Site costs: The ultimate guide to save your budget

Site costs can make or break your budget. Homes by Howe have compiled an ultimate guide to site costs to help keep you on track.

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Slab work at a Homes by Howe knock down rebuild in Watson

Site costs are one of the places in the construction process that can really blow out your budget. Understanding what site costs are and how they are determined will help you make sure you are being given a fair price. When you understand what is and is not included in site costs, you will be in a better position to ascertain wether you are being charged a reasonable price. It’s harder to be hit with hidden costs when you know what you are being charged for. Wether it’s a new home or a knock down rebuild you’re embarking on let the best builders in Canberra, Homes by Howe, guide you through the nitty gritty of site costs.

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From site prep to finished product. Homes by Howe creates your dream home.

What are site costs?

Site costs refer to the cost of preparing land for construction. They are an expenses associated with preparing your block to build on.

What do they include?

Site costs will include any site preparation and engineering requirements for the foundations of your home. This encompasses any earthworks needed. They also cover the cost of local council applications, permits and Bush Fire Attack Levy (BAL) inclusions. In a a knock down rebuild they can also cover demolition costs. Not all builders will include demolition in their site costs. That’s why its best to go with a knock down rebuild specialist like Homes by Howe who cover all parts of the building process. This makes the experience of building your new home as simple and stress free as possible.

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How are site costs determined?

Site costs are unique to your site and are calculated based on soil type and topography. These two factors will primarily determine the engineering requirements for your slab. The more problematic the soil type and the greater the slope, the more it will cost. This is due to the increased level of site preparation required.

Can site costs vary?

Depending on the block, soil type and other factors costs may vary significantly from one build to another. Site costs are unique to each individual site. Once work has commenced it is also possible your builder will uncover unexpected conditions. This can be anything from excessive rock in the excavation process to soil issues. At Homes by Howe the only site costs that aren’t fixed in your building contract are rock removal, underground water and traffic control. Everything is else is fixed and transparent so you can be assured of your costs from the outset.

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Slab construction in Burra.

How does soil type affect my site costs?

Determining the soil type you are building on is an integral part of the construction process. It will determine the requirements of your slab to ensure the structural integrity of your home in the long term. Different types of soil can move, expand and contract with varying levels of soil moisture content. Some soils expand and shrink to a greater degree than others. Clay-based or reactive soils change volume and shift with changes to moisture content. If you are building on clay soil it will cost you more. This is because greater measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of your new home or knock down rebuild. Sandy soil is the preferable soil type as it is the least reactive.

A soil test determines your foundation class. Soil samples are taken for testing and specify your site classification in accordance to the Australian Standard for Residential Slabs and Footings. This makes sure that you have the correct slab for your block. Protecting it against soil movements that might cause your house to sink, buckle or warp. 

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Retaining walls help stablise the soil at a Homes by Howe knockdown rebuild.

How does the topography of my block impact costs?

Level blocks often have lower site costs. This is because they require less excavation and work to prepare for a new build. Sloping blocks require more initial excavation. The greater the slope the more it’s going to cost due to the increased preparation required to level the site. On a sloping block the type of levelling option you choose will impact your site costs. For instance in a filled block, stability needs to be guaranteed by drilling down into the natural ground level. This can be costly. Retainment costs of a filled block are one of biggest unexpected costs of working on a sloping site.

If you are thinking about building on a sloping block check out this article first!

Will the materials I choose to build with impact site costs?

The materials you choose to build your home from can have a significant impact on site costs. With materials you want to make your choices early. Making materials choices early means that they can be ordered early. This ensures that there is no inflation in price over the course of the build or shortage when it comes to needing material.

The materials that you build your home from can also impact the type of slab you need. Lighter materials such as wood as opposed to steel often result in lower site costs. The more engineering your slab requires to support your structure, the greater the site costs. The Ultimate Guide to Steel Frame vs. Timber Frame

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Are there any fixed costs?

The main fixed site costs are the initial soil testing and a feature survey to determine landfall, service connection points, easements and any other pre-existing features. Homes by Howe has compiled a handy list of the 19 Questions to ask your builder before you get started to help you choose the right builder to construct your dream home.

Hopefully this has helped you to get a better understanding as to what site costs are and what they include. If you are ready to break ground on your next big project, wether that be a new build or knock down rebuild, get in contact with Homes by Howe and book a design consult today!