Well, you could also ask: how long is a piece of string?

The answer to this question depends on a lot of variables and can be different for everyone.

In this scenario, size does matter. Simply put, the larger your home is the more it will cost. The more features you want the more it will cost. Building a lot will cost a lot. The bigger the house the more materials and labour is needed, the more money you have to spend.

If you do want to build an affordable home you have to pick and chose certain features and finishes for your home, depending on how much money you have available. I will talk more about that later.

When looking at the construction cost of a home, you have either the choice of going with a project home from a volume builder or getting a house designed according to your needs and specifically for your site.

Obviously going with a volume builder will be much cheaper than getting a custom designed home and going with a custom builder. On top of that the build cost will vary largely depending on the type of finishes you are after.

Here are just some industry samples as a guideline, assuming a standard weatherboard or brick veneer construction. Please don’t hold me to it, they can vary largely. They are just here to give you a rough indication on build costs.

Project Home / Volume Builder
(Weatherboard and Brick Veneer Homes)

  • basic level of finish and fit out approx. $1,000 – $1,200 per square meter
  • medium level of finish and fit out approx. $1,200 – $1,300 per square meter

 Sadly, many of those more affordable homes do lack in energy efficiency measures and only comply with the legal minimum requirements. Often the insulation and windows are installed poorly, leading to homes that don’t perform according to their star rating and that will feel cold and draughty in winter and overheat a lot in summer.

 Build Cost For Custom Designed Home
(Weatherboard and Brick Veneer Homes) 

  • medium level of finish and fit out approx. $1,300 – $1,600 per square meter
  • high level of finish and fit out approx. $2,100 – $2,300 per square meter

 Build Cost For Architecturally Designed Homes/ Luxury Homes
Homes with architectural features and or different materials, like marble, natural stones, natural timber claddings etc.

  • cost can vary largely, $2,500 – $3,500 per square meter and more, no upper limit, depending on design features.

Obviously, there are some builders that charge more than others. Some builders will build you a nice brick veneer home for $1,800 – 2,000 per square metres. Others do not take on projects under $2,500 per square meter.

It is important to note, that the above build cost do not consider any special sustainability or energy efficiency upgrades or measures.

I’m experienced having conducted energy ratings for other designers and architects when I started out my business. Often we had to do the ratings on beautifully designed homes, that would cost millions to build, where the kitchen would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but no consideration whatsoever was spent on making the homes energy efficient and sustainable. In some cases, the designer and or client would even insist on single glazing in order to save some money and the homes would struggle to reach 5 stars back in the day, and even more so to get 6 stars.

For me it would be out of the question, I would always rather spend my money on the windows and insulation, instead of spending it on luxury finishes. But of course, some people think differently…


Build Cost For Sustainable & Energy Efficient Homes

How much it will cost to build your energy efficient and sustainable home does depend on a lot of factors. Firstly, as mentioned before. Size does matter.

Obviously, it will cost much more to build a 300 square meter home than it will cost you to build a 150 or 200 square meters home. Therefore, one of the first steps should be to really think hard what it is that you really need. Think about clever use of space and multi-functional spaces. And you also need a designer/architect that can design a beautiful compact home that will feel bright, open, and spacious, without being huge. Avoiding and minimising corridors and walkways is key.

Also, when building on a budget, and most of us are, you must be mindful with the things that you want. Not everything in your house can be a feature. For instance, you can’t have corner windows everywhere, or huge bi-fold doors and windows in every room or have high end built-in cabinetry everywhere. You have to pick and chose what is really important for you and concentrate on a few things that are vital for you.

For example, for most people the kitchen/living/dining area is the heart of the home. So it makes sense to spent more money here. Have really nice big glassed doors onto an outdoor living area for instance. And for sure you do want a nice kitchen.
I personally rather get my kitchen carcasses from ikea, and then add a nice benchtop & handles and get a cabinet maker to build me some nice feature shelving to make the kitchen look stunning. Which will probably cost me something between $5,000-$10,000 rather than spending $50,000 + on the kitchen. I prefer to spend the extra money on my windows 🙂

How much features you can have and where you can and do want to spend your money on depends a lot on your budget and on your personal circumstances and preferences.

It is important to design a home that is relatively simple to build. Meaning no extravagant structural elements or challenges. Being mindful with build forms and roof shapes. Not going overboard with glazing sizes and shapes. Trying to stick with standard material sizes. Using good finishes and materials without going overboard on costing.

Again, please do not hold me on costing. But we have been and are designing and building several highly energy efficient homes that are sitting between $2,200-$2,300 per square meter. For homes ranging between 7 and 9 stars.

In summary I would say:

You can build a highly energy efficient and sustainable home with a good mid to high level of finish for the same price as a ‘standard’ high level finish brick veneer home. Assumed that you have a close eye on the size of the home, the construction details, and your design features. Furthermore, it is really important that you work closely with a builder, ideally already during the design stage. To optimise and fine-tune the design, the structure and build cost of your home.

If you would like to know more about build cost and what other things you can do if you want to build an affordable energy efficient home, please feel free to call or email me.