So you have a block of land, whether it’s a vacant block or a knock-down rebuild, and you want to design a home. Where do you start?  And how much should you pay to build a home?

What makes up the cost of building a home? and so on…

Before we answer these questions, it’s important to understand some fundamental concepts when you are building a home.

Project Category


This is your family home and you will make decisions based on your lifestyle, how you will live and entertain in your home.

You will look at designing your home around your family and what will make you comfortable.

Spending $50k on your stairs may make sense because you want that grand feel and having a 60mm stone benchtop to your kitchen is exactly what you want to have.

You may want to spend extra in having separate air conditioning zones for each of the kids rooms and have a fancy theatre room to watch movies with family and friends.

Essentially, these are costs you would only incur (generally) if it’s the family home that you are going to live in.


Your decisions will be around what would make a good investment.  A 20mm stone may be more than enough, spending $50k on the stairs may not be justifiable and there is no reason to fit your theatre with expensive speakers

You still want to build a quality investment with good finishes, but they don’t have to be the Ferrari of homes. 

However, this is subject to location of course.  If you are building in the North Shore of Sydney or Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, then it just depends on what is selling in the area and what people are looking for. 

Otherwise you will under-capitalize and have problems selling or renting your investment.

The Challenge

It’s generally difficult to combine the two – a family home consists of mostly emotional decisions whereas an investment project consists of mostly logical decisions.

Your very first step is to decide whether it’s an investment or a lifestyle project.  I am not saying it’s impossible to combine both purposes, I am simply saying that you will open yourself to confusion when making the right decisions along your construction journey.

Whichever category of project you choose to build, there are certain elements in your floor plan design that you should seriously consider (whether you are selecting a plan from a reputable builder or designing a floor plan from scratch).

These elements will determine how much it would cost to build your next home or investment property.

The Elements


  • How many bedrooms do you want / need?
  • How big should each of the bedrooms be?
  • What are your current bedroom sizes?  Are they comfortable?
  • Do you host regular guests?
  • Will you need a study room for the kids?
  • Do the kids study in their rooms?


  • How many bathrooms will you need?
  • Do you want to separate the WC from the main bathroom?
  • How about an extra powder room for visitors?
  • How big do you want your ensuite to be?
  • Will you need more than one ensuite?
  • How about a bathtub in your ensuite?


  • Single / Double / Triple or more garage?
  • How about a drive-through garage?
  • Do you want an auto remote garage?
  • Will you need extra storage in your garage space?
  • How about a window to your garage?

Living Areas

  • Do you like open-plans?
  • How many living areas do you need?
  • Do you entertain people in your home?
  • How about a kids room?
  • Do you need to have a separate front lounge for guests?
  • Is it important that your guests would have their own private living space when they are sleeping over?
  • Do mom and dad need their living space with a small kitchenette?
  • How about an alfresco?

Block Direction

  • Which direction does your block face?  (N / S / E / W)
  • Where do you want your entertainment space?
  • Is it important to have the Easterly or Westerly sun to your main bedroom?
  • Where do you want to locate your kitchen?
  • check out Design Orientation for more information…

Windows & Doors

  • How much light do you want in your home?
  • Which areas do you want to have ample lighting and which not as much?
  • What size windows in each room will you want to have?  and why?
  • Do you need double glazing windows to avoid noise and have better insulation?
  • How big is your entry door?
  • Will your entry door be single or double doors?
  • Will you have fixed / sliding / awning windows?
  • What type of door do you want to your alfresco?  Sliding / Stacker / Bifold?
  • How about Flyscreens to your doors and windows?
  • Have you considered cross ventilation?
  • How high will your windows and doors be?

Local Market

  • Who buys homes in your local market?  What do they like and do not like?
  • Who rents homes in your local market?  What do they like and do not like?
  • Is it important to spend $40k on your facade?
  • How important is a balcony to your facade?

Boy OR Girl

  • How many kids do you have?
  • Does your daughter need a walk in robe?
  • Will your daughter need her own ensuite?
  • Can your boys share the bathroom in the morning or will you need a separate wc?

Inter-Generation Living

  • Are you going to have your parents / in-laws living with you?
  • Have you considered a building a house & granny flat?
  • How about a duplex?
  • If budget is an issue, how about a home & studio / parents retreat style section?
  • How will your parents live with you?
  • How about the kids with their kids?


  • Who is the right builder for you?
  • Do they have a 4.5+ out 5 review on (just a personal preference in terms of rating)
  • Not every builder will have a 5/5 – have you looked at their negative reviews constructively?  Are there any patterns to be aware of?
  • Have you spoken with their happy / unhappy clients?
  • What are other saying about them?
  • What’s their front office like?
  • Are they accommodating and upfront?

Site & Authority Costs

  • What are the potential issues with your site?
  • What is the slope over your building envelope?
  • Will you need retaining walls?
    • How will this affect your landscape plans?
  • Have you considered building a pool?
  • Do you have rock in your site / area?
  • Will you require an onsite detention system?
  • How about traffic control management required to deliver materials etc…?
  • Essentially, what are all the relevant site costs and authority costs involved in building your home?

Budget Constraints

  • How much money do you want to spend?
  • What has the bank allowed you to borrow?
  • What can you actually afford?

How Much?

So how much does it cost to build a home?  This is a very tough question to answer.  It’s like asking:  “How much does a 4 door car cost?” or “How much does a laptop cost?”.  There are so many variables to consider and if you do not understand how the building process works, you are in for loads of surprises.

However to give you some guide around how much it costs to build a home, here are some factors to consider (including the abovementioned elements of course):

  • Level of Inclusions
  • Quality of Finishes
  • Complexity of your site
  • Floor Plan Size
  • Efficiency of your floor plan design
  • Associated site & authority costs
  • Turnkey vs. Non-Turnkey Product
  • Total Costs of Ownership
  • etc…

So how much should you pay to build a home?  The costs, subject to all the abovementioned factors & costs, would be anywhere from $280,000+.

I know it’s not a specific range, however it’s a very complex question to answer.

This is not a product off the shelf that you just and buy.  There are loads of things that make up building a home and understanding them is the key to you making the best possible decision.

A Note

Choosing or creating the right design for your family or investment takes time, effort and expertise.  At the center of it all is having the right builder that will walk this journey with you.

Having the right builder who understands your needs, asks you the right questions and tends to recommend the right design for you is worth a lot more than the builder that just tries to sell you some design because it’s cheap.

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