Building a house step by step

building a house step by step dec edm

Even though everyone’s home building journey is unique, there are some key steps you can expect to go through when building a house. Here’s a basic overview to help you prepare for the journey.

Getting finance

Get a pre-approved mortgage so you know what budget you have. To get this you will need to have some idea of what the section and build costs will be in total so that you can work out your maximum lending. Some banks will lend up to 90%!

Finding land

You’ll need somewhere to put your new home so buying a section has to happen very early on. Search online property websites, look in your local paper, talk to a real estate agent or simply drive around the areas you like looking for ‘for sale’ signs.

You can often find 'house and land' packages being sold by home building companies or developers in up and coming subdivisions. Buying direct like this can help save money on holding costs as usually you’ll pay a 5-10% deposit, with settlement to be paid when the title comes through, which could be up to 12 months away.

Some sections have restrictions on the type of house and materials that can be used so check all that before you commit.


How you choose to go about creating the plans for your new home will depend on the type of home you want, your budget and how much input you want into the design. You can either find an architect or architectural designer to create custom plans then have them priced by a builder. Or go through a design and build company who do it all for you. The latter option will already have pre-existing plans you can use; you will be able to customise these at no extra cost with some company’s.

This stage can take as long as it needs to in order to get it just right and may include several steps starting with simple project brief before progressing to concept designs then landing on a final developed design.

Choosing a builder

If you have not opted to go with a home building company you’ll need to find a builder who is qualified and also a Licensed Building Practitioner; this is a must to be able to complete restricted building work for Building Consent. Asking people you know for recommendations is a good start to finding a builder. Once you start engaging with them, ask for past customers you can contact for a reference.

When it comes time to agree on a contract there are three options: full contract, labour only or managed labour. Going with a full contract is easiest as it covers all the work and means you have one point of contract. Labour only means the builder is literally just responsible for the building work and you will need to organise all the subcontractors, health and safety plan, arrange inspections and project manage the build, etc. Managed labour contracts are a mix of the two.

You will need a signed, fixed price contract before the bank will lend you the money.

Applying for consent

Once a developed design has been agreed on the plans are submitted to your local council for building consent, and sometimes resource consent depending on the proposed design. If there are any issues with your application you could find you dip back into the design phase to address them. Applying for consent can take some time so patience is required.


Once consent is granted you’re away! Now you’re at the business end of the project. Every build will differ, but a rough programme of works will go as follows:

  • Earthworks and foundations
  • Framing and walls
  • Trusses, fascia and roofing
  • Pre-wire and pre-plumb
  • Building wrap and weather tightness
  • Windows
  • Cladding
  • Insulation
  • Wall linings
  • Gib stopping and painting
  • Skirting and architraves
  • Tiling and flooring
  • Bathrooms and kitchens
  • Plumbing and electrical fit-off
  • Carpet and curtains
  • Landscaping and driveway

Remember that making changes after building has begun is expensive and can cause delays. Always check your builder is following the plans, using the materials that were specified and installing them correctly. And when the work is done and your home is ready, get a Code Compliance Certificate from your council.

Building a new home is an exciting experience and we’ve created a modern online home-building tool that makes it affordable for you to build a new home. Without pressure from third parties, you can take your time tinkering with the design to perfect the home you want. It’s easy to use and you can start now.

Published:  20 December 2017
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