Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Decisions Decisions

If you haven't checked it out already, have a look at the house design here.


 If you aren’t good at making decisions then building a house is definitely not for you!

I spend my days making lots of decisions, managing 20+ staff and a multi-million dollar budget, and I would like to think that generally I'm pretty pragmatic and decisive. Either I'm delusional about my decision making ability at work or I'm unable to apply the same skills when it comes to the house. I get bogged down in levels of detail (that send my poor wife mad, she is amazing putting up with it all!) and toss and turn back and forth on SO many issues.

My current one feels like a major turning point. No doubt one of many!  So far all those hard decisions and turning points have been in the virtual world, just one of many hundreds of versions and tweaks of the plan, which although a 3D model is really only a glorified floor plan due to my non-existent design expertise.

For a long time that was an endless loop. Night after night churning out endless versions. The exit came when my wife and I went and staked out the then favourite version on the block. That settled quite a few things:
  • The living needed to be at the NW corner of the block, for solar efficiency, privacy and to maximise the outdoor space (with two outdoor spaces, one at the front and one at side/rear, hopefully at least one will be useable in most conditions)
  • Our previous decision to give up on trying to utilise the existing driveway crossover was validated (Thanks Pop). Driving straight in on the flat was looking 1000% times better than driving over the current cliff!
  • If we wanted Mt Wellington views we needed to rotate as far West as practical/efficient (another compromise decision coming!)
  • A $30 investment in some garden stakes and fluoro builder’s line is very worthwhile! We should have staked it out much sooner! (although I'm not sure how many times my wife would have tolerated staking out variations)
Anyway, I started this post intending to relate my current decision dilemma …
Do we go with a draftsperson … do we go with a designer … or do we go with an architect?  As I’m sure you can well imagine, each step up comes at a cost!  If you start at 5k and double with each step you are probably not far off the mark (maybe add a little more at the architect end). 
The professional in me says respect the expertise, use it and don’t resent paying for it.  Respect that an architect will deliver a better looking more efficient, sustainable and liveable home.
The risk mitigator goes the middle ground.  With the draftsperson I am no doubt at more risk of being crucified by the builder with “extras”.  Leverage the work I’ve put into the design and find a draftsperson with design aesthetics and material selection skills and environmental performance knowledge.
The budget conscious me says go with the draftsperson.  You’ve done the hard work.  Do a bit more on material selection and roof design and get an experienced draftsperson and structural engineer to polish it off, that’s all you need!
What do you think?  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions! (and thank you for bothering to read this far!)


  1. I really like this blog. Hopefully it helps your thought processes.

  2. Thanks Steve,
    You win the free beer for making the first comment (or cider if you prefer!).

    Sometimes just committing thoughts to keyboard provides some clarity. I guess articulating things in terms others can relate too makes you think about what is really on your mind. So .. I think it will help me. The real value is in other peoples opinions and experience so I'm hoping it becomes a bit more collaborative over time! The more comments / suggestions / questions the merrier!

  3. I just came across your blog, will watch with interest as we try to save up enough to purchase a block in future Tranmere subdivisions (presume there will be some as Oceana Drive is not yet connected . . .) then design and build our own place. Our aims seem fairly similar to yours - simple yet stylish, maximum solar efficiency, minimum maintenance, flat useable space as possible in a hilly suburb. Very much interested in all your thought processes and decisions as you go through this process.

    (We've used an architect in the past, unless you have a great one in mind that you've seen plenty of successful and quality work from, I'd not use one again . . . for the price they charge and problems we had on the ground putting ideas into actual physical results.)

    1. Hi Mel!
      It is great to come across another Tasmanian and even better to hear from someone who is considering a move to Tranmere! I love the way you summed up your aims, I wish I could put it as succinctly!
      You've probably noticed already that the next stage of Derwent Shores is under construction (a couple pre-sold, via South Property). A different developer has also just released land in a subdivision that is starting to close that last gap in Oceana Drive, I was thinking being smaller blocks (558sqm-1031sqm) they might be more economical but they are still all $200k or more. You'll find them here


      As you say, there will be lots more blocks to come to close the gap in Oceana drive. From my understanding of the Clarence strategic plan there will still be growth out toward the point too. Eventually they plan to link Tollard drive to Oceana, I wonder if that might happen somewhere in that current gap.
      Happy to share any info I can to make your journey a little less arduous than ours! We’ve got a long way to go yet!
      I agree on the architect front, we’ve done as much as we can ourselves and have been working with a great designer (Kate at StudiKO) to get the certified plans done.

      Look forward to sharing!

  4. Thanks for info - we're in the under $200k budget currently so unfortunately unless we want a much smaller block or more south facing we're prob not quite in the market yet. Bit more saving and hopefully there's a good sized and oriented block still available later :)

    I haven't looked at all your links yet but will when kids in bed, if I start building my knowledge now I should be ready when we buy land!

    Looking forward to your next installment, M

    1. We were the same, we tossed and turned over other blocks in other areas for ages. Eventually we started to get pretty serious about the new stage of Glebe Hills that had some water views and northerly aspects. We had our eye on one of the blocks there but after getting some advice on foundation costs and the like ended up deciding we would prefer to spend the money on the location.

      I don't think you have anything to worry about in respect to things being available, I think there will be new subdivisions and blocks down there for 10 years yet.

      Have a look at http://www.ccc.tas.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Clarence_Residential_Strategy_-_April_2008_.pdf if you are bored silly sometime (page 34 has some detail about Tranmere / Droughty Point).

      They mention in there that "The strategy continues development around Droughty Point, eventually connecting up with
      development extending along Droughty Point from Rokeby. This development should follow
      the limit of the provision of water supply in this area, which has defined the current extent of
      development further north." and "The strategy also provides a potential connector road across the neck of Droughty Point linking Tranmere to Rokeby."