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ccstrawberry

Ways to cut costs

5 years ago

So after months of working with a builder broker, designing our new home and waiting for the builder's quotes, we have now hit an abrupt reality that we can't afford it. The house is just too big, totaling 373m2 for a single story 5x3 home. We need to cut about 40-50m2 to bring it within budget and I was wondering if anyone had some ideas of what we could do to down size or remove in order to save space. We could get rid of a bathroom although I would still like 3 toilets. The activity area could go but we still need some sort of computer nook as we don't like devices in bedrooms. We have 4 teenagers (2 boys 2 girls) so we really need the 5 rooms. I would really appreciate any ideas as we are feeling really discouraged at the moment.


Comments (34)

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    My rough suggestions to you is to reduce the master suite, scullery, activity room becomes a smaller study , therefore moving bedrooms 4 & 5 back to wards it, the separate WC can then be moved into the bath room. And still recommend changes to linen and Powder room entries. The blue is showing possible reduction to length of house and if the alfresco was included in this it would be quite a big reduction, As with the first drawing as it is it would reduce by around 21squ m. The arrows are meant to explain the movement, The master suite and WIP are too big so you can save in that area, freezers could go across the rear of the garage as ours do




    CCdownunder thanked siriuskey
  • 5 years ago

    Have you already purchased your land?


    How many local builders quoted the project? Did you supply any of the names of builders who quoted, Or were they selected solely by the broker?


    Did you you meet with any of the builders who quoted? This is a good way to detect which ones truly want to build your house.


    Have a look at the materials that were costed, to see if you can economise that way, ie roofing, cladding, windows, etc., and task your 2-3 favourite builders with finding ways to reduce the cost of the build. I suggest the ones who really want to build your house have a vested interested in helping in this regard.


    CCdownunder thanked annb1997
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  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    please post the plan in sections so we can read all the numbers, what is the width and length of the block and where is north?

    CCdownunder thanked oklouise
  • 5 years ago

    Oklouise we have already worked on the front part of this house didn't realize it was going to end up so big

    CCdownunder thanked siriuskey
  • 5 years ago

    hi ccDownunder - I am assuming that the 373sq metres includes 'outdoor areas" -

    I think that you should ask each of the builders to break down some of the costs -

    .. in particular kitchen, scullery and bathroom .. get some comparison quotes from some kitchen/ bathroom companies/ suppliers/ installers AND then ask the Builder why his pricing is sooo high....??


    .. remember, you want the builder to accept responsibility for the full build..

    CCdownunder thanked ushi p
  • 5 years ago

    Thank you for the suggestions and sound advice. The revised house plans make some good suggestions without compromising on design, thank you for taking the time to do that oklouise and siriuskey.

    To answer some of the questions posed, we have purchased the land. We received 8 quotes from local builders provided solely by the building broker and have not as yet met with any of them. We did supply a potential builders name but we got it in late and have not received the quote yet. They range from $300000 to $340000 for just the basic house. There is also another $20000 for site costs. Our total budget is $300000 for a house in turnkey condition.

    I feel we should have seen this coming with the house being so big. I guess I assumed that because the building broker was aware of our budget he have said something if our plans were getting too ambitious and would blow our budget.

    So we will get back to the building broker with our dilemma and pick out some builders and chat with them as suggested. Inevitably I think we are going to have to reduce the size of the house, so I will definitely be taking on board all the great practical suggestions.

  • 5 years ago

    CC, I know It’s disappointing to receive plans that when costed out blow out the budget. We had this happen with our current home. in Our case, costings were done by a professional coster, yet none of the quotes came in anywhere near it! We supplied several builder names and architect supplied the remainder. Quotes all Came in above what the coatings indicated. We met with the two local builders we had selected and liked their work. They both were eager to get the build. We chose the one who thought to redesign the roof in order to reduce that cost Dramatically. We figured he was our guy! That’s why I suggest you get Job costed and quoted by a couple of builders of your own choosing. And then meet with them so you can get a feel for their level of interest in your build.

    CCdownunder thanked annb1997
  • 5 years ago
    Cc, yes you are correct. Your budget does not meet your expectations. It is shame that you have realised this so late in your designing process. Wishing you all the best for your new, reduced design. Just keep strong for your must haves. And compromise on all others.
    CCdownunder thanked dreamer
  • 5 years ago

    Another point of difference was that one builder was a higher volume builder than the other, so I believe that also contributed to his quote coming in slightly lower.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    good thinking and i found a little more space for the pantry and a few other variations but extra windows need to be planned on site


    CCdownunder thanked oklouise
  • 5 years ago

    I'm always in awe of people taking the time to help a complete stranger.

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Unfortunately this happens all the time.

    The first question a designer should ask is 'Whats your budget?'


    I have serious concerns that even the quotes you have are nowhere near final costs to construct.

    I would have expected a house this size to be double your budget..... ouch!


    $20,000 for site costs is way too low even for a flat site. I'm guesstimating double.

    The numbers don't add up even at a quick glance.






  • 5 years ago

    Oh no don't say that MB design and drafting (insert panic emoji here)

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Unfortunately yes. The numbers don't add up. This is BIG house so will soak up money.


    I ballpark initially at a site meeting of around $2200+ per square metre for custom build but fairly standard fit out.

    This quickly gives an idea of potential size vs budget. We then adjust as we get into the guts of design, site suitability, etc.. Obviously a volume builder with their 'off the shelf' plans can be cheaper but even then they sit around that $1500+ per square metre.


  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    if size was all that mattered this smallest version of my plan is 270sqm


  • 5 years ago

    And this for you to perhaps consider as you will be making big changes to reduce size to reduce cost.

    With having two of each there's a boy and girl bathroom

    I have added a pergola to the front entrance to reduce the size by not having a porch and if reducing further the alfresco could use the Vergol pergola system to control light and weather

    There's now only 3 bedrooms with a study!!,, which I will add another bedroom or study tomorrow, I have plan!!, Happy Easter everyone


  • PRO
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I'm afraid i have to agree with MB Design and Drafting. It is a big house, with some nice features, lots of cabinetwork, cathedral ceiling, large bi-fold doors, lots of bathrooms, and a complex roof. I would be wary of any builder who is quoting in the $300K range to finish this home to a professional standard. You will need to read the fine print very carefully to see what is included and excluded.

    You should be very explicit that your understanding of "turnkey" corresponds with your builders understanding, and don't make assumptions. My understanding is that turnkey means that the house is ready to live in when you turn the key to unlock the front door. So is your builder including a driveway, boundary fencing, washing line, all floor finishes, all window furnishings and light fittings? If they are including the sort of things that you actually need to live in a home then what sort of quality, or are they just allowing a low provisional sum for these items? Or will these be in excess of your $300,000?


    Southampton · More Info


    For a reality check why don't you find some similar sized, single storey products that are sold by the volume builders who have very competitive prices due to their volume, see what is included and excluded, and how much they cost.



    If you are really looking for a full turnkey solution then I would more than double your budget so that the house is completed to a decent and liveable standard of selections, finishes and inclusions. The photo above is a standard volume builder's bedroom. Many volume builders do not include window furnishings, carpets, or spend more than $2 on a light fitting in their standard contracts. Exactly what are your builders quoting on? Are they quoting to a volume builders standard, or your own turnkey standard?


    Best of luck,

    Dr Retro

    of Dr Retro House Calls

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    Im so sorry to read this CC. It is a scenario we see all too often. Unfortunately there are so many people trying to cash in on the building industry and often these people have little to no experience in the industry. One of the issues we have seen of late is that of Builder Brokers. Seems like a great idea, but in reality, it is just another added professional (And i use that term very loosely) that you are paying for. To maximise the ROI on your project, you need to cut out as many unnecessary trades and professionals as you can from your project.

    We were approached by a Builder Broker firm here in Brisbane, to help us match our services to clients. Within 6 weeks their collusion was uncovered and we along with a number of other builders took them to court - it was settled outside of court, however they are still deceiving clients. Our blog explains how they work, and why you should avoid them at all costs.

    My suggestion would be - look for a builder who you trust can take on your project and deliver it to your expectations. Once you have selected the builder, ask them to help you change the plans to bring it into budget. It's fine to ask on this forum, but you need to negotiate with the person who will actually build your project - they will have the best solutions for you - Guaranteed. Good luck with your project - looks like it will be a beautiful home!

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Great advice and help offered from EBS, unfortunately the world is full of those wanting to take advantage of others.

    As I mentioned above, I have a plan and have opened up the Media/MFR to the kitchen family, just a few ideas that may or may not appeal to you,The pergolas would be Vergola and attached to the house for continued undercover areas.

    good luck with going forward.


  • 5 years ago
    Thank you EBS for your good advice. The best thing our building broker got us to do was join Houzz. I like your ideas Siriuskey. Thank you for taking the time everyone to share your knowledge, advice and understanding.
  • 5 years ago
    Question why you need two bath tubs in a house.
    Builder broker? Now that is a weird concept. What value could they add except their own fee.
  • 5 years ago

    Totally agree that's why I have one bath tub and it's in the ensuite which can be used for toddlers as well, the others will all use showers.

  • 5 years ago

    I wonder if we really do need a theatre room & an activity room? In our day and age we are gravitating more and more towards insular living. I still enjoy the concept of a time out to the movies but I'm probably showing my age. This, if you must have it could surely be adapted to fit into a share situation with the activity room. In the end if you do not want the children to have computers in their rooms etc. the activity room could be just that...a room for everything else. On the other hand, in my experience, scullery, kitchen family rooms are the hub of activity and are practical. Not so the enormous spaces given in the master bedrooms. Where we need space in my book is in the robes. Hope you work it out! Good luck!

  • 5 years ago

    hi cC.


    I think that your floorplan is basically a good floor plan bcoz it provides 2 separate zones at each end of the house for 'you' vs the kids …


    IF the kids have enough room in their bedrooms to study …. high school, uni etc.... THE ONLY space that you could reduce is the 'activity room ' … maybe, moving the 'scullery' to this end of the kitchen with access to the alfresco (put the outdoor fridge etc here..)


    … the 'Siriuskey ' plan is a good alternative - I like the 'walk-thru pantry ' - BUT, the Lounge/ dining looks squashed …. AND, I don't understand why anyone thinks it is okay for 'other people' to use your 'bathroom ' - EXTEND the 'Siriuskey plan' by an extra metre = more room for Lounge/ dining area AND an extra bathtub in the 'girl's bathroom'... and, I'm not totally convinced by the 'dormitory feel' of his layout of the bedrooms/ bathrooms


    re the alfresco - make sure, you put heaps of skylights in the roof so that you don't close off your light.. you won't save much on cost IF you do it later ? - in fact, probably cost more.... and, "vergola" can be very expensive ….. and, it will not last like a 'proper roof' ...


    best wishes



  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    We too are about to build though picked a project home builder because of the 'volume build' cost savings. But we are making modifications to better meet our needs.

    Our initial plan was heavily customised and came in around $150k over what we wanted, but that was highly spec'ed insulation with double glazed windows, cathedral ceiling, very large rooms, 2 bedrooms with ensuites plus another bathroom and toilet, plus another 2 bedrooms, large undercover alfresco, very complicated roof line (apparently that really adds to the cost)... so we learnt a lot of lessons from that.

    We have scaled back the size of rooms, gone for a simple shape/roofline and will add character through textures (timber panelled walls, etc), some of which can be added later. We have maintained top notch double glazed windows and high R factor insulation (Southern Highlands location, so you pay either way if you get that wrong.. up front or in excessive heating and cooling bills), but cut back to only 1 bifold door and embraced good old double and triple panel sliders - a huge cost saving in itself. Would also love a cathedral ceiling but may need to lower our expectations there.

    I have to agree that a price starting with a 3 at the front - or even a 4 - does not seem at all realistic for that house. If $360K is breaking the bank, you really need to think about how you can meet your needs in a different way.

    I'd start with design... would a 2 storey home offer cost savings? Less roof for the same floor price? What about attic bedrooms and/or an attic activity room? I don't think attic rooms are actually that cheap, because of the need to strengthen the floor/ceiling, but it would be good to ask. Do all the children need a separate bedroom? If there's a significant age difference between eldest and youngest, you may find you can get away with younger siblings sharing for a while longer; perhaps even till an older child heads off to Uni??





    Think of all the materials you will be chosing and the impact those will have on your home. Number and type of windows, floor coverings, tiling etc. I don't feel your rooms are overly large, but agree the large Media and Activity rooms are expensive choices. Personally I'd keep one dual purpose room, mainly with the kids in mind and smaller than either of those.
    You really only need kids tv and computer games out of the family room/lounge, don't you? The scullery and parts of the Master suite are large and the bathroom between Bed 4 and Bed 5 is a waste. I'd put Bathroom 1 - with the only bath in the house - and the loo side by side and accessible from near the kitchen area. I've seen some homes with a 3rd toilet in a large laundry, which can be handy with a horde of kids around.

    On a different note, that laundry seems way too small for a family of 6. You want those teens doing their own washing and ironing ASAP... they'll need room to do that. And you don't want to skimp on windows, insulation and eaves that suit your climate - they can really help to reduce your home's running costs.

    Re the vergola suggestion, I'd steer clear of that. They are costly, not really water proof and don't age well in my experience. A few friends have installed them and all have shown 'buyers remorse' quite quickly. An under-roof alfresco is pretty nice to have, but even a solidly built pergola with a simple sun/rainproof roof is nice too.



    As for the cathedral ceiling, I LOVE it. Opens a house up beautifully. A half cathedral (that's not the right term but i hope you know what I mean) may reduce costs a little. Otherwise, use your windows to maximise light (but not heat), raise the ceiling heights throughout the house to 2.7 (it's usually fairly cost effective to do that) and ditch the cathedral ceiling.



    Good luck with it. It's an exciting project.

  • 5 years ago

    Susan, we are building the same house! Would really like to contact you off list to find out more about your experiences so far, is that possible?

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago


    Hello Everyone,

    I thought I'd give you an update. After a few tweaks with the design, we managed to get the size down to 329m2. We did lose a bathroom but still have a third toilet. This way we could still keep the bedrooms a generous size. We also lost the racked ceilings however we still have high ceilings and big windows to help it feel big and open. We managed to keep our ridiculously big island which is 3000x1200 but did cut down the size of the master bathroom, scullery and activity area like you suggest Siriuskey. However we did lose our freestanding bath in the master but have put a semi freestanding corner bath in the other bathroom to compensate.

    Building should start any day now and I will be sure to update you on the progress.

  • 4 years ago

    Just by reading the title of your thread "Way to cut costs" my initial thought was "reduce the size of the house". Even before reading that you'd planned a house of a whopping 370sqm! That's huge, even the smaller plan, at 320sqm is very, very big.

    Building a house of that size doesn't just cost you at the build stage. You will be paying more thought the home's life for maintenance, & to heat & cool it. The environment, pays an additional cost (higher embodied energy of the build, heating & cooling).

    Also the home is not well orientated. The garage should be on the NW, to take the brunt of afternoon summer sun. The bedrooms on the SE side.

    http://yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/orientation

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    this plan looks so much better but have to agree that a 1200 deep island is much too big and you will have to walk all the way around to clean up and how will you arrange the storage and knee space in the island?? ..happy new building and look forward to progress reports

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Re the island, we have an island that is - I think - 1400 wide and 4 m long. We are building now and an island that big is one thing we definitely WON'T have... as oklouise says, have to walk around it to clean it, even to collect one little teaspoon left on the 'other' side. People see it as a great place to dump stuff, so it is never clear. Both shorter and narrower in our new (proposed) place.

  • 4 years ago

    Left field idea and I don’t know how old your teens are and how close to launch they might be ... but you could do a significantly smaller house ie three bedrooms, plus one or two bed granny flat slightly attached or detached. Obviously depends on the codes in your area. Could be good for resale when the brood leave (and return as adults, and leave again etc). And more flexible than four identical rooms. But I’ve no idea about the costs. And depending on your children, could be great or a complete omnishambles! Best of luck. Exciting times.

  • 4 years ago

    I agree with ddarroch that the design doesn’t take in to account the best aspect for living .If this was my build , I would flip the house from left to right so that those outdoor and main living areas will get more of the North East breezes .This layout flows much better than the first . I hope it goes really well for you .

  • 4 years ago

    Well done, I note Wc2 is missing a basin which is a must have. Could tuck it into some of the wardrobe space from Bed on right.
    Agree island depth 900 is plenty for me. I’d also consider a wider opening to scullery