Image supplied by Mark Smith Builders 2010 Limited

If you’ve been feeling a bit cooped up at home and you need some more space, you have a couple of options. Enter the fray of the local housing market (at your own risk!) or look to add a room to your existing home.

If you want to add a room to your home, there are a few important things to consider, which we’ve outlined below, thanks to some handy tips from our NZ Certified Builders Regional Presidents. You can find a local builder here once you’re ready for the first step.

Step 1 – Contact a builder and draftsperson to meet at your home

Richard Poff, of RTP Builders and NZCB Canterbury President says a good builder (one recommended or that you know and trust) should be brought onboard early in the process.  “Those of us who have done quite a bit of reno and alteration work generally have practical ideas, and can help you with useful suggestions.  Most of us also have a draftsperson we are comfortable working with, who also needs to be on hand early.  Essential subbies should also be involved early on if applicable – sparkie, plumber, etc.  Usually your builder will have some they frequently work with and trust.”

Dan Gallagher, of Gallagher Trade Building Limited and NZCB Mid & South Canterbury President says meeting with your builder and draftsperson first gets things off to a good start.

“On one hand, you want the alteration to be aesthetically pleasing and on the other hand, you have to follow council rules for recession heights etc. Your builder and draftsperson can go over your ideas before the draftsperson comes back with a basic concept drawing.”

Richard says there are a few things you should consider before engaging your professionals.

“What will the extra space be used for?  Is it possible to add an extra room by rearranging some internal walls (probably a cheaper option)? How will it look alongside the existing structure?  Is it possible to still get the same cladding materials or at least something that will complement the existing?

”Your builder can help answer these questions and more, such as will the new addition fit in with existing land use?  You’ll need to consider site coverage, recession planes, boundaries, access, and more. You should also try to get your head around what your realistic available budget is.  “There is a need to completely understand ALL the costs involved – including consent fees,” Richard says.

Step 2 – Submit your plan to Council for consent

A concept plan (or several) needs to be done.  “This can be used to get some prelim pricing done, and even taken to the local council to ensure it will fly,” Richard says.

“If surrounding landowners are going to be affected, they will need to be shown something and early is better – especially if some compromise may be required.”

Dan recommends doing your neighbours the courtesy of showing them your plans, anyway (it always pays to keep your neighbours on side!).

Once you are happy with your plan, your builder or draftsperson can submit it to your local council for consent, or you can. Be sure to clarify with your builder who is going to do this, as you are legally responsible for getting consent.

Step 3 – Check your builder’s references and qualifications

You know what they say about when you assume things… and you should never assume your builder is qualified or will provide a great service based on their word alone. A good builder will happily give you references and their qualifications.

All NZCB builders are qualified and have rigorous professional development as past of their membership. Make sure to contact your builder’s referees and ask specific questions which relate to your project. You could even ask for referees of past projects which are similar to yours.

Step 4 – Get a quote and a building contract

This one can possibly be done (or at least worked on) while your consent is with council for processing. Your draftsperson will finalise a detailed plan, so your builder can quote. Once you agree to the quote, you can sign your building contract and move on to the next steps.

Step 5 – Building Consent approved

That’s a big job done! Celebrate this win and get ready to move forward with the next step. If you haven’t completed steps 3 and 4 while your local council was processing your consent, now’s the time to tick those off.

Dan says patience is key in these sorts of renovation projects. “The process from first meeting to consented documents, ready to start building is going to take approximately six months.”

And Richard says three or four of those months may be used just to get consent.

Step 6 – Get a Halo Guarantee

NZCB builders can exclusively offer a Halo 10-Year Residential Guarantee. A Halo 10-Year Residential Guarantee protects you after the building process, and for the next decade.

It provides much greater protection than both the Building Act and Consumer Guarantees Act. While the vast majority of building projects will run smoothly, sometimes things do go wrong. The Guarantee provides protection when these issues arise. It may also be that your builder stops working as a builder during the 10-Years after completion. The Guarantee is there to protect your housing investment.

You can read more about the Halo Guarantee and what it covers here, or ask your NZCB builder.

Regardless of what happens in the future, your Halo Guarantee will be there to help you for the next full 10-Years following completion – it’s peace of mind, guaranteed.

To find a nearby NZCB builder to help you with your section purchase, use the Find A Builder search function on