Budget Calculator

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Working Out the Estimated Cost

If you have the time and you’re that way inclined, you can get an idea of the cost of the different materials you think you’d like to use – the cladding, the roofing, the joinery, the fittings, appliances, etc… This is information you’re going to need eventually anyway, so now is an ideal time to do it. Otherwise you can just rely on your architect or builder to steer you in the right direction – but be aware that they’re not always right and the items they suggest may be wonderful but may not fit your budget.

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Talk to your architect/designer about what you’d like in the way of design and material and get their ballpark figures. Remember, it’s easy to change your mind at this stage – not when the roof is about to go on and you’ve just realised that by building this way you won’t be able to afford to finish!

Decide what’s important to you to keep and what you’re willing to give away. And make sure you and your partner keep discussing these aspects and that all sides compromise.

This is where a Quantity Surveyor can help you really nail down the costs. They will go through every aspect of the job and give accurate costings (though not necessarily exact, as specifications change during building).

The Department of Building and Housing no longer has a rough guide to the costs of building but redirect people to the New Zealand Building Economist here…or for a rough estimate, use this calculator here from Cordell Information Ltd (primarily for estimating house replacement insurance values). Beacon Pathway, a building research company, has just completed an exercise into the costs of building and you can look at that here

We are very fortunate to have renowned architect, David Melling, provide us with the following table as a rough guide:


Wellington architect David Melling describes some possible cost scenarios for a new house build. Prices are affected by many variables, like the 
site conditions, level of specification, availability of trades and where the site is located. These scenarios reflect some recent projects completed in Wellington.

In order to provide an understanding of the rough order of costs that are involved in 
a new house build, we have broken down the various components of construction, design and consenting. The numbers are taken from some of our recently completed projects in the Wellington region.
We have provided four examples that assume a 150 square metre house with three levels of specification (economical, medium and high), combined with both flat and sloping sites. We have not priced a garage, as some people opt for a carport.

In any building project costs are very site-specific – planning constraints, topography, exposure and access for construction are significant factors in the overall cost. Our four examples are a general guide only. To gain a more detailed understanding of costs for your project, contact a local architect, builder or quantity surveyor.



We aim for elegant simplicity in everything from building forms to interior components:

  • Simple building forms, modular planning.
  • Structurally simple design (within NZS3604 as much as possible): braced walls rather than steel frames, shorter spans, posts where necessary, trusses (could be exposed).
  • Cladding: direct fixed-colour, coated profiled metal or timber weatherboards with traditional detailing around openings.
  • Limited use of finishes: paint and clear-sealed plywood, concrete and timber floors.
  • Modest fixtures, hardware, lighting (lamp shades, etc.).
  • Kitchen design: modular components.
  • Bathroom design: shower enclosures (no wetrooms), painted walls, simple 
functional fixtures, o -the-shelf
  • Minimal built-in joinery.


We still use the simplest building forms and layout but the site and nature of the brief will be more involved:

  • Structural design may include some steel frames in order to achieve more expansive areas of glazing, or steel beams to achieve longer spans.
  • Cladding may include some natural timber products, such as vertical shiplap macrocarpa on a drained cavity, or concrete block external walls.
  • Timber or thermally broken aluminium joinery.
  • Internal finishes could include more extensive use of finishing timber.
  • Some feature lighting, such as toe- space LEDs or a feature pendant in the dining space.
  • Extra power and data provision.
  • Custom joinery for kitchen and bathroom, as well as more built-in joinery throughout the house.


This is similar to the medium specification, but it is a more challenging site, with a selection of premium fixtures and finishes:

  • Fully customised wetroom bathrooms.
  • Integrated joinery in all rooms (shelving, window seats, storage units, cabinets, etc.).
  • AV installation.
  • Extensive lighting installation.
For more information on building costs, have a look at our Cost of Building in NZ page


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