How Building Design Can Double or Triple the Cost of Building a House

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Do you dream of a modern, architecturally-designed home to live in? There’s no need to fret, anything is possible, whatever design or shape it is! You just need to be ready to spend more.

The shape and design of your home have an important effect on the cost. Generally, the simpler the shape and design, the lower the building cost. Thus, homes that are architecturally designed will cost you a bit more, with the minimum price of $2,200 per square meter for simple uncomplicated designs, to as high as $5,500 per square meter, on average, for complex ones. And these numbers still do not factor in other expenses like planning permits, design and consultancy costs and site works.

So, what then are the Key Factors Affecting Building Costs?


A bigger house certainly requires more labour, more materials and at times, more specialised equipment for construction, especially if it has larger elements like glass window panes or benchtops needing scaffolding or cranes to help with installation. A massive house may also take a lengthier period to complete, unless a bigger team is hired to do the build. It is better not to be wasteful and always check for ways where you can cut-off some unnecessary areas to bring down the costs.


High-quality materials, fittings, and finishes generally increase costs, yet the reason is more than these materials themselves. Labour costs increase proportionally with better quality materials which in turn require better workmanship and finishing, too. Suffice it to say that unskilled workers will possibly cause damage to quality timber floors or marble tops.

Hiring a builder who knows how things operate is important for the works to be scheduled correctly, and precautionary measures are undertaken before and after installation of the materials. It is recommended that you invest in high-grade fittings and finishes as they will be most effective in both impact and design.

Only employ builders who ensure that the clients get the most out of their investments as sometimes a tiny marble cut at eye level is far more valuable than a full room covered with the same material.


Architects are the sole professionals trained to maximize spaces. They are able to create impressions of a space being bigger, more impressive, lovelier, filled with light, and meaning. But note that grander designs for a house can multiply costs — as voids, open plans, spaces and levels that connect ingeniously together, oftentimes demand structural styles outside the norm. And the structural materials, and layers in its entirety, to put together such complex structures add to the cost.

As for the details, what’s most cost-effective to use are the so-called standard construction details that combine basic but conventional cornices, architraves and skirting, including standard window and door sizes, and more. These are generally understood and accessible versus the materials that need to be imported, customised or meticulously designed and constructed. As these normally cost more. So, it is important to have a strong grasp of how the different levels of detail impact the costs, as this is crucial to staying within the budget.


Completing a project fast does not mean rushing and risking the possibility of committing careless errors. This involves employing a bigger team on board to get more tasks completed.

But did you know that adding more workers to the team doesn’t necessarily mean that work will progress sooner? To get the job done, it is key that each person in the team is skilled and experienced, and able to coordinate efficiently with the other members of the team.

A builder with a set of workers who are 100% experienced tradesmen, can guarantee fulfillment of deadlines, and have all the correct processes in practice oftentimes commands a premium. Conversely, a single operator is obviously a cheaper option on a per-day basis but the downside is, the project could take significantly longer.


Builders need good access for their machinery: usage, delivery, and storage. A compact inner-city site or renovation project might present logistical challenges, in the same way as sloping blocks do. It is usual for build costs to rise by as high as 30% whenever the slope is steep. The soil conditions affect the kind of foundations as well. Plus, if you happen to hit rock during excavation, the costs will escalate much further. One other possible condition to consider is when building a water source nearby a lake, beach, or mudflat. Other challenges include construction on or adjacent to a boundary that is shared with a cluster of trees or another structure that demand complicated types of support and protection.

This is the reason why most construct and build display-type homes that are only feasible on regular, flat blocks. A particular site that has innate problems will require a very competent builder to make things work, lest it might turn out a total disaster.

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With the number of options, control and the charm of the modern, ultra-smart systems, technology is always taken as a type of luxury. Basements, wine cellars, home theatres, elevators, and swimming pools are some of the things we desire but don’t allow for in calculating our costs. For instance, a rectangular swimming pool can have a starting price of $28,000, but once additional accessories are added, such as heating, pool cover, pool fence, and self-cleaning — the cost can easily increase by 100%. Moreover, when adding more stuff like a spa, designer tiles, infinity edge and longer length for laps – the price becomes even more expensive.

This type of increase in cost may also be experienced for basements, elevators, and home theatres; hence, this is the reason why such items are normally excluded in standard building cost calculations.


It is practically impossible to do away with insulation and double glazing, that have soared regular building costs in the past few years, due to the minimum energy rating in New South Wale now pegged at ‘Six Stars.’ The objective is to aim for ‘7 Stars or higher’ but it can be very costly to go past six. Off-grid power sources from geothermal/solar energy and hydronic heating are expensive and only a handful of clients can increase their budgets to consider these even though their benefits are long-term.

Note that making use of recycled materials can also be difficult to source and execute, and labour-intensive.


The one that will affect build price is variations, which refer to the contract changes or modifications after signing it.

Contract modifications allow for change of mind while the building stage is progressing. Although they are good to have, they usually cost more.

Variation costs really are costs that should be avoided if possible since builders have a mark-up of about 20% to 25% on variations. Plus, builders charge a variation fee of $250 per transaction as laid out in the contract.

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Which is Cheaper – Buying a House or Building One?

Building a house can actually save you some cash versus buying an existing home. If you carefully plan and organize all the services that are required, you can save a few thousand dollars. You can even reduce the cost further by carefully selecting cost-effective materials, fixtures, and home finishings.

What you Need to Consider when Building a New Home in Sydney

What matters most to building a new home in Sydney is the price of the land. On the average, land prices within the city are valued around $1,000 per square meter.

Other factors contributing to the total payout number include — timeframe, quality, the complexity of the design, as well as site considerations like land and type of soil , and access to basic services – such as power, telephone, cable TV, and sewerage. Buyers usually have a lot of control over these factors; however, their hands are tied when it comes to site limitations — think of levelling sloping land and architectural styles that need to be adjusted to match the shape of the block.

Also, consider local council regulations as they can affect the final design and total cost to build. A boom in population and new housing regulations have caused a quite amusing situation that’s been happening in Australia in the last few years. The lot sizes have been diminishing while the houses are getting larger. New rules have allowed house frontage to be positioned closer to the roads and take up space nearer the property’s boundaries. So, it’s possible to put up a house on a 300-400 sq. meter lot that is only 3 meters apart from the road. Sadly, the Australians’ dream of a massive block of land adorned with a garden and Hills Hoist has been changed to hold smaller frontages, covered outdoor spaces and more indoor living areas.

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