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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 anything. 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?

This depends a bit on the project and how ready you are for the process ahead. For clients who have all the information necessary we will provide a fee proposal and commence with a Pre-Design Stage. For clients who aren't quite as prepared we start with a Pre-Engagement step.

The process is outlined in more details here

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.

In recent times Resource Consents have been used to manage town planning considerations such as Infrastructure, Crime reduction, Hazard mitigation and Revenue gathering. It is very common to require a Resource Consent now. 

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 executive style homes with 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. 

High end architecture requires budgets that usually exceed $10,000/m² as specialist materials and skilled labour to build and install is more time consuming and specialised. 

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?

Our initial meeting for 30mins is at no cost. We will discuss a little about you and your reasons for undertaking the project, determine the gap between what exists and what the outcome needs to be, understand what resources might be required and provide a roadmap for the next steps based on your objectives and situation. 

We won't cover specific design ideas, project costs or solve any complex problems at the initial meeting. 

About Costs

How to start your new home or alteration project

If you are unsure where to start for your dream home, we make it easy. Many of our clients have never worked with an Architect or Designer before and the idea of starting at the beginning can be daunting. We're here to help you take that first step. 

Step 1

Download our free guide to choosing an architect. This will aid you in being prepared for your first meeting, what to ask and what you might be asked. 

Step 2

Book an initial consultation with us. This is an opportunity to meet each other, ask lots of questions and see if we get along. 

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