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How much does it cost to build a house

It’s the question anyone thinking about building a house wants answered – just how much will it cost? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. 

How much does it cost to build a house

25 September 2019

It's the question anyone thinking about building a house wants answered – just how much will it cost? Unfortunately, there's no simple answer.

As Housing Industry Association (HIA) Senior Economist Shane Garrett, Wolf Architects Director Taras Wolf and Hotondo Homes' Building and Operations Manager Peter Rielly explain, the first thing to consider is the cost of land, which varies wildly from state to state

According to The Urban Development Institute of Australia’s 2018 State of the Land Report, in 2017, Sydney’s median lot price was $476,000, Melbourne’s was $281,000, and Adelaide’s was $167,000.

The national average cost of land was $746 per sqm.

Average cost of building a home

The cost of building is influenced by many factors, but in June 2018, the Australian average was $1,270.80 per sqm, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

However, this figure doesn't include design, planning permits, any site works or any cost blow-outs.

According to ABS June 2018 Buildings Approvals data, the average dwelling in Australia spans 251.7sqm, which puts the cost for the build portion at just under $320,000.

Wolf, on the other hand, says the cost of building an architecturally-designed house starts at a minimum $3000 per sqm, right up to $5382 per sqm or $50,000 per Australian house square (9.29sqm).

Wolf says it is difficult, if not impossible, to compare the cost of an architecturally-designed home to one built by a "volume builder for as little as $1600 per sqm."

While declining to put an average price on building with a large builder because of the many variables, Hotondo Homes’ Rielly says his company’s designs are "architecturally-inspired to deliver a beautiful home at a lower cost."

The company offers 90 different designs, which clients can tailor.

"As a national franchise network, Hotondo builders will always encourage their clients to select a standard design from one of three ranges. These designs, in addition to the standard inclusions, will keep costs at a minimum," he says.

Supplier partnerships with brands like Colorbond, Caroma and Haymes Paint help achieve this "reasonable pricing", Rielly says.

Factors affecting building costs

How much does it cost to build a house - kitchen 
Picture: Jason Briscoe

The cost to build a home is influenced by five key factors: 

  1. size
  2. quality
  3. site considerations
  4. desired timeframe
  5. complexity  

Wolf says a larger house with more bedrooms naturally requires more materials, more labour and occasionally more specialised equipment.

"When it comes to build quality, higher-quality materials demand better finishing and craftsmanship, which costs money. The terrain and condition of the land being built on also has a big impact and an architect is best placed to maximise a lot and floor space," he says.

Rielly agrees site costs are an important consideration.

"While many factors can be managed by the client, it is the site costs where control is lost and you are sometimes forced to bite the bullet."

"There will almost always be costs associated with the site, whether that be levelling the surface or removing greenery. If you have a sloping block you may face significant site costs for the land itself. Your design may also need to be modified unless you choose to build a home designed for a sloping block," Rielly says.

"The location of your home can also impact the costs, based on council or state requirements, as well as factors such as Bushfire Attack Levels obligations."

Timeframes also affect what resources are required for a build, Wolf says.

"Architects design to make the absolute most of space, to make it inspiring, so that can mean more complex structures, which can increase the cost too," Wolf says.

Budget blow-outs are not unheard of either, and can generally be attributed to changes made to original plans or unexpected costs.

Rielly says all Hotondo homes include a list of standard inclusions, "however if you choose to upgrade, which many clients do, the costs will also begin to rise as you select those higher-end products". Variances will always cause an increase in costs, he adds.

The price of building often doesn’t include optional extras like landscaping, fencing, swimming pools and local council costs, which can also add tens of thousands of dollars.


Originally published on as  'How much does it cost to build a house in 2019'.

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