Saving costs when building

Huia Exterior Artis Home

Here's how to save costs when home building!

This article was written by Miriam Bell and originally appeared in Stuff in November 2022.

Escalating construction costs have put cost-savings front of mind for people building or renovating a home, but there are new processes on offer that aim to help.

CoreLogic’s latest Cordell Construction Cost Index shows the rate at which costs are rising accelerated again in the three months ending October.

The cost of building a standard 200m² brick and tile house rose 3.4% nationally over the quarter, up on the 2.6% increase over the previous three months. It lifted the annual increase to 9.6% from 7.7% last quarter.

This is contributing to a decline in demand for new build homes, and a pullback in demand for tradies for home renovation projects.

But a growing number of offerings aimed at making home building projects more affordable are hitting the market.

One initiative comes from design-and-build company Box. It recently launched Artis, an off-shoot business with a focus on smaller houses and a simplified, more affordable design process.

Artis design lead Laura McLeod said consumer affordability issues and skyrocketing building costs were the driver behind the new business.

The business wanted to provide an option to the housing market which allowed for beautiful, modern design, but kept a close eye on the budget. Clever, efficient use of space and materiality was one way to do that, she said.

Rang Exterior Home

“We have taken the key learnings from the Box experience, and distilled it into crafting compact homes, typically 30m² to 130m², that are accessible to more people.

“The streamlined process uses a series of ‘blocks’, which can be moved around to create a floorplan, and are finalised with a selection of interior and exterior fixtures and fittings.”

Pre-considered design elements remove many of the hard decisions for people while keeping them involved in the fun ones, and saves time and money on design fees and the build itself, she says.

Price guides for homes range from $250,000 for a 45m² studio to $600,000 for a three-bedroom 110m² home.

There may be additional sitework costs, and while building consents will be factored into the contract, resource consent costs are additional as they are site-specific and often require specialist input.

But by building smaller and working to standard details, the Artis build can take 10% to 50% less time than a typical architectural build of nine to 12 months, McLeod says.

“There is a strong market for smaller builds, and we’ve had interest from clients adding minor units for their children, and everything from first-time buyers to couples downsizing.“New Zealand is becoming more international and diverse, and with that comes a natural cultural shift where people are more open-minded to different styles, and sizes, of living.”

To date, two Artis homes, both city infill projects, have been built, and there is a further five on the drawing board, she says.