Five tips for achieving your dream man cave

How to achieve your ultimate dream man cave - five essential tips.
Get creative and build your perfect man (or woman) cave this Easter. Photo credit: Getty

The Easter break is always good for a bit of DIY.

It's the perfect time to finally build your dream man cave – or woman cave, or non-binary person cave – so you can enjoy the coming colder months like never before.

"It's my space, nine square metres of bliss," says AM Show host Duncan Garner, a proud man cave owner.

"My mates pop in and it's their place too. They'll Bluetooth their phone, put on some sounds, throw some darts and talk. We don't talk enough, I encourage my mates to talk."

However, the dream of a man cave can become a nightmare if you don't know what you're doing and you don't have the right tools.

Here are five essential tips for making sure you get the job done right.

Duncan Garner's classic Kiwi man cave.
Duncan Garner's man cave Photo credit: MediaWorks


What you do and don't need consent for isn't as obvious as you might think.

Before she became our Prime Minister last year, Jacinda Ardern found herself in hot water over installing her own toilet. In many parts of New Zealand this is hunky dory, but in specific areas of Auckland and some other places, it's only allowed to be done by a plumber.

"The best thing you can do is phone up your local council and tell them what your planning for your man cave, how big it'll be and what you plan to use it for," says Tony Murrell, host of RadioLIVE's weekend Home and Garden show.

"They'll offer you advice for free and tell you what you're legally required to do. They won't judge you and they've very clever at asking you the right questions and telling you everything you need to hear."

Duncan advises others: "Go small, go low and keep it simple".


It might be OK for little odd jobs about the house, but building a man cave is not something you can do on the fly.

Plan it all out beforehand, establish a budget for what it all looks like it'll cost, then add 10% - 15% for unexpected expenses. There will almost definitely be some.

Don't rush the actual work. If you're on the fence about something being OK or not, do it again. She'll not be right. Any gaps or off-centre type things are only going to annoy you over time, devalue the work when you go to sell and get more expensive to fix later.

"It's got to be comfortable, otherwise you just won't use it," says Tony.

"If it's Arctic in winter, you won't want to spend any time in it, or of course if it's a hot box in summer. I can't over emphasise the importance of correctly insulating your man cave."


Like any DIY job, having the right tools is essential in building a man cave and that's where PlaceMakers can help.

"A power saw and drill are simply the most important tools," says Duncan.

"A power drill and a power lead with a residual circuit breaking device to keep you safe," says Tony.

"With your power tools, it's always better spending a little bit more than less. Most people are going for lithium-ion batteries now. Look for tools that have interchangeable batteries."

Once your plan is nailed down and you have a budget you're working to, pop into PlaceMakers, talk to one of their helpful tool experts and they'll sort you out. If you go now, the Monster Tool Sale is still on.

"If you've got friends who are also building, it makes sense to share the cost on some of the larger items like drop saws," says Tony.

"Also, a bench with a vice is just gold. Having a bench you can beat the crap out of, hold pieces of timber in place, that's absolutely brilliant."

The AM Host Duncan Garner gives a glimpse at life in his classic Kiwi man cave.
Duncan Garner's man cave Photo credit: MediaWorks


Be honest, you're going to spend too much time in the cave. Don't make it boring.

"It's all about the hidden treasure – found objects are often the best for decorating a man cave. Seek out things that are not necessarily perfect, but represent all of the things that you really love," says Tony.

"Beer crates and wine boxes are great, and you want them tainted not painted. Also, it doesn't have to have mirrors, but it's cool to have funky lighting. Lots of standard lamps will give it a really nice mood."

A good initial investment is a design book to get your ideas flowing, or even one of the specialist books entirely dedicated to Kiwi man caves.

Kiwi man cave books are a great way to get ideas.
Photo credit: HarperCollins Publishers


Friends and family helping out is always important and a lot of them probably owe you a few hours of group DIY work.

But unless they're registered tradespeople, they're no good for the really tricky stuff.

If a bit of work involves electricity, running water or anything else major, get a professional in.

"Never underestimate how much power you're going to need in a man cave, so check with an electrician how many power points you'll need" says Tony.

When hiring a contractor, don't leave it to the last minute and get the first one you find. Find a licensed builder, plumber or electrician and always get a quote first.

This article was created for PlaceMakers.