Build Costs: How to keep them down during your build

You’re about to build your dream home. But how do you keep costs down during the build? Homes by Howe are here to help guide you through the ins and outs.

Homes by Howe, Dual Occupancy, Knock down rebuild, O'Connor, kitchen, white bench tops, grey cabinetry, circular hanging pendant light above island

At Homes by Howe one of the biggest questions we get asked is ‘’How do I keep the costs down during my build?’’. With this in mind we have compiled a list of our top tips for reducing your build costs. Understanding the costs and being prepared is the key to staying on track. With proper forethought, planning and the right people in your corner building your dream home doesn’t have to be a costly and stressful experience. An experienced Canberra builder like Homes by Howe will be with you every step of the way to ensure that your build runs on time and on budget.

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Fixtures and fitting in Homes by Howe’s new Dual Occupancy project

Engage a builder early on

Talking to a builder early on is one of the best ways to keep your build costs down. A local custom homes specialist like Homes by Howe will be able to tell you straight away wether your home design is achievable within your budget. A builder is the best person to inform you on project budget and materials cost. You will be able to use this information to flesh out the build costs of your new home design or knock down rebuild. Engaging a custom homes builder early on will help you to properly plan your build costs from the start with the right information.

You may even want to engage a builder in the design phase of your dream home to work in tandem with your chosen architect. While most custom home builders charge a fee for this it will reduce build costs in the long run as they are better equipped to advise you on materials and labour costs.

Homes by Howe Managing Director and Founder Brendan Howe.

Choose a specialist

When choosing a builder to construct your new home design or knock down rebuild you want to choose one who is a specialist in their field. A specialist will have all the right information and contacts from the outset, this will save you time and money. For instance a knock down rebuild specialist like Homes by Howe covers all the steps of the process from demolition right through to landscaping. This means that you do not have to outsource for the different stages of the construction process, saving you both time and money.

Homes by Howe, knock down rebuild, Chapman display home, family enjoying meal
Homes by Howe making your next project stress free.

Prepare structural drawings

Having quality structural drawings will help to provide you with an accurate quote from the start. Effectively, structural drawings reduce the risk of inaccuracy, which can increase your build costs. They help to guide your builder through selection and installation of connections. If they are unclear they may refer to an RFI, which is time-consuming. And as we know time is money. Unclear structural drawings can also lead to errors that need fixing. Mistakes are costly and will most definitely increase your build costs. Avoid this from the start by having clear and precise structural drawings from the outset.

Conduct soil tests

What are soil tests and how can they reduce your build costs you ask? Put simply a soil test will determine your foundation class. Doing a soil test before you buy a plot can help you keep your build costs down over the course of construction. A soil test involves taking a soil sample that will then be used to specify your site classification in accordance with the Australian Standard for Residential Slabs and Footings. The type of soil you build on will greatly impact your build costs. For instance if you are building on clay-based or reactive soils, that change and shift with fluctuations in soil moisture content, it is going to cost you more. Soil testing determines the requirements of your slab to ensure the structural integrity of your home. Conducting a soil test on a plot before you buy can greatly reduce your site costs.

Slab preparation at Burra.

Keep landscaping simple but effective

One of the biggest costs associated with building a new home is earth-works. Earth-works contain unknowns. Rock removal is one of the only things that is not included in an all-inclusive quote. For instance when your builder first starts digging they may uncover rocks that may need removing, increasing the costs. For this reason keep your landscaping simple. You want to try reducing the amount of earthworks that need to be carried out. On a sloping site this may mean leaving your garden on an angle. Landscaping is one of those things that if you still want to, you can do further down the track without much difficulty. This will save you money on initial build costs.

Simple yet elegant landscaping at our Curtin build.

Use an open floor plan where possible

The golden rule of building costs is a deceptively simple one. The more complex your design, the more its going to cost you. Keep things simple. This is where an open floor plan can come in to help you cut costs. Not only is it the perfect layout for modern family living but it also helps you to save money. An open plan arrangement reduces costs, as fewer interior walls means less money spent on hardware, paint and materials. Open plan living spaces also have the advantage of being highly adaptable. Done well they can improve the flow of your home and the time you spend with your family.

An example of open plan living at our Tudawalli Place build.

Early decision-making

When designing your new home or knock down rebuild you want to make decisions as early as possible. This will reduce the risk of increased materials cost further down the track. Making decisions regarding fixtures and fittings early will reduce your build costs. It may not be possible to choose every item in your new home at the start. This is where prime cost and provisional sum allowance come in. They allow you to make certain choices whilst construction is ongoing. A prime cost is an item that has not been selected or whose value is unknown when you are initially signing your building contract. A provisional sum is the estimate of the cost to carry out particular work. To avoid excess building costs make sure a reasonable amount is included for these items in your building contract.

Early decision-making reduces the risk of variations. A variation is a change made to the scope of your project after the building contract has been signed and the build is ongoing. Once on site it may be super tempting to throw in additions here and there. These can really add up. The best way to avoid this is to make decisions early on. Have a plan and stick to it in order to keep your build costs down.

Being prepared and understanding the costs from the outset can save you a lot of time and money further down the track. If you are ready to design your new home or embark upon a knock down rebuild consider booking a design consult with Homes by Howe. Our friendly team can help you too maximise your budget and reduce build costs from the start!