Building Your Own Home in New Zealand: A Foreigners Guide

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Jun 29, 2021
Foreigner tips for building a home in New Zealand

Lifestyle, family, safety and oddly – Donald Trump – were the top searchable reasons foreigners wanted to move to New Zealand.

As we move closer to a post-COVID world, the desire to head across the ocean and move to New Zealand is enduring.

Fraemohs Homes Managing Director, Tim Foster says this is not surprising.

“New Zealand is a country with many new economic opportunities in our post-Covid world,” he said.

New Zealand’s Fintech sector is growing and some analysts suggest that we could be the next Silicon Valley, attracting increasing technology and innovation investment.

Economists also predict interest rates will stay low, and housing stock demand will increase, providing a golden opportunity for eligible cohorts to be able to tap into the New Zealand property market.

“It’s a manageable process for Australian and Singaporean residents to build in New Zealand and I’m not surprised that we’ve seen an increase in enquiries,” he said.

So, just what is the deal with buying and building a home in New Zealand, when this slice of heaven isn’t your motherland? What are the rules? Are you eligible? And moreover- why wouldn’t you?

Well, let’s drill down (no pun intended!)


Building a home in New Zealand as a foreigner 2021


As a foreigner can I buy a home in New Zealand?

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) website outlines who can and can’t purchase land. There are specific rules and exemptions but you can email them directly and have them confirm your eligibility.

However, we can tell you this:

Australian and Singaporean residents

If you’re an Australian or a Singaporean resident, you can buy land, build on it, and either live in it or rent it out.


Building a home in New Zealand tips for foreigners 2021


US, UK and other countries

If you’re a UK citizen looking to move to the land of the Long White Cloud, there are certain conditions that may make you eligible – including living in New Zealand for 12 months.

If you are from the US or any other country it is a little trickier, take a look at this page to find out if you match any eligibility criteria.

How long will it take and what will it cost and what are my build options?

It takes roughly 10- 12 months to build a home in New Zealand. This time includes the build, as well as planning, consent and final compliance measures.


What is the cost of building a home in New Zealand?

This will largely depend on where and what you decide to build.

If you consider that nationally it costs NZD $2238 per square meter to build a home in New Zealand and the average price of a completed new build in 2020 was approximately NZD $428,700. Gisborne, Waikato and Marlborough all hover around the national average.

Other costs, such as applying for consent to build can range between NZD $4500 for a one-storey dwelling to NZD $9500 for a three-storey or more dwelling. Other project related costs, levies and fees should also be factored in and will vary from council to council.


Can foreigners build homes in New Zealand?


What are my build options?

Whether you use a Master Builder, a NZ Certified Builder or a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBB) or project manage your own build, there are a range of exciting build options. Keep in mind, some builders are licenced to carry out certain types of builds but not others (this typically depends on size and complexity of the build).

Architect Designed

You can have an architect design a bespoke home – you will need a qualified builder to carry out the works.

You can check out a kitset home builder, who will provide a flat pack for you and your builders to construct yourself. We have a range of kitset options, including self-build and lock-ups where you can share the responsibilities with a full-time builder. You can expect to save 10-20% off the cost of a conventional build.

Customised Home Design & Build

You can choose to have a custom home built. We have assembled our own in-house architectural team who specialise exclusively in our products and materials. We also customise business-centric kits for hotels, churches and other organisations.

Group Home Builders

Group home builders work in higher volumes so are competitive in their pricing and carry the advantage of being able to show you a larger range of display homes.


Building options for foreign buyers in New Zealand


Choosing Where To Build A House In New Zealand

The real challenge for foreigners set to move to New Zealand, is finding a suburb that is suitable. Never assume a suburb offers you what you need just because it is close to the city or offers reasonably priced houses, without doing some digging first.

Municipality websites can give you a great feel for community and general amenities. Workout what lifestyle means to you. For some its proximity to work and freeways, to others it might be excellent schools and green space.

If you’ve decided building a house in New Zealand is your next milestone, here are our tips:

Where to build a house in New Zealand 2021


Our Top Tips For Building Your New Home In New Zealand

We suggest you let the experts guide you as early as possible. You may also want to start by browsing the Land Information New Zealand website.

You should engage a reputable builder who reflects your values, ethos and who understands your ‘why’ in wanting to build.

Is it your now, for now or forever home? Are you looking to take advantage of NZ’s urban or natural assets? Different builders cater for different build ambitions, so do your research, take your time and find a builder you’re comfortable with and a home you know you’ll love.

Safeguard yourself and engage a lawyer early. The internet is awash with information but misunderstanding something could leave you liable down the track.


Tips for building a home in New Zealand 2021


Several building codes and regulations are set to change in October 2021, and we recommend you check if this could impact you.

Consider homes that are built to withstand earthquakes. Fraemohs builds have outperformed in this area by using natural sturdy materials.

While the beauty of New Zealand is well documented, approved foreigners who build and live in New Zealand share in the benefits of living in a stable, safe and progressive society.

Health care is universal and schools are free and high quality. Jacinda Ardern steered the country through COVID with relative success, quickly containing outbreaks and insulating its population from outbreaks and economic shock.

New Zealand is a country on the move.



Photos: Pablo Heimplatz, Molly Spink, James Coleman, Sulthan Auliya, Michelle Tsang. Thank you!

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