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Do I need a building consent?

The answer to this depends on what you are planning to do. Some renovations don’t need a building consent. But as a general rule, if the renovation work affects the building envelope (weather tightness) or affects the structural aspects of the building a building consent would be required.


What information do I need to supply to get a building consent?

Unless the project is very small, (such as a new fireplace) you will need a full set of plans and specifications drawn by a suitably licensed designer.

How long will it take to get a building consent?

This depends on which council you live under. Auckland City Council can take a significant amount of time to process your consent. Anywhere for 3 weeks to 6 months, but most commonly around 6-8 weeks. Other smaller areas such as Taupo can process a consent much faster at around 2-4 weeks. The quality of the plans you submit will also affect the length of time it takes. The better the quality, more easily council can process the consent.


Who should I contact to get advice about my renovation project or new home?

There are many different ways to approach a renovation or new home building project and each has its own advantages.  You could approach an architect or designer who would focus on the design aspects of your project and then bring in a builder later in the process to work through the costing side of things. This approach works well if the budget is not important but the aesthetics are paramount. The other approach would be to talk to a building company first to establish what would be possible for your project and guide you in terms of cost. This approach would work best if cost is paramount and aesthetics are less important. In my view the best approach is to talk to a designer and builder together. Have them working together to produce an aesthetically pleasing building, that works well and has the cost aspects worked out in conjunction with the design process.

How do I know if I am talking to a builder that knows what they are doing?

This can be very hard to work out but is critically important to get right. The best approach is to start with a builder from a  well recognised trade organisation such as Registered Master Builders. These organisation’s do their best to up skill their member’s and ensure that their member’s are up to scratch. Once you have found a builder you should then get references from or talk to their previous clients. It is best to not have the builder cherry pick clients that are happy with them, but to talk to previous consecutive clients. This might be a little bit of work but will be much easier than having your project go off the rails because of the builders short comings.

How do I know if the price to build my project is competitive?

The traditional method is to get at least 2 prices and then choose between them, once you have sifted through the differences – not always an easy task.

This method has many drawbacks though, the biggest of these is the fact that you cannot build a top quality product at a rock bottom price. The best approach is to work on a level of trust once you have established that you are dealing with a reliable and trust worthy company.  Do your homework by checking with consecutive previous clients.

What types of prices are available for building contracts?

There are two main types of pricing structures available for building contracts:

  • Charge up: With this type of contract you will be charged for the actual time and materials involved on the project plus a mark-up. This allows flexibility to alter the scope of work but also there will be flexibility in the price. This type of contract works well if it is difficult to lock-down the scope of work and there can sometimes be cost savings but this is at the your risk. These types of contracts can be problematic if costs go up and there is not good control by the builder keeping the client informed. With a charge up contract there should be transparency in terms of what is being supplied and what the margins and cost will be.

  • Fixed price: With this type of contract you will be provided with a fixed price cost to complete the project and should be inclusive of all time and materials involved in the project. Here the risk lies with the builder if the project goes over budget. With a fixed price it is easier to know what the total job cost. Any changes to the scope of work are normally charged separately as variations to the contract. These types of contract tend to be adversarial as they are typically used in tenders and as such are commercially sensitive. However it should still be made clear as to what will be supplied and what the full price is and what margins and cost will be if variations are made during the contract. 

Can I supply my own materials or contractors on my renovation?

This is possible but needs to be negotiated and clearly spelled out before entering into a contract.

Will I have to move out of my house during a renovation?

This will depend on the scope of the project and what areas are being worked on. It is often a possibility but is something that you will need to discuss with your builder. Cost will be affected if you remain in the house during the project.

How soon can I start my renovation?

This will vary from builder to builder. Before you commence building you will need a building consent issued. You then will need to establish the builders availability. Beacon Construction work on a four lead time from the signing of a building contract to commencement of building. 

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