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Owner Building: Costing it Out PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Owner Builder HouseFor those of us who have ever considered owner-building and have just not known where to even begin to cost it out, one of our readers, Les, kindly sent through detailed spreadsheet costings of his completed owner-building projects.

Les built a beautiful house in Johannesburg- see the pic below - it is a 475 sq. metre house which was completed between May 2007 and April 2008.

He also owner-built a granny flat in Cape Town - 143 sq metres - completed between Sep 2004 and Jan 2006.

For both these projects he kept a detailed costing which you can may find useful in the spreadsheets below.

Granny Flat - 142 sq. metres
House - 475 sq. metres.

Les tells me that both builds included quality finishes such as the poplar beams, Terracotta tiles and handmade Oregon doors and windows made to their specifications.  In addition, they threw a concrete slab on top of the poplar beams to level the floor and to minimise noise from the upstairs.

Les also gave some useful comments below if you're considering owner building:


Cape Town
Granny Cottage (143m2)
Build Sep 2004 – Jan 2006
Cost p/m2 = R2058


Gauteng (Crowthorn)
House (475m2)
Build  May 2007 – April 2008
Cost p/m2 = R3375

Owner Builder - Granny FlatOne cannot really compare the costs, the one was for a completed house and the other for a granny flat - one in Johannesburg, the other in the Cape but the guidelines for keeping a cost schedule are the same. 

Les says:

In the Cape house I did most of the work myself whereas in the Johannesburg house I went more for subcontractors.  Having said that I did do the plumbing,  bar the external underground piping.

Currently a turnkey project will cost in the range from R6K – R7K p/m2 so it’s still a 50% saving on the overall costs.

Owner Builder - LoungeA friend of mine has just recently owner built a house in Noordhoek and his costs were R4500p/m2. It very much depends on finishes. Other factors as in his case that affected  the costs was the slope on the erf that required lots of excavation work and heavy retaining walls that had to be built.

COST SAVING IDEAS USED use in our Gauteng build


Owner Builder - FloorTo save costs in the latest build we went for bare concrete floors which were stained and sealed we used the following products (Cost R25p/m2). 

Products used:

Coolcrete (Stain Colour Riverstone)
Africote (Twin pack sealer)


Owner Builder - BathOnce again for bathrooms no tiles were used. We used a product from Africote as follows:

Stucco (Moss) Cost around R300 per 40kg bag
Stucco (Caramel )
Sealer (non wet walls)
Twin Pack Sealer (in shower)

Here we hired a specialist to apply the product at a cost of  R100p/m excluding materials. At the end of the day using a good plasterer at (R15 - R20p/m) will be fine there is basically nothing to it

The cost here should be around (R35p/m)


Owner Builder - VanitiesWe built the vanities out of brick and cast slab for up stand basins. 




CAPE House

Owner Builder - BeamsBasically poured a slab on top of the rafters (1st floor) so one had the benefit of an aesthetically pleasing ceiling and the structure saved on costs of a concrete rib and block infrastructure.



Lightly Bag external walls (not used on our project) depends on style of house.  This will save a lot.


Owner Builder - RoofIn the estate we stay in a style that is fairly  new to the area is the Manhattan Loft construction.  It’s basically a rectangular house with a slopping IBR roof. I suspect that the construction in some cases is a steel frame and bricked up.  Typically downstairs is all open plan living area. Upstairs consist of a mezzanine floor with bedroom areas.




Actual House Costs - click here.

Granny Flat Costs - click here.

Electrical Costs - click here.

Notes re the Spreadsheets

Labour costs = Labour only
Sub Contractor = Labour inclusive of material

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 April 2008 )
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