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10 tips for designing your family home

Building your dream home can be stressful. It can be irritating and can be very daunting. But it is also one of the most rewarding experiences and one that has left Mr C and I feeling accomplished.

We moved into our house 18 months ago after months of picking and choosing, second guessing and taking a leap of faith. Being handed the keys to our house was a surreal moment but also a relieving one. It took months to get to the point of having the keys in our hot little hands though and months of learning the ins and outs of the building process before that. I want to share my top 10 tips for designing your family home that I have learnt through the course building our house.

Tips for designing your family home

tips for designing your family home


It’s great to dream that we will have the huge house with all the bells and whistles but that will only lead you down the path of disappointment, especially if you haven’t got the funds to support this dream. It is possible to build a beautiful home that is smaller and just as spacious, just design your layout to suit an open plan living. This brings me to tip #2.


If you have found a floor plan you like but want to make some changes, do it. Keep in mind that all internal walls can easily be moved however once you start moving foundations it can increase the cost of building.


Do you want your living space to open plan living or divided rooms? Bells and whistles or just homey? It is very important to know what you want. This will make looking at house plans / floor layouts much easier; there is no point looking at 2 storey homes if you only want a single storey. Do you want side access on your block or a drive-through garage? These are also something that is worth keeping in mind for resale value.

tips for designing your family home


You will often think a question is too silly to ask but it’s not! Ask as many questions as you possibly can. Big or small, nothing is too trivial – ASK THE QUESTIONS. If you think of anything you want to know write it down so you don’t forget to ask next time. There are a lot of things you won’t know to ask and we learnt that the hard way. Things like does the splash back in the kitchen go to the top of the range hood or end below it? We were under the impression it was to the top however when we did the key handover it was apparent that was not the case. This also ties in with the next tip – know your inclusions.


Every display home you walk into will be upgraded to the best of the best. Do not be fooled into thinking that is what you get for your money, it’s usually far from it. Ask what is upgraded when you visit display homes so you know from the beginning what you are and aren’t getting. Make sure you also take an inclusions list home with you to look over later. Does it include fly screens and sliding doors, flooring, light fixtures, outdoor area, better yet concrete to outdoor area, driveway, etc? What is the power points/tv points allowance? There are so many things like this that you just assume are included but that’s not always the case so it’s better to find out at the start.


While it sounds scary and expensive, it is only a small blip on scale of how costly building a house can be. Majority of the time BASIX are straight forward and require barely any effort on your behalf. It is beneficial to you in the long run any way as it focuses on: Water use, greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption and thermal comfort.

tips for designing your family home


Do some research on colours before committing. We chose black tiles in our bathroom and while it looks amazing, it is very hard to keep clean. Unfortunately we also made the decision to have black cupboards and drawers in our kitchen and every time someone touches them it leaves fingerprint marks. I advise against getting black!!

While bright fashion colours look great, they are a fad and will go out of style before your kitchen/bathroom needs a revamp. Stick with neutral colours and add bright vases/pots/kitchen goods to give the room a splash.


It is one of the most important things to remember. You must make sure everything you want is written in the tender, if it isn’t the builder can and more than likely will say no. We encountered this issue when we added an extra zone to our ducted air conditioning (3 zones in total); we stated numerous times where we wanted the zones to be: 1. main bedroom and office – 2. living rooms, study and rumpus – 3. remaining bedrooms HOWEVER for some some reason it hadn’t been written into the tender and we didn’t realise it wasn’t in there until it was too late. The zones ended up being put in wrong: 1. bedrooms (all of them) and office, 2. living rooms and study, 3. rumpus. We were and still are annoyed that this happened but there is nothing that can be done about it now.

tips for designing your family home


You can never have too much storage. Make sure you have adequate pantry, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom storage. We had a small space next to the internal garage door that was wasted space so we turned it into a broom closet. Hallways are also wasted space so maximise their practicality by adding linen storage into them like Coral Homes do in many of their floor plans. Maximise the space you have!


To keep your budget under control, prioritise the wants and needs of your family over the fancy dressings. You can always invest in the expensive handles and fixtures later down the track once you are all settled in. Practicality is much more important.

You will not get it right the first time. You can put as much thought into your home as possible but there will always be something that you will want to do differently next time. Take notes for future reference. ENJOY YOUR NEW HOME!! 

Do you have any tips you would add?

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  1. Dan
    02/10/2014 / 2:24 pm

    Thanks so much for these fantastic tips! We are looking at building and these have given us some really insightful things to be aware of and keep in mind. GREAT JOB

  2. 04/10/2014 / 8:39 pm

    Having also built our own home, my tip would be to visit the site regularly to check on progress. It’s probably not allowed in these days of safety consciousness, but we picked up a couple of major mistakes early on that were then rectified that might not have been later on. Seriously – do builders even read the plans? We had a certain space between two windows in our lounge, perfect for our entertainment unit – and they got that space wrong so it wouldn’t have fitted. Luckily we noticed early enough so it could be fixed!

    • 09/10/2014 / 10:45 am

      When we built our house we had to make an appointment with the foreman to have a look due to safety laws. Lucky you realised before it was too late! Thanks for leaving your tip Janet.

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