Custom Home Renovation or Project Home? Q&A Guide & Costs

Should we renovate or build a project home?

A project home seems to offer great value for money, especially when you consider that a medium to large home renovation with quality finishes can cost the same price as a project home. This is a matter worth discussing and we have prepared some questions and answers below.

Before Renovation

After Renovation

How much does a medium size high quality renovation cost?

Depending on the requirements you have it is very easy to spend over $150,000 on a “simple” renovation. There are many factors that come into play when renovating and at times it may seem more difficult than a new build. It is difficult to put a price tag on a vague question but square metre rates for a timber framed home renovation with medium quality finishes can be around $2000 per square metre. This means a 40 square renovation would cost upwards of $80,000. After reinvigorating old flooring, re-painting old walls and changing old windows as well as adding a deck and some landscaping this can jump to $150,000 quite easily, especially if you want a bathroom or kitchen in the renovation.

Why are project homes so cheap?

Bulk buying quantity. This is your answer. To keep it simple, the more project homes constructed, the cheaper it becomes for the company. Large amounts of materials purchased leads to discounted rates for the buyer. The cheaper the material, the higher the profit!

Comparing a project home to a custom designed home is similar to comparing a suit – the custom home is tailored, the project home is to manufacturers specifications. Lower quality materials and construction methods are also a factor but this is variable so we will not elaborate.

Architects or building designers fees as well as engineering fees are also minimised due to the design concept being very similar for each job. The project does not require a deep thought or multiple discussions and time.

What is the difference with a renovation and a new project home?

Think about the difference between a tailored suit that fits you perfectly and a suit off the shelf. A custom designed renovation (or new home design) is different in that it offers your requirements! It does not compromise views, privacy, material quality or design (depending on your building designer or architect).

With a custom designed renovation or new home you get to decide on every thing apart from the constraints of the site such as heritage conservation, flood level requirements, acoustic requirements or bush fire requirements and the list goes on. This means that although there rules which we need to adhere to, there is still a unique design which is specific to you and your lifestyle.

If your site has a deep slope or amazing views, these must be taken into deep consideration upon the design. A project home is a “one size fits all” solution. This is not always bad and this post is not a dig at project homes but for an efficient layout which caters directly to you, a project home may not be the best option.

How do project homes secure deals with manufacturers?

This is all about buying power. Thousands of houses each year are constructed by project home companies. This means plenty of supply by manufacturers so you would expect a discounted rate, just like a builder gets better rates than an average home-owner.

Building costs: why are renovations so much more costly?

Well, a project home takes the same amount of time for each project, or very close. Apart from external factors which affect construction such as weather, project homes are constructed the same every time and the contractors have completed the same task on another project elsewhere. This means there are no surprises and costs can be guaranteed.

A renovation on the other hand is a surprise every time, starting from scratch. It caters to your requirements and site, taking into consideration the views your site has and style or characteristics you wish to establish.

Contractors working on a renovation must be skilled professionals who are capable of constructing a difficult project which obviously costs more. There are also delays which are unexpected and cannot be calculated leading to rising costs.

Project home construction & “hidden costs”

Although they are not deemed hidden, the expected features of a home are not likely included in a project home cost, this can be the case with a renovation too.

Display villages only display the high end option which is not included in the initial price given to you and although this can be deceiving, it is not illegal. Landscaping, joinery, door and window quality and even appliances can be sneaky cost boosters hidden from you.

Ultimately, the choice is yours and both can offer a sound solution. It comes down to the selection of a duplicate layout or a custom designed integration. There are many happy home owners living in a duplicate design and there are many who spent the extra and got their custom renovation design.