Grand Designs Australia

What to Look for When Selecting Your Next Home or Building Site

Selecting the site to build your future home requires just as much consideration as the design of the home itself.

Barb Coyle and husband Bill have a love for beautiful architecture. A passion that has had them living for the last seventeen happy years in a Harry Seidler designed home in inner Canberra.  The homes architectural features - split levels, vaulted mezzanine and Harry’s signature curved stair design was proving difficult for Bill to navigate since his diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Consequently the reluctant pair needed to move to a location that could accommodate Bill’s future reliance on a wheelchair but just as important the single level home needed to have an architectural aesthetic of the 70’s.  Finding a home that accommodated their needs and wants proved difficult so Barb and Bill took on the challenge of finding a site to build their home and an Architect to design it. 

Their architect used material in its natural state, and the built form was designed to take advantage of the natural features already present on the site.  Barb instantly fell in love with this site because of the existing mature landscape and, most importantly, the site's flat nature which would accommodate Bill’s need for a wheelchair in the future.

Your next ‘home search’ is a significant part of the buying process.  There is often a checklist of criteria that each and every one of us will reference back to when needed.  This checklist will have some established priorities or non negotiable items, however, no home is a perfect fit for a prospective buyer so keeping this list handy will be invaluable as a reference point. 

So how do you go about creating this list of priorities or nonnegotiable?  Here are some factors you should consider carefully when selecting your next home or site to build on:


Whether you are purchasing your home as an investment, a lifestyle upgrade or both, one of the most important decisions you will make is where you want to live. Your home's location will help determine how you navigate through many aspects of your everyday life and for this reason we’ve placed ‘location’ at the top of our list, closely followed by ‘Site Potential’. 

There are many factors that fall under our location category, from geographical location, school districts, proximity to work and services, family and friends.  Your daily commute to work, schools and everyday activities if not optimum will have adverse affects on how you ultimately want to live your life and spend your time.  The right location equals convenience and in many cases the right location can also determine the future value of your investment.

Site Potential

When looking at site potential these are some of the point to consider:

  • Site proportions - Is the site long or narrow or has it got a wide street frontage?
  • Size of block – Is the site wide enough to allow for future subdivisions?  This is key if you are considering future value add or another income stream from a rental.
  • Level or steep site – Keep this in mind when thinking about the style of house you are planning on designing: Split level or single storey.  This will also have significant implications on construction methods and cost.
  • Orientation – Is the block on an East West access or North South access? This can affect how you site the house on the block as well as the location of internal spaces. You want to take advantage and maximize northern light and minimise openings facing west.


  • Being surrounded by key services makes your life that much easier.  Understanding your needs will help you decide what is important. 
  • Proximity to good quality schools
  • Being surrounded by services that you may need to access on a daily basis; banks, shops and medical services to mention a few
  • Proximity to public transports to streamline your commute to and from work or schools
  • Access to key arterial roads if you are required to drive as part of your daily routine
  • Surrounding neighborhood and the community feel that these offer

Existing landscape conditions

Selecting a home or site can be an emotional decision and often we are drawn to an element or elements that just stand out.  Landscaping, topography and the natural beauty of a site can be one of those.  Being surrounded by a mature manicured garden, a watercourse running through your site, natural bush land or simply a single tree that just stands out can be the deciding factor in your selection.  

These natural elements provide instant benefits, privacy from neighbours, natural shading from trees, promoting wildlife habitats and interaction and off course a natural outlook from your home.


Selecting a site to align with your style of living is key and often views play a significant role in your selection.  We are fortunate in Australia and particular in Sydney an area that we are familiar with to be in close proximity to a range of spectacular views for all taste.  Whether it is habour, city skyline, ocean or beach views and natural bush surrounding, here we have it all.

These special locations come with an increase in land cost and in some cases above standard maintenance cost.  This is expected, as the sites location will have specific environmental factors that affect the different elements of the home. This could be tree pruning, on going landscape clearing or special material treatment because of your close proximity to water etc.  It is necessary to factor this in when selecting the next site to build on.

Owners needs

And last but by no means least important is the owner’s individual needs and requirements.  Whether it is illness, disability, pets or simply having a family with small children, each of these requires special consideration when you are property searching.  Living a comfortable and easy life in your very own home is paramount.  The right site and home design with the occupants in mind will give you this.

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