Showhomes & Tools

The Design Process

The Design Process

The first step in the design process is to gather information and analyse information necessary to design your home. This includes initial meetings with your designer where you discuss your needs and wants and any other special requirements.


1. Schematic prelimary design

The building site is studied to ensure best orientation, access and servicing of the house.  Preliminary drawings are completed for you to review. Don’t rush this stage as it is easy to change things around now, but the further you get into the design and construction phases the more difficult and expensive variations become.


2. Design Development

After receiving your first comments, your designer will continue to design and come up with a reworked and redeveloped scheme. During this phase the communication between yourself and your designer is essential.

Concept drawings

Concept drawings are basic plans for your project; they include a floor plan and elevations. These plans are offered solely as a guide to ensure you and your designer are working towards the same goal. These plans have little detail but will show the arrangement of walls, doors, windows and roof shape. You will be unable to get firm building costs from these plans but you will be able to get a ball park figure.

Calculate costs

The Department of Building has a tool to help you calculate cost of building by floor area. At this stage this is your only price guide available, as the final costs can vary dramatically depending on your types of finishes etc. If you decide you are on the right track, ask your designer to proceed by producing full working drawings.

Arranging Spaces

When you have outlined your budget you can move on to the arrangement of space. Preliminary layouts should consider the property that the home is to be built on. Environmental conditions such as climate, orientation, and terrain may affect the positioning of the rooms. Circulation must also be considered in your arrangement.

How will your family and guests move within the space? Use scenarios that represent your everyday living to ensure that the spaces flow freely. Early consideration of the arrangement of spaces will help eliminate future design problems and ultimately make the home more functional.

Now is also a good time to involve Right House, who can assess the best possible room layout to capture as much natural energy/light as possible. Right House have consultants that will review your building plans and provide you with a detailed report that analyses the heating or cooling requirements of your home and how energy-efficient your home is likely to be. The report also makes design recommendations to increase the heat from the sun in your house and recommendations on your lighting, heating and water efficiency needs.

Consult Right House for help with:

  • Making sure your house is positioned on its site for the best use of natural light and sun
  • Working with your architect to ‘cluster’ rooms for best energy and water use
  • Specifying and installing insulation, glazing, heating systems, ventilation systems, water systems and power generation systems that work together to save you money and energy
  • Finding ways to naturally improve warmth and comfort, through heat from the sun, thermal mass, window size and light shafts/shelves
  • Providing an energy rating that potentially will increase the resale value of your house
  • Future-proofing your home to meet energy requirements in years to come

Don’t wait until decisions have been made that could potentially be the wrong ones. The earlier you get the right people involved, the more they can do to optimise your home’s performance and achieve the comfort you’re looking for. Visit Right House for more information.

Home Systems & Finishes

Now you have an idea of what your requirements are for your home, you need to consider what systems and finishes you can use that will have less impact on the environment and are healthier for your family.

When choosing floor coverings and selecting your interior wall surfaces, its important to think about building Health & Safety, Sound Control and Quality Assurance, in conjunction with colour and design. Check out our Interior and Finish product partners, experienced in this area.



3. Construction documentation

After your final approval of the preliminary designs, your designer will begin to prepare the construction documents. This drawing package will be used to apply for building consents, accurate cost estimates and guide the course of construction.

Working Drawings

The finalised drawings have sufficient detail to allow the builder or tradesman to construct the building, including floor plans, elevations and sections drawn to scale. These drawings explain:


  • Details of walls, construction and cladding types
  • Heights of balconies and rails
  • Roof construction and pitch
  • Types of windows and doors and locations


Bill Of Materials

Bill of Materials (BOM) is the term used to describe the raw materials, sub-assemblies, intermediate assemblies, sub-components, components, parts and the quantities of each needed to manufacture an end item (final product). In construction it is quite often referred to as the Bill of Materials ‘BOQ’. The function of the BOQ is to provide a schedule of rates to break down a tendered price. In construction, the work included in the BOQ is defined in detail by the standard method of measurement. The BOQ includes quantities of materials, labour and services required in construction.


Cost Estimates & Budget Setting

It is advisable to allow room for contingencies in your budget as no matter how accurately you estimate the costs there can often be various unknown amounts. For as much transparency as possible, consider the following:

  • Take your time and do your homework: Even when you are having your home built on a full contract, it pays to take the time to understand the building process, so you have enough information to ask your builder the right questions – and to accurately assess competitive quotes.
  • Break down the costs: By breaking down the costs you get a good understanding of where you are spending your money and can work out what is your priority.


Estimate as early as possible: Early estimates will be approximate, but they can help you make important decisions. Once you know the likely costs, you can modify your plans to meet your budget or your budget to meet the plans.

  • Design details: Small details can make a big difference to your final budget. Begin getting estimates before you sign off your final plan.
  • Shape of your house: Homes that have a rectangular or box shape cost less to build. Having more angles and corners in the shape of your home can increase the amount of labour and materials needed to build a home. Dome shaped homes also make efficient use of materials and tend to cost less than other shapes.
  • Site preparation: Site preparation is a large chunk of your budget. Building on a flat lot will usually cost less. If you have to haul in lots of dirt, do a lot of grading, clear trees, or blast through large rocks, then site preparations can become more expensive.
  • Cost overruns: In general, it is a good idea to allow an additional 10% to cover unexpected costs. Usually the finished cost of a home is more than the original bid price. Cost overruns occur from overspending the allowances, making changes, and encountering unforeseen problems. Proper planning can greatly reduce cost overruns.
  • Inflation and market conditions: The cost of building a home increases around 3% to 6% per year. It’s a good idea to compare prices with houses that have been built within the last six months.
  • Your time is money too: The more you undertake to do yourself, the more you need to know…and the more time it takes to get that knowledge. You need to assess what you want to have input into and what is best left to your builder/designer.

View more guides

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