Building Costs

The Design post describes our false starts, before we landed on using a large custom builder and modifying one of their designs. The following is some general information we picked up along the way….

Owner Builder: This has the potential to save money if you have some skills in building, have the time and preferably have some friends or contacts who are tradies. There are various owner builder courses available, and in some states, these are compulsory before you start. Selling can be an issue due to insurance limitations.

Volume Builder: Mass produced houses, with limited choice of fitout. Probably the fastest and cheapest way to build a house. Most estimates put this around A$1200/m2. Chances are they’ve built the house many times before and can just crank them out.  They will be happy to shift walls and rearrange the design a little. The house will be designed to minimum standard and optimised to minimise material wastage.  They get discounts on fittings due to the volume they buy, and can limit schedule disruptions (time is money) since they are in full control – no waiting on the client. Anecdotally we hear that they usually pay their chippies (carpenters) very low rates for delivered work (not so much hourly rate) – this encourages frames just being “banged out” as fast as possible, not leading to quality construction, with some out of square results. 

Note: we are renting one of these houses at the moment. Its “6 star” and while our heating and cooling bills are greatly reduced from previous houses, the windows leak, and its quite noisy when its windy. 

Architect Custom Designed: Most expensive build option – upto $4000- 5000/m2. Probably likely to yield the best house IF you and your architect are on the same wave length. Can be disastrous if you’re not – you might spend a lot of money getting a design that is not what you want, or one that is way too expensive. They’re often not good at estimating what their design details would cost. Cost over runs can be expected, and their fees for overseeing the build are high. If you’ve got the money great! Lucky you. 

The architect we consulted advised us to build a smaller house to meet the budget…

Designer: Likely lower cost than architect, with more practical focus on the building process and costs. (Sorry architects!). Hopefully around $2000/m2.

Large custom builder, but with many standard designs: A step up from the Volume Builders, but a step down from the designer approach. One building supervisor might manage several houses simultaneously, reducing overheads. Very organised, like to have everything specified up front. Around $1,800/m2. Our selection.

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