What are Building Consents

A building consent is a formal approval granted by your local council before you can commence specific building work. This ensures your project meets the Building Code, the set of safety and performance standards for New Zealand buildings. Obtaining a building consent typically involves submitting detailed plans and specifications to your council for review. Traditionally, any changes made during construction might require a whole new consent application, adding significant time and cost.

Streamlining Minor Variations

One of the key changes introduced is the focus on simplifying minor variations. Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk acknowledges the current system's inflexibility. Previously, even minor changes to approved plans, like swapping a brand of plasterboard for a comparable one due to a shortage, could necessitate a whole new consent process. This was frustrating and time-consuming.

The new system introduces the concept of "minor variations" and "minor customisations." This means that for certain inconsequential changes that don't affect the overall structure or safety of the building, you might not need a whole new consent application. This reduces unnecessary paperwork and streamlines the process for builders and homeowners alike.

How the Changes Affect Your Project

The impact of these changes on your project depends on the specific details. If you're planning a major renovation or a completely new build, it's always best to consult with a building professional and your local council. They can advise you on the specific consent requirements and how the new variations system might apply to your project.

However, for smaller projects or minor tweaks during construction, these changes could lead to a smoother and potentially faster building process. As Minister Penk highlighted, Kiwis won't need to submit a new consent for minor product or design changes, such as replacing specific brands with comparable ones, repositioning a window or door, or mirroring a room layout. This flexibility is expected to reduce delays and potentially lower the overall cost of building or renovating.

It's important to remember that your local council will still assess any proposed variations to ensure they comply with the Building Code. By simplifying minor variations, the government aims to make building projects in New Zealand more efficient and potentially more affordable. This is a positive step, but it's always crucial to plan carefully, obtain the necessary consents, and work with qualified professionals to ensure a safe and successful build.

Setting Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is the foundation of a successful home buying process. Start by assessing your financial situation comprehensively. This includes understanding your current income, savings, and existing debts. Use these figures to set a realistic budget for your home purchase. It’s also important to consider your future needs, like family planning or career changes, which might influence the size and location of your home. Research the housing market to get an idea of what kind of properties fall within your budget. Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home; it’s more important that it’s an affordable stepping stone into the property market.

Building Your Dream Team

dream home 1

A strong support network is essential for navigating the real estate landscape. Your dream team should include the following:

Real Estate Agent:

Choose someone with a good track record who comes highly recommended. They should have extensive knowledge of the areas you’re interested in.

Mortgage Broker:

A broker can offer you a range of mortgage options tailored to your financial situation that you might not find on your own.


A legal expert will handle all contractual aspects of the home buying process, ensuring that your interests are protected.

Building Inspector:

This often-overlooked professional can assess potential homes for structural problems and other issues that could cost you in the long run.

Financial Advisor:

If you're unsure about your budgeting or how a home purchase fits into your overall financial plan, a financial advisor can be invaluable.

Getting Mortgage-Ready

mortgage ready

Preparing for a mortgage is a critical step toward buying your first home. This phase not only determines your eligibility for a loan but also impacts the terms and rates you'll receive. Here's how you can get mortgage-ready:

Saving for a Down Payment:

The size of your down payment significantly affects the terms of your mortgage. In general, a larger down payment means a lower interest rate and cheaper mortgage insurance costs. If possible, aim to save at least 20% of the home’s purchase price.

Understanding Mortgage Options:

There are several types of mortgage products available, and choosing the right one can have a big impact on your finances in the long run. The two most common types are fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). A fixed-rate mortgage locks your interest rate for the life of the loan, which provides stability in your monthly payments. An ARM might offer a lower initial rate, but the interest can vary over time, which might increase your payments unexpectedly. Weigh the pros and cons based on your financial stability and how long you plan to stay in your home.

Learning Mortgage Terms and Conditions:

It's crucial to understand all the terms and conditions associated with your mortgage. Know about any potential penalties for early repayment, which can affect you if you decide to refinance or sell your home.

Getting Pre-Approved:

Once you feel ready, seek pre-approval for a mortgage. This involves a lender examining your financial background and credit rating to determine how much they would be willing to lend you. A pre-approval not only gives you an idea of your budget but also strengthens your position when making an offer on a house, showing sellers that you are a serious and capable buyer.

Government Support for First Home Buyers

Take advantage of government schemes designed to help first home buyers:

First Home Grant:

If you have been contributing to your KiwiSaver for 3-5 years, you might be eligible for a grant of up to $10,000 for buying an existing home or up to $20,000 for a new home.

First Home Loan:

This program allows qualified buyers to obtain a mortgage with only a 5% deposit under special terms.

KiwiSaver First-Home Withdrawal:

This allows you to withdraw some of your KiwiSaver balance to purchase your first home.

Understanding and utilising these aids can significantly reduce the financial strain of purchasing your first property.

Don't Be Afraid to Compromise

While it’s natural to have a wish list for your first home, flexibility is key. Prioritise your needs over your wants. For example, a shorter commute may trump a larger kitchen, or an extra bedroom might be more critical than a large backyard. Consider different types of properties and locations, as being open to compromise can sometimes lead to better opportunities that fit your budget and long-term goals.

Energy-efficient features like LED lighting, well-insulated walls, and high-performance windows reduce energy consumption and promote a comfortable living environment while keeping utility bills low.

Liveability in the Tiny House Award winner
Tiny House Awards Winner - Exterior

Liveability in the Tiny House Award winner

The design is not just functional; it's also designed for long-term liveability. They’ve included generous bathroom and kitchen spaces, along with ample storage features in the bedroom and scullery. These design elements ensure comfort, functionality, and versatility, making the dwelling a perfect choice for long-term living.

The open-plan kitchen and lounge provide an instant sense of liveability from the moment you enter. The kitchen is spacious, featuring modern appliances, a separate pull-out waste bin, and a 2.8m long breakfast bar that can be used as a dining area. The scullery serves as a pantry, a place to store kitchen appliances, and a dedicated area for cleaning supplies and laundry.

Luxurious and generous bathroom design

Luxurious and generous bathroom design

The bathroom is equally impressive, designed with a focus on both style and practicality. It offers a generous shower which provides a luxurious experience with the rain head and shower niche. The large wall-hung vanity offers ample storage for toiletries and personal items. This space is complimented by both natural light and a stylish LED mirror, illuminating the space creating a bright and inviting atmosphere.

The quality of workmanship in this tiny home is truly impressive. From the initial construction process to the finishing touches, every aspect of this exquisite tiny home exemplifies an impeccable standard of craftsmanship. The attention to detail is evident in every corner, from the precision of the faux tiles to the flawless installation of fixtures and fittings. The finishing lines of the interior are seamless, creating an ambience of sophistication and elegance that is second to none.

Functionality and flow in a tiny house
Tiny House Awards Winner

Functionality and flow in a tiny house

The functionality and flow of the floorplan prioritise privacy, separation, and seamless integration. By placing the sleeping and bathroom amenities at one end of the dwelling, a clear distinction is created between the private and public areas. This arrangement promotes relaxation and privacy within the bedroom while allowing for social interaction and entertainment in the living and kitchen areas.

The inclusion of a discreet laundry area within the scullery enhances the overall functionality of the floor plan, maximizing the use of space without sacrificing the aesthetic appeal.

The modern masculine design of this build is visually striking and adds a distinct wow factor to the overall aesthetic. Our design choices have created a sophisticated, contemporary, and stylish atmosphere. The bold feature walls and use of stone bench tops, brass hardware, faux tiles and incorporation of black bathroom fixtures, contribute to the luxurious feel of the design.

The carefully chosen colours, sleek lines, contrasting textures, and strategic lighting to create a visually appealing living space. The harmonious blend of these elements results in a bold and sophisticated aesthetic that is sure to impress and captivate residents and visitors alike.

Design by Compac Homes

Photos via Tiny House Awards

bird view of lara expo


Where Aesthetic Meets Function in Aotearoa

A tiny home company in Aotearoa that stands out from the rest is Shaye’s Tiny Homes for their beautiful, practical and modern designs and high-quality, cozy tiny homes.

Shaye Boddington's Journey to Affordable Housing

Shaye’s Tiny Homes began in 2013 when the founder Shaye Boddington needed to find a place to stay. She says she had to think outside the box regarding how she was going to be able to afford accommodation because housing is less affordable in Auckland.

Shaye had recently completed a design degree and always had an interest in alternative housing. Before she knew it, her very first do-it-yourself tiny house was established as she had the skills and support to go ahead with the tiny house project.

jasmines childs bedroom
8. Lara Expo's fireplace

The Story of Lucy, the First Tiny Home

She designed and built her first tiny home called Lucy. Her ex-partner and she bought some land and wanted an affordable and sustainable home for them and their daughter, so they preferred the tiny home concept.

It started as a one-off passion project that turned into a career.

lara expos kitchen space

Teamwork and Craftsmanship at Shaye's Tiny Homes

The business has successfully grown over time and Shaye works closely with her builder Dylan along with 20 other team members.

Together they utilize Shaye’s experienced design knowledge and the team of builders and support team’s skill set to design and build 25-30 tiny homes annually.

The Philosophy that Fuels Shaye’s Dream

In terms of what inspires Shaye to continue running her business, it would have to be, “The belief that everyone deserves to live a passionate life and that this is much easier to do when living without financial struggle in a safe and comfortable home - even if that means a small home.”

Shaye hopes that by getting people into their own tiny homes they will be able to go out into their communities and work with purpose and passion, she says.

Design Inspiration and Nationwide Availability

Shaye is also inspired by simply stunning things and really loves beautiful small spaces. She thinks it’s great that tiny homes can be shipped nationwide.

Often her tiny homes provide to clients in the North Island, and their licensed partners Wanaka Tiny House Factory and Nelson Tiny House Factory can build tiny homes for clients wanting her designs in the South Island.

8. Lara Expo's fireplace
9. Lara Expo's comfortable looking bedroom

The Growing Popularity of Tiny Living

When Shaye experienced living in her first tiny home, not many people knew of the idea or comprehended what it was about.

During the last decade, tiny homes have become borderline conventional and more people these days know someone who lives in a tiny home.

11. Bird view of Lara Expo
2. Jasmine's lounge area

Continuous Growth and Learning at Shaye's Tiny Homes

“The whole team gets great satisfaction from finishing a project and seeing it come together – there’s often something to learn from a completed home and usually something small to improve on but we see this as a good thing because we continually get better and better."

For more tiny homes inspiration visit: shayestinyhomes.com.


Nestled into a terraced hillside site, this two-bedroom house has been positioned to enjoy panoramic views east to the Southern Alps.

All living spaces are accommodated on the first floor within two dark stained cedar box forms.

The more dominant north box, with its extensively glazed lounge, cantilevers out dramatically over a 13m lap pool and pool room below.

The main stair dissects the two forms leading up from the turquoise blue waters on the west to the silver dollar gum that boarders the internal courtyard on the east.

Titled Red Rock Lane, the design by Nic Curragh of Objects Ltd, won the Residential New Home between 150sqm and 300sqm Architectural Design Award, at last year’s ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Awards.

Competition judges said, “This home has precise, careful, clean frames. It handles the underside of its floating volume well. The courtyard tucked back against the hillside is a great addition.”

Title: Red Rock Lane.
Architect: Nic Curragh of Objects Ltd. Award: Residential New Home between 150sqm and 300sqm Architectural Design Award.
Location: Redcliffs.


Ensuring there are no surprises in your new home build. One of the requirements for designers is to prepare clients on their home building journey.

The advantages of building a home are numerous, which is why people across Christchurch, Canterbury and the rest of New Zealand are looking to build.

Benefits like customisation and the latest in-home technology are only a few of the perks when building a home that’s perfect for you and your family.

However, it can be a bit daunting for the first-time home builder. Of course, you’ve done the research and have gotten to a certain point, but there’s some things Google can’t replace: expert knowledge in the field.

“The designer has to have a good idea of the sorts of costs and convey those costs to the client. This is how much it’s going to cost you before you start the build.

“I think the client needs to know the cost of construction. There are a lot of hidden costs. It’s up to the designer to inform the client at the very start,” Iconic Architecture principal designer and director, Andrew Toulson says.

Specifically, there are two things the designer needs to adequately prepare the client on:
1. The cost of getting the house designed and then the costs of the building consent.
2. The expectation as far as timeframes go from the initial concept through to issue of the building consent.

While the designer understands the excitement and expectation in building a home, a quality design takes time.

The designer needs to set a reasonable expectation on how long the design process goes, as well as how long the construction process is going to take. Another variable the designer should communicate to their clients is the hidden costs involved in building.

“We’ve got amount for the engineer; we’ve got amount for the building consent; we’ve got amount for all the preliminary stuff before you’ve even got a peg in the ground to start building.

“From that point of view, there’s a lot of hidden costs that the client doesn’t know about,” Andrew says.

At Iconic Architecture, Andrew likes to sit down with the client to go through initial ideas. After that, they go to the drawing board and come up with an initial sketch plan and evaluation, along with an estimated cost of the drawings.

Initially, Andrew uses a computer to get down his concept plan. After that, the team converts the ideas onto ArchiCAD, which builds a 3D model of the plan using the concept plan.

Once both the designer and the client get to the stage where they want to move ahead with those working drawings, Iconic will give the client a quote price through to the issue of the building consent.

“We take care of that so they don’t have to deal with the aggravation of dealing with central and local government requirements. We do that for them,” Andrew says.

As a liaison for the client with the Council, Iconic takes care of the additional requests for information. When that’s sorted, the client then needs to pay for and pick up the building consent, all ready for the next exciting stage of the journey, building their dream home.

Another way designers can guide the client is giving them practical advice on how much certain styles for homes cost versus other types. “There’s only a certain number of things you can do to the exterior before it gets horrendously expensive.

There’s lots of stuff you can do internally that’s low on cost that contributes to the ‘wow’ factor.

“I think construction types like post and beam feature trusses which give a really good impact coming into the house without breaking the bank,” Andrew says. For post and beam construction types, Andrew partners with Timberworks NZ. Their bespoke and hand-crafted exposed timber frame construction brings open spaces to life. Having an experienced and honest designer is something that is essential when you’re building your home.

With over 35 years in North Canterbury and beyond, Iconic Architecture can take care of that for you.

For more information on a build for your future home, contact Iconic Architecture today.

Andrew Toulson
Iconic Architecture
21 Priors Road , RD1, Rangiora
(027) 628 5278
andrew@iconicarchitecture.co.nz  | www.iconicarchitecture.co.nz

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