Our NZCB Builders discuss the best place to start a renovation

With all our time spent inside over the past couple of months, and businesses now opening up again, no doubt you have a few renovation ideas brewing. We’ve spoken to some of our NZCB builders to get their best tips for how to tackle two of the biggest renovation challenges in New Zealand homes – lack of storage and what to do with your bathroom.


We all need storage in our homes and, to be honest, for a lot of Kiwis good storage can be hard to come by. Don’t give up! We asked some of our builders for the best way to improve your storage and this is what they said.

Dave Gunter, of Coastal Designs Ltd in Motueka, suggests thinking vertically. “Put in an attic ladder and loft storage*,” he says.

Paul Riedel, from Straight Up Construction in Omanawa, agrees. “Attic stairs can be purchased for $300, which can add a lot of storage in your roof space.”

He also recommends kitset, ready-made wardrobe systems. “They are the way to go – they’re half the price and you can add drawers and shelves,” he says. And they don’t require painting, either.

Phill Claffey, of Character Building Ltd in Gisborne, says building a garage (attached or separate) is a great way to get extra storage, as is building in wardrobes and storage under the stairs. “You can also put in more custom joinery units in the laundry, if there is no room for a separate linen cupboard in the hall.”

Speaking of linen cupboards, switching from a hot water tank to a gas hot water system is a great way to free up storage space in old homes, something which Richard Poff, of RTP Builders Ltd in Christchurch, is a big fan of. “I am currently involved in a small renovation doing exactly that. The house is old, starved of storage space, and the owner will now gain extra space to stack her shoe collection (no comment from me – her words).”

Phill adds that switching to gas will also give you “instant water heating, better pressure and it’s more economical to heat water.”


When it comes to bathroom advice, what you end up doing will vary greatly depending on your specific space and circumstances.

“Bathrooms are very personal as wish lists and priorities vary for these spaces.  If customers can separate the ‘must haves’ from the ‘would likes’, that’s a good start,” says Ian Chamberlain from Chamberlain Carpentry & Joinery in Taupō.

That said, though, there are still some golden rules and knowledge gems our NZCB builders swear by.

“Spend as much as possible, but be smart,” Paul Riedel says.

“When it comes to bathrooms and kitchens, higher quality fittings really are higher quality. And while tiled bathrooms are more expensive, they outlast vinyl and plastic showers by years, so it’s worth investing, but pick a style which will last 20 years.”

Richard Poff says unless you really need (or will actually use) a bath, get rid of it. “The majority of baths I’ve seen in people’s houses just gather dust and crap.”

But he has some great, practical advice for what to do instead. “The space is better used with the installation of a second toilet or bigger shower box. The minimum size shower box should be 1m x 1m,” he says.

“This allows easy access for people regardless of mobility, and is big enough to put in a shower stool if it ever becomes necessary. Not only older folk need to sit down in the shower – plenty of people with leg injuries need to sit as well. This may only be for a short time while recovering, but even a 900mm x 900mm shower box makes for a tight fit.”

He also suggests that, where possible, put in a square or rectangular shower enclosure. “They are easier to install, easier to keep clean, and less likely to leak. I also always recommend putting in a ‘shower dome’ of some sort, regardless of how good the extraction system is.”

If you’re looking to renovate or build new, our find a builder search tool is where can find your nearest New Zealand Certified Builder.

* Wooden attic stairs shown by www.sellwood.co.nz

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