Designer homes for less than you think

£150 per sq ft is widely regarded as an industry average cost for building and fitting out a new individually designed home. That’s in the region of £225,000 to build a spacious 4 bedroom, 1500 sq ft home…but it doesn’t have to cost that much.

Barrett+Barrett architects is consistently bringing new home builds in at much less. We are achieving an average of £120-130 per sq ft on the majority of our projects and have even managed a remarkable £90 per sq ft on a beautifully appointed 5 bedroom home in north Leeds. It has luxury fittings, every hi tech gadget you can think of including CCTV security, a cinema room and top spec eco-efficient heating, lighting and insulation.

 

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How do we do it?

There’s no big secret, it’s a much more prosaic balance of just 3 things – design, experience and budgeting. Each of these is a critical factor and letting just one get out of hand can mean the difference between success and failure.

Here are some tips on how to design your dream home on a modest budget.

  • You might be planning the home of your dreams but keep a grip on your fantasies.

    It is easy to get carried away by adding lots of perceived must haves. For example we often have requests to design new homes with oversized dining areas; clients love the idea of entertaining in larger numbers. Is this expensive extra floor space worth it for just very occasional use? Clever open plan designing could provide a more cost-effective and flexible alternative.

    The key is to carefully review how you live, what you use and don’t use in your home now. Does every family member need their own a bathroom? Multiple bathrooms will use up a lot of your build budget. How about a Jack and Jill bathroom easily accessed by two bedrooms?

  • When you’re planning the size and style of your new build home be sure to have a look at the value of properties in the immediate vicinity. Do you want to have a home that is hard to sell because it overpriced for the area?
  • Now it’s important to write all of the above down. By itemising your needs and wants you will be structuring a design brief. You should include your budget (more on that later), a list of the rooms you require, design styles and influences…now you need the expertise of a chartered architect.

An experienced architect will be able to bring your initial design brief to life. Here are a few tips on how to find a suitable architect.

  • Have a look at new build houses in your area that you like and ask who the architect was.
  • Always choose the best possible architect you can afford, it could save you a fortune not only when it comes to maximising the potential of your plot but also with project management. A large proportion of your budget will be spent on labour; an experienced project manager will keep things on track and costs down.
  • Don’t be tempted to save money by asking an architectural technician to draw up the designs for your new home; they’re not architecturally qualified in building design or planning matters.With a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) chartered architect you will be safe in the knowledge that the design, construction techniques and planning approvals will be completed correctly because they have to follow a very strict code of conduct.
  • Ask to speak to previous clients to get feedback on your preferred architect. Ask about their project management capabilities as well as their design flair.

And finally budgeting – where most projects come undone!

  • Once you have drawn up your brief and selected an architect, discuss your funding levels for the project.
  • A good architect will help you design your new home incorporating your wishes but at the same time advising you as to how to make the most of your budget.
  • They will advise you as to the most-cost effective construction methods for example traditional cavity block wall build versus a timber frame home.
  • It is also very useful to ask for advice about finishes. Drawing on the experience of someone who deals with these things everyday can save a lot of wasted cash. For example where the best deals are on tiles are and which kitchen fittings are most durable.
  • As much as you’ll try to be realistic with budgeting always include an ample contingency fund. We suggest a minimum of 5% of your total budget for a new build and 10% for refurbishment projects.

There’s a lot to think about but if you’ve done your homework, methodically approached your design brief and got a savvy expert by your side, you’ll be well placed to make a success of your project.

Got your eye on a plot and can’t wait to get started? Call Barrett+Barrett architects on 0113 823 2888 today, we make dream homes more affordable.