Is my section or land build-ready?
In this article, we explain everything you need to know about site preparation and how to get your section ready for building a prefab home.
We cover the difference between what a ‘perfect’, ‘manageable’, and ‘complicated’ building site look like and also outline how to mitigate potential issues.
We include a breakdown of the delivery costs for prefab houses, factoring in the location-based challenges that may arise during transport.
The property title
You should always make your offer on a section conditional on receiving a property title check. This will identify any problems associated with the property title which may present challenges during the building process. For example, can you build on the land? Are there any easements, covenants, or other restrictions preventing your building plans?
The same goes for any land you want to subdivide or that you inherit. Ultimately, if you are unfamiliar with the property title, make sure to have it checked by your lawyers.
What lies beneath your land? When building a house, the unseen characteristics beneath the surface are just as important as what’s above – if not more. A Geotech report will provide details about the following:
- Site conditions
- Soil composition
- Design and construction recommendations
- Any other site-related information
In most New Zealand regions, you will need a geotechnical report to build a new house. If you are buying land, there may be a geotechnical report already listed in the property title or you can request one before you make an offer.
How to get a Geotech report
To obtain a Geotech report, ask your local council before applying for Building Consent. If you need one, they will suggest the local Geotech experts you can contact. They will visit your site to complete fieldwork and testing, and then produce an assessment report based on their findings.
With a prefab home or other type of transportable home, you will need to account for the delivery. Since the home is built off-site, it will need to arrive on a truck meaning your site must be safely accessible.
During your site visit with Genius Homes, your consultant will note any obstacles and restrictions that apply to your building site. If they identify potential issues, we can adapt your house design accordingly. If there are overhanging trees or other obstructions, we will recommend how to minimise these effectively.
When delivering a Genius Homes prefab, the site access needs to account for the following:
- Road access that can fit our truck.
- Easy site access with no fences, trees, or difficult driveways. While driveways are good, they can get damaged in the delivery process.
- The site entrance must be wider than your chosen house plan. Our minimum entrance width is 4.5m.
Another key factor to consider is how established your driveway is. If this is a new building site, you may need to have an adequate driveway put in. Depending on the slope and lay of the land, you may need to invest in engineering and certain materials. In many cases, you will also need to include sufficient parking space.
While the requirements can be daunting, our team is here to help. We’ve delivered to sites all over the South Island and are familiar with all the local rules. Book a site visit to find out what we can do.
Always start your building process with an on-site consultation. At Genius Homes, we offer free site visits anywhere in the South Island. These site visits are particularly helpful for sites with little or no current connections.
During your site visit, we will determine the following:
- Whether a prefab can fit on your proposed site
- Any potential access issues
- The best delivery route
- What connections may be required
- Suitable house designs for your site
- Any site preparation requirements you will need, such as reports or checks
Your site consultation is also your chance to discuss your design preferences and get answers to your questions. Our consultants are experienced in the construction process so we can guide you through with none of the usual stress.
The levels of readiness
No two building sites are the same so it’s important to find out as much as you can before breaking ground. As a general guide, we recommend dividing your prospective sites into the following:
A perfect building site
While there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ building site, the ideal building features to look for include established site services, flat and even gradient, solid soil conditions, and easy access.
These qualities allow your builders to work quickly and efficiently while also minimising the amount of site preparation that is required. In these cases, you will be required to make few to no changes before progressing.
Attributes of a Perfect Building Site
Key attributes of these sites include:
- Geotech report completed.
- Minimal topsoil.
- Inland – at least 300m from the coast.
- Established town services or new subdivisions with no overhead lines.
- Easy access to the property.
- Flat paddock or section.
- Established building platform (excavated prior to enquiring with us) or an engineered building platform.
- No covenant rules. While subdivisions have governance, subdivided land may not.
- No hidden costs regarding site services and connections.
Please note that, for sites off a main road network, smaller house designs are easier.
A manageable building site
A manageable building site is relatively easy to build on, with a few changes required to gain consent. Based on the Geotech report and site visit, you may be required to complete certain tasks before the project can proceed. For example, you may need to flatten the building site, build a retaining wall, or install certain site services.
Attributes of a Manageable Building Site
Key attributes of these sites include:
- Transport can access the site but work is needed to make it ‘perfect’. These works are at the cost of the client.
- Site excavations or assistance are needed for delivery, such as:
- The removal of fences
- Demolishing or moving property
- Trimming or removing foliage
- Excavating the site
- Adding connection services, if you are not near a boundary line.
- Covenant rules apply regarding relocatable homes,
- Cross-lease properties – you will need permission from other owners.
- A Geotech report is still to be completed.
- Exact costs cannot be quoted before contractors are contacted. Note that most contracts would contain some provisional costs instead of quotes.
A complicated building site
If your building site is more complicated, the building process and consent process could be a challenge. That’s not to say that your project is impossible but you will need to be prepared for a few setbacks. Complications are common for sites with steep gradients, difficult site access, complex easements, and sites with problematic Geotech results.
In these cases, you may need to invest more in flattening the site, reinforcing the foundations, or preparing an adequate driveway. It is fairly common for these sites to undergo a few rounds of building consent before gaining approval.
Attributes of a Complicated Building Site
If any of the following apply, we cannot build on your site:
- Steep gradient
- Poor access
- Poor ground conditions
- Covenant rules don’t allow prefab homes or land usage.
- Narrow roadways or site entrances
Prefab Transport Cost Breakdown
When delivering your prefab to the building site, the costs are determined by the following:
- Distance from the Genius Homes factory.
- Traffic management plan.
- Any railway crossings. We need to advise NZTA that we are at a railway crossing and may need to remove the flashing light posts.
- A powerboard escort, if powerlines have to come down. Most deliveries over 5 metres on the truck would need power escort somewhere.
- Your chosen house plan.
- Whether the house is a standard prefab design or modular.
- Whether a crane, digger, or tractor is required.
- Overnight stays for transport crew, as necessary.
- Site shifting off the truck and onto the prepared piles.
The less that is required from the above list, the lower the transport cost will be.
Book a free building site visit
Unsure of your next steps? Book a free on-site visit with one of our specialists to learn more about your options. We’ll guide you through the site preparation process to ensure your project runs smoothly.
These complimentary visits are available for locations within the South Island of New Zealand, including sites with little to no current connections.