Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

What is your m² rate?

An average home contains hundreds of different ‘ingredients’ including carpet, bricks, tiles, taps, sinks, paint, timber, glass etc. And all of these materials come in different qualities. On top of that, the way in which these materials are assembled into a finished house differs in quality and attention to detail.

The variances are almost infinite. So comparing one builder’s price of $1,000 per square metre to another’s price of $2,000 per square metre is exactly like trying to compare an orange with a lemon.

Additionally, every house design is different. Some houses are square, some houses are ‘L’ shaped, and others have many different angles and shapes. While 3 different houses may all have the same internal dimension (square metres) the quantity of building materials that go into these homes will vary greatly in quantity depending on the shape, structure, materials and engineering.

Whilst we can offer a rough guide, following a brief discussion with you about your ideas and finishes, we believe the best way to ensure you are comfortable with your investment is through great communication with your builder and designer. By first choosing a builder a designer is challenged, through the builders practical knowledge, on use of materials and a design that actually fits your budget and requirements.

A builder with integrity, knowledge and a good relationship with a number of designers will be able to work with you to provide a design build that works for you and your requirements, and importantly at an investment level you are comfortable with.

If you would like to discuss your project further with us we would love to meet you and hear about your ideas.

Can your building company provide a Designer?

Yes, we can, and we actually prefer it that way.
The benefits of having a builder involved at the start are huge. Whilst some designers don’t seem to embrace it, it makes sense to the client to have a builder on board, not only to advise on potential budget blowouts, but also to advise on practical ways to achieve design outcomes, possible alternative building solutions and potential issues before the design process proceeds too far. Good designers will welcome working with a reputable builder.

We work with a number of good designers, from our in-house designer to mainly Christchurch based architects. All of our regular designers are experienced in energy efficient builds and applying passive house principles, if this is something you would be interested in. It all depends on what your needs are, what sort of design you are looking for, and your budget. After a detailed discussion we can recommend a designer (s) that best suits your brief, and if you would like to work with them we will organise the contract for the design and pricing stage (Preliminary Building Agreement).

Do you have any house plans available?

Whilst we predominantly work on custom homes we appreciate that some home owners want either inspiration or the ease of working with a plan range. We are not however trying to compete with housing group companies and our exceptional levels of quality and service are paramount.

For our (Certified) plan range visit our plan range page for full concepts. Plans will continue to be revised and added to.

What are the initial costs for designing and pricing a home?

There are several stages to designing and pricing a home. However, the main stages are Firstly, an Agreement to Provide Design Services – this is an agreement with the homeowner to provide first concept designs and a preliminary estimate, and secondly, to provide produce full working drawings and a full investment proposal. The Homeowner must approve the concept plans prior to full working drawings.

The costs for these services vary dependent upon the size and scale of the project, the Designer used and any work/plans that have already been produced, i.e. our plan range, layout sketches/ideas, existing building parameters.

Additional costs may arise if plans need a lot of modification. This will largely be a result of the designer not listening to what you actually want, and more often than not a budget blowout, again due to the designer not having the knowledge of the cost of constructing their design, or the materials involved. This is why it is critical to have your builder involved at the design stage as they know the practicalities of certain construction methods and can advise on likely costs. The designer and builder, and the client, can work together to produce a home that you are happy with and importantly you can afford, saving on costly redesign, or more upsetting, the end of your dream.

The use of plans or our In house designer will arguably be better value for money but may not suit your ideas or tastes. It is all about matching what you want with the best possible service within your budget, in other words tailoring what we can offer to your needs.

A builder with integrity, knowledge and a good relationship with a number of designers will be able to work with you to provide a design build that works for you and your requirements, and importantly at an investment level you are comfortable with.

Once your ideas have been discussed we will be able to provide a much better idea of the Design costs.

If you would like to discuss our Design options please call us to arrange an initial free consultation.

Can I get a preliminary estimate for my new home without full plans and engineering?

Yes. Once concept plans have been approved we can provide a preliminary estimate based upon the information supplied at the time. This will enable you to see if the design is within your budget before committing to full working drawings and any engineering requirements. We are able to provide guidance on costs without plans following an initial meeting to establish your ideas and level of specification. Our experienced QS can do this, but without plans we can provide a guideline only based upon information on hand at that time.

How long will it take to prepare building contracts?

Building Contracts are very important as they outline the details of your home and our obligations to provide you with a quality service and result. We use industry approved New Zealand Certified Builders Association Contracts that are computer generated and are very clear to read and understand. Building contracts do not take long to prepare once the plans, specifications and building proposal* has been agreed to. If you are unsure of any of the content we are happy to go over it with you.

*It takes a good 3-4 weeks to prepare a full fixed price proposal as we request accurate quotes from our suppliers and sub contractors for the working drawings supplied. These quotes need to then be checked, compiled and compared by our qualified QS, who will also undertake her pricing responsibilities.

For further information about Certified Builders and their comprehensive contracts go to

When can you start building our home?

Once you are in our system and we know more about your design ideas, location and other requirements we will be able to provide you with a rough guideline. This can be more accurately forecast once concept designs have been completed and we know what we are dealing with. Any further design negotiation, engineering requirements and the consent processes will have a bearing on the start date but these variables can be limited by using Chatterton Builders to manage and work directly with the engineers, designers and councils. Once a building contract is signed we will confirm your start date, produce a build schedule and keep you up to date personally and through our online job management system. We hate delays as much as you do! In fact we guarantee to start within 3 weeks of your consent being issued.

Who will be working on our new home?

We identify the best staff to complete your home – some are more specialised in highly engineered builds and others love the craftsmanship of traditional styled homes, all of our staff, however, are great builders and have a lot of experience.

For our High performing energy efficient builds we use teams experienced in this type of build, and this extends to our sub contractors too. We use the same guys who understand what we are trying to achieve, the construction methods involved and importantly know what not to do to affect the buildings thermal integrity! Brent is also one of a handful of New Zealanders who have achieved the Passive House Trades Person Certificate a very tough course demonstrating a sound knowledge of this type of construction and how to implement the practice successfully.

We employ apprentices but unlike many other building companies we limit it so there are always more qualified builders on site than apprentices (this means higher quality and they are able to learn more too).

We provide you with details of the main building staff working on your home prior to the build for your information. In some instances we may send further staff to your site when additional/specialist assistance is needed.

All builds are overseen by our Project Manager, an extremely experienced builder himself. He also oversees the building schedule and the sub-contractors and suppliers.

Everyone on site must work to our Company Policy, and our Health and Safety Policies. This ultimately leads to a safe, tidy and productive work site.

How can we contact you if we need to?

We have a number of ways to maintain successful communication.

Our Office is staffed daily by our receptionist (8.30-4) allowing access to any of our staff throughout the design build process. Phone numbers and emails of key staff will be provided to you and its important to us that we get back to you quickly should you wish to get hold of any of us.

As described our online job management software provides you with 24/7 access to the job and you will be provided with your own password once we proceed to working drawings. Using this system communication is recorded in one place (and copied to your email system) avoiding miscommunication and oversight.

Do you have an office?

Yes we do. Our office is located the Christchurch side of Rangiora. Our boardroom is a great place to meet at any time during the design build process.

We have a Designer on site making it easy to have both builder and designer involved together in the design stage.

Our offices also contain a number of brochures, samples and are built to showcase differing build decisions. For example, rooms built at varying stud heights, differing down light designs and handles.