Home Tours

This young mum built her dream home in Mangawhai for $360,000

Thanks to careful planning and research, this determined young mum bought land and built a stylish new home in Mangawhai on an enviable budget

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Meet and greet

Jessica Whiting, art director and owner of Oh Gosh; ohgosh.co.nz and Grace, 11, plus Jasper the pup and Primrose the cat.

Jessica’s design secrets 

  • Trust the experts. Don’t try to do everything yourself; use a project manager you trust and listen to their advice.
  • You can never have too many power points – I wish I had a few more.
  • Put your time into the things you can’t change later such as bathroom layouts, tapware, wardrobe sizes etc.
  • Look at what you can do later to help your budget. A garage is nice to have but can easily be added later, saving you thousands in the meantime.
  • Know the value of your home and don’t overcapitalise even if it’s where you plan to live forever.

Total budget
(land and build) around $360,000

Jessica’s quick Q&A

Best lessons learned?
A tight budget can be a blessing in disguise that forces you to think creatively and come up with some great ideas, not only in your build but where you decide to go and what you do.

Would you do it all again?
Absolutely! It was the most stress-free experience because I let the experts do their thing, and I did what I do best which was making it functional and look great. Plus, we finished early and bang on budget.

Any DIY disasters?

One thing you would change about your home if you could?
I’d probably just make it a little bigger. I’m currently adding a master bedroom and ensuite.

Most memorable experience you have had in your home?
Because of the timing, we were able to be in the house in time for Christmas – that was pretty special.

How did your budget forecast compare to your actual spend?
I had a fixed-price contract with my building company and they were accurate with estimates for things that weren’t included in that price (such as ground works). I also allowed for almost everything – eg power connection costs, movers, adding a fence, gravel for the drive – everything had to be taken into account because there wasn’t any wriggle room.

What areas of your home did you save and splurge on?
I saved on things like standard light switches, basic bedroom lighting and a standard shower (rather than fully tiled). Splurged on tapware, linen curtains, adding more drawers to the kitchen, Bosch kitchen appliances, adding a gas hob, and matching downpipes to the guttering.

Do you tend to buy high-end homeware or seek out a bargain?
A combination; it comes down to how the pieces work together and how they feel. I love a good deal but I also know when to invest.

Best advice when it comes to spending money on a home?
Talk to your builder about what you can change later and what things it’s best to invest in at the time. Futureproof your house to be as energy efficient as possible with good insulation, ventilation and glazing and cost-effective heating and water solutions. We are on tank water so this was especially important.

How did you keep track of costs during the build?
Spreadsheets! I am a spreadsheet queen. This is especially important when having to pay for rent and progress payments for the build at the same time.


Created by: Tina Stephen. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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