Unknown Costs When Building

You’re as excited as ever to start building your dream home, the banks have approved your finance and you’re ready to hit the ground running; the ball starts rolling and in come the “extras” you weren’t ready for. This blog should hopefully expose some of these costs you may not have factored into your build.

I will be basing this exercise on a knock down rebuild scenario.

What costs can I expect before I even select a builder?

You’ve decided to take the plunge and build your dream home. Before you have even spoken to a builder you should consult your financial planner/broker/bank. This way you have a clear understanding of what you can and can’t afford.

Budget. Check. Next step deciding to design and construct or buy a readily made house plan with a volume builder. Keep an eye out as we will be comparing Volume Builder vs Design and Construct soon.

Fees to keep in mind – all which may very well sit outside your “turnkey” build:

Feature Survey & Re-establishment survey $1,800

Soil Tests $800+

Drafting can be in excess of $20k for a knock down rebuild.

Engineering plans allow $3,000 – $4,000

Energy Report $500

Drainage Plans $2,500

Arborist Reports $600+

Landscaping Plans $1,200

Property Information from council $150-$300

Water authority fees (sewer, water, connections) $3,000+

Asset Protection Permit (Bond) $1,500+ check with your local council

All of the above is BEFORE you have broken ground on your new build!!

Demolition $15,000 – $20,000 (be wary of added costs in asbestos removal)

I asked a recent client of ours what she believed was costliest mistake:

Initially I was assured the house could be relocated (by a relocation company) but it ended up costing nearly $20,000 to knock down the house as power lines and trees were in the way. (I will not be recommending the company!) 

Underground electrical pit $2,000+

Electrical and gas meter set ups $550+

Variation Fees $500+

Driveways $5,000+ depending on size, materials and finish

Landscaping $5,000 – $20,000+ (basic to your desired level)  

Fencing $80 – $100 per lineal metre for a standard timber paling fence

Temporary accommodation $450+ per week rental property

Curtains and blinds $2,000+

Interest on your Construction Loan once you have started drawing down on funds.

Building Permit – this is one we are finding time and time again being left out of builders quotations to reduce their overall costs. Whilst this may be a great idea to arrange yourself; we would suggest looking to include these costs within your building contract. Building permit fees can exceed $5,000 not to mention the additional costs per inspections and should those fail.

Things to keep an eye out for:

  • Bushfire prone areas, this can add tens of thousands of dollars to your build
  • Flood prone
  • Site slope
  • Overlays
  • Council conditions
  • Rock
  • Soil conditions
  • Trees (whilst on your block and neighbouring) this will affect your engineering design
  • Location of neighbouring properties (Garage’s on boundary, site cuts, overlooking conditions)

When designing your knock-down rebuild we would recommend staying within council requirements thus saving you time and money going through the town planning process to potentially be knocked back anyways.

I know I know I harp on about this quite a bit but involving your builder early on in the process is a sure way to ensure you have a team working for you to achieve a design and build within your budget. Being open and honest with your team regarding your budget will ensure no costly items are designed, and additional costs are accounted for.

Why not ask your builder if they have a set of their own house plans? This could potentially save you thousands on drafting fees. YES we do! 

Keep in mind whilst every effort is made between all consultants to obtain all information and checks regarding your site; you need to prepare for nasty surprises we could potentially encounter once we start digging. True story; we had a client demo their home to find a swimming pool (god only knows how old it was), this equated in additional engineering fees and extra costs in construction. Luckily prior to going through the process of obtaining a quote we had the discussion of the what if’s. We would always recommend keeping approx. 10% of your build cost aside for unforeseen circumstances.

Did you have a question regarding building? Send us an email to have your question featured on our blog tvo@brownhillhomes.com.au.

Get in touch with our team to start your new home journey today


The beauty of life is that it’s constantly changing – and a home that worked for you a few years ago may no longer meet your family’s needs today.

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