10 Worst Mistakes Designing Your Home or Renovation

10 Worst Mistakes Designing Your Home or Renovation

Guest blogger, architect Warren Hobbs provides advice on good design for home owners considering renovating or new home buyers. This came about through his recent presentation on Hilary Joy’s The Big Backyard on The Pulse Community Radio.

Not Designing for your site

It doesn’t matter if it’s a renovation or a new house, factors like slope, views, weather, sun, wind, noise are all important to consider in your design. A plan that looks good somewhere else probably won’t fit your site. I recently looked at a new house for sale in Highton where there are wonderful views towards the bay but the house has the Garage and Bed 3 with the best views because it is a plan from somewhere else! It is the most important design point of all to design within the context of the site.

Insufficient budget or time for good design

This is probably your biggest investment, so allow ample time and money for the process. Once the building process starts changes cost you money. Changes at the design stage are a lot cheaper. Also be realistic about the costs, they never seem to come down. It always takes time to develop a good detailed design, and it takes time to visualize yourself in all the activities of living in your new design.

Poor inside outside flow

Realistically we live in a good climate, where the weather is suitable for a lot more outdoor activities than we think. This can be children playing or outdoor entertaining. Extend the liveability of your home by connecting with the outdoors It enlarges your living spaces, even makes your internal spaces larger and connects you with garden and entertainment areas, gives a healthier environment for you and your family.

Not enough consideration of environmental impact

There are many articles on reducing our impact on the environment but we have forgotten about reducing the effect the environment will have on you- the effect of wind, rain, sun. We need to be mindful of how and where we are designing doors and windows. Are they going to be blasted by sun or wind. Do we have sunshades that stop our furniture being effected by ultraviolet light! Is our outdoor deck useless because it is always windy!

Inappropriate light and ventilation

Cross ventilation is important you might remember when we had the last hot weather. People have survived in tropical climates with airflow. No matter how hot it was with a breeze or a fan it enables us to keep cooler. In winter we still need smaller changes of air. You can use electricity shut the doors and put on the airconditioner! But that’s becoming more and more expensive.

Good natural lighting is also important. It is always disappointing to find a kitchen that always needs a light on to work in, because it was designed thought of lighting. So in kitchen, bathrooms, laundrys and even walkin robes good natural lighting is essential.

Poor relationship between rooms and uses

The toilet opening to the dining area would have to be the classic room relationship mistake. But there are others like bed heads against shower walls or toilets, noisy areas connected to sleeping areas. The TV viewing area can be important so as not dominating adult areas. It is always wiser if possible to keep all the similar use areas together and separate from other different use areas.

Not enough storage

I’m sure there is a Law of Storage that says “You build it and it will fill!” But realistically there is rarely enough storage space in our houses. Active families do have lots of “stuff”. I think we should allow extra storage in the garage, indoors and outdoors

Not enough consideration for future usage

Plan ahead, young children need to be closer to Mum or Dad and they in turn need to be keep them within view. But this all changes as children grow up and need the space to express their individuality, to the extent of being hard to get them out of their rooms. We also have to plan for old age whether elderly parents come to visit or live. It is difficult to cater for all eventualities but is important to allow space for the family to grow.


It is wonderful to have generous wide doorways especially at the entrances where furniture can come in and out. It is also a lot easier for elderly and sick or handicap to have a little wider doorways and passages, with minimal steps and lips.

Failure to keep your vision

This is about not compromising your dreams. It can start at the design stage and happen at any time all of the way up to completion. There will be pressure to make decisions or change your mind: builders, owners, subcontractors, designers, council, delays. There is always someone who says “ It costs too much to do it that way” (meaning its harder to work out ), or “Nobody does it that way” (meaning haven’t seen it before) This is your dream you are the one who will live in it and there are a lot of people on the way who want to try and shake your vision.

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