Building process

1. Decide on your site.

Are you building new or developing your existing home?

Points to consider:

  • Who will your neighbours be? Are there young families, an older community, and industrial areas?
  • What is the nature of the ground? This can provide different challenges. Variations from sand to clay to rock need thought right from foundations to your future vegetable garden.
  • When does the site get sun? Does this change through the seasons? Is the site exposed to a lot of wind or sheltered?
  • Where are facilities such as shops and public transport? Which schools is it zoned for? 
  • How private is it? 
  • How will you access the section? Is there a long drive? No direct street access?
  • Are there services connected to the site already? Does the street provide access to other services you might need?
  • Will the contours of the land add extra cost or add character?

Contact the City Council for any information about your site, and the local area, including a Project Information Memorandum (PIM).  This has useful information including whether there is any risk of erosion, flooding or anything else you should know in advance.

Seek advice from building professionals, such as a builder, architect or engineer, before purchasing or beginning major work to confirm the suitability of the site for your dream home.

2. Choosing and briefing an Architect.

Factors in your decision of a registered architect or architectural designer may be your budget, their previous work, and your ability to work together.

Points to consider:

  • Qualified architects generally have more experience and ability to help through the administration process. Their work can more innovative and visually pleasing.  
  • Architectural designers (or drafts people) can provide a similar, but more basic service. They can be cheaper than registered architects.
  • Talk to your friends or builder for any recommendations. Look through some of their work to get a feel for their style.
  • Talk to the architect or designer about their fees and what services they will provide.

3. The Building Blocks

The type of materials used is an important part in the design process. They can personalise your home and influence how you use it.

Points to consider:

  • What type of materials will be used? Do you want your home to be low-maintenance, easy to paint or blending with the surroundings?
  • Sustainability in homes is of growing importance. Do you want solar heating and a wind turbine? Double glazing and good insulation?

4. Finalising Plans

After a lot of thought and changes you will get to the point when you are happy you’re your concept plans. Now is time for the architect to prepare final plans and working drawings. The working drawings along with the specification and engineers drawings can then be submitted to the local Council to get a building consent.

Points to consider:

  • How detailed are the plans and specifications? This may determine the accuracy of the pricing by contractors.
  • Will your site need a resource consent? This can add extra time and expense to the consent process.

5. Project management

Choosing how your project will be managed can have a strong influence on how smoothly the construction will run including controlling costs.

Points to consider:

  • Never underestimate the amount of time and effort involved in managing a building project yourself.
  • Is it worth employing a professional project manager?
  • Can your architect manage your entire project including the builder?
  • Should your builder manage the building project on your behalf?

5. Choosing a builder

Finding a good builder who takes pride in their work and can deliver on there commitments is a vey important part of your construction project. Finding a builder you can get along with and trust will make your project run smother. Good communication the builder, architect and the client is key.

Points to consider: 

  • Will qualified tradesmen be working on your house?
  • Do they belong to a trade organisation like the Registered Master Builders Federation?
  • Has your builder got a good track record?
  • What experience have they got?
  • Do they provide guarantees for their work?  What do they cover? 
  • When can they start and how long do they expect the job to take?

6. Building Contract 

A written contract is the best way of making sure everyone is clear on what they are responsible for. A contract should cover what the work includes, payment schedule, exclusions and retentions amongst others.

7. Managing Construction 

Whether you are managing the building yourself or not, you should keep a close eye on the building as it progresses. Even if you are not managing yourself you should address any issues you observe early with the project manager to avoid disagreement or extra cost later on.

When construction starts there are many things that need to be looked after:

  • Materials
  • Subcontractors
  • Inspections
  • Variations
  • Progress payments
  • Invoices
  • Correspondence

If the building phase is being project managed by the architect, designer, builder or an external project manager, this is their responsibility and they will usually liaise with you 

8. Completion 

When construction is completed there will need to be a final inspection to make sure all work has been finished to the drawings and an excellent standard.

What to do when the work is finished:

  • The builder will leave the site clean and tidy and give you any product manuals and guarantees that you may need.
  • The Code Compliance Certificate is applied for which will include a final Council inspection. This certifies that the building work complies with the building code.
  • After a short maintenance period the builder will come back and fix any problems of defects that there may be. Most building contracts retain a percentage of the contract price until the maintenance period has passed.