Wollongong’s Custom Residential Builders


House Designs and Prices: Answering Your Common Questions

Are you confused about house designs and prices? It can be a little overwhelming trying to get your head around it all, especially if this is the first time building your own home. But don’t let the confusion get in the way of the fun and excitement of building your own home as it truly can be the most rewarding experience. 

To help you tackle the confusion, we’ve answered the common questions most new homeowners ask about new house designs and prices.

1. Where Do I Go To Get My House Designed?

There are several ways you can go about getting your new house designed and drawn up ready for construction. One way is to engage an Architect or Building Designer to work with your vision to design your dream home. This can be a good option if you specifically want an architecturally designed bespoke home and have the time and budget to spend on getting your house designed exactly how you want it. 

An independent draftsperson can also provide you with house designs and plans ready for you to take to a builder for construction quotes. This is a better way to go if you already have a clear idea in mind of what you want in your home and you just need someone to draw up plans for you. 

Another option is to engage a design and construct builder who can work with you to both design your ideal custom home and construct it as well. This is the best option if you are not quite sure of what you want but you’re also working to a budget and/or timeframe.

Having a design and construct builder on board to complete your custom home build can save you money and time making sure your plans are exactly what you want and can be built within your budget (keep reading to find out why this is important).

house plans and prices

2. How Much Do House Plans Cost?

Working out how much house plans cost can be a little tricky as house designs and prices can vary considerably. 

As a guide, if you engage an Architect or Building Designer you could be looking at a price range anywhere from $10,000 up to $50,000. Some Architects may even charge you a percentage of your build costs in design fees. For example, if they charge you 10% of an estimated $200,000 build your design fees will be $20,000. 

A draftsperson is usually a fraction of the price of an Architect as they are simply drawing up your ideas and not providing you with expert design advice. 

A design and construct service with a custom home builder is the most cost-effective option of all. You are getting both design advice and plans drawn up for your project and the costs are usually absorbed into the overall price of building your home. 

3. What About House Designs and Prices from Volume Builders?

Volume builders work to a limited number of house designs. These stock standard designs have been created to meet the mass market. Because they are mass-produced, the designs and build costs appear cheaper as the builder has worked out their costs based on their material quantities and the number of houses they estimate to build every year. 

But we would argue that these designs and builds are not necessarily cheaper and they come with disadvantages you won’t get with a custom built home. 

With a set house design from a volume builder, there is very little scope for changes. Once you select a design you are stuck with it. This often means you, the homeowner needs to compromise if the design doesn’t perfectly fit your lifestyle.

You may wind up not having enough space or paying for extra space you don’t want or need. You may also have to opt for a layout that doesn’t really fit your lifestyle but is the best choice within the limited design choices available.  

A custom house design, on the other hand, may actually work out to be more cost-effective for you in the long run. You get to design each and every element of your home to fit your family and lifestyle perfectly. You can make some spaces bigger and others smaller. You can choose from a much larger range of finishes and materials and can swap one material or finish for another to fit both your taste and budget. 

4. Can I Use a House Design I Downloaded off the Internet?

Generally speaking, no, you cannot download a house design off the internet and have it built. Unless of course, you have paid for the rights to use the plans. 

Most house designs are protected under copyright laws meaning that the design is owned by the company or individual who created it. 

This means if you have house plans that you haven’t been given copyright ownership rights too and show other designers or have builders quote on the plans, you are opening the door to potential infringement issues. 

Even if you have paid a designer or architect to create unique plans for you, you still need to confirm who is the legal owner of the design.

House designs and price info

5. Who Do I Speak to First About My House Designs – The Architect or the Builder?

Most people wanting to build a new home approach the Architect or Building Designer to draw up their plans before they approach the builder for pricing. And for anyone who is not familiar with building a house, this can seem like a logical way to go about things. How can a builder price a house if he doesn’t have plans? 

You’re right, the builder does need plans to accurately price your project. But not getting the builder on board early in the design process is flawed thinking. 


Because Architects are not builders and while they may have a great eye for design and detail, they have little knowledge of the actual building costs. Most architects and building designers will underestimate the cost of building a new house by 50% to 300%! And over 80% of all architecturally designed homes never get built. 

So the reality is, you may have paid in the vicinity of $10,000 to $50,000 for an architecturally designed home, unless you have a very flexible budget, the home may never be built.  

Instead of getting your design sorted and then hiring a builder, switch it up and get your builder on board before you enter the design stage. By engaging a builder early in the process, they can work directly with your Architect or design team to make sure the house designs are going to fit within your budget. 

Or even better, opt for a builder that offers a full design and construct service. A builder who has an in-house or go-to design team can make the process of building your custom home a seamless and stress-free experience. 

You get the advantage of both a building designer and builder all in one, which means everyone is on the same page from day one and there is far less chance of errors due to miscommunication or mixed messages. 

Having your builder involved during the design process can make a huge difference to the outcome. They can guide you on the layout of your home, the costs involved if you wanted to change any aspect of the build… Room sizes, material changes, fixtures and finishes to name a few.

And the builder can get to know you and your family from the very beginning. They can get a feel for what is important to you, what you ultimately want to achieve and what’s involved in relation to your budget, timeframes and family dynamics. 

This small detail can make all the difference to your peace of mind. 

6. What House Design Elements Can Affect the Price?

Nearly every design element in your home can affect the price. The size of the rooms, the height of the ceilings, the size of the windows and doors… All your choices affect the price. 

And that’s okay. Great even. 

It means when designing your home, you can choose what elements are important to you and where you would like to invest a little more money and what elements you are not that interested in and you’re happy to choose cheaper alternatives. 

For examples, you may have always dreamed of having high ceilings in your home and you’re happy to pay a little more to have them in your home. While the architraves and skirtings may have no real interest to you and you’re willing to switch out more ornate designs for a classic square style that is cheaper. 

This is the joy of having a custom built home.

And this is another great reason to get your builder on board during the design stage as they can give you advice around the cost of each change and feedback on where your money would be best spent for maximum design impact. 

While every design element is important and can affect the price, the following design changes can significantly impact the price: 

  • Size and height of the spaces – Remember that even an extra metre to a room means adding extra framing, gyprock, cornice, skirting, flooring, paint, roof, insulation etc and this can all add up. On the flip side, extra space within your home can be well worth the investment. A handy tip is to plan out your room sizes (along with window and door placements) with furniture in mind.
  • Slab and foundations – This is particularly relevant if you have a sloping block. You will need to weigh up the costs of earthworks in comparison to the cost of your foundation design to find the best option for you. A split slab and extra foundations may work out cheaper than major earthworks to create a flat building pad. Or vice versa. Extra landscaping, retaining etc will also need to be factored in.
  • Curves –  Curved walls and cabinetry or odd-shaped spaces can often cost more in construction and material costs.
  • Windows – Lots of windows in your home is great for an abundance of natural light into the home, but you may want to consider not just the cost of the extra window but the impact it can have on your heating and cooling bills throughout the year. While windows are great for extra light, they are not so great when it comes to insulation qualities.
  • Bespoke Finishes – It’s natural to want bespoke finishes when building a custom home, and we highly encourage it. However, we do want you to keep in mind that some designer finishes may not only cost more to buy the product but can also cost extra to install.

    For example, the cost of installing tiles to your wet area will be impacted by not only the tile you choose but the way you want that tile laid out. Certain tile patterns can look fantastic when completed but could involve a lot of cuts and/or a special installation technique.
  • Variations – Variations, or making changes once your home is under construction can impact your end price. If the changes are relatively minor and the work in that area hasn’t started yet, then the cost variation may not be impacted. However, if the change is on a part of the build that requires the work to be redone or material being swapped out, this could add considerably to the budget.

    To minimise this impact, we highly recommend spending quality time during the design and planning stage to ensure the plans are exactly what you want. This reduces the need for variations.

This is just a few of many elements that could impact your house designs and prices. Working with both your builder and design team to go through each element of your new home build can help you make good design choices and help you decide what design elements are going to work best in your home.

Custom House Designs and Prices: Where Do I Start?

For great results with working out the best house designs and prices for you, we recommend speaking to a design and construct builder, such as Builtworx, about what you want to achieve with your new home.

We can guide you through your design options and provide expert advice so you can achieve great results that deliver the home of your dreams within your budget. Give us a call and let’s talk through your house design ideas today. 

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