Builder Reviews

Welcome to Builder Reviews

From the Original Admin person:

“I was looking for home building companies, and came across a number of builders. However what I didn’t find was a review site, with customers providing feedback on different building companies.

Does such a site exist? There are plenty of sites for restaurant reviews, and I would have thought deciding which building company to go with would be much more an important decision than deciding where to go out for dinner.

Anyone want to set me in the right direction?”

And then the site stayed up but without anyone in an admin position. Because I had made a couple of comments, I was asked to take it over, so here it is

Mark Graham

Adding a New Post

To add a new post you need to scroll to the bottom of the page. Apologies for this – I’ve looked for a different template to use for the page that has the new comment box at the top but without luck. Please contact me if you know of one.

smilingwebApril 2015 (updated Feb 2021)

Hi All

For those who have been using the site regularly, you may have noticed that it went down at the end of March 2015. The owner of the site had lost interest, so I came to an arrangement with them to take it over as the moderator and editor.

I used to publish the Building Guide and Design Guide magazines and BoB (for Builders) magazine and websites before I got knocked off my Vespa in 2019 and took a bad slam to my head (see here…). I’m getting better. The websites are still up and I’m just getting back to bringing them up to date.

The Building Guide is an essential tool if you’re building or renovating – this publication could save you a huge amount of money and it will definitely save you a huge amount of time. Learn more about it here…

You can contact me here if you’d like to discuss anything on the page.

3 Sept, 2015
Hi again

I’ve disallowed one post and edited another in an effort to keep the conversation here a positive one with posts offering advice and relating personal experiences. Please refrain from criticising other people and their comments. Anything like this won’t be allowed.

NOTES: Please Read

October 2016

We have now been contacted by the lawyers for Landmark Homes Counties Manukau to remove posts. One was from someone who had reached an agreement with them which included confidentiality and there is one that may be from someone who is a disgruntled ex-employee. Others are still posted but there is also a response from the Head Franchisor of Landmark and the Counties Manukau Franchisee as well who seem genuinely interested in trying to sort out issues.

Ctrl-F to find specific references…

April 2017

It’s been brought to our attention through posts we can’t allow on the site due to a lawyer’s letter, of problems specifying a builder, Craig Paterson, who had been working for a franchise building company. We have removed the comments from the site as we can’t control the accuracy or inaccuracy of the information.

On investigation, Craig has had a series of residential construction companies, including the national franchise, which has gone into liquidation leaving a large number of creditors and some very unhappy customers. It is our strong recommendation that people do not use Craig as their contractor.

If you have used him and have had a problem, then we strongly recommend you can make a complaint to the Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) Board, of which Craig is still one, here… (or for any other builder, for that matter.

Bear in mind, if you have any Restricted Building Work happening with your project, it MUST be done or supervised by an LBP. Make sure you are protected – your builder MUST give you the mandatory Prescribed Checklist and there MUST be a contract in place for all projects over $30,000.

July 2017 update – Craig has a new company now, The Property Channel, where it seems he’s building for people again. Again – we strongly recommend against using Craig.

June 2018

We have just been contacted by another set of lawyers, acting on behalf of Jason Strange, of MASS Construction, the current Wellington/Manawatu/Wairarapa franchise for Platinum Homes. There have been several comments made that are personally defamatory and have been removed under instruction. The lawyers believed that there may be a disgruntled ex-contractor who has made comment, but there were around eight different people who have been removed and there are comments about Mr Strange from others going back to his earlier years of running the South Island Franchise for Platinum, too. Stuff has also recently identified issues, here…

We have also been told that the lawyers are also now acting for Platinum Homes nationwide, because of the large number of critical comments made here on the site over the past few years.

157 pages of them.

However, if you are considering using Platinum for your build, we strongly recommend you investigate thoroughly, ensure your contract is reviewed by your lawyer and that, perhaps, you may wish to consider alternative builders.

Feb 21 update: Mass Construction are no longer trading (no surprise there).

Finally, if you’re are looking to build or renovate, do yourself a favour and get some understanding of what you’re about to undertake. Building a house is a very expensive and highly complex project – way more than you think if you’ve never done it before.

There are great builders and suppliers out there, but there are rip-off merchants, too.

Go to the Building Guide and Design Guide websites and get some insights into what you’re about to do. Getting it right will make your life fantastic, but getting it wrong could destroy you financially, so prepare!

Adding a New Post

To add a new post you need to scroll to the bottom of the page. Apologies for this – I’ve looked for a different template to use for the page that has the new comment box at the top but without luck. Please contact me if you know of one.

Mark G

Feb 2021

Finally, now I’m getting back on my feet (see Vespa accident mention above), I’m preparing an article on the woes of the Building Industry. I’m looking to use material from the site here, will ask permission before mentioning anyone or anyone’s case specifically, otherwise it will be generic. If you have something you’d like to get included, please contact me here:


Mark G

3,385 thoughts on “Builder Reviews”

  1. Hi there,

    We are looking to build with GJ Gardner North Shore Auckland and was wondering if anyone has built with them recently what was your experience like?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Chris,

      We worked with the South Canterbury branch a few years back. We are very happy with the home now, but found it a stressful process. I know each branch/franchise is different, but if I tell you a few of the things that caught us out, I hope it will help.

      Firstly, double check your plans … maybe triple check. You can say you want something, and the agent can draw it up, but it has to go to the head office to be redrawn by their architect. We found that the dimensions we had for windows and doors changed from our original drawing which caused a lot of distress and anxiety on our part. We had a french doors that were too large and protruded beyond the edge of the house, but that was not obvious in the drawing plus window sizes changed which could have compromised fitting in furniture. Our house had also been moved from where we asked it to be place. Fortunately I picked that up when we were signing the contract.

      Challenge the subcontractors when they say, “This is what you will be getting.” Make sure it is what you want. I remember having a dreadful time with our cabinetry consultant. She was extremely tall and I am under 5ft. She kept telling me I couldn’t have what I wanted in my kitchen or pantry because it wouldn’t fit. The head office architect had changed the dimensions of the drawing and this was not realised until I took it up with the agent and he rectified the situation. Even then she would change the size of drawers and cupboards. I ended up drawing the plan myself and now have what I wanted in the first place.

      We were offered the cheapest option and believe me the cheapest does not always wear or work the best. We upgraded most, but I do regret not going for a better bench-top and a built in laundry tub. They are definitely things I want to upgrade soon.

      Don’t be too quick to sign the dotted line. Don’t be dissuaded from employing a lawyer to look over the contract . Those two are basic I know, but the pressure is put on you to do so.

      My husband and I had many sleepless nights during our build and sometimes I hated going to look at the house. It seemed every time we went in there was something unexpected. He spoke to the franchise holder a couple of times, who listened intently, but at the time I am not sure he understood the gravity of the situation. I must admit that when the house was near completion, some of the problems were addressed. Had they not, we would have been very unhappy customers.

      Hope this helps

      1. Hi Polly, A very useful and comprehensive reply. A reminder (if anyone who reads this blog needs it) that having a house built can be a very stressful process, especially for anyone who has no experience of interpreting plans etc. And this was with a franchise who’s TV ads seem to imply that it will all be extremely simple and smooth (along the lines of ‘dream it, and it will be yours’). But anyone who has not built before should be aware it is seldom like that, and you have to be constantly on your toes.
        The stuff you mention about the head office’s so called ‘architects’ changing things, not just in a way you didn’t want, but in a way that didn’t even work properly, is appalling. They sound more like poorly trained engineering designers to me. Which is probably why they didn’t want you to meet them face to face, and it was all second hand through the ‘agent’ (which I assume means salesman). Relocating the house within the Site is (almost) unbelievable, and requires a serious level of incompetence, unless of course they came back and convinced you why it would work better. Unless I was already contractually or financially locked in, I think I would have pulled out at that stage.
        Your advice about getting a lawyer to check over the contract is absolutely right and, as I’ve said before several times, this should be one of the first things you do, before committing any money or much time to a builder. In this case did your lawyer ask for any changes to the contract, and was the builder willing to make them? Because it seems some franchise builders have a ‘standard’ contract they are not willing to amend. Which is why they prefer you don’t see it, until you’re financially and emotionally committed to employing them.
        Anyway, you haven’t complained about cost, so I assume the overall price wasn’t too much more than you were expecting, and you felt it was reasonable for the final product.

        1. Hi Chris,
          I must admit we did not do everything we should have. I left most of it to my husband and because other family members told us they had a good experience with GJ’s, we did not worry too much….”BIG MISTAKE.” We had the same salesman/agent that they had and so we trusted. My first inkling that there was something not right was when we were being pushed to sign the contract. My husband is usually so cautious, but I really think he got caught up in the moment. I was holding back on signing saying I wanted to look it over, but it felt almost threatening and I was trying to read everything at breakneck speed. It’s hard to explain. We had already bought the land, so yes the window to sign was getting smaller and we were contractually and financially locked in as you described. I thought it all very unprofessional. To be fair, the salesman does not work for them anymore so read into that what you will. I am sure GJ’s are not usually like that. Well I wouldn’t think they are.

          I have photos of some of their errors here if you are interested, but would rather contact you privately. Is there a way I can do that without putting up my email.

          As I said, we are now reasonably happy with the house, but it could have gone better. Some of the sub-contractors were a bit…”how-ya-goin,” but as we all know in Christchurch, a good bit of paintwork covers a multitude of sins. Nevertheless the house is pretty, weather tight and the waffle foundation means we will stay on the level. Now that is a real plus in earthquake country.

          1. Hi Polly, Thanks for offering to send photos, but having worked in the construction industry for most of my career (civil, not building) I’ve seen enough mistakes made by contractors to last a lifetime.
            To be fair, construction is not an easy game. Almost every job and day involves different one-off designs and requirements, carried out by a whole range of tradespeople, some more skilled/experienced than others, in different weather conditions, dealing with clients who can be very vague and indecisive etc. It’s not like a production line, that can be refined until errors are very rare.
            So mistakes and misunderstandings will inevitably occur. What matters is whether they get picked up, how they are handled, and most importantly who is responsible for paying to put them right.
            This is why a clear set of drawings, a comprehensive spec, and a clear and fair contract are so important. Relying on the assumption that everyone knows what they’re doing, and will act in what you think is a ‘reasonable’ manner, can sometimes work out OK, but is very risky.
            So to anyone in the position you seemed to find yourself in, under pressure to immediately sign a contract, which I assume from what you now say you were seeing for the first time, I have only one piece of advice. Tell the builder this is not how it’s supposed to work, and that you need time to take the contract and other documents away, read them properly, and get legal advice. If they don’t like that they’re probably the wrong builder for you.
            I now understand why you didn’t mention what advice your lawyer gave. You didn’t use one.
            Anyway I’m pleased to hear you ended up with a house you’re happy with. Many others are not so lucky.

            1. Hi Chris,

              Yep, we sure dropped the ball when it came to getting legal advice. I actually didn’t realise we would be pressured to sign there and then and was surprised my husband agreed. I was afraid WWIII would erupt if I went against him. I agree there are sometimes misunderstandings, but do watch what the contractors are doing. Fixes are not always perfect when the quality of workmanship is lacking. I am not convinced that some of our contractors were well trained. It can be really frustrating staring at a mistake when the person beside you denies there is a problem. You begin to think you are going mad. It is not till friends come around and say, “Oh My God that is bad,” do you dare broach the subject again with the franchise owner. It was well over a year, maybe two, before the problem was rectified. Fortunately we put all our complaints in writing. We also saw the same problem appeared on other builds after ours. One neighbour was left to fix the problem himself. I am not trying to besmirch GJ’s reputation as I think this is something that could happen with any building company. All I am saying is, be more cautious than we were and when there is a problem, put it in writing and stand your ground.

  2. We are building a lifestyle property in Southland and looking at Trident Homes. Has anyone used them? or we will possibly go with an independent builder, but unsure who to use.
    We have also looked at Jennian and Versatile but they haven’t been as good to deal with.

  3. This is a warning to advise against using a builder named Campbell Grant Senior & his partner Ricky Pene who run an operation called Thermawise. They are a nightmare to work with, do not cooperate with the local authority, do not pay their tradesmen, do shoddy work, etc. We paid them for a house but were left with an empty shell, shoddy joinery work, no kitchen, no bathroom, no accessible shower, no plumbing, no electrical work, an unfinished concrete floor. The local authority could not issue a code of compliance due to the inspectors finding multiple errors, not following plans, not applying for amendments and therefore we were left in the lurch. We paid for an independent inspection to show to the builder, which also decried their shoddy workmanship. No cooperation, no arbitration, no nothing from the builder.

    1. I’m not sure who Marie is. She is obviously hiding her identity, as in the approximately 70 houses we have built over the last few years, I’m certain we’ve never done one for anyone called Marie. I believe I know who she is. This lady cancelled our build contract when we advised her we were coming back on site after the first Covid lockdown. We didn’t contest the cancellation as by this time the build was substantially complete apart from minor finishing work. The contract had already drawn out prior to lockdown, as this lady had very strong views on what she wanted in the build, but real difficulty in conveying it in a way the made any sense. We were quite happy not to have to continue to deal with her. I was accused of failing to communicate with her over a several weeks, but when I checked my records I found 105 emails over that period. We agreed to the contract bbeing terminated provided we were paid the balance owing to us. To date this hasn’t happened.
      None of th eoutrageous claims she makes are true. This person appears to be mentally unbalanced. She verbally attacked a subcontractor on site, in a way that in my more than 50 years in the industry I have never witnessed before.

      1. I made contact with Grant following his response here. I contacted Marie, asking for proof of her experience. She pointed me to an LBP Complaints Board handling of multiple complaints against Grant (not hers), including suspension of his licence for nine months (here:

        His LBP listing showing an additional fine is here

        She has also expanded on details that lead me to believe many of the issues she raised in her first post are likely true, and additional issues with tradespeople not listed here, and I’m confident they’re true as well.

        1. Hi Mark
          Glad to hear that the evidence presented to you has convinced you that the information is true, factual and as well as a private nightmare ! Along with the independent builders report that concurs with the local authority building inspectors reasons for failing much of his work. The problems shared by the subcontractors just about covers our problem with C G senior & R Penne of Thermawise/BPM Contracts Ltd of Levin. If they had stuck to the contract then none of this would have been so painful, but as they will not follow the LBP Handbook nor the LBP guidelines for members to follow then it’s up to them if they will now come to the arbitration table and pay us what they owe us. Following legal advice there will be no reply directly to the builder.

          1. Hi Marie,

            Don’t you love it when the builder in question or the franchise company get on this page and try to discredit you to save their reputation only to be found that everything that was said about them was true!


            Go Mark!

            What’s worse for Thermawise is that there is no coming back from this, in Grant Seniors haste to discredit you he has only proven he is the one that’s not to be trusted. Very bad for their image.

            I get it that not everyone on here are legitimate when posting a negative or even positive review and hats off to Mark for checking, that must be time consuming so thank you Mark 🙂 it’s nice to know you’re looking out for us.

            Seriously though, I had a good look at their website and their Facebook page and a couple of things stood out for me that may be an “alarm bell” but you can decide. The lack of contact detail is a worry, there is no address for their office even though they state it’s open from 8 to 5 Monday to Friday, no personal photos of any of the Seniors or their crew and many of the positive comments for their FB page seem to be family members?

            It’s very much like they don’t really want to be found but feel free to fill in an automated contact detail form and send it off and they can find you (unless you’re an unpaid subbie or creditor perhaps?) I don’t know about you but I like full transparency with someone who is potentially building the most expensive thing I’ll ever own but I do have trust issues, others may not.

            When looking through their photos, especially on their FB page, their attention to detail on their clearly finished work looks very poor to me. Admittedly most of the photos are of unfinished builds but even some of the foundation slabs look terrible, and I was quite sure that external gas cylinders fitted to exterior of a build had to be a decent distance from an opening window? Correct me if I’m wrong please?

            I’m not a builder but we’ve done a few now and we have an awesome team who really go out of their way to explain the smallest things to me and I really wish people who are building for the first time had a team like mine but sadly, after being on this website for a few years now and seeing the anguish and heartbreak from many on here it seems I may be a minority.

            The only advice I can really give is keep asking questions! And then ask some more! Paper trails people! Keep everything recorded and saved in an orderly fashion so you can use it to cover your butt at a later stage if need be. Talk to past clients in person and go and physically view the finished build and last but by no means least, get a bloody good lawyer that knows his stuff.

            It may be a small amount of justice that was served here but I’m smiling none the less.

            Thanks Marie

            1. Hi MJ, when you say you have done a few projects do you mean with SIP’s ? Thanks for your support, it’s appreciated. We had a good laugh when C G Senior objected to the use of a middle name when he is doing exactly the same, especially as it’s hard to find Grant Senior but easy to find Campbell Grant Senior online. We had not noticed that there were no photos of C G Senior, but I do take your point. We have been informed by some of those unfortunate tradesmen (ie for payment) that there was something of interest online & they sent a link. His partner (Mr Pene) is in the press occasionally, especially ‘Stuff’ and see Thermawise have received Government funding for training in their ‘building method’ – we can only hope it’s not a sign on things to come.Unfortunately he is now an angry man who can’t see what’s self evident to the untrained eye, never mind the trained eye. After a Master Builders (MB) report was produced to show him his errors, then he was even walked around by the MB & a lawyer he seems to think it’s a matter of opinion. It’s short sighted of him but what else can be done ? The MB report concurred with the local authority report, which was a fail – so no CCC until we can have all the errors corrected. We had not noticed that there were no photos of C G Senior, so we do take your point. We had been informed by some of those tradesmen (who had to wait for payment) that there was something of interest online & they sent a link. His partner (Mr Pene) is in the press occasionally, especially ‘Stuff’ & I see Thermawise have received Government funding for training in their ‘building method’ – we can only hope it’s not a sign on things to come. They do use an address but it’s C G Senior’s home address, but point taken and the trust issue is now on red alert !

              1. Got to agree with Marie. Time to complain to the LBP as not happy with the extension, job or the builder and now in legal tangle over money.

                1. Hi Shannon, me too on the legal tangle over money – but at least it means that there is a lawyer involved, or should I say yet another lawyer – this one is the third – I think ! I have also been in contact with the LBP who have told me (on many occasions, also relayed to Mr Senior) me that this demand is against their handbook rules as an LBP cannot make a final claim until a CCC is issued by the local authority, as well as a walk thru to assess ‘discrepancies’, neither has occurred therefore no claim can be made.

                  We have been forwarded his trade me listing by some of his ‘subbies’ as he is trying to sell his house, pity it’s built with dodgy materials, Horowhenua DC, quote : “the walls are plastered asbestos, a later addition is timber and asbestos and the roofing is urethane”, so he might find it a bit difficult to sell.

  4. Hi Dan, I know your post was a long time ago but I was just wondering how you got on? We are looking at builders in KeriKeri and Absolute is one we are considering.

    1. Hi Nash, Click ctrlF, and put Sentinel in search box. Lots of comments. But can’t see anything for ZYJ. Weird name for a builder!

    2. Hi Nash
      We are looking at doing a small development on our site on the North Shore. Reached out to various companies that seemed to have mostly good reviews. Sentinel were the only ones who came back promptly. (some never did, some asked a question or two and then never contacted again) We have moved through the planning stage and are headed for resource consent. Communication has been great, excellent listening from a very good architect has got us to plans we are really pleased with and now we have transitioned smoothly to dealing with the subdivision team. So far no complaints and very happy to be dealing with some very open efficient communicators.

  5. Has anyone had any experience with Frontline Earthmoving and Drainage or BCG Civil?
    I have search this site (ctrl F) and found no mention of either.

  6. Very disappointed and frustrated with MDL ( Metzger Builers). Built with them several years ago. They came across as very nice at first, but didn’t care about the big costly problems caused by faulty installation of different parts of the house. They offer the Master Build Guarantee, but it is of no use. Unable to post any google reviews to warn others as this feature has been removed when you google their name.

  7. Hi
    I am trying to get a handle on the price of building my house now. With construction prices rising, mainly for timber, I wanted to understand the proportion of timber cost in the house. It is a brick and fiber cement board cladding house. Any idea please post. Thanks


  8. We are in the process of purchasing a section in Coatesville, Rodney, Auckland, and are keen for peoples experience with local building companies. We’re looking into G J Gardener, Sentinal and Golden Homes at the moment.

  9. So you want to find a reputable builder.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!

    The residential sector is one of if not the greatest scams currently. They will lock you in with promises and words and take a pocket full of your money. Because you are afraid to lose that deposit you will continue with the process because you feel obligated and well they have your money. Listen to your gut and walk away from that $5K plus. They are sales men, the more they sell you the more you want it because we all want the best but are rarely able to afford it. Manage your expectations.

    The system is not designed to deliver on time, within budget, or to a high standard. You are extremely lucky if you tick one of these boxes. If you are successful, please let us know. What we all need to consider is many of todays building contractors were those once employed builders who were responsible for building many of the leaky homes. Those homes leaked because the designated fasteners were “too dear” and replaced by fasteners not fit for purpose combined with a “we’ll give it a go attitude.” It was not a skills shortage, it was an expectation to “get it done” issue. If you think that’s changed, book yourself mental health services three years ahead of time as there is currently a waiting list of 2 years for mental health services and generally takes a year end to end to build your house. Don’t forget inflation, supply chain issues, and building contractors charging higher prices for labour but still baying apprentices $20 an hour to build your house when they charge you $70 plus hourly to $120(“labour shortage”) for that $20 apprentice the government ends up covering with their apprenticeship programme that pays an employer $300 or so a week to develop and train the apprentice.

    A failure to manage expectations, a race to the bottom, and a non-litigious society holds builders/contractors to very little, if any to account. Your best protection is protecting you from yourself. Your second best protection is to hire a lawyer who’s ‘specialty’ is construction law and third you may want to hire your own project manager. It cost $$$, but home building budgets are being blown out on average of $100K. And that is not an accident. It is by design. They work on commission.

    The odds are stacked against home owners because we are very trusting, we don’t like to make a fuss and complain, we don’t know contract law, we don’t know the process, builders will stack the odds in their favor, and the government stacks the construction disputes process against home owners.

    Residential building companies know this and they capitalise on this. It all comes down to the wording in the contract and eventually enforcement as they attempt to use substituted material in Covid times and cheap labour. Most of us are not qualified to interpret building contracts, and a large number of “professionals” are not either. Maybe take up religion and pray as well.

    1. iCowboy,
      I presume you are just referring to the group building companies. In that case I pretty much agree with all your comments.
      That doesn’t mean you can’t find a good builder. There are some excellent builders out there. I have met some brilliant craftsmen builders who have built structures which put a smile on my face every time I look at them. Unfortunately they a rarity.
      The combination of removing resource consenting and low trade standards means that our cities are going to become more and more like shanty towns as time goes on.
      I find the bleak outlook for the housing stock in NZ quite distressing and upsetting.

      1. Chris,
        I concur.

        Rarity they are. Brilliant craftsman builders.

        Unfortunately, I have only come across “builders,” with the exception of a brilliant craftsman carpenter who’s interior finishings on boats were immaculate. Sadly he passed from an industry related illness due to poor health and safety regulations he believed he contracted as a young apprentice expected to “get it done” and unknown to him, removed contaminated material with suspected asbestos without any form of PPE.

        And yes. I am referring to the group building companies for the most part.

        What many on this forum have to take into account is NZ a nation of managers and project managers who subcontract work to builders. All the responsibility and liability now falls on builders and tradies. Inspectors responsible for signing off on restricted building work has had their concerns as well signing off on restricted building they shouldn’t.

        If you are planning to build, you may want to research the employee turnover rate of a group building company or building contractor on trademe, seek, or some other job hire platform. It will give you an indication of how overstretched they are. When contractors outside of Auckland and Wellington start to offer $40 plus an hour, they are desperate for staff and have overextended their resources. I suggest not to go with them, especially if they are advertising now. Contractors and recruitment agencies throw in individuals who have never worked together. Projects and your home build will suffer. You want to find a construction crew that has worked together for at least 4 to 5 home builds.

        1. For further research of a group building company, builder, contractor, tradie, etc. you can google search ONECheck which gives you further detail of a business or builder. The information provided will give you an indication if the business is registered, a LLC, Sole Trader, address of operation, phone number(some), and email address. It will also provide you with information regarding shares in the business. You can further research this info on social media to see, etc. You’re doing the same research HR or a recruitment agency would perform when vetting a prospective employee.

          For those of you who are able to read between the lines, the information provided in ONECheck should give you an indication of what and who you are dealing with. Sole Traders generally don’t have the financial backing to account for muck ups and neither will most contractors that operate paycheck to paycheck.

          A business can have flash vehicles, doesn’t mean they do flash work.

    2. I wish we’d known about this before we started “building” our first home with Navigation Homes. The build is yet to begin and we’ve been constantly rushed through with promises of being able to make changes later only to be told that we should have made the changes at an earlier stage because now we’ll have to pay extra. They seem very uninterested in helping to get you your dream home and would much rather you just go with what’s easiest for them.

      We were also told they weren’t sure of the dimensions of our land but it would definitely be quite narrow and therefore we designed our house to suit only to find out later that we had ten metres spare out the sides of the house. When we realised we were met with attitude and annoyance that we had the audacity to want to consider changing the plan. The idea was then quickly shut down with the fact that if we wanted to change the plan we would pay more for the same floor size due to market price increases.

      I was very trusting of them as I believed that knowing we were first home buyers they would help guide us but that has been far from the case. This has put me off ever wanting to build again in future.

      1. Hi Sam,
        This is classic. You would one of thousands of people in this country who have a similar experience to share. My advice – use an independent builder who is prepared (and has the capability) to manage the project through. Avoid group building companies at all cost!

      2. If it’s Navigation Homes Christchurch, I would stay well clear. The owner of that is a nasty piece of work. Known for being a bully, abusive and threatening.

  10. MH Builders Waikato

    So today I learnt that the wardrobe frame built by MD Builders almost 2 years ago is not square by 11 millimeters!! My doors will not close flush.

    The whole project with them was micky mouse. They lined the walls before their electrician came to wire, used the wrong trim and now I find this. I am so glad I chose not to go with them for our big reno. I highly recommend NOT USING MH Builders.

    However JCC uD did do our reno and they were amazing.If you want a good job done by quality cleaver builders go with them !!

  11. Any advise on using Ashcroft homes to develop a property in Auckland? I have heard many good comments but has anyone had a bad experience?
    we are not developers but want to develop this property so that we can make use of the tax benefit with new builds. we are complete novices.

    1. Plenty of previous comments – Ctrl F
      In summary:
      Ashcroft cheap low quality.
      Good development option if it is just about the numbers and not concerned about quality.
      Frustrating for onlookers like me who see the landscape littered with low quality housing stock.

  12. We are looking to get a new house built in South Canterbury and maybe using Versatile Homes.
    Has anyone got any recommendations or other comments.
    Any input would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Rob,
      We are on search for a builder to build our first home in Rolleston. So far the top 3 in our list are . Peter Ray Homes, Build by design and Green land homes. Their pricing and specification are better than bigger companies. Worth having a chat.

  13. We finally managed to secure a section in Rolleston Christchurch. Looking for builder recommendations. It is our first home so don’t really know what are we walking in to yet.

    We have a meeting with Signature Homes this weekend .What are some of the important points we should discuss with the builder to avoid a surprise. We want to stick to our budget.

    If you built in Christchurch recently please share your experience. Any recommendations will be apricated

    1. Hey Kumar – congrats on the section. Builders in Chch that I would recommend through personal experience are: Greenland Homes, Peter Ray Homes, DNA Structures Ltd (I work for DNA – they are really good guys). I have also heard Peter Quinn is good and also friends have built with Que Homes (Justin McDonald) and Kevler Homes and been pleased. Good luck with your build.

    2. Congratulations on the section!
      I built in Selwyn a couple of years ago with Build By Design and would happily use them again. Definitely recommend talking to them.

  14. We are about to build in South Auckland. Our franchise builder has asked for an extra 30k to make our contract fixed price (remove pc sums for earthworks and material escalation clauses). Is this normal in the current climate or are we being held to ransom?

    1. James, that’s one of the dodgiest things I’ve ever heard and I’ve been subscribed to this blog for years! That’s like your builder is saying ‘cough up 30k and I won’t abuse the pc sums, if you don’t I can’t guarantee that I wont’

      Chris will weigh in on this and he’s the contract expert but PC sums can actually have a fairly close estimation put on them, and if the guys you’re building with won’t give you this figure (effectively making it a fixed price) I would run a mile in the opposite direction.

      I know that there really isn’t any such thing as a fixed price, but with a good contract looked over by a good construction lawyer and with very close observation by you (eg, don’t let them make any changes during your build without written consent by you) this can be achieved.

      Contract! Good, specialised lawyer! Might cost you a few $$ beforehand but can save you tens of thousands later on. Not to mention what it saves you in stress, you can’t put a price on that and if they won’t agree to any changes in the contract your lawyer advises then again, run in the opposite direction.

      Their request for $30k to alter the pc sums clause in their contract is a huge alarm bell and if it were me I wouldn’t even waste my time or money taking this to a lawyer, I’d get out.

      Please let us know how you get on? I’d love to hear what reasoning your builder gives for this?

    2. Hi James, Usually I agree with pretty much everything that MJ says. For once I have to say I can see why he would have some concerns, but I don’t entirely agree with everything he’s said.
      First I’d just nitpick a bit on the use of the term PC sum. If you click ctrl F and search PC (ie Prime Cost) and Provisional (Sum), I’ve said before what I think is the difference. Typically for things like earthworks, I believe it should be Provisional Sum (or Quantity), which means a dollar amount allowed for something when the final quantity is hard to calculate at the time you sign the Contract.
      Everything I say here is on the assumptions that:
      a) you are dealing with a reasonably honest builder, so you can consider this offer at face value,
      b) you have checked out the Contract in other respects, and you’re happy with it,
      c) there are no ‘weasel words’, through which the builder can make adjustments to the final price (or at least not for the items you believe you’ve ‘paid’ to fix),
      d) you’re not the kind of Client who likes to vary lots of stuff during the build, laying yourself open to the re-negotiation of the price.
      All construction contracts are basically about the allocation of risk. When builder’s are in competition for jobs, they are often pushed to reduce the price to get work. So it can be a risky business, with quite low margins. If Clients want a fixed price the builder has to guess at what materials, labour and subbies will cost, often many months in advance. So the more they can reduce the risk, by having parts of the work paid according to their actual costs + a profit margin, the easier it is to stay in business. The question is how much are you prepared to pay the builder to take on the risk of price increases, so you don’t have to?
      On a number of occasions I’ve said to a builder or consultant give me a fixed price for a job, and if that means you have to charge a bit extra to cover your risk that’s OK. Just tell me the price, and let me decide whether to accept it. And I’ve found it usually works to my benefit (or at least peace of mind) in the end.
      So I’m not quite as horrified as MJ is with the builder’s offer. To me it’s just a reasonable suggestion, which you can accept if you think it’s worthwhile. I would hope that there’s no suggestion the builder will abuse the Prov Sums if you don’t accept. Although if they’re just a sum of money, with no quantities or rates attached, that’s always a possibility. I mean if you don’t know what the original sum was for, then how do you know if a revised sum is fair?
      I have no idea what you expect the final build price to be, the value of the Provisional Sums, or the expected cost and quantity of the earthworks. So I don’t know what percentage of the Contract $30K is. But I assume it can’t be more than about 5%. So I guess the questions you need to ask yourself are, in a worst case scenario:
      a) How much extra might the earthworks cost? That will depend on the type of foundations, how much site investigation you’ve done, the time of year and the weather, and of course how much the earthworks subbie charges when the works are carried out. Sometimes, as MJ says, that can be reasonably easy to assess. But sometimes it isn’t. Which is why Prov Sums are used.
      b) How much might the price of materials go up over the course of the build? Has the builder already based his price on assuming some increase, or just taken present day prices, knowing he can charge you for any increases? How will you feel if/when that happens? Can you perhaps agree on a maximum % increase, so you are kind of sharing the risk?
      c) If the builder had never offered you this option, and had just quoted you a ‘fixed price’ that already included the $30K, would you have accepted it?
      I hope that’s some help with your decision.

      1. Yes, as usual Chris you are the level headed one and I just react first and think later so sorry James if I alarmed you but I suppose the whole thing hinges on your contract as it stands now.

        The last build I did I got several different quotes from builders and building companies and one thing that I remember was that each had it’s own version and variations as to what constitutes a PC. Some were more confident at setting prices on certain things while others were not but not one of them was the same and the only thing that was similar, which our lawyer always found (bless him) was that the wording was vague which was intentional for many of these outfits. We asked for changes to the wording, 99% of these quotes said No, we never make changes to our standard contracts and we walked away. Simple.

        So if your contract has clear definitions of what they consider to be a PC then as Chris pointed out, it’s probably not a bad way to go especially given the state of building materials and transit delays etc at the moment. The issue I had (and again I apologise for not making this clearer and sounding all doomsdayish) is that this offer has only been presented to you now and by the sounds of it you are well on your way to putting in your first pile? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

        I see an awful lot of people become over-invested either financially or emotionally in their build before the due diligence is done, only for the terms to change at the last minute and they feel they have no choice but to say yes and keep going because they would lose too much to say no and I don’t want this amended clause to be like that for you. As Chris has said numerous times, to walk away from $5k’s worth of drawings etc because the contract is sub-par could possibly save you $50k down the line.

        Get your lawyer to look over it, even be the devils advocate and argue it’s pros and cons with you. I know at the end of the day $30k is a drop in the ocean compared to what you’ll eventually part with but that’s all your landscaping, fencing and perhaps decking funds so take the time to think it through. Don’t let them rush you. If they put pressure on you to accept before you can do some sums then maybe it is a little hinky?

        Let us know how you get on?

      2. Yes, as usual Chris you are the level headed one and I just react first and think later so sorry James if I alarmed you but I suppose the whole thing hinges on your contract as it stands now.

        The last build I did I got several different quotes from builders and building companies and one thing that I remember was that each had it’s own version and variations as to what constitutes a PC. Some were more confident at setting prices on certain things while others were not but not one of them was the same and the only thing that was similar, which our lawyer always found (bless him) was that the wording was vague which was intentional for many of these outfits. We asked for changes to the wording, 99% of these quotes said No, we never make changes to our standard contracts and we walked away. Simple.

        So if your contract has clear definitions of what they consider to be a PC then as Chris pointed out, it’s probably not a bad way to go especially given the state of building materials and transit delays etc at the moment. The issue I had (and again I apologise for not making this clearer and sounding all doomsdayish) is that this offer has only been presented to you now and by the sounds of it you are well on your way to putting in your first pile? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

        I see an awful lot of people become over-invested either financially or emotionally in their build before the due diligence is done, only for the terms to change at the last minute and they feel they have no choice but to say yes and keep going because they would lose too much to say no and I don’t want this amended clause to be like that for you. As Chris has said numerous times, to walk away from $5k’s worth of drawings etc because the contract is sub-par could possibly save you $50k down the line.

        Get your lawyer to look over it, even be the devils advocate and argue it’s pros and cons with you. I know at the end of the day $30k is a drop in the ocean compared to what you’ll eventually part with but that’s all your landscaping, fencing and perhaps decking funds so take the time to think it through. Don’t let them rush you. If they put pressure on you to accept before you can do some sums then maybe it is a little hinky?

        Let us know how you get on? I’d be interested to see if this offer is popping up a little more frequently now due to the current climate?

  15. Sentinel homes.
    We are looking at building a house in the west/north Sentinel franchise area. I’ve had a search through the comments and there are a few questions, but not many answers about them!
    I’d love to hear from any of you who have had history with them.

    1. Hi Riley,
      We have moved seamlessly through the planning stage and into subdivision area and RC with Sentinel. As yet, nothing at all has been amiss and their open communication has been great, planning stage has gone without a hitch

  16. Seen one comment on Platinum Homes, Northland. Know issues with the Wellington franchise. Does anyone have experience of Northland franchise to share? Anyone building with them currently? Is there a more reputable company to build in Bay of Islands?

  17. We are planning a new build in Tauranga with Golden Homes aka Steel Frame Constructions.
    We own the land. The build contract has not been signed, and we are not in an urgent rush.
    What attracted us was their flexibility to change the plans to meet our specific requirements. The sales rep has been great and very accommodating, but their build contract is incredibly one sided. They even have a cap of $130,000 on their warranty liability which is a red flag to me.
    I have read every negative (and the odd positive) comment about Golden Homes, but not much relating to Golden Homes Tauranga.
    I would love to hear of any recent experiences and any advice on contract changes that make it fairer for the client.

    1. Hi Mark, Good to hear you’ve used the Ctrl F function to check for comments on GH. You could use it to also search for words like ‘contract’ and ‘franchise’. But a bit worrying to hear that despite most of the comments being negative you still hope that somehow the one in Tauranga will be different to the others. You could of course be right, but I guess that depends on whether or not the negative comments related to things that would probably apply to all builders under the same franchise. Personally I would not be too impressed just with the fact that they’re willing to change their plans. In fact I’d be amazed if they didn’t, especially if you still haven’t signed a contract. Why would they not? After all you’re going to pay for whatever plan you settle on. And many builders might like the kind of Client who carries on changing the plans after the contract has been signed. More excuses to charge for variations and delays.
      Difficult to give advice on how to make the contract fairer, without knowing what Form they use, and what it says. But the fact that you already said it’s incredibly one-sided is a huge red flag. And you haven’t said whether they’re even open to the idea of making changes.
      Regarding the point about a cap on their warranty liability, I think you should check whether general consumer law even allows this, because I don’t recall seeing or hearing any mention of it before. And frankly I would find it quite worrying that they even try it on.

      1. Hi Chris, thanks for your prompt reply. I am happy to send you a copy of the Golden Homes contract if you are interested. There is also an addendum to the contract which includes a number of extra safe guards for them, such as;

        Excluded from the Completion and Defects Warranty are the following:
        1(a) Any consequential damage or loss or costs of whatsoever nature, whether arising through the negligence of any party or otherwise, including (but not limited to) loss or damage to any part of The Work, payment of rent and the cost of alternative accommodation and travelling expenses where such damage, costs or loss are as a consequence of non-completion, defective work or materials.

        5. The maximum liability of the Builder in respect of all claims under the Warranties shall be limited in aggregate to the sum of NZD$130,000 including GST or the Contract Price in accordance with the Building Contract, whichever is the lesser.

        Based on my research, strangely the supplier/builder CAN contract out of NZ law (FTA and CGA) IF there is an agreement in writing and the supplier and purchaser agree to it.

        In addition to this, there is no cancellation clause for the client to cancel for any reason.

        We are discussing these points now, and they have been open some small amendments so far, but these may end up being a show stopper.

        We have added a lot of extras including higher spec PC items, tiling, driveway, bathrooms, kitchen, scullery, electrical and there is a $70K cost for earthworks.

        Our total $/m2 is just under $3000

        I have no experience with other builders/contracts to judge if these clauses are particularly harsh or normal and whether the total cost is reasonable.

        Any advice welcome.

        1. Hi Mark, Quite a lot to digest there. Probably not worth you sending me the whole contract, because it seems you’ve already got enough to raise several red flags, so me raising more won’t solve the basic problems. And I suspect reading it would spoil my day. But I congratulate you on being wise enough to look critically at the contract before handing over any money, or signing anything. It seems a lot of people get so tied up in the plans and cost, that the contract becomes a kind of afterthought.
          First, as a disclaimer, I must say that I am (or was) a civil engineer by profession. So I have quite a lot of experience of managing, and to some extent writing, construction contracts. So I have a good idea of what I expect to see, and don’t want to see, in building contracts. But I’m not a lawyer, and I think it may have reached a stage where you would be wise to consult one before signing anything.
          Having said that, before you do I have a few comments on what you’ve said so far, more or less starting from the bottom of what you wrote and working up:
          If you want to get an idea of what a reasonable contract looks like you could check out NZ Standard 3902:2004, or the NZ Institute Of Architects Small Works Contract. There are others available if you want to do more research. When you consult a lawyer these might help with what questions you need to ask.
          The last (and frankly the only) house we built in NZ was in Auckland in 2015/16, but from that experience, from various comments I’ve seen, and experience of a friend currently getting quotes, I’d say $3K/m2, for a reasonably conventional design (ie not very architectural), but with all the stuff you mention included, sounds about right. But I’m sure someone will come on here, and claim to have done it for half the price!
          A building contract with no provision for the Client to cancel for any reason sounds unbelievable, and I’m not even sure it’s valid in law. Of course they can try it on to see whether anyone falls for it.
          I didn’t read through the whole of that link you gave, but in it under Sources Of Law, CGA, I spotted ‘Parties cannot contract out of the CGA, unless they are both in trade, where they agree in writing to contract out, and it is fair and reasonable to do so.’ I assume you’re not ‘in trade’, so I can’t see how it can be fair and reasonable for you to give up all your rights under law. I suggest you also check Consumer Protection for Building Work, implied warranties under the Building Act, and minimum/implied contract requirements for building work over $30K.
          Why on earth would any client want to agree to the clause about the builder’s maximum liability being $130K? Obviously problems with a seriously defective building could easily cost more than that. Again, I suspect it’s not even legal in a residential contract.
          Similarly with the weird (and I suspect written by a builder himself) clause about negligence etc. They might get away with this in a commercial contract, but I think not in private residential construction. Possibly they can try to exclude some of the stuff about rent, accommodation and travelling expenses. But if you have a clause (which I assume you don’t) about payment to you of Liquidated Damages/per day for delayed completion, then things like rent for alternative accommodation might be one of the things taken into account in assessing that.
          Obviously some quite interesting technical and legal questions raised here. Maybe we’ll get lucky, and a construction lawyer will comment (free of charge of course).

          1. Hi All,
            I have mentioned this before but will say again. When getting contracts reviewed by a layer it is critical that a specialist construction lawyer be used. Using a generalist legal firm is a complete waste of time in my experience. I used a generalist to review my extremely one sided Signature Homes contract and they told me it was all good. A couple of years later when trying to dig myself out of a massive hole I engaged a specialist (Matt Taylor in Auckland). He was extremely helpful in helping me to navigate my way back to a reasonable settlement. Very happy to recommend Matt and team.

            1. Hi Mark, I totally agree with Chris on this. I’ve said something similar before myself, but I guess I should have said it again. Most lawyers here claim to understand construction contracts, but when I consulted a couple I found that not all do. Fortunately I knew enough to realise that, which is why I suggested you look at the Forms I mentioned, so you can ask more informed questions.
              Perhaps not necessary if you consult the lawyer Chris has mentioned. Although of course, in the nature of things, the very builders who have a poor contract to start with are the ones who are generally most reluctant to change it. So even though your lawyer suggests all sorts of wonderful changes, you’ve wasted your money if the builder just rejects them all. (One of the franchise builders I had discussions with said the owner of the franchise does not allow them to alter their contract.)
              So perhaps you could ‘test the water’, by trying to assess the extent to which the builder is willing to make any changes at all, before spending money on legal fees.
              For example try asking whether they’re open to using a completely different contract (eg like NZS), or maybe just try lifting a ‘Cancellation by Client’ type clause from one of those contract forms I mentioned (or even the Master Build contract), and ask him why he doesn’t have a clause like that.
              Good luck.

        2. Hi Mark
          I hope you get on OK with GH Tauranga – I have to say that GH are extremely reluctant in my experience (built with them up in Auckland and down in SI) to amend anything in their contracts – was pretty much told “like it or leave it” when I asked to make changes based on what my solicitor said and they were only minor not very important things. Also note comments regarding Golden Homes “Guarantee” which at the time I built was extremely limited and is underwritten by pretty much the same company. They may have changed this I don’t know. I had a horrible experience with Chch GH franchise but understand they have now changed hands and have heard good things about the new people. What I would suggest is to try to find people who have built with GH Tauranga and guage their experience both with the quality of the build and cost overruns etc. 🙂

  18. G J Gardner homes. Much is being advertised as the most trusted home builder. However, we bought a 2013 G J Gardner built home two years ago and have been finding numerous workmanship faults AND design faults. Rats and mice had gotten into the roof space over the years, and although the previous owner had set traps there was quite a lot of chewed up air conditioning ducting. After trapping mice myself, I finally found that the chimney surround had not been sealed off at the bottom. Easy climb for any rodent. Once sealed off, no more mice. The cabinet around the fridge space with a cupboard over the top had ONE SCREW holding it in. One slinding closet door was extremely difficult to adjust because of a hump in the foundation. The walk up to the front door was too steep and friends with walking problems found it very difficult to step up through the front door. Even my fit flexible self wa in trouble from the foot angle on the entry way to skid forward, so the current solution is a very big, slid resistant matt. The driveway entrance to the main road was unnecessarily steep such that most standard cars scrape their noses. Trucks have a hard time draggin their back ends. The slope could easily have been less with proper thought to the extensive driveway area above the entrance. There aren’t any outlets in the bathrooms (bad advice to the owner). The door from the garage to the inside of the house is very poorly oriented and a constant irritant trying negotiate. Bathroom light fixtures had to be changed as poor design and nearly impossible to service. All in all a very poor job.

    1. Hey Derek,

      I work as part of the Head Office team for GJ’s. Sorry to hear about your issues concerning your build. While not a very common occurrence, it is always disappointing to receive a communication from a client of one of our franchisees where expectations have not been met.
      Could we ask that you email us via so we can gain a better understanding of your situation with a view to resolving with our local franchise?
      Thank you.

      1. Hi Derek

        Don’t bother emailing the GJs head office. They don’t want to know you when you have problems. Remember trusted is based on the Readers Digest not people who have built with them!

        1. Hi Goo, On the face of it I thought Caley’s response to Derek was very reasonable, especially since he was talking about a house that’s 8 years old, and was 6 years old when he bought. Also most of the design faults he mentioned clearly were not bad enough to put him off buying it.
          To me it is a serious concern that it’s my impression from this blog that most franchise HQs don’t seem to take much action or responsibility regarding actions/omissions of their franchisees, so it’s a pity to discourage one who seems prepared to.
          Surely a more constructive approach would be to first report yourself on why you said what you did about GJs, and secondly hope that Derek takes up GJs offer, and then reports how it goes.
          For the record I have no connection whatsoever with GJs, and don’t even know anyone who has actually built with them (other than the people who swear by them on TV most nights!)

          1. Search me on the blog. We built through GJs and had dealings with the head office. My comment was based on personal experience.

            1. Hi Goo, I did not mean to imply in any way that your comment on GJs was incorrect, or not based on your actual experience. I would certainly be happy to refer back to your previous comments if I could. Unfortunately when you enter your name in the CtrlF search box it also throws up every instance of the word ‘good’, of which there are hundreds, more than I have the patience to look at. Similarly if you enter ‘gj’.
              Are you able to suggest something else which I could enter, such as the month (and preferably also date) you wrote, eg ‘october 6’.

  19. I would like to know if anyone has had a Master Builders claim with a builder who is no longer a member of Master Builders . We have defects that have not been finished by the builder,. When I contacted MB I was told his (the builder) Membership is ceased. I am concerned the builder will not finish the defects but MB told me he still has an obligation. Does anyone else has had the same happen to them?

    1. Hi Jeannie,

      We have had issues with a builder who did have a current and valid Master Build membership at the time and we found Masterbuild absolutely useless in helping us to arrange remedial work for huge defects with our build that were not only built to the plans but we’re structurally dangerous too. The council failed his work on almost every inspection and it failed epically on the COC yet Masterbuild not only ignored our build and our very obvious concerns and actually backed the builder 100% when it came to litigation! Citing faulty products, transit damage and even that we had intentionally damaged our own build to discredit the builder!

      I hate to say it but these days if a builder is aligned with Masterbuild, most people would walk the other way. Masterbuild is a subscription service paid for by the builder. Masterbuild therefore works for the builder and not you. If you go through this blog you will find hundreds of posts with stories very similar to mine and my advice to you is save yourself the stress, don’t try and use Masterbuild for any help or advice at all and go straight to a building and construction lawyer while your defects are still new and obvious. It’ll be harder for the builder to argue anything the quicker all your issues are documented, and a good building and construction lawyer will have their own team of experts to assess what remedial work needs doing.

      Sorry to be so brutal but the sooner Masterbuild goes the way of the Dodo, the sooner innocents folks such as yourselves will stop being fed the lies that Masterbuild is there for your security and peace of mind. It may have been an upstanding institution once, but not anymore and I really can’t see it trading on it’s good name for too much longer either. The best builders we’ve used since most definitely do not subscribe to MB and that says a lot.

    2. Hi Jeannie, As usual MJ makes a lot of sense, and his suggestions are probably the way to go.
      I’m not a lawyer, but I would have thought that whether your builder is currently a MB member is not relevant. What should matter is whether he was at the time the MB Guarantee was taken out, and whether the Guarantee was properly arranged and paid for. That’s why I’ve suggested in the past that all clients should check with MB at the start whether they actually have a guarantee in place.
      Having said that, of course I don’t know whether in that case MB would owe you any money if the builder defaults in some way, or more important whether they would pay it out.
      I would be interested to hear whether anyone reading this has ever received any money from MB, or even has a good word to say about them.

      1. Chris! We could solve the problems of the entire world I’m sure!

        Yes, I would Love to hear one good deed about Masterbuild from anyone on this blog!


        Is it me Chris or is all I hear an echo?……


        1. Thanks MJ and Chris C for your comments . We have already spent thousands of dollars to the Lawyer. Just hoping there is someone who has had similar experiences as us. When I asked MB if it was them or the builder who “ceased” the membership they said they could not comment! I presume it would be MB as the builder has other complaints made against him. We made the claim with MB nearly four years ago so it is not a recent disput .We need to put this place on the market asap but can’t until the defects are finished.

    3. And I forgot to add that a building and construction lawyer can use all the expert reports and put together a sound case for the LBPB as well which you will need if you do intend to take his licence to task.

      Sadly the LBPB do have a reputation for being a little on the limp side with regards to reprimanding shoddy cowboy builders but it can be done (we have done it very successfully) and sometimes with the double threat of legal representation and a complaint to the LBPB it may be just enough for your builder to see sense.

      I hope you don’t need to use any of these avenues and he shows up first thing tomorrow morning with an apology and a full team at the ready to fix his mistakes.

      Good luck and let us know How you get on.

    4. Hi Jeannie,
      You’re not in Nelson area are you.
      Our experience briefly: we hired builder (Atlas Building Services) and paid deposit on job early June on the basis of their being a Master Builder . They were kicked out of Master Builders June 21st. We told Builder services no longer required subsequently . Now we can’t get our money back off Builder due to his level of debt. Complained to Master Builders on the basis that Atlas were members of Master Builders at time of hiring and payment of deposit. They are no help.

      1. Hi David, we are in the North Island. When we were not getting anywhere with Master Builders I sent an email to MB CEO David Kelly explaining we were not getting anywhere he referred our email to Ms Kirsty Forman who we dealt with for many months. Still not getting very far. Our complaint was then sent to Fairways for mediation. The builder pulled out of all negotiations. As a last resort and great expense we engaged a lawyer which helped us through this stressful time. To date the builder has not completed the defects required by MB legal team. We have now been told by MB the builders membership has ceased. Where to from here for us is anyone’s guess?

      2. Hi David (and Jeannie again), my sympathy to both of you, and David you must take the record between paying a deposit and then being shafted by a builder. In fact so quickly that it could be worth investigating whether there might actually be some kind of fraud involved (eg taking further payments from clients, when you are well aware that you cannot carry out the work, or pay the money back).
        Previously I’ve mentioned about checking with MB whether someone has actually applied and paid for your guarantee, and it’s in place (it doesn’t come automatically, just because the builder is a MB member). One other reason for it not being in place (which happened to me) is that the builder has not paid his annual membership fee, which I suspect is the reason he was kicked out in this case. Although in fact after I chased him he did pay, and then I got my guarantee paperwork.
        Just a few thoughts that might help other people, even if they don’t help you:
        This case suggests to me that clients who plan to use a MB should ask MB to confirm his membership status before handing over any money.
        As I’ve said before, if the builder was a MB member, and a guarantee was in place, then I cannot see what excuse MB would have for not honouring it. For them to say they’re not involved because the builder’s membership has lapsed is just plain ridiculous. The whole point of the guarantee is to cover you against that type of situation.
        If you look on-line it says the MB Guarantee is for the following amounts:
        Loss of Deposit: Up to $50,000 or 10% of your contract price (whichever is less).
        Non-Completion: Up to $500,000 or 20% of your contract price (whichever is less).
        So if MB cannot get the builder to complete the work, or refund your money, then I can see no reason why they would not be liable for the amount you are out of pocket, up to those amounts.
        But of course we then come back to the question of whether MB ever pay out anything, under any circumstances. So far no response from anyone on that.

        1. Hi

          Good comments Chris

          One other thing I can add to your comments is that as a member of the Master Builders, you are not permitted to start onsite without the paperwork in place with the Masterbuilders so agree with your comments.

          If the builder has lost his membership after the agreement was lodged and the fees have been paid and accepted by the Masterbuilders (which also has to be done at time of lodging), I would of thought they have an obligation

  20. We recently built with Maddren Homes, and I cannot fault them. Having built with previous companies in the past, they exceeded my expectations. If you are looking for a higher end build, complete transparency throughout your build, honesty and fabulous communication, then they are the company to use. Awesome team from start to finish.

  21. Hi,
    I am looking to build a home but am unsure where to start.
    Is it easier and more cost-effective to go with a company like GJ or Mike Greer or pay an architect and go to the market.
    How do I know if they are competitive?
    I am time-poor and need to stick to my budget.
    How can I guarantee this will not morph once I sign a contract.?

    1. It will morph if you don’t read and understand the contract before signing. Watch out for PC (prime cost) and PS (provisional sums). If you don’t know what these are find out. They are generally a licence to print money, but not for your pocket.

    2. Hi Maree
      So – start here –
      If you’re happy with a standard timber clad, iron roof house, the group home builders will likely be your cheapest route, but as you’ll see from comments below, it can be hard to find a good one. A lot can depend on your region. Some franchisors are better than others, some main companies better than others. Because of the cost of building a house, doing your homework is important.
      That means talking to people about their experiences with builders. Builders are required to give you the ‘Prescribed Checklist’ ( which sets out common understandings on the project and some of their background financial viability. Make sure you have good insurance that covers the build itself, but also the risk of your builder going under and not being able to complete the project. Make sure you have a good contract – don’t take the Master Builders one. The and both have excellent alternatives.

      An architect will cost a bit more upfront, but can build your home for your budget – be firm on this and cut back to fit where necessary as your dreams and budget will often be at odds. Don’t make changes, so make sure your plans are well thought through. Architects can also act as a project manager, although consider paying to get a project manager to help you – a good one will take a world of stress out of your life.

      The project can be very exciting and rewarding but if you get the wrong people, absolutely destroying, so do your homework. You’ll find additional challenges as a woman, as many builders and tradies are still chauvinistic.

      The planning is a wonderful time as your dreams take shape. The initial build is fast and thrilling, then everything seems to slow down. The final rush is very stressful as you are forced into making decisions on materials and fixtures and unforeseen changes.

      The day you move in will hopefully be the best day of your life. Remember, there are people who can help, especially here.

    3. Hi Maree, I totally agree with everything that Mark has said. As usual he has many wise comments, and if you very inexperienced in building, or just want to minimise hassle, then getting an Architect or Project Manager involved could be money well spent. But I would just like to add a couple of comments. I assume if an Architect engages a builder on your behalf, and then supervises the Contract, he/she would probably use one of the NZ Institute Of Architects Standard Conditions Of Contract. This means you would give the Architect quite strong powers to act on your behalf in making decisions over things like quality of work, payments, variations, time extensions etc. It would also mean the Architect has the right to inspect the Works, and give instructions to the Contractor (Builder). But if you engage a Project Manager you need to think about exactly how much of these kinds of power you want to give him/her, and most importantly make sure the Contract reflects what you’ve decided. A good builder might welcome this, as a second opinion and advice on whether things are going smoothly, or could perhaps be improved. But many builders (especially the less competent or trustworthy ones) will actually hate the idea that someone who knows what they’re doing can nose around at any time, and point out their defects. So they will try to limit the PM’s access to the Site, or be quick to point out the limits of his/her powers under the Contract.
      Also bear in mind that an Architect’s job is not just to chase up the Builder, but also chase up you, if decisions you need to make are required urgently, to avoid delaying the Work. For Builders the old saying ‘time is money’ is absolutely true. So if you are the one delaying a Builder while you think about what you want, you must expect to pay for it.
      Regarding Nigel’s comments, I’ve written about these before. Try pressing Ctrl-F and putting PC or PS in the Search Box. I agree you need to be very cautious with these. But provided you know how and when to use them they can have a useful place in a Contract, for things which are either impossible to know exactly, or you don’t want to decide on, when you sign the Contract. The main thing is that they are worded in a way that does not just allow the Builder to charge whatever he likes.

  22. hi there

    I am looking at a new build too and wanting to know names of reputable builders in the Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt Wellington region

  23. hi there

    I am looking at a new build too and wanting to know names of reputable builders in the Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt Wellington region

  24. Hi guys we built with Ashcroft Homes (Auck) Limited – We built ‘The Langstone Plus’ in Beachlands. The build started in May 2019 and completed by November. It was a great process, from start to finish we had open communication and we were included from the get go. Ashcroft are an amazing company with staff who are committed to what they do.

    1. Hi all
      I’ve gone back to both June and Ashcroft Homes and I’m confident June is genuine. It really does seem there’s a good client experience here.

  25. We are looking to build in the rural Hastings area in Hawkes Bay. Would welcome any reviews of builders/building companies (good or bad).

  26. Hi, Any recommendations for a draftsman/architect in Hamilton? Given crazy house prices we are not contemplating an extension that would also include an attic office space. Just want to chat with someone about our ideas and a ball park of the costs.

  27. Can you recommend a builder in Whangapora, wanting to do major renovations to 1980s brick home .

  28. Hi All, My wife and I have started our journey to build a house and have purchased a section Ramarama area in Auckland (Franklin).

    Could someone please suggest some local builders or building companies that we could begin approaching that they recommend?

    I have taken a month but have read each and every single post that was written and learnt a great deal. I have read all of NZS3902-2004 as well as a full master builders contract. I am well and truly shocked at the stark difference between the contracts. I also feel for all the people that have run into issues with their build and builders, I really appreciate that everyone has been able to share their story so others can learn and know what to look out for.

    It seems every building company I approach wants to use the master builders contract, and also is not prepared to give me a decent estimate of prices without PC/PS they just base it on m2 data and don’t want to take the time to investigate pricing without a payment.

    I have obtained a geotech report and a site survey/topo/contour plot to assist with pricing I have also detailed a comprehensive list of our requirements including the spec of Gib, framing, insulation, windows, cladding, etc and a rough house plan.

    We are interested in building a very energy efficient well insulated house, but struggle to find builders that have any concept of what thermal bridging or differences between vapor and air barriers are. Is this expertise more something that an architect deals with rather than builders?


    1. It genuinely blows my mind how many people think building companies should invest their time and money into their project without any financial commitment while they “shop around”. If building companies did this for every Tom, Dick and Harry who walked through the door they would go broke. Plain and simple. How about people start showing some respect for the time and cost to run a small business in this country and don’t try and get everything for nothing. If you wouldn’t go to work each day without being paid, don’t expect builders too.

      1. I completely understand your comment Sarah but unfortunately for every good builder/building company there are a dozen bad ones which then taints everyone with a bad name and MB and LPB don’t help your image one bit.

        Good for you if you are an honest and hard working business owner, your work will speak for itself so nothing on this website should affect you one bit, but thanks for the insight.

      2. Fully agree. Builders build, architectural designers and architects design. Don’t go to a builder to design your house. Pay your money to a designer to do the full house plans and spec. By the way designers also don’t do something for nothing. Maybe you’ll get a half hour to an hour max. free consultation.
        Of course you do get “builders who are a one stop shop. Most commonly building franchises and there are plenty of them. You’ll get drawings and a price for a fee and if you decide not to proceed you can’t use their drawings even if you’ve paid.
        I feel sorry for the majority of people who ask for recommendations on this and that on this website. Just fortunate that I have a technical interest in a lot of engineering matters including building and consider myself an amateur architectural designer. I have the time available to do this which many people don’t and am prepared to pay when I need more specialist than myself for building design input.
        There is a Chris ….. who helps many people out on this website. I’m surprised he’s not exasperated by certain requests.

        1. Hi Nigel, Not sure if I’m the ‘Chris’ you’re referring to (there’s more than one, which is why I use ‘Chris C’). But if you are, the answer is I respond to stuff because I have the time, and like you also feel sorry for some of the people who write in. Because I can see they are in danger of being ripped off.
          I agree with most of what you wrote, and I’m sure you’re aware of the following.
          But for others benefit I would mention, as I have before, that before you sign anything or pay anything, everything is up for negotiation. And that includes what drawings/design you have paid for. If you pay anything for stuff like concept drawings make sure that you get an agreement that you will at least share ownership/copyright of the product. Because if you don’t then most likely the designer or SI company will put something on all their documents that the copyright belongs to them. Of course you have to be reasonable. If the drawings are just minor changes to a builder’s ‘standard’ book of designs, so you haven’t paid much for the changes, maybe you haven’t paid for any copyright. But if the whole thing is a new design, and you’ve paid the going rate, then why shouldn’t it also belong to you?
          Having said that, the kind of ‘drawings’ most franchise builders use as the basis for a price estimate seem to be just floor plans, and elevations (if you’re lucky).
          So you don’t need to make many tweaks (I’ve been told only about 10%) for it to become your ‘original’ design. Problem solved.

      3. Fair comment. But building companies should respect consumers, too. I just went through a four month “process” with a design and build company. They gave a house/land package estimate and, based on that, deposit was paid. They suggested getting a “custom build” and I agreed, based on their assurance that the final price would come within the budget I gave them. They advertise that they work to budget, so I understood the onus was on them to get pretty close. After four months tweaking plans, the house/land came in $200,000 over budget (over 20%), with possibly more to pay. So I chose to walk, mainly because I had lost all trust at that stage based on how they operated.
        A complete waste of time.

        1. Learned a bitter sweat lesson signing a contract with a reputable franchisee based on a Concept Design. You think the price provided will be very close to the fixed cost price once working drawings and Building Consent is issued. This is never the case and the fixed build price is massively overpriced when compared to the contracted price based on the Concept Design. Once you commit to a contract and you are suckered in, you then see the deception of these ‘pack of thieves.’
          Unscrupulous companies like these, are a disgrace to the Building Industry. In my case, this particular building company is virtually destroyed. All employees have left and it is only a question of time when they lose their franchise. Never underestimate the ‘Law of Karma.’

          1. “Law of Karma”- I like that. Luckily I did not sign a contract but walked away once I realised they had no intention of coming close to the estimate. Four months wasted and dream squashed. I only lost the deposit which I am being forced to go to Tribunal for (matter of principal). Unfortunately there is a gap in the law as I can only claim back the deposit while this dishonest bunch still have the house/land and can just try again for a sucker who will just pay it. There is no real penalty to dissuade this kind of behaviour? I am not the first person they have done this to. Sad also that I thought they were going to be ethical as they claim to be “green” (Green Homes NZ, Auckland). Nope!

        2. HM….sorry about that hey, but took interest in reading your comment becoz me and my wife we are in exactly the same predicament. We paid quite some money for the plans about $8k with a very reputable (we thought it was) building company, after being referred to by a friend. We visited their showhomes & we were impressed mostly my wife.
          For the past 3-4 months, we they have been tweaking and working on the plan, after giving us an initial quote which was very reasonable & competitive, we were over the moon about it…and of course with the promise that even if things change becoz of covid affected pricing, the final quote would still be within our budget. Then it came, $152 000.00 over budget. The only thing that we had changed during the tweaking of the plan was adding a balcony, this we were sure as promised would not blow us out of budget. The foundations were doubled, but even then it was only an extra $30k on foundations. Now we still cracking our heads what to do next. Going through the small print details of the quotes, we have even realized they altered & changed some of the things without our consent. I have kind of lost trust in all building companies to be honest, they all seem to be cut from the same cloth!! All my mates who have built houses have similar stories to tell….,really what is wrong with building companies..????
          We have currently scheduled a meeting with the consultant for the building company.

            1. Jeannie, I have realized most building companies are the same, there might be good guys out there, but the honest ones are hard to come by. I am somewhere in Auckland.

              1. Doesn’t sound as though it is the same “shark” that ripped us off. We are south of Whangarei and north of Auckland.

                1. Hi Jeannie we are about to sign a contract with a franchisee in whangarei. Lawyer looking over contract this week. Increasingly worried that costs will spiral and timeline lengthen. Anxious to avoid a shark

          1. Hi there
            I read your post and comments about how deceptive the Building Companies are. I have had a similar experience and it was a costly and painful one. You think you are signing up with a reputable company, that prides itself with honesty and integrity, but in reality, they are not. In my case, the contracted price which was based on a concept design changed dramatically. The Building Company refused to provide a detailed breakdown on the price variation and sighted that this information was ‘Trade Secrets.’

            I then had hired a Quantity Surveyor to independently price the Contract and the results were absolutely alarming. QS found the Building Company substantially underpriced the build to lock you into a Build Contract and once you sign up, they then rectify the under-pricing with a substantial increase to the build price.
            The disappointing thing is that Building Companies can do this because the Contract is based on Provisional Sums and Provisional Costs.
            I could go on, but this company is already paying a big price for its dishonesty and lack of integrity. All the staff including the sales reps have left and there is lots of talk within the local community about how incompetent this company is. This company is an embarrassment to the Franchise. It is only a question of time when this Company complete folds. The Law of Karma!!

        3. Hi there, this is the same concern I have. Is there any way around this?
          I too need a custom build to fit the site but concerned I will sign up to something then find the design will blow the budget.

  29. Review for new build in Rotorua (a bit late but better than never)
    I project managed my parents’ house build in the Lynmore area in 2015 and the builder John Stevens was amazing. I live in Wellington so had to manage remotely. John called me every few days and had great, direct and honest communication. Project was on time and relatively on budget. There was a massive issue with the house plans being too low leading to the lake views being impacted. John acted fast, spoke to the architect (not in house) and put options on the table with estimates. He did this many times when there were issues that inevitably happen during a build. He’s a straight talking no nonsense builder, which is why we trusted him. Downright good kiwi bloke.

  30. Hi there, wondering if anyone can recommend a builder round Blenheim? Or who to avoid!

  31. Hi
    My building consent is in the works for city fringe Auckland build. Can anyone suggest a good but reasonably priced lawyer to look through the contract with the builder? I am using a small growing builder who seems to be thought of well by earlier clients and at least one large kitchen designer firm when I discussed kitchen specs – sorry I’d rather mention names a bit later.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Sanjay, From what you say I assume the builder has already shown you a draft copy of the contract. It would help if you mentioned whether this is one of the ‘standard’ forms, such as Master Builders, Certified Builders, various franchise builders who have their own versions etc, or just one this particular builder has had produced for himself. That might give some indication of just how bad it’s likely to be.
      I used a reasonably competent solicitor to vet a contract once, but after spending my career looking at civil engineering contracts I still found it easier to look at it myself.
      My suggestion would be to first download a copy of the NZ Standards Residential Building Contract NZS3902:2004, to see what a reasonable contract should contain, and compare it with what you have been given by the builder. If nothing else it will put you in a better position to ask the lawyer and/or the builder about the differences, and why they prefer one or the other.

      1. Hi Chris
        Thanks for this. I will look through the NZ Standards contract for sure. The builder gave me a standard master builder contract over a year ago but everything got delayed with the resource consent and then the pandemic, etc., so we will be doing the contract process again now. I will compare before finding a lawyer. Thanks.

        1. Hi Sanjay, I had the house we’re now living in built, based on the then MB contract, in 2015/16. Not sure whether it has since been modified. But at that time it definitely required some modifications to make it acceptable to me. So part of the reason we used the builder we did was because he was very open to making the changes I wanted (not all builders are).
          If you have time I’d be interested to hear what your lawyer says about the MB and NZS forms, because some lawyers who claim a knowledge of building contracts don’t actually have much. Unless the MB form has been modified a lot since 2016 (which I doubt), in my view if he/she thinks it’s fine as it stands they are not giving you good advice. I would hope they suggest some changes, but some I’ve found try to sell you their own form, in the hope the builder will accept it.
          This whole issue of contracts is a kind of Catch 22. If you have a nice, honest, competent builder, who is not out to rip you off, and who you can discuss and agree things with in a reasonable way, then the contract can become almost irrelevant. But if things start to go wrong (as they so often do on any construction contract), then the only thing you have to fall back on is exactly what it says in the contract. Nothing more. So when you’re writing the contract you can hope for the best, but you must plan for the worst.
          It appears that house building in NZ can be a bit of a minefield for the inexperienced and the unlucky, so the more competent advisers you can get on your side the better. Good luck.

        2. Hi Sanjay, Sorry to follow up so quickly, but I just re-read my last entry, and something I said was perhaps not entirely true. I said you can only rely on what’s in the contract, and nothing more. I suppose I should have said that there are requirements in the Building Regs for what is required to be in any contract for work over $30K. But if the contract omits some of those requirements then I believe there are things that are ‘deemed to included’. Also you are covered by some aspects of consumer law. So I think you really need to look at the Building Regs and consumer law when you’re drafting the contract, to get the full picture

          1. Hi Chris: I have noted to compare with the NZS3902 form. Good to know about the ‘Deemed to be included’ clause. Thanks. Just now I am about to bung in the building consent application to the Council and expect to look at the builder’s contract in about a month. I will then take up your kind offer and bounce off critical issues on the contract if I may, Chris.

            Would you have an idea how much the engineering design for two standard 3-bed houses should cost? Welcome any feedback from anyone else too. Many thanks.


            1. Just to add that the two 3-bed houses are attached with a standard firewall between the two garages. Any idea of the cost for structural engineering feeding into the architect’s building Consent drawings will help. Thanks.

              1. Hi Sanjay, Happy to comment if it helps.
                To answer both your questions regarding architects/engineers fees, I guess it would depend a lot on where you live, the type of firm you approach, how ‘qualified’ people are (actual architects, or architectural designers etc), and how ‘architectural’ the design is. I think generally an architect/architectural designer would do the majority of the design, and co-ordinate Consent submissions etc. But get advice/input from a structural engineer on things like beams/lintels/foundations etc, and maybe special bits of framing such as in high wind zones.
                At the time I built it (about 5 years ago) seemed you would be lucky to get all the above input for much less than about 5% of the build cost, or maybe $40-50K. But then maybe I grossly overpaid, because I’ve seen people on this blog claiming that a friendly designer they know did the whole thing for a great deal less.
                And of course don’t forget that if you make any variations during the build it may involve more architect/engineer fees, and there may also be engineer fees if he/she needs to do site inspections during construction.
                As Sarah (presumably from a small building company) has just kindly pointed out, nobody can work for nothing.

          2. Building contracts need an addendum attached to them, being a shortened version of the specification.
            This will encourage dialogue between the Client and Builder.
            Dialogue between the two will build trust and confidence.
            The client needs to be walked through and made to understand the
            Build process. This process also needs to be in a written form.
            All documents produced by the builder should be signed.
            Clients need to look at their prospective builder, and ask can this builder produce ways to mitigate problems during the build, if they can’t, don’t proceed.

            1. Hi Gary, I agree with all you say in principle (and in an ideal world), but all of this implies you have a builder who is decent, honest, competent, and reasonable to deal with (provided of course you are also reasonable). And as I’ve said before, in that case you hardly need a contract (although that does not mean you shouldn’t have one, because even the best builder can turn awkward if he starts losing money).
              I’m not sure what you mean by a shortened version of spec. In NZ building contracts it seems the spec can be the most important thing, as it states what exactly you’re getting for your money. So of course the full spec needs to be part of the contract. And of course everything important needs to be signed.
              I think there are several documents publicly available outlining the basic build process, although anyone planning a build who does not already understand that is inviting trouble in my view.
              Regarding your last sentence, this sounds great. But on a typical build the potential problems are so many and varied it would be hard to deal with them all. The good, honest builders might try, but I guess would ask exactly what problems you have in mind. The less honest ones would say we never have any problems, or give you BS answers (Q: What will you do if you fall behind programme? A: What’s a programme? LOL. Throw in more resources!) And less experienced clients won’t know the difference.

              1. Chris C, you are the best voice on this blog. Please don’t go anywhere as everything you say is reasonable, understandable and well written and I learn something new from every single one of your posts even several years later!

                Thank you, your input does not go unnoticed 🙂

                P.s – the reason I’ve been quiet for a while is that I am mid litigation with a dodgy building company but when it’s over (if it’s ever truly over) I will be back with a gusto to share my experiences with anyone who wants to hear it. It’s amazing that court proceedings and a great lawyer (whom I shall be referring to everyone) gives you the most brutal crash course in the building industry. I’m glad I have the knowledge now but sad I had to learn this the hard way.

                In my next life I shall ask for the gift of hindsight.


                1. Hi MJ, I think you’re being too kind, but coming from someone who has written some extremely useful stuff on this blog himself (I apologise if that should be ‘herself’) I really appreciate it. You’ve made my day.
                  I look forward to hearing about your litigation in due course.

  32. Hi folks, first time potential home builder here, retirement home. Does anyone have any feedback on using Genius Modular homes, or any of the other modular home builders (who service Sth Island, looking to build in Dn) in NZ?
    Many thanks Chris in Tauranga

  33. I am looking for recommendations for a builder for a new build in Porirua.
    Has anyone has used Urban Homes and how did the whole process go

  34. Does anyone have any experience building with Advance Build? We are considering using them in Awanui, Northland.

  35. Has anyone had any good experience with builders in Wellington / Porirua. Was looking at navigation homes.

  36. Hi. We are planning to build a kit home.
    Can anyone recommend the best kit home companies in Northland or best to avoid?
    Which builders do you recommend in Keri Keri area?
    Thanks. JC

    1. Hi – I’m just wondering if you found out much about builders in Keri Keri? We are in the beginning stages of looking for building up there on our land. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear.

  37. I am trying to find reviews for Altes Homes out of Auckland/Kumeu area.
    Any comments and experiences with this builder?

  38. Hi folks, I am wanting to demolish my house on a cross lease property I own and build a new house. I found this site very informative and thanks to everybody for posting valuable comments . I am now very wary of getting my house build through Franchisee builders like GJ Gardner or A1 Homes as they are mostly pretty much the same in terms of cost overruns, time overruns etc . I am planning now to employ a town planner cum architect to do my resource consents , house design and then building consents . Then have a local builder build the house. Can some one kindly suggest whether this is a good move or are we stuck with these franchisee companies to do the builds

    1. Spot on Sunny. what you are planning to do is exactly what I would recommend. Obviously still ensure you do your research on the local builder:
      – View 3-4 recent projects they have completed.
      – Ensure they are in good shape financially.
      – Do they communicate well.

      1. Thanks Chris. Has anyone heard of CJ Saunders Carpentry Ltd. They do new builds and renovations . The owner seems to be a nice person and works based on word of mouth enquiries and references to take on new build projects.

    2. See my new comment about our problems with a G. J. Gardner home. The more they spend on offices and advertising, the less I would trust any buider. Why? that money has to come from cutting corners. Find a keen up and coming local who has a track record but is in the growing their reputation mode, is my advice. I did a triple subdivision in Papakura 20 years ago, built a house in Canterbury, but that was sadly at a beach which we had to leave for safety.

    3. I am using a planning/architectural/project management company and I believe a lot of the staff are incompetent and the director is very dishonest. They charge for work that i have already paid for under the written contract I have with them and when I don’t pay they refuse to do any more work. On a simple minor dwelling project we started in 2019 i still dont have building consent. (This is the tip of the iceberg with all the problems I have had with them on this project and another much larger project) I have now engaged a lawyer to get out of my contracts with them as I am sick of dealing with them.
      I would love to hear if you went with a townplanner/architect and how that worked for you?

  39. My advise to anyone looking to build a new home is stay well clear of any housing franchises & in particular… stay clear of A1 Homes Northland.
    If you want your foundations built with sub-standard materials i.e. a lower grade of steel to what is on engineers documents put into your slab (55 Tuturu View, Ruakaka) then be sure to pay these guys a visit.
    If you want $30k worth of (hush money) knocked off your bill due to the walls in your house being so far out of plumb & square that your kitchen installer takes 10 times longer than expected to scribe the joinery to the shape of the walls (69 Royden Drive Kokopu)… this is the place to see (yes, that builder is STILL building houses for them).
    If you’re having troubles with your spouse during the build process… the general manager is now married to an ex-client that he developed relations with during the build process (4 Sea Dune Place, Ruakaka).
    The sales people have extremely limited product knowledge… they give a great sales pitch but anyone who knows their products will be shocked at what they hear.
    60% of staff there are very busy with their own spec. builds being done through the company… you will not necessarily be priority number one, although they will of course tell you as much.
    The project managers are more concerned with having a good time cruising around in the same vehicle chatting rather than each individually doing their best to make things happen for you.

    You have a big decision to make with potentially the biggest purchase you are ever going to make, read the fine print, ask questions – get answers & above all run with a company that has & values integrity over profit… it is possible to run a successful business with both.

    Happy home builder hunting & good luck with your new build.


    1. Hi Jock
      You need to be careful about your accusations here. Everything must be verifiable and I’d suggest removing anything that doesn’t relate specifically to the building company’s operations.

  40. Hi, Have you built recently? We are looking to build in Whangarei, and wondering if you could recommend a building company. Thankyou

  41. Help get me out of this before its too late!! I recently signed up with Latitude, paid 5k had plans sorted, soil tests done. The muck around and incorrect pricing is red flag central couldnt be more red flags if it tried, I cant keep ignoring this but due to errors from them constantly i have not signed main contract! was hoping it was finished months ago but still haven’t signed the dam thing to start!! When I query anything i am met with rudeness and frankly I don’t like the owner and didn’t from day one when he showed up with no options and said what plan do you want? didn’t go through the best options , nothing but I thought ok maybe he’s good at his job and just not a people person. I haven’t signed anything further as the tacked on prices for goodness knows what are really putting me off and I cant get a reasonable answer when i ask. The initial 5k states its for the plans and soil testing. What can I do – ask for my plans or will another builder not be able to use these? ask for my soil test results? to give to another builder? there was extra surveying that needed to be done due to “issues with my damp section” will i be charged extra for this? Help please so I don’t end up more stressed than I already am and i haven’t even signed a contract to start! Im worried i have just wasted 5k for nothing.

    1. Hi Robyn,
      I totally understand your mindset at the moment as I was in the same place many years ago when I spent 5-10k on designs etc with Signature Homes Auckland North Shore. I have relived this pivotal moment in time many times over. With the benefit of hindsite I should not have ignored the red flags and listened to my intuition. At the time 5k seems like a lot of money to potentially waste but it is a drop in ocean compared to the potential stress, cost blowout, unsatisfactory quality etc etc which you could be in for.
      If you have this many red flags this early on in the process then my advise is to walk away. In saying that you still may be able to extract some good value out of the sunk cost if you stay clam and play your cards right. What is in your contract with regards to ownership of plans and test results should you not proceed?

      1. Can you tell me what problems you had with signature homes Chris? I am about to build with them .

        1. Hi Sara,
          Really sorry I am a month late in replying. I really hope for your sake it is not to late.
          I have posted a number of times on this site regarding my experience with Signature Homes Auck North Shore. I hope you searched the site and have seen those comments.
          I could write a book on all the problems I had with this franchise. It would be easier to write about the positives as there is only one. I met a couple of good tradesmen who I became friends with and they helped me ultimately fix up the dogs breakfast of a house which Signature handed over to me. Neither of these guys worked for Signature after my project. If you are a good tradesman then you generally don’t work for the franchises as they pay poorly and force you to rush through your work in order to make any money. I will bullet points some of the major issues with this franchise for you to be aware of:
          1. Dishonest at every level in the organisation.
          2. Project mangers who take short cuts and hide problems in order to meet imposed time frames.
          3. Rip you off through high PC sums etc and ultimately cost you way over budget.
          4. poor communication – have to chase numerous times for an update.
          5. Slow progress. Took two years to build a simple house.

          I hope this helps. Chris.

      2. For future, in this situation ask the company to produce a preliminary contract, which can state all your requirements prior to signing the main building contract.
        Certified Builders have this within their broad form contracts.

        1. Hi Gary, I may be wrong , but I assume this is a response to Robyn’s entry on 8/4/21, regarding spending money on preliminary designs, soil testing, survey etc, and then querying who has ownership of the copyright/results if you decide not to proceed with that builder.
          As I’ve said before, in my view before you sign anything or hand over any money everything is up for negotiation. So I agree that clients should think about all this kind of thing, including what they expect to get in the way of design (plans based on actual survey and soil conditions, or assuming flat site/average soil, just floor plans or including elevations with window details etc) before they hand over any money, and make their requirements clear.
          But if the amount involved is just a few $K maybe an exchange of emails is enough to confirm it. I mean, if for that amount you still don’t trust the builder to play fair, then it may indicate you’ve chosen the wrong builder.
          Not sure what you mean about CB’s form. It seems that’s just for final contract, once you’ve decided to proceed with build.

    2. Hi Robyn, I totally agree with what my namesake, Chris, replied to you. I’ve also chosen to walk away from various kinds of property and building deals, which has cost quite a lot of money. Sometimes you just have to put it down to the price of gaining experience, and avoid the same problems in future. I’ve said many times on this blog to never give a builder a cent for anything until you’ve checked out his contract, and made sure it’s not too biased in his favour. Also I’ve mentioned that if you pay anything for stuff like concept drawings (or in this case site investigation) make sure that you get an agreement that you will at least share ownership/copyright of the product. Because if you don’t then most likely the designer or SI company will put something on all their documents that the copyright belongs to them. In this case I assume you didn’t check anything like that out beforehand. But it might still be worth contacting the designer/SI company to see who owns the information, and how they feel about giving you permission to use it. Sometimes a polite request works wonders. Failing that I assume you can recall the basic concept layout, and get someone else to re-draw it. As I understand it you don’t have to make many changes before it becomes ‘your’ design. Good luck.

    3. Hi Robyn
      I’m considering Latitude at the moment. Can you please advise which branch you’re referring to?
      Thank you kindly

  42. Hi There,
    We have the pen poised, about ready to sign a S&P Agreement on a property development with EasyBuild, I think they use different names for their developments, but the houses are EasyBuild Construction. Has anyone had dealings with them and happy to provide feedback with any Gotcha’s? These are for investment properties so will be used purely has rentals. It all seems fairly simple, ie. all inclusive costs for full build etc, so I’m just wanting to ensure we haven’t overlooked anything.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Did you read every clause in the contract and understand exceptions, cop outs, delivery dates and associated qualifications, deposit amount and payment schedule amongst a few. If not go back to square 1. If it was like my experience with one of the large building franchises and requesting a copy of the contract from the salesman, he said it was about 55 pages. I replied I’d read all 55 odd pages. That’s the last i heard from them. By the bye builders and developers have the whip hand. Good luck with trying to change anything that favours them.

  43. Hi,
    We are considering building with Trident Homes or Orange Homes on a lifestyle block near Rolleston in Canterbury. Has anyone had any experiences with these companies?

  44. Homes by Maxim or Maxim Homes.

    Great at the start but disappointed about the follow up service once signed up. Over promises and under delivers. No follow up service at all.

    Would not highly recommend as there are better builders in the Canterbury region way better and economical than them.

    1. We had the exact same problem with Homes By Maxim, appalling service. Our house was painted the wrong colour and they didn’t want to know. Constantly ignored calls and emails. Stare clear of this company.

      1. Just so everyone is aware – Maxim Homes have apparently gone under yesterday – if you are currently building with them please seek advice from Master Builders immediately – they have been organising other builders to take over contracts.

        1. Hi Sally, Thanks for the information. On this topic of builders ‘going under’, as you put it, I assume you mean going into liquidation. Which I believe means Liquidators will be brought in to wind up the company, and sell off the assets etc, to try to pay off any creditors (but themselves first of course!). Part of those ‘assets’ are jobs which are progress, which in theory another builder can take over to make money on.
          We had the same experience a few years ago, and as our builder was a Master Builder I suppose they were theoretically liable for paying out on the MB Guarantee. Which means they had an interest in trying to get another builder in to finish the jobs. So it appears the Liquidators let MB have first crack at finding new builders. I had some discussions with both the proposed new builders, and what they were offering me initially sounded quite reasonable. But in the end neither of them took over, apparently because the Liquidators wanted too much money from them for the privilege of taking the jobs! In the end I was ‘permitted’ by MB to find my own builder to finish the job. Which turned out fine in the end, albeit with a few months delayed completion.
          But here’s the interesting part, and the caution. A few months later one of the builders offered up by MB himself went out of business. If he’d taken over our job we’d have been in a very complicated mess.
          So even though a builder is proposed (recommended?) by MB, you should still check him out and do due diligence. It seems in the NZ building business there are very few you can fully trust to do a proper job.

          1. Yep all true – its a bit of a mess really. I’m not building with them, I only know because one of their clients has approached our firm to take over their build – so will be interesting to see if any issues come up with the liquidator…….

            1. Hi Sally, In that case it will be interesting to see whether, first, MB agree to let the Client employ you. Maybe they will have no objection, if you are also a MB. But if you’re not the Client may need to try to get MB to at least agree that their Guarantee (for whatever it’s worth) covers those parts of the build already completed. In our case the house itself was more or less finished, and we did not continue the build with a MB, so based on lots of record photos the MB organisation agreed to cover it.
              The second issue will be whether the Liquidators want money from you to allow you to take over the job. Which I guess will depend on whether they think there’s money in the job for you, ie still a profit to be made from the outstanding work. Also possibly money still owed by the Client for work completed. Although builders who know they’re about to go under usually try to get all that in, plus more if they can, so they go under ‘owing’ rather than ‘owed’.
              Since you’re in the business I’m sure you know all that. But other ‘Clients’ reading this may get the message that, during a build, you need to keep you’re ear to the ground for any whispers that subbies or suppliers are being kept waiting for payment too long. In which case you need to be extra careful you’re not paying the builder for more than the completed work to date is worth (ie the builder needs to rob Peter to pay Paul).

  45. Hi lovely people, I’ve been presented with a Master Build Residential Building Contract and I see on here that quite a few people have suggested making some amendments to it because it is heavily in favour of the Builder. Does anyone have any suggestions or a list of what could/should be removed or added? I have tried searching “contract” and “master build” but I can’t find the information I’m looking for. If you can point me in the right direction that would be really helpful as I’m going round and round in circles here. Thanks very much, Rachel

    1. Hi Rachel, Tried to reply to you earlier, but for some reason I couldn’t get on to this blog recently.
      A bit lengthy to try to go through every clause in the MB RBC, but if it’s still the form I looked at a few years ago it’s certainly true that it has some defects from an Owners point of view. Just as one example I seem to recall it had a clause about time extensions, which is fair enough. But that was made rather pointless, because it had no provision for putting in a completion date/period, and no provision for what is called Liquidated Damages (ie Delay Damages) which the builder should pay the Owner for each day he fails to complete on time. So they presumably drafted a fair contract, then deleted the clauses the builders don’t like!
      I suggest you compare the MB form with the NZ Standards Residential Building Contract NZS3902:2004, to see what a reasonable contract should contain. Apparently some lawyers have also made some modifications to this standard, but I’m trying to find out what those are.

    2. Ad a sunset clause it (I.e if the builder doesn’tbuild the house within 8 months from the day the title is issued or the day you sign the agreement,then you can walk away from it by terminating the agreement).

      Ensure any additional payments (due to upgrades) are paid at the time of completion or you can pay as you build if you prefer.

      Any foundation earth works costs are defined (I.e; if the builder needs to dig deeper to build the foundation then who’s paying for that, you or him?) If it’s you, what the limite?

      1. Hi Ali, Please see my previous reply to Rachel on her previous question about the MB contract. My suggestion was that she compare the MB form with the NZ Standards Residential Building Contract NZS3902:2004, to see what a reasonable contract should contain.
        Or of course actually use the NZS contract if the builder will agree. But many may not, precisely because it contains clauses such as the one you call a ‘sunset clause’ (ie a specified contract period or completion date). In connection with that you should note that such a clause, without another clause specifying reasons for time extensions for delays outside the builder’s control, would be unusual and quite unfair on the builder. Also, you must consider what action you would take if the builder still fails to complete on time. Normally there would be another clause specifying an amount of Liquidated Damages (I think NZS calls it Delay Expenses) the builder must pay you for each day he fails to complete. Naturally most builders don’t like that.
        I guess you could put in something about when the cost of Variations (what you call upgrades, but could be any kind of change) is paid. But in my view a little unfair not to pay for them at the time they are completed.
        I agree with you that how extra earth works, if required, will be paid for should be defined (they are usually a kind of Variation, if not shown on the original drawings). But I’m not sure why you think the builder should carry that risk (ie pay for them), unless they were caused by some kind of negligence on his part (eg leaving excavations open to flood during heavy rain, without taking reasonable action to prevent it).

  46. I would like to engage a company for a full build in Wellington, I am currently looking at A1, Easy build,
    and Latitude.
    Does anyone on this site have any advice experiences with these companies or is able to provide recommendations based on recent builds?
    Any useful input, experiences or advice would be appreciated.

  47. Hi all, has anyone had experience with developer Reed Myers? I can’t find much information on previous projects. Our broker is cautious about them due to other experiences but would like more feedback from others also.

    1. Hi i am alsokeen to know about reed myers as we are thinking of getting a house,. I have jot do e the vio reservation for their red hills projects,.

    2. Hi Anita,

      Did you find any reviews on ReedMyers reliability in their developments?

      Any others who have signed up with them in the past as they have a long wait for handover?

    3. I’m another one keen to hear about other’s experience with Reed Myers, difficult to find any reviews. Anyone had any luck?

      1. Hi,

        Anyone have feedback or been past clients of Reed Myers?
        I am interested in one of their new subdivision package, keen to know their creditability and past projects performance. Especially they can complete within timeframe they promised or not, the deposit in safe place or not?


        Kind Regards
        Philip Palmer

  48. Hi, we are currently weighing up options for building in Long Bay and looking to see if there is any recent experience with GJ, David Reid, Golden Homes, Landmark or Create Renovations in the North Shore area?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Deb, I suggest you click ctrl F and put the names of the builders in the search box in the top RH corner of the screen. For anyone interested doing this I suggest you try different versions of each name. For example I’ve seen Golden Homes also referred to as just GH (but either way the comments often don’t seem to be very good). Since I believe these are all franchise type builders I suggest you also try searching ‘franchise’, which should lead to some useful comments.
      I realise that not all builders under a particular franchise may have the same performance, and of course the performance of one of them could improve or deteriorate over time, for example with different management. But there are often basic similarities which stem from the attitude, policies and oversight (or lack of), of the franchisor, and things such as the building contract they are required to use.
      Since building contracts are a particular interest of mine I would suggest you also try searching ‘contract’, and never give a builder any money at all for anything until you have checked out the contract they propose to use. Sadly it seems that the first time a lot of people look at the contract is when they are signing it, and handing over a substantial deposit.

      1. Thanks very much Chris. Agreed on the search (we have done that and thencontent was useful, but not much specifically in the area we plan to build). Your advice on the contract is very well noted, thank you!

  49. Hi there

    What are people’s experience with Jennian Homes in the Wairarapa?

    We’ve spent nine months and spent nearly $30,000 on ‘working drawings’ but STILL not received anything other than a final estimate of $7,500 sqm and “oh do you still want the drawings” when we chased these?

    Many promises it will be “this week” – for a month… needless to say now with our lawyer!

    We got a sniffer they were out of their depth when the window joiner laughed at the plans and said it couldn’t be done and how come Jennian hadn’t raised it with you? When the only questions they asked was how big do you want the skirting Boards and what type of door handles do you want we should have seen the writing on the wall…!!!

    Clearly they prefer basic brick and tile homes but surely at some stage it should have been more than “just pay up and we’ll get you some plans”???? and NO – we owe you nothing in terms of professional feedback over the last nine months?

    We’ll keep you updated

    1. $7.5k per sqm? Good grief are they building the house out of platinum? It must be super super super high spec at that rate.

  50. Hi All,
    Does anybody have any experience with any of the following in the Porirua/Wellington region:-
    Jonesy Construction
    Progressive Homes
    Abode Homes

  51. We entered into a house and land package in Papamoa. This package was arranged by a local building firm which is part of a nationwide franchise. We paid a 10% deposit for the section and a 10% deposit to the building company for the build. A Masterbuild 10-year guarantee was supposed to have been taken out as part of the contract, which would have given us some protection for the deposit. We signed the Masterbuild guarantee application when completing the other documentation. The building company never filed the Masterbuild 10-year guarantee. The section had been sold twice with the previous owner not recorded as the current owner on the title. When our lawyer tried to settle the section, the lawyer acting for the developer said he was unable to settle and despite many emails and phone calls our lawyer received no replies and was unable to ascertain what the hold up was. We only found out what had happened when the barrister for the first purchaser contacted us and explained what had happened. We understand there are other sections in this subdivision with the same issues – i.e. they have been sold twice. Our lawyer then issued a settlement notice giving the developer 12 working days to settle – he did not, so our purchase of the section was at an end. My lawyer spent a great deal of time trying to get the deposit on the section back and eventually this was successful less a very large legal bill. Unfortunately the building company refuses to refund any part of the deposit for the build or even account for what they may have spent the deposit on. They simply regard it as a windfall – have a nice life, Merry Christmas. I have contacted the head franchisee – they don’t give a damn. I am under the impression the building firm was aware of similar issues with sections in this subdivision before our contract went pear-shaped. I have contacted Master Builders Association who have suggested using Fairway Resolution, but this requires the buy in of the building firm, who to date have been aggressive, totally unreasonable and unresponsive. My next step will be the Disputes Tribunal, which is limited to $30,000, but anything is better than nothing. I really think I am totally an innocent party here, I trusted the building firm, they sold me the package, including the land. I was totally shafted by them, with them capitalising on the situation they , probably knowingly, put me in. My questions are, has anyone else had a similar experience in Papamoa? Please get in touch with me as it would help with the claim with the Disputes Tribunal. Why is this building firm able to use the Master Builders brand, surely the Master Build brand should mean something, why is the Master Builders Association not taking a keener interest in what has happened to me. Most professional organisations monitor the actions of their members and weed out those who do not offer a service which is up to the standards of the professional body. Why is it that I have what it seems as no rights, when purchasing a house and land package, compared to purchasing an item under the Sale of Goods Act. Why can a building company sell packages with total impunity when at least Real Estate Agents have a code of conduct and an Act which covers their actions. It is probably the biggest purchase anyone can make and yet there is no protection and it seems nobody cares, welcome to the Wild West.

    1. Hi Rachelle, I feel great sympathy for your situation. When I have written before about what a shambles the NZ house building often seems to be, others have implied it’s not that bad. Of course I don’t have statistics on how many builds go badly wrong. As opposed to just slightly wrong, which is almost standard for construction projects throughout the world. (You just need to open any newspaper, and that’s for Government/Council jobs being designed and supervised by professional architects/engineers etc). But judging by this blog quite a few.
      When you have individual houses being built for inexperienced clients, by builders who know exactly how to take advantage of them, it is often, as you say, like the Wild West.
      But to get to your particular case, which may help others avoid a similar situation, I have a few questions/comments:
      It’s always a good idea to check with MB whether the builder has arranged your guarantee, if you don’t the paperwork back from MB. I would suggest people also check with the builder’s insurance company or broker to make sure they have the insurance required by the contract.
      How did you manage to pay a 10% deposit for the land before your solicitor had checked who owned it?
      Whether you can get anything back from the build deposit may depend on what your contract says, but very likely it will be vague enough on what the builder can charge for ‘work to date’ to allow them to keep most of it.
      I think you should never go with a franchise builder (who is obviously charging you extra to cover his franchise fees) if you are not getting anything for it, other than the ads you saw in the media giving you the impression the franchisor will have your back every step of the way (Yeah, right, to quote the Tui ad). I notice you have not said who this franchisor is. Is that because you are afraid they will take some action against you? But if everything you said is factual what action can they take?

      1. Thanks Chris
        The name of the developer was on the title and the developer was also the seller in the Agreement for Sale & Purchase, we had no idea someone else had purchased the property before title was issued in 2019 and was still not recorded as the correct owner in 2020.
        We signed the Masterbuild guarantee when we signed the build contract. In hindsight we should not have paid the deposit until the Masterbuild guarantee was received back.
        Basically we trusted the builder and also believed that because it was a franchise the master franchisee was giving us extra protection – we could not have got it more wrong.
        Basically I am trying to find out who else in this subdivision was caught.
        And also why does the Master Builders Association not care more about its branding?

  52. Hi everyone. PC SUMS…. Whats normal?
    This is about PC sums from volume home builders eg Jennian, Sentinel, David Reid; Signature & Stonewood etc etc.
    We are currently working with a builder and they wont quantify, therefore remove PC sums for things like: decking and balustrade; Driveway and Vehicle Crossings; Drainage; Excavation; Kitchen; Electrical; Building Consent & Engineering.

    Is this normal not to nail these costs? and what experience have you had with PC Sums increasing or decreasing?

    Thanks .. Kato

    1. Serious.

      Run as fast as you can.

      They are leaving you exposed financially to serious over runs.

      Any honest company should be trying to work with you to eliminate PC sums and work to a fixed priced contract so there are no suprises to you during construction

    2. These PC and PS are there to sucker you into entering a contract. Please don’t trust these big building franchises. Pack of thieves. DO your homework. If you have consented drawings no reason for PC/PS. Go with a local builder. Talking from a bitter experience.

    3. Hi Kato, I see there have already been a couple of replies to this. I basically agree with Peter Quinn that this looks like one to walk away from. But having said that, I think that his suggestion of ‘eliminating’ PC (Prime Cost) items may be slightly over simplifying things.
      I can see where he and Neville Nair are coming from. A builder who wants to put in PC items, or PS’s (Provisional Sums) for the range of items you mention, and is not even willing to try to reduce the number, does not sound like a person you want to get involved in a build with.
      But even with consented drawings (assuming you’ve got those before signing a building contract) both PC’s and PS’s can often still be quite useful in a contract.
      A PC item is an amount of money allowed in a contract for the purchase of a specific type of item, where the client gets to choose the item, and whether to spend more, or in some cases less, than the PC. If it’s less you should get a rebate from the builder. So for example you know you want a gas oven, and the builder tells he will supply model X for which he will charge $3K as part of a fixed price contract. So when you sign the contract you put in a PC of $3K, because you want to wait to see whether new or improved model comes out before you install your kitchen. If the new model costs $3.5K you pay the builder $500 more. But the important thing is you get to choose how much to spend.
      PS’s are different. They are generally for the costs of work/things which it is not possible to accurately predict at the time of signing the contract. They are often used for things like foundations and earthworks, where the engineer may need to look at ground conditions after excavation, to determine pile depths or removal of unsuitable material etc.
      But rather than just put in a sum of money it is safer to put in a Provisional quantity at an agreed rate (eg Provisional quantity of 10m of 400mm dia piles, at $2K/m). Then you just pay for the amount installed.
      Of course all of this requires a builder who not only knows how things are supposed to be done, but is willing to do them. Maybe the next guy you go to will be one of those. And Neville is right, he probably won’t be a big franchise builder.

  53. Hello
    I have been slowly making my way through this forum, it’s a wealth of information. Thank you to all of those who take the time to contribute.
    I am embarking on a new build. I was wondering if anyone has any recommendations for a good construction lawyer? I am in the Christchurch area, but given the remote nature of work these days, potentially doesn’t have to be here?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi ddl, Sorry, I don’t know any good construction lawyers, but if you’re going through all of this forum you’ll come across a few things I’ve said about building contracts. In my view you should not give a builder any money for anything until you’ve looked at the contract form he wants to use, and established that he’s open to modifying it if you or your lawyer feels it needs changing.
      I won’t say it all again, but previously I’ve mentioned that there are some quite reasonable ‘standard’ forms you can use. Or certainly refer to when you’re checking what should and shouldn’t be in a contract. Take a look at those before talking to a lawyer.
      Be cautious about letting a lawyer just sell you his own standard form (even assuming the builder will accept it). There are lawyers who think they know how to write a building contract, but not all of them do. But it makes life easier for them if they can just use one they already have.

      1. Hi Chris
        Thanks for the response. Yes, I already spoke with one lawyer who mentioned the master build contracts vs “bespoke” contracts the company may want to use. Interestingly his firm represents one of the construction companies I am considering going with (I wouldn’t go with them if I choose to go with that company). This is a mine field!

        1. Hi ddl, This might be an example of a lawyer who thinks they know about building contracts, but in fact do not. If the MB contract form is the same (or similar to) the one I saw a few years ago then I would not recommend using it as it stands. I mean it’s not the worst contract form I’ve seen, and because the builder I used was a MB we used it. But only after making several alterations/additions. In this case the builder accepted those changes (in fact agreed they were perfectly fair, and any reasonable builder would accept them). If he had not I would not have built with him.
          I know there’s a lot on this Forum, but try to find a previous entry I wrote about some standard forms which I think are quite good. Also be aware that there are standard legal requirements for things that must be included in every contract for work over $30k.
          As you say it’s a mine field. After many years in the construction industry I have learned that if you have an honest and reasonable builder, dealing with a sensible and reasonable client, the builder has not stupidly under priced the job, and the client has some contingency money to handle the inevitable glitches, then the contract can become almost irrelevant. But if, as so often happens, things go pear shaped, then all you have to fall back on is the exact legal meaning of what’s in the contract. Even a good one may not completely protect you, but a bad one will leave you hanging in the wind to dry.

  54. Has anyone had any dealings with Presidential Homes in Palmerston North. We are thinking of getting them to build a house for us but thought it would be good to hear good or bad comments?

  55. Experience with Homes by Maxim

    The consultant was very nice in the beginning but once the agreement is signed, your phone calls, emails and messages were not responded to. The manager is a greedy person who tried to cut down on costs with us by altering the plan internally without consulting beforehand (lucky we spotted this). Also note that the deposit will be paid directly to him rather than being held in the trust account which can be an issue if our house is not completed by the time frame they given( also note though can’t break the contract with them, even though the construction of your home is delayed). I wish I didn’t sign the contract with them and hope you take this into consideration.

    1. Hi Outlander, Not sure if this question was meant for me, but anyway click ctrl F and the search box will appear in the top right hand corner. Enter and word and it will be highlighted in yellow throughout the blog.

  56. Has anyone out there had any dealings with a firm called Thermawise, Levin, runs by Campbell Grant Senior ? They deal in the erection of Structural Insulated Panels (SIP’s) for a quick build, efficient insulation for a warm economical to run house.
    I have had the most horrendous time with this builder, as he has not paid the subcontractors for the work they have completed (first fix) but I have paid him and am now withholding the final payment as instructed by my lawyer.
    I reached an agreement with the subcontractors in that I pay them directly, but the builder objected and told the subcontractors not to continue. Happily they did not comply with his request and I have paid them for the completion of the work (second fix and all front of wall work) on the inside of the house.
    Unfortunately a great deal of the work that the builder has completed has been failed by the local authority, therefore I have paid another builder to rectify the fail notice work.
    There is one more item to complete before I can apply for another local authority CCC, but again I am at the mercy of the builder who has (10 months after the fail notice was issued) instructed his structural engineer to rectify the paperwork with an amendment.
    I have a builder standing by to begin work but it has been another wait as the structural engineer has not given enough information to the local authority, so another 12 weeks wasted.
    I have paid the Home Check to write a report for the builder, he concedes some work but contests much, even when confronted with the evidence. Now he refuses to ‘come to the table’, therefore my lawyer has met him on site and he agrees that some of his work is shoddy and does not see why he will have to pay for the work he did that has been rectified by a superior builder, nor does accept responsibility for work we paid him to have done when he pocketed the money and did not pay the subcontractors.
    My lawyer has now been forced to file with the district court as this has gone way beyond my budget and patience.
    The house is my retirement home. I have had to sell my home to pay for this (fixed term and fixed price) and I have stuck in a rental for a year, paying rent I can no longer afford. I should have been in my house in late February/early March, but here I sit, 66 years old and stressed beyond belief.
    To date I believe he owes me in excess of $70,000.00 and I even offered to half the debt if he would pay up, but he either will not or cannot. So to court we must go.

    1. Hi Outlander,

      We have experience with Thermawise and are more than happy to share our less than positive Thermawise experiences with you.

      1. Hi Anarok
        We have a just finished our build with Thermawise
        and although very happy with the house, we are currently in dispute with Grant Senior over “financial irregularities “.
        Would love to hear your experience

  57. Hi all, Has anyone in Christchurch has any experience with Today Homes? We know we will need to ‘upsec’ a some of the standard fixtures, we’re just a little concerned that their pricing is so low that it is guaranteed to rack up thousands of dollars in unforeseen variations. The specs they provide are really vague (I mean “quality flooring” could mean anything…) but we are having trouble getting something more detailed off them. Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Sophie
      Today Homes are a reputable housing company who have been in the industry for decades.
      The most important thing for you is to have a detailed specification which specifies the exact models of items, square metre rates on tiles, carpet quality which you can check from their supplier at Carpet Plus etc
      Also just as important is looking at their provisional costings allowed that they reflect the quality you intend to purchase.Housing Companies are renowned for having low provisional costings, then you sign an contract, go on to select your product and you get increased costs. This can take a little work but if for instance the have an allowance of $15K for the kitchen, find out who their supplier is and go and see what you will be getting.
      The only real way you find out what your finished square metre rate is working with an experienced sales person who will work with you to create your own specification like we do and then supply you a true estimate of finished cost and then working towards a fixed price contract before you commit.
      Hope that helps a little
      Peter Quinn
      Quinn Homes

    2. Hi Sophie, I’ve seen the reply to your post from Peter Quinn. I have no reason to doubt what he says about Today Homes (long standing, reputable etc), and from other comments I’ve seen on this blog I get the impression Peter is as honest and straightforward as any builder can afford to be, and the advice in his first two paragraphs is excellent. Although you can try clicking ctrl F, and putting ‘Today’ and ‘Quinn’ in the search box to check through all the entries and form your own impression.
      In my opinion the reluctance of Today to give details of what their spec means is a big red flag. You need at least the kind of detail Peter is suggesting. If they refuse to give it (in writing in the Contract) then I advise you to walk away.
      Regarding Peter’s third paragraph, this sounds excellent in principle. My only caution would be that (especially for someone inexperienced in house building) very often ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. By which I mean you can easily get tied up with superficial things like carpet, tiles etc, but not realise there are literally hundreds of things in a house, which affect the overall quality of the final build, but which you don’t even know you need to specify.
      Last comment is that in my opinion before you hand over any money at all you should make sure that you are happy with the proposed building contract. Of course I assume the detailed Specification mentioned above would form part of that, but first you need to make sure that the basic framework of the contract is fair, and contains all the provisions it should.

      1. Hi Chris
        Respect your comments however my intent to focus on a couple of products in the 5 minutes I had this morning to make comment should be read as an over aching comment of caveat emptor ‘Let the Buyer Beware’

        Do your homework and ensure you are being advised by a sales professional who has the technical knowledge to advise you correctly.

        Most don’t and through the sales persons lack of knowledge, land unsuspecting clients into cost over runs throughout construction with unrealistic PC Sums and not having the knowledge to create a specification that reflects the clients expectations in the first instance .

        1. Hi Peter, Totally agree with what you say. I’ve only had one house built in NZ, and in the end it turned out fine (and actually very well built), despite the builder going into liquidation just before handover. Because he had good guys on site, I had a fairly tight contract and had a good control on the stage payments. So I didn’t end up much out of pocket. But still a hassle trying to get the subbies organised to come back. Because it seems with the very clumsy system of requiring ‘producer statements’ etc you are virtually forced to use the the same people. As just one example, how do you get the old sparkie to sign off on half the electrics, and a new one to sign off on the rest. The whole system of building needs a thorough review to safeguard people who have houses built.
          So although I have spent my whole career writing contracts and supervising major construction projects, I would never stick my toe in the murky shark infested waters of NZ house building again.
          It makes me feel sorry, and very nervous, for a lot of the apparently very inexperienced people who write on this blog. As I said before, many of them obviously ‘don’t know what they don’t know’. Whether they end up with a decent, honest and capable builder (like yourself no doubt) often seems to be more luck than judgement.

          1. To say you have lost faith in the industry is a bit harsh. There are very good operators in the industry. Its the transparancy that is the problem.

            We set out to change that in our business making sure our clients are protected every step of the way. We dont take an money what so ever off clients until the floor is down and subsequently at every 5 stage payment throughout the build so the client is always in credit eg they are only paying for what has been completed onsite. I dont know any other company that offers that but its important to us that our clients feel safe.

            In your case where your builder went into liquidation, if that happened to us (which it never will) you would have been protected and your comment around changing a trade at half way, its taken me over 12 years to get the team we have for this not to happen and its been a struggle.

            But I still say, its the clients that need to spend more time on selecting builders that have the knowledge to sit down with them at the very start of the process and go through every specification of the home to fully understand what the clients expectations are and to cost or estimate accordingly

            That is where the trouble happens before the build has even started.

            1. Hi Peter, I’ll try to make this my last response. But just a couple of points in case anyone reading our exchange may have misunderstood. Of course I realise there are some (possibly many) good builders around. If not then I guess the industry would be such a disaster that the government would have been forced to tighten things up by now. But just a quick skim through this blog (plus my own experience) tells me there are far too many bad, or possibly just incompetent, ones around. And it’s often very difficult for people with little experience in building to recognise the difference. Because most of them have sales type people up front, who talk a good game, and say lots of reassuring things. Otherwise they would never get any business.
              I assume you must have more liquidity than a lot of builders, if you can afford to complete substantial amounts of work before payment. But most of them want money up front to fund future work. And it shocks me how many people seem to hand over substantial deposits based on just simple concept plans, a very biased contract and a very sketchy specification, plus lots of promises. This makes them very vulnerable to a bad builder.
              I note that you don’t expect to go into liquidation, and I sincerely hope you’re right. But of course in the worst case scenario that situation often goes together with workers and subbies who have not been paid. Because lack of money to pay those people is what causes the collapse of the company. So clients would still be left scrambling to find out who they are, who has been paid what, and negotiating to get them to come in and complete part-finished work, or hand over certs and producer statements, in order to get a Code Compliance Cert. This is the reality of being unlucky enough to choose the wrong builder.

    3. Have you used Today Homes? we are looking to build our home too. their pricing compare with the other chch based company is much lower (exactly same design ) . but seems their reputation is not too bad but just don’t want to end up a huge bill if we decide to use them

      1. Hi Lydia, If you click ctrl F, and enter Today in the search box, you will find many comments on this company.

  58. Hi, does anyone have any experience and feedback on Reed Myers property development company, or Guardian Homes builders?
    They have built or are currently developing some houses in :
    Te Kauwhata – Waerenga Estate, Glenvale Estate, Moorfield, Travers Rd
    Avondale – Powell St
    North Shore – 269 Rosedale Rd
    Massey, Auckland – Triangle Rd
    Wellsford – Totara View Rd & Rodney St
    Mt Wellington – Portman Rd

    Any info would be appreciated, thanks

    1. Hi Darryl, interested if you received any feedback in regards to Reed Myers from any sources? or if you have signed a contract with them?

    2. Hi

      Reed Myers have completed Developments –
      Total of 37 Town Houses @ 27-37 Powell Street Avondale –
      Total of 41 House and Land Sections – Matau Close Te Kauwhata
      Total of 52 Units @ 269 Rosedale Rd, Albany



  59. Hi – we are looking at builders in the Nelson Tasman region. We’ve heard of some nightmare experiences re. quality issues and over budget costs. Any recommendations, please? Any we should avoid?

    We’ve gone into some detail with GJ Gardner, Signature and Peter Ray Homes.

    1. Out of those three Peter Ray would be the best. We have built with PR before and my husband used to sub-contract for them. They are very nice people and they are very honest and customer was always right. Their quotes are pretty much spot on too – we didn’t have any unexpected costs. I don’t know many builders in that area but one I would always avoid in any area would be Golden Homes – haven’t had good experiences with them.

    2. We recently built with Stonewood Homes in Nelson and while the quality of work by all the subcontractors has resulted in a beautiful home our dealings with Stonewood themselves was less than satisfactory. The expectations re timelines & cost vs reality did not match up and the project management was severely lacking. We had to micromanage the entire build which was both time consuming and stressful. We love our new home, it’s exactly as we planned and made happen, but we would not use the same building company again or recommend engaging in a building contract with them.

      1. Hi vic
        I also have just built with stonewood and feel the same as you we suffered a lack of communication most of the way through the build and when we started questioning things that were wrong as in things in the wrong place from the plan they decided to lock us out…. we have finally had painters back fixing some walls that had stripes on them witch we complained as soon as it have but stonewood told us it was normal it took the master painters to get it sorted

        Also 2 months after we moved in and had paid finally bill in full the decided to send us another bill (apparently p.c sums never end with them) can send a bill when ever they want so we are fighting that atm ‍♂️‍♂️

  60. Hi All

    Looking to build a home in Kapiti, Wellington. Any recommendations or companies I should avoid?!


    1. Hi Bronwen

      I had an extremely bad experience with BCL (Baillie Construction Ltd) and I’ve met 6 others that had similar experiences and have heard the stories from 7 other clients that had differing levels of bad experiences with them. I also have discovered information from a large number of local suppliers and sub-contractors that are left unpaid for their work months (and sometimes years) after dealing with BCL.

      BCL are based in Palmerston North but I’ve heard they do attempt builds down closer to Kapiti, so just making sure you are aware of them 🙂

      Whoever you are considering to build your house, make sure you ctrl+F search this review website for their company name. There is a great wealth of knowledge on these reviews (wish I found it before my build).


      1. Our Build with BCL was in Kapiti, we started consultation with them on February 2016, we cleared the land hiring a company in July 2016, BCL was applying for council consent which they said did not arrive until late December 2016, the actual construction was meant to start Jan 9th and they actually started mid February 2017. It was a nightmare journey and we moved into a partly finished house on June 10th 2018, 1 bathroom useable, electricity not fully connected, Kitchen not finished, wardrobes not installed, balcony just a frame, lounge doors missing. We were meant to move in on the weekend of the Queen’s birthday the week before after several promised dates had been and Gone, We were renting in Raumati and the owners had been very accommodating as we changed the move dates due BCL time and time again. We had two find a rental for a week with 2 cats and to elderly parents last minute on the Kapiti coast over Queens birthday weekend with no assistance from BCL. It took until February 2019 when we managed to get code of compliance and we had to do this ourselves. They put in our specially made lounge doors in the winter of 2018 but one off the glass panes was scratched, it took to August 2019 until the replacements were fitted . The experience with BCL was nightmarish at best. We met people who had received a worse service than us and many were frightened to comment. We have all email and correspondences to back up everything we experienced on this build. It took an age, dealing with the owners was not a good experience but dealing with several trades that worked on our build was wonderful, we had to take control of the management to get it finished, The heating engineer was excellent and he also built the framework for our balcony, his company stopped working for BCL, our project site manager was excellent and it was his help that got some outstanding issues resolved before he left BCL. The tradesman that put in our Kitchen, our wardrobes our Laundry and our vanities was amazing and his company stopped working for BCL, without him our house would not be as good as it is. I could list a whole host of issues and problems, and I have spoken to several others who had a worse experience. We wanted to build a steel house and BCL offered that, the management left much to be desired. If we ever build again we will do much more precise homework and project manage ourselves which at the end is what we ended up doing.

    2. Hi Bronwen,,,Having built within this region, if you can supply a list of those companies your looking to build with or looked at,, come back to this site and state who they are. If the building company I built with is on your list, I’ll respond back to you but will want to contact you off site whereby I can give you contact details of other clients who built with them who you will want to talk to before doing anything.
      Cheers and Good luck!

  61. Hi All, (pls ignore the next post which a duplicate and has some mistakes)

    We are new to Christchurct and we are looking to build our first home. We don’t know much about builders here. Can you please recommend builders to consider and builders to stay away from?

    What we are looking for in a Builder:
    1. Someone who can build something different/special (have a vision; not a cookie cutter house)
    2. Good build quality (reputed)
    3. Deal with builder/site supervisor directly (not a lot with sales people)
    4. Easy to deal with

    We have a decent budget (not looking for the most economical option). However, we don’t want a builder who will use up the budget just because we have it. This is what we found with the first builder we approached. They took our budget as a baseline and are talking in terms of us bringing in more money to have a better features. The price is going in the range of NZ$2,600 sqm.

    A friend who recently built a house has warned us that this is too much and we should find good builders who work within NZ$1800 – $2000.


    1. Hi LG – I’m not sure who your friend built with or what specification they had – it really depends on what you want included. I would say in today’s market that $1800 – $2000 is very low. You would be looking at a very budget house with that price. I would say pricewise it would be $2,100 – $2,300 per square meter for a decent house and that would depend on if you wanted moulded showers or tiled, tiled bathroom floors or laminate etc etc etc. Most companied I mentioned above would use your budget as a “max” – mine definitely would. You should ask any builders you consider for references or even better wait until a house you know they built is finished and then knock on the door and ask the owners. 🙂

  62. Hi All,

    We am new to Christchurct and we am looking to build our first home in Christchurch. Can you please recommend builders to consider and builders to stay away from?

    What we are looking for in a Builder:
    1. Someone who can build something different/special (have a vision; not a cookie cutter house)
    2. Good build quality (reputed)
    3. Deal with builder/site supervisor directly (not a lot with sales people)
    4. Easy to deal with

    We have a decent budget (not looking for the most economical option). However, we don’t want a builder who will use up the budget just because we have it. This is what we found with the first builder we approached.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi
      Please visit our website
      We have built many clients homes through referral on this site.
      We specialise in bespoke designs and you only deal with myself and my wife Linda through the entire process.
      There are many other reasons why we have such a high referral rate which I would be delighted to discuss in person.
      I look forward to hearing from you.

    2. Hi LG, I’m an architectural designer working for a building company so I know a fair few in Christchurch – companies I would recommend (and meet the criteria you mentioned) are: Greenland Homes, DNA Structures Ltd, Paul McStay Homes, Que Homes (Justin McDonald), Peter Ray Homes. Most of these I myself have either built with or have close friends that have – all have great reputations and excellent build quality. Personally I had a hideous experience with Golden Homes in Chch (Peak Construction) and would never recommend building with them – I know there are a couple of other reviews similar on here too. Hope you have a good building experience! 🙂

    3. Peter Quinn from Quinn homes is very active in this blog and has a very good reputation, I would definitely recommend giving him a call.

  63. Hey guys,

    Has anyone built with Hallmark Homes or Jennian homes in Rolleston/Christchurch, I am thinking of building with one of them and was seeing if anyone had any comments about them?


    1. Given the shitty building work going on in full force all around our country I wouldn’t back them either and it’ll be interesting to see who does.

  64. Has anyone had dealings with Master Build Association’s lawyers Kensington Swan Wellington. I would like to know what they were like to deal with. We have been waiting over a month for them to reply to our lawyers . It has been over a week since our lawyer sent another letter and they don’t seem to care. Our lives are been put on hold by MBA and their lawyers

  65. Looking to build our first house In rural west Auckland – Have narrowed companies down to Maddren , Sentinel NW franchise and Landmark west & Central. They have all had a look at our section.

    Reading through the comments on this page have made things a bit tougher for my decision…..

    Sentinal have been very friendly and helpful with a booklet with costs etc at no charge that is very helpful in relation to the section we want to build on (They seem to be the company putting in the most effort at this stage to “seal the deal”).

    Maddren have impressed also with great show homes and good knowledge around reducing costs on the build with little alterations etc – Anthony is onto it!.

    Landmark are very good to deal with and was able to show us inside a completed home that was built to about the same budget we have – I have a relative that has had a house built in the past 24 months by them that they are very pleased with.

    From what i have read on here it would be foolish not to build with Maddren however the other two have impressed also….at this stage.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi! Which one did you choose??? We will try to build this year, and some words will be appreciated. Thank you. Cintia

      1. Hi Cintia…Was trying to see if you got an answer or response for your question above. I am also in the same boat as you were up there, not sure if you have identified a good builder yet..? I will be really keen to know. I live in Auckland and looking to build on a recently purchased rural section.

    2. Hey Gary,

      How did you get on – who did you go with? Also in West Auckland so would appreciate knowing how you got on.

      Thanks! 🙂

  66. Thank you all for the informative comments; very much appreciated, and I hope to return the favor one day!

    Can anyone refer to a checklist of issues that a Client/Homeowner-to-be would be well-advised to include in the building contract that the Client intends to sign with a Builder? For example, in reading some posts, I now know to include a clause that requires Builder to provide copies of insurance certificates, as well as do all things to ensure the Master Build is effective and covers my build. Is there a list of such issues out there?


    1. Hi NG, Under Building Standards in NZ there are legal requirements on what is required to be covered in any contract for work over $30K, which I suppose you can say is a kind of checklist. Also there are some good ‘standard forms’ of contract you can use, or at least refer to, if you are not familiar with writing contracts.
      The MB form I saw several years ago (which many builders who are themselves MBs might suggest you use, not necessarily out of any ill intent, but because it’s convenient) is not disastrously bad, but in my view needs amendment to make it more suitable for use.
      I have written on this blog several times about the importance of getting the building contract right, and other people have also written some good advice. Unfortunately too much to repeat here.
      So I suggest you click ‘ctrl F’ and enter words like contract, insurance, master builder etc in the search box, and try to find the time to read the hundreds of entries.
      But your comment that you ‘now know to include a clause that requires Builder to provide copies of insurance certificates’ concerns me a bit. Writing a building contract is not always just putting down a list of stuff in your own words. It’s a legal document, and if things go wrong (which is often when you need it most) the exact intent and requirements may end up being tested in an arbitration or court. So it needs to be written with that in mind.

  67. Does anyone have any recommendations for builders in Nelson/Tasman region? What are pros/cons of using a building company?

    1. We recently built with Stonewood Homes in Nelson and while the quality of work by all the subcontractors has resulted in a beautiful home our dealings with Stonewood themselves was less than satisfactory. The expectations re timelines & cost vs reality did not match up and the project management was severely lacking. We had to micromanage the entire build which was both time consuming and stressful. We love our new home, it’s exactly as we planned and made happen, but we would not use the same building company again or recommend engaging in a building contract with them.

      Note: I cut and pasted my reply from a similar question further up the page.

  68. Looking at building with QuickBuild Homes or Ablespaces a Minor Dwelling in Palmerston North so can move our disabled daughter closer to us after checking out 50 websites around plan designs and price. Has anyone built recently with either of these? Thoughts good or bad?

  69. Does anyone have any recommendations for builders in Canterbury region? We’re looking at Jennian, Orange, Today and Mike Greer currently. Looking for a build that is (obviously) of a high standard, but also a builder that is upfront about what is included so we can plan and budget for variations.

    1. Yes and I would personally stay away from the group home builders. Recommendations for builders in this area are: Greenland Homes, DNA Structures Limited, Peter Ray Homes, Paul McStay Homes, Torque Construction (Que Homes), Peter Quinn (Quinn Homes). Have either built with these myself or have good friends who have – good quality builds, honest and reliable. 🙂

      1. Adding to what Sally suggested I built with Homes by Maxim and was really happy with the results. I have also heard good things about a number of the ones Sally suggested. Check out their show homes and chat with them. Costs nothing to talk with them. I would also suggest that you thoroughly check out any you consider building with.

  70. Thinking of building on the back section of my house in Henderson in Auckland.
    I have an idea of the design.
    Any suggestions of who to consider or who to avoid in that area?

  71. I trawled through this site prior to building in Tauranga and promised myself I’d post about my experience.

    We built an investment property with Navigation Homes Tauranga (BOP), and we’re just waiting for the official Code of Compliance from the council after doing the final walkthrough on Friday last week. We used Ian and John at NewBuild for the finance.

    Both businesses were really good to deal with.

    Simon at Navigation was very patient and understanding, and along with Dean the site supervisor they did a great job of keeping us updated on progress using an online system called co-construct which contained and documented everything to do with the build. Photos were uploaded roughly every week and kept our mind at ease. We had lockdown early in the piece but they were back on site and progressing things almost straight away.

    The final product feels really good quality wise and they have kept their word on things we discussed, and seemed to always be thinking ahead to make sure things ran smoothly. They’re now doing some final touch ups and other bits and pieces to finish it all off, which I’m sure will be taken care of in a similar manner.

    NewBuild helped to ‘project manage’ the finance including making sure we were covered in case something went wrong (Master Builders Guarantee) and structuring the finance conditions in the build contract to be bank friendly (using Sovereign / AIA). This ensured the relationship between the bank, builder and us was kept on track with regards to timelines and making payment. It made it really easy.

    Everyone is after a builder they can trust and if our experience is anything to go by, I’d have no hesitation in recommending Simon and his team at Navigation to other people, particularly if NewBuild were running the finance side as well.

    Hope that helps someone.

    1. Lucky you didn’t have to call on the Master Builders Guarantee. I understand its difficult to get a payout and relies on the builder to lodge the necessary forms at the start. If the builder doesn’t do this you’re not covered but have more than likely paid the premium for the sum assured amount.

      1. Hi Nigel, Perhaps unnecessary to say this, but it might help some people. With everything like this on a build (MB Guarantee, Contract Works Insurance etc) which your builder is supposed to obtain/arrange it pays to make your own enquiries. In my case I called MB directly when I did not receive their paperwork, and found (despite the builder saying he had done everything required) that the MB Guarantee application and payment had been received, but not issued because the builder had not paid his current membership fee. (He did after I chased him.) I can’t speak about whether MB ever actually pay out, but I found them fine to deal with on other things. But be warned that you could find even if they were to pay out in full on something, the amounts in their Guarantee may be a lot less than you stand to lose on a build in NZ these days.
        Similarly I suggest everyone should get their own copy of the builder’s CWI cert and policy, to make sure it complies with their contract, and the amount of cover is sufficient. Then you can if you want arrange your own insurance to cover aspects not covered by theirs.

        1. Thanks for the additional clarification. I hope that other people see your reply as it indicates how wary one has to be and do your own due diligence. Sadly due diligence excludes about 95% of the people on this website judging by the questions asked. In addition I doubt whether most read the building contract. The two contracts i’ve read from two of the larger franchises do not need a lawyer to interpret. At most if I recall I would have had to refer one or two clauses to a lawyer. I have yet to build but with the high volume of residential work trying to change a contract to be more neutral would be mission impossible. Builder would just move onto the next muggins. i live in NP so can’t speak for other parts of NZ although I feel Akl would be very similar.
          I take many of the comments about this or that builder is bad unless outright fraud, with a pinch of salt. Would suggest most of the problems are contract related rather than out and out technical issues.

          1. Hi Nigel, Thanks for your thanks. I totally agree with everything you say up to about the middle of your first paragraph. But after you said ‘I have yet to build … ‘ you said some stuff that concerned me, as in my view it’s a bit misleading for those not experienced in the building business, and kind of contradictory.
            In your last paragraph you seem to doubt other peoples’ words that builders can do a poor job without actually being fraudulent. This of course is not true. I assume fraud is a crime, and you could get the police involved. But I doubt if many cases of poor workmanship, failure to complete on time etc, would fall into that category.
            Having said trying to amend contracts to make them more ‘neutral’ is just too hard, or even impossible, in your last sentence you point out that many ‘technical issues’ (by which I assume you mean things like poor workmanship, arbitrary changes to design/materials, extra costs for variations etc) happen because the contract either does not prevent them, or does not give the client enough power to demand that the builder put things right.
            So you have given a very good reason why anyone going into a build cannot afford to accept it, when a builder says an unfair or biased contract cannot be changed. If they say that then in my view they are the wrong builder for you.
            I’ve spent much of my career writing and supervising major construction contracts, and I agree that many NZ building contracts can be understood by most reasonably intelligent people. But the problem is that many of those people ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ as the saying goes. Understanding it is one thing. Knowing what’s not in it that should be, and knowing what may lead to trouble later, is something else.
            I’ve written about this in this blog before. You should look at the builder’s contract before you pay them any money for anything, and if they’re not open to making changes (of things you or your lawyer think are unfair, or have been omitted) then walk away.
            I believe there are standard minimum requirements for a NZ building contract over $30K, but it’s worth looking at NZS3902:2004 (Standard Building Contract) for an example of the kind of thing you should be looking for, although I know there are other standard forms that some people recommend.

      2. It was a condition of finance with NewBuild / AIA that the MB Guarantee was in place and current. Simon at Navigation was great at chasing up MB, and made sure everything was in place. I haven’t had personal experience of trying to get a payout, so can’t speak to that.

        1. Hi Rich, Thanks, this is very interesting. People have implied on this blog that the MB Guarantee is virtually worthless, because they almost always find some way of avoiding paying out.
          I have found MB fairly responsive and reasonable to deal with on other matters, but I can’t comment on them paying out, because I’ve never actually made a claim. And I have wondered whether peoples’ claims had failed because in some way they had not understood or followed the guarantee conditions.
          But your comment makes it sound as though NewBuild/AIA consider that it is important to have the guarantee in place. And you would assume they would only do that if they had some reason to think that MB would cover at least part of a claim, which would save them some money. Why else would they care?
          But it would be interesting if you could talk to them regarding their experience about MB paying out on claims, and let us know what they say.
          Or am I being very cynical in wondering if they don’t care whether MB pay out, because it’s your job to get the money out of MB? But NewBuild/AIA can then avoid paying you the amount you are ‘supposed’ to get from MB.
          It would be great to clarify some of this stuff.

  72. hi, looking to build in new plymouth… does anyone who has recently built a house have any suggestions on building companies not to use… or to use for that matter?? Hard to know where to start when you’ve never done it before… i’d possibly be looking at either signature, GJ or landmark at this stage.

    1. Hi Amelia, If you haven’t built before I would suggest you try to find the time to look through all the entries on this blog.
      But if you think that’s too tedious at least click on ctrl F, and enter into the search box words like signature, landmark, gardner, franchise, contract, provisional, PC, although of course you would then miss out on the names of all the other builders that people have already made comments on, both bad and occasionally good, plus all the other very good advice.

    2. Hi Amelia, we built with Signature Homes in New Plymouth and had many problems. Would not recommend them at all. Talked their way out of everything. We took possession of house two months before we moved in and did not notice all mistakes until then. Have heard now from other people that have used them that they had similar problems to what we had and also had same response from Directors of Signature that they look at ways to get out of doing remedial work. Even when company arranged to come back and correct many things on our list still did not get it right. For example plumber drilled through Girder truss to put piping through for boiler in roof. Cracks in mitres in coving. List goes on. We have since fixed many things ourselves – cannot be bothered with them.

  73. GI Builders were not nice to deal with. Slow to deliver, always has excuses, under resourced the project, owners aggressive and basically gI what they want without engaging with owners. In my experience stay clear if this company

    1. Agree. We did an extension and the standard of work in my opinion along with poor communication, constant delays, caused enormous stress and ultimately cost overruns that GI took no resisability for. Please avoid using.

    2. Agree. We did an extension and the standard of work in my opinion along with poor communication, constant delays, caused enormous stress and ultimately cost overruns that GI took no responsibility for. They also have poor accounting practices. Please avoid using.

  74. Can anyone help us understand the relative and prices in general for the big building companies? We are looking to build in Levin. We could consider prefabricated with local builder assembling it. Thanks

    1. Hi Jane, Wow, people sometimes say ‘open-ended’ questions are good, but yours is so open-ended it would almost require a book on building in NZ to answer it. Not sure whether by ‘relative’ you mean ‘relative merits’, or ‘relative prices’ (ie approximate prices per square metre for build cost). But either way you could initially try just looking through all entries on this blog. Time consuming, but worthwhile. And possibly discouraging if you have not built before, or have no experience of what a potential nightmare it can be if you get it wrong.
      Of course for every company their finished price per square metre of build can vary (I’d guess by as much as 100%) depending on what is included, and the standard of finish you expect. And very often the total cost you end up paying will be a lot more than the price you thought you were going to pay, because many companies are very clever at tempting you into signing a contract by offering what seems a good price at the start.The only way you can minimise that is by being absolutely clear about what you are going to get, before you sign the main building contract. Although in my view to be fair to the builder you may have to pay (and risk losing, if you pull out) something upfront, if you want them to do a lot of work preparing detailed drawings, specification and estimates.
      But if you have more specific questions, for example about a particular building company that builds in Levin, you could try searching for comments by clicking ctrl F, and entering the name in the search box.

      1. I suppose I’m just asking for a rough idèa of which big companies are high end and which are more modest. Just as I could with Farmers vs Kmart or kircaldies vs the warehouse.

        1. What Chris is trying to say is any of the franchise building companies will build to whatever your budget or spec is or they will all tell you that your budget and spec is achievable but always keep in mind you will be dealing with someone who works their marketing aspect of the company and not often is this person a builder and they will tell you whatever you want to hear just to sign you up.

          Some are more reputable than others with regards to hidden costs, which is a common trait with them all so a “fixed price” is never fixed and if you use the search option Chris mentioned you will find the franchise’s that exploit things like PC sums to get maximum amount of money from you and give you low spec (even if you ask for high spec) vs the ones that are a little more honest.

          But with franchise companies where everyone in the chain needs to clip the ticket so to speak, you will always pay more.

          My advice is to employ a draughtsman and tender your design to a local builder, again checking the builders credentials. Less stress & more control for you.

          1. Thanks.i had thought he big companies get good prices from building lots of homes and they give a fixed price. I guess a local builder would do the same.

            1. Unfortunately many people think the bigger the company the better the price but it’s exactly the opposite.

              The more people involved in your build means less accountability if something goes wrong.

              You have more control using a local builder, and less people in the chain so your costs are more exact.

              But in saying that I would still do as much due diligence when engaging any tradesmen including plumbers, sparkies etc as building a home is the biggest thing most will ever have to do in their lifetime and it’s never going to be easy.

  75. Hi there
    Looking to use Wright Brothers Builders – Stan Wright – in the Wairarapa to build my new home. Anyone had any dealings with them? Just doing my due diligence!

  76. Hi all,

    Looking to build in the Waikato. We were initially with Urban Homes, but have had a terrible experience so far. Since we are in the pricing stages of building, we have decided to try our luck with another company.

    Has anyone built with Versatile Homes in Cambridge? If so, how was your experience dealing with them, and what did you think about the quality of their work?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Theo, we are thinking of going with Urban Homes in Wellington -can you tell me a bit more about why it was so terrible?

  77. Anyone heard of or had any experience with Christchurch Builders? I’m looking at a couple of properties built by them out in Rolleston but I don’t know much about them and just wondered what kind of reputation they had. Thanks.

      1. Totally agree. Bloody horrible to deal with, mongrels with attitude. Check walls for being square, make sure plumbing intact, make sure the warranty you get is checked by a lawyer. All from my personal experience.

  78. I am looking for any reviews or opinions on a couple of build companies Onyx and Build 7 who I’m thinking of using for a new home build. Would welcome any others who may be worth looking at as well.

    1. Hi Andy,
      I’ve built with Paul McStay Builders in CHCH. Local builder, not franchised, high spec and good pricing. Had really good experience with them and highly recommend having a chat to them.

  79. Hi all

    My name is Thuy, my partner and I signed a house and land contract with NZ first house = Eco Smart home since September last year. Until now there is no further process for anything, except the street name and house number. They keep telling us that house title has been released by council yet. We checked the director of Eco Smart Home, he seems has a history . The lawyer we use was suggested by Eco Smart Home, he told us the sunset date is October 14, 2020, if there is still no process till this date, we can cancel the contract.
    Is there any thought, experience about this? Or anyone has the same issue like us?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Thuy,

      where you were building with eco-smart, I just touch with them for takanini house & land package, after reading about you it’s scared me to go with eco-smart, how ur review with them?

    2. Someone who dealt with Eco-Smart homes last year had a very bad experience. It seems that Eco-Smart run a sort of “Ponzi Scheme” whereby they sign you up for a house and land package that is very reasonably priced (almost too good to be true) for a house that is not built yet in a large subdivision they say they are developing.

      They recommend their lawyer for you to use and the contract has a date for completion that doesn’t seem unrealistic and you hand over a deposit.

      Eco-Smart will do this to a dozen or more people all the while your combined deposits accumulate in their account and when they have enough money they will build one house. They have no intention of honouring the completion date on your contract in fact it’s in their best interest for them not to sell the house to you because they can then legally sell the house for twice as much as what they quoted to you.

      This is a tactic employed by building companies that have a terrible credit rating, they will use your deposits to fund their projects and when the first house is built and then sold (not to you for the agreed price) this sale will bankroll the next house and so on and so on….

      They will cling to your deposit for as long as they can by telling you every lie they can and eventually they will refund you so they have effectively borrowed money for 0% interest and for as long as they want. I don’t know if this is all legal but it’s certainly morally wrong and I would suggest you go to a lawyer that deals with contracts and see if you can get out of your contract sooner, perhaps using the fact that the lawyer they recommended has a conflict of interest?

      I’ve said this before but if it seems too good to be true then it probably is. There is no secret magic recipe that any one building company has over everyone else and due diligence on your part is all you have to protect yourself.

      Let us know how you get on please? Good luck.

  80. Looking to Build in Rolleston. What are the differences going with a Home company (eg Greenland Homes) company , or just a building company?

    1. Hi Aimee,

      This is all personal opinion

      You will probably have 3 different setups. 1. will be a franchised company where a builder buys a license to operate under an umbrella company (like Golden, GJ’s) and the bulk of their operation are done out of a main hub. 2. will be a bigger building (Kevler/Greenland) owner/operated company where they may have a few staff in-house. 3. may be a builder that has no staff in house, dependent on how many jobs they do in a year.

      Dependent on franchise fees/buying power, what I usually find when quoting is the franchised companies & owner operated companies come in at the same price. However, when you compare the spec of the build, the owner/operator builder spec is wayyy higher than the franchised builder. If you ask the franchise builder to match the spec of the owner/operator builder, it could be another 15-20k on top of their original quote.

      What we did is went around a bunch of different places and got copies of their specifications and what is included in their house & land packages. What we found with our building company was the ability to downgrade some stuff, upgrade other stuff. Whereas a lot of franchise builders have an entry level spec so downgrading really isn’t an option.

      E.g our standard spec was a huge tiled shower in en-suite, engineered benchtops in the kitchen, bosch appliances. Those upgrades would be close to 10k from an entry level spec. So if you wanted to save cash, you could have the option of downgrading those.

      Just depends on what your preferences are!

  81. Hi, I am in the process of contracting a project with ODL construction (Northshore Auckland). can’t find any online reviews about them. has anyone heard or dealt with them before?
    any info would be very helpful

  82. Hi All,
    Any reviews on Kevler Homes, previously Yellow River?
    Looking at building our first home in Rolleston CHCH, and they are a good price. Would love to hear if anyone knows how well the houses are built etc. They seem legit.
    Or if there is a better company with good quality and price.
    Also what is better Rockcote or brick?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Aimee, a friend of ours does the painting for Kevler Homes – I will ask him what their quality is like and drop in another comment later on. In the meantime, check out Greenland Homes – they are also great quality and price – have built several houses with them myself and plan on building my own home with them shortly. Brick and Rockcote are both great claddings – you will end up paying for more foundation with brick as it sits on the foundation rather than with Rockcote it hangs off the framing. When our company builds spec houses or lower cost we usually find Rockcote is better pricewise. I personally think it looks nicer than brick as well.

      1. Thanks Sally, Did you manage to get hold of your painter friend? I will check out Greenland Homes also 🙂

        1. Hi Aimee – sorry for the delay – has been a bit manic home and work lately! My painter friend says that Kevler seem to be good with quality and also he thinks they are great with clients. He said that their project manager is very easy to work with and is a good communicator – he said that he would recommend asking (if you can) for a builder called Tim Osmers – apparently he’s very good/tidy site etc. Hope your build goes well 🙂

    2. Hi Aimee,

      We’re in the middle of a build with Kevler currently and have been very impressed. It’s not our first build, but it is our first with Kevler so we do have other experiences to draw on. Everything is tracking along sweet. I’ve also seen other great feedback on community pages around Rolleston.

      Their standard spec seems to be rockcote. When our plans were originally quoted, the cladding was rockcote but we are super lazy and wanted zero maintenance cladding so opted for brick. The area of the house does go up because you are adding an additional 120mm right around the foundation, but the price came down quite a bit when using their standard brick range. Rockcote needs to be installed, then plastered, then painted etc. so it’s more expensive overall compared to bricks which are a 1 step process.

      1. Thanks for that, have you had much movement in quoted price. Or did you choose all spec/ colours / tiles and get it all included in your quote.

        1. Hi,

          No it’s a fixed price when you sign the contract. There have been a lot of movements in the price after we signed the contract but that has been driven by us in the form of adding and upgrading.

          You will have the contract/price but post contract is where you can go and have consults with the various suppliers. There is a big range that comes within the confines of the contract but you may go outside that, which costs extra.

          1. Hi Anon, Regarding your recent reply to Aimee, I can see from one of your previous comments that you are reasonably experienced in the building process. So I’m sure that although you did not do what Aimee mentioned, and get everything decided and included in your quote before signing the Contract, you still had a good idea how much your additions/upgrades were going to cost before signing.
            But still your reply illustrates a good point, that might be of interest to first-time builders, or less experienced people. It’s the old riddle of ‘When is a fixed priced building contract really a fixed price contract?’. The answer of course is ‘Almost never.’.
            As soon as a Contract has things like Provisional Items, Prime Cost (PC) Sums, any items where you can choose to ‘upgrade’, or clauses that allow for the builder to claim for inflation costs in labour or materials then you can be pretty sure the final cost will be more than the original quote. By how much will probably depend on how poor the ‘standard’ provisions in the Contract are (often as poor as the builder can get away with), and the honesty of the builder when it comes to pricing variations.
            The only way to avoid being ripped off is to tie down as much as possible before signing the Contract. Time spent before signing will pay off later. Does that sound cynical? It sure does, but it’s the reality of the game.

            1. Hi Chris,

              Yes that is exactly right. You kind of have 2 options..

              Option 1 would be more time consuming at the beginning but you would have pretty accurate pricing. Decide what your budget will be, ask the building companies for their spec and who their suppliers are and then go and visit all those suppliers to see your options included in that spec. Each supplier will/should know what is included in that companies standard spec. E.g If you like bricks, you could go to the supplier and they will have a selection of bricks under the building company spec. They will probably be the red, yellow, beige bricks and will come with natural coloured mortar. If you want something outside their standard range, it will be an upgrade and cost more… and the list goes on.

              You could then choose all your upgrades prior to getting a fixed price contract and you will know exactly where you stand.

              Option 2 is less time consuming at the start but you get a fixed price contract and then set aside another $20k or so, knowing that you have wiggle room to upgrade a heap of stuff. This is under the assumption that the house spec is pretty close to what you want. Something like an upgrade to a tiled shower from acrylic could be $5k per shower, so if you are wanting to upgrade a lot, be wary.

              This may not be the best option if financing is tight as the banks get a bit weird when you can’t nail down the exact pricing.. then they may try to exploit you once you’re already in their web. If you can lay it all out at the start while they are courting you, it saves for heartache at the other end when you’re all locked in.

    3. Avoid Kevler homes! They wasted about 3 months of our time! Have also hear couple of stories in which other people were mucked around. Our lawyer also heard not great comments. Dodged a bullet. Very happy with who we are with now

      1. Hi Aimee
        Do you mind if I ask who you dealt with? We have had a bad experience recently with a sales guy and his PA after 7 months of waiting.

    4. Not building with Kevler homes! They wasted about 3 months of our time! Have also heard couple of stories in which other people were mucked around. Our lawyer also heard not great comments. Very happy with who we are with now

  83. Hello.. I would value people’s opinions about stonewood homes chch for their first home buyers level house $550k approx

        1. Hi Lisa, Well unless you mean you excluded all comments other than specifically on the ChCh franchise you’ve missed quite a few. (The locations in the blog show up as yellow lines on the scroll bar) At least 2 from the end of 2019, both negative. Of course I realise that the performance of different franchises in different areas may not all be the same, and that with different management a franchise may have improved since the last comments.
          But I did have some pre-build dealings with a SW franchise a few years ago, and found at that time that their contract (which I understood applied to branches) was not just bad from a client’s point of view, but so poorly written that they didn’t seem to even understand it themselves. And they were totally unwilling to even discuss changing it. So as the saying goes ‘caveat emptor’.
          To quote the wise words of Mark G above:
          If you’re are looking to build or renovate, do yourself a favour and get some understanding of what you’re about to undertake. Building a house is a very expensive and highly complex project – way more than you think if you’ve never done it before.
          There are great builders and suppliers out there, but there are rip-off merchants, too.
          Go to the Building Guide and Design Guide websites and get some insights into what you’re about to do. Getting it right will make your life fantastic, but getting it wrong could destroy you financially, so prepare!

  84. Hi,
    Anyone used Stonewood Homes in Beachlands? Saw an advert for a land and build package that looks interesting.

  85. Hell……… reading all the comments, we are scared to build!

    Who has had any experience with Sanctuary Homes in Snells Beach? They seem to be everywhere.

    1. No experience of Sanctuary Homes. However we have built in Rodney with The House Company and are very pleased with the result. Make sure you do your home work whoever you chose. Check previous builds and ask to talk to clients.

  86. Thinking of think quite an extensive renovation and Refresh Renovations look like credible, has anyone used Refresh Renovations? I’m seeing quite a bit of their franchises liquidated when I googled Refresh Renovations liquidations – most recent one just this year for their North Shore branch –

    1. Hi Bryan, Am I right in thinking that RR were the company that advertised on TV for people to run their franchises, with the line ‘Franchise owners do not need to be builders.’?
      But luckily we seem to live in a country where even builders don’t need to be builders, so no worries mate, hopefully someone else in the company knows what they’re doing.

      1. Yes that’s correct Chris. I looked at buying a franchise a few years back. They wanted strong business people to run the franchises. They make it clear that building experience is not required or necessarily important. They are effectively the same as the franchised group building companies.

        I don’t necessarily agree that you have to be a builder to own and run a building construction company. If you have a sound business mind and employ honest, competent people to run the specialist functions. I am sure some of these non-builder owned franchise companies do a great job and delivery an excellent product.

        Like anything I would just suggest you research well. View previous jobs. Also need to understand the financial position of the company so you don’t fall victim to a liquidation. Also be aware that you may pay more for the job due to the franchise fees that need to be paid.

        Personally I prefer to find a independent honest builders with high standards and the ability to project manage. But that’s not to say franchises aren’t a good solid option for some people who like the perception of security that they provide.

  87. Hi,

    Has anyone else here built with DW Homes and what has there experience been,we are building with them and having so much issues.


    1. Hi,

      Where abouts are you building? We are looking in Waiuku and DW are one of the companies we are considering. What issues are you having?

  88. Hi

    Following up on my previous comment. I was looking for feedback on Advance Build, not Advantage.

    Thanks again for any input.

  89. Hi there,

    I am looking for feedback on Heritage Homes, Advantage Build, Nook and Podular, the later three being transportable. Any feedback welcome.


  90. HI there
    Has anyone here built with Golden Homes in Tauranga? How did you find the process? Were there any unexpected costs? How were they to work with? Quality and did the build get completed in time? What was your given timeframe?

    1. Hi, we are currently going through the pre-built process with GH Tauranga. We have received consent and are in a queue to begin the build. The process was slow and each stage took longer than estimated. They do like things done their way but we have been clear on what we expect and have managed to get things how we want them. Be sure to keep all emails and follow up phone calls with email confirmation. We built with GH before in Hatfields Beach and had a similar experience but the end product was very good and worth the agro. As with all builds anything that isn’t ‘standard’ costs more.

  91. Hi there,
    Please give some advice on suggestions
    What is the best/smart way to buy land. We are looking to buy a piece of land in Rolleston and just not sure which is a better way to buy. Does Harcourts or other real estate agency charge commission on selling land (Assuming because they are third party).
    Or just buy straight through
    Also where is the best location to buy Farringdon is bit pricey.

    1. With Rolleston it’s a falling market and houses are worth less than the build cost a lot of the time. Rather than buying a section, just buy a spec home and negotiate well.

    2. It’s all dependent on your financial situation. There’s buying a section, then building with whoever as you aren’t tied to anyone. There’s doing a house and land package through a company that has pre-purchased sections. Or, there’s doing a turnkey house and land package through a company. Add another 15k on top for the turnkey fees, which is what they will charge as you don’t have any progress payments throughout the build. So all the interest they’ve accrued will get lumped on top of the advertised price. Falcons landing, Acland Park, Urban Estate, faringdon east are all just merged into 1 big chunk of land. Acland have a school going in, commercial stuff & a pretty good playground.

  92. Could you recommend a house builder in Taupo to Taurangi area. We own a section. Has anyone had any experience with Sunnycourt homes (Doug Sommons) or Mike Parker Builders. We would prefer someone with a few years history who is easy to work with as we do not live in that area

  93. Hi, I was wondering of anyone has any comments regarding Ashcroft Homes (Auck) Limited. We are thinking of undertaking a terraced housing complex and have approached them for some input.


    1. Hi Debbie,
      Two comments:
      1. The Construction Manager that I had a terrible time with at Signature Homes Ack Nth Shore is now working for Ashcroft. He is dishonest and blames others when things go wrong. Very quick to point the finger at everyone – the client, his tradesmen and his project managers. He fired 2 project managers during my build and in the end got fired himself by the franchise Managing Director.
      2. An Ashcroft home was built next to a property of mine in Beach Haven. It was an investment property and I went through the open home when it was put on the market. It was awful. Very poor finishing and attention to detail. I suggest you find some recent builds to walk through. Don’t go by their show homes as in my experience companies put a bit more effort into the quality of the show homes. It is often not a good representation of what you will end up with.

    2. Hi Debbie,

      I am doing the same. Approached Ashcroft for a terrace housing complex on their Windsor Plan. Would appreciate any info and would be keen to share experience to date.


      1. Hi Prateik, If you search the blog (Ctr F) you will see my previous comments. In summary:
        1. The Construction Manger is a dishonest man. You will have a very difficult and highly stressful time working with him.
        2. The quality is at the lower end of the market.

        If your are seriously considering them then I suggest you review their most recent work to assess whether you would be happy with the quality standard.

      2. Hi Ashcroft know their stuff, very professional and approachable – we were always in the know about each step a very postive process

    3. Hi Debbie, we worked with Ashcroft Homes (Auck) Ltd and found them amazing, from conception through to key in the door – very very friendly but professional no question was to big or small each was given care and attention. fantastic bunch work in Auckland, you won’t be sorry – regards

      1. Be careful – this might be a fake review as they have spammed the site with reviews, saying barely anything except positive shining accolades.

        1. Hi all
          I’ve gone back to both June and Ashcroft Homes and I’m confident June is genuine. It really does seem there’s a good client experience here.

    4. Hi – Ashcroft are amazing, the whole process from conception to key in the door has been a blast and so easy, nothing was to much trouble all our questions where answered and our minds were always at peace.

  94. Hi there
    We are planning to build our first home in Rolleston Area CHCH. And we are in search of a builder, Please suggest some good builders also the builders to avoid.
    We also thinking to go more than higher for standard code of insulation R Rating,
    but not sure how to work out about the r values which is required for a warm house
    Please Advice
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Ash,
      I’ve built with Paul McStay builders in the Selwyn area and highly recommend them. Been a Canterbury company for nearly 20 years and not franchised so you won’t end up having to pay franchise fees. You work with Brendon (owner) and his architect without having to go through sales consultants. You’ll end up with a much better spec for a good price compared to the bigger companies. I came across them from this website. ‘Ctrl F’ and there is nothing but good feedback.

      1. Hi MT
        I have checked out their website, I will Contact Brandon
        Thanks for your advice really appreciate it.

    2. Hi Ash,

      I agree with MT – Paul MsStay are good as are Greenland Homes, DNA Structures Limited, Peter Ray Homes, Quinn Homes, Que Homes. I would stay away from the big group builders. As for insulation etc, I am an Architectural Tech and personally for my new home which we will build next year we will be going R2.8 in the walls (would go more but don’t really want to have to go to 140 walls), at least R4.1 in the roof (but will probably push it up to either 5.2 or even 6.3). Examples of R values (with a longrun colorsteel roof on trusses are R5.44 with 5.2 batts as opposed to R3.84 with the standard 3.6 batts. We will have thermally broken window frames and low-e glass and will possibly even go to argon gas but not sure yet. We also will possibly look at insulating the edge of the slab as well. We have a ducted heatpump system in our current home and would do this again – we have found it to be very cost effective. At work we build houses in a zone where they have to be designed as energy efficient and that means a min of R2.8 in the walls and R4.1 in the roof plus thermally broken windows. Good luck with your build 🙂

    3. Hi Ash

      Search for Rolleston or Chch South on this site, there are lots of stories. If going brick stay away from Bricktech – many have had lots of issues there. Also, stay away from GJs they have caused many much stress and pain. If we were to do it again we’d go for a smaller local builder and never a franchise. The GJs national office are not interested in helping the customer. This is all worded very nicely as I’m trying to move on.


  95. looking at building our 1st home in Pegasus, Waimakariri

    been doing research on Signature homes, Mike Greer, GJ Gardner.

    Any thoughts on these builders? other builders you can recommend?

    Thanks heaps

    1. Hi Alan, I would suggest you stay away from Signature Homes. Although I used the Auckland North Shore franchise I did have significant interaction with the national head office. I got into a dispute situation with the franchise which wasn’t getting resolved. They then brought in the head office to supposedly help mediate and resolve the situation. In reality they just used the head office as additional artillery and ramped up the pressure to try and get me to fold. Got very ugly and extremely unprofessional.

      I got a poor quality home from Signature which I had to spend 10’s of thousands on post handover to bring up to standard.

      I would highly recommend going with a non-franchised builder.

      1. I can’t agree more. Stay away from franchise builders.
        You only need to read half a dozen of the thousands of posts on here to get a bloody good idea of what to expect dealing with a franchise.

        Myth – a franchise builder will take care of everything for you and you can continue your life stress free whilst they Build, they are professionals after all with decades of experience in the building industry and It is by far the easier, cheapest and quickest way to get a new build and should anything go wrong, you have the assurance and the guarantee of the franchise head office to help you sort out any issues.

        Reality – their decades of experience was from working at the trade desk in Bunnings and whilst you and your partner are out working 60 hours a week each to fund this they will cut every corner they can find, fail inspections that you won’t be around to see so you’ll never know, order the cheapest and often incorrect materials and chances are you won’t notice this either until it’s too late. They will under quote you by $200k but use variations to get another $400k out of you by the end and if you don’t pay, you won’t get the keys and all the f#*k ups they make along the way will push your build out by months and sometimes years. When you complain to head office that your build is over budget, over time and looks nothing like the plans you agreed on they’ll either ignore you or bully you and in the end you’ll give up.

        Go for a smaller, local builder who’s been in your district for quite sometime is my recommendation and ask a million questions and then a million more.

        1. Well said MJ. My build with Signature took 4 years to complete and I had to go on anti-anxiety medication for 2 year after completion. After the 4 years it took me another year and many thousands more before the house was even close to an ok standard.

          To be honest being part of this blog is quite unhealthy for as it continually opens up old wounds. Nether the less I do it because if I can save one person from going through the same experience then it is worth it!!

          Please follow the advice.

          1. Please keep posting, it’s the only way advice gets around and the more educated we can make people the quicker we can change this unregulated and criminal industry.

            We need people like you, you really should consider applying for a position on the LBP board!

    2. I also would also advise to go with smaller builders. You will get a much more personal approach. Builders I would recommend (and have had personal dealings with either building myself or in a professional capacity) are: Greenland Homes, Peter Ray Homes, DNA Structures Limited, Que Homes, Quinn Homes, Paul McStay. I would say all of these are honest and reliable builders with good designs and good spec for your money. Ask lots of questions, make sure you know exactly what is included and that they have had actual quotes for work as per plans rather than including lots of PC sums etc.

    3. Hi Alan,
      I agree with the replies, stay away from bigger franchised companies. I have built with Paul McStay builders and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

    4. Try Broadhurst Builders based in Kaiapoi, they have done some good work around the area and I have seen their signs a lot and they have one in Pegasus at the moment

  96. Has anyone built or know the companies freedom built and base construction in rolleston I’m also looking for a builder that does house and land packages

  97. Hi
    I just moved to CH from AK. What a minefield the housing market is down here. Thinking very strongly about building in the countryside just north. My wife and I did build 25 years ago in Auckland on a bush block but things were very different then. We were thinking of going with one of these franchise companies to take the leg work out of the process but reading some of the comments on your site has got me questioning that logic.
    Can you give me a few bullet points to get me started on this journey of building (big ask I know but have to start somewhere)
    I guess No1 is read Building Guide. any suggestions for No 2.
    Here we go
    Richard and Trina

    1. Yep I’d steer clear of the “group” builders if I were you. The builders I would recommend here are all smaller/independents. DNA Structures Limited, Peter Ray Homes, Greenland Homes, Paul McStay Homes, Que Homes (Justin McDonald), Peter Quinn. These are either companies I have a personal knowledge of having built with them (Peter Ray & Greenland) or other builders I have a personal knowledge of through contacts and other friends who have built with them. All good reputations as honest and efficient. I am an Architectural Technician so I also know that these homes are of a good standard. Good luck 🙂

      1. Thanks Sally. You being an Arch technician, can you please recommend me some good architectsthat are pretty reasonable in charging fees. I will be building probably around March/April 2021 and have a 1030 sqm section with great views and wanting a 2level house with approx 350sqm house

        1. Hi Savi, I don’t know any architectural firms in East Auckland but a way of finding one is to look at the ADNZ site (Architectural Designers New Zealand) – they will have listings of Architectural Designers in your area. Good luck with your build. 🙂

    2. Hi Guys,

      Yes I would definitely steer clear of building franchises and look locally. Generally builders who are in your area are less likely to “shit in their own back yard” sorry to use such a vulgar phrase but it’s fitting, and start interviewing them and do plenty of research on them. Don’t take their word for anything, get names of people they’ve built for and talk to these people and see the work in person ( I must stress the in person bit, it’s been known for some builders to give false names and fake pictures of their work) and then you should get a true idea of their standard of work.

      Get LBP numbers and names of everyone in their company who is licensed and search for their wrap sheet on the LBPB website, see if it’s clean but that’s not always a sure sign that they are neither good nor bad as the LBP are a bit of a joke to be fair but it will add to the overall picture. Don’t trust Master Builders either, they are only designed to protect the builder which is of no help to you whatsoever so don’t be taken in with logos and guarantees, they mean nothing if your contract isn’t right to begin with.

      Don’t sign anything and do not hand over any money for anything, this is all just the research stage so they shouldn’t be asking for either.

      Once you have a few narrowed down, then I would be asking for their contract and this is when a little money spent now on a good construction lawyer will really pay off big later on down the track. If your lawyer suggests changes and the building company won’t budge on any changes it’s safer to cut your losses and walk away even though you know you won’t get your legal fees back. The alternative would most definitely be worse I can assure you.

      If you get to this stage you may need to think about drawings & plans etc now. Most building companies will charge you for this and I would read through this website about the pros and cons of paying for them and who actually owns them even though you probably may end up contributing 90% of the design input yourself. Chris C and Chris have some really good advice on here about that, and Chris C also has a lot of input re contracts etc so search out their posts.

      Someone on here has also mentioned several times a finance company that is perfect for building with. They vet the builder, his insurance, his liabilities etc and if he’s too dodgy they won’t lend you the money to build which is perfect, that’ll sort out the scammers and find the bits you may have missed in your research at the beginning. All variations they want to make have to follow their very strict processes and their progress has to meet their standards otherwise they will not hand over any money and if I was building again I would most assuredly use this company. I’ll try to find the name of it and get back to you.

      Otherwise that’s probably enough to get you going and no doubt others on here will add lost of useful stuff too but smart move for getting on this website first. I only wish I’d found this before I started my build, it would have saved me $$$ and a lot of tears.

      Good luck!

    3. Peter Quinn is on here a lot and all his clients seem very happy with his work, I’d be giving him a call for sure.

      1. Hi MJ
        Thanks for your referral. Just for future referance we are Quinn Homes
        Interested though your comments. The first company I know of went under in Christchurch yesterday and another larger one about to go.
        More than ever it will be critical that homeowners align themselves with companies with little overheads like ours.
        For years, companies have kept takeing building deposits when they know they are in crisis and go under shortly after taking homeowners deposits with them.
        We are so confident in our company we are willing to give a personal guarantee to homeowners as this Covad 19 has not affected us in anyway as we run the business ourselves, no staff, no commercial premises, no project managers and vehicles etc etc

        1. Hi Peter
          We are thinking of building our home in Palmerston North. It’s our first time and tbh we have no clue and we are scared after reading all the comments regarding different dodgy builders. Would you or anyone else recommend any good builder/s in PN. Thanks

          1. Hi

            I have comments in Palmerstaon North who look after alot of the builders
            What is your email address


          2. Hi Imran

            I would stay away from BCL in Palmerston North. I have met 6 very unhappy previous clients of theirs, all of which had to get lawyers involved to solve issues. In all instances the issues could only be partially resolved because of BCLs strategic evasive behavior. I’m also a previous unhappy BCL client and I have heard stories of another 6 (i.e. 12 in total over the past 6 yrs). I’ve also heard the stories from a number of suppliers and subcontractors that had extreme difficulty getting payment out of BCL after they completed work for BCL on site. I have actually met some of these people too. To the best of my knowledge, most of these subcontractors have still not been paid years later. Also it took BCL 18 months to create a partially built house for me, which I had to legally wrestle off them and finish organising the work myself.

    4. Get several quotes and do your background checking thoroughly. Do not rely on the dispute resolution process provided between MBA and Fairway Resolutions to the homeowner as it is a waste of time and energy. The outcome is too slanted to the builder. Write everything down and email validation and conversation agreements to builder in every instance.

  98. G I Builders rate themselves as small enough to care and big enough to deliver. The expereince doesn’t live up to that. Small enough to be everywhere else other than your job, constant chasing required, Mr Variation making up stuff as he goes, plans get changed to what they want, not what was agreed. Be very careful to ensure that everything you do with this company is revorded in writing in triplicate, or you’ll pay! I suggest treading with care

    1. Agree. Experience with this company was poor. Husband and wife both volatile. Don’t get in the wrong side or your job will suffer. Reiterate what is written above. Be careful.

  99. Hi all,
    We are considering a design and build company to remove and rebuilt in Auckland.
    Has anyone used Jalcon before?
    Thanks in advance. Sa

    1. Hi Sarah, I’ve mentioned before on this blog (but not many people seem to see it), that in the notes at the top it suggests that if you want to check on a particular company name (or other topic) just click ctrl-F, and fill in the name in the search box at the top right-hand side. It will highlight it throughout the blog.
      There are quite a few references to Jalcon, some good, some not so good.
      But please note that they are a franchise builder, and there lots of comments on the blog (mostly negative) about using those.
      We went quite far in the process of building with them in the SE Auckland area. But did not in the end, because we decided we didn’t like the location our section was in, so we sold it.
      Their plans were quite good, and things looked promising regarding price. But we (my wife especially) felt the salesman was a bit too pushy. And certainly he was fond of saying things like, ‘We can easily build that (eg stone garden wall and gates) for $10-15K.’ But later when asked to give a specific quote based on a drawing it became $40-50K.’ So if you do go with them make sure you tie down the costs based on exact details, don’t just accept rough estimates or provisional sums for how much something will cost. That applies to all builders of course, unless you have a good relationship with them, and real experience that you can trust their estimates.

        1. Hi Sarah, hat area are you building? We have finished a build in Rodney with The House Company and are very satisfied with the quality and process. Not the cheapest of companies but certainly less stress than all of the other companies we have used in the past.

  100. In regards to Landmark Homes Auckland South & Franklin (formerly known as Counties) I wanted to take the time to let everyone know this branch is under new management and my husband and I are the new franchisee owners.

    We have both been involved in the building industry for quite some time, I’ve been in senior management with a well-established group house builder for the past 7+ years and my husband has been in the industry for over 30 years in the plumbing and roofing fields pre-dominantly, having owned our own plumbing and roofing company a few years back.

    We are excited to be part of the Landmark Homes team and look forward to building beautiful homes in our area. We both love working with people and will be with our clients every step of the way.

    Plans for our new showhome which will be located in Paerata Rise are well underway and we can’t wait to have it open to the public towards the end of this year. Our new offices are located in the old Karaka Church at 458 Karaka Road, Karaka, not the most conventional office space but it’s a great old building and the perfect fit, after all it is a Landmark in its own right.

    Warmest regards,
    Colleen Walters

    1. A few questions if I may :
      Will you commit that the standard building contract you use will be a fair and balanced contract?
      2) Will you give realistic time frames to potential home owners of how long things will take from start to finish backed by good project management?
      3) Will you make minimal use of PC sums and where they are needed they will be realistically priced based on the standard of build the client is expecting?
      4) You will work in good faith where there are any disputes?
      5) Any variations will be communicated early and be transparent?


      1. Hi James, I totally understand where you’re coming from on this, and it will be interesting to see whether Collen replies at all, and if so how. But I assume you’re writing some of this stuff more in hope than expectation, because you (and many others) have been taken advantage of by other builders.
        Regarding some of your points, I guess no builder will admit that their contract is not ‘fair and balanced’. So no matter what the reply, clients must get it checked by someone who knows what they’re doing before handing over any money to a builder.
        Although most builders will resist it tooth and nail, in my view every building contract should state a specific completion date, with liquidated damages (ie a reasonable estimate of the client’s loss) for each day it is late. Of course this is made more complicated if the build process includes things like getting Council approval, and it means having a clause in the contract to allow for time extensions for delays outside the builder’s control. But this kind of thing is quite feasible, and in fact standard on larger construction contracts. It is not without room for discussion (argument) on the exact amount of time extension, but at least it prevents a builder from dragging a build out indefinitely, simply because they prefer to work on another project.
        I’ve written before about PC (Prime Cost) sums. In my view these are fine, but should only be used for things where the client gets to choose the standard put in the house. So I think it is up to the client to use due diligence before signing the contract, to decide whether the amount is enough to get what they want. If you see a PC sum of $10K for a kitchen you can guess it’s not going to be top German stuff.
        Provisional sums/quantities are different, and used for things like excavating unsuitable material or putting in piles under a foundation. These are costs that a builder may genuinely not be able to accurately assess before signing the contract. I would suggest that anyone not experienced in the building industry should get expert advice on these before signing the contract. Or at least get a breakdown of how the builder arrived at his figure (hours/quantities/rates), and how the figure would be re-calculated if there are changes after the work starts.
        Of course we all hope everyone involved will act in good faith. But just in case they don’t then the exact disputes process, and procedure for handling variations, needs to be clearly stated in the contract.
        It should go without saying that if a builder is uncooperative or unwilling to discuss any of the above in a reasonable manner, then in my view you should just walk away.

        1. Aside from the contractual and PC sums issues it would be nice for Colleen to comment on the physical building side of their franchise.

          Such as, will there be one dedicated licensed builder on each build that regularly visits and overseas the build and is this the person the same one who will sign off the Record of Works? If this licensed builder is to supervise restricted building work and not do this work themselves then the question needs to be asked how often will they visit the site?

          Many franchise companies only have one licensed builder on their books and if you have several builds on the go at the same time often the visits are not frequent enough and in my experience, one you have a problem or the workmanship is poor, it takes more money and time to find and rectify the problem if it’s not caught early on in the process which will delay the whole build and potentially end up costing the client more money.

          Will you be using stubbies, and if so who will they be and what will they be doing? Who do they answer to if their work is incorrect or substandard?

          How many hammer hands vs skilled builders (not necessarily licensed builders) will be allocated to each build? Again, many franchises try to keep their costs down by using mainly hammer hands who are cheaper to employ and the end result is often very poor workmanship which is harder for the client to seek remedial work or costs for as each franchise has their own interpretation of what good workmanship is and arguing this costs thousands in legal fees if you should find yourself in this position.

          The LBPB and the Council will not help you should it come to defining poor workmanship so supervision and accountability are all the client has to safeguard themselves against this.

          I think we will all be waiting with baited breath for her reply to all our questions.

          1. Maybe Kelly (who posts stuff on this blog often) could weigh in with her experiences of insurance and finance issues too?

            Then I think all the bases are covered as to how Colleen Walters and her husband are going to turn that franchise around as it does not have a very good reputation at all.

          2. Hi MJ, I’d like to come in on this one again. All good questions about how many qualified/skilled builders will be working on the job, or at least how often they will visit the site. Perhaps a bit difficult to pin down in the contract. I guess you could ask the builder to name the people they intend to use. The good/honest ones will tell you the truth. The others will always have some excuse as to why their promise is no longer possible (he resigned, got sick, too busy etc etc). I think this is where due diligence comes in again, and the need to look at as many of the builder’s previous builds as possible, and talk to previous or current clients, to judge whether the standard of workmanship is acceptable to you.
            Regarding the point about sub-contractors, I guess virtually all NZ builders use them for some or all of various specialist jobs like excavation, concreting, drainage, roofing, joinery, electrical, plumbing, kitchens, tiling, bricklaying, flooring, painting etc etc. And in some ways that’s a good thing, because each subbie should be more skilled at his trade than a general builder. But the essential thing is that every contract should contain a clause to make it clear that the main builder (ie the one you sign the contract with) is contractually entirely responsible for all aspects of the subbie’s work (giving instructions, providing necessary access and assistance, workmanship, progress/delays, payments etc) as though it were his own workers. Take no excuses that this is in some way ‘unfair’ on the builder. It’s their choice to use a subbie, so they need to choose them wisely. Any builder who thinks it’s too hard on them has no experience of how the building industry is supposed to function in the real world.
            It follows from this that the client should resist the temptation to get involved in any discussions with a subbie (or in fact any worker on the site) that might be interpreted as giving them an instruction, especially one that might be considered a Variation. All instructions should be given by the builder’s Project Manager, so the builder is fully responsible for everything that happens on the site.

            1. I had a friend who went through the LBPB very recently to reprimand the building company who built his house, and which failed COC on epic proportions, and the LBPB deemed the building company in question not liable for the faulty work of their subbies even though they hired them and signed of a ROW for it all too.

              He is appealing the decision through the District Court as their ruling completely contradicts what all their literature says but it just goes to show you how very little protection there is out there for the home owner and in my opinion you lose nothing by trying to include things like this into your contract.

              Even if the issues may seem to have an obvious outcome or may even be considered trivial, the builder will either agree or disagree to enter them into the contract and you’ve lost nothing by attempting it, unlike my friend who will now spend $15-20k trying to overturn a ridiculous ruling.

              The devil is in the detail so the more you can add then you’ll be better off for it.

              1. Hi MJ,
                It’s a little unclear what you are talking about in regards to your friend’s LBPB complaint.
                First a company cannot be an LBP. You can only take a complaint to the LBPB regarding an individual who is an LBP.
                Secondly when an LBP does a record of work it can only cover what they are qualified to cover. This means a ROW cannot cover any subbies like plumbers, electricians. The company is still responsible for the subbies workmanship, but not as an LPB (except maybe one with a “site” licence?).
                The district court is probably the right place for their dispute.

          3. Hi MJ,
            Thanks for your comments and I do understand your concerns around franchise companies that have several builds on the go at the same time and at times don’t visit the site as frequently as desired.
            We have been very selective in the sub-contractors we have brought on board and have complete faith in their workmanship and attention to detail.
            The role of a Project Manager/Construction Manager is to manage the project closely and vet the work done by sub-contractors and like you validly point out if there is a problem that occurs pick it up early and move forward with a solution/remedy.
            Again I can’t comment on what other builders/franchise company’s do but I can say that we do work with very reputable companies as at the end of the day if their work is sub standard then this reflects poorly on Landmark Homes.
            At our pre-construction meeting with the client we are more than happy to disclose the sub-contractors who will be working on their site if requested and address any issues that may arise at that point, we will always strive for open and honest communication with our clients.

          4. The problem with franchises like Landmark is they have no qualified builders actually managing and running the franchise. It is like saying because I worked in a gas station I am capable of running an offshore oil drilling business. I have found that people are paying unnecessary franchise fees, combined with over priced build costs. How they do it is once you financially pay for the concept plans, which they own , so you are to now committed to them regardless of how much they charge you and if you try and replicate the plans, they sue you for copyright breach, even though it was your idea.

            1. Hi Jayne, I’ve said this before, but I guess it won’t hurt to repeat it. Regarding the copyright for concept plans, it is almost standard practice that a designer will stick a statement saying they own sole copyright on any plans they produce. If the plans are substantially based on some other ‘standard designs’ the builder /designer owns, and you have just got them amended to suit you at a ‘discount’ or highly subsidised price, then it may be fair that they own the sole copyright. But unless you’ve signed a building contract based on those plans you are not committed to continue with that builder, if you think they’re ripping you off on the overall price. Better to lose a thousand on the plans, than lose tens of thousands on the build.
              But better still is to remember that before you sign anything, or pay any money, everything is up for negotiation. So raise this issue of copyright before anything starts. And if you think that what you’re paying for the concept plans, based on your ideas, is similar to what you would pay an independent designer, then insist that you will own at least a share of the copyright. Maybe not to sell the plans, but at least use them yourself.
              If the builder does not agree then walk away, or get the plans done by your own designer.
              I think a large part of the problem in NZ, is that there so many independent clients, who are relatively inexperienced in how the building process should work. So they are easy targets for the less than honest builders.

            2. Yes, sadly I’ve read quite a few comments on here about people who pay for their plans with these franchise companies only to lose them when then the true costs of their build comes out and they cancel the contract even though they contributed the lions share to the design.

              Unfortunately it all comes down to the contract and most of these franchises don’t let you change their “standard Master Build” agreements and this clause would surely be one that they have set in stone so you are less likely to walk away because you’ve already put your heart, soul and a good chunk of your wallet into it so many people stay and just hope for the best.

              It’s criminal really.

              Good licensed builders wouldn’t touch a franchise with a ten foot barge pole, they have better success and make more money running their own building companies which is why these are run by people with less experience. The only ones you hear about are the likes of Jason Strange and look how that turned out.

              1. Hi MJ, Again some good comments from you, but I think unfortunately not taken to their logical conclusion. As I’ve said before on this blog (several times), before you give a builder any money, or sign anything, everything about the contract and the build is up for negotiation.
                So if their contract says they have sole copyright to any concept or other plans that you have paid for, then ask for that to be changed, to give you at least a share of the copyright (maybe not to sell on, but at least to use yourself). If their contract is the same as the MB contract I looked at a few years ago, then tell them that some aspects will need to amended. (Unfortunately no time or space to go into exactly how here.) If they refuse on one or both points then walk away. If that means you can never go with a franchise builder then so be it. If everyone did that, then the franchise builders involved would realise they need to change, if they want any business.
                Regarding inexperienced people running building franchises, does anyone recall a TV ad not so long ago for people to own/operate a branch of a rather famous renovation franchise which said ‘No building experience necessary.’ I guess that says it all.
                And while I’m writing I’d like to say I hope that everyone reading this stays fit and healthy, and give my sympathy to anyone who’s caught in the middle of a house build. It will make an already stressful experience even more difficult.

                1. The cowboys we used on our build wouldn’t even use edge protection while they were doing the roof (even though we asked them to) so I can’t imagine they’ll be very vigilant about the 2m rule so I would suggest that for all the poor folk out there that are stuck in this horrible situation in the middle of a build to give all your contractors a very wide berth.

                  Stay safe all.

            3. Agree with Jayne. Ask Landmark if their project managers are qualified lbp’s/builders. Or if their site supers are doing points through attending suppliers training sessions (1 time). If their site supers are advising the builders how to build and if the builders are lbp’s. Note any issues with the Build will go back to the lbp builder not Landmark as per Landmark North Shore scenario in another post on here (you should read). Franchises pay franchise fees back to HO and you pay for those so from the start your build will be more expensive. Do your due diligence and look for a fully qualified lbp builder (not just a newby on the block) who has fantastic reviews and is not another franchised coy taking margin. If you build with a franchise who is not a reputable builder himself then you deserve all you get with it.

        2. Hi Chris,
          I hope my reply to James above adequately answers his queries.
          I can confirm that we will act in good faith and look forward to growing the business and gaining people’s trust.
          Whilst we can’t turn back the clock as to what may have happened previously with this area we do hope that we can show in our actions and business acumen that we will be building quality homes and will have our clients best interest at heart.
          When entering a building contract we do strongly encourage our clients to seek independent legal advice and will always address any concerns at that point in the process.

      2. Dear James,

        When Michael and I decided to go into business we took our time selecting the correct business to own. We chose Landmark because they represented the best fit with our personal commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

        We believe that our standard contract which is endorsed by the Master Builders Association is indeed fair but as stated elsewhere on the blog this is a major purchase so always get your lawyer to review in advance of signing.

        Regarding points 2-5 that is simply the correct way for things to be done in a building project, and that is how we operate.

        All the best James and please feel free to drop into our new office at any opportunity to meet us face to face. We would love to deliver you a great home and a great experience.


        1. Hi Colleen,

          Are you willing to make changes to your Master Build endorsed contract? Delete clauses a client and their lawyer may seem unduly biased towards in your favour or add clauses a client has been recommended by his lawyer to have?

          I don’t know how much of this blog you’ve read but there are hundreds of poor people here who have had very negative dealings with Master Builders and their contracts are top of the list of complaints, along with their famous guarantee. Many of the skilled and successful builders I know of have cut ties completely with Master Builders and it has not negatively impacted their business at all, in fact it seems to be a positive thing given Master Builders current reputation.

          As for clarifying my previous comment, the building company who built the non-consented house employed subbie carpenters, and still do to this day along with many other Franchise building companies that I know of. They have only one licensed builder on their staff payroll who puts his name to a ROW without even visiting the site in some instances because there is so much work out there at the moment, I doubt the trusting fool actually has the time.

          The client often has no idea that this is the case and when it goes wrong, and you find yourself at an LBPB hearing with the builder who signed off the ROW, he gets thrown under the bus by the building company he was working for and they employ someone else when his licence is suspended or revoked even though every decision to employ subbies was made by the business owners. The business owners therefore remain untainted.

          Or in the case of my friend, the LB walked away clean and was not found accountable for anything. Because the building company did not specify it was using subbie carpenters, there is no name or any way to find out who the LB on site actually was so he can’t take disciplinary action here either. The building company are not forthcoming giving his name either and to fight this as well as the LBPB is not financially viable for my friend nor does he need the added stress.

          Which is why I asked you what subbies you use and who are they? Along with my questions regarding hammer hands vs skilled builders, supervision on your builds and what part you play in the management of the build.

          Most of us here will dissuade people from using franchises because of this. There is almost no accountability for errors made on the part of the Franchise owner and your head office have no legal obligation to step in and make things right and more often than not they never do.

          If you chose to use this forum to promote your Franchise it may be worth your while to be as transparent as possible.

          I look forward to your reply.

          1. Hi MJ, Again well said. All valid points. In her reply to me Colleen said ‘When entering a building contract we do strongly encourage our clients to seek independent legal advice and will always address any concerns.’, and I guess there would be no point in saying that (and the legal advice would be a waste of money) if they were not willing to make any changes.
            I’m not sure what the current MB contract form says, but I used one version on a house build a few years ago, and it’s not completely useless (ie at least you can understand what it means, unlike some I’ve read), so it was possible to use it as the basis of a contract. But only because the builder accepted most of the changes I asked for (including on subbies, contract period and liquidated damages among others).
            Regarding the point about your friend’s problem with subbies, I think he would have been in a much stronger position if his contract had made the builder (contractor) entirely responsible for their work. An example of the type of wording can be found in the NZIA Small Works Contract 2002 (may have been updated since then), Clause 17, which says ‘The Contractor is entitled to appoint subcontractors to do any parts, but not all, of the Contract Works. However, the Contractor is responsible for their actions or omissions. The Contractor’s obligations and liability are not affected by the Contractor subcontracting any part of the Contract Works.’ This is a lot better than nothing, although I think it could be expanded to make it clear that work done, not done or not done properly shall be treated exactly as though it were work done by the Contractor himself. However, clients should bear in mind that they do not have a contract with the subcontractor, only the builder (hopefully) has some kind of formal contract with the subcontractor. So I believe if things go wrong the subcontractor has no formal obligations to the client. Frankly the whole situation is a can of worms that will scare you if you think about it too much. Most people go into house building without it seems realising just how vulnerable they are, and how they are relying on the good fortune of finding a competent, honest builder.

          2. Master builders contract is a joke. Seriously suggest you look at built in insurance contract for peace of mind. Master builders and certified builders look after builders first and foremost. CB tried to get us on board with the sales pitch that the contract was written to protect builders first and I had quite a few heated conversations with them about Fair protection for both parties. Suffice to say I refused to accept their unprofessional approach to building and went with built in insurance to protect customers long term. To get this cover the builder must complete an in-depth questionnaire on financial viability and provide referrals to gain qualification which is checked by Built In Insurance. They are not like MB or CB and are standalone and are not a membership organisation so you have the peace of mind of 3rd party confidence.

            1. Agree. We had major issues with our builder including poor finishing, workmanship, extensive delays, not delivering to specifications, failing to deliver in agreed work etc etc. I ended up in facilitated conversations between ourselves and Master Builders and Fairway Resolutions. Reports stated everything in accordance with contract and within tolerance. What a fkn joke. The system is a sham and so in favour of the builder the home owner basically is forced to bend over and take it up the backside. Our overall experience was quite frankly disgusting. MBA looks after builders and Fairway looks after MBA. It’s a hiding in waiting. We are now fixing at our cost and completing stuff agreed to…… on top of the poor work completed. The system is fkd. Bring back carpenters instead of over charging kitset incompetence who’s only desire is to make excessive profit.

              1. Unfortunately it will get worse under a Labour government I think. The system has been corrupt for years and that also includes the LBP Board but they’re even more hesitant about taking licences off the dodgy builders now because they’re failing on epic proportions to honour their election promise of more houses (I mean the joke that is Kiwibuild) so as far as Labour is concerned it’s all hands on deck! (Or all hands on hammers) the more the merrier…etc…etc…

                I wouldn’t even contemplate a new build now. The whole systems needs gutting and rebuilding and only then would I consider giving it a go again.

                Unfortunately we learned the hard way as did most people on here and it saddens me when I see someone else adding their stories to ours.

                1. Yes this is our experience exactly. The LBP Board protects the builders they have their weetbix licenses to, not the public at all.

                  We too had to fix the LBP’s extensive non-compliant building work. He was in fact a scammer with multiple victims.

              2. Haha. Ain’t that the truth. Sounds like a bad experience. Builders like this give the industry a really bad name. They are focused on themselves and not the client. Bet a flash Toyota Hilux , plus rugby league, holidays in Fiji. Over inflated ego

          3. Master builders is now seen by most licenced qualified builders as being the biggest joke now in the industry and this is because they give MB accreditation to Franchised companies like Landmark Homes without owners being qualified lbp’s or builders. This means the contract builder takes ownership for build issues when Landmark takes all the profit and dictates to the builder (who has no say in the matter) product that must be used. Note to all. Any good builders worth their salt never build for a franchise company and run their own reputable companies. Why would you support companies that are middle men to take your hard earned Money through franchise fees instead of supporting local builders with fantastic reputations who are more cost effective, more knowledgeable and build faster with low overheads. Anyone choosing a franchise company is not choosing a reputable builder as their contractors are screwed on price to do the work for the franchise to take the profit. Now ask yourself what gives when you pay your stubbies cheap rates, take no liability and cream the profit. Exactly what happened to the previous owners of Landmark Franklin. You get major issues with builds and the Head franchisor does nothing until people on here started writing heaps of negative reviews and then he goes legal to get comments taken down. And for the new owners of Landmark Homes – why didn’t you open a company yourselves instead of buying a franchise. That’s because you’re not a qualified builder???

            1. Spot on Max. You have got to the heart of the issue very concisely.
              I only wish I understood this back when I was starting out on my first build.
              To all out there ready to start your first building project. Please print out Max’s comment, put it on the fridge and read it everyday – hopefully you will make the right decision. Well researched independent not franchise!!

  101. Anyone know anything good or bad regarding Buildfirst in Christchurch? I’m looking at buying a unit in a new complex that they will be leading the build of. Looks like they do a lot of that sort of project and have been around for a while. Basically everything I’ve seen gives me confidence but haven’t found any reviews to either confirm or counteract my instincts!

  102. Hi there

    Has anyone built with Sentinel Homes in Porirua/Kapiti. We have had a terrible experience previously with a company (mostly came down to poor communication and project management), do not want another experience like this. Anyone having a great experience with a building company in the Wgtn region – recommendations much appreciated

    1. I can refer you to a friend who is currently building with them
      let me know by reply with your email and ill pass it on
      FYI so far so good for them

        1. We are currently building with them too – opposite experience. Happy to share, so you have both sides of the coin.

          1. Hi Rachel – we are thinking of building with Sentinel Homes.. what was your experience?

            Cheers .. Karen

          2. Hi Rachel
            I would be keen to hear about your experience as we are looking to build with Sentinel as well.

      1. Hi T
        I would be quite keen to hear how your friend got on with Sentinel and their build.
        We are looking to build with as well and have been looking for feedback.

  103. Looking to build in the Wellington region and Landmark so far are at the top of our list. Any other quality suggestions? Looking for a mid-high quality with features over a Standard group home “box”

    Any concerns with them?

    1. Anyone building with Landmark Homes would be well advised to do their due diligence.
      They market themselves as Luxury Home builders,do not be fooled by flashy show homes or slick salespeople.
      Landmark Homes have a very one sided contract that is heavily biased toward them to the point of being an “unfair contract”,they will not accept any changes to the contract.
      They make extensive use of ” P SUMS” in their contracts which is a best guess of cost which they don’t have to adhere to.
      So your quoted price may be considerably more than the actual price sometimes as much as 100-150%.
      If they are professionals then they should know what the cost is not mislead people as to what the actual cost is as lets face it all money is hard to earn and unexpected cost overruns can be very stressful.
      They do have good designers and salespeople,but thats where it ends,once you pay your deposit
      you are treated more as a nuisance not the paying customer.
      They hire the cheapest labour they can without verifying their skills with huge consequences.
      Would you want to risk it.
      Run their contract past your solicitor first it may save you some anguish.

      1. Hi John, Well said. First thing to say to everyone writing to this blog, who seems a bit inexperienced in the building game, is to press ctrl-F, and a search box will come up at the top, labelled ‘Find on page’. If you type in a word it will highlight that word throughout the blog. In this case for example putting in ‘Landmark’, contract, provisional sum, PC sum, etc will reveal many very interesting comments.
        I’ve written on this blog several times before to remind people that the FIRST thing they should look at (certainly before handing over money for anything) is a copy of the builder’s contract. If they are not qualified to review it themselves they should get a suitable experienced solicitor (many claim to be, but not all are), or someone like an architect, civil engineer or QS to look at it.
        If the contract is too biased in the builder’s favour, and he’s not willing to change it, then walk away. If his sales people etc try to tell you they never actually apply any of those biased clauses, then ask why they can’t be deleted. Of course we all go into a building project hoping that everyone will be professional, honest and reasonable. But if things go wrong (as they so often do) then all you have to rely on is the precise wording of the contract.
        I’ve also written about the pros (there are some), cons and proper use of PC Sums and Provisional Items/Quantities, but it seems people seldom go back and look at what’s been written before, which is really not making best use of this blog.

        1. Not new to the industry. And well aware of the contract flaws of most builders. I am looking for a review in specific to this franchisee. Contract aside, how was the build process and quality etc. The legal stuff will go ahead or it wont, but no point starting the process if the service is not there.

  104. Hi Anyone had experience of building recently with Urban, Sentinel, or Lattitude Homes in Hamilton? We are looking at possibly using these for a build and keen to get some views… Good or bad… Cheers

  105. Hi everyone
    We are looking to build (full build) on a small budget on existing land in the hauraki – Paeroa
    classed as Waikato or coromandel region (varies between builders)
    Any recommendations please
    We have looked at Urban?
    Versatile? and keith hay
    Basically by searching any builders in our area as we have no idea.
    Ive been reading this site for almost an hour and got abit nervous
    Please any advice or direction or recommendations would be hugely appreciated.
    We are deadline to get the ball rolling as we have sold our existing home.

    1. Hiya Tarnz, I’ve heard good things about Daven Homes in Morrinsville and the difference between these guys and the ones you already mentioned is that Daven Homes are not a franchise, I’ve not read many good things about dealing with franchises on this website so they may be worth considering.

      I’ve also noticed on the Daven Homes website that they don’t advertise that they are with Master Builders either which is a good thing. There are many, many unfortunate people who thought that having a Master Builders guarantee would help and protect them should anything go wrong but I don’t think I’ve found one entry in here yet that proves this, they all say the opposite in fact so don’t be taken in by anyone flashing the MB logo on their site.

      We completely gutted and rebuilt our entire house with one builder and his name is Mitchell Williams and he lives in Tauhei and I thank God every day we had him! We had some horrible experiences in the past with big building companies and I was quite hesitant about using a one man team as I thought he wouldn’t be able to do such a big job but the man proved me wrong and depending on your requirements I would absolutely recommend giving him a call. The man can literally build anything and his work is immaculate!

      We got a full set of plans for a minor dwelling drawn up by Footprint Draughting in Morrinsville for around $5k and Mitchell is building this for us when we subdivide our rental in Hamilton for about $200-250k just to give you an idea, but like I said before it depends on what you’re after.

      At the moment it’s not uncommon to wait up to 4-6 months for a good builder to start work as all the good builders are highly sought after and sadly there aren’t that many around, the shoddy builders definitely outnumber them 10 to 1 easily so if you find someone who can start earlier you may want to ask why? If finances allow, rent somewhere else for as long as you can until you find the right builder, it’s worth the wait (I know this from personal experience) the less of a hurry you’re in means that you can do lots of research which is essential.

      Happy builder hunting! It’s not a particularly enjoyable thing to do unfortunately and it can get very stressful but when you find a good one it makes all the difference so GOOD LUCK!

      P.S – read as much of this website as you can, it’s loaded with good advice.

  106. We are building with DW Homes,I will be putting a full review from start to finish so it will help people decide if these guys are good to build with.Nicole is really good to deal with.So far they seem to be doing a good job,they are pretty on to it.Just a couple of things probably needs changing in their process.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      We are looking at building with Craig and Navigation Homes. Did you end up building with them?


      1. Hello Adam,

        We are currently considering Navigation Homes Hawkes Bay (Eve and Craig Gordon) for our first home build. Did you actually end up building with them? How’s the building process?

        Much appreciated.

  107. Has anyone built with or purchased a Golden Homes home in Hamilton in the last few years? We had a really good chat with Gary there, I was quite impressed, but have found a little bit of hate for Golden Homes in general but nothing specific to Hamilton.

    1. Building with Golden Homes Christchurch has been one of the worst experiences of our lives…
      Everything seems all wonderful and perfect at the start until contract is signed and payments made, then it all changes.
      Management are just monsters!
      They will intimidate and bully you, threaten you with defamation if you try and expose them.
      Getting any warranty issues rectified has pretty much been impossible!
      5 years on we are still trying to alleviate the terrible expansion/contraction noise day and night from the steel.
      Also overtime steel has bleed throughout our gib causing most of the interior gib to look like a Chinese checkers board….
      They don’t want to know about any issues and just tell you everything is all ‘normal’
      All the same product but hopefully the Hamilton franchise is different and they don’t use shoddy subbies.
      Good luck 🙂

      1. Ooh I’m sorry to hear that Andrew, I had a similar experience in 2012 with GH Christchurch, ended up in disputes tribunal. In my opinion the General Manager is a nasty piece of work – I really hope Karma is a thing! I hope you get it sorted – its a crap thing to be going through – they never came back and did any maintenance for me because I took them to Court and since then there have been several times when I needed information/records about the house and I can never get it because of the “falling out”. They are totally unprofessional in my opinion. Just out of interest do you have a log burner in your house? Or anything that could cause lots of dust in the air? I had what I thought was “bleed through” from the steel but it turned out the steel was attracting dust/ash from the fire onto the wall and it made a difference to wash the walls. Anyway good luck with GH.

    2. Hey Rory, Like Andrew I built with GH Christchurch and had huge problems with them. I know you are after Hamilton reviews and the company up there may be better than the one in Chch but a couple of general GH things to note are that the Head Franchisees also own the company that provides their “guarantee” that they harp on about. They don’t provide any kind of independent guarantee (I know that Masterbuild isn’t the greatest either but the GH one really covers bugger all). Their contract is totally one sided and if you ask them to change anything they pretty much tell you “like it or lump it”. They took a huge deposit off of you – more than some other companies I’ve worked with (not sure if that has changed). If you do go with them be very careful what they put in for provisional sums. They stung me on it in a big way after pretty much lying to me about how those sums were handled (wish I had recorded the conversations) – unfortunately I was green about all this at the time. The one thing I will say is that the actual house was good (apart from the fact they didn’t do any of the “maintenance” after the build because of our falling out. I was pleased with the workmanship of the tradies they used.

    3. Hi Everyone,

      Do anybody has build houses with Hispecs homes and how was the building process and outcome ? Please leave ur feedback, would really appreciate

    4. Hello Rory, we are now negotiating with GH in Hamilton. Working with Tony, though. Have you proceeded to sign with them? We are considering and reviewing the contract closely.


  108. Hi to all, I have been on this Site before, and it is a very good site, our story without going into much detail is we’ve been screwed by two builders in 2014 and are still fixing the mess they created, by ourselves today. Will get there one day, our place was very badly built, even council signed off area’s that shouldn’t of been signed off. I have learnt the hard way once a builder completely screws up the build, you won’t get another builder to fix the first builder’s mess, not to mention this will be extremely costly. The first builder got so much wrong that we tried to pick up on, and wouldn’t fix his own screw-ups. The Second builder is mentioned permanently on this site top of page under April 2017 for ripping off contractors all over the place, he lives in our area and has to avoid places where we are as we were another case he tried to rip off. Just a few tips for people on this site, and this is from my view, LBP New Zealand is an absolute Joke, as any Builder whether they are good or not can sign up to this scheme, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more Cowboy builders signed up as LBP registered than Builders that are not cowboys. Certified Builders and Master Builders is an absolute mockery in this country as well. These organisations look after the builders not the consumer, so when you find a builder that is signed up to these organisations and LPB registered this does not guarantee that you are going to get a good build/Ripped off etc. they can clearly still be a Cowboy Builder, Websites that have all the glossy wording and rewards and offer a lot are only to entice you in signing up, and even Testimonials/reviews on websites are more likely to be fake. The second builder on our build has screwed up his reputation; he was only out for ripping people off. I suggest if you want to find out how genuine and honest a builder is out there whether they are a decent builder or not and they are running their own business, Check out the Companies Registrar Website, if you know their full name or Company name, this will show you their trail of companies whether they are in Liquidation or started new ones, their history without any of the lies they can otherwise portray to make them look good.

    1. This really knots my undies! You poor people!

      I’ve just had a letter from the Minister of MBIE, I got Andrew Bayley from the National Party involved in my LBPB case because they tried to bully me into shortening my complaint, anyways long story short, Andrew got RESULTS!

      The letter says they are investigating my complaint and if more people like yourselves contact Andrew Bayley’s office and tell them of their unfair experiences with the MBIE, then he can do what he’s been trying to do for years and that’s restructure the LBPB to make it more independent of places such as Master Builder etc and then poor people like the majority of people on this site can actually get a fair hearing and dodgy builders will get REAL punishments that fit the crimes!

      Man this stuff makes me wild! My heart goes out to you and your family Donna xx

  109. Hi,
    How did your journey go with Strategic (now Touchstone) Homes? We are considering them along with Parklane/Faye and would like your input please?


  110. Hi, I have just come across this site and it is a real eye opening.
    I am considering a new build, but also possibly moving a pre-fab / transportable house on site.
    The company Presidential Homes Ltd in Palmerston North ( has been recommended to me.
    I would very much appreciate any comments / feedback / experience in regards to “ready-made” deliver to site homes.
    Thank you! B

    1. Hi, we are in the same situation. Looking for a quick build, considering pre-fab, we saw the Presidential Homes site and liked the look of it. Does anyone have first hand experience of them and/or Keith Marriott who is owner/director?

      1. Hi Susan just wondered if you went ahead with building a home with Presidential? We are thinking of using them. What was your experience, would you recommend them. Really appreciate any feedback.
        Thanks K

    2. Hi saw your query asking about Presidential transportable homes in Palmerston North. Just wondering if you went ahead with them and what was your experience? We are thinking of building with them. Appreciate your comments.

  111. Hi all, my partner and I are looking at building in Riverhead in Auckland. We will need quite a large home as we are a blended family (7 of us). Can anyone recommend any builders out that way? Ideally looking for house and land as we don’t own a section currently. We have complicated family needs, including a special needs child , and costs are already high building a 6-7 bedroom home, so it is important that we get honest builders who can provide accurate quotes with minimal provisional sums, not those that underquote to get business. Functional design to suit a family is really important to us. Also want to make sure house is finished to a good standard and on time.

    1. Try Patrick Preisig on 027 766 5962, from Monument Homes, Patrick has been building homes for over 20 years and has residential and industrial construction experience and is a nice guy and honest builder.

  112. Hi, has anyone have any experience with Eco Smart Homes Auckland? We have signed a contract for one of their home and land packages:
    They’re saying it will take them 9 months to build the house, which seems a bit too long! I have started to be a bit skeptical whether they’ll actually sell the house to someone else after our contract expires.

    1. Hi Ludmila,

      The 9 months to build your house, is that from when they start to when they finish? or is it from when the contract is signed until they finish as they may not physically start on your house right away once your contract is signed does this make sense? I hope you get what I mean 🙂

      I’m very much hoping you had a lawyer look at your contract, but going forward you need to keep an eye on the build and whether it’s being done properly (i.e exactly to the plans which would have been approved by your local council) because if it’s not you may not be able to get a code of compliance for it at the end so the plans are integral and they need to be followed by Eco Smart to the letter.

      Be as involved as your time will allow with the Council Building Inspections that will take place at certain stages in your build, ask Eco Smart when these are as they will have a rough schedule and ask to either be notified the day before it takes place so you can be there and if you can’t be there, ask them to scan and email it to you on the same day. Most companies allow for 5-6 Inspections over the course of the build.

      You don’t need to be a builder to read these. It states very clearly whether they have failed in an area and when they have not and if in doubt, don’t call Eco Smart for clarification call your council. if they fail in an area, this inspection report should tell you why and if or when they need to remedy it for another inspection to take place.

      The Council are only responsible for issues that involve the Building Consent and the Approved plans that go with it and these things are in place so your build is safe and watertight etc, poor workmanship like uneven floors or crooked weather boards or anything that looks bad is not in the councils scope to comment on and unfortunately that is all up to you to Police and please trust me when I say that it is far easier to have something fixed, altered or replaced as soon as you can possibly find it, if you get too far down the line you have to start undoing things that may be perfectly fine, just to get to the bits that aren’t and it has been known for the housing company to charge the client for undoing and redoing the things that were OK so catch anything quickly if you can.

      Think of it like Knitting! If you drop a stitch at the beginning but don’t find it till the end then you need to unravel it all but all the unraveling and re-knitting has a cost attached to it and building is much the same.

      Please go through this website and find all the very helpful info people have supplied regarding PC sums too, no doubt you will have this in your contract.

      As for selling it when they are done, I’m assuming there are progress payments at certain stages of the build listed in the contract? I can’t see how on earth they could sell it, even if your contract has an 8 month life span, if you hand over any money during the building process at all surely that would still make it yours at the end? Or are you worried they may increase their asking price if their build takes 9 months and you contract is only valid for 8 months and house/land prices go up in that time? I can’t tell you unfortunately, that would be what a lawyer and your contract would figure out.

      If you do have progress payments and they say something like “$20k paid when the roof is on” just check the building inspection reports that the roof had been done properly and they haven’t failed anything. Their version of “The roof is on” vs the councils version may differ completely. If it hasn’t passed, don’t pay. Same goes for any other progress payments, if it hasn’t been signed off by the council then it’s quite possibly not correct and nothing motivates a builder/building company to fix their mistakes quickly like not being paid!!

      I hope I haven’t scared you! Many of us on this blog have been through hell and back with builders, building companies, the LBP etc but that does not necessarily mean there are not good building companies out there so my last piece(s) of advice to you would be to stay alert, stay involved and never, ever feel like you are being an inconvenience to anyone if there is something you are not happy with. Write it down, ask for it to be changed and stick to your guns!!

      Let us all know how you get on 🙂

      1. Hi MJ,
        Thanks a lot for your valuable advice.

        We got the contract checked by a lawyer and it’s on turn-key. The contract expires on September and we need the Code Compliance done before settlement.

        They basically said they’re waiting for the Council to get the titles. They are building more than 30 houses over there. They’re hoping to start building from March or end of Feb and go for the settlement in August. We are really looking forward to this house. If this one doesn’t go well, we will have to look for another house end of this year. But we really don’t want to, as this house was offered to us (and others in this area) at a good price.

      2. Please just also note that if you are sent a progress payment invoice once a milestone has been met e.g. roof is on, but you don’t believe workmanship to that point is up to scratch then you need to follow a specific process. There is a document required on which you need to state amount of payment withheld and the reason for withholding etc.

        When I build my first house I simply sent an email stating that the milestone had not been met in my eyes and I would not be paying the progress payment until the work was completed to a satisfactory standard. Once everything was resolved months later they charged me interest for the amount outstanding from the progress payment date to the date I actually paid. If I had followed the correct process they would not have been able to charge this interest.

        At the time there was no way I could have known this unless I had spent money consulting a lawyer – hence the value of this blog! Good luck.

        1. Thanks Chris 🙂

          Yes, I just found this website and it seems great 😀

          But we aren’t on progress payment. Eco Smart homes Auckland will get the deposit (which is sitting in their lawyer’s account at this moment) and the rest of the money from the bank only after the settlement. That’s why, someone else (a property investor) was telling us Eco-Smart Homes Auckland might sell the house to someone else after completion and expiration of our contract.

          1. How can they do that if you’ve paid a deposit and they’ve been sitting on it for 9 months! If they do they’re robbers and thieves!

            I’m so glad for you though that you dont hand over any more money until it’s done, but like I said before Code of Compliance is one thing, poor workmanship is something else entirely so make sure you’re happy with EVERYTHING before you take the key!

            1. Sure MJ 🙂

              Will definitely keep on checking and will go for the settlement once EVERYTHING is satisfactory.

              Thanks heaps 🙂 🙂

          2. Hi Ludmila,

            I’ve just spoken to a friend of mine who is a big scale property developer and he says that Yes, you are right!

            What they are doing is using your deposit to fund the build(s) and then when they are done they will sell it off to the highest bidder and it’s in their best interests to make sure the completion date is after the time your contract expires as they would have to then sell it to you for the agreed amount, which would be much lower than it’s worth.

            So effectively what they are doing is advertising these house and sections packages way under value so people like yourselves will leap in and hand them money to secure it, they then use your deposit and probably several other peoples too and they build the first house.

            Once that house is sold, it can bank roll the next, and then the next etc etc all the while using your deposits along the way. He said it’s not illegal but it is hugely unethical and the ONLY companies who do this are ones that have a bad credit rating and can’t secure the money for projects on this scale OR overseas companies who can’t bring in their own money or use ours i.e some Chinese companies.

            He did mention also that your lawyer should have secured you an interest rate to be paid back to you along with your deposit if they did sell it to someone else. I’m hoping he’s right? Please tell me he’s right?

            1. Thanks a lot for checking MJ. At least we can prepare ourselves to buy a different house end of this year.

              1. This may not be the case though, you never know my mate did say they don’t all do it but it’s hard to know. But housing is so stupidly expensive especially in Auckland so you guys probably need to be more thorough with your research than most and If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

                I’d be going over my contract again to see if they’ve missed anything that you can use to hold them to it, it’s worth a shot? If they do on sell it to someone else when it’s done I’d be involving your local Labour MP, Jacinda is all for first home buyers so I don’t think Labour would let this happen lightly if they knew what was going on.

                Please let us know how you get on, I would love to be wrong.

                1. Hi MJ,

                  Yes, will surely do that and will keep you updated.

                  I really can’t thank you enough.

                  Thanks heaps 🙂

                  1. Just a thought, the lawyer that you used were they recommended by this housing firm? Or are they in any way associated with them?

                    You may be able to get another lawyer to void the contract siting “conflict of interest” On their part if you want to that is.

                    It depends on how you want to proceed, I would hate to think all our advice has unduly scared you and I don’t want you to feel we are all pressuring you in any way.

                    1. The lawyers were not recommended by the builders, but we definitely will look into it again.

                      Thanks a lot guys

          3. Sounds like a ponzi scheme,unfortunately most lawyers will tell you not to sign the builders agreement
            as they are so heavily biased towards the builder to the extent of being unfair contracts,what do you do when they all have the same tactics.
            I signed an agreement with a “luxury house builder” for a one year contract to build our home,$100,000
            deposit.Eight months in they hadn’t even started the project,they were just using the money to fund their show homes etc.As for groups like masterbuilders they are nothing more than a marketing tool.
            They count on the fact that any legal action takes some time to action and the cost is considerable.
            The LBP is usually the builder,they then employ the cheapest labour they can find skilled or not and hope for the best.
            The quality of the builders was atrocious they couldn’t even cut a straight line which is basic building competence.
            It is a very unregulated industry and they are very well aware of it.
            Ultimately word gets around through sites such as this,there are good builders that have some integrity and pride of work ,finding the right one is the minefield.

            1. A word of caution on legal contract reviews. I highly recommend using a solicitor who specializes in construction. I used my generalist solicitor who failed to highlight the heavy bias towards the builder. Later down the track when I entered the disputes phase I used a specialist who was shocked that I had signed such a contract but then did an awesome job of digging me out of a hole. Like builders there are solicitors and solicitors.

              1. Hi Chris, I’ve written a number of times on this blog under the name ‘Chris’, but for clarity I’ll call myself ‘Chris C’ from now on.
                I’ve written several times regarding the importance of people sorting out the wording of their building contract before giving a builder any money, or getting very far down the track on house design or costs, and also making sure that you get legal advice from a solicitor with experience in building contracts. I’ve spent my whole career as a civil engineer dealing with construction contracts, so I totally agree with you. Many generalist solicitors claim they know what should be in an acceptable (from the client’s point of view) contract, but they do not.
                However, one point I’ve never actually mentioned before, which may help some people with no knowledge of building contracts, is to take a look at the NZ Institute Of Architects ‘Small Works Contract’ (or even their ‘Standard Conditions Of Contract’ if you feel like a lot more reading). You may not be able to use it wholesale, partly for copyright reasons, but also because it’s written based around the principle that the works will be supervised by an Architect. But in my view it gives a very good idea of what you should (and should not) expect to see in a reasonable contract.

                1. Hi, can anyone on this site please clarify the process and rules when there is a variation to a signed Building Contract Price? I am considering seeking legal advice, but need guidance from people that have experienced similar issues. My issues are as follows:
                  1. Signed a Fixed Building Contract based on a Concept Design.
                  2. The Contract included some PC and PS Sums.
                  3. Has the Concept Design was refined, there were changes to a few design elements. Some changes were mandatory as it did meet the restrictive covenants and some were upgrades to the design elements. The size and footprint of the Concept Design remained the same. It never changed.
                  4. The Building Company then used these changes to re-price the entire build.
                  5. A new quote/pricing was then presented to me.
                  6. I was not provided with itemized charges to the variations.
                  7. Building Company refused to itemize the costs to these changes and refused to engage with me on how they arrived with the new Building Price.

                  Can anyone on this site share some ideas on what the process is if there are variations to a Contracted Price? Has anyone experienced something similar to this? Any guidance will be greatly appreciated.

                  1. I would like to know what area you are building in? Hoping it is not in the same area as us as we are dealing with a similar situation.

                    1. Hi. Build was to take place in Auckland. Can you please share your experience. Not sure how I am going to sort this out.

                  2. Hi Natty, You have asked a lot of questions, which unfortunately it is impossible to answer in detail without knowing exactly what your building contract says about Variations. But looked at in a very broad way, even if the contract is absolutely fair and reasonable to both parties in this respect (which in your case I suspect it isn’t):
                    1. You cannot have a truly fixed price contract if it has Prime Costs and Provisional Sums, because the whole point of these is they can vary according to the actual cost of the items supplied or the work carried out.
                    2. Of course if the design is changed then generally the cost will change, and if the original cost was based on just a concept design then this is usually inevitable. Which means a so called ‘fixed price’ based on a concept design is almost a contradiction in terms.
                    3. The fact that the overall size/footprint remains the same is not irrelevant, but it means very little, because you’ve said these were ‘upgrades’, so you would expect them to cost more.
                    4. So of course the overall build cost is likely to increase. Whether the builder is contractually bound to itemize the new costs or tell you how he arrived at them depends on the contract wording. (Although it may be worth getting a knowledgeable solicitor or other professional to look at whether the contract wording meets NZ law in this respect. I believe some things in a building contract are required by law, or if omitted then deemed to be included.)
                    5. I think you urgently need expert advice. Although I suggest you first ask yourself (or maybe someone like a Quantity Surveyor) whether the revised price is excessive considering the changes, or actually reasonable. Just because the builder didn’t tell you how he arrived at the changes doesn’t automatically mean he’s ripping you off. Although I must admit it’s a very bad omen for future relations with him, and personally I would run a mile from a builder who takes that kind of position, even if he’s contractually in the right.
                    6. If construction has not started, what does your contract say about whether you’re bound to continue if the contract price increases? Do you have the option of pulling out?

                    1. Hi. The variation changes were to a few design feature elements. It had little or no impact on the aspects of the contract that had PS and PC sums. I had the contract independently assessed by a Q.S. The Q.S looked at the contract on signing and after the addition of the Upgrades. Q.S found that the contract was underpriced on signing.
                      Q.S also found the new price was massively inflated. Building Company does not want to accept the findings of the Q.S

                    2. Hi Natty

                      From what I read on this website it’s a very common tactic for building companies to under quote their contracts, which works to lure you in, and then once you’re in they use the PC sums to get what they actually want out of you and they almost never give you a breakdown of costs to justify it and yes they get away with it because they do it often and they know how to within the legal boundaries that are set.

                      If I were you I would really urge you to focus on trying to get out of this contract instead of trying to get the building company to see it and accept it from your point of view, especially as it appears you haven’t started building yet because you do not want to put your trust in a company that uses this tactic and I can almost guarantee you that this will not be the only trick they have up their sleeve.

                      So if it’s at all possible I would get out quickly and if you’ve invested money in this already (like for drawings) then you need to read through this website and then decide if the loss now will save you more later on down the track as it’s only you that can make that decision. If the trust is not there at the beginning then it’s a pretty good indication of how the rest of your build will go, and like I’ve said many times before once the merry go round starts it won’t stop to let you off no matter how scary the ride gets.

                      If you do decide to stick with them and can even get your contract amended to something you can both agree on then moving forward you have to watch them every step of the way because the contract is not the only way they can get money out of you. They can cut corners on your build in a hundred different ways to save $$$ and some corner cutting may not comply with your plans, and if your council are onto it they should pick it up and demand it be rectified. Sorted. But there are many, many grey areas in building too especially with the materials which can be altered and substituted without your knowledge and in many instances it’s perfectly legal for them to do this.

                      For example; Colorsteel aluminium cladding – you may very well have it in your plans for your roof BUT “Kiwisteel“ who supply their aluminium to over 60% of NZ, Import a thinner, less durable product from China that’s not powder coated to withstand the kiwi sun and just because it says Kiwisteel doesn’t make it so. This cheap steel is distributed through The Roofing Store franchises and it’s much, much cheaper than the Colorsteel (trademarked) cladding from NZ Steel and Tube which is thicker AND powder coated in NZ and unless your building plans are UBER SPECIFIC then the cheap stuff is what you’ll get and in five years time you’ll be seeing the yellow zinc coating underneath instead of the actual colour you’ve chosen when the kiwi sun fades it all off.

                      So just saying, can you still trust them now and can you put in the time to make sure your build goes the way you want it?

                    3. Hi MJ, Also see my reply to Natty. I totally agree with your advice.
                      In my experience once the relationship of trust, and ability to have reasonable discussion and compromise with a builder are lost, especially at such an early stage, then it is unlikely the job will go well.
                      Of course you still want and need a tightly written contract, just in case things go wrong. But if you have to rely on falling back on that over disputes it is a constant uphill struggle.
                      And of course most clients don’t have the time or expertise to be supervising the work very closely. So a bad builder can get back at them by cutting corners in all sorts of ways no one can see. Very difficult for the client to win that game.

                    4. Hi Natty, As I said before, what actions are open to you now depend very much on the exact wording of your contract regarding Variations. (I just mentioned PC and Provisional Sums as one other way that a contract you thought was fixed price isn’t really.)
                      But if your QS looked at that before you signed it, and let you go ahead, then ask him/her to advise what rights you have. If he/she doesn’t know, or tells you there’s not much you can do, then clearly he/she’s the wrong QS. Perhaps has knowledge of prices, but not contracts. That would be very disappointing. But not surprising to me, when I look at the state of the NZ building industry, much of which seems to be set up to take advantage of people who are very inexperienced regarding building contracts. People work their whole lives in this industry, and still construction contracts frequently (usually?) end up over time, over budget and in some kind of legal dispute. It’s not really a game for amateurs.
                      I suggest you also read MJ’s response, which makes a lot of sense. He/she seems to agree with me that if you’re in this much dispute already, best to try to cut your losses and find another builder. Although how much it will cost you to get out will again depend on the exact wording of your contract.

                  3. Natty unfortunately if you have p sums in your contract then its not a fixed
                    The p sum issue is used to quote you a price that you find acceptable,if you are dealing with an unscrupulous builder he can charge pretty much what he likes
                    as you have agreed to it,its like an open checkbook.
                    We were caught with the same things on our contract,sure if you cannot ascertain the cost of something beforehand then then it may get used.
                    In our case the p sums were abused every time,when we questioned it we were told they only have to supply an invoice.
                    We considered losing our $100k deposit and walking away ,we were reassured
                    it was the only time.
                    It wasn’t! In retrospect the rot had set in and every opportunity they had to
                    apply the p sum they did,some by as much as 100 percent.
                    These are supposed to be experienced builders the costs are quantifiable ,they should be able to keep to the quoted price.
                    Nothing you can do.
                    If I had my time again it would have been cheaper to walk away and start again and avoid many years of grief as it was a total nightmare.

                  4. Hi Natty

                    If you can pull out of the contract and if you are using a lender to build, Just as another tip. I recommend Newbuild finance. All I can say is thank god we chose them as our lender. We had to have a fixed price contract (no PC sums) if we made changes (which we did several times to upgrade fixtures and fittings etc) we had to complete a “variation agreement form” with all breakdown of costs signed by the builder and the client. This is designed to stop the predatory charging and dishonesty that comes with having only PC sums as a baseline for costs and also protects client and builder from he said she said crap. Builder also had to issue invoices to ensure we had the proper paper trails etc.We paid for the variations out of our own pockets but Newbuild had to be aware of everything. They have strict controls in place to make sure the builder does not get ahead with payments and is only released progress payments when their independent accessor carries out inspections on site to make sure the work has been completed and is satisfactory. Our build was a disaster and could have been a lot worse had we not gone with Newbuild. Some builders dont like the controls in place as it prevents them from getting away with stuff and wont sign up to them but a good honest builder wouldnt have an issue. They do take some of the pain and worry away acting as abit of a safeguard in that respect.

  113. Hi,
    We are looking to build with Compass Homes in Tauranga. Does anyone have any experience, good or bad, with this company they can share? Thanks

  114. Hi,

    Has anyone had recent positive experience with Federation Homes or Barrett Homes in Tauranga?
    Actually, I’d appreciate any recommendations of decent builders in Tauranga or warnings on the companies one should avoid dealing with.

    Thank you to everyone who shares their knowledge and experience here.

    1. Go to the LBP website

      They have a register of all licensed builders on it and if he’s ever been disciplined it will show up under his name. I tried searching Kit Markin but got no results so he’s either registered under another name or that’s not the correct spelling of his name but if you can get his LBP number it should come up with him using that.

      Keep in mind though that it takes several months, even a year for any hearing to go through the LBP Board so if he’s got a current complaint hearing pending, it won’t tell you this, they only publish the info once the hearing is complete and a decision is made. If nothing shows up, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a good builder though as the LBP Board use bullying tactics to get the home owners to drop their cases (we are one of these unfortunate people) so keep researching.

      Ask him for addresses and contact info for the last 3 or 4 houses he’s done and call them yourself don’t trust any testimonials written on his website as these are easily fabricated, same goes for any “show homes” he may have as these may look great but that doesn’t mean yours will be or that he’s an honest person to work with. If he won’t give you the info that should ring alarm bells. Also before you spend any time and money getting specs and drawings done etc, ask for a copy of his contract and find a very good lawyer who deals with construction contracts to take a look at it. If the contract is found biased towards the builder and he won’t agree to any changes to it, then that should ring even more alarm bells.

      You may spend $500-$1000 for a good lawyer to look over the contract but it may save you tens of thousands later on but if you get contact names and numbers for his previous clients and visit the homes if you can then these two exercises should perhaps tell you everything you need to know. I really would visit the houses in person too as it has been know for builders to give names and numbers of family and friends to give a glowing review over the phone but if you can’t see the actual work he’s done then the exercise is pointless and you’ll never know if what they said was true at all.

      I know I sound a little “doomsday-ish” but really when you think about it you wouldn’t buy a car without getting all the checks, reports and taking it for a test drive and building a house is no different but infinitely more expensive so due diligence really needs to be set at maximum.

      Any building work that exceeds $40k must have a contract in place, that is the law anything less than this amount can still have a contract in place if both parties agree. This website is a godsend of info, read as much of the posts as you can this should give you a clearer idea of what to look out for.

      Good luck and keep us posted on what you find!

        1. Hello again, I did manage to find him 0n the LBP register under Josh Jennings of Cambridge and his wrap sheet is clean but a couple of points I would like to mention is that he has only been a registered builder since 2016 and he only holds a carpentry licence.

          This may not necessarily be a bad thing but I had a good look at his website and for someone who owns the business and is offering house and land packages in somewhere as expensive as Cambridge I would have expected him to hold more licences such as Site and Foundation certificates. Land is so expensive there so you can’t afford to have anything go wrong with the build and his lack of accreditation would worry me.

          Another very interesting thing I noticed is that he does not give the last names of any of his team so it’s almost impossible to search the register for them even though he says they are licensed builders and currently sitting other certifications but without their LBP numbers or last names you won’t know if that’s true or not or if they have any disciplines against them.

          Many house building companies have only one licensed builder on their books and this trusting fool will put their name and LBP number on all the paperwork without sometimes ever stepping foot onto the building site itself so if he is not going to be the licensed builder who manages your build, puts his LBP number to all the legal paperwork and is there on a regular basis (perhaps 3-4 times a week) to check to see everything is being done to spec then you really need to find out who will be and ask for their LBP number so you can check them out too. This person needs to be one and the same too, too many people doing and being answerable for so many different things equals zero accountability. Not good for you.

          This is how they get around the legalities of building by paying for one licensed builder who sits in the office all day whilst their hammer hands do all the work and if left unsupervised it could be disastrous for you. From personal experience it costs almost 50% more again to fix and/or replace any faulty work If it’s not found and corrected right away. Other tradies are waiting in the wings for their work to commence at specific stages of the build and if, for example, the framing wasn’t done correctly and the electrician has been in and run the wiring through the walls and then the builder realises there’s been an error then all the wiring needs to come out and go back in again and unless your contract is water tight, that expense is paid for by you. Do not rely on the Council to find every fault along the way either, they drop the ball often and will apologise if they do but we have had no luck in making them accountable for their mistakes with our build and an apology is all we’ll get so management and supervision really is of the highest importance.

          So in saying all of that I would really urge you to do all the research you can as their website looks very professional but it’s what they don’t say that raises my concerns. This website is a goldmine of information and if you have the time or haven’t done so already I would read as many posts as you can. I wish I had found this site years ago 🙁 it would have saved me a lot of money and stress!

        2. One last thing too, having a “Registered Master Builders” guarantee and their logo plastered all over their website means diddly squat! I’ve read through this entire blog and there are hundreds of poor people who thought that this would help or protect them should anything go wrong but in every instance the Master Builders have protected the builder.

          There is not one entry on this website where someone has had anything positive to say about them so don’t be fooled If they dangle this in front of you like a golden carrot or they insist on using the standard “Registered Master Build” contract either because from what I’ve read it’s put together to protect the builder only . I would run a mile in the other direction if they whip that out 🙂

        3. Hi Glen, MJ makes alot of really valid points.

          You have sought info on this website for a reason, whilst its easy to get caught up in the excitement of a build its easy to think “that or this wont happen to me” “Not everyone has a bad build experience”.

          I totally agree dont be fooled by logo/membership promoting. Belonging to any of these building organisations does mean diddly squat these days. Think seriously on the advice of people who have been through the process of dealing with these organisations when things go pear shaped just with their members alone. Something to consider if you are looking or thinking about taking out their insurance policy, These building organisations are unregulated and are membership organisations first and only.

          Put it this way,,, you are always going to have a fight on your hands with any insurance company when filing a claim, the bigger the claim the harder the fight, it can get nasty. If the builder does dangle his organisations own products in your face be careful, why make it 10 times worse for yourself by signing an insurance contract with an organisation whose first priority is to defend/back their members, and more importantly check who is backing the guarantee, credit ratings, no invested interest or conflicts etc, you should do that with any insurance product. I strongly advise you seek an independent insurance provider not connected if they approach you with the masterbuild guarantee/contracts etc and ALWAYS run things past a reputable building lawyer before signing anything.

          1. Hi Kelly, My dealings with insurance companies have not been quite so negative as yours. In fact we are with AMI, and have always found them very reasonable. But that was not for building contract insurance, as unfortunately I don’t think they do that kind of thing.
            We did do a build with a Masterbuilder who went into liquidation when the house was nearly finished, and again I found MB not too bad to deal with. Although I admit that in the end we did not require them to pay out any money, so maybe (based on lots of comments I’ve read) that would have been a different story.
            But I think we buyers of insurance must also take some responsibility. Perhaps too often we assume that insurance policies will cover things, or amounts, without checking the exact wording of the policy, or questioning it before buying. I have found that in general if you are up front with insurance companies, and deal with them in a business like way, they will pay out according to the policy. But they are not charities, and will not just give you money that’s not mentioned in the policy.
            However, you have raised a much more interesting point, which I think would solve a lot of the problems with the NZ building industry.
            You mention seeking ‘an independent insurance provider not connected (with the builder)’.
            I know you can get contracts insurance against damage to the partly built house and site, due to storms, fires etc, and third party liability.
            But does a policy, which can insure against your potential losses if a builder goes bust, overcharges, or does not complete the job satisfactorily/late etc, even exist? If so please let everyone know.
            Firstly such a policy would directly minimise a lot of your risk when building.
            But indirectly it would have other benefits. Such as the insurance company would have an interest in legally vetting your building contract, to make sure it is reasonable, before taking on the risk. And over time such companies would advise against, or raise the premiums, for builders who regularly cause claims. So the poorer builders would be weeded out. In theory this is what should happen with MB, but it seems they are prepared to give a MB guarantee to any builder who pays their membership fees.

            1. Hi, we’re looking to subdivide and build a circa 250sqm home for ourselves in Beach Haven, Auckland.

              We’re looking for someone that can manage the entire project, incl subdivision, design of house and build, end to end. I’ve read all the comments and warnings on the big franchises, so would love to get recommendations on any other owner-run companies that would do the entire end to end project.

              Also, if we wanted to get plans done up ourselves, what’s the process? And cost?

              Totally clueless and new to this so appreciate the help!

              1. Hi Sam,

                I am in the process of doing the same thing in Beach Haven. Subdividing and building similar sized house. I have not gone with the one stop shop as previous experience has led me to want to have a bit more overall control of the process. The key consultants I have used so far are:
                Planning Consultant – Campbell Brown – rate excellent
                Architect – Permit Shop – rate good.

                About to start the process of selecting a contractor to complete the subdivision works. Current engaging with Ben Cashmore of Cashmore Cconstruction and also So Construction. Looking to use one of these for the build also. I am also interested in hearing any comments on either of these two contractors

                Happy to discuss the process so far with you. Let me know?

                1. Thanks Chris…. I’ll check out the people you’ve mentioned!

                  The thing that puzzles me is that i’m being told by smaller owner-run companies and builders that the budget of $3k per sqm is entry level. I would have thought that for a 250sqm house that cost $750K to build wouldn’t be what I’d classify as “entry” level!

                  Have the building costs gone up so much in the past 3 yrs or so?

                  Additionally, how much does it cost for an architect’s plans. I was quoted 4% of the cost of build… again, assuming a $750K build = $30K. Is that the standard?

                  We’re currently looking at Sentinel and Maddren homes as well. I’ve read some great reviews on Maddren on this forum, but nothing recent on Sentinel so be great if anyone has recently built with them and their feedback. Thanks so much!!

                  1. Hi Sam, the numbers you have stated are very similar to the numbers I have been told.

                    I had a 250 sq meter design done which was then estimated by 2 builders at 700+ to build. Add the inevitable contingency (10-15%) onto that and I was looking at 800ish for a basic home of that size.

                    I have had to rethink and have had a much smaller 150 sq meter design done which I will probably go with.

                    You have to remember that there are not that many houses in Beach Haven valued greater than $1M so 800k + land value (lets say 400k min) will likely put you in a negative equity position at this point in time. This is only relevant from a risk management perspective so if you are confident that you will hold the house for a long period of time it is less of an issue.

                    Yes building and material costs have gone through the roof in the last 3-5 years. At least that is what the builders and architects have told me. I build a 220 sq in Auckland 5 years ago for a lot less.

                    I would be very careful if you get much more attractive cost estimates from the group builders as they are very good at sucking you in at this stage – add 30-50% contingency rather than 10-15%!! (that’s even with a fixed price contract). Plus all the stress and BS you will have to go through.

                    Please lets continue to share insights as I am still trying to navigate through this as well.

                    1. Hey Chris, totally understand the risk of overcapitalising, though we do intend to live in the new place for years to come. Also, we have amazing sea views so hoping that in itself would help the valuation upwards. Be good to connect more given you too are in the hood. 🙂 How can i send you my email address without it being public on this forum?

                      With regards to house plans being drawn up, did you use Permit Shop for those?

                      We went to look at both Maddren and Sentinel showhomes yesterday….loved Maddren homes and Anthony there was very realistic and down to earth…didn’t feel being hard sold to. Sentinel homes had done a lot of pre-work for us and presented a large folder with loads of information for us, which was great. We did end up yesterday quite overwhelmed with all the info and just how ridiculous it is that to build a nice 4bedroom home in Akld costs so much.

                    2. Hey Chris! Just picking up where we left off. We now have concept plans (250sqm approx) and geo & topo done as well. Have only jst sent it off to a 3 building companies (incl Sentinel) and are also in discussions with a smaller outfit called Wilco Projects that have some great feedback in our suburb. Keen to have a chat (not sure how we can connect without having to share my contact details on this public forum! lol!) to see how you’ve progressed and if there are any learnings you can share. What builder did you end up going with?

                  2. Sam, I would recommend going with an architectural designer rather than an architect. Fees won’t be anywhere near that amount. You would be looking at approx $5K for plans to consent. If you go with a smaller building company they usually have their own drafty or architectural drafting firm they use anyway – my company for example includes that in the build price. I would say $3K for an entry level is a bit much. Might be because you are in Auckland – not sure but down here in Chch a decent standard house (bit higher than entry but not top spec) would be around the $2,300 per m2. For $3k per m2 I would expect to be getting tiled bathrooms/showers etc. I’m afraid I can’t recommend any builders up in Auckland because I don’t know any. 🙂

                    1. Hi Sam,
                      My Beach Haven subdivision went on the back burner but I am looking to pick things up again. Keen to hear where you got to? Who did you go ahead with and how was your experience? You can call me on 021 961 840 if still interested in having a chat.
                      My subdivision consent has been approved and I am now looking to find a good contractor to manage & complete the physical works up to the point of title issue (drainage and other services + driveway replacement).
                      If anyone has any company recommendations to complete this work that would be appreciated.
                      Thanks, Chris.

  115. What’s the latest with the Mass Construction mess? What’s going on our there? Has head office come to the party and getting houses completed. Or is it still a shamble like I suspect.
    Is Jason strange still in hiding? I’d love to know as an ex client of theirs.

    1. The media are still chasing Jason so I think a new article will be out soon. The new head office so far have been helpful. But will see how long that lasts…

        1. Have you heard any more? We are still caught up in the mess too and really frustrated and want to get in contact with others experiencing the same

  116. Hi, Just wondering if anyone has bought using Golstruct Homes Kumeu? Just doing some due dilligence on the potential purchase of a new build. Cheers

  117. Is it a scam that a Franchise builders charges a client for bespoke plans and then trademarks them as their own?
    This is what is happening when a client of a Franchise builder shopped around for a price to see if the price they are getting charged is competitive. Then the Franchise threatens to sue to try and force the client to pay over the top. We are all aware that the cost of a franchise builder can add between 6-10% by royalties and commissions, but it seems ownership of plans that the customer has ultimately briefed the designer, paid for is now the Franchise ownership. SCAM.

    1. Hi Chris, To avoid confusion I’ll mention I’m also called Chris. I’ve written on this blog a number of times previously, mainly on the topic of building contracts (make sure the contract is satisfactory/fair before giving a builder any money), and PC sums/Provisional Items (fine if they are used for the purposes for which they are intended, and you are satisfied the amounts are reasonable).
      I think this topic of copyright and ‘ownership’ of builders’ ‘standard plans’ comes into a similar category as builders’ ‘standard contracts’. By which I mean it’s up to the client to think about the legal aspects of this, and sort these out with the builder, before paying the builder (or his architect/designer) any money, or letting them do any work.
      As a rule architects/designers will just automatically stick some kind of wording that says they own the copyright of their drawings/designs on everything they produce. If you let them do that you’re stuck with the result, that you can only use those drawings/designs with their permission, as they do not belong to you. They might claim this is fair, because as it was all being done through the builder (who is their regular client) so they did the work at a subsidised cost. Which may sometimes be true.
      So I suggest that if you believe you are going to pay the full unsubsidised cost of your bespoke drawings (which are not just minor amendments to the builder’s standard drawings), then you say up-front that you expect the copyright to belong to you. Or if you want to compromise you can get them to agree that you will all share the copyright. So they can give the design to other clients if any of them really love your design, but you are free to take the design to other builders if you can’t reach an agreement with the original one.
      A lot of people seem to have missed the point that before you give them any money, or sign anything, everything is up for negotiation. If they’re not willing to talk about this kind of thing in a reasonable way then find another builder.

        1. Hi Goo. We too had some issues with GJ’s, but they did fix a lot of our problems and at the end of the day, we are happy with our home. You may find it better to go to a private builder and Peter Quinn is one I would recommend considering, but make sure you know exactly what you want and what you will be getting. One of the most annoying sayings we heard when we were building was “This is what you will be getting.” No one was considering what we wanted. If you want brick cladding, beware. We had issues with grouting variations and there was quite a lot to be done to fix it. Moving along, consider what kind of foundation you want. GJ’s do a waffle foundation in Rolleston, which is what my engineer friend recommends in earthquake country. A lot of the local builders are putting in packed earth foundations, which he is less impressed with. They have an outer ring of concrete, earth is packed in the middle and then another pour of reinforced concrete is laid overtop. I have a link here that may be worth looking at. Page 8 refers to the performance of waffle foundations compared to reinforced concrete. I hope it is some help to you.

      1. I had my house in Redcliffs built by JD home’s which finished mid last year. I could not warn you enough not to use this building company.

  118. Hi,

    Anyone have any experience working with 3C Construction, Auckland recently. We are planning to build with them. So far their communication and pricing are excellent compared to other builders.


  119. Just out of interest, any victims of builders not taken matters further due to fears for their or their family or property’s safety, or retaliation? Have you been subjected to abuse, threats, intimidating behaviour to extract payments or drop claims? This could also apply to employees.

    I have had two witnesses refuse to take part in a licensing board complaint due to fears for safety. Previous complainant didn’t attend hearing due to safety concerns. BPB just accepts this and doesn’t offer a safety plan at all. Just wondering how widespread this issue is in the construction industry. LBP system certainly unfair if they refuse to address acknowledge or address victim safety.

    Note: the Board has failed to produce a Code of Ethics as they were required to.

    1. Hi Alice,

      We too have just had a very negative dealing with the LBPB but thankfully we have a great team of very qualified people supporting us and helping us through, what can only be described as one of the worst experiences of our lives (it now trumps the nightmare that is our Frankenstein of a build).

      Feel free to drop me an email at: if you want to talk? If we hadn’t had someone to talk too who had been through this themselves I can assure you we would have withdrawn our complaint as we didn’t have the emotional energy to fight the building company AND the LBPB too but we are still here and fighting the fight with no intention of giving up so talking about it really helps!

      Our hearing hasn’t been decided yet by the LBPB so we’ll not go into any specifics which might hinder our case but we may be able to offer you some advice and support and a few very helpful contacts and we’ll happily keep you updated on our progress too.

      Stay Strong.

    2. Hi Alice.
      As an ex employee of a group housing franchise, I can attest to the underhanded bully boy tactics, massive hush payments made for shoddy workmanship (yes, that builder is still working for them) & non-disclosure to home owners of sub standard materials used for engineered components that would result in instant withdrawal of PS1 certification if the engineer knew. Ethics & moral obligation are dirty words to these people & they will bend the truth or fabricate outright lies to benefit their case. Head office is there to protect & safeguard the franchise name at all costs, they are not there to protect the home owners interests in any way, shape or form.

      1. Yes, sadly that is our experience too. Lies beget lies. No one taking responsibility for not building to consented plans…

      2. Yes, sadly that is our experience too. Lies beget lies. No one taking responsibility for not building to consented plans…

    3. Can I just say to all – name and a shame these builders (franchisees) when you are able to and stop these imbeciles and poor traders doing this to some other unsuspecting party. The Landmark Homes Franchisee in Pukekohe has FINALLY after giving the brand a bad name been kicked out of the business. About time head office. It was only due to this forum and networking that made Landmark HO pull the pin and remove them from the industry. They were never builders to begin with and maybe a good lesson learned by HO to do some thorough investigation into your build partners and not just take franchise fees (like the majority of them do). Jo public. Keep on spreading the feedback on these incompetents and make all of the residential construction firms step up and pull ups their socks. If you don’t others will be taken for the same ride.