Article 1

Article # 1 - Introduction
(in a series of 10)

No doubt most architects will have been asked this question at some stage.

Their clients may have seen the ads in the weekend newspaper where volume house builders are offering "over 40 squares for $300,000", or something similar.

Some volume builders' homes appear to be less thatn $1000/m², whereas many architect designed houses are $2500-$3500/m².

Why is there such a difference?

Why do architect designed houses cost so much?

This is a complex question without a simple answer.

Understanding the drivers behind these additional costs will help keep them to a reasonable minimum. It may also help to explain this complex issue to a perplexed client.

Firstly, let's look at some comparative data.

Below is a graph indicating the comparative cost between a typical 250 m² volume builder's house at $280,000 ($1,119/m²). The cost information is based on two actual projects typical of the types of houses with which we have been involved. Obviously this data can vary significantly from one design to another. Therefore this data is, at best, a useful comparison for discussion purposes, and should not be used as a guide to the possible cost of actual projects.

The most significant differences are in margin/overheads, structure and façade, with lesser differences in other components.

Internal fitout (finishes, joinery, fittings, etc) can be two or three times the cost, however the total cost difference in these components is not as high as, say, structure and façade.

To best understand the drivers of these higher costs, and to help keep them to a reasonable minimum, we need to look at each one individually. The answers that apply to one probably won't apply to the other, and therefore minimising costs in an architect designed house cannot be done with one sweep of a magic wand. It requires careful and prudent value management over all components of the project.

We will cover all aspects of this challenging question over this series of articles.

In Article # 2 we will cover builder's margins, supervision costs and overheads.