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Understanding site costs can help you ensure your finances are being used wisely.

2 September 2016

What are site costs?

Site costs usually apply to any items not included in the quoted base cost of building your home.

They can relate to factors of site infrastructure (assessing the site, obtaining licences and setting up construction requirements like fences prior to the build) and site works (works needed to ensure the site provides a safe and stable foundation for your home and doesn’t damage neighbours’ fencing or foundations).

The extent of costs depends on site conditions including fall of the land (the differences in height at different points of the site), soil conditions, drainage requirements and other factors that might affect the stability and safety of your home immediately or over time. 

All of these site conditions typically need to be investigated before site costs can be determined.

As an example, the location of trees and root systems may indicate the need for one type of support within the foundations of your home, but if the soil is not suitable (only known after soil testing), these may need to be upgraded to other types of supports for your home’s footings—each solution will have different associated costs.

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When should site costs be discussed and fixed? 

Discuss with your builder all site costs, and review rates charged for drainage, retaining walls and other site work as early as possible—before any significant work is committed.

It’s essential to ask about and understand the extent of site costs included in quoted base prices, as inclusions can differ from builder to builder. Your builder can provide you with a list of what is and is not included in the base cost of your build.

While site costs may be estimated before testing and surveying are carried out, they will only be accurate once testing and surveying is complete (or if your contract states site costs as ‘included’). Soil test results and a site survey can be obtained quickly through your builder, and it should be possible in most cases to fix site costs as soon as these are available.

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How can homeowners avoid unexpected site costs? 

It’s important to understand upfront exactly what you are committing your time and finances to. Discussing base cost inclusions and site cost requirements early on will help you avoid cost surprises during the building process.

In the case of builders offering promotions or discounts, always investigate and compare site costs and the extent of inclusions in base costs. 

In some instances, site costs can be high or are overstated to make homeowners aware of the potential impact on the overall cost of building. This is not to say site costs are unnecessary—your home must begin with a solid foundation—but it does highlight the need to ask your builder where costs have been overstated and where more cost-effective solutions might be achieved.

If possible, obtain site costs upfront. Some builders—including Latitude 37—offer fixed-price site costs upfront and avoid charging premiums as part of their service commitment.

Design flexibility can also help you to save on site costs. With flexible and custom builders like Latitude 37, you have the advantage of being able to adapt a pre-designed floor plan or custom design to integrate with the fall of the land. This can eliminate excessive site works and make funds available for other upgrades that can, in turn, add significant value to your home.

By understanding site costs, you can work more effectively with your builder to ensure that the best, most cost-effective decisions are made to prepare your site, and that costs are accurate and fair.

Latitude 37 is known for its flexible, cost-effective custom design solutions and experience in working with sloping blocks and other site challenges. If you have questions about site costs, base cost inclusions or how you can avoid excessive site costs through design modifications, please Contact Us