What to expect from your expert custom builder during the design stages?

By Matt Bowles - Director

genuine custom home

There are a lot of luxury home builders in Melbourne, but once you have decided who you are going to entrust with designing and building your custom home you may start wondering, what can I expect? Even if you were using one of the best home builders in Melbourne there is one common factor and that is time.

To properly design a genuine custom home, there will be a lot of back and forth, dozens of face-to-face meetings and innumerable phone calls and emails. Our team will want to get to know you so that we can anticipate your needs but also to ensure that when we call for the 10th time to clarify the details of the home, you are happy to hear from us, knowing that we are working on getting the best outcome for your future home.

The design process will start with a design brief meeting. At this meeting, you will talk about what style of home you like (check out our blog on Architectural Styles) and what accommodation you need in the home such as a number of bedrooms, guest room, home office, theatre room, etc. Make a checklist to work out what are your “not negotiables”, “nice to haves” and “totally unnecessary” components in the final design including a realistic budget.


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Once the architect has an idea of who you are, what you are looking for and how you like to live in your home, they will go away and produce a floor plan sketch. This will be the initial concept that you will be able to provide feedback on for your architect to then make revisions, before moving on to the exterior stage.

When starting to design the exterior of your home, the architect will already have a footprint and position of windows because you have completed your floorplan concept. This enables him to use the information from your meetings to date, to bring it to life. Because it can be difficult to visualize something that has not yet been built, you will receive a 3D render of the house from varying angles. Once again, there will be an element of back and forth to ensure that the final look of your luxury home exceeds your expectations.

Now the team will be able to detail the interior, including joinery and electrical, in preparation for your appointment to select fixtures and fittings. Your design team will be in communication with you to work out all the little details while the drawings are being worked on. The drafting is done from scratch and has to consider all of the detail that relevant trades, suppliers and external third parties may require when they are working on your project in later stages. This can be time-consuming, but the time spent now means fewer delays and potential problems on site as your custom designed home has never been built before. Everything up to this point can take around 6 months, but please keep in mind that the time frame is usually dependent on external parties (engineers, building surveyors, etc.) and also how ready you are to make decisions.

Once you are happy with the design and have selected all of your fixtures and fittings, your team will be able to send everything off to be quoted. A major difference between a custom home and a pre-designed home is that with predesigned homes only the things selected that differ from the standard need to be quoted, but with custom homes, every single component has to be reviewed. At this time, we still may be making small changes to the design to improve efficiency based on feedback from trades and suppliers. It can take several weeks to obtain quotes and then review each price and prepare the documentation for presentation. When receiving the price for your home, remember that we are always happy to work with you to remain on a budget however if items you selected prove to be more expensive than anticipated, we can make recommendations on how to reduce the cost.

When you have signed off on the pricing and all elements of the design a contract can be drawn up between both parties. The time allowed for in the contract to build your home will exceed what you may see advertised by the volume builders because your home has never been built before. This means that the builder has to be more hands-on with the trades to ensure that everything comes to life the way we spent months planning it.

After contract signing, the building permit can be applied for and issued, and orders placed with suppliers and trades for the work required to construct your home. The file will then move to the construction phase. Learn more about what to expect during construction in our next blog.