How To Budget For Your Custom Home Build

Creating your dream home from scratch is a huge commitment not only emotionally, but financially as well. From preparing the site, to design and then of course, the actual building, costs can add up. In fact, a new home can be the largest monetary outlay in your life, so it’s essential you get it right the first time. 

This is why a clear budget is essential – taking the time to figure out what you want from your new home and how much you want to spend will ensure that the end product is as you imagined, instead of a poor replica. 

As one of Brisbane’s leading custom home builders, we’ve guided many clients through the building process, working with their specific budget to create unique properties that reflect and enhance their lifestyle. Here are our top tips to budgeting for a custom home build. 

Understand what’s involved 

Many people fall into the trap of only including the build of a house in a budget breakdown. However, there’s much more to it than that – planning and site prep may cost more than you initially thought, depending on your block. 

Well before we lay down a brick, you’ll need to consider your site conditions, council requirements, the structural design and the availability of essential infrastructure, such as water, sewer, electricity and gas. Will you need to tear down an existing home, or is the site ready to build on? All of these additional processes build up and can add a hefty price tag onto your final bill, so make sure you’ve given yourself enough room for these in your overall budget. 

Engage a builder early

No one knows more about building a home than a high-quality builder, so it’s essential to engage your chosen builder as early on in the process as possible. A great builder will be able to advise you on realistic costs, what will be expensive and where you could potentially save money. Their extensive knowledge also means the design process will be well-informed, with no outlandish elements that might drive your budget over. 

A great way to ensure your budget remains in hand is to opt for a design and construct service. This is a project delivery system that sees a design-builder taking care of both the design and construction phases of your build. This means one point of contact throughout the entire journey, resulting in a seamless process, clear communication and streamlined timelines.

If you’re struggling to find a design and construct builder that specialises in what you are proposing, the next best alternative would be to engage your builder in a preliminary services or a pre-construction services agreement. As part of this service, you can engage a builder who is separate to the design team, to oversee the design while it is being developed. This will ensure your home design is created in sync with your budget and means your builder may even be able to provide some cost saving alternatives before the design is finalised.

Know what you can spend

There’s no point creating a budget if you don’t have a number in mind, so you’ll need to speak to a lender or bank to find out more about financing a custom home build and starting the construction loan process. 

At this point in the journey, you’ll only need to get pre-approval so that you know how much the financial institution is willing to lend you. As a rule of thumb, you want to avoid a budget that’s any higher than the pre-approved amount, unless you’re willing to cover additional costs with cash. 

Work out what you need and want in the new home

Your dream home should be a reflection of your lifestyle, making everyday living easier. What this physically translates to is different for every client, so it’s important to consider how your new home will achieve your goals and suit your lifestyle. 

One of the best ways to do this is to create a ‘needs and wants’ list, separating elements so that you know what is non-negotiable and what has some room to move. For example, will you need extra bedrooms or living spaces for family members, or large garden areas for pets? Will this be a forever home, or are you looking to stay and sell in a few years? 

Establishing exactly what you need will help guide your budget decisions and provide a clearer picture on where to spend your money. 

Avoid common mistakes and budget blowout 

Unfortunately, too many people fall into the trap of choosing the cheapest quote from a builder and neglecting to look at the little details, resulting in a nasty surprise when the final bill is presented. 

To avoid this and ensure your budget stays on track, pay particular attention to any prime cost and provisional sum items – these are often the source of blowouts as they are often underestimated. Clear up any uncertainty in specifications or items at quoting stage and try to make as many selections as possible prior to signing the dotted line, so that there is less need for variations down the track. 

You can find out more on avoiding budget blowout in this blog post.


Ready to engage a builder to bring your custom home to life? Get in touch with the team at Linear Design + Construct – we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about building your new home within budget.