The Building Diaries: Part 2, Design & Planning :


Build me. Editor Hana Deavoll and family are building their own home in Queenstown. Follow the journey as they buy land, plan their dream home and oversee the building process. The Deavoll Family includes Hana (37), builder Sam (36), and their three children Indy (7), Phoenix (4) and Sonny (2). 


We purchased our section direct from the developer so had the advantage of waiting a year before title came through to start planning what to build. We used this time to consider the environmental elements - such as sun, views and wind -  as well as our personal requirements of house features - such as rooms needed, interior design and outside living,  before coming up with a basic layout and design wish list. 


Our Design Wish List

- A gable home with wing walls as an architectural feature

- Lots of north facing windows to take advantage of winter sun and passive heating

- West facing windows to take advantage of the uninterrupted views to the mountains

- An inner courtyard to provide escape from the predominate south westerly wind

- 3 bedrooms including a large bunk room that can be divided into 2 if needed.  

- A 4th bedroom/office for Build me. headquarters

- Open plan living/dining/kitchen with a separate scullery

- A second living area for media and toys

- A 2 bedroom apartment attached to the main house but completely separate and private. 


Choosing A Designer

We knew that we would be building the house ourselves, so all we needed to find was an architectural designer to help turn our ideas into proper plans. Just as we were starting to plan our home, a friend of ours quit his job working for the Queenstown Council as a Building Officer, and established his business The Draughting Company. We were really impressed with his own home that he designed, the Little Black Barn House, so it was an easy decision to go with Robbie as our designer. 


Creating a Custom Design

Despite being 885m2, our site is quite restricted due to a 5m setback on the terrace west end and a right of way driveway on our eastern boundary. This leaves us with 605m2 of useable space, of which there is a further 4.5m set back from the right of way.  A 4.5m set back is standard for any boundaries that face a road.

Our initial sketches looked like this:


When Robbie drew our ideas up to scale, the building did not fit on our site. Many revisions later (Ok, probably 20 - sorry Robbie), including a bedroom and the office moving upstairs, we were able to squeeze in this final building site layout:

Site layout, Build me, design your own house, building nz, building plans


However our building still breached the 4.5m internal setbacks on the eastern boundary.

As our house was on a back section, and the right of way was not really a 'proper' road, we decided to apply for a Resource Consent to breach the internal setbacks. A Resource Consent is a formal approval to use your land in a way that may breach local rules and the Resource Management Act (RMA).( For more information on applying for resource consents, read here).

One thousand dollars, a comprehensive application and 1 month later we had resource consent to breach our setbacks, which meant we could move forward with construction plans. If we hadn't been approved, our back up plan was to make courtyard smaller and shrink all the rooms slightly. Luckily we didn't have to do that, and our plans were finalised, as shown below:

Floor plan ground floor, Build me, design your own house, building nz, building

Ground floor

Floor plan second story, Build me, design your own house, building nz, building

Upstairs (above media room)


Finer Details

Now that we had a floor plan, we had to decide on exact materials to use, window and door specifications, cladding choices, insulation and floor coverings. We will be covering each of these items in more detail in further articles when we get to that stage of the build, however here is a list of final products to be used to give you an idea of decisions that need to be made early in the build process:

- Foundation: MAXraft fully insulated concrete slab, with concrete from Allied.

- Walls/Framing: Pre-fabricated triboard panels from Durapanel

- Roofing: Alpine Tray iron from Queenstown Roofing

- Trusses: Truss Tech

- Cladding: Combination of Alpine Tray iron and vertical cedar weatherboards

- Heating: Underfloor heating powered by an air-to-water heatpump

- Windows: Thermally broken aluminium joinery with Low-E glazing from Design Windows

- Insulation: Polystyrene on outer walls, and R5 ceiling batts

- Weathertightness: Pro Clima building wrap

- Interior finishings: Wooden flooring from Haro Flooring, and carpet/curtains from Hub Design

- Kitchen: Flatpack kitchen imported from IKEA Australia

- Decking and Fencing: Macrocarpa from Puketapu Timper 

- Mid floor from Carters (Who offer a free design service for this)

- Steel beams: Shotover Engineering

All other building materials will be sourced from our local Placemakers building store, and Edward Gibbons plumbing branch. We have subcontractors lined up too - RLS Electrical and Well Connected (plumbing).


Applying for Building Consent 

We left this up to our Designer. He submitted our plans, as well as producer statements from our Engineer, Truss Manufacturer, and Triboard supplier. We just had to pay the consent fee, which was around $6,000.

While waiting for building consent to come through, we got busy obtaining quotes and liaising with suppliers to arrange manufacturing and delivery of materials.


Financing our Build

Our finance was arranged by Mark Pullar at Roost Mortgages. He is very knowledgeable on obtaining finance, particularly for land and builds. To help our mortgage get approved we provided an off-plans valuation and a forecast of self-employed earnings from our accountant. As our own company was building the house, Deavoll Constuction, we also provided a detailed spreadsheet of all our building costs in lieu of a fixed price contract. 

Our mortgage is through ASB bank. We were approved to borrow up to 90% of the cost of the combined land + build cost. This is standard for new builds, so long as you can cover the debt servicing required. Half of our mortgage payments will be paid by the rent from the 2 bedroom flat.

September 9th, 2015 - Building Consent has been issued and we are ready to start. The earthworks have begun and the concrete has been booked. Our next article of The Building Diaries will be coming soon when we lay the foundations.




Related Articles on Build me.

The Building Diaries: Part 1, The Section 

The Building Diaries: Part 3: The Foundations

The Building Diaries: Part 4, Framing & Trusses

The Building Diaries: Part 5, Roofing

How to Build a House

What is a Resource Consent?

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