Australian homebuyers tend to look at houses in one of two ways. They either feel limited to project homes that are built en masse with generic materials in typical designs, or they feel intimidated by the houses in the magazines that highlight the “lifestyles of the rich and famous”. Thus, people are faced with available mediocrity or inaccessible fantasy.

There is however, a third way to look at the process. Through diligence, resourcefulness and imagination, homeowners are finding that they can gain control of their homes’ design by partnering with an architect who shares their values and can work into that middle zone. The following tips will help you find that balance.


  1. Use standard materials creatively. Using readily available and common materials can give you a result that is truly special. This takes a reinvention of the common material in a new way- sometimes as simple as painting a wall in a bold colour, or arranging standard windows in a different way.


  1. Shrink to fit. There has been a strange phenomenon in recent years in homebuilding. As our families shrink in size our homes have more than doubled in a generation. Often ill-considered designs incorporate masses of useless space that will cost you money to build, heat, clean, maintain, etc. Why not tighten up the design of the spaces to reflect what they are used for instead of trying to make every room work for every possible use? Incorporating some areas of higher ceilings, larger window areas or connecting to outdoor “rooms” are some ways to make smaller spaces feel spacious.


  1. Defer and save: build in stages. When the budget isn’t big enough to cover your dream, sometimes it is worth considering building the project in several stages, allowing for expansion in the future. You need to be able to clearly inform your architect of what you must have in the short term, but what other elements can wait for later. The final product will be worth the wait.


  1. Take charge: spend time to save money. You can save money if you act as your own builder; the “owner builder”. You must be prepared to take on the burden of the time required, but there could be savings of up to 15%. This sounds appealing but you must be prepared to take on the responsibilities of insurance, scheduling and management of the project, which can be a daunting task. For many people this can mean the difference between the project going ahead or remaining unbuilt.


Taking the time to personalize your home need not blow the budget. A creative architect can help you realize your dream using inspired design and common sense. You don’t need to settle for what is already available. Take the challenge to create a unique home that will suit you to a ‘T’.