Choosing a section is about much more than finding a plot of land, it’s about securing a space for your new home. That means finding the right site for your lifestyle and home design, without blowing the budget
G.J. Gardner Homes NZ joint managing director Ellie Porteous, says many years in the industry have taught her there’s no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to choosing the right section. It’s about researching potential options to make sure they are suitable for the home you want, and consulting with experts to make sure there aren’t hidden issues that could make building challenging and lead to unexpected cost.
"You need to look at the way you want to live and what will work for you," she says.
Of course, the first step towards any property decision needs to be guided by location, location, location. It pays to narrow down your search before you start looking by deciding what’s important to you. That can be about having amenities such as shops, schools, hospitals and public transport close by, or could be more about the view, or proximity to leisure activities such as the bush or sea.
Porteous says there is a growing number of options for buyers. Those who love the area they live in, but whose house no longer works for them, can consider subdividing, or removing their existing home, and building a new house (or even two; one to keep and one to sell) on their existing section. Many councils are changing their unitary plans to accommodate this.

Expert home building insights from G.J. Gardner
If you like the idea of being part of an entirely new area and helping build a neighbourhood from the ground up, new developments can be an attractive option.
"There are a lot of advantages to building in new subdivisions. Often when a lot of new homes are being built, you get brand new facilities built at the same time and an infrastructure established around the development. That means you get a new home, new facilities, and not as much traffic as in other areas."
Once you have decided the area you want to live in, it pays to choose the right builder and get them on board soon as possible. Seeking professional advice early in the process is crucial. Collaborating with a builder to assess specific areas based on your desired home design can greatly assist you in making informed decisions.
Porteous says the advantage with working with the GJ’s team is that they are evaluating sections every day and know what’s required to turn a bare plot of land into a home.
They can also help advise on what is possible to build on the section, whether it’s modifying one of their concept plans or designing a home from scratch, they will work with you to find a section and design that meets your wants and lifestyle needs.
"It’s an exciting journey, so you want to make sure that you have all the information up front," she says.
Your builder can help you work out if the house you would like to build is compatible with the section, and what effect specific features of the section will have on the overall cost.
It’s vital to get the right legal advice and check all the paperwork before making a final decision. A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report can be requested from the local authority and is a good first step. This should give you all the known information about the section, including any erosion or flood risk, and can give you a heads-up about any restrictions on the use of the land. Checking the Resource Management Act will let you know how the section is zoned and what you – and your potential neighbours – are able to build.
Sections that are for sale are often marked out with pegs or existing fences, but these are only an indication of the boundary. A copy of the Certificate of Title, including a survey plan, is important for confirming the legal boundaries of your section.
It’s also important to understand that your section isn’t just what you can see. A geotechnical report will identify what the soil conditions of the site is and how stable it is. If additional engineering is needed to make it suitable for building on, this will likely lead to extra costs.
While the homework can seem daunting, Porteous says it’s all part of the process and help from the experts makes it easier. With more than 25 years of experience all over New Zealand, GJ’s have built thousands of homes and built strong relationships with developers, councils and real estate agents.
They’re keen to pass the benefits of those relationships, and the knowledge gained, on to their customers. Their franchisees can do much of this work for you and advise the best way to find the right section that works with the build you want.
"The perfect section is one that is going to allow for a reasonably straightforward build, where the customer ends up with a home that really fits their needs, and where they can create outstanding memories over the coming years," says Porteous. "There’s no one-size-fits-all – just like our homes. Every G.J. Gardner home is designed to get the best out of the section, and the best for the people who are going to live in it."
To discover for yourself why more New Zealanders trust G.J. Gardner to build their homes year after year than any other builder visit
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