Building your dream home is an exciting endeavour but it requires careful planning, especially when managing costs. 

Design Builders Architect Renee Woods and Taupo’s Managing Partner Matt Corleison caught up with ArchiPro to provide insight to the factors influencing the cost of custom homes and to explore strategies to mitigate expenses throughout the build. 

Written by Casey Arden, ArchiPro 
Original article: link  

Design Builders, a New Zealand construction company, delivers bespoke projects designed by the in-house architectural team and built by its construction teams – offering the complete custom home package. 

Design Builders assists clients in finding the perfect plot of land, understanding their requirements and preferences for the home, and guiding them through the design and construction process until they achieve their dream home. 

“At Design Builders, clients have the ease of one point of contact from start to finish and beyond,” says Matt Corleison, Managing Partner (Taupo) at Design Builders. 

Renee Woods, Architect at Design Builders, explains the significant benefits of using a designer-builder company when building a custom home. 

“Right from the outset, the designers are working with the construction team, collaborating with the craftsmen who are going to bring the design to life for our clients,” says Woods. 

“It’s a big advantage to discuss detailing and construction methodology while we’re in the early design stages. This streamlines the design process for all involved and can help control costs before we get too far into the project.” 

The cost of building a custom home

The overall cost of a custom home will depend on the site, the complexity of the structure, and the final materials used; however, cost-effective products can reduce the cost while maintaining a home’s style. 

Corleison explains the common challenges or complexities that might affect costs when building custom homes. “There is always potential for the unknowns. However, we mitigate this when we have a tighter budget by limiting the structure’s complexity and using materials that we know are more stable in their costs and less prone to inflation.” 

Throughout the process, clients have opportunities to save costs without compromising quality or design, explains Corleison. “The complexity of the design and materials can be hundreds of dollars difference in cost per square-metre. We look to highlight these nicer materials in terms of features and then pair them with cost-effective alternatives for the parts of the home that aren’t so present.” 

Woods explains how many factors, even site topography and ground conditions, can affect costs. “The type of site, design complexity, structural requirements, window joinery, cladding choices and Interior specification and selections. Basically, every design choice we make from the ground up impacts the cost of building. We have that in mind right from the initial design concept, based on the budget we are working with, all the things we can do to get the best specific outcome for our clients,” says Woods. 


Franklin showhome
Franklin showhome

The custom home process explained 

Corleison provides the step-by-step process of what to expect when building a custom home with Design Builders. 

Design brief: The first step is a client discovery session, where we discuss what the client wants and likes. We then work through the practical requirements, considering the flow between rooms, furniture placement, orientation to the sun and views, outdoor living, and parking. 

Design and specifications: We present a floor plan based on the initial design brief, eventually moving through to complete concept plans and renders. Nothing is set in stone, though, and we work with our clients until everything is perfect. Once the client is happy, the team records everything as specifications, and the design team works through more detailed design documents incorporating essential material selections to allow our contractors to compile pricing.

Build contract: We’ll present you with a quotation for your home, including up-to-date specifications and drawings. Then, it’s time to sign the registered master builders contract so the technical team can start the council-ready working drawings.

Construction: We take care of the building consent and help our clients with important selections, such as paint colours, tiles and tapware. The home is then constructed and handed over to the client

Support: We continue to check in with our clients to see how everything is going with their new home for at least 12 months after the build is complete.

Client changes can also affect the build costs and extend timeframes, having a flow-on effect on other parts of the build. One piece of advice I can give is to slow down in the design process to speed up through the build. 

Bay of Plenty Showhome living area

How to reduce unexpected costs 

Successful custom home designs require transparency and communication regarding costs throughout the project. “Custom home designers can still offer a fixed-price model. With ours, any areas such as kitchen, fashion plumbing, and joinery are worked through with the clients, who get to see all the quotes for their final choices before committing to them. The choice is theirs, and it’s an educated decision,” says Corleison. 

Client changes can also affect the build costs and extend timeframes, having a flow-on effect on other parts of the build. “One piece of advice I can give is to slow down in the design process to speed up through the build,” says Corleison. 

“We always tell clients this and ensure they have an in-depth knowledge of what they are getting before signing up; this hopefully reduces the need for changes through the build. But we are always open to making changes as we want this home to be the client’s dream home.”