Grand Designs’ Peter Maddison shares his tips on building

Peter Maddison. Photo: DavidSolm/Foxtel
Peter Maddison. Photo: DavidSolm/Foxtel

BUILDING a home is fraught with challenges, whether it is a difficult site, weather, or the approval process.

As host of Foxtel’s Grand Designs Australia Peter Maddison has seen it all.

He was in Perth last week for the final filming of Angelo and Kasiani Amara’s North Perth build for season nine of the show and shared his top five tips for building with Residential.


“The number one tip would be to cost-plan the project carefully,” he said.

“When you develop the first sketches, that’s the time to go off and get an independent person to cost it for you, not your builder mate who does it over the table when he gets home from work.”

Mr Maddison said a professional cost planner could give you an road map of what the total budget would be including the construction budget as well as costs for landscaping, authority fees and charges, professional fees, moving costs, so you get a total picture of what the project will cost from start to finish.

You get it costed again when the drawings have been developed and again before you got out to tender so by the time you go to a builder to get a price you have a pretty educated idea of what the price will be when they come back.

Angelo and Kasiani Amara, with host Peter Maddison (right), and their North Perth home will feature on Grand Designs Australia. Photo: Dion Robeson/Foxtel

“If you don’t do that you’ve spent perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars on fees and permits, years of wrangling, as happened with the North Perth home, to get the house to a point where you can start and if your price comes in way over your budget you’ve got to go back to the drawing board again, so it will take a lot of tears out of the process if you get it costed,” Mr Maddison said.

Choose the right designer/architect

“Get a designer or architect that’s in line with your aesthetic,” Mr Maddision said.

“So Angelo and Kasiani have been able to do that, they’ve got Nick Brunsdon who wanted to be part of their vision, but put his touch onto it, so that’s a great marriage in terms of design and aspiration.”

To help find the right architect/designer Mr Maddison suggested interviewing them, looking at magazines and their websites, speaking to friends and visiting events such as Open House Perth, which will be held on November 16 and 17 and is a great opportunity to see behind people’s closed doors and find a designer that suits you.

Cut back

“When designing a house think about what you want and then take 25 per cent off the floor plan,” Mr Maddison said.

“Work out the size of your living rooms, bedrooms, butler pantry, double garage and then go OK I’ve come up with 450sq m and then reduce it.

“You’ll find that most people don’t use a whole house and there’s rooms that you think you need, formal dining rooms, butler’s pantry, entertaining areas, that are a waste of effort, time, money.

“So be modest; that has the effect of reducing the cost of the build but also ongoing maintenance, the mortgage is reduced, and you end up with a more intimate house.”

Look local

Think about what the building is going to be made from.

Mr Maddison said there was an endless array of materials on the market, but using local products gave a house more meaning and the joy of living there more depth.

“If I was in Victoria I would use Victorian ash timber not imported rainforest Brazilian hardwood,” he said.

“Using local materials also reduces the impost on the environment; lugging materials from all over the world from China, Scandinavia, Belarus and Belgium is a cost on the environment.”

Think about sustainability

“Sustainability is more than getting a six-star energy rating,” Mr Maddison said.

“It’s about the way you conduct yourself on the planet.

“You might think you’ve done a great job putting a few solar panels and a couple of rainwater tanks out the back but you can help the world a lot more by thinking about everything you do.

“If you’re drinking out of a plastic bottle, could you be walking to work rather than driving your car, do you need to put the airconditioning on 21 or is it a matter of just opening up the window to let some ventilation through, so it’s more than just paying lip service to authorities’ requirements.”

Mr Maddison offered one final tip:

“Building houses and making an impact on this world is a joyful, heartfelt opportunity,” he said.

“It doesn’t come along that often, so you must celebrate that and enjoy the journey because often the outcome is not as perfect as you might like it to be.

“Enjoy the process, have fun and celebrate that you’re making your mark on this world that’s got a meaning.”

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