Archive for October, 2010

Choosing a Builder

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The experience you have with a builder during the contact phase is a pretty good indication of what one can expect during the contract phase. I found a lot of variation between the builders and building companies in their initial response to my inquiry and how they dealt with requests for price indications and information on their building process.

For a start – some builders use project managers to oversee the whole project. Whilst this ensures one gets a well oiled building process, it can also add considerably to the cost of building. Just how much of this is also factored into the builders overhead needs to be examined.

Pricing estimates – if you expect a reasonable pricing response, be prepared to provide the builder with all the details they need. And make sure you give the same pack to each builder. Don’t ask for a price estimate until you have vetted the builder for background, quality of work and how they relate to you. It takes time for them to prepare a pricing –
so respect their time and don’t progress to this stage unless they are a real contender.

Ask for a price break down. One very respected building company came back to me with a price well in excess of another respected building company -with no break down or indication as to what was included or excluded from the price. Combined with this fact, and that I had to follow up twice to get the price – that company was firmly marked off my list.

The builder has to communicate well with you – and respect that you are investing a huge amount of cash into your project, and keeping them employed. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with them at this stage – its time for another line through the prospect list.

In large companies, you will be dealing with the sales person – not the builder. Make sure that this person is well versed in building – and not just a slick presenter. If something goes wrong during the contract phase – make sure you have agreed that they will be available to champion your concerns to their building team. The benefit of working with a big company is that they have the design and build all in one team – but it can be a downside if you get left outside the loop.

So taking notice of how things work at this phase, is a pretty good indicator of how things will work out later. Lay down the ground rules yourself and you can expect a smoother ride when things get more intense.

Palliside Exterior Cladding Benefits

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This week I have been concentrating on updating my knowledge on basic building systems, and in particular the advances of modern technology that could make this home more sustainable and easier to maintain.

For instance, after suffering from the plaster perils I was keen to use only pine weatherboards in my new home. However, my interest has been peaked around the benefits of Palliside Weatherboards. Initially, I thought ” A Plastic House”- hmm not sure about that. However, after seeing the real thing in situ, it didn’t have the plastic fantastic look I was worried about. Being on a step hill along the side of an access drive to other properties, putting up scaffolding for painting is always going to be an issue.

The additional cost of Palliside cladding is offset by the faster construction [ due to the lighter product than timber], and there is no need for that initial exterior paint job.

This specially formulated PVC has been developed to withstand the super harsh UV levels in NZ and promises not to fade, chalk, or crack in any way.

Since painting is typically a 5 year cycle – this product definitely meets my 5-year criteria. However, I have yet to check out how this impacts those critical sealant points at the top corners of joinery. As these points still need to be coated every 5 years, I am not sure how one gets around this issue – will get back to you on that – or if you have the answer, please post a comment below.

Planning For 5 Year Benefits

Monday, October 25th, 2010

This last week I have been checking out the latest and greatest advances in building technology. I have considered cladding, heating, joinery, internal floor systems, kitchen appliances – you name it, I have looked at it.

As this leaky house repair project is an investment one should never have to make – it is not something that is budgeted for, so there is a strong urge to make it as cheap as possible, with a few touches of luxury. However, cheap can be bad value, in almost any investment.

In considering the products you use to repair or rebuild your leaky home you need to look the return on investment. As most of us cannot with any certainty know where our lives will be in 5 years time, I have adopted a 5 year payback policy. One overriding proviso is that the investment is known to make it easier to sell a house and one typically gets a greater than 1:1 return on the investment at the time of sale.

Simply put, since it is not expected that I own this house for any more than another few years – anything that I can claw back within 5 years is a great investment.

This has lead me to consider a number of sustainable products that are both energy efficient and reduce the need for maintenance. I will cover each of these in future blogs.

Learn more about risk mitigation of effective design and planning

3 Key Choices for Leaky Home Remedy

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

In my last post I talked about “Getting One’s Head in the Game”. Over the last few weeks I have been frantically getting quotes from architects, builders, kitchen suppliers and demolition experts. When one considers the options for remedy to a leaky house there are three main choices;

  1. Sell the property for land value + any residual building value
  2. Repair the existing property
  3. Demolish completely and rebuild

In considering each option, one must consider the unique costs involved with each. For example – in the quote I got to repair the house there was a charge of $56,000 for demolition. This cost covers the individual extraction of each support post or stud and the propping up of the framework whilst a replacement is added. This piecemeal approach is very costly. To demolish the whole house to the ground – after a day recovering any items one can use in the rebuild – is only $17,000.


A repair to a leaky house can never be nailed down until the work is in progress – so one has to be prepared to have an open checkbook. The local authorities also require extensive expert appraisal and documentation of the project, adding considerable inspection and project management fees. I would add an additional $10,000 for experts and another $20,000 on top of normal project management.

Also be prepared that to get a Code of Compliance Certificate the Council will be all over your house and expect you to add or change anything they feel currently doesn’t meet the new code. Expect no sympathy that they caused the problem – you won’t get it.


In comparison, demolition of the entire house provides the opportunity to have a more concise quote plus the ability to tweak the existing design. You know exactly where you are and the finished home is totally free of the stigma of leaky homes. The downside is that you lose any existing usage rights – so expect a lengthy resource consent process if you home currently infringes height to boundary or parking.

Sell Down

Selling down is a viable option for many home owners. Any property investor knows that the capital increase in a property is always in the land value – not the building value which decreases by at least 5% every year.
In times of low building volumes, many builders are willing to take on leaky home projects to keep their teams employed – so seek out individual builders with a proposal. They get to make the profit on the labour – or at the very least get the opportunity to upgrade their own living environment at a much lower cost.

So weigh up all the options – get quotes and use the powers of Excel to build an Analysis Decision Model to help you make that all important decision.

Happy Building