One of the biggest motivations for undertaking this project, was being able to really explore our own creativity, on our own terms. We all had so many ideas about design elements we wanted to try, or materials we wanted to use. But of course, this still needs to be an economically viable operation. The idea is to sell the house at the end, so we needed to define our target market and come up with a design brief – the exact same process we would go through for a client.

The section is approximately 650m², so we knew that would dictate the size of the house. Keeping a compact footprint (how much land you take up with the dwelling) under 200m², was a good size to work towards, as it would still allow space for a good garden and outdoor living. We decided three bedrooms was sensible for a house that size – any more and the room sizes would start getting too small. A three bedroom home would suit a few different demographics:

  • Families – smaller, with 1 or 2 kids.
  • Couples – young professionals.
  • Mature couples – possibly retired or close to it, downsizing the larger family home.

Considering the potential budgets of these buyers, and the fact that we want to specify this home to a high standard, a mature couple seemed like our ideal target market. They tend to want something smaller and easier to manage (quality over quantity), but still have enough room for guests or family to stay. Though we would keep them in mind as an ideal buyer, we didn’t want to narrow the market to our detriment, so we will ensure the home could also work for small families or couples.

Now that we could put ourselves in the shoes of the target market, we essentially had a ‘client’, making it much more straightforward to determine the rest of the requirements. For a three bedroom home, two bathrooms would be necessary – one ensuite.  A third toilet for guests could be useful, depending on how close the main bathroom is to the shared spaces. Speaking of which, there will be one main shared space – open plan kitchen, living and dining. A current trend for open plan spaces is to include a scullery or butlers pantry in the kitchen. They can work really well if you want the ability to hide away mess when entertaining guests – something we see out target market doing a lot of. A second lounge would be a ‘nice to have’ but probably not realistic in a house this size, and not necessary for the target market.

For practical reasons, an internal access garage is a must, but what size? The section is small, and somewhat narrow, so a double is off the table. A single would be fine for a couple, especially as the site is only a 5 minute walk from supermarkets, cafés and bars. We decided the garage could be a bit longer than normal, to allow room for a laundry space at the back. An additional carport for a second vehicle or guest parking would be beneficial. It also gives extra undercover space for practical things like wood store, bins and bikes. A benefit of a carport in this situation, is that it can go much closer to a boundary than if it were an attached garage – and as we are working with a reasonably narrow section, this is a great way to utilise space.

With potential views to the stunning Tararua Ranges to the west, we were really keen to do a second level. It also makes sense with a modest section as it decreases the footprint. Keeping the future mobility of our target market in mind, the house also needs to be conducive to single level living. That makes a bedroom the logical choice for what goes upstairs – a master oasis with ensuite and wardrobe. Maintaining two generously sized bedrooms downstairs future proofs things if mobility does become an issue, and upstairs could become a guest suite.

Now we had our design brief nailed, it was time to explore ways to fit the spaces together, and create a beautiful building. No pressure!

Our tip: Establishing a design brief is a key first step when designing a new home or renovation. It is a time to explore and prioritise your wants and needs, and set a clear direction for the end result – your home. Our handy ‘Design Brief Guide’ can help organise your thoughts and distill down your requirements. If you’d like a copy, navigate to our ‘Get Started’ page, and you should see a pop up directing you to download the document. Click here to get in touch with us at any time if you require assistance, or have any questions.

Next time: Design Reveal | Mackit Habitat Design