Designer-led homes take off at Signature Homes

High quality, architecturally-designed homes are dominating the order book at Signature Homes, one of New Zealand’s largest home builders.

While the market for entry level homes is more challenging due to high interest rates, increasing material and land costs and decreasing net migration, the firm is increasingly receiving enquiries from people who have purchased land and  commissioned a design from an architect.

Signature Homes’ Chief Executive Paul Bull says the firm is attractive to clients with architectural plans as its home consultants around the country have the experience to manage complex projects and the expertise to accurately cost up a bespoke design.

“Our pricing is extremely accurate. We know we can deliver a new home, whether it is one of our plans or a highly specced architecturally designed house at a guaranteed fixed price despite the current volatility in building product prices due to our long-standing relationships, contracted purchase pricing and extensive communications with our suppliers.

“We are one of New Zealand’s largest new home builders with around 700 - 800 new homes sold every year. That gives us significant strength in the market and the ability to negotiate fixed prices and a continuous secure supply of all building products,” he says.

An example of a bespoke build is the ‘Preston’ house which is currently under construction by Signature Homes in Christchurch, which is building to plans from local architect John Curtin.

The architectural commission came to John from a local couple wanting a new five-bedroom family home that would be built of quality materials and low maintenance. Instead of working with an independent builder, the completed drawings for the 304m2 home were taken to Signature Homes North Christchurch to cost quantify and build for a fixed price.

John Curtin says few independent builders can provide the same fixed price contract or even build a premium home of 300-400m2 in the timeframe that a well resourced company like Signature Homes could.

“The Signature Homes offer is pretty clear cut. The key requirement, especially for the mortgage provider, is a fixed price. They lock in prices with their suppliers and, even for a large bespoke home, can get their build time accuracy bang on,” he says.

Where consents, title and groundworks have been completed, the Fixed Price Contract remains the most typical option for a Signature Homes client.

Once final design and plan decisions have been made, the house is costed and a firm and final price is agreed with the customer.

In other cases, where some client decisions are yet to be made – such as kitchen design, client-selected specific options and landscaping etc – a Fixed Price Contract will be offered with a PC Sum Building Agreement which is essentially a thorough cost estimate for the client-driven item or works.

Mr Bull says in the last 12-months only 0.25% of the Signature Homes’ group national turnover has had a PC Sum increase, which has mainly been driven by clients upgrading their selections for better products in their homes.

“The accuracy of this figure highlights, and is testament to, the superb work, accuracy and transparency of our network’s pricing. Signature Homes takes great pride in representing the true costs our clients can expect to deliver their home.”

Mr Bull says Signature Homes’ approach is to move clients as quickly as possible from a conditional contract or PC Sum contract to a Fixed Price Contract.

“We want to take the anxiety of the cost away when a customer builds a new home. A fixed price also works in their favour as mortgage lenders will be happier to lend on a fixed price and the client can set their budget for the build and other costs, such as landscaping,” he says.

If costs increase during the build period, the increased cost is absorbed by Signature Homes, not the home owner.

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