10 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A New House

Building a brand new home is an exciting time for everyone, but it can mean a lot of decisions and added pressure, unfortunately, sometimes mistakes can be made. Most of the time these mistakes can be avoided with the proper planning, and by using experienced builders, but mistakes do happen and can waste a lot of time and money on any build project.

Even with all the planning and preparation that goes into a new build project, sometimes there are small things that get forgotten when building a house – things you didn’t think of or were unaware of. Take a look below at the 10 most common home building mistakes you will want to avoid when building a new home.

1. Incomplete Or Non Existent Plans

Always get professional house plans. Without them, the chances of mistakes are increased tenfold. There can easily be misunderstandings between workers and subcontractors which leads to expensive mistakes and delays. Do not make the mistake of assuming because you have told one person about an issue or requirement that it will filter down to the right people – unless it is on the plans.

Every good builder will tell you, it is absolutely essential to have an extremely detailed set of plans. These plans act as an ‘instruction book’ for all of the contractors, sub-contractors, workmen, plumbers, electricians, flooring specialists, kitchen installers and pretty much anybody who is on-site at any time during the build. It is absolutely essential that the plans are accurate, up to date and on-site at all times.

2. Poor Design

When you’re planning the design of your new home, it’s really important that you take the time to think about every little detail. Yes, this is time-consuming but it will pay off in the long run. This means considering everything from things like the size of the rooms, window placement and size, the width of the hallway, through to shower size and placement, entryways, wall space and the use of space within each room.

Taking the time to examine the design from every angle will mean you are able to pick up on the little things that may end up bugging you after the build is complete. This can be as simple as moving a wall over 100mm expanding the bathroom space to allow for a larger shower or to fit in a larger vanity or a towel rail. Or addressing an odd corner wall situation where the space is going to be unusable as it stands. See here for more on home building design ideas.

3. Forgetting To Future Proof

When you’re planning the design of your new home, it’s really important that you take your current lifestyle needs into consideration, but also any changes that may be on the horizon. For example, is there a possibility that your family will be expanding? Do you have children who may have different needs as they reach the teenage years? Do you often have guests who stay overnight? Are you taking long term sustainability into account? Is your new home eco-friendly?

Even though addressing these kinds of future needs may add to the cost of the build now, building new is the best most cost-effective time to consider these additional aspects, allowing you to future proof your home without the need to move again or expand at a later date. For more on building sustainable homes in NZ see here, or check here for tips on building energy-efficient homes.

4. Thinking You Can Do It All Yourself

One of the biggest home building mistakes people make is thinking they can do it all themselves. Even if you are the king/queen of DIY, building a house is a massive undertaking for any one person. Along with all the usual decisions, meetings and time involved, the addition of purchasing and sourcing all the materials, finding and meeting with contractors, applying for permits and consents as well as project managing the entire process will require more than full-time hours across the course of the build.

And while it can be a way to save some money, it can also be false economics. The problems prevented or quickly resolved by using the management expertise of a building company can mean investing that little bit extra is well worth it in the long run. Their comprehensive understanding of the process and their skill level translates into significantly increased efficiency and a higher level of attention to detail – meaning less expensive mistakes. 

5. Compromising On Location

One mistake homeowners often make is to choose a cheaper location in order to build a larger or more expensive house. Although compromising on your location for a better price point may seem like a good idea, always remember location is often what sells property. In fact, any real estate agent will tell you it is one of the most important factors in any property sale.

Houses in prime locations are instantly valued higher, regardless of the state of the building itself – here in NZ we only have to look to Auckland house prices to see this valuable lesson in action. Don’t underestimate the value of location – a great section in a great location instantly adds to your home’s value.

6. Choosing The Cheapest Quotes

When building a new house everyone’s goal is to save money, nobody wants to pay more for something than it is worth or get ripped off. However, when it comes to choosing a building company for your brand new home, the cheapest option may not always be the best. The old saying ‘if it seems too good to be true then it probably is’ comes to mind.

Sometimes contractors will provide extremely low quotes to get the job – but you have to ask yourself how is it possible they can do this job for such a low price? Do they pay their workers poorly encouraging a poor level of workmanship? Are their workers unlicensed or inexperienced? Are they leaving out key aspects of the job such as applying for consents? Are there hidden costs that will pop up when it’s too late to change your mind? Are they using cheaper construction materials?

7. Letting Someone Else Tell You What You Need

Extended family, friends and professionals can make suggestions, give you ideas, explain why some things won’t work or why they will, but don’t let them take over and tell you what you need. You know best what your needs and the needs of your family are.

You are the one who has to live in this house and the one who has to pay for it. Letting other people tell you what you do and don’t need will only lead to dissatisfaction later on. Stay strong and make sure you are getting what you want.

8. Choosing The Wrong Builder

Having decided to build a new house and where you want to build it, you will now be in the process of trying to decide on a builder. Choosing the right one can be a tricky decision, do you go with a large building company with multiple locations throughout NZ or a local builder with solid local connections? Choosing the wrong builder can have long-lasting consequences that will significantly impact the entire building process, affecting everything from budget to the overall finished product.

Larger building companies may have bigger overheads, but they also may have more buying power with suppliers. Smaller, local builders have more reliable local connections, long-standing relationships with contractors and local know-how when it comes to building in local conditions and dealing with the consent processes. Who you decide to go with will depend on many factors, but always keep these three things in mind. Or see here for more information on choosing the right builder.

  • Communication. Are you and your builder are on the same page?  

  • Experience. Always discuss your builder’s previous experience and expertise.  

  • Qualifications. Do your research – always check your builder’s credentials.

9. Not Factoring In The Surrounding Outdoor Environment

One of the biggest mistakes people make when building a new home is forgetting to factor in the surrounding environment. This can mean the difference between a warm, sunny, quiet home and a home that is an unpleasant place to live.

Always think about the direction your bedrooms and living room are facing and how much sun they will get throughout the different times of the year. Positioning the house to maximise sun exposure is key to creating a warm healthy living environment.

Also, think about the neighbours and existing homes – is your living room facing into their bedroom? Is their driveway right beside your bedroom? Does their two-storey home mean your living room will be in shade most of the day? 

10. Not Making Timely Decisions Or Second Guessing 

Yes, we all have busy schedules, but not getting back to the builder or contractor who has left you a message or email only leads to delays in the construction schedule and added stress. As does second guessing the decision you just made.

Long lead times and precise build schedules make timely decisions very important when it comes to avoiding delays in the construction schedule. In fact, many builders will insist on many selections for things like colours, and fixtures and fittings are made before construction even begins. Allowing for all of the decisions to be agreed upon and a set plan to be established so the building process proceeds smoothly.

Thinking about building your new home in Christchurch or Canterbury? At Build7, we can help you avoid these mistakes and get your build done right the first time. Give us a call today and ask about our free house design service.