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House Building Costs – How To Determine It Accurately?

House building costs are the sum of the following components

Builder Quote

In order to determine accurately the costs of building a house the approach we took was:

  1. Have a complete house design and floor plans with all your needs and wants. That includes the building as well as inclusions you wish for your new home
  2. Know what the soil classification is for your block of land. You can ask neighbours who are building or have built around your block
  3. Get quotes from builders that price at the low and high ends of the market to have a rough idea of average price per square metre
  4. Ask builders to provide itemized prices in their quotes, i.e. price for the kitchen, appliances, tapeware, even toilet suits as well as price for power points, downlights, allowances for tiles in wet ares, etc. The more detailed the quote is the easier it will be for you to make apple-to-apple comparisons
  5. In generally builder quotes don’t provision for: floor covering (except wet areas); light fittings; window covering (curtains and blinds) and landscaping. You will need to add these components to the total costs of your new house project
  6. Ensure that the quote is for a fixed price contract and GST inclusive

In addition to the builder quote you need to add the following components to have complete picture of your house building costs (in our case they were not included):

  • Floor covering
  • Window covering
  • Light fittings
  • Landscaping

Floor covering

Our experience for our new house were:

  • Labour costs range from $30 to $70 per square metre to put tiles
  • Tiles price starts at about $30 per square metre and can go up to hundred of dollars per square metre for imported marble
  • Add the cost of grout, glue
Example of a selection of tiles included in a builder quote. In this case the allowance is $30 per square metre

Window covering – Curtains and Blinds

Our builder commented that our house has ‘a lot’ of windows. He said more windows means more expenses for blinds and curtains and he was right 😉

Overall we have 20 windows. For better insulation we opted for Honeycomb cell blinds. The overall budget for all the blinds were $4,500.

We ordered them online. They were custom made to our window dimensions and delivered to us within 7, 8 weeks. I installed them myself with a hand from my brother and my father who happened to be visiting us when the blinds arrived.

One of our custom made Honeycomb cell blinds - Insulation provided by these blinds is excellent

Light Fittings

The builder quote included a number of light points. We requested to add some more. Doing this during construction is cheaper and less hassle than have an electrician come back to install more light points when the construction is complete.

We opted for low energy consumption lighting and we purchased a large proportion of our light fittings online. Greentopia.com.au had the CFL shelf lights we were looking for and eBay was also a place we shopped for light fixtures.

Our overall budget for light fittings was $2,500.


I noticed that landscaping was not included in the builder quotes. For example a letter box was omitted. Make sure you add these items to calculate complete costs of building a house.

With regard to plants though if you are building in a new suburb in the ACT you are entitled to an allocation of plants from the Yarralumla Nursery. You can go there with your Rates Notices and select $220 worth of plants for free.

When you are ready to go to the nursery to collect your plants make sure you bring all the papers required along. Click here to view a PDF copy of the Plant Issue Scheme and see if you are eligible.

Archicentre Australia has just published the 2011 Cost Guide where for new house and major renovations, the cost structure is roughly this:

  • Materials 46%
  • Labour 33%
  • Fees, levies, permits, taxes, GST 21%
Archicentre Cost Guide 2011
Archicentre Cost Guide 2011 provides indications on costs for new house and major renovations in Australia

Click here to download the complete guide in PDF.

What other considerations would you add to your house building costs?

Click to read more about Building Costs.

One comment

  1. I think this post would be very helpful for a person planning to build a house and has no idea about cost. Thanks for such a nice post.
    sheds new york

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