How to avoid budget blow-outs while building

Budget blow-outs during a build can be very disheartening for homeowners, but with careful planning and working with the right building professional, you’ll be able to pat yourself on the back for staying on track.

The quoting stage of the build is very important to ensure you have an accurate figure to work with. If a builder does a ‘free quote’ you have less than a 20% chance that the quote will be accurate.

Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. Most builders who charge for a quote have a process they use to crunch the numbers and will give you a specific breakdown of material and labour costs. If you pay a builder to give you an accurate ‘cost plan’ you’ll have a lot more peace of mind.

Many people are also unaware of what provisional sums and price cost items are. These are parts of the build that can’t be accurately quoted early on and are given an estimated allocation by the builder when quoting. It’s when these numbers are ‘low-balled’ by some builders that many people are hit with a very uncomfortable surprise in cost jumps later during the build.

It’s also helpful to find a specialist builder who has a proven track record of building the type of home you are looking to get done. If you have a sloping block, find a specialist pole home builder in your area who can demonstrate a track record of successful work. Don’t stop there, make sure you speak to some of their past clients and even their sub-contractors.

If you have a difficult site, it can often result in cost blows-outs in the preliminary works. We also commonly see labour cost blow-out due to delays often caused by the client being late with their selections. Make sure you use a builder who has a system for programming the job well before they start and also get your fixture and fitting selections in as early as possible to avoid costly delays. Pro-active builders will be asking for these early on and should demonstrate a proven process for doing so.

Another mistake we see people make is going to an architect or designer first for an estimate on costs to build. It sounds logical, but unless the architect or designer has a strong relationship with a builder who can do an accurate ‘cost analysis’ and give them certainty on the numbers, it’s hard to get an accurate figure.

Recently I heard about a person going to an architect and being told the project would cost $700,000 to build. The two builders’ quotes came in at $1,500,000 and $2,000,000.

This can sometimes mean that projects don’t even get started on, or need to be abandoned half way. Ensure you get a cost plan early on by an experienced and trusted builder.