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Full Build Homes vs Shell Build in NZ: The Pros & Cons

Shell builds and full builds are both great approaches to custom house building. Aspiring homeowners can choose the best option for their budget, skillset and preferences. The first saves you money but costs you effort, the second costs you more but gives you ample peace of mind. 

At Latitude Homes, we believe that everyone should be able to afford to build their own home. That’s why we provide a wide range of plans and prices, including building options that offer the flexibility to do some of the building yourself. Below, we look at some pros and cons of full build and shell-only construction that NZ homeowners should consider.


Full build homes are exactly what they sound like, in that we take care of the whole construction process. This includes the excavations, concrete floors, builders, electricians, plumbers, drain layers, painters, project management and any building consent issues and inspections.


  • Confidence that all work will be completed to a high standard

  • Easier to budget for as all costs are provided upfront

  • Removes the time and stress of managing or overseeing the build

  • 10 Year Master Builders’ Guarantee covers the work and materials for peace of mind.

  • Less disruption to your day to day as we take care of your build

  • No need for you to work after hours or miss out on family time on weekends 

  • Your home build is finished faster


  Less opportunity for savings if you were to provide the labour yourself

  A sense of detachment from the building process

  You miss out on the unique opportunity of building your own home.

At Latitude Homes, we have over 50 plans from which you can choose, and we can suggest plans that will suit your land best. Opting for a full build home doesn’t mean you have to give up your custom housebuilding dreams. We can alter any plan to suit your needs. Changes to the plans can alter the price but our team will work with you to make the plan work within your budget.


For those wanting to be more involved in the home build process we can construct the shell of the house to a weathertight stage (we often refer to this as lockup stage). The idea of a shell build home is to let experienced contractors take care of the most foundational aspects of the build while you retain control of the interior elements of the build.


  Opportunity to flex your practical DIY abilities

  Ability to take your time doing the work in your own time

  Make additional savings by doing some of the labour yourself


  Requires a lot of work from your personally

  Risk of extra costs due to mistakes or inexperience

  Risk of underestimating the cost, time and labour-intensiveness of the work.

At Latitude Homes, we organise getting the concrete floor laid, the frames and trusses erected, and the roof, exterior cladding, windows and doors installed. After this point (the lock-up stage), you take over. Any remaining materials can be purchased from Latitude Homes, or you can source them yourself. You then finish the work with the peace of mind that your home is weatherproof and secure.


A question that you will want to ask yourself is; “what is going to be the greatest cost to you”? A full build has major benefits in terms of getting a brand new home finished to a high degree, where all you have to do is unlock the door and move in. Less stress, less time stolen from spending with your family or friends, less room for error through inexperience. The cost for you being a higher mortgage, however that is likely manageable over a longer period.

Shell building will allow you to save labour costs but will also require significant effort and is likely to slow down your move in date. This may lead to other frustrations like paying a double mortgage or rent longer than you need to.

As you can see there are pros and cons to both. At Latitude Homes, we’ve been providing New Zealanders with full build and shell only homes since 2007. We have years of experience helping achieve the homeowner dreams of Kiwis nationwide, with high-quality builds that work for you. So, if you are still unsure which build option really will work best for you, explore our build options today or get in touch with our team if you have any questions.