I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of homes in Australia do not suit the lifestyles of their occupants.
Of course, many occupants are renters, so it’s understandable that the homes, townhouses and units that they live in have not been designed specifically with them in mind. But even when we take those out of the equation the vast majority of the remaining properties still don’t enhance the lifestyle of their occupants.
A major reason for this is the mass produced ‘off the plan’ homes that are popular with those on a strict budget. If you are a follower of my blog, you would know that I believe that it would cost little more to have a home custom designed for the owner’s needs. But I shall not get into that again now.
So why are so many homes unsuitable for the lifestyles of their owners?
It is the designers’ fault
To have a home built to suit your lifestyle it stands to reason that you first need to have it designed by someone who has a great understanding of lifestyle design. Unfortunately, there are very few of us out there who do.
People who have followed my articles will know that I believe draftspeople or building designers will generally only design exactly what has been asked of them. That’s not to say they don’t have talent. It’s just been my experience that most of them don’t offer anything more to the renovator or new home owner than the service of drawing up the design.
Often I see designs that look like they’ve been created with the builder in mind rather than the owner. These designs are quick and easy to construct, unlike custom designs which may take longer to build – admittedly at a higher cost – but give a much better lifestyle outcome.
I have also found that being a registered architect doesn’t of itself guarantee a great understanding of lifestyle design. My focus is very much on the lifestyle outcome for my client’s. However, not all architects (in my opinion) have this same level of focus. Of course, this is just my opinion, but it’s an opinion born out of observation and experience.
The things that go wrong
In my experience, there are a few standout reasons why home designs can cripple your lifestyle. The most obvious, as I’ve mentioned, is that the home wasn’t designed for you in the first place. Even if you’ve gone to an architect, the design of your home may borrow heavily from design elements of an earlier home or renovation that they’ve done, rather than the design truly being done from scratch to suit your exact needs.
Another reason is that the person creating your design didn’t first take the time to truly understand your lifestyle needs. This to me is a big one as I personally go to great lengths to truly understand my client’s lifestyle needs and potentially their future needs before I even think about starting on their design. Then, when creating the design, I constantly check myself to make sure that everything I am doing will not only suit my client’s lifestyle but actually enhance it.
Often a home design works against your lifestyle rather than improving it simply because the person who designed it doesn’t fully understand how to create lifestyle based designs. In fairness, as great as the education and training aspects of becoming an architect are, the actual skill of truly creating a lifestyle enhancing design is something that some people have and others don’t. For those that don’t, it takes a lot of trial and error until they develop that skill.
There are times when architects can get carried away with the potential of creating award winning designs. Now I’ve won my fair share of awards, but I’ve never designed a home solely for that purpose. However, I’ve known some architects who have been very focused on winning awards. Often their client’s get caught up in the excitement of owning an award-winning home only to find that the reality of living in it is far from satisfying.
Occasionally designs suffer from a lack of understanding of local climatic conditions or through an insufficient understanding of sustainable design practices. As a result, the home can be uncomfortable in terms of internal temperatures or unusable external spaces which can only be compensated for by running an air-conditioner or artificial heating, which then adds significantly to the running cost of the homes.
It’s up to you to hire the right person to design your home
Throughout this article I have discussed the problems with the people designing the home, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you as the homeowner to engage the right person to design your new home or renovation. You need to choose someone who understands lifestyle design, who creates every design from scratch and has the design talent and experience to give you the best outcome.
There’s little point complaining after the fact. Instead, make the right choices at the start and get the best outcome for your investment. I would suggest calling me would be an excellent first step. I offer a design advice service that will allow you to benefit from my 30 years of residential architectural experience. My number is 3899 9450; I would love to hear from you.