In 1992, when Design Builders started, the world was a very different place. Some things haven’t changed, like our commitment to creating beautiful one-off homes. Today, we’re putting those homes in reach for more people than ever.

There’s an inspiring story behind every home we build. And now, here’s the story behind us.

Our story begins

The foundations of Design Builders go back to the late 1980s when Andy and Brenda Bell went into business building homes in Hawke’s Bay.

In 1992, they decided that their trading name, the A & B Bell Partnership, didn’t quite have the right ring to it, despite having the word ‘Bell’ in it. So they changed it to ‘Design Builders’, because it described exactly what they did. They designed and built.

Building the company

As anyone who has ever started a business will tell you, it’s tough and risky. To get Design Builders off the ground, Andy and Brenda sold their own house and rented for three years.

But if things didn’t work out, they had a brilliant backup plan: live on the west coast, where Andy could go hunting and Brenda could read books. The company’s first open home was advertised with a small ad in the NZ Herald. The beautiful home was snapped up on the first day.

Finding a niche

By the end of the century, Design Builders had established a solid reputation for design and excellent craft. This set the direction for the company, which continues today.

In 1999, Design Builders won their very first national House of The Year Award. Unique homes built to the client’s unique brief became their speciality. As Andy says, “We always believed there would be serious mileage in the idea of high-quality original one-off homes, with creative flair.”

Getting bigger, but not too big

Design Builders’ focus will always be on quality, never quantity. However, as the company’s reputation spread, more and more Kiwis wanted what they were offering.

Business as unusual

By now Design Builders was firmly established as one of New Zealand’s most creative construction firms, with an award-winning approach and an emphasis on personal service.

2008, however, was a difficult year for many businesses, including the construction industry. But even through the turbulence of the 2008 Global Financial Crash, better known as the GFC, Design Builders continued creating superb homes for clients, cleaning up industry awards and taking on new partners.

Back to the future

After nearly a quarter of a century of hard graft, Andy Bell started thinking the unthinkable. Maybe it was time to step back for a bit of well-deserved R&R.

Design Builders needed to look to the future, possibly without Andy. However, by building on the business’s strengths, constantly refining processes and having the best talent available for clients, the future was still bright. With expert practitioners in locations across the North Island, it was now time to start thinking of a succession plan that would take Design Builders into this future.

Here’s to the next 30 years

With a new CEO and plans to take Design Builders’ unique offering to the South Island. the future promises plenty of excitement.

And while Andy Bell’s role with the company has changed, he’s still on hand to offer guidance. The buck now, however, stops with CEO Andrew Price, who’s in charge of the Design Builders network. Our awards tally sits at over 100, including several coveted Golds from Master Builders House of the Year Awards. But what’s most important to the team is the same as ever: a home built around you.