Smart Guide to Building Costs
Last Updated Oct 23, 2013 · Written by Rob Schneider
Calculating building costs is not easy even for experienced contractors. If you are an owner builder or want to make an independent estimate, the job is much harder and it is easy to make costly mistakes. This brief guide to building costs will help you avoid some of common pitfalls.
Building Costs: The Basics
There are some basic elements of construction you have to bear in mind when estimating building costs. These include:
- Excavation and foundations: There are reasons why large housing developments are built on level blocks - they are cheaper to build on and the cost of laying foundations can be accurately determined. If you have a sloping block, you will need to factor in extra costs for laying your foundation and may need to have excavation carried out before you can begin building.
- Building materials vary widely in cost. For example, a timber framed brick veneer home will cost less than a full brick home.
- Labour costs vary depending on the size of the construction, the complexity of the design and other factors. A single storey home based on standard rectangular construction will be much less expensive than one that includes irregular angles or curves.
- Finishing costs can dramatically affect the total price of a construction. Finishing costs include the cost of lighting fixtures, flooring materials, bathroom fixtures, kitchen cupboards and dozens of other details.
There are a few ways you can put all of these elements together to arrive at a cost estimate. You can attempt to make an extensive list of all the materials needed to finish your home, but this is rarely necessary. Building contractors calculate their building costs based on previous experience and available data to arrive at a rough estimate and then add on any extraordinary costs. You can take advantage of their expertise in two ways:
- Contact a few builders in your area and ask them for estimates.
- Use an online building costs calculator or a software program.
In either case, you will have to do some preparatory work. Whether they are calculated manually or using a software program, building costs are calculated per square metre. The more accurate your plan, the more accurate your initial estimate will be. Follow these three steps and you will get a reasonable estimate of your building costs:
- Calculate the size of your house in square metres using the interior size as your guideline.
- There are three rough classifications of construction: basic, standard and luxury. Determine which of these classifications is most appropriate for you.
- Determine whether or not your building site is going to be easy to build on or difficult.
With just this much information, you will be able to get a reasonable building costs estimate, but it still may be not be enough. What other extraordinary building costs do you anticipate? Do you want vaulted ceilings? Do you want your roof to be pitched at a steep angle? Are you building a period style home? Things like these may add significantly to your building costs.
If you have taken all of these potential building costs into consideration, you can be reasonably certain of arriving at an accurate enough estimate to determine whether or not the home you want to build fits into your budget. Now is the time to contact the builder of your choice and work with them to finalise the details of your building costs and get started.