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

3,862 thoughts on “Builder Reviews”

  1. I have just read the comments about First Build from last year, i can’t believe that you can just take peoples money , go bankrupt and just walk away and leave people with nothing. Absolutely shameful that the directors have not been shamed and held responsible. I have heard they have been seen on holidays on the Gold coast and in Hawaii makes you wonder doesn’t it who’s money they are spending.

  2. Hi, Can anyone recommend an affordable quality transportable house building company. We have a section in Thames. At this stage, we are looking at Kiwi Designed Homes ( KDH) has anyone had any experience with them?
    Also, is it cheaper to go with one of these companies when you have to add on the transportation fees then if you went for a local Builder to build on site?
    I’d appreciate any honest replies, thank you.

  3. Another negative review for Eco-Smart Homes and Ritesh Mani. If you come across these names, run for the hills.

    There are 2x developments in Helensville that have not been fully completed through to CCC final stage. Blatent lies and hollow promises, no communication from Eco-Smart or their lawyers, Neilsons, either. Their project manager Spiro Kovac resigned end of 2023 and there are still empty homes without final inspection or any progress. Every home has issues, from major things like no water meters installed, water pumps failing, no master builder guarantee as per contract (Google Eco-Smart vs Jenhash), to less major things like no fences or landscaping, painting incomplete, no physical keys provided for door locks, no house alarm or security lights, shoddy workmanship and plenty of poor finishing. Plenty of unpaid bills and contractual breaches. CCC applications missing tens of producer statements, some being held hostage for lack of payment which is technically illegal – but it isn’t hard to empathise with the unpaid contractor in their scenario. We’re unfortunately all in the same sinking ship when it comes to Eco-Smart.

    Somehow, despite the challenges completing their paying customers homes, Eco-Smart have managed to fully finish their own lot builds which are now tenanted rentals. It’s not personal, just business – funny that.

    Take a walk down Kawariki Rd, Taupata Lane or Rongomai St in Helensville. You’ll meet a fantastic community of neighbours who are frustrated at brunting the cost of Eco-Smart’s slimy operations. You might even bump into an owner checking up on the lack of progress before they can move in or tenant their incomplete home. They are friendly, kind and trusting people – taken advantage of and left in the dark with unconsented and incomplete homes.

    Beware of Eco-Smart.
    Beware of Ritesh Mani.

      1. Yes, same Ritesh Mani. Neilsons Laywers have a 99% Trustee stake in Eco-Smart with Ritesh @ 1% stake. They know exactly what they’re doing.

        I can only hope that this review helps someone else for the future, while they’re doing their own due diligence.

  4. I am looking at kitset homes – at the moment, Supremehomes seem to have what I want – taking into account time to build, transports costs, finishes etc. Does anyone have any experience with this company?

  5. Hi!
    I wanted to inquire if you’re currently accepting new accounts/clients?
    For commercial/janitorial clients, we’ve developed an exclusive automated system that can get you 6-9 High-Quality Appointments every month, with no monthly retainer or paid ads.
    Can I send additional info?

  6. A warning to anyone having repairs for large Insurance claims. Monitor all the time and report back to your Insurance company anything you are concerned about. It may take multiple assessments to get your concerns addressed but worth it to ensure the repairs are up to standard. I’m still getting my claim sorted, over 2 years now. Finally the Insurance company had the job assessed by an expert and job not to standard and explicit instructions not followed. Shortcuts were made and the Insurance company notified many times to get problems rectified prior to this last report. In defense of the Insurance company they have attempted to sort things out but it has been long and drawn out. A stressful 2 years. Now having another company coming to rectify the other builders mistakes. I recommend not signing off the claim until you are 100% satisfied or if offered a payout don’t accept. I was offered payouts and fortunately I didn’t. The problems found are major.

    1. Hi Jennifer, Obviously on the face of it all good advice, and apart from the ‘insurance’ part applies to all building work. But it raises quite a few questions. Although a large claim, if it’s been 2 years presumably not connected to last year’s weather events, and was a claim on House insurance, not EQC.
      Are you prepared to say what kind of works were involved, and was it a complete rebuild, or just repairs?
      In my only experience with a largish claim (for house flooding from a burst pipe) the insurance company paid out a ‘full and final’ settlement, but then did not ask what we did with the money. Certainly not to the extent of getting anyone to assess the standard, or contacting the builder.
      Do you mean the insurance company had to approve the drawings and specification for the work? Did they choose/recommend the builder?
      The builder may have been rubbish, but certainly it seems you were lucky that the insurance company were more helpful than I would have expected. Maybe you should be recommending them.

  7. Hi, we’re looking at renovating our kitchen. It is a small kitchen with a ‘family room (based on plan description)’ right next to it which is not being used for that purpose so looking at utilising this space if possible (Family room is actually an area where is one entry point to the house and it also takes you to another 2 rooms plus bathroom – we call it hallway with lots of wasted space).
    So looking either for draftsman or possibly architect, someone who can think outside of the box…
    We are Wellington-based, in Horokiwi.

    1. I had a friend who used a renovations company, I think it was Refresh renovations. I believe they arranged everything i.e. plans, permits, material and labour and she said that they were quick, honest and went above and beyond in a crisis. Of course there was a crisis. When they removed the front windows the house threatened to collapse so that had to be fixed. She was fortunate in that she had funding for a bathroom renovation as well, and it hadn’t started, so she did get to finish within budget just not within scope. It depends on many things the age of the house being one. I also wouldn’t take an off the cuff recommendation here without doing some thorough checking – which is difficult – no company is going to give you the phone number of an unhappy client.
      I would say that unless your budget is unlimited I would steer away from using a registered architect. This results in an odd situation where you sign one contract with the architect and a separate one with the builder. But the architect signs off the builders invoices. I won’t elaborate here about how badly that situation can go wrong except to say if the architect is NZRAB registered talk to a construction contracts lawyer at partner level before signing anything.

  8. Thinking of bulding a 5 bedroom house at Longbay by Stroud Homes Auckland North, I would very much appreciate if you could share your experience if you have build with Stroud Homes Auckland North before

    1. All I can say is the Akl South one went broke not too long ago and was run by a total con who allegedly used clients funds for his own build among other less than above board behaviour. Leaving several clients with half (or less) finished homes. What this tells me is that their head office in Aus don’t have high standards with who they let own franchises here. Definitely look into how long the current franchise owners have had it, and if less than 10 years I’d avoid like the plague if it were me. Not worth the risk of a half finished home.

    2. Hi Sajed, I agree with Paul’s comment. Try Ctrl F and enter Landmark in the box, scroll down to some similar questions/comments about them, then ask yourself why you are going with a franchise builder, (ie what will you get from it, other than the name), rather than an individual local firm. Because basically that’s all that most of them are.
      Then ask yourself why you’re planning to build (with all the almost inevitable hassle, and higher cost than you expected) when building costs are so high, and you can try to bargain on the price of one already built (plus knowing exactly what you’re getting for your money).

  9. Keith Hay Homes

    We built with KHH and have had problem after problem. Their communication is non existent. I’m happy to talk and prove my bad review of this company to anyone who is considering using them.
    We are in the Franklin area and more than happy to show anyone the problems and their rude email responses.

    I’m also looking for others who have have a bad experience with any Keith hay branch ,as I’m going to try and have stories told in the local paper .
    I don’t want others to go through what we have

  10. Hi we are based in the Franklin area, and are deciding over Landmark Homes to build with, has anyone had any experiences with them?

    1. Haven’t heard too much about them but I’d check how long the current owners have held the franchise as lots of franchises going bust recently (eg Compass, Stroud). I recommend checking out some of the local builders and how long they have been in business as a good yardstick to make sure you don’t get caught out with a half finished home.

    2. Hi Neesha, I totally agree with what Chris says. But would add, in case you’re not familiar with how the system works, that in most (all?) cases these franchise companies that appear to be large, nationwide operations, that trade on how many houses they’ve built etc, are in fact just a bunch of small builders, operating as such in their local areas. Often (usually?) the figurehead company will take no legal responsibility for errors or problems with the franchisee.
      So apart from checking the background and record of the franchisee I suggest you ask them, and Landmark, and get in writing, exactly what action or support you will get from LM if things go wrong, and how they vet their franchisees.
      Also don’t forget to ask the franchisee for a copy of their building contract before handing over any more money than you can afford to write off to experience, and get it checked out by someone who knows what to look for (not all solicitors do, although few will admit that). If the contract looks unfair to you, and they won’t change it, then walk away. Do not believe them when they say all their other clients accept it, so you’re being picky or unreasonable.
      No doubt you’ve seen articles which point out that it is now often less expensive to buy a finished house than build, and obviously a lot less hassle. Might be worth considering.

    3. Second what Chris has said. There are quite a few local, Franklin based building companies to consider who aren’t franchises and I’d dare say have been around a lot longer so are definitely worth talking to. Friends of ours went with one based in Patty and their house quality-wise is head and shoulders above what I’ve seen in some I’ve seen on the open home circuit. What swayed them too was not having part of their build cost being a fat fee to head franchise.

    4. Hi Neesha, we had a bad experience with landmark, another franchise, and head office did not help. Good advice in the 3 post responses. Find a good local builder.

  11. Has anybody used expanders nz ltd or purchased one of these units and had it installed how did it go. They stated they were based in Timaru but that is only where these units are off loaded. I get emails stating they have just sold more but when i have asked to see them as a finished product i get no reply’s. For what thye are offering the prices seem to good to be true.

    1. Hi Andrew, I couldn’t see a company by that name on the Companies Register, but saw an associated company noted on the expanders website SGW Capital Limited, which was incorporated in August 2023 and has a single director and shareholder Shaddon Wong. Under Expander’s website, the ‘Meet the Team’, ‘About Us’ tab, there is a Shad W listed as marketing manager – the picture alongside is of a young man. Shaddon Wong is associated with six other companies that are now removed from the Companies Register – from a quick look some of these were set up and then disestablished after about a year. So, lots more questions before I’d commit money. Good luck

    2. Any further advice on Expanders, now selling from Christchurch. Prices and visual homes look great but I have been warned, not built to NZ standards ?

  12. What about roofers, just spent 26k on repairs and in the first heavy rain a serious leak. Roofing Taranaki Ltd recommended and designed all works but wouldn’t accept any responsibility. Even went to the roofing Assoc but Roofing Taranaki falsely claimed they advised a full re roof when they expressly told me it wasn’t necessary. I followed their advice and now have to get more work done and repair the water damage.
    My advice is don’t use Roofing Taranaki Ltd and I think trade associations are a waste of time for consumer remedies.

    1. What does your contract say about remedies & disputes? Have you referred the matter to your insurers? Considered the disputes tribunal (for claims up to $30k)? Good luck

    2. I feel you have further recourse to the LBP Board (LBP, Licenced Building Practioner) I think its the board. This is for technical issues only. Do not try to bring up contractual issues. The repairs under taken from the amount involved appear to be extensive and I’m reasonably confident should have been undertaken with an LBP roofing of some class or type.
      In my opinion irrespective of what they said about re-newing rather than repair, they should have not undertaken to do the repair if they were unable to do it properly. This is why I think you have a case and can take it to the LBP Board.

      1. The LBP will also throw it out if it’s a fault in the materials, they’ll only entertain it if you can prove negligent building practices or they used the wrong materials to start with. In my experience you need a solid case, any doubts and they won’t act so get another roofer that you can trust (not one that just wants the job) or a forensic building specialist to write a report and submit it with your application. For $27k spending another $1k on a solid report could be worth it. And if you decide to take them to court the report can be used again.

  13. We’re looking at building a guest cottage on our property and have been looking at Nook Homes. In my research I’ve found an article in the National Business Review that doesn’t sound good but it’s hidden behind a paywall so I can’t actually read it! I’m wondering if anyone has experience of this company and their build quality. Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Hi Lottie, You’re right NBR article implies some problem, but other reports seem OK. But bearing in mind issues with other modular/factory type builds I’d be very cautious about how much you pay up front before delivery, and look carefully at contract regarding who owns partially built unit (or materials purchased for it) still in factory, if company folds before you get delivery.

  14. @ Chris C
    Thanks for your reply. Can’t see scope to reply there so posting separately. I am asking because I don’t know. Yes, I am the same person and have tried to put my recent posts together. I am trying to get a driveway quote; I was hoping that specific questions might get answers.
    By fine I meant 10 mm aggregate and another with about 30 mm aggregate which would show better. If you or anyone can give me an idea that would be great.

    Many thanks

  15. If anybody is even considering Sentinel Homes in Nelson/Tasman or Marlborough, please reconsider before it is too late.
    The owners Anna and Ruary own both Sentinel’s Nelson, Tasman & Marlborough franchise as well as Ultraspec building systems.
    I paid my deposit nearly 3 years ago, and have only just had my build finished now. They have thrown price increase after price increase at me as well as changing works without even consulting me.
    We have failed council CCC inspection 3 times (for which they blame the inspector of course).
    My build is very poorly finished, as well as having many errors that were not on the plans or specs at all. Ultraspec has been known to only do insurance repairs, and they should keep it that way.
    Please please please take it from me, avoid this company at all costs.

  16. Hi All, I’ve mentioned (can I say predicted?) this before, quite a few months ago, but a recent article in the NZ Herald seems to confirm, that we’ve finally reached the point where it does not pay to build your own house. Better value to buy one already built.
    Sure, there will be circumstances where you just have to live on a particular section, with a special location or view. Or you have lots of money, and can’t bear the thought of living in a place you did not design yourself.
    But for people on a tight budget, who just want a decent place to live, in a normal housing area, I suggest they should think very carefully about the risks of getting involved in the potential hassle, delay and cost overruns that a bespoke build often has.
    And as the building industry declines, and builders need to cut prices on stuff they’ve already built to get cash flow, it just increases the risk that they will fold in the middle of your build.
    Sorry to sound pessimistic, but this is the cyclical nature of the industry.

  17. Green Homes ( .are building for us currently, and so far so good. A professional approach. We’re half way through the build and making great progress. The team’s approach to attention to detail and planing has been awesome. It is important we can trust that things are moving ahead and that quality is good. Happy on all fronts right now. Can’t wait for the finished product.

  18. We have had the misfortune of living next door to a property bought and developed by BUILD FORM LTD.
    Amongst the constant loud music, foul language spoken at loud levels, our two cars were badly damaged by the detritus of sawdust, concrete dust and god knows what else.
    I politely asked him if he had public liability insurance, which he laughed at.
    Slippery as a snake, totally untrustworthy and incapable of being a decent human being.
    It cost me $2300 to get my car back to decent and $400 for the other car.

  19. Hey everyone,
    I’m currently in the final stages of building my new home. The builder has just told us that they can’t install cold water pipework and cistern taps for bidet sprays, citing strict Council regulations.
    Initially, they mentioned it was an oversight from the designer’s end for not including the bidet sprays in the initial plans. Now, they’re expressing concerns about potential side effects related to the installation.
    Since the bidet sprays were originally specified in the building specification, I’m turning to this community for any advice or similar experiences. Has anyone else dealt with a similar situation? How did you go about it?
    I’m really hoping to find a workaround or alternative solution to make sure I get the functionality I’m looking for while still following the regulations.
    Thanks a ton in advance for any insights you can share. Your help means a lot!

    1. On his last email, the builder told us that: The Council requirements are being strictly enforced and these taps do not comply with current regulations.

      1. We had a bidet spray tap (hot and cold water) installed in Wellington in 2020. But it would have been consented in 2017 and it was included in the plans lodged with the council.
        Have the regs changed in this time? Is this something that can differ from council to council? Is it because it’s just a cold water tap? Or the type of tap itself? If you can get more information, you may be able to find a work around. I would contact the council directly and maybe even a plumber. But I would do this discretely because as you said your build is in the final stages. Builders often create difficulties in the final stages of the build, this is because they have realised by then that it’s going to be inconvenient for them to actually finish to the original agreed timeframe, cost or both.
        The reason I suggested making discreet enquiries is that if the work is otherwise going well, it’s best not to ruffle the builder’s feathers if you can avoid it. They can be an excitable lot and given to inventing variations, reasons something can’t be completed and/or was never included/costed in the first place when they feel under pressure in the final weeks or months.

        1. Hi Jane, thank you for sharing your experience and insights. When an item is not included in the building plans, it may not have been part of the approved building consent. is that right? Does adding it to the building consent would be a huge additional cost and time consume?
          Thanks again for your input!

          1. Hi Asri,
            The council should have been supplied with a full and detailed set of plans before they issued a building consent so if the item isn’t on the plans/specs then it may need to be added. Once, nearly 20 years ago as part of a renovation, I had the council amend a consent. From memory it cost about $1000 but I can’t remember how long it took or even why it was needed. I can remember though that the change was needed at the beginning of the job and it was a time and materials contract.

    2. Hi Asri & Jane H, This question about some problem with installing bidet taps (the technical arguments are not clear to me, maybe someone can explain) seems to have been going on for a while. So I’m a bit puzzled as to why you don’t just ask the builder and/or designer to explain it clearly. I see no reason why a builder should object to that. Or you ask the same person in Council the builder spoke to.
      Regarding making ‘minor changes’ to consented building plans, you can try looking at:
      As it’s very difficult to advise on cost and time required to make changes, without knowing exactly what’s involved. So general questions to this blog are unlikely to get you the answers you need.

  20. We are looking to buy a turn key project in Rolleston with Green Homes. Have anyone bought from them? We would like to hear about your experience, if any issues, etc.

  21. Hi. We are looking at a new build in coastal Whangarei and have been talking to GJ Gardeners and Signature Homes. Has anybody built with either of these companies in recent years? How was your experience?

    1. Hi Yvonne, Haven’t built with them, but I assume it’s not GJs or Signature who are actually building, but the franchisees for them in your area.
      So you need to find out who that is, and get feedback on them, history of owner(s), track record, references from other customers etc.
      I suspect that the franchisee will in effect be ‘independent’ of the main company. So it might be useful to check the contractual relationship between the franchisor and franchisee, and more important between the franchisor and you (probably none).
      So what vetting does the franchisor do of its franchisees, and what help can you expect if things go wrong, and the franchisee does things wrong, or fails to finish the build? If the answer is none, then what are you getting for the fee (obviously passed on to you, one way or another) the franchisee has paid the franchisor. Other than a famous name and some TV ads, with feel good statements like biggest, most trusted, most reliable etc etc.
      Good luck with your build.

      1. Hi Chris, how does one check the franchisor-franchisee contract? Without alienating a potentially acceptanle builder..

        1. Hi Sanjay, Of course they might not be willing to show you the actual document, but I see no reason why you cannot ask the franchisor head office in general terms how do they vet their franchisees (building experience and history of principals etc), and what responsibility they take for the financial soundness and competence of franchisee, and what they do in the event the franchisee has unacceptable performance of goes into liquidation.
          As I said before, I suspect they will either be unwilling to answer, or if they do it will be in very non-committal terms. Then you make up your mind what you’re getting in return for the well-known name on the letterhead. But at least forewarned is forearmed.
          If reasonable due diligence alienates a builder, then I would suggest he’s not potentially (or actually) acceptable anyway.
          I’ve said before, the building market could easily be entering a phase where, unlike it may have been before, builders need clients more than clients need builders. So if they push back against reasonable demands and questions find another one.
          Or maybe avoid the undoubted hassles of any build, and try to find a finished house you like.

          1. Thanks to Chris-he’s a wonderful support for this forum. Just some addition to his comments regarding franchises, as rule the individual franchises are an independent, standalone business connected to the head franchises through a licence to use the brand but with no responsibility for failure back to head office if a franchise runs into problems. Needless to say, some franchisees are better businesspeople than others.

            As for the benefits, the common acceptance is a franchise gains access to the brand for marketing, plans the franchise holder has developed, and access to cheaper materials that help bring the cost of building down.

            Some very important things to do when going into a building contract include ensuring your contract is not written so as to favour the builder too much. Obviously fairness is important and there are some terrible clients too, but the Master Builders contract, for instance (hello GJs), is weighted towards the builder. Ensure you have good insurance, including third party builder insurance, so if your builder does go out of business you will be covered, make sure you have a Licensed Building Practitioner supervising your work, and make sure you get a copy of the Prescribed Checklist (this is mandatory for builders to give their clients and gives a checklist of specific informational builder needs to give you, including financial information.

            Read the – there’s an abundance of excellent advice there.

      2. Thanks for highlighting this Chris. As a non-franchise home builder who has been in business almost 20 years now, it’s incredibly frustrating losing builds to franchise builders who claim to have been operating for longer than us when in fact they’ve changed hands (usually through mismanagement and/or financial failure) multiple times, but prospective clients don’t do enough research to understand this or factor it in to their decision making process.

    2. Hi Yvonne,
      We have built with GJ’s but not the Whangarei franchise. In summary, I would not trust GJ Gardners to build a dog kennel.

          1. Don’t build with a franchise builder. The head office “brand” gives you no more security than going with an independent who has longevity and slogs their guts out and knows what they’re doing

            1. Hello everyone
              I am building two adjoining houses behind my old cottage at the street end, on a large section. The build is almost over except for remedial work like hot water not coming through, a toilet cistern not filling up). I am looking for advice on the following:
              My builder had the driveway included in the contract (as a ticked item in the Specifications document accompanying the contract). He also had Driveway as a PC sum in the contract.
              1. Is that ok? I did not know then but now I think if it is included in the contract it should not be a PC sum. Am I correct?
              Also, he now says the whole of the PC sum on the contract needs to be paid as he has spent more than that amount.
              2. Is there any use asking him to show invoices for the driveway construction now because I wouldn’t know when they are obtained?
              3. I had earthworks also as an item included/ticked in the Specifications document of the contract. It was also mentioned as a PC sum. Is that correct or was I wrong in signing the contract in this way?
              4. I have paid for all the earthwork separately and it has amounted to more than twice the PC sum considered. Should I have paid for all the earthwork?
              5. Also, now the builder is saying that he had contracted to build only the two houses at the rear. So should I be paying for the driveway for the front half of the section? Is this ever done?
              I have paused paying some invoices and want the driveway charges sorted out as the others are more straightforward. After all this I will have the last 5% instalment invoice and all fees (LINZ, lawyers, 223, 224C, ccc and title and other fees) still to incur.

              I am feeling a bit stuck with the builder payments. The two new houses have passed final inspection and I have got them insured in my/trust name and have got tenants in one and imminent in the other.
              Would be grateful for any advice on the questions above.


              1. Hi Sanjay,
                This may be of more help to other readers but the time to get advice is before you sign a contract not near the end of a build. Without seeing your contract nobody here will be able to give you accurate advice and I’d go so far as to say you should take most of your advice from a good and experienced contract or construction lawyer.

                However, the following link has a good short explanation for PC sums, which may help you or others to read:

                The only thing I’d add is that you mention having ‘paused’ paying some invoices. Unfortunately, in the eyes of a building tribunal adjudicator this may have put you in the wrong regardless of whether or not your contract was unfair or misleading. There is a clearly defined mechanism for not paying a builders claim called a payment schedule. Here is a another useful link, but again I’d seek professional advice:

                If its any consolation driveways are often an issue and if you have got to the point of having two habitable or nearly habitable houses that have passed inspections you have done better than a lot of people embarking on a build in New Zealand.

                1. @Jane H, thanks, helpful tip and link.
                  I have only 5% last ‘stage payment’ to make from the Payment schedule.
                  Appreciate that anyone advising would need to see the contract. And I had shown it to two lawyers one of whom I had to keep asking questions for him to go beyond a cursory reading so I went to the other one. I didn’t find them commenting much on the finer details.

                  Wd you be able to say anything on some of my questions, ie,
                  – Should an item like Earthworks or Driveway be ticked as included in the contract (which should mean within the contract value) and be added as a PC sum too. If yes is that PC sum then only to cover costs of any upgrades I add after contracting?
                  – If the approved EPA plan shows a full driveway and the builder claims he is doing the driveway as per plan, can he then say he had contracted only for the two new houses behind the old one and so will pay for part of the driveway? It seems bizarre even to work out the parts of a driveway in this way.

                  Many thanks.


                  1. Hello Folk

                    Can anyone tell me the cost of laying a concrete driveway with exposed finish in Auckland today? I am looking for the finest aggregate finish and a better/mid-range aggregate finish.
                    There are sites which mention cost range but I don’t find dates of the sites last updated and, since I am overseas, difficult to talk to them although I will keep trying.

                    Appreciate any advice.

                    1. Hi Sanjay, I assume you’re the same Sanjay who asked about PC Sums etc. In which case you’re certainly making life/building even harder by trying to do it while overseas. And even more so when, with respect, you seem to have very limited knowledge of building contracts, and how these things work.
                      I can’t see why you can’t call concrete layers from overseas if you get the timing right, but you could always try emails, or presumably you have someone in NZ (your Project Manager?) to call them.
                      But when you mention a difference in cost between ‘finest’ and ‘average’ quality you’re entering a very difficult area. I doubt that many of them would offer such differences, but if they did how would you define and measure it? Or do you just think you’ll know it when you see it, and hope the builder will agree if you say it’s not up to standard? I’ve worked on Government construction jobs where all such things were defined in great detail. But the result was an overall Specification that was 50mm thick. And even then there were disputes.
                      I guess all concrete layers would say their work is perfectly fine for a driveway. Some would be telling the truth, some would not. Unfortunately when you’ve got 15-20 cubic metres of concrete driveway going off outside your house it’s too late to argue about it.
                      Best bet is to find someone who’s done a job you like on another house, and pay what you think is a fair price.

              2. Hi Sanjay, Your answer re driveway concrete makes it more clear, but still not sure whether you think 10mm or 30mm aggregate to be better. Also lots of other factors like access, inclusions (colour, shell etc), subgrade, reinforcement, finish (brushed, exposed agg etc) could affect price. I think best to get concrete layer to visit site and quote. Or you’re likely to get unexpected costs cropping up when it’s too late to argue (like before).
                Regarding one below, I agree with what Jane H said. You should have understood/sorted this out at Contract stage. I’ve written on this blog before suggesting the Contract is the first thing you should get sorted, before paying any money (or at least only minimal amounts, you can afford to write off to experience) for designs or anything.
                If you enter ctrl+F you’ll get a search box. If you enter things like PC, Provisional etc you find I’ve explained before the difference, and how they’re supposed to work. But Jane H’s link explains it quite well, the confusion that often occurs and how they’re often used incorrectly. Usually PC (Prime Cost) Sum is an amount for something like an appliance, carpets etc which is sure to be required, and where Builder puts amount for one he intends to use. But you have the option of choosing something more or less expensive, and paying accordingly.
                A Provisional Item is for something that may or may not be required (usually something like earthworks excavation or fill). Builder puts in (with your agreement) a reasonable guess at final cost. If not required you pay nothing. If required you pay what it costs. Whether you can demand invoices etc generally depends on the contract wording.
                So regarding your driveway, obviously you needed one, and presumably the area required. So normally the whole thing could have been priced at contract stage. But possibly some builders have a contract where the basic spec includes for a certain area that should generally be enough, but not enough for your case, and possibly very standard type with brushed finish plain concrete or something. So he ticked driveway for part, then put in a PC Sum so you could choose (and pay for) whatever extra area and standard you wanted. Not a totally unreasonable way of doing it, as long as all concerned understand how it works.
                Similarly a ticked item for quantity of Earthworks he normally included on all builds. Personally I would have made any extra earthworks a Provisional Item, if not certain it would be required. Because the amount of earthworks is something dictated by the design, ground levels and whether any unsuitable material etc has to be removed. So not something where you can ‘choose’ anything. It is what it is, and you have to pay for it.
                Of course you would hope all prices charged are reasonable for what was done. But often difficult to dispute if you haven’t tied things down at the beginning.

    3. Hello Yvonne,
      I’ve built twice with GJs – once in Auckland in 2010 and once in Waikato in 2016, so not really recently. Good quality build. Depends a lot on the franchise. Comms sometimes not great between the franchise management and tradies. You have to be really clear and check they understand what you want. A good choice if you don’t mind paying premium price for good service. I’ve gone a different route for my most recent build using independent professionals and savings heaps. I’ll get one building company to assemble a kitset from Imagine Kit homes this time and have the bulder project manage, do the inspection side of it and I’ll save more using kitset materials and a single contractor to take care of the build. I may even have an independent foundations company because savings can be had using alternative foundations that meet code and pass BC. Good luck!

    4. Hi Yvonne, I’m in the final stages of building with GJ Gardners, and overall, it’s been a good experience. However, we’ve encountered a couple of issues. I’d prefer to wait and see how they handle them before providing a full review. I’ll keep you posted once everything’s sorted.

  22. Hi everyone,

    We are going build in Tauranga and were wondering if anyone has any references on solid home builders that are not group builders but have an established long track record of good workmanship and a big enough team to handle the job?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.


  23. Gary & Jane
    We are sadly one of the FirstBuild customers who have paid majority but no complete house. It seems from everything we have read we are unsecured creditors and at the bottom of the pile. Rob Thomas and Mark Holman have consistently lied and pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and we get left with nothing and they walk away Scott free?? Seriously how is that right when loads of people have now got high mortgages and some no house at all. It doesn’t feel like we the consumer is being protected. The directors walk away and can go and start another company in a different name. This is so wrong and they should be made personally accountable. They have destroyed lives without any care whatsoever. Sorry but hope they rot in hell.

  24. Hi, has anyone had any recent experience with FirstBuild from Auckland? They claim to make modular homes. I am down by 100K and about to take legal action to get it back. Same old story as I have read in the comments above where the ‘builder’ promises the earth and then when things dont go as planned they just stop answering emails and taking calls.
    Does anyone have any info as to whether these guys are going under or have had similar experience where they do a runner with a large deposit?

      1. Firstbuild Homes was placed into liquidation 12 May 2023.

        CEO Rob Thomas sent an email out advising all customers his company has folded.

        We had given them over $500,000 and received little back. Our frames haven’t even arrived on site. Foundations are in and we are probably out of pocket $400,000.

        What the hell did Rob Thomas and (Richard) Mark Holman (the directors) do with our money? It certainly was not spent on our house we signed up for! We are incredibly angry, sad, disappointed, devastated.

        We can only hope they do not do this again.

        1. Hi Sad Customers, I can certainly understand why you’re sad, angry etc. From mention of frames not arriving on site I assume this was a regular in-situ construction, rather than one of the factory type homes, that seem to have had so many problems.
          As such there are standard and legislative requirements for contracts over $30K. So for the assistance of others looking at their building contracts, it would be helpful to know how you ended up with a schedule of payments that required you to pay out so much, before the relevant sections of work were completed.
          I can see you might pay a 10% deposit up front, and then something for the completed foundations. Even for a $1M build that is unlikely to exceed $150K in total. So what was the rest of the payment for?
          Surely builders do not think their clients have become so desperate that they will pay the full cost of a build before work starts.

          1. Bloody good question Chris, I hope there is a response so it can help others to avoid potential disasters like this. I think in the boom of 6-12 months ago builders were perhaps preying on clients on their “fear of missing out” and contracts were sketchy at best and weighted in favour of the builder. For these guys I hope not and they can get some sort of resolution.

          2. We signed up to Firstbuild because it was to be built in their factory then trucked to our site.

            After foundations were laid we paid the as per the contract, as it was promised a fast turn around. Then Rob Thomas and Mark Holman started with the excuses for delays at the factory. Then they changed it to bases and frames in the factory and remainder to be built on site. If that had been the case from the outset the payment schedule would have been vastly different.

            1. Ah, yes that makes more sense. I’ve recently read of a case where the houses were also built in a yard and then transported to site but when the company folded and all the almost paid up customers went to reclaim what they had paid for to date they were told by the insolvency company appointed to liquidate everything that they owned none of it until it was %100 paid for so they fell at the bottom of the list of people owed money to. It was taken to court and the customers lost. I don’t know if it was in their contracts or if that was standard practice (Chris might add some insight here) but that would be something people should definitely check when approaching modular builds such as these.

              1. Hi Sad Customer & MJ, I’ve been involved with pre-cast type work (concrete walls, beams, facing panels), but had no dealings with any of these modular, podular etc etc factory-built house companies. On the face of it they seem like a very good idea. Should have better quality control, and less impact (delay, damage etc) from weather.
                My impression, from TV programmes, is that they seem to be successful in Europe, even to the extent of being manufactured in one country (in the case I saw a huge, space age factory in Poland), and erected in another (the UK).
                It seems a real shame that this kind of thing goes so badly wrong, so often, in NZ.
                So I suspect no one is getting involved with them at the moment.
                But to overcome this issue of nearly complete structures in the factory being taken over by liquidators, when a firm goes bust, is it not possible to have a contract that says everything that has been manufactured (or materials allocated to) a particular client, shall be the property of that client, provided payment has been made by the client for the work to completed. (Or at least that you own in proportion to the total cost that you have paid). Somewhat similar to the fact that I assume you would own any work completed on your own site, provided you’ve paid in accordance with the schedule of payments. Surely there must be some form of wording that gives you the right to go in and collect what you’ve paid for.
                For example in this case I assume no one is disputing that Sad Customer owns the completed foundations on his/her site (or are they?).
                Other precedents seem to be, I believe contractors may put in contracts that plant (ie machines) and equipment remains in their ownership while on your site, and items they have installed on your site do not belong to you until you have paid for them.
                To paraphrase Phil & Kirsty’s TV programme, what are the three most important thing in building work, ‘The Contract, the Contract, the Contract.’
                Not much use to those already suffering, but maybe food for thought to those still brave enough to venture into the shark filled waters of NZ construction.

        2. Firstbuild also did not pay their contractors, many since Jan, lots of people are owed money 🙁 with promises of invoices getting paid and no follow through.

          waiting on the public liquidation notice so that a claim can be filed to the liquidator.

          1. Probaly not much chance of getting your money back from first build but i know they are going on a few holidays , i gather on other peoples money. Its not the first company he has owned that has gone bankrupt.

    1. Did you get your $100K back from Firstbuild Homes before they went into voluntary liquidation?

  25. We’re in the process of choosing a design and build company to build in Warkworth. We’ve narrowed it down to Madison Park, Maddren and The House Company.

    A quick search on here returned a lot of positive comments about Maddren and no doubt they build beautiful homes. We’re just a little unsure about their footprint in Warkworth. Though they’re moving their office to Silverdale soon, they don’t seem to have many builds in the area that we’re looking to build. We wonder if they have good local tradies to call upon. Has anyone built with Maddren North of Auckland? What’s your experience?

    We learned Madison Park used to be a part of Stonewood. The name Stonewood doesn’t seem to have been associated with anything positive on here! Does anyone have experience working with Madison Park after their departure from Stonewood?

    Though we’re sure The House Company would do a fab job and they’re local to where we’ll be building, their upfront costs seem to be substantively higher compared to Maddren and Madison Park. Before signing the agreement and paying the deposit, the costs for design alone would be around $60K. Is this something we should expect?

    1. Hi SG, I’ve had some dealings with Maddren and THB, around 2010/2013, but didn’t end up building with them. Maddren because we ended up selling the section before building anything, and The Home Builder because we also started to get the feeling they would end up quite expensive. But both seem to have had good reports on this blog, and I think you’re right THB would do a good job. Based on our overall cost for survey, investigations, reports etc, and getting to final structural design and drawings to submit to Council in 2015, I reckoned you would not get change from 5% of build cost. So $60K may not be such a bad deal. But if you pay that upfront, I suggest you make it clear that it’s all your property, so the builder or designer cannot claim copyright. Then if you fall out over the final price or Contract wording you can use it to shop around for another builder. No idea about Madison Park, but we dealt with Stonewood. Pulled out because they were not willing to amend what I felt was a very biased contract.
      However, I have to say that with the current state of the building industry, with sale prices going down, but it seems build costs still going up, I question whether this is the time to be starting a build.
      Even if you have experience in building it can be a terrible hassle, when things go reasonably well, and a disaster if they don’t.

  26. Any suggestions about choosing who to help us put a Transportable home in the backyard for my daughter?
    It’s a minefield out there for parents trying to make the right decision and not get ripped off. I’ve read different prices re: consents. We are in West Auckland.

    1. Hi Tavake,

      The sector has taken a hit lately with some tiny home and transportable build companies going bust and leaving customers out of pocket and with no asset. My first suggestion would be to do robust due diligence on the companies you’re looking at: track record, financial strength, reputation, directors etc. The next 12 months will see more firms go under – it’s a tricky market out there.

      Beyond that, in no particular order:
      1. Have experienced lawyer review and advise on contract. Make sure the scope and proposal is clearly set out in the contract.
      2. Check progress regularly with visits to factory, take notes, take pictures. This can be difficult if they’re based far from you.
      3. Get a programme and hold them to it. Make sure contract includes a due date for completion.
      4. Have appropriate progress payments, allow for retentions and set the final payment sufficiently high to make it worth the while for the builder to finish the job.
      5. Check they have insurance and require them to provide evidence of insurance cover.
      6. Seek multiple quotes and compare. This can be tricky as they will all present them slightly differently. Ask questions, what is included/excluded.
      7. Find out who the LBPs are and who the subcontractors are – next time I’d include a clause requiring this info to be shared.
      8. Keep a diary of all interactions with the firm.

      All the best.

    2. You might want to read some recent posts of homes being built off site (modular, transportable) by Firstbuild.

    3. Hi, we had a company build us a small transportable building about 6 years back. They were amazing and now have a major manufacturing site in Manukau – Auckland. Same Managing Director. I would trust them 100%. Google TransBuild. The owner is Sam Paterson. Good luck

  27. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is seeking feedback on occupational regulation reforms in the building and construction sector. Typically, the various membership bodies, such as Certified builders, Master builders, the NZIA and NZRAB will put in a well written submission on these things and the absence of input from the public results in poor outcomes for customers. I’d encourage anyone who has had a bad experience with any of the list below and feels that better regulation would help to put in a submission.
    Submissions are due 06 April 2023
    The 4 occupational regulation regimes MBIE are seeking feedback on are:
    • Licensed Building Practitioners, including proposals for change regarding supervision and licensing, as well as seeking feedback on issues with competencies.
    • Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers and Electrical Workers including consulting on the scope of codes of ethics to help lift the quality of the work and promote public confidence.
    • Registered Architects, including a review of the current settings to determine if the regime is still fit for purpose.

    1. Hi Jane, I agree. I have just completed a return. All good stuff, to hopefully improve the competencies of the poor guys who actually do the work.
      But unfortunately it does not tackle what I think are two of the main problems with NZ homes, built for private clients such as those who comment here.
      The first being the way many people are pressured into signing contracts which are blatantly biased in favour of the builder (eg have no contract period which the builder can be held to). No one should sign a Contract before at least reading one of the standard documents you can find on line (or in fact reading the documents used in Australia, which would work just as well here with only minor tweaks).
      The second of course is the number of builders who go out of business, when things get the slightest bit tough, or when they might be expected to put things right.
      For the latter I think NZ should consider something like the Australian NSW Home Builders Compensation Scheme. No personal experience of it, but my impression is it would save a lot of the grief (financial anyway) we read on this blog.

      1. I would add the lack of consumer knowledge and the disinterest MBIE has consistently shown in changing this situation. Consumers are largely left to their own devices and only those doing their own searching will come to information that will help them prepare for their building project. As a result, they often abdicate responsibility to their designer/builder (because we *know* they always have the best interests of their clients to the fore).

      1. anyone else a victim of Charles Innes (Podular Homes), i have lost 140k (my entire savings and more) with absolutely no home!!

        1. Hi Sleepless Nights – unfortunately there are quite a few people that have posted on here that Podular / Charles Innes has done the dirty on. If you do a word search for “Podular” or “Innes” you’ll find several posts.

          I hope he comes back to the country to face the music.

  28. We bought a 6 year old house January 2021. The house is a 2-storey 3 bedroom & 2 bath. There are two skylights in the house; one in the common bathroon on the second floor and the other is in the kitchen. The house was built by Platinum Homes (PH) so we’re expecting it to be of good quality. Prior to moving, we did a bldg inspection and no leak was detected since there was no rain during that time. We moved to the house on 25th Feb 2021 and started to change the wall from wall papers to a white paint. Our painter noticed one of the ceiling cornice of one of the bedroom which shares a wall of the common bathroom and suspect that there could have been a leak from there. True enough, after living for a few months with new painted walls and carpet, with heavy rain, the house started to leak to the bedroom flowing inside the wall and wetting the new carpet. We have contacted PH about the issue since we’re aware of the implied house warranty. They fixed the issue and again it leaked. This time, the water flows to the common bathroom and it’s confirmed coming from the skylight. We again informed them and fixed it again. Fast forward to Dec 2022, while my husband and I were overseas for holiday, we asked our friend to look after our house. She notified us that there were water on the floor right underneath the kitchen skylight. When we get back here in NZ we did not notify PH immediately since we don’t have a photo evidence to show them until the rain last Friday. We have emailed again PH about the issue and they replied with a promising schedule for assessment. However, during the three days of rain, the ceiling had started to discolour and the paints peeling and bubbling. We tried to contact PH again to follow up and a different person responded to us. Telling us that the fault was outside of the scope of the bldg code and telling us that since the skylight did not leak for 8 years, the remedial should be covered by our insurance. This person who replied to us is the same person who responded to us when we just moved in and noticed that the external wall of the house had some cracks and also told us that it was not covered by them. We believed that Platinum Homes should be fixing this issue given that all the houses in the block (4 houses) have had skylight issues before and therefore the skylights was poorly installed. By the way, prior to moving to this house, it was rented out so I don’t expect the previous tenants to take care of the house like we do now (since we bought it).

    1. Hi Myrna, Not sure whether you just wrote as a comment, or seeking advice. But anyway I sympathise with your situation. Just a couple of questions/comments:
      What’s the basic house construction and design? By that I mean, is it a fairly standard brick or weatherboard veneer, with a steel or tile pitched roof that has decent eaves and normal gutters, or is it in any way a ‘plaster home’, or with something like a flat roof or with ‘internal’ gutters? If the former your problems can probably be fixed without too much expense. If the latter it is likely to be much more expensive, and may even require major renovation.
      Of course different branches of the PH franchise may be more or less competent and reliable. But if you use CtrlF, and enter Platinum in the search box, I’m not sure you will still be so confident the house must be of good quality.
      Actually hearing they were still prepared to do anything on a second hand 6 (or is it 8?) year old house is a pleasant surprise. It seems many builders in NZ would not even be around that long. But of course, not surprisingly, they didn’t actually fix it, and now they don’t want to do anything.
      I know skylights can look nice when they’re new, but are difficult to clean or maintain, often a source of heat loss (ie more than a well insulated ceiling), and often leak after a few years of being blasted by NZ sun and rain. Personally I think they’re best avoided.
      Good luck with chasing PH, but I suspect you’ll end up trying to find a decent builder to fix all the problems.

  29. Great site – glad I stumbled across this and very timely. Very new in building journey in Auckland. Have some land with an old build that wanting to knock down and build new.
    Initial thoughts was that it is best to look into bigger well known Build Companies, but can see that there is much to consider…just because they are what we who are new to the building journey, would consider “reputable ” names, does not mean anything.
    Like I said early on in journey, and have approached GJ Gardinar, Signature and Versatile – gave them brief on what I am thinking along in terms of design. Have seen a couple of plans that they have sent through that I am considering (still need changes) and I am wanting to hear their estimated quotes…again from this site, I am learning this does not mean much at this stage and to keep researching and asking the questions….
    It would be great to hear who people would recommend as builders – where they have had good experiences recently, as the messages on this site to move with caution are loud and clear.

  30. Great site – glad I stumbled across this and very timely. Very new in building journey in Auckland. Have some land with an old build that wanting to knock down and build new.
    Initial thoughts was that it is best to look into bigger well known Build Companies, but can see that there is much to consider…just because they are what we who are new to the building journey, would consider “reputable ” names, does not mean anything.
    Like I said early on in journey, and have approached GJ Gardinar, Signature and Versatile – gave them brief on what I am thinking along in terms of design. Have seen a couple of plans that they have sent through that I am considering (still need changes) and I am wanting to hear their estimated quotes…again from this site, I am learning this does not mean much at this stage and to keep researching and asking the questions….
    It would be great to hear who people would recommend as builders – where they have had good experiences recently, as the messages on this site to move with caution are loud and clear.

      1. Just a note here that ‘Channing’ is Graeham’s legal first name and Graeham is his middle name which he uses for his websites. I cannot speak to his knowledge or past successes, but I think his lack of transparency in his reply here is less than ideal.

        1. Thanks Mark for clarification, yes I go by Graeham, appreciate you following up with me, regards my user name for your website this may have automated.

          Have a great day

  31. We purchased a house and land package from Stonewood Homes Tauranga in December 2020, finally moving into the house September 2022. Initially the red carpet was rolled out, however after that it was nothing short of the most stressful period of our life.

    Ground was not broken until the end of August 2021, after numerous requests asking when the start date was. The questions were skirted around, with the owner telling us to basically stop complaining as the land had gained value. I guess he expected us to pitch a tent on site.

    After the work started, we soon realised that customer communication and care was not a value they held. There were times we’d hear nothing for a month then suddenly we’d get an invoice to pay within the week. We’d have to go back each time asking for an update and what work was completed or we wouldn’t be paying the invoice. Only then would we get an email back.

    We were told consistently that XYZ was happening, only to then drive by and see nothing was going on.

    Painting was a nightmare, with Stonewood using someone who couldn’t paint a straight line or do anything to best practice. This was after asking in May 2022 what was happening with the interior colours, as no one had asked. They even forgot to order in our wardrobe (that we paid the invoice for a year earlier), as they’d assumed we were doing it.

    After the second project manager left, no one told us. Despite emailing the project manager and CCing in the owner to no response for weeks. Only when I messaged his wife were we told he’d resigned.

    Going to head office was a waste of time. They glossed over complaints, despite me detailing that more than half of our emails were going unanswered and there was no communication. This was after an agreement being reached that we’d get an update every fortnight.

    Heck, even when we moved in, the front door didn’t work, and it was the wrong one! Come January 2023, I contacted the sub contractor and they came and fixed it that day. Still no knowledge of when the door we paid for is actually going to be installed. Several windows had scratches in them too, with dried paint left on windows throughout the house.

    I could keep going on about the issues, and have spreadsheets and emails documenting their failure. Our friends and family are surprised they can even run a business like this, and others in the industry were aghast with how we were treated by both Tauranga and Head Office when I did my due diligence to make sure I wasn’t having unrealistic expectations.

    Reading online our project was not an isolated incident, with several customers detailing delays, lack of communication, and more issues. I’ve now used this entire project as a written case study on what not to do with communication.

    If anyone is considering Stonewood, I’d recommend you don’t even engage with them or Google them. Getting married and my father dying in the same month through COVID was nowhere near as stressful as this build.

    1. Common theme unfortunately. Sorry for your loss.

      If I recall properly Stonewood brand was purchased by the Chow Brothers some years back out of receivership and have some partnership with John Key or Max Key in property development.

      Was this a Kiwi operated Tauranga franchise?

      Think maybe we should begin to establish as a collective which mindsets are behind building horror stories so we are able to establish a baseline for consistency when vetting contractors, builders, group builders etc. Horror stories seem to have common themed mindsets and patterns through out this blog. ie ‘lack of communication’ ‘no response’ over promise & under delivered

  32. Does anyone have experience building with Three Dukes Homes Rotorua/Waikato? Would appreciate any input as I can’t find reviews anywhere.

  33. Hi everyone,

    We are looking to build a new house on a lifestyle block in bay of plenty. Couple of questions;

    1. Anyone had any experience building with Framohs homes? Or Versatile?
    2. Is it cheaper to go with big building companies or to get plans drawn up and take them to a builder?
    We have a strict budget and have been quoted “X” amount for a build we love, however, we have known a few people who have built houses recently who have ended up spending “$70k” more than what they originally got quoted, so just wanting to avoid that happening

    1. Hi Sophia, I was hoping someone else might try answering this one, because from the wording I assume you have not built in NZ before, and probably do not have much experience of building and building contracts generally.
      To answer it properly would require a book (Mark, who runs this blog, can suggest some), and even then you might still get into trouble. But please make sure you do your ‘due diligence’ on this, because wrong choices can literally ruin your life.
      You can bring up a ‘search box’ on the blog using Ctrl F. Nothing I could see on Framoh. Versatile a few comments, some good, some not so good, but will depend on which branch of the franchise.
      ‘Big builder’ vs ‘Plans/smaller builder’ entirely depends on which big builder, which plans/smaller builder. Some might say former can handle everything for you, but many (of course not all) can be rip-off merchants who couldn’t organise the proverbial p..s up in a brewery. Latter can be better, assuming your plans are realistic, but again only if you choose the right one.
      I suggest you use the search box above, and put in words like franchise, contract, PC, Prime Cost, fixed price. Also ‘MJ’ (he has written a lot of sensible stuff), and my name, previously just ‘Chris’, and later ‘Chris C’, as I’ve also written on some of these topics before.
      Regarding going over a quote, please believe that most stuff you might be told about fixed price contracts will turn out to be untrue. Firstly because most contracts have ‘weasel’ clauses that allow builders to increase the price, secondly because construction is by its nature an uncertain game, and things just go wrong, but often because you will be tempted to make changes (variations) that will increase the cost.
      I’ve said before, that if you start a job with less than 10% of the original quote as ‘contingency’ money in the bank, then you are taking a risk you will run out of money before the job is finished. That’s just the reality of building.
      On that basis your friend, who ended up $70K over the quote, may not have done too badly if they got the house they wanted actually finished to a good standard. You only need to read this blog to find out many people would envy that outcome.

    2. Hi Sophia, Perhaps I should have added to my reply yesterday (for you and anyone else planning to build), do you really think it’s a good idea at the moment?
      Surely with finished house prices coming down, but build costs still it seems going up, it might be better to consider trying to get a bargain on a finished house. My guess is there will soon be spec builders who will be eager to sell, and get money in the bank.
      At least you know exactly what you’re getting, and with a lot less risk (of course it’s never zero risk with buying property), and hassle than I mentioned in my previous reply.

    3. Hi Sophia,
      Everything Chris C has said is correct. I would add that if spending an extra $70 k concerns you then you very simply should not attempt to build a house now or at any other time.
      In terms of cost over-runs its depends on what you consider a direct cost. If we add up costs to finish our house, extra engineers fees, extra council inspection fees, fees for lodging complaints with MBIE, and lawyers fees then we will have spent at least 30 percent more than what was on the bottom line of our supposedly fixed price contract.
      I’ve been lurking on this blog for a while now. I’m planning to write a cautionary note about using a registered architect once our complaint is finalised.

      1. Hi Jane, Thanks for confirmation, as I think there are a lot of people in NZ (including some who write into this blog) who ‘dream walk’ into massive problems with builds, because they believe some of the builders’ blurb about how simple it will all be. Especially regarding cost.
        Of course I suppose there must be some people for whom it goes smoothly, and comes out on or not much above the price they expected. Based on this blog it would seem not many. But I suppose that kind of person just gets on with living in their lovely house, and generally doesn’t write in with complaints. Unfortunately it seems no one produces stats or reports on that kind of thing.
        Regarding your point about your build ending up at 30%+ over the original ‘fixed price’ quote, I should clarify that my 10% was just for the build itself, not for the fees you’ve mentioned, and definitely not legal fees. Also, I just meant 10% as a minimum contingency amount, before you even consider starting a build. Not that it would always be enough.

  34. Hi. I’m looking at building 40 sq metre sleepout on piles with bathroom early next year. Needs consent. Thinking of getting plans and specs etc done(LBP) and applying for consent myself. Then perhaps going on builderscrack for a qualified builder to works at an hourly rate. There might be , with economic downturn , builders looking for work. I did this in 90s and had a wonderful builder to guide me from buying materials to council inspections. Didn’t realise I was a project manager. The drawbacks as I see are dealing with the Auckland City Council, and coordinating drainlayer, plumber and electrician. Have had great tradesmen from BuildersCrack tho. This will be stressful. I’m old but pleasantly persistent.
    On the other hand do I go to a building firm for a quote and get stressed that the firm will remain solvent.? That’s my main concern. And quite possibly get stressed following up the usual things that can go wrong.
    Advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks so much

    1. Hi Maxine
      How exciting!
      Sounds like you know what you’re doing with the plans etc. On two different projects, we found our draughts person to be excellent in helping pull all the info together for the consents. We might have filled out a few forms, but really they did the heavy lifting.

      Whether you go for a main contractor (who will probably draw in subbies) or for directly engaging the trades yourself, I imagine they each come with pros and cons. I’d give some thought to:
      – time – I would expect a main contractor would be able to start and finish more efficiently, than you seeking to coordinate multiple trades (unless that was your line of work)
      – risk – what do you do if the plumber and the sparky are at odds? At least if you have a main contractor, it’s their job to sort it out. If you do go with a main contractor, make it your business to know who the subbies are
      – price – I don’t think many will offer a fixed price right now. I would expect you’d get a better idea of true cost with a lead builder – but that might not be an issue for you.
      – next year might be tricky for a number of firms. However, it’s in your interest (and ours) that they are able to turn a profit. We want builders to still be around in 10+ years.

      Hope this helps – enjoy your project.

  35. Heartland Homes… possibly beware lol. Mostly positive google reviews with a couple of 1 stars, but if how a company treats industry workers is a concern or reflection of wider business ethics, I hit a huge red flag when they approached me with an offer.
    With 20 years experience in marketing my portfolio includes Versatile, G.J. and some big name architects on bespoke projects. After seemingly approving my project fee they say I’m “required” to complete a small project as a trial to “test quality”. Take a look at their janky website & considering where their marketing is at… this is absurd & beyond suspicious. Its not the industry norm, and about as unprofessional as it gets.
    I genuinely have no clue if they’re straight up scammers when it comes to hiring contractors, or if being a rural business they just have no clue how the real world works. Best case scenario its totally unethical & time wasting.

  36. Any comments in regard to Presidential Homes in Palmerston North?
    Variation Costs, Lack of Correspondence, Evolving changed delivery dates etc

  37. Hey, anyone has experience working with JnJ or Ultimate Builders in Christchurch? Can’t seem to find much reviews online. TIA!

    1. Interested in knowing this as well. I assume “you get what you pay for applies”, but the JNJ adverts on trademe are always so tempting when they are 50k under similar houses from other builders.

      1. Good old marketing, works like a pretty flower to a bee. They can say they’re half the price of any builder/franchise builder in NZ but their contract will have half a dozen clauses in it where they can extract money from you and if you sign it it will be legal theft too.

        Their sales team will hook you in and tell you everything you want to hear and they’ll be your best friends too! They’ll get you to spend a few grand for drawings or a few more for an engineer or architect and blatantly lie to your face by telling you that your dream home is within your budget. Absolutely!

        Sooner or later you might guess that something isn’t quite right, they’re not returning your calls with the speed they did before but you’re already financially invested and to walk away now you’ll lose maybe 5-7k so you stick with them and hope for the best. Here’s my deposit! Fingers crossed!

        Now you’re stuffed. They have a huge chunk of your money, they have no intention of delivering your home within the budget you have and you will be held to ransom till the bitter end no matter the cost. If you thought losing 5-7k was bad you’ll most likely end up going over budget by tens of thousands instead.

        It’s all in the contract. Get it in the first instance and instead of throwing money away on drawings and other stuff that’s not even needed at this stage, throw it at a lawyer who deals with renovations and new builds. Best money you’ll ever spend on a build I guarantee it.

        If the sales team won’t give you a contract or try to deflect or minimise the importance of it then bloody hell please walk away.

        I really should just cut and paste this instead of giving myself RSI. You too Chris C! You have far more patience than I do!

        P.S – I’m a woman who is not past 50 but has more insight into the building industry than I care to. Once you see a con you can’t un-see it unfortunately and I’ll never build again.

        1. Hi MJ, I can tell your patience is wearing thin. Anyone who reads that should get the point! But the question is will they listen to you, or the snake oil salesperson in the show house?
          But anyway at least it’s nice to know what pronoun to use when referring to you.
          I’m a guy who’s well past 50, already retired from the construction industry fact. So I don’t mind typing away here occasionally.
          Although I do get a little irritated when we spend our time repeating the same warnings, but it seems not only do new people on the blog not bother to go back to previous stuff, but some of the ones you’re responding to don’t even acknowledge what you’ve written.

          1. Sorry… were either of these posts about specific experiences with the builders mentioned? I have in fact already read all the general advice here and was looking for specific feedback on those specific builders. As stated my assumption is that they would be problematic, but I’m open to being proved wrong so I asked for feedback from people with actual experience with them.

            I though the point of this page was to give and solicit reviews about builders?

            Condescending rants about the inferiority of other people who dare to ask questions serve no useful purpose.

            1. Every franchise is different as is every build with more builders and building companies popping up every day so if you’re looking for someone to tell you that the names you have mentioned are great or not so great you’ll be waiting a while.

              What Chris C and I were trying to tell you is that if you do your own due diligence and perhaps start with the contract first you will weed out the less scrupulous ones early on saving you money and time.

              But just like Chris C mentioned, no one really listens because it’s not what you want to hear.

              Best of luck!

  38. Would like to seek some advice here on what is the usual way which a buyer verify on each building stage completion before cash disbursement to the builder?

    The staged payment schedule I was given have around 8-9 stages of payment. It is costly to pay a valuer (costing around $500 each time) to verify before payment to the builder. We are not residing in the city we are building which makes it hard for us to verify. The builder said they can sign off to attest each stage of completion, coupled with photos and videos. The builder is a RMB and had been in business for 20 years.

    Would like to get some advice here on this.

    1. Hi Veronica, I guess the usual ways are to make the effort to go to Site yourself, get someone you trust (and who knows what to look for) to do it, or employ an expert. 9 stages at $500 is only $4500, which must be a lot less than 1% of the contract sum, so perhaps not that much for peace of mind, and the opinion of an unbiased professional if you end up in a dispute. But the builder’s offer of photos and video sounds reasonable (and of course he’s going to ‘attest’ everything is fine, or he shouldn’t be sending you an invoice), so maybe a compromise would be comparing a valuer’s report with the photos for at least the major items from drainage (important to have a record/photos of anything that’s buried, in case you get problems with it later), and foundations up to closing in and windows. To see whether you think the builder is being straight with you, and doing a reasonable job. Bearing in mind a lot of detail and possible problems can be glossed over in photos. Maybe if you establish (and the valuer thinks) you can trust the builder, you could rely on only photos later. Bear in mind that for payment the contract probably only requires stages to be ‘substantially’ complete, not 100%.

    2. I own a residential building company, happy to provide angles from builders point of view. You can appoint a clerk of works (someone local, could be a builder but doesnt have to be). you could ask for photos, AND inspection notices from council…if not passed, there could be a case for stage not being complete. It’s hard when you lose faith, but for eg, if it’s ‘Roof on’ stage, photos show the roof is on. Ask for a copy of the building consent including required inspections. And for inspection notices. You should also make time to view at critical stages, especially nearing completion. And, again, if you have lost faith in them, an independent/other builder to check their work. Important stages that have inspection, frame/trusses exterior cladding/joinery, preline (interior, includes plumbing), post line, finish. Ask for documentation from trades certifying their work; builder Record of works & PS3 of engineered work, engineer ps4, certification from electrician, plumber, drainlayer, tiler…all required for code and usually subcontracted by builder

  39. Hiya! We signed up with Navigation Homes Hawkes Bay. Lovely people but have noticed a few errors in the development of the scheme plan. A few other builders have expressed concerns about the number of PC sums in our quote. We are thinking of switching to Design Builders or Versatile. Does anyone have experience or recommendations are any of these 3 companies? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Marie, I can’t comment on the three builders you’ve named. But of course lots of builders will express ‘concern’ about ‘PC sums’ in another builder’s quote, especially if they assume you don’t really know what they are, or how they work. Their concern could partly be for you (because sometimes these are ways for builders to give a low quote, and then increase the contract sum later), and partly to scare you into going with another builder (ie them).
      First you need to make you really are looking at PC (Prime Cost) Sums, and not Provisional Sums or Items. I’ve tried explaining the difference before, so you could try CtrlF and searching. Also you could look at which explains it very well.
      By definition Provisional Sums or Items are potentially more problematical (but sometimes useful and almost unavoidable in a contract), because they are for work (commonly things like foundations and earthworks) where the extent and difficulty cannot be accurately assessed before the work starts on Site. But you can reduce the risk, for example by getting fixed rates for provisional quantities (cost per hour/per cubic or linear metre etc).
      Generally true PC Sums should be less of a risk. Because they are a sum of money put in to supply a specific item. Examples would be an oven, carpets or even a whole kitchen. As long as you know the amount in the PC Sum, and the exact type of item you would get for that if you make no changes, then it gives you the chance to upgrade (or theoretically downgrade) and just pay the difference in cost between the PC Sum and the cost of your chosen item.
      Where it can lead to shocks later, is if you let a builder persuade you the PC Sum in the contract will get you something wonderful, without realising it won’t get even close to what you want/need in your new house. We return again to the need for due diligence, and checking out exactly what it says in the contract.

    2. PC Sums are fine, if supported by quotes (PC quotes) or by quantified amounts eg 65m2 of concrete at xx/m2.

    3. Yes, the couple are lovely but it will change when you start working with them. They will leave you into oblivion and not always transparent. They will not respond to your emails as they used to when you have not started with them. They chose what emails they will respond. That few errors you have noticed will multiply once you have started with them. They are just new to the industry. They started i think last 2019. You need to constantly follow them up and monitor the progress as they will forget what you have discussed during the early phase. Please do due diligence. All the best.

  40. I signed with Podular March 7 2022. They have $235,000.00 and have only some framing up with no consents through council as of today 30 October. Speaking with the Christchurch builder the newest director has withheld outgoing money for all builds for the last six weeks. Approx the time he has taken over shareholding. Charles is 5% holder. Ilan 95%. They refuse to give a refund and won’t build our houses. The builder are at home getting paid. The builder told me this. This will be on all depots nationwide I would say.
    Draining out our money to pay staff while stopping all builds (in Chch for sure) can only lead to receivership. The talk of an overseas buyer very possibly a smoke screen to keep the wolves from their door. Just another excuse. Won’t answer calls or emails. And if they do you get abused for demanding answers. Management not just clowns but thieves. Dishonest. Outright liars. I am on anti depressants soley because of Podular. My life savings are with them. No refund and no building. The builder has been asking for money to buy product for weeks and Ilan won’t release any. Money frozen. Could our money be in an overeseas bank account? Cause we are being ripped off blind. Gutted. Devastated.

    1. So sorry to hear this. I worked for Podular for a while but have since left. There were numerous red flags for me from the outset. What is worse is that someone is still on their social media accounts attempting to lure in potential customers. They need to be stopped. Surely some media attention or something could help achieve this?

      1. Hi, we are in a similar situation with Podular and have just been told that Charles has stepped away and Ilan Gross has stepped in as director. Having worked there, is this accurate or have they both been running it the whole time. Also the latest email I received is from Alex Turner, when I Googled him his name came up as Alex Innes, just wondering if that means he is related to Charles? Any help would be appreciated, I’m just trying to get an idea about how much I’m being lied to. Thanks

        1. Hi Anon (and all the other people who are involved with Podular), Luckily I’m not, so please forgive me if I’m stepping in where I’m not required. But it seems it’s reached the stage where (as you suggested) you need a construction lawyer. But if the basic problem is similar for everyone, it makes no sense for each person to engage a different lawyer. So I’m a bit surprised no one has suggested joint action, and coming to an arrangement on sharing the cost.

        2. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything as I believe we were being fed constant lies as employees also. I only worked in the factory so had very little to do with management but as far as I am aware Charles was head of operations and there were other business partners/investors but really who knows. The first red flag for me was that Podular were unable to hold trade accounts with major suppliers and all purchases had to be paid in advance, significantly slowing down operations. There were numerous weeks where we had literally nothing to do. I heard this was due to Charles having filed bankrupcy on more than one occasion though I cannot confirm this.

          1. Charles has been personally bankrupt at least once according to the NZ insolvency register. Wish I’d known that 18 months ago.

        3. Alex is the QS for podular and not related to Charles in anyway. He’s been trying for months to correct the train wreck that Charles and co has led them into which based on comments still hasnt been fixed since i left many months ago as you cant do anything when the two company directors aka dumb and dumber have no clue how to run a construction company and cant even do the basics like ordering materials because companies refuse to work with them due not getting paid previously amongst other financial issues.

          1. Hi B
            How long ago was it you worked there and noticed the problems? Just asking because I wonder if these guys have continued to trade whilst insolvent, which is illegal.

            1. close to half a year or so ago. problems were noticeable from the start. Charles who was bankrupt previously from his time running the “installers group” calls himself an entrepreneur when hes closer to a used car salesman and Illan thinks he can run it like a software company (which is what he has his expertise in).

            2. Podular are still actively recruiting for marketers, I’ve been in the game for a while & as soon as I asked for a deposit never heard back lol.

                1. He was operating under Ten Four Ltd which is a company registered in 2020. Its still operating but I don’t know if there’s a way to check if that company is solvent or not (it almost certainly has no money lol), but AFAIK he can trade in another company while podular has tanked, as long as he’s not on the disqualified directors list.
                  New Zealand might be ranked the 4th easiest place in the world to do business but that’s a blessing and a curse.

      2. Charles some how managed to win a contract with the Masterton District council to build for the skatepark there. It might take a local council being screwed over for the media to pay attention.

          1. Good to see Poduar have finally received some media attention. The two directors/owners are absolute muppets – Ilan Gross and Charles Innes. Charles I believe has buggered off to some tropical destination somewhere, meanwhile many clients are out of pocket of hundreds of thousands, and also staff are not being paid wages either. clearly being bankrupt once before, doesnt teach you anything.


          2. For anyone who is a victim of Podular, especially if you have your build but it’s suffering from defects I would highly recommend a construction lawyer called Victoria Whitfield who is based in Cambridge. I’ve used her services before along with Noel Jellyman who is a forensic building specialist and my outcome was excellent. We suffered from a terrible build from Te Awamutu based company called “Shedit” who also have the companies “Houseit” and “FBR” and after two years of fighting the directors (Alan Hockly and Giles Bayley) myself and getting nowhere, Victoria had my case sorted within two months and it was the best decision I could have made. The longer you wait the more likely it is that Podular will go under so join forces and get the ball rolling! My deepest sympathies for you all though, this will not be easy.

          3. “serious mismanagement”. Yeah thats sounds like something Ilan would say, trying to deflect blame and being clueless as usual. The “management” he’s talking about is him and his mate Charles.

    2. This sounds awful and incredibly stressful. That is a significant sum to have paid in advance of reaching key milestones. Please take legal advice from a construction lawyer – Christchurch has some excellent firms – to see what your options are and how to navigate from here. If you haven’t already, do make a note of all interactions with Podular – a diary of engagement if you like. Clearly they have significant issues and are overselling and underdelivering.

      1. Sorry to here this. I worked there but left a couple months ago – management are utter morons. The workers, like the on site crew, designers, factory crew etc are really nice, and trying to do their best but they are hindered by by humpty and dumpty running the show. I wouldnt trust those two to look after a 10 cent coin. They lie to staff and clients, they owe 10’s of thousands to subbies, consultants etc, even got booted out of chch factory due to not paying rent. deffinately going under. I feel so sorry for all the customers and staff who are getting screwed over

    3. Sorry to here this. I worked there but left a couple months ago – management are utter morons. The workers, like the on site crew, designers, factory crew etc are really nice, and trying to do their best but they are hindered by by humpty and dumpty running the show. I wouldnt trust those two to look after a 10 cent coin. They lie to staff and clients, they owe 10’s of thousands to subbies, consultants etc, even got booted out of chch factory due to not paying rent. deffinately going under. I feel so sorry for all the customers and staff who are getting screwed over

    4. This is the most accurate review I have ever read. I am in same situation with the same company. Charles lied and stole and now silence after so many promises. RUN PEOPLE – RUN!

      1. I am in the same situation with Podular owing me n money for six months. So many lies & failed promises. Charles ignores emails, calls & texts.

        1. Charles is a liar and a crook. And currently on holiday in Bali, receiving his director salary still. Our money, in their pockets.

          1. I agree. They did it to me. I am a client. Charles is on holiday in Bali with his cowardly tail between his legs. Phone not answered and his email redirecting clients to other Podular employees. Avoiding the heat as the Podular Pandemic has escalated out of control. Weak and cowardly. I think he must have been neutured!

            1. Charles is currently in Bali setting up another business with a partner based in Perth. Again, modular homes, he’s looking to manufacture over there. So, he’s onwards and upwards and leaving his shit behind. Is that even legal???

              1. interesting to hear that – do you have any other details? he’s a bloody crook and needs to be stopped – you would think that being bankrupt before, and having several failed business over the years, you would take a hint and figure out that you have no business acumen. I dont know how the crook sleeps at night knowing he has screwed over dozens of people of millions

                  1. thanks. how did you find this out? i know who went to the media, and can confrim everything in the herald article is true. worst place ive worked at, and what was in the herald story is just scratching the surface

                  2. I would be very interested to know how you found this out. My wife and I were the ones featured in the NZ Herald article.

                    1. good on you for speaking out DP, I was hoping someone would when I heard someone had gone to the media(i know who went to media). I’ve heard it on good authority that Charles buggered off overseas several weeks ago, and staff havent been paid for several weeks either, and are all stressed out and frantically trying to find new jobs. and the claim from Ilan that he’s looking to sell to overseas investors is absolute B.S – who in their right mind would buy this business.

                      that herald story was just the tip of the iceberg based on what i know about them. its well in excess of $1 million that they owe people

                    2. It’s a fact. Don’t want to say how I know as I want to protect innocent peoples anonymity, but I do. I feel gutted for you both as well as all the others so wanted to put that out there. Charles is currently in the throes of setting it all up in Bali with John Woodward as investor. It needs to be stopped. Charles needs to face the music back here and not escape to another country with a trail of destruction and ruined lives behind him.

                    3. I worked for this company very briefly in August 2021 in a management capacity and QS i left after 4 weeks what a ness, i have files though and one is very recent cashflow as Charles is not that smart.

              2. Hi Watch Out
                would you be willing to talk with David (whose email is provided) and myself? David has my details (client, LA) etc.

                1. I am interested in hearing from anyone with inside knowledge of what went on in Podular. Especially interested from clients who signed up in the last three months, the more recent the better. Speaking up is the only way to stop this happening again.

                2. I don’t know anything more so not sure I could add anything more of relevance. I do know that Charles is still in Bali and will be at least for another few days. The Perth investor went to Bali and then Charles went to Perth. He has been looking at options to manufacture in Bali, modular homes I believe, maybe flat packed, potentially on wheels. Charles was always looking at other options alongside Podular. Did a lot of big talking. I could never work out if he believed all of his grandiose plans.

                  1. you are right watch out. when i worked there charles was always trying to come with some grand plan to use to scam more people. calls himself an entrepaneur – barely knows how to spell his own name – he would have to be the most full of shit person ive ever met

          2. As a former employer, I can confirm all of the previous comments. Charles is a crook, been bankrupt before and clearly has not learnt lessons from that. Ilan is so arrogant he thinks hes some sort of business genius when in reality he cant find his way out of a paper bag. They owe hundreds of thousands to people and even cant pay wages on time for weeks now. Most staff have left or in the process of leaving. If you put some heat on charles and ilan they just stick their head in the sand and you get silence from them. I knkw of several clients and staff that are starting legal proceedings with them.

            1. I really believe that we should get together as a group and coordinate. Lawyer fees will become manageable and if we need to we can mobilize opinion through social media, lobbying local MPs etc.

              1. We too signed a contract with Podular for a very simple build. It’s been a year since . Still not through council ! Fortunately we only paid for Council consent process and not first deposit. We have been getting the silent treatment too (many emails, phone calls and walk-ins to office). This prompted us to eventually find this website.

              2. Hi is anyone organising a group? I’m a lawyer for some customers devastated to read the nz herald article today. They would love some information. They had no idea anything was amiss as have only just recently been introduced to Podular

                1. what info do you need? i and a few others on here used to work for them, but left at various stages during this year once we all realised how corrupt charles and ilan are

                    1. Hi DP, do u know if Sanders Sheds r being pulled down with Podular too? Apparently Charles had a stake in Sanders too?

                2. I don’t suppose you could advise the staff on what our standing is either ?
                  as a disgruntled employee I may have information that could help your case too

                    1. no not alex (and to correct previous commetns alex turner is not charles wife he was the QS)
                      worked in the hamilton yard though
                      see theres a new stuff article this morning with another fuckload of lies from charles
                      lying prick

                  1. join the club discruntled. I had to threaten legal action a coupe weeks ago to get the wages i was owed when i left. finally got it last week, but its still only about 90% correct. im still owed some. be interesting to know what info you have, as ive been sharing quite a lot via email to some others in order to help with legal action and to the SFO


            2. I’m a previous employee too. Charles changes his mind every five minutes. Hard to keep up. Don’t think he even remembers what he said the day before.

            3. They owe millions. Not just hundreds of thousands. I heard that one staff member says Charles’s father and grandfather have been bankrupt multiple times between them!?
              So it appears to be a genetic defect.
              I was told by an employee that Charles tried to resign as director before he left for Bali. As there is only one director you can’t resign unless another is instated. They wouldn’t accept his resignation. Thwarted from escaping his directorship during their demise. A Criminal and a Coward.

              1. you are right client – the amount they owe in the herald article is a major underestimate, based on the few clients the media spoke to. it was 900k just from the 3 or 4 clients in the story, there are at least another 10 clients in same position, as well as sub trades like plumbers and sparkies, as well as geotech engineers, structural engineers……not to mention staff havent been paid for several weeks. I know who went to the media and know people that have worked there. i dont know about charles father or grandfathe, but charles has deffinately been bankrupt just a few years ago and has buggered off overseas. and the other owner Ilan Gross has also been liquedated once before.

                1. yeah i know. i told the journalist that all clients are in the same boat as us and that they have stolen/lost millions in total. i don’t know why he didn’t deduce this. or listen to me. it is obvious. i don’t how we are going to build a house for us to live in. i am the single mum.

            1. The coincides with what he told me about a month ago (after I told him I had made contact with a reporter and ranting that “I’ve fucked myself” saying it multiple times ). That he had “other projects I want to get on with”. Bali and Woodward connection being it. Or one of his plans anyway.

              1. interesting LA, I know someone who contacted a reporter to and its how the herald story over the weekend came about – i dont think its you though as the person i know hasnt been on this website. the herald story really underestimates the money they owe….its millions

              2. So did he mean ‘he’s’ fucked himself or that you have? Someone needs to let John Woodward know by sending the article and this thread.

                1. He said to me, that “I fucked myself”, said it several times. Because I said I hand made contact with a reporter. Which we didn’t pursue in the end. Didn’t need to. The reporter from the Herald was a complete surprise. And was given my name as well as others – from someone off the street. That is how I have come to have contact with some other clients.
                  There is certainly millions of dollars owing. Wonder what Woodwards (Perth) background holds? Feel free to contact me. D P has my details.

    5. Hello is anyone coordinating claims from Podular customers? I am a lawyer for some customers who did not know anything was amiss until the herald article today. They would love to hear from others to look for a solution.

      1. Fyi, I have heard from a contractor that worked at our place and is owed over a $100,000 that they have a deal in place to sell. I’m not sure how unless it gets them out of contracts. You might need to work fast if that’s a possibility.

      2. Do you have an email, our situation is slightly different than most here, but I believe they have stuff on their yard that we have paid for.

      3. hi lawyer, if you want a list of some clients, i can get it for you? i know the person that went to the media and they have some details of others – can even get you consultants and tradies details too

      4. are you only interested in people signed with Podular housing systems ltd.?Problem is our emails and deposits were with different companies it seems. Ten four ltd ,sanders pemiercabins ,.sander group ltd,and podularhousing systems all seem to be the one outfit

    6. They have now gone into liquidation. Staff have taken everything that they personally own off site and most have received termination letters.

      1. is now showing Podular Housing Systems Limited (8066719) as in liquidation and identifies the liquidators.

        The company Sanders Manufacturing Limited (7694536) formerly known as Podular Group Limited is not similarly identified. Are they too in liquidation, and the companies office website hasn’t been updated yet?

        Were build contracts in both names? Ours was.

        1. Not sure on contracts as I wasn’t involved with them but from what i do know everything was handled with Charles since he was the one signing up clients and we were often getting news out of the blue of clients he had signed up and proposed deals he had made. Sanders was Charles side business and were not in liquidation at the time but its probably safe to assume they have also now also gone into liquidation as i was told there was talk of him wanting to move the Sanders business based in Rotorua into the same factory as the one in Hamilton. Not sure if that ever happened but i do know of people being made redundant out of the blue in Rotorua because of the proposed move.

        2. i worked at podular. sanders was very much linked with podular not just same oweners/directors, but financially as well. Sander made money, podular didnt, but they were always shifting money around and taking money from sanders to prop up podular, so im guessing sanders will be a gonner too

        3. I have paid out quite a sum of money ,but pulled out after reading reports from clients and staff .My contract was with sanders premier ,then when I requested acknowledgement of deposit that was from Is there any chance of getting anything back .I pulled out rather than lose more or be kept in limbo.

          1. Hi Kate
            Do have a look at the liquidators preliminary report (it’s available on companies office website) and if you believe that you are a creditor of the company make sure you complete the relevant form and let the liquidators know before the due date. Suggest you also brief your lawyer. Podular Group Limited is the former name of Sanders Manufacturing Limited. Not Podular Housing Systems Limited. It is all rather complicated – thus suggest speaking with your lawyer.

        4. We are in the same boat with Sanders Manufacturing, we have paid a deposit for a shed back in September for delivery in January on a quote that had both Sanders and Podular in the letter head. Became suspicious of no progress and tried sending emails, they just bounced. Tried contracting the person we deal with via mobile. No answer and no response to voice message. So while the website might still be active, I suspect that it will be in liquidation soon.

          Is there anything that can be done to make sure these low life scum do not keep operating in NZ.

          1. The showroom site on Dominion Road for Sanders Manufacturing Ltd has now largely been vacated – the remaining sheds gone, the astroturf lifted, the decking removed etc.

            If they’re not engaging with you, then you could try social media (Facebook – if that’s live). Keep it factual and polite. e.g. “Hi Sanders, we paid our deposit in X and expected delivery in Y. It’s now January, emails and phone calls are going unanswered – could you tell me what’s going on please. We’re having huge trouble contacting you and want reassurance that you’ll deliver by the due date of Z.

      2. yup, I drove past the auckland office this morning to see if anyone was still there, carpark was empty so i drove in, looked in the window and the place is cleared out. im ex staff, i left a couple months ago, but i knew people who were still there. they still owe staff money, not to mention the builds they havent completed and the clients they screwed over – myself and a couple others have been in touch with the serious fraud office and they seem quite interested.

        1. We dropped into their Wairau office just over a week ago. Looked more scarce than I remember. A few tables/desks with monitors but no computers (Ethernet cables left dangling unattached). No staff there. However just before we left Matt emerged. He assured us that Sanders was all good and unaffected by the Podular scenario and tried to reassure us with the “new buyer” story. I guess Matt is just as bigger liar as Charles.

      3. Do any ex employees know where the stuff from Wairau Rd ended up? I’m trying to locate the joinery that was stored at the office, thanks in advance.

        1. has everyone seen the liquidators first report for podular that came out today? its on the companies office website and it paints a dire picture. a couple of things in the report that stick out for me are…..

          The liquidators have identified in excess of $2 million of deposits that have been paid by customers for which work has not yet started. the deposits were held in the companys general account and do not appear to have been spent for the purposes in which they were paid. this bank account was overdrawn at the commencement of liquidation and as a result there is no ability for customers to trace their deposits.


          the liquidators have concerns regarding the conduct of the management of the company and will conduct an investigation into the failure of the company.

          So in other words, they took 2 million from current customers, and spent it all, as their account is in overdraft. Considering they owe money to over 200 creditors, what did they do with the money taken from customers?
          and the liquidators comment on their concerns regarding the conduct of management just confirms my suspicions of these dodgy crooks and the crap i saw as a former employee. geeze I hope charels and ilan get taken down for this

            1. Yeah its Charles talking out of his ass as usual. His line about seeking help and it all falling on deaf ears until too late is an example of how full of it shit he was to anyone who knows since he was the one with the deaf ears and had his finger in everything since he was the one signing up and pushing for more customer homes to be built while ignoring pleas by others for him to stay away from pricing and contracts all while giving out false promises that he would forget about once clients were signed up.

              1. How close was Ilan to the day to day running, I see he was a director before Charles, with a 50/50 share split, which ended up 95/5 a little while ago.

                1. Not as much as Charles but definitely had his input so he is nowhere close to being innocent in all this. His wife was the one deleting comments & blocking people on their social media pages for example.

              2. Lets not forget he was also setting up another pod housing company in Bali while all this was going under. Spun so much shit over there. The guy is a complete arsehole

                1. Hey, do you have any other contacts or evidence other than Jonathan Woodward to confirm this, I’ve made some contact with him and he doesn’t seem concerned. Thanks

                  1. No sorry I dont. I have heard that he’s not concerned and I can”t work that one out. Surely reading the articles would raise some serious red flags. Is it legal for Charles to setup another company overseas like that with all that’s going on here?

                    1. I’ve just lodged an online quote using the Podular website so I’ll let you know if I get any contact from them. I feel terrible for you all and these guys need to be made accountable for their deceitful actions and I’ll help any way I can. What a bunch of assholes! (sorry for the bad language Mark)

                  2. Hi Anon, yes it does sound like someone is getting worried. He tries to make it sound like he is wanting to change things for the better of the customers, yeah right. The reason will be all to do with him. Notice in the article he’s still in Bali., frantically trying to ensure the Bali venture goes ahead, Won’t be wanting to step back in this country.

                    1. Did anyone attend the creditors meeting and if so was there anything of interest that was discussed?

            2. Hi Anon
              I spoke with Kelly the stuff reporter after that article angered me so much. She is going to do more articles. And wants people to contact her with information. She said she had dozens of calls following her article.
              Nobody owes Charles installments as he claims, until Podulars obligations are met. Which they haven’t been. He is a compulsive liar. Phoned me from Bali about five days ago and said he was working on a solution and that he would make sure I would get our house. This is after liquidation is enacted. More lies. I asked him how he proposed to do that and he said “I don’t know”. Then tried to talk shit that none of us believe. His mouth is a sewer. Had the gumption to say “I am the only here to help you guys. Everyone else has run away. Ilan, Wallace Corporation, everyone involved. I’m doing the right thing and am the only one who hasn’t run away”. OMG He’s run away the furthest. To Bali. They refused to accept his resignation as Director. You can’t resign as director if there is only one and another has not been instated..This information was told to me be interim Manager John Prasad. Johnny also told me that money had been going to a number differect accounts and was difficult to trace. This was during Petra’s research in Podular. By the way. Alley, the front line lady on the phone and the one who told me “all the builds are running smoothly and on time” is Ilans partner. She glibly lied to me with no compuntion.

              1. Wow, so the Bali set-up is going ahead.
                Not surprising re Alley as B said she was the one in charge of the social media accounts and deleting posts, blocking people etc, indicating that Ilan was fully aware of the situation.

                FYI, the Liquidators have not renewed the building insurance related to the contrcts with Podular, I’m waiting to get some feedback as to where that leaves us.

                1. Wow, so the Bali set-up is going ahead.
                  Not surprising re Alley as B said she was the one in charge of the social media accounts and deleting posts, blocking people etc, indicating that Ilan was fully aware of the situation.

                  FYI, the Liquidators have not renewed the building insurance related to the contrcts with Podular, I’m waiting to get some feedback as to where that leaves us.

                  Hopefully the Serious Fraud Office, Ird and the Liquidators can track where the money went.

            1. Some of the materials photographed for auction are labelled with client names / project names. You may wish to check out. More photos on the auction houses Facebook page than on the auction house’s web page.

              #Podular #PodularLiquidation

  41. Hi, wondering if someone can provide advice on if companies are allowed to provide quotes without providing a breakdown of the quote if requested? We have recently requested a variation to a build due to a problem in the plans and the price to fix the problem seems too high for the work required. I have asked for a breakdown in cost but have been refused. There doesn’t appear to be any transparency in the price and I feel forced into a corner to accept the quote as is.

    Thanks in advance for your advice

    1. Hi, It will all depend on what is written in your contract. Majority of contracts used are heavily in favour of the builder so if you look over it and are still not sure I would seek advice from your lawyer as this may not be the only instance of a variation you come across especially if the problem stemmed from a design flaw in the plans and the change was not of your making.

    2. Hi LM, A couple of extra comments in addition to what MJ has said. (Once again we’re talking about the importance of the Contract.) Might be worth checking, but I don’t think NZ consumer law or building regs say anything about obligations for providing a breakdown for quotes. My copy of the MB Contract 2011 just says changes to the Contract Price have to be agreed in writing. Of course a reasonable builder will provide some kind of breakdown, but it seems you can’t insist on it. If you really think it’s unreasonable, I guess you could go back to MJs previous advice about getting a QS or other expert to review it. But this may depend on how urgently the change is required, to keep the job moving (see ‘delays’ below).
      You’ve mentioned ‘a problem on the plans’, which I assume means the plans were produced by your own designer, and not the builder himself, which might change the situation.
      But at the risk of appearing to sympathise with the builder, I have to say that life can get very difficult for a builder when the Client asks for design variations during the build.
      The MB contract allows the builder to charge a 5% processing fee. But in some cases that may be nothing like enough to cover the actual hassle caused by the change. Even what appears to be a small amount of work can have a knock-on effect to the whole programme. It may take time to order materials, or delay a particular subbie who then goes off Site, and can’t immediately come back. Delays to the whole job generally justify a builder in charging overhead costs, including head office staff and rent. All these other costs may be more than the cost of the variation itself.
      Sometimes variations have to be ordered mid-build. But it’s another reminder that they should be avoided if possible. Starting with a set of plans, and thinking you can change them, or work out the problems as the build proceeds, usually costs far more than you expect.
      Especially if you have the bad luck to have gone with a builder who sees variations as an ideal way to increase his profit margin. There are even some cynical people who suggest that there are builders who know that most of their clients can’t resist the temptation to make a few changes.

    3. Hi LM I’m having variations and cost overruns coming and they are not breaking down details. I’m not sure what the reason is for not being transparent, all I can think is that they are charging a ridiculous amount of margin and don’t want to disclose it.
      Although the contract specifies a %age margin there is really no way to tell. If they are reputable honest builders I would expect that they should fully transparent with a breakdown. Otherwise they are just lazy and overestimate the price hoping that it should cover the job.

  42. If anyone is looking to build with Ecosmart Homes, DO NOT DO IT. We were promised a 6 month turn around in 2020. Its now two years on and no house. They changed trades multiple times due to some walking off site as they werent paying the trades. They lied to use on completion stages saying a stage was complete and to pay them yet when we went out to visit the home to check as we were exited, we learn it is not complete at all. They have installed the wrong tiles, vanities and installed damaged things like doors that are broken. They installed upside down power points, all the light swtiches are crooked (yes easy fix but makes you wonder who they are using to do this!) We were luckily on a fixed price contract but they still emailed us a threat that if we didnt give them another 30k our build would be more delayed. Countless laywer fees and financial strain over the last two years paying mortgage and rent, now living in an awful home situation due to these people and there is still no end in site. they nearly never respond to emails calls or texts and when they do we get fake dates and told “trust the process, we are professionals” i know this isnt as bad as some people on here but i am at a loss and have no idea what to do about this situation

    1. Horrible. Try South African tradesman as their expectations meet reality. I don’t bother with irrationally confident tradesman from learned experience.

    2. Hi Danielle, Apologies if you think it’s too late to say this. But it may avoid others getting into the same situation. The NZ Building Regs (I believe from 2014) specify certain minimum requirements for contracts worth more than $30K. So I assume that’s just about every house build contract currently operating.
      Among other things they are required to state the expected start and completion dates, and how to deal with any delays (it says, for example, delays as a result of ‘force majeure’ events, which implies problems genuinely outside the builders control, not just because the builder has gone to sleep on the job). I assume if your Contract does not cover these, the builder is already in breach of the regulations.
      However, I admit these are slightly vague requirements, and open to some argument about interpretation. But they are enough to remind any decent lawyer, that they need to be expanded and made clear enough, to minimise any later disputes about interpretation. Either by using the lawyer’s own wording, or if they have any common sense, using one of the several quite adequate standard contract forms already available.
      So, judging by what you say, you should now be in a position to terminate this Contract, and if it were worded correctly send a bill, or deduct from any payments due, the value of Liquidated Damages which you have suffered (to cover rent etc).
      I guess from your mention of ‘lawyers fees’, you got a lawyer involved after problems started arising. So it might be worth asking about whether your Contract complies with the Building Regs, and if not what recourse you have on that.
      But if the same lawyer was involved in writing the Contract, and yet you’re still in this mess, if it were me I would get a new lawyer immediately. And get him/her to communicate with the builder. A letter from a lawyer often produces results that an email from you does not.
      Good luck.

  43. Seen a few people on here asking about Summit Homes Pokeno, as a first home buyer made the biggest mistake of my life trusting these guys buying a house and land package. They sell you the dream but only leave you with nightmares. Tell you in the beginning they pride themselves in communication and taking first home buyers through all the steps and making it stress free and it will be a 3 month build, all is well until you have signed on the dotted line and pay your deposit then they drop off the face of the earth, you are then left constantly chasing them for updates and being ignored, nonstop excuses, never even got close to any of the dates they set or even the revised dates or revised-revised dates, constantly losing admin staff. Lots of hidden clauses or extra costs that they don’t tell you about, can’t even read a plan had multiple items installed in the wrong places even though it’s there in black and white on the plan. Caught the sales team in multiple blatant lies If you try and voice your concerns or exercise your legal rights, you are met with bully tactics told you should be thankful because they have the right to put the build price up and haven’t yet and that you shouldn’t be complaining because of the market you have “made money” on your build even though your house isn’t built and you and your young family now have to spend another winter freezing living in your parents’ garage. Multiple reports of same stories in this subdivision and we are the lucky ones that actually have a completed home, some still waiting for their “3-month build” to even START over a year after the contract completion date, meanwhile they are advertising other new subdivisions for sale and selling new builds promising buyers houses within months when they can’t even complete the ones for people waiting that they have already sold years ago. And now that we are finally in, we are constantly chasing warranties for low quality cheap faulty fittings and appliances that were included in their package. We tried to contact Master build multiple times but basically a waste of time. I’m not usually one to write negative reviews as I figure everyone has their off days, but this has been a 2-year+ constant drain on my relationship and family life and hopefully this can save a future young first home buyer some heartache because I sure wish someone had warned me about these guys beforehand.

    1. We have had the same sort of problems with ecosmart homes as this out in glenbrook. two years and still no home ready. all the homes around the area are going up sooo fast and countless have been finished since we started in 2020. they told us the same thing “we got a good price” “those houses costed more” “youve made money” it actually blows my mind how common companies are treating their clients like this! its disgusting. Im sorry that you are going through this! so hard to know what to do. we are now looking at seeing if our lawyer can get us out of the final instalment and ccc and we take over the build completely because there is no end in site!

      1. Hi Danielle,

        Sorry to hear of your build, it seems that some in the building industry are really taking the piss at the moment because of the demand but you only need to read the newspaper to find some companies are already folding because they over stretched themselves in the boom and won’t be able to make ends meet in the lull and that tale is as old as time.

        If you want to extricate yourselves from your current builders and get your lawyer to draft a proposal for taking over the build yourselves to the CCC might I recommend that you employ a building forensic specialist first? They will go over your build with a fine tooth comb and find every issue that is either not to the plans, not to the current building code and anything that is of poor workmanship or poor quality materials and they will give you a detailed and very easy to understand report about exactly what needs finishing and to a decent standard to CCC.

        Once you have that report your lawyer will be better equipped to make demands. If you want a monetary figure to go with that you can easily submit the report to a quantity surveyor who will give you up to date figures on materials and labour for each issue the building specialist highlights. You’re probably thinking it’ll cost too much and you may be right, our building specialist and quantity surveyor cost us just under $4k in total and that was as of March this year. But they identified $89k’s worth of issues that needed rectifying when we had only managed to identify $45k, we had no idea there was a problem until it was pointed out to us so money very well spent we think. And yes, we got every penny of it too.

        These reports also carry a lot of weight in the legal system so if it turns out that this is direction you may be headed (I sincerely hope not but you never know) then almost all of your due diligence would have already been done. Our building forensic specialist was Noel Jellyman and he is based in Hamilton and nothing escapes is eye, he is a marvel and knows his stuff and he can recommend a quantity surveyor too if that is what you want to do. You can always run this all by your lawyer but we will never regret doing this first or we would have sold ourselves short by over $40k.

        We’ve been exactly where you are now and we wasted three years trying to get $45k refunded to remediate/finish work so we could get a CCC, but when we employed the right people to help it took only 3 months and we got twice the amount. As I said , run it past your lawyer and I hope it all works well for you going forwar, please let us know how you get on.

      2. Hi Danielle, Since both are about problems with Ecosmart, I assume it was you that wrote twice on 8/10/22.
        When I responded on 9/10/22 I was looking more at the ‘poor progress/delayed completion’ aspect, as I think this is a very common problem on this blog. Which I think would be much less of a problem (although of course never zero), if people were more insistent on decent Contract conditions regarding completion date (ie contract period), provisions for time extension when reasonably justified, and ideally the Liquidated Damages a builder should pay you if he fails to complete on time.
        Having said that, I must praise MJ’s excellent suggestions on a process for dealing with the other aspect, which is faulty or unsatisfactory workmanship. When our job went wrong (ie builder went into liquidation) I did not need to do this, as the builder had almost welcomed me visiting the Site, and discussing the work. So workmanship up to that time was actually very good.
        But MJ has explained (obviously from bitter experience), in a very clear way, the advantages of getting experts involved, and recording everything.
        It’s a great idea to do this, as soon as you start having this kind of problem. But based on the cost he mentions, I would say that for people who are not experienced in building it would be worth considering getting this kind of expertise on board from day one. Even $10K would be cheap, if it reduces the risk of problems occurring in the first place. This is why, on large Government projects, the Client (eg NZTA) has almost as many people on Site checking progress and workmanship, as the Contractor has supervising the construction. A lot better to make sure things are done right, than try to put them right later. (Not always successful of course, but that’s life in the construction game.)
        Of course, making sure that the Contract allows these people to have adequate Site access. (While making clear, it’s not to give instructions to people working on Site, but just to observe what’s going on, on your behalf.) If the builder resists this, it probably means you should be cautious about dealing with him.

      3. I forgot to mention , do not rely on your local council to find instances of poor workmanship and faulty building products they are only contracted to find faults with the building code and issues of non compliance with your consented building plans, and even in this they very well could miss something but you will never be able to make them liable if they do so channel your anger at the building company and this will save you a lot of money and stress.

      4. Hi
        Ecosmart homes’ director has a bit of a history. I think it’s the same as NZfirst homes. We nearly signed up for one of their builds in Helensville. Check out the stories from 2020.

  44. Hi all, I was wondering if anyone has any experience with any of these builders in the Pukekohe/Paerata area. (looking for good and/or bad comments if any). They all seem reasonable to deal with and are local (however they are Masterbuilders so I’m guessing they use the dreaded contract)
    -Austin Builders
    -Kanda Homes
    -Stroud Homes
    -Precision Homes
    -Mark Price builders

    1. Hi Precision is the way to go, their workmanship is outstanding and they do not have bad debts or unhappy clients. Stroud homes stay far away from they treat their clients terribly and have unpaid contractors all around Franklin, wont be long until they are gone.

      1. Have a look at DW Homes as well. Friends of ours built in the Patumahoe Hill subdivision with another and after walking through the last 3 DW Homes in there are really wishing they’d built with them. Just a higher standard their homes.

      2. Stroud homes pukekohe have gone under, now into liquidation.
        We pulled out about a year ago just before signing up with them…..things didnt seem right, sooo glad we went with our gut feeling.
        We ended up going to Highmark Homes, franklin for our build, best decision ever ! Completition due in approx mid may, no price increases, no hidden costs and no delays, we’re dealing directly with the builders and contractors….such an awesome team to deal with.

      1. Hi Ash,

        Could you please elaborate with your comment on Kanda Homes, did you build with them or are you a sub contractor for them. We saw them at the home show and were looking for reviews, they seem to have their own builder rather than hiring subcontractors which is a plus. They also seem to be finishing builds according to their social media page.



  45. Hi all,
    We are looking to build on our 10 acre block just outside of Maungaturoto, Kaipara. Its good to see that there are no negative comments about the local builders on this blog, BUT there are no positive ones either! …
    Has anyone experience of using any of the INDEPENDENT builders around the Maungaturoto, Mangawhai or the Waipu areas?

  46. Hi All,

    Thanks to advice from some of you, I’ve requested to see the build contract of a builder whom we had shortlisted for a land and home package. The builder is a registered master builder and they had given me the RMB residential building contract (PBC1-2018 new build).

    May I know if this contract is fair for both parties? Any clauses in particular I should be paying attention to?

    I would also like to seek some advice on new build whilst residing in another city. We are looking to build in Christchurch but residing in another city until the house is ready. For staged payments, what are the due diligence we should take since we are unable to physically monitor the progress.

    1. Hi Alice,

      Stay well clear of the RMB contract it is weighted so heavily in favour of the builder it really should be banned from use. Do not get sucked in by The Master Builders org, they are paid for by subscriptions from the builder and it is to them that they will back every time there is a dispute. In all my years reading this blog I have never seen one thing positive about a resolution in favour of the home owner against the builder by MB. Chris C has a very good contract which he will point you in the direction of, take it away Chris…….

      1. Thanks MJ.

        I would imagined a builder who is a RMB has more ‘assurance’ than one who is not a member of any established builder associations with no guarantees? Appreciate some insights as this is our first time building.

        For builder who are RMB, I presume they will be inclined to use the RMB contract? If one were to stay clear of that contract, what options would the purchaser have? The builder we are discussing said they are willing to take up clause which pass rising cost to purchaser to fulfil the fixed price contract though.

        1. Hi Alice,

          If this is your first time building I strongly suggest you see a lawyer that specialises in construction contracts so he can go over the RMB contract with you and he may well have a contract that’s more balanced that you could use.

          You might not want to spend the money doing this but this blog is full to the brim of people who didn’t spend the money doing due diligence and it ended up costing them tens of thousands of dollars, and in some cases hundreds, and a lifetime of stress with a poor quality product as a result.

          If the builder then does not want to take on board any changes your lawyer suggests then walk away. Housing franchises have very good sales people so best not listen to them until you have the contract sorted.

    2. Hi Alice, More pressure from MJ! I’m not familiar with the MB 2018 form. But assuming it’s similar to the 2011 form we used in 2015 then I agree with MJ that it likely has a number of problems. I say ‘used’ because we did in fact go ahead using most of the form, but in the days when some MBs were prepared to discuss changes (or perhaps I just got lucky). So we agreed on enough changes to keep me happy, while letting them feel they were still using their own form.
      I agree with MJ there are much better forms out there. Unfortunately it seems these days it’s not easy to persuade builders to use them. As I said recently, that could all change by next year, when in my view a lot of builders will be begging for work to avoid going out of business. (We can all dream)
      To avoid repeating a lot of stuff said here before, you may have to try CtrlF and search words like contract, NZ Standard, PC Sum, Provisional, mortgage, and perhaps do the boring stuff of reading Mark Grahams building guide, and scanning through this very lengthy blog.
      Due diligence on stage payments is difficult if you’re not around. First establish to what extent the builder will give you (or your agent) access to even check. Apparently some of the crazy ones don’t. Avoid the ones who make the slightest difficulty. I suppose maybe if you’ve really established trust with the builder you could rely on his word plus photos. Failing that I suppose you need to employ someone who knows what they’re looking for.
      Good luck.

  47. Finish what you started Podular! An ongoing saga with a very late build, with the latest chapter being around CCC, assurances that it had been applied for, discovering that it hadn’t and that there were many inspections outstanding and incomplete documentation and evidence. They’ve stalled at providing paperwork, they’ve assured us they would submit outstanding documentation for CCC yesterday … and here we are, with another slipped date.

    Note – their website shows four factory locations. I understand the two in Rotorua have been vacated (one last year, the other earlier this year) in favour of Hamilton. I’ve suggested they update their website so as not to mislead people.

    Note – companies office shows recent changes to shareholding with Charles Innes transferring a significant stake to a new person (they would appear to have a history of doing business with each other). What this means in terms of day to day running and viability I don’t know. One hopes they can start to manage their affairs better.

    #Podular #PodularReviews #PodularBuilderReviews

    1. Podular have vacated their Christchurch “factory “ now too. Now on a small 800 metre gravel yard at 17 Freight Drive Rolleston- site still has area for lease on gate so maybe week to week arrangement for Podular?? Let’s know progress – have family member signed up with them and they too are having slipped dates…

      1. I’m sorry to hear that J Gordon, but not surprised. In hindsight we’d do things differently and without knowing how far along your family member is I’d suggest:
        – take every opportunity / make opportunities to inspect;
        – ask direct questions. Who are the PBLs? If you can, meet them and establish a rapport.
        – maintain positive and frequent dialogue
        – insist on evidence as you go along to include the PS3s, PS4s etc.
        – talk with the subbies if you know who they are (if not, try and find out)
        – contact Council directly to see if their records match what the builder is telling you
        – check contract for when transfer of title occurs (e.g. on payment? on delivery?)
        – consider security e.g. PPSR, if in their yard clearly marked ‘property of x’. If a company goes into receivership, it will be helpful if you can clearly establish title to identifiable product on their yard
        – concerns about solvency? Be very careful before paying more. A lawyer should be able to provide more guidance
        – get a copy of the packs sent to Council(s) and the consented plans. Double check them.
        – check the contract for payment terms
        – if haven’t already, get advice from lawyer to better understand terms of contract and the Construction Contracts Act
        – ask for copies of the insurance certificates of currency

        Sorry – that turned out to be more of a note to myself (if ever we’re brave enough to do a new build again). As for our build:
        – one of the team is supposedly collating the docs for CCC. Still hasn’t been applied for;
        – I’ve asked for a copy of docs to support the CCC application – not a single one has been sent through;
        – they assured me that the unpaid subcontractors were on last week’s Friday pay run. I don’t know about the others, but at least one has advised me that they are still waiting to receive payment.

          1. Hi Veronica, yes these are just the facts I posted and have already been removed from Podular website and I have been blocked:

            Podular can you tell me what is going on? Our contract was for a unit to be delivered complete on our section within 13
            weeks of starting, which means the unit should have been completed in September last year. The unit was delivered
            incomplete and with substantial defects on 11 January 2022, 4 months late. It has now been more than a year since the
            unit should have been completed, and we have not heard back from you since June, despite our lawyers also reaching out.
            You subcontracted our builder to fix the issues with the unit after it was delivered, but he tells us that you have not paid
            him for any of the work he has done since before 1 June this year. Our builder tells us he has contacted the other
            engineers you subcontracted, who say they are also waiting for their invoices to be paid. Rotorua-Lakes Council has also
            confirmed that it is waiting for payment before it will issue Code Compliance Certification. Per our contract, you should
            have obtained Code Compliance more than a year ago.
            We are unable to obtain Code Compliance from Rotorua-Lakes and Auckland Councils. Auckland is waiting on Rotorua-
            Lakes to issue Code Compliance before it will even consider an application. We are becoming incredibly frustrated at the
            lack of progress, and lack of communication with us. The main stumbling block appears to be your failure to pay invoices
            as they fall due.
            As you have been ignoring our emails, and our lawyers, we are publicly reaching out to see what is happening with our
            unit. Are you going to complete it, or are we going to have to finish your job ourselves?

            1. I have been chasing Podular for four months for agreed refund on failed Podular build. Finally received a email reply from Charles 2 days ago with an “”I’ll make contact with you next week with an update”
              So, still no payment & from my terrible customer experience with Podular “next week” translate to will do nothing.
              I too, have had my posts on Podular FB site deleted & am blocked too.
              I tried many times to resolve this privately with Charles Innes, Ally & Janice, Podular never responded to any of more than a dozen emails, and voicemails.

              1. Sorry to mention this but I would start doing a routine check on the companies register for these guys. It might be prudent to get in first if they look like they’re going down and it may give you some indication as to how hard you’ll need to fight to get your money back.

              2. I know Janice no longer works there so that’s a dead email. Try Charles Innes other company, Sanders Sheds as a point of contact. At least they answer the phone

            2. I’m out of pocket nearly 1/4 of a million. Have spoken with chch depot builder. Christchurch yard closed. Truck and trailer not registered since september. Builder has has no money for materials for nearly two months. Podular/Ilan won’t pass over my money for windows order or roofing iron order. Or anything. Same with all builds. Builders are still getting paid while off work at home. like all the office staff in Auckland. Driving the company into the ground.
              Since Ilan became 95% shareholder a couple of months or so ago he has withheld all funds for our builds. He says they are trying to sell to an overseas company. This has been confirmed to me by both Charles and Ilan . It hasn’t happened. Lies? smokescreen. Money going overseas?!! who knows. Can’t trust anything they say. Ilans letter to clients stating his investment would help speed our builds. The reality is he has frozen funds and abandoned our builds. No updates as promised. No infomation.
              So no funds going out for about 2 months yet they are still giving out quotes to interested parties. Check out Director Charles Innes (now minority shareholder at 5%) face book site to recruit buyers. Website still operating with estimates.
              They moved chch build site recently as they had to vacate previous site due to upaid rent. Likely the same with Rotorua. It was not to speed up conscent process as claimed to clients in chch. Or to consilidate in Hamiltion I don’t believe.
              The directors have a history of insolvency and bankruptcy. Check out online details for them. No communication. No build. I have no money refunded, none going into build or no home.
              Don’t sign up whatever you do. They lie glibly. As do the sales staff. Alley telling me all the builds are running smoothly when I questioned her. Hadleigh to say all building supplies are locked down when I signed up. This fact denied by the chch builder. OMG. How can these workers support them. Ph 0210522002 .

            3. I’m out of pocket loads thanks Podular. Have spoken with chch depot builder. Christchurch yard closed. Truck and trailer not registered since september. Builder has has no money for materials for nearly two months. Podular/Ilan won’t pass over my money for windows order or roofing iron order. Or anything. Same with all builds. Builders are still getting paid while off work at home. like all the office staff in Auckland. Driving the company into the ground.
              Since Ilan became 95% shareholder a couple of months or so ago he has withheld all funds for our builds. He says they are trying to sell to an overseas company. This has been confirmed to me by both Charles and Ilan . It hasn’t happened. Lies? smokescreen. Money going overseas?!! who knows. Can’t trust anything they say. Ilans letter to clients stating his investment would help speed our builds. The reality is he has frozen funds and abandoned our builds. No updates as promised. No infomation.
              So no funds going out for about 2 months yet they are still giving out quotes to interested parties. Check out Director Charles Innes (now minority shareholder at 5%) face book site to recruit buyers. Website still operating with estimates.
              They moved chch build site recently as they had to vacate previous site due to upaid rent. Likely the same with Rotorua. It was not to speed up conscent process as claimed to clients in chch. Or to consilidate in Hamiltion I don’t believe.
              The directors have a history of insolvency and bankruptcy. Check out online details for them. No communication. No build. I have no money refunded, none going into build or no home.
              Don’t sign up whatever you do. They lie glibly. As do the sales staff. Alley telling me all the builds are running smoothly when I questioned her. Hadleigh to say all building supplies are locked down when I signed up. This fact denied by the chch builder. OMG. How can these workers support them. Ph 0210522002 .

          2. I would avoid Podular at all costs. They leave a trail of unpaid invoices, screw around clients and staff are leaving in droves. Management are clowns, fairly sure its on its way to going under

      2. I would avoid Podular at all costs. They leave a trail of unpaid invoices, screw around clients and staff are leaving in droves. Management are clowns, fairly sure its on its way to going under

          1. Hi David, yes. leaving was the best decision. worst company to ever work for. Management have no idea how to run a business, invoices go unpaid for months and then sub-trades and other external contractors put their services on hold, which delays builds/consenting etc, constant lies to staff, lies to clients, the lower level workers are good but its all negatively impacted by the higher up’s

            1. Yes, that is the impression I am getting. We still don’t have a house on our site. A building does exist in ChCh but no idea when or if we will get it finished and on site. None of the deadlines they have set have been honoured so far. I fear they will be bankrupt before we get anything.

                  1. Yea, happy to share more, people need to know to avoid these guys. I know of trades that have been trying to get paid for well over 3-4 months. Customers still not getting ccc a year after house being built. I understand they got booted out of the chch factory due to not paying rent. Basically running week to week it seems

                    1. I worked for Podular as well in their Christchurch factory. Something felt immediately off from the day I started. Can confirm unpaid subcontractors, staff redundancies, corner cutting, company run by a bunch of clowns. Chch factory now closed as far as I am aware. I would say they are almost certainly going under.

  48. Does anybody have experience/ comments with Benchmark Homes in Christchurch? Was trying to look through using CTRL+F but didn’t find much information relating to them.

    Few questions for new builds:

    1. Common pitfalls to look out for in a new build contract. I see that PC sum is something builders can use to add on cost. Any other glaring clauses one should pay attention to?

    2. What is a reasonable cost now to build psm in Christchurch?

    3. For land and build (staged payment, not turnkey), does sunset clause apply?

    4. Any idea what is the typical number of homes builders like Greenland/ Orange/ Benchmark would build in a year?

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Hopefully Chris will weigh in here with regards to contracts but if you are planning to build in this current climate I would strongly suggest the very first thing you do would be to get some advice from a lawyer that specifically works with construction contracts.

      If the contract is biased and the building company won’t negotiate or change any terms then that is your biggest red flag to walk away especially if they use the good old “ we don’t need to remove that clause as we have never had to use it” speech. Don’t get hoodwinked by the sales team, that is their job and they will be very good at it but you can save yourself a lot of wasted time by asking for a copy of their standard contact quite possibly at the first meeting.

      You will see the ones that are most likely not above board the second you ask for this. If you get any resistance and plausible explanations as to why they can’t (or won’t) supply you with this then I would walk away. Unfortunately you will probably walk away from dozens of building companies before you actually find one who is happy to go over a contract with you and if this happens you should take it to a good lawyer. If the contract is lacking in any way then it makes no difference wether they supply a good finished product or not, your build could be the one exception to the rule and you won’t have any power to change it.

      If you find one that will work with you to create a contract that is fair for all then I would do more due diligence like asking for address of previous builds and to see if any of the owners are willing to chat with you. I don’t think you will find an accurate price for square meter to build as again, this will all hinge on your contract. Beware the building company that says it can build for a fixed price or for an amount that seems to good to be true because it will be. Contract. Start here.

      Good, thorough due diligence will take time so don’t rush it or you’ll miss something, this is the biggest investment you will ever make in your lifetime so be calm and practical and think with your head not your heart, that will come later.

    2. Hi Kelly, I agree with everything MJ has said.
      I don’t know the current cost of building in Christchurch, but as MJ said it entirely depends on the Contract/standard of build. But I can add that, whatever you start out thinking it will be, the final cost will probably be higher. So if you don’t start out with at least 10% more you could find yourself in trouble at the end. As you can see, even from major Governments projects, they almost always go over budget, despite having Contracts and Specifications that weigh kilos, written by professionals. Not because they are all idiots. It’s just the uncertain nature of construction work.
      The possible pitfalls in a Contract are many and varied. MJ’s suggestion of a good lawyer is correct. But so that you know what questions to ask, I suggest you look at Mark Grahams building guide, the NZ Standard contract form and use Ctrl F on words like contract, franchise, PC, Provisional, PC Sum, Provisional Sum (as I’ve tried to explain before, there’s a difference). The NZ Building Regulations specify minimum requirements for contracts over $30K.
      ‘Sunset clauses’ are a complicated subject, and can mean different things to different people. Sometimes good for you the Client, sometimes very bad. On 20/10/20 MJ wrote a useful piece about the dark side. I’ve written a couple of times. Again try Ctrl F
      Due diligence is time consuming, hard work, and can be confusing, but very worthwhile. It may even put you off building altogether, which could end up being a good thing.
      I guess some people find the right builder, and have a good experience building their own home. But it seems many (especially those with no building experience) don’t, and if it goes wrong it can literally ruin your life.

    3. Hi Kelly, Just realised MJ’s piece on the possible dangers of ‘sunset clauses’ (although I don’t think he actually used that phrase) was on 25/10/20. Try Ctrl F, and enter, ‘Someone who dealt with’

    4. You can ask for invoices related to Pc sums usually. Master builders contract says if you ask for more data and invoices on PC sums the company has to provide them.

  49. There’s a few comments about Stonewood Tauranga that are all true. Strongly recommend you don’t use them. Great sales, poor performance. There Google reviews say poor communication, terrible customer service, mismanaged projects and the lot which we experienced weekly. Your just a pile of money to the owner. We spent weeks chasing for even simple responses, and they constantly missed there own deadlines. Frankly we would never build a house again after our experience.

    If you go with them, be prepared for the most frustrating experience of your life.

    1. Hi Dal, Thanks for giving your advice. I would add (if I need to, for anyone who would still consider using SW), that I had some dealings with one of their other branches about 6 years ago. In the end I did not build with them, because we could not agree over the Contract wording.
      At that time I found the Contract to be very unfavourable to the Client, in a way that I felt would be almost bound to lead to significant extra costs. As I recall, it seemed they could claim extra for delays (by Council etc) that they knew were sure to occur, by putting time periods they knew were unrealistically short.
      When I put this to someone who claimed to be a Project Manager, he didn’t really seem to understand his own Contract. When I asked for an example of how the clause would operate he couldn’t explain, but fell back on the old line, ‘Don’t worry, we never actually use that clause.’
      But of course the Boss refused to change or delete a single line in the Contract.
      To be clear, they may have a different Contract form now, and a more reasonable Boss. But use caution, and as with every builder make sure you are happy with the Contract, before handing over any money you can’t afford to write off to gaining experience.

  50. Hi there, be interested to hear from anyone else who may have built with Sentinel Waikato, we still have outstanding defects and they are now refusing to rectify, e.g. mismatched door handles, mismatched ensuite taps, low grade decking timber – requested Premium and they’ve installed Merchant quality, poor quality concrete laid for driveway.

    1. Hi Hugo, Sorry to hear about your problems. It never ceases to amaze how builders can try to get away with this kind of thing. No matter how well you write your Contract, most people would not think to actually spell out that door handles or taps should match each other. But I suppose, if you don’t, the builder can argue that as long as they function then he has met the requirements.
      Maybe not much help to you now. But on this blog before I seem to recall that someone suggested that, during the Contract preparation stage, it is a good idea to include photos or model details of pretty much everything that comes to mind, especially electrical and plumbing items, or maybe you can refer directly to items in a show house. All substitutions to be approved by the Client. Of course you then have to be reasonable, because sometimes things go out of production, or you may be offered something nicer. But it reduces the chance for silly games.
      On the Sentinel website it gives the names of the nice looking couple that operate Sentinel Waikato.
      They say ‘When looking for a builder in…the wider Waikato region, you want peace of mind that you’ve got plenty of experience and proven results. And that’s exactly what … , owners of Sentinel Homes Waikato offer to every customer. … we help anyone looking to build their dream home in the Waikato make it happen.’ Surely people who build ‘dream homes’ could find a way to help you.
      Also, have you tried approaching Sentinel Homes HQ to see whether they can help. Surely it cannot possibly be a case where the franchise holder takes a cut of your money, for fancy ads and an illusion of a large reputable organisation, but does nothing in return?

  51. Hi we are looking at building a new home in Napier. We have built before with a near miss as the building company went under just as we moved into our home.
    That was dodging a bullet for sure!!!
    We are considering Design Build and Landmark Homes in Hawkes Bay… can anyone share their experiences please.

  52. Have your builders/building companies passed on all the price increase to you? Is it fair for the clients to pay for it all?

    1. Yes, and yes. The products/materials/labour is going in YOUR home so who else would pay for it? It’s in our contract that price increases would be passed on to us, so we don’t expect them to build our home at a loss. It’s not like the builder controls supplier prices and I’m sure they don’t enjoy having to do it. If you feel you shouldn’t then perhaps buying an existing home would’ve been better suited.

    2. Regardless if it is fair or not it will be in your contract. Even companies that offer a “fixed price” contract will have a clause in there that negates this in certain circumstances, and there will be a few circumstances listed I assure you.

      When people stop believing the salesman and question the contract from the get go (with a bloody good lawyer) then they might get a realistic idea of what they are in for. Once you sign that’s it, there is no getting off the roller coaster now.

      Search in here for Chris C who often comments about contracts, it’s gold.

  53. Just a warning to everybody, Podular are likely on the way out and we would recommend you do not do business with them.

    They owe our business lots of money and from our experience they cant organise a piss up in a brewery.

    1. Hi Mike, sorry to hear that. How do subbies & suppliers protect themselves against this sort of thing? I ask as a client who pays my bills and expects the builder to do the same.

      1. Hi Ann, Speaking from personal experience I think the answer to this is they can’t entirely. A lot of the time (especially for subbies) it seems to work on a system of trust. Meaning that if they have experience with a builder, and trust him, then they usually expect to do the work (which may also include supplying their materials), and not get paid until later. Sometimes quite a lot later.
        So if a section of work designated in the Contract as justifying payment has been completed, then the Client may get an invoice and pay for it, before the subbies have been paid. It pays to listen for any hint from the subbies they are not being paid by the time they expect, and are chasing the builder for payment, as this is usually the first sign a builder may go under.
        Our first hints were from a specialist type directional drilling guy that we put the builder in touch with, who therefore contacted me to say his payment from the builder was overdue. Later the kitchen maker, who I often contacted directly about design details, also complained he wasn’t being paid on other jobs. In both cases lots of excuses from the builder about ‘computer banking problems’ and ‘misunderstandings’. But of course basically they were running out of liquidity to pay. Classic small builder. They can build houses OK (so you hope anyway) but can’t manage cash flow.
        Of course you could start phoning all the subbies and asking questions. But as I said above, it often works on trust. So by undermining that you may cause them to doubt, and stop working, or ask for money up front. Most builders don’t have the cash for that, so if you’d kept quiet they might have muddled through, but you bring about the very thing you fear.
        Ours collapsed about 6 months later, but when the job was 95% finished. Leaving several subbies owed money, some quite large amounts, but mainly for work on other jobs not ours. And we still had money in hand from work not yet carried out. So didn’t lose too much, and most subbies were quite helpful in finishing off.
        Stuff to learn from this: Keep your ear to the ground regarding any none/late payment of subbies, but be cautious about spreading it around. Make sure you’ve only paid for work that’s been done. Keep in touch, and on good terms, with subbies. You may need their help later.
        With current interest rate rises, and fall in property values, I think we’re soon going to see a lot more of this kind of problem. So anyone planning to build should be very careful.

      1. I would avoid Podular at all costs. They leave a trail of unpaid invoices, screw around clients and staff are leaving in droves. Management are clowns, fairly sure its on its way to going under

  54. Hi, anyone has built or is currently building with Build 7 Christchurch? Any comments about this company? I’ve seen a few negative reviews about Build 7 Auckland, but how about Build 7 Christchurch?


      1. We’re building with them right now as well. The whole process is quite dreadful after we signed the contract. Because this is our first time build, we’re not sure if it’s because we chose the wrong company or due to this particular pandemic caused environment, that’s why I’m here asking anyone’s experience with Build 7. Have you been asked to pay ridiculously high variations during the build? Thanks

  55. Can anyone advise about building with Alena Homes in Hamilton – any reviews/comments would be very helpful.

    1. Hi Glenys,

      I have used tradesmen who have worked for Alena homes and they all say the same thing which is that they don’t take on more work than they can handle so their builds run smoothly, they have very high standards and their work is immaculate but this comes with a price tag which is to be expected.

      This is only from a tradies perspective, as a client I couldn’t say but it is rare for tradies to have a good opinion as we normally only hear the negative stuff.

      1. Thank you for your quick response to my question re Alena Homes. It’s nice to get very positive comments about Alena homes tradies, very important information to know.
        Much appreciated.

  56. We are building with a big brand company. The foundations not your normal slab as its 200+ m2 and at one end the slab will be 1m off he ground. The foundations also include Poly Rock in part of the higher end.
    My question is about supervision of the site by the build company.
    We have a point of contact for this part of the build – a slab manger. Earthworks are done, hard fill in the centre of the foundations and where the foundations built up there’s a trench with a concrete base and all the reinforcing rods up. The block layers have done their bit. So that’s the 3rd tradie company to do wok so far.

    My point is: all the above has happened without the Slab Manager ever setting foot on the site over 6-8 weeks. Who is ensuring what’s done at each stage is (1 ) in the right place, (2) to a good trade standard?

    Is this normal build practice? Is it due to a shortage of Supervisors? or should the foundations be being checked by the slab manager at stages during the work so far. Perhaps whats happened is fine?

    Note: the consulting engineers have been on site and failed the earthworks (soil related, not quality of work related) and remedial works carried out.

    Is our experience with the Slab Manger typical?


    1. Hi Fred, By ‘Poly Rock’ I assume you mean blocks of polystyrene under the concrete slab, in place of soil or crushed stone etc. Used quite commonly here, even on major civil contracts. No problem in principle.
      Regarding whether your ‘Slab Manager’ never appearing on Site is typical I don’t know, but it sounds a bit odd. I assume you must be watching the Site constantly enough to know he/she never slips round for a quick look on the way home. If you’re sure on that, and he/she’s your ‘point of contact’ why not give him/her a call, or call the company. If I were building I’d expect some kind of contact and feedback on progress from the builder, at least every week or two.
      Before doing that I suggest you check at what stages the work is supposed to be inspected and signed off by Council. From you reference to the engineer looking at, and requiring remedial work, on the earthworks obviously someone is keeping some kind of eye on things.
      But bear in mind that up now it’s possible that most of the work done (other than the earthworks you mentioned) is not ‘covered’ work, by which I mean it has not been covered by other work, so it can no longer be inspected. Perhaps the Slab Manager and Council will appear just in time to check stuff that’s about to be covered up.

      1. Hi Chris,
        My reference to Poly Rock is a specialised lightweight fill used instead of hard fill for heights above 600mm fill height. This was specifically required by the engineers and isn’t the white polystyrene blocks used as part of the slab.
        In terms of the project manager for this stage not being on site, we know this because he has tle me that he’s not been on site. Strangely the day I questioned who was keeping an eye on the various trades and the quality of their work, he phoned my the next morning from the site!!!!

  57. We are looking at building a house with GJ Gardner or A1homes in West Auckland.
    Does anyone has experience with these builders in that area?

    1. Hello Yen,
      Please avoid A1 Homes at all cost. Their master builder contract will spoil your life. I’m happy to share my story and how they have ruined our life for last 3 years. No date yet. I’m building a house in wellington. There business model is less quote, get customer signin and take master builder contract as a shield to keep increasing the price. They will charge you more, change your product and they will delivery your house in 3 years.. Be aware.
      Let me know if you need more info, I have more to share.

      1. Hi Bhawesh, I am in a similar situation with the same company, is there some way we can discuss this offline and compare notes?

  58. Hey team,
    We are looking at a modular build of 65sqm and wanting to know if anyone has built with Podular, Transbuild or Versatile? Also what are some of the main things to consider when drafting a contract?

    1. Hi Rachel, It would be unusual if a builder lets you ‘draft’ a contract entirely to your own liking, but I guess more unlikely things sometimes happen. More likely they will want you to use a contract form supplied by them. And if you’ve followed this blog for long you’ll know that many (most?) of them will be reluctant to change anything much.
      But anyway I suggest you start by hitting Ctrl F and putting things like ‘contract’, ‘PS’ and ‘Provisional Sum’ in the search box. When you look through the many entries that come up, it may lead you to other words to search for.
      Also check the Building Regulations for the minimum requirements for contracts over $30K, and the NZ Standard form of building contract.
      Consult an experienced lawyer, or maybe QS, if you have no experience with drafting building contracts. It can be very expensive and stressful if you get it wrong.
      I would advise you don’t give a builder any money, or at least no significant amount (ie more than you can afford to write off to the cost of buying experience), until you’re satisfied with the contract wording. Many builders will try to persuade you it’s something that can be sorted out later.
      But if you do pay money for things like concept drawings, or site surveys or investigations etc, make sure that you have a share of the copyright, and can use the information if you pull out and go with another builder.

      1. Thank you! Will start researching. Really appreciate this blog, its the only place I have been able to source any review, which is bizarre when you consider any other industry.

        1. Hi Rachel, 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 (plus the ones recommended by Mark) with what you have been given by the builder. If nothing else, it will put you in a better position to ask your lawyer and/or the builder about the differences, and why they prefer one or the other. Be prepared that even some lawyers seem to sympathise with builders on issues like time/date for completion. But bear in mind that many of the people on this blog with problems are talking about lack of progress on their build. Unfortunately they often have limited options, because their contract has no end date, and no requirement for the builder to compensate them for their losses (what’s called Liquidated Damages), no matter how long the build takes. One of the stranger aspects of the MB 2011 form was that it had a clause for ‘Extension of Time’ for completion (which is perfectly reasonable in itself), but the contract had no date/time for completion. Which made the EoT clause a bit unnecessary.
          I see Dave Grant has said he would be prepared to ‘consider’ using one of these alternative contract forms to the MB form, but hasn’t yet studied them. I hope that after he has looked through them (a 15 minute job for each, for anyone who has experience with contracts) he will be in a better position to say whether he would actually be prepared to use any of them, with or without amendment.

    2. Hi Rachel
      At FirstBuild we build modular houses. We use the standard MasterBuilders contract, with a few minor amendments to account for the modular housing build methods. Other than that, any contract should contain all the usual terms and conditions. There shouldn’t be any need to have a different contract than the industry standard ones.
      Thanks Dave

        1. Hi Mark/Rachel, It will be interesting to see whether Dave Grant of FirstBuild replies, to say whether he would consider using either of your suggested contract forms.

    3. Hi Rachel,
      We had a 7.2 x 3m cabin built by Transbuild 6 years back. We dealt directly with the manager Sam and this was in the days when they were a small company based on a farm in Clevedon.
      Amazing experience & very flexible. We’d highly recommend Transbuild.

  59. Hello, I am hoping someone can help me with some advice

    I entered a build contract in Feb 2021 with a national franchise to build a simple two storey home. To date progress has been excruciatingly slow, for a long time I gave them the benefit of the doubt as the previous home on the section needed to be demolished and this relied on external contractors but now that the build is on them and they are continually failing to meet any deadlines and make promises of work timeline that aren’t met. A concrete slab was finally laid March this year and to date they haven’t yet managed to complete the wall framing almost 3 months later. I drive past other builds regularly and see must faster progress.

    The speed of the build is causing me financial and emotional stress but the project manager and franchise owner don’t care and believe the speed of the build is reasonable and have heavily blamed covid. They have taken all access to timelines off me and when I ask for updated timelines and expected handover date either my e-mail is ignored, they tell me that timelines are just for booking contractors or give vague approximations of a handover date.

    The whole situation has left me feeling completely powerless and often in tears. I don’t want to name and shame the business yet but I wouldn’t want anyone to sign a build contract with them and have to go through what I am. They have all the power in this situation and can take as long as they want to build the house. I understand covid has caused material/trade problems but the delays I am seeing seem completely unreasonable. Is there anything I can do?


    1. Try searching the company name or builders name. I have had a similar experience before Covid, it turned out that there were about a dozen people in the same situation, all willing to talk

    2. Hi LM, I suppose what you can do at this stage entirely depends on exactly what it says in your Contract, about progress and completion. Which is why I have said on this blog (many times) that the first thing you need to look at is the builders proposed Contract. And personally I would never sign a Contract that does not have a completion date. As I have said to builders, think of a pessimistic date, then add 3 months if that makes you feel better. But I’m not signing a Contract that potentially could go on forever.
      I’d suggest the first step is to compare your Contract with the minimum requirements set out in the NZ building regulations for Contracts for work over $30K. One of those is a requirement for it to contain ‘the expected completion date of the building work’, and a dispute resolution process. If you’re using something like the MB contract form, it probably contains at least some wording like ‘proceed to carry out the Works with all reasonable diligence’, and the various reasons a builder can use to justify extensions to the completion date. Under some of these provisions the builder can be in default of the Contract, and if he does not remedy the default you may be able to terminate the Contract.
      Even if you cannot get access to the Site itself, or the builders programmes, your can visit outside the Site as often as possible, and keep a detailed diary of progress, takes lots of photos of progress (or lack of), and things like the weather, especially rain that may genuinely affect progress. Possibly comparison, and photos of progress, on similar work on nearby Sites would be helpful. You are looking for evidence that he’s not proceeding with due diligence. A bit subjective of course, but at some stage it probably becomes undeniable.
      If you’re prepared to spend money it may help to have someone like a QS to do the above, and provide independent professional advice on whether progress is reasonable. I suspect that a letter from a lawyer with building contracts experience, possibly threatening initiation of the disputes process, may get more response than an email from you.
      A difficult situation. But I hope that at least gives you something to do, so you feel more empowered.

    3. I am also going thru a similar problem, but name and shame is the strategy i took . Next is going media all out. I want my builder to get out if my property. They threatened me with legal action, if they take legal action the onus is on them to prove they are on the right tract. You can approach Master Builder but of no use. What you can do is to approach fairgo or go legal way.

  60. It was a nightmare building with Build 7. We had a contract with Build 7 to build our house three years ago. However, the project manager Dean Lister managed the project badly. It had lots of delay and eventually Dean didn’t want to come back and finish the build. Dean was also very bad in communciations, he hardly responsed my email and phone call. If you think about building a house with them, I am happy to let you know my experience. And make sure to avoid Dean Lister.

    1. Watzmann, would very much like to hear your experience with Build 7 and DL. We’re in a similar situation now.

      1. I’m quite keen for feedback on Build7 as well. Considering them in the South Island and not sure whether the Auckland issues apply or not?

      2. I’m quite keen for feedback on Build7 as well. Considering them in the South Island and not sure whether the Auckland issues apply or not?

  61. GJ Gardner’s asking for final payment up front on signing contract???
    Has anyone experienced GJ Gardner’s asking for the 10% finial completion payment the day the contract is signed. Apparently it is held in some special account which they can access but the buyer cannot. This is all despite the master builders contract saying the 10% is to be paid at completion? Its all so that if there’s a dispute at handover time they have the cash and the buyer has no bargaining power to get things fixed if there’s any issues.
    Anyone heard about this??

    1. Hi Fred, Never heard of this before. I assume (or anyway sincerely hope) you haven’t signed anything yet. This is a good example of why it’s best to look at, and agree the terms of, the contract before giving a builder any money. Or at least only some nominal amount you’re prepared to give up if you don’t go ahead.
      I believe funds are sometimes held, by someone like your solicitor, so the builder has an assurance you have the money to pay, as parts of the work are completed. Which I suppose would imply that you can’t remove money from it, or it would be pointless setting up such an arrangement. But certainly not an account he can just dip into when he feels like it, even if there’s a dispute over whether the work is satisfactorily completed. The rules for when the money can be handed over would need to be very clear.
      I suppose an arrangement like the above would not contradict what it says in the MB contract about payment on completion.

  62. Hi Guys
    Can someone has experience with Penny Homes, Takanini.
    Please share your experience. It would be great help.

    Sorry to everyone else who has been impacted by Ben Jones and the Jonsey construction liquidation. I’ve been shocked to find a trail of non-payment of sub-trades and claims we have paid for materials that were never ordered. It will be interested to see what else comes out over the coming weeks.

  64. Hi people
    i am looking at building in Canterbury area. i have been driving around looking for the most common builders and have come up with 5; Orange Homes, Signature homes, Trident Homes, Faye Homes and DP Homes. They all have plans that with little twicks can meet our requirements. our selection of builder will be based on cost, quality and reputation.
    Can anyone recommend any of these based on past dealings or experience

    1. Hey David, from personal experience in Canterbury (I’m a drafty) I would recommend Greenland Homes, Peter Ray Homes, DNA Structures (disclaimer I work for DNA) – have built with these and are all very good, honest builders with good product. I have also heard good things about Quinn Homes and have also had friends who have built with True Form Builders, Orange Homes and Que Homes with good results.

  65. Kia ora! I can highly recommend MD Building Otago Ltd in Dunedin. They did my kitchen and bathroom alteration and were excellent to deal with. Prompt and clear communication, listened to what I wanted, skilled builders and great at problem-solving on the spot, good at site management and organising all the subbies, honest and trustworthy, did what they said they were going to do. Would have appreciated clearer advice about getting the final CCC.

  66. Kia ora, just wondering if anyone has had any recent experience with Signature in the greater Wellington area?

  67. PODULAR Has anyone had a building built by Podular? ?? I think.
    I have paid a deposit and they haven’t even engaged a surveryor yet? They keep making excuses. It’s only been two and a half weeks. When I called they hadn’t even tried to engage a surveryor. Last info was that they were waiting to hear back. It’s been a week. I can’t find any reviews of their work. They post plenty of their own advertising but no reviews. They are not registered with Master Builders by the looks?! Can anyone give me any information? I feel sick that I may have been ripped off.

    1. Hi Louise
      How are things progressing.
      I’d love to hear more as I am building with them as well and we are just starting.
      Hope things have sorted out

    2. Yes. Very frustrating process. Many changes of personnel. Have now taken delivery on site. Finish pending. Very late.

    3. Just a further update on Podular. They’re more than a year late, the build is still not complete and mistakes have been made at every stage. Progress is slow, but is being made.

    4. Have you heard anything yet? Just following up on this post as we were also thinking of engaging with Podular.

      1. Amy, it would be nice to tell you that the build has been completed and we are enjoying living in it. But that would be a lie. Problems include design, sign-off, process management, continuity of labour, programme, communication, document management. On FB a few weeks ago a subcontractor posted that they had not been paid – I don’t know if that is typical. The comment has disappeared, along with the review function. Progress is at a snail’s pace. Have you looked at Elevate or Nook? Note the absence of real case studies and client attestations with Podular – I think silence here is interesting. They are good at artistic impressions.

  68. Hi All, I’d just like to draw your attention to an article in the NZ Herald today (17/3/22), page A7, concerning a legal dispute between some house owners’ and the Nelson franchise of G J Gardner Homes (LSK Builders Ltd). The dispute is obviously long standing and complex, and I have no comment on who is in the right.
    The point of interest is that it appears the builder has used a clause in the Contract to ‘register a mortgage over the title to the property’. I may be wrong, but I suspect the Contract may be the Master Builders one, which contains a clause like this.
    This issue has been discussed before in this blog. I’m not a lawyer, but in my opinion common sense should tell anyone about to build who is presented with a Contract containing a clause like this that they should ask for it to be deleted.

  69. Hi everyone,

    We are looking at subdividing and building one single house in Rotorua. Can anyone recommend a reliable builder (group builder or otherwise) to help us with this? It is important for us that the builder is good quality, fair, communicates well, is realistic with the costs upfront and will not rely on variations, has a good collaborative attitude and lastly can keep to the timelines. We will need a fixed price contract due to finance requirements. I am keen to hear your experiences. We are open to use builders from nearby areas.

    1. Just wanted to add that we have done a lot of upfront investigations to minimize the amount of surprises down the track so hopefully this should assist with having a more detailed price schedule.

    2. Hi S-Novice!
      Stephen here from Classic Builders Lakes District (Rotorua & Taupo).
      I would be more than happy to help you.
      We can assist you with all aspects of sub-dividing, then building a new dwelling on the new Lot.
      We are local and ready to go!

  70. Anyone else building with A1 homes Lower Hutt? Such a nightmare.
    They don’t have people to work at site and keep saying covid if we ask. Abode is building 4-5 houses in my street and they were quick to deliver and some of the people moved in. Council approved mine in 2021 Jan, but A1 mentioned they need 4-6 weeks to enter details on their app-co-construct. From the day work started (April mid) I am having nightmare.

    Its took 2 months to fix gib ( after Gib becoming available), now its third week of Gib stopping. God only knows when they will handover the key.

    They wont provide site visit saying covid…

    Its a trap from A1…. I will update here when my work gets complete … STAY AWAY FROM A. They made me even pay for work that was included in the contract and quote saying they forgot to include cost and otherwise they will stop work. It was more threatening.

    I need to take them to tribunal once the work is complete.

    1. Hi BH

      I’m keen to hear how your progress is going with A1 Lower Hutt? What stage of your build are you at and have they given you an estimated completion date?

      Thanks 🙂

      1. Hello LM,

        I still dont have a completion date. We had couple of meetings and showed some progress, but they the progress is terribly slow. I am really scared about their financial position well.

        Painting was completed in April, then again repainting saying painting quality not ok.. the elctrical work is fast, but yet to fix the shower, vanity etc. Every week the project manager says the work is progressing well .. but nothing moves. They were supposed to handover to me in June 30 as per the commitment provided by them, no saying we never gave such date. Yes, I have some plumbing fittings + vanities + carpet, but they does one a small piece of work every week and sends the update. Now they are saying will complete by June 8th and will be sent for CCC. I put a google review last week, they are threatening me with legal action, but I am not going to bow down. I am going to take them to the media as well as commerce commission. They are building house faster for few individuals and slowing down others. what I dont understand is the criteria for this discrimination. I am collecting all the details so that it will help atleast others. I can see another guys work near mine, same A1, and he too in a worse state.

        I am asking them to give me a walk thru – answer is “no”
        I am asking them to provide access to curtain person – answer is “no”
        I am asking them to provide access to build the fence that is about 6 mts from the build, answer is “no”

        Now I wonder who is the property owner, me or A1. Such arrogant people.

    2. Hi BH, Regarding your point about another builder (Abode) completing houses faster than A1, from the fact you mention Abode is building 4-5 houses in the same street I wonder whether they are just ‘spec’ builds, to be put on the market after completion, rather than individual designs for a particular clients, like yours.
      Generally ‘spec’ builds go much faster, as the builder has probably built the same or similar designs before, can pre-order materials etc, has already gone through a learning curve, if he’s building more than one at the same time can get subbies to quickly move from one to the next, and has no hassle with clients changing the design. I know of builders who will only do ‘spec’ builds, for exactly the last reason. I’m surprised more don’t do it.
      Maybe none of this applies in your case, and of course it’s no reason for some of the problems you seem to be having with A1.
      Anyway, I hope yours is finished now.

      1. Hi Chris,
        Mine is yet to complete. They are making my life miserable. Same with other couple of p[eople. But they have prioritized and delivered house for few people. So I am collecting the info now to sue A1. They are just nightmare.

        I am hearing about the plumber fitting the shower and vanities for the last 1 month and still not complete. Abode – it is individual designs. If you come to Churton park area, you can see every site going up and workers at site except A1 ( 2 builds me and my neighbors). People in my street are saying my house is a eyesore. How painful that is. Time to goto media. If they arenot going to handover the house in next couple of weeks, I am going to media as well as all legal options.

        1. Hey HB, any update – we are in a certain type of hell with A1 Lower Hutt – the delay tactics, the total failure to communicate, the rampant nepotism and all kinds of rudeness from their hierarchy. We had built with a different A1 franchise a few years earlier with no issues, this is awful and only the SLAB is down. The abrasive and unpleasant emails from them when they do arrive make me so sorry I darkened their door!!! I wondered if they were still solvent as they take your money and nothing happens…

  71. Hi everyone,
    We are wanting to build a house and the best quote we have got from builders is from Trident homes. Has anyone had any dealings with them that can share their experience? We are in the Canterbury region.

    1. Hi Mel
      When you say “best quote’ do you mean ‘best’ or ‘cheapest’? Because cheapest is not necessarily best. Make sure all your quotes are covering the same costs in the same way and if you’re not familiar with building, get someone who is to review. Good luck!
      And don’t forget to check this out –

      1. Hi Mark,
        Thank you so much for your response. And yes, I meant the cheapest so far and it looks like it’s covering everything we want for the house. But your comment is an eye opener, will take a look at the link. Many thanks,


        1. If you read through the posts below, you’ll see an assortment of issues that come up, but a major one is that quotes can mask costs. Most important is to keep any changes you make during the building – so after initial plans and quotes and consents – are kept to a minimum, because this is where price gouging can be a thing.

  72. Hi,
    We are in the process of signing a building contract with Sentinel Homes Northshore to build a five-bedroom house at Long Bay. We would very much appreciate it if anyone who has previously built with Sentinel Homes Northshore is able to share their experience here, please.

  73. Is there anyone who may have been in the same situation as we have just found ourselves in. We have a claim sitting with master builders and have just found out the builder has put his company in liquidation. Our claim is being handled by MBS lawyers and the builder had unti the end of next week to remedy the defects. Where to from here for us now? Does MBA have to step up and fix the defects or pay us out? This whole thing has been extremely stressful and expensive for us over the last 5 years.

    1. Hi Jeanie, I would be very interested to hear how this goes, and whether you ever get any money from the MBA. Many people seem to suggest you won’t, but it seems difficult (but not impossible) to believe that if they never, ever pay out in any circumstances people would keep buying the Guarantees. Triumph of hope over reality? I’ve asked before on this blog whether anyone ever got paid, but received no response. Perhaps MBA itself can enlighten us, or you can ask them in general terms how many claims for a total of how much they paid out in, say, the last 5 years. Surely it can’t be zero.
      But regarding my actual experience, I can say our MBA builder went into liquidation when our house was almost complete. Initially the Liquidators treated all the unfinished builds as ‘assets’, and tried to in effect to sell them on to a new MBA builder, so they could make any remaining profit by finishing the jobs. At first that looked good, because the new builders I spoke to said they would take on our job exactly as though they were the original builder. But I was told the Liquidators got greedy, and asked for too much for the transfers. Finally I was given permission by MBA to find my own builder. Because I wanted to use a non-MBA builder, the MBA agreed (based on photos) to maintain the Guarantee for the work done up to the Liquidation.
      Luckily for us the house really was fully closed in and very close to completion (just about inhabitable), so I could get insurance, and we had not overpaid the builder, so had our remaining funds left to finish off without being much out of pocket.
      But where it gets more complicated (and everything about this kind of situation can get very complicated), I had to scurry round and try to contact all the subbies with part finished work, to persuade them to finish off. Not easy if some if them haven’t been paid by the builder for the work done up to then. But necessary I felt, because how do you persuade an electrician or plumber etc to give you the Producer Statements etc you need to get the CCC, if they haven’t done 100% of the work? And I assume no one else can give you Statements for work they haven’t done.
      Long story short, make sure you know who all your subbies are, how to contact them, and keep on good terms with them. Because you may need their help if the builder falls over.

      1. Hi Chris, thanks for your comments. Our situation is quite complex. We have been living in our home for 5 years and it has COC but our complaint was made with MBS before the builder completed the build. The builder had said all along he would fix the defects highlighted by Maynard Mark’s 18 months ago. We knew the builder was never going to remedy them. His membership with MBA was ” ceased ” 6 months ago . Now that the builder has decided to put the company into liquidation we are not sure whether MBA will come to the party and honour their guarantee?

        1. Hi Jeannie, So I guess only the first paragraph of my last reply would apply to you. Hopefully the rest of it might be of some use to others reading this.
          But regarding your latest question, in my opinion the fact that the builder has recently gone into liquidation should be irrelevant to whether the Guarantee is valid, as long as it was taken out correctly, and paid for, before the build started. Surely one of the main points is to give you at least some cover (although possibly nothing like enough), in exactly this kind of situation.
          You’ve asked whether MBA will honour their Guarantee, but I assume that your first step was to ask MBA themselves. As I recall there was a lady there who was quite helpful, and would answer phone calls and emails.
          Anyway, my request to you and others reading this is, please let us know whether you ever get any money from MBA.

  74. Hi, I firstly want to say thanks for this site and all the comments and tips. I have done due diligence on local builders, found an architect that works with a few of them who provided concept/pricing drawings and now have received a few quotes from builders. I picked one I am happy to work with. Now just reviewing the Masterbuilders contract (Residential Building Contract RBC1 – 2018 (NEW BUILD)). It looks very one sided as mentioned on the site. However I also realise that 9 of 10 builders I talked to also use the same “standard” contract, in this current market how successful have people been in negotiating a modification to clauses, and what clauses in particular have you succeeded in changing without the builder or builders lawyer refusing. I personally think clause 123-127 (mortgage clause) is quite unfair.
    I’m also curious what is reasonable for a builders margin, is 20% taking the mickey, i read a comment that 15% is considered max, however in this market is it still the case?

    Any help, comments or referrals towards a lawyer that is very familiar with this contract is appreciated.


    1. Hey Simon welcome to the club!

      In response to your contracts questions, Chris is the man and he’ll respond and help like he always does he has mentioned a good contract to use often so if he doesn’t reply have a scroll through some of the comments and your bound to come across it.

      As for mark ups, at the moment our builder is getting about three emails a week either saying his building product he ordered has to be sourced so not sure when it will arrive or even if it will arrive and if by some miracle it does the cost has gone up since you first placed the order. Logistics issues world wide I’m told.

      So,I would also be questioning the builders you’ve interviewed asking them how they are dealing with the product shortage. The honest ones will tell you what the build climate is like at the moment so be wary of the ones who are all sunshine and roses is my advice.

      Chris will weigh in soon,

      Best of luck and let us know how you go!

      1. Thanks MJ,

        I have read though NZS3902 and see how much more balanced it is, but from all the builders I spoke to they are set on using the masterbuilder contract. The one we are dealing with is honest enough to say that there is no such thing as a fixed price contract in this market. Also mentioned that the contracts usually contradict a fixed price – and after reading the MB contract I would have to agree.

        I asked about price rises and he said that they are ordering many of the items well ahead of time and also mentioned that payments may need to be made much earlier. i.e. cladding or other products ordered 3-4 months ahead to ensure prices stay as per contract. My concern is that I may be asked to make progress payments before progress is actually made. I don’t know how much to believe this but was hoping that others on this blog could chime in and explain what they are experiencing. Obviously price rises are out of the builders control but I would hope that their margins account for these rises. but then again the media give the impression that the price rises are extremely rapid….. what’s a consumer to do.



        1. Hi Simon, No pressure from MJ then. But to you and also him (again assuming he’s male), it’s true I’ve put a bit of time into commenting on some previous queries, but to be honest in some cases have not even received an acknowledgement back.
          I’m happy to put a bit more time into some comments on yours, but they would be based on my experience with a build around 2015/16, using RMB RBC1-2011, which it appears from your comment about the Mortgage clause numbers may be different to the 2018 form. Which, by the way, if similar to the 2011 form I would most definitely like to see removed. Especially as it can be initiated just over a failure to pay on a ‘due date’, when you might justifiably be withholding payment because work is unsatisfactory/unfinished. Even worse, it seems simply by signing the contract you are giving the RMB power of attorney to initiate action. By all means ask a lawyer, but I think that would border on crazy. You have to trust the builder not to screw you, and he has to trust you to pay. But anyway there are other ways to ensure he gets his money if it’s reasonably due. Our RMB agreed to delete it, but times were perhaps different in 2015.
          But before going further, I’d be grateful if you can let me know whether you think my comments would be relevant to your situation.

        2. Hi Simon, As a follow up, what I should have asked is whether you think there’s any point in commenting further, if the builder has already made it clear he’s not prepared to make any changes at all to the contract, even to the Mortgage clauses?

          1. Hi Chris,

            Thanks for replying back, I have read previous posts that mention this clause, yes in 2018 that mortgage clause is 123.
            I will be noting down all the clauses that I think are quite unfair and firstly discuss with the builder as to why I believe they are unfair. He did say that some clauses he could alter but may need to discuss with his own lawyer if it came to it.

            Clause 123) re mortgage is definitely one of them.
            Clause 92) about substitution should require 1-2 quotes before the builder just picking something
            Clause 98 and 101) regarding starting time seems a little vague and unfair.
            Clause 6) where I need to give 24hours notice that I’m coming to see the house and only come if the builder allows.

            Changes to these clauses I feel I can explain, however with regards to builders margins I’m at a loss, I don’t know the industry nor the current market. Any opinions on reasonable margins or what others have had in their contracts?

            Does anyone have a good lawyer that they can recommend. I tried googling and came across Atticus legal in Hamilton that has written an article on the topic of this contract.



              1. Hi Simon, Apologies that I don’t have time to go through the RMB 2018 form to compare it in detail with the 2011 form that my builder used. So these comments are in general terms, based on the clauses I found enough of a problem to get changed. (Given the chance I would have tried to change several more, or even the whole thing, but at some point I guess you have to compromise, or the builder might get fed up and walk away.) There may be other problems with the 2018 form I’m not aware of, or I suppose by some miracle some clauses may have been improved.

                Contract refers to ‘the Works’, but was a bit vague on what that included, so I set it out in detail.
                In case of differences, you need to decide whether plans or Specification take precedence. I changed it to Spec, as it seems in most NZ contracts this is what details what you’re actually going to get.
                I specified RMB responsible for setting out, and correcting errors at his own cost. I’ve heard of builders asking the client (Owner) to pay.
                Make clear that if utilities etc have been damaged by builder’s negligence or omission he’s responsible for cost of remedial work. 2011 implies client is responsible, even if he has told builder where they are (crazy).
                Make clear who’s responsible for obtaining CCC. To my mind logically it should be the builder.
                Make clear that the builder is responsible for all work by sub-contractors, as though its the builder’s own work, and subbies should not further sub-let.
                Client should not have to indemnify the builder against damage due to subsidence/earth slip etc, if the subsidence was due to the builder’s own negligence or omission. Eg failing to provide drains or covers during heavy rain.
                I also put in a time for Practical Completion (noting there’s a clause for extensions of time), with Liquidated Damages to be paid for failure to complete on time. Most builders hate this, but it’s standard practice in large construction contracts. Because in my view if you don’t have it the contract can become endless.
                I put in a clause to limit cost fluctuations.
                I think it’s now normal for the defects liability period to now be at least 12 months.
                A reminder to check out the requirements in:

                Good luck

            1. Hi Simon,
              Matt Taylor and his associate Liz Hill are excellent specialists in construction law. I have worked with them for the last 7 years. Highly recommend.

              1. Hi Simon, Useful info from Chris. In my experience some lawyers think they know about building contracts, but in fact they don’t know much, or even worse actually seem to have a bias towards avoiding stuff in a contract which builders might not like.
                In my view builders should be professionals who can take care of themselves. It’s the clients who need protection.
                But even in the worst case scenario that a builder thinks a contract provision might potentially cause him to lose money on a job (which is all that really matters), he is free to up his prices to give him a cushion.
                Then (provided all the builders are pricing on the same contract) the clients can decide whether they’re willing to pay extra to have a ‘fairer’ contract.
                As I’ve said previously, before you sign the the contract everything is up for negotiation.
                If anyone consults these lawyers who’ve been recommended, I’d be interested to know their views on some of those more contentious clauses in the RMB form. This will indicate which side they’re favouring.

                1. Hi Chris and Chris C, thanks so much for the information.
                  @Chris C. these issues with the 2018 contract are still there, I think there is more definition in the on “the works” and allows the parties to specify if the specs or plans take precedence.
                  The correcting errors issue still mentions that the owner is responsible even if the builder or his contractor makes an error which is unfair as it allows incompetence and lack of responsibility.
                  The owner is still responsible for obtaining CCC and building consent provided its explicitly stated.
                  I had a brief chat to 3 different solicitors (not the one you suggested yet), as well as a colleague at work that I recently found out is building now – who also had their lawyer look over the contract. Their comments are that the contracts are very unfair both the master builders and the certified builders, however right now all their clients are finding it almost impossible to negotiate clauses as the builders just move to the next client. They advise to first speak to the builder prior to seeking legal advice to see if the builder is open to negotiating as most are not and find it incredibly easy to find work everywhere.
                  So, I think it’s the builder’s market and unfortunately the consumer for the lack of a better word is screwed contract and price wise. So, its all more a matter of trust and hoping the gut feel you get when talking to the building company as well as their clients’ testimonials.
                  However, the small ray of hope I got from one solicitor is that the mortgage threat and power of attorney clause is actually a lot more difficult to do and is rare that they have seen such power exercised.

                  One more comment about margins on variations, is the margin on the builders cost price or is the margin on the retail price? There is a clause saying that the owner can request an invoice but I’m aware that trade prices can be up to 70% discount on some items so its interesting to know if in a legal sense can the builder charge margin on top of a price that they have not actually spent.


                  1. Hi Simon, Thanks for response. It was someone else who suggested a solicitor, but anyway interesting but depressing comments from them, and good advice, although it then puts you (and others) in a difficult position. Build now while it seems builders can do what they like, or wait. Building is a very cyclical industry, and I might turn down quite quickly, and then they’ll be going bust or begging for business. But not everyone is prepared to wait.
                    So maybe part of the test for ‘trusting your gut’ is to try a conversation about the mortgage clause, builder being responsible for his own blunders etc, to see whether the builder actually thinks they’re fine, or admits they’re unfair, but tries some argument like ‘of course we never actually implement them that way’. If the former you know you’re in trouble if any disputes come up later (he will try to defend the indefensible), and walk away! If the latter, then ask if he’s at least prepared to confirm that in an email, so he (or his staff) can’t deny it later. Surely no reasonable builder would refuse that.
                    In my experience getting a CCC yourself is illogical and very troublesome. The builder is in a much better position to get all the paperwork (Producer statements from subbies etc). In my view they cannot claim a house is properly finished and ready for occupation until you have a CCC, and it’s not impossible, but I think more difficult to insure, if you don’t have one. I would check with a lawyer on that, but personally I’d consider it extra money well spent to get the builder to deal with it.
                    I think we paid about 15% margin on variations, but an on-line check indicated 20% is quite normal. I can’t see how they can justify it being on more than they actually paid for materials or work done by others. Some theoretical retail price seems quite illogical, but I guess it all depends on what it says in the contract. If it doesn’t say, then again ask them to put it in writing before you sign the contract.

                    1. Morning Chris.
                      Thank you for this site. So impressed.
                      We are thinking of building with Onyx Homes in Christchurch.
                      We have a section in North Canterbury. Any feed back would be appreciated or other recommendations of a reliable company.
                      Thank you everyone
                      Bonny Mac

                    2. Hi Yvonne (or is it Bonny?), Thanks should go to Mark Graham, who edits the Site. But I agree it can be useful, if people take the time (or use Ctrl F) to search for what they want.
                      Your message made me look again at my reply to Simon. A bit scary to see it was only in Feb this year when I said building is a very cyclical industry. With the increases in mortgage rates, and resulting drop in prices, I guess the line of original land price plus build cost, against selling price will soon (if it hasn’t already) cross. So spec builders especially will start to go out of business. I suspect by next year the ones that are left will be far more willing to negotiate over contract terms.

  75. I’m also aware of a number of projects where owners have had nightmare experiences with Baillie Construction (BCL) Palmerston North, and I am aware they are still having nightmares in resolving multiple issues as I write this. I’m aware they have been using a “special” build contract that gives them a huge amount of control over delays, cost overruns, and withholding of information for compliance until the contractural demands are meet. Interesting I couldn’t find as registered under Master Builders or Certified Builders…
    Broken promises, sub contractors not getting paid on time, not doing what they say they will do, confrontational communication…….One person I spoke to who is a supplier said….”I hope somebody can stop them doing it to other people”.

    1. Hi JC

      I am also an ex-client of Baillie Construction (BCL) Palmerston North. We had very similar bad experiences with them. I’ve also met 7 other extremely disgruntled ex-clients of BCL. I have contact details for approx. 15 ex-clients in total and I know of many suppliers and subcontractors that have struggled and sometimes never received payment for work completed/goods provided. Based on my research, they have been operating like this since approx. 2015 and are still doing so right now in the Manawatu area. They are very untrustworthy people and I would advise anyone in the construction industry to stay clear of them.

      1. Hi there, I’d be very interested in your story about BCL, I’m headed to the disputes tribunal against them. I also have a list of clients who have had similar nightmare contracts with BCL

      2. Claro, aquí tienes una versión en inglés:


        I see that your situation is very similar to mine. I’m currently building a house with BLC (Lee Baillie), and we’ve gone through countless unfulfilled promises. It’s always the same story: something will be ready in two weeks, and then nothing happens.

        I’m wondering if you did anything that resolved your issue and if you could share your experience. It would be incredibly valuable and might help me get out of this nightmare. I’ve tried everything I can think of to get him to complete my house, but nothing has worked so far.

        Thanks in advance!

      3. Hi,

        I see that your situation is very similar to mine. I’m currently building a house with BLC (Lee Baillie), and we’ve gone through countless unfulfilled promises. It’s always the same story: something will be ready in two weeks, and then nothing happens.

        I’m wondering if you did anything that resolved your issue and if you could share your experience. It would be incredibly valuable and might help me get out of this nightmare. I’ve tried everything I can think of to get him to complete my house, but nothing has worked so far.

        Thanks in advance!

  76. Hi Guys,

    We are looking to do a renovation of an untouched weatherboard 1950s bungalow we recently bought in Auckland and have a couple of questions below.

    For context, the reno will involve knocking down a few internal walls, enclosing laundry porch area, insulation, re-wiring, re-plumbing, new kitchen, new bathroom, new en-suite, painting, floors

    1) Given this is a decent reno, should we get a quantity surveyor to itemise and cost vs. a detailed estimate from a trusted builder?

    2) Would anyone recommend a central auckland builder or company for a fairly straight-forward reno such as this?



    1. Hi Mike
      My personal recommendation is They’re not the cheapest but their work is excellent.
      A decent building company will use a QS anyway but doesn’t hurt to get another costing done.

      So long as you have a detailed list of the work to be done and a detailed list of materials specified you should get an accurate idea of costs, however renovations have a way of going south once the gib comes off and you can see what’s behind the walls, so make sure you allow for contingencies. A friend ended up with a $50k drainlaying bill for reasons that they were not originally anticipating, so these things can hit you from elsewhere, too. Good Luck! And Don’t Make Changes halfway through.

  77. Ceiling Gib size???
    Hi everyone, we were about to sign our contract with a group builder when we read that all ceiling gib will be 10mm. I thought that it needed to be 13mm, but an internet search suggests 13mm is best practice but not a requirement.
    *Any experience using 10mm on ceilings and did it sag after a few years?
    **Any advice?

    1. My last two new homes had 10mm Gib on ceilings and we didn’t experience any sag after 5 years (sold after 5 years)

      1. Hi John
        Will be fine if the ceiling battens were installed at a maximum of 450mm centres rather than the 600mm requirement with 13mm gibboard

  78. We used Maddren Homes for our build in Milldale, Auckland. They were a bit more expensive that the other building companies we contacted but the quality of the work is excellent. The whole process was really good and we are very happy with our new house (we moved in about six months ago). They have good trades people and they accepted all our changes with no problems. We would recommend Maddren Homes for your new build in Auckland north/west.

  79. Anyone else here own a Russell Properties Home (Churton Park – Grenada) and find the after sales service sub-par? The pre-build service is really great but it seems once you’ve brought and moved in, they just don’t have the same interest.
    Occasionally minor things need attention or repair but replies to emails can take weeks, you send another email & that is never replied to and they just don’t seem to have any urgency to reply or repair.
    Interested to hear if your experience is similar and what, if anything you have done to get quicker responses.

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

        2. Hi Mark

          I see both Campbell grant Senior and his son Nicholas Campbell Senior (of Thermawise and BPM Contracts) are at it again with at least 2 prosecutions underway. They have to go, if this goes on there will just be more leaky houses, my roof hasn’t been touched and it leaks like a sieve, mould patches, etc. What a load of cowboys.

        3. Hello again Mark, thanks for your support and advice over my personal nightmare dealing with Campbell Grant Senior (of BPM Contracts Ltd trading as Thermawise Homes Ltd, etc) who left me with a leaky home, no kitchen, no bathroom and wet room shower. It’s been a battle with the LBP as they lost my initial complaint forms – lost in the post apparently ! You will be happy to know that there is to be a formal BPB hearing in June in Palmerston North, unfortunately my partner passed away in September so I will be fighting this alone.

          1. Hi Marie,

            I’m so sorry for your loss especially in these circumstances, I have recently been through the disputes tribunal and had the builder in question have his license suspended until he retrained within a very strict timeframe, pay costs and have a permanent strike against his license

            The tribunal could have been harsher but I found out that my ruling was pretty severe, the tribunal don’t like to be too harsh seeing as it was they who issued the license and the ruling is timely reminder that somewhere along the line perhaps they stuffed up too. Although they will never admit it.

            I had a great support team that consisted of other builders and a brilliant lawyer who gave me fantastic advice and when the LBP hearing was complete, I used the ruling to help prosecute and was successful.

            If you want or need any advice I would be happy to talk, the LBP are not really your friend sadly but I had clever tricks up my sleeve and I would love to pass them on.

            Email me if you would like I’m more than happy chat.


            1. Hi Marie
              I’m so very sorry to hear your sad news regarding your partner. Notwithstanding that it comes to us all, it’s still a bastard when it happens to you and never worse than when you’re in the middle of a fight like this.

              I am pleased that I was able to help in some small way and wish you the very best in the upcoming hearing.

              And you are correct – our Licensing regime serves the needs of the housebuilding community poorly.

          2. Hi Marie
            I’m so very sorry to hear your sad news regarding your partner. Notwithstanding that it comes to us all, it’s still a bastard when it happens to you and never worse than when you’re in the middle of a fight like this.

            I am pleased that I was able to help in some small way and wish you the very best in the upcoming hearing.

            And you are correct – our Licensing regime serves the needs of the housebuilding community poorly.

  83. 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.

  84. 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.

    1. This may be a bit late, but we used BCG for a small earthworks job in Waterview, AKL 2 years ago. Excellent all round. Highly recommend.

  85. 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.

  86. 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


  87. 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.

  88. 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.

  89. 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 !!

  90. 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.

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

  93. 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?

    3. I hope you pulled out of the deal mate. You are better off having PC sums anyways as you can ask for any invoices or data related to PC sums to make sure they are correct.

      1. Hi Shane, I guess yours is a response to James Chapman’s post on Sept 19, 2021 (not 2022). MJ and I both made some comments at the time (try hitting Ctrl F, and putting ‘Hi James, Usually I agree’ in the search box. It will bring up my reply, and MJ’s are close by).
        Unfortunately I don’t think we ever got a response from James, so no idea whether he ever took the deal, or how it turned out. But for others considering something similar, I suggest they look at my reply mentioned above.
        I realise your reply was sent in good faith, to try to help out. But as I said in my reply, it’s much more complex than just a straightforward accept or reject. It could be a mistake, or it could turn out to be a very good deal, but as the old saying goes ‘The devil is in the detail.’.
        Also, be cautious about assuming it is automatic that you can ask for information and a breakdown on the final cost of Provisional Sum items. As with everything else, it depends what it says in the Contract. Several people have written to this blog, unhappy because their builder won’t give them that kind of information.
        As I’ve said elsewhere, Prime Cost (PC) items are different, and not generally intended to be used for things like earthworks.

        1. Ahh Chris, holding this blog together I see! You really should write a book for first time home builders in NZ, I’d buy it and I’m sure others would too. The right kind of advice is not readily available nor can it be trusted so I think it’s a bloody good idea 🙂 you don’t stand to gain anything by giving your advice which is why I think it could be a best seller and I’ve heard we all have at least one book in us all so maybe this is yours?

          1. Hi MJ, Thanks again for the kind words. But I think the man for that job is Mark Graham, who edits this blog. At one stage he contacted me, and said he intended to write one. He asked whether I was interested in giving comments on his draft. If he ever goes ahead I would suggest he also contacts you. Although I think there are probably books/guides already available.
            One of the problems being that I suspect the people who most need to read up on the subject are the ones least likely to. A recent comment said something about not being an expert on building, so why should he have to understand this kind of stuff. It would be nice if that were true. Unless of course you have a stack of money to employ people like architects and QSs you trust to take care of things, and a further stack of money to pay whatever the final bill comes to.
            You and Anne Jones made some valid comments about ‘fixed price’ and extra payments on 25/8/22. She was a bit blunt, but wisely said something like, if you don’t understand or like how the building system works, perhaps you should just buy a finished house. And when I’ve read some of the rather naive questions on this blog I’ve often felt like saying something similar.

            1. Hey Chris and thanks, and hello MJMy website – – is still up and running, though in need of some updating, but the basic information is still good and relevant. Unfortunately it wasn’t supported enough by the industry, so when I had my Vespa accident I closed down that old business and it’s been ticking over since. Might be doing something with it, though, so stay tuned…

  94. 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

  95. 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?

  96. 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. 🙂

    2. I have seen one of the GH contracts…the front loading is a shocker….I don’t a lot of their clauses. Wouldn’t use the contract in a month of Sundays. Have seen quite a few different contracts over the past three years and most are rubbish for the Client. People getting hurt with the franchise contracts now and as mentioned most standard lawyers don’t understand them (e.g. for the MB they don’t strike out clause 17).

  97. 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’.

  98. 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

  99. 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.

  100. 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.