Stage 3. Planning

OK – so on our last email we looked at the land purchase, this email will assume you’re onto stage 3 – Planning what you want to build! Now remember, you can keep this email to read later if you’re not at this stage, or you can zoom ahead to the other stages as you need to make this process move at your pace:



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So”¦ if it’s good enough for Grey and McDreamy – it’s good enough for you! No, I’m not recommending everyone gets out candles (but you can if you like!) But definitely get out and walk around your block. Take a step ladder and see your views from the correct elevation. Take some pegs and rope or whatever you need and map out what your home is going to look and feel like.

So – here are my best tips for this planning stage:

  1. Spend time on your block to get a feel for what your home will feel like on the land. Picnic there, wander, explore. Go there at different times of the day, watch the light and the shadow. Feel the wind. Ok.. it’s getting a little Anne of Green Gables now, but you get the picture.
  2. Don’t just rely on a plan, step around real rooms. Find a room that’s the same size in your current home and walk around it. Play with your furniture. Does it need to be that size, what does that size actually feel like. Will your couch fit or does the room dwarf it!?

Words of wisdom from a client of ours “People should know there’s never a build that’s 100%. We have found you always would change things/spaces. Even with your “˜dream home’“

  1. To that end, if you can get inside real homes your builder has built or your architect has designed even better. Ask for a list of homes, drive by them, speak to the home owners (if you can, in a respectful way) and ask how they found the process of building but then also how they’ve found their first few months or years living in the home. How have their homes held up over time?
  2. Remember bigger is NOT always better! Bigger can sometimes just mean extra unnecessary cost, issues with valuation and “¦ let’s be fair”¦ more to clean!!
  3. Details count. The more detailed your inclusions are when we take the plans to be valued the more chance we’ve got of convincing our valuer that your home is worth what you’re paying! One of clients said: “- It’s easy to get decision fatigue! We ended up using pinterest as a way of having a “˜style guide’, which helped us make quicker, more consistent decisions (everything was wooden, concrete or satin black).
  4. Remember, a $4,500 bathtub doesn’t typically add $4,500 worth of value to a home – nor does a whopping huge shed. The little tweaks you make that suit you perfectly may cause some valuation issues later on down the track. Now this is fine if you’ve got equity to spare, but if you’re very close to the line, keep this in mind.
  5. Here’s a great tip from a client of ours “I wish I had put in more power points. They’re double the cost or more to do them after the build. Put them freaking everywhere. J”
  6. Now we LOVE architectural builds here at Up – some of us are even married to architects (ok just one of us). BUT – bear in mind that architectural builds often value lower than the cost which can impact with valuation. It’s just a harsh truth of it unfortunately. So if you’re going with an existing architectural build, it’s best to keep some buffer put aside in your budget to prepare for a low valuation.
  7. The library can be your best friend. You’ll find that a lot of the awesome design magazines that you will use as your inspiration either in your library for free or on the library reading app. Talk about research mode – you can go town without it impacting your budget for that cool orange washer and dryer you want to put in (ok – this isn’t for everyone, but some of our clients did it and I’m still drooling a little out the side of my mouth over how it looked in a black room).
  8. Here’s another awesome tip from a client of ours: “Designing a house is endless compromise – it’s about the ideas you don’t use! We had a priority list (view, north facing and sunny, walking distance to shops and parks, interesting design etc) and you had to be brutal about what was most important! We also called it a “10 year house” which helped us get over not having everything we possible wanted.”
  9. Choose your architect / builder carefully. You’re going to have a long and sometimes tenuous relationship with them. You want someone you can communicate with well and who you relate to in a good way. Things may get tense. Be prepared for that and talk about how conflict resolution is handled up front. Most of all, find someone you trust, ask for personal recommendations from friends and family who’ve built – take your time choosing someone you feel is a good fit.
  10. We’ll leave this tip til last because it’s perhaps the most important in your whole planning stage. Take time. Take your time choosing what you want in your home. Slow it down as much as you need to to get it right. Even if this isn’t your forever house, it’s still very important that you get the planning stage done right in terms of picking things out. And there’s a few reasons for this. One – it’s a house not a pair of shoes!! These decisions are pretty permanent. Two – a little thing called VARIATIONS!  Now when we submit your build to the lender and get it approved anything you change after that time is called a variation and you pay for it yourself. These variations can be very costly (like my client who changed all their tiles to the cost of many thousands of dollars) – so try to avoid them as much as possible by getting your planning done right now.

Oh yeah – and remember – DO NOT sign your building contract without it being subject to finance (that old chestnut!)

Here’s what some of our clients who spent a LONG time planning had to say about what they loved most about the process “Getting to see something that we had created on paper become reality. During the construction phase, each time we came onsite we enjoyed seeing the incremental progress of the build. The privilege of creating a custom design to suit our individual family’s needs.”

And here’s what Levi and Kate had to say about what they loved most about building: “Seeing a dream go from a conversation between Kate and I, right through to living in a physical building!

Actually living and enjoying some of the ideas that we dreamed up on paper – passive solar design, massive island bench central in the house, ginormous window etc. Seeing our baby girl crawl around enjoy the house too”!

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Happy planning,


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