Monday, 14 May 2018

Building in NZ - From contract to build

 So you've agreed on the price for the shell with your builder. Remember that unless it is a turnkey house and land package you will have other significant costs such as driveway hard landscaping, soft landscaping, window treatments, TV aerials, outside lighting options,  fencing, special indoor lighting that is not downlights, a hearth for your logfire, other interior decor items which may include mirrors and splashbacks, upholstery, furniture. While the total house build as quoted by your builder may seem OK you must contend with PC sums not covering the true costs, as well as the aforementioned essential stuff you will need which is not handled by your builder. These other costs are where it gets scarey.

 Not very timely communication from your builder will add to your stress. If you are unemployed, like me, a week or more of no communication of progress or answers to your written emails could result in sleepless nights. I found that good communication prior to signing the contract diminished once the contract was signed. Your sales rep will have handed things over to the office from now on.

Now you have to wait for your builder to get all the consent documentation together. That includes identifying any problems with the site (they should request a PIM Project Information Memorandum), and the working drawings done by an architect, engineering stuff. Your builder needs to know specific requirements for the relevant council building consent processes. Each council is different in what they want.

I was told this process would take 4 weeks, as I signed the contract. Then I was told 4-5 weeks. So far I have been waiting two months. Apparently there is no connected stormwater in Rolleston (poor environmental management by Selwyn DC and primitive in my opinion, lacks vision) so you have to use a soakpit. The PIM says mine must be more than 5 metres deep. Good grief and that seems to be posing an engineering problem. Hardly an unusual problem in Rolleston I would have thought but the main Faringdon sewer which is 3.5m deep runs across the easement on my section. And so I wait for news while my rent rapidly reduces the money available for my new house. I wonder how my new neigbour, who must have the same stormwater problems but is actually building, solved the engineering problem. So I'm waiting for the consent application. After that it may take a month to go through the consenting process before I can start building. Winter... agghhh! Not ideal.

You visit the suppliers used by your builder. This helps communication (in theory) and sometimes it's fun choosing what you want though most of us get a limited choice because of weak PC sums that make the build cost 'look' more reasonable for our budgets. It's a juggling act between your builder, their suppliers and you as to how to give you close to what you want, close to your budget.
Warning: Too often prices are quoted without GST. Then you get the real bill. Awful.

You will visit:
  • The heat pump supplier
  • the logfire supplier
  • the tile supplier for bathrooms etc
  • The flooring specialist for carpet and hard flooring
  • The interior designer to determine exterior and interior colour schemes
  • The kitchen manufacturer.
This later is key. You choose the layout, door profiles, confirm appliances, handles and knobs, lighting, storage types, sink types, pantry types. Your space and budget will definitely limit what you can do. They may also be supplying your wardrobes, laundry cabinetry and other similar stuff.

Landmark Homes have given me free consultations with an interior designer for my interior/exterior paint choices. The designers can also be useful in getting window treatment quotes that help personalise your new home. They can also project manage the installation. This can prove worthwhile as they get their revenue from a margin from the suppliers they use.

Landmark also gave me a free consultation with a landscape designer but I had to pay over $740 for the plan. The plan is required to get consent from the developer. I designed the garden layout and plantings myself but lacked the software to produce a professional plan. You must factor this cost in.

What else I have done while waiting:
  • Found someone who could build me a fibrous plaster fire-proof fire-surround for my logfire to give the room a traditional look of a mantlepiece. Quote will have to wait until I have working drawings
  • Purchased bedlinen that works with my colour choices
  • Purchased some living room curtain material of sprigged flowers which was being deleted in the UK. The only fabric that could give me the French country look I want. Excellent service from Millers Homeworld Christchurch. The indent orders took only one week to arrive from the UK.
  • Visited trellis suppliers to see what my options are
  • Took advantage of free instore consultations with Resene colour specialists

  • Decided on my interior lighting plan. This will need to be confirmed with the electrician when we do a walk-through once the walls are up. 
  • Checked out fence stain colours (Mitre 10 Mega is my second home) and types of lawn
  • Sourced an ornate framed mirror for the bathroom which could be treated against dampness and wired with a demister
  • Purchased some chandeliers in a French style (not easy to find, even online). Any lighting you buy must have a certificate stating it complies to NZ standards or your builder's electrician will refuse to install it.
  • Trying to find other essential but inexpensive items via Salvation Army but so far nothing useful there.
Current challenges: Posting my old brass 5 candle chandelier from France to a company in Auckland who can rewire it and supply compliance documentation. Jean-Claude said not to waste money on it but for me it's sentimental, having come from my bedroom in France and it's the real macoy.
The other is trying to repaint a modern version of a French style chandelier. It came only in black. Ghastly; too harsh and industrial for my soft decor so am trying to get a guy to repaint it in an antique style with softer colours. He hasn't got the hang of that yet. It looks pretty awful at present but at least it is not black.