Build Pricing & Choosing A Builder

This is arguably the most critical decision of your whole build – choosing a builder that has the right price and which you will have a good relationship with. 

Choose Builders To Price Your Build 

The best option is to ask your designer and other local tradespeople who they consider to be the best builders in the area. This sets you off on the right foot and you’ll soon find out who not to use! Secondly, don’t price more than 3, as it quickly becomes known that you’re just shopping around for the best deal. Meet with each before sending them the documents for pricing as oftentimes you can tell right away whether you will or won’t get on with them.  

Labour-Only or Full Contract 

Some builders will offer to do your project labour only, so you pay direct for all materials, arrange all the sub-trades & product purchases. At face value this is cheaper but if you’re inexperienced in project management and building do not go here. Often people underestimate the knowledge and time needed for project managing their house build, and it often ends up more expensive than getting the builder to do a full contract price, and taking it from dirt to a completed, signed-off house.


When To Send For Pricing 

Only projects that are breaching rules (as stated in the PIM above) require a Resource Consent. The most common breaches are Earthworks volumes, Boundary Setbacks, Sunlight Rule Breaches, proximity to bush, impermeable surfaces and maximum height. (there’s loads of other rules depending on the zone and Council, and what your project is. Often we’ll submit a Resource Consent prior to the PIM as we know which rules are being breached. 

What To Send For Pricing 

The main documents are the full set of plans & specifciations, plus any supporting information. Your designer will be able to create a package to send the builders, but warning – ensure you send every builder exactly the same documents so you’re comparing apples with apples.

Common Pricing Pitfalls

The most common pricing pitfall when choosing a builder is that they price different services or products. Go through each builders pricing with a fine tooth comb as some will group items, for example ‘Plumbing & Drainage’, others will spread it out into ‘Gutters & Downpipes’, ‘Gas Califont Installation’ and so forth. It’s helpful to create a spreadsheet comparing and breaking down each price for easy comparison. 

Take a moment to read another article: Cost of Building in NZ 

What Is A PC Sum?

A prime cost sum, is a set allowance for a product which you can set. For example you might tell all three builders to allow $5,000 for carpet, and you’ll confirm the exact price later, rather than one pricing $10k and the other $5k, with completely different products. It helps compare apples with apples. (yes, we have alot of apples)  

Choosing A Builder – Relationship First, Then Price 

One of the main cause of horror build stories is the relationship between the builder and homeowner isn’t healthy. That’s why you should heavily lean towards the builder you get on the best with (not necessarily a friend though!) rather than going with a price only decision. 


Here’s another helpful article: Why is building so expensive?

And a helpful Master Builders article: How to choose the right builder.

Lastly – ask your designer to help you make the final choice when choosing a builder. Give them the pro’s and con’s of the top two builders you are thinking of using and they’ll help clarify which will be a better choice. Remember you’ll be working with them for at least 6 months (or 2 years – depending on the size of your home) so the choice is critical.  

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