I get asked this question in a lot of different ways – with different dollar amounts mentioned.
- Can I afford to build my house?
- Can I afford to renovate?
- How much does it cost to renovate my house?
- How much does it cost to build my house?
- Can I renovate on a budget?
- How cheaply can I build a house?
- Can I extend my home for under $200,000?
- Can I build a new house for under $300,000?
- Can I build for $900 per m2?
- Can I renovate for under $1,500 per m2?
My answer always is – of course … and it depends!
How much does it cost to renovate or build?
Let me say first, architects can get into A LOT of trouble quoting prices for renovating and building. It’s part of the professional obligations of our registration to advise that we are providing only “OPINIONS OF PROBABLE COST” … that’s even the terminology we need to use.
So I talk in square metre rates based on experience with similar projects. However, you can imagine that it doesn’t take a lot to impact those square metre rates. If you’re doing a very small amount of renovating, but including your kitchen and bathrooms, then your square metre rate will be high. If you’re doing a large reno, but mainly adding on bedrooms and living spaces, then your square metre rate will be lower.
Houzz question: Is it possible to build a simple extension for under $2,500 per m2?
Of course … and it depends.
My client renovation work has ranged from $1,000/m2 to $4,000/m2 (and more).
What varies is the standard of finish, the amount the existing home is disrupted, the structural gymnastics being performed, and the methods being used to build it.
My renovation of my own homes has got as low as $350 / m2 – partly because of the amount of work we’ve done ourselves during construction, and partly because of the strategies we’ve used to design the renovation, and then source materials, products and trades also.
Renovation costs – on a rate per square metre – are more expensive than building costs. This often catches homeowners by surprise and is incredibly frustrating.
If you remember that, ultimately, building or renovating involves time to execute, and that time comes at a labour cost, then this makes more sense. Renovating a home is a one-off activity for that home, and that home alone.
There’s also a lot of ‘undoing’ that happens in renovations.
Pulling apart the existing home to ‘put in’ the new. Whether it’s refurbishing existing rooms, adding on a second storey, building in underneath, or extending onto the home … at some point the existing home is impacted.
So how do you save money when building a renovation?
Drumroll please …
Reduce or eliminate the risk of unknowns.
It sounds too simple doesn’t it? However, my own methodologies for renovating are based on this, and my work with clients is always based on streamlining the renovation process as much as possible.
You’ll get so caught up about whether you can afford $80/m2 or $50/m2 for your floor tiles. It may seem like a big difference, even when multiplied over your 90m2 living/kitchen/dining space. However, if you haven’t focused on overall strategies to a) save time, and b) reduce or eliminate risks of unknowns – it will be a drop in the ocean in the savings you could achieve.
[Read here to find out where money disappears in a renovation or build – the invisible costs that consistently surprise and annoy homeowners.]
What about building new?
UA Community question: I want a build a home for my family for under $250,000. Is that possible?
Of course … and it depends.
You can (believe it or not) build new homes for around $700 per sqm. Single storey, low (but legal) ceiling heights, inexpensive materials, simply constructed homes.
Project homes and homes built by volume builders, can be delivered for around $1,000 – $1,500 per square metre.
Again, limiting time and unknown risks will help your building costs.
For example …two-storey homes take longer to build than single-storey homes. They also require additional scaffolding and other costs associated with working from heights. So they cost more – even when exactly the same area as a single storey home.
So delivering on a tighter budget means strategising how big your home will be, how it will be built, what it will be built from, and who will be building it.
Architect designed new high-end homes … well these can be more bespoke, only built once, and unique to each project. So their square metre rates can be similar to renovating.
What makes a home great – on any budget?
Design. Great design. Design that makes your life better, more convenient, simpler, more fun, more beautiful. That’s it.
If you read my last blog about the difference between architects, building designers and draftspeople, you’ll know that I believe that the design of a home is where it really lives and dies … where you can maximise every opportunity of your investment – however large or small it is.
Great design makes you and your home feel great. [For tips about how to achieve great design, head here]
Why should great design be out of reach to anyone?
It shouldn’t be. And it’s not. As one of my clients said, it costs the same to build the wall, whether you put it in the right place or the wrong place.
Undercover Architect is about helping you get it right when designing, building or renovating – simply and with confidence.
This is about levelling the playing field – so every homeowner has access to the info they need to make their home great – whoever they’re working with.
And that you can achieve this on ANY budget.
Whatever amount of money you have, spend it in the best place to maximise the outcome. That’s strategic budget management!
So, can you renovate or build inexpensively, on a tight budget?
Remember: Your budget isn’t one bucket of money that gets divvied up across your project though, like a shopping list of things you want to buy.
It instead represents an opportunity to invest – and create returns that can do wonderful things for your home, your family and your life.
And that might mean paying for the best advice and having less (for now) for the tiling or bathroom fixtures you want to put in.
The amount of your budget is not a reflection of what you can achieve for your new build or renovation.
How you spend your budget is.
Other blogs you may find useful …
This one will show you what options are available to you when building a new home – but in a different way
This one will help you to be inspired by design on any budget
If you’re working with an architect, and worried about blowing your budget, here’s 12 tips to avoid it.