A4 Design Build Notes  to help you get a good new home 
by Bob Simpson Architect Builder Coordinator

Since I completed a five-year B Arch degree at the University of Auckland, School of Architecture in 1970 and qualified as a registered architect in 1974, I have been involved in hundreds of buildings projects.  

If you as the client, wish to obtain a good new home, I recommend you follow these notes and:

  • Learn about the design and build process;

  • Engage a team of competent designers and capable builders;

  • Determine with your designer, a brief of requirements for the project, and select an appropriate site;


  • You need to make many good decisions to produce a good building. 

  • For your building project you will have to make many decisions. The quality of your decisions will influence the quality of the outcome. Many of us find a solution and then define the problem to suit the solution. Real estate salespeople tend to focus our attention on the good points of a property and divert our attention from the bad points.   

  • We recommend you define your needs/requirements with your designer and consider a range of options or solutions.  

  • Here is our Draft Project Evaluation Matrix. We recommend you adapt this matrix, for your project and it will help you make better decisions. First, decide on the components or requirement of your project, then consider different solutions or options for your project. Finally, determine the best solution for your project and modify it to make it better. This matrix is in a ‘Word Table’

  • Please modify the requirements/needs column, to what is important for your project.  The Ideal Score column should give each item a score, which recognises its relative importance compared to the other items. It doesn’t matter what the total score is. For each item give an ideal solution to the maximum score and a lower score as the item is further from the ideal.  Then, score the items under each project column, out of the maximum points available.

  • Then add the item scores for each proposal.  The proposal with the highest score should be the best proposal.  Then consider how the best option can be improved by incorporating some of the better features from other proposals. 

Best wishes with the challenge to develop your matrix and to produce a good new home.

Reduce the ‘Bull’
Building designs are influenced by the clients/owners, the designers, the builders, the local culture and the current fashions.  Manufactures often create fashions by advertising products, which do not perform as promoted. Sometimes a strange design idea in used in a building and the building sells.  Then real estate salespeople promote this feature, and idea gets repeated. 

Often, I cannot determine the logic of using the product or the strange idea.  I call this advertising and fashion, ‘bull’
If more people understood building physics, ‘bull’ would have less impact. Then better building decisions would be made.  In the future, I will add some notes about building physics.

I try to produce homes which are accessible, comfortable and elegant. 

The late Ian Athfield was a prominent NZ architect. When he was fifty he said you had to about fifty to know enough to produce good buildings. 

With the help of my late wife Margery and my drafting team when I was almost fifty I designed my current new home in 1997and an attached office building.