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Ten Tips For A Successful House Design

The success or failure of a self build project can be greatly influenced by the design of the house. After all you're going to a lot of effort, so why should the design be anything less than perfect. Here are ten things to think about if you intend to design your new house.

Building Plot For Sale?Ten Tips For A Successful House Design

1. Suitability of plot

The old adage "location, location, location" is key when designing your home. You could build the most perfect house but if the plot is undesirable the value of the property would be severely compromised and the economics of a self build are important even if you do not plan to move. The plot may already have had planning permission granted and the approved plans may not appeal to you. Of course it is possible to reapply and try to negotiate but if you have your heart set on a five bedroom two storey home but this is unlikely to be approved by the planners if, for example, the plot is small or on a street full of bungalows.

2. Budgeting for your design

The budget of any self build has to be carefully managed. Depending on the cash you have to spend, you may not end up with everything you wished for, at least not immediately. Could you work the design to allow you to build on or alter the property later, when perhaps you have more funds?

3. Consider what you really want from a self build

Self building can be rewarding in many ways, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Ask yourself what you want to get out of the build. Consider how many rooms you want, their layout and what features are going to differentiate your build from the mass produced developers homes which are available. Think about what you want the house to look like not only on the inside but also on the outside as the value of the end product is hugely affected by the kerb appeal. You also have to think about storage cupboards, lighting, where you want plugs and water supply and drainage (trying to keep "wet" rooms together to prevent having drainage pipes everywhere).

4. Build using a kit house

There are some excellent house design kits available on the market and what's more they can be adapted to suit your needs. Many kit house companies have their own in-house designers who are able to draw up adaptions of their stock plans for you (at a cost). There are also books on the market of house plans (see the bookshop). You can browse through these to find the perfect (or almost perfect!) design for you.

5. Employ an architect to design your house

If you are looking for a house with a difference or have a plot that has difficult issues to address, then an architect can help you bring your ideas to life.

Don't design before you find your plot

It may not seem immediately obvious, but until you find your plot it is almost impossible to design your house. Of course you can have ideas about how large you want your kitchen and the number of bedrooms, etc but the design will be very much influenced by the size, shape, location, orientation and inclination of the plot.

7. Consider your needs

Ask yourself whether you will be living long term in this house or whether you are looking to sell on in the short term. If you plan to stay there, then design for yourself and your family and put in all the features that you want or can afford. If you plan to move in the short term then this will obviously influence your choice of design as you will have to appeal to the broader market. If the build is a simple question of making money, then speak to estate agents to find out just what is worthwhile spending money on and where you should be making savings to give you the greatest profit. Beware though of producing a house that looks like you have scrimped on the finishes. Buyers aren't stupid and alarm bells will ring if the finishes are poor.

Collect all your ideas in a scrapbook

Start collecting various house design ideas that you like. Take photos of houses you like, cut up magazines, draw up your own "ideal" plans with room sizes and layout. Think about the garden design. Write down ideas and thoughts and wishes. Good design comes down to good planning and clear and focused ideas and the more information you can collect, the more successful your design is likely to be.


Consider how much of the build (if any) you plan to do yourself as this can save a great deal of money which can be spent on fixtures and fittings. Much of the work involved can be undertaken by a do it yourself enthusiast but be realistic about your own abilities and time available and don't be frightened to call in the professionals if and when necessary.

10. Wow factors

There is no mistake that what makes well designed self build houses stand out from the crowd are the extras that are not included in a developer's house. If money is no object you can create a luxury home full of gadgets and cutting edge design. However you should ask yourself, are all of these innovations actually worth it in the end? If your budget is tight, these features may not be possible.

Visit the plots etc bookshop for books on everything from buying a plot to building regulations, house plans to working with an architect, green self-build to barn conversions

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