How to avoid building cost blow outs

Cost blow outs and budgetary problems are the number one cause of significant problems during a building project and result in a load of stress and anxiety for you the client.  However, if you are prepared to do some preparation and raise your awareness of the main causes of these cost blow outs, you can avoid this major issue and the whole building process will be a lot more enjoyable.

After 27 years of experiencing the highs and lows of residential building projects, here are my tips for avoiding cost blow outs.


A. Educate yourself

There is plenty of freely available information online (see the DDB Design website Knowledge Centre) that you can use to fully educate yourself about the entire design and construction process and the possible pit falls along the way.  Topics such as Prime Cost Allowances and Building Variations must be areas of particular focus.

B. Do your research

Dig deep when looking around for an architect and builder.  You must only engage a builder that comes highly recommended from several sources and has a proven track record as a specialist builder in the type of project you are proposing. You should also get the builder on board as early as possible, so they can act as a trusted adviser and control the budget during the design process.

C. Be well organized

Building a home involves huge amounts of information that you must fully understand and process over many stages. It is vital for you, to stay on top of all the documents.  To do this successfully, you must be very systematic and well organized. Always be well prepared for meetings with the architect and builder, keep detailed notes and documents in a portable file or folder and you must make decisions promptly when required.

D. Don’t change your mind (This is the big one!)

Most contract variations come from the client changing their mind or not knowing what they want.  It is important to select the fittings and fixtures you want to use as early in the design and building process as possible, then stick to those decisions.  Every time you change something it will cost you money. Also, get help from experts and consultants when you need it. An interior designer or specialist builder can help you make all the selections if necessary.

E. Enjoy the process

If you are often feeling stressed out, it is usually a sign that something is not right.  So, the quicker you discuss your concerns with the builder the better. The builder’s job is to help you make all the right decisions and to make the whole process as smooth and positive as possible, so embrace their guidance and solicit their advice whenever needed.


My final advice is to create a detailed project budget at the start, then every 3 or 4 weeks review the budget to see how the project costs are tracking and make any necessary adjustments.  Knowing where the total costs are sitting and regularly updating them will give you much needed peace of mind. Enjoy!  


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