The Home Design Process: Top Tips for Getting a Result You Love

The Home Design Process: Top Tips for Getting a Result You Love

Undertaking the building of a new home or large-scale renovation can be one of the biggest projects of your life. Unfortunately, many people just aren’t prepared as well as they could be.

Award-winning building designer and author of the book, Nail It, Take Control of Your Building Project and Save Money, Adam Hobill, shared some of his top tips for how to approach the design process on the Spaces podcast. 

Here are some of Adam’s top tips for not only getting what you want in a home, but also what you need, and within your budget.

Know what you want, but also what you need

The building designer or architect is typically one of the first people you’ll be in contact with when it comes to renovating or building a new home.

“It’s nice to get a client that presents with a really considered brief,” Adam says. “Who tells us more about the challenges that they are having in their current home, whether that’s a home that needs to be knocked over and we’re starting again, or if we’re extending and renovating that home.” 

“Our strength is problem solving. Not just take on a brief, but help refine a brief with a client is a really important process. To ask that question within the question, and a lot of the time that uncovers stuff that the clients hadn’t really considered, but become a really important consideration when we’re designing. That’s the kind of value you get whether that be from a building designer or an architect. That kind of insight,” Adam explains.

“It’s actually more challenging when a client comes along with a whole bunch of sketches and they’ve already kind of designed their home, or they think they have. That can be really restrictive and not the preferred way that most designers would like to work,” Adam says.

“Some people go away from that process, or those early stages of conversation, and realise that they are actually not ready, because they’ve been confronted with a whole lot of questions and things that they haven’t really considered. Some people aren’t ready in the sense that they’re brief and dreams just simply don’t match their budget and finances.”

“That’s always a really challenging one,” Adam says. “And that again is a key part of that process of helping a client to really understand where they are at from day one. I’d much rather tell a client that, sorry, you’re budget is short by a hundred, two hundred grand because all these images you’re sending my from Houz and Pinterest, as spectacular as they look, the budget just isn’t there to get you that result. So you can push ahead with a whole lot of compromises, or we can wait, we can readjust, we can reconsider the brief, and that’s a conversation that gets had to some degree with probably 80 percent of clients.”  

Be clear about how you live (or will live) in your home

As Adam says, there’s no common formula to determining this, but there are commonalties.

“The process of designing a new home is different to that of a renovation. Regardless of the project type, it’s always really valuable to get a feel for how the clients are living in their current home,” Adam says. “Even if they’re building a whole new home, when they’re talking about wanting big rooms, bigger bedrooms, or a bigger island bench, smaller this or sunny light-filled that, these are all really subjective comments to make. You’re version of a big kitchen is probably different to my version of a big kitchen. So to experience how a client is living, regardless of the project type is really important,” he says. 

Be aware of the constraints of the project

Adam: “The conversation is generally a bit more expansive when we’re talking about designing a new home, because we’ve got a clean slate. So there’s a whole lot of potential things we could do.”

“Imagery on the Internet, for example, can be very inspiring, but we’ve also got to be able to cap that and contain that. This comes back to the skill in understanding the brief, refining the brief. Where as with a renovation project a lot of the conversation is about the constraints. When you’ve got an existing building and a footprint, there are certain things that you just can’t do. So it is a very different conversation, and that’s something that an experienced and skilled designer will take hold of and really exert some influence and get some benefit from the process,” Adam says. 

Trust in your designer or architect 

The process of building or renovating your own home should be fun. It should be inspiring. And that’s how you know you’re going to get an amazing space at the end of it.

“It should be a really rewarding process and outcome, ultimately. But the process will have its challenges,” Adam says. “Some of those challenges have a way of giving you that good outcome. An example there is, one of the key roles of the designer is to not just give the client what the client wants, without entering into a discussion, and giving feedback where needed. If I think the client is suggesting something that is completely daft, I will tell them I think it is completely daft, here are the reasons why.”

“It certainly is my role to give them feedback on my experiences. That’s part of the service that I’m providing, and that’s part of the service they are looking to me for. Most of the time that conversation results in at least a reconsideration and subtle changes to what that planned outcome was, and that’s a really important process. That’s one of the challenges that ultimately the client will benefit from. It can be a bit awkward, it can be a bit tricky, and the conversations that happen behind the scenes that I’m not privy too can get pretty robust, but they kind of need to be had just to make sure spending your five, six, seven, eight hundred thousand dollars wisely, and know that you’re going to love the result,” Adam explains.


You can hear the entire conversation with Adam Hobill here.