top of page


Updated: Oct 12, 2022

Put simply, our home is the biggest financial investment of our life! In addition to it being an important financial investment, it's the place we’ll spend most of our time and the place we’ll make most of our cherised memories.

These buildings are likely to be there for 50-100yrs, in this time we can change the flooring, replace the carpets and paint the walls as tastes evolve or maintenance requires but we only really get one shot at getting the design right – and a good design never goes out of fashion!

A question we all ask when embarking on the journey of a new home or renovation:

'how much will it cost?'

The answer:

'how long is a piece of string....'

Although there is no silver bullet to forecast build costs before a project is designed / documented we are happy to share with you some hot tips to put you on the right path.

Some key determining factors affecting project costs:


There’s no way of escaping this one, every square metre of a build will cost….every length of timber, every litre of paint, every screw! So the best way to manage build costs is to plan efficiently, only include areas you’re likely to use and design to a size which is comfortable without being excessive. Getting someone who can plan efficiently and at the same time create a beautiful and inspiring space to live is key to getting the size of the home right, and not design in wasted space.

In our experience most custom homes built from 2022 on tend to fall between $4000-$6000 per/sqm of floor space.

(Be wary of anyone that tells you early on that it can be done much cheaper, it is very likely to increase later once real costings come in).


Site conditions which affect build cost:

· Sloping: Can add ~20% extra to the build cost, however frequently offer spectacular views and can be cheaper land to purchase (comparably)

· Beachfront or Waterfront: Can have additional foundation costs to withstand the effects of variable soils conditions, flooding, erosion – this can vary but can add ~10% to the build price. Marine / salt-water suitable materials may be required on these projects, this could add a further ~5%.

· Bush Fire Prone: We always check your site to see if it’s bush fire prone, if so we arrange proper categorisation of the ‘Bushfire Attack Level’ or BAL. As the categories get higher so do the costs. At the lower levels it could add 5-10% to the build, at the upper levels it could add 20%+

· Ecologically sensitive: This doesn’t always have a direct cost implication for the build, but may require more considered planning and possibly expert reports at the planning stage. An example may be a requirement to build a certain distance from a significant tree and build your footings in such a way as to not impact the health of the vegetation.


As a general rule the lighter weight the build the cheaper it is, so typically a clad home constructed of framed & clad walls / floor / roof will be cheaper than a heavier constructed building of concrete floors / roof and masonry walls. There are exceptions to this i.e building a single storey home on level ground using concrete slab on ground and external brick walls may have negligible cost implication vs a framed / clad home on the same site. Where costs tend to go up is when you start elevating heavy construction, i.e multi-storey builds, particularly on sloping sites, where slabs are suspended requiring larger footings, more significant structure and more material / labour cost.

Possibly a 10-20% variance between the two.


The way a home is finished can have a considerable implication on cost, for example you can pick a porcelain tile for $20per/sqm or a natural stone tile for $250per/sqm, apply this across 100sqm and you’ll see a $23,000 difference and that’s just your wet area tiling! If you extrapolate this across every surface of an entire home the numbers can be significant, finishes alone could be the difference between a $750,000 and a $1,000,000 build.

Hint: Although this can be a way to reduce costs, if you are needing to reduce costs dramatically often the only/best way is to reduce sq/m, which can be time consuming once a project is designed / documented / approved etc. It is much better to design efficiently from the outset, or have components you could build later i.e Pool, rather than fundamentally re-designing and re-approving a build.


These are based on project complexity and scope of works, not cost of construction.

· Council / Consultant Fees:

2-5% of build costs

These generally include; Survey, Basix Certificate, Structural Engineering, Bush Fire report (where necessary), Geotech Report (where necessary), Council DA Fee, Certifier Costs, Long Service Levy.

· Designer Fees:

3-8% of build costs (will be based on project complexity, not build costs)

(Generally larger firms & Sydney based practices will attract higher fees)

To put it into perspective these costs can equate to a couple of bi-folding door suites.

You really have one shot to get this right, particularly when you’re unlikely to undertake significant renovations within 20yrs thereafter. A well-designed home will have lower ongoing running costs; enjoy better natural light / warmth, capture favourable breezes, less dependence on active systems such as lighting and A/C to compensate for poor design. There is also an intrinsic value through your experience and enjoyment of the space, who wants the biggest investment of their life to just tick the boxes on paper like a project home ‘4 bed, 3 bath…’ but be a poorly laid out, non site response, uninspiring, cold, dark, place to live.

Think quality not quantity!


There are many factors which affect the cost of building or renovating a home.

In spending this money it is crucial our homes are realising their true potential, and there is real value for money designed into them, not just numbers on paper that equate to little value when it comes to actually living in the space.

Ask yourself, is your home:

· Customised to the needs / desires of you, your family, your pets – the things that make you,!

· making the most of the opportunities of the site - favourable views / aspects / sun / breezes

· creating spaces that are functional but equally inspiring - spaces that work efficiently and at the same time uplift us and make us feel better

· comprised of quality spaces that you enjoy and are comfortable in, not vast areas of little use with poor natural light and ventilation (check out ‘sick-building syndrome’) that just feel uncomfortable and uninviting

· a place you love coming home to that re-charges the mind and spirit

These are the often intangible values of a well-designed home, values that are hard to put down as numbers on paper, values that we appreciate above all else when we inhabit a space. These are values that we at FBC Design lay down on each and every home, without exception - both directors / lead designers are masters degree qualified in Architecture (a two part, 5 year university degree) graduating with honours and have 30yrs of combined on the job experience. FBC will deliver you an exceptionally designed home, customised to your every need and budget.

***We recommend advice / input from a reputable local builder or quantity surveyor throughout the design & approval process; we coordinate with them to understand where costs are being spent to keep your dream on track with the intent that it can actually be financially obtainable at the end of the design and approval process.***


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page