• Carmel Homes

What is design to build process?

If you have not done it before, building a new home can seem like an extremely complicated undertaking. There are multiple contractors to manage, the local council has to be engaged, and something always seems to go wrong. But, in reality, the whole process is usually a lot more straightforward than it first seems.


That is not to suggest that building a new home is easy because it definitely takes a lot of work. It’s more that it is quite a sequential process, and when you understand it, you can prepare yourself for what comes next. You can also plan ahead and make sure you are ready for the next step, both mentally and logistically.


To help with this, we want to walk through the key stages of the design and build process. While the exact steps will vary slightly depending on your site and design, the high-level approach is usually the same. As such, when planning your new home, you should be prepared to go through the following nine steps.

Step 1: Planning the project


The first thing you need to do is develop and document your new home’s design. As part of this, you will need to work out your floor plan and any architectural features you would like. You also need to select the overarching design style – for example, if you want a French Provincial home or a more modern home design.


At this stage, you will also need to choose the project management approach you want to adopt. Most significantly, you will need to decide whether to work with a standard builder or a design and build builder. And if you choose the former, you will also need to work out who will help you refine and document your design.


Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Defining your requirements and overall design style.

  • Working with your design team to finalise your new house plans.

  • Following up with your design team to confirm all required architectural drawings are complete.

READ > Why Engage a Design and Build Home Builder?

Step 2: Securing approvals

Once you have finalised and documented your plans, you will need to submit them to the relevant council for review. They will then assess your plans against the local building standards to make sure you have met all the requirements. Generally, they will also put your plans out to public comment to make sure there are no significant community objections.


To help streamline this step, it is best to research any applicable development restrictions during the planning phase. Understanding these early in the process should help you avoid any issues at the review stage. It will also help you make sure you have all the documents you will require when submitting your planning application.


Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Ensuring all required planning documents (soil test, development checklist, environment and heritage protection reports, etc.) are completed.

  • Collating and submitting your planning application.

  • Responding to any requests for clarification or further information.

Step 3: Preparing the site

Once the council has given your plans the green light, your build team can get to work. And the first thing they will need to do is make sure your site is ready for your new home. This will usually involve some form of groundwork (excavation, levelling, etc.), but this will depend on your site and design.

During this stage, any underground connections your new home requires will also need to be laid. And, if you are undertaking a knockdown and rebuild, any existing structures will need to be demolished before the groundwork begins.

Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Coordinating the connection of key services (stormwater, sewage, etc.).

  • Working with your build and design teams to respond to any issues that arise.

READ > Design & Build Builder vs Architect vs Building Designer in Australia

Step 4: Laying the foundations

Once your block has been properly prepared, the building of your new home can begin, starting from the ground up. This is an especially stage on a sloping block. Depending on your design, your foundation could be made from a few different materials, which your build team will lay for you. They will also make sure that any required service (water, electricity, gas, etc.) connections are built into the foundations.


Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Working with your build and design teams to respond to any issues that arise.

Step 5: Building the frame

Once your foundation is laid and cured (if required), the structure of your new home can begin to take shape. The frame is essentially your new home’s skeleton and will define each space within the broader floor plan. It will also determine the placement of your windows and doors and provide the underpinning for the roof.

Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Working with your build and design teams to respond to any issues that arise.


Step 6: Completing the exterior


Once the frame is up, your build team can get to work on making the structure weather-proof. This will usually start with fitting your roofing materials and installing your external windows and doors. Your external cladding material (timber, brick, stone, etc.) will then be added to complete the structure.


This stage is particularly crucial because it gets your new home to a major milestone known as lock up. This is when the external structure is essentially complete and can be fully secured, or ‘locked up’. It means you have greater control over who can access the property and makes it safer to install valuable internal fittings.


Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Confirming final external design decisions (roofing and cladding materials, door and window choices, etc.).

  • Working with your build and design teams to respond to any issues that arise.

Step 7: Installing the internal fixtures

Once your new home is secure, your build team can begin working on the internal fit-out. Sometimes, these activities will start even sooner, with things like plastering able to be done as soon as the structure is weather-proof.


This stage is most homeowners’ favourite, as it is when their new home really starts to come alive. It is when many of your major design decisions, like your flooring, tiling, ceiling details, and paint choices, first come together. It is also when many of the more functional elements, like internal doors, stairs, cabinetry, and shower screens, are put in place.


It is often also the stage where the most issues arise, and the timeline can blow out. No matter how carefully you plan your build, materials may still be delayed or go missing, and trades can be held up. If this happens, it is important to trust your team and work with them to find suitable solutions.


Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Confirming final internal fixture decisions (flooring choices, cabinetry and paint colours, etc.).

  • Working with your build and design teams to respond to any issues that arise.

READ > How to Design and Build Your Own House

Step 8: Finishing the internal fittings

Once all the major internal fixtures have been installed, your build team can move on to the finishing touches. These are the final functional features – your benchtops, inbuilt appliances, and plugs and switches – that make your home liveable. They are also the smaller design choices, like your tapware and light fittings, that tie the whole look together.


As you are so close to the end, it can be tempting to try to rush things at this stage. But, as mistakes here will often be highly visible, it is best to be patient and take your time.


Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Confirming final internal fixture decisions (benchtops, tapware, light fittings, etc.).

  • Working with your build and design teams to respond to any issues that arise.

Step 9: Handing over property

Once everything is in and properly installed, your new home is essentially finished. But before they hand it over, most builders will want to do a walk-through with you to confirm you are happy. They will also take this opportunity to identify any issues they need to fix before closing out the build.


These will usually be minor things (like patching and paint touch-ups) and will be done before the final handover. Your new house will then be cleaned, and after one more walk-through and final payment is received, the keys will be yours.


Key activities you will need to do at this stage include:

  • Inspecting the completed property and preparing a list of any final fixes that need to be made.

  • Arranging insurance for your new home.

  • Making the final payment to your builder.

  • Receiving the keys to your new home.

Want to discuss this further?

If you would like more information on building a new home or need help planning your own build, contact Carmel Homes. As a full-service custom home builder, we specialise in supporting our clients through the whole design and build process. We also offer complimentary, obligation-free design consultation sessions and can help you bring your dream home to life.

Contact Us for a free consultation

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