14 steps to consider when building a new home…

Congratulations! It’s an exciting journey… but it will also be testing at times. With that in mind, here are 14 points to think about to make your building experience as enjoyable as it can be.

1. Use a registered architect or qualified LBP designer

Yes, of course we’re going to say that. But having an experienced designer on your team means you truly get the home of your dreams… not to mention one that suits your (and your family’s) needs. Architectural Designers are full of good ideas that you may not have thought of and they’ll help you maximise your space. Plus, from feasibility studies to resource consent, they’ll do a lot of the hard work, so you don’t have to.

2. Consider the sun

To make the most of the sun, living areas and rooms you use a lot should face north (in NZ). Ideal orientation means you’ll take advantage of sun to warm your home and breezes to keep you cool. Where possible keep your kitchen on the Easterly side.

3. Good indoor/outdoor flow

There’s an old saying that goes, “When you visit a Kiwi at their home, the first thing they do is take you back outside again”. We love living outdoors. Good connection with the outdoor areas and flow is an essential part of Kiwi living, so plan for it well.

4. Go to home shows

These are great places to gather research and get ideas. You can see what’s new in bathrooms and kitchens or discover great ways to use your outdoor space. Plus, you’ll discover ideas you haven’t even thought of.

5. Get pricing done when you have a completed Developed (or working) Design.

It’s important to design for the full brief and then assess whether changes need to be made.  Time invested on plans early may seem expensive, but definitely saves in the long run. Costs increase exponentially as you move through the preparation, permits and then construction phases.

6. Construction costs in New Zealand

As New Zealand is the most expensive place to build, it’s important to keep an open mind. To reach your end goal, there may be some compromises you will need to make. Timelines extensions and staging some of the construction works may help. Materials, joinery types and sizes all have a big bearing on the costs. If it is non-negoatiable the reality could mean increasing your budget.

7. Have a fixed-price contract with your builder

Have more than one builder tender for the job, check out their previous builds and talk to previous clients. When you’re happy, sign a fixed-price contract, as it takes away a lot of the worry.

8. Use a project manager

Project management is a profession for a reason. Do you really want to try and juggle 15 different contactors… all at different times? A good project manager will make things run smoothly, shield you from a lot of stress, address problems and make your building experience more enjoyable. For small residential projects a building company may be able to manage this and the construction for you.

9. Visit the site regularly

You should take pleasure is seeing your home taking shape. Remember, some things don’t become obvious until you see them being built (like the wall that could do with an extra window). Visits are a chance to chat with the project manager and builder and catch anything that might be amiss or that you want to change.

10. Have some extra funds

Despite the best planning, there are almost always changes. Some will be necessary. Some will be yours, that you want to make as a build unfolds. Have some extra funds for these.

11. Don’t sweat the small stuff

There will always be knocks, dents and scrapes on walls or scruff marks on cabinetry while your home is being built. Don’t stress – they’re not worth worrying about. If the project manager hasn’t noticed already, you’ll be able to point these out before you take possession and have them taken care of. Every problem has a solution.

12. Take a photographic record

Years later, it’s nice to have a visual record of your home being built, especially if there are people in the photos. But it also has a practical side: you can have a record of what’s inside walls before the Gib goes on. At a later date, it’s handy to know if there is wiring or plumbing behind that wall you’re about to cut into.

13. Get a Smart Home installation

It’s inevitable that future homes will be smart homes. Future-proof your home now, and wire the house while installation is easy - even if you can’t afford or think you don’t need the tech just yet.

14. Consider outdoor speakers and heating

Prepare the house for outdoor speakers and heating. Even if you can’t afford these yet, you’ll love it when you’re entertaining outdoors in years to come.


Of course, this list could go on and on. But it’s a starting point. Most importantly, remember the house is about you – so build it with both your needs and desires in mind if you really do want that ‘dream home’.