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How long does it take to build a house?

All around New Zealand, building projects have been impacted by the effects of material cost increases, labour shortages, and the changing economic environment. So, if you are planning your building project in the next year or two, you may be wondering how long it takes to build a house. 

In this article, we unpack the expected timeframes for building a new home stage-by-stage, taking into account the potential setbacks and estimated delays you can expect to face. We also share the expected timeframes for each of the stages in our building process so you know exactly what to expect. 

Building timelines NZ

While the actual construction of an average house typically takes between 5 and 6 months, other steps need to be factored into the overall timeline. From your initial meeting to the day you move in, the full build process often takes closer to 12 months. However, many varying factors impact the length of time it takes to complete a residential build:

Site preparation

Preparing your building site is one of the most critical stages of a building project and can blow the timeline out by weeks or even months. To minimise this, try to find a flat building site with easy access, minimal topsoil, and a completed Geotech report. This will ensure there are no hidden surprises that you need to fix.

Is your section build-ready? Learn more here

Time of year

Weather delays are a significant contributor to project delays because they force contractors off-site or indoors. If possible, try to plan your project for the summer months as these typically take much less time than those in winter. Additionally, take note of any holidays that tradies may take off as these may slow your build down. 

Council consent

Once your council has received your consent application, they must complete it in 20 working days. However, this is the best-case scenario because every time the council requests more information, the clock resets. If your plans change and you need to amend the consent after it has been granted, the council can add another 20 days to the process. 

The more back and forth there is between you and the council, the longer this stage will take. It isn’t uncommon for consent to take months longer than initially planned. In most cases, this is done through an architect or drafting company, who may have other projects to complete, which may slow them down when it comes time to re-submit to the council.

Supply chain issues

As the past few years have highlighted, material shortages can grind the entire building industry to a halt. Due to our isolation from international suppliers, New Zealand is prone to long delays in the supply chain. The impact of this on your project will depend on current demand so we recommend asking your builders for a rough estimate. Choosing commonly available products and building materials will help mitigate risk of there being issues.

Availability of contractors

New Zealand is facing a skills shortage which has been worsened by the pandemic. We are estimated to be short 40,000 tradespeople which is slowing down progress for many construction companies. This applies to builders, plumbers, electricians, decorators, and more.

Design complexity

A simple design is much easier and faster to build than a complex one. If you want a highly customised home with unique features, layouts, or customisations, you should expect the design, consenting, and construction stages to take a lot longer. 

Genius Homes project timelines

Here at Genius Homes, our prefab homes can be completed much faster than a conventional house that’s built on-site. We’ve outlined the average time each stage takes below: 

Signing the contract – 1 Week

Once you’ve met with us, decided on a floor plan, implemented any changes, and are happy to proceed, it’s time to sign your contract! While the actual signing of the building agreement is a reasonably quick process, the timeline to get to this point can be as long or short as you would like it depending on how many changes you want to make. 

Design and material selection – 2 to 3 Weeks

Our qualified and experienced staff will help you to design your new home, from colour and material selection to fittings and soft finishes. This doesn't have as much of a fixed timeframe as these details just need to be confirmed and ordered towards the end of the build. 

House designs drafted – 3 Weeks

Based on your selections and changes in the first two stages, we will draft up the final house design. When the site has been marked up and you have approved our proposal, the final draft is sent to the council for building consent. 

Council approval – 4 to 5 Weeks

From the point your council receives your complete application, they have 20 working days to process it. We take care of this process for you by submitting the necessary documents and going back and forth with the council if required. As our builds are prefabricated in our Timaru-based factory, the building consent process is easier than most projects.

Construction and internal fit-out – 14 Weeks

Once your build slot has been allocated, construction can begin. The building process will typically take around 10 weeks and includes both the exterior and interior fit-out. We will also arrange for the foundations to be completed during this time. You can keep up to date with the progress via the Genius App updates.

Site work – 4 weeks

Once the house is delivered to your building site, we complete all the remaining site work as stipulated in your contract. We aim to spend 30 working days on this stage, making any site connections and completing the finishing touches. As some of the site work can be completed at the same time as our factory construction, we can greatly reduce your overall timeline. 

When the house is ready and you've inspected it with our appointed site manager, it's time for handover! 

Genius Homes are with you for every step of your home-building journey. If you’d like to have a chat with one of our experienced team members, please contact us. To see our full range of prefab home designs, download our new Guide to Choosing a Prefab Home. Inside, you’ll find everything you need to know about our prefab process, including: 

  • Benefits of prefab homes
  • Prefab financing options
  • How to choose a house plan
  • Design customisations

Download the ultimate guide to choosing a prefab home

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