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  • Carmel Homes

Who Should Draw Up Your House Plans?

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

If you are like most people, you will probably require some professional support when putting together your new home plans. An experienced designer can help you to refine your design ideas and come up with creative ways to fulfil your requirements. They can also guide you through the whole process, providing advice and supporting your decision making.

Here we take a closer look at your options when choosing someone to help you with your new house plans. We explore the different design professionals who can assist you and the key considerations when working with each. Based on this, we also share our recommendations for who to work with to get the best results.

Tap into the experience and education of an architect

In many ways, architects are considered the gold standard of home design experts. They are broadly seen as the most qualified and experienced option and the best for highly bespoke designs. As such, their work carries a certain prestige and being ‘architecturally designed’ is a serious selling point for high-end homes.

Given this reputation, there are understandably tight controls on who can call themselves an architect. A designer must complete at least five years at university and two years of professional development to use this title. They also need to sit, and pass, several competency tests before being registered with the relevant state governing body.

Thanks to this, architects should have a highly developed understanding of both the design and engineering of a new home. They should also have a greater appreciation of architectural history and a larger pool of design references to pull from. This is on top of a genuine passion for creating designs that are both beautiful and functional.

As part of their education and training, architects also learn about the practicalities of the building process. This includes important administrative considerations, like setting up and reviewing contracts and establishing and managing build budgets. As such, a good architect can be a great resource throughout the build process, providing invaluable support and guidance.

With all of this in mind, when you work with an architect, you can expect a unique, tailored design. They should take the time to get a clear picture of your requirements and how you and your family live. They should also take a more holistic view of the design, considering how it can work best with its surroundings.

But all this expertise, creativity, and credibility comes at a cost – usually a significant one. Because of their strong focus on the finer details, architects often devote significant time to each design. This, combined with their education and experience, usually make an architect the most expensive option when choosing a home designer.

In fact, an architect’s fees can account for up to around 10% of the total build budget. And, if you want your architect to also assist with the management of the project, it will cost even more.

Keep costs down with a building designer

If you know what you want in your new home, working with a building designer may be a better option. While they may not have the same creative flair as many architects, a building designer can help refine your ideas. And, as they do not need to do as much formal training, their service is usually more cost-effective.

Previously known as a draftsperson, a building designer specialises in preparing all the documents you will need throughout the build. As part of this, they will work through the details of your design and the specifications of the various features. They should also be able to provide advice on getting the most from your floor plan and using the space efficiently.

Unlike an architect, a building designer does not need to complete any formal training or hold any specific qualifications. As such, they often come from different professional backgrounds and have varying levels of design experience. That said, most have some history with architecture or construction, and many have completed formal training (like an Advanced Diploma).

Here in Victoria, building designers also need to be registered with the Victorian Building Authority before they can practise professionally. As part of this, they are required to prove that they meet minimum knowledge and experience standards. This is in addition to making sure their designs comply with local planning and building industry requirements.

With all of this in mind, the main appeal of using a building designer is their relative affordability. While they produce a similar suite of documentation to an architect, they generally cost about half as much. When using a building designer, you should expect their fees to account for about 3% – 5% of your build budget.

Much like an architect, a building designer can also support you as you work through planning and engaging your builder. They can even act as project managers throughout the build, maintaining the schedule and coordinating the different contractors. In fact, many building designers have a background in construction and are especially adept at managing day-to-day site operations.

That being said, building designers are generally less consultative in their approach. Most are also more interested in the practicalities of the building process rather than the architectural merit of the design. As such, a building designer may not be the best choice if you are after a ‘boundary pushing’ statement home.

Also, depending on the complexity of the engineering required, you may not be able to use a building designer. For example, if you are planning a three-storey (or taller) home, you will need to use a registered architect.

Streamline the whole process with a design and build company

Looking for a happy medium? A design and build builder like Carmel Homes might give you exactly what you need. After all, these companies combine the artistry of an architect and the practicality of a builder.

One of the biggest selling points of a design and build company is that they are full service. This means you work with one team that takes you from initial design to final handover and manages everything in between. It also means the whole process should be faster and more efficient, and communication should be easier.

Best of all, the best design and build companies, like Carmel Homes, have experienced architects on staff. This should make moving from the design phase to the building phase seamless and stress-free. It should also minimise the risk of issues during construction as your architect will know the limitations of your builders.

While design and build companies can deliver very high-end finishes, they usually have a strong focus on cost-efficiency. This is generally reinforced by a fixed-price contract, which gives you greater certainty about the total cost of your build. It also provides a solid base for budget management throughout the build and negotiation point for any changes or issues.

Working with a design and build company doesn't even mean you have less control over the project. Most design and build companies take a highly consultative approach and are happy to facilitate any special requirements you may have.

So… who should you choose to do your house plans?

Ultimately, the right design professional for you will depend on your priorities and the type of home you are planning. For example, if you want your home to be a real showpiece, it may be worth engaging an acclaimed architect. Alternatively, if you are working with a limited budget and have strong design ideas, a building designer may be better.

That being said, we believe that a good design and build company can deliver the best of both worlds. Much like an architect, they will take the time to get to know you and what you are looking for. They should also be able to come up with creative ways to give you everything on your wishlist.

At the same time, they should understand the limitations of your budget and tailor your design to suit. They should also be able to recommend cost-effective ways in your knockdown rebuild project to achieve the level of finish you are after. And, because they generally provide an end-to-end service, the experience should be easier and less stressful.

However, when choosing a design and build company, it is important to look for one with significant design experience. Ideally, you should try to find a company with an in-house architect and a portfolio of bespoke builds.

Want to discuss your options further?

If you are looking for an experienced professional to help put together your house plans, give Carmel Homes a call. As one of the leading design and build companies in Melbourne, we specialise in creating luxurious, unique, and beautiful homes. We also provide full-service project management and will guide you through every step, making sure you are part of the process.

For more information on our services and approach, or to arrange your complimentary design consultation, contact us today.



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