How To Choose Your House Plans

Choosing your house plans is one of the biggest decisions when building a new house. However, you can get a little weighed down looking at plan after plan until they all seem to blur together – that is why it’s a good idea to have a very clear idea of what is important to you before diving into piles of house plans. Read on for our house plan checklist, in-depth look into pre-designed plans versus custom design and the pricing of your plans. 

House Plan Checklist

Taking the time to gain a clear understanding of what your needs are, is the first step. Here are 8 things to consider before choosing your house plan.

1. Needs Vs Wants

Making a list of needs vs wants is a great place to start your house plan journey. Decide on what things are must haves and what things fall into the ‘dream home’ category.  For some people, this may mean things like having a bedroom for each child vs adding on the dedicated entertainment room. This list will help you narrow down what is important to all members of the family and which things you are able to accommodate within the budget.

2. Style

Think about architectural style – the look of the house from the outside. What sorts of cladding features would you like to have and what are the legal requirements as per the local council with regard to what you are permitted to use in the particular neighbourhood. Some subdivisions are not permitted to build in such a way that the house doesn’t fit with the rest of the street. For example, this could mean two storied house plans are out.

3. Preparing A Budget

Yes, there is always a budget to adhere to, you need to know what you can afford to spend before you start the whole process. Often this is what restricts the plan to needs versus wants. Your budgeting plan should cover how much can you actually afford. This will include how much deposit must be raised before starting the build and how much the bank is prepared to loan you. There are many things that contribute to the total cost. There are the land, design, construction, materials and the finishing and décor items. Make sure you have a good idea of the final cost so there are no surprises.

4. Time?

Planning and building for your new home is going to mean time. Your time. There are going to be meetings with the building company, meetings to choose colours, tiles, carpets and other aspects of the home, time spent on getting the floorplan right, time spent making decisions, time to view sections. What is the expected timeframe for the project to be realistically completed?

5. Size?

Making the most out of every square metre is the key to designing a value-for-money home. The budget will always have a say in the size of your plan for your new home. When building a house pricing is often based on a per square metre basis so the larger the plan the more it’s going to cost.

You will need to make sure your house plan includes all of the necessities like bathrooms and bedrooms but also maximising the use of each space. A couple of key things to think about are storage options and furniture placement and sizes. Window size and placement will also have an impact on furniture placement. Section size will also dictate your allowable limits with regard to the size and shape of the floorplan.

6. Future Proofing

Thinking ahead 5 years, 10 years or even longer is something many people underestimate the importance of, or completely forget to factor in when choosing or designing house plans. Think about growing family needs (extra bedrooms, bathrooms etc), extended family situations, elderly parents, and pets. What will you need from this home in the future?

7. Eco-Friendly?

Building a new house is the perfect time to incorporate eco-friendly design concepts and ideas. Sustainability and eco-friendly design is about more than the addition of smart technology or appliances, from a design perspective it can be as simple as positioning the house and its largest windows to maximise the benefits of the sun, looking ways of reducing building waste or choosing sustainably sourced and climate suitable building materials.

8. Custom Vs Set Plan

There are two main options when it comes to choosing your design; working from a set plan or starting from scratch and designing your own custom plan. Set plans are an excellent way to get good ideas on the use of space, placement of rooms, and size indications. These plans can be a great starting point or an easy way to build without having to think about the design too much.

However, if you simply can’t seem to find what you’re looking for it can be worth designing a custom plan more suited to your purpose and to get exactly what you want. Custom designs are usually completed in conjunction with an architect. More on choosing your floorplan using custom house design and set house plans below.

Choosing Your Floor Plans

Pre-drawn ready to build house plans vs custom designed plans – the choice is yours!

Pre-Designed House Plans

The key to using ready to build set house plans is to understand that they can be seen as only the starting point to create the home that you want. You can move walls around, alter the sizing, or add on/remove features, combine multiple plans etc. Or for maximum cost and build time benefits you can use set plans ‘as-is’, this means minimal if any changes to the original plan.

3 Ways Set Plans Can Be Used

  • You can use them ‘as-is’, especially if you have a section that’s ready-to-go and you know that the design will suit you and fit the site. We’ll be able to guide you on this and make sure it does.

  • You can use them as a starting point – to gain some inspiration. This is handy if you already know the number of bedrooms you want and the size of the house.

  • You can mix and match plans. Take the best of one or more and combine them.

Why Choose A Ready To Build Set Plan?

When it comes to the house plans of your new home, there are so many things to consider, everything from sizes and shapes of living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, through to fixtures and fittings and colours. To help simplify the entire process, many building companies offer tried and tested pre-designed or set home plans.

Going with a set plan can really help with speeding up the building process, and maximise cost efficiency. They’re also great for providing inspiration so you can visualise style ideas and act as a great starting point to initiate the design process more quickly.

4 Reasons To Choose Pre-Drawn House Plans

  1. Highly Efficient On Both Time And Cost. Most often, the plans available to choose from have been updated, tweaked and perfected over the years typically working out all the kinks. This means they are not only highly efficient when it comes to build times, but also on the cost of the build.

  2. All The Hard Work Has Been Done. Many home buyers are under the impression that pre-drawn house plans always lead to a ‘cookie-cutter’ style home. Don’t be fooled, set plans are not necessarily simple or plain house designs, some builders offer more architecturally-advanced home plans. These are made after spending time with designers and architects looking at modern trends in the market and offer you the convenience of not having to hash all of the details out yourself.

  3. Easy To Modify. Pre-drawn house plans can be modified so they better meet your lifestyle requirements. They provide you with significant savings when compared to custom house plans, which can cost up to 10% of the total construction costs.

  4. Less Stress. Many new homeowners aren’t aware of the stress involved in drawing up a floorplan blueprint from scratch. This process requires many hours of work and decisionmaking along with a large number of consultations with your architect or builder to make sure you’re satisfied with the final work.

Custom House Plans

Really want to get hands-on and take control of the design process? Have specific needs and wants that are difficult to find elsewhere? Then building a custom designed home might be the right choice for you!

Why Choose A Custom Design  

If you haven’t been able to find your ideal home in an existing property, then custom home building might be the ideal choice for you. Maybe you have a large family and need multiple rooms and bathrooms.

Or do you entertain a lot and need extra guest rooms with their own ensuites. Need an indoor studio with the right lighting? Wanting a built-in gym or a home theatre? When building your custom home, you choose what you want to include. Your dream home can be created to suit all of your needs and wants.

4 Reasons To Choose Custom House Plans

Building your new home from custom floorplans gives you the ability to build the house exactly to your liking to match your lifestyle. See below for the top 4 benefits to choosing a custom design.

  1. Ability To Add Extra Features. Do you live a social lifestyle and want your home to reflect that? Then why not build a mini-bar or even a theatre to entertain your friends. Are you into health and fitness? Then add a fitness room or maybe even an indoor pool.

  2. Personality And Uniqueness. With a custom home, it will shine with uniqueness and personalisation among the other houses in the neighbourhood. You are given the opportunity to create your own interior and exterior designs that reflect the personality of your family and yourself.

  3. Less Need For Modifications At A Later Date. Getting it right first time when you build new will mean the house is less likely to need modifications such as alterations and extensions over time. You will choose exactly what you want first time around.

  4. Greater Freedom Of Design. Working closely with your architect and builder a custom design means you are in complete control of every aspect. You are the one who decides the floorplan, the cladding, and all of the architectural features.

How Much Does It Cost To Build In NZ?

The big question always on everyone’s mind – how much is it going to cost? The answer is unfortunately not so straight forward as it all depends on your build choices. When it comes to building your home there are two main factors that determine the price. They are the actual cost of building – the build-only price, and the costs associated with your chosen section.

Once you know your location, more accurate pricing is possible because of costs that may be incurred for site accessibility, transportation or local building requirements. When it comes to the land, the cost of the section and the cost to prepare it for building are two separate things.

If the section is in an area (such as a new development) where the engineering, civil works and geotechnical work is already done, then the pricing is straightforward. If the land has not been examined for these things then that’s where you can encounter some unforeseen issues.

Putting all this aside and just looking at pricing your house plan, most builders will price plans based on a per square metre basis. When your plans are drawn up professionally the size figures may differ slightly from your original penciled design as the square meterage of your house plan will include additional footprint allowances for internal and external walls and cladding.

Pricing Your House Plan

According to the handy QV Costbuilder tool, the average construction cost (in 2018) for a 150 square metre house was as follows below, these figures provide us with a general construction price guide based on basic house plans of between $1800 – $2400 per square metre.

  • Auckland $310,315 

  • Christchurch $311,250 

  • Dunedin $282,190

  • Waikato $289,690

  • Wellington $285,940

The cost of building new can vary significantly in NZ and will depend on such things as the location, shape, size and specifications of the build plans. Auckland and Christchurch are the most expensive places to build in New Zealand, with other areas seeing slight reductions in prices likely somewhat due to wage and salary differences.

New Build Cost Break Down

When looking at building a new home in New Zealand as a general guide the total costs are made up of the following factors.

  • 30 % Land and infrastructure

  • 20 % Building materials

  • 15% Fees and taxes

  • 35 % Payment for time and other associated (salary, wages etc)  

Choosing The Right Builder And Designer

Before choosing your builder, make sure the building company will cater well to your choice of set plans or custom design. It is good to know that some building companies offer both design and build services, this can be advantageous as you have less to co-ordinate and you have a single point of contact for the entire process.

When choosing the right builder it is a good idea to check in with past clients to make sure they’re satisfied with their homes. It’s also important to have a look at some completed projects if you can. Make a shortlist, ask for quotes and do your homework before committing to one company. 

At Build7 Christchurch, our team can take you through the entire home building process; custom or set plan – it’s all up to you!. We have our own in-house architects and designers who are experts at translating your ideas into beautiful and functional plans. Get in touch today and share your ideas with us and ask about our free design service – let’s work together to make your dream home a reality!