• Expert design advice for new home builders and renovators

    Expert design advice for new home builders and renovators

    As a real estate agent, I get to spend a lot of time with younger home buyers seeking to either renovate an established home, or build their new family home. 

    I know from experience that renovating a kitchen in itself can be daunting, with so many options and choices available. So, when it comes to building an entire new home, making the right decisions around design, style and fittings may seem daunting, or even impossible to get right.  

    But for most new home builders, it’s generally the first time they will have built a new home or even renovated. 

    However, fortunately it’s the same rules that apply for first timers as for seasoned renovators or new home builders, so you end up with a home that you are happy with.

    Here are my top three tips for anyone taking on a renovation or a new home build.

    Tip 1: Plan and organise - put the effort in up front to get it right

    The Budget!

     Once again, it’s that b-word ‘budget’ that gets the ball rolling. Work out a clear budget as to what you can afford to spend – like when buying a property, and stick to it!

    This task in itself will require some fine tuning, as your budget needs to be realistic, but you also need to ensure that you are not going to over capitalise on the project. 

     A great place to start is to visit as many builders as possible and get a basic sense of the cost per square metre to build your new home or complete your renovation. Start to compare the standard of finishes and materials from a range of builders so that you can get a sense of what your budget will buy, or what your expectation is going to cost! 

    Obviously, larger volume builders will tend to be more competitive on price than smaller custom builders so you need to remember this.  Also, the choice of fittings and materials will influence the price. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples, so to speak.

    Display homes are a great place to start to form ideas and potential designs. They often have the latest designs and innovations on display, but you also get the benefit of design professionals who have created interior concepts, layouts and colour schemes to start you on your way.

     Tip 2: Design and plan the important parts first

    Start with the getting the biggest components right first! Not only are they the hub of the floor-plan design, but kitchen and living areas are generally the largest areas and the most complex to get right. 

    A kitchen is more than a functional room – it’s a communal and operational centre for the family and your life! It’s where you talk, entertain and organise as well as cook and eat! Get this part wrong and it impacts in many ways.

    With so many decisions around layout, appliances, bench tops, cabinetry and other surfaces – they will also be the most expensive components of the new home or renovation. Creating or identifying a theme and design first is the key to developing a successful overall new build or renovation.

    Bathrooms are also complex in terms of design and potential budget, as they involve certified plumbing and electrical trades, tiling, cabinetry and fittings which can all be costly inclusions.  

    But this is where visiting large volume builders (those who build hundreds of homes a year), can become a source of inspiration and advice, that will save you time, but also money. 

    All large builders will have qualified architectural and design staff where you can ask questions and understand why different floor plans will suit your lifestyle, family and budget more than others. You can ask questions, compare colour samples and start to get a sense of what options and inclusions you like, but also how this will stack up against your budget.

    Tip 3: Create the right look for your lifestyle

    Watching renovation shows on TV can certainly get the creative juices flowing, however you need to keep it real and on track. Combining different design themes from various sources may sound fun, but the risk is that you will have a ‘bit of this and a bit of that’ look. 

    Establishing a design theme that can be consistently extended through your new home is the safest and most economical means to getting this aspect right. This is not to limit the creativity, but to manage the process and elements necessary to achieving the type of design scheme that you like.  

    Once again, this is where the advice from an experienced colour consultant or interior designer can help you create a look you love and explain how certain aspects of this theme work best within your budget and floor plan.

    Bringing design aspects or inspirations that appeal to you from magazines or websites together in a look-book (I love Pinterest but an an old fashioned scrapbook can work just as well) means that you have a starting point to discuss with a designer. 


    About the author

    • Nikki McCarthy

      It was Nikki’s role on property show ‘On Display’ (CH9) that led her to residential real estate. She understands what it takes to get the best results when buying or selling a home having worked with developers and agents through the course of the show.

      Nikki is now living the dream and working closely with clients as she continues to pursue her love of all things property. It is her goal to work closely with her valued clients to achieve the best possible results when buying or selling their home.

      Nikki McCarthy

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    The information here is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute financial or tax advice. You should consult your professional adviser, accountant or taxation expert for advice specific to your personal circumstances.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of RAMS Financial Group Pty Ltd ABN 30 105 207 538 (RAMS),  Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (Westpac) or their related bodies corporate. This article is strictly for information purposes only and neither RAMS, Westpac nor any of their related bodies corporate make any representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information in this article or endorse the views expressed in it.