Why You Shouldn't Choose a Builder by Their Square Metre Rate

by Del Casa Homes
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One of the most common questions we get asked is "What is your square metre rate?" or "What do you charge per square metre?"

For project home builders, this may be easy enough to answer. When the exact same home is built multiple times with very limited variations, the equation is quite simple. But is this the total cost or are there things left out?

A well-known marketing ploy is to advertise a square metre rate for a base home. However if you take a look at the fine print it will say; "Does not include building permits, does not include site costs, does not include external concrete", and so on.

It is a little like comparing a new car at two different dealerships, where one is a base model with no upgrades or extras and doesn’t include "drive away costs" such as stamp duty, rego etc. and the other car is a top of the line, fully optioned model at drive away price.


A Holden Commodore SV6, family sedan, 6 cylinders, automatic – costs around $35 000. A BMW 320i, mid size sedan, 4 cylinders, automatic – costs around $65 000.

So why would you pay almost twice the price for a smaller car that does essentially the same thing. Here’s a few reasons:

  • Build quality/design
  • Customisation/flexibility
  • Accessories/inclusions
  • Value retention
  • Reputability (always research a business, their product and any issues that have arisen with the product).
The age old adage is clearly evident; "you get what you pay for"

As a custom home builder, the process of giving a square metre rate is not as simple. There are hundreds of variables which would all be accounted for in a custom home cost. Some variables would be: 

  • Site Costs; your home will be individually designed to suit the slope of your block, the soil type plus other constraints such as fire prone, flood prone etc.
  • Services; different areas require different service installations
  • External Materials; there are a multitude of different construction and cladding materials available in a custom built home.
  • Internal Materials; a varying array of materials can be used for internal flooring, walls, ceiling, benchtops & cabinetry such as natural & engineered stone, natural & engineered timber, architectural panelling etc.
  • Internal Inclusionsthere is an endless list of products available for kitchen and bathroom fittings and appliances.
  • External Inclusions; things like driveways, footpaths, retaining walls, carports, sheds, patios, pergolas and even swimming pools.
  • The Design; Take a look at these 3 design examples. All are 250sqm however design B&C have almost twice the length of external walls and obviously both have more complex roof designs than design A. Other design variables could include wall & ceiling heights, windows (sizes, types, quantity). Roof design such as skillion style with raked ceiling.

Hopefully now you can understand why, without a custom home builder knowing exactly what your dream home is or what you hope to build, it is inaccurate to estimate on a square metre rate.

My advice is this:
​If you are on a strict budget and you are trying to squeeze as much home into a tight budget as possible and you aren’t overly concerned about the quality or limited flexibility, then go with a project home builder. It is pointless trying to compare and negotiate prices between a custom home builder and a project home builder. A little like going to the BMW dealership and trying to negotiate the price of a 320i down to a Holden Commodore SV6 price! You just wouldn’t do it.

But if you are more discerning buyer looking for quality, flexibility, transparency, value for money, peace of mind and a realistic approach to the cost of building a quality custom built home, then the question for you is "How can I get an accurate, transparent, fixed price for the cost to build my new home?" or "How can I be sure the custom home design that I want or has been created for me is going to fit my budget?"

The only way these questions can be answered in a way which ensure accurate cost outcomes at the earliest stage of the process with no hidden extras or variations, is to work with home designers and builders who are trained in building cost management and who use scientific pricing analysis systems, not a guess. Then the outcome becomes on of “here is the cost of building your dream home to your required specifications. Here is the guarantee that this price is accurate”.

Written by Julian Driussi – General Manager for Del Casa Homes.

If you would like to find out more about how to design and build your new custom home, then contact the team at Del Casa Homes today.

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