At Highmark Homes, customer satisfaction is absolutely paramount.
Explore FAQs on home building, design, construction phases, compliance, and show homes with our friendly guide!

Here is our list of Frequently Asked Questions about building houses. If you can’t find the answer to your question, please contact us.

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House Building

Q: “How long will it take to build my house?”

From the signing of your Building Agreement and payment of your deposit through to completion of your home, you should allow 37-45 weeks depending on the size and complexity of your home.

Please note these time frames are guidelines only.

With the construction industry moving at its current rate, please be aware that some of these timeframes will be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control.

We will always use our best endeavours to keep you informed of any delays that may arise.

BuilderTrend will provide you with up to date construction timelines once works on site are underway.

Please note a final handover date will not be available until after interior paint is completed.

Q: “Which comes first? Choosing a house plan, or choosing a section to build on?”

You will need to find a section first as we can then support you to ensure that the house plan best optimises the section.

If you don’t already have a section, contact our team and we can support you to find a suitable section or alternatively browse our current house and land packages to see if we have anything that suits you.

Q: “What are the key early stages when planning to build a new home?”

Planning is one of the most important aspects of building your dream home. Take a look at our build process for new homes. We have outlined the key steps you will follow when building a new house. They include:

  • Dream and discuss
  • Design concepts
  • Working drawings
  • Building consent, building guide to selections
  • Construction
  • Completion

Find out more about our build process for new homes.

If you require finance, we recommend speaking with your bank first to identify the budget you have to work with prior to contacting our team.

Q: “Why should I build my new home with Highmark Homes?”

We are passionate about our homes. We are a group of down to earth builders who are proud of the homes we build.

We are constantly looking to improve the specifications that we offer and get better deals for our clients.

We work hard to create a home design that works within your budget and section constraints.

Find the closest Highmark Homes builder to you.

Q: “How much does it cost to build a house?”

The actual cost of building a house in New Zealand is heavily dependent on the site, and each site may have hidden costs. 

Slopping sites cost more to build on than flat sites.

Getting out of the ground can vary significant from one site to another.

Once though you have a building platform/ slab the costs to build can be more accurately calculated and controlled.

Within your control, the size of the house has the biggest influence on the cost to build, followed by the level of specification.

Talk through with your local team your requirements and budget and they will be able to guide you to a design and size of home that best meets your situation.

Q: “How do we establish the building cost estimates for my house?”

All square meterage rates are not created equally!

They are often a market measure, but they seldom reflect your personal choices or your site specifications.

We will transparently provide any additions or subtractions from the price based on your site specifications and any requests for changes to our existing plans.

Through discussion with your Sales Consultant, we will be in a position to understand your needs and to give you a price for your new home.

Q: “I am just wondering what the payment structure is, what deposit is required and instalments as well as when the final payment is due?”

Each team’s payment structure is slightly different.  Roughly the payment structure will be as follows (please bear in mind that each team will vary, and this is just a guideline):

  • Initial deposit (usually $5,000)
  • 5% Contract deposit – Value includes the initial deposit above
  • 5% Consent available fee
  • 15% Floor down
  • 17% Frames and trusses erected
  • 15% Shell closed in (roof and exterior cladding on)
  • 20% Interior ready for stopping
  • 18% Painting complete
  • 5% Practical completion/Code of Compliance issued

Q: “Is it cheaper to build a new home or buy an existing home?”

Buying an existing home tends to be cheaper as parts of it may need or be close to needing refurbishment.

It may be built to an old building standard e.g., lower levels of installation with no double glazing.

It really depends on how old and how well maintained the existing home as to what the difference is.

The cost of a new home also varies significant based on the site, size and specification level selected.

Sometimes it is better value to knock down an existing home than refurbish it.

Q: “How are we affected if there are price increases while the home is being built?”

We offer an ‘agreed contract price’ under our building contract.

This will be the price you pay unless you want to change the scope of the build, or something arises in the course of the build that is outside our control that impacts on the price.

We do everything we can to limit what is outside our control, but the reality is that changes can happen in the construction of a home.

If something does happen outside our control that will have an impact on price, we will tell you what has happened and explained why it has happened.

We know customers don’t appreciate surprises and as such we always aim to be open and transparent.

Q: “What do I need to know about buying a house and land package?”

A house and land package provides many of the advantages of building from scratch while removing much of the work from your plate.

A house and land package is exactly what the name implies: rather than purchasing a section and then building, you purchase both the section and the house at the same time.

When purchasing a house and land package you will be required to pay in full for the land portion before construction begins, then a construction loan can be used to progressively pay for the build as it occurs.

Q: “What are the risks to new home buyers?”

There are pros and cons to both buying an existing home and building a new home.

However, building a new home has significant advantages over buying an existing home.

These include better insulation, less maintenance, more eco-friendly, customised to meet your needs and made with the latest products and technology.

If you can build a new home for a great price, it will provide you with a far better living environment, and most likely a far better investment, than purchasing an existing house.


House Plans / House Designs

Q: “What should I concentrate on first when choosing my house plan?”

Once you have your land, it is important to first decide on the floor plan that best suits your family’s requirements, provides privacy, achieves good sunlight and takes advantage of any views.

You can then start to make decisions around the style of the house, including roof lines, window sizes and cladding.

Q: “Do you give quotes for people’s own home designs/plans or do you only build your own designs?”

Highmark Homes don’t just build our own designs, we can work with you to come up with a suitable house plan or work with an existing house plan that you have.

We offer a full house design and build service meaning we can design you a house plan from scratch to suit your individual needs and site requirements.

Q: “Can I change the standard specifications when designing my new home?”

Yes! You will have the opportunity to adjust the standard specifications when you meet with our team.

Q: “A lot of your plans show brick homes, can you do full timber weatherboard cladding? Also, would you build on piles or only concrete?”

Yes, we can do full timber or Linea cladding, but the costs will be different as there is different work involved to brick laying.

We can potentially build on piles, but it really depends on your site.

The best thing to do is to get in touch with your local team to discuss these things further as they will be best equipped to talk about costs, visit your site and answer any questions you may have.

Find the closest Highmark Homes builder to you.

House Construction

Q: “Is it possible to start earthworks for our new home in the middle of winter?”

On most sites it is possible to carry out earthworks all year round, although generally it is more difficult during periods of wet weather.

Difficulty can arise if you are planning to do a cut and engineered fill earthworks, i.e. dig from one area of the site and place and compact on another area as sometimes you are unable to get the compaction levels required by the engineers.  This may be due to the high water table on the site or the actual properties of the soil.

When this occurs typically you may need to either import suitable fill which can be compacted to the required compaction levels or alter the foundation design to take into account that the fill is not as compacted as may have been allowed for in the original engineering design.

If either of these are required there will be cost involved and potential delays.

Q: “What is a soil report and why do I need one before construction of our new home can begin?”

A soil report is necessary to determine what ground conditions are like below where your house will be.

The report will determine whether additional support is required within the footings should substandard soil be encountered.

A soil with a low bearing capacity will cost more to build on than one with good soil.

Some solutions for poor soil may include underground piles, more concrete in the slab or footings or a raft foundation.

Getting hold of a soil report prior to purchasing a section can save you money in the long run.

Q: “Can I make changes to the house plan once construction has started?”

This will depend on the nature of the alterations, as they can affect the Council approved plans.

Non-structural changes are usually no issue and can be achieved with a variation to the original contract and may require new plans to be drafted.

Q: “Can I go on site during construction of our new home?”

There are a number of hazards associated with building your new home which, if not carefully managed, could cause serious injury or worse, to those that encounter them.

A hazard board will be situated at the front of a build site which lists the key identified hazards.  Highmark Homes has a legal obligation to ensure that those hazards are identified and controlled.

During the construction of your new home a fence will be erected and secured around your site to ensure that only suitably qualified and authorised persons can access the site, and subsequently to ensure any hazards are contained within it.

Although we understand that it is your property, legally we are required to control the building site while your home is under construction. We still want you to be able to access the site and view the progress and we have some processes that will make it easier for you to do this.

Code of Compliance

Q: “What is Code of Compliance?”

A Code of Compliance (CCC) is a formal statement confirming that the building work carried out on a property is compliant to the building consent issued by a local authority.

Highmark Homes will apply for a CCC once all the work has been completed and inspected.

Q: “When will I get a Code of Compliance Certificate?”

Prior to handing the home over to you, a Notice of Inspection will have been completed by your Local Council. This means your home has been completed to Code Compliance Stage as per the Building Consent requirements.

Under the Building Act 2004, all Territorial Authorities have 20 working days to issue a Code of Compliance Certificate.

This does not preclude you from moving into your home, but you should be aware that your Code of Compliance Certificate may not arrive prior to the expiration of this time frame.

If you are drawing down mortgage funds, your Bank will most likely require you to see the Notice of Inspection, a copy of which your local Highmark team member will provide to you.

If you wish to take possession prior to the Code of Compliance Certificate having been issued, you will also be required to sign an Agreement under Section 364V(2) of the Building Act 2004.

Please refer to clause 11 (Practical Completion and Possession by Owner) of your Building Agreement. You will be given this Agreement prior to handover.

Master Build Guarantee

Q: “What is Master Build? How does the Master Build Guarantee work?”

As a Master Build building company, Highmark Homes are covered by the Master Build Guarantee.

This is protecting you against loss of deposit, non-completion of the build, defects in materials, workmanship and structural.

Cover will depend on the value of the building contract.

For more information on your Master Build Guarantee refer to www.masterbuilder.org.nz and the terms of your Residential Building Contract.


Q: “Insurance: What is Builders Risk Insurance?”

Highmark Homes Limited carries contract works and public liability insurance cover for the duration of the build period.

Once we hand the home over to you, that insurance will lapse and your private home insurance will take over.

You will need to make sure that you arrange insurance cover well ahead of your handover date so that when the time comes your cover will be in place immediately.

Q: “Insurance: At what point in the build process do I need to arrange my own home insurance?”

On handover our Builders Risk Insurance will expire and you will become responsible for insurance on the house (and your contents in that house) from that point onwards.

Please ensure you speak with your insurance company to set up full comprehensive insurance cover on your home which needs to come into place as from the day of handover.

Your insurance company will be able to provide you with the expert advice you require to ensure the correct insurance is put in place.

Show Homes

Q: “Can I visit a Highmark Homes show home?”

Our show homes are a good way to view what our standard specifications are. We have made an effort to not upspec our show homes to then give you a good visualisation of what you can expect your home to include.

Q: “Are Highmark Homes show home visits only available during the hours listed?”

If the times that our show homes are listed as being open do not suit you for a visit, then please contact our Sales Consultant who will be able to arrange to meet with you outside of the listed open hours.

Q: “Are Highmark Homes show homes available to purchase?”

Generally our show homes are not available to purchase.

If you are interested in purchasing a show home, it would be best for you to discuss this with our Sales Consultants at the show home, as there can be opportunities that arise.

Additions On To Existing Homes

Q: “Does Highmark Homes build on additions to existing homes?”

As a general rule our teams will not do extensions. Please contact your local Highmark Homes team to see if they can help you with this.