Building a new house is a big undertaking and there are a lot of factors to consider. From consents and contracts to budgets and warranties, we have the answers to 20 of the most commonly asked questions by homeowners about the building process.
Various reports from across New Zealand quote between 10 to 12 months to build a home. This includes the initial planning and consent process, the build itself and the final Code of Compliance and selling of an existing property. The build alone usually takes between five to six months.
However, there are a number of factors that can affect the building process, including:
The cost of building a new home varies from region to region. In Hamilton, it was last estimated at $2,246 per square metre. Multiply this by the average floor area of new homes at 182 square metres and the average estimate is $408,772.
Keep in mind that this estimate is based on averages, and can vary depending on factors such as:
What are prime cost items?
Prime cost items are features, such as tiles, tapware and doorknobs, that you have not chosen yet. A sum is allocated for these.
What are provisional cost items?
Provisional cost (PC) items are features or materials that have unknown costs. This might be because the builder hasn’t seen the site you plan to build on, or they need your input to get a better fix on price. You’ll often see PC items in the pricing of your:
It depends on where you build and the type of building contract you choose.
Not sure what loan you need? Read this.
Vacant lot: If it’s within 50km of the city boundary, usually 20 per cent of the land’s value as a deposit.
Build only (i.e. just the house): You’ll need 20 per cent deposit of the new build’s final value.
Partial contract: If you plan to self-manage the build, you will need a 35 per cent deposit of the home’s final value.
Turn key: With a fully-managed contract that oversees the total build from start to finish, including your garden, the required deposit is usually 10 per cent.
When it comes to new builds, there are a few risks to be aware of. A few common ones are:
Despite this, the benefits of building new largely outweigh the risks. From gaining a home that meets the latest construction standards to capital gain potential, there are a lot of reasons to build.
Read more: 10 home building mistakes to avoid
When you’re looking to purchase land, it’s important to check whether a title has been issued, as this can have a major impact on your project costs and timeline.
When you’re looking to purchase a section of land, it is important to conduct a soil test to determine the density and makeup of its soil—and if there are any harmful materials in it.
This can help to:
Two houses might have the same floor area, but each homeowners’ choice of design and materials can have a drastic impact on the final cost of each home.
For example, homes with monopitched roofs require more exterior cladding on the external walls and their trusses are also more costly. In all, it is a more expensive design to build than a traditional hip roof house.
Similarly, houses with extra storage areas are more expensive to build. With each cupboard made from a number of components, such as framing, plastering, painting, doors, door handles and shelving, the more you have the greater the cost.
If you’re planning a new build, it’s worth investigating how much the following home design components will affect the cost of your home:
Simply put, they have different qualifications. While architects have an extensive education behind them, architectural designers and draughtspeople are more than capable of designing a residential build. In most instances, however, homeowners will choose their designer based on their portfolio, not their educational background.
However, what is important to note is that while all architects are licensed building practitioners (LBPs), not all architectural designers/draughtspeople are. If they are not an LBP, then they are unable to provide designs that involve restricted building work.
What is restricted building work?
Restricted building work relates to work that affects a home’s primary structure, weathertightness, and fire safety.
Primary structure work can include:
Weathertightness can include:
Fire safety can include:
Any restricted building work must be done (or overseen) by a licensed building practitioner (LBP).
Important! Not all builders and designers are LBPs, so always check before you have them undertake any restricted building work.
Residential buildings must be set back at least 3m from the nearest part of any other residential building, unless:
All rear boundaries have a 1.5m minimum setback.
*These setback minimums may change depending on your residential zone, particularly if you’re in a special character zone. For the most up-to-date information, refer to the Operative District Plan on the Hamilton City Council website.
It depends on who is managing your build. Some architects and design and build companies can organise the entire process, while others will require you to make the submission. Therefore, it is important to check what is and isn’t included in your building contract.
As of April 2018, building consents in Hamilton cost:
In addition to the cost of the building consent, you should also factor in other council related costs, such as:
To see a full list of all building and consent fees, visit the Hamilton City Council website.
Read more: How to get building consent in Hamilton
Deciding on a home design that you like starts with a list—a list of why. Why are you building new? Is it for more or less space? Greater comfort? Or for a home that better suits your lifestyle? Answering this question should help uncover what your needs are, both on an individual level and as a family (or investor). Once you’ve got your list of needs down, you can then start thinking about the physical aspects of the house itself.
Look at your section and consider how your home will be orientated to the sun, how you might position it on your section to take advantage of any views, and how its position and orientation may affect privacy (yours and your neighbours).
There is more to assessing a floor plan than checking it has the right number of rooms and bathrooms. Also consider:
Tip: When choosing the size of your rooms, measure up any current furniture that will move in with you and consider where you will place it in your new home.
Once you’ve decided on your home’s site position and floor plan, start to look at various style-related elements, such as the type of roof you’ll have, how big your windows will be, and what cladding you’ll use.
Both these trade associations have set standards that their members must meet. This is designed to ensure that their members provide high-quality building services to their clients.
Both offer their own 10-year building guarantee.
Not all NZCB builders or Registered Master Builders are licensed building practitioners. This means that they are not able to undertake any restricted building work, for example, structural work, such as your new build’s framing.
You can check if your builder is a licensed building practitioner on the public register.
Read more: How to find a good builder in Hamilton
It is not uncommon for some quoted prices to change during the course of a new home build. This is usually due to:
To reduce the risk, you may opt to negotiate your contract to have any price increases capped (e.g. up to 5 per cent). However, keep in mind that many builders are often reluctant to do this. As Cavell Leitch Lawyers puts it, “it may end up being an unavoidable risk that you need to account for.”
In some instances, and depending on your contract, a builder may also charge you penalty fees if your payments are late.
Important note: The content of this article is general in nature and is should be substituted or relied on for specific professional advice. Always consult a lawyer concerning your building contract.
Read more: How to find a good builder in Hamilton
If you’ve purchased a 10-year guarantee from your builder you may find that your new build is covered against untimely completion. Moreover, the implied warranty set out in the Building Act will also cover you—as long as your builder hasn’t gone out of business mid-way through your build.
The act stipulates that:
The building work will be completed by the date (or within the period) specified in the contract or, if no date or period is specified, within a reasonable time.
There are a variety of factors that can delay the timeline of your new build. Weather and unforeseen earthworks are two good examples, and there is relatively little action you can take against minor delays like these. As such, it’s wise to include a time-buffer in your planning to allow for these situations.
Note: Be aware that some building contracts do not specify timelines or finish dates. If you’ve signed a contract in this instance and the builder runs behind schedule, you may find your hands are tied. For this reason, it is important to have a lawyer review your building contract to ensure you’re not leaving yourself open to unnecessary risk.
Read more: Have you checked your new build insurance?
In short, yes. However, there is a process to follow, and you may incur additional costs from both the Hamilton City Council and your builder. On the council side, they may need to modify your building consent so that it adequately reflects the property you are building. This is legally required to get your final Code of Compliance.
If the council determines that your change is small, you may not need to follow the formal amendment process. Major variations, on the other hand, must.
Important! Regardless of what changes you want to make, always check with the council first.
Changes to your design and plans part way through construction can also affect the timeline of your project and create additional delays.
Regardless of the cost of the project or whether you had a written contract or not, the Building Act will see that your home is covered by an implied warranty for 10 years. This warranty covers most building work done. In particular, it provides cover against:
Keep in mind, to activate any implied warranty, you will need to take the dispute to court. However, in most cases, disputes are resolved privately between the homeowner and builder.
Important! If your builder shuts up business an implied warranty is rendered useless. This is why many homeowners choose to also purchase a third-party guarantee (usually through their builder).
In addition to the 10-year implied warranty of the Building Act, a 12-month defect repair period covers your new build from the date of its completion. If you find a defect in this timeframe, your builder is obligated to fix it.
A Code of Compliance certificate is only issued once the builder has completed all aspects detailed in the Council’s building consent. In most instances, the homeowner must apply for a Code of Compliance certificate, however, some design and build companies oversee the final compliance checks as part of their service.
Normally, the Council will issue a Code of Compliance within 20 working days (provided there are no problems with the property).
Note: The window to get a Code of Compliance certificate is two years from the date building consent was granted. Failing to obtain a Code of Compliance can have major ramifications when you sell the property.
Here’s the scenario: you received your Code of Compliance and made your final payment to your builder, but a few months later you’ve found defects in your new home. Now what?
The good news is, if your builder is still in business, you’re automatically covered by the Building Act’s implied warranty. If you notice the defect within a year, you’re also covered by the 12-month defect repair period.
If you’ve purchased a third-party guarantee, such as the 10-Year Certified Builders Homefirst Guarantee and the Master Build 10-Year Guarantee, your home will be covered—even if the builder you used goes out of business. However, keep in mind, that many third-party guarantees have varying levels of cover depending on what you pay.
Important! No matter what insurance or third-party guarantee you choose, always make sure it is in place before you begin building.
Read more: Have you checked your new build insurance?