stress-free design process

The Secret to a Stress-Free Design Process

How to design your dream home without wasting money, time & heartache.

Thinking about building or renovating your home? The secret to a stress-free design process for your new home is teamwork.  It’s essential that you have the right experts working with you, as a team, all focused on delivering your dream home and getting the absolute most out of your budget.

Builders and architects bring different expertise to the table.  If you don’t have a builder on your team, you’ll miss out on their build costing expertise and this could seriously impact the viability of your project.

The Number 1 Mistake

In our experience, the number 1 mistake people make when starting out on their journey is not including an expert builder in their design team to advise on build costs.   When their build quotes come in way over budget and they ask ‘how did it all go so wrong?’, that’s our answer.

If this happens to you, the implications could be devastating:

  • If you do not know the actual build cost until the end of a long and expensive design process, you may only discover at this late stage that it makes more economic sense to sell & buy elsewhere instead.
  • You may have to pay your architect to go back to the drawing board and re-design your new home to bring it within budget. We’ve met homeowners who have done this multiple times.  These wasted design fees eat into your build budget.
  • You may have to apply for a new planning permit, more time and money wasted.
  • During the long design process, you are likely to have become emotionally attached to the architect’s dream for your new home. Having to scale back after you have your heart set on a specific design can be very challenging.
  • The day you move into your new home is now further out into the future and more uncertain.

How a Builder can set you up for Success

The most important advice an expert builder can provide during the design phase of your new home is on expected build costs. Not free ‘off the cuff’ ballpark guess-timates.  Properly analysed and considered build cost estimates that the builder expects to be within 5-10% of the final build quote for the works (at current prices).

A builder can also add value and reduce stress during your design phase by –

  • identifying practical building issues early in the process so they can be addressed sooner rather than later;
  • advising on potential build cost savings and cost effective construction methods and materials so you can get the most out of your build budget;
  • answering all of your building questions during the process to set your mind at ease; and
  • presenting their build quotes in person so you can have a detailed discussion about the scope of works, build costs and construction timeframes.

Common Misconceptions

I have an architect, can’t they advise on build costs?

Often homeowners are assured by their architects that they will advise on build costs, that there is no need for a builder’s input.

However, in our experience, some architects are not up-to-date with current build costs and they often significantly under-estimate the cost to build their designs.  This has been a particular problem since the industry was hit with the unprecedented cost volatility caused by the COVID pandemic.  Builders know build costs.  They are dealing with suppliers and subcontractors daily, it’s just not possible for an architect to be as up-to-date with current build costs as a builder.

Being appointed to build my home would be such a win for a builder, shouldn’t they provide this advice for free?

Like any profession, the best builders have developed their expertise over years of experience and ongoing professional development.   Providing reliable considered advice takes time and they will often be working with you over many months and even years.  And after all of this investment, there is no guarantee that they will be appointed to undertake the works.  Doing all of this for free and then providing the most competitive build quote possible is not sustainable for a building business.

A professional builder can add significant value to the design phase of a project and, like the other consultants involved during this phase, you should expect to pay for their advice.

If I disclose my build budget to a builder during the design phase, I will end up paying more because they will quote to my budget.

If you involve a professional builder you trust and ensure that you are not locked in to appointing them to undertake the building works, your builder will be focused on delivering the best outcome possible for you at a competitive price.

For all of these reasons, we recommend that you involve a builder during the design phase of your new home. 

So you can relax knowing that your design for your new home will not only be achievable, it will also make the absolute most out of your budget.


For tips on saving time & money when designing your new home or renovation, read our FREE guide on the “7 Things You Must Know Before Designing a New Home.

Download it now to ensure that you are on track for a stress-free building experience and a home that you love.



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Sue Davidson

The highlight of Sue's job at Gaia Construction is handing over beautifully crafted homes to excited clients. In her spare time, Sue is passionate about the environment & the outdoors, enjoying time hiking, sailing, walking her dog Lulu and travelling around Australia with her husband Jeremy & Lulu in their small campervan.
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