5 key stages of building your home

You’re about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new home, whether it’s a new build or a renovation. You can choose to leave everything to your designer, builder, project manager and/or council inspector, but if you want to ensure your build goes as smoothly as possible it can be a good idea to involve yourself in the process.

Here are the 5 key stages of building your home, and what you need to be on top of in each of them.

1. Homeowner responsibilities

  • Get building consent before starting a building project
  • Get a resource consent if the council requires one – council planners can advise if you’re unsure on this
  • Employ competent designers, builders and tradespeople
  • Get an amendment to the building consent if changes are to be made to the approved building consent and documentation
  • Ensure that all required inspections are booked at the appropriate stages of the building project and that any issues identified in these inspections are addressed
  • Ensure easements and covenants on the title are complied with
  • Apply for a Code Compliance Certificate when the building work is done – this must be within two years of the building consent being granted. You can apply extension of time but this must be before the two years is up
  • Maintain your house

2. Before work begins

  • Make sure resource consent (if required) and building consent has been issued 
  • Make sure that you understand all the documentation – have the architect or builder explain the plans and specifications to you and make sure you are happy with the design as changes during construction are likely to be costly
  • Talk to a lawyer about the contract. You don’t have to take the one your builder is offering
  • Ensure that the site is cleared and ready for the builder to start work
  • Make sure your builder has unhindered access to the site

Interior swatches

3. While work is in progress

  • Develop a good working relationship with your builder
  • If you have any concerns about the work, discuss them right away
  • Keep changes to a minimum and instruct your builder in writing about all variations to the specified work and ensure you get a written costing
  • Be aware any changes you make may mean you have to amend your building consent. Choose materials and finishes carefully and approve them before use
  • If you are responsible for choosing the appliances and any other materials or fittings and fixtures, make sure they are already bought when the builder reaches that stage
  • Keep to the payments schedule and pay promptly. Ensure your architect or architectural designer is involved throughout

4. When the work is complete

  • Report any urgent defects to your builder promptly and in writing
  • List any non-urgent defects for your builder to correct at an agreed time
  • Often some funds are retained until work is completed satisfactorily but only with the understanding and agreement of the project manager as agreed in the contract
  • Settle the final account promptly
  • It is your responsibility to apply for a Code Compliance Certificate when the building work is complete

5. Changes to Plans During Work

Try to avoid these as much as possible as changes are most probably going to cost you time and money. Changes to the plans may require an amendment to the building consent to cover those changes and even if this is not required, depending on the scope of the change to the plan you may wish to get changes specified in writing and to record discussions and agreements, especially with regards to cost.

This article first appeared in the New Zealand Building Guide. Read more about building your dream home at buildingguide.co.nz. 

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