What’s the cost per square metre?

UNDOUBTEDLY that’s the most common question asked in renovations and yet the most tenuous to provide a satisfactory reply. 

Can I answer this without the use of “How long’s a piece of string”…? Nope!

This is by no means meant to be a flippant reply and everyone who has asked me always follows up with words to the effect of: “Come on, just roughly, what do you reckon?”

Square metre rates came about in relation to new homes, whereby an ‘average’ cost could be deduced and subsequently applied across the board as a comparison for one home/competitor to the other.

Where it falls down is when the comparisons made omit several mitigating factors that will skew that rate significantly. 

For example:

• Some rates are based on the total area of internal liveable space in comparison to others who work on external wall area;

• Some include garage, alfresco and balconies; others don’t; and

• Some include full internal and external painting, floor coverings, appliances, landscaping and earthworks; and,

• Some include some and others include none (poetic I know!)

Within the comparison, the level of quality and finishes have a significant impact and I guess, this is where rates can highlight the differences most effectively.

Give me a number!

OK, to put it in a metaphorical context, this is my part-science-based, emotionally lack-lustre summary of what you’re likely to get for your square metre rate. 

The comparisons are based on full turn-key builds.

Please note: By no means should this contextualisation denigrate any car or building brand.

Under $1,500 – $2,000 per m2.
Project homes with all fixtures and fittings as provided and little if any scope to change.
Perceived Quality Skoda.
Door handle might fall off after six months and don’t be surprised if you see the same WC in Bunnings.

$2,000 – $3,000 per m2. Home
Upper-end project homes and low-mid range custom homes.
Perceived Quality & Finish Hyundai, Mitsubishi – with some ‘fruit’.
Door handle won’t fall off. In fact, you’ll find yourself opening and closing anything that’s openable and closable in admiration of its solidity.

$3,000 – $4,000 per m2.
Upper-end custom homes – this is where the interiors and finishes will vary considerably.
Perceived Quality & Finish
BMW / Audi – with some or lots of fruit!
Feels like you’ve stepped into a BMW or Audi showroom – you probably won’t want to leave and the coffee comes from one of those fancy ‘pod’ machines.

$4,000 – $5,000 per m2. Home
Upper-end custom homes – high level of fixtures and finishes throughout.
Perceived Quality & Finish Jaguar/Lexus.
Business Class all the way; you basically have a Butler and even your garage has carpet on the floor

$5,000 upwards per m2. Home
High-end custom homes. Perceived Quality & Finish Bentley/Porsche.
Pointy end of the plane; you do have a Butler and you’re getting Instagram Likes from Royalty. Beyoncé is likely to pop over for a dip in your pool.
It’s easy to be definitive with the ‘construction & content’ of a new building, but when it comes to renovations, the ‘system’ fails miserably.

The work involved in a renovation is so different from project to project that any comparison is nigh-on impossible. 

A simple front porch ‘addition’ of 5.5m2, with a footing, slab and timber frame, tied into the existing roofline cost around $60,000, which is nearly $11,000 per m2! 

However, in contrast an 85m2 second-storey addition, with structural steel, removal of brick walls and a tiled roof was $3,850 per m2.

That said, can we be realistic by stating a m2 rate for renovations? 

Invariably, I’d say ‘No’…of course with a few exceptions; a new extension for example with little additional work.

However, I’d be inclined to consider the project in its entirety and budget holistically rather than think a m2 rate will be accurate. Run from a builder that drops a m2 rate in at the first meeting!

Plus, always plan for some unknowns. Like the onset of Bali-belly just as you’re boarding a flight; they have an uncanny knack of making themselves known at the most inconvenient times and having more than an unwelcome impact!

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