10 things to look for in your ‘all-inclusive’ building quote

When comparing building quotes, make sure that you’re not in for any nasty surprises at the end by comparing one all-inclusive quote with another.

When we say ‘all-inclusive’, we mean ALL inclusive. We include all the line items that some companies intentionally leave out. We scope everything from contour surveys to asbestos removal — so you get the full picture from the start and no nasty surprises at the end.

Our belief is to be completely transparent and work with you on the price upfront. All provisional sums and prime costs can be adjusted while working through this process. So, to make sure you’re comparing apples with apples, we’ve compiled 10 things to look for in your building quote below.


10 things to look for in your building quote

1. Demolition

Demolition of an existing building can cost anywhere from $20k – $50k. The price range comes down to the size of home that needs to be knocked down. A lot of cheaper companies will intentionally exclude this cost when quoting a new home build.

Homes by Howe Canberra builder – demolition at our knockdown rebuild in Watson.
Demolition at our knockdown rebuild in Watson.

2. Disconnection of utilities and services

Before demolition starts, it’s important that all utilities and services to the house are disconnected. This includes things like gas, electricity, water supply and drainage.

For most of these services, part of the infrastructure (i.e. the service cables and metering equipment, supply piping) belongs to the supply company. So that they’re able to come and disconnect services and collect their equipment, a request will need to be made to get the service deactivated and removed. This typically costs between $4.5k – $6k.

3. Contour Survey

A Contour Survey shows the slope of your land. The information collected from this report is needed to determine the right design of your new home. Some builders won’t do a Contour Survey until after the contract has been signed. It is important to highlight that Survey certificates are needed for DA approval on certain types of development.

4. Site works

Site works are one of the largest hidden costs most overlooked in residential building. In some cases, site works can amount to $50,000 or more. Some common costly surprises include: disturbed or unstable soil; building over sewer or stormwater pipes; rocks below the ground; building to boundary (especially for narrow lots); retaining walls; removal of trees; and site access.

Homes by Howe Canberra builder – Governor Generals' progress shot after demolition
Demolition and site works at the Governor Generals’ private residence in Canberra.

5. Pools

Not all Canberra builders offer pool construction as a service, and most will choose to outsource this job. They will typically leave an allowance within your provisional sums budget or omit the cost all together. It’s also important to talk to your builder about any pool upgrades you might be considering down the track. This will ensure your quote includes any pre-plumbing that might need doing before the installation phase — saving you time and money later.

Homes by Howe Canberra builder – pool and alfresco area at our Denman Prospect new build.
Pool and alfresco area at our Denman Prospect new build.

6. Landscaping

Landscaping is very site-specific and can easily range from 5% – 10% of your overall cost of build. Landscaping items to consider in your quote include the cost of: earthmoving, lighting, fencing, decking, paving, turf laying, irrigation, retaining wall construction and planting.

7. Inclusions

It is important to discuss with your builder what ‘inclusions’ are actually included in the quote. Many newly built homes often come in a basic form and may not include everything you need or want.

Often the most simple things are assumed to be in a contract, but are actually excluded, such as: window dressings, floor coverings; light fittings; fly screens; overhead cupboards in the kitchen; mirrors; driveways; and landscaping. When discussing your quote, knowing your inclusions and exclusions is essential.

8. Government fees

Government fees are often left out of building quotes in Canberra. We prefer to include them in your quote so there are no hidden surprises that are unaccounted for. Fees can range from $7k – $12k depending on the size of the home.

Government fees to consider in your building quote include: a development application (DA); applying for a building approval; certificates and inspections; searching records; registrations of plans and lodgement of certificates; and engaging a building certifier.

9. Engineers report

For more complex homes, the engineering of a design will have a bigger influence on the quoting process. Engineering design can affect the footings, floor slab, structural timber and structural steel. If you’ve received a quote that hasn’t consulted an engineer or engineering drawings, you maybe up for some hidden costs down the track.

10. Asbestos removal

Asbestos removal is another important consideration in a building quote, especially if you’re renovating. Many older Canberra homes still contain asbestos — especially in wet areas and eaves. For this reason it’s important that the presence of asbestos be assessed before the work starts.

If you live in an older home it is important to make sure your builder has made allowances in the quote accordingly. Asbestos removal can cost anywhere from $5k — $20k depending on the size of your home.


“Homes by Howe was honest with us right from the get go and kept us on track explaining how certain decisions would affect the cost of the build and kept us on budget.” 

Adam & Netty
New home build, Burra

Homes by Howe new custom home build in Burra

Hopefully, this list has informed you about the quote and tender process for any building contract.

Is building or renovating your home on the agenda this year? Get in touch to get a preliminary quote from Homes by Howe.