Why a great home design doesn’t always guarantee a great outcome

Why a great home design doesn’t always guarantee a great outcome

Tips and Advice

In many of my articles, I stress the importance of having a great design created for your project. Whether it is a new home or a renovation, you can only get a great outcome if you have a great design in the first place.

But even if you’ve followed that advice and had a great design created, that doesn’t of itself guarantee a great build outcome for your home.

There’s more to a great home than just the design concept

The beginning of a great outcome is the initial meeting, where the person who will be designing your home takes the time to fully understand your needs, your lifestyle and your budget and then make suggestions accordingly. We spend a lot of time at our design advice stage and don’t leave until we have a thorough understanding and everyone is on the same page.

From there the design is created, presented and then altered if required. Alterations tend to be minor simply because we were all in agreement before the design was started.

Now you would think at this point you’re guaranteed to have the home of your dreams, but sadly that’s not always the case. It is if you engage us further for the next steps in the process – the design documentation, design approval and design management steps – but if you have decided that you only needed us to create the initial design then result is no longer a sure thing.

You see your great design concept, is now in many ways open to the builder’s interpretation. When we create the design, we do so with a certain standard of materials in mind. The sequence of events, the order in which things are to be constructed and the quality of the construction have all be top of mind as the design is created, but they haven’t been fleshed out and documented. And it’s this design construction documentation that is the key to ensuring that your home is built to a suitable standard.

The design construction documentation works as a blueprint and a roadmap for your builder to follow. Importantly it’s also your comeback against shoddy work or poor quality materials.

Without this detailed design documentation and schedules, you’re in many ways leaving it up to the builder to make the choice of materials and construction quality for you. And in some ways, it’s understandable that when left to make the decision for themselves they’re going to use cheaper materials to maximise their profits.

But it’s not just the construction design documentation that you need to consider. There’s also the matter of negotiating during the tender stage and particularly with the building contract. We never recommend using the standard building contract. In our opinion, the building contracts in their standard form are too much in favour of the builder and not enough in favour of you the home owner. Things like variations that are allowed for in standard building contracts can quickly add up and cause budget blowouts.

There’s also the matter of inspecting the work that’s been done. Sure you can go and look at it at any time during construction but do you really know what you’re looking at? Would you know if something wasn’t built to scratch and should be redone or remedied before progress payments are released? We do, which is why so many of our clients engage us to see their projects through to completion. Our services even extend to inspections before the end of the warranty period, so anything that needs fixing is repaired with no out of pocket expenses for our clients.

Ultimately you will get what you pay for

If you choose to save a few dollars by not engaging us to create your design construction documentation and negotiate with builders on your behalf, then that is your choice. But it’s important that you understand that you have actually made a choice. You’ve chosen to put your faith in the builder. Even though well-intentioned, builders often make mistakes. The fact is there are also a lot of builders out there who seem decent on the surface, but ultimately they are trying to maximise their profits, and your project is a means to an end.

But consider this – If you have decided not to pay for additional services beyond the actual design concept and your home ends up built using cheaper materials with a lower quality of overall finish and services that do not work – have you really saved much money? Or will it end up costing you in increased maintenance bills and potentially lower resale values? Not to mention the fact that our tendering service often gets far more competitive quotes that almost pays for our additional services in the first place.

In the end, it’s up to you, but I would strongly suggest you keep in mind that your architect can provide real value and services to assist you in bringing your design concept to life. And certainly, in our case, those services go a long way to providing a great outcome for your home. Find out more. Contact dion seminara architecture to learn how our services can create your great outcome.

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.