Design efficiency is often overlooked and not discussed very often by buyers and builders alike. Over years of home design and building I have had to review countless house designs in order to economise the building to achieve a target budget. There are a few simple rules when going through this review which I have outlined below.
Economise wasted space
This is the most simple step for someone with a high level of spatial awareness. A quick overview of a floor plan will highlight areas that are larger than required or excessive. Examples may be significant lengths of passageways, odd sized areas where rooms don’t connect or flow properly or simply oversized rooms. Last year a client came to me and showed me a house plan he had designed through a so called architect that had a master bedroom 8.5m x 3.0m and the client didn’t identify the room as being odd until I pointed it out. If you’re familiar with viewing architectural plans this process is quite simple, however for most home buyers it’s very difficult to visualise space just by looking at a scaled drawing. A simpler way that I recommend to buyers is to take a blank piece of paper and cut out scaled sized furniture that they have in their current home, then position it on the home design plans where they think it will go. This will then help them to assess proportions of room sizes in relation to their furniture.
Remove excess engineering costs
When designing and building two storey homes the main factor in price efficiency is with engineering costs. Large spans of open space on the ground floor could cause the engineer to increase the depth of the suspended slab from 172mm to 257mm, which adds significant costs. Keeping enough structural walls beneath the slab in key positions will remove the need for this cost and can still mean you have a fantastic open space.
Minimising suspended slab extensions is also critical, something that an experienced architect or house designer will do automatically, but often overlooked by novice designers. This poor design feature will make a house have a concrete slab where it is underutilised, and hidden in the roof space which just means it’s a very expensive ceiling.
Reducing the need for structural columns is also a factor. Since the supply and installation of a structural column can cost $400-$500 each you want to reduce the number used in a house design. Clever use of internal walls can easily save $3,000 – again a cost that will never be seen once the home is completed.
This step by step analysis was performed recently on a cheap two storey home design that highlights changes made to the elevation and style of the home saved significant building costs.