Friday, June 16, 2017 - 12:45pm

When planning to design and build your dream home, the style of roof is probably not as high on your list of must-haves as the kitchen and bathrooms, but it should be. Your roof provides protection from the elements and plays a major role in how weathertight, resilient and energy efficient your home is. Your roof also makes up as much as a third of the exterior of your home, and has a significant visual impact.

There are many considerations when planning your roof design, for example pitch, style, colour, choice of material (roof coverings), exposure to weather conditions, site positioning and of course, budget. This blog post looks at the practical and visual elements of roof pitch and style.

Roof pitch describes the steepness of a roof and it is essential in determining how water and debris will disperse. The main reason for pitching a roof is to redirect water and snow away from the house, which is why a steep pitched roof is common in areas that receive heavy snowfall. Pitch also determines what materials or systems are suitable for that home’s design.

There are four main roof styles that are common to New Zealand architecture.

1. Gable Roof
The gable is very popular in New Zealand, recognisable by its triangular shape and traditional aesthetic. The two roof panels are pitched so that they meet in the middle, and this style is typical of Cape Cod and Tudor style houses. From a functional perspective, gable roofs easily shed water and snow, however bracing design is essential in high wind zones. Inside, a gable roof provides space between the ceiling and roof coverings for storage or attic purposes, or can be used to create a striking raked (Cathedral) ceiling. 

2. Hip Roof
The clean, symmetrical design of a hip roof makes it another popular choice in New Zealand. Sturdy and stable in areas with snowfall or high winds, the hip style has all sides equal in length, forming together at the ridge of the roof to resemble a pyramid. Consistent with gable roofs, the increased height of a hip roof allows ceiling space for storage, attics or raked ceilings.  

3. Monopitch Roof
Modern and striking, a monopitch roof is also known as a skillion roof, and has a single, angled plane that rises from one side of the house to the other. Monopitch roofs can be very easy to construct, and evoke a minimalist, industrial style that has gained popularity in recent years. Eye-catching to look at from the outside, they add size to the interior rooms and give a nice aesthetic to ceilings if designed to follow the pitch of the roof.

4. Flat Roof
Made popular in the 1920s by Modernist architects such as le Corbusier, a flat roof has little or no pitch. Popular in cities with dry climates, the benefit of a flat roof is that the roof can be used as extra living or deck space, or for a rooftop garden. Flat roofs are more common in commercial applications in New Zealand as they provide space for storage of solar panels, air conditioning units and other building services. Ventilation and correct choice of roof covering is essential when using a flat roof design.

Before choosing your roof, it is important to determine what will work on your selected building site, the weather conditions your home will be exposed to and any other local or regulatory conditions. Once you have narrowed the choices from a practical perspective, think about what your needs are in terms of storage, building services, energy efficiency and of course, how you want your roof and ceilings to look. Ask your New Home Consultant for a Signature Homes Scrapbook and use it to collect pictures of existing houses you love.

Our New Home Consultants are specialists who will work with you and your ideas to make your dream home a reality. Whether you choose one of our pre-designed plans or want us to design your home from scratch (Design & Build), take time to consider what style of roof will best suit your lifestyle and needs, and give your dream home the crowning glory it deserves.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 3:30pm

Have you ever had a suit or dress tailor made, just for you? Starting with a pre-determined cut or design, the tailor then helps you choose fabric, fit, colour and design finishings to make it unique to you and your needs. An extra pocket here, a cropped hem there, even though your suit or dress came from the same design as multiple clients before you, the final product can look completely different if you want it to.

Building a new home from a Signature Homes Pacific Collection plan is much the same. Your choice of plan determines specifics such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and overall floor plan. From there, you can instantly modify the look and style of your home through your choice of roof shape, exterior cladding and window style, or by adding exterior details such as a feature chimney or covered deck.

Take the two houses in the picture above, for example. Both options that can be built from the Marina plan, each exterior has a unique look and feel. House one has a gable roof with brick and weatherboard cladding and feature chimney. House two has a completely different look with monopitch roof and weatherboard cladding, and that’s before even considering colour choice and joinery. And both homes have changed the location and entrance of the garage.

Inside, there are endless options available to tailor a plan. You can add bi-fold or sliding doors to create indoor / outdoor flow, remove wardrobes to create office space or add in a kitchen island or butlers pantry to give you your dream entertainer’s kitchen. Some changes could alter the final cost of your home, and your New Home Consultant can help you work out whether the changes you desire can be made easily and within your budget, or whether you might be better off choosing an alternative plan.

Starting with a plan doesn’t mean you get the same home as everyone else who has also started with the same plan, Signature have never built the exact same home twice. A tried and tested house plan means you can relax knowing that the bones are good, and enjoy the process of personalising your home to make it unique. 

We have recently seen a significant, 25%, increase in home building inquiries from first time home builders in 2017, as awareness about the LVR exemptions for residential home builds grows.

Our CEO Paul Bull says first home buyers, particularly in Auckland, are giving up on the inner suburbs and literally fleeing to greener pastures because it’s easier to borrow money for a home build, and many of the old risks associated with over capitalising on new builds no longer exist.

"I can’t blame them. Who wants to live in a second-hand house in congested old suburbs? Building your own home in 2017 is low risk and makes financial sense. By the time you've managed to save a 20% deposit, or $191,200, for a $956,000 existing house (the median house price in Auckland) – the price of the house will have already increased.

"It's like chasing your tail. It's not a race first home buyers can win, and there is growing awareness of that. Nowadays if you meet the lending criteria you can arrange finance on a new build with as little as 5% deposit, with payments commencing when you move in to your new home. And we can guarantee that your home will be finished at the agreed price," says Paul.

Managing Director of mortgage financier Newbuild, Ian Webb, says a major obstacle for new home builders has always been the ‘unaffordability’ of the process, not the actual house, because people are required to live somewhere and pay rent while they wait eight to twelve months for the house to be built.

"Now we can structure the loan to the needs of the borrower. For example, they may want to make a progress payment, interest only payments, or no payments while building is in progress.

"It depends on the buyer and their financial position, but for example, interest can be capitalised (added to the loan). We also build in funding for contingencies, and any unused funds belong to the customer and are returned to them at the end of the build process."

The finance to build a home is at mortgage rates advertised by a major bank – there is no premium added to the construction loan interest rate – so you pay exactly what you would pay the bank on a similar home *loan.

"It is important to remember that if your bank declined a mortgage application, don't assume everybody else will too," says Ian.

In addition new homes will meet all the new building code standards, make use of modern building materials and technologies and will be designed for modern living, so their resale value is often higher than a second hand home.

"When you have the option of building with a deposit from five per cent for residential owner occupiers, and from ten percent deposit for residential investors, it’s a no brainer to build in this market.” says Paul. 

*A low Equity Margin may apply with less than 20% deposit.

As you have probably been reading in the media, the property market is booming. This boom isn’t just happening in Auckland, many other cities and regions are also seeing an influx of new residents. As New Zealand grows, the building industry is growing along with it – now is a good time to be a builder - however, as the industry grows, we are beginning to see some cracks forming. The pressure on the industry, caused by demand outstripping supply, is also creating a lot of competition in certain areas, which puts pressure on price and unfortunately creates opportunities to cut corners.

This has been highlighted in recent articles by the New Zealand Herald (you can read here and here) investigating substandard building practices including a class action in Christchurch against three companies using substandard steel mesh and another article on substandard products being sold to builders out the back of cars on building sites, products that don’t meet compliance.

As stated in the NZ Herald by the General Manager of Auckland Council’s building control team, Ian McCormick, council building inspectors were noticing more and more substitutions than ever before. The pressure to deliver a home on time, for less money was the main driver for replacement products being used. McCormick states that he is aware of a number of incidents where faulty or non-compliant products were used, and had to be removed after the completion of the home. Ranging from non-compliant roofing and electrical wiring, to substandard pre-cast concrete, the issue is wide-spread and not always easy to detect by your average homeowner. In some cases, where the company cannot prove compliance to the council, the homeowner has ended up footing the bill for the replacements. And these are the ones that have been identified before compliance. There is a reason that we have compliance, for the safety of the families who live the buildings, so in the future there may be more cases brought to light through damage to homes or loss of life caused by substandard building materials.

These examples are another reason you need to have full confidence in who you are using to build your home, that all the materials will meet compliance once completed, and that you are aware of the details of the guarantees you have on the home, from which suppliers and how long those guarantees last.

Signature Homes guarantee all our homes, and all the products we use. Our extensive supply chain of locally recognised building suppliers has been cultivated over time, allowing us to acquire the best quality products that have been tested to NZ Standards. Everything we use, our supply chain, products and trades, are the highest quality and ensure strict compliance to the New Zealand Building Code and applicable laws. What makes Signature Homes different is our guarantees, provided by an independent company, which provide the most extensive and comprehensive cover in the industry.

Throughout the Signature build process, our Project Managers and specialist Production Teams will personally oversee your entire build. They can help you stay abreast of everything that happens with your home, and are there to answer any questions you may have. Beyond that, they are there to manage all the contractors who work on your home, the quality of the work and ensure that your new home flies through the Code Compliance Certificate checks from the council without any hitches. This process is how Signature Homes can confidently guarantee the lasting structural integrity and weather tightness of your new home. Simply put, the guarantees Signature Homes offer are the best in the business meaning you can trust that you will not be left with any nasty surprises, and can sleep easy at night. 

Friday, December 16, 2016 - 4:30pm

For many families across New Zealand, food is an expression of love, generosity and caring. From a quiet Sunday dinner with the family, to summer bbq’s and beautiful dinner parties; food prepared and shared with others is how we bring people together. Domestic architecture in New Zealand has been evolving for many years to reflect the role of food in todays culture. Rarely now do you see a modern home designed where the kitchen is shut away out of sight. The kitchen has become the hub of the home, flowing on from traditional entertaining spaces such as the family room and dining room.

With so much time being spent in and around the kitchen, whether you’re cooking or not, having a little bit of extra space can be a life saver. You don’t have to live at Downton Abbey to have use for a butler’s pantry, and anyone who regularly entertains will enjoy the convenience of the versatile space. Originally created to secure the family silver (the butler kept the key), these days they play a far different role. Many modern homes across New Zealand have a walk-in pantry of some description, they come in many different sizes and are tailored to suit your space and needs. A butler’s pantry becomes a natural extension of the kitchen, with most people using them to provide a little extra bench and storage space, allowing them to keep the kitchen clean and free where people tend to congregate. These spaces give you the ability to shut food away for later, to hide mess and used dishes, as well as an extra space for food preparation.

One big advantage of a butler’s pantry is the extra storage that it provides allows you to keep the design of your kitchen clean and minimal. You don’t have to squeeze extra cabinets and storage space into every available nook and cranny, and your kitchen can be designed to house just a few things that you use the most.

When designing your new home there are several things to consider when you get to the butler’s pantry:

Bench Space

It is important to try to incorporate as much bench space as possible into your butler pantry. The extra space will provide room for small appliances, a landing space for your grocery shopping before you unpack everything and room to store food for later. The ability to store food, shut away for later is particularly useful when you have kids around, they always manage to get “just a taste” of dessert early. If space is tight, consider making the bench narrower than your standard kitchen bench width which is usually 600-700mm. A narrower width of 400-500mm will provide sufficient room in the pantry as well as give you more floor space to move around easily.

Power points for small appliances

A butler’s pantry provides the perfect space to keep small appliances such as microwaves, rice cookers, slow cookers, juicers, coffee machines and toasters. These appliances take up valuable space on the kitchen bench, but storing them away and bringing them out every day to use can be a real pain. Housing and storing them in a butler’s pantry is the perfect solution, allowing you to leave them plugged in and ready to go. When working out how many power points you will need, add up the small appliances you intend to use in your pantry… then add more! You can never have too many.

Open shelves

The key to a successful and efficient butler’s pantry is being able to walk in, take a look around and quickly find what you need. Most butler’s pantries will have a door, so this space is not visible from the kitchen, meaning you don’t need cabinet doors in your butler’s pantry. Consider using an adjustable shelving solution (your designer will be able to help you find something suitable as part of the build process) which will allow you to move your shelving up and down depending on what you are storing. Consider running shelving all the way to the ceiling. Top shelves can be used for storing items that are only used occasionally, such as specialty bakeware or things that you only use at Christmas.

Ample drawer space

To maximise the storage space under the bench in your pantry, it is a good idea to use drawers, they are much easier to access than shelving or cupboards, however will add to the price a little due to the cost of the drawer hardware. Different height drawers can give you a huge range of storage options from food items to crockery, pots and pans. Consider opting for open fronted drawers so that you can more easily see what is contained in each drawer which means less time opening and closing them to find what you need.

Good lighting

Chances are, your butler’s pantry won’t have a window in it. This is a good thing when it comes to temperature regulation, especially if you are storing food in your pantry as sunlight and fluctuating temperatures are not good for most types of food. Without a window, good artificial lighting becomes very important. Use plenty of downlights and consider extra lighting under any overhead shelving to illuminate the bench area.

A great feature to consider is connecting your lighting to a motion sensor, this will turn the lights on automatically when you enter and off when you leave. This is super handy when you walk into the pantry with your arms laden with grocery bags.

Functional Materials

Building a butler’s pantry into your home can add some additional costs to your build, but it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Instead of using the same stone or wood benchtop that you have in your kitchen, choose a laminated benchtop for a fraction of the price. There are plenty of good looking, hard wearing options out there, that don’t need to cost as much as the statement material you are using for your kitchen benchtops. Choose something with a smooth surface that doesn’t mark easily and is easy to wipe down. For the cabinets themselves, white melamine board is inexpensive and gives a nice clean look, while being particularly hard wearing.


Ranging from an oversized cupboard with a little extra bench space, to a full extra kitchen, a butler’s pantry can be a great addition to your kitchen space. Regardless of budget and space constraints, there will be a solution that can work for you. A lot of our pre-designed plans now feature a butler’s pantry, and we are finding more and more people are requesting them for their design and build homes. Talk to us today about how we can make your kitchen design work better for you, our Build Process allows you to work with our team of architects and interior designers to develop a solution to suit your needs. You can rest assured that the final result will be exactly what you wanted as all of our homes are backed by the Best Building Guarantees in New Zealand.