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Designers and Builders, for Timeless Architecture, Timely Construction


Click on any of the links below to go to the answer provided for that question. For more information, please contact us. If you have a question, not featured here, please fill in the form and we’ll answer you by e-mail. We may even add your question and answer here!


  1. New Zealand Style: Is the New Zealand Colonial Style unique?
  2. How do I date an old building?
  3. Are you Registered Master Builders?
  4. Does being a Registered Master Builder make you more expensive than another builder?
  5. How does pricing work?
  6. Where do I find a Timeless Homes Show-Home?
  7. What’s the difference between you and many other builders who offer more traditional designs?
  8. Do you do renovations?
  9. Do you do restorations?
  10. Everyone else wants me to build their standard plan, with little or no modification. Will you build my plan?
  11. I’m a builder. Will you provide me plans only or can you provide me with permit ready plans and kitset materials?
  12. I’m in Auckland / Christchurch / Hawkes Bay / Palmerston North / Wanganui / Levin / Wellington / on a remote farm. Do you design and build in my area?
  13. I’m looking for an expert on villas. How much do you know about designing and building villas?
  14. How much does one of your houses cost to build?
  15. How are your design fees calculated?
  16. Do you need Building Permit Ready documentation to quote my building project?
  17. How do I subdivide my property? OR – I’m buying a property that has been subdivided – What stage is the subdivision in?
  18. What is a Consent Notice?
  19. Some other builders charge around $860 per square metre. I note your building costs range from $1,380. Why the difference?
  20. What do you do to future-proof your homes?
  21. Do your buildings comply with Part E2 (External Moisture) and E3 (Internal Moisture) of the New Zealand Building Code?
  22. I’ve heard that you can Guarantee the Energy Efficiency of your homes. How?
  23. How do I know what size heat-pump I’ll need?
  24. Can I heat my home without a fireplace, central heating or a heat-pump?
  25. Where do you build?
  26. Do you recommend the use of ceiling fans?
  27. Is there such a thing as a ‘Carbon-Neutral heat source’?
  28. What are the advantages of Bay Windows?
  29. I like real old style homes, no open plan living. Can you recreate a real old-style house, built new, from scratch?
  30. I don’t want to feel obliged to have you build for me, if you design my home, but, I really like your designs. Where to from here?
  31. How much experience do you have with Victorian, Edwardian or Georgian Style houses?
  32. I like traditional style houses, but want a low maintenance house. What options are there?
  33. I think your houses are lovely, but I want a more modern, contemporary house. What can you supply?
  34. What do you mean when you say you provide Building Permit Ready plans and documents for free?
  35. What is “thermal mass”?
  36. Are you Licensed Building Practitioners?
  37. Do you have a copy of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment “Prescribed Checklist”?



1      New Zealand Colonial Style: Is the New Zealand Colonial Style unique? No, sadly, New Zealand architecture is not unique. See the images to the right? You’d think that these are typical New Zealand colonial houses, but these are both timber frame houses in the USA. Colonial home styles throughout the world follow design principles for those styles, often reproduced in the most convenient local material. Fashions were sometimes slow to reach the colonies, but New Zealanders, like most others, followed fashion and that’s how the different colonial styles developed, worldwide. Some elements of the New Zealand Colonial manufacturing styles have evolved differently here, in New Zealand than in many other countries. Usually, this was as result of not all the machines and or materials to make a certain product was available here. In this sense, some mouldings are therefore unique, because local artisans made their own. But, there’s really no major difference in style between, for instance, a Victorian Villa in Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, or even parts of the UK or the USA. In the same way, a ‘Californian Bungalow’ here was, initially, a copy of the Bungalow Style popular in the Western United States, in the early nineteen-hundreds. In the early days, lots of building materials, and in some cases, whole buildings were imported. Later, more parts were manufactured here. Because timber is the predominant building material in New Zealand, and always has been, most colonial style buildings are timber frame, timber clad and have timber detailing. In Australia and South Africa, cast-iron fretwork is more commonly found than timber fretwork, while, in the USA, for instance, timber fretwork is often seen on colonial structures and in many cases, the fretwork, finials and corbels are almost an exact match of what we have here. Rusticated weatherboards have been used in the USA since the late eighteenth century but was introduced here much later, not generally before the late 1870’s. This may be because the machines to make some materials or run some mouldings were not available earlier or simply because fashions reached the further colonies, such as New Zealand, much later. In New Zealand, timber shingles was used for roofs up until the 1870’s, because it was cheaper than a metal roof. So, earlier colonial buildings had steeper roofs than later colonial buildings. Tiles were not generally used in New Zealand until the late 1880’s early 1890’s, when tiled roofs appeared on mainly Queen Anne style villas.

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2      How do I date an old building? There are some broad stylistic periods, and some more definitive descriptions for periods within the broad periods. (See the time-line drawing below.) Colonial, in the New Zealand context, sometimes called colonial Georgian, dates from approximately 1800 to 1840. These houses are usually symmetrical with simple hipped roofs. The Regency style is a precursor to the Early Victorian style and is not that common in New Zealand. It dates from 1811. Early Victorian dates from approximately 1840 to 1860. Many Early Victorian homes retain the symmetry of the earlier Georgian style, usually with more decorative features. Mid Victorian dates from approximately 1860 to 1880. In the 1850’s to the 1870’s there was a style called Cottage Ornée or Gingerbread which was called Fancy Colonial here. Also in this period, there can be some influences from the Gothic Revival style, also called Carpenter Gothic. Late Victorian dates from approximately 1880 to 1900. Most Late Victorian homes are asymmetrical and the homes usually have far more decorative features than the earlier styles. Outside, there can be Classical Revival features, even some Egyptian influences, while inside you may see Art Neuveau features in homes from the late 1880’s to 1914. There are several other variations: Queen Anne, from the 1870’s to 1900. Queen Anne homes often have turrets, shingle gable panels and bay windows. Also in the 1870’s, in the USA, the Stick Style developed, predominantly on the West Coast and in the Mid-West. The Stick Style became very popular here in the 1890’s and early 1900’s. The Italianate style gained popularity in the 1870’s and again later, around 1900. Italianate influences can be seen on many public buildings of that era. Some Italianate homes had more classical detailing and symmetry. These were of a style called Palladian after the architect, Andrea Palladio. The Eastlake Style is named after a style which became popular after a book on household architecture by an English writer, C. L. Eastlake. The book became especially popular in the USA during the 1870’s and many of the American timber details were subsequently copied here. Eastlake detailing includes many of the fretwork designs we see on buildings of the period, and also lathe-turned spindles, also called Spindle-style where the turned decorations replace conventional fretwork. Spindle Style was popular in New Zealand from 1890 to 1910. The Edwardian period dates from 1900 to 1915. Also from 1900, the Elizabethan or Tudor style, which on New Zealand was usually shown as a overlay over the weatherboards to imitate the framing timbers visible in the English Tudor style. As you can see, there’s some overlap of styles, so Art Neuveau features are often found in Late Victorian and in Edwardian homes, and Tudor detailing is seen on Edwardian Villas. Most traditional houses fall within the Late Victorian and Edwardian era. The Bay Villa describes a house shape which became popular in the USA in the 1850’s. The Bay Villa style became the predominant house style from the 1890’s. There are several variations and many of the styles described above can be seen in Bay Villas. So, you can have an Italianate or Stick Style or Victorian or Edwardian or Spindle Style or Queen Anne Bay Villa! The English and Californian Bungalow made it’s appearance from 1915 and held it’s popularity until the early 1930’s. Because of the overlap between styles, it’s even possible to have a transitional villa which incorporates Edwardian and Bungalow features. A Style often confused with the Bungalow Style is the Arts and Crafts movement, which begun as an English style in 1860 but which only reached our shores after 1900. The Arts and Crafts movement represents a complete break from the earlier decorative styles. The Art Deco Style was born in 1925 and by the 1930’s Art Deco had surpassed the Bungalow Style in popularity, even in New Zealand. The 1930’s is also the birth of the State House in New Zealand. It is a bit difficult for the untrained person to see some of the subtle differences between the different styles. If you’re unsure, feel free to send us some photographs of the house as a whole and of details such as original fretwork, gable details, door and windows and skirtings and architraves, and we’ll do our best to give you an indication of likely style and/or age.



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3      Are you Registered Master Builders? Yes, Timeless Homes are Registered Master Builders. It’s easy to check any builder: Simply go to the link ‘check your builder’ on the Master Builder Federation website, and type in the name of the building firm you wish to check.

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4      Does being a Registered Master Builder make you more expensive than another builder? Not necessarily. When you work with a Registered Master Builder, you do buy Proven Ability Better Build Quality, Greater Industry Knowledge, Higher Standards and an Industry Leading 10-Year Guarantee. This would mean that your Registered Master Builder will employ more skilled staff, higher skilled sub-contractors and use better than code-minimum materials and construction methods. Higher skilled staff and sub-contractors cost more and better materials cost more. Does this make your building more expensive? Not necessarily: Your Registered Master Builder will often work at a lower profit margin to remain competitive in the industry rather than sacrificing their high standards. Usually, it may mean that you’ll pay a little more, but will get much better service and a far superior product. It has been shown that homes that win awards in the Master Builder House of the Year Competition, often market at higher prices. The long-term benefit of working with a Registered Master Builder can be substantial.

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5      How does pricing work? We provide all customers with a Fixed Price Quote – no hidden extras or exclusions. How do we do it? Once we have completed the design process for you, we price your home by sending the drawings and specifications to the various sub-contractors and material suppliers for prices. At the same time, we quantify all the materials that’s not quantified by the various sub-contractors and we add all this information to a spreadsheet. When the sub-contractor prices come back (usually within two weeks) we add their prices to our spreadsheet, check everything and compile a quotation. The key difference between us and many other builders is that we’ll show you the spreadsheet so that you can see exactly how your quote is arrived at. All the many parts that make up your building’s price is there for you to see. Prices vary according to the requirements of each client. See our Transparent Turn-Key Pricing Page. Rates start at $1,350/sq.m.

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6      Where do I find a Timeless Homes Show-Home? We don’t have a traditional Show-Home as we have a far more comprehensive display venue. To complement our range of brochures, you can visit our display at 142 Main Street, Greytown. This unique venue offers a one-stop-shop approach to shopping for home design and décor ideas. Unique in the Wairarapa, the closest thing to this concept is to be found in Wellington. Our Home Décor Ideas Display features a large range of products, in one easily accessible venue. We offer seminars on energy efficient building techniques, with talks by suppliers and sub-contractors. Some of the goods on display are: A range of Kitchen joinery materials and finishes options (by Wright Kitchens & Cabinetry); bathroom fittings and fixtures (by Plumbing World); wardrobe options (by Innovative Interiors); innovative energy saving home construction products (by ProClima); renovation and other timber products (by Craftbuilt); aluminium joinery (by Hollings First Aluminium); many lighting options (by Superlux); timber joinery, appliances granite bench options by Alfred Dinger and surprisingly affordable solid brass Italian door furniture. The key difference between this display and, for instance, a show-home, is that our Home Décor Ideas Centre is not a static display. This means that the visitor is always guaranteed to see the latest in traditional or modern home décor ideas. Materials and finishes will be changed when fashions change making this approach far more up-to-date than a Show-Home. We have a full range of laminate and melamine samples from the Formice, Melteca, Prime Melamine and Laminex ranges. Feel free to stop by for samples.

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7      What’s the difference between you and many other builders who offer more traditional designs? There are several differences:

7.1          We don’t just do villas. We’ll provide you with a home in any architectural style. We just happen to know more about villas than most other designers and builders. We are also very knowledgeable in many other traditional styles.

7.2          We are Registered Master Builders. We are not aware of any other New Zealand Design and Build firm that specialise in traditional styles, whom are Registered Master Builders.

7.3          We don’t provide replicas of old homes. Our home designs are different in that they do not copy the design pitfalls of old homes. We copy the best of the style and combine it with the best of modern design. A home meticulously designed to a specific style, but taking into account good, sound design principles in order to have a well built, environmentally sustainable modern home that replicates a specific style of building.

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8      Do you do renovations? Yes, we can take care of your renovation project, from start to finish. Anything from re-piling to a new roof, and everything in between. We will not butcher your old home. We routinely match old mouldings, make doors and windows to match, rewire old chandeliers etc.

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9      Do you do restorations? Yes, we can carry out restoration. Some of our staff have worked on real restoration projects. Many people confuse restoration with renovation. Restoration is putting the building back to the state it was in originally. It is not easy to live in a restored building. Most of us would like some modern amenities. Mostly therefore, a project is a renovation project with some restoration elements. This means, we renovate the building but restore certain elements. This approach is far more practical for a building that’s not a museum. Some restoration we’ve carried out includes:

9.1          Finding evidence of old doors and windows and reinstating the original door and window sizes.

9.2          Finding evidence of original decorative features such as fretwork or finials and remaking new ones to match the originals.

9.3          Stripping off layers of paint and wallpaper to find the original wall colours and finishes.

9.4          Removing later additions to buildings to bring the building back to it’s original shape, especially the street façade.

9.5          Removing 1950’s lowered ceilings and reinstating the original high ceilings, with added insulation and improved ventilation to re-use the heat that rises to the top part of the room.

9.6          Remanufacturing of locks and other original hardware.

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10    Everyone else wants me to build their standard plan, with little or no modification. Will you build my plan? Yes! We will not even try to sell you a brochure plan if you already have a good idea of what you want. We will work with you, from start to completion, to design your home to your requirements. Your layout or ours, specifically and meticulously designed to suit your section and your lifestyle. Your home is likely to be the single biggest investment you make. We’d like to work with you to ensure that it’s perfect in every way.

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11    I’m a builder. Will you provide me plans only or can you provide me with permit ready plans and kitset materials? Yes, of course. We’ll provide exactly what you require. Some clients want a complete kitset, others want a lock-up shell kitset only and yet others prefer to only buy the specialist materials they cannot get from their local building merchant. No problem!

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12    I’m in Auckland / Christchurch / Hawkes Bay / Palmerston North / Wanganui / Levin / Wellington / on a remote farm. Do you build in my area? Yes, we design for and can build in most areas. Our core business area is the whole of Wellington, the Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay and the Manawatu. We have Design and Build options right through New Zealand. Many customers come to us for kitset or design only work outside our core building area. We have done design work for clients on the South Island and even in Australia and South Africa. Please contact us if you’d like to find out what work we’ve done in your area.

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13    I’m looking for an expert on traditional houses. How much do you know about designing and building traditional houses? Mark Jerling grew up in a 12-foot stud brick bay-villa. He’s been working with traditional style homes since 1987. One of his first projects was the restoration of a two-storey Victorian Villa. He’s worked on numerous renovation and restoration projects, and overseas on restoration of even older buildings. (Buildings dating back to the 1600’s to 1800’s) Mark has been designing new, award winning villas that pay tribute to the originals in style (but not in lack of comfort!) since 1996. When selecting a designer for your new traditional style home – start by asking them about their Architectural Design training and experience. Next, find out if they share your passion for traditional style buildings. A small word of warning: Some companies pass themselves off as experts while having few of the skills and little experience in the field of traditional architecture. We say; Talk with the Experts. (That’s us!) Really – if someone’s ignorant as to the Golden Section or Golden Ratio and other classical design precepts, then they may not have what’s required to design a Timeless Villa! We combine this architectural design experience with our knowledge in building highly energy efficient homes, thereby giving our clients the best of both worlds. Best in style, best in comfort.

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14    How much does one of your houses cost to build? House prices vary greatly depending on the fittings and finishes you select. Assuming you’d like a completed home, i.e. where everything’s taken care of, then, usually, our homes cost between $1,350 and $2,400 per square metre to build. Traditional verandahs cost between $575 and $900 per square metre. The key difference between us and most other builders is that we will work to your budget and will design you a home that not only satisfies your accommodation requirements, but also satisfy your budgetary requirements, in the style and to the layout you’re comfortable with. To see more detailed information regarding costs to build, please visit our Transparent Turn-Key Pricing Page. (Link)

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15    How are your design fees calculated? We evaluate the complexity of your project after we’ve had a first meeting with you, here at our offices or at your property. Once we’ve done this evaluation, we’ll provide you with a fixed-price quote for the design stages that is required for your project. If you build your home with us, we’ll provide your Permit Ready documentation free of charge.

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16    Do you need Building Permit Ready documentation to quote my building project? No. We can price your project from what’s called ‘Developed Design Documentation’. This means you do not require Building Permit Ready documents and drawings prior to obtaining a Fixed Price Quote from us.

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17    How do I subdivide my property? OR – I’m buying a property that has been subdivided – What stage is the subdivision in? You need to speak with a Registered Land Surveyor if you’re planning to subdivide land. (We recommend Tomlinson and Carruthers Surveyors) If you’re buying land, which the property agent has told you is in the process of being subdivided, then we advise that you find out (or get us to find out) what stage the subdivision process is in. The first stage, is a Subdivision Consent. The subdivision consent alone does not give you new land titles. There are still a number of steps to be completed before the property owner can apply to the District Land Registrar (through Land Information New Zealand - LINZ) to have new certificates of title issued. These steps include the issue of the Section 223 and Section 224c certificates. These sections are referred to in the Resource Management Act 1991. When reading through the subdivision consent decision you will notice that it has been issued subject to a number of conditions. These conditions are usually broken up into two parts - those that must be completed before the Section 223 certificate may be issued, and some that must be completed before the Section 224c certificate may be issued. In essence, the Section 223 conditions relate to the preparation of an accurate subdivision scheme plan and associated legal documents such as easements or land covenants that are endorsed on the survey plan. The Section 224c conditions predominantly relate to the completion of physical works on the site, such as the installation of services, or the construction of access routes. Once subdivision consent is issued an applicant has five years to lodge a Survey Plan with Council. This plan is a detailed plan prepared by a registered surveyor showing the boundaries, areas and, if relevant, any easements and covenants that need to be prepared. If the plan is in accordance with what was approved by Council as part of the subdivision consent then a Section 223 Certificate approval will be signed. Once this has been signed by Council the plan may then be lodged with Land Information New Zealand ("LINZ") for approval. Once a 223 Certificate has been signed by Council an applicant then has a further three years from the date of signing to obtain a Section 224(c) Certificate. A Section 224(c) Certificate is a final approval from Council that all conditions of the subdivision consent have been complied with. A formal application for 224(c) Certification needs to be made to Council by an applicant once all works required as part of the subdivision have been completed. This application needs to set out each condition of resource consent and comment on how compliance has been achieved. This work is usually carried out by the property owner’s surveyor. There are legal aspects relating to the issue of titles. The processing of a 224(c) Certificate requires Council Officers and Engineers to undertake a site inspection, review supporting documentation supplied with the application (including as built plans showing new services), confirm that the relevant development contributions have been paid and undertake a check of each condition of resource consent to confirm that they have complied to the satisfaction of Council. Once Council is satisfied that all conditions of subdivision consent have been complied with then the 224(c) Certificates will be signed. An applicant must then lodge this certificate with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to allow separate titles for the newly created lots to be issued. Please note that Council is not responsible for the application for new titles – the subdivision consent holder or their agent must make the application. The 224(c) Certificate must be lodged with LINZ prior to the lapsing of Section 223 approval (three years from the date of signing), otherwise an applicant’s subdivision consent will lapse.

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18    What is a Consent Notice? A consent notice is a notice which is registered against the titles of the newly created lots which brings a future purchaser’s attention to certain conditions relating to those lots. A consent notice may be used to address such issues as minimum floor levels, or storm-water disposal for new buildings on the land. An applicant’s subdivision consent decision will set out if a Consent Notice is required and the conditions which are to be included in that notice. A consent notice is issued pursuant to Section 221 of the Resource Management Act and will need to be supplied by the applicant at the time of application for 224(c) Certification.

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19    Some other builders charge around $1,050 per square metre. I note your building costs range from $1,350. Why the difference? Many other building companies make house building costs sound attractive to gain unsuspecting customers. The astute customer soon finds out how these builders get it right to appear so cheap. They seem cheap because they down-spec or leave important high-cost items out completely. We do not work this way, preferring instead to give you an accurate idea of costs, up front. For more information about pricing and (real) building costs, please see our Transparent Turn-Key Pricing Page. (Link) We will not use the following tricks, to make costs seem lower than they really are:

19.1        Some volume builders provide only one batten holder as a light fitting in each room. Not us! We supply quality energy efficient light fittings in every room.

19.2        Some volume builders provide one hot-point per room or only 8 hot-points for the entire house. Then, they increase the price by charging their unsuspecting customers for extras. We provide hot-points appropriately positioned throughout your home.

19.3        Some volume builders provide just the most basic sanitary-ware. Another way to allow the customer to upgrade and blow out the budget. We supply quality fixtures and fittings throughout.

19.4        Some builders provide an $8,000 allowance for a Kitchen. An $8,000 allowance will not give you a complete Kitchen. These are simply tricks used by many builders to make the house seem cheaper. We will provide you with realistic sums where we cannot price actual items. We’ll even fix prices before we start, if you’d like us to.

19.5        Some volume builders provide just the minimum standard insulation. Not us! Always better than code – mostly much, much better. A very small additional investment in additional insulation will quickly be repaid in reduced heating energy bills.

19.6        Most builders provide 17.5mPa Concrete slabs. Not us! Always 20mPa minimum. 17.5mPa slabs do not provide a good base for many floor finishes. The minor saving is just not worth it.

19.7        Some builders provide minimum size and specification doors and windows. Not us! We’re always installing much better than code minimum to give you years of trouble-free service and save you $ in heating and cooling costs.

19.8        Some builders provide no floor coverings. Not us! We usually supply all floor coverings unless you ask us not to.

19.9        Some builders make no allowances for site services, or say so many metres from the house. Not us! All site services priced and installed as required.

19.10      Some builders make no allowances for Very High Wind Zone, Snow Zone or other special requirements. Not us! If your site requires these upgrades, we’ll price for everything required.

19.11      Some design & build firms even draw furniture smaller to make floor plans seem larger. Not us! Not only do we show everything ‘actual size’ on our drawings but we will measure and draw your specific furniture to make sure that items of furniture will fit where you’d like to locate the furniture in your new home.

19.12      Lastly – there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If they’re giving you an unrealistically low price it will usually mean lower standards, cheaper products, less skilled labour and cutting corners.

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20    What do you do to future-proof your homes? The first, and most important thing we can do, is to build your home to save you money in the long run. That’s the reason for installing much higher than code spec insulation. Or, fittings and fixtures that last. Or, specifying products that have lower running costs or lower maintenance requirements. We routinely install CAT6 phone / data cable and the latest standards of electrical cable. With the constant changes in technology (much like CD to DVD to Blue-Ray etc) over a relatively short span of time, it's debatable how much future proofing is possible. What we therefore do is install a Distribution Board for data wiring in the same way as we install a Distribution Board for electrical cabling. That way at least, the system is more easily accessible for future changes. One aspect of home automation that's been completely overlooked until fairly recently is the unknown impact of cheaper wireless technology on home automation and future proofing in general: It's predicted that we will, at some point in the not to distant future, move away from (for instance) hot-points that are individually switched but rather go to a controlled system where the hot-points are switched via WIFI, by giving each controlled outlet it's own unique WI-FI identifier. Some of this technology is available now, but still very expensive. The beauty of a WI-FI type system is that no current electricity wiring will need to be changed because the data to switch the hot-point need not travel to and from the hot-point by wire. There's much development in the field of fibre-optics, for data transmission and there's also the move to the next generation IP address system, which will allow far greater PC based control because each and every electronic item will be able to have an IP address and therefore individual web-based control possibilities. Much of this technology is unlikely to hit the market anytime soon. (But, as soon as we write it – it probably will!) LED lighting is making great gains, but the best lighting currently, for quality of light, is still dicroic - halogens. Recent improvements in energy efficient (but mercury containing) long-life bulbs have also changed the lighting landscape. In time, LED (light emitting diode) technology will, no doubt, replace both halogen and compact fluorescent. It's just not possible to see into the future - but we like to think we plan as well ahead as we can.

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21    Do your buildings comply with Part E2 (External Moisture) and E3 (Internal Moisture) of the New Zealand Building Code? Yes, absolutely! When you’re looking to build, ask your builder what they’re doing to ensure your building complies with part E3/AS1, Acceptable Solution 1.1.4 (b), which states: “Insulated cavities shall be enclosed with no ventilation.” It would seem that most designers and builders do not do anything special to comply with this rule as these designers and builders all assume that there’s no air movement in a wall and no ventilation into that wall space. As result of our supplier, Pro-Clima, we can test compliance with this rule and make sure that your home’s insulation works far better than the norm.

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22    I’ve heard that you can Guarantee the Energy Efficiency of your homes. How? It’s only possible to guarantee something if the outcome is measurable. So, we’ve teamed up with Pro-Clima Ltd, who carry out the necessary tests for us. When we design your home, we determine, at the design stage, what energy outcomes you would like for your new home. Depending on your requirements, we can build to a range of specifications and options, This means you can have a home that’s easier and cheaper to heat and cool, by varying degrees. Read more about our guarantee here.

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23    How do I know what size heat-pump I’ll need? Several heat-pump suppliers have calculators on their websites. Usually, you’re required to input room sizes and heights. This is because the volume of a room, as well as insulation values, losses from doors, windows and other air leaks, location and other factors affect the sizing calculations. The problem for heat-pump suppliers is that too small a unit simply does not work and too large a unit will cost more than the opposition will suggest, so it’s important for them to size the unit accurately. For most of New Zealand, the sizing, for a modern, well built home, will usually work out to roughly 50-100 W/sq.m (Watts per Square Metre) Multiplying the square metres of the area you wish to heat with the number of W/sq.m will give you a certain kW (kilowatt) heating and/or cooling requirement. (This is a somewhat simplified explanation as there are many factors to consider.) What we’ve found, is that we can, without adding a lot of cost to your home, provide a home that needs only 15 W/sq.m, which means an immediate saving of 70% or more of the usual size of heat-pump. Not only will this saving in initial cost of the heat-pump(s) be welcome to the home-owner, but the running cost is automatically reduced by the same margin. Before we moved into our new offices, and not knowing how well this technology would work, we installed two heat-pumps and a low-energy heater. Our measuring has now shown that we could have done without one heat-pump altogether and the other could have been located differently. Having carried out this experiment, we can now confidently predict the levels of heating and cooling our clients will need in their homes. As a minimum, you can expect lower energy usage than the norm. Best case scenario, we can offer savings of up to 90% of heating and cooling costs, if we could fully predict our clients’ lifestyle. Because we cannot fully predict our clients’ lifestyle, we prefer to offer guaranteed savings of up to 75% of heating and cooling costs.

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24    Can I heat my home without a fireplace, central heating or a heat-pump? Yes, you can. Be aware though, that no heat-source requires a greater commitment to a sustainable living than some active form of heating. We can design a home for you that requires no active heating or cooling, but the pay-back period of the technology is usually too long to warrant the spending. What is more advisable, is to arrive at a solution which balances costs and benefits better, thereby reducing the amount of heating and cooling required to reduce costs while not adding a large upfront cost to your house spend. Ideally, we try to ensure that the savings in heating and cooling equipment sizing (heat-pump, fireplace, etc.) covers the cost or nearly covers the cost of the technology we need to install in our clients’ homes to require a smaller heat source/sources. It’s not always possible to cover the entire cost in equipment cost savings – sometimes running cost savings need to be considered as well. To find out more about the various technologies, please visit the ZeroEnergy pages.

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25    Where do you build? Anywhere in New Zealand. Most of our clients are in the Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay areas. We’ve done much work on lifestyle blocks in rural Upper Hutt, Wairarapa and the Hawkes Bay and have even worked further afield. We regularly travel to the South Island for work and/or pleasure and can certainly assist in the Christchurch, Darfield, Canterbury region or even on the West Coast.

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26     Do you recommend the use of ceiling fans? For cooling, in warm environments, yes; for destratification of air, no. Ceiling fans work by moving air, thereby creating artificial ‘wind’ and that air movement has a cooling effect when the moving air blows over a person’s body. That means that you should turn off a ceiling fan when you’re not in the room, as leaving the fan on will only waste electricity. There are some fan salespeople who recommend reversing the direction of the fan for winter use in order to move the layer of warm air just below the ceiling down to the lower part of the room. This is true, to an extent, if your building is ‘leaking’ much of it’s heat due to poor design, poor construction and inadequate insulation. While the theory has merit, there’s absolutely no scientific proof that this will provide greater comfort levels in the lower part of the room. (This has actually been scientifically tested more than 20 years ago!) The reason is simple: Moving air has a cooling effect and is therefore uncomfortable to most people, when they’re trying to stay warm. The key to energy efficient home heating is to ensure that you retain the heat. Poorly built, drafty homes with minimal insulation and holes for down-lights will ‘leak’ your warm home’s air into the cold roof space and to the exterior of your building. Well designed, well built and well insulated buildings will retain the heat. The higher your home’s ceiling height, the ‘higher’ the warmer air will be. As the diagrams show, the effect of air stratification is reduced in a well insulated, well built building. The key to energy efficient heating is to ventilate just enough to ensure fresh and healthy air in your home, while at the same time limiting the loss of the warm air to outside. The best results are therefore obtained in homes that use a heat recovery ventilation system to harvest the heat energy from the exhaust air, using that heat to heat the fresh incoming air, and thereby creating a dry, warm and healthy home environment. Some heat recovery ventilation systems are up to 95% efficient.



Poorly                      Well

Insulated                 Insulated

Building                   Building



Well Insulated Buildings with different ceiling heights


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27    Is there such a thing as a ‘Carbon-Neutral heat-source’? Theoretically yes. Wood is a nearly carbon-neutral heat-source. Wood would be 100% carbon-neutral if you hand-felled the trees on your land, hand-cut and hand-split the wood. In reality, of course, most people use petrol chainsaws and a petrol-powered hydraulic splitter. This means that your firewood is seldom carbon-neutral. But, in most cases firewood’s carbon footprint is still substantially lower than any other form of heating which requires fossil fuels or electricity. The wood itself is carbon-neutral. Many new wood fires comply with the Ministry for the Environment’s particle emission standards and are therefore a safe and clean alternative to other forms of heating. It is important to always burn well seasoned, dry, untreated fire wood. Burning treated wood releases many harmful chemicals into the air and while it may not directly affect you, it has a detrimental effect on air quality in the neighbourhood. A Consumer Institute study has shown that firewood is still the lowest cost heat source available to most New Zealanders. Best of all, there’s the aesthetics of a real wood fire. It beats looking at the heat-pump any day!

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28    What are the advantages of Bay Windows? A bay window is very efficient in providing more light into a room than a conventional window. Originally, bay windows were added to improve the aesthetics of a façade, to provide more light into a room and to provide better views from a front room of a house. The reason this works so well is because, unlike a conventional window, a bay window allows you to gain a view not just straight out, but also up and down the street. The enduring appeal of bay windows can be seen even in modern neighbourhoods, as many new homes have bay windows. There are a variety of shapes and styles to choose from and a bay window can be produced in a number of different building materials and in a great variety of sizes, even over more than one storey.

book-scan6          book-scan4         book-scan1        book-scan2             



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29     I like real old style homes, no open plan living. Can you recreate a real old-style house, built new, from scratch? Yes, we can create a replica of some old style homes, but the questions we need to ask you are – “How authentic do you want it; appearance only or all materials too?” and “What’s your budget?” Living in an exact copy could be a trifle trying, which is why we generally take the best from the older homes (the style) and combine that with modern amenities. In Victorian times, the Kitchen was at the back of the house, far away from the living spaces, because the Victorians believed in a social order to their houses. This order required the ‘best’ room, usually the Parlour to face the road and the service spaces, such as Kitchens and Bathrooms to be at the rear of the house. Many old homes did not have an internal bathroom to start with, and some even had the Kitchen and Wash-house (Laundry) as a separate building! Bathing was accomplished by the ‘staff’ heating water in the copper in the Wash-house and carrying the water to the bedrooms where bathing took place in a wash-tub, specially brought in for the purpose. We don’t live like that anymore, so it simply makes sense to have the Kitchen situated where it relates better to the Living spaces. And, in terms of our lifestyle, we don’t all want to use a single Bathroom at the rear of the house. You also need to ask yourself: Even if a perfect replica makes sense to me – What happens when it becomes time to sell? Then, there’s the more technical aspects of building a house. Originally, homes were built with brick or timber framing that was not designed to withstand earthquake forces. These days, ordinary GIB linings provide fantastic earthquake and wind bracing and flat smooth walls! While it would be possible to recreate uneven sarked, scrimmed and wallpapered walls, you need to ask yourself – is that really necessary? Most customers therefore ask for the Timeless elegance of a traditional style building, without hoping to recreate everything 100% authentically. Out point of difference, with any design is energy efficiency. Having said that – I have had customers who wanted absolutely authentic chandeliers and antique door furniture in a new house. I even had a few customers who paid good money for hand-made hinges and hand-carved stone fireplace surrounds. Because, that’s what they wanted. The bottom line is: We’ll provide the Timeless Architecture and Designs you require, working to your budget, in order to provide the style and appearance you desire. And, that can be as authentic or as modern as you wish.

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30     I don’t want to feel obliged to have you build for me, if you design my home, but, I really like your designs. Where to from here? If you don’t want to build with us, you don’t have to! We are an Architectural Design firm, and a construction firm, but unlike most ‘Design and Build’ companies, we do not force you to build with us. We know that many people would like more flexibility: You may have your own builder, or you may want the peace of mind of having different builders tender the build project for you. Of course, we’d love to design and build your home, so we do offer some incentives to, hopefully, sway you to have us take care of your whole project. These incentives are:


                      I.    If you have Timeless Homes design your home, we’ll provide you with a free, obligation free quote to build your new home.

                    II.    Like any other Architectural Design company, or any other Architectural service, we’ll charge a fee to design your home. We will give you a written quote for the design fees which will include the costs of Building Permit Ready plans, specifications and supporting documentation. If you build with us, we’ll provide your Building Permit Ready plans, specifications and supporting documentation absolutely free of charge.

                   III.    The biggest difficulty with calling for tenders is knowing if you’re comparing apples with apples in the pricing you receive back. At Timeless Homes, we have all our sub-contractors and suppliers provide us with competitive tenders and we will supply the best pricing to you, that we can obtain, after comparing those prices. You are therefore guaranteed that you will receive the best price we can get for the workmanship and materials quality specified.

                   IV.    We provide all customers with a complete breakdown of costs. Absolutely transparent, clear and easy to understand pricing, no surprises, for total peace of mind.

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31     How much experience do you have with Victorian, Edwardian or Georgian Style houses? How do you get a house that has the correct proportions, correct details and attention to detail, for a particular style? We are one of very few Architectural Design firms that have staff with international experience with traditional design styles. We worked on renovations and restoration projects of real old houses, locally and internationally. The oldest buildings, internationally, that our experts have been involved in, were built in the late 1600’s, so we have experience with 17th, 18th and 19th century designs, styles and details. Our internationally trained and experienced staff have the skills to design you a traditional style home that takes the best from the old and combines that with the best of the new. Modern houses can also be much more energy efficient than houses of old and at Timeless Homes, we have several specialist technologies which we incorporate in our customers homes, which result in up to 75% energy savings for heating and cooling over that of a comparably built ‘ordinary’ modern home, i.e. a home simply built to comply with, or slightly exceed the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code.

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32     I like traditional style houses, but want a low maintenance house. What options are there? The problem with a timber weatherboard house is, every ten years or so, you’re looking at a repainting cost of around $15,000 to $22,000 depending on the size of the house. Unless, of course, you do it yourself.  No matter how you look at it, this is a substantial cost. It may be, of course, that authenticity is so important to you that you do not mind the cost, or it could be that you intend selling the house in five or six years, in which case you’ll not need to consider this cost. There are, however, more cost effective options. There are, for instance, weatherboards available, even rusticated weatherboards, that do not need painting. Then, there’s options where the cladding is more stable than wood weatherboards and the paint finish will subsequently last longer. You could also have a traditional style house with a plaster render finish, which if done correctly and over a good, solid base, will give a low-maintenance finish for at least fifteen years and may even require little or no maintenance for twice that length of time. A more low maintenance cladding system, with aluminium or u-PVC window and exterior door joinery and with long-run roofing, will give you a low maintenance house. It’s good to remember that, just like your motorcar, a house will benefit from a wash. I recommend that homes are washed using a soft house broom, at least once, but preferably twice a year. Areas that are shielded from rain wetting, such as under the eaves, or under verandahs, should be washed down at least every three months. If you do not wash down your house, then wind-blown dirt, dust and other contaminants will collect on the exterior surfaces of your house, which will result in a build-up of minerals (salts) on your home’s exterior surfaces. In time, this build-up of minerals will cause damage to the paint and other finishes of the exterior claddings, fittings and fixtures of your home. It often amazes me that many people are happy to clean a $20,000 car every week, but never clean a $300,000 house! A bit of preventative maintenance will save maintenance costs in the long run.

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33     I think your designs are lovely, but I want a more modern, contemporary house. What can you supply? We can, and have designed houses and other buildings in many different styles. In terms of way of working, our motto, ‘Attention to detail in everything we do’, we’ll often advise customers with regard to fittings and fixtures and colour choices as these little things can make quite a big difference between and design that is Timeless and designs that appear dated after a few years. We apply good, sound and tested design principles to all our building designs thereby ensuring Timeless Architecture, Transparent Turn-key Pricing, Timely Energy Efficient Construction and Top-Class After-Sales Service. Below are some images of contemporary dwelling and commercial designs.






Contemporary House Design


Commercial Building Design


Contemporary House Design


Contemporary House Design


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34        What do you mean when you say you provide Building Permit Ready plans and documents for free? Free means free. We carry out all the Building Permit Ready drawings, details, schedules and other building permit documentation absolutely free of charge. The conditions are:


                      I.    You must have your house designed by Timeless Homes Limited.

                    II.    You need to sign a construction contract with Timeless Homes Limited.

                   III.    You need to pay the Building Permit Application Fee and Application Fees for Consent under the Resource Management Act (if required).

                   IV.    You need to pay for any Engineering Consultancy Fees that may be required from a Structural Engineer, Environmental Engineer or other specialist consultant, as may be required in terms of the complexity of your project or conditions imposed by your local authority for your property.

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35     What is “thermal mass”? Thermal mass is the term used for a heavy, dense construction element which can be used to store (usually) heat and thereby help to regulate a building’s interior temperature without expensive mechanical means. While a heat-source, such as a heat-pump or a fire, or some other source of heating may still be required, the introduction of thermal mass means that the building’s heating requirement will usually reduce as result of the introduction of the mass element. One of the most cost effective ways to introduce thermal mass, is to have a well designed concrete floor slab or other mass elements such as concrete block walls. A slab is often the easiest (read most cons effective) way to add “Thermal Mass”. For the “Thermal Mass” to ‘work’, you need to have the mass element well insulated so that, in the case of a slab, the heat is not lost to ground. We can provide options with from 100mm insulation to over 500mm insulation. Next, you need to heat that mass element using free or cheap energy, such as heat from the sun. For this reason, it’s important that your Architect or Designer understand where the sun rises and sets and, consequently, if the mass element can be effectively incorporated into the design so that it can be efficiently heated and can provide that heat back into the building volume when needed. In simple terms therefore: How to get the heat, how to hold the heat, and how to utilise the heat where needed, when needed.

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36     Are you Licensed Building Practitioners? Companies cannot be licensed, but individuals are. Mark Jerling is a Licensed Building Practitioner, licence number BP113716, Area of Practice Design 2. Chris Kingdon is a Licensed Building Practitioner licence number BP114438, Site 2.


From 1 March 2012 it is an offense for an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise restricted building work and it is an offence to knowingly engage an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise restricted building work unless they have obtained an owner builder exemption from their building consent authority (council). The Licensed Building Practitioner logo confirms for consumers that the building practitioners they are engaging have been assessed as technically competent in their licensed field. To retain their licence, an LBP is also to provide the Department with a record of training and activities such as reading industry publications or attending seminars they have undertaken as a means to ensure that their knowledge of their trade stays current in order to retain their licence.

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37     Do you have a copy of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment “Prescribed Checklist”? Yes, a copy of the Prescribed Checklist can be downloaded here. Please note that a building contractor is required to provide a client with this Prescribed Checklist and other prescribed information under the Building Act 2004, as amended, before a client enters into a building contract for building work, if (a) a client requests this form and the prescribed disclosure information, or (b) if the building work is of a value of $30,000, incl GST or more. The other “prescribed information” is available here.


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