Designing your home

Last updated: 15 June 2017

If you want to build your own home you need to sort out the design first, to make sure your builders have a plan to follow.

Speaking to an architect

Although you may have a specific house design idea in your head, it may not be possible to make it in real life. You should always get professional advice from an architect.

They'll be able to help you design your house so it has the features you want, while still making sure it fits your plot and meets legal requirements.

An architect can apply for planning permission and a building warrant on your behalf so you don't have to. While your house is being built they'll also carry out site inspections for you, to make sure the building work keeps to their design.

Main features

Your architect will ask you some questions to make sure their design fits your needs. Before speaking to them, you should already have an idea of the main features you want. You should be ready to tell them:

  • whether you want a kit house (a set design that comes pre-made) or a unique home designed for you
  • how many bedrooms you want, and whether this may change in the future
  • how many floors you want the house to have
  • how much storage space you need – where you'll need it and what for
  • whether the home needs to be close to your work or a school
  • if you have any preferences about where each room should be – for example, if you want to make sure a lot of sunlight shines into your main rooms

Checklist of other features

As well as your house's main features, you should also think about other things you may want in your house. This checklist will help you tell the architect what extra features you want:

Key option you should consider Yes, definitely Yes, if possible Not important
Do you need a dining room?
Do you need to work from home? Will you need a study? If yes, would you rather have it upstairs or downstairs?
Do you need other special rooms (like a games room, music room)? Do they need to be on a certain floor?
Do you need space in the house for a bike or pushchair?
Do you need a broadband internet connection?
Do you need a garage?
Do you need parking space outside the house? If yes, how much space do you need?
Do you need a large garden?
Do you need a back garden? If you do, does it need to be south-facing?
Do you want your garden to have enough space, light and suitable soil for growing your own flowers or food?
Do you want to use plants, hedges or fences to give you shelter or shade in the garden?
Do you need easy access to a main road?
Do you want the option to change the way the inside of your house is laid out later on?
Does your house need to be connected to mains gas?
Does your house need to be connected to the mains water and sewerage?
Do you want to make the most out of the sun to reduce heating bills (solar gain)?
Do you want your home to have high energy efficiency levels?
Do you want to be able to use renewable energy (like solar panels, a wind turbine or biomass)?
Do you want to use as many sustainable materials as possible to build the house?
Do you want to use local materials to build the house?