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3216 posts

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  #2412936 5-Feb-2020 11:41
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We're in the process of building at the moment, wall framing is being fixed in place as we speak.

 

As a first time home builder it's a steep learning curve, and just when you think everything is sorted you'll think of something else, or a better way of having something, or you'll get a bunch of questions from the building company you'd never even considered.

 

Once you have a floor plan you are happy with, sit on it for a few weeks. It's amazing what improvements you come up with even when you initially thought it was exactly what you wanted. If you can spend a couple of weeks without seeing anything that can be improved, then you're probably OK to take it to the next step.

 

Everyone will have a different opinion on your chosen design, just remember that not everyone needs to love it - as long as you and your family does. So I won't give advice on the actual plan.

 

Be wary about doing too much stuff solely for future resale appeal (unless you know you will be selling within a few years). But this has to me tempered with not doing anything that would be extremely off-putting to any future buyer. It's a bit of a balancing act.

 

You will get a lot of advice (especially here on Geekzone) about things you should upgrade. Much of it will be along the lines of "if I was building I'd definitely...". Not all of this advice will be coming from people who have built, or who know how much these things will cost. Most of these suggestion will certainly improve your house, but they all come with a price tag. Most upgrades on their own don't cost much, but once added up might add $50,000 or more to your build price. When we started the process I thought we'd be able to do all these things, but we just haven't been able to.

 

Get a very clear understanding of what decisions you need to make, and at what stage of the process they need to be made by. And be prepared that there will be way more decisions to make than you expected.

 

For what it's worth here are some of the upgrades that we felt we could justify; either because we felt they should eventually pay for themselves, or they were just something we really wanted. If it's beneficial I can give you the prices we were quoted on some of these if you flick me a PM (we didn't get everything quoted, as we reached the limit of our budget and didn't even consider some of them):

 

  • Ducted heat pump and heat recovery fresh air ventilation. 6 zones with electronic baffles and wireless temperature sensors in each zone.
  • Excel Low E glass
  • Laminated glass
  • Thermally broken aluminium joinery
  • R2.8 insulation in 90mm external walls (including garage) and between garage and house, R4.0 in 140mm external walls. Garage door was already insulated as standard.
  • R6.0 insulation in ceiling (including garage)
  • Higher efficiency gas califont for water heating
  • Kitchen and laundry went a good amount over PC sums.

What we didn't upgrade:

 

  • Change all external walls to 140mm to allow R4.0 around entire perimeter (we were approaching the maximum site coverage already, so didn't even get this priced as it would have pushed us over)
  • Any thermal improvements to the RibRaft foundation, such as thermal edging.
  • Additional membranes etc to make house more airtight.
  • LVL framing
  • Tiling or laminate flooring in kitchen,toilet,laundry, and bathroom (we are tiling the ensuite floor and ensuite shower, but all other hard floor locations are vinyl planking).
  • Under tile heating in ensuite
  • Garage carpet
  • Door/window architraves
  • Higher skirtings
  • Higher stud (although we do have a higher ceiling in entrance, and a vaulted ceiling in living/dining)
  • Overheight doors throughout
  • Profiled doors

 

 

 


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  #2412960 5-Feb-2020 11:52
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Paul1977: We're in the process of building at the moment...

 

Snap!

 

I think we're a little ahead of you. And from your list of upgrades, it sounds like the same house too!

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 


3216 posts

Uber Geek


  #2412970 5-Feb-2020 12:05
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I should add that most building companies probably won't suggest a lot of the upgrades mentioned on Geekzone forums because they want their price to appear as low as possible. And I suspect (but don't know) that the initial sales/design consultants at most building companies won't know all the technical ins and outs of many of these sorts of upgrades.

 

You'll probably need to do your own research and specifically ask about anything you want to upgrade in this respect.


3216 posts

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  #2412971 5-Feb-2020 12:06
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rogercruse:

 

Paul1977: We're in the process of building at the moment...

 

Snap!

 

I think we're a little ahead of you. And from your list of upgrades, it sounds like the same house too!

 

 

Sounds like a pretty great house you're building then!


1056 posts

Uber Geek


  #2413012 5-Feb-2020 12:41
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Paul1977:

 

I should add that most building companies probably won't suggest a lot of the upgrades mentioned on Geekzone forums because they want their price to appear as low as possible. And I suspect (but don't know) that the initial sales/design consultants at most building companies won't know all the technical ins and outs of many of these sorts of upgrades.

 

You'll probably need to do your own research and specifically ask about anything you want to upgrade in this respect.

 

 

 

 

Quite right.  To be honest, if you're building a family home and want something a modicum more than bog-standard, I really have no clue why you'd use a showhome company.  When I was building I had 3 friends building at the same time, and the 2 that used show home companies had a litany of issues, with everything from not being able to access the site to having the wrong underlay installed and then having all the carpet ripped up to fix, shower waste pipes from the wrong plan put in, leaking showers, and landscaping pricing mysteriously increasing by 50% when they complained.

 

You're much better off getting a builder who you click with - the price they charge certainly does matter, but you need someone you can trust for when things go sideways (and they will - it's just a matter of how much).  You pay them to manage all the subbies, and they put a small markup on those prices too to cover the backwards and forwards with them.  Most builders have a core of trusted subbies too (plumber/electrician/gibstopper) that they work with all the time, so favours get called in and things prioritised.

 

Really, building is just making 10,000 decisions - if you're organised, and have a clear vision for what you're trying to do, you don't need a glossy company helping you through the process.


3216 posts

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  #2413052 5-Feb-2020 13:47
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nofam:

 

Quite right.  To be honest, if you're building a family home and want something a modicum more than bog-standard, I really have no clue why you'd use a showhome company.  When I was building I had 3 friends building at the same time, and the 2 that used show home companies had a litany of issues, with everything from not being able to access the site to having the wrong underlay installed and then having all the carpet ripped up to fix, shower waste pipes from the wrong plan put in, leaking showers, and landscaping pricing mysteriously increasing by 50% when they complained.

 

You're much better off getting a builder who you click with - the price they charge certainly does matter, but you need someone you can trust for when things go sideways (and they will - it's just a matter of how much).  You pay them to manage all the subbies, and they put a small markup on those prices too to cover the backwards and forwards with them.  Most builders have a core of trusted subbies too (plumber/electrician/gibstopper) that they work with all the time, so favours get called in and things prioritised.

 

Really, building is just making 10,000 decisions - if you're organised, and have a clear vision for what you're trying to do, you don't need a glossy company helping you through the process.

 

 

In fairness, I'm sure it depends a lot on the building company and you probably shouldn't paint them all with the same brush. Most people who I know who have built have used building companies and have been pretty pleased for the most part. So your friends experiences might not be norm.

 

We'd never built before, and we wouldn't have known where to start with finding an independent builder so we went with a building company. Ours is a bespoke design and not at all based off one of their standard plans, and we have friends who have built with this company twice before and have been really pleased both times.

 

If we did it again would we go through a company or direct with an independent builder? Ask me in 6 months!


1056 posts

Uber Geek


  #2413059 5-Feb-2020 14:03
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Paul1977:

 

nofam:

 

Quite right.  To be honest, if you're building a family home and want something a modicum more than bog-standard, I really have no clue why you'd use a showhome company.  When I was building I had 3 friends building at the same time, and the 2 that used show home companies had a litany of issues, with everything from not being able to access the site to having the wrong underlay installed and then having all the carpet ripped up to fix, shower waste pipes from the wrong plan put in, leaking showers, and landscaping pricing mysteriously increasing by 50% when they complained.

 

You're much better off getting a builder who you click with - the price they charge certainly does matter, but you need someone you can trust for when things go sideways (and they will - it's just a matter of how much).  You pay them to manage all the subbies, and they put a small markup on those prices too to cover the backwards and forwards with them.  Most builders have a core of trusted subbies too (plumber/electrician/gibstopper) that they work with all the time, so favours get called in and things prioritised.

 

Really, building is just making 10,000 decisions - if you're organised, and have a clear vision for what you're trying to do, you don't need a glossy company helping you through the process.

 

 

In fairness, I'm sure it depends a lot on the building company and you probably shouldn't paint them all with the same brush. Most people who I know who have built have used building companies and have been pretty pleased for the most part. So your friends experiences might not be norm.

 

We'd never built before, and we wouldn't have known where to start with finding an independent builder so we went with a building company. Ours is a bespoke design and not at all based off one of their standard plans, and we have friends who have built with this company twice before and have been really pleased both times.

 

If we did it again would we go through a company or direct with an independent builder? Ask me in 6 months!

 

 

 

 

Fair call.  I guess my main issue with them is that they often portray themselves as being better/cheaper.  I did actually get quotes from a couple of companies (not the ones that I'd heard issues with), and they were competitive, but no cheaper, and I just felt they made you too remote from the process.  My builder was a 4-man team, who I saw every day and that closeness is what helped us get through the process with minimal pain.

 

 


 
 
 
 


neb

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  #2413064 5-Feb-2020 14:14
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Paul1977:

R2.8 insulation in 90mm external walls (including garage) and between garage and house, R4.0 in 140mm external walls. Garage door was already insulated as standard. R6.0 insulation in ceiling (including garage)

 

 

You live in the Auckland Islands? I didn't know they were inhabited.

3216 posts

Uber Geek


  #2413074 5-Feb-2020 14:54
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neb:
Paul1977:

 

R2.8 insulation in 90mm external walls (including garage) and between garage and house, R4.0 in 140mm external walls. Garage door was already insulated as standard. R6.0 insulation in ceiling (including garage)

 

 

You live in the Auckland Islands? I didn't know they were inhabited.

 

Christchurch, but it can get pretty cold here!


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  #2413153 5-Feb-2020 16:09
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We ended up with standard double glazing with argon gas and green tint. Thermally broken joinery was an extra $6.5k but due to miscommunication between the builder ad joiner, when we went to order thermally broken joinery, the delay of extra 3 weeks for thermal joinery specifically was not going to work out with the build plans timelines so settled for architectural suite joinery.

 

 

We did not go with low-e as I read through the below guide from metro glass themselves and the green tint on standard double glaze is between 85% to 90% specs of the Excel low-e glass. We specifically went with green tint because out of the three tint options, this also provides the most daylight coming into the rooms. Low-e excel was quote at $6k and green tint was $1500.

 

 

https://www.metroglass.co.nz/media/2111/mpg-low-e-residential-technical-specifications-sheet.pdf




Do whatever you want to do man.

  

1113 posts

Uber Geek


  #2413375 5-Feb-2020 23:17
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R2.8 insulation in 90mm external walls (including garage) and between garage and house, R4.0 in 140mm external walls. Garage door was already insulated as standard.

 

Builders usually use under R2.6 insulation so I'd want to be on site to make sure of what's going in because if there's any miscommunication there'll be R2.5 going in there and the lay person can't tell the difference. 

 

I'd put insulation in the internal walls too (acoustics) though it'd be a big cost saver to use R2.2 over R2.8 there. 

 

It is possible to go above R2.8 in a 9cm cavity but it requires more exotic insulation products than standard batts. 

 

Tiling or laminate flooring in kitchen,toilet,laundry, and bathroom (we are tiling the ensuite floor and ensuite shower, but all other hard floor locations are vinyl planking).

 

Tiling reflects instead of dampening noises so they're not something I'd put in a laundry under a drier and washing machine after having experienced the difference versus lino. Tiles are very durable but they have their downsides. I'd go for vinyl planking over tiles. 

 

Under tile heating in ensuite

 

I don't think it's something you'll miss unless the house is colder than it should be.

 

Few of the franchise building companies have any discussion of technical details on their websites. Building companies like most of their customers are concerned with price and fashionability not comfort. 

 

leaking showers

 

Statistically 70% of tiled showers in New Zealand leak. They shouldn't leak but they're particularly sensitive to installation techique.

 

 

 

Green tint reduces the solar heat gain factor (SHGF / SHFC) but it doesn't provide any increase in insulation (R value). Low e glass like XCel does reduce SHGF versus plain glass but it also increases the glazing units' R value. Real world an XCel IGU would lose 1/3 less heat over the window than a standard IGU with tint with both in solid aluminium frames assuming modest sized windows (solid aluminium gives less of a thermal penalty on large windows). SHGF is 62% for the XCel versus 54% for the green tint IGU. SHGF is influential on winter warmth as a higher value lets in more heat. 

 

There are low e glasses with the insulation value of XCel but better SHGF reduction than green tinting alone like Metroglass Xtreme and Viridian PerformaTech 206.

 

Ideally summer overheating should be prevented by awnings or shutters external to the glass. 


neb

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  #2413382 6-Feb-2020 00:22
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bfginger:

I'd put insulation in the internal walls too (acoustics) though it'd be a big cost saver to use R2.2 over R2.8 there. 

 

 

Even if you put it nowhere else, put the best sound insulation you can between the general bathroom and bedroom 3. The last thing someone sleeping in there wants to hear is BA-WOOOSH!!! at 3 in the morning.

 

 

Possibly around the laundry area as well, and a thicker concrete slab beneath so a washer/dryer on spin cycle doesn't shake half the house.

3216 posts

Uber Geek


  #2413445 6-Feb-2020 09:20
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Sorry to have somewhat hijacked the thread, but I hope this info is all helpful to the OP. I think it will be, as the sooner they look into these options so they can make informed decisions the better.


bfginger:


Builders usually use under R2.6 insulation so I'd want to be on site to make sure of what's going in because if there's any miscommunication there'll be R2.5 going in there and the lay person can't tell the difference. 


I'd put insulation in the internal walls too (acoustics) though it'd be a big cost saver to use R2.2 over R2.8 there. 


It is possible to go above R2.8 in a 9cm cavity but it requires more exotic insulation products than standard batts.


I'll definitely be checking the insulation is the correct R value of the wall batts - even if it means checking the discarded bags in the skip! But you couldn't mistake a R3.6 ceiling batt for an R6.0 - there is quite a difference in thickness. The builder we've been assigned seems very on to it, so I'm quite sure if the wrong stuff arrived he'd notice before installing it any way.


Current plan is to stick Earth Wool into at least some of the internal walls ourselves before the gib goes up.


Anything other than standard batts for the 90mm walls was just getting too "out of the box", so we didn't really even look into it.


bfginger:


Tiling reflects instead of dampening noises so they're not something I'd put in a laundry under a drier and washing machine after having experienced the difference versus lino. Tiles are very durable but they have their downsides. I'd go for vinyl planking over tiles.


Yeah, we're more than happy with vinyl planking for just about all of it. But a large tiled shower is something I've always wanted, and cosmetically it would look odd to have a tiled shower and the rest of the ensuite vinyl planking. And for all the downsides, tiles do have a far more luxurious look.


bfginger:


Under tile heating in ensuite


I don't think it's something you'll miss unless the house is colder than it should be.


With the extra we're spending on insulation, windows, and heating.... the house better not be colder than it should be!


bfginger:


Building companies like most of their customers are concerned with price and fashionability not comfort.


And in that regard I guess they are just meeting what the market is asking for. I think the consumer needs to think more long term, but whose job is it to educate them? Much of what are considered upgrades now I believe will be the norm in 10 years. The joinery company was telling us that Housing NZ are putting thermally broken joinery into new state houses now (not sure about Low E), yet the norm for most people having a house built is non-thermal and plain glass.


bfginger:


Statistically 70% of tiled showers in New Zealand leak. They shouldn't leak but they're particularly sensitive to installation techique.


What can you do except rely on your plumber and tiler for this and hope they do a good job?


bfginger:


Green tint reduces the solar heat gain factor (SHGF / SHFC) but it doesn't provide any increase in insulation (R value). Low e glass like XCel does reduce SHGF versus plain glass but it also increases the glazing units' R value. Real world an XCel IGU would lose 1/3 less heat over the window than a standard IGU with tint with both in solid aluminium frames assuming modest sized windows (solid aluminium gives less of a thermal penalty on large windows). SHGF is 62% for the XCel versus 54% for the green tint IGU. SHGF is influential on winter warmth as a higher value lets in more heat. 


There are low e glasses with the insulation value of XCel but better SHGF reduction than green tinting alone like Metroglass Xtreme and Viridian PerformaTech 206.


Ideally summer overheating should be prevented by awnings or shutters external to the glass.


That was my understanding in regards to R values and insulation, but I hadn't actually realised that untinted Excel was almost as good as tinted standard glass for reducing SHGF; so thanks for that. I should have known, I've looked at the specs enough!


We didn't look at Xtreme as we don't anticipate SHGF to be an issue and I understand that it is Xtremely (haha) expensive.


3216 posts

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  #2413447 6-Feb-2020 09:26
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neb:

 

Even if you put it nowhere else, put the best sound insulation you can between the general bathroom and bedroom 3. The last thing someone sleeping in there wants to hear is BA-WOOOSH!!! at 3 in the morning. Possibly around the laundry area as well, and a thicker concrete slab beneath so a washer/dryer on spin cycle doesn't shake half the house.

 

You can also get noiseline gib, which works in much the same way a laminated glass does in reducing noise. But note that if you specify noiseline gib for a room, it will generally only be installed on one side of the wall unless you ask otherwise. I assume that the best noise reduction would result from having noiseline gib on both sides of the wall and batts in between - that's what we are planning for our media room.


neb

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  #2413759 6-Feb-2020 17:29
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Does anyone have any real-world experience with noiseline? The literature for that seems to have been prepared with the explicit goal of never under any costs revealing what level of sound reduction you can expect, unless you know how to interpret STC values and know that you're unlikely to encounter the various exotic wall types (with better performance) that they list first. Once you go to the 100+ page installation manual and work your way down, the difference between standard and noiseline is barely noticeable, and you get better performance from double gib or 13mm gib than (expensive) noiseline. Comparing against batts isn't really possible because they used different testing methods, e.g. the gib figure for a hollow-core timber-framed wall is STC 39 while the pink-batts figure is STC 36. We were going to go for double gib + batts in the walls where it mattered.

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