Designing & Building a Custom Home 101

Our Guide to the Essentials

Deciding to build a brand new home is a major life decision. You can invest years into researching what your perfect home will look like, or perhaps you might walk into a display home and find that's the perfect design for you and your family.

Whatever you decide you always have a choice, a choice to decide how much you want to invest in your new home project, that is how much time and money you are willing to put into creating you and your family, your forever home. 

If you are thinking about a custom build there are a number of factors to consider. As custom home builders in Sydney, specialising in knockdown rebuilds with a key focus of building new homes throughout the North Shore, Northern Beaches, Sutherland Shire and Epping areas, we have had years of experience creating custom home designs and building custom homes. We would like to share our insight with you and how you can save time and money in probably one of the biggest investments, you will make.



What are custom homes?

A custom-built home is a unique, personalised home that has been tailored to your family’s ideal lifestyle. Custom homes are designed by you, for you, in the exact location you want to live.

A custom-built home uses an architecturally designed, “one off” plan to construct a home which meets the needs of families and ticks their luxury wish list.

Living in a custom home design is the ultimate in comfort. While leveraging the expertise of professionals, you still have full ownership of the direction the design takes.

It’s a great way to maximise the land you own or are buying. If you’re planning to build and haven’t bought the land yet, it’s wise to get a builder’s advice beforehand, so you can understand the constraints of the block and won’t be disappointed down the track when you can’t execute parts of your vision due to constraints. It's worth looking into the option of working with a luxury custom home builder who will take care of both the design and construction.

Why build a custom home?

The meaning of ‘luxury’ changes with each generation. Whatever the fashion, true luxury is having everything you need to live your ideal life. When it comes to a home, that means tailoring the design to suit you and your family – your work, hobbies, hopes and dreams.

Investing time and money in a custom home will pay dividends with decades of happiness and comfort for you and your family.

Building your own home is also a great opportunity to prepare for the future. For example, you can factor in energy-saving measures and home automation from the outset. You’ll also have the luxury and differentiator of a home that is just for you; no one else in the world has one like it. By using the right custom builder, you can also stay within budget.

One of the things which make Hall & Hart Homes stand out from the crowd as affordable custom home builders is our design flexibility and level of customisation. The only constraints are the council regulations for your block of land, plus the laws of construction (and gravity)!



What are the costs to build a custom home?

One of the things to consider when building a custom home is the ultimate cost to build will vary greatly depending on what you want to achieve, plus the materials you choose.

Many variable factors will impact your final costs.

  • The design and complexity of construction based on the design
  • The quality of materials
  • Delivery costs to the site
  • The location
  • Some blocks will need more extensive site works and earthmoving
  • The position of services
  • Stormwater controls
  • Site access for construction materials

If you’re undertaking a Knockdown Rebuild (KDR), you’ll need to factor in demolition costs. If you choose this route, Hall & Hart can recommend affordable and reliable demolition experts.

Of course, it also depends on the size of the house you’re planning to build. Construction costs are often measured in the cost per square metre, which range from between $1400 per square metre for a basic home (not inclusive of site specific costs) to more than $5000 per square metre for a high-end home.

Your chosen path to building will also impact costs. The traditional method of engaging with an architect to design the house, then finding a builder to try and execute it, can end up coming with an exorbitant price tag.

At Hall & Hart Homes, we provide clients with a holistic architectural experience, which allows you to tweak the design to your family’s lifestyle without the significant costs that come with a custom build from scratch.

Hall & Hart Homes unique design approach allows you to work alongside one of Autralia's leading Architects, to produce your dream home. Bring your own ideas or be inspired by talented experts who are highly trained in bringing visions to life.

What are the essential things to consider when building a custom home?


The major pain point for home builders is staying within budget. Custom builds are so famous for running over budget, conventional wisdom holds that you should allow at least 20% for excess, unplanned expenditure and variables that have not been considered before construction has commenced.

The “Hall & Hart Homes Genuine Price” has been created by us to circumvent this problem. Our pay as you go model means you’re not locked into anything until:

  • AFTER you’ve signed the final contract
  • AFTER council approvals have been received
  • AFTER you’ve made your final selections from Studio You and;
  • AFTER you've received your homeowner’s warranty and construction certificate

The Hall & Hart Genuine Price ensures there won’t be any nasty surprises or blowouts down the track, as can happen all too often with custom builds. One of the main differences is that as Hall & Hart Homes are a larger scale custom home builder we have completed more custom homes than the average custom home builder, providing us with a greater insight into issues that can arise, so we prepare for them upfront that rather than deal with them once on site.

Projected timeline. 

Working directly with an architect and then sourcing the right custom home builder can be an extremely long and trying process. At Hall & Hart Homes, we can provide you with an architectural experience and build your customised dream home, generally within 12 - 16 months from the time you sign your tender acceptance.

Constraints of your land.

Part of the luxury of building your own home is choosing the perfect location! If you’re already in the ideal location but now need the perfect home, a Knockdown Rebuild could be the way to go. It’s then essential that your design is tailored to your block of land.

We’ve heard horror stories of miscommunication between architects and builders leading to major (and expensive) hurdles once construction has started. You need to ensure that the design will fit the space and comply with council regulations.

Quality of materials.

A quality home is constructed of quality materials. When choosing a builder, it’s important to check what inclusions they offer. You may find that you’re significantly out of pocket down the track if you must ‘scale up’ to get the materials you want.

Hall & Hart Homes are dedicated to building a you home. That means we offer a diverse range of luxury inclusions that are far superior in quality, style and sophistication, without any hidden costs. To achieve your perfect aesthetic, you’ll consult with interior designers and choose premium products at Studio You.

Choosing the right home builder.

Do your research! You need a reputable home builder with the right experience, capability and reputation to bring your glorious vision to life.  Hall & Hart Homes is one of the most respected custom builders and knockdown rebuild specialists in Sydney, as shown by our 5-star rating on the trusted aggregate review site



What’s the difference between designing a custom home with an architect and finding a builder OR creating plans with a custom home builder?

Choosing a custom builder

  • Your custom builder will know your block of land and their design team will work with you to create a unique design that will maximise every part of your block. They will not create a design that doesn't fit your block, after all they have to build it.
  • No hefty price tag! The "Hall & Hart Homes Genuine Price" means you know exactly what you are going to pay and you wont have any unexpected costs that you hadn't budgeted for.
  • Customer experience. You may be surprised to find that finding the right custom builder will still give you a complete architectural experience and essentially you are cutting out the middle man. 
  • A custom builder will provide a holistic view to your build and there is no need to source a separate architect and then builder to complete your project.

Choosing an architect 

  • You will need to find the right architect to design your home then find the right builder to build it. It's a two step process which can add more time to an already lengthy process.
  • Communication between architect and builder. You may find your architect has designed your dream home however you cannot find a builder who can build it or it may end up past your anticipated budget. There must be clear, open lines of communication between your architect and builder to ensure the design will fit your block and budget.
You will find there are custom builders who have built a trusted and solid relationship with an architect where they both work together in bringing your vision to life. Doing your research to find this wining combination will result in your build being within budget and on time.

What are the important stages when building a custom home?

Building can feel like a huge undertaking, which is why it is easier to break it down. Here are the 10 key phases you’ll move through:

  1. Decide on your location
    2. Envision your dream home and research the aesthetic and materials you’d like
    3. Confirm your desired budget
    4. Find an architect & builder, or a custom builder
    5. Meet with the design team to begin the custom design process
    6. Communicate any changes to your architect/designer
    7. Finalise your plans
    8. Work with your builder through pre-construction and council approvals, selection of inclusions and finishes
    9. Construction phase
    10. Move into your dream home!
Download the pdf here

25052020 infographic for custom build stages image only - FINAL


Does it take longer to build a custom home compared to a project home?

If you take the traditional path of finding an architect, designing your house and then finding a home builder then yes, it can take much longer than building a project home. There’s often a lot of back and forth with an architect that can push the timeline out.

You may find that a custom builder who works directly with an architect will work within the builders timelines, moving you through the process alot quicker. 



How does a custom-built home differ from a project home?

A conventional project home is based on a pre-designed plan with limited customisation.

A custom home is designed by you in conjunction with a design team and is personalised to your tastes.

Some project home builders will offer you the world in design flexibility and customisation however you need to decide what design flexibility means to you. You can move a wall or add a bedroom to any standard plan but can you flip the design, move the stairs and increase the height of the windows?

Hall & Hart Homes pride themselves on the level of customisation they offer, in fact no two homes that we have produced are alike. The level of customisation we offer is unparalleled amongst project home builders in the industry, with some clients comparing their design experience to that of using an architect.

What is the design process for a custom-built home?

  • Decide what customisation means to you. Would you prefer to make some small changes to a house design you have fallen in love with, or perhaps you love a particular design but you have a complex block and there are some major design changes you would like to make, or you want the freedom to create your own? Find the best custom design approach to suit you and your family
  • Get to know your team. You are going to be in this relationship for a long time so you need to decide early if you have found the right team for your job
  • Open, transparent communication - you need to let your builder/designer know what's important to you in your home and decide if they can deliver this
  • Let the designing begin! There will be an initial phase where you discuss what you want and your team will present you with your first set of plans. It's important to find out how many rounds of revisions you have to get your design just how you want it.
  • Once your plans are finalised they will be submitted to the relevant authority for approval. This approval process can take a few weeks however some custom builders can offer you pre-lodgement approval which will move you through this process quicker

The process of designing your dream home with an experienced custom builder like Hall & Hart Homes can be a delight. We pride ourselves on our open communication at every stage of the process. 

You’ll work with a skilled design team across every stage of the process. We know how local councils work, what it takes to move the project quickly, and we use the best trades in the business.



What if I have a ‘difficult’ block of land?

Certain blocks can be more difficult for building, that’s for sure. Your dream location may not be the easiest! Here are some of our solutions when faced with client's blocks who weren't so straight forward.

  • A sloping block will require the design to be customised and allow for block fall
  • A corner block offers you double the street frontage with greater design flexibility
  • A narrow block shouldn't mean you have to compromise on space
  • A coastal location means you will need to build with marine grade materials and take careful consideration to views, flood levels, scenic protection rules and aspect

What does it mean to build a custom home with Hall & Hart Homes?

  • A unique custom design approach which will deliver you an architectural experience. Our design flexibility is second to none in project home industry, you just need to tell us what you customisation means to you
  • Get up close to one of Australia's leading architects and design your forever home together with architect and custom builder. Take full advantage of this rare industry relationship combining, Architects that understand how to design homes in line with your builder's approach. You can also personally walk through our display homes that have been designed by the same architects. Our holistic architectural approach means we can build a home around you without the astronomical costs that come with a custom build from scratch
  • Save time. We can move you through the custom build process quickly with personalised processes based on the experience of our team and leanings from previous jobs, resulting in less decisions that you will need to make. 
  • Save money. Our 'Genuine Price' means you will know exactly what you are paying for before you sign your contract
  • We will get to know your block so we can create a design that releases the full potential of your land. Our knowledge of council requirements and the laws of construction in difficult areas means we know how to navigate through any hurdles which may hold you back
  • Quality of inclusions - no need to scale up unless you really want to. We can leverage our close industry relationships with high end luxury suppliers to deliver you products from that suited to a truly custom home
  • 100% satisfaction that you made the right decision. Hear from our clients, they will tell you why they chose to build with us. We choose to build a 100 homes a year because we like to work with like minded families who appreciate open communication, luxury designs and good, honest building
  • You will have a dedicated custom build team. Meet our directors, town planners, architects, interior designers
  • It means we will build a you home, we will build your forever home


Get in touch. 


Are you in love with your neighbourhood more than your house? Talk to us. Hall & Hart Homes are Sydney Knockdown Rebuild specialists and it's much easier than you think.

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