9 Things to Know About Working with an Architect

Are you working with an architect (or any designer) in your new home or renovation project?

Or planning to work with an architect?

Things can go wrong in a designer-client / architect-client relationship.

However, there’s also a lot of misconceptions about working with an architect.

AND there’s also key ways you can prevent mistakes and manage your risk before you get into trouble!  

This ‘9 things to know about working with an architect’ will help demystify the process.

NOTE: I will never tell you that you have to use an architect. I’m a big believer in you finding the right designer for you, whoever that is. However, if you are going to use one, there’s some key things to know. That’s what this #9thingstoknow is all about.

#1 Is your architect really an architect?

One of the big differences between architects and other design professionals is this:

To call yourself an ‘architect’ and describe your work as architectural design, or architectural services, you have to be registered as an architect with the Board of Architects in your state.

To get registered, you have to do a recognised architectural university degree, complete a minimum number of years of work inside the industry, and then pass a written exam and an interview. And afterwards, you have to do continuing professional development hours each year.

This isn’t something the industry has made up and simply uses internally. There is a Code of Conduct, and certain requirements actually captured in a Government Act. 

No other design professional has this level of required performance in order to use the title of their profession. Architects have greater legal liability, and a much higher onus put on them than building designers or draftspeople do.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to be the right professional for you. But, if you do want an architect, make sure you’re actually getting an architect. Because there’s lots of people out there who will say “I did a degree in architecture and didn’t bother getting registered, but I’m the same anyway.” And there’s others who will call themselves an architect even if they are nowhere near.

That being said … just because someone has been able to jump through all these hoops to acquire the title, does not make them great at what they do. 

As with any industry, there are some architects who:

> don’t know how to design well

> don’t do a great job of taking care of their clients

> struggle with clear and effective communication

> find budget management difficult

> don’t understand construction very well either

So, it’s essential you still do your homework to review and vett the design professionals you’re considering for your project – whatever their title.

Don’t assume that just because someone is an architect, they’ll be able to perform to the gold standard of home design and industry performance. Get yourself informed about how to find a great professional, and then keep them accountable as they work with you on your future home.

#2 Architects are not necessarily more expensive to use

There’s an assumption out there that if you have a high end project to do, or something particularly complex or big budget, that you use an architect. 

And with that assumption goes, that if it’s a smaller project, or ‘something simple’, then you should a building designer, or even just a draftsperson.

And in fact, many homeowners say “I know what I want – I just need someone to draw it up” (and then, interestingly, get frustrated that the draftsperson doesn’t ‘add’ anything in design input or suggested ideas).

This is the thing though: architects are NOT always more expensive. 

Design is not something limited to a particular professional. And in fact, you can go to a building designer, a builder, an architect, an interior designer … all for that initial design creation for your future home. 

However, if you’re wanting good quality design input in your project, and you’re choosing one of these professionals purely based on budget, then you may be misguided.

I’ve seen building designers charge more than architects. 

I’ve seen interior designers charge more than architects. 

Architects do not control the ‘most expensive fees’ part of the market – it is REALLY a case of the individual or company you use, not which profession.

Remember too, that each will offer a different scope of works, a different amount of involvement and coordination, and a different level of expertise in structural knowledge, spatial and materials understanding, and the logistics of town planning, approvals, etc.

So, when comparing fees and costs, ensure you are comparing apples with apples. 

Many homeowners have been caught out, thinking they were saving money on design fees, only to incur extra expense during their projects due to gaps in necessary steps or guidance.

Check this podcast episode for more information on what should be in ANY fee proposal you receive from a designer to help manage your risk [it’s Episode #74] >>> https://undercoverarchitect.com/podcast-what-should-be-in-architect-quote/

#3 They may not know what your project will cost

There’s a mistaken perception that all architects (and in fact all designers) will know what your project will cost to build or renovate.

This leads a lot of homeowners into trouble, as they rely on costing advice from their architect or designer during the design phase … only to be sorely disappointed when they go to tender, and find that the home design they’ve fallen in love with exceeds their budget.

The costing feedback being given by your architect is only meaningful if:

they’re doing lots of finished projects like yours they’re collecting regular data on what those projects actually cost to completethey’re keeping up to date with industry trends and costs

I know of architects who have YEARS of data on their finished projects, and can identify costs on a $/m2 as a result … but only if you’re doing a project like their past projects.

The problem is though, that many architects in private practice don’t get to see a lot of their homes built per year. And with costs moving at the rate they do, it’s super difficult for them to have a good handle on what your project will cost to do.

In addition, architects should only be providing “opinions of probable cost” which is not a cost estimate, or something to be solely relied upon.

I also see architects and other designers get budget information at the beginning of a project, and never discuss it again with the client. Or, they’ll simply estimate a $/m2, and keep a running tally of areas on the drawings to use that $/m2 to track the budget overall. 

If the $/m2 isn’t accurate in the first place, or you have specific challenges with your site not reflected in that $/m2, or it’s not being updated over the 6 to 12 months you’re designing … it’s a dangerous way to estimate your costs.

The best (and frankly, only) way to get accurate costing input during your design phase? Bring a builder on board your design team, and pay them as a consultant to work with your designer, advising on buildability and cost along the way. That way, your design will develop in alignment with your budget.

Don’t leave it only up to the architect or any other designer to tell you what your project will cost.

#4 They should prioritise your needs and wants, and interpret them to meet your budget and site.

The whole idea reason you hire an architect – or any designer – is because they can expand what is possible in the vision you have for your future home.

They bring their expertise, their experience, their training, their know-how, to your project … and it means that whatever you had planned (and whatever you wanted to spend on it) is maximised to its fullest potential. Often beyond what you believed was possible at all.

And given the amount of training, education, and experience architects usually have, this is especially true for that part of the profession.

There is a lagging perception (gratefully being blown up by those in the industry totally fed up with it), that the architect (or ‘starchitect’) is a gifted artist realising their vision. And you the client, are merely their patron, like some renaissance ideal. And you’re totally lucky that they’ve deigned to do your project. You just have to stand back and let the artist do their work, and spend your money how they see fit.

It’s how Frank Lloyd Wright worked. It’s how many senior architects have worked. And have also built a reputation and portfolio of award-winning buildings on it too.

This is not how the architect-client relationship should be AT ALL.

I’ve worked with homeowners on their home designs, renos and new builds, and there’s a beautiful moment at the end where they say “this is better than I ever expected or envisaged it could be”. (Personally, that’s always been my aim as an architect).

And that’s also the feedback I hear from my members who’ve had similarly great experiences in working with their own architects and designers.

If it’s not going well, you’re not being listened to, you feel you’re being pushed to solutions you don’t agree with, or there’s any part of the relationship that feels your priorities are not being prioritised … then speak up.

Architects are not mind-readers. They’re also not delicate artists you’ll personally offend with your feedback. Muster the courage to be honest and frank with them.

Open communication is always best in these working relationships. It’s your home, after all.

#5 They’re not all great communicators, and they can struggle to say ‘no’.

Communication is not a skill trained in architectural university degrees, which is a shame given how incredibly pivotal it is to the role. 

And so, some architects, and designers, are simply not great communicators. They’re not great at explaining their ideas, showing they understand a client’s brief, or in helping clients understand the process of working with them.

Architecture can also have its own language that can be bewildering to the uninitiated client. And architects can struggle to speak plainly about their work as well. (Read any awards submission written by an architect, and you’ll know what I mean).

Note to architects: speaking this way about your work is alienating clients and really doesn’t serve them or the industry.

I also see some architects and designers really struggle to push back on their clients’ requests and wishes. 

I often joke that, because I’m a mum, I find it easy to say ‘no’. But it’s actually a really critical skill when any architect is working with a client.

Your job as a client is to determine your dreams, desires and hopes for your project – as well as figure out what you want to spend on them. 

And one of the architect’s many jobs in any project is to keep their client on track. To understand the goals and vision for the project (and how it fits into the client’s overall lifestyle and future plans), and help them have clarity as they move through the countless decisions and steps any project requires.

And that will sometimes mean saying ‘no’ … or ‘that’s not in keeping with what you said you wanted – has your original vision / brief / goal changed?”

It’s that last one that lots of architects struggle with. 

Because unless you’re naturally good at communication, or experienced at helping clients navigate their projects AND you have their trust and confidence as well, then it can be really difficult to keep guiding clients, and have them listen to your advice and recommendations.

So architects: tread the delicate line between expanding the project possibilities, and honouring the client’s brief and budget. 

And clients: look for architects who communicate well.

#6 They can work in part or all of your project, from site selection through to interior design and completion.

Architects can be a great team member for your project. However, many homeowners believe that, if they’re going to use an architect, they have to use them for their entire project … which can mean more in professional fees than they’re willing to pay.

In working with an architect, there are several stages you can work with them in:

Schematic or Concept DesignDesign DevelopmentApprovalsDocumentationTendering (if a builder is not part of the design team)Contract Administration

(Plus all required consultant coordination too).

Some architects will insist on only working clients through ALL stages. 

Yet, other architects are willing to help with specific stages in your project – which can be a great way to access design expertise and advice to enhance your future home.

Some areas their help can make a big difference in your project:

site selection to ensure you understand the constraints and opportunities before buying a block of landreviewing potential renovators, so you can understand what’s possible and the potential costs involvedconcept design, to get high level design input into the strategy and foundation of your design approachinterior design, which some architects will happily include in their services (which can be great for fully integrating the architectural and interiors solution)even a consultation to set the right strategy at the outset

Or the whole kit and kaboodle.

If you’re using an architect for partial services, be sure you discuss copyright, and how you’ll continue working with other professionals to get the design developed and documented for approvals and construction. The architect owns the copyright, and so this can prevent you from taking it elsewhere unless you’ve discussed and agreed it first.

And if they’re just doing the design concept, be sure it’s still done with the understanding of site rules, soil conditions and planning restrictions – otherwise the investment in their design may be pointless (because it can’t get approval or suit your site).

#7 They’re not all going to use your home as a portfolio project

One of the challenges that exists in the industry of home design – be it for architects, building designers, interior designers, etc – is that you, the homeowner, keenly look through their portfolio of finished (beautifully styled and photographed) projects to determine their potential as YOUR designer.

And so, many successful designers’ websites and social media accounts become a photo gallery of homes, styled images, and pristine projects.

Plus, industry awards are generally set up to reward the finished, photographed, project as well. 

(I can’t think of awards that celebrate ‘happiest client’ or ‘was delivered on budget and on time’ when it comes to architecture and design!!)

So, when, as an architect or designer, your business card IS your finished, photographed, project …

And that’s how you generate future work, plus show what you are capable of doing …

Then, you’re going to care about what those finished, photographed projects look like, and what you publish (and don’t). And this is why there are many architects who insist on ONLY working with clients the whole way through their project.

BUT … then you, as the homeowner, can (understandably) fear that the home you’re dreaming of and funding with a lifetime’s savings, or a 30 year mortgage, is simply a vehicle for future portfolio photographs. And as a result, you won’t get what you want, or will be over-ridden at every turn.

With great, collaborative designers and architects, this is NOT the case. 

But it’s up to you, as the homeowner, to ensure you interview and vett architects and designers to find the right one for you.

How do you do this? Well, there’s lots of resources on Undercover Architect to help you … but it really comes down to:

Looking for a designer / architect who does work like the result you’re envisagingSeeing how they communicate, listen, guide you – right at the startReviewing for personal fit, shared values, and good connectionBeing REALLY clear about your brief, your ideas and your goals for your project.

Don’t hire a star-chitect with a reputation for railroading clients, and be surprised when they do it to you.

#8 Establish timelines, deliverables, scope and inclusions

A key mistake to avoid when hiring a designer or architect happens right at the start.

It’s when you, as the client, are not told timelines, deliverables, scope or inclusions.

And so, you enter your project, not really sure of what to expect. Plus you have no recourse when you don’t hear from your architect for weeks (or months), or you find yourself being told you’ll be charged extra for changes to drawings or extra documentation.

With any designer you’re planning on working with (architects included), these are the things to know BEFORE you sign an agreement with them:

how long will the process take?when and where, and how often will you meet?how many reviews of your design are included in your fee?what is expected of you for turnaround your reviews and feedback to keep workflow happening smoothlywhat will you be getting (deliverables) in drawings, plus other items (models? 3D renders? walk-throughs?)how will they work with you through the project – and what other responsibilities will they take on?just what is included, and not included, in your fee?

These are just some of the items to check in your agreement (and you can find out more by heading to www.undercoverarchitect.com/quotechecklist).

The way you avoid drama and heartache in your relationship with your architect and designer is by managing your risk before you even start. 

Once inside a binding legal agreement, it can be much harder to deal with. 

You may have unwittingly agreed to paying huge penalties if you don’t want to work with them anymore. You may have committed to having to use them the whole way through construction. You may have agreed to extra fees for any additional meetings or drawings or consultant coordination. 

Homeowners tell me they were just ‘too trusting’ and ‘naive’ when they signed. You don’t have to be. These agreements can be for tens of thousands, right through to hundreds of thousands of dollars – and can last sometimes as long as two or three years. Know what you’re agreeing to before you sign.

#9 Listening and learning works both ways 

Now, across these 9 things to know about working with an architect (or any designer), I’ve shared a lot about what you, the homeowner and client, can do to protect yourself, avoid working with a starchitect, and find a great architect who’ll guide and support you in creating an amazing home for your budget and brief.

But this is the thing:

You, as the client, have responsibility here too. Because it works both ways.

There are a few things I regularly see homeowners regularly do that jeopardises their project, and makes it difficult for their architect to provide them great service, or a great outcome.

These things are not limited to, but can include:

Lying about their budget (incase the architect just goes and spends it all)Ignoring the architect’s recommendations that their wishes will cost more than their budgetBullying the architect because they’re worried about being taken advantage of, so they get on the front foot by being forceful and challenging to work with collaborativelyNot speaking up when they’re frustrated or disappointed, letting molehills turn into mountains, and then it all coming to a crunch at a critical point (when it’s then extra in fees and times to rework and change).

Your goal as the homeowner is to do thorough due diligence to find the right designer for you, with experience in projects like yours, and a tested, proven system of taking you (confidently) through your project journey. 

And then to work with them in an honest, open and transparent way that creates a fantastic collaborative relationship where your project is king, and your design and budget can be maximised to its fullest potential. Where you can trust their advice, act on their recommendations, and be led by their expertise.

And when you listen to their guidance, learn along the way, and do what you need to do to be a great client, you’ll completely expand what’s possible for your budget, your site and your future home. 

This is how you enjoy your project.

So, what are you doing, as a client and homeowner, to put yourself in the best position possible, to be educated and informed – and to find the right architect or designer for you? 

FOR MORE HELP IN WORKING WITH AN ARCHITECT OR DESIGNER, HEAD TO THESE RESOURCES:

Want to design a home without using an architect? Learn the 3 things to include in your home design process >>> LISTEN TO THIS SPECIAL EPISODE HERE [#150]

Not all designers are created equal. Here’s how to choose the right designer for you >>> LISTEN TO EPISODE 01 [#73]

Learn more about what an architect does in this interview with award-winning architect, Shaun Lockyer >>> LISTEN HERE

If you’re not sure what a Building Designer does (and how they differ to an architect), this interview with Aaron Wailes will help >>> LISTEN HERE

How much do architects charge and why do they charge percentage fees? >>> READ MORE HERE

Working with an architect means creating a design that will blow your budget, doesn’t it? Well – here’s how to avoid that >>> READ MORE HERE

Here’s what to expect when working with an Interior Designer >>> Interior Design Basics Season – LISTEN TO SEASON 11 EPISODE 02 [#135]

Bad architect and bad service? Here’s what to do >>> READ MORE HERE

IMAGE SOURCES:

Images are sourced from Canva or are of me!
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9 Things to Know About Your Project Choices

If you’re designing, renovating or building your family home, getting overwhelmed about your project choices is common.

Get clarity here.

They say you’ll make over 15,000 project choices, or decisions, during a renovation or new build. It’s easy to get confused or know what to do. 

These ‘9 things to know about your project choices’ will help you stay focussed, and create the perfect home for you.

Short term vs long term

I was recently explaining to my kids, (who love binging several episodes of their favourite Netflix series on a Saturday night), that when I was a kid, we had to wait.

We had to wait a week for the next show to come out.

We had to wait months at the end of a season (sometimes a year) for the next season to arrive.

If we missed it, we missed it. Later, we could record it on video – but then had to watch it with all the ads.

“Yes Mum, we know you were born in 3,000 BC.” [Not quite, munchkins – 1973 was a good year]

The world has changed so quickly, that now we are very used to things being on demand. Delayed gratification is a really challenging concept to teach our kids when everything around them says ‘now’.

It can especially be a really challenging concept when you’re building or renovating your home. I see homeowners approaching their projects like it’s the first and last time they’ll ever spend money on their home, and they need to make it the best and biggest and most it can possibly be right now. 

As a result, they can often stretch their budget across lots of space, with low quality finishes and products to get them all included. These then create maintenance and cost issues down the track when they deteriorate or break.

For example, I’ve seen homeowners reduce the height of their external windows and doors to afford the much bigger kitchen they want. 

It’s a false trade-off – because a kitchen can be added to and upgraded quite simply down the track. Changing windows is a huge undertaking, and fundamentally impacts the efficiency, performance and feel of your home.

We can live in our family homes for a long time, and life changes a lot over that time. And then other families buy them, and things change again. 

I suspect that, if you plan to be in your home for 10-15 years (or more) this will not be the last time you spend money on it. As you make your project choices, choose for quality, durability, low maintenance, high function, and feel-good factor. 

Make project choices that create flexibility and adaptability in your home, so it can better embrace these changes. 

Timeless design means making things really work for you, and you can build in the capacity to upgrade down the track. 

Decision fatigue

Renovating or building your home is not one big choice. It’s a series of them, and each one will lead you to the next.

Sometimes there’s 2 options to choose from. Sometimes there’s 200 (or more).

One of the biggest challenges is that you can make a couple of not-so-great choices, only to find you’re a long way down the wrong path, and it’s time-consuming, stressful and expensive to course-correct at that point.

On this journey, they say you make something like 15,000 choices when building or renovating a home (I suspect it can be even more!)

From the big decisions (like who you’ll work with and how much you’ll spend), through to the smaller decisions (like what colour should the front door be LOL!), it can be A LOT for the uninitiated.

Renovating and building is a marathon, and not a sprint. From start to finish, projects can go for two to three years, and that’s a LONG time to be making decisions and staying on top of things.

Many homeowners get to the pointy end of their project (the fun bit of deciding on finishes and fixtures and the stuff they’ve actually been looking forward to all along!!) and find they’re just exhausted by the thought of having to make another decision about something.

That’s called “Decision Fatigue”. It’s very real, and there’s some great ways to overcome this.

One is to bring forward your decision-making as much as possible. It manages risk during your build, will enable you to make choices when you have more energy and motivation, and can help you manage your budget overall.

Wikipedia says “… decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.”

See that? Deteriorating quality? So recognise that your decision-making ability may not get any better the longer you let it drag on. 

Homeowners can really struggle to commit to early decisions in their projects, but it will serve you much better to make decisions before you sign your building contract. 

That way, the contract sum can include the specific things you want – and you can enjoy construction without the pressure of making decisions on the run in tight timeframes.

Spend your budget on project choices that have an ROI (saving stress, financial, lifestyle)

Every choice you make in your project can generally be assessed by its return on investment, or ROI.

The return may not always be financial – although many definitely are. Hiring a professional such as a designer or architect should always return more in savings or value than the cost of their fees.

Sometimes, the return may simply be in saving you stress, or protecting you against future drama or mistakes (both in and beyond your project). And some will purely be lifestyle returns in making your home feel more amazing, functional and long-lasting.

I find that some of the best project choices … the ones that make a big ROI … are related to risk management. Lowering or removing your risk of budget blowouts, nasty surprises, significant project drama or big design errors.

I think homeowners can really benefit from many of the practices used in commercial and public projects. Because in them, every choice is assessed for risk, value adding, ROI and project benefit (short and long term). 

A lot of this is done very early in the project, before starting design, and then carried throughout. This may all sound like industry gobbledygook, but it’s an approach shouldn’t be limited only to the big projects worth millions. 

Because chances are, you stuffing up the financial investment you’ll make in your family home will have a far more detrimental and long lasting impact on your finances and lifestyles, and be much harder to recover from, than the big corporations and government ever have to worry about. 

As you make your choices, assess your investment of time, money and effort in your project carefully, and consider what your ROI is, so you don’t waste that investment unintentionally.

Guided by a framework

There’s a couple of things I regularly see homeowners do when they decide to build or renovate.

The first is this:

They’ll have been dreaming, thinking about their project for months. Sometimes years. Gathering their inspiration, getting ideas, and trying to envisage what would be possible once they decide to do their project.

And then they decide it’s time. And they’re like a bull at a gate, and it all has to be done yesterday. Any method or process is thrown out the window. There’s an urgency for it to be done, and they’re just going to make it happen.

(Spoiler alert: this can, and usually does, go terribly pear-shaped at some point).

The second thing I see is this:

Homeowners may move a bit slower, but they only think about their next step, once they’ve made their last. Inch by inch, step by step, they move towards their finished home. However, they lack strategy and an overview of the whole journey. And so they can often have to make steps more than once, pay extra time and money along the way, and don’t have the simplest or smoothest of journeys.

So, what’s a better way to get going, once you’ve made the choice to build or renovate?

It’s to establish a framework for your overall project journey, so you understand the steps ahead. 

This will help you know whether choices can be delayed, or have some urgency. It will also help you be strategic, which can then help you save serious time and money. Some projects can be seriously streamlined when you establish what the pathway is, and you have the right team guiding you through the process.

You wouldn’t head out on a new journey to a remote destination without a good map to guide you, some research into how long you expect it to take to get there, and what you need to take along for the ride. 

Renovating and building can be a two to three year process once you actually say “yes, we’re going to do this”. 

Treat it like a journey to a new destination and get yourself a good map of the steps ahead, so you can avoid the wrong turns, and horrible dead-ends. 

And then you can reach your destination (your finished home) actually enjoying the ride, knowing you didn’t waste time, money or effort along the way.

Setting goals

Given you’ll be making so many choices in your project journey, it’s essential that you have a way of sifting and filtering through all the options. Otherwise, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and off-track.

The way I suggest to best do this, is to figure out what your big-picture goals are for your project. There are a few ways you can do this.

One is to think about what the next 5 to 10 years will look like in your life. Will you be having more kids? Will aged parents be moving in with you? Will you be working from home more? Are your kids becoming teenagers, or even moving out? What else will be going on in your life, and what plans or dreams do you have?

Then think about what you hope to gain from doing this project? Is it more space? Is it a more comfortable home? Is it a bigger yard? Is it to be closer to work or the kids’ schools? Is it purely because the house is falling down around your ears and something has to be done about it!!

And then think about your budget. Your home is a big expense, and a big part of your life. And the spend on a renovation or new build is money you could be spending on anything. So, where does this choice – this investment of funds – fit into the overall goals and vision you have for the near, medium and long term future?

Determining your overall objectives is such a useful exercise. Then, in the noise and overwhelm of all your project choices, you can revisit them, and get to helicopter view. It will give you some objectivity in those tricky times when choices seem difficult.

Time and time again, I’ve seen how powerful this is for homeowners to spend time on. Because in doing so, you’ll provide yourself a place to come back to and check in with on an ongoing basis. And you’ll create a home that’s in alignment with all the other parts of your life – so it can support you fantastically as your life rolls on.

Where do you get your guidance from?

If you’re making project choices without the support of industry professionals, then where are you getting help and guidance from?

Many turn to their builder for advice on all project choices. However, that can be problematic. Whilst there are amazing builders in the industry, I’ve seen some cause their clients huge headaches because they’re not up to date with town planning changes, code reviews, product updates or industry info.

Others rely on their designer or draftsperson, and this can also be challenging. Many draftspeople have very little legal liability. Some designers are self-trained, and again, don’t have much legal liability in what they recommend and endorse.

Interior design is an unregulated industry, so always check the qualifications and background of the interior designer you’re working with. Some are awesome at styling and creating ‘a look’ but don’t have much knowledge about the performance of materials or longevity of the fixtures they’re specifying (or the risk they may be exposing you to).

For any professional you’re using, be sure to check their credentials, experience, liability, insurance, the projects they’ve done that are like yours, and how other clients have found them to work with. And if they say they’re an architect, confirm they’re a registered architect. It’s illegal to say you’re an architect unless you’re registered.

Lastly, if your source of guidance is free Facebook groups or well-meaning friends and family, this can be super risky. They can definitely make the decision-making process worse. 

Knowledge is often limited to one (or even a few) projects, and so they don’t know what they don’t know. Some of the advice handed out online (even though it is well intentioned) seriously shocks me, and will cause such dramas, and even legal ramifications, for those that follow it.

Tap into sources of guidance that have loads of professional industry experience. Look for those who also have a professional responsibility to the quality of their guidance, and are sharing from industry knowledge spanning years (and decades) and many (many, many) projects.

Compromises vs Priorities

I think homeowners sometimes imagine that there is one solution for their perfect home. The one design that will tick all the boxes. And that the journey is about getting there, and if their budget can’t stretch that far, they’ll just have to compromise and cut until they can afford the result.

However, my experience with design is that there are always a multitude of options available. There’s no such thing as the perfect home. Only the perfect home for you.

Something I’ve observed from my 25+ years of work with homeowners is this: 

The ones who have a great experience in renovating and building get clear on figuring out their priorities, and determining their order. 

They then make choices based on what they value most, and in doing so, hone the design towards the best outcome to meet those priorities.

Because a home is perfect for you when it suits your site, your lifestyle AND your budget.

When this doesn’t go well, is where homeowners treat their project choices like a process of elimination. They see it any choice they can’t have means their dream vision is getting watered down, and each further choice feels like compromise.

Constraint is a huge creativity boost. Priorities provide you with constraints that can unleash great opportunities in yoor design and project. 

Lazy design (and deep pockets) can create terrible results where homes simply don’t work hard for your money, or for you.

So what is most important to you? What will your priorities be?

It’s very human to want it all. But a trade off isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It can create the most fantastic of homes, and often the smallest changes can create huge transformation.

A home that’s sustainable, functional, flexible and fun to live in. That gives you bang for buck, helps you be the best version of yourself, and sells well and quickly when the time comes to move on.

Figure out the order of YOUR priorities – it’s a great way to streamline your project choices, and ensure you’re creating the perfect home for you.

Be your own hero shot

This is potentially going to sound strange, but it’s something I’ve only had the benefit of noticing since we moved to our home in the Byron Hinterland around 7 years ago, and I thought I would share.

See, where I live, it’s 20 or so minutes to the nearest ‘town’. And even those towns are pretty low-key in terms of retail and density. Billboards are almost non-existent, and it’s very easy to drive around where I live without being exposed to advertising much at all. 

And so, when you step back into the world of advertising, retail and commercialism, you notice just how much we’re bombarded with images and messages about all the things we ‘need’ to have to make our lives complete. To make us complete.

I’m very fortunate that I don’t live with this everyday. Because when you do (and I remember it being like this when I did), it’s amazing how much it sinks in. It’s almost like you numb yourself to just how much you’re being sold to … but the messages it’s sending you still impact your choices.

Renovating and building, of course, does this too. In a marketplace of heavily styled images and hero shots, it’s very easy to lose perspective on what home creation is actually all about.

I heard Lucy from @huntingforgeorge speak at the @renoanddesignshow about how she’s seeing a trend of people designing to create their own ‘hero’ shots in their homes. Those specifically styled spots in their home that look ‘just so’ for a photo they can share on instagram. 

Instead, be your own hero shot.

Creating a home is a beautiful opportunity to shape your own haven. A sanctuary that protects and shelters you, helps you relax and restore, and is a place for all you hold dear and special.

And it’s also a chance to shape an environment that represents you. Your tastes. Your style. Your favourite colours, textures and items. YOU. In a way that may never photograph well, but when you settle into it at the end of each day, it’s in alignment with what you value, and what you want to tell the world matters to you.

Don’t fall for the hype. Ignore the billboards. You are enough. Your home is enough. However you choose to make it beautiful and yours.

It starts with you 

You may have heard me say this before: “You unlock what’s possible for your future home”. So what do I mean by this?

What I mean is that it all starts with you. 

You’re the one who …

>> decides you’ll renovate or build

>> chooses who you’ll work with

>> creates the list of wishes and wants for your future home

>> figures out what you’ll spend money on to make it all happen

And in doing so, YOU are the one who is choosing what is important to you, what you value, and what matters.

Maybe it’s sustainability. Maybe it’s about a great, functional design. Maybe it’s doing something that’s small and compact. Or maybe it’s creating the home you’ve always dreamed of.

It all starts with you.

And yet, so many homeowners enter their project like the power belongs to someone else. They make themselves beholden to others, and forget their agency. And they don’t educate themselves, or get the expert support and guidance they need to stay in control, and make confident choices throughout their project journey.

Don’t give your power away.

As a consumer, you have HUGE power in the spending decisions you make in any industry, and especially home building and renovating. 

I don’t know about you … but I know I’m sick of waiting for the government to get its act together and increase the star rating for our energy efficiency requirements. We’ve had 6 stars for over 10 years now. Meanwhile, energy has doubled in cost, and the climate crisis has got worse.

I’m sick of waiting for developers and builders to create projects across the board that are well-designed, well-built, sustainable, and fantastic places to live for all. 

We have been beaten down to accept a very low standard of quality and design when it comes to our homes. The Australian Standards and Building Codes are all the bare minimum – they are not the exemplar of what a great home should look like.

Take your power back. Demand better. Because it exists and you can access it when you know how.

That’s exactly why Undercover Architect exists. To help you unlock what’s possible for your future home. 

It starts with you, and the choices you make.

FOR MORE ON PROJECT CHOICES AND REAL LIFE RENOVATING AND BUILDING:

This episode will help you learn the unexpected blindside of renovating and building your family home (and why it’s like having children). You can listen here >>> HOW TO MANAGE YOUR RENOVATION OR BUILDING PROJECT

IMAGE SOURCES:

Images are sourced from Canva.
The post 9 Things to Know About Your Project Choices appeared first on Undercover Architect.

9 Things to Know About Your Laundry

What are the key things to know about your Laundry, so you can create a functional, fantastic space?

Consider how you’ll plan and design your laundry, so it can be the hard-working and functional room your family really needs. And you can maximise how it helps family life overall!

Where in the home

Laundries are a much-used space in the home, but also a space you don’t want taking great real estate in your floor plan. And so, often I see them get pushed to a ‘leftover’ space in the floor plan.

There’s a range of opinions on where to best locate your laundry.

My preference is to have it near the internal entry from the garage. Then, it can act as a dumping ground when everyone arrives home … for dirty shoes, clothing, sports gear, etc … before all of that stuff makes it into the house.

Some prefer to have it near the kitchen – the rationale being you can multi-task whilst using the kitchen, doing loads of washing etc whilst juggling everything else in the kitchen (which is often the heart of activity in the home).

In the USA, it’s common to have the laundry upstairs, where it’s closer to bedrooms (and dirty clothing and bed linen), and dryers are used instead of washing lines.

In Europe, it can be common for the laundry to be located in the kitchen or bathroom … and many compact home designs explore that option here in Australia too. If you’re planning this, check your local building regulations to see whether you need to include a dedicated laundry sink. (Some plumbing codes won’t let you use the kitchen or bathroom sink as a pseudo laundry sink).

Whether your laundry is a room or a cupboard, think about:

getting dirty clothing to the laundrystoring dirty laundry in the laundry whilst it’s waiting to be washedhow you’ll be drying clothingwhat connection you want your laundry to have to other spaces in your home

Consider the acoustic privacy of laundries to living areas and bedrooms (especially if you generally do your washing or drying overnight). 

And ideally, you’ll have the option to line dry your clothing somewhere (either externally or internally), so think about easy access to that space. I always prioritise a shorter distance between the laundry and washing line – because a basket full of wet washing weighs more than when it’s dry.

What will you include in your laundry?

Firstly, identify the appliances you’ll need to include. For most, this will mean a washing machine and a dryer. Will you do top loading, front loading, in a tower, or side-by-side? 

Front loading can be a great choice if you want to maximise space and benchtop, purely because they can be stacked on top of each other in a tight tower, or side-by-side under a continuous benchtop. People tend to have very definite preferences about which way they want to go with their machines though!!

There’s also the sink … and whether you want something that’s purely functional, or want to choose something for aesthetic reasons as well (like a farmhouse style version).

If doing a front-loader, consider sitting the machine off the floor, so you don’t have to bend down so far to load and unload it. Some manufacturers will supply a structural drawer you can locate under the machine to raise its height.

Get the dimensions right so your machine can fit snugly and prevent those gaps where grime can gather. Locate the power point for the machine in an adjacent cupboard so you can easily switch on and off without needing to move the machine itself.

Then look at what else you’ll want in the laundry … storage, ironing facilities, drying space (we’ll be diving into some of these in more detail later). Think about what you want to reach and access from where, and use the design to make this easy on yourself. Mentally rehearse using the space so you set it up to be as functional as possible.

Then think about how the dimensions need to work. Super narrow laundries can be hard to use, and big spacious ones can become dumping grounds. Cupboards that are too tall can be wasted. Bending down all the time can be painful. Test the design dimensions at 1:1 so you know they’ll work.

Consider including a floor waste in the floor (not always required by building codes) for ‘just incase’.

Choose materials for durability and longevity, as laundries take a lot of punishment. Make the space easy to clean, and review the extent of splashback for easy-to-maintain surfaces. A budget approach can still be super resilient, great looking and functional.

Natural light and ventilation

Ideally you’ll locate your laundry on the southern or western side of your home. 

These orientations work well because your laundry is a ‘service’ area. It can tolerate the western orientation (which brings hot afternoon sun) because you’re not in it for long periods of time. The southern orientation means constant, ambient levels of light, which is also good. 

Locating it with these orientations enables you to prioritise the north and east for spaces you spend more time in (like your living areas).

If you can, include an operable window in your laundry so you can access natural light and ventilation in the space. Many prioritise storage over window openings in laundries, however, you can incorporate a high slot, or a narrow vertical window, and access that fantastic natural light and ventilation without giving up too much storage. 

If it’s not possible, select an external door for the laundry space that has glazing in it. 

One big error I see is when people do a laundry with a sliding door at one end that runs from wall-to-wall. The fixed glass side runs down beside the joinery, and the sliding part is the opening to outside. Only it’s a narrow opening when open. Think about how wide you are when carrying a basket of washing, and what that means for walking through doors. 

My preferred option is an aluminium framed, 820mm fully glazed hinged door that opens outwards. You can choose an obscure glass if privacy is required. 

Have the door open outwards (most plans show external doors opening into laundries as a standard). This will mean it’ll shed any water to the outside when there’s been rain. It also means you can push out on it when walking out with a basket of wet washing, and it won’t take up room inside the laundry as it opens and closes.

Depending on how much you use your dryer, consider how you’ll ventilate the space when the dryer is on, so you prevent condensation in the laundry (which is rife for mold growth). 

Condenser dryers can be a great option for laundry spaces that aren’t well ventilated, or for internal laundries, and laundries in cupboards.

Storage design

In homes with good overall storage design, there’s not a huge amount that actually needs to be stored in the laundry itself. 

Many instead create a lot of storage in their laundry, and lose the opportunity for it to function really well as a laundry.

I prefer storage to be located around the home. Bed linen and towels near family bathrooms and bedrooms. Sporting, gardening and camping equipment in the garage. Family files and documents in or near the home command centre / study nook or home office. Kids gear in or near their rooms. 

Think seasonally about what you need access to, vs what can be stored away for longer timeframes (even in roof spaces, etc). 

Keep your vacuum cleaner in a cupboard near where you regularly use it (if that’s upstairs where all the carpet is, then locate it there). 

Think instead about how storage can work for the regular working of your laundry space itself. Tall cupboards can store brooms, mops, ironing board, etc. Overhead cupboards or shelves (out of little people’s reach) can store washing powder etc. 

Wall attachments can be great for irons, hand-held vacuum cleaners, etc. You can even hang washing baskets when not in use if you design for it.

Some of the best laundries have sorting storage for dirty washing. This can be through sizing joinery for specifically purchased baskets. Or it can be allocating deep drawer storage below bench. You can then train the kids to sort into the various colours / lights / darks categories via the drawers or baskets. And you can streamline your regular washing, plus not deal with the piles of dirty washing all over the floor.

Think also what happens with the clean washing. Many use their spare bed or sofa to deal with this, which just pollutes your rest and relaxation unnecessarily.

An uncluttered laundry will generally feel far better to use, and improve your overall experience of those necessary tasks that happen ALL.THE.TIME in family life. Designing it so it’s easy for others to also stay organised can be huge in helping family life overall. It will really help with the general feeling of organisation and calm in your home.

Drying

These days, the backyard clothesline doesn’t work for every home and every family. Back gardens are getting smaller and smaller, some climates preventing outdoor drying year-round, and people working full-time means they’re not getting home in time to get washing off the line.

A dryer is a solution, and there are some energy efficient options now that won’t guzzle your power or $$$. But if you can dry things naturally, it can be better for your clothes, and for the environment.

So, think about how you’ll design in drying solutions that enable you to have flexibility in your lifestyle, and still get your clothes dry without using a dryer. These are some options:

>> include a fold down or retractable washing line in your double-car garage or carport. This space is usually empty during the day, and washing can hang above the bonnet line. Most garages can actually fit 2 clotheslines, always undercover.

>> include hanging racks in your laundry. This can be a simple single rail over your benchtop for shirts and t-shirts, or taller hanging area for longer dresses etc. 

>> include a foldable / retractable hanging rack in your laundry or another internal area. There are lots of options that fold down from the ceiling or wall, manual or electric.

>> look for hanging options that enable you to hang lots of things in a small space. For example,spider like, foldable hanging clothes lines with a series of pegs for underwear and socks, take up little space but can fit a lot.

>> drying rooms and drying cabinets or cupboards can also be brilliant, especially in colder climates. You can purchase proprietary drying cabinets that are simple installations, or create a cupboard that includes ducting from your heating in the floor or ceiling. These can dry clothing quite quickly, and surprisingly, don’t need to be that big. Check your local regulations for requirements re de-humidification, and material requirements. 

>> in smaller homes, don’t be afraid to use what you have – especially for the less frequently washed items like sheets, etc. Stair balustrades can be great drying zones with rising heat and ventilation. Your understair area is also a useful zone to repurpose.

Laundry chute

Doing a 2 storey home? Include a laundry chute.

You’ll need to think about this right at the start of your home design process, because it’ll determine how your layouts work so you have the right spaces over the top of each other in the arrangement of your home. 

One of the ways you can save money in your build, and help the services in your home, is to group your wet areas together, and locate wet areas upstairs over the top of wet areas downstairs.

(By wet areas, I mean bathrooms and laundries). 

Planning your home so you have the family bathroom over the top of your downstairs laundry means you can incorporate a chute quite easily. And it means you won’t have to carry loads of dirty washing down the stairs each day (plus you can encourage the family to be proactive in getting their dirty washing to the laundry).

You can still incorporate a chute even if it doesn’t run from upstairs bathroom to downstairs laundry. I’ve done homes where the upstairs laundry chute hatch is in a hallway, or a linen press, or the ensuite. I’ve also done homes where the downstairs end is not inside the laundry, but nearby.

Consider how the chute terminates at each end. 

Upstairs, I’ve done options where it was a hatch in the floor of the linen press or walk-in robe. I’ve done options where it was in a cupboard of the bathroom. Or where it’s in a hatch on the hallway, that’s been done as a frameless panel to keep it discrete. 

Downstairs, look at where you want the washing to ‘drop’. You can have it drop in a cupboard where you can locate a basket to catch it. You can have it drop onto your benchtop in the laundry (either open or inside a cupboard). 

How do you stop kids from using the chute for things other than laundry (including themselves)?

look at the height it’s located at to avoid little kids getting access to itmake it lockablelocate it in the master bedroom somewhere in a more secretive location

Your laundry chute doesn’t need to be a straight drop either. It’s possible to angle it, and it still work. Discuss any assumptions you’ve made with your team prior to starting construction so you know it’ll work around structure and plumbing.

Multi-functional laundries

One of the ways you can save space in your home, and make your home multi-functional, is to include other purposes and functions in your laundry.

The mudroom has become an inclusion in many homes. Originally used in homes in colder climates (especially where it snows), mudrooms were a space that acted as an airlock into the home, where wet shoes and coats could be stored before entering the home. Now, homeowners are including them as a ‘drop zone’ into the house, often located near the internal garage entry, for bags, shoes and coats.

Mudrooms don’t need to be a dedicated room though. They can be a zone or space within the laundry. Great joinery design that enables shoe storage, a bench to sit on, and some hooks for coats and bags (or even little cubby holes) can be super functional. It really doesn’t need to be big.

Another inclusion many are looking at for their laundries is to help with their pets. Dog wash areas, or sinks large enough to wash a dog in, with shower attachments for ease of use.

If you leave via your laundry to exercise or walk your dog, then design for it, and include things that make this easier.

Friends I know located their laundry so the keen cyclist hubby could leave and come home after a bike ride, via the laundry, without disturbing the sleeping house. That includes undressing out of sweaty cycling gear, putting it in the wash, and having a shower in a nearby bathroom and getting dressed before stepping back into the house! The whole layout of the downstairs area was to facilitate him not waking everyone in the house each morning.

Laundries can be such a great zone because they usually have connection between the inside and outside of your home, and they generally have durable flooring and surfaces. If you design them well, they’re easy to clean, and so can be a much better access point for bringing dirty kids or pets in from outside.

I’m not a fan of locating the second or guest toilet inside the laundry though. Walking through the laundry to go to the loo never feels great, and always makes that toilet feel more utilitarian and less like a ‘powder room’. 

Finishes and details

Here’s a few mistakes people make with their laundry fitout, finishes and details (in no particular order).

>>> In an effort to create a matchy matchy feel through the home, they carry the same finishes through their laundry as they’ve used in their bathroom and ensuite.Your laundry is a space that is rarely seen by anyone other than those living in your home. Whilst it works well to create a holistic colour palette throughout the home for continuity and connection, the laundry is somewhere you can have fun and do something quirky. Pick a fantastic tile for your splashback. Go a few tones darker for your cabinetry. Bring some joy to the space so it’s not so utilitarian in colour scheme.

>>> You carry the same expensive finishes from the kitchen through into the laundryA laundry can be durable and low maintenance, without guzzling your budget. If you’ve used stone benchtops in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to use a laminate benchtop in the laundry. You can choose a thick benchtop still, and colour tones that tie together with your kitchen and other wet areas, but save some serious $$$.

>>> Washing machine doorsKnow which direction your washing machine and dryer door will open, and don’t put it against a wall or in a corner where you’ll not be able to swing it fully back. Having it bounce against a wall, or be restricted, can make loading and unloading washing more tricky.

>>> Narrow cavity slider to enter the roomIn saving space, I see homeowners use a 720mm cavity sliding door, which doesn’t fully open due to the handle on it. And voila, you can’t move a 600mm wide washing machine and dryer into the laundry via that door. Stick with an 820mm door as a minimum.

>>> D-handles D-handles or bar handles are a joinery handle where there’s a small projection of the handle beyond where it’s fixed to the door … and I’ve watched my husband tear so many pairs of shorts on such handles, as he catches his pocket on the projecting end of the handle. I’ve seen other homeowners have a similar experience. I won’t ever specify these again in any home!

A laundry is a place to bash and crash a bit. Choose finishes, fixtures and details that will sustain this.

Flooring

This may be controversial, but I really encourage you to never specify a laminate, vinyl or hybrid flooring for any space in your home, and especially your laundry.

The manufacturers of these products have really nailed their marketing and convinced homeowners they need waterproof floors throughout their home. And consequently, homeowners are choosing the most unnatural, toxic and high VOC materials to cover their entire floors with. 

They are not all scratch-proof. They can move and pull away from each other. They are not all fully waterproof. They are printed surfaces designed to look like a natural product, and I just don’t get why anyone wants such a fake imitation of something real in the place they spend every day (for years and years). They sound horrible underfoot. 

There are a couple of products in vinyl that are eco-friendly, but you have to look carefully. There are a couple of hybrid options that are too. But for the most part, they are fake imitations of a natural material. 

I know that these are lower cost choices than the natural options. I know that they give the impression of a more luxe floor for a lower budget. I get that, when you’re managing your budget and figuring out how to stretch it across all the things you want, it feels right to choose a lower-cost finish that still promises so much durability.

However, when you actually look at how these products are put together, and see all the layers, the manufacture, the glues, the fact that the finish you’re choosing to stamp an aesthetic appearance all over your home is literally a piece of printed paper … we’re building homes we want to last for decades, out of the strangest stuff these days.

If you choose to have these products in your home, please choose well. Do your research into how your choice is made, what the components are, the level of VOCs, the true durability (how has that been tested given the recency of these products?) and how will it really perform?

For any flooring choice – run it under your laundry cabinetry. Avoid the beading, and problems with replacing cabinetry later (and needing to match flooring then).

If your family is like most, your laundry will be an incredibly hard working space. 

Think honestly about how you will use this space in your future home, and design it so it makes this simpler and less stressful. For example, if that means that dirty washing normally gets dumped on the floor, ensure your laundry privatised space so it doesn’t clutter the rest of your home. And then design in opportunities for greater organisation with laundry to help your family use the space better. 

Create a space that works really hard for you – so it makes your life easier overall.

FOR MORE ON YOUR LAUNDRY, MUDROOM (and LINEN AND WARDROBES:

Be sure to listen to my podcast episode on designing your Laundry and the associated spaces. You can listen here >>> LAUNDRY PODCAST EPISODE

IMAGE SOURCES:

Images are sourced from Canva.
The post 9 Things to Know About Your Laundry appeared first on Undercover Architect.

9 Things to Know About Your Front Door

What are the key things to know about your Front Door so you can create a welcoming and comfortable home?

Consider how you’ll design your front door, and the experience of entering your home, so that it enhances the overall aesthetic of your home, and sets up the type of feeling you want your home to have from the start.

Image Source @Canva

A Welcoming Entry

Many homeowners tell me they want a welcoming home. One that makes people feel comfortable, and embraces all those who visit it with warmth. And your front door plays a big part in helping start that experience for visitors. And you, if you don’t have a garage with an internal entry.

What does the front door tell people about what awaits inside? Front doors come in so many different sizes, detailing and materials, that you can choose one to celebrate the aesthetic style of your home, and give your front elevation a lot of character.

It’s not only the door itself that you can play with. What can you choose for door knockers, and door handles? What happens around the door? On the landing, on the ceiling, on the walls? And in the pathway up to it as well? 

Consider how you can invest in something that really celebrates the entry to your home, and brings joy on a daily basis as you welcome people through it.

Far too often, we plonk a door in a wall, and create a small covered entry that simply feels like a pit stop before we let someone inside (or choose not to!)

An architect I worked for very early in my career always reminded me to consider how things felt to touch – not just to look at – and the importance of creating surfaces and choosing materials that we wanted to touch at our ‘tactile height level’. That is – where we walk past, put our hands on, as we move through a space. This can dramatically change the experience of entering your home.

Making the entry process one that flows, and that feels easy and comfortable, with moments of joy and delight, can be such a beautiful way to enhance the experience of arriving at your home. 

And when you think about how that relates to what’s going on inside your home, and create some continuity with colours, materials, detailing or design ideas, this can be a very strong way to improve that sense of flow in and beyond your home.

You don’t need a lot of space. It doesn’t have to be big to be welcoming. Use the design of your front door and entry to start telling your story, and highlight elements that create interest and anticipation of what’s inside.

Image Source @Canva

Visibility from the street

When positioning your front entry to your home, consider how visible it will be from the street, so visitors know clearly where to go, to announce their arrival at your home.

This helps with the overall security of your home, because the design tells people how they need to interact with your home’s entry. 

You can do this by making the door very visible from the street, through its location, its colour, and the landscaping and building treatment leading up to it. 

In a narrow lot, where a side entry may be needed (and the door not directly visible from the street), consider using other elements to highlight where the front door is. A well-landscaped and delineated front entry path. A projecting roof or awning to bring people to that side entry. Changes in colour or materials. Things that draw the eye.

Highlighting where your front entry is, and showing people clearly where to go, also helps privatise anything else that is at the front of your home.

Consider what will happen if they decide to drive in and park on your driveway. How will they get from their car to the front door and maintain the privacy of your home? Give them somewhere clearly demarcated to walk that enables a clear pathway of entry to your front door.

If they’re walking past other parts of your home as they arrive at the front door, consider how you’ll maintain the privacy of those spaces. There are so many designs that have a trio of narrow windows on the front of the house for privacy or interest. Those thin narrow windows (horizontal or vertical) mean internal window furnishings are strange, and views and light for that room are compromised. 

Look at the landscaping design, or the distance you keep people away from that space with where pathways are positioned, or the angle at which they can look into the room.

Design tells us how to move, where to walk, what to look at, how to behave, in our everyday lives all the time. We’re not always aware that this is happening, but that doesn’t stop it working! We can do this to help improve our home’s security, privacy and overall feeling as well. And we can do this from the moment someone sees our home from the street. 

Image Source @Canva

Security⁠

Our front door security doesn’t only come from the physical locks we put on it. You can create security through design.⁠

⁠Consider the idea of ‘threshold’. The entry door itself is a big threshold moment between the public world of your street and front garden … into the private world of your home’s interior. However, what other thresholds can you create (through design, materials, built elements) between the front door and the street?

⁠Changing levels can be a great threshold. Think of large public buildings. You walk up a large set of stairs to ‘arrive’ – and in doing so, you leave the public domain. Entering the building feels more special and ceremonial. This idea can work on a smaller scale when navigating levels at your home’s entry.⁠

⁠Landscaping can also create thresholds, and material and colour choices do as well.

⁠The visibility of your entry from the street will also improve security, as it makes it difficult for someone to be loitering unnoticed around your front door. When you have a side entry, ensure you still create good physical and visual separation between your ‘front’ yard, and ‘back’ yard at that entry point – so it’s difficult for someone to continue down the side of the home unnoticed.⁠

⁠Also review ‘surveillance’. This is where you’re able to maintain visibility on the door and entry itself – or the impression of visibility. Some do this by adding sidelights to their door (which can create privacy problems for your home’s interior). Some do this by adding a peep hole, or by including intercom cameras. However, perhaps your surveillance comes from an adjacent room, or a living space at the front of the home that has ‘eyes’ on the street, and anyone who enters your site.⁠

⁠You can of course, create mechanical means of security. Good locks. Security screen doors. Alarms. Cameras. However, this can often be at odds with creating a welcoming and comforting feeling that’s so important for our homes. Think about the design and what it can do to create security. Pay attention to the spaces you’re moving about to see how others have used design to do this too.

Image Source @Canva

Providing Ventilation (including a screen door)

With many narrow lots and smaller homes, the front door can be one of the few openings at the front of the home.⁠

⁠In addition, it can also be the end of a hallway, which can act as a fantastic breezeway, if the door can be left open (and secure) to provide natural ventilation. In smaller homes, or on narrow lots, this can make a huge difference to how the home feels and performs overall.⁠

⁠Consider whether you’ll want to leave your door open more regularly when you’re home. You can then include some type of security screen door that stays locked, but means you can leave your front door open and get those breezes into the home.⁠

⁠Security screens can be a way to add another layer of character and aesthetic to your home. From simple, geometric patterns, to custom-made laser-cut screening, you can access some fantastic options as a lovely feature on your home.

⁠The home in this image is the entry of one of the homes my husband and I renovated. The screen door was custom made to suit the shape of the existing entry, and we used to for screening in that space as well. I chose a laser-cut pattern in powder-coated aluminium that highlighted the history of the site as an orchard. This pattern also still gave privacy and security to the door. Someone couldn’t slide their hand through to unlock the door from the outside as a result!⁠

⁠(Many people want to leave their key in the lock inside for convenience, but having a screen door that’s easy for someone to slot their hand through and unlock from the outside will create problems!)⁠

⁠Remember too, that your screen / security door will most likely open outwards. So, when designing your entry landing, accommodate sufficient space for the door swing. That way you won’t knock someone off your entry when you need to open the security door to let them inside!⁠

⁠And if you’d prefer to see your front door from the outside, you can always have it open outwards, and locate your screen door on the inside. It’ll just mean selecting a certain type of door jamb and hinge to enable this.⁠

⁠Image Source @Canva

The moment you arrive HOME

There is a moment I describe to homeowners about their home, and what to aim for in their design. It’s the moment when you feel “I’m home”. 

The moment when you walk into your home, put down your things, and your shoulders drop. The moment when you connect with the things you love about your home and site (views, design of space, quality of light, colours, materials). It’s the moment of the exhale when you connect with the feelings of relaxation. It’s the moment when you actually arrive HOME.

This moment may happen at your front door, as soon as you open the door to reveal your home’s interior. It may be a moment you’re willing to share with any visitor that comes to your home, and steps inside.

Or, it may be a more private moment, and something you want to experience and save for only those closest to you who are welcomed into, or live in your home. 

Think about what experience you want to create, because opening your door ‘reveals’ your home to anyone on your doorstep instantaneously. Design the experience.

Do you want to privatise your home’s interior, and only allow those who are welcomed inside to see it? If so, look to create a small and privatised entry zone on the inside of your front door. 

Be careful of creating dog-legging hallways that are tight and dark though. They’ll kill the feeling of spaciousness in your home. Ensure there’s sufficient natural light in this space so you don’t suffer a contrast adjustment every time you open the front door.

If you are happy to reveal more of your home, then you can align the front door with your main hallway as a circulation axis into and through your home. This can be great for keeping things ordered. 

Create sufficient space at the front door that your visitors can step inside, and you can move around them to close the door, and then in front of them to lead them into your home.

If you’re using a void at your entry, lead the eye to somewhere meaningful (a focal light fitting, up a set of stairs, to a high level window). Be careful you don’t create a vertical tunnel at the entry which feels noisy and cavernous to stand in. 

Image Source @Canva

Light (Day and night)

Natural light at your entry will make it feel more welcoming, and help with a sense of spaciousness. And if you’re dealing with a narrow site and / or home, then natural light at your front door may be necessary to avoid a dark entry hallway.

Entry doors come in all sorts of designs and configurations now, with glass included in lots of different arrangements – either in the door, or as sidelights.

However, many compromise the privacy and security of their home’s entry by the door that they choose.

A few things to think about if considering glazing in your front door (or in a window or sidelight nearby):>> will privacy be an issue?

>> does the glass need to be transparent (could you choose an obscure glass, or add a an adhesive film for part or all of the glass)?

>> do you need to have the glass at eye level (or could it be above or higher in the door?)

>> can you provide thresholds or gateways before your front door (so not everyone gets up to the door itself unless ‘let in’)

Also consider your night time lighting. Choose lighting at your front door for function and appearance, so you can create a secure and welcoming entry at any time of the day. 

There are loads of options for night lighting:

>> downlighting in soffit of roof over entry

>> pendant lighting (careful how the wind impacts it)

>> wall lighting (it doesn’t have to be symmetrical)

>> in low landscape walls

>> in the entry landing itself

Invest in great quality exterior lighting at your front door, to really enhance the look of your home overall. The type of light fixtures you choose will also start to tell the story of your home’s aesthetic, so consider how they integrate with what you’re choosing internally in your home (shape, fixture colour, type of light, etc).

And ensure functionally, it’s really safe and secure to approach your front door of an evening.

If you have some transparency at your front door (due to sidelights or glass panels in the door itself), consider how your interior lights will also light the entry space. 

If using sensor lighting, ensure you have a set up that doesn’t get triggered when the wind blows through trees, etc. You’ll drive yourself and your neighbours bonkers.

Image Source @Canva

Your Front Landing

In years gone by, many homes would have a front porch or deck with a collection of chairs and a place to sit and watch the world go by. Chatting to neighbours walking past, and interacting with the street generally, was common-place.

Now, front doors and front landings can be tight spaces which are simply about ‘getting in’ to the home. With little cover and a tiny space to stand whilst you knock at the door. All the space is dedicated to inside the home instead.

Creating a well-designed front landing can do lots of things for your home – even in the most compact of designs. Here are some things to think about …

>> Orientation

If your home is south or west to rear, you may want to create a seating area at your home’s entry so you have a spot to sit in the sun that’s different from your rear exterior spaces. This can be great in Winter time, and it can help with the overall feeling you have in your home.

>> Weather and shade 

It’s important to provide overhead protection at your front door – not only for visitors to have somewhere dry or shaded to stand whilst they wait for you to open the door, but also for the long-term durability of your door itself. 

>> Deliveries

With all the online shopping happening these days, chances are you’re receiving a fair few deliveries at home. Design a front door and entry that makes it easy for packages to be left in a hidden and fairly secure place when you’re not home.

>> Light and Shade

There’s something known as ‘articulation’ when designing the exterior of homes. Put simply, this is how walls, roofs, and other surfaces, step in and out to create shadow on a facade, and general interest in the appearance of the home. Think modern homes that can appear quite ‘flat’ to the street, vs old Queenslanders with deep verandahs and shadows. Specific articulation can help emphasise the aesthetic you’re chasing, create a more welcoming entry, and may also be required by your local town planning rules.

You can be generous in your design of your front landing, without chewing up a lot of physical space. Design your front landing AS you design your home – don’t leave it as an afterthought you bolt on at the end.

Home design by Amelia Lee | Photo by Jacob Hutson

Double door, pivot or hinge. Timber or something else?

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to the type of door opening you can have for your front door. 

A hinge, 820mm door (opening size) is the fairly standard approach. But what if you want something different?

Some homeowners choose a pivot door as an option. They can be a lovely looking front door, with a really luxurious feel. They’re challenging as a front door, though, because it’s difficult to get them well sealed. 

Because the pivot hinge is on the top and the bottom of the door, you can’t run a continuous seal around the perimeter edge of the door. So if your door is not well-covered, or you’re hosing outside, you can sometimes find that leaves and water will track under the door where it’s not sealed. 

Double doors are another choice many make for a grand entry. And they can be great if your entry space is wide enough to house them, as you can have them both open when moving furniture in and out of the house. (Otherwise, people are often having to move larger furniture in around the back of the house).

However, I’ve seen many choose a double-door setup which is actually quite tight when only one door is open. And you usually open one door when welcoming someone into the home. So, if you’re planning a double-door entry, pick one that’s wide enough when only a single door is open.

Generally consider upgrading your front door to a 920mm door opening. You can make it taller too. Often the front door is a different material and frame to the other openings you’ll have on your front facade, and doesn’t necessarily need to align with the height of them as a result. 

If choosing a timber or timber veneer, choose a timber from a sustainable resource. Be ready to regularly maintain it as well. Do your research when selecting a finish for it, so you know what expectations there are to refinish in the future.

Image Source @Canva

Colour 

When I lived with a friend in Surry Hills, Sydney, during my uni degree, we were in a 2 storey terrace house (in a row of terrace houses).

Every so often, she would change the door colour by giving it a new coat of paint (or two). Sometimes I wasn’t aware this was happening, and would walk straight past our place when coming home at the end of the day LOL!

Door colour has been a place of great experimentation over the past few years. With many homes using monochromatic colour schemes, the door colour is seen as a way to add personality and vibrancy. Plus, it’s a smaller area to paint should you get tired of the colour down the track.

It’s fantastic to see … yellows, pinks, greens, blues. All the colours of the rainbow – and I think it really adds some joy to the front of a home.

A few things to mention about this:

Think about how much of the door you’ll paint in colour. Do you want to bring that colour inside too? Or will you need to figure out how to terminate the colour on a door edge (and potentially paint your architraves and skirtings in a different colour so they don’t need to continue inside too).Check the manufacturer’s warranty of your door. If you’re using a new door, some brands won’t warrant a door that is painted a ‘dark colour’. Check how they define ‘dark’, and ensure you won’t have issues with the door’s performance long term. Test the colour before you commit. Light (both night and daytime) can do strange things to colours, especially strong ones. Paint your tester the same way it’s recommended to paint the door (generally a base primer and 2 coats).Also test whether you want matt, satin or gloss finish to your paint. Painting a front door in gloss and getting a great result takes skill, and may not be a DIY job for you.

It’s great to have fun with colour in your home. Pick a door colour you love, and bring it into your interiors with other choices you make. If you’re worried you’ll get sick of it, highlight it through soft furnishings inside that can be easily replaced. 

You’ll create a great feeling of continuity to your home, which improves that sense of ‘flow’ we all love!!

FOR MORE ON FRONT DOORS AND ENTRIES:

Be sure to listen to my podcast episode on designing your Main bedroom and its associated spaces. You can listen here >>> FRONT ENTRIES + FRONT GARDENS

IMAGE SOURCES:

Images are sourced from Canva and my own personal projects. Photography by Canva and Jacob Hutson.
The post 9 Things to Know About Your Front Door appeared first on Undercover Architect.

9 Things to Know About Your Main Bedroom Design

What are the key things to know about your Main Bedroom design so you can create a great one in your future home?

When it comes to home design, one area of huge importance to homeowners is their Main Bedroom.

And it’s not surprising … because it can be a long-held dream to have a relaxing haven that feels like a sanctuary for the adults in any family home.

So, here are some key tips to help you get it right in the design, planning and arrangement of your Main Bedroom.

Image Source: Canva

Locating the Main Bedroom in your overall floor plan design

There can be different views about where to locate the Main bedroom in the overall floor plan of your home. If you’re building new, you’ll have some flexibility with this, however if you’re renovating, you may need to work with the existing layout of your home.

I see many floor plans where the Main bedroom is at the front entry, and access into the Main bedroom is easily visible from the entry hallway – in fact, sometimes it’s the first thing guests will see when they arrive. 

This can be great if you’re wanting to supervise teenagers coming and going (I’ve had homeowners specifically request this in their home design!), however if you’re wanting to maintain privacy to your Main bedroom, consider how the bedroom’s entry door can be pulled off the hallway, or the room located elsewhere in your floor plan.

Locating the Main bedroom on the upper floor of a 2 storey home can mean you struggle with whether to locate it with a view over your rear garden, or to put it at the front of the home, with a view over the street. 

There’s a couple of ways to decide. 

One is the orientation … as having a south or east facing Main bedroom is lovely for light quality, and avoiding having a hot bedroom to go to sleep in. 

Privacy can be another factor, as you may find it difficult to achieve privacy at the rear given the design of your neighbour’s homes. Having the Main at the street-side of your upper floor can be great for natural surveillance of your street and front garden, which can assist with security for your home overall. 

Lastly, homeowners with young families can often position their kids’ bedrooms near their Main bedroom to make those night trips for feeding (or for toddlers to find their bedroom) safer and easier. 

However, your kids are BIG for a lot more time than they’re little. Consider whether locating the kids a bit further away will be better for your home’s future use, and then create safety for the short term with sensor night lighting and temporary safety gates as needed.

Image Source: Canva

The Overall Size of your Main Bedroom (and what goes in it)

In an effort to create a relaxing haven in their home, homeowners can go overboard in the sizing of the Main Bedroom, and end up with a cavernous space that chews up a lot of floor plan area. Especially once combined with an ensuite and walk-in-robe.

I’ve seen this happen in the most compact of floor plans. The Main Suite has been bigger than the living / dining / kitchen area, and often due to the arrangement and design of the associated walk-in-robe and ensuite spaces.

So, when you start planning the overall size of your Main Bedroom, consider carefully what will go in it. 

Will you have a queen bed, or a king? Bed side tables on both sides or some built in storage behind the bed instead? A seating area, or simply a chair in the corner? Perhaps you can do an ottoman at the end of the bed instead of a free-standing chair. A window seat can also be a lovely built-in alternative as well.

It can be nice to have somewhere to sit other than you bed when in your Main Bedroom, but if it’ll just be a dumping ground for your clothes at the end of each day, it may not induce that feeling of relaxation you’re chasing!!

Main Bedrooms do not need to be huge, and it wasn’t that long ago that built-in robes in Mains were the norm. A built-in robe along one wall can be far more functional storage than a pokey, poorly designed, walk-in-robe. 

The same goes for your ensuite. It’s lovely to have a space that’s just for the adults in the home, but remember they’re cost-intensive areas in a building budget. You can create luxury and relaxation without it needing to be a big space.

I see many homeowners get really enthusiastic about creating a retreat-style Main Bedroom, inspired by a holiday they had, or something they’ve seen in a magazine or online. 

However, the idea and romance of it, can be quite different to the reality in a family home. If you have little ones, you may not actually be spending all that much time in your Main Bedroom (and you may be sharing it with others besides your partner LOL!) 

Image Source: Canva

Arrangement of the Main Bedroom and associated spaces (walk-in-robe and ensuite)

When designing your Main Bedroom, picture yourself lying in the bed in that room. Roll your head from side to side. What will you see?

Ideally, you won’t see straight into your walk-in-robe and / or ensuite.

These service spaces associated with your Main Bedroom can make the room feel much more cluttered and less relaxing, when they’re able to be viewed from your pillow. 

It also means that when one of you gets up at night to go to the loo, and switches the light on, it will cast light over the person trying to stay asleep in bed.

Consider how you can conceal these service spaces more effectively in your overall Main Bedroom design. 

This is especially important if you and your partner have different schedules that involve you getting up at different times, or coming to bed at different times.

I’ve worked with homeowners where one was a keen cyclist or runner, and so was getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise before work. So, the Main Bedroom layout was designed so that the walk-in-robe and ensuite were entered in a more concealed part of the room (and in some layouts, even accessed off the hallway into the Main Bedroom). 

This meant that lights could go on without waking the other partner, and the keen cyclist / runner could leave the room without coming back into the bedroom … and even come back and have a shower afterwards, without having to enter the bedroom again.

Your lighting design can also assist with minimising the impact of these service spaces on your Main Bedroom, by including some extra, smaller lights that give sufficient lighting at night for a quick bathroom visit.

Keep the views from your pillow ones that inspire relaxation and rest. Think about your daily routines in your home (because they’ll start and end in your Main Bedroom), and how they differ to the partner you share that room with. 

It’ll help with creating a great feeling in your Main Bedroom, and a better night’s sleep as well!

Image Source: Canva

Designing the Main Bedroom to suit you and your needs (parents’ retreat)

In the 25+ years I’ve been working in this industry, I’ve designed LOADS of Main Bedrooms (almost 1,000 by last count). And it’s always really interesting to see how differently people view the use, layout, needs and design of this particular space.

Some see it as a full parents’ retreat. An escape place that will be purely theirs as adults, and one they can ensure is always ‘nice’ and ‘tidy’! It’ll include a space to sit – and even sometimes a full lounge area. These can sometimes be very large, and even take up a whole region of the floor plan design.

For others, it’s purely a place to put their head down at night. It needs to fit a King-size bed because there’s often an extra body or two who comes in at night (!) The windows don’t need to be huge, and they need good blockout blinds to ensure full darkness in the room.

Some homes even design in two Main Bedrooms … because I’ve learned in all the years I’ve been doing this that not all couples share a bed every night, and one doesn’t want to be relegated to a minor bedroom just because they sleep separately.

One thing I’ve really loved seeing is where homeowners weigh up their Main Bedroom and its functionality with other rooms in the home. They know they want a place to escape, but the floor plan might not accommodate a full-sized second living space. 

And so they’ve enlarged their Main Bedroom a little to create a lovely adults-only sitting area, that then acts as their second living space. It saves $$$ overall, and it also saves in floor plan area. And it gives them functionally what their family needs to get that ‘space apart’ when required.

Others have created a study space just off the Main, for the one who works-from-home, or even works late at night. It gives them privacy and separation away from the other activities in the home, and is designed so as to not wake the sleeping partner. 

So, if you’re designing your Main Bedroom – don’t think there’s just one way to do it. Create a design that suits you and the way you live. It’s always possible to do that, and it still work for other families who might buy your home in the future.

Image Source: Canva

Getting your dimensions and layout right in your Main Bedroom

How to know you’re getting your Main Bedroom layout right? Know your dimensions and test them out at 1:1.

Far too many floor plan designs don’t show furniture laid out in them. It’s the BEST way to test how your design will work in real life, and this especially goes for your Main Bedroom.

Work out at design stage where you’ll locate your bed. Which wall will it go against? Is the wall long enough to fit your bed (including the bedding, which can make the bed a bit wider and longer than a mattress size)? What about the bedside tables? Do you have sufficient room to walk down beside the bed comfortably? And how about bending over to make the bed?

I see lots of floor plans where the wall that the bed sits on is too short for the layout to work well. 

This can be especially true where the design locates a walk-in-robe behind the bedhead. The wall length means that bedside tables won’t fit well, and the bed will most likely be pushed quite close to the side wall.

Consider your window locations too – do they interrupt or interfere with furniture locations?

When you’ve measured all the things you want to have in your Main Bedroom, get out a tape measure and test the size in your design at 1:1. You can do this in your current bedroom space. I’ve also seen homeowners use butchers paper to cut out a plan of their furniture at 1:1 and then lay it out somewhere larger (in their back garden, in their living space etc). 

It may seem labour-intensive and weird to do this. However, it’s a brilliant way to get certainty before you commit to your design. 

And it’ll avoid dramas down the track. Your home is a lot cheaper to change when it’s lines on a page, than when it’s under construction, or a completed building. 

Give yourself the best chance to avoid regret and frustration at making the wrong decision!

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Villa Styling

Glass windows and doors in your Main Bedroom

Let’s talk glass windows and doors in your Main Bedroom – because it’s an area of mistakes and regret I regularly hear from homeowners.

If you’re reviewing your design on floor plans (and haven’t been presented or figured out elevations yet), then be sure you understand two things:

The position of windows in the wall (how far off the floor they are, what the height is to the top of them, and how wide they are)The operability of the windows ie how they open (and how far they open too)

This goes for any window in your home design, but I see it happen especially in bedrooms. And particularly in two storey homes where the bedroom is on the upper floor.

If you’re aiming for a window design that gives you great natural ventilation, you may be disappointed to find that the builder has to put restricted openings on the window to meet code.

If natural ventilation is a goal, try to have windows on 2 different walls in the room, so you can promote that cross-breeze.

If you’re putting windows on the same wall as your bedhead, consider doing 2 narrow windows that can line up with your bedside tables. It will give you wall space above the bed to hang artwork or family photos.

If you have an amazing view, it can be better to put your bed at right angles to it – so you look sideways out to the view. I often see people put it in front of their bed, which means they have to be sitting up in bed to enjoy it.

No views, and neighbours close by? Don’t forget windows or skylights that give you a view of the sky can be a beautiful inclusion in your Main Bedroom. You can mimic camping by lying in bed and seeing the night sky

Worried about privacy? You can always consider external screens or internal window furnishings to assist with privacy, and window tinting can be super helpful too (it helps with glare too).

Think about this all at the floor plan stage. Ensure the window design and placement doesn’t limit how you can furnish the room, or where you intend to put the bed. Review your window furnishings during this stage as well, so the window design can cater for the style you are wanting in your Main Bedroom.

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Jacob Hutson

Creating spaciousness in your Main Bedroom: Where you lay your bed

Want to create spaciousness in your Main Bedroom? Then look at how and where you enter the room, and the bed placement.

The most ideal location to enter the Main Bedroom is at the foot of the bed, where your path of circulation from the doorway, into the room, and around the bed, isn’t interrupted by furniture.

In the house we live in, the Main Bedroom is entered on the same wall as where the bed head is. It means that me – who sleeps on the opposite side of the bed – has to walk in the room, circumnavigate the bed, in order to get in.

(Or climb right on over – but that doesn’t always go down well LOL!) 

It’s a pain – and it’s not a great way to enter any bedroom. I’ll be changing it when we eventually renovate!! 

The same can be said for walking in on the side of the bed, or at the head of the bed. It’ll truncate the room, and make it feel smaller than it is.

In a Main Bedroom, the bed itself is usually the ‘hero’. It’s the money shot in all the images you see. It’s the item in the room that most highly triggers a sense of relaxation and calm, and it’s the thing you invest in, plus add good-looking bed linen to as well. 

So, you want to enter the room in a way that shows off the bed first. Entering the room at the foot of the bed will do this, plus prevent you having to weave around any furniture – which dramatically helps the sense of spaciousness in the room too.

The image shown here – this photograph is taken from the room’s entry, and circulation is clear to move through the room to the walk-in-robe and ensuite beyond.

When positioning the bed head, consider what’s on the other side of the wall. Having your bed head up against the ensuite wall, where a toilet flushing or basin tap running in the middle of the night, can be challenging. Consider sound insulation in the wall if this is unavoidable.

There’s also lots of info about designing for Feng Shui and EMF minimisation when it comes to bedhead location. So do some research on those if they interest you.

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Jacob Hutson

Making a grand entrance into your Main Bedroom: Your doors

There’s something I want to talk about.

It’s the double-door entry into the Main Bedroom.

Sometimes this can be two, equally sized, double doors.

Other times it can be one bigger door, with a smaller door – that still both open into the room.

I see it get used in designs – especially by volume / project home builders – as an upgrade to add some sense of luxury to the design. 

It doesn’t. Don’t do it.

There’s a few reasons why.

One is because a door swing takes up room as it opens and closes into a room – and when you have two, you’ll reduce the space and functionality inside the room. You won’t be able to furnish near the door, or you’ll have your door banging against something as it opens. And chances are your light switch will end up behind one of the doors.

Another is because it is SO rare that homeowners have both doors open. And to do a double-door opening economically, a single door won’t be the same width as a standard single door. So you’ll end up with a narrower entry into your Main Bedroom. 

I often wonder if those who specify this envisage them pushing both doors open at the same time, in some grand gesture, each time they enter. I’m not sure it happens that way in real life.

If you want to upgrade the entry into your Main Bedroom to make it special, here’s a couple of alternatives.

One is to upsize the door to the next standard size door opening. So, for example, using a 920mm door leaf instead of an 820mm door leaf.

Another option is to use a pivot door hinge instead of a standard hinge on this door. It can create a sense of luxury to the door opening.

Want acoustic privacy? Use a solid core door.

Don’t fall for a design gimmick that doesn’t deliver in real life. 

Have I changed your mind?

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Villa Styling

Lighting design and power point locations in your Main Bedroom

Have you thought about the lighting design and power point locations for your future Main Bedroom?

Lighting is amazing for creating a mood, as well as serving a function. And with Main Suites containing the sleeping zone, the walk-in-robe and the ensuite, there’s lots of opportunity to consider an effective lighting design for all occasions

Some pointers for you:

If you’re painting your room a dark colour, choose your light switch plates and power points appropriately so they don’t jump out as wall acneLocate light switches so you can turn lights on and off from both the room and from bedConsider lighting levels for the different functions in your Main Suite and use dimmer switches to have ultimate controlRemember light can be about function and about feature – so have fun with enhancing the aesthetic of your Main Bedroom with your lighting selectionDon’t create conflict between downlight beams and fan blade motion, or you’ll end up with a disco strobe every time you turn the lights and fan on simultaneouslyWall lighting and pendant lighting can be gorgeous in a Main Bedroom for a softer, more focussed type of night lightingConsider what you’ll have plugged in on your bedside table, and position the power point to conceal cords and plugs behind furniture.

Those are just a few, but there are loads more tips when it comes to lighting design and power point location. What have you discovered in your research?

FOR MORE ON MAIN BEDROOMS:

Be sure to listen to my podcast episode on designing your Main bedroom and its associated spaces. You can listen here >>> YOUR MAIN BEDROOM

IMAGE SOURCES:

Images are sourced from Canva and my own personal projects. Photography by Canva, Jacob Hutson and Villa Styling.
The post 9 Things to Know About Your Main Bedroom Design appeared first on Undercover Architect.

How to Choose the Right Home Insurance | David Keane, Solve My Claim

Want to know how to choose the right home insurance? David Keane, Solve My Claim, helps us know what to check when choosing.

Choosing the right home and contents insurance policy can have a huge impact on how protected you are, and what you’ll receive if you suffer loss or damage to your home or contents. 

Learn what to look for here.

Solve my Claim provides expert support and assistance to anyone struggling with their insurance claims. 

David is an expert on all things home and content insurance, and he’s going to help us understand and decipher the differences between insurance policies, and what to check, so we know we’re covered.

This is essential listening for anyone choosing a home and contents insurance policy, or wanting to review their existing policy to ensure they’re covered properly.

David Keane, Director of Solve My Claim

David is the Director of Solve My Claim, and he has been involved in the insurance industry (primarily in the area of claims management, loss adjusting and assessing services), for more than 24 years. 

During this time, he was constantly amazed at how many people came to him with insurance problems, complaints, disputes and claims problems. In every instance, he was able to resolve those claims. He realised that there was nowhere for these people to turn, and that realisation started a process that resulted in the creation of Solve My Claim in 2014.

Solve My Claim exists to provide expert guidance, to help you navigate through claims disputes and problems that can be difficult to resolve.

Many people feel disempowered when making an insurance claim, because the company has a team of experts acting for them, and you are all on your own. Well not any longer! Solve My Claim is levelling the playing field, and ensuring that you have the best possible opportunity to solve your claim.

In this interview, David is going to help us understand:

What he recommends you specifically check in your insurance PDS to ensure you’re coveredHow to best determine the value of your home and contents for insurance purposesAnd whether unapproved structures, especially on rural and regional properties, will be covered in your insurance policy.

So, let’s hear more.

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE NOW.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS PODCAST:

Solve My ClaimWeb >> https://solvemyclaim.com.au/Facebook >> https://www.facebook.com/solvemyclaim/The free Facebook groups they have >> SOLVE MY CLAIM FACEBOOK GROUPSInstagram >> https://www.instagram.com/solvemyclaim/Link to Contents Inventory Schedule >>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD
The post How to Choose the Right Home Insurance | David Keane, Solve My Claim appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Home Loans 101 and Lending Criteria – Part 2: Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans

Do you understand Home Loans 101, and the various lending criteria that decide a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?

Amy is a Mortgage Broker and owner of Good Green Home Loans. If you’re seeking sustainability from your home lenders and mortgage broker, you’ll love meeting Amy.

This is Part 2 of my conversation with Amy about home loans 101 and the lending criteria that will decide your mortgage.

You can listen to Part 1 here.

Good Green Home Loans is not your typical mortgage broking service.

Good Green Home Loans helps you make sustainable choices with your home loan, which is fantastic in exercising your buying power for greater environmental impact.

Amy Beattie is a mortgage broker who has built a business based on her personal commitment to improving the environment, and seeking a positive impact on the world.

Good Green Home Loans is here to help you find the right home loan at a great rate – using only environmentally responsible lenders who aren’t using their profit and power to support the fossil fuel industry.

Good Green Home Loans helps you make sustainable choices with your home loan, which is fantastic for exercising your buying power.

When we feel powerless to create change, it’s important to remember how powerful our personal spending decisions can be. We can send a great big message to the companies who seek to serve us, by demanding better from their businesses.

Amy is a wealth of knowledge and experience in helping those buying, building and renovating, find suitable, competitive loans, from ethical lenders.

Amy Beattie, of Good Green Home Loan

In this episode, I ask Amy questions such as:

• What are some of the considerations you need to make when purchasing land in a bushfire prone area, to set yourself up for better chances with your finance applications?

• If you’re renovating an existing home in a bushfire prone area, what will lenders look at to see if you’re viable for borrowing for your project?

• Many people may have bought land some time ago that has since been given a bushfire overlay. What do you suggest they do in regards to reviewing the finance options for building a new home on that land?

• How do you see banks black-marking specific postcodes or areas, and on what basis?

• When looking at construction loans for new homes or renovations, what things do people need to consider with financing?

And lastly, we also discussed a scenario I’d been told about occurring after the 2009 Black Saturday fires …

One of the challenges that occurred for homeowners in 2009 Victorian fires was that the insurance settlements they received were actually full payouts of mortgages.

And so then they were left without a mortgage, no income due to not being able to work, or the fire destroying their business as well, and then no ability to secure finance.

What options (if any) might there be for people dealing with this now, or what alternatives there are for people?

So, let’s hear more from Amy Beattie.

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE NOW.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS PODCAST:

Good Green Home LoansWebsite >> https://www.goodgreenhomeloans.com.au/Instagram >> https://www.instagram.com/goodgreenhomeloans/
The post Home Loans 101 and Lending Criteria – Part 2: Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Water Leaks – Owner Builders Watch

I bet you did not know that according to Chubb Insurance1
water leaks are more expensive than fire and theft when it comes to claims rectification.

Out of sight – out of mind.

When building or renovating taking notice of pipes and hoses
is the last thing you as the Owner Builder are worried about.

However, internal water damage can be more costly to fix and
depending on where the leak is, difficult to find and can cause long term
damage. Most home insurance policies will not cover the leak because they
consider it to be part of the building process.

They may even consider the leak to be a defect or a
maintenance issue, that you should have been aware of, flexi hosing is a risk
and its potential failure you should have been aware.

Solution, you should consider is a shut off device
that can be installed by a plumber.  This
will limit the amount of water that if a burst pipe or flexi hose escapes into
your home, it could even save you money on your Home and Contents Policy after
finishing building.

1Chubb Get Smart about Water Leaks

The post Water Leaks – Owner Builders Watch appeared first on Australian Owner Builders.

Text Formatting – Style Guide

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The post Text Formatting – Style Guide appeared first on Undercover Architect.

How to get a home mortgage after losing your home | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans

How do you get a home mortgage after losing your home and without income proof?

For many who suffer the loss of a home due to bushfire, they may also lose their jobs or be unable to work.

This can make rebuilding especially challenging – especially if their insurance settlement has paid out their mortgage and getting finance proves difficult.

Learn more as Amy Beattie, Mortgage Broker, explains what options might be available to those in this position.

In this video, I speak with Amy Beattie, Mortgage Broker and owner of Good Green Home Loans.

This is part 6 of my conversation with Amy. You can watch the other parts here:Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Good Green Home Loans is here to help you find the right home loan at a great rate – using only environmentally responsible lenders who aren’t using their profit and power to support the fossil fuel industry.

In this video, I asked Amy this question:

“One of the challenges that occurred for homeowners in 2009 Victorian fires was that the insurance settlements they received were actually full payouts of mortgages.

And so then they were left without a mortgage, no income due to not being able to work, or the fire destroying their business as well, and then no ability to secure finance.

What options might there be for people dealing with this now, or what alternatives there are for people?”

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTAmelia Lee + Amy Beattie (Good Green Home Loans)

[Amelia Lee]: Now in terms of understanding the position that some people are in after the bushfires, I know from the research I’ve been doing with the 2009 Victorian fires that one of the big problems when it came to people losing their properties or suffering significant damage was that their insurance payouts ended actually just being that they had their mortgages paid out in full.

And speaking to people who were there at that time and working with people on the ground, this ended up being a big problem for people because, whilst it seemed great to get your mortgage paid out, if you were then with no house, your block of land, you might have lost your business, lost your job, and didn’t have then a reliable income, no bank was going to lend you money to be able to then turn around and build your new property. And you’ve got no cash from your insurance company to get started either.

So how have you seen, or have you seen that this situation might be handled slightly differently in the current environment?

Or what options there might be for people in terms of other avenues and other … I don’t know. I mean, it’s such a tricky thing, and I’m not sure if there is anything. But I suppose we’ve got … Whether there’s any alternatives for people in terms of exploring this with financing and how they explore it for their project?

[Amy Beattie]: Well, when you’re talking about hypothetical situations where this hasn’t happened yet, but people are trying to mitigate for it … For me, it all comes back to understanding the risks yourself, not just trying to meet the criteria of the bank, but understanding the risk criteria yourself. And, sadly, it’s the insurance industry that we’re all kind of hinged on.

But the importance of … We pay a fortune to insure our cars, and in the scheme of things, what we’re insuring there is so minor in our overall financial position. And we’re very … I don’t know the statistics on it, but I just know from my experience that many people are not insured adequately, personally, whether it’s their income, or their property, or their life. And most people don’t really understand the fine print of their insurance policies.

So that’s what it comes around to for me when we’re talking about hypothetically, and before you’ve embarked on taking out a home loan for your dream home, is the ‘what if this happened, and what would I do about it?’ And if the answer is ‘I’d be in big trouble’, you need to mitigate that risk somehow. And I can’t express that more. But it’s always a balance of how much that costs to the likelihood of it occurring.

But I guess in hindsight you would never say ‘I wish I didn’t have that insurance policy’ when you needed it. So for those people that are in situations like that, where their insurance was inadequate, whatever the insurance was, whether it was those personal insurances or the building insurance…The industry itself, I haven’t seen anything really yet in terms of the industry as a whole finance industry, as a whole, wanting to address how we’re going to help people like that.

So I probably … The only thing I can suggest is that you’ve got to sooner rather than later find someone that you can trust and who has your best interests at heart to go to and begin the journey of trying to find out how to get back on your feet. So whether that’s financial counseling services, and probably a really good place to start. But a broker would be a good place to start too. A broker with a really good heart would be key.

Because they will… They’ll almost certainly be banks that are willing to lend money to the people who are desperate to turn their circumstances around, but it will very likely be at a cost as well, a significant cost. And, you know, potentially lining somebody’s pockets when that isn’t the right answer. So, yes, you just got to be really wary of the not so good people out there too, I think. You’ve got to find someone you can trust and who you know cares. And yes the financial counselling services I think would be the best place to start.

[Amelia Lee]: That’s fantastic advice Amy. I think that that thing of actually just getting people who do care in your corner can make such a critical difference to you getting the right information that you need. Because often times, you’re being sort of forced to make decisions very quickly by those that don’t necessarily have the best intentions.

And so it is that… Having the wherewithal to say ‘no, stop, I just need to find these things out and make sure that I’m protected’ so that you don’t get yourself backed into a corner unnecessarily.

And I think it’s always really interesting to see when you do speak to a broker, there’s been times where we were doing projects, and we thought it was going to be impossible to access funds, but when we sat down and actually sort of laid out all of the puzzle pieces that we were dealing with, then there was always an avenue through. It just required understanding ‘okay, we might have to wait to satisfy X, or that might mean that we could do this as an alternative’.

And it is… You can’t actually make those decisions until you’ve got all of the information. So it’s lovely to know that there’re brokers like you who can help people really lay out that picture for themselves.

And a lot of the other guests that we’ve been bringing on as part of this Rebuild + Build Better series who can share knowledge and expertise with people to help them make informed decisions rather than getting pushed into something that they don’t want to do and then getting stuck.

[Amy Beattie]: Yes, and one thing that came to mind when you were saying that is just that … In my role, I often feel like culturally we … clients on the other side of the desk, they get excited by the ‘yes’. And it isn’t necessarily the best thing. So it’s just doing things in a really considered, well thought out way, speaking to many people, and definitely not relying on the wrong people, I guess.

And that can sometimes be people with great intentions that, you know, ‘when I went and saw my broker, he said this, or she said this and so … You can do this’ but it’s not necessarily right for you. So, I think there has to be that trust, the integrity, the experience, and not to just sort of jump at the first thing you hear ‘yes’ to.

Because that can just be fraught with danger. So the more knowledge you can acquire before you make any big decisions on something this huge it’ll be financially almost always the biggest decision you’ll ever make will be to do with your borrowings for a home and your superannuation.

So, don’t rush decisions, just when you hear something you want to hear. Surround yourself with the right people and good people and get the best advice.

[Amelia Lee]: That’s so true. I see lots of people fall for the things that they want to hear. And yes, my approach is that often times you’ve ignored… Like when I’ve seen things go poorly for people, it’s because they ignored a raft of people who told them what they needed to hear, and they went with the person who told them what they wanted to hear and then ended up in a pickle.

And so it is that thing of trying to check the credentials, establish the criteria, really know what your priorities are personally and find alignment with experts who can support you. And do demonstrate a caring kind of invested attitude in you achieving outcomes that are going to be suitable and not cripple you financially and not get you caught out.

So yes, I can imagine it’s a huge responsibility as a broker. I saw somebody post recently in a Facebook group that their home loan … they’ve been speaking to a broker who suggested that they get a personal loan to sort out their deposit to then be able to go and get their mortgage and it was like ‘holy cow, that sounds like a recipe for disaster!’

And it’s like … Actually the conversations you have with your broker at this point are critical for you not crippling yourself financially and not getting yourself into a lot of trouble debt wise. In terms of it is that thing you must feel a huge amount of responsibility in how you advise people in this regard.

[Amy Beattie]: Yes, that’s right. And it’s a fine balance too of offending people because you sort of say ‘I don’t think this is the right idea for these reasons …’ and it might be based on transaction history on their bank account. And that can feel personal. So it’s a fine art.

I think that ultimately the client gets to choose what they do next. So this isn’t the right way to put it, you win some you lose some, but I definitely have seen clients go somewhere else and come back around eventually.

So, you know, get lots of opinions. Don’t rely on one person. And if your gut instinct is that that person is the right person, challenge that too. And just check. Check with one or two more, because it’s only going to be knowledge and personal growth and all of those things will help you go down the right path in the long run.

[Amelia Lee]: Fantastic, Amy, thank you so much. It’s been so great speaking with you and you’ve shared all of your wisdom so generously. I really appreciate it.

[Amy Beattie]: My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me Amelia. It was lovely to chat.

THIS IS PART 6 OF MY INTERVIEW WITH AMY BEATTIE, GOOD GREEN HOME LOANS. WATCH PART 1 HERE AND PART 2 HERE AND PART 3 HERE AND PART 4 HERE AND PART 5 HERE.

This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Amy here >>> https://www.goodgreenhomeloans.com.au
The post How to get a home mortgage after losing your home | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans appeared first on Undercover Architect.

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