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Brick By Brick


Designing and building your new home is a truly unique experience. The number of steps and processes involved will vary depending on the complexity and size of the project. To help, Kelli Needham provides a general overview of the entire process from beginning to end, starting with the design stage.


The initial meeting with your designer is the integral first step of the design process. “It’s important that you feel comfortable, [and] therefore the relationship between both parties is paramount,” Needham says. After discussing what kind of home you’ve envisioned, the next step is to fill out the design brief. You should be completely involved in the briefing stage, as it’s a critical part of the design process. Under-involvement can end with a design that doesn’t meet your expectations.


Allocating a considerable amount of time to developing the brief will reduce the need for time-consuming redrafting and reworking later. Be as diligent as you can when answering any follow-up questions that the designer may have.

The brief will outline the features that are most important to you, and identify any potential issues that may alter the desired design. It
will also focus on individual design features, including the kitchen and bathroom layouts, bedroom sizes and locations, traffic patterns and room flow, as well as the pitch of the roof and window types.


The styling of your home’s exterior should be designed around the internal layout, rather than decided on at the start. Focus on your lifestyle needs and structural requirements first.

The designer will then give you the design specifications and budget estimate for the project, and prepare documentation relating to
town-planning permits, developer approvals, energy ratings, soil reports and property information, where required. From there, your building consultant will arrange a time to visit the site with you. Some of the most common things that will be assessed during the inspection include climateresponsive design and site-specific variables, orientation of the home, cool-breeze and solar access, views, overshadowing

by landforms/ trees/buildings, slope, soil type, bushfire risk, stormwater drainage, access and transport,
as well as services such as power, gas, phone, water and sewerage. The next stage is to work out some of the fundamental design aspects of the home, which include the floor plan, style and functionality, as well as any other special requirements you might want, such as energy-efficient products and appliances or extra car spaces. With these decisions made, the designer will draw up a sketch design or preliminary plan. From there, the designs are refined or expanded on, and the specific details of the home are developed. Your designer is there to ensure your dream home is achievable, so it’s a good idea to take their advice and suggestions on board. However, if you feel that a specific design isn’t quite what you’re after, don’t be afraid to ask them to tweak it a little. “It’s not uncommon [to go through] four or five drafts [of the] design before the plans are finalised and ready for building,” Needham says. After you have approved the final design, the contract will be prepared. This document will detail the cost estimates for the project. Once everything has been signed, your builder will obtain all the relevant building permits, and then the building process can finally begin!


The time it takes to design and build a new home will vary depending on the complexity of the project. Building a custom-designed home takes time, Needham says, and construction can last anywhere between 12 and 18 months. “Delays in the building timeframe can be due
to [a number of] factors, from setbacks in certification, to site challenges, weather, and material availability,” Needham says. Creating
a timeline document can be quite useful to determine whether the project is on track as the processes move along. Choosing the right builder from the start will ensure an enjoyable construction experience. “Communication is key,” Needham says. “There needs to be regular contact with your builder [in case they need] to discuss any variations to the build.”


Be sure to check the availability of trades with your builder. Remember, it’s wise to wait for a tradesperson who is the most qualified for the job. Even if it delays your start date, this will ensure the best outcome is achieved

The construction process can be broken down into 13 different stages:
1. Site Preparation: This involves the clearing and pegging of the site, which is usually undertaken by the surveyor. Retaining walls will also be constructed if required.

2. Preparing The Slab: The underfloor plumbing and drainage is carried out first, as this system is located beneath the slab development. The concrete footings are then set up in the correct position. Once the slab piering is completed to the engineer’s specifications and plans, the slab can be poured.

3. The Frames And Roof Trusses: The structural frames are delivered to the site and erected within a day or so. The external drainage can be completed at this stage as well. It’s a good idea to visit the site once the frames are up so that you can visualise each room.

4. The Roofing: Generally, builders will want to get the roof on early (including the tiles, soffits and spouting) so it can protect the frames. The windows can also be installed at this stage, which will start to give your home a sense of permanence.

5. Brickwork: The addition of bricks is an exciting visual milestone. At this point, your home is really starting to take shape. Electrical
pre-wiring and internal pre-plumbing can also be completed at this stage.

6. Insulation And Internal Linings: Insulation is installed into the walls and ceilings, which the plasterer will start working on. The bricklayer
completes the exterior and the ground is prepared for landscaping.

7. Waterproofing: All the wet areas are waterproofed in preparation for the tilers. Sometimes this takes place after or during the
timber and door fit-out.

8. Timber And Doors: At this stage, carpenters install the skirting boards, architraves, door jambs, doors and kitchen joinery. Interior finishes can also be completed, along with outdoor elements like the driveway and paths.

9. Lock It Up: Your external doors – including the garage doors – are installed and the property is now lockable.

10. Further Fit-Outs: The bulk of the electrical work is completed at this point. The bathroom/s should also be installed, including the tapware, bath, mirrors, vanities and other accessories.

11. Plumbing And Tiling: The bulk of the electrical work is completed at this point. The bathroom/s should also be installed, including the tapware, bath, mirrors, vanities and other accessories.

12. Inspection: Now that everything is almost done, an inspection can be conducted. You will walk through the property with the site manager and point out anything that still needs attention, which should only be touch-ups at this stage.

13. Handover: Finally, once you’re happy with completed product, you will need to pay the builder’s final invoice, and then the keys to your dream home will be handed over to you. Now’s the time to finally pop that bottle of bubbly!


If you feel you need some assistance communicating your thoughts, you can always seek out the services of a building surveyor or superintendent to represent you during construction.


Now that you are familiar with the design and construction procedures of building a new home, Needham offers a few more words of advice on ensuring the entire process runs as smoothly as possible. “Ensure that the block of land you have acquired will be compatible with the style of house you

have chosen,” Needham says. The type of land you purchase may limit your options for the design of your home, so it’s important to make sure you have a clear vision from the beginning. Needham also points out that the type of house you want to design may impact your choice of builder, so it’s extremely important that you select the right team/s for the job in order to achieve the best outcome. If you take the above advice on board, not only will you find the entire process of building your new home rewarding, but it will also be an experience to be remembered for all the right reasons.

Images courtesy of Mandurah Homes