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.


As recently as 2012 buying an existing house was cheaper than building a new home, but that was before the days when a two-bedroom cottage in Mangere Bridge sold for $1.7 million.

Another thing that's changed is the wisdom of buying a shabby do-up and applying a bit of elbow grease to add some shine to your investment. Again, that was in the good old days before overseas investors, 20% LVR deposit restrictions on existing owner occupied properties, 40% LVR deposit restrictions for existing rentals and exploding immigration.

Signature Homes CEO, Paul Bull, says “searching for your dream home used to be a fun adventure, that was until a large number of properties sold started to sell through auction, particulalry in Auckland. Clients come to us talking about the heartbreak, frustration and anger from missing out time and again in the auction room bidding wars.

"I've heard stories from people who are exhausted, homeless and depressed after nine months and 50 auctions, by which time house prices in Auckland have risen by 10 to 12 percent – that's $70,000 on a $700,000 house.

"Sometimes they kick themselves that they hadn’t looked at house and land packages sooner.” House and Land packages are offered by most building companies, they can take one of the biggest problems out of building, access to land. It will take time for the build to be completed but can save time, money and frustration in the long run.

Paul points out that new homes come maintenance free, with no hidden issues – clean, pristine and never 'lived-in'. In essence, no nasty surprises when the first heavy rains of winter turn up.

"Besides the obvious advantages of owning a new home, the affordability factor is very important. For one, you don't need a 20 per cent deposit for a home you are going to live, in or 40% for a rental. This is because new builds are not included in the New Zealand Reserve Bank's loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions.”

Building a new home may take 9-12 months, but by purchasing now, there are advantages. There are also finance and payment options available through construction finance which make paying rent or an existing mortgage manageable.

It’s not something everyone understands but Paul explains that the Government recognises there is a need to build more homes so has lifted lending restrictions on deposits. "With different deposit requirements applying to new builds and house and land packages, it also means the amount you currently have saved could secure you a home and have the build completed in a similar amount of time as it would take you to save a 20% deposit.”

This is particularly relevant if the market moves up in the same way it has in the past few years. If a buyer tried to save a 20% deposit on a used house, that's $180,000 on a $900,000 property now, it can then become $200,000 (or more) on the same house a year later if its price rises to over $1 million. It could take the buyer years to save that amount of money, but you can actually secure a house and land package on half of that.

With respect to the quality of home you get with a new build, the leaky homes disaster that affected homes built between 1994 and 2004 means that the current Building Code requirements are to a very high standard. Anybody building a house now will get a home constructed to stringent quality standards.

These include technologically advanced building materials and superior quality insulation and glazing compared to existing properties. What’s more many house and land packages are in developments with well-planned neighbourhoods designed for today's lifestyle which include cycle tracks, access to public transport, parks and green belts.

The key to building, however, is to choose your builder with care. Signature Homes has been building homes for more than 30 years all across New Zealand and gives market leading guarantees. These include fixed price guarantees before work starts on the build, weather tightness guarantees and a home completion guarantee which provides 100% protection on any payments made during the build.


For more information about building your own home, or house and land packages located across Auckland and NZ, drop by one of our show homes or visit call 0800 744 628.

Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 11:30am

When considering a new home, there are numerous options to weigh up; location, size, features, this list can seem endless and the range or choices can be daunting. One option people don’t always consider is building new. 

There are many benefits to building over buying a second-hand home. Better design, more control over the fixtures and fittings, and it can actually be easier to get a mortgage for a new build. Not to mention all the modern features and design standards that now come as standard in new homes that can save you thousands in renovations down the track. Building new allows you to customise the home to suit your needs right from the outset, ensuring you have everything you need to suit your lifestyle. 

Choosing a well-established building company like Signature Homes provides you with endless options for your new home. Design and build your dream home from scratch or choose from one of our existing plans that have been developed with cost-efficiency in mind. Whatever your style and budget, we have options to suit. 

We know that finding land can sometimes be difficult. Our extensive range of House & Land Packages take the hard work out of building. There is no need to search for a section and each package is paired with the perfect plan to maximise sunlight, land contours and views. Best of all, through the design and build process, you can still choose your own personal touches, from modifying the floor plan through to colour choices, fixtures and fittings. 

All of the homes we build are backed by our market leading Guarantees which take the risk out of building a new home. You can rest assured that you will move into your new home on time with no nasty pricing surprises along the way. Further, your new home is backed by our structural and weathertightness guarantees that ensure your home will be safe and dry for years to come. 

When you build with a reputable company like Signature Homes, you enjoy the benefits of working with a company that has been in the game for over 30 years. Our well-established building process ensures your build will run smoothly from start to finish. This includes access to our professional team of architects, draftsman and interior designers. During the build, you will have your own project manager, to ensure you get your dream home without the stress usually associated with building. 

You can view our range of designs and House & Land packages online or talk to us today about the benefits of building new over buying.