A slight digression from buildings in New Zealand – while I’m watching one of those house-building programs about self-build housing in the UK. This one, on Tuesday nights on TV3, is called The House that £100,000 Built. Ruth and Tony’s “cash-strapped” project in Shropshire was the feature house this week, with a timber-clad couple of boxes that look similar, but not as sophisticated, to an architecturally-designed New Zealand house.

I’m puzzled though, because as with all these shows, the commentary seems to be that they make it up as they go along. A large Rayburn range cooker, de rigeur for every pommie middle-class rural house, was financed by the deletion of a sedum green roof. The external brise soleil was deleted as well, to help pay for the cladding. How can they do this?

With the Grand Designs program, hosted of course by the wonderful Kevin McLeod, there was frequent featuring of the architects, and discussion about who was going to take on the project management role. It makes for good television when everything goes pear-shaped, but I’ve never quite understood how the awkward phase of “getting it through council” works with these programs. I know when I worked in the UK that this took quite some time, and I don’t remember any instances of Council being at all helpful with getting random alterations / deletions approved. The Aussie version of Grand Designs was closer to what happens in NZ, although for some reason that Peter guy never really grabbed me – he was trying far too hard to be Kevin-lite. It will be interesting to see how the show comes across in NZ (they’re filming it now / over the last several months / year) as we all know the trials and tribulations of getting our helpful Council officers to agree to anything out of the ordinary. (The NZ presenter of the show is of course a big secret, although I found out who it was the other day, and so probably half of New Zealand’s architectural profession already knows. Obviously, they did not ask me – fish are rarely photogenic enough for prime time, except on the ITM fishing show…). It’s a poisoned chalice – I hope our NZ presenter enjoys it… Previous hosts of reality TV shows, like the Mitre-10 Dream Home, were hosted by Roger Walker, who already had some fame for a number of reasons, including his partial hosting of a program of petrol-heads sorry, car culturalists, hooning around a track in a fast car, like a watered-down version of Top Gear but without the Clarkson. Or the Hammond. Or Captain Slow…. Sad to say it, and hard to believe, but Roger Walker just wasn’t bonkers enough.

But back to the sub £100K house show – can anybody update me on how this apparent ignoring of the rules of building comes about? Have the poms actually got rid of their rules in total? Do they have licensed building practitioners for design? Or for construction? Or not? Is it because they all seem to be home builders? Has anyone of our readers got any advice about having been a home/self builder themselves, or having worked with someone in that way in New Zealand? Have any of you been home owner builders in recent times? Unqualified designers? Unqualified disasters? Please do tell – I’d be interested to know…