So! You’re ready to build a home! Whether you’re building for yourself or building to rent it out eventually, there’s a lot of overwhelming information you need to know and comply with before you even get started. To help you navigate, here’s a guide to some of the main laws you need to comply with when building a home.
The first big step with building your own home is to figure out how exactly you’re going to build it, right? Finding a builder is a big step, and you’ll want to make sure you’re finding a licensed one, on top of being professional and in your budget and with the right experience. Finding a licensed builder will be information going into your building consent, and they’ll need to be approved by the council before even proceeding, so it’s a waste of time if you don’t find a reputable one. New Zealand requires certain parts of your home to built by someone licensed, so make sure you don’t proceed with hiring someone until you know they have these qualifications.
For those of us crazy enough to want to try and build our own house, you’ll need to be extra aware of what you’re allowed to do in your area. For New Zealand, you’ll need an owner-builder exemption. You’ll still need to obtain building consent just like any other builder, as we’ll talk about below, and you’ll apply for this exemption at that time.
Essentially, you must agree to build to code, agree to home inspections to ensure it’s at code, and that you’ll live in the home and build it yourself. You aren’t, however, allowed to complete certain tasks like plumbing, gas-fitting, drain-laying and electrical work. You can find more about this exemption and apply for it, here.
Once you’ve found a builder you agree with, you and the builder need to apply for a building consent. The consent will be submitted to your council, if you’re building in New Zealand, and decided upon using data from your plans. They’ll make sure that you’re following code, and will inspect you throughout the building process.
Every consent might be a little different. For example, if you’re building a house to sell in Cambridge, the council will check for any laws for that area, like heritage laws, as well as any district plans. Make sure you’re aware of the council fees required, and when they’re due.
Building on empty land
When a lot is empty and you’ll be building there, you might think there will be less rules, bylaws, and permits because you aren’t building over anything or tearing anything down. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. There are local and regional plans, resource consent and permits that you need to contend with. Your best bet, every time, is to go and talk to your local council to figure out what you need to apply for for that area. Use this guide to help you find your local council.
If you’re using it for rental property and plan on being a landlord, you have even more laws to abide by. Having tenants in your home means that you have to provide certain basic amenities. For example, having a home that has lock hardware to keep the home secure, or that the home is in a reasonable state of repair. The home should be heated and cooled appropriately, with working smoke alarms in all areas of the home.
One new bylaw as of 2016 is the Insulation Statement, which is required to provide to tenants moving in. Essentially, the statement tells the tenant what kind of insulation is present and how warm it will keep the home. If you’re using an apartment property management company, you might be able to work with them to help you get the statement. If you’re building new, this should be an easy step that you can obtain from your builder.
If you’re just purchasing your rental property, you’ll want to invest in a rental appraisal for the home once it’s been built. This will tell you how much the place can and should rent for, which protects not only you as the landlord from getting a good price, but also the tenant from not grossly overpaying. Even if you’ve just built your property, you’ll also want to get an appraisal to make sure you’re setting a price that will get your building costs back within a reasonable amount of time. Make sure you get your property in great shape before the appraisal, using tips like these to help you.
When all’s said and done, your home is built, and you’ve moved in or started renting it, it’s time to make sure that your investment is protected. First off, hire a wills lawyer to start drafting up plans for what happens to all your assets in case of certain emergencies. Next, make sure you get insurance for your property. New Zealand requires landlords to purchase insurance that covers rental properties, and that you pay the premiums as well.
For rental properties, property managers can be a huge lifesaver for you. For example, getting a holiday home manager can make sure that security is up to date for a home that you don’t visit that often, if ever. They can also make sure that tenants are properly vetted, and deal with any disputes. If you’re building to sell, make sure you get the expertise of a real estate solicitor to help you draw up the documents and liaise between you and the seller.
When you’re home or investment property is finally complete, and you’ve paid your final bill to the builders, your last step is to get a code compliance certificate (CCC). Essentially this is a final signoff from your council, which is basically just showing that you’ve built to code, that you own the property, and that you’ve stayed within your original building consent.
After that, congratulations! You’ve just made it through the tenuous and exhausting laws and regulations to build a home. Now you can move in and enjoy, or start renting and enjoy the profits rolling.