Home Building a new home

Building a new home


Building a dream home can be one of the most rewarding, exciting and challenging things at the same time.  Having built a home in 2014, I can totally relate to anyone going through this process. Here’s a few things we’ve learnt that you might just find useful.

It all starts with the right plot!

You may already own your land or are you still looking for the right location? Whatever the situation you need to have a clear idea in what the location, shape, size and gradient of the land will do to your build costs.  Are you a long way from connecting to your power and water services, are their additional council and developer requirements specific to your plot, is it a steep sloping section which will push out the earthworks and construction and landscaping bills?   

There are some great resources to help you with this very first starting point. Lawyers, surveyors, Councils, builders are all important research partners when choosing to buy the right plot.  Make sure you engage all the services you need to feel confident of the space you are buying.  Even early discussions with individual builders or home build suppliers like Generation Homes are worthwhile to give you sound advice on what plans and houses could suit your land.  Often they have a list of the avaiable sections in your prefered areas and you can go from there.  For a list of packages builders click here

We found a delightful subdivision on the fringe of Northwest Auckland and spent some time looking at sections.  During this time we had already settled on a home builder so they could help advise us on costs and what section would be best.  We were lucky enough to purchase a very flat section which ultimately reduced earthworks and construction costs, even a slight incline can add a significant cost in retaining and construction. To give you an idea, we moved away from a section with a gentle incline of 2m across its length as this meant an extra 40k retaining to sides and back of the section and having seen the houses built their now its a struggle to park cars on the steep drive at the start and would have been a real hazard for our little ones when playing in the front yard.   

The Build…allow time, be patient, gather, reflect and be sharp…

  1. Allow time for the process.

    It’s alot of money your spending, there are alot of decisions and curve-balls so don’t rush it. Spend your time on the plans…  Detail is everything and allow time to reflect on changes, you may find yourself coming full circle after a week.  My fiance and I allowed 4 months for this phase and still felt we were pushed for time!

    If you’re choosing to go with a builder that manages the whole planning/building project from start to finish this can save you alot of time and stress of pulling together all the moving parts.  Companies like GJ Gardner or Generation homes have pre-designed plans -select 4 or 5 plans to suit your section shape and work on analysing the pros and cons from there.  Don’t forget you can always pick one of their plans and ‘tweak’ it a little to suit your needs. You may want to add an extra bedroom, study nook, walk in robe or simply increase the living space.  If you do this ensure you are aware of the cost to customise vs sticking with one of their off the shelf plan as you can find costs to change run away with you!

  2. Be patient with the process.

    This is an important one as your stress levels may go through the roof if you’re used to getting things done! Some things just can’t be sped up like manufacturer’s timeframes, council processes and there will certainly be delays you will have to deal with.

  3. Gather, gather gather your ideas.

    Research is key, know your area, your land, your builder and your choices. Get driving… visit new suburbs, show homes, or areas with established charm. This will help build your ideas about what you like and don’t like especially when it comes to deciding materials and colours. Take loads of pictures to allow you to reflect. When it came to exterior colour selections we drove the backstreets of Ponsonby to find the right look as we wanted a modern villa style. Don’t be afraid to knock on someones door and ask their colour selection. We did and its amazing to find something you like and the owner to know the exact paint name! Build a scrapbook or moodboard of the materials you like. Start by each room. Collect images from House and Garden NZ or Your Home NZ, sample swatches of materials etc. Download the ‘Sun Path app’ and track where the sunshine is landing on your site at any given time of the year to help you make the right choices for outdoor flow, joinery and layout.

  4. Reflect and reflect again…

    Once you’ve made some choices put them all together and reflect … do they seem right? Is it the look I was after?  Have we made the most of the sun path? Your research will payoff as the more you gather the more you can reflect with a degree of knowledge. Ask around at this stage too.

  5. Be sharp

    You’re going to have to train your eye for imperfections especially at the build phase.  Challenge where necessary and don’t settle for it’s “pretty good” it should be perfect! Inspect everything you wish to it’s your dream home. Be onsite when floors are laid, concrete is poured and point it out immediately.  Have your snaglist during the build phase and discuss items one by one with your builder and be clear on the management or solution to bring it right.

  6. Home builders in NZ

    It’s important when choosing a builder, you know exactly whats included in the build price. As an initial starting point they can all give you a range $$$ per sqm through to very detailed estimates once you select plans.  If you’re going for a package builder make sure you shop around and get an entire breakdown of whats included in the price. Often these package builders have a basic and more premium offerings, make sure you know the difference.  Study this spec/costs for some weeks and don’t be afraid to negotiate! We got 4 or 5 estimates based on similar house plans from Sentinel, Generation, Lockwood, G.J Gardner and Platinum homes.   There was a vast difference in base electrical plans, cladding, roofing, flooring, joinery, bathroom and kitchen options. The more basic plans seemed to shave off space in living areas, entrance, kitchen and bedrooms.  We opted for a more premium plan which gave you more features in areas of value including kitchens, bathrooms and joinery.  Tips on costs… we more than doubled our base electrical plan from what was included, we spent 100K nzd on additional choices over and above the plan which for some builders were initially included, we doubled our joinery costs converting windows to sliders and tripled our insulation costs which was only very minimal but well worth it for winter warmth.     

    For a list of the New home builders in NZ click here for website links and information. 

  7. Utilise all resources

There are various websites for building your own home which refer to building practices through to a review of building companies and experiences.