builder can refer to throughout the build.

After notifying you, I will organise consultants to undertake engineering, energy, bushfire, and environmental assessments etc. Consultants fees will need to be paid by you as they arise.

At the completion of this stage, we will have everything required to submit the plans to Council for development and construction approval, as well as full working drawings.

Stage 5: Contract Administration

Once all approvals are in place, I can provide full project administration for the duration of the build.

During this time, I will call for tenders and recommend to you suitable contractors who will provide the best outcome on the build.

I will regularly visit the build site to monitor progress and ensure compliance to the plans and to the expected quality standards. If required, I will review the builder’s invoices and confirm all works included have been completed satisfactorily. During the build, I will be on hand to assist in designing any changes which you may require once things are underway, but it is highly recommended to avoid this if possible. I will provide ongoing technical support to the builder to ensure the build progresses smoothly.