Will You Be Paying Hidden Charges? Use This Checklist

When you are getting a building quote, there are some things you need to be aware of. Some New Zealand builders do their best to hide costs on their quotes to get your business, so you need to be careful that all details have been covered. Use this checklist to ensure that all details have been covered and there won’t be any hidden costs when the project has started.


Some things to consider about the builder you are choosing:

  • Does your builder have any failed or folded businesses?
  • Has your builder bankrupted in the past?
  • Does your builder work with quantity surveyors and construction managers that have experience in overseeing and working with tradesman, sub-trades and the council?
  • Does your builder have connections to reputable building industry consultants such as landscapers, interior designers, valuers, geotechs, structural and fire engineers, surveyors, town planners, mortgage brokers?
  • Does your builder manage a team that understands the construction process and will communicate with you regularly?
  • Does your builder have professional systems and procedures?
  • Does your builder have the support of a large governing body?
  • Does your builder keep up-to-date with New Zealand legislative changes such
    as the building act?
  • Does your builder talk in plain language and explain building jargon?
  • Does your builder give you confidence that they can complete your building contract without running into financial problems?

About Your Section

  • What’s the slope of your section?
    Sections that are not flat may need extra retaining work or more expensive foundations, so this needs to be accounted for.
  • Do you have a Geotechnical report on the soil quality?
    The site may require expensive foundations for stabilisation.
  • Will the site require specific additional engineering due to being in a high wind zone, technical category of the land or potential thermal activity?
  • Are there any restricted legal covenants associated with the site which may impose minimum building standards or have limitations?
  • Are the site’s boundaries restricting the house’s shape?
  • Will it meet all Council planning regulations, such as backyard size, turning bays or boundary setbacks.
  • Will you require resource consent from the Council?
  • Is your section likely to flood or is it on a 100-year flood plane?
  • Will you need an engineered storm water disposal system?
  • Is there a sewer connection on site?
  • Is there a water meter on site?
  • How far away from the site is the phone and internet connection?
  • Does the  street have gas supply?
  • Where is the location of power in regards to the building site?
  • How accessible is the site for building materials to be delivered?
  • Will you require a new driveway and what is the cost?
  • Are there any protected trees which are illegal to remove?
  • Are there any trees you want to keep which may create a dripline over the building site?
  • Is the direction of your home facing north to capture the sun?
  • Can you locate all the boundary pegs?
  • Does the Purchase Agreement of your section have a “cooling off”, ‘due diligence’ or finance clause?
  • Is your land title “Limited as to Parcels” or “Limited as to Title”?
    The council will not process requests to undertake building works in these instances.
  • Do you have a LIM report?
  • Do you have a pre-approved loan from the bank for the build which they will need to approve?


When receiving quotes from builders, you need to make sure you know exactly what you are getting. You should receive a schedule called a Specification that outlines exactly what is being used to build your home. Another thing you need to be aware of is the Provisional Cost Sums. Builders often use PC Sums to estimate the price of an item when they are not sure of the exact cost. Some builders use PC Sums to lower the overall price of a building contract by underestimating unknown costs to make the quote look cheaper, but this results in breaking their budget due to higher actual costs.

For Specification, check the following:

  • Does your quote include a complete, comprehensive specification?
  • Has your builder thoroughly explained what’s included in the specification and what’s not included and why?
  • Are the standard foundation costs included in the specification?
  • Have provisions been made for a geotech report if required?
  • Do you have water, telephone, gas and power available at the site and, if not, is it included in the specification?
  • Has you builder allowed for a water meter if your section doesn’t have one already?
  • Does the specification allow for full drainage costs including sewer pumps and retention tanks if needed?
  • Does your quote or contract include a full kitchen up to your standards?
  • Are there underground services that cross your site and does the design accommodate these?
  • Does your quote allow for correct wind, earthquake and/or corrosion zone requirements?
  • What is the specification of the framing?
  • How many nogs are being used?
  • What level of insulation is specified?
  • What thickness of gib is specified for the ceiling?
  • Is your builder using a quality paint system, including paint brand and application method?
  • What sort of electrical allowance is there including lights and power points per room?
  • Are all floor coverings included?
  • Are excavation, foundations, driveways and paths included?
  • Will the site get leveled with topsoil and spread with grass seed?
  • How many lineal metres are allowed to get services on site including power, phone, gas, water?
  • Is the site Rural?
  • How much is allowed for drainage, stormwater, services and so on?
  • Is the cost of working drawings included?
  • Does the total price included all engineering & consultants fees required?
  • Does the price include all the council fees such as Building Consent, Resource Consent, and Development Contributions?
  • Will your builder provide a handover programme?
  • Will your builder include a 12 month maintenance programme in the quote?
  • Will your builder honour any ongoing building responsibilities after finishing your home?


  • Will your builder meet you on-site and explain any problems, leading to potential costs that the section may have?
  • Will your builder provide a full, comprehensive design service that allows your home to fit both the section and district plan requirements?
  • Does your builder know the right people who can advise you of potential design issues regarding your section?
  • Will your builder work with you to transform your ideas into a design that is functional, realistic and retains the aesthetics you have been looking for?
  • Does your builder give you a good range of choices through access to a wide range of products?
  • Will your builder ensure that your title is clear?
  • Does your builder know what covenants and restrictions have been placed on your site which may prevent your plans being realised?
  • Will your builder ensure that your home meets all council standards?
  • Will your builder include only reliable, trade suitable, quality materials which meet or exceed NZS3604 building code in your plan specification?


  • Is your builder a Registered Master Builder?
  • Is your builder able to provide an independent Master Builders 10 year warranty?
  • Is your builder consistently winning awards within the trade?
  • Is your builder using the industry standard Master Builders contract agreement?
  • Can your builder show you some of the homes they’ve previously built and provide written and verbal testimonials from past clients?
  • Can your builder show you projects they are currently working on/have just finished where you can check the quality of workmanship?
  • Can your builder demonstrate they have the right skills, knowledge, ability and team to build your home?


Building compliance can be a minefield and if handled incorrectly will lead to major delays and budget overruns.

Some key points to look for:

  • Partnerships with reputable advisors in insurance,
    guarantees, health and safety, legal firms and accounting
  • Having systems for tracking and taking care of
  • Does your builder provide the internal controls necessary to meet requirements
    imposed by government bodies and industry regulators?
  • Does your builder provide a Master Builders 10 year guarantee?
  • Does your builder provide contract works insurance?
  • Does your builder provide public liability insurance?
  • Does your builder provide a health & safety system run by an independent third party provider?
  • Does your builder provide a Code Compliance Certificate?

If all the points on this list are covered, it is safe to say that you have found a builder who will be able to deliver on your build. We at Builders NZ ensure the we tick every box on this list and that you will be 100% satisfied with your new home. Contact us today to discuss your building project.