How Much Does It Cost To Build A House?
Looking to build a house but not sure how much it will cost to build?
Or are you just looking into how much it will cost to build a house to get a better idea for things before moving further?
So, how much does it cost to build a house?
Whether you’re in Sydney, NSW or any other part of Australia, this article will provide you with helpful information on the cost to build a house.
Important note: This article can cost less in time reading it then all the potential mistakes that could be made.
Now, let’s cut straight to the chase…
How much does it cost to build a house?
It depends as there’s no simple answer.
The cost to build a house will also depend on the cost of land and the type of house build quality you’re looking to do.
This helps determine the type of house building costs you will incur.
If you want the short answer on how much it costs to build a house, BMT Quantity Surveyors offers an excellent guide on the average construction costs in Australia.
Using their construction cost table, a rough guide to approximate how much it will cost to build a house is below.
All prices below are costs per square metre (SQM), exclusive of GST and is for general information purposes only.
…And remember, the costs per SQM are calculated on the gross floor area (GFA) rate.
In simpler terms, the calculations are made on the floor space of the actual property, not the size of the land.
What Is The Cheapest You Can Build A House For Per Square Metre (per SQM)?
3BR Weatherboard project home (level block, single level, shelf design)
$1,301 (low finish) $1,461 (medium finish) $1,811 (high finish)
Source: BMT Construction Cost Table
How Much Does It Cost To Build A House Per Square Metre (per SQM)
3BR Full brick project home (level block, single level, shelf design)
$1,386 (low finish) $1,546 (medium finish) $1,926 (high finish)
3BR Full brick project home (level block, two level, shelf design)
$1,506 (low finish) $1,696 (medium finish) $2,086 (high finish)
4BR Full brick home (level block, single level, unique design)
$2,200 (low finish) $2,520 (medium finish) $2,740 (high finish)
4BR Full brick home (level block, two level, unique design)
$2,240 (low finish) $2,580 (medium finish) $2,820 (high finish)
Architecturally designed executive residence
$2,940 (low finish) $3,790 (medium finish) $5,340 (high finish)
Source: BMT Construction Cost Table
While the above gives an indication of how much it will cost to build a house, the above is what typical buildings may cost.
The overall cost to build a house will vary from site to site and state to state.
Not only that but those costs are just the cost to build the house itself.
It doesn’t factor in other costs and expenses like additionals, upgrades, approvals and permits, design fees and above all else, house building cost blow outs (just to name a few).
Other considerations to be made that can affect pricing are things like site conditions and complexities, any necessary changes needed to be made or even required alterations, additions and adjustments made by the home owner all mean inevitable changes to the cost to build a house.
The more involved and in-depth a house build gets, the more it can drastically affect pricing.
But let’s keep it simple.
To help give you a better understanding for how additional costs and expenses may be applicable, consider the following.
Additionals Involved In The Cost To Build A House
Basic costs for any level of finish are just that, basic costs.
The problem is that the builders definition of a low, medium or high quality finish may (and usually does) differ to that of a home owner.
And because of this, people will spend more to get what they want (on top of what they’re already spending).
This means that regardless of the type of finish chosen, most people have a preference about where they spend their money, or at least, what part of the house the money would be best allocated to.
This all affects the pricing and overall cost to build a house.
For example, some people may not care too much about the bathroom but will opt to spend double what others usually would on the kitchen.
Another example may be some people being concerned with the type of appliances they have while others don’t seem to mind.
Regardless of how the house build starts, once people start seeing the build come together, new ideas will start flowing and as such, building plans can change altogether.
Changed plans means a changed outcome and ultimately, how much it will cost to build a house.
In what follows, we’ll be highlighting the additional house building costs and other expenses that you may not already be aware of until you’ve decided to build or even after you’ve started to build.
Lastly, before moving forward,
You will really benefit from taking the time to read the rest of this article.
Again, this article will cost you less in time then what it could cost you in time and countless amounts of money had you not read it.
Now, let’s get back to it.
What the house is being built on will have a big impact on the price.
Things like site terrain and block sloping, soil quality, access and disaster prone areas will all affect the house building costs.
Let’s go into a little more detail.
Site terrain and block sloping
Do any trees, plants or shrubbery have to be removed? Is the block flat and level or is there sloping that needs to be rectified before building?
It’s best to get a contour survey done to determine the land’s details and suitability and the necessary steps to take (if any) before building.
What classification of soil do you have?
This question alone can raise questions about the viability of the build before moving forward.
Soils that are Acceptable (Class A), Satisfactory (Class S) or Moderate (Class M) can help to push the project along in a more timely manner to ensure quicker progress.
Soils that are Highly reactive (Class H1 & H2), Extreme (Class E) or Problematic (Class P) can cause a significant amount of time and effort to rectify before even considering to build. The only way around it is to fix it, which again will add to the house building costs.
To find out the soil quality, it’s best to get a soil test done to determine the soil’s classification level which should determine it’s suitability and necessary steps to take (if any) before building.
How is access for the block?
Tricky access means more handling time resulting in possible additional costs.
Disaster prone areas
Bushfire and flood prone areas may affect the way houses in those areas are is designed and built.
For example, houses that have a high Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) risk, will have to be built and constructed in a way that ensures a higher level of safety for both the occupants and the property then a property with a low BAL risk.
Houses that are exposed to areas prone to flooding will also have to be built in a way that ensures the safety for both the occupants and the property then a property with a low flooding risk.
Everything just descirbed will all have an impact on how much it costs to build a house.
What’s Not Included In The Cost To Build A House?
Before commencing any work, it’s best to review the contract(s), the final cost to build the house (if any) and all the details, designs and plans for the building work before moving forward.
If anything needs to be changed, fixed or adjusted, do it prior to work starting.
This includes consulting with the builder, architect and/or drafts person and any other key people involved with the build.
To create a solid working relationship, it’s best for everyone to be on the same page.
Now, the following list of things are some of the more typical hidden costs you should be aware of.
The project builder (also known as volume builders) or custom builder you use may be able to offer it to you as part of a separate additional cost.
Or alternatively, you may have to find the appropriate contractors yourself.
1. Site costs
While site costs complement what we covered earlier in “Site Conditions”, site costs also refers to what it will cost to set up the site properly for the planned works ahead.
Depending on what’s being built and the site itself, site costs can vary significantly.
From just the basics of tests and surveys, block levelling and general site safety to a much broader scale of site planning, preparation and clearing.
Looking to do a brand new landscaped garden to complement the new build?
Chances are this isn’t included in the cost to build a house.
Now depending on the size of the block, landscaping could involve something as simple as a patch of turf and some hedging, or may be as broad as a structural landscape complete with established trees and a manicured garden.
Something that almost goes hand in hand with the landscape is the driveway(s).
You would think that in most examples however that driveways are just part of the cost to build a house.
Unfortunately though, that’s not always the case.
Types of driveways range from traditionally standard concrete driveways or ones with customisable patterns and designs.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Some builds don’t include flooring into the pricing or final cost to build a house.
While it might seem like a basic inclusion, in most instances the choices of flooring can be different for different parts or rooms of the house.
For example, bedroom’s can range in sizing and the types of flooring options include timber, tile or carpet.
This variation in sizing and available options always allows for a variation in price, and a such, the final cost to build a house.
And unless there’s a fixed choice of flooring that’s been given in set designs and plans, no fixed price can be given.
So, to simply avoid any doubt, as always, check over the contract for all of the inclusions and exclusions and plan appropriately.
Once the temporary fencing comes down something needs to go up into its place.
Fencing options here include timber, steel or a custom designed fence.
The type of fence you choose should match and complement the finished design of the house.
6. Swimming pools
Sometimes the cost of a swimming pool is something that will either turn people off altogether or will be left for installation at a later date.
The cost of a swimming pool will depend on a number of different factors like house location, the size, style and type of pool (concrete or fibreglass).
Remember swimming pools are a luxury, not an necessity.
So ask yourself, would that money be better allocated somewhere else, like to the cost to build the house or not even spent altogether?
Before even considering getting one, remember, they require lifelong regular maintenance.
This is an additional expense you will need to pay until you eventually sell your home.
Just something to keep in mind.
7. Reports, surveys and certification
Additional reports, surveys and certification may be necessary and required through the course of the build to ensure it’s built in accordance with Australian Standards, as well as the Building Codes of Australia (BCA) and any required local council regulations.
Speaking of local councils, once the home has been built, you will need to get your local council around to sign off on the build and provide any relevant certificates necessary.
This can include things like occupancy certificates, land registration fees (for new blocks) and waste services like wheelie bins.
8. Rectification Costs
If, for whatever reason, the local council withholds proper certification due to something not meeting their particular requirements, you may find yourself up for more costs.
In most examples, the builder should make good of any faulty work if it was caused by them or their negligence.
However, if it wasn’t the builders fault, you will need to pay for rectification work yourself to satisfy the councils requirements for the required certification.
BASIX stands for Building Sustainability Index and is a NSW Government planning measure implemented for sustainability with the aim to create more comfortable and cost-efficient living conditions.
In NSW, if you’re lodging a development application (DA) for work over $50,000, you will need a BASIX certificate.
This includes new residential dwellings like houses, townhouses, villas or apartments, swimming pools of 40,000 litres or more and any other kinds of alterations and additions to existing homes.
10. Loan Repayments and Bank Fees
Whether you’re drawing down on your existing loan or taking out a new loan all together, don’t forget the additional interest (and principle in some instances) you’ll have to pay on the loans for the building work.
Depending on the loan size, the interest payable could be an either negligible or substantial amount more you’ll need to pay in regular repayments on top of or in connection with the existing mortgage(s).
Lastly, there could be other associated bank fees like lenders mortgage insurance attached to loans where you’re boring more than 80% of the property’s value, not to mention any additional bank fees you may accrue along the way.
Regardless of whether you choose a project builder or a custom builder, in some instances and depending on the contract type, variations in plans or changes to the contract can add another expense.
From changes to finishes to completely redesigning the layout mid build, any types of changes, alterations and adjustments will affect the finished outcome, and as such, the requirements of the build.
This can cause a real world of stress, frustration and unnecessary expenses.
The easiest fix?
Simple, make sure you’re 110% certain of the finished build and everything required before signing the contract and commencing the build.
If your house will be largely uninhabitable while the build is going on, chances are you will need to rent another place to live in while building.
This means that on top of the mortgage repayments, the cost to build the house and general living expenses, you’ll also have to pay rent to live somewhere while everything is going on.
Again, just another consideration to make.
House building cost blow outs
House building cost blow outs, by far, definitely tops the list out of any other build costs.
The reason behind it is simple – changed plans.
Whether that’s changed personal plans or changed building plans.
As we mentioned earlier, once people start seeing the build come together, new ideas will start flowing and as such, building plans can change altogether.
Not just with layouts but also with alterations, additions, adjustments and appliances.
The main difference is whether you go with a project builder or a custom builder.
While not always the case, it’s more likely to have a cost blow out with a custom builder then with a project builder.
The reason behind this difference in price is the choice being given.
So choosing a builder will depend on the type of build you’re looking to do.
Project builders usually provide a choice of pre designed package plans and designs with options to choose from.
Where as custom builders build off the plans you’ve designed with your architect or drafts person.
Project builders offer standard inclusions with their packages which usually also offer upgrades and higher end finishes of your choosing.
When you choose any upgrades and higher end finishes over standard options, those variances in prices will usually always cause the costs to increase.
These packages are usually set with only what they, the project builders, offer or have available and are not easily interchangeable with just any option that you want.
This means you’re usually less likely to have a cost blow out with a project builder as your choice of options is limited.
Custom builders on the other hand, don’t usually offer packages or standard inclusions and as such, make it a lot easier to choose the build and your own inclusions exactly how you want it.
And its because there’s no limit on what you can choose to do, the finished cost to build a house can quickly get out of hand.
The Difference In The Cost To Build A House Between Using A Project Builder And Custom Builder
As we’ve just covered, using a custom builder can cost significantly more then using a project builder because of the limitless choice and options available.
But aside from custom builders costing more because of the freedom of choice and flexibility, there are usually more additional costs you should be aware of when using a custom builder.
Design and Layout Plans
Project builders generally offer their own set design and layout plans whereas custom builders will build to your specifications.
This means that if you go with a custom builder, you will likely have to get an architect involved so they can draw up your plans as you want to have them.
Labour and Materials
If you go with a project builder, you’ll generally be given some standard options with a choice of upgrades.
Custom builders on the other hand will fit and install the materials you provide or they source on your behalf.
Naturally, more time, effort, energy and money is involved when everything is being chosen from scratch for a custom build.
Because of this and depending on the type of build, more specific and sometimes even specialist trades will need to get involved.
When specific materials are sourced and used, specific trades will need to fit and install those materials.
When more time and specific materials are used, higher costs will usually be incurred.
Lastly, while project builds are set in place and have a more “cookie cutter” approach taken, custom builds require direction and supervision to ensure everything is being fit as specified and required.
This means more time on site for anyone involved to oversee the works.
It can be usually anyone or a combination of the following – general site supervisors, builders and project managers.
As we’ve just covered, there’s a lot of time, effort, energy and money involved in the cost to build a house.
In most instances, a lot more than originally expected.
So, what are the alternative options?
There’s a couple of alternatives to avoiding the uncertainty attached to the cost to build a house.
Sell Your Home and Buy Something Already Built
The easiest way to avoid all the uncertainty with the cost to build a house is to sell your home and buy something that’s already been built to your specifications (or close to).
This way you will know all the costs up front associated with buying a home (things like transfer duty, transactional costs, moving costs etc.) while also having a decent idea for what it will cost to make your own required improvements once you’ve bought and settled in.
Do a Mini Reno
Chances are if you want to build it’s because you want to change up your living standards.
Instead of a full blown house build, you also have the option of a basic mini renovation which, if done correctly, can add value to your property.
Basic mini reno’s would include landscapes/gardens, new paint, new flooring, new kitchen, new bathroom and any other minor alterations and adjustments.
You will still need all the required permits and approvals before beginning however, mini reno’s can cost a fraction of the price of a broad renovation.
Pro tip: Mini renovations should be done in a way so that they can be incorporated into a full house renovation, should you later decide to do one later on down the track.
If not done correctly, you risk losing all the time, effort, energy and money invested into the mini reno.
You may have noticed that a lot of the actual costs have not been included.
Not even an idea for an estimate or ranges on the cost to build a house.
Well, this was done purposefully as, with constantly changing rules, regulations and just the general cost to build a house, the types of costs you may read about can quickly become as outdated and irrelevant as the information that comes along with it.
The only true way to get accurate cost to build a house that will suit you, your house and your particular needs is by getting multiple quotes for your specific house build.
Unfortunately, as every home and property differs to the next, there’s no one size fits all answer.
It’s important to do your research carefully, make general enquiries and to take as much time as necessary to ensure you fully understand what it is you’re hoping to achieve.
As you may have already been able to tell, there’s plenty of costs both factored in and not factored in to pricing.
Because of this, again, it’s crucial that you’re fully aware of what’s included, what’s not included and what everything will cost you in the end before signing up for any building work to begin.
Spending more time upfront doing proper and full research and due diligence on the cost to build a house can really help save you countless amount of loss time, effort, energy, money and sleepless nights.
As they say in the trade.
Measure twice, cut once.