5 things to remember before building your house

5 things to remember before building your house

Make no mistake, building a house can be a complicated (and expensive) endeavour, especially for first timers.

So before you start putting up walls and such, make sure you’ve covered off these 5 essential things.


1. Always use experts

Building a home is likely to be one of the largest purchases you will make in your life-time, so it is highly recommended that you seek the help of professionals to ensure your project goes as smooth as possible.

First on the list of experts should be a lawyer who can cut through the jargon in a contract to ensure you understand the commitment you are making. A good property lawyer will act in your interests to avoid costly mistakes and make the transaction as seamless as possible.

Similarly, a lending specialist can help you work out the best options for your individual circumstances, especially what you can afford to spend on your build in the early stages, and to make sure you are able to stick to your budget.

You may have to make sacrifices, as there will be additional costs that you will need to be aware of and budget for.


2. Manage your expectations around costs

Before you begin, look at potential cost overruns and variations to costs, and when payment for these is likely to be requested.

Allow at least 10% of your Building Contract price for cost overruns, unforeseen costs, or changes to the plan – you are likely to need it.

If your wants are more than your means, there are things you can do to save money:

  •     Work out what build jobs you can do yourself; however, unless you are good at DIY, it can sometimes be cheaper (and faster) to get a tradesperson. Please note, some work must by law be done by a qualified tradesperson.

  •     Reduce the size of your project – instead of a 200m2 house, perhaps you can live with a 180m2 project. You may be able to save on engineering costs, too, if building smaller.

  •     Using more cost effective (but still quality) materials – switching to cheaper carpet, wooden floors and tiles, wallpaper and paint, and using fewer bathroom or kitchen tiles where possible can all help bring down the cost. Discuss your options with your designer and builder first.


3. Plan, plan, plan

Make sure you plan everything that will be in the house prior to the contract being done, as any variations can become costly after this stage.

The time the project takes will be affected by the availability of the builder and sub-contractors. Weather and sometimes the availability of materials specified can also cause delays. It’s a good idea to allow for this, and accept that delays will most likely happen. Make sure you keep in contact with the builders regularly, that way you’ll be across any issues that may arise.

A good relationship with your builder can be the difference between work going smoothly or otherwise. Ensure lines of communication are regular, clear, and courteous.

Remember, you have project managers and specialists who have been through this process before, use them and get advice to help you through your build.


4. Know your rights

It’s important to know your rights when building your home.

There are laws governing particular works that must happen when undertaking work over a certain value, plus there are ways to protect yourself, and your new home that are worth knowing.

For more information, check out the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employments guide. Hard copies can also be picked up from your local Westpac NZ branch.


5. Keep the funding simple

Have one point of contact for the funding of the build, someone who is experienced and understands the stress and strains that may crop up from time to time.

This helps streamline the financing process, ensuring that your builder is paid promptly and on time, and makes sure you understand your financial obligations throughout the building process.

Find a Westpac Construction Lending Specialist

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