Undercover Architect
16 Reviews
90 Comments
Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: Front of house
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siriuskey

Lucy the floating steps are great, Are you having glass balustrading across the verandah, posting some more thoughts for you cheers







for screening, clumping banboo


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Smiling Rock Melbourne

try steps in the same wood as the front porch. Then put some stackstone on your pillars.

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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: lighting (and powerpoint) advice
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C P
Thanks Amelia, always listen to your podcast!

I'm definitely doing some power points under the shelf under the fireplace (what is that even called? It will be like a bench seat anyway)
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C P
That was very interesting about the DIY led strip lighting, lots of food for thought there
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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: House-plan help
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Em House
Thank you all very much, I appreciate all of your comments, they are all helping sort out the questions in my head.
A few things that some have said would help:
- we are in Sydney
- we love natural light
- block size is large at 960sqm, but has a small portion that is unusable at back of property
- width of block is 15m
- we have lovely views from back of property, if slightly elevated
- we have double story houses either side of us

I have started wandering if we need to rethink design, at least consider another option then go with the best of the 2. To this extent I have very roughly marked up another possible option and would really appreciate any thoughts on both. Both options will keep basement garage with study and mud room (not shown). The plan I've sketched might annoy our neighbours on south side due to overshadowing across back of their property from 1st floor bedrooms. The nice view we have will be mostly seen from pool, outdoor covered room, and adjoining games room.
I've never lived in a long skinny house so no idea whether it's crazy or not.
Thanks again
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co-design

Hi Em,

I'm not suggesting that you have to start again, only that it may provide you with a better outcome than trying to work with what you already have. By starting with a blank canvas, new possibilities arise. I agree with most of Amelias comments and I'm not interested in getting further involved beyond my general comments. Good passive solar design is now a fundamental of good design practice these days and that was not evident in the single level plan you published. It's not just about northern sun, which can be excluded in summer by a simple roof overhang, it's also about excluding the extremes of the sun from the east and primarily from the west. So you can see that your games room will suffer the hot afternoon sun in summer as it had a lot of glazing facing the western sun. Protect that elevation with a blank wall to exclude the sun or at least restrict the glazing to the west by incorporating either slot windows or high level windows that gain protection with screens or roof overhangs. Open up the games room with glazing to its north and east. Create a small courtyard perhaps with some luscious landscaping or water feature that works for both the games room and the living room.

Returning the glazing will allow for large glass doors to slide back into pocket walls bringing the garden into the home and blurring the line between home and garden, thus making it feel bigger. By incorporating more glazing to the north you will visually "widen" your home, making it feel less restricted because the room boundary will visually move to the fence line while at the same time providing better solar access during the winter months, which helps warm the home and maintain a year round comfort level.

Sydney has a mild winter compared to southern Australia. Take a look at some of the homes designed for narrow east facing sites in the northern beaches of Sydney or on the far north coast in places such as Salt. They all have similar siting as you have. They all offer mass glazing to the North and open their living up to the north and the east with pools, terraces and outdoor living areas etc. Don't be scared of experimenting with simple shapes at first. Just pencil in where you want the various functions to be placed and make sure that they work together. Move them around until you think you have the relationship right and go from there. A well planned house is a dream to live in. A poorly designed house will remind you every day that there is something wrong. So invest well in the design because it will pay dividends. Sure, seek help but be cautious because the help can be confusing which is why I have tried to take a general approach to it all rather than squawk over this or that. It's your home and you have to live in it, not me, not AU or OK or anyone else. Keep it simple and have it function like a well oiled machine and you will love it.

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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: house design help for riverfront block
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RIA AY
thanks everyone. oklouise, plans look fantastic!

After some serious evaluation and looking how much garden would be left at the back with all the bedrooms downstairs (and wanting to put an 8x4 shed at the back) we are almost concluding that we need to put some stuff upstairs to maximise the block. Initially we thought about just one room but it seems the setup costs to get up there (approx 60k we've been told) make us think we may as well put more up there and maximise the size of the block to allow us to have a garden and veggie patches, trees, chicken coop etc.

I was concerned if we gave the kids their own space upstairs we would never see them, but I think in reality putting the second living area upstairs with 2 bed and a bathroom is probably going to extend the life of the house and appeal to more if we do well it later.. .
I also read a few chapters of a book from the 1970s architect talking about the optimum design for small families suggesting that there should be 3 non bedroom areas; one for children, one for adults (to not be parents) and a common area for both, which resonated with me - can't recall the name of the book.

We spoke with a engineer 're the excavation for garage and they estimated 60k, and I think I'd prefer to build up in that case.
not sure if I would bother with a balcony though as it would push us to to 3 outdoor areas, but may really improve the facade with a balcony...


listened to those podcasts from the undercover architect - absolutely fantastic. so much food for thought. Now realise how lucky we are to have the view north.
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siriuskey

Many years ago I was told that you would need 3 houses over your lifetime, newly weds, family,retirement, I guess if you work your house so that you don't have to climb stairs in your older years you would get by, as long as you can afford to keep the family home in retirement

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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: Feedback on New build family home plans
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Rochelle S

Update! We have new plans!


The front of the house, which will face north, is the Alfresco, kitchen, living and dining. The main entry to the house will be via the stacker doors into the kitchen. There are a few changes we will make eg. no fireplace on northern living area wall, more windows instead. We would love your opinions please....

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Rochelle S

I hope you can read the plans!

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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: Building on acreage to lock up
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DIMA | Design In Mind Architects

Hi Anna,

Some really good advice from others, and it does sound like you should consider the custom home path, rather than look at packaged house designs. Undercover Architect's blog has some info specific to your situation and is definitely worth a read if you haven't done that yet.

I would like to add a couple of points though:

-There are a lot of great builders in this area, so there is the potential to speak to a quality builder who will refer you to their designer and handle much of the process similar to if you went down the volume builder path. A volume builder won't allow occupancy without finishing the entire house, but a custom builder might with this type of arrangement.

-The benefit of having your house plans & permits done independently of a builder is that you can tender to a few builders and more easily find the best price/quality. Doing a custom home will also give you a lot more scope to exclude items if you were looking to save costs by doing some of the works yourself (painting etc) as you've mentioned. It will also allow you to search for a building designer / architect who you work well with, trust and like their ideas, rather than being put in touch with someone the builder uses.

-Builder's generally prefer to use their own sub-trades because they know their quality and punctuality. Some custom builders will allow you to select your own sub-trades, but you can't hold the builder responsible if costs rise due to their available times not matching up. If the builder selects the sub-trade, then it is the builder's responsibility if something goes wrong.

-Judging by your comments, at some point someone will mention going 'owner-builder' to you, which is a way you can essentially control the project and select all of your own consultants, trades and subtrades. This will often result in a longer build process but is worth considering in some situations. There are many additional responsibilities (building insurance) and some constraints on the house (additional issues with selling/renting it out within 6 years) which many of our clients have not realised when coming to us, so speak to a knowledgable builder/designer/architect or a building surveyor before choosing this path.

Good Luck,

Matt - DIMA Design Studio | Geelong

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Manias Associates Building Designers

Hi Anna Jean,

Really like to support Matt - DIMA Design Studio with his comments, especially the part of not going direct to Builders that do design and construct and they send you to their preferred Design Professional to do the drawings - certainly something to be avoided in my opinion.

I have written a FAQ on my website which might help in the explanation of this process.

http://www.newhomedesign.com.au/index.php/faqs-article-based/faq-9

- Getting all your documents done by an independent Building Designer/Architect/Drafts-person is definitely the best choice.

Wish you the best in your quest.

Michael


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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: Stair design
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Undercover Architect

You can put a timber cap on top of the gyprock wall, the same width as it, and paint it to match. I've done this detail a lot - and it gives people somewhere to hold onto as they climb the stairs. It's also easier to clean and more durable than the gyprock itself. You can also have it in timber to match the stairs or floors to make it a feature.

Here's an example to show you ...

Hope that helps,

Regards

Amelia, Undercover Architect

www.undercoverarchitect.com

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wined01
I love that look. Thanks for posting that. I hadn't thought about gyprock getting dirty so that is also a good point.
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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: Looking for inspiration
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seagro

Hi Dan, I really like your second photo for inspiration - where the carport is below the upper deck / roofed alfresco. The existing house on the balcony side could be easily

augmented to match this design as your new front carport / upper roofed alfresco as your house appears to be well setback on the allotment. You may need to seek Council permission for a revised front setback if you like this option. It may be worth a phone call to the local authority - Council to seek their input. Great project - Good Luck. Sean

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LesleyH
Articulated areas are areas forward of the rest of the house. These give you a golden opportunity to change the exterior by adding, stone, colorbond, timber or other forms of external sheeting. It can make a bland all colour or all brick front of a house really smart. The examples below are not great but will give you an idea.
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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: Can you just get an opinion from architect but do most design yourself
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Dr Retro House Calls

Dr Retro House Calls offers a service for just two to three hours to review plans, provide opinions and suggestions for anybody who is well progressed with their design, but who would like an independent and professional opinion.

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Undercover Architect

Hi

My website and podcast may help you feel more confident about the design your hubby has done. Season 2 of my podcast goes through room by room how to design a home ... what mistakes to avoid, and design tips to help you get it right.

You can check it out here with the first episode >>> http://undercoverarchitect.com/fundamentals-of-great-design/

Best wishes for your project,

Regards

Amelia, UA

www.undercoverarchitect.com

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Undercover Architect commented on a discussion: anyone know builders in Melb who will build for $10K per Sq?
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bigreader
I agree with Vy, you get what you pay for. I did recently see a project builder advertising $990/square metre.
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Undercover Architect

It is possible to find builders who will build for this rate. In my experience, they are building 80 plus homes per year. Some will do a custom design and then put their 'spec package' overlay on it ... which will mean certain types of detailing, materials, finishes and fixtures.

Of course, your custom design needs to work along the lines of their way of building too.

I'm not sure of specific names in Melbourne. I would recommend looking for large builders and starting the conversation there. Make sure you inspect lots of their built product so you're confident of the quality you'll get, and speak to previous clients.

And don't do 2400mm ceiling heights in your living areas - 2,550mm as a minimum, but ideally 2700mm.

Hope that helps,

Warm Regards

Amelia Lee

www.undercoverarchitect.com

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