Designing our home has taken 18 months, just designing – going around and around our ideas, bouncing them off some professionals (builder/designer; architect; house designer; builder) – trying desperately to incorporate all the passive solar and eco-friendly principles we had decided on. First lesson learned – it aint easy thinking what you might want and need for the foreseeable future and fitting it all together! This process and getting my brain to think ‘designing’ was pretty much a nightmare from my perspective - I was stressed by it, spat the dummy a few times and can definitely see why architects get paid! Shame too, the one architect we approached didn’t end up following through on our enquiry (despite the fact we had a one hour face-to-face meeting with him).
Silver lining - the best thing about designing our home ourselves though has been the knowledge gained – it has really forced me to think hard about what we *needed* (and what we wanted) – and what were things to compromise and/or forget.
I actually found this part reasonably easy to do – I found some online ‘lists/worksheets’ that showed a few methods of considering every person in your household (including guests) and what amenities they needed/enjoyed. But the thing that helped me the most was reading Andrew Morrison’s strawbale.com blog. Andrew is a big believer in living simply/living small – as a way to help our planet, but just as importantly, a way to help ourselves. And it just so happened that we had lived ‘small’ for nearly 6 weeks last year (when we were purchasing our block) as we travelled down with our camper trailer. Living in a 36m2 space for our family of 6 (plus occasional guests) – and only camping amenities – gave me a really good understanding of what our family enjoyed, what we missed from our usual lives, and what we didn’t!!
So that is tip number one for designing your home – live with what you think are only the bare essentials and see if you miss anything – and importantly, what you find you really enjoy!