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5 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Custom House

A checklist for constructing your forever home


You’ve saved up for your forever dream home – a home uniquely tailored to you, your loved ones, and all your quirks. That means a cozy reading nook, sleek solar panels, and a built-in herb garden so your homemade focaccia always has a fresh rosemary flavour.

Now it’s time to bring those magazine pages, Pinterest boards, and creative ideas to life.

But where do you begin? How do you start building a custom house?

Before you’ve chosen a floor plan or poured a foundation, review these five important steps you should know before building your custom house to avoid any costly or stressful missteps. 


#1 Determine Your Budget

Building a custom home requires some serious financial planning. 

The first step in your dream home journey is creating a budget and understanding how each phase of building and development impacts your final cost.

Your budget is more than a ballpark estimate of the lot price and construction fees. Materials, labour, design, features, and maintenance costs all need to be considered.

Budgets are usually based on the cost per square foot, but this metric alone is not an accurate estimate tool. The complexity of your design, your home performance, and the finishing details all play a crucial role in how your builder formulates an estimate.

You can expect to spend more than you anticipated during the initial building phase. Architects and site preparation are costly but essential steps in setting the foundation for your home.

Not sure what your budget is missing? Here’s a condensed list of costs you should consider when building your custom house.

  • Initial lot cost
  • Lot infrastructure needs
  • Floor plan design and architectural services
  • Home build, materials, systems, and labour
  • Finishes and appliances
  • Landscaping and hardscaping services (As a full-service builder, NZ Builders includes landscaping from gardening and deck building in all our custom home builds)

But don’t forget that delays, challenges, and unexpected costs arise. 

Build some flexibility into your budget so you won't need to stress or compromise when you fall in love with a slightly more expensive tile. In addition to creating a realistic estimate, your building team can help you compare the costs of materials and prioritize your needs to find ways to save money.


#2 Choose a Location

Where you build your home is just as important as how you build your home. Your location, land, and lot size all dictate the features, design, and cost of your custom house. 

Climate is crucial. Imagine building your custom house in beautiful, but rainy, Victoria. Your home must be built with materials and techniques designed to withstand our wet, west coast climate. 

As you evaluate a lot, be sure to check the zoning requirements to ensure you can build a home that fits all your needs.

Do you want to include a secondary suite in your home and do zoning regulations allow you? 

What electrical, water, or sewage systems are required for your lot? 

The next step is to look at the land itself.

Do you need to blast rockbed before construction begins? 

Are there any old growth trees that need to be protected?

Is there suitable drainage in the soil so your home doesn’t turn into a swimming pool during one of Victoria’s winter storms? 

Is there adequate solar exposure to accommodate passive solar design?

These factors influence the design of your custom home, the timeline of your project, and how much it will cost to build, so they need to be considered before you purchase a property.

This step can feel daunting. We suggest enlisting the help of a trusted realtor and contacting your builder prior to purchase to ensure your property has everything you need to build your dream home. NZ Builders is happy to work with you and your realtor to evaluate properties so you can choose an ideal location for your dream home.


#3 Assemble Your Team

Building a custom house can take more than a year, so it’s essential that you work with a team you trust, can communicate openly with, and who understands your vision. 

You’re essentially entering into a long-term relationship with your home-building team! You want to make sure that you choose a partner who shares your values (and love of pineapple on pizza)

But your home-building team is more than your contractor or builders. It’s your architect, your engineer, your designers, and your ongoing maintenance support. Selecting professionals who work collaboratively and share the same vision makes the entire home-building process seamless.

With twenty years of building custom houses in Victoria, NZ Builders has built a strong network of trusted contractors and architects that we can recommend to suit your unique style.

After all, teamwork makes the custom home dream work. 


#4 Consider Your Lifestyle

Since you’re investing in a custom home, your layout and design should seamlessly integrate with your lifestyle. 

Do you like to wake up and watch the sunrise while enjoying breakfast in bed? Then your bedroom should have windows and a view that makes you happy to hear your alarm each morning.

Are muddy four-legged friends (or children) trampling through your perfectly washed entryway? Consider installing an outdoor shower so your mop stays tucked away all day long. 

Choose an architect and home builder that asks specific questions about your lifestyle and aims to personalize your custom home design based on the information you share with them.

Take time to reflect on how you spend your days and what your habits and hobbies are when designing your custom home.


#5 Plan for Your Future

Since building a custom house is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime, you want to make sure your new home serves you and your family well into the future. 

Planning for your future with a custom home involves three different factors.

  • Your lifestyle and family: 

Will grandchildren or grandparents visit (or move in) whose accessibility needs to be considered? Do you dream of owning 4 dogs, 3 cats, and more than a few chickens?

How do you expect your family, interests, or life will change over the next 10-plus years? Be sure to design a home keeping your future lifestyle in mind. 


  • Ongoing maintenance:

Once you’ve invested in building a custom home, you won’t want to update appliances every few years, constantly check for damage, make repairs, or have a never-ending to-do list.

NZ Builders specializes in building high-quality, low-maintenance homes that let you spend more time enjoying your house rather than working on it. Even better, our annual maintenance packages ensure that 'duct cleaning' never takes up your time on sunny weekends.


  • High-performance builds:

Net-zero-inspired or passive house-inspired homes are more than just an architectural trend. They’re a high-performance decision that positively impacts your finances, health, and the future of the planet.

While initial investments can be higher, the long-term financial and environmental benefits of high-performance homes far outweigh the higher upfront costs.

For example, a net-zero home uses systems, techniques, and materials to generate as much energy as it consumes. As a result, your energy bills are lower, you rely less on local utilities, and your home produces less carbon dioxide emissions.


By focusing on durability and sustainability over flashy additions and visual impact, you can build a home that will last and evolve for generations to come. 


The Bottom Line of Your Custom House Build

There’s no way to sugarcoat it, building your custom dream home takes time and money, and it can be overwhelming. A lot of factors need to be considered from budget to location to where you drink your coffee in the morning.

A smooth and enjoyable process depends entirely on developing a plan and finding the right team to work with.

At NZ Builders, we’re here to make your custom house build a seamless experience through innovative design, high-quality materials, and a dash of kiwi roguishness. 

Ready to build the home you’ve been waiting for?

Fill out a contact form and we’ll get in touch ASAP to book a free consultation call.