Top five hidden costs of building a house

Expect the unexpected
Project: Coppin Street Apartments, architecture firm/organisation: MUSK Architecture Studio, image credit: Ben Hosking

Building a new home is an expensive project, no matter where it is or who builds it. Although you may have spent time collecting quotes and investigating fees, rates and other charges, other costs can pop up unexpectedly during the building process that even the most seasoned builder or renovator may never have foreseen.

Allworth Homes specialise in building family homes across New South Wales, and have been in the business since 1978. Stephen Thompson, managing director of Allworth Homes, has plenty of experience in managing builds and budgets, so he has put together a list of the top five hidden expenses of building a home so you know exactly what to expect.

1. Site costs

When it comes to building your home, site works can hold the widest range of extra costs. This is due to the fact sub-surface conditions can’t always be determined by visual inspection. Sand, clay, rock, loose fill can all be encountered in your foundation material. Builders rarely go to the trouble of bore testing your site as the chances of encountering costly foundation material like rock are slim – it’s often a waste of money to test for it. A simple soil test is worthwhile though if you cannot get geo-technical information about your land.

Hidden costs of building a house
(Credit: Getty images)

2. Landscaping

You will find when doing your home the landscaping is the one great investment that will tie everything together. Landscaping can be tremendously expensive and just a small amount of work can cost big money, which you may not have. You can save a ton of money by doing the leg work yourself and purchasing and laying all grass yourself as well as decorative plants as well. Don’t forget landscaping also includes fencing and the driveway so set a realistic budget and keep this in mind.

3. Flooring

Flooring can be another hidden extra if you don’t have a clear indication of what will be included in your home package. Flooring material costs vary widely, especially if you want things such as timber floor boards. Discussing with your builder what will be included and what isn’t is very important in the building process. 

Hidden costs of building a house
(Credit: Getty images)

4. Registered land

Many people will purchase a home package and not check to see whether the land is registered or not. That is, the completed sub-division is registered with the Land Titles Office so building approvals can be sought and work commence. Delays in achieving registration can mean the cost of construction goes up and the builder’s price goes up too. Before depositing to build, be sure to check when the land is registering and see if your builder can lock in a price for a longer period if required.  

5. Add-ons or variations

Building a new home means you have time to consider every single little thing. But if you don’t reign it in, the budget you set of $250,000 can quickly escalate to $300,000 before you know it. Consider carefully and balance your needs and wants (you deserve a few wants – it’s your new home). Document them all pre-contract and keep some money aside to avoid having a financial crisis if you do need to go cap in hand to the builder with a last-minute add-on.  


This article originally appeared on Better Homes and Gardens.

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