The cost of building is a mystery to the uninitiated and usually a shock when the estimate comes in so its worth examining what the costs are and why it costs what it does.
First off the highest cost in building is labour, and it is not unreasonable as living costs are high for everyone. Many of my clients have cited the building costs they hear mentioned on the UK TV show ‘Grand Designs’ and wonder why it costs so much more in Australia. Anecdotally I understand that a lot of labour comes in from Eastern Europe and charges very low rates, but I stand to be corrected on that one. Also in NSW we are in a building boom and with the proposed major building and infrastructure projects it is predicted to last at least another decade.
The stages of the project are: Concepts, Development Application, Construction Certificate and Construction Documentation- then construction.
The DA and CC applications require numerous documents to be prepared by consultants, from Surveys, BASIX, Statements of Environmental Effects to Fire Risk Assessments and so on. Depending upon the conditions of the site there are a variety of reports that required and this takes time, therefore money. You can find the DA and CC check list on your council website.
In addition council may request changes to be made to a design so as to achieve approval. A colleague of mine has had to make a total of 10 changes to a residential DA design…and still as yet to receive DA approval. So DA approval can take time and cost significantly more than originally estimated.
Depending upon supply and demand subcontractors costs can vary.
Due to a high demand for services bricklayers are currently charging $70 per hour, so its worth looking at whether the design can be realised without bricks. This is an example of looking at the detail of the design and identifying costs.
If your site is surrounded by leafy bushland it may be a stunning location however this may be assessed as being a BAL 40 or ‘Flame Zone’. If that’s the case you need to add costs for fire protection which can add 10-15% to the construction cost.
If you are looking around to buy a block of land it is advisable to check with Council what fire zone it is identified to be. A Fire Consultant will be able to give you a more detailed opinion, the site in question may have a range of zones so the siting of the proposed dwelling can make a difference to the fire protection required.
If your site requires extensive excavation this can add a considerable cost, this is due to not only the work of excavating but also the tipping fees for the rubble removed from site. Again it is worth seeking an opinion of cost in the preliminary design stage if this is a deal breaker on a project.
Over the years I have had clients consider staging their projects. There are pros and cons so needs serious consideration.
The main con is that it significantly increases the cost of the overall project.
The builder has set up costs for each stage so these costs are duplicated, and depending upon the time between stages building costs can inflate. Plus there is a scale of economy with a project, so the smaller the scope the higher the cost.
On the plus side staging allows you to work to a masterplan that is coordinated, avoiding the danger of haphazard work which can impact on the future enjoyment, function and value of the property.
Vacating the Property
Depending upon the project it is likely that most sites need to be vacant for the builder to undertake the work unimpeded by the resident. So this requires you to include alternate accommodation costs in your build budget, if the project is an alteration and/or addition. And don’t forget your pets as they may impact on the type of temporary accommodation you can find. You may need to allow many months depending upon the project, so do budget for the existing property costs, progress payments to the builder, possible storage costs for your furniture and possessions, and rent for your temporary accommodation. And if you are staging the works you need to consider a repeat of renting if vacant possession is again required by the builder.
When embarking on a building project it is strongly recommended you:
· are realistic about your budget and advise your architect at the initial stage of the project
· consider the scope of your brief, what do you really need as opposed to what you think you might want
· allow for the time it takes from engaging your architect to occupying the property
· working with a good builder from the start of the project and ask them to provide an opinion of cost to keep the design on track.
If you would like to have a chat about your proposed project please feel free to call my office on 1300 880 576 or 0412 228 683 .