before you build


  • Creation Date: Friday, 12 July 2019

As an architect, I am often asked “How much is my house going to cost to build?” The real question is
really, “How much are you prepared to spend?”
Once I have that figure, I subtract all professional fees, Municipality approval fees, NHBRC fees,
Municipal connection fees, property fencing or walling, driveway paving, bond registration costs, plus a
few others.

Only then do I have what is available for building the house. It is also important to realize
that many of these costs are fully payable before the project even starts and before any bank finance is
released so you need to allow for them in your budget.

There are also a number of other factors that will influence the budget that one would need to make
allowances for.
The biggest one is the size and architectural style of your house as well as the materials that your house
is built from.

There can be a fairly significant financial difference in the various choices available, both in
style and in building materials. It would be wise to go over the options with your architect before you
progress to far into your project.
The first to mention is the slope and orientation of your site. A sloping site is more expensive to build on
than a flat site.

Ground conditions also play an important part in costing the foundations and poor
founding material could add significantly to the budget. An engineer would be able to advise you on a
foundation conditions and the likely effect on your budget. If your views are all to the West then glazing
becomes an expensive exercise if you wish to take advantage of the view with large windows or doors.

Your architect would need to take all of this into account in the design and that may have an influence
on your budget.
Going green is also a consideration these days and one would need to establish what effect this would
have on the budget before going too far down that road. Going off grid with your electricity supply, grey
water and rain water harvesting systems can be a costly issue and you would need to make sure that it is
within your budget.

Then there are items like curtain rails, alarm system, burglar bars and safety gates that are often left out
of the contractors quote that are important to consider and you need to list them in your budget.
The bottom line here is to work with your architect to make sure that the design meets your budget and
that you take all your expenses into account.

Article by Les Abbott.
PrArch. All About Building.