Saving money when building

Building Cost Saving Tips

Everyone is looking for building cost savings no matter how large or small the building project.

We all love surprises – except when it comes to spending money, and even less when it is your own. In the development industry hidden costs are often unavoidable, however, the surprise doesn’t have to be.

When we look at a building site, we usually look at its natural and environmental attributes first; position, orientation, elevation, shading etc. However, we often forget to look for the costly hidden factors that can add thousands or even tens of thousands to your building costs. Avoiding hidden costs will not only save money but unnecessary stress as well, and maybe even a future client if your the builder. There are few things worse than having to go back to your client, cap in hand, and having to ask them to increase the budget for unplanned costs.

Making allowance for sewers, storm water drains, landfill, boundary setbacks, and bushfire zones –  just to name a few, can dramatically raise the cost of the project. Experienced surveyors/developers know that there are of course ways to get around these costs using careful re-design strategies, but only if they are identified early. Finding these hidden costs early can be difficult. The range of factors is wide and the variables many.

Development Certification has come up with an essential checklist of the possible points you should identify before you start designing or pricing. Download and print a copy, and tack it onto your clipboard to take with you when you meet your next client.

  1. SEWERS. Establish their zone of influence. Include sewers on neighbouring properties.
  2. DRAINS. Establish stormwater drain requirements and their zone of influence, including on neighbouring properties.
  3. EASEMENTS. Check requirements and restrictions including neighbouring properties.
  4. FOUNDATION. Check landfill and soil type requirements when considering foundation design.
  5. BOUNDARIES. Check required boundary setbacks with Planning Schemes, Queensland Development Code, and Building Envelope plans
  6. HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS. Building heights as well as minimum floor heights to be within flood level requirements.
  7. INCLINE. Check slope of the land and its stability requirements under Planning Schemes.
  8. NOISE. Evaluate Noise Transport Corridor strategies for construction, including insulation and window design.
  9. FIRE. Check the fire zone requirements and how they will influence construction strategies, materials, and window protection etc.
  10. FLOOD.  Check if your property is located in a designated flood hazard area and if it will influence the required minimum floor height.
  11. WIND. Evaluate wind speed design requirements in regards to bracing and structure.
  12. PAVEMENTS. Evaluate driveway and footpath infrastructure in regard to water valves, fire hydrants, and communication pits.
  13. RESTRICTIONS. Ask your land developer about the other building covenant restrictions.

Of course, some of these attributes will have unavoidable costs and will have to be budgeted for, but at least you will have eliminated the element of surprise and prepared your client before hand. Besides, you will have instilled in them more confidence in your abilities and conscientious work ethic, as well as established a better working relationship for the future. It’s always best to be prepared and thorough, so you can avoid any uncomfortable surprises.

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I am a Director of Devcert and have been a Building Surveyor since 1989. I have a bachelor degree in building surveying and I am a qualified carpenter. I have been in the construction industry since 1981. I have a real passion for the building certification profession as I believe building certifiers are the general practitioners of the construction industry. Our role is not only to know building law and apply it, our role includes assisting in the development of the knowledge of all in the industry by sharing our knowledge and experience.