The first compromises

When you start thinking about building your own house you develop a picture in your head about what you want and what it will look like. You know, though, things will probably be different in the end. For me, some things have already changed or will not be possible as I first imagined. Here are some of the first comprises we’ve needed to make in the design process:

Budget up, size down

When we bought our section in 2010 we inquired about ballpark figures for building a home. We were told NZ$ 1000,-/m2 for low-end, NZ$ 1500,-/m2 for average and NZ$ 2000,-/m2 for high-end (non architectural) homes. So we thought NZ $ 250.000 for a 100 m2 home would be achieveable…. fast forward to 2016.  For architectural houses in Auckland the low-end of the range now starts at NZ $ 3000,-/m2.  The supply and demand effect is in full swing with huge demand for construction resources in the Auckland region. So our new aim is to build a 60-80 m2 home for NZ$ 300.000,-.  I don’t mind downsizing to a smaller home and see an emerging global trend towards living smaller but upping the budget is not so attractive.  And this will probably not be the last time we revise the budget. We know that a NZ $ 300.000, budget is still very very low for what we want to achieve and will require real diligence to realise.

Parking out of sight

I don’t like it when you approach a house and the first thing you see is cars and garage doors. I always envisioned parking the cars behind the house or underneath the house. The section however turned out to be too steep to drive a car down on to the property. Building a driveway all the way at the end of the section, which would enable us to park cars behind, the house would require a NZ$ 35.000, retaining wall. Let’s rethink that wish.

Open mono pitch roof to view


Our views from the section on water, distant hills and sunsets are all to the West. Many pictures of homes I liked had a roof angle that opens to the view with large windows. This lay-out with open roof angle and windows to the West will cause our home to become much too hot in summer so a “closed” roof angle or small windows will work better. Another one of those things I envisioned differently. We don’t know yet how the exact design will look but it will remain a challenge to create views from the house and avoid overheating and at the same time make a passive solar design work.

Cabin at bottom

We have a narrow section running down the hill and at the bottom, about 50 m down behind bushes, there is a great secluded spot with a great view. We thought about building a small cabin at the bottom for guests that doubles as an office and can be rented out. We thought it made sense to include this in the building consent process to get some synergy with the other build. But the budget is already tight and even small buildings cost money. If we want to build it later it means the main building can’t get its code compliance certificate. The cabin hasn’t been completely ruled out and there are some other options to avoid building consent but we might have to put this idea on hold for a while.

Husband and wife compromises

After the mostly budgetary compromises we get to the part of different opinions between husband and wife on what is important in the house and the looks of the home. I like a kitchen bench towards the view which works best with a small kitchen island and I have always had dark or uninspiring bathrooms so would like something cool with lots of light. My husband doesn’t like the kitchen island and doesn’t care for the bathroom but wants a cool bedroom for which I couldn’t care less. He really likes the exterior horizontal weatherboard look of which I am not a fan at all. No decisions made yet on these topics and we will keep you posted…..they say most of the time “she” wins but then you haven’t met my husband.


Margriet Geesink

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