A Guide to Building a New Home


It’s finally time. You’re ready to build the home of your dreams. Or at least, you’ve come to the decision, and you’re ready to start thinking specifics. Navigating the plethora of information about home building can be more than challenging, so stick around and keep reading for a guide to get you on your way to breaking ground.

Creating your budget

You can’t start looking at builders or property without having an idea of how much money you’ll have to work with first. It is so easy to get carried away when looking at plans and already built dream homes, and can be dangerous to look before you know your budget. Getting excited about a possible house without knowing your budget can be extremely disappointing when you find out you can only afford half of it.

To help you get started on a budget, you might want to begin with reviewing this guide for establishing a budget. You should also casually speak with lenders to start getting ballpark ideas of how much money you’re qualified for with a loan. You can even look around at recently built homes and research online for their costs. Reaching out to your network of friends and family can also be a helpful tool, if any of them have built recently.

Next, determine what your budget is individually for your builder, your land, and any other contracts you might be needing outside your builder. Are you looking to spend more on property and build smaller? Or perhaps looking to build near a city centre with expensive property? Or you may want to build bigger and have a lot of customisations, therefore will need a smaller property budget.

Having separate budgets for all these things will help you find out what your priorities are and make it easier to move money around from budget to budget. Once the house is built, you’ll also have to contend with setting up your utilities and buying various appliances like a refrigerator, washing machine, and furnace, so make sure these costs are in your budget as well. You might want to use a budget calculator to help you organise each budget with ease.

Drawing up plans

The budget is done and now you’re beyond ready to take those dreams and put them on paper. It’s planning time! Second only to a budget, this is one of the most vital parts of your home building process. Having a detailed set of plans will help you greatly when deciding on a builder, and can help you really narrow down your budget and make cuts or additions where needed.

To get the most of drawing up plans, choose an experienced architect or designer who is specialised in the type of house you want. Before you even visit an architect, know as many details and specifics as you can about what you want. This should include your ideals for indoors as well as outdoor space. Think about long term – will you want more expensive energy efficiency home features, to save you money in the long run? What about solar panels, or skylights, to help on electricity costs?

If hiring an architect isn’t in your budget and you’ll be relying on a builder instead, still make sure you know all these details to provide to the builder. Check out this list of mistakes to avoid when drawing up your plans, and try to be as informed as possible when working with your builder. 

Finding a builder  

Now that you know your budget, have plans drawn up, and a pretty strong idea of what you want to build, it’s time to choose a builder. One of your main decisions for choosing a builder is if you want to custom build your home, or go with a standard model. This will immediately narrow your choices down. Next, take a look at the warranties that your prospective builders offer. When you’ve narrowed it down to a few builders, get a reference list from each one and call all the references to get feedback on their homes. For additional tips on choosing a builder, check out this article. In addition, this checklist for hiring a builder will also come in quite handy.

Choosing property to build on

Now it’s finally time to choose some property! With your budget in hand, you should have a solid idea of what kind of property you’ll be able to afford. Since you’re building instead of buying a home, you will likely be in a subdivision or suburb rather than centre city, but you’ll want to think about how far out of the city you want to go. Larger and cheaper properties will obviously be further outside the city.

When building a house in Wellington, New Zealand, and other cities like it, thinking about the way the house will face is also extremely important. If building in a hilly area, you’ll want to make sure your home isn’t blocked by hills, gets the sun you want, and that it isn’t too exposed to wind and storms. If building in a valley or lower point of the city, your home should be built on the highest point, and you may want to install some sort of drainage system on the property to avoid flooding.

Many home building companies will have extensive knowledge of the area and can help you with choosing the best property for your needs. Urban Homes, based in Wellington, will not only be able to help you through the entire building and property buying process, but will provide their expertise in terrain, climate, and Council laws.  

And just like that, you’ve got your plans drawn up, builder hired and property chosen, and it’s time to break ground on your new house. With a lot of research and a little (or perhaps a lot) of patience, you will be equipped to have the best home possible in no time!