Salter Builders Ltd

From Design to Finished House…The Process Explained

The Nuts & Bolts of the Design & Build Process


Initially you will have an idea of your home taking shape and form in your mind.   It’s exciting and you really want to have that translated into real life.   What are the steps involved?  How do you begin the process?

You need to engage a Builder.  We actually recommend that you engage a Builder at the same time that you engage your Designer.  Yes you read that right.  We believe you should choose your Builder carefully (read our earlier blogs on how to do just that) and have them involved from the very beginning.   Your Builder can inspect your site and discuss your budget and with their expertise they can get a sense pretty quickly whether that home taking shape in your mind is actually feasible.

At the beginning of the build process you will give your Designer a brief that states all the design elements, must-haves and desires you would like your new home to ultimately have. Your Builder should be involved in this process as well – in fact this ultimately ensures a much more streamlined outcome for all concerned, and a house that actually gets built (as opposed to a house that gets designed, but never built due to cost).

The more information you can supply at this stage the better for the Designer.  The Designer takes this information and translates that into a first set of drawings – known as ‘Concept Plans’.

If these Concept Plans are a good representation of that home that has been taking shape in your mind, and you are happy to proceed with the design based on those plans, our best piece of advice we can give you and your next most logical step is to have your Builder provide you an as accurate a costing as possible based on those plans (detail dependent) before you head to more formal drawings.  This will likely cost you some money, but it is money well spent.   You will then have from very early on a good overall perception of what this house is likely to cost and whether you are able to proceed with this build – before it has cost you too much time, effort and money.  Or maybe you thought it would cost a lot more than that, and you may have room to up-spec the house and include more design details than you thought you were able to, possibly avoiding having proceeded to final  plans only to find out you could have added a lot more of your dream design features.  This is a step most people overlook or avoid, however in our experience it is a most valuable exercise.

If those costings are acceptable to you the next step is to get a better set of plans drawn based on the original concept.  Again you will need to work with your Designer and Builder and make more decisions that will result in the next set of plans called the ‘Pricing Plans’.  

Your Builder needs to re-price based upon the Pricing Plans because these may have changed slightly, depending if you are going to up-spec or down-spec the design.  Remember though, you should have had your concept plans preliminary priced – so this will save you time and too many price surprises at this point.  The Pricing Plans can then be re-sent out to all the preferred sub-contractors and suppliers by the Builder to re-price based on the updated information supplied.   The build cost can then be re-quantified from all the pricing forwarded to the Builder and this will be the most up to date indicator of build cost at that time. 

This is then an important time for you and your Builder to look over the pricing and decide the next step based on the costing and there may be some plan re-design required to bring the project within budget.

If, however, you are happy with the pricing at this stage then the next step is to proceed to a full set of working drawings that can be prepared for supply to the Council for Building Consent.

On completion of the working drawings it is important to review the pricing again, as there will be changes from the Pricing Plans and due to the time that has passed between these two stages, updated pricing needs to be compiled to produce the final build price.

Once all parties are happy to proceed then normally the Designer will forward the plans to the local council for building consent issue.  This stage normally takes 20 working days and will most often require the Designer to supply the council with other requested information as the plans are processed.

Upon issue of the Building Consent, the build process can then begin on site based on builder availability and weather conditions.

The build will progress through the various stages based on the complexity of the construction and have completion steps as follows;

Foundations and floor complete.
Wall and roof framing complete ready for the roof.
Building closed in ready for cladding.
Internal services fit out and cladding complete.
Internal linings, Gib Stopping and painting.
Final fit out and landscaping.

Once the roof is on and the building is closed in, a final completion date can be calculated and a build program compiled to advise all parties involved of their required timing to complete the stages of work progressing to the completion date.

Upon completion of construction a notice of practical completion will be issued to you and the final stage of obtaining a Code Compliance Certificate from the Council will be undertaken by the Builder for you. 

You are now ready to move into your amazing new home. 

Your Builder should then provide you with a maintenance schedule that details required tasks that need to be completed over time to protect your investment, to keep the building looking good and maintain its weathertight properties.

There should then be a 12 month maintenance period for you to inform your Builder of any defects that may require attention.

On completion of all of the above you and your Builder hopefully will have built a relationship that will prevail for years to come, found the whole process rewarding and enjoyable and you will be living in your dream architecturally designed home.


We have written a Guide for you detailing how you can avoid many of the pitfalls during the earliest part of the build process.   You can access this here :   Salter Builders Guide


Trevor Salter
Registered Master Builder &
Licensed Building Practitioner
Ph:  NZ (0064) 021 229 6222

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