Beyond cookie cutter houses

Beyond cookie cutter houses

Tips and Advice, New Homes

You see them everywhere where land is being made available for development across Brisbane and Queensland: Row upon row of houses that are essentially carbon copies of each other. It is not hard to see why. Selling and building homes that were designed using a few basic templates is an established part of the business model of most large house builders.

We have all heard the sales pitches that come with these ‘cookie cutter’ homes. Builders assure us that the fact that they can standardize procedures leads to lower building costs. They further claim that the ability to use the same materials for many homes means that they can get massive volume discounts from suppliers. All of these savings are then, supposedly, passed on to you as the customer.

While it is true that the price tags on some mass-produced houses may seem appealing you will also have to factor in the hidden costs if you really want to determine whether you are getting the ‘bargain of the year’. Consider the following:

‘Cookie cutter’ homes do not allow for individual expression:

This is perhaps the most obvious point to make in questioning the value of mass-produced housing. People are unique, you are unique, yet developers seem to insist that we can all live equally happily in homes that are essentially the same. True you can sometimes move a wall here, or add a room there, but what you will get at the end of the process is a product that caters more to the desire for cost-saving and efficiency on the part of the builder than to your own individual needs.

‘Cookie cutter’ homes are often very inefficient in their use of available space:

It is no secret that new blocks for sale are getting ever smaller. It would be prudent and wise therefore to maximise the use of space so that your families’ enjoyment of a property could be maximised. Yet this is not something that mass producing builders excel at. Probably because creative uses of space would interfere with their streamlined production-line type processes. The result is often apparent in the drab horizontal sprawl of many new developments.

Cost and corner-cutting may come back to bite you:

The number one objective for builders in the mass production market is to produce as many homes in the shortest time possible at the lowest cost. You would be naive to think, therefore, that corners are not being cut in the rush to get homes completed. The fact that materials are sourced in bulk also means that rigorous quality checks often have to give way to cost considerations. I do not have to tell you about the horror stories associated with shoddy workmanship and inferior materials, you have probably read or heard many of them yourself. Allow me just to add that stories like these illustrate the inherent risks associated with hasty mass production.

Mass produced homes generally do not provide excellent returns on investment:

A basic principle of economics is the law of supply and demand. The more there is of something the more the price of that service, product or commodity is driven down. Applying this simple principle on ‘cookie cutter homes’ should cause potential buyers to pause for thought. They are buying a product that is far from unique and of which there will probably always be several on the market at any given time. This is bound to have a negative impact on possible asking prices. Now you may say that you simply want your house to be a place to live in, but it would be rather short-sighted to not consider the possible returns on your investment a few years or decades down the track.

You may well, rightly, deduce from the above that we are not great fans of mass-produced housing here at Brisbane based dion seminara architecture. We are convinced that the ‘hidden costs’ as represented by the factors listed above greatly outweigh the supposed cost savings so enthusiastically touted by overeager salespeople. So what are the alternatives? Well, a great start would be to get a competent, creative and professional architect on your team! This will, among other things, ensure that your custom new home reflects your unique personality, uses space efficiently, is built to exacting standards and that it possesses unique selling points when the time for selling it arrives.

We are convinced that we can help you to move beyond ‘cookie cutters’ to a place that you will be truly happy to call home. Get in touch with us today to see how this dream can be realised.

Dion Seminara Architect


Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 20 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.