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What Are The Steps Of Designing My Own House

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  • 26-01-2022
What Are The Steps Of Designing My Own House

This article explores the steps of designing your own house. Find out what you need to know before starting a self build project. We explore designing, planning and building your dream home.

Bob Trimble is a chartered architect registered with RIBA with 30 years experience in the industry. Trimble Architects work throughout Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington and the surrounding areas of London.

Designing Your Own Home

Self-builders will have their own unique goals, which need to be met to create the property they have envisioned for them and their whole family. 

The design stage of any construction project is always the most crucial, meaning it can also be incredibly challenging for those unfamiliar with the process. However, the design process will ultimately determine how your property will look and function, so there is much to consider.

The biggest consideration, and the most important question you need to ask yourself before you even start your self-build journey, is why? 

Why are you choosing to build your own property instead of purchasing one that already exists? Everyone's reasons will be different, from having full control over how their property will function to turning the house around quickly to make as much profit as possible.

Regardless of your reasons, asking yourself why will help guide you through the whole process and keep you focused on the true reason you chose to build the property in the first place. 

Having dedicated focus and an understanding of the true reason why you are undertaking such a complex project will help get you through those challenging moments because, trust us - there will be a lot of them.

Steps To Designing Your Dream Home

As with any process you're unfamiliar with when you decide to undertake your first self-build project, it is best to divide the key stages into manageable portions. The factors involved in these portions all need to be fully considered and integrated into the initial design process of your self-build property, figuring out all your design preferences from the start. 

Developing A Design Brief

The first thing you need to do is develop a design brief, which is an evolving document that will change as you progress through the whole project, constantly improving as the design of your home advances.

The brief will initially cover your basic vision, and all the aspects of your build that you think are essential, such as sustainable insulation options, how you will use natural light and basic things such as how many rooms there will be. 

The project brief will describe how you want your property to be lived in, such as open plan living etc.


There might also be other tiny details that you want to specify when you begin designing, such as east-facing bedrooms or feature pieces that you want to build a certain room around. It is best to start the planning process without preconceived limitations, and as you progress, you can alter your house plans depending on your planning requirements or budget.

Analysing The Site

Once you have created your design brief, you need to assess the site on which the property will be built. This can help you define your plans more viscerally and reveal any limitations there might be. Aside from local building codes or planning application limitations, there are a few things you need to consider when analysing your chosen site:

  • Think about the orientation of your future property on the site. Can you arrange the southern elevations for solar panels to get the most sunlight? Will you need to screen the property from nearby traffic? 
  • Considering the surrounding landscape can help you pick the best views for your bedrooms or living room.
  • How close the neighbouring properties will help you decide where the windows should be placed. Additionally, it would be best if you tried to avoid having any of your windows overlooking your neighbour's. Typical distances for bedroom windows is around 12 metres, with living rooms being 21 metres.
  • If you plan to build a house that is larger than usual, perhaps one with three bedrooms or more, you will need to consider your parking space.
  • It would be best if you also considered the local greenery. If any trees might pose a hazard to your new home, you may be able to remove them. If not, you will have to find a way to incorporate them into your house designs. 

Sites are rarely ever perfect on their own, and you will need to change your designs as and when you discover any limitations. Working with a professional architectural design service, structural engineer, or other industry experts can help you develop innovative solutions to any issues you notice with your chosen site, which also conform to the necessary building regulations.


Planning Your Building Footprint

Once you have a good idea of your site and how you will use it, the next stage is to plan the footprint of your property.  The footprint will determine the overall style of your property, so it is best to take great care at this stage of the process.

It would be best if you also thought about how you want the interior spaces of your property to flow into one another at this stage. If you are unsure how to do this, a professional architect can help.

Thinking about the day-to-day use of your home will allow you to plan your rooms more effectively, alongside working with whatever limitations there are on your site.

When designing your property, you may also want to consider the neighbouring buildings so that your home does not stand out too much or look out of place in the surrounding area. This could also affect the materials you choose to construct and design your own home.

If you have a house designer to hand, they can create 3D models of your property as the footprint is determined so you can better visualise the plans you are making and allow you to direct the style of the property in the right direction.

You can say what you like and dislike about these models and plans, but it is best to have an open mind to what any professional designer and architect might suggest to you.

Go into the project with a flexible plan. This will help you to not only get around any limitations you might come across but will allow you to be open to new design ideas when you work closely with your designer or architect.

This might just get you a more attractive property than you first thought. Designers and architects are professionals for a reason, so they are well worth listening to when designing and planning your self-build home.

Considering budget and planning restrictions 

 As your house designs and plans start to grow and develop, it is a good idea to consider your budget and any local planning authority restrictions that are in effect on your site.

For example, certain covenants may restrict the construction process of certain buildings on the site, or it may fall within a greenbelt area, further limiting what you can build on the site.

Once you have checked your plans against any local authority restrictions on your site, you can begin to consider your budget.


Your designer or architect can help you work out the build costs involved for your planned designs, from purchasing materials to hiring contractors. It is best to work out your costs before submitting any planning permissions requests, as it will be a waste of time getting permission to build a property that you cannot afford to construct.

Questions To Consider When Designing A Home

While designing your own home is a very exciting experience, especially when you can vividly picture your dream home in your mind. However, while you should hold onto that enthusiasm, it is important to pay just as much attention to the essential considerations you need to make at each stage.

Here we have listed a few questions to contemplate when designing your perfect home.

Again, your floor plan is one of the most important design elements when building your own home, given that it is the floor plan that will determine how your home is used. It would be best if you thought about how you are going to use your home on a daily basis, which rooms you are going to be spending time in and how you want the living space to flow through your property.

Most people who have never undertaken a self-build project before can be surprised by how limited the space in a house is. When designing the footprint of your rooms, you need to remember to leave space for furniture and any storage spaces you might need.

Most people don't realise how much space there is in a room without furniture. To get the hang of the measurements you will need, you can ask a family member or friend if you can measure the outside edges of their rooms, as well as the area across the floor.

When building a home for you and your family, one of the key considerations to make is how many bedrooms you will need. It would be best if you also considered the long term. While you may be planning for your family now, but families can grow, so you should leave enough room to accommodate new family members.

Like your living room, you need to ensure there is plenty of room for all the bedroom furniture you own. You should also consider whether you need a guest bedroom if you have family or friends to stay over frequently.

Considering these factors and planning for them appropriately during the early stages of the process is the best way to go, as it will help you avoid any disappointments and problems further down the line.

While figuring out how many bedrooms you will need is crucial, determining how your master bedroom will be laid out is also just as important. Having a perfectly laid out and designed master bedroom can dramatically increase the value of your property.

A private, en-suite bathroom with double vanities and walk-in showers can all make your master bedroom more luxurious, adding to your home's resale value. 

Again, the overall style of your home will be determined from the earliest design stage. Think about whether you want to go for a more traditional type of house, which comes with its own aesthetics, such as timber frames, or a more modern style. This will give yourself and your family, plenty of options to choose from, is the best idea.

Another essential consideration is how many floors your property will have, as this may also affect the overall style of the property. If this is will be the lifelong home that you will one day retire in, the fewer floors, the better, as this will make it safer for you to get around as you get older.

However, if your site limits how much space you have available, adding extra floors can give you valuable square footage.

Thinking about how your home will function will also significantly affect your design and plans. For example, you will want flowing space leading from your dining room into your kitchen.

Another example is having your bathroom close enough to your bedrooms to be comfortable. Think about how you will move from one room to another when laying out your own floor plans and designing your self-build home.

Having extra rooms in your home is never a bad idea. Having spare rooms to turn into bedrooms or playrooms is a brilliant idea if you have a growing family. Having a space that you can turn into a home office is also a fantastic idea if you work mostly from home.

There is a wide range of other functional rooms that you might want to consider leaving space for in your self-build designs, such as laundry rooms or large closets and storage areas. 

The site on which your home will be built also needs to be greatly considered when in your project's planning and design stage. It would be best if you thought about any natural hazards, such as your site being in a flood zone or any nearby trees that could grow to become a problem.

It would be best also to consider the surrounding local area and neighbourhood so you can design a home that will fit in naturally and provide great visual appeal to your property.  

Alongside your bathroom and bedroom designs, you should also spend a considerable amount of time thinking about what style of kitchen you want in your self-build property. Find a style that you like the look of and plan from there, creating the perfect take on your kitchen. A few examples of kitchen styles include:

  • French Country
  • Farm House
  • Cottage
  • Modern
  • Contemporary
  • Costal
  • Mediterranean

Suppliers of building materials can help you if you need to create any bespoke pieces to create the perfect kitchen for you and your family.

As with your bedrooms, you will need to consider the number of bathrooms you will need. Again, this will hinge on a few factors, such as your family's current or future size, how many bedrooms you are going to have, and how often you will have guests staying.

It is important to remember that quality is often better than quality with bathrooms in particular. So rather than filling the entirety of your first floor with bathrooms, try and place them where they will be most effective. 

 Architects Near Me


If you are looking for architectural services throughout Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington and the greater London area, then get in contact with our team today. We can offer advice and begin guiding you towards making the right decision.


Bob Trimble is a chartered architect registered with RIBA. Bob Trimble has 30 years of experience working with residential and commercial property projects. For 4 years, Bob Trimble has worked from his housing association and private architectural practice for clients throughout Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington and the surrounding areas of London.