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I agree with BH - there's a lot of references to designers and architects when most of these houses are standard builds. I'd think that if you could afford to bring in a designer or architect in the first place you wouldn't be buying off the plans.

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We built recently... our steel frame builder was happy for me to totally redraw the plan at no extra cost, as each frame is individually engineered. I bumped out a wall, totally redesigned the interior. Their people cleaned it up, made it work as regards construction.

Really, I don't like architect designed spaces... I find them mostly impractical and irritating, unless it's a shopping centre. I really don't care to be 'on-trend' either... it all dates too quickly. I designed my house for the way we live. Every spot has a purpose, a flow, and the inhabitants can stay out of each other's hair as well as congregate easily.

Our stress levels have dropped considerably. I didn't need 'design', just my own common sense and detailed knowledge of how we live, how I move around the house to do chores, who cooks, how they cook, storage, storage, storage and more storage. I flatter myself it looks great, as well as being super practical. No expensive architect designed 'angles' that I couldn't care less about in my day-to-day round.

Mind you, to achieve this is not only the sum of my experience, but hundreds of hours of research on appropriate distances, etc etc. (I didn't like the 'kitchen triangle' theory, so I made the 'kitchen square'...) I made a lot of changes to so-called rules. You need to be aware of the path the sun takes seasonally, and hundreds of other things. Don't go it alone if you really have no idea of building at all.

As for fittings, we took what we liked of the builder's range, but they were happy for us to choose things 'off range' from their suppliers (who supply builders, architects, and designers), and they just went through the process as if those items were from their range. I scouted some specialty items, got them at bargain basement prices, and brought them along at the appropriate moment in the build.

I chose a super expensive kitchen (from their kitchen maker), however only made a few sacrifices, as I was having the wardrobes, pantry and linen press joinery, floors, air con and lights done by my own contractors at significant saving and at better quality and custom design. We fitted the laundry cupboards ourselves... I think we did a better, fancier job than trades. Trades are good, but they are hurrying, and it's not their house, they don't care about things being to the millimetre unless it's a question of fit.

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PS. Exposed trusses means ladder work for cleaning... please consider your physical ability, or ability to pay someone else before you do that!

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