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Friday, January 26, 2018 - 9:30am

Building companies build showhomes to showcase the quality and design features you can expect from them, and to inspire you with ideas you might not have thought of yet.

As a homebuyer, visiting a showhome isn’t just about price comparisons and deciding who you want to build with, it’s an opportunity to create your wish list. Interiors magazines and social media are a great source of inspiration but there’s nothing quite like standing in a real home to understand exactly what you do and don’t want.

The more planning and decision-making you do in the early stages, the smoother your building experience will be, and the more likely you are to get your dream home.

Here are our top five tips to get the most out of your visit to a showhome:

 

1.    ASK QUESTIONS
There will always be a company representative at the showhome, and it’s their job to answer all your questions. From big (How long does the build take, between signing the contract and moving in?) to little (Can I have that exact bathroom tap?), don’t be shy about asking as many questions as you need to.

  • Ask about the cost of the showhome, including upgrades and extras. Most showhomes have special features that add to the build cost of a standard home.
  • What’s not included?
  • Initial outgoings and ongoing costs?
  • Who made the kitchen cabinetry?
  • If the showhome is in a housing development, ask about local services and facilities. How far is it to the school? Where is the public transport? How accessible is the motorway? Are there shared green spaces?
  • How flexible is the floor plan? What changes could you make without affecting the cost?
  • What is the deposit required?
  • What is the length of time between signing the contract and receiving the keys? Most take around 9 months, but it’s an important factor in your planning.
  • What guarantees is the new home covered by?

2.    TAKE PHOTOS
See something you like? Take photos and keep a record from each showhome you visit. Although it’s fun to be inspired by soft furnishings and the ‘pretty stuff’, take note of big ticket items such as the roof, cladding, window frames, kitchen positioning and cabinetry, heating options and general layout. These are important decisions that will impact the permanent look, feel and functionality of your new home.

 

3.    MAKE A LIST OF MUST-HAVES
When building new, you have the luxury of future-proofing your home and a showhome can help you see your options. How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? One storey or two? Butler’s pantry? Separate living space for teenage children? Underfloor heating in the bathroom? Indoor outdoor flow with a covered patio? Smart home options? Make a list of the things you won’t compromise on so that they can be factored into your budget early on.

4.    KEEP AN OPEN MIND
You may be certain you want a two-storey gabled home with wooden floors and all the bedrooms upstairs, but then you walk into the perfect single-storey pavilion-style showhome and everything changes.

Good showhomes make use of cutting edge design and the latest features before they reach the general market, so chances are you will see things you haven't seen before. Keep an open mind, and if you do a 180 after falling in love with something completely different, be thankful it happened now and not after you’d signed on the dotted line.

 

5.    MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE!
What looks like a generous bedroom in photos can turn out to be pokey and cramped in person. Likewise, it can be difficult to imagine shared living spaces from a house plan. A tape measure is a great tool to take with you and don't be shy about using it.

If you find the perfect master bedroom or living room in a showhome, measure it and sketch the layout so you know what you’re looking for.  Take note of bathroom and ensuite sizes, especially details such as the shower space. How big is your ideal wardrobe? What size is the patio? How big is the front door? If you see details you love, measure them and write down the specs. Reading house plans is so much easier when you know what you’re looking for.

If you have a favourite piece of furniture that will be part of your new home, measure it before you go and check that it will fit. Sideboards, Super King beds, dining tables and pianos can take up a lot of room, and it’s better to know now that they won’t fit, rather than on move-in day.

Every week, thousands of kiwis visit showhomes around the country. With a little know-how, the visit can be a really useful part of your new home planning.

Signature Homes has a number of beautiful showhomes available to view around the country. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 11:30am

Designing a bathroom for the first time can be overwhelming, and needs clever planning and expert advice about what to put where. Immerse yourself in our latest bathroom blog post, which is all about getting the shower of your dreams.

Showers

Showers are often the silent partner to baths when it comes to wow-factor in your bathroom, even though we use them every day. A cramped, scalding to freezing dribble is hardly the best start to your morning, and is completely avoidable. Take time to plan your layout and choose the right showerhead to ensure a pleasant showering experience every time.  

Layout

The first decision to make when planning your bathroom is where your shower will go. It is expensive and time-consuming to move plumbing, so base your decision on careful planning and expert advice from your Signature Homes consultant.

Ideally your shower enclosure should be a minimum of 1m-1.5m square, which allows room to enjoy showering without feeling cramped. Once you have your location and shower size, check the reach of your shower door when it opens. You don’t want it knocking against a vanity or toilet, and you need room to get in and out of the shower safely.

If you choose to have an open shower, with no enclosure, consider how you will protect the rest of the bathroom from water spray. Glazing protection on your shower’s surfaces is a relatively easy way to prolong its life, and makes it much easier to keep it looking sparkling clean.

One of the most common bathroom blunders is placing shower taps in a spot that is awkward to reach or under the direct stream of water. The last thing you need is a daily drenching of cold water when you turn your shower on. Put your taps or shower controls where they can be easily reached from outside the shower.

Things to consider:

  • Is your bathroom better suited to a shower screen or full-enclosure?
  • Is there enough room inside your shower, and enough room for the shower door to swing open, unobstructed?
  • Are the shower controls easy to access?
  • Is the shower head at a comfortable height?
  • Where will you store shower toiletries?
  • How will water be drained away?


“If your shower is going to be used by a lot of people, make sure you plan in-shower storage to keep the toiletries under control. You may tile in an alcove, choose a shower with moulded walls, or add shelving.” Plumbing World.

 

Choosing a Showerhead

The range of showerheads available is amazing, from overhead rain showers, to fixed wall-mounted showerheads to adjustable handheld options.

The ideal height of your showerhead depends on whether it is wall-mounted or fixed over-head. Around 2000mm from the ground is standard, which allows room for most family members to stand comfortably under the water spray.

 

Overhead Shower

Originally found only in luxury hotels and spas, an overhead ‘rain’ shower is fixed into the ceiling and designed to give the experience of showering in a delicious, warm rainstorm. Oversized and either round or square shape, the latest models are fully adjustable whether you want a heavy drenching or gentle drizzle. The pure indulgence of a rain shower makes them a great option for your ensuite, where you can escape from the world.

 

Fixed Wall-mounted Shower

Fixing your showerhead to the wall is a cost-effective, no-fuss option if you know exactly how high you want your shower. For a streamlined look, pipes and plumbing can be hidden in the wall, or you can choose a statement showerhead and fixtures for wow-factor. 

 

Adjustable Hand-held Shower

If your shower will be used by children, elderly or anyone with limited mobility, a handheld showerhead gives flexibility and extra reach when needed. Designed to sit on a wall-mounted cradle or height-adjustable bar, these are a family-friendly option that also make it easier to clean your shower.

It is common in modern bathrooms to include a handheld showerhead as well as overhead shower for maximum flexibility.

“Shower systems are the best of both worlds. The overhead shower is perfect for a long luxurious soak, and the handheld shower is great for those days when you don’t want to get your hair wet.” Caroma.

Things to consider:

  • Who will be using the shower and what are their needs in terms of flexibility, height and direction control?
  • Are you planning to have your shower positioned over a bath?
  • Do you wash your hair every time you shower? An overhead rain shower can be tricky if you want to keep your hair dry.
  • Is your hot water supply and pressure system sufficient to keep up with your chosen showerhead?


“Sometimes it feels like the slightest turn of the mixer can adjust water temperature by a couple of degrees: that’s the difference between shivering and being scalded! A thermostatic mixer keeps your shower set at your perfect temperature even if someone turns on a tap.” Plumbing World.


If all this sounds like too much hard work, fear not. Our Designers are experts at delivering stylish bathrooms that you’ll love to shower in for years to come. If you choose to build with Signature Homes, they will be with you every step of the way.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 12:15pm
Bathroom built by Signature Homes

If you’re building a new house, some of the most exciting and daunting decisions are in the bathroom. One sink or two? Bath or no bath in the ensuite? Wall-hung or floor mounted vanity? Every decision you make has both practical and stylistic implications because while your bathrooms are probably the smallest rooms in your house, they are also the most used. In our bathroom blog series, we look at everything you need to know about putting together your new bathroom.


Bath or no bath?

Baths take up a lot of floor space and they do add to the cost of a bathroom but who doesn’t love a leisurely soak at the end of a long day? A bath gives your main bathroom both style and functionality. They’re great for resale value, especially for families with small children. Baths also make a big visual impact, creating a focal point and wow-factor.

When you're building a new home and every dollar of the budget counts, the question of whether or not you also need a bath in your ensuite will probably come up. If you have the space and budget and love soaking in a tub, then go for it, but a generous-sized, beautiful shower in your ensuite should take precedence over a second bath.


Choosing a Bath

Baths have gone from purely practical and functional to stunning design features in their own right. If space isn’t an issue you can choose your bath by taste alone, but each type of bath comes with its own considerations.

Things to consider:

  • Who will be using the bath the most? If you are a family with young children, a built-in bath with a ledge around it may be a better option.
  • Will your hot water supply keep up with the size of your bath? Some larger tubs can take as much as 370 litres of water to fill.


Plumbing World work with Signature Designers and clients to help all our clients design and fit out the bathroom that is right for them “Whether you chose a freestanding, back-to-wall or built-in bath, consider the size and purpose of your bathroom.  A built-in bath needs a room at least 10 metres square in size.  If it’s a small compact space you are working with a back to wall bath may work better. You don’t have to compromise on comfort and style to achieve an elegant, relaxing space.” says their Design Expert.


Freestanding Bath

A freestanding bath is a bathtub that stands alone in the bathroom and is finished on all sides. They are extremely popular at the moment and make a beautiful statement, whether they sit on traditional claw feet or are mounted directly onto the floor.

A freestanding bath instantly becomes the focal point of a bathroom, giving luxury, glamour, and a feeling of lightness and space. Although the actual bath may be more expensive to buy than a built-in bath, a freestanding bath doesn’t need framing all around it, which can reduce the overall cost. Developments in technology also mean that lighter weight freestanding baths are available, which require less flooring reinforcement than concrete or marble.

Things to consider:

  • Is there enough space all the way around the bath so you can clean behind it?
  • Will you hide your plumbing and pipes in the wall or make a feature of it?
  • Where will you keep toiletries? A floating or tiled-in shelf will keep toiletries and bathing accessories within reach.
  • What style of freestanding bath will complement your vanity, tap-ware and tiles?


Built-in Bath

A built-in bath is installed against a wall or inside a framed and tiled bath surround. This surround can increase the cost of a bath but it also offers somewhere to sit, store toiletries, or place a glass of wine and candles. A built-in bath can look ‘heavier’ than a freestanding bath as it takes up more space, but if you frame and tile it to match the rest of the room, the finished result will be streamlined and cohesive. The framing around a bath can also be used to hide plumbing and pipes, if you don’t want to see them.

Built-in baths tend to be easier to clean than freestanding, because there are no hard-to-reach areas behind the bath that gather dust and mildew. In bathrooms where space is tight, built-in baths also provide an opportunity to place a shower over the bath tub.

Things to consider:

  • How will you frame and tile the bath surround to complement the rest of your bathroom?
  • How easy is it for children and elderly people to get in and out of the bath?


Back-to-Wall

If you love the look of a freestanding bath but space is tight, a back-to-wall bath might be the best option. They have the visual appeal of a freestanding bath but take up less room and are easier to clean because one side is mounted against a wall.

 

Changes to your bathroom can be costly and time-consuming down the line, so it’s important to get professional advice when making decisions. Our Designers are experts at delivering practical, stylish bathrooms, and our Colour Consultants will help you choose tiles and fixtures for a cohesive finish.

Our team is one of your biggest assets when building with Signature Homes. Whatever your choice of bath, they will help you design a bathroom you will love for years to come.

 

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 10:15am
It's better to buy a new home than settle for second hand

No doubt you’ve seen existing houses advertised as ‘first home buyer’s dream’ and ‘affordable starter’ and your heart leaps because you think “I might be able to afford that…”. In person, you’re likely to be disappointed at the compromises you'll have to make, and the amount of work required to make it a livable home.

What real estate agents don't want you to know
House and land packages, on the other hand, have copped some unfair publicity because they’re often in the outer suburbs and some developments have smaller than traditional sized sections. In reality, these new homes are constructed to suit the modern lifestyle with modern building materials, in new suburbs that are usually designed with lots of shared green space and parks.

As Paul Bull, CEO of Signature Homes points out “The truth is that first home buyers can buy a brand-new house and land package with a lower deposit than you would for a pre-existing house at the same price. That’s a home that is built to modern building standards. It’s well insulated, dry and warm and all the electricals are new – that means lower electricity bills, healthier homes and healthier families.”

House and land packages are created when a building company secures land from a developer or property owner and then matches the land with home design perfect for the section in terms of size, orientation and the contours of the land. The building company markets and sells that package, works with the buyer to personalise the home to their tastes, then manages the consent process and project manages the build.

Paul also points out that new home buyers opting to build can often defer the start of their mortgage payments until the house is built while enjoying the capital value increase on the property from the day that builders walk on to the site.

If you are looking to buy a new home, there are many compelling reasons to consider buying a house and land package. Here are five of the best:

1. Lower Deposit
House and land package new builds are exempt from the New Zealand Reserve Banks Loan-to-Value Restrictions (LVR), which means first home buyers can obtain finance for less deposit than the 20% typically required of first home buyers or the 40% from property investors.

2. Personalisation
Depending on the builder and the requirements of the developer, buyers have options to personalise their new home, including changing internal plans, wall placement and decisions on flooring through to tiles, colours, fixtures, fittings and kitchen and bathroom design.

3. Suburban Planning
House and land packages are often built in new developments that are planned and designed to fit modern urban design principles and stringently regulated by councils. They have close access to public transport and are conveniently located close to amenities, schools, and green spaces and parks – because modern town planners and architects think about these things.

4. Insulation
The build quality of new house and land packages and new building and material technologies ensure you can count on a warm, dry home for many years to come.

5. Peace of Mind
Second hand houses don't come with a guarantee – things break, leak or flood and you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket. House and land packages, on the other hand, are built brand new so they’re guaranteed (not everybody offers the same high level of guarantee as Signature Homes, so scrutinise yours carefully).

“These house and land developments are key to answering the housing shortage, and housing supply issues in some areas in the country such as Auckland and Christchurch, and are one of the most practical forms of housing growth – which is why they are also popular in other areas such as Whangarei and Tauranga,” says Paul.

With reports* that four out of ten New Zealanders are toughing out the cold and damp to save on electricity this winter, choose your new home carefully and invest in a warm, dry and healthy future for your family.


*State of the Home Survey for the Auckland University of Technology and HRV home ventilation company

Friday, July 28, 2017 - 11:15am

A beautiful roof is the crowning glory to any home but what goes on it is more than just a visual choice. Your choice of roof materials plays a critical role in the performance of your home, and it impacts your budget now and when it comes to maintenance down the line.

One of the advantages of building new rather than buying an existing home is access to terrific new product technology and guarantees that mean your home will be weathertight for decades to come.

Whether you know exactly how you want your roof to look, or if you just want a cost-efficient and durable solution, this blog post explains the most common roofing materials used in New Zealand, and gives an insight into how they can affect the look of your home and your budget.

 

LONG RUN METAL ROOFING

The most popular roofing material in New Zealand is long run metal, and for good reason. Lightweight, durable and easy to install, it comes in a wide range of colours and profiles to give a classic finish to any home. Profiles are the curves and patterns that give a metal roof striking shadow lines and personality, whether you like the traditional undulating curves of corrugated iron or the contemporary architectural lines of a tray profile.

The classic corrugated iron roof has largely been replaced by zinc or aluminium coated alloy-steel, which means less maintenance and greater durability, especially if your home is within sight of the sea.

 

METAL TILES

Metal roofs are also available as tiles, pressed from zinc or aluminium alloy-coated steel that give the look of a traditional tiled roof. Popular in our Smart Collection of houses due to their cost-efficiency and resilience, metal tiles come in a wide range of finishes, from a shingle or stone look to pre-painted metal. A metal tiled roof lends charm and character to the overall aesthetic of a home.

Low-maintenance and easy to replace, metal tiles typically weigh a sixth of the weight of a conventional tile which reduces the amount of timber bracing required, thus providing cost saving in design and materials. Despite this, they give strength in the event of an earthquake and are impenetrable even in gale force winds due to their interlocking design.

 

ASPHALT

Asphalt shingles are suitable for roofs pitched over 15 degrees and are a low maintenance option in sea spray zones. Although they are comparable with metal roofing in terms of material cost, they must be installed over a plywood substrate, which increases the overall price of the roof.

 

CLAY TILES

Clay tiles (from concrete or terracotta) are suitable for roofs with a pitch over 10 degrees and are extremely durable and weather resistant. Popular on traditional Italian or Spanish style houses, they give a natural warmth and are good at absorbing the sound of rain and hail. Although the cost per square metre is comparable to metal roofing for concrete tiles, they are as much as a third heavier and require a greater investment in timber bracing. Clay tiles are significantly more expensive and require extra bracing as well.

 

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Solar Panels and Tiles

As more clients look towards renewable energy sources, products have become readily available that can be installed onto the roof and convert light into electrical energy. Signature Homes can provide quotes for solar tiles or solar panels on request.

 

Skylights and Rooflights

Fixed panel skylights (roof lights or roof windows) are a great way to obtain natural light in certain homes. If electronic opening versions are used, they also provide ventilation in areas such as bathrooms and showers. Signature Homes can provide quotes for skylights or rooflights on request.

 

Deciding on the final details of your new build can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to exterior items such as the roof. These decisions have significant structural and financial implications if changed later, so getting it right during the design of your home is critical. If in doubt, ask an expert.

Building your home with Signature not only gives you access to our decades of experience and exceptional guarantees, we are also here to support you through design, budgeting and build so you get the best possible home for your money, lifestyle and design taste.

 

Click here to see images of beautiful Signature Homes roofs to inspire your new home.