Building A New House – What You Need To Know

The journey to building a new house is full of decisions – some easy and straight forward some a little trickier. You will have to decide on everything from paint colours, carpet and kitchen appliances through to things like location and materials.

Perhaps the most important decisions come before any of these and they are finding the perfect section and choosing the right design that not only matches the section but covers all of your wish-list requirements.

How To Choose Your Section

When you start your journey to building a new home, the first step is to find the right section. Things like location and orientation will be big factors, along with any prominent geographical features of the land such as slopes and dips.

7 Tips On How To Pick The Right Section

When choosing your new section, it’s important to think about more than just the location and your new community. Choosing the right piece of land can mean spending some time doing a bit of research. Why is it important to pick the right section? Here are a few things to think about when looking for that perfect section for your dream home.

  1. Placement Of Utilities. Are there telecommunications services to the boundary?  Electricity? Gas? Sewerage? Water and drainage? Having to carry these services over a distance greater than around 20-30 metres will significantly add to the build costs.

  2. The Topography Or Slope. How steep is the section? Is it on the side of a hill? Or is there a dip in the middle where you intend to build? Is there an obvious build site or do you need to create one? Any extra earthworks or foundation requirements will add a considerable amount to your build price.

  3. Soil Conditions. Soil stability is a big one for any build – but especially in Christchurch after the effects of the earthquakes. Any issue with soils stability will mean an increase in foundation costs. A Geotechnical Report is a good idea before you decide to build, and in fact is now a requirement before building in Christchurch.

  4. The Size And Shape. The size and shape of your section will impact greatly on your new house design. Too small a section, or a section that is the wrong shape will place strong limits on the orientation of the house, its size, placement of rooms, outdoor living and access points.

  5. All The Legal Stuff. Just as you do when you buy a house, it is important to check the legal information held on the piece of land. You will need to get access to the section’s Certificate of Title and LIM Report. These will give you an idea of anything that may impact on your build such as any restrictive covenants on the size and type of house you can build, where you can build and the materials you can use. There may also be useful information on the risk of flooding, erosion and/or historic use of the land.

  6. Orientation. Sunshine is the only free source of heat you can get for your new home. Making the most of natural sunlight is one of most important (yet quite often overlooked) aspects of designing a house and section layout. Make sure your section is facing the right direction when considering the home you would like to build. In New Zealand the ideal direction for living areas is northwards. Think about different times of the day and different seasons and how this will affect your living areas and bedrooms.

  7. Council Regulations And Planning. It is worth investigating the local District Plan to see if there are any big projects planned nearby or in the near future that may have an impact on your section, or your quality of life while living at this location. Individual councils also sometimes place restrictions on fencing, housing heights and building materials.

How To Choose Your House Design

Having sorted the perfect section it’s time to start thinking about your new home’s design. There are two basic options here – using a set plan or creating a custom design. Both of these options have their own advantages as outlined below.

3 Advantages of Choosing Set Plans

  • Better Price Point. Set plans tend to have cost savings built in and are often offered at a lower price.

  • No Design Decisions. Great for those who don’t want to be bothered with working out the best layout or how to place design features.

  • Tried And Tested. Set plans have usually been built many times before, which means any potential issues have been addressed and the use of space and layout has been optimised.

3 Advantages Of Choosing To Custom Design

  • Freedom Of Design. Customisation means you can build more specifically to your personal requirements, and tastes.

  • Greater Flexibility. Custom designs are more able to meet the individual requirements of the section, maximising views and sunlight, as well as highlighting any unique features such as existing trees or interesting terrain.

  • Unique Finished Product. Completing a custom design means no one else is going to have the same house as you. There will be no duplicate across the street, down the road or even anywhere in New Zealand.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to start with a set plan that has some features you like and tweak it a little resulting in your own version. This is what most people end up doing as it is a great way to get the basics right but still tick all the boxes on your wish list.

5 Tips On Choosing The Right House Design For Your Section

Having decided to custom design or stick to the pre-set plans, there are a few key things to remember in choosing the right house design for your section.

  1. Maximise The Sun. Designing your home to maximise the free energy and heat from the sun is one of the best things you can do for future proofing your new house.

  2. Optimise For Outdoor Living. If you plan to build a large deck, have an outdoor pool or love gardening, your house design should take into account where these things will be placed on the section and how to maximise the indoor-outdoor flow.

  3. Avoid The Neighbours. If you have neighbours close to the boundary, a tall roof-line on one side, or other influencing factors – taking these into account in your house design will mean you don’t end up staring out of the living room at the neighbours taking a spa bath for example.

  4. Future Proof It. Homes focused on greener living, power saving and conservation are all great things to take into consideration when designing your home. These things all add up to cost savings over the lifetime of the building.

  5. Get Help. Whether you’ve never designed a house before or built many times over getting the opinions and advice of professionals is a must. They can help you get it right first time and avoid costly mistakes.

At Build7, we are experienced builders in Christchurch offering a full house building package, from site advice to planning and the design and build of your entire home. Get in touch with us today!