Our Build


8 Months In

Wow, it’s crazy to think that we’ve been living in our house for 8 months now. We absolutely love it.

It’s incredibly satisfying building a house that you’ve designed in your head, then watching it being built and to now be living in it. You spend so much time obsessing over every little detail and considering every aspect. And now to be using those features and seeing everything working the way we intended is a real buzz. The sun comes into the house in the way we hoped. We live in the house the way we thought we would and the independent pods make the home feel so much larger than its 170sqm footprint. And that roof deck. Oh yeah. So good!

To be honest it’s also been a huge relief as well. I was a bit anxious moving in, crossing my fingers that we hadn’t made any terrible mistakes. I mean we aren’t architects and we’d never designed a home before, but now we’ve lived in the house through a winter and most of a summer, there isn’t one thing that we would change. It really does feel like we live in our own little retreat – it’s so private and the birdsong is incredibly relaxing, not to mention the trickling stream. It’s like being on holiday at home which is awesome and lucky – with the mortgage we have we can’t venture too far away anyway! We’ve also been very lucky because a new bridge has been built over the Milford Marina, so we are now less than 5 minutes walking distance to the beach which gives us the best of both worlds – bush and beach.

I’ve been embracing my inner green-thumb and spend most of my spare time pottering in the garden or obsessing over the lawns! I’m loving learning about the native plants that will and won’t grow on our section – which ones prefer sun, shade or part shade. And the ones that like it wet or like it dry. It’s pretty cool watching the plants maturing, the lawn growing and the house settling into its surroundings so nicely.

I’m slowly chipping away at taming more and more of the bush area – ridding it of the ginger and other weeds, and replacing it with natives (the birds are doing a great job helping me too). I’ve got plans to make wee paths through the bush and Kylie would love a spa under the trees one day too!

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You’ll probably note how the cladding has weathered over the 8 months as well. We really like it, but I will be applying another coat of oil before next summer to ensure the timber is adequately protected and the colour holds at about the same tone it is now. From then on, it should only be a coat every five years.

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18 Comment
  1. Whow, your beautiful home looks just amazing. You should both be very very proud of yourselves. So tranquil, and I wish you many many happy years there……..Kindest Regards to you both

  2. Brilliant – lovely to see how it’s all settled and the landscaping is maturing. Thank-you for the updated pics !

  3. Just amazing guys! I remember when you started. We were looking at using the same product you built your walls with. Gorgeous home. Thank you too for keeping us updated. Have thoroughly enjoyed both your journey. Keep well.

  4. Looking great guys. Love the pungas and how established your garden looks in such a short time.
    Our sips arrive in 2 weeks.

  5. Hi Ben, great house, well done. Just wondering if you’d been able to quantify how much time the SIPS had saved you on the build?

    Also, from the time the SIPS went up, can you recall how long it took to get the house watertight? And then completed?


    • Hey Tom, thanks mate. It’s pretty hard to give you a figure as we had 2 external things slow the process down – structural steel was very late in delivery as was one of our doors. On a flat site and all phased well, I’d estimate 25%-30% – we were the first to use it up here, so a lot has been learnt and the guys have even more efficient processes in place now. You could be even faster if you wanted to leave the internal walls the sip panel vs lining it too.

      Our total build, from first sod to move in was 7 months. Given the complexity of our site and estimated hold ups as mentioned (lost maybe 6 weeks and then another 2 over Xmas), that’s pretty fast – c. 5 months. You literally could have the shell up in a day if well planned, on a concrete pad with standard openings etc.

      Hope that helps!

  6. Tom/Ben
    My sips arrived in port last night (wangled a ride on a tugboat to meet the ship). Happy to give you a timeline at the end of the job if that helps. Like Ben this is a first for the builders and we have a bunch of other things just waiting to slow the job down. I’m confident that from laying the bottom plate to being weather tight on 2 identical builds sips will win over say conventional framing and rab.

  7. Hi Julia
    We are nearly done & dusted. The build went really well & we are impressed with the way sips work. Our house is a full passivhaus. The internal climate is different to any other house I have been in and we haven’t completely sealed it (internal garage door is off its hinges) and the ventilation system is not yet commissioned. Regardless of how hot or cold it is outside it is perfect inside. No issues with the builder. Some advise, if you are not using the passivhaus programme make sure you pay very close attention to solar gain and buy the best windows you can afford.
    Good luck and have fun

  8. Hi guys, your home looks great. We are a UK couple in the process of getting a visa. My husband is a builder and site manager myself an interior designer. We have self built in the UK and are wanting to do so in NZ but now with the dreadful exchange rate are wondering how far our cash will stretch. Could you tell me what your build costs were and what amount of that was for material costs trying to guage if we can build a decent standard of home in NZ. Regards Angela

    • Thanks Angela. Awesome! I’m not going to lie, the cost to build in NZ is expensive, especially compared to what you are used to in the UK. Of course it all depends on your site and the quality of the end product. To give you a guide, a group home build on a flat site with limited to no architectural input would be around $2,000 – $2,500 per square metre. A relatively simple architectural home would be maybe $3,500 – $5,000 and then upwards. All excluding the land. These are Auckland prices as I have no experience of costs outside of Auckland.
      As you may have seen in headlines, there is a housing shortage here, and a a shortage of quality tradies. So labour is tight and makes up a decent proportion. Hope that helps!

  9. Hi

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I live your imagination and the finished result is amazing!

    I was wondering if you could post a picture of your main bathroom please? I would like to see how the bath and shower work side by side like that.



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