RESIDENTIAL BUILDING GUIDE

The following are the key steps to a successful build project:

1. Decide what you like and scope your project

Deciding what you want is never easy. Most people have a clear idea of what they don't like but find it hard to specify an exact preference. For most people, budget is an important deciding factor so getting familiar with the cost of things is also a good idea. Many people start off by cutting pictures out of magazines; they go to show homes, open homes, plumbing merchants, kitchen suppliers etc and talk to their friends and family about their experience of living with a certain layout or choice of various items such as flooring, roofing, kitchen etc.

Make a list of your wants and needs (must haves and nice to haves). Be prepared to compromise and don't be surprised if you end-up changing your mind several times. Just ensure that you don't change your mind about important design issues after the building consent is issued because variations from the consented plan could lead to delays in getting the work signed off.

This is also a good stage to find out if there are any restrictions associated to your site such as protected trees, heritage restrictions, earthworks etc that may affect budget and design.

Finally, you need to decide how much, if any, of the work is going to be done by you; e.g. do you have the time and expertise to project manage the job on a daily basis?

2. Consider your budget & organize finance

Most people underestimate the cost of their dream home. Architects and builders are able to advise you on some rule-of-thumb figures. Don't forget to shop around for finance and consider different options.

The biggest fear for most people when building is 'the fear of blowing the budget'.  Miles Construction have systems and processes in place to ensure the client is informed of their project costs with early estimates and cost alternatives being discussed throughout the design process.  It is important at the outset that you are comfortable the builder has included all items in your quote and there are not too many PC sums.

Also, be sure to know the difference between an estimate, which is only an approximation, and a written quote, which is an explicit promise. Quotes should be received in writing.

3. Get your plans drawn up

It is very much the case of horses for courses here. You have the option of choosing between a registered architect, a designer or a draftsperson.

Architects are professionally trained and experienced to add a design dimension to your ideas. They carefully consider functionality as well as form and are able to introduce you to some exciting possibilities and ideas.

Most architects have a preferred style, which is reflected in the majority of their work. If you have a definite style in mind e.g., Modern, Spanish Mansion, Arts & Crafts etc, it might pay to seek out an architect who shares your preference and understands your preferred style.

If there is minimal design input involved in your project or you have a clear brief in mind, then a draftsperson will be a considerably cheaper option than an architect.

A designer falls somewhere between an architect and a draftsperson in their professional ability and the price they charge. A talented and experienced designer can be a very cost effective option. Do your research. Ask several trusted builders or project managers and they should be able to name a few designers whose plans they find detailed and well drawn. Also ask for a portfolio of their previous work and whether they belong to a professional body.

For those clients who are using external designers, we encourage them to get us involved in the design at an early stage.  This way cost effective solutions are designed from the start, saving clients time and money.

Your architect or designer will first produce a concept plan for you to consider and work through. After a concept plan is agreed, the working drawings will be produced.

With in-house architectural designers, Miles Construction offer a comprehensive 'Design and Build' service to all of our new build clients.

Our team has the talent and expertise to turn your dreams into reality.  By working with your ideas and developing these together, we can help you create a home that suits your lifestyle and is uniquely yours.

And more importantly, because we are a 'Boutique Building Company' comprising a Design Team, Quantity Survey Team and Project Managers, we will ensure you don't 'blow your budget!'.  This is achieved by costing your plan at various stages during the design process.

4. Choose your builder

A bad builder could mean endless hassles and delays and, worst of all, sub-standard quality and workmanship. Choose carefully and consider the following options:

Elite builders
There are some elite builders in Christchurch who have a good reputation for delivering a quality build and providing good customer service. A well-known builder normally works closely with a reputable architect. Both groups charge high-end fees. If money is not an issue for you, and you need the added prestige of a well-known name in order to brand or market your project, then the above option is a good choice for you. You will be a little lighter in your pocket but won't be disappointed.

Big companies
Then there is your average big company. Many big building companies out there are franchisees who pay a 2% to 3% franchise fee to the franchisor. The extra cost of the franchise is built into each signed contract along with the sales person's considerable commission and other overheads associated with running a big company (marketing costs, show homes, increased admin etc). Many people are happy to pay more for the assurance and peace of mind that big brands provide. However, bear in mind that a job can only be as good as its builder. Get to know your builder and project manager and be satisfied that you are at ease in their company and can communicate freely with them.

In general, when it comes to big building companies, some are average, some are better, and most offer competitive prices but you will always be a small fish in a big pond and with too many fish to look after, it is possible to lose track of the ones who go swimming the wrong way.

Small companies
Do your research, find yourself a good small building company and be a big fish. A well-managed, well-connected, smaller company can save you the costs associated with running a large company whilst having the same bulk buying power of materials and access to suppliers as a big company.

Individual Builders
An individual reputable builder is another good option. Just make sure that you are not losing out on bulk buying and deal making powers of established companies and bear in mind that, unless you have the time and expertise to manage the project yourself, there will be no one to oversee the process and check for quality.

Miles Construction
The majority of Miles Construction's work is centered on building residential homes.  Our clients can expect to receive extra value over and above the simple delivery of their projects.  We achieve this by clear communication from the initial enquiry phase to the handover and by going beyond the scope of our work to achieve the best outcome for our clients.  All  our architectural projects are supported by a Senior Project Manager and are carried out under the close supervision of an experienced Foreman.

5. Decide on the contract

There are three basic types of contract:

  • Labour only (the builder supplies the labour, everything else is supplied by you the client).
  • Managed contract (the builder manages the project and the subtrades such as plumbers and roofers, but doesn't supply the materials).
  • Full contract (everything is managed by the builder).

Whichever type of contract you choose, ensure that it includes details of payment schedules, completion dates and details of all the guarantees offered (if any) such as the one offered by Master Builders.

6. Obtain Building and Resource Consent

Your builder/ project manager/ designer will gather all the documentation necessary to prepare your building consent application and will ensure that, if required, a resource consent and any other permits are obtained and paid for. If possible, it's best to avoid the need for a resource consent as they require all affected parties to consent. This can be a time consuming and frustrating exercise for the client, with an uncertain end result.

Building Consent Authorities (BCA) are required to issue or refuse a building consent within 20 working days of submission provided that all the required information and documentation has been submitted. If additional information is required by the BCA then the 20 working day period is suspended until the required information is received. Any changes after the issue of the building consent will require an amendment to be applied for to the BCA (this can cause delays to the programme and completion date so it is important to try and get the application document correct and avoid changes to building material/layout).

7. Start Construction

Collect energy work certificates for electrical and gas work as the relevant works are finished. Back to top

Your project manager should monitor the works and keep you informed of the progress. You are responsible to pay the bills as the milestones are met.

Your builder will organise the Building Consent Authorities inspections. This will ensure that the building is progressing in accordance with the issued consent and complies with the Building Code. Typical inspections will include:

  • foundations
  • plumbing
  • framing
  • drainage
  • pre-lining
  • cladding and flashings
  • 1/2 high brick
  • finished building

Collect energy work certificates for electrical and gas work as the relevant works are finished. Back to top

8. Complete your project

Hopefully you have had an enjoyable experience and are pleased with the quality and look of your new home.

Now is the time to ensure that everything has been done according to the plans and terms of your contract. Also, ensure that all fees to the Building Consent Authorities and/or Council have been paid.

Finally you need to apply for a Code Compliance Certificate from your Building Consent Authorities and make any remaining payments. Beware that some financial institutions require the code of compliance certificate before the final release of funds.