People are increasingly looking to their family home to carry them through their life stages. In the current tight economic environment, rather than trading up with all the cost associated with this, people are looking to adapt their homes to their new situation. Designing for flexibility is on the rise.
Building or renovating a home to take you through the generations can be challenging. Before you start, here are ten things you should think about:
Creating flexible living spaces.
How will your family’s use of living spaces change over the coming years? Are the living spaces big enough to cater to an older or extended family? Will there be a need for separate self-contained accommodation in future?
Designing for health.
Studies show that people living in well insulated, warmer homes are less likely to visit the doctor. Designs that orient living spaces towards the sun and use passive solar heating and high insulation values keep homes warm and dry - and families healthy.
Slashing your energy bills.
With energy costs on the rise, thinking about sustainable design minimises the impact on the environment…and your monthly power bill. By building with cost-effective energy efficiency measures in mind – from sensor lighting to double glazing, low flow taps and solar hot water heating - you can create a home that is up to 60 percent more efficient than the average house. Right now, the Government is subsidising both insulation and solar hot water heating installations, making sustainability affordable.
Creating outdoor living spaces.
People renovating often add a lower level or build on top. Both options allow you to create a linkage to an outdoor setting which can be designed as an extra ‘living room’. Ensure the landscape design is linked in with the overall design for the renovation.
Flexible interior design.
Fashions change. Your interior needs to be able to change with them. Ensure you are thinking not just for the moment, but for future tastes when you choose finishes, whether it be colours, wallpaper, kitchen joinery or cabinetry. Remember, a neutral palette can always be transformed into the ‘new black’.
Building in storage.
Good storage is often overlooked and undervalued. Yet, good storage spaces can be the difference between a cluttered house and a streamlined, functional house. Invest in a reputable wardrobe company to optimise the efficiency of wardrobe spaces.
Getting the acoustics right.
Need some quiet time? Strong acoustic values in the building’s design create living spaces which can shut out or let in noise. Choosing the right soft furnishings and textiles is also critical to absorbing noise and designing for good acoustics.
Future-proofing for new technologies.
We live in the information age with new technologies coming at us at an ever-increasing speed. You can future-proof your home by designing in smart cabling systems that act as conduits for future technologies such as internet over the TV.
Create some ‘me time’.
Renovating your home is the one opportunity you get to create a dedicated space for some ‘me-time’. If you love reading and writing, think about a reading room or a snug with a ceiling-high library; if painting is your passion, why not create a naturally-lit studio space? This is your chance to indulge.
Family considerations - enter the teenage years.
Teenagers want space. You need to think about extended bedrooms and living spaces with study areas and entertainment ‘pads’. Also, factor in bedroom size: children might be happy in single beds when they’re young, but there will come a time when they want a double bed and the extra space that goes with it.
These are the things you need to be thinking about before briefing an Architect or designer. Writing a design brief is the best way to do this. The clearer your brief, the better the outcome.
You should be aware of the costs of renovating before you take the plunge. It is generally acknowledged that renovations – with all their tinkering of existing buildings – cost more per square metre than building a new house from scratch. Renovations can cost in the vicinity of $1,800 to $3,000 per square metre depending on how highly specified you want the materials and finishes to be.
Working out the construction cost in advance helps you avoid budget blow-outs. The best way to do this is to engage an Architect to get a concept design plan and then have a quantity surveyor provide an estimated cost on the concept. The quantity surveyor’s estimate helps you work out what you can and can’t live without, eg, that roof terrace may be just too rich for your budget.
For most renovations, the process takes six to fifteen months from start to finish. The last few months will involve building work on site at your property. Building work is messy and creates an unsafe environment. So, if you are planning major work, move out.
A final tip. Make sure you check out the credentials of the people you are working with. If you are looking for an Architect, look for someone who is registered, ask for client references and check they are members of the New Zealand Institute of Architects. And the same goes for checking the credentials of builders and tradesmen if you are managing the construction phase yourself.
By Lisa Hinton, Context Architects Ltd
Practice profile: Context Architects are a design-led practice with offices in Auckland and Christchurch. We provide a full architectural service from conception to completion for residential renovations and builds, commercial builds, interior fit-outs, and community projects. We balance fresh and bold architectural design with innovative and practical solutions. Our goal is to turn our client’s vision into reality. Our promise is outstanding design; exceptional delivery.