This is one of the most common questions I get asked:  how much does it cost to build a house?  Answering this is going to be a challenge for a number of reasons but let me give you my favorite car analogy to give you some perspective.

Analogy

If I would to ask you:  how much does it cost to buy a 4 door car?  The cost of the car will depend on:

  • what type of car?
  • which year model?
  • what brand?
  • what class in that brand?
  • does it have leather seating?
  • how about alloy wheels?
  • how many kilometers has it done?
  • and so on…

A 4 door car can vary in price from a few th0usand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Context

Houses are no different, so how much does it cost to build a house?  Well, there is a number of questions that need to be answered first:

  • single storey or double storey?
  • duplex or house & granny flat?
  • how many bedrooms?
  • number of bathrooms?
  • how many square meters?
  • what’s the slope on your site?
  • what is the site access like?
    • battle-axe site?
    • narrow street?
    • bus lane?
    • school zone?
  • is it in a greenfield area or knock-down-rebuild area?
  • is it flood-affected?
  • how about bushfire?
  • is it a heritage site?
  • how about mine subsidence?
  • do you want a balcony?
  • what type of facade are you after?
  • what type of finish are you after?
  • do you want 20mm stone or 40mm stone to your kitchen?
  • do you want walk-in robes to all bedrooms or just the master bedroom?
  • and the list goes on and on and on…

As you can tell, a simple question and yet it has a very complex answer.  I can give you two x 4 bedroom houses / double garage / 2 bathrooms and difference between them can be tens of thousands of dollars.

So if you are trying to get an idea about price, then decide on the design first.  Pricing a home has a lot of moving parts – please refer to Construction Tenders – an introduction! for more details.

Per SQM

Most people will go around asking for a Per SQuare Meter rate from builders.  This method of pricing does not work as SQM rates do not take into account:

  1. design complexities
  2. site costs and authority costs
  3. inclusions level
  4. quality of finish
  5. Turnkey vs. non-Turnkey product
  6. home design size or type

General Guide

As a general guide however, we can use a sqm rate as a starting point only… For this to work, you will need to assume:

  1. site is fairly flat, less than 1m slope
  2. no associated site complexities like DEB, retaining, deep soil, etc…
  3. the build has no restrictions like bushfire, heritage, flood, etc…
  4. your inclusions are relatively simple

Your SQM rate can start from $1,350 per sqm for bigger designs and can start from $1,500 per sqm for smaller designs.  It can go up to $2,500 per sqm subject to inclusions, site, etc… as a finished product.

I know of home building companies that charge $3,000+ per SQM and I can tell you that most (not all) are bloody rip offs.

If you are ever in doubt, please feel free to contact me and I will review your tender, inclusions and plans to give you some insightful information.

A Note

Given that no two designs are the same, I would suggest that you finalise your design & inclusions first and then have them priced between the builders of your choice.

It’s important to understand that the home design can vary the price by tens of thousands of dollars, so it would work in your favor to at least remove that aspect of the process as a variable.  

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