Check out your section thoroughly to find what covenants and other restrictions may affect the type of home you can build.
Decide what style of home you want and what particular features will suit your needs. The Homeowner’s Building Guide has a good list of questions to consider: www.buildingguide.co.nz/building-guide/home-design-hints-and-tips-and-design-brief
Visit your local bathroom and kitchen showrooms and builders’ show homes.
Consider what technology you want in your new home and ensure that you include pre-wiring for hi-fi, home theatre and data cabling in your plans.
Consider what environmentally sustainable and economy saving features you want to include. For example: heat pumps, solar panels, insulation, double glazing etc. For more on this go to: www.buildingguide.co.nz/building-guide/sustainable-building-practices
Talk to your friends and see if they have any recommendations or advice.
Look through style magazines for ideas.
Visit your local council, or go to their website, to find out about their consent process and for information about local conditions.
Check out www.consumerbuild.org.nz, which is a partnership between the Department of Building & Housing and Consumer. It aims to “provide clear, independent and up-to-date information to the public about building, buying, renovating and maintaining houses in New Zealand”.
The Homeowner’s Building Guide (www.buildingguide.co.nz) is also an excellent place to start your research.
Finally, decide whether you want to manage the build yourself or get a project manager to do so. This involves managing sub-contractors, buying materials and co-ordinating the site to ensure that everything happens as and when it needs to. Most builders can act as the project manager, known as a “full contract “ job. Due to the complexity, time and risk associated with project management it is not recommended for the inexperienced.
Appoint a designer, such as a registered architect or architectural designer. Or you may want to go to a group home builder. These companies offer a selection of “off the shelf” designs that have been tried and tested over time. You can often make adjustments to their designs to incorporate particular aspects that you want.
Work with your designer or builder to choose your building fundamentals, such as roofing, cladding, insulation and windows. These are important as they will ensure your home is comfortable to live in and holds its value over time. This is where you should include your environmental requirements.
Specify the fixtures and fittings you want, including kitchen, bathroom, electrical, lighting and heating. You should highlight your technology and pre-wiring requirements at this stage too.
A great tool to help you visualise your design is the GIB Living “Room by Room Guide”: www.gibliving.co.nz/room-by-room
Stage Three: Select the right builder
Click here to check that your builder is a Licensed Building Practitioner.
Make sure your builder can offer an independent, insurance-backed guarantee like our Homefirst Builders Guarantee.
The Homeowner’s Building Guide gives excellent advice on choosing a builder: www.buildingguide.co.nz/products/builders as does ConsumerBuild: www.consumerbuild.org.nz/publish/trades/tradespeople-findingbuilder.php and Future-Proof Building: www.fpb.co.nz/page/111/selecting-a-builder.aspx (you may need to become a member of FPB, but it is free and has good resources for homeowners).
Give them your design specification and plans and ask for a detailed quote, not an estimate, in writing. A quote is a price that legally binds the builder, the builder is not bound by an estimate. Go to: www.consumerbuild.org.nz/publish/trades/tradespeople-tenders.php for excellent advice on the tender process, including the specific aspects that you should include.
Alternatively you can engage a quantity surveyor to cost up your design and oversee the budget, ensuring that you get a realistic price for your project.
Be wary of quotes that seem very cheap, it probably means something is missing, or the builder is going to need to take shortcuts to make a profit on your job. It may seem like you’re saving money that you can spend on nice furnishings, but if the builder goes into liquidation or doesn’t finish the job you could end up spending a whole lot more.
Get a written building contract. This should contain the full details of your agreement, including a construction timetable and payment schedule that outlines what will be paid when during the project. ConsumerBuild has more information about what you should include in your contract. Another good source of information about building contracts that you can download is: www.inderlynch.co.nz/pdf/brochure_buildingcontracts.pdf. If you use a Certified Builder they will use a standard building contract from the Certified Builders Association. Or you can purchase a contract template from Standards New Zealand.
Obtain a building consent. this is your local council’s written authority to undertake building work, according to the plans and specifications that you submitted. You cannot start building before you receive a consent and they cannot be granted retrospectively, instead you need a Certificate of Acceptance. Click here for a Building Consent Checklist from the Homeowner's Building Guide. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to obtain a consent, however in practice most builders will do this as part of their role as project manager of your build. Generally your consent should be processed within 20 days, provided that your documentation is complete. For more information go to: www.consumerbuild.org.nz/publish/buildact-consents.php
Complete your guarantee application along with your builder and ensure that they send it in. Make sure you receive confirmation of your guarantee before work begins. Click here for more information on the Homefirst Builders Guarantee. For a comparison of the two main guarantees on the market go to: www.consumer.org.nz/category/property/building
Visits from a building inspector, who is responsible for ensuring that work is being carried out in accordance with the Building Code and your building consent.
Substitutions of materials. Often there are good reasons why a builder will substitute one brand or type for material for another, but you should always be advised of this and approve it.
Variations to the plans. It is common for homeowners to ask for changes to the design of their home during the actual construction phase. These can sometimes create challenges for the builder and should always be documented in writing as variations in the building contract. If the variations add cost then this should be agreed between both parties and included in the building contract. Some variations will require an amendment to your building consent also. And you should advise the provider of your guarantee of any variations to the building contract. For more detailed information on variations go to: www.consumerbuild.org.nz/publish/phase/buildingphase-approving.php
Do your own inspection and if there are any defects arrange for the builder to rectify them.
You should request a final inspection by a building inspector, who will then issue a “Code Compliance Certificate”.
You will be issued with a Certificate of Guarantee once you have sent in a copy of your code compliance certificate.
Move in and start to enjoy your new home!