Salina Galvan Photography

Building from a plan or designing from scratch – our columnist clears up some myths.


When it comes to building a new home, there are lots of misconceptions around ready-to-build plans. 

There are plenty of questions I’m asked but ‘does it cost more to design your own?’ is the big one. And the short answer is no. If you were to build two homes like-for-like, one from a ready-to-build plan and an identical home from a design-and-build perspective, there’s no cost difference.

Our ready-to-build plans are far from cookie-cutter and I think they’re great. Firstly, you can really envisage how you’d live in the space, especially when there’s imagery of a previous build or the potential to walk through a showhome. We’re currently building a new showhome in Omokoroa, which is going to be a great source of inspiration for designs and interiors. 

The dimensions are also already set out for you to have a play around with, or we can plot how it would sit on your site for a crystal-clear picture. Each plan is also pre-priced, allowing clients to get a feel for costs up front. 

When it comes to ready-to-builds, the second biggest question is “can we make changes?” Absolutely! We can certainly make small changes beyond your general fixtures and fittings. Overall, it’s a month of time saved, on average, compared to a design-and-build, which is a fantastic option for those who just want to get into their new home as soon as possible.

Some people say, “I want this house,” but they’re not looking at the plan (the number one thing!) – it might be they just love the exterior. We have clients in Te Puke who were inspired by one of our ready-to-build plans that didn’t end up working for their section. But it was a great place to start a conversation which led us down the design-and-build route, and ended up being perfect for them. It’s easy to be flexible. On the flip-side, we could have a client set on a design-and-build but within our range of plans there’s one that suits them perfectly. 

The design-and-build process is set up to explore your style and must-have checklist, as all architects do. It’s a unique, bespoke approach to building a home that speaks to your lifestyle. It’s a fantastic option when it comes to the latest design trends, and especially great for difficult sites which might have a tricky driveway or that want to maximise the north-facing orientation. For me, waiting an extra month or so to get your ideal home is nothing in the scheme of things.

In fashion terms, it’s like ready-to-wear and made-to-measure. There’s plenty to buy off-the-rack that’s of the same quality and price point as a custom piece. The quality is often on par; one is just a faster process than the other. 

Our glossy Landmark book is one place to start, as is our wonderful website. Bring in your overflowing Pinterest boards (if you’re like me) and magazine cuttings, or just come in for a chat to work out what’s best for you.