“Can I design my home and be sure it turns out right?”

Well, you would think the answer to this question would be a simple yes or no, but like so many other things in our industry the answer is actually more nuanced.

Basically, the answer depends on who you are and what your experience is.

You should be confident in your abilities to bring design aspects from widely diverse disciplines into the design of your home, and blend them seamlessly in such a way to reflect the way you want to live.

Elements like energy efficiency, room flow, air flow, light transfer, outlooks and views, style and aesthetics all play pivotal roles in making your home, work correctly.

The problem is, unless you can draw on 30 plus years of experience in construction and design, how are you going to know if you are doing the correct thing?

Recently a number of builders have started advertising an online, “do it yourself” design software, always through their websites, and usually requiring previous registration.

Some of these tools are impressive in their programming, but they take away one very important element of a true design process, the experienced professional acting as your guiding hand.

The premise of this software seems to be, “anyone can design a home”, and if you think that statement is correct then by all means have at it, I really hope it works out for you.

But if you believe that we are all specialists, in one way or another, then this approach is flawed.

I can bake a cake, I know I can because every now and then I watch a cooking show and off I go to the kitchen. Problem is they never taste, or look, quite right. So when it comes time to make a cake for my daughters’ birthday, I am going to stand to one side and let my wife (or her mum) make it. See, they have the experience, they are the experts, and this is too important an event to risk me taking over the wooden spoon. Of course this could just as easily be the husband who is the experienced baker of the house, or an uncle, or a close friend, but if those options aren’t available, then you find yourself a professional baker.

I admit the cake is a simple analogy, but unless one of you, or a close friend or family member, can fill that critical guiding role when you come to design your new home, you need to find an outside professional you can trust. Otherwise you don’t run the risk of a flopped birthday cake, you run the risk of a home you can’t live in properly, and which is extremely difficult to sell.

If you don’t have that guidance, how do you know that the house design you have chosen to manipulate suits the Northerly orientation on your block? How do you know that the relocation of that games room isn’t going to cut off your breeze path or increase the homes dead space? How do you know that by changing around that kitchen design you aren’t going to reduce its’ functionality?

These are things that a designer can talk through with you (along with many more), and advise you how to design those home elements correctly with all those things in mind.

The builders using this software are cutting out an exciting, and frankly very important element of the building process, which begs the question, why?

Project Home builders don’t spend buckets of the money they get from their clients on software unless it is going to improve their bottom line. They do this by either selling more homes, or making them more profitable, and oh boy do these programs live up to both those requirements. They can cut down on expensive designers and employ inexperienced sales staff who are quick to say just how wonderful your new design looks, and of course the software ensures they can lock you into your home earlier as you are forced to contact the builder to get your price.

Take it from me, the only way forward, if you want a properly designed home which incorporates your own ideas and the design principles learnt over years of experience, is to sit down with the right designer and develop that plan. Don’t use the “fingers crossed” approach by relying on impersonal online software.

At Coastline Homes we specialise in doing just that. We use your ideas, and bring to the table our prowess, to design the right home, which works, for you. Best part is we do it at a similar price or sometimes even cheaper than the project home companies.


Kevin Blackwood

Director Coastline Building Group WA Pty Ltd