Thinking about building a new home can be exciting, scary, bewildering and confusing. Taking that first step to talk to someone is often the hardest part.  The easiest way forward is to find a builder who can answer your burning questions.

One question you want answered is “How much is it going to cost?”.  It’s a fair question but not easy due to the huge number of variables.  So, we thought we might shed some light on this, and what you can do to help.


Know Your Priorities and Set Your Budget.

A plan range, or a custom design, is not the first thing you consider.  It’s your priorities and setting your budget.  

There is little point wasting time and energy, and getting disappointed, pursuing an avenue which you cannot afford, or doesn’t get you close to the house you want or need.  Knowing your budget will provide some direction when looking at plans, but it can also enable you to start a discussion on a design build process for your own custom home.

If you know your budget, a reputable design build team will be able to design your own custom home to your requirements (priorities) and to your budget!

The trick here is to get the right team.  A builder and designer working together from the start is your best bet as a designer working independently from a builder does not have the same level of access to knowledge on building practicalities, cost of materials and labour requirements to achieve their design.

The builder designer team also has more vested interest to get it within budget for the client.

You can use ideas from plans, your own sketches, or simply provide a checklist of your wants/needs, including what you don’t want.  With any budget there may be compromises, so it’s important to know what you are prepared to compromise on.


More about priorities and your needs!

A base plan price for the entry level market, or a lower quality home, is not going to be the same as the plan price for a similar size home from a company specialising in building to a higher specification, or a specialist builder.    An important point, therefore, is to figure out what sort of build you want and what sort of builder you want to build your home.

Do you want it built to meet, or exceed, our minimum building code?  As a company that promotes healthier energy efficient homes it is important to discuss where your priorities lay so this can be factored into the design and the budget.  

A home built to a higher specification, or built to a higher energy efficient & performance standard will cost more than the same size home built to the minimum building code.  Size of home is also important to establish –  ask yourself if that extra bedroom & bathroom are essential, or would you rather invest in quality and higher spec materials?

Once this is established you can search companies who build the sort of house you want, and offer the service you want.  This will certainly provide a much better guide, saving you time, and potentially money and stress if the wrong builder is brought in.

If you are looking at plans for guidance ask about the inclusions and the level of quality.  Also clarify what the terminology means.  If there is no list of inclusions what is their price based upon?

Price guides as guidance

A plan range can be a good starting point as it provides an indication of what could be within your price range.

Some companies do house & land packages or have plans at a set price for a specific set of inclusions, that can be changed at an additional cost.  Other builders, like ourselves, build to our client’s unique needs & priorities, and to their budget.  A price guide is used, not only for inspiration, but homeowners find this useful to provide confidence to move forward with their build plans, and then the design build team can then work with them to achieve a home either based upon a particular plan or start from scratch, but to a budget.  There is nothing wrong with either, each has its place and its market.


If you choose to build from a set plan with a set price near in mind that inclusions and level of quality will vary widely between building companies which is important when comparing plans and establishing if something you like is within your budget.  


What No Plan Range or Price Guide Will Tell You

Consider below ground costs.  Unless it is a house & land package, these will be added as an allowance.  Until engineering has been completed, and in some cases work is underway, the actual work required, and therefore the costs won’t be known.  These costs can be significant in areas such as Christchurch due to earthquake zoning and flood plains.  Seek builders that have experience building in these areas as they are more likely to have both the skills and knowledge about potential requirements on more complex builds.

In summary, what people want is a realistic answer to the cost question as fast as possible without spending too much money on designs.  So, whilst square meter rates and set prices are rarely used these days, what can be used successfully is your budget.

The industry has moved a long way from those days when budget was held closely to your chest.  If a Design Build team know your budget, together you can achieve the best outcome for your lifestyle and family, that meets your unique priorities within your budget.  Builders can be transparent with their contract, build costs and variations.  They can also work to an agreed margin, and agree that no changes or additions to the work are undertaken without written consent.

So whilst plans are great for ideas and a rough guide as to what you might afford it’s generally the discussions with the designer and builder that really give you the house you want, that is unique to you and your needs.

To take a look at our plan range and request our free price guide