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Common myths about kitset homes in NZ

If you’re looking for a way to save money when building a home, chances are that kitsets have caught your eye. These simple, all-in-one packages seem too good to be true, don’t they?
In this article, we dive into the common misconceptions about kitsets, and how to avoid the expensive surprises that can come with them. For a new, quality home that doesn’t break the bank or cause unnecessary stress – find everything you need to know here.

What is a kitset home?

Simply put, kitset houses are a package of building materials and plans delivered to your build site. Typically, you will be responsible for organising the construction and compliance of these houses yourself. Depending on the company you purchase the kit from, you can choose an off-the-shelf plan, or a customised design to suit your needs. 

Common misconceptions about kitsets

Before you order a flat-pack or kitset house, let’s explore the realities of building this way including some of the common challenges that arise.

Myth 1: Kitset assembly is quick and easy

In some countries, the term ‘kitset’ refers to a delivered package that customers can easily assemble themselves. However, in New Zealand, kitsets require professional building practitioners and other tradespeople to complete a lot of the work as well as sign off the compliance components. For the DIY enthusiast hoping to save some time and money on a flat-pack house, this may defeat the purpose.

Unfortunately, kitset homes are also prone to delays. Whether you’re juggling contractors, dealing with bad weather, or trying to do the work in your spare time, this process could take as long as 6 months. While it is usually simpler than a conventional onsite build, having fewer people on hand will slow the project down considerably. 

Myth 2: Kitsets are cheaper than other building methods

Since kitset packages start at around $58,000, buyers often think they’re the most affordable option. Unfortunately, that is only a fraction of the price. Once you factor in labour, compliance, project management, subtrades, travel time, and the full internal fit-out, the total will be much higher.

Let’s take a closer look at the different construction methods and their average costs:

The cost of a traditional on-site build

The average price of conventional building projects is currently $433,871 ($2,736 per square metre) across all regions of New Zealand and varies based on materials, size, location, and labour hours. 

It's important to bear in mind that even with this price, experienced building professionals typically recommend adding 10-20% to your budget to allow for unforeseen costs. Almost always, council consents, architects, and general building costs are more than anticipated.

The cost of a kitset home

With a kitset house, the kit itself may only be $60,000 to $100,000. However, the labour, building consent, compliance, subtrades, and project management costs to construct the home are likely to be well over $200,000.

Additionally, keep in mind that most kitsets contain only the bare essentials for the exterior shell — not the internal fit-out. Now when we say internal fit-out we don't mean the furniture and extras you need to fill the home, we mean the essentials that turn an empty shell into a liveable, usable space i.e. kitchen cabinetry and bathroom plumbing.

When you include the cost of kitchen installation, plumbing, scaffolding, painting, plastering, and other hidden costs, you'll find the final amount ends up the same as other construction methods such as prefab homes.

The cost of a prefabricated house 

At Genius Homes, a 1-bedroom prefab house starts from around $145,000 and our 3-bedroom family home options range from $333,300 to $543,000 depending on the size, style, and finish. These prices include all labour, compliance, finishes, subtrades, appliances, flooring and project management. 

The only extra costs that need to be factored in are transportation, groundwork, and council consent which are location-based but at Genius Homes we handle most of these for you. For more information, see the standard inclusions that come with all our prefab houses.

Prefabricated homes are more cost-effective because the majority of the work is completed in a controlled factory environment – safe from weather delays and site-related challenges. With only a matter of days spent installing it on the site, they can be ready much sooner, with no sacrifice to the quality of the home.

Myth 3: Kitsets are good for remote locations

When it comes to remote build sites, many people believe a kitset is the most practical option because all the required components are delivered as needed. However, this can be incredibly expensive because the materials are delivered in stages, not all in one delivery. You will have to pay delivery costs each time the truck travels to your location, as well as the travel costs of all the tradespeople to put it together. 

You might believe that a kitset is your only option if your site has limited access but keep in mind that if the truck can deliver the unassembled kitset materials, it can likely deliver a full-size prefab house as well. At Genius Homes, our floor plans are designed with delivery in mind and our team will consider your particular site. 

If there are complicated corners, overhanging trees, or steep gradients, we can often come up with a solution. With that in mind, why spend thousands on the bare minimum when you could get a fully built home in one easy delivery? 

Myth 4: Kitsets are suitable for large houses

If you’re wanting a larger house, the kitset concept may seem like a way to reduce costs – but beware. You’re still paying for labour and tradie travel time, so the more materials there are to connect and install, the higher the cost will be. 

To avoid timeline and budget blowouts on your large build project, just take a look at our large 4 and 5-bedroom prefab house plans. Or consider a modular prefab like the Benmore design which is built and delivered in two parts, and then assembled on-site. This way, you get the expansive home you need, with all the savings and convenience of the prefab approach. 

The prefab building process offers all the appeal of a kitset home, but with none of the hidden challenges. At Genius Homes, we strive to design, build and deliver your home in a seamless, stress-free manner, so you can have peace of mind throughout the entire process. 

We handle everything, including: 

  • Proposals and designs
  • Siteworks
  • High-quality materials
  • Consent and building code compliance
  • Construction and subtrades
  • Project management
  • Internal fit-outs and finishes
  • Delivery
  • Final touch-ups 

In short, you can be rest assured that your dream home is built to a high standard, within budget, and according to your timeline. To find a design that suits your needs, budget, and site, see our wide range of house plans for yourself.

Please note that all prices are accurate at the time of writing this article but may change at any time.

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