Building Company 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 I got the gig…

For comments skip below the ads for my magazines (well, there has to be some reward for warding off spam, paying for the hosting and moderating the comments – and if you’re building or renovating, you really should buy them because they’re invaluable).

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

Hi All

This is the essential tool if you’re building or renovating. Get it here –

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 publish the Building Guide and Design Guide magazines and BoB (for Builders) magazine and websites.

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.

And if you’re a builder, then BoB is for you. We supply these free for builders and tradespeople.

If you’re not getting them, let us know here and we’ll make sure you’re on our list to send them to…

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.

October 2018

Our latest Design Guide 2018-2 edition is out in the shops. It’s amazing and if you love architecture, you should buy one immediately. Check it out here…

This is such a stunning magazine – it’s totally worth getting your own copy… and there are packages with earlier editions of the DG and/or getting the Building Guide too…

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.

I do know that Platinum have replaced their insurance coverage from CBL, who are in interim receivership, with BuiltIn Insurance, whom we rate very highly (and recommend using if you’re building with anyone). This includes the Wellington franchise. Platinum now offers Homefirst Builders Guarantee, Builtin’s 10 Year Building Warranty (via Stamford and backed by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London) which offers deposit protection and a completion guarantee.

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.

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

3,091 thoughts on “Building Company Reviews”

  1. Hey guys,

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Both businesses were really good to deal with.

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

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

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

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

    Hope that helps someone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  13. Hi all,

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

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

    Thanks in advance!

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

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

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

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

  16. Hi all

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

    1. Hi Thuy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Hi Aimee,

      This is all personal opinion

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

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

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

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

      Just depends on what your preferences are!

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

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

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

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

    2. Hi Aimee,

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

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

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

        1. Hi,

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

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

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

            1. Hi Chris,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  24. Hi,

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


    1. Hi,

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

  25. Hi

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

    Thanks again for any input.

  26. Hi there,

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    2. Hi Debbie,

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


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

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

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

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

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

    2. Hi Ash,

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

    3. Hi Ash

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


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

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

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

    Thanks heaps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Please follow the advice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Hi Guys,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Good luck!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Warmest regards,
    Colleen Walters

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              It’s criminal really.

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

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

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

                  Stay safe all.

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

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

      2. Dear James,

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

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

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

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


        1. Hi Colleen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          I look forward to your reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  39. Hi there

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

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

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

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

    Any concerns with them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    3. Hi Everyone,

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Hi Ludmila,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Let us all know how you get on 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

        1. Thanks Chris 🙂

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

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

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

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

            1. Sure MJ 🙂

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

              Thanks heaps 🙂 🙂

          2. Hi Ludmila,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      Thanks a lot guys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                    2. Hi Natty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  4. Hi Natty

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

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

  51. Hi,

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

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

    1. Go to the LBP website

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Good luck and keep us posted on what you find!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Totally clueless and new to this so appreciate the help!

              1. Hi Sam,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  55. Hi,

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


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

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

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

    1. Hi Alice,

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

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

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

      Stay Strong.

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

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

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

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

  57. We are looking at a house and land package with Urban Homes (Waikato) having seen their show homes, but am seeking any feedback on their Hamilton operations; contracts; customer service, post construction engagement/maintenance etc etc.

    1. Hi Abigale,

      I personally have not used Urban at all but I have noticed a house they are currently building on my mum and dads road which is Horahora Rd in Putaruru (or Tirau depending on which end of the Rd you’re on) and it looks about 50% finished but if I can remember correctly, it seems to have been plodding along for a while now.

      Might I suggest you go for a leisurely drive this weekend and perhaps check it out? You can’t miss it as it’s well signposted as being a Urban Homes construction and it is at the end of Horahora Rd that is closest to Cambridge or the Tauranga turn off (not the end that takes you to Arapuni)

      Good luck, I hope I’ve helped a little?

      1. cheers, thanks for that, certainly appreciate your response.
        We are confident that they will build a quality home from what we have seen, my concern is that with all their builds going on that the service delivery (project management) and dealing with post-construction issues might not be up to standard…

    1. Fowler Homes NZ did not help us at all when Fowler Homes Southern Lakes went into liquidation in March. They did not stand behind their brand, but kept advertising on TV claiming that they were the company we could trust. We were left to fend for ourselves and lost a lot of money. Being a franchise did not help at all.

      1. It is only a perception that the Franchisor will stand behind a Franchisee in liquidation. The only time they will support a customer is when they can make a profit. It seems crazy to build with a Franchise company when it is costing up to 10% in sales and royalty commissions.

        1. You’re right on the mark there Michael. For suppliers the contracts that were signed had a clause in there that HO franchisers would not pay should any of their franchisees default. But they still wanted supply when some of their franchisees couldn’t pay and even threatened us with high handed tactics as to changing suppliers, using us as a bank for their businesses. In our business we have build warranty insurance offered and it’s a privilege to be able to partner with people building and offering true transparent contracts as a family company with no ridiculous franchise fees.

    2. Hi we used fowlers for a new farmhouse build aa few years ago … found Ivan very good to deal with. Very easy issues at all.

  58. Any news re Platinum Homes – Wellington Division. Is somebody taking this on or is head office still in denial that Jason Strange has completely @#$#% this up (even though they knew for years)

    1. Hey contact Dave, he is the new CEO. He is sorting the mess out. We have met with him and true to his word is doing what he said he would. Good luck

        1. Would be great to get in touch with you to talk about your experience. We are currently trying to deal with insurance and so far have been extremely unhelpful and we are out of pocket a huge amount of money currently

  59. I am a older lady looking for an honest trustworthy well-regarded building company for a new build in Hamilton/Cambridge area and after reading all the comments posted on this site am quite worried and confused about which company/ies fall into this category. Anyone already built and been very pleased with their overall experience? There don’t seem to be reviews on all companies and if there are any they only seem to be the glowing ones – wonder if negatives are not posted.

    1. Hi Glen,
      Unfortunately one builder doesn’t cover all market builds. Franchise businesses, you will pay an extra 7-10% which equates to a max of $50,000 on a $500,000 build plus their profit on the build. You want a builder who can manage the job and has a good track record.

      1. Are there many reputable good owner-building firms in Hamilton/Cambridge – I don’t know much about “franchises” – rather green about all this building business?

        1. I know a few Cambridge people who have used Buildtech and are very happy. They actually manage the project and it is sub-contracted to other builders they know are good. Benefit of this is they know how to deal with the tradesmen and what to look out for and what is expect and you can be free to raise any concerns without offending the tradesman.

          1. Thanks for your reply – will do a bit of research as I have never heard of them before. Are they a franchise as I keep hearing people warning about using franchises.

    2. Hi Glen,
      If I were you look for a local builder, not a franchise and do your due diligence on them. Ask for referrals to go and have a chat aligned with the type of build you are looking for and ensure they are face to face ones and you get to view their work. Ask for the code of compliance information to show they did the build as there are a lot of losers out there using fake websites and promotional tactics to suck you in. A good builder will have plenty of work to view and a great website with pictures of themselves. They will offer a build guarantee and if it is a Builtin one they will have had to provide financial information to secure this, so you will know they trade well and suppliers have been contacted as part of the application process. Do not think that using a Master Builder or a Certified Builder is a guarantee of quality. This is not so. The Halo guarantee from NZCB has no insolvency cover in their Halo guarantee so homeowners are not protected. They pulled it in August this year. You are right. Building is a minefield of questions and decisions and difficult to navigate. My advice. Do serious due diligence and ask ask ask heaps of questions and get them to back them up. We offer our customers to come to site and speak to our current build partners to ask all the hard questions like communication, pricing, knowledge etc. this way you get the picture as to who you are spending major investment with. Cheers

    3. We’ve used Rob May Builders in Cambridge before and they were great. It was about ten years ago now but the owner was very involved and he was a good, honest builder and I have noticed his signage up all over Cambridge at the moment, he built the brand new Te Awa Lifecare village which looks fabulous so I would definitely recommend giving them a call.

      Unfortunately we’ve found that if they are good then chances are there is quite a lengthy wait involved for their services but good builders are in such short supply that it shouldn’t really be much of a surprise, and a bad builder might fit you in 6 months earlier only to find you’re still waiting for them to complete minor remedial work 6 years later.

      Good luck!

    4. Have you considered getting some plans drawn up and tendering it to various builders? I know it may seem like the safest and easiest option to go with a building company but if you use their plans you’ll be using their products too and some of them aren’t great. Cheap perhaps but not durable or maybe even suitable for what you want and you’ll be using their tradies on their schedule and you will literally have lost control of the biggest asset you’ll Ever have.

      We went to a Draughtsman (not an architect) who drew us up something simple and moderate in size and it cost us $5k. While they were doing this they went over various different materials we could use, the pros and cons for each and we could trust their advice because they were not making any money from us on building materials but even though they may be good at what they do you have to always remember that they do not physically work with the stuff and this is where a good balance of advice and some research on your part will save you $$$ and stress.

      We then found a couple of local builders, showed them the plans and discussed various options and amendments but most importantly we asked them for names & phone numbers of recent builds they’ve completed and that was a game changer.

      In the end we went with a young local lad, Mitchell Williams, who lives just out of Morrinsville and we’ve never been more thankful that we did! We were initially concerned that he was only a one man team but we needn’t have worried at all, If the builder in question has the right tools and is knowledgeable about their trade there are a million ways to do a specific job that doesn’t always involve brute strength and not only was he a smart cookie and hard working but above all he was honest. We didn’t see huge mark ups on the materials and our build didn’t take much longer than perhaps a team of four could have done It in but you’re only paying for a quarter of the labour and we saved thousands in the end for a few months of extra waiting and it was a bloody good trade off.

      Mitchell didn’t push us into using expensive, top range stuff either and the result is a beautiful, well built house that we know will still be standing long after we’re not. As an example, we were looking at various different types of cladding for our house (Laminated stuff, fiber board type stuff, the options are endless) Until Mitchell pointed out that there is nothing wrong with using wood, there is a reason it’s been in use for hundreds of years and just because something new and “improved” comes along doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.

      He also has a very good network of other tradies (sparky, plasterer etc) who, like him, are also good at what they do and we used them all with no regrets. It saved us so much time and he communicated with them all so in effect he actually project managed our build. I helped somewhat but really he has to take much of the credit for our house (and the three rentals he renovated for us too)

      It is a myth that a building franchise company will make everything easier. Building a house is a very time consuming and emotional thing to do and if you do not actively involve yourself In it you leave yourself wide open to excessive over charging and poor workmanship with very little recourse for you if it all goes horribly wrong. If building seems like something you can’t or don’t want to get overly involved in it may be easier to buy an already built house and get a builders report done on it. Mitchell does those too by the way!

      Hope this helps, if even a little.

      1. Hi MJ, I was interested to read your reply to someone who confessed to being an older lady who has no experience, and very little knowledge, of house building. I have read many entries on this blog of other people who seem to perhaps be younger, but otherwise in a similar situation.
        I’m not sure how many of them realise that the common system in NZ (and I think to some extent in Australia) of buying a piece of land, and then employing a builder you have never met before, to build you a unique home (because even their ‘standard’ designs will end up as unique, due to variations in the site and your choices of fittings etc) is extremely unusual from a world point of view.
        And due to the nature of the building industry here, with poor control of builders and materials by Government and Councils, poor legal safeguards if builders rip people off or go bankrupt, and in fact many builders who are relatively inexperienced, and have poor project and cash flow management skills, because they don’t actually build many houses, it is extremely risky. Which is why so many people find it goes wrong. Even the nice, honest builders can get caught out with cash flow problems.
        In other countries normal houses are usually built by large builders, who obtain large blocks of land, then get one architect and one engineer to design and get Council approval for a variety of different size houses of similar style. So they can employ experienced project managers and large scale construction, which makes it easier to maintain quality, while keeping costs down.
        So I think your advice to this lady that it is probably cheaper, and certainly safer, to buy a house already built, is good.
        But if she ignores your good advice, and goes ahead with getting a draughts-person (I’m being PC) to prepare some plans, I’d like to ask what you got for $5K? I assume that was just for some basic concept drawings, perhaps with just layout plans and elevations. Because in my experience people should budget for something closer to 10% of the construction cost, more like $50K, to get full construction drawings that can be submitted to Council, including all the engineering design and detail drawings, and Council fees etc. Plus of course other paperwork and inspections required during and at the end of construction, to get code compliance.

        1. Hi Chris, the 10% you mention is usually what architectscharge .Architectural Designers / Technicians usually charge around $4 – $5k for full working drawings to consent stage. Plus you’d have the cost of the council fee for processing the consent. 🙂

        2. Hi Chris, the plans were a simple 2bdrm 80sqm house with all the usual details like foundations, frame, trusses, cladding, fixings, guttering etc all done by a lady draughtsman here in Morrinsville. The drainage plans were done free of charge from a local plumber who also quoted the job and got the job, same goes for the sparky but being self regulating not a a huge amount of detail was needed from him but we keep everything a local as we can.

          The joinery details were supplied by Rylock in Hamilton (who we absolutely recommend) also free of charge as they in the end got our business and the scoping/land report was done by CKL for $1800 All submitted to Matamata-Piako District Council in a very easy to read set of plans and all accepted (sorry I may have missed something out but you get the guts of it)

          Council fees and inspections were surprisingly cheap, much cheaper than in Hamilton (where we built twice last year) they set us back under $4k But the MPDC are known for being very reasonable but they’re just as vigilant and were great to deal with and gave us great advice from the start so whole house from start to finish was $250k (not including the land as we already owned it).

          If you’re not afraid to ask for help, more importantly free help (especially if they want the gig) then there is no limit to what you can achieve on a tight budget, worst case scenario they tell you to piss off so you move on. Our builds are a collaborative effort, I have no shame in saying “I don’t know How to do this so who is the best person to ask?” With the web and social media making due diligence that much easier and great forums like this it’s quite easily achieved.

        3. I think that older lady with no experience or knowledge about building may be me you are referring to but I do own a section so can’t buy ready built unfortunately but do find everyone’s comments and advice very helpful and slowly learning a lot.

  60. Hi All,
    Just wonder If anyone is building with Keith Hay Homes Warkworth just now? We currently are and it is proving to be a bit of a trying experience. Would like to hear of others experience.

  61. Has anyone had any experience with Banks Building Services in Auckland, please? We need repairs to a deck and and the house painted and we don’t want to sign until we see some reviews. There are two excellent reviews on their website, but I’ve been unable to find any on any other site.

  62. We are planning to build our first home with Generation Homes Hamilton. Have someone got any feedback for us it can be good or bad.

    Another thing is it good to do progress payments or have turn key package.

  63. Do NOT go anywhere near Stonewood homes Tauranga. All stories on here are true and I WISH we had not decided to trust them. Before you sign they will roll out the red carpet, once signed you are nothing but a number and I can’t even describe Kevin, the owner. Never once he showed any interest, paid a visit to have a chat, nothing….all about the money. Disgusting attitude.

    Save yourself the stress. Stay away from Stonewood homes Tauranga!

    1. Same applies for Stonewood Homes Wellington – don’t keep their word, only see dollar signs and keep moving the goalposts to suit themselves. A few people have also mentioned potential cash flow issues.
      Avoid at all cost.

      1. Hi
        Any one has any reviews about Quality Homes, Upper Hutt, Wellington. We are looking for land & home package with them in Upper Hutt. Any information will be appreciated.
        Thanks so much !

    2. Hi Rathernotsay,

      We are in the midst of negotiating with Stonewood Tauranga on a land and build package and was wondering whether things have improved since your posting is in Sept 2019. It maybe better if you prefer to contact me offline at Look forward to hear from you. Thanks.

      1. Hi Alex, I cannot speak specifically about Stonewood Tauranga, and I realise it’s possible some Stonewood Franchisees are better than others, but I think there have been enough entries on this blog to give you a clue that you should be very cautious with Stonewood.
        Again, I don’t know whether they all use the same contract, or have the same attitude towards it. But the one we dealt with, and decided not to go with in the end, after spending a few months and thousands getting them to prepare concept plans and prices (that actually looked OK), had a contract which frankly at that time (speaking as someone who has prepared and supervised many large scale construction contracts) was biased too much in their favour, and in some respects did not make sense. Even their project manager type guy could not properly explain it. But don’t worry he said, we never use that clause. So I said in that case why not delete it? Oh no, the boss never agrees to any changes to the contract. That’s when we pulled out.
        That’s why I’ve advised many times on this blog that the first thing you should look at, before committing any money, is their contract document.
        ‘Caveat Emptor’ as the saying goes. With any builder it doesn’t matter how wonderful their plans and spec look, if the contract is loose, or biased in their favour, they have all sorts of ways to extend the construction time, take you for more money, or even build a house that’s different to the plans. I’m not saying they all do, but the opportunity is there if they want to take it.
        I get the impression from your enquiry to ‘Rathernotsay’ you would like to use Stonewood Tauranga, and you want RNS to tell you that in the last 3 months everything has been fine. I’ll be interested to see his/her reply, but somehow I suspect it won’t be what you want to hear. Anyway good luck.

        1. Alex, I completely agree with Chris on this. Unless Stonewood Tauranga have changed management in the last three months and amended their contracts I would strongly suggest you walk away. Once the roller coaster starts there’s no stopping it and unless you have very deep pockets and the patience of a saint it will be the worst experience of your life. Almost two years we’ve been fighting our horror of a build and we still have no resolution to this nightmare and if you think the LBP Board will help you, they won’t in fact they protect the builder more than the they do you so choose very carefully.

          1. Completely agree with MJ in regards to contracts AND the ineptitude of the Licensing Board.

            Our builder was already under investigation, without our knowledge. 12 months to investigate and hold an overtly biased hearing (complainants aren’t even called as witnesses). Builder found negligent (overwhelming evidence) but NO PUNISHMENT!! Despite being an actual scammer with multiple victims! LBP is free to go on and scam new unsuspecting clients.

            1. To ANYONE who is currently going through the LBP to make a complaint or is deciding to make a complaint against a licensed builder, I have learned a few things so far that they do not mention on their website and which may help you in your process:

              Submitting your complaint:

              1. Send it via courier, signature only. Then you can be assured they get it. Save your post receipt too because it may very easily get “lost in the mail” which could set your application back months if it’s not found quickly and at least this way you have some proof it was delivered and when. I know of several people who have withdrawn their cases because they couldn’t stand the stress of waiting for action. Do not be one of these people. Be pro-active and this actually helps with the stress as it makes you feel like you have some control over the situation which you totally do!

              2. If you don’t hear back from them as to whether they received it or not email them a few days after you know it’s been delivered and ask them to confirm that they have received it. All your emails should be sent with a “sent & read confirmation” attachment too which gives you proof that someone at their end opened it and read it. SAVE EVERYTHING!

              3. I would strongly advise you to correspond with them ONLY via email too and DO NOT TAKE PHONE CALLS as these can later be denied by them as ever having taken place. Disturbingly my phone conversations with one individual at the LBP involved bullying behavior and pressure to withdraw/amend my complaint which will be hard for me to prove now and was extremely upsetting and from what I’ve read on this website, it’s not uncommon for them to try this.

              If in doubt of the number that’s calling, let it go to voicemail so they are forced to leave a message, if they don’t leave a message then it can’t have been very important so no need to worry. If they catch you on the hop and you do answer, just cut them off and say you’re too busy to talk right now but as they have all your contact details on file (remember to add your email address on your application) it would be easier for them to send you an email and you can deal with it when you have a spare moment. End Of.

              Once your application is received:

              1. You should receive a letter or email saying that your application has been received and if or when the builder has received his copy of your complaint and on this letter will be an investigator that has been assigned to your case, deal with this person ONLY.

              2. The builder then officially has 20 working days to respond BUT the builder can ask for an extension (which is common) and the LBP will not tell you this unless you ask, so if your 20 working days are up and you haven’t heard anything, email the investigator and ask what his deadline is. If you don’t follow up on almost everything then they can drag the process out for months.

              2. Once you have email confirmation that the builder has responded you are well within your rights to ask for a copy of his reply, THEY WILL NOT GIVE THIS TO YOU UNLESS YOU ASK! When you do receive it, do not show it to anyone who is not directly mentioned or involved with your complaint as this is sensitive information and sharing it or posting it may hinder your case.

              3. The investigator assigned will then compile a report as to whether they think that there is enough grounds or evidence to hold a hearing. Just because your application was received by them does not mean they will automatically schedule a hearing, it all depends on this report. After you have received the builders reply, email your investigator and ask when you can expect to see their report. Again THEY WILL NOT TELL YOU THIS VOLUNTARILY, YOU MUST ASK FOR EVERYTHING!

              So this is where I’m currently at with my application and I will keep you all up to date if and when I learn anything new that might help but please keep in mind from the start that you should always do everything in such a way that it makes the LBP and the builder accountable and COVER YOUR ASS! NO ONE ELSE WILL DO IT FOR YOU!

              Love this website BTW. 🙂

              1. Hi, you’ve clearly been through something major like I have, its not until your in the thick of it that you see and learn exactly how things roll.
                No surprises how difficult it is dealing with the LBP. Out of the 8 members on the board of the LBP its Not surprising that 5 have had affiliations with Certified and Masterbuilders.

                The website states Board members Chris Preston is ex CEO of Masterbuilders and Richard Merrifield is ex chairman of Certified builders, Bob Monteith is an ex board member of Certified builders, Faye Pearson-Green is a regional judge for Masterbuilders, and David Fabish is a life member of Masterbuilders.

                If you ever have to deal with either of these building organisations when dealing with problematic builders you learn very quickly how the old boys network works. Dealing with the LBP seems an extension of this very network.

                You are so right,,, everything must be in writing! No phone conversations and as sad as this sounds given the state of the industry, that should be the only form of communication once the contract is signed from that day forward to everyone involved in your build whether its the builder/engineer/council, these building orgs etc everything in writing and keep all of it in a properly organised filing system per organisation so you have ease of access when needed.

                1. You are absolutely right about the board, Kelly. The Board is a self-licking ice cream!

                  Something I asked them at the hearing was to consider, after seeing the defects, if they would employ this builder on their house or their mother’s house. Because by presenting them as ‘licensed’ they are personly endorsing them as being competent – when in our case they clearly were not!

              2. I found their investigator a little biased, eg they must have put the weatherboards on incorrectly because of issues matching imperial/metric – this was COMPLETELY untrue, but was an excuse repeatedly stated by all who inspected.

                I would strongly recommend getting your own full technical report, don’t rely just on the Board one.

                The hearing is a joke, there is no ‘prosecutor’ like any other professional board – YOU the complainant are expected to provide the opening and closing statements. You are told it is optional for you to attend. The board places much more weight on anything the builder and their own technical advisor says.

                They claim to not address contractual issues, but when builder suddenly claims they were not allowed to correct the defects (yes all the negligent work they refused to accept responsibility for), the board is suddenly all sympathy. No way is the process consistent with ‘natural justice’ or due process. Remember these guys gave them their license in the first place!

                  1. I would strongly suggest anyone going through a LBP complaint that is having issues with the process contact Andrew Bayley of the National Party:


                    He has been championing for years to make the LBP board independent and he is currently helping with mine (as much as he is able) as I was bullied into withdrawing my complaint and shortening it, which I would have done had the incompetent builder not made so many mistakes.

                    We got our lawyer involved who told me in no way was I to drop any of the issues we had, big or small he insisted we list EVERYTHING otherwise when we made a claim for compensation the builder couldn’t argue that there was nothing wrong with said issue, and our claim would be stronger.

                    He seems like a guy who gets stuff done, I emailed him and within a few hours he called me back personally and he didn’t seem the least bit surprised with what I had to say.

                    He’s definitely on my Santa list this year I can tell you, and it gives you hope when you know that there is SOMEONE LISTENING TO YOU! Because for a short time there I was ready to let it all go, I’d had enough of being ignored but now I’m ready for it. BRING IT ON!!!

  64. I’ve worked for multiple “group housing firms” (10 years total) and been in the building industry for 25 years. Here’s the thing with 99% of these franchises… they are generally owned and operated by people with little or no knowledge of house construction and very little or no knowledge on how to actually run a business or manage the people within it. Directors very quickly get a god like complex and their ignorant opinions hold sway over fact and reality. They are more interested in hiring people who agree with them than those who actually know what they are doing… both firms I worked for where horrified when I told them that their documentation is misleading. It is quite literally a culture of lies, deceit, arrogance and incompetence being rewarded and applauded… honesty and integrity are quashed well before they have a chance to surface and if you highlight any of this you will be shunned, mocked and ridiculed. They chased me offering big dollars to do their work on contract after I left but in the end… I got sick to death of lies and deceit being employed to cover the arses of incompetent snakes.

    1. Hi A Smith (real name?), Based on my own experience, while looking into using several different builders (both big name franchise and other) while planning a personal house new build, I definitely agree that many building contracts used in NZ are poorly written and/or biased in favour of the builder to an unacceptable degree. In one case the builder’s own contracts manager could not explain to me how and when a particular clause (involving extra payment if Council consent was delayed) would actually be used. ‘But don’t worry, we never apply it.’ he said. So I said, ‘In that case we can delete it.’ ‘Oh, no, the company owner won’t change anything in the contract wording.’ End of discussion.
      I spent my career, both overseas and in NZ, as a civil engineer, which frequently involved both interpreting and writing contract documents. Building contracts can vary quite a bit in the details of their wording, but I know what fundamentals should and should not be included. It’s not difficult to get an idea of what those are, by looking at something like the NZ Institute Of Architects Standard Conditions Of Contract, although unfortunately those can only be used if you actually have someone in the role of Architect to administer the Contract. So not really suitable as they stand for use by the majority of people who look at this blog. There are other quite well written forms of contract available, but most builders you approach will not want to use them. So you may be left with trying to make use of the form the builder generally uses.
      I’ve written some of this on this blog before. In my opinion:
      -The first thing you should look at (before any money changes hands) is their contract document, and ask whether they’re open to at least considering any kind of change if your lawyer recommends it. If they won’t show it to you, or say no changes are allowed, walk away.
      -Get someone who knows what they’re doing to vet it. Most solicitors will claim they know how to do that, but believe me many do not. You need a specialist in that area of law.
      -If you ask for changes to the document which the lawyer says are reasonable, and no compromise wording can be achieved, then walk away.
      -Be very doubtful if a builder tells you don’t worry, we’ve used this form of contract many times before, and never had any problems. No problems for them possibly, but maybe lots of problems for their clients.

      1. Hi Chris (real name!?!?), your questioning of my name is somewhat bizarre & arrogant, perhaps it’s best you stick to the topic here whilst you rant about things you’ve never been part of. You are referring to the contractual side of house construction, which is an important part of getting what you want from your chosen home builder, these are there to safe guard both parties & can work for or against depending on circumstance. I cant argue with the common sense logic in what you put forward but you are focusing on a small part of how these businesses are run (have you ever worked in one before?). I’ve seen lives & careers destroyed due to due childish petulance & arrogance, treating subbies & suppliers like dirt is a fun game & smiling while they drop the axe is par for the cause. They use their position of power to use others as scapegoats for their own incompetence & simply refuse to acknowledge that it is themselves that leads to problems that are left with others to sort for them, often at great personal time &/or expense. You be sure to read that fine print & pay those lawyers… enjoy.

        1. Hi A Smith, Apologies if I offended you by wondering whether ‘A Smith’ was just a name used to protect your real identity, since it seems you’re still working in the building business. But I agree it doesn’t really matter anyway, so I should not have queried it.
          I have dealt with a number of house builders in NZ (ie looking at their contracts and what they had to offer), and actually used a couple to carry out work for me.
          But I’m a civil engineer and I spent about 40 years preparing construction contracts, designing, supervising and project managing many projects overseas, plus a year supervising construction on a motorway project in NZ.
          My previous entry on this blog, which you responded to, was not intended to comment on everything you said about building franchises, as clearly they have seriously upset you. I totally agree that there appear to be many serious problems with how some of them are run, particularly the gap between a lot of their client’s expectations (eg help from head office if there are disputes, or things go wrong) and the reality. I have never worked for a building franchise, so I guess you know a lot more.
          I was just commenting on the part you mentioned about their misleading documentation. Because this is a subject I know something about, and it concerns me that many people seem to get quite far down the track with builders (including paying over design fees and deposits) before seriously examining the builder’s form of contract.
          To my mind the contract should be one of the first things you look at, because if that’s not acceptable there is no point in going any further. I only mentioned lawyers, because it seems many people who write to this blog are not in a position to judge whether a contract is OK.
          Of course it helps (and if you’re really lucky may be all you need) if you can find a nice, trustworthy builder who just does a reasonable job for a reasonable price, and wants to keep his client happy. I’m sure there are many around. But you and I who have worked in the construction industry know that if things start to go pear shaped, as they so often do, the only thing you have to fall back on is simply what’s in black and white in the contract.
          I’ll leave it to others reading your entries and mine to decide whether either of us has been ranting.

          1. Hi Chris. Yes, your initial comment was irrelevant, not to mention childish & petty, it did not portray you in a very positive light as it was essentially an attack on my integrity (fancy that aye – someone taking offence to your arrogant assumptions). Yes, I still work in the building industry… do you need to see some form of formal documentation to prove that or are you happy to take my word?. As I’ve stated previously, your general train of thought is 100% correct & fairly sound advice, the way you chose to reply to & address me directly to get it across is questionable at best… put your thoughts & experiences across without personally attacking someone might a better approach? Food for thought Chris… all the best in your future construction endeavors.

    2. You are correct in your statement as there are very few good ones out there of the franchised group housing coys. They buy into these companies solely on financial ability to fund being a franchisee for the franchisor. Not their ability to conduct a quality build, understand the build process, use quality products, price with integrity and complete the process with good communication and financial stability. It speaks volumes that Refresh Renovations are marketing on fb that they want business owners stating they do not want builders. I would have thought renovation work carries huge build competency requirements but apparently this company wants sales and marketing background people to run these ventures. Not many people realise that Oncore, Refresh and one other have same directors operating these businesses overselling areas to franchisees. Joe public are paying for these franchise fees same as group housing companies. This is the major issue with our industry currently and it has been happening for some time now. We are in disarray and the home owner is being conned by bullshit, hollow promises and fake news as to a build promise and understanding of expectation. For good companies and contractors it is a mine field of endeavouring to communicate to joe public that cheap means exactly that. Quality and longevity comes down the list rather than first on the list in selection for a builder. If NZers want to build sustainable long-standing issue free homes to enjoy and live in then look to partner with genuine providers who are there to deliver your expectations and dreams, not just take your money for personal gain. A great partnership is a win win for all not just frisk the builder or homeowner. For those out there asking for 3 or more quotes from builders you have not done your due diligence and your focus is price, not the complete picture. We as a renovation coy and new home builder work with stunning customers who come to us and we are the only price provider due to our quality of workmanship and our referral network. I so want to see independent quality NZ Builders step up to take back the residential construction market for the benefit of all parties.

  65. This is my personal opinion and review on GJ Gardner Christchurch South (JNF construction), and might not reflect their code of practice.

    1) The sales consultant I deal with is good and awesome and able to answer most if not all questions that I have.

    1) Feel a bit pushy in signing ATP and build contract
    2) They try to sell the standard floor plan as they have agreement with supplier to get materials for 20 – 30 builds per year per standard floor plan they have (I was told so). If you decide to go with custom floor plan, it costs at least 20k higher for the similar floor area.
    3) The build price per square metre is really based on very low spec;
    for example,
    a) the kitchen appliance in express spec is based on Haier kitchen appliances, which is usually 2k less than fisher and paykel kitcken appliance, or 4 k less than Bosch kitcken appliance by most building companies
    b) approximately 4% of build price is to HQ, and 2.5% sales commission, and overhead cost for QS, color consultant, sales consultant, which is over 30k on non-building related cost for a 400k build.
    c) The standard build price doesn’t include heat pump, patio, landscaping, vehicle crossing and only include 22oz carpet (most building companies offer 33oz and above with good quality underlay)
    d) Hip roof (no gable) to minimize build cost
    e) I was constantly told that they got the materials in bulk from supplier, hence the cheaper price. I agreed that they got good price from supplier but unfortunately I personally don’t think the saving is passed to the client. The saving is contributed to their profit margin.
    f) no joinery for wardrobe or shelving

    When I use the same floor plan and compare it to other building companies (apple-to-apple) for each item in specification list, the quote for a standard floor plan (4bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 living) using express spec by GJ costs approximately 30-70k higher compared to other building companies (GJ quotes me 385k but other companies can do 330k-340k yet the spec from other company is higher).

    When I first decided to use GJ, the main reason is the Halo insurance backed by Lloyd to cover company insolvency. However, this cover is now removed by Halo insurance.

    If you are looking to build a very basic house with a low spec and above average build price, I would say GJ is the one to go with. Otherwise, I would recommend the following in Christchurch: Jennian, Onyx, Quinn Homes, Faye Homes, Master Ace, or other local builders.

    1. Remember when you engage a franchise business with sales people, it is costing you betwixt 8 -10% on commissions and royalties, just to engage them. This is why building in NZ is expensive as then they add their margin. You are generally paying a minimum of 30% when using a franchise company.

    2. Who did you end up going with? I m in a similar boat and am finding myself not very happy with the gj Gardner contracts.

    3. So pleased you posted this CS. We entered into a contract with a customer who initially came to us telling us that the GJs price was cheaper than ours. I challenged them, asked them to go back to GJs and get in writing the site build up of 1 metre with block height allowed for and a few other details. She was shocked to find all they promised was not accommodated for in the contract and their sales pitch of ‘we purchase large volume being the largest builder in the market and you the customer reaps the benefits of it’ was farcical. We ended up doing the build for this wonderful young couple at 30k (yes 30k) less than GJs and they got their fantastic view of Auckland along with all the spec they required and are still happily living in their gorgeous first home. They continue to be a referee for us to this day and we are proud to have them as one of our ongoing customers. All I can say of GJs is their marketing team does a fantastic job in the media and that is where potential customers get confused. Due diligence is a home owners responsibility to carry out.

  66. My husband just finished getting his Nelson, NZ retirement home built. (I’m from USA) He used Signature Homes and learned a very expensive lesson. Signature Homes lured him away from Jennian Homes with lower prices and comments about Jennian being way over-priced. Turns out, Jennian was probably the honest builder, whereas Signature Homes took us for a wild ride. At first we thought they were just making lots of costly mistakes in judgement, but, in the end, we realize how they used the PC Sum trap to deliberately underquote the build. Some of their “costs” were 164% higher than their quotes! In all, we lost $58,000 due to their overages. We changed NOTHING in our plans. We are starting the process of a formal complaint. Has anyone here ever had any luck with getting these builders to honor their contracts or “price guarantee?”

      1. I had the same experience with Signature Auckland North Shore. Tactic became very obvious once the contract was signed. They include a large number of PC sum items which they over ran significantly on almost all items. It has been stated many times on this forum – you need to challenge hard to minimize PC Sum items. They are very good at convincing the inexperienced first home builder that they are an essential part of the contract but in my view they are way over used to their advantage in locking you in to a attractively priced contract. Then before you know it the project cost has blown out significantly and by that stage you are in to deep to do anything about it.

    1. A provisional sum is an allowance (or best guess), usually estimated by a cost consultant, that is inserted into a documents for a specific element of the works that is not yet defined in enough detail for an accurate price. It is a tactic some Franchises use to seem more cost effective. Good luck in your pursuit of claim, however it may prove difficult to get a decision in your favour.

    2. Hi Brenda, I’ve written on the subject of Prime Cost (PC) and Provisional Sums/Quantities before, so I’ll try to keep this brief.
      There is nothing wrong or dishonest in principle about the use of PC sums, if they’re used in the correct sense. In fact in theory they should be to the benefit of the client, because they should be used for things like kitchens, carpets, electrical appliances etc. So a sum is allowed for a ‘reasonable’ or average standard or quality, but the client can choose to pay more (or less) for something of a higher or lower standard or quality. So you have flexibility, rather than being forced to take only the one chosen by the builder. But of course this means you must do your homework, and find out before signing the Contract what you’re going to get for the amount allowed. The point is, it should be the client who gets to choose whether to pay more.
      Where these can be used to take advantage of naive clients is if the client lets the builder put in a PC sum for example for something like electrical work, and the client takes the builder’s word that this is adequate. Then later the client realises it’s only enough for say one light and one power outlet in each room. Enough in theory, but of course not what the client was expecting!
      But I think you may be referring to Provisional Sums (often mistakenly referred to by people in the building trade as PC sums, because they’re builders, not experts in contract law). These should only be used for things like earthworks and foundations, where the quantity (and therefore cost) cannot be exactly predicted until the work starts, and the engineer/Council have assessed the situation.
      Of course if you sign the final contract before the detailed design has been finalised, and Building Consent obtained etc, then the number of things that genuinely fall into the category of unknown, and therefore difficult to accurately cost, may be much higher.
      At the end of the day, the more accurately and completely the soil conditions are investigated (a truism in construction, money spent on site investigation is never wasted), and the building designed, and the more questions the client asks, the more likely you are to complete within your expected budget.
      Having said all that, even major government projects, designed and supervised by professional engineers, (with specifications and drawings 50mm thick) often have a 10% contingency allowance for unforeseen costs. So in my opinion any client who starts a build without having at least 110% of the contract price available is taking a great risk.

    3. The head franchisor in this business charges franchisees like a wounded bull. I have associates in the industry who have left one of these businesses due to unethical charging practices they could not condone. PC sums are a way to con people into accepting a price leaving it open for the group home builder to charge anything they want to a degree. PC sums should be clarified in the contract. Any variations to the build must be accepted as per contract by the customer or else it cannot be charged for. I know of one Auckland housing company doing this as a norm to incur major extras for their customers. Unfortunately for them their name has become mud and I would not hesitate in suggesting they may not be around in the future. Just tars our industry with bad taste again and you know it’s just that the construction industry has allowed a large number of insincere and unworthy individuals to enter into it and apply fraudulent practices believing they can do what they like to people. Network people and tell all of their behaviour. It will come around to bite them in the butt but it will also make the head franchisor step up and take note. Most head franchisors don’t give two hoots of these practices. In fact they condone them.

  67. Just doing some due diligence, anyone built with Greenland Homes Christchurch? What was your experience? How did they deal with any mistakes and were variations due to undervaluing of prime cost or provisional cost items common and add much to the contract price? Would you build with them again?

    1. Hi, Sorry to not answer your question directly, but I do want to warn you to get PC Sums OUT of your contract. Everywhere! Our pc sums resulted in overages of anywhere from 60% to 164%!!!!! Our house cost $58,000+ MORE than we were quoted, and we changed NOTHING from the original plan. 58K is a huge overage on a 450K budget! So, my only help is in advising you to stay away from Signature Homes, and also to get PC Sums OUT of the contract. Honest contractors need very few of them. We had 2 PAGES of them!!!

    2. Hi CG, sorry for the delay, have been away. We have built 6 houses so far through Greenland. Husband is a subbie and we were so impressed with Sean and his builds and price that we have built speccies with him. We are also going to build our next family home in Prestons with him and our best friends built their house with him as well.Some other builders I would recommend in Christchurch apart from Sean are McStay Builders, Peter Ray, DNA Structures.

  68. Hi,
    Has anyone used Latitude Homes Wellington Alix & Zach (a typical sales man). They look cheap but to start with they are giving estimated build price only with some allowances, I am concerned once signed they might raise the costs or find a way to raise costs.

    Zach says they are cheap but when I said the other builder doesn’t change so much for x work he then says if they are cheap whatever you will get will be cheap quality as well. He doesn’t know that will apply to Latitude homes as well LOL.


    1. I am looking at them too – and yes sounds a bit genuine (and sales man types) but the cost is considerably lower than some others. I would like to know the quality of workmanship, ability to stick to budget and not go under from anyone who have used them before?

    1. Oh well that’s ok then because at least we still have Registered Master Builders to look out for the consumer (said with all the sarcasm I can muster because we all know they’re as helpful as tits on a bull) but I do agree with the payment schedule part, don’t hand over anything until you are sure they’ve done the work properly.

      The problem with this is that how are we (the consumer) supposed to know if the job is done properly or not? Most of us don’t have any building knowledge and although the council come in and sign stuff off at certain intervals we can’t expect them to pull up the builder on things that don’t relate to their inspections at the time. We had to pay a third party who had all the accreditation under the sun, to come and put together a full report on what was wrong with our shed, and that cost us $1500. A small price to pay I know but unfortunately that was after we handed over majority of the money for our build and now we have to fight to claw some of it back.

      How do we effectively set the benchmark for the building work if a payment plan is set? And who oversees it? Clearly you can’t trust the builder as they’ll say whatever they need to in order to get they’re hands on your cash and the council are only partially responsible for certain areas of your build, any ideas anyone?

      1. Hi Melanie, this all comes down to doing your due diligence as to your build provider. Not all builders are con men but there are a hell of a lot out there doing builds that are absolutely shit and do not have the skill set to complete what they have taken on. W get asked all the time to go in and rectify others work and we always say no. The reason behind this is that the home owner then doesn’t want to pay the good builder to rectify the bad workmanship and one is always walking into a hostile and negative environment so is on the backfoot to start with. The current qualification skill lbp system is majorly flawed in that a builder who has done 1 footing session or slab lay to gain their accreditation and has never done one since still is able to ply their trade by offering these services to joe public. Our lbp system is not skill focused for repeat activity to maintain a qualification. NZ needs a system whereby the type of work a builder does keeps them relevant to their build skill set. We know of builders who have only stood precast walls for residential companies yet they can tender on and secure a timber house build having no clue as to how to complete it and ask for external help. Our industry is fraught with bad builders taking earnest people’s money and it is so wrong. The other side of the fence is that there are a hell of a lot of sharks wanting a build not wanting to pay for it (not saying that is you). We choose who our customers are and are blessed to work with fantastic clients who repetitively use our services. Ps: we also work with a fantastic excavator operator who recommends our services repeatedly as he knows our ethos and we make him look good and vice versa. No good contractor is going to recommend a bad builder. Cheers

  69. Construction Accord consultation in Auckland:

    Invite to Auckland Construction Sector Accord public session
    You are invited to attend the second Construction Sector Accord public information and feedback session, being held in Auckland.
    Development on the Construction Sector Transformation Plan is underway. We are holding open sessions in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington for the wider sector and public who are interested in the Accord and would like the opportunity to learn more about this work.
    Come and hear about how the Accord is tackling the significant challenges the sector is facing to change the construction industry for New Zealand.
    Government and the construction industry are working together to transform the sector through a Construction Sector Accord and a Transformation Plan.
    An Accord was signed and launched in April 2019 which includes high-level goals and the outcomes we need for a high-performing sector.
    The focus for the Accord programme now is to build engagement and support across the sector and create a detailed transformation plan.
    Details of session
    The second session is in Auckland.
    Date: Wednesday 4 September 2019
    Time: 3:00pm – 4:00pm
    Ellen Melville Centre
    2 Freyberg place
    Auckland CBD

    What will this session cover?
    Overview of the Accord
    Progress of the Accord and Transformation Plan
    Q&A opportunity
    This is an open invitation – please feel free to forward this to your networks. RSVPs are required. Please click here:

  70. I’ve read most of the comments on Platinum Homes and want to know why the master franchise and CEO haven’t been held accountable. The franchisee pay huge amounts to the master franchise, the master franchise clips the ticket on every item in the home and receives rebate payments from the suppliers of the products. The master franchise is absolutely creaming everything and then not stepping up if there are any issues. James 9.8.19 you are correct Shaun Riley the CEO is very much to blame he directs the company, he must know when payments have been made for homes to be built he must be aware of homes that haven’t been completed on time or at all. Why has he let this go on for so long. There are people who have been waiting two years for their homes to be built. Shaun Riley was to busy covering his arse and accruing his personal wealth so he could exit stage right and leave a mess behind.

    1. I totally agree with you there Jane. Head office knew it was going on but chose to turn a blind eye. We complained to head office numerous times and just got fed bullshit. We signed up in 2016 and are still waiting for our house to completed.

    2. Shaun Riley ripped into us because we complained too much. All the way through the build with Mass Construction we were in constant talks with the head office as it was a shambles from start to finish. If we hadn’t complained that much (and we had every reason to complain) we wouldn’t be where we are today. Shaun Riley knew that Jason Strange was cutting corners, not paying his tradies and quite frankly doing an horrible job, making our life a hell, but he just turned a blind eye and let him do his thing, not giving a damn about the customers. Jason Strange and Mass Construction goes under and conveniently Shaun Riley has left, what a weak piece of #$%@

    3. What people don’t realise is that it is optional if the Master Franchise gets involved in any disputes. It is perception (not fact) that if the Franchisee goes into liquidation that the Franchisor will pick up the cost to rectify. Doesn’t happen unless there is profit left in the build for the Franchisor.

    4. Agree, Shaun and Jason and Daryl Smith were all cut from the same cloth. There are too many protections and little in it for people to take criminal legal action, so they get to keep doing what they do.

  71. Being in construction all my life I having sold multiple products in the industry and dealt with many building companies throughout. I am disgusted with the amount of shoddy building work that is being performed in our industry and the attitudes towards customers. It is crippling our industry and reflecting badly on the good ones striving for best business practice. It is a minefield of stress and worry for most people building and/or renovating and getting the right fit as a provider is paramount plus its nearly always the biggest amount of monetary investment made in most peoples lives. The public need to do their due diligence and I mean do their due diligence. Point 1 – we have just completed a build addition and renovation and the two other providers were nearly $400K above us (yes, $400K) and we didn’t cut corners and have made good coin and thats because we have good process, a great team and we pick the right sustainable jobs to build our business. Building does have a right price point but cheap is not always the way to go. Cheap comes with a low quality finish. You need to tick off all the boxes for supply, communication, follow through, personalities and robust business ethics. Contract contract contract limiting the likes of variations or where there are to be variations a set margin added. Point 2 – People think they can manage a build. Some might but some are just plain kidding themselves, want to supply items but don’t realise the ramifications on delays, wrong product and then expect builders to sit and wait whilst not charging for time. This is unethical and not good business practice and any builder who is prepared to do this will not be in business in future and as such you have no warranty comeback. Point 3 – selecting an lbp does not get you the right supply partner. An lbp can be anyone that is a builder but hasn’t done roofing, hasn’t installed windows, hasn’t laid flooring, hasn’t done foundations, has never built a complete residential dwelling from ground up. And people are selecting a builder just because they are an lbp not knowing this. Did you know that most group home builders use contract builders in their businesses and those same contract builders hold the lbp licence for future issues, not the group home builder. Most of these group home builders pay low rates to their contractors and that is why we have so many shonky workmanship comments on this site. Point 4 – there are companies out there marketing renovation franchises specifically detailing they don’t want builders in the business. This is a major issue for NZ going forward and the overheads for any franchise company are huge with franchise fees you pay for a build starting around the 5% mark upwards and all that goes into head office coffers. All I can say is that our industry is amok with disreputable and greedy companies who are not there for a win/win but just to take your hard earned cash and ce la vie so this brings me to my final comment. Do your due diligence, ask them what builds they are currently doing (minimum of 5) ask for referrals you can physically visit and demand to go to the ones of your choosing. Do not take their offered selections. Go to some of their suppliers and ask them what the business is like to deal with and if they are current in trading terms. This will give you a good indication of who you are signing up with and give you some perspective on what they are like. Sales people from most build companies don’t know anything but basics in building and will promise you the earth to get you to sign up and make that deposit. Then you are a captured customer and on the path of no return when the build cost climbs and the variations kick in. Diligence is paramount people PARAMOUNT !!!

    1. These are great things to know. Greedy people suck, and they sure make more work for us. But we need to make ourselves more informed to avoid these predators.

  72. It has taken me a long time to get up and write this as I try to move forward with building my home, managing the project with my Husband and watch as he works all hours to figure out how to fix all the problems that Gavin, one of the worst builders created.
    We probably have one of the worst building experiences on this website. We Hired Gavin and Peter Stewart but can’t presently give you full names or company names yet for legal reasons. They are both still in business though. I have learnt to cope with living in a very unfinished house for 5 years now as we save money, fix issues, learn new skills and build our own business to pay for it all.
    I simply just cope from day to day, month to month and winter is hard. Please anyone who is going to take on the challenge of renovating or building their new home don’t hire Gavin from Albany or Peter Stewart. I want to take them to court and I have consulted Lawyers but getting my house built has been the priority, and even writing this is hard because it forces me to remember everything and think about what has happened because I hired those two builders. We spent $330k with Gavin and Peter before firing them, leaving us financially hit hard. Our house was 90% new build.
    I can list all the things that were built badly and that list is long so you would need some time to read it all. Two of the major issues is that my entire house cladding was done really badly, the cladding was at all angles, the sizes of the weatherboards were all different and some of the cladding wasn’t even nailed onto the wood underneath so it was held up by the building paper, which was also done badly. The other huge problem was that all the walls, floors and ceilings were not plumb, not level, some on a stupid angle. My entrance way was a parallelogram when it was supposed to be a rectangle. The floor was so bad that most doors would have not opened/closed properly inside unless fixed, and figuring out how to fix all of this has cost my family about $200k.
    Most of the prenailed frames were way out of plumb, out of square, in fact I don’t think the builder ever used a level? The steel beams had to be re-done because they were so badly installed, the engineer failed them at first inspection. We had to recladd the whole house, ripping out the brand new cladding as it was installed so badly. Face sizing all wrong, out of level, boxed corners not meeting around corners. Even our foundations have needed extra repairs as the poles were done badly. Even when Gavin was on site he was fixing his own mess, but badly and at our expence.
    Our replacement building firm had a huge task fixing this, costing us another $200k, then they went into receivership so we are trying to manage this ourselves. No building firm is willing to fix this mess, most won’t even return a call.

    1. I am so sorry you are going through this. We have only just finished fixing $50k of repairs on our two-room extension, thanks to a cowboy builder.
      Can you complain to the licensing board? Like us, we can’t spend Loren money chasing legal action when we know they will NEVER pay up anyway, but at least they can get a mark against their license.

      Also – Fair Go is doing a building special, get in touch with them as well!

      I think we all need to write to the Minister sharing our experiences with the construction industry, calling for a better resolution process.

      1. I recently spoke to our local MP about all the shitty building work that is clearly in abundance at the moment as it seems that anyone with a licence can take your money, leave you with a building you wouldn’t even put your dog in and they couldn’t give a rats arse. Why? Because they want to be seen as the government that solved New Zealand’s housing shortage, they want all hands on hammers and they don’t care if the person welding it can use it or not. The LBP needs to strap on a pair and stop giving a slap on the wrist for transgressions that really require the termination of a builders license. I shudder to think what the standard of building work going on at the moment will look like in ten years but I think it’ll make “Leaky Homes” look like it was only ever a bad paint job. If the current government want my vote in the next election then they need to GET OF THEIR ARSES AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

        1. They actually have initiated a review of the licensing system as part of a broader review, so it isn’t really fair to blame the government.

          So have you reported the shoddy work of the LBPs on your site?
          I went to the media as well and that put our Mr Cowboy out of business. This will be his second LBP hearing this year. Yes, it is a wet bus ticket but it at least flags them to future customers.

          I agree the system is screwed but unless we collectively report them and lobby for change, it will just continue being as it is.

          1. As we speak there is a massive housing project being built here in Hamilton which is a Labour and Tainui partnership. Tainui supplied the land and the government supplied the labour and materials (or roughly something like that) but it’s big and it’s expensive and it’s designed to house the people who would never be able to afford a house otherwise.

            We personally know of two builders (I would guarantee you there is more we don’t know about) who have been ripping people off for years doing dodgy work AND have finally had their licenses revoked who were welcome with open arms to build over 40 homes in this project so yes, I do think the government is culpable to a certain degree, what message does this send these cowboys and crooks with hammers?

            When a licence is revoked they should never be allowed to practice again. If a builder is disciplined he needs to be stood down for a set period of time. My husband and I both submitted our opinions on the restructuring of the building practices and the general feeling we get from others who did the same is that yes, it’s a great idea and long overdue and yes, it’s making all the right noises but we can’t see how the Labour Government intends to keep their promise of fixing the housing shortage while at the same time tightening the licensing rules. The answer is we don’t think the latter will actually eventuate to a level where poor victims like Donna will be protected and given justice. It will be a slap on the wrist with a ruler as opposed to a wet bus ticket but just as ineffective.

            If our wish becomes an actual reality and all those shoddy builders are told to get a desk job then we can see builders fresh out of Tech or apprenticeships being pushed through quickly to fill the gaps and that fills me with just as much fear. My heart breaks to hear of people like Donna and her family and they need protecting and justice and I’ll challenge any MP to stand up and tell us how they intend to give it.

            I’ve forwarded a link to this website to several MP’s and implored them to read It so if any are reading this now I would love their feedback, but like most things they say it will never happen.

            1. I agree with you. Should we all lobby the Minister of Building and Construction? There will be an opportunity to submit to select committee when the law is changed.
              The poor standards of construction have been going on a long time… well before this government.

              1. I agree with all the comments regarding the construction standards and processes in NZ but I think the issue possibly goes even deeper. In my experience after building with Signature Homes Auckland North Shore is that there is a culture of dishonesty. Not only did the project managers, construction manager, and general manager continually lie to me but they lied to their suppliers and they even lied to each other. It was ridiculously dysfunctional. Over the course of my 4 year project, 2 project managers were sacked by the construction manager and then the construction manager was sacked by the GM. Sharing my experience with others I have come to understand that this culture also exists in many of the other franchised group build companies. It is highly likely that this process stems from poor process. Poor process leads to pressure and mistakes and as the pressure builds the finger pointing starts and the dishonestly and butt covering follows. Unfortunately the client is the biggest loser in this soap opera.

            2. I agree with you. It’s not on that they do this to people. Would they like it done to them. It doesn’t take much to do a good job and meet the standards. Do a good job builders and everyone will be happy. Plus you will get more work.
              We need to get rid of these dodgy builders.

          2. Their review is putting apprentices back into the class where they learn nothing. The initiatives will burn the industry as 1) builders will have to be part of either master builders who are a joke and do not protect the home owner, be part of certified builders (applies to both of these organisations) who have group housing coys as members who do not have one qualified builder on their books contracting lbps to them and still paying cheap rates. And the reason for this is access to a guarantee held after a 2 year period or a client of Builtin Insurance or one other insurance provider. This is horse bolting thereafter material. Also an lbp will have to be on every site meaning a shortage of builders increasing build cost hugely. The real need is for extensively qualified proven builders to have a premium status over every other builder who refuses to be licenced as they don’t want to take ownership for their build quality. Speaks volumes eh. Good builders like us are pooled with the every other idiot out there with a licence who is behaving badly and it’s not right. This govtmt needs to put real initiatives in play to circle the good from the bad and their initiatives going forward are not going to do that.

            1. The tiered system proposed should weed out the inexperienced from the experts.
              Insurance for negligence should be mandatory. At present the threshold for licensing is set way too low and the bar for suspension way to high.
              You are correct in that it is hard to recognise the skilled builders from the cowboys.

            2. Well certainly agree. They need to lift licensing standards, our Cowboy was sponsored by a non-LBP landscaper. Our impending LBP Board hearing is his second this year. They have continued to renew his license regardless. The complainants have never been included as witnesses (they Board then accepts the Cowboy’s excuses like the client told me to do it that way). The best we can hope for is a small fine.

              The proposed insurance provisions essentially push quality regulation onto insurance companies. Cowboys won’t be able to get insurance after a while. Homeowners are already being let down by insurers, just look at Chch.

              It is all a mess.

          3. Hi Alice, the govtmt to is to blame for a huge number of projects that have selected the lowest common tenderer for projects with major ramifications and issues. This same govtmt has published communication to the market advising that build cost must come down but they cause huge monetary issue with selecting partners taking major shortcuts to complete due to cheap pricing securing the work. Also the bureaucracy in council and govtmt legislation is costing this country and taxpayers hugely. I am currently working with a customer who council has initiated a hail report $850 please plus $1700 please just to process the section 37-Hazardous activities and industrial list for a farm implement shed on a farm. The reason for this hail report is due to a gun range 4.5kilometres away from where the shed site is. Unf***believable and you have no right to contest and apparently builders and suppliers must bring pricing down to build cheaper homes. NZ needs to get with the programme and realise that govtmt legislation and council bureaucracy is costing millions to NZ building. I can’t fathom why govtmt has now allowed Iwi to venture into every project like the sleepyhead initiative and screw nzers over to the extent of the project now being shelved. Fantastic jobs that come with housing and what has labour done. Incite negative connations for the greed of a few.

        2. Hi Alice and Melanie, thank you for your support, I appreciate that there is still some decent people out there. My Partner and I have come across a lot of self-centred cowboys while trying to do this job. LPB is a joke, Gavin has already had a notch on his record knocked off and I could go his licence but that too is a lot of work and I am extremely busy. We are hoping to put all our shit into the LPB though and hopefully he will lose his licence. Believe it or not he is also a certified Builder so I think that is a have. No builder has to prove any level of skill to be certified. NZCB are only interested in their annual payment. Gavin was sued which we found out after our mess, by a client before us. We also think that badly built houses is going to be the next leaky housing mess, I blame a system that has few checks or guarantees. Builders should be held accountable financially for what they build with a working way to do it, maybe a compulsory insurance for the client to claim against. I don’t blame our current government; the previous government caused the housing/population problems. NZ Certified builders is basically a way for cowboy builders to try to fool you, probably most of the certified builders are very dodgy.

        3. I agree with you. There are a lot of shoddy builders out there who will take you money and will fix a known defect. They are ruining a lot of peoples lives and it is not right!
          The shoddy builders are giving the industry a bad name and there are going to be a lot of issues in the future.
          Time to make a stand and make them pay for the damage they have done!

  73. Hi, does anyone have any review of Homes for Living houses, not necessarily the build part but afterwards, how the house has weathered after a few years. Cheers

    1. Platinum NZ just as much to blame. Shaun Riley – previous CEO – let Jason Strange do his thing. Warning signals left right and center but nothing was done. We are talking years of ripping people off.
      Shaun Riley has conveniently left, and Jason Strange has skipped the country. These people are the lowest of the lowest.

    1. Have you seen all the comments on here about platinum? Personally wouldn’t touch them with a barge poe .Most problems have been with tingbrWellington nch ibeI lieve but apparently the head company has done nothing and let people down. Highlight this whole page and use control s to search for platinum.

    2. Do your homework on this franchise please. I know of people who have had dealings with this guy and they struggled.

    3. Hi Dave,
      How did you go with finding a builder in Hawkesbay? I will be undertaking a reno project and looking for a builder.


  74. Hi there,

    Do anyone please have an updated review on Platinum Homes, DW Homes, Signature Homes is GJ Gardner in South/East Auckland?

    Preferably someone who is currently building a home with them or has recently finished building one?

    Trying to decide between these franchise locations only please.

    Thank you.

    1. I had a really bad experience with the current Signature franchise in East Auckland. I would not recommend them to anyone.

        1. I worked for Allan Moore at the Signature East Auckland franchise for 2 years. He has proven to me that he lacks integrity and cannot be trusted. He still owes me over $25,000 in commissions on houses I sold for him. In my opinion his builds take much too long. None of the last 6 houses I sold were finished 18 months after contract was signed. To me his business looks like just a ‘project manager’, subcontracting the trade work, with the client paying 20-25?% extra on top of the real build price … with someone who in my experience cannot be trusted.

          1. I know it is unfair to generalise when it comes to franchised builders but I do have a word of caution when it comes to Signature Homes. I built with the North Shore franchise and they continually over invoiced me or invoiced me to cover rework from their mistakes. This resulted in a stand-off situation when they stopped work after I refused to be ripped off. The Operations Manager from the Franchisor was brought in to mediate impartially but it very quickly became clear whose side they were on. Effectively they just brought more people in to gang up on me.

            Personally I recommend people stay well clear of Signature Homes unless you want to be constantly in fight mode. Honestly quite hopeless.

        2. Good afternoon.
          Howard also goes by the name of David Wilson. David/Howard worked for us for a couple of years but now works for another building company. David/Howard left unhappy as a result of a misunderstanding relating to some homes sold in a development. We met and discussed the issue and agreed on a resolution to the issue which we shook hands on. Several months later, after completing several sales with my support and obtaining an offer of employment from another home builder, he decided to renege on the agreement and demanded we pay him what he thought he was owed. We always paid David/Howard everything he was owed on time before and after this misunderstanding arose. David/Howard is a bitter ex-contractor who now works in competition to us and takes every opportunity to disparage us and our business.
          I invite anybody who is interested in understanding further the reason for David/Howards comments to contact me directly.
          Allan Moore
          Signature Homes Botany

          1. My first names are Howard David.
            I worked for Allan for two years. He refused to pay me the commission as agreed to in my contract. I am not bitter. I do not trust him. I cannot recommend him. It is what it is. He is what he is.
            When we met to discuss the “misunderstanding” Allan stated what he also sent me in a letter: “Accept his offer” (of less than half of what was due) “or you cannot continue working here.” At the time I had around $7 million in contracts lining up, of which I contracted over $5million before leaving 8 months later. He was using that future commission as leverage: Take his measly offer or walk away from all the commission I had been working towards for 12-18 months. I was not given the opportunity to reject the offer. I was told “this is sorted now, or you are no longer welcome”. So I took the offer. We did not shake hands.
            I then asked for the full amount owed several more times – long before looking for another position and finally leaving.
            Apart from briefly here and on Allan’s local Botany office Google maps/review page I have not made any statements publicly about Allan or his business.
            And yes, I moved to a great business that has integrity and looks after its clients and its people better than most. And we build way better houses.
            It takes a lot of money to build a quality home. I need to trust my builder before giving him that much of my money.
            That’s why I left Allan Moore’s business.

    2. Hi Blescel,

      Just wondering who you eventually ended up with? We’re in the process of deciding between GJ and DW for a Pokeno home and was hoping you could share some feedback about your experience with them.


      1. Hi Anne & Blescel,

        Feel free to visit our website to read some of our client testimonials for homes we have recently completed building in Pokeno, I’m happy to put you in touch with them directly for further feedback if that is something that would be of interest to you.

        Kind regards,
        Emma Walworth
        DW Homes

      2. Hi Anne J,

        We had put our plans on the back burner because of COVID but we are now revisiting our options. At the moment, we are focusing on the subdivision part but have not made a solid decision on a builder.


    3. Hi Blescel,
      You can probably ask these builders for some customers to speak to perhaps? Also, I understand that DW Homes aren’t a franchise builder, they’re indepenant.

  75. Anyone currently building with Platinum Homes Wellington (Mass Construction)?

    Want to know what other comms people have received this week following resources being pulled from sites

    1. Mass Construction have stopped trading – informed by my mortgage broker, New Build, this morning. Make sure to check your builder’s risk insurance certificate is still valid and renew if not. Also lodge a non-completion claim through your build guarantee so that you can get the build completed by another building company.

      Not ideal but probably a blessing in disguise having these cowboys out of business and off our sites!

      1. Not surprised, this guy has been ruining people’s lives for years now……lack of communication, contractors not getting paid, bullying tactics, staff walking out, he has had to operate for way too long and needs to get out of industry so he doesnt ruin more innocent peoples live, its a disgrace that he is still operating.

      2. This is not a surprise. Platinum Head Office has been keeping this guy afloat with no credibility whatsoever. They are most to blame for this fiasco people.

    2. Hi

      I work in the industry and apparently they have folded. We have three clients caught up in this at the moment. We are getting no comms from Platinum Homes on what is happening. We understand Platinum Homes is going to stop in as there are a number of developments affected. Cannot say i am surprised though given how slow they are to respond to queries.

    3. Sorry to hear what you are going through, we also built with Mass and had to go through a nasty settlement process.

    4. We have been notified by one of the subbies that they’re going into liquidation so would not be coming to do work. This was last week.
      Was a matter of time to be honest

    5. we are one of those families, we heard first from the digger man I feel so sorry for him, he looked just shattered. Our house was started just last week with earthworks now our back yard looks like a bomb whet off, its just terrible. We have been waiting for months and months for a start. Its terrible. The house we were building is for our disabled daughters. We saw the manager from head office today, he seemed genuine, but I feel I am no judge of character after dealing with Jason, he would charm the pants off a nun. From the crux of it a new contract may be offered with a new builder, but insurance will not cover our cost of getting the lawyer to look at the new contract, we are out of pocket for that. If you have really started then Platinum builders will take over, if you have not really started the build then new builders will take over. No compensation of stress and anxiety or loss of time. We were told we would hear end of next week what they will offer us to move forward.
      How has it gone for you?

      1. I’d bite the bullet and start with a new builder. Get your deposit back and save yourself several years of anxiety.

      2. Terrible news, I know the owner that was doing your platform. What a nice guy and so trusting now out of pocket for $$$$$$ thousands.
        Hope your build starts fairly soon with a good building company. MBA should have closed Jason Strange done years ago.

        1. Mass Construction went into liquidation on 5 August. Creditors have until mid-September to make a claim. We live near several homes being built by Mass Construction/Platinum Homes and for quite a while have noticed materials being delivered and then taken away, work starting and then no work for weeks, skips not being emptied (and other MC/PH contractors dumping their waste in those skips). Other suppliers we used ourselves said they hadn’t been paid for work undertaken in January 2019. I feel for the owners – one said they had no set completion date (though I know this is movable, they weren’t getting any information at all from the company).

          1. We signed up in 2016 and have never been given a finish date. Just constant lies & verbal abuse. Our house is still not finished.

          2. Anyone know who the liquidators are so we can contact if we have a claim.? We are waiting on a refund that was supposed ot be done in Jan 2019.

    6. I am interested in getting in touch with anyone who is caught up in the Platinum mess currently and is dealing with insurance trying to get homes completed.
      Also has anyone been able to get Platinum to step up and do any work to get houses finished?

  76. We are looking at building in Rolleston. Anyone used Online Design and Build? or any suggestions for a building company that has been good to deal with. This is our first home so we don’t want get screwed over!!! Thanks

    1. We are building our first home with Homes by Parklane and I cannot rate them high enough. James Maher is great, you don’t just get the low spec items and choices

    2. Go to Generation Homes dependent upon budget. Seriously most of the franchised coys are bloody useless. Generation not so and no, I don’t work for them.

  77. Having our first home built by Newson Construction (in the Bay of Islands), we felt it necessary to provide some feedback.
    Dealing with the Newsons was often a very difficult, stressful and tiring process. The effective communication between the project manager and their accounts department was lacking and this caused multiple double ups on bills and errors on the accounts. When questioning these double ups, we felt our questioning was disregarded before they then admitted any error.
    Often we had to chase for the answers to our questions from the project manager who we felt would bury his head in the sand, he rarely met the deadlines he set and we lost our trust in his abilities.
    We would not recommend Newson Construction if you are building your first or dream home for that matter.

  78. Hi all.
    Looking at getting a reclad done in Tauranga on a mono house that has been well maintained. MBA referred me to Nisbett Builders. Can’t find any reviews or feedback anywhere so wondering if anyone has had any experiences with them?

  79. We recently built with Landmark Homes in New Plymouth. I can’t speak highly enough of their service and advice throughout the entire build. We looked at several other home build companies before going with them and were warned about several of them from people we knew who had built with them. Landmark were very patient with all our little changes throughout the build, nothing was a problem. Our house is perfect and any little new house glitches we have had have been dealt with immediately by the team. If you want a peace of mind build, these are your guys! Very happy customer.

    1. Remember they are all franchises so one might be good, another will be nothing like it, so do your due diligence and ask to see the last 4 builds they did on their books (recent only, even ones they have in construction at present) and then ask to go and visit all of those 4 – otherwise they will put you onto people that they only want you to talk to. This way you get to talk to real people using their services real time.

  80. Hi all
    My partner and I are planning to build our First home in Rolleston, Christchurch.
    We have been talking to Golden Homes and after reading some comments on here we are a bit concern about variation cost and PC Sum at end of construction.
    We are still at very early stage so still looking around to compare as well.
    Anyone have any recommendation of which would be a good builder in Christchurch?

    1. Have you come across green homes? Ask for Hamish, he was really great to deal with and got most of the PC sums removed and actual costs put in before the fixed price offer.

  81. Hi
    I am planning on building a home in the Whangamata are. Can anyone recommend some builders.



  82. Hi, can you make the site more efficient by having a search feature whereby you can enter a company name to read reviews that are relevant to that one builder & not have to scroll through the whole site

    1. I search it by using ctrl-A (select all) then ctrl-F (find). At the top left a search box comes up and you can enter your words there. Use the arrow to and it jumps to the next one.

    2. Hi Richard
      I’ve tried adding a search plugin but they only search my posts, not the comments. I’m currently looking at how to rebuild this and still keep everything but it isn’t easy! The easiest thing to do is ctrl-F – you don’t need to ctrl-A – and that’s a search of the whole document.

  83. Hi. Anyone built with Platinum Homes Taranaki/New Plymouth? I realise the lower North Island guy is a shocker, but this branch is owned by someone else I hear.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Not built with them but more than 5 years ago I popped into their office picked up a few drawings and a copy of the contract. His parting words were we don’t change our contract. Due to the time lapse it may be owned by someone else now. In any event with builders in demand they tend to have the whip hand so other franchises and builders may well be the same and not be prepared to change their contract. Contracts are always in favour of the builder. A friend built with GJ in NP and was reasonably happy with them. I reiterated a number of times to him and his wife about reading the contract before signing. His wife was fairly meticulous and I think she spent more time in going over the contract. One does not need a lawyer to get a feel for the clauses. You might need to use one for a finer interpretation of a particular clause or where clauses are cross referenced
      By the way did I mention read the contract and understand it before signing and don’t sign in a meeting with the builder or franchisee. Pressure tactics.

    2. Hi Regan,

      I know the franchises are owned by different people BUT there appears to be a culture of grabbing money and not giving a damn at Platinum Homes that I would be very wary of.

      I entered into a contract with Platinum Homes it the Central North Island to build a home 31 months ago and it is still thwart with problems from shoddy building practices. It took 18 months to actually get possession of the home. I was initially told that he would have the home up in 6 months. My wife had metastatic breast cancer and the house was to be her sanctuary for the cancer battle. Our battle was less with cancer and more with the builder who allegedly took on 25 builds in the year ( fine if he had the trades to do so but he didn’t so he would just do a little work here; a little work there and not care about the deadlines and experiences of his clients). He allegedly was late for many of his clients. My wife became despondent …..with the build, with our hope, with cancer and then with life. She killed herself in May of last year; the house was ” finished” in July. Too late for her and nightmare for me. The builder was well aware of her illness when he took the build on. He promised me that he would pull out all stops to get it finished ASAP. He would even “put on his own tool belt”. They are the most despicable, disrespectful people. I wrote to their head office and received NOTHING back. Not a thing.
      If you have another builder option where you live I would recommend you take your business there.
      In my experience, this group of builders have no respect for their clients.
      I am going to provide media with the story as I think people need to know what they may be getting into with these builders. People need to know what to look for in their contracts; the warning signs of builder deceit. More importantly, we need to help fellow kiwi’s weed out the cowboys from this problematic trade.
      Good luck

      1. Hi D, please can you provide me with your email as I would like to have a discussion with you. Very sorry to hear about your situation and the difficulties you and your late wife went through.

        I am currently going through a battle with Platinum Homes and it may be beneficial for us both to have a discussion.


      2. Oh that’s horrible, sorry to hear about your wife. Who owns the central franchise? Can’t believe you received no communication back from platinum homes considering all you’ve been through.

        1. Platinum in the naki are ok if you are into a bit a diy. they will bild a house with a pile of problems so that looks like it is 20 years old so you can spend your weekends fixing it up like a diy show. Its kind of fun as it is double glazed and insulated so you dont have to wurry about that stuff but most other things will need to be redun. Weve restored a lot of classic cars so we enjoy it. The franchise supports us in our efforts by not returning phone calls emails and cross the street when they spot us so we are wholeheartedly alone to do our diy without interruptions.

          Platinum homes. Building new homes just like the old one you grew up in.

  84. We are the victims of a cowboy builder in Wellington. $50K of defects and associated costs so far. Our situation aside, was disgusted that he was already the subject of a LBP Board investigation for negligence while he was busy constructing our extension not to plans, consent or building code.

    Further inquiry reveals that to be an LBP you only need a carpentry qualification, two referees and a telephone interview. No character referees, drug tests, or even a police check. Investigations take months and months, with no restrictions or supervision of the builder (unlike other professions where they are either stood down or work under supervision). No wonder we still have leaky buildings. Of course if it goes wrong, the LBP can quickly shut down their company to avoid all claims.

    Good to see the government has announced a review of the construction industry:

    Hope other affected homeowners submit their experiences!

    If you are entering a construction contract, I suggest you add a clause for drug testing and police checks seeing as the licensing board doesn’t bother. Odd that a hammer hand or forklift operator may have to pass these basic requirements, but an LBP director can do what they like.

      1. I think it a reasonable expectation that a licensed building practitioner is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol while doing or supervising restricted building work and running a building site. Just as an employer may expect it of an employee.

  85. Anyone else having a bad experience from Platinum Homes Wellington (Mass Construction/Jason Strange) not being paid?

    1. We have not had an invoice settled for 285 days and counting for piles driven on one of platinum homes (mass construction Nz Ltd) sites. Do not do any work for this company. You will not be paid.

      1. I spoke to platinum homes head office yesterday and they advised me they were looking into the situation with Jason strange . A decision would be made in Wednesday to either close up or continue the buildings . Jason has gone to ground . He owed us money from dec 2018 . The hole must be pretty deep .

    2. Latest news is that Jason Strange has left the country. The weak coward that he is, lying and ripping people off for years. Platinum NZ just as much to blame as all the signs have been there for years and they did nothing. Shaun Riley CEO has left as well, says enough. Only after one thing and that is filling their own pockets. New CEO in place, he will have a difficult job to repair the damage that has been done for years by these incompetent rats.

  86. We recently had a terrible experience with latitude homes hawkes bay. Please don’t use them! Debbie the owner is unprofessional and worse customer service ever. They don’t seem to understand the variation process. We thought we had been very thorough in our specs and drawings and every turn they added money or delivered anything but what we had specified with excuses at every turn. We went over time and budget and still didn’t get what we wanted. The final product was rubbish. We went to lawyers but latitude homes didn’t seem to care and didn’t comply. We have now found two other couples in our small neighbourhood who have the same problems recently. We’ve had issues with costs for site works and foundations. Windows and doors arriving too large so the builder hacked away at the framing to get them to fit then made the holes too large and used extensive amounts of expanding foam to just fill gaps. They installed sliding doors that weren’t the ones we asked for then made us pay for new ones. We still have a double bed sitting in our hallway as they made the hallway unusually narrow and used narrow doors. We now cant fit a standard bed in to a 4mt by 5mt room! to be honest we didn’t think to even check. Terrible paint finish we still have holes in our walls where the electrician has moved plug sockets even though we moved in in October last year. Trying to get anything remedied has been a nightmare. Weve sent lawyers letters but they just don’t listen. We are not sure what else to do. We have concrete patios that are uneven and rough and multiple colors. The list goes on. The head office seems to have no control over the other franchises so these sorts of companies are terrible to work with. One piece of advice would be don’t go with a group type builder. In this case it seems latitude homes is just a logo that any ‘builder’ can buy and head office have no control over quality or if things going wrong. The business owner is unprofessional and extremely defensive as the builder is her son. Her son was often rude to us and had terrible time management often showing up to site in the late afternoon and then rushing to get things done leaving a un satisfactory result. In our opinion he was too young and inexperienced and if we had met him prior we would of cut our losses. We’ve built before and know the process and the two companies couldn’t have been any more different. Debbie at latitude homes is terrible to deal with and seems to have no process for anything. On our final inspection she showed up with no paper work and kept denying being able to see any issues. She took a scrap paper out of her handbag to write things on. It’s ridiculous. They kept using different contractors as they burn bridges and contractors don’t want to work with them. Then when work isn’t to standard we just get left with the mess or an additional bill. If you want to speak to us please contact me or reply to this message. Small claims court looks like our only other option.

    1. What about going to the master build Ass. I think we are going to be in the same boat. ALIX from lower north island is the same. Not going by spec or drawings.
      Giving stories and lieing. We are about 60% completed and I hate the house.

      1. Master builders are useless, they are there to protect their members and nobody else. I have spent a lot of money with lawyer’s trying to help but master builders don’t want to know

        1. Disputes Tribunal will be increased to $30k soon. Probably the best way forward for all of us left with building defects.

      2. I am looking at them too – and yes sounds a bit genuine (and sales man types) but the cost is considerably lower than some others. I would like to know the quality of workmanship, ability to stick to budget and not go under from anyone who have used them before?

        Would like to hear more about’not going by specs’ – what are they changing and are the project managing the build themself? Seems odd that they would not stick to the building plan? Please respond. thanks

    2. Hi Janine and Martin Green,
      My partner and I are looking to build in the Hawkes Bay and were looking into Latitude homes. We are also dealing with Debbie. Would you be able to share some more of your experience with me? I’d hate for us to waste our time and money. My email is if you are able to share your experience.


  87. Has anyone had any experience building with Izodom? They operate in Wellington and It looks like they have a good system for passive energy homes.


  88. Hi,

    My partner and I are looking at doing a house and land package with either GJ Gardner or Key2 in Auckland. Does anyone recommend one over the other, we haven’t dealt with any before and would gladly hear of peoples opinions.


    1. Don’t know about key2, but be careful as G J way under quote the actual costs. Their “standard kitchen” doesn’t even have soft close drawers. They quote without checking covenants, so often adding gables etc. into their plan just to be able to meet the covenants will already add about $10,000. I would recommend going with a private builder. If you can, pay an architect to draw what you want up for you first then get quotes from a few different builders. Make sure you know the specifics in your quotes of everything included and brand of appliances etc.

      1. Hi Brie, All good advice. In connection with builders putting in ‘standard’ provisions (or alternatively PC or Provisional Sums) which are unlikely to give you what you want in the finished build, please see my post yesterday on PC and Prov. Sums.
        But regarding my other comment, about how many people in NZ seem to get involved in building a house, when they have limited or no experience of building or building contracts, I have to ask, ‘Who on earth would employ a builder to design and build a house on their land, without first checking themselves to see whether there are any covenants, and making sure the builder is aware of them and has complied with them in the design, or priced to comply with them during construction?’.

      2. Absolutely on same page as Brie. We had a customer who got a price from GJ’s and they came to us for a quote. We told them we would be $30K cheaper easily. They said when I put the quote to them that we were the same price as GJ’s. So I happily asked them to go back and ask specific questions and get it in writing about site excavation, fill, blockwork etc and yip, they had a pc sum of $1500 in the contract, no fill, no blockwork and yup, we were around $30K under the GJ price. Don’t be fooled people. Do your due diligence and tie up the contract for fixed price. Everyone out there is presenting contracts on pc sum which is a joke. It is unethical and works in favour of the company charging you huge variations. When you have to add something they charge like wounded bulls and you signed the contract allowing them to do this. Also make sure when you go to an architect you advise him what your build budget is and be realistic. We had a couple come to us wanting a beautiful house built out of Hinuera Stone and the cost from 2 other builders was around 850K to 1m and we came in at $760K. Their budget was $600K. They had to sell the land and move on destroying their dreams. We get this all the time, people wanting to build something designed by an architect and then expecting us to build for a ridulously low price. Its not fair on the customer and its not fair on the builder. We also do a huge amount of renovation work and find all the time that designers have designed something ridiculously costly for the application and coming to a reputable builder first and foremost, we can put you onto our contacts and work with them to design exactly what you need (ie: saving cost on the build). People think process is design, costing, choosing builder then build. Its not, its builder/designer working together, coming up with the right price for the build, tailoring specification to suit, making sure the wish list is accommodated for and then building with happy parties from go to whoa. Otherwise be careful what you wish for.

  89. Hi all
    Looking for a reliable builder to built 2 new dwelling units (each about 155 meter) in Glen Eden Auckland,Any recommendations ???
    two name i have in my mind are KVN builders Ltd and Emcon Ltd
    Feedback will help to decide

    1. Hi Everyone. Can some please clarify to me what the maximum percentage a P C -Sum can vary? Are there any laws within the Consumers Guarantee act that governs and protects the owner as far as this is concerned?

      1. No there isn’t. Try to have as few as possible because no doubt they will add on where they can! We’ve learnt the hard way.

      2. Hi Shas, This is a complicated subject (which I’ve written about on this blog before). I’m not sure that Janine & Martin are entirely right in saying there is no limit in the amount a PC Sum can vary, if by that they mean it’s outside your control. I agree you should try to keep them to a minimum, but as I mention below it’s not PC Sums that are really the problem. It’s Provisional Sums that cause most problems. But if the work under these items is required anyway to complete the job, then unless you got a really watertight fixed price contract (which is very rare) you’re going to pay for it anyway. You’re best bet is to anticipate the problems, and try to minimise the builders room for padding costs, by putting in realistic sums, or getting rates for the work upfront.
        First make sure you are using the right terminology.
        In NZ Prime Cost (PC) sums generally cover the cost of items you know you will want, but the specific items may not yet have been chosen. In this case it is important that the contract makes it clear that it is you, the client who does the choosing. So if, for example, the contract allows $2K for supply of an oven, or $50/sq m for carpet, and you choose a more expensive oven, or more expensive carpet, then you must pay the difference. But if you choose less expensive items you should be credited with the difference. It’s up to you to make sure PC sums are realistic for what you want. Ask the builder before signing the contract which supplier he uses for these things, and check out how much they charge for what you want. Some contracts allow you to supply your own stuff, but that can cause complications with warranties.
        A Provisional Sum (or Quantity) is an amount that has been included for work where the requirement for, or extent of the work, is not known and can’t be determined prior to signing the contract. Obviously this means that the final quantity of the work, if any, is usually completely outside the control of the client, and in many cases outside the control of the builder. It may be determined by the engineer or by Council requirements etc.
        Typically this would for things in the foundations, like excavation of unsuitable material, or depth of piles, which can only be known exactly after work starts. In theory I suppose you can say this is unlimited, and certainly most builders will try to underplay it when they give an initial price. But in reality an experienced builder is expected to be able to make a reasonable estimate prior to starting work, especially if you’ve had a detailed site survey and some simple site investigation done before talking to the builder. And of course you can always ask an independent quantity surveyor or engineer to estimate a reasonable figure before you sign the contract. If it came to a dispute I think a court or arbitrator would tend to side with the client, as the less experienced party, who did not write the contract. My suggestion would be to try to put in the contract at least some Provisional Quantity of these things, so you can get a price per cubic/square/linear metre. Then if the quantity changes it can be measured, and paid for at the agreed rate. It’s not just a sum the builder has dreamed up!
        I’m continually surprised that so many people in NZ go into house building with almost no knowledge of building contracts, and without taking independent advice.

    2. Hi
      Hutton Contracting done a fabulous job on my two dwellings out at beach rd browns bay.
      they are high quality builders that have built nice houses in the past.
      you can find him online

  90. Hi, I’m currently looking at building with Golden Homes Whangarei franchaise. I’ve build with GH in Auckland and while the process is loooong, I think they do a good product for the money.

    This time I’ll be building in Kerikeri and they’ve stated that the build will be $10K more expensive because of transportation of materials and travel costs. I accept this because I figure most building companies do the same but build in the costs. Has anyone any comments good or bad on Golden Homes Whangarei?

    1. I can recommend Fowler Homes Whangarei. They do work in Kerikeri. I’ve just built with them and am pleased with the result.

      1. We had a bad experience with Fowler Homes in Queenstown recently and the Fowler Homes head office was no help. There is no backup if things go wrong. The tv advertisement says you can trust Fowler Homes, but they were not interested in us and did not seem interested in making sure their franchise-holders do a good job.

    2. Hi Cate,

      We are planning to build with Golden Homes, Auckland. I see that you said they took long time to complete the build. Can you please tell me how long did they take? And can you provide me the name of the builder.


    1. We have had a studio built by Nest Homes – absolute top quality products and work. Jock and Jackie, and their sons are lovely people. To illustrate the high quality building standard they work to – we travelled with the studio on a trailer from Cambridge to Wellington in howling wind and pouring rain without any leaks. They went over and above to accommodate what we wanted. They take obvious pride in their work. Highly recommend.

  91. Hi there,

    We are looking to build in Tauranga and are after recommendations for a building company there please.

    This will be our first time, so are keen for any advice on what to ask, and what makes one company better than another.

    Versatile is standing out so far.

    Looking forward to your thoughts! Thank you!

      1. Hi May I please know why GJ Gardner was not mentioned in your standouts lists in the Bay? Just wondering as we are also looking at building in Tauranga. Thanks

        1. It may be too late but please don’t use Versatile. I am building my first home with them. One bedroom unit on flat ground already 9 months overdue and mistake after mistake. Deeply regret choosing them.

          1. Hi Susan
            Rather than just slagging off Versatile, can you please specify which franchise it was and what the issues were? There’s no good in slamming the rest of the Versatile franchisees because of one bad apple.

    1. The only builder there that is not a franchise is Classic. All the others are dependent on the individual franchise in that area and he may be crap but others around the country may be good operators. Don’t tar them all with the same brush.

  92. Hey Guys,

    We are building with Navigation homes in Dunedin at the moment and are wondering if any one else has built with them and what their experience was like?

    1. Do your due diligence with the franchise. Ask how long they have been in business and what is their warranty/guarantee contract going forward as they market on 50 years structural guarantee but by law they don’t have to follow this under the building code. Its just a marketing ploy. In the North Island their franchises change like underpants and the Head Operator has been taken to court after promoting others plans selling franchises. The 3 in Auckland all lost their money walked away from the company years ago.

  93. Hi there,

    Just looking at information on New builds in the Golden Sands Papamoa area. We are looking at ZB homes or Venture. Has anyone built with these guys? How was the process so forth?

    Cheers Ash

    1. It may be too late but please don’t use Versatile. I am building my first home with them. One bedroom unit on flat ground already 9 months overdue and mistake after mistake. Deeply regret choosing them.

  94. As far as I’m concern they organized an engineer to do a soil test (which we pay) before the build and before they made the quote. Their explanation written below: (please note that they never advised us that there might be additional costs due to those changes) My arguments was; with all those changes how come they never advise us of the costs that may arise with those changes. They made us believed that even with those changes everything was covered by their quote.

    “As the dimensions and location of your home changed from original earthworks quote, our contractor is within their rights to re-quote and pass all additional costs on to you as per final plans. However, they are a very good company and offered to complete as per their original quote. Unfortunately they encountered a deeper level of topsoil at the northern end of your property than anticipated. They immediately ceased work and notified us of the extra cost of hard fill required to complete your building platform. They did not charge extra for the labour to compact the extra hard fill, just the extra to cover the unexpected extra hard fill.

    Due to your home design changing and moving on your site, the Electrician and Drainage contractors too have the opportunity to re-quote your job for you. We have spoken to them and at this stage they are happy to continue with the work as quoted unless anything unexpected occurs on site due to the new location of your home.

    We have attached the plans for your review along with the original earthworks quote.

    Sorry for any inconvenience caused due to the unexpected top soil depth on your site. Our purpose is to remove as much stress and make this an enjoyable journey for all, so we hope this email alleviates any misunderstandings.

    Our site supervisor and the earthworks contractor are still happy to meet with you and discuss the situation, however as you can see from the above changes you made we believe they have been fair and reasonable with dealing with your earthworks. Please advise if you would still like to go ahead with said meeting”

    1. I think this is fair due to change of location of building platform. The fact that no extra labour was charged is worth ticking off as a win. $1000 in the scheme of things is not big especially for footings and foundation. I’d advise to not make this a big issue given that as the build progesses you need to keep a good working relationship and there might be bigger issues down the track that need more leverage.

      1. Yes, agree. We had a similar figure on our first build in Wellington, and in the scheme of things this is small, there were changes to layout that were not originally envisaged. You should have a budget of, in my experience, 4-5% sitting to the side as a contingency even on fixed price contracts for these types of eventualities (and for the inevitable nice-to-have upgrades you may want later, plus curtains and landscaping).

    2. Seems fair enough to me – if something unexpected crops up, would be your cost – since it’s your house. Not always possible to identify everything that might crop up along the way.
      Really you need to have some resilience if your building as otherwise you will argue over every minor issue that will come up. That’s why you budget for an extra 10% etc.

  95. Just like to ask for comments and advice, we used golden homes to build our house. they gave us a “quote” for a fixed price contract to build the house. Everything is quoted aside from the kitchen and floor covers which are PC sums. When they start the earthworks, they charging me extra $1,100 because they said that they needed additional hard fill to level my section. I told them that based on our contract
    they gave us a quoted price for the earthworks which means that it is a fixed price. Can the builder charge me extra even though we agreed to the quote they submitted for the earthworks?

    1. Hi Jurgen, if it is genuinely just for levelling the section, then the answer should be no. But often, unless a comprehensive geotech report was done prior to starting the build, the builder may find soft ground that needs more fill to make it sufficiently stable for building on. If this is the case, it is almost always specifically allowed for in the contract in terms of unknown “ground conditions”. You can probably Ctrl+F on that phrase in your contract to see how they describe it.

      1. Should the builder of contacted the homeowner with a written variation stating what needs to be done before work commences. I also thought both parties were to sign the variation?

    2. Hey Jurgen – yes they can do that as in your contract it will state (as David mentions) about unknown conditions and there are clauses that allow the builder to charge you extra. However they have to be reasonable and when it comes to earthworks $1,000 is fairly reasonable. In my case they charged me $16K extra at the end of the job, despite my questioning them at the time and saying I could not afford to go ahead with build if it cost more (should note that the geotech report said the ground was “all good” – it was in waimak which is solid ground). They told me it would cost me $500 more then essentially spent an extra $15,500 of my money without even asking me (no variation signed). Ended up in Court as I had to pay them because they locked me out of my house until I did!!! Then took them to Disputes Tribunal. Unfortunately the DT “adjudicator” knew diddly squat about building and as they always do awarded half. Was extremely angry and pretty much still am. Because of Court case they also never came to do any of the maintenance issues I brought up with them – but just couldn’t be bothered to fight them anymore….. 🙁

      1. Yes, agree with Sarah. We had a very similar expense on our first build in Wellington for soft ground. In the scheme of things, especially given there were changes to positioning, this is small. You should always have 4-5% contingency set aside (preferably that the builder doesn’t know about) even with a fixed price contract for these types of things plus for the inevitable upgrades, curtains, landscaping etc. But all changes and variations should be formalised and signed by both parties, or at least agreed to before they commence via email.

  96. Spoiler Alert: If you believe a Master Builder is actually giving you a “fixed price contract”, you are probably wrong.

    We have spent the last 2 months “dating” A1 Homes. We found a plan that could work, with a few revisions, and agreed specs down to the taps and window latches. We have built before, so know exactly what we want, and they provided a fixed price estimate (crucially, not a quote) to our specs. It seemed like a fair price so we were keen to continue.

    They then said we would need to spend $3,000 on drawings and colour consultants before they could give us an actual fixed price quote. That is a lot of money – we have previously had quotes done on concept drawings that cost us $1,500 and $1,955 respectively.

    Eventually we came round to the idea, but we asked to see the contract they intended to use before we forked over $3,000. That’s when it got hairy.

    A1 presented us with a “standard” Registered Master Builders Association contract. The problem is that Clause 46 of the contract (2018 edition) specifically allows the builder to charge us more if ANY aspect of the build turns out to be pricier than the fixed price quote. i.e. it directly contradicts the claim of a fixed price quote.

    Further, Clause 101 of the contract (which has grown by about 60 clauses since we last built, practically all of them skewed toward the builder), specifically allows for a situation where A1 is building for Mrs Smith down the road and if that gets delayed, they can delay your start and end date. And with Clause 46 locking in their ability to on-charge any costs that might arise because prices rose since they gave you a not-fixed fixed price quote, they’ve ensured whatever their project management skills, you will pick up the tab. Oh and by the way, they have your deposit of 5% while they retain the right to delay indefinitely while they finish Mrs Smith’s project.

    We queried these 2 clauses and a couple of others. A1’s response was simply that they don’t ever change clauses. They had no answer for my question of how they could claim they offered a fixed price contract when it wasn’t. They said they hadn’t charged more than the fixed price on the 2 years they had used the contract, which frankly didn’t give me enough peace of mind to hand them $500K on the back of a contract that still says they can crank up the price at any time.

    I spoke to a Director of Master Build Services who confirmed there was nothing stopping them deleting irrelevant clauses in the contract; A1 was simply choosing not to.

    In the end, we were not willing to risk our money on a “no surprises guarantee” that isn’t any guarantee at all and could potentially hold a very nasty surprise. We suggest you give this a lot of thought and question whoever you build with if they have the same wide-open clauses in the contract.

    1. Hi David

      Very interesting comments that you make

      At Quinn Homes we have a seperate document that negates these clauses and clearly offers a fixed priced contract. Having been in the industry for nearly 30 years I am aware of the tricks that some building companies try on clients to get your deposit and tie you in.

      The main aspect I pick up from your comments is that it doesn’t set a good environment for the building relationship at the forefront which is critical for an enjoyable build in that both parties can work on trust from start to finish..

      A fixed price contract has to be a fixed price contract. Estimate should not be seen anywhere

      1. And if you are the Peter Quinn we talked to years ago from Master Build, I would advise people to not believe a word you say. Master Build Guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on and if people look into it they will find this out.

        1. Hi

          As we only joined Master Builders two years ago and checking my emails for the past five years ago I would suggest you are clearly mistaken.

          If you had done due diligence with your solicitor, any issues with this contract would had been clearly pointed out to you.

          My comments were merely an example of how things can be done better to protect clients like in your case.

          1. If you only joined two years ago, why would you check your emails from five years ago? Doesn’t make any sense.

            1. Because I have been a developer for about eight years. NEVER WORKED FOR MASTER BUILDERS. I joined the association two years ago because clients wanted it.

              1. Okay Peter. I did say, “if” and after talking with my husband we know the last name was Quinn but after so many years we are not sure of the first name (think it may have been Warwick) so believe you when you say it wasn’t you. Anyway, this site was originally set up for people who had built or were building to get information from other people in the same situation. It is still very clear that having a Master Build Guarantee means nothing.

        2. We are finding out now what the master builders guarantee is all about. Not worth the paper it is written on. They are taking money by deception. They have no intentions of helping the homeowners , I have tried to work through issues with our place with CEO David Kelly, kirsty Forman and fairway resolutions . Our issues are major and no one wants to take responsibility for it.

          1. Exactly. It is just a marketing tool. Under the Building Act you have a 10 year implied warranty and this is what matters.

          2. Hi Hadenough
            That’s the game they play. Try and wear you down with no intention of fixing the big issues.

  97. Hi all, would very much appreciate any response from those who have purchased a Keith Hay home with ‘shadowclad’ cladding. We are looking at purchasing a property that has the Keith Hay ‘Raglan’ showhome model on the site, finished in shadowclad board and batten. The home is just under 2 years old. I was concerned to hear that Carter Holt Harvey is the subject of a class action over the shadowclad product. Should I be worried – is there really a bigger issue with the cladding, or is it just limited to isolated cases? The cladding looks to be in conditiona tthis point, with no visible warping. Thanks heaps.

    1. Daniel – I would be very wary of buying anything with Shadowclad on which is 2 years old. The problems with Shadowclad came from how it was fixed on site. They have since updated the installation manual and details but only since May 2018 so if it I was you, I wouldn’t be going near Shadowclad which has been done before that date.

    1. We started our build three years ago with Fowler Homes Southern Lakes, director/ project manger John Mansfield . Still waiting on occupancy certificate, 56 page report of fails. It’s been an absolute nightmare. We have been lied to on numerous occasions , this man has no idea about customer service , my advice don’t even consider them!

        1. Would love to compare notes on our experience , we have been advised to go to fair go by our solicitor due to length of time this has dragged on. I can email you have requested a follow up email when you reply so it should not show on this forum.

              1. Tony Hill claims he has contacted customers of John Mansfield and reassigned them builders . We have not been contacted and I know of another customer in Queenstown who has also not been contacted. Hoping to hear from others who have not been contacted.

                1. We have also not been contacted by Tony Hill since Mansfield went into liquidation. No help at all. Nothing.

  98. Hi Everyone, looking for comments on Platinum Homes, especially interested in the service of fixing problems after the house is built, thank-you!

    1. If you are in the lower North Island they will not fix your issues. To be honest I am surprised that you even have a finished house. We are nearly two years in, had five completion dates and no end in sight. Absolutely horrendous outfit

      1. Platinum – Lower North Island – Jason Strange – SHOCKING
        no service – no nothing
        lots of promises – no action – and definitely no fixing things after you moved in
        as soon as they have your money they will ignore you completely
        long history of destroying peoples lives –
        you wonder how he is still allowed to operate a franchise
        Platinum New Zealand : it is time you sort this out !!