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Building our Dream Family Home - the Van Niekerks' Building Journey

The last time you heard from the Van Niekerk family, after a long and stressful start trying to find an affordable home and the perfect builder, they were excited to be finally starting their building journey in the beautiful Oamaru landscape. With a bespoke house plan that could accommodate their five children and parents, all for a very affordable price, and all in a town they fell in love with, everything was perfect – but their site was still just a patch of dirt. So Chantelle and Henrico thought they’d pick up where they left off and share an update on their building journey so far. We’ll let them take it from here…

19th June – House Siting Meeting

Onsite meetings are a big part of the building journey, to ensure we have the opportunity to see the progress of our build and confirm all the finer details along the way. Being a three-hour drive away, it simply wasn’t possible for us to make it to site regularly, but we had full faith in the McBrimar team to manage our build and to keep us informed at each stage. Our Project Manager, Shannon had already given us rough dates of our onsite meetings so we could plan our trips ahead of time. We could have done some of these meetings over video call if we needed to, but we were eager to see the progress at each milestone, so we decided to make the trip each time.

Our first official site meeting was our House Siting Meeting, on a very cold and drizzly Oamaru day (hopefully not a sign of what’s to come!). Usually, this meeting takes place before the site scrape, but we had already thoroughly discussed our house placement with McBrimar prior to this meeting so there were no surprises. The original house location would have required too much infill, so we had to reassess the placement. Mike took extra care, meeting with the Geotechnical Engineer to determine the best location for the house. With Mike’s advice, we decided to move it further South to the optimum position and to best utilise the sun.

So by the time we arrived onsite, it had been pre-scraped and was starting to feel real! We were able to discuss the location of the driveway, shed and landscaping. We also got to meet some of the boys who would be building our home, who were all very supportive. After our meeting, we headed back to the office to receive our Building Journey folder. With our plans, specifications, and schedule of all future meetings and payments, this would become indispensable throughout our building journey.

an aerial shot of a digger preparing a building platform
a family photo with building company standing on their house foundation

6th July – Slab Poured

We didn’t make it to Oamaru to see our house slab being poured, but we were sent some amazing photos, so we didn’t feel like we missed out! The kids loved seeing these photos and being a part of the whole experience.

an aerial photo of a concrete house slab being poured
a house foundation with view of snowy mountains in the background

18th July – Frames Arrived

We received some more photos when the frames arrived and started going up. It seemed like at every step of the build, it got more and more exciting! We’ve never built before, so we were amazed to see the pre-made frames arrive all ready to go. Very efficient!

19th July – Framing Walkthrough

The boys had all the frames stood the following day, ready for our next onsite walkthrough. As well as being able to walk through each room for the first time (exciting!), the main purpose of this meeting was to confirm the position of all the windows and doors, right down to which way the doors open. Shannon had Covid but we met with the Site Supervisor, Willie who was incredibly helpful and provided great advice. The window sizes were so much bigger than we’d imagined, and we loved being able to see exactly what our view was going to be from each one. The kids had fun choosing their bedrooms based on how many cows they could see from the windows! Finally, it was a beautiful Oamaru day, so we were able to see our view of the Kakanui Ranges. We decided to change some of our windows to floor-length to let in more sun and to create a feeling of connectedness to the outdoor greenery. These changes were still possible at the framing stage before the final measurements were sent to the aluminium joiner. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to make changes throughout the build (although we didn’t make many). It shows the benefit of onsite meetings and being so involved in the whole process.

A week or so later, we received a message from our neighbour (and land vendor) about how impressed they were with the builders and subcontractors on our site. He commented that ours was the only site that constantly had someone working on it and how clean they left the site each day. He sent us some photos of the roof trusses going up which were great to see. He seemed to be enjoying our build process just as much as we were!

an aerial photo of house frames being stood
a family photo standing in their house under construction

9th August – Roof Installed

While the roof was being installed, we received some beautiful aerial photos from the team, which will be added to the keepsakes of our building journey. We’ve loved using the McBrimar app, which gets updated regularly with photos and the build schedule. We are able to share this with friends and family across the world who are just as excited as us to see our home being created! We really felt a part of the process and have never felt like we’re missing out.

men installing a colorsteel roof
an aerial photo of men installing a colorsteel roof

10th August – Plumbing & Electrical Walkthrough

To make the most of our time in town, Shannon managed to coordinate our plumbing and electrical meetings on the same day. We met with Shannon and Julie, as well as the plumber and electrician who were all incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. We had already gone through our detailed lighting plan in our Building Journey folder and had marked up changes so the process was seamless, and we had a lot of fun!

With the major milestones of the build ticked off and all the decisions finalised, we’re all finished with our walkthrough meetings. We’ve been back in town a couple of times for a look, and the excitement continues to grow. We’ve had regular updates from Shannon and kept up to date with everything on the McBrimar app. The gib has gone up, been gibstopped, painted and now all the finishing touches are going in – kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, and fittings. The next time we’re in town, we’ll be receiving our keys and moving into our brand-new home!

Working with McBrimar has been incredibly easy for us. Everyone at every stage knew exactly what was happening with our build, and the whole process from contract signing to design to construction flowed seamlessly. The process has been efficient – we were so impressed to see the house watertight within two months of the site scrape. The care that McBrimar and their contractors have put into our build has been leagues above what we expected (and our standards were high!).

We can’t wait to move into our home – stay tuned!

a builder installing gib in a house
painters staining the exterior of a timber-clad house

two men installing a kitchen inside a house
a builder installing timber features inside a home


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