The planning stage is a crucial step towards the building process of your home.
At Fox modular we cannot stress the significance of laying out a plan; otherwise, chaos will reign. Especially concerning home design.
Creating a plan is exciting because you get to choose how your home will look like once it is entirely constructed. Builders, just like any other service-based business, can provide individual results depending on their clients. You have to understand your needs and pick the right builder that will give you your money’s worth.
It may sound simple enough, but it is often difficult to achieve. When deciding on the design of your home, you will usually have at least five options.
This guide will list the ten crucial factors that you should focus on to help you narrow these options down to one. This way, you can choose the best design that works for your needs, finances, and preferences.
1. Your Budget and the Price of the Builder’s Services
There are numerous designs that you can certainly consider, but not all of them fit your budget. You must talk to your builder about your financial plan, along with its restrictions. Be clear regarding how much you can afford so that the builder can provide you with suitable choices.
Many homes have a base price, covering specific features and inclusions. However, it does not mean this price is the final cost of the house.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), house construction in Australia has dramatically increased between 2004-05 and 2018-19 by a whopping 59.5%. The same source cited Western Australia as the state with the highest growth rate in construction costs from $167,140 to $298,272 during the mentioned period.
Compared to a traditional home, a modular house can be anywhere between 15 to 40 per cent cheaper.
However, modular homes can vary greatly in prices, depending on the builder and other factors, such as materials used, size, regulation-required upgrades, and location. In this case, it helps that you provide room for your budgeting, so you do not end up compromising on the quality of the final product.
2. Available Options and Recently Completed Projects of the Builder
For several years, modular homes were viewed as a box that did not have personality. They looked the same from the outside, so some Australians did not consider them as an option. Today, a prefab home can showcase your style and tastes.
Some homes utilise materials, such as steel, stone, concrete, or wood. Others highlight the energy characteristics of the construction, such as sustainability and the use of recycling systems. Terrain, open-floor, and other styles influence the entire structure.
It is, therefore, essential that you talk to your builder and have a look at the finished projects. From there, you can determine how you can work with the company to achieve the look you desire. Whether it is a minimalist, rural, or classic modular home, you can get the perfect design with the right team.
You can also use this opportunity to determine if the builder provides excellent customer support. When you ask questions, you should not wait a week or so to get a reply.
3. Floor Plan Space, Features, and Customisability
Think about now and the future.
Undoubtedly, your needs in the next several years will change. However, you cannot merely add more bedrooms and bathrooms once construction is complete. If you are a young couple now, do you intend to start a family soon? Ensure that there is enough space in the house for you to grow.
Perhaps you will soon approach retirement. In this case, you probably want your home to be low-maintenance. It should also include accessible features, so you never have to worry about them later.
Prioritise the rooms that you will spend most of your time in, such as the living room and bedrooms. If your budget allows it, you can have extra rooms, such as a study and storage. Also, consider the outdoor area.
With the available designs, can you customise the home to fit your needs and lifestyle? If you have a household with budding chefs, ensure the design and features of the kitchen meet the demands of the future.
Some people require a formal lounge, while others find a small room for entertaining guests acceptable. If you love the outdoors, you may want to include an alfresco or deck.
Talk to your builder about the possibility of personalising the existing modular home design. At the same time, be aware that these customisations will affect your budget and even the duration of the project.
4. Interior Upgrade Options and Costs
Builders typically have the designs ready, but it is always helpful if you can add your personal touch. Therefore, you should enquire about the upgrades, which suit the home you like. For instance, you may want to change how the windows look or the positioning of the doors. You may also be interested in replacing the flooring material used.
Apart from the overall look of the interiors, you should consider flow and function as well. Play around with the various rooms and their location. Think about the final design and how it will flow as you and your family move around each space.
For example, no one wants a noisy sleeping area. Therefore, you may want to move the bedrooms a little farther away from the communal areas.
Some families that live in modular homes enjoy entertaining and gathering around the kitchen. In this case, an open floor plan promotes the flow between the living space and kitchen area. This design also enhances the ease of movement between each room.
It helps to know how much design input you can have before you proceed. Even if the houses may be premade, you want your options to be as flexible as possible. A collaborative approach with the design team will allow you to reach an outcome that you will genuinely love.
Each project is specific to the site, so while you can present your input, the builder will still have to reflect on the spatial requirements and your finances.
Once again, these upgrades and changes can increase the cost of the project significantly. You should weigh the pros and cons, as well as your budget, to determine whether they are essential or not.
5. Room Layout and Features
A common misconception regarding a modular home is that it lacks the features and rooms of a standard house. It is not valid. You can have all the rooms you are used to, including the living area, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Even the exterior can have a deck, which will add value to the house.
Ask about the possible modifications that can be applied to the spaces, such as:
- Living Zone: This part of the house is where you will spend most of your time with family and friends. Usually, an open floor plan is the best option, since it creates a seamless flow between the interiors and exteriors of the house. A door leading to the alfresco has become a popular option as well. Modular home dwellers prefer the merging of the spaces, which also lead to an ideal setting for entertaining and dining.
- Kitchen: For most Australians, kitchens are the heart of their homes. You may want to have a good layout, plus well-chosen features while considering how you often work in the space. Perhaps you want a benchtop with an island bench, a luxury tapware, and pendant lighting fixture.
- Bedroom: An en-suite bedroom design is a favourite. Picture windows are a great addition as well. If you cannot decide, look at the existing models from the builder. Then, choose the one that you know you can feel the most relaxed in.
- Bathroom: Two adjectives that best describe a bathroom are stylish and functional. Even a small modular home requires smart upgrades and features that can turn the bathroom into an elegant hideaway.
It is possible to have all the features you want by simply discussing them with the builder. At the end of the day, it is your home, and you should be content as you reside in it.
6. External Features and Personalisation
Creating an outdoor space is not something that modular home dwellers often think about. However, it does not mean you can do the same. If the exterior means a lot to you, prefab houses can come with decking or alfresco. This area can be enjoyed all year round no matter what the season may be. Of course, it is even better if you are in an area with spectacular views.
The addition of certain upgrades, such as a garage, cladding, or any other customised feature, will surely increase the street appeal of the house.
Before you go ahead and begin exploring the limitless number of design options, you should understand that permits are required for the house. Projects are unique, so your permit requirements may be different from other existing jobs.
Modular homes do not always need a Planning Permit, which is issued by the local Council. This requirement will be based on the planning scheme of the property, so you may want to contact the planning department first to know if you need to have this document.
While you may not be asked for a Planning Permit, all modular homes should have a Building Permit. It is also called a Construction Permit, and you can get it from a registered building assessor.
7. Availability of Sustainability Upgrades and Costs
Making your home sustainable is easy to achieve. You have several options, and you can start with the orientation, shading, and systems used in the house. For instance, you can have extra insulation or use solar hot water. Ensure that you talk to your builder about these sustainability features.
The good news is that modular homes are already naturally eco-friendlier than standard homes. You emit less pollution with them, unlike a bigger house, which can generate at least one-fifth of the total greenhouse gases in the country.
Here are some of the top ways on how to improve the sustainability of the modular house:
- Orientation: Which direction will your modular home face? The answer will depend on the future needs of your home, particularly in terms of energy. In Australian households, 40% of energy consumption comes from heating and cooling to combat extreme temperatures. And the Australian Government always reminds consumers to never substitute mechanical heating (and cooling) for a well-designed house. It is why thoughtfully positioning the modular home will allow you to capitalise on sun and wind exposure.
- Passive Design: Consider the location, windows, shading, thermal mass, and materials used. The shell of your prefab house (i.e. walls, roof, windows, and flooring) can affect how the entire property will utilise of the natural conditions in the area. Windows play a vital role here. They are not just for providing air and light or increasing your home’s aesthetics; they are also essential in stabilising the temperature.
- Insulation: For further temperature stabilisation, particularly in the summer and winter, insulation is key. Plus, proper home insulation can reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Many other factors can affect the sustainability of your home. While the builder may help enhance its eco-friendliness, it is your job to choose the best options available, such as in lighting and appliances.
8. The Design of the Modular Home and the Existing Landscape
The home’s design should be suitable for orientation, shape, and landscape. The prefab houses are created by block, and each one of these blocks can have varying sizes and shapes. They can also face different directions, depending on the overall design.
Before you even choose the final design with the builder, you should first take a look at the characteristics of your land. Will the new home, along with its features and floor plan, work with the surroundings? Understand the aspect and orientation based on the landscape because these factors can no longer be changed once the modular home is installed.
For instance, the house will be on a sloping block. Surveying the land is critical, along with a complete site inspection.
Slopes are not usually a problem unless the builder will need to pour a slab. However, most do not require such an activity, so there is no need for levelling and excavation. Steel frames or screw piles may be used and installed. This way, the modules can sit and have a strong foundation even on a sloping block.
9. Building Timeframe
If you are impatient and in a hurry, a modular home is a better option than a traditional house. Construction of the former takes quickly, typically lasting about seven to 12 weeks, sometimes more, if necessary. The timeframe would depend on many factors, including the size, location, and design of the house. Either way, completion is fast, and you can move in right away!
Majority of the job will take place at the factory. Minimal time will be spent on the site where the house will be installed. Before installation, demolition and other necessary preparations will be conducted, such as setting up the screw pile footings. No time is wasted because building at the factory concurrently happens while getting the site ready.
Home installation using a crane will usually last for about a day. However, it can take more, such as when there is a problem with the weather. About two to four weeks later, the final works, including the connection of services, will be performed. After these tasks, you may be able to move in.
Compared to a traditional build, modular homes take faster. You can always talk to the builder so you can get an estimate regarding the duration of the project.
Many homeowners tend to forget the warranty. With everything sounding good about the modular home, they do not even ask about this aspect. Remember that it will be your home and may stay this way for the next several years. You should treat it as an investment, and you want to ensure it is worth every penny.
Ask the builder about the warranty, which typically comes with the manufacturer warranty. Other individual products also come with the guarantee. Note though that warranties do not mean you are covered. Read the fine print and determine who will be responsible if there are any issues.
It All Boils Down to Careful Planning
Communication with the builder is vital. But it starts with knowing what you want. This way, you can relay your wishes to the builder and hopefully get the result you aim for in the end. Even though there may be plenty of options for you to choose from, thoroughly preparing and planning for everything will lead to success.
Also, do not be afraid to ask questions – and never stop until you are satisfied with the answers. Take the time to plan, investigate, and evaluate thoroughly. It may sound like you need to spend time and effort, but it will surely be worthwhile.