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Frequently Asked Questions

About HWA


Why work with HWA? 

Put simply, we are good at what we do and have been for more than 20 years. Our projects are well considered, and we take pride in our attention to detail adding massive value to our clients for a fair fee. Besides all that we love what we do! Take a look through our website to get an idea of our attention to detail and how we go about working with our clients. 

How do I know if HWA is a good fit?

Easy! just pick up the phone or fill in the form below and we can discuss your project informally at no cost before committing to an initial client meeting. It’s critical our projects and the services we offer are compatible.

How experienced are we?

Pretty experienced. 20 years designing and detailing housing including modular, transportable, big budget ($$m's), small budget ($$k's). 10 years of commercial and industrial projects. It doesn't matter if it's rural, urban, medium density or a great glass elevator. We've designed most things. 

How soon can we start working with HWA?

We are keen to meet potential new clients and will often meet as soon as possible, this is normally within 2 weeks’ of an initial approach to give us time to research the site before we meet. Sometimes we can attend sooner if required and we have availability.


Meeting during the week is preferred , but we appreciate everyone has differing commitments so out of office hours meeting times are available. 

What happens after we meet for the first time?

We will prepare a short summary detailing key elements about what was discussed with regards to the site or building and any influencing factors, it will also detail your requirements, how you intend to use the space and what we feel is the right path for the project.

We will then prepare a fee proposal detailing what we would expect our fees to be for the brief as discussed, through the various stages of work. It will also describe what is and what is not included within this fee and also what we would expect other fees and costs would be, such as Structural Engineers fees and consent application fees.

These will then be emailed for your consideration along with any other helpful documents or regulatory information.

About HWA

About consents


Do I need a consent? 

In most cases the answer is yes.. you need a building consent or a planning consent or both.

In a select number of circumstances, you may not need either consent, MBIE has a great guide for work carried out under The Building Act 2004 Schedule 1 find it here.

The requirement for Resource Consent is site specific and can only be assessed through understanding the town planning documents or discussing directly with the territorial authority (often the District or City Council).

What is a building consent?

A building consent (formally a 'permit) is an approval from a territorial authority (often the District or City Council) to construct a ‘Building’ as described in the New Zealand Building Act on a described site. 


What is a resource consent? 

A resource consent is permission from the territorial authority (often the District or City Council) for an activity that might affect the environment, such as a building, earthworks, horticulture, or forestry etc. that isn't allowed 'as of right' in the district and/or regional plans.

Why is it so expensive to build?

For many reasons, but here are a few easy ones:

  • Our materials are largely imported so exchange rates and shipping play a part. 

  • We have a shortage of Tradesmen who remain in high demand, enabling prices to be driven up

  • Each site has unique characteristics that must be considered so much of our housing is one-off

  • In many trades our expectations of quality workmanship is higher than other countries

  • Our construction sector is regulated to the point of asphyxiation. It is simply not worth the cost or effort to introduce new technologies that would make it more cost effective to build anything. 

About Consents

About Costs


How we deal with clients on a fixed budget

For clients on a fixed budget that we are responsible for meeting we require the engagement of a Quantity Surveyor such as Workshop Quantity Surveyors. This enables us to have a firm grasp on what our designs are costing through the process and provides advice that makes it easier to engage Main Contractors and review their pricing. We treat it like insurance, up front it usually costs around $3,000+gst but where the service has been used it has saved our clients agreeing to excessive trade margins or being caught with unexpected costs. 

How much does it cost to build one of our bespoke homes in New Zealand?

Excluding the land values, it depends where you are. As of January, 2024 Wellington and Queenstown are expensive parts of the country for building materials and trade labour due to their locations, we see build costs around $3,800-5,000/m² depending on the level of detail inside and the site works required. Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin are more affordable $3,000-$4,500/m². The regions can vary from $3,000 to $6,000/m² depending on proximity to supplier depots and trades availability. 

How much does it cost to hire HWA to undertake our design?

We're pleased you asked! we wrote about it here

Is there a cost to a first-time meeting?

The short answer is it depends. Researching and meeting people for the first time does take us away from our in-office work for other clients, however the first meeting is really important for us to gauge whether the project is a good fit. So generally, we don't charge for an initial meeting.


However, on occasion it occurs that an initial meeting has been set up on misleading terms, is a fact-finding mission, or we are one of multiple designers being interviewed and there is no intent to follow through with our service. In this instance we reserve the right to charge for time spent. 

About Costs
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