5 FAQs we hear as Building Designers.



Starting the journey to design and build your dream home is so exciting! But, it can also feel quite intimidating on your own, especially if you’re yet to engage a Building Designer, Architect or Draftsman. Here at YHD, we’re all about sharing our knowledge and extensive industry experience. We want you to enjoy this adventure, just like our clients do, so, we’ve curated our top 5 frequently asked questions to get you up to speed and to feel confident in the choices you make over the next few months!


How do I choose a builder and when do I need to start looking for one?

Choosing your builder is definitely one of the most important decisions you’ll make in this experience. You’ll spend A LOT of time chatting, collaborating and potentially seeing your builder quite frequently - so you’ll wanna like each other, right? Ask yourself these two questions. Do they align with your personality and values? Are they reliable and trustworthy? If the answer is yes, it’s game time!


So, when do you start your search? We probably sound like a broken record, but the building industry is going through one of the busiest times we’ve ever seen. To get ahead of the rush and lock yourself in with a company you like and trust, we highly recommend getting in touch with a builder ASAP. In saying this, due to the demand for their services, most builders aren’t providing an initial quote until you have at least a basic concept plan. As a happy medium, we recommend noting down any builders that suit your vibe and reaching out once you’ve received your initial concept plans. If you have no idea where to start with your search, most design agencies will have recommendations for your area and style of build.


How do I know if my building budget is realistic?

The hottest topic in the building and design industry…building budgets. This one’s a little tricky for everyone right now. With the price of materials and labour consistently rising, it’s not as easy to provide an exact estimate as it used to be. Construction costs can vary quite significantly depending on the builder, the materials you’re looking to use and the type of project you have, i.e. reno, extension or new build. As we mentioned above, getting a builder involved in your project as early as possible is the best way to see if you’re budget aligns with the builder's projected costs. If in doubt, allow a decent contingency yourself, to cover any unexpected price rises throughout the process.


Is there a way that I can see what the home will look like prior to construction?

Yes!! This is definitely one of our favourite parts of the job. Once our designers have completed the concepts, they’ll transfer the designs over to a client-friendly software called SketchUp. SketchUp allows the user to easily manoeuvre their way through a 3D model of their plans and check out the overall look of the property - pretty damn cool if you ask us! Check out some of our recently completed 3D plans on Instagram!


Will the design team work closely with my selected builder to ensure the desired result is achieved?

We can’t speak for all designers, but for us, we really enjoy collaborating with the local builders. As noted above, we generally like to have the builder look over the initial concept plans to provide any advice on potential cost-saving options, construction practices, and general advice.

Once our client's plans are finalised and approved, we encourage the builders to reach out to the design team with any queries, and we’ll even pop in for a sneaky site visit every now and then! Designing high-quality concept plans are what we do best, but we’re also obsessed with the final reveal… so we’ll make sure our client's vision comes to life!


What is the difference between a CDC and DA application? How do I know which one I need?

Ending with a bang! This is one of the most commonly asked questions for our team during the design process and due to its technicality, we had to keep you in the loop! This one might be a little long, but it’s definitely worth a read.


A Development Application (DA) is an approval option that’s submitted through your local council. The standard approval time for a DA is usually around 3 months, however, all council areas are subject to their own approval wait times and can vary significantly. The rules for a DA application are as follows;

  1. The review of the application is open to the council’s interpretation and negotiation

  2. Application is open to feedback from the local community and neighbours

  3. Application is assessed on merit

A Complying Development Certificate (CDC) is a fast-tracked approval process. It’s legislated by the NSW government, which sits above the local council rules. The approval time for this application method is usually 21-28 working days, however, additional requirements may increase the waiting period. The rules for a CDC application are as follows;

  1. Requirements follow a clear and strict code. If the code is not met, the application will be rejected.

  2. Application is not open to feedback from the local community and neighbours.


The documentation required for both approval options includes;

  • Architectural Drawings

  • Site Survey

  • BASIX certificate

  • Engineering

  • Statement of Environmental Effects (DA only)

  • Bushfire / BAL Assessment Report

  • Water Board Approval

  • Any other reports or approvals specifically related to your site, eg. Mines Subsidence, Heritage Reports, Arborist Report, Geotechnical Report, etc.


Ultimately, your designer will have extensive experience in this space. They'll go through the needs of your plans with you and decide what the most effective option is.


Get In Touch

Looking to design your dream home with an experienced and professional design team? Get in touch with us today!