Compass Homes - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Building in New Zealand can be a difficult path to navigate. Here is a selection of our most frequently asked questions to help with your building process, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, please call in and see us at one of our many show homes.

Building and construction

Can I go on site during construction?

Yes, under controlled circumstances. Although this is your property, Compass Homes has legal obligations to many parties with regards to Health and Safety regulations, and to ensure that any hazards are identified and controlled. We have very good systems and procedures to enable us to manage these issues safely and effectively.


There are a number of hazards associated with building in New Zealand which, if not carefully managed, could cause serious injury or worse to those who encounter them. During the construction of your new home a fence will be erected and secured around your site. This ensures that we can control access to the site and that the site is more secure when unattended. Only suitably qualified and authorised persons can access the site, and subsequently to ensure any hazards are contained within it.


We still want you to be able to access the site and view the progress and we have processes that will make it easier for you to do this. Site visits can be arranged through your new home consultant. You will have online access to our construction management program called Rave that will allow you to monitor progress and receive updates directly from our construction managers on site.

Learn more about Rave.

When will we get a Code of Compliance Certificate?

Under the Building Act 2004, all Councils and Territorial Authorities have 20 working days to issue a Code of Compliance Certificate. Prior to handing the home over to you, a Notice of Inspection will have been completed by your local council. This means your home has been completed to Code Compliance as per the Building Consent requirements.


Not having the Code of Compliance issued does not prevent you from moving into your home, but you should be aware that your Code of Compliance Certificate may not arrive prior to the expiration of the 20 working day timeframe. If you are drawing down mortgage funds, your Bank will most likely require to see the Notice of Inspection, a copy of which your Project Supervisor will provide to you.


If you wish to take possession prior to the Code of Compliance Certificate having been issued, you will also be required to sign an agreement under Section 364(2) of the Building Act 2004. This possibility is covered in your Building Agreement. Your Project Supervisor will give you this agreement prior to handover.

How long will it take to build my house?

We allow about eight weeks for the council to approve your building consent and as a guide, we allow up to 20 weeks for a single level mid-sized home built. Usually it is faster than this. Once you have confirmed the concept plan your sales consultant will be able to give you an accurate build timeframe.


Like most complex processes, building your home depends on many factors. Sometimes, due to factors outside our control, there are delays. We factor these in and work with delays as part of the building process. We look to minimise them and always work so that there is the least amount of impact on the build time as possible. Our online construction management tool, BuilderTrend, will keep you up to date with timeframes and notify you of any changes that may arise.

Learn more about BuilderTrend


Many, many customers have trusted us to deliver. Our build teams are ready to start as soon as possible after the building consent is issued. Once we start on a building project we stay on the project until it’s completed. We don’t leave a project until the job is done and we are handing over the keys.

What happens after we've signed on the dotted line?

Your design and build consultant will lead you through the process.


We’ll work with you to develop working drawings, and then we’ll apply for a building consent. We have very good relationships with local authorities and are able to resolve any issues with the consent quickly. We track the consents process so we’re ready to go as soon as the paperwork comes through with a building project manager and team fully briefed. At the same time, our interior designer/colour consultant will help you refine your selections for interior and exterior decisions, adding your personal touch to your new home.


Take a closer look at our building process

Who will be building our new home?

Compass Homes are renowned for quality and finish. We have assembled a dedicated and experienced team of builders and trades staff, both on staff and contracted to Compass Homes. They understand our systems and procedures and our expectations of quality and being on time. You can rest assured that your new home will be completed to a highly professional standard by qualified, experienced builders.

Who will keep me informed of progress?

You’ll have your own Project Manager who will oversee your building project from beginning to end. We will keep you informed with our online construction management program BuilderTrend. You will be instantly notified by email when changes occur onsite and you can login in to BuilderTrend at any stage to monitor progress and view pictures.

Will the house be completely finished on hand-over day?

Yes, Compass Homes will not hand over the keys until we are completely satisfied that your home meets our very high standards and that every aspect of the internal finish has been completed. There will be no “we’ll be back tomorrow to fix this” scenario! With Compass Homes you are also insured with our 12 month maintenance guarantee.

Should anything cause an issue, we fix it free of charge and as quickly as possible. In addition, you still have the 10 year Master Builders guarantee. So relax – you’re covered!

Is it possible to start earthworks in the middle of winter?

Generally, it’s more difficult to undertake earthworks in winter because of our commonly wet winters here in New Zealand. We do find that on many sites, however, it is still possible to carry out earthworks all year round. In some cases, if the plans require us to take a significant amount of soil from one area and move it to another area of the site, then there can be issues with compacting the soil to the right levels and getting engineering consent and sign off. However, we take these issues on as they arise and manage them efficiently and professionally, to ensure there is minimal disruption to your timeframe.

How can I be sure that my home will be completed?

For all our years of building, Compass Homes have never failed to complete a home to practical completion. You have our 100% commitment that your home will be completed as defined in your Residential Building Contract. Compass Homes have never let down a customer, and have never left a single house uncompleted. You can trust in us!

What is builders risk insurance?

Builders risk insurance is a specialist insurance policy that will cover the specific risks that building companies are exposed to when building. Compass Homes, and all our contractors, have comprehensive insurance policies in place to mitigate risk. We will not commence a construction project unless all of the appropriate insurances are in place.



Guarantees and Insurance

What are the risks to new home buyers?

Like most things in life there are pros and cons to both buying an existing home and building a new home. We believe that building a new home has significant advantages over buying an existing home.


A new home will need less maintenance, will have better insulation, will be eco-friendlier, and will be customised to meet your needs. It will also be constructed with the latest products and technology. Generally speaking, a new home will provide you with a far better living environment, and most likely a far better investment, than purchasing an existing house.


Compass Homes have a range of insurances and guarantees on their homes so you can be completely confident when building with us.


What guarantees do you offer?

As part of our standard build contracts we will offer you a 10-year Master Build Guarantee. For this to be in place you need to complete the documentation that is included with your Build Contract from Compass Homes. By law, all new homes in New Zealand are required to have a proven guarantee.


Compass Homes, as a Registered Master Builder, offers a 10-year Master Build guarantee on all their homes. A Master Build guarantee gives you protection in situations which may be out of your control.


A Master Build guarantee protects against loss of deposit, non-completion, defective workmanship, rot and structural defects and builders that are unwilling or unable to put things right. The Master Builders new homes or alterations & additions guarantee is only offered by a Registered Master Builder. The Registered Master Builders Federation represents New Zealand's premier building and construction companies who pride themselves on delivering houses and buildings of the highest quality.


With a Master Builders guarantee, you are covered for:





  • Non completion - Up to 10% of the contract price to a maximum of $40,000

  • Loss of deposit - Up to 10% of the contract price to a maximum of $20,000

  • Materials, workmanship and structural cover from handover for two years.

  • Limited structural cover for up to an additional five years (giving a maximum of seven years from handover)

  • The maximum total pay-out for all cover is $100,000 (includes GST)


To put the guarantee in place you need to:

  • Request a guarantee application form from your Registered Master Builder

  • Fill out and sign the guarantee application form and the arbitration agreement

  • Receive an acceptance letter from Master Build services

These processes are all included in the paperwork between you and Compass Homes.

What is your 12-month maintenance guarantee?

Compass Homes will address any building issues or deficiencies for a period of 12 full months after the home is handed over. If there are any problems with workmanship or product reliability or any issues at all regarding the construction of the home, then Compass Homes will repair or replace the item causing the issue, promptly and free of charge.


What insurance do I need to arrange?

When Compass Homes is building your home, we and all our subcontractors carry a comprehensive set of insurances. Compass Homes carries Builders Risk including public liability insurance cover for the duration of the build period. Once we hand the home over to you, that insurance will lapse and your private home insurance will take over.


You will need to make sure that you arrange insurance cover well ahead of your handover date, so that when the time comes your cover will be in place immediately. Your insurance company will be able to provide you with the expert advice you require to ensure the correct insurance is put in place



Design and planning

Where do I start?

The good news is that you already have! You’re on the Compass Homes website, you’ve thought about building – but more than that, you’ve taken some action to move your ideas along. Now it’s time for the next step - call our New Home Consultants for an obligation free chat, or pop in to one of our many showhome locations.


We’ll discuss the options available to you, from house and land packages, ‘off the shelf concepts’ to developing unique plans on your own site. We will assess your needs and take you through the decisions you’ll need to think about at this early stage. Bring your scrapbook, wish lists and ideas.

What should I concentrate on first when choosing my house?

There are three main aspects involved in planning your dream home.


1. Section
Your entire design will revolve around the land that you are planning to build on.

  • Orientation - where is North facing?

  • Access – where does the driveway enter the section,

  • Slope – does the land slope?

  • Services – where is the storm water or waste water located?


Once these have been defined you have the basis to put a concept plan together. For example, a north facing section with the road and entrance on the south side is a completely different proposition to a north facing section with the entrance on the north side.


2. Your needs, wants and likes.
Once you have your land, it is important to decide on your list of ‘needs’ (things that we must have), ‘wants’ (things we really want) and ‘likes’ (things that we would like to have once we have all our ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ fulfilled). How can you do this? Simple: write it down! This forms a list with your highest priorities, your needs, coming first.


The process of defining what you want in your Compass Home may take a few days to refine, however that’s OK, as any time spent at this stage is well spent. You will find that some things on your list are definable, and some aren’t. For example, definable outcomes are measurable things like 4 bedrooms or a double garage. Some things that aren’t measurable are items such as ‘more sun’ or ‘better privacy’. This is OK, you can probably have everything in your ‘needs’ list, as Compass Homes has a large variety of plans that include almost every need you have.


3. Budget.
Obviously you need to know how much you can spend on a new home. Your bank, or our building finance specialists will be able to assist you in determining what your building budget will be. Once you have a good idea of your section, your needs, wants and likes, and the budget you have to work within, you’re in a good position to start getting lines on paper and planning your Compass dream home. This is the time to browse through our plan section.


You’ll no doubt have a short list of 3 or 4 plans that would meet your requirements. Print these out, draw on them and write notes. Alternatively visit one of our showhomes and talk to our staff. They are very experienced in matching your needs, wants and likes list to your section and specifications. When you visit one of our showhomes we can also show you options for interior and exterior colours and textures, carpets, bench tops, window joinery, roof lines and tile finishes.


Find your nearest Compass Homes showhome


Once you have these three aspects defined you will be able to decide on a floor plan that best suits your family's requirements, provides privacy, achieves good sunlight and takes advantage of any views. You can then start to make decisions around the style of the house, including roof lines, window sizes and cladding. Houses can be any colour with a multitude of exterior and interior products available. Use your Compass Homes colour consultant to help you make those fun decisions. Then all you need to do is sit back and watch your home come to life!

What is a soil report and why do I need one?

A soil report is necessary to determine what ground conditions are like below where your house will be. The report will determine whether additional support is required within the footings should substandard soil be encountered. A soil with a low bearing capacity will cost more to build on than one with good soil. Some solutions for poor soil may include underground piles, more concrete in the slab or footings or a raft foundation. Getting hold of a soil report prior to purchasing a section can save you money in the long run.

Can I use an Architect to draw up my plans?

Compass Homes are specialists with a strong focus on building you a new home that is unique to you, your family and your lifestyle. We have a team of in-house designers, drafts people and Quantity Surveyors to make the process as streamlined and efficient as possible. We can also use drawings from your Architect to design and build the home of your dreams and build your home on time and within budget.

Can I make any more changes to my plans once the consent process has begun?

The Building Act places strict responsibility on your council to ensure that what is submitted for building consent is what is actually built. As such, Compass will complete your home to the plans and specifications that have been submitted to the council for building consent. Once the consent process is underway it is best to let the it continue, making any amendments once the consent is granted.


Making all the changes in one go makes the process faster and cheaper! Any changes that go through the consent process will take more time and also there are fees and charges that you would need to pay for.

Once I have paid my deposit, how long does it take for my plans to go to council?

Once you have paid your deposit and signed off the concept drawings, Compass will start to complete the detailed drawings, collect the site specific data and make final checks of all the paperwork so we can submit the building consent application. We estimate this will take between 5 and 6 weeks. However, if you make any further changes to your plans or selections during this time, this time frame may extend and fees may be incurred.

Can we modify your plans?

Yes. We have more than 50 proven floor plans and designs. Some clients like to choose one and stick to it. But most clients like to choose a plan to work from and modify to suit. We can also work with you from scratch – bringing your ideas and our experience together to design a home that is uniquely yours.

Who takes care of the consents and other paper work?

We do. But there are some instances when you’ll need to fill out or lodge an application personally. We’ll tell you what you need to do and when, it’s all part of our total project management approach.

Does a fence need a building consent?

Only fences that are over two metres in height need a building consent.

Do you give quotes for people's own home designs/plans or do you only build your own designs?

Compass Homes don't just build our own designs, we can work with you to come up with a suitable plan, or work with an existing plan.

If I already have a section that is fully serviced and select one of your designs, would the indicative cost be the total cost?

Additional costs are generally associated with the land and council. When lodging a building consent there will be fees involved in this. You may potentially need a resource consent and again, your local council with charge for this.


Depending on what the conditions of the building consent are, you may have to do things to the house or site which council have specifically requested, but it is unlikely we would be able to know what it is in advance. There are other factors such as earthworks that are not included in the website price (as each section is different).


Depending on what the soil is like once an engineer's report is done, it could mean additional slab engineering. The situation of the site will also have an impact on the cost as it may fall into a high wind, sea spray or seismic zone. There are additional costs associated with these too. It is probably best to get a consultant from your Compass office to get in touch.

I'm having a house designed by an architect. Do you build houses outside of your own designs?

Yes, however this is sometimes more expensive as the design and drafting process may be more involved.

Will Compass Homes take care of the entire building consent application?

Yes, we take care of the whole process. The consent process and possible resource consent is a comprehensive application involving many specialist reports and details. We have experienced staff that administer the consent and liaise directly with council staff to ensure an efficient approval.

We are considering purchasing a section that is steep, what options/designs are available for building? Would this increase the costs?

Because of the nature of the section, the cost of building on a steep section is higher than on a flat section. The best way to get an indication of the additional costs and what designs are possible for the section would be to contact your local Compass Homes office and make an appointment for a sales consultant to visit the section with you prior to you purchasing it. We do this free of charge.

What are the main types of building products/fixtures you use?

We only deal with industry leaders and trusted New Zealand brands like PlaceMakers, Plumbing World, James Hardie®, Gib®, Monier® and Pink Batts®, ensuring that everything that goes into your home is of a high standard, backed by the best in the business.

Can Compass Homes help with additions to existing homes?

Not generally. Additions and renovations are a different discipline and require systems and skill sets. We leave additions and renovations to companies that are better equipped to undertake this kind of work successfully.





Where can I see your house prices?

When you view a particular house in our Compass Home Designs gallery, the page will show a 'Price Indicator' for some houses. This is an indication of the build cost only, and should be used only as a rough guide. The price indication is based on the size of the house and doesn’t include the cost of land or landscaping.


Sites that are a long distance from services (power, water, phone, sewerage, etc.) and sites that are sloping or require extra earth-works will be more expensive to build on.


There may also be regional variations in labour costs, materials, and local council building requirements, and specific product choices can have an influence on the price too.


It’s always best to contact us directly for an estimation of your build cost – we’re always happy to discuss the actual details of your site and needs, which will give you a good idea of what your individual cost will be.


When the contract has been signed, is this the whole price for the house or are there ‘hidden extras’ that come on top of this price?

The contract price is made up of fixed costs and PC sums (see below). The fixed costs will not change. There will be PC Sums included for some items such as your earthworks, services and kitchen / bathroom etc. which will cover the standard costs only.


If you are to upgrade any items in your kitchen or bathroom, or, say for example, the conditions on your site were not what was expected, or the distance from the services to the house were further than normal, then there may be some additional cost. This will be discussed with you on a case by case basis, avoiding any nasty surprises upon completion!

What is a provisional sum or PC sum?

A provisional sum (or PC “provisional cost” sum) is an amount of money that is recorded in your Building Agreement where we do not yet know the final cost. For example, if the design of your kitchen or bathrooms has not been finalised, then we will allow a PC sum to cover these. Once your choices have been finalised and a price confirmed you will receive either a credit back or an invoice for the difference.


We structure our PC Sum to be completely transparent in the cost estimates and final costs, giving our customers peace of mind in all areas of our pricing. Typically, your Building Agreement will provide provisional cost sums for foundation engineering and structural engineering services, kitchen, drainage, utilities i.e. power/water and council fees and items such as carpet and tiles.

Are there any hidden costs with a Compass contract?

No, there are no hidden costs. Your contract will outline what is included and what is not. Included in the build contract is a complete specification showing everything that has been allowed for including appliances, bathroom fittings, hardware etc. and a full set of plans. In some instances, we will be unable to give a fixed price on certain items such details of the kitchen fit-out.


In this instance we will include a realistic quotation amount (PC sum) for the type/size of the home. Once we’ve signed off the full working drawings, we’ll price your dream home based on all the decisions we’ve made with you along the way. We keep Provisional Cost or PC sums to a minimum. These are discretionary costs that are within your control such as your kitchen joinery or flooring choices, or costs that are unknown at the time of signing the contract, like engineering for multilevel homes.


Rest assured; all our prices are based on established industry averages and because you’ll sign off the actual supplier costs, you can have confidence in complete disclosure.

What is your square metre cost?

The square metre cost for a house is arrived at by dividing the area of a house by the cost. Many home builders compete for the lowest square metre rate however the simple truth is – a discount in price is a discount in quality. Like anything, you get what you pay for. There are multiple factors that can significantly influence a calculated square metre rate.


Compass Homes builds for people wanting everything from small affordable homes to large luxury homes. Whatever the budget, we will ensure you get what you are looking for – that’s our mission.

What factors can influence the square metre cost of my home?

There are many variables that influence this figure. These include the construction type of the home (timber or concrete), fittings (taps etc.), finishings (carpet, paint) and the level of specification you elect. Not all square metre rates are created equally!


The square metre rate is a very inaccurate way of gauging the actual comparable price of a house, as it doesn’t reflect your personal choices or anything special you want added to the house.

Can you take care of driveways, fencing & landscaping?

Yes. If your vision is to walk into your new home with every aspect taken care of, then we can organise driveways, fencing and landscaping for you. These items would be included in the build contract as part of the overall construction process and completed before handover.

How are we affected if there are price increases while the home is being built?

We agree on a price under our building contract. This will be the price you pay unless you want to change the scope of the build or something arises in the course of the build that is outside our control. We do everything we can to limit what is outside our control, but the reality is that changes can happen in the construction of a home.


If something does happen outside of our control that will have an impact on price, we will tell you what has happened and explain why it has happened. We know customers don’t appreciate surprises and as such we always aim to be open and transparent.

What is the payment structure and what deposit is required?

There are different payment structures depending on if you choose to build in traditional timber/brick or in concrete. Concrete is a lot faster to build in so there are fewer stages involved and fewer payment milestones, although the milestones are larger. All monies must be paid in full before you are able to move in to the new property.


Generally, the milestones are as follows:


Timber/ Brick
In most cases, for a timber / brick home the build contract will specify either a 5 or 6 stage milestone payment plan. The approximate percentages for progress payments are:

  • 5% deposit - Initial deposit

  • 20% Stage 1 - Slab down

  • 18% Stage 2 – Roof on

  • 13% Stage 3 - Enclosed

  • 15% Stage 4 – Gib fixing complete

  • 15% Stage 5 – Kitchen installed

  • 14% Stage 6 - Completion


Generally, for a concrete home the build contract will specify either a 4 or 5 stage milestone payment plan:

  • 10% deposit - Initial deposit

  • 15% Stage 1 - Slab down

  • 45% Stage 2 – Lock up

  • 20% Stage 4 – Interior Fit out

  • 10% Stage 5 - Practical completion