Building a new house? Control your costs


Did you know driveways, fencing, landscaping and window coverings are all ‘extras’?

Ever more citizens and residents of Australia are choosing to build their own homes, rather than buy an existing property. Building comes with obvious advantages—you can choose exactly where to put your house, create it to your exact specifications, and everything comes brand new.

But it’s important to go into the process with an understanding of the costs of such an undertaking. Porter Davis, one of Victoria’s leading home builders, recently did some research into this question. The company found widespread misperceptions on which costs were assumed to be included in a quote. They found that Australian residents often assumed that costs such as the creation of driveways, fencing, landscaping and window coverings would be included in a quote—whereas in fact, all of these typically come as extras.

One common misunderstanding is around so-called site costs, or the extra expenses related to the site, which generally aren’t included in a quote for a new build. These costs can include actions to comply with local government or health and safety requirements, soil excavation, connecting services such as gas and electricity and engineering retaining walls. These additional costs to your build can quickly mount up, especially if you have a sloping or rock filled block. While an overall estimate can be given up front, once the site and soil survey report is conducted, you can find the actual price is thousands of dollars more than what was initially anticipated.

Building a house should be a dream come true for most people, so it’s vital to be clear on these costs before the beginning of any build process and avoid nasty surprises down the line. To make the building process simple and straightforward, says Paul Wolff, a director at Porter Davis, have the conversation about extras early on. “Whoever you choose to build with, make sure you ask what’s included and what’s not, and get your builder to give you an estimate of how much the extras could be,” he says.

“If you can, ask your new neighbours about their extras. If you’re building in a suburb where others have recently built a property, ask your neighbours what the extras came to. Look for a great deal,” says Wolff.

Porter Davis offers ‘fixed site costs’ for Melbourne and Geelong houses whose construction starts in February and March 2019.

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