Tim's house is underway, along with his future neighbours'.

How to get a good home from a group builder

Tim Jones was an 'earthquake refugee'. He shared with me his story about returning to Christchurch and looking for an affordable, comfortable lifestyle of his young family.
Tim Jones was an ‘earthquake refugee’. He shared with me his story about returning to Christchurch and looking for an affordable, comfortable lifestyle of his young family.

Group or volume (project) builders get a bad rap sometimes for perpetuating bad building practise. But it is possible to get a good home from a group builder.

Why build?

I started out by asking Tim why he was building. Like anyone involved in Christchurch any time since 2011, he has quite a story. After being an ‘earthquake refugee’, Tim wanted to take his family back to Christchurch and build their home along side everyone rebuilding the city.

More than Code

Tim was generally against group builders because group builders generally just build to code. Tim knew he wanted more than code and also didn’t want to be pushed into a ‘price per square metre’ mentality – which often leads to a larger, lower spec house.

Lifestyle

A key goal for Tim and his family was to enjoy a lifestyle that didn’t require both parents to be at work, just to pay the mortgage. Being clear about this was probably the best foundation for the end decision to purchase a 100 square metre, 2 bedroom house. They wanted to stay as close to $400,000 as possible.

At 103 m2, this 2 bedroom home will be financially manageable, easy to maintain, and easy to keep warm and healthy.
At 103 m2, this 2 bedroom home will be financially manageable, easy to maintain, and easy to keep warm and healthy.

Running Costs

Tim is also very conscious about running costs. He’s prepared to invest up to $10,000 extra, knowing that they’ll actually be better off on a monthly basis when power bills are taken into account along with their mortgage repayments. (They’ll probably also be healthier and warmer.)

Key to keep running costs low will be:

  1. Size – keeping it small so there’s less space to heat
  2. Upgrading wall insulation from R 2.6 to R 2.8
  3. Upgrading ceiling insulation from R 3.6 to R 5.0
  4. Upgrading standard aluminium framed double glazing to thermally broken double glazing

Tim’s Final Advice

Tim's house is underway, along with his future neighbours'.
Tim’s house is underway, along with his future neighbours’.

To find out more about Tim and read some of his thoughts and ideas, check out his nice little personal site at http://www.timjones.co.nz.

  • I was waiting for the book recommendation! 🙂 Great interview, really fascinating to listen to someone going through the process of a new group home build. (I still remember when my parents did it 20 odd years ago) Sounds like lots of “if you don’t ask you don’t get” in those situations in NZ.

    Nice to see a relatively compact design also, although probably a bit too long and thin, and solar orientation either not good or compromised by proximity of the neighbouring properties.

    Oh and garages in the thermal envelope… why oh why?!

    • Jonesy

      So was I! It would be “The Count of Monte Christo” by Alexandre Dumas. As described it was a bit of a compromise on some areas, but generally we are happy and the positive thing is that the GHB’s are beginning to see the light!

    • mcutlerwelsh

      Yes, good comments Elrond. I’ll add in Tim’s favourite book!

      Agree about the orientation. As Tim says though, I’m just happy to promote good practise in terms of size and affordability. We’re going from average, to good here. Next stop – great!

      • Absolutely, it is great to see smaller options being made available. I did some research recently and found every subdivision I looked at in greater Chch had a covenant requiring house designs to be 200sqm minimum!

        And certainly no criticism of you intended Tim!

  • Duncan Firth

    Great to hear Tim being so proactive with up grading the technical
    specifications of his future house, especially the glass and insulation. Keep
    us posted with updates…and how it feels after living in it for one year.

    Definitely could have been a few more design opportunities explored
    in the layout of the floor plan. Appreciate this was probably locked in from
    the start……. if we get the correct design layout from the start, especially for
    sunlight; it makes our lives so much better and economical!! Rather than relying
    on smart technologies to save the day.

    Anyway, Nice one Tim.