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Dreams to doorsteps — how long does it take to build a new house?

Your roadmap for building with Sentinel Homes

You’re thinking about building your dream home – exciting! We bet you have lots of questions about what’s involved. Rather than diving into the nitty gritty of blueprints and construction, we thought we’d demystify the whole process for you. From initial design concepts and site selection to the final touches that make a house a home, let’s put on our hard hats and explore the ins and outs of building a house.

Here we go:

Pre-contract: planting the seeds (no rush, take your time)

We’re always keen to meet clients at the beginning – when dreams are fresh and full of potential. You’ll get a visit from our team so we can chat and get a sense of what you’re looking for. Whether it’s building the home you’ve always imagined or exploring the option of subdivision, we’re here to help.

We'll visit your site and chat about your budget and design ideas

During our visit, we’ll take photos and detailed notes to create an initial brief that captures your dream outcome and budget. We’ll also give you some high-level options, including sketches and examples from our design library.

There’s absolutely no charge for these site checks and after this we can give you a ball park estimate for your project. If the estimate doesn’t fit your build, we can stop the process there, and no-one has spent any money.

Here’s a great to-do list for this stage:

  • Take time to let your creativity flow. Explore our design plan library and create a Pinterest board dedicated to your dream kitchen, lounge, outdoor area, bathroom and bedroom.
  • Consider your financial plans. You’ll want a clear understanding of your budget early on. That way, we’ll be better equipped to design a home that suits your needs. We have great brokers who can help you with this.
The Sentinel Homes Design library has 100s of ideas you can use as inspiration for your home design.

Concept design package: giving wings to the dream (4-6 weeks)

This is the fun part, where we put pen to paper and start bringing your vision to life. During this stage, we’ll dive into the details of your design concept and draw them up for your approval. Design costs, including topographical survey, typically range from $5k to $12k.

Taking the time to get things right at this point always makes a big difference to the overall build. Why? Because last-minute changes can mean time delays and extra costs. You should explore our products before making any decisions, whether by visiting our show homes or seeing our suppliers. Understanding the materials and brands we use will help you visualise the result and ensure there are no surprises.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make changes if you want to – like Megan and Glen Ellis found when they built with us in Warkworth.

“We made a few changes, and it just was not a problem. We didn’t have to compromise.”

Ultimately, this stage is about making all key decisions so we can accurately cost your build and ensure you understand exactly what you’re getting. Here’s what we’ll need to tick off during this stage:

  1. Meeting with the architect to get started on the design process
  2. Organising technical aspects (we’ll do this for you). These include:
    • Geotechnical advice to understand the ground conditions
    • A topographical survey to assess your site’s features – at this stage, we focus on the structure and flow of your new home.
    • A civil report – usually only needed for subdivision and new build projects.
  3. Choosing design details like taps, tiles, stud height and joinery size – every decision you lock in helps us calculate the cost of your project.

You’ll give our design team any feedback, and they’ll refine the design and send it to our quantity surveyor for pricing.

Formal proposal and contract signing: let’s make it official (1-2 weeks)

Ready to make your new home a reality? Before you reach for that pen, make sure you have a crystal-clear understanding of the contract, including the specifications and design. Feel free to ask any questions that come to mind. And don’t forget to have your lawyer review the documents. This phase mustn’t be rushed – we’ll give you as much time as you need to ensure you understand exactly what you’re signing.

At this point, you can decide whether to sign the contract, or walk away. If you walk away, the money you have spent is non-refundable. It’s the cost of feasibility and it’s used to pay the designer, surveyor and engineer. If you sign the contract, you’ll pay a 10% deposit, and we’ll deduct the money you’ve spent to date, from the total build cost.

Pre-construction: now we’re rolling (10-12 weeks)

During the pre-construction phase, we’ll be buzzing with activity – working out the details so you get a smooth and seamless construction process. Our experts will create detailed working drawings, complete with engineering aspects and speciality reports.

If you haven’t already met our kitchen designer and colour consultant earlier in the process, this is when they’ll help you inject even more of your personal style into your home. Meanwhile, we’ll handle getting the required building and resource consents, and you can sit back and relax – we’ll keep you in the loop with regular updates along the way.

You'll meet our kitchen designer and colour consultant during the pre-construction phase

Construction begins: let’s get into it (9 months)

Now that we have all our ducks in a row, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and make your dream home a reality. On average, the construction process takes around seven months from laying the foundation slab for single-storey homes, and approximately nine months for double-storey homes. You’ll be updated weekly with insights, progress photos and milestones on our super easy app.

New-build clients Kevan and Michelle Stewart loved the Sentinel Homes app so much that they would check it regularly throughout their new-build journey!

“Once a week, we could go into the Sentinel app and check the latest uploaded photos of the work on-site.”

Let’s explore what lies ahead:

  1. Digging up the dirt
    The first step is to secure your site for safe construction. We take site safety seriously, so there’s a secure environment for everyone involved. This includes erecting temporary fencing and putting up safety signage.
    Our skilled excavation team then swings into action, cutting and levelling the site to prepare it for the next stages. Please keep in mind that excavation can’t happen in wet weather, and downpours can cause delays. Safety is paramount, so please consult our site team before entering the construction site.
  2. Laying the foundation
    Foundations are the backbone of any sturdy home, and we pay meticulous attention to this vital stage. It involves careful preparation of the base, followed by setting up the formwork, pouring the concrete, and finally, removing the forms. Again, it’s important to note that pouring concrete is a weather-sensitive process. We want optimal conditions for a quality finish that will stand the test of time.
  3. Standing frames
    With the foundation in place, it’s time for your home to take shape vertically. For a single-storey house, the ground floor frames typically take around two days to complete, while two-storey homes with a mid-floor may require five to seven working days. During this stage, you should review the window and door placements – changes beyond this point may be more expensive.
  4. Roof install
    Once the framing is installed and checked for plumb, we’ll erect roof framing and prepare the roof installation. This is a major project milestone – how long it takes to put the finishing touches on your roof depends on the weather and the size of your home. During this time, several trades will come and go before it’s complete.
  5. Wrap, windows and cladding
    Lots of people find this stage super exciting – it’s the first chance you’ll have to walk through your home and check on progress. While the walls won’t be up just yet, the building will be wrapped to protect it from the weather, and the builders will install the windows ready for cladding installation.
  6. Getting ready for GIB
    Things are really starting to shape up now! Once the cladding is installed, we get to work on the ‘guts’ of the building. That means plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation and GIB. Installing GIB is also weather-dependent. We need to ensure those frames are dry before we close them in to avoid any cracking paint or nails popping. At this stage, we’ll take you through your home again to confirm functional details like light switch and power point locations. There are many moving parts during this stage, so timelines will vary between projects.
  7. A house becomes a home
    You’re almost there! This is when the liveable spaces in your home come to life – painting the exterior and interior, installing hard floor tiling and carpet. You’ll start to see all those design decisions you made earlier make their way into your home. Once the finishes are installed and quality checked, we’ll move on to your kitchen, electrical fittings and plumbing fixtures.
  8. Handing over the keys
    We’re on the homestretch – it’s almost time to start planning your move. Before that, we’ll notify you of practical completion once the final inspection has been done, and apply for your code compliance certificates (CCC). Giving you the keys to your dream home is our favourite part of the job. Nothing beats watching someone walk through their front door for the first time, and we love celebrating that moment with our clients.    

Concept to completion

You’ve worked hard to build your dream home. At Sentinel Homes, we strive to make the home-building process enjoyable. We do that by ensuring you know exactly what’s happening at every stage and solving any problems quickly so they don’t disrupt your budget or build.

From initial design discussions and technical documents to excavation challenges, foundations and building, you’ll get the home you created with us – and a fun adventure. Together, we’ll laugh, brainstorm ideas, and turn dreams into actionable plans.

We believe in going above and beyond and want you to enjoy the next chapter of your life in your ultimate sanctuary. Here’s what our client Peter Tate had to say about his new build experience in Raglan:

“We are currently in the last stages of building with Sentinel Homes. We have, at every stage, had excellent communication and wonderful personal service. The whole experience has been first-class. I can't recommend them highly enough.”

Ready to get started building your new dream house? Contact the team at Sentinel Homes today.

what's next?

Let’s get together for a free, no-pressure meeting with one of our team, at your place or ours.

We can't wait to hear your ideas!

Call 0800 456 321