Know the rules
First, it helps if you can find out the requirements for homes at your chosen location. You
can do this by checking with your builder and with the local council. If you’re buying into
an estate there may also be additional requirements made by the developer that you need
These requirements can cover a range of different things including types of building
materials, façade style, fences and hot water systems, to name a few. Often these are
called ‘design guidelines’ or ‘covenants’ for the estate.
‘We discovered there’s so much more to it than cost per square metre… our home has
character and spaces that work well for us.’
Choose the best plan for you
Looking at builders’ floor plans is where you can start to compare your ‘must haves’ and
‘wish list’ with what’s on offer. You can make choices based on how many square metres
you can get for your money, but smart investors know that there’s much more to a good
Think carefully about what you really need. It’s tempting to want more area for your
money but bigger isn’t always better – you’ll have less garden space and more house to
heat, cool, light, clean and furnish. This adds to your costs now and into the future. Good
design that doesn’t waste space feels great to live in and holds its value better.
The perfect fit
Make sure the homes you’re considering will fit well on your block. For example, check
the width of the home frontage and any setback requirements (the distances you have to
leave between your home and your site boundaries). Your builder should be able to help
you here – and do the work for you!
Choosing a floor plan that faces the right way on your block will make your home more
comfortable, and you won’t need to spend as much on heating, cooling and lighting.
Here are some tips for positioning your living areas:
• If the front of your block faces south, place living areas at the rear of your home -
an easy solution!
• If the front of your block faces east or west, place living areas at the rear of your
home, facing onto the north side of your block.
• If the front of your block faces north, try placing your living areas at the front of
your home and increasing your setback from the street with a private, spacious
If you have a sloping block, think about the kind of home that would make the best fit
with minimum excavation and drainage costs. Discuss this with your builder and ask
them to suggest a suitable home design.
Check with your builder that the position of your home will maintain privacy for you and
your neighbours. Keep bedrooms away from noisy areas like driveways or neighbours’
Now is also a good time to think about where you’ll put cost saving features like an
outdoor clothesline and water saving features like a rainwater tank.
North is the best position for rooms you spend a lot of time in because north-facing
rooms get sun for the longest part of the day. They are also the easiest to shade from
unwanted sun. In summer when the sun is high, the right size eaves will shade northfacing
rooms, while in winter when the sun is lower, sunlight will come in under the eaves.
If it looks like your living areas won’t get good sunlight ask your builder if you can flip or
rotate the plan for better positioning on the site, or make minor modifications to the plan