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# 175650 7-Jul-2015 12:40
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Hey there
My wife and I are inching ever-closer to deciding to build a new house (well, more accurately and by necessity based on my ‘skills’, have one built for us!). There are clearly a number of people on GZ who have been through the process, so I was hoping to be able to get some recommendations as to what they learnt from the process, what they’d do differently next time, dos and don’ts, best ways to find a good section in NZ, good resources for ideas (specific sites, magazines, books…), etc. (I’m after ideas re the overall process, as opposed to the details of constructions stuff like particular cladding etc.)

We are definitely only contemplating doing this with the full use of an architect (ideally on a full-service contract), and have decided we’re happy to compromise on other aspects (eg size, fancy features) rather than skimp on this point (I’ve watched too many Grand Designs to want to risk compromising the building, both aesthetically and practically).

We have a pretty good idea of what we want, and have written this up as a draft brief; I’ve also had initial contact with one well-regarded local architect, who has indicated he works with a wide range of budgets (we’re going for value-for-money, not one of his more usual expensive/massive edifices!). I’ve also had some useful advice from an architect on this forum.

Anyway, any advice and ideas will be gratefully received!   Cheers Jonathan

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  # 1338476 7-Jul-2015 13:12
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where are you building (ie what part of country)




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Antonios K

 

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  # 1338478 7-Jul-2015 13:18
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antoniosk: where are you building (ie what part of country)


The megalopolis of Palmerston North... key benefit of being in the provinces - sections shouldn't cost too much! The problem is finding one that's large enough - say 700-900m; most are 450-550m. One idea I'm toying with is buying a section with a relatively cruddy house and having that moved off - but from what I can tell, houses themselves don't go for that much money?

We debated not building until we move back to Wgtn when the kids are grown, but given the cost of land there (and difficulties finding an ideal section) that may never happen. Hence why we're thinking of doing it now. and thefefore gett the most use out of it.

 
 
 
 


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  # 1338624 7-Jul-2015 15:47
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Most contracts seem to have no incentive to do anything to the schedule.  I'd be talking to a lawyer about getting that added.  Our schedules were always out of date by the time the email arrived.

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  # 1338672 7-Jul-2015 16:50
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jonathan18:
antoniosk: where are you building (ie what part of country)


The megalopolis of Palmerston North... key benefit of being in the provinces - sections shouldn't cost too much! The problem is finding one that's large enough - say 700-900m; most are 450-550m. One idea I'm toying with is buying a section with a relatively cruddy house and having that moved off - but from what I can tell, houses themselves don't go for that much money?

We debated not building until we move back to Wgtn when the kids are grown, but given the cost of land there (and difficulties finding an ideal section) that may never happen. Hence why we're thinking of doing it now. and thefefore gett the most use out of it.


The problem building in PN, is when selling, you may not get as much for it, as building in Wellington. You should check to see how house prices are trending, as I don't think PN is the most desirable place to live. There are quite cheap houses and land in the Hutt, which is still very close to Wellington.You could look at building just a franchise type house, which should be a lot cheaper, and then building your forever home when you move to Wellington.

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  # 1338793 7-Jul-2015 17:55
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Swanny: Most contracts seem to have no incentive to do anything to the schedule.  I'd be talking to a lawyer about getting that added.  Our schedules were always out of date by the time the email arrived.


You can have liquidated damages in the contract to encourage completion on program. The downside of this is every change you make may require an extension of time. It will generally add to your contract price as it puts more risk, and project management costs, onto the contractor.

There are plenty of threads about this topic on geekzone but the best advice I can give you is to be super familiar with your contract and claims process. When things get sticky the contract, and any associated contract documents, will dictate how everything works, not verbal conversations or promises. Make sure the contract is very clear on what the process will be for client supplied items and how variations are valued. I work as a PM for a commercial sub contractor so deal with this sort of thing a lot. Get a schedule of rates into the contract.

There are different contracts you can use, the most common are fixed lump sum or Provisional & General + margin. P&G + margin will generally get you a better overall price than fixed lump sum but it is reliant on you or your PM to drive the contractors and keep them on track. Fixed lump sum gives you cost certainty but can cause problems on variations.

The other thing I would encourage you to do is drive the communication process with your contractors. If you aren't happy with something raise it early and document it (ie verbal + an email). The earlier you raise a problem the cheaper and easier it is to fix it. Also if you aren't happy with something don't pay for it. Dispute the claims from the contractor and give them an alternative claim value and remedial action which will cause you to pay the balance. While you have the money, you have the power. Once you pay money it can be harder to get things resolved.

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  # 1338836 7-Jul-2015 19:00
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1. Always allow more time and money than expected.
2. You can never have enough power points.
3. Always get a geotechnical report on the land.






Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then always be the Batman





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  # 1339218 8-Jul-2015 12:43
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mattwnz: The problem building in PN, is when selling, you may not get as much for it, as building in Wellington. You should check to see how house prices are trending, as I don't think PN is the most desirable place to live. There are quite cheap houses and land in the Hutt, which is still very close to Wellington.You could look at building just a franchise type house, which should be a lot cheaper, and then building your forever home when you move to Wellington.


Are you knocking my home town?! I can cope with that as it's fair enough. I don't think a standard off-the-plans build will work for us, as I have never seen one that I would be happy with without at least a moderate level of alterations, which leads to increased costs of course thus negating much of the savings from avoiding a bespoked approach. Most importantly, I don't think it would provide nearly the level of satisfaction an architecturally designed house would, and this is the main reason we are interested in building in the first place.

If it doesn't stack up now, I gues it'll have to wait a while! If so we could indeed be looking to build out in the Hutt once the kids are grown - as at least there sections can be relatively affordable and flat compared to Wgtn City (we owned a place in Waterloo prior to moving here so know the area well).

 
 
 
 


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  # 1339336 8-Jul-2015 16:02
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Handle9:
Swanny: Most contracts seem to have no incentive to do anything to the schedule.  I'd be talking to a lawyer about getting that added.  Our schedules were always out of date by the time the email arrived.


You can have liquidated damages in the contract to encourage completion on program. The downside of this is every change you make may require an extension of time. It will generally add to your contract price as it puts more risk, and project management costs, onto the contractor.
These are very uncommon for a residential build, for many of the reasons outlined. If you stipulate these in your contract you may find you won't have any builders interested in quoting for the work...

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  # 1339343 8-Jul-2015 16:18
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jonathan18:
mattwnz: The problem building in PN, is when selling, you may not get as much for it, as building in Wellington. You should check to see how house prices are trending, as I don't think PN is the most desirable place to live. There are quite cheap houses and land in the Hutt, which is still very close to Wellington.You could look at building just a franchise type house, which should be a lot cheaper, and then building your forever home when you move to Wellington.


Are you knocking my home town?! I can cope with that as it's fair enough. I don't think a standard off-the-plans build will work for us, as I have never seen one that I would be happy with without at least a moderate level of alterations, which leads to increased costs of course thus negating much of the savings from avoiding a bespoked approach.


I spent a few years living in PN myself :) Also very familiar with the Hutt, and there are pros and cons with any location. I do have abias towards Wellington, because it haseverything, and also house prices haven't really done much since the GFC, so IMO house prices are likely to go up, as people decide they don't want to pay Auckland prices, which are outrageous. If you are going the bespoke way,one way to keep the cost down is keeping it really simple, simple forms and detailing. I would also recommend having 2700mm ceiling heights in living areas, as it improves the impression of size, otherwise the rooms can fee quite claustrophobic.

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  # 1346144 17-Jul-2015 12:12
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What I should have done.

 

     

  1. When tiling, use a dark coloured grout. Much easier to clean.
  2. HWC - get something with dual elements. When just 1-2 people in use the top element. Solar can top up as required. When more people turn on bottom element.
  3. Add more storage space.
  4. Windows, get quotes for prefinished stuff, comparing apples with apples.
  5. Power in the kitchen island would have been nice.
  6. Work out costs of everything at the start, so you can spend the upgrades (door handles, taps etc) wisely, vs running out at the end.

 

What went well

 

     

  1. North facing windows. Such a winner.
  2. So many power plugs. So good.
  3. So many data ports. So good.
  4. All plumbing centralised (kitchen/bathroom etc). Short runs = fast hot water.
  5. I love the timber I used for architraves, skirting, wooden windows, exposed beams etc.
  6. Having a fire is great.

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  # 1346332 17-Jul-2015 15:35
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We've just built and moved in just prior to Christmas lol hubby says it's my christmas present lol, 


We used a plan the builders had and made changes to it and made it our plan, (they usually have someone who does their plan drawings, this usually keeps cost down or get a architect to do it more expensive). 

We allowed 4 power plugs for each bedroom (we have 3 bd), allowed telephone and TV (sky) in main bedroom and if you want TV and telephone in other bedrooms add them, decide if you want a walk in pantry or pantry cupboards, I went from pantry cupboards to walk in pantry and love it better than pantry cupboards, we have 6 power points plus phone plus TV(sky) in our lounge, 10 power plugs in our living/dining area, 2 power plugs on end of island, we have 2 in the walk in pantry plus 2 on our bench, you can never have enough power points, decide if you want downlights or fixed lights through out your home, go LED straight way, 2 or 3 car garage, we are 2 car plus workshop as due to covenant we couldn't have 3 car garaging facing the street. also do you want separate laundry or in the garage, I prefer separate laundry with cupboards in laundry and bench with cupboard underneath, I have a 3 sliding door and an 2 sliding door storage cupboards in the hallway. I have a walk through wardrobe in main bedroom and a walk in wardrobe plus a standard wardrobe in other 2 bedrooms. Decide if you want an alarm system and have Optic Fibre installed for internet. Our ensuite as a hidden toilet that you can't see so if someone is in the shower and someone is using the other toilet you can still go if needed and have privacy. 

Lots of things to pick out, paint, wallpaper if doing a feature wall, tiles if you want tiles, dark grouting is definitely much nicer, splashback (glass or tiles), carpet, blinds or curtains.  Definitely have north facing and decide if you want tinted glass or clear glass.

Just some things to consider and it's not as stressful as some say it is. 

Most of all use a reputable builder. 

Allow at least another $20,000 - $30,000 for fencing, driveway and landscaping. 

Good luck




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  # 1377960 1-Sep-2015 22:36
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I can say that I have just finished a new build (in Wellington) and can tell you some of the things I learned (or knew first and proved).

1. don't leave planning the details till later or accept ANY PC sums, get a quote for something specific. If they say "we'll allow $10K for electrical" ask EXACTLY what $10K will get you and get that in writing.

2. make sure that you can get things taken out of the contract at any time prior to the builder ordering, and find out when that will be - including the margin (standard form building contract will allow them to put a margin on items they didn't supply (deeply wrong).

3. think carefully what you are prepared to put up with when you move in

4. Get dropper pipes installed in the walls before lining (so you can easily run more wires later).

5. While you can't have too many plugs, you can put them in the wrong places.

6. Find out what sub trades will be used in the build and ask how many previous jobs they have done for your builder (also think to speak to some of their customers?)

7. meet the project manager, this is the real person you will be working with, all others up to signing the contract are just glorified sales people (you'll be lucky to ever see them again)

8. Under no circumstances - ever - for any reason- upon pain of death - sign any kind of contract until the details are sorted out (specifically point 1)

9. think very carefully before signing up - the best behaviors you will see in the whole process is what you have just seen, from here they have got you 'by the short and curlys' are you still feeling loved?

10. Nothing - but nothing- can save you from poor planning and rushing at the start, well maybe a massive budget can (like twice the amount you thought).



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  # 1378015 2-Sep-2015 07:41
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Grumpy: I can say that I have just finished a new build (in Wellington) and can tell you some of the things I learned (or knew first and proved).

1. don't leave planning the details till later or accept ANY PC sums, get a quote for something specific. If they say "we'll allow $10K for electrical" ask EXACTLY what $10K will get you and get that in writing.

2. make sure that you can get things taken out of the contract at any time prior to the builder ordering, and find out when that will be - including the margin (standard form building contract will allow them to put a margin on items they didn't supply (deeply wrong).

3. think carefully what you are prepared to put up with when you move in

4. Get dropper pipes installed in the walls before lining (so you can easily run more wires later).

5. While you can't have too many plugs, you can put them in the wrong places.

6. Find out what sub trades will be used in the build and ask how many previous jobs they have done for your builder (also think to speak to some of their customers?)

7. meet the project manager, this is the real person you will be working with, all others up to signing the contract are just glorified sales people (you'll be lucky to ever see them again)

8. Under no circumstances - ever - for any reason- upon pain of death - sign any kind of contract until the details are sorted out (specifically point 1)

9. think very carefully before signing up - the best behaviors you will see in the whole process is what you have just seen, from here they have got you 'by the short and curlys' are you still feeling loved?

10. Nothing - but nothing- can save you from poor planning and rushing at the start, well maybe a massive budget can (like twice the amount you thought).




Who did you build with? (if you don't mind me asking)

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  # 1378022 2-Sep-2015 08:09
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We built (OK - like you, had a house built) in Australia many years ago.  Based on our experience, some additional recommendations over and above some of the excellent advice already offered are:

Find your land first, then think about the plans. You will want to design the house to fit the size, shape, contour, orientation, etc. of the block.

When looking for a builder, ask them to put you in touch with some of their recent previous clients so you can see the quality of their work and talk about any issues they experienced. If the builder won't do this, it could be a bad sign.

Talk to your bank about how they will manage progress payments. Our bank in Australia sent someone out to the house each time to estimate how much work had been completed, and at one point refused to release the amount the builder had asked for, stating that the work done was less than claimed, which resulted in some serious discussions with the builder to get him to keep working.

As Delphinus and Grumpy have already said, work out the price for everything and make sure you know exactly what you're getting for that, then make sure you know what happens if you overspend or underspend. Just after we started building we saw a plumbing supplier having a massive sale, so we bought the tapware for the whole house ourselves. We then got the builder to use the money allowed for tapware in the build to upgrade electrical and light fittings.

And finally, you're either going to live in this house for a long time or want to get a good price when you sell it. Build it to the best standard you can afford and if you can't afford exactly what you want, make sure you have an upgrade path. Nothing will annoy you more than being in a brand new house and every time you turn on a tap, flick a switch, open a window, etc. thinking "I wish I had done ... instead".

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  # 1378023 2-Sep-2015 08:12
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agree with last post regarding sales, we did this with our kitchen, gas hob, oven and dishwasher, went to Kitchen and things over in Nelson when we saw they had the products we wanted on special and then haggled with our local supplier to match it


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