Construction checklists

To help you maintain control over your house construction – and be another set of eyes for mistakes – we’ve put together a comprehensive construction checklist. Some of this you can do, some of this your designer can do.

1. General Building Checks

Materials and products match what was specified.
Timber is at specified moisture levels on installation.
Timber has the correct preservative treatment for its location.
The house is set out correctly on the site.
Plans and specifications are followed.
Materials are installed to manufacturers’ instructions so you get the warranty.
Finished construction is protected from the weather.

2. Early Stages Construction

Earthmoving and excavation
Is the hole for excavation staked out correctly?
Are the walls vertical and even?
Has it gone to the correct depth?
Are all cut earth faces supported and “cut in”?
Where can this affect neighbouring properties?
Retaining walls
Retaining walls must be included in the building consent and signed off.
Is the ground supported during construction?
Ensure the wall is drained behind and waterproofed/tanked if necessary.

Footings and foundations
Footings need to be straight and correctly positioned, though the finish doesn’t have to be smooth.
Drainage and underground plumbing
Are the pipes in the correct position, i.e. not where you may want to put paths or gardens?
Are the drain holes or pipe vents in locations that will interfere with future use of the grounds, e.g. where you may want to put paths or entertaining areas?
Are the vents in the right position?
Will the drains carry sufficient water?
Does your drainage system meet the Building Code?
Concrete slabs
The concrete is laid on top of several things put in beforehand. There is a layer of compacted base course, a polythene vapour barrier, plumbing pipes and pipes taking electrical and other cable, in-floor heating and polystyrene insulation if required.
There are additives that can be applied to the concrete to reduce cracking during or following curing; the concrete can be coloured, polished and/or ground.
Ensure the floor is fully laid in one pour and there is no lag between deliveries.
Ensure the concrete is cured properly under advice from your builder.
Is your builder using scaffolding or approved safety measures for working from heights. If not, they can be fined up to $500,000 and imprisoned for two years.
Is the scaffolding secure?
Are there safety barriers?

3. Flooring and Framing

Wooden flooring
Are the floor joists even and solid?
Has the flooring timber been evenly laid?
Has the timber been sufficiently seasoned?
Are the plywood/chipboard panels secured properly and are they even – is there any movement or squeaks?
Underfloor foil insulation is the minimum level of insulation you require under the Building Act but never shy away from increasing your level of insulation.
Are the nogs (the cross-bars in the framing) level with each other?
Are the studs (the upright timber) as spaced correctly at 600mm?
If using timber framing, is the timber sufficiently dry and of the correct preservative treatment?

Are the doors and windows correctly positioned and of correct sizes? Are the bracing elements in place?
Brick and block laying
Have they been laid even and straight?
s there a satisfactory level of quality finish with no evidence of mortar splashes?
Are the ventilation gaps free of excess mortar?

4. Plumbing

Will you have adequate water pressure? Discuss with your plumber, designer and bathroomware supplier together if you can – water pressure can be a major source of confusion on installation.
Have you worked with your plumber to ensure the pipes will be quiet?
Is the bathroom plumbing correctly positioned?
Do you have sufficient outdoor taps for hoses wherever you may need them?
Are the gas pipes all installed in the correct position?
Check the correct filters are in place for pipe size and water pressure.
Is the hot-water source close enough to the kitchen/bathroom taps to minimise time lag?
Are the nogs (the cross-bars in the framing) level with each other?
Are the studs (the upright timber) as spaced correctly at 600mm?
If using timber framing, is the timber sufficiently dry and of the correct preservative treatment?

Are the doors and windows correctly positioned and of correct sizes? Are the bracing elements in place?

5. Roofing

All roofing must be laid straight and true and fixed correctly.
Fixings (screws) must be evenly and neatly set out.
All flashings, barge boards and ridge cappings must be in place.
Do you have a guarantee with the roof?
Have you supplied the roof shout?
Are the nogs (the cross-bars in the framing) level with each other?
Are the studs (the upright timber) as spaced correctly at 600mm?
If using timber framing, is the timber sufficiently dry and of the correct preservative treatment?

Are the doors and windows correctly positioned and of correct sizes? Are the bracing elements in place?

6. Exterior Envelope

Exterior cladding
Is your cladding installer an LBP or being supervised by one?
Is the cladding handled and installed as per manufacturer’s instructions with no damaged panels used? (Important - if not, warranties may be void)
Are the flashings done correctly and properly waterproofed?
Are the joins in panels even and level and regular?
If using flat panels, is there sufficient weatherproofing?
Are battens used to aid in drainage for water that gets behind the cladding?
Is the cladding finished properly so the job looks neat?
Avoid decks enclosed by solid walls with a lack of drainage and perhaps a handrail attached to the top of the top of the wall – water cannot drain and the weather proofing skin may have been pierced by the handrails.
Avoid wall cladding materials finished hard down onto a deck surface or paving or paths: the cladding will absorb water from the surface it is finished onto.
Avoid wall cladding that extends below ground level or landscaping materials, including mulch, built up against the wall – materials that are continuously damp will quickly deteriorate.
Avoid decks that are constructed to the same height as the internal floor, with no fall for drainage, compounded by an outlet that can get blocked.
Ensure suspended timber floors have space below the floor for ventilation to remove moisture evaporating from the ground.
Avoid using silicon sealant rather than properly designed flashings. Ensure head and sill flashings are installed over windows and joinery.
Ensure parapet walls have cap flashings.
Kick-outs or diverters to apron flashings where roofs abut a wall surface ensure that water flows into the gutter and not down inside walls.
Ensure monolithic claddings and tiled finishes have movement- control joints that allow building movement to occur without cracking the materials.
Ensure adequate detailing on junctions between materials.
Check the difference in levels between the surface outside and floor inside and/or that there is good drainage – without these the building may well fail to meet the performance requirements of the Building Code.
Information supplied courtesy of BRANZ
Window joinery
Are the windows and sliders the correct size and design on delivery?
Have they been fitted with sufficient waterproofing?
Check correct and effective flashing has been installed.
Gutters and downpipes
Do the gutters have the correct fall to ensure no pooling of water?
Are the gutters installed correctly with overflow relief in case of blockage so heavy rain does not flow into wall cavities?
Have you chosen a colour that complements the roof and external colour of the house, and has that colour actually been installed?
Are the correct downpipes installed – colour, materials, profile (shape)?
Are the downpipes in the correct location so they don’t interfere with external gates or the lines of your home?

7. Behind the Wall

Have you got the correct R (heat retention) levels or better?
Has it been correctly installed as per manufacturers’ specifications?
Ensure there are no gaps - including corners in the joinery – these can reduce efficiency by as much as 40%.
Discuss reducing thermal bridging in window framing with designer and builder.
Wiring and lighting
Do you have enough power points and in the right positions?
Are the power points and light switches installed evenly on the wall?
Are the transformers correct for the types of lights you have installed?
Are the lights selected correct for the specific job you want them for?
Are the light fittings in the correct position for the tasks you wish to undertake or the ambience you want?
Has the electrician created holes for the lights in the correct position?
During installation, has the electrician installed the correct lights in the right places in the right way?
Phone and broadband wiring
For new homes or major renovations are you installing structured cabling in a ‘star’ configuration, with each outlet wired back to a home distributor box?
Do you have phone / broadband outlets in all areas? A double RJ45 outlet is recommended for bedrooms and other normally occupied rooms, with multiple outlets in the lounge, rumpus room and study.
Are you using Cat5e cable or better?
Is the computer cabling run separately to the electrical wiring?
Ultrafast Broadband is rolling out around the country - have you taken advantage of supply in your area, and do you have the right technical set up at home?

8. Interiors

Interior Lining
Have you checked with alternative wallboard suppliers to ensure you have the best product and best price for your project? (You don't necessarily need to use the default product specified)
Is the wallboard handled and installed as per manufacturer’s instructions with no damaged panels used?
Ensure framing is dry and straight. The use of thicker 13mm plasterboard with metal ceiling battens helps provide a straighter ceiling.
Wall sheets should be fixed horizontally, as horizontal joints are less visible.
To reduce the visibility of any imperfections use light colours and flat paints or textured wallpaper and avoid lighting that strikes a wall at a shallow angle.
Use light shades or recessed downlights and position windows away from the edges of walls and ceilings or use shades.
Plastering of the joins is critical, especially in ceilings in open- plan living areas – a single large ceiling is almost impossible to get completely flat but a poor job will be obvious and bug you for years.
Do you have the correct panels for specific rooms; e.g. waterproof in the bathroom, fire-rated in the kitchen, sound- proof in the bedrooms?
Are they even and undamaged?
Ask what level of finish is being done? (see our Product Selection section here for more information)
Interior and exterior painting
Ensure correct paints are used in areas like kitchens and bathrooms, doors and window frames.
Look for sloppy work and make sure it is cleaned up. Ensure angles are cut in to keep lines sharp.
Is the preparatory work of a sufficient standard – filling holes, touching up plaster sanding, use of correct undercoats?
Are the paints being used the brands you specified or cheaper alternatives?
Have the painters got the correct colours as specified?

Cape Town’s Antonio Zaninovic - lounge

9. Kitchens

Is the benchtop the correct size? If not, negotiate with your kitchen manufacturer to replace or discount.
Are cupboards installed above the bench fitted properly to the ceiling and/or walls?
Are powerpoints installed at correct locations and with fittings that minimise intrusion onto benchspace or tight spaces?
Ensure workmanship on joinery is an acceptable standard, with well-fitted joins and hardware.

10. Bathroom

Don’t forget ventilation and heating, especially underfloor heating. The room must be able to be fully dry within 30 minutes.
Check that sufficient waterproofing is done.
Ensure all glass is of correct NZ standard.
Check tiles for chipping after laying and after other major items installed so damaged tiles can be replaced.

11. Heating and Air-Conditioning

Do you have sufficient heating units for your new home?
Have they been correctly installed as per manufacturers’ specifications?
Is the gas flued to reduce moisture build-up inside?
Have you considered the trade-off between purchase price and running cost?

12. Outdoor

Have you discussed the fence with your neighbour?
Has the correct grade of timber been used?
Are the vertical posts installed solidly and evenly?
Is the fence the correct height or do you need to get building consent?
If solid deck attached at the wall, is the drainage sufficient?
Check where decks attach to walls to ensure the proper procedures are followed and weathertightness is achieved.
Have attachments to walls been done properly?
Is the deck rated to hold sufficient people?

Rubbish removal

  • There will be rubbish left behind by the tradespeople and sub-contractors. Specialist companies can dispose of this in an environmentally sound manner.

Also see our Maintenance Checklist here…