Project homes vs. one-off designs
Some clients have an unrealistic expectation of the amount of building they can get for their dollar.
Unfortunately, one-off designs cannot compete with the cost of project homes. Doing something different immediately adds a premium to the cost of a home.
The mass production of project homes means materials can be purchased with substantial discounts, but the standard of finish is often much lower than that of a custom built home.
The bottom line is “you get what you pay for” – the cheaper the cost per sq.m. the poorer the standard of finish and materials.
Finding a balance
Tenders can vary by as much as 100% between builders pricing exactly the same set of drawings and specifications. The architect attempting to estimate in these conditions is faced with a dilemma. Should they err on the side of caution and tone down the design, the quality of finishes and the size of the house in the expectation that the budget will be exceeded, or do they attempt to get the most for the client’s money by bargaining with the builder and accepting the cheapest quotation for the job?
The balance lies somewhere in between. Architects often find it difficult to obtain an acceptable balance between cost and size, standard of finish and uniqueness of design. It takes a lot of experience to be able to anticipate the cost of a design when so many factors are involved.
Proceed with caution
Clients are often shocked when told the “real” cost of construction and will frequently try and find someone to do the work for less. More often than not this scenario ends in disaster. Builders can sometimes cut their margins too low and then look for ways to recoup costs or cut corners in quality.
Cheap quotations often omit vital items such as carpets, lights, door and window hardware etc. or do not allow for adequate quality of finishes. Either way the initial design is compromised.
It takes an experienced architect to know what budget is appropriate for each new project. It is always better to anticipate a higher than expected quotation from the builder and then add a contingency to ensure that the budget can be met.
Designing to a budget is not impossible and a good architect knows enough about material and labour costs and the impact of site conditions, quality of finishes and fittings etc. to give a pretty accurate estimate of the cost of building works.
Author Nilesh Munot heads Shobha Designs – Architecture and Urban Design, a registered business on ServiceSeeking.com.au
Images courtesy of Shobha Designs. Top left: Existing home, Below right: Proposed facade renovation.