Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.
Home is not a place, it’s a feeling. So, it’s obvious that we put our heart and soul in building it. Be it small or big, there’s just nothing like home!
And when it comes to homes, the designing process can vary significantly from one to another.
In this regard, would-be homeowners find themselves choosing between an architect designed and a project home. Both types come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, which need to be weighed in before taking that final call.
So, in today’s guide, we’ve carefully listed the most important pros and cons of each type to help you make the right decision. We hope that by the end of it, you will have a clear idea of what suits your needs the best.
With all said and done, let’s get into the deets!
Project Homes vs Custom Designed Houses
For the sake of better understanding, we will talk about the differences between the three main aspects – design, cost, and construction.
What Is An Architect Designed Home?
Architect designed homes are also known as custom designed homes. When you plan for such a home, you hire an architect who then gives you the best design according to your needs. In other words, it’s a personalized, one-off design that is exclusive to your preference and taste.
The biggest advantage of a custom designed home is that the architect starts from scratch. Once he knows the available space and your requirements, you get the best plan that maximizes every available opportunity and your return on investment. Moreover, you get a wide range of resources, fixtures, and fittings to choose from.
For instance, the architect may suggest an unconventional door placement that ensures optimum light and air intake. With a project home, the pre-planned layout may or may not provide that advantage.
Apart from that, homeowners usually opt for passive energy solution design that reduces energy demands and results in better energy-efficiency. It’s also a good idea to include sustainability in your plan as well-built homes last longer without requiring frequent retouches, thereby being more cost-effective.
In general, architect designed homes cost more than project homes. In fact, such a plan may cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000/sqm, minus the architect’s fee. Another factor that contributes significantly to the price is the evenness of the land.
Undulated sites require careful designing and construction techniques, which, in turn, increase the overall costs. On the other hand, flat lands are easier to work with and cost comparatively less. With basic amenities, the overall costs can come down to as low as $1,000 to $2,000/sqm, plus the architect’s charges.
No matter the land type, we’d recommend going for a designer or architect specializing in specific site requirements.
It’s advisable to obtain the price estimate at the end of the sketch design phase, before the DA or CDC documentation is issued. This ensures that everything is within your budget, and the architect has your confirmation to go ahead with the layout.
The total cost should be reflective of the design and site restrictions like topography, site access, DA conditions, etc. Additionally, it should include the following:
- Engineering requirements
- Architect/builder/designer fee
- Other related consultation charges
You can find more about the cost of an architect in Australia here!
If you have initially consulted a home designer, then it’s probably better to rely on their choice of builder or architect. But this doesn’t mean that you don’t run a few checks before hiring them.
Firstly, connect with as many references as you can, be it online, over the phone, or in person. This will give you a fair estimate of the kind of experience you will have. In addition, make sure that they have adequate professional licensing that complies with the rules and regulations of your area.
A good builder or architect will give you a reasonable limit to improvise on their suggestions, as well as negotiate on the prices.
Let’s now look at the potential disadvantages associated with this type of home-building:
Sure, going for custom building provides a lot of options for everything – more than you ever knew existed. While this makes it possible to choose the best of all, decision-making can take longer than usual. This is because you will want explicit details to ensure that your choice is worth the investment and purpose.
Plus, making decisions for every big and small need can become rather tiresome.
As we’ve already mentioned, custom-made homes come with a steep price tag than project homes. Be prepared to spend extra if you give in to the temptation of upscaling the interiors and equipment.
In case you don’t have any recommendations for the designer or builder/architect, there’s a chance that you may end up with the wrong people. Hence, we strongly suggest conducting thorough background research to make sure that you hire the right people who can deliver exactly what you need.
What is A Project Home?
Simply put, a project home is built to a set design by a volume home builder or construction firm. Since they build several houses throughout the year, you can choose from a catalog of pre-designed homes.
One of the primary advantages of going for a project home is that you save a lot of time by selecting a completed layout. That being said, there’s still room for individualization in finishes, tiles, flooring, paints, etc. Plus, you also get modern amenities like stone benchtops, high ceilings, ducted air-conditioning, European appliances, and so on.
What we like the most about these homes is that you can see samples at display home villages. Furthermore, if a friend or relative has the same home-design, then it may be a good idea to pay a quick visit.
As far as costs are concerned, you can save a lot with standard designs and bulk prices for materials and labor. The volume of homes that these companies build help them procure resources at a lower cost, and that’s how they keep the final price low.
While basic homes can cost anywhere between $900 and $1,000/sqm, higher-end designs may range from $2,000 to $3,000.
Most project home companies offer fixed packages that include everything. Likewise, additional fees for alterations are also pre-determined. Another benefit is that these packages have a limited number of options, making it easier to take a call.
By choosing a project home company, you practically do away with the needs of brainstorming about other related major consultations. From flooring to fixtures and furniture, everything should be taken care of in the package that you have selected. Although minor personalization may require you to make some choices, they are likely to cause less strain.
In the following sections, we list the possible hazards of project home:
In addition to the limited customization, there’s another major problem with project homes. On several occasions, companies may refuse to build a property due to imposed DA conditions like Bushfire Prone Land Requirements. Not only that, but they also have limited engineering options for difficult terrains and sloped land.
It’s also not for companies to levy standard square meter charges for left-over or poorly utilized spaces. Moreover, there is no way you can exclude it from your package.
The superficial cost of a project home may come across as budget-friendly, but there’s more to the story. When advertising for a package, the company may deliberately leave out extra charges for driveways, patios, landscaping, retaining walls, etc. Especially for high-end homes, the final cost may require you to stretch your budget by quite a bit.
Apart from that, any alterations or customization in design or material can cause prices to rise quickly.
Removal of waste, demolition, and any damage during excavation is almost always extra. With that much money, you may as well go with a custom-made residence with a higher level of personalization.
Because one company involves the same workforce in multiple projects, there’s a high chance that the completion of your house can get delayed. Besides, you have to have a thorough understanding of the strict contact conditions, the extent of work, and exit clauses. Keep in mind that any breach from your side may result in steep penalty charges.
So, which one do you think is the best option for building a home? If you ask us, we’d say the decision depends on your requirements. In a nutshell, the advantages of architectural homes will come in handy if you have:
- a flexible budget
- specified needs
- an undulated land
- a liking for personalization in all aspects
On the other hand, project homes are better if you have:
- restricted budget
- standard requirements
- flat land
- little need for alterations or customization
Building a home doesn’t happen every day, so make sure that your preferred way of construction is worth your hard-earned money and time. Without proper assessment, even the most customized homes can become uninhabitable with time.
Likewise, ready-made constructions can fail to meet quality standards. Only with sufficient research and patience can you build the house of your dreams.
On that note, it’s time for us to say goodbye. Do let us know about your thoughts in the comments section below.
Until next time!