Building on a Budget

The cost of building a house in Fiji is very site-specific, issues such as planning constraints, topography, exposure to the elements and access for construction are significant factors in the overall cost. No builder will be able to give you an ‘accurate ballpark’ figure without drawings being on hand. The more accuracy you want, the more work and detail you need to put in, including a schedule of products to be used. One thing that can be confidently stated is that your project is likely to cost you more than you expect. Materials costs rise and the shortage of skilled tradespeople is an on going concern. As building activity increases, builders’ rates change as demand goes up, so too do material costs. Regulatory changes also have an effect on building costs

Establishing an Estimated Cost

Tip # 4

Find out the rough average square metre costs of construction from your local builder, architect or quantity surveyor as this will help you keep your project plans at a realistic level. As a very rough starting point for Fiji, $1,500m2 is very cheap, $2,000-2,500m2 is more usual and then anything from $3,000m2 and up is more consistent with bespoke designed houses.

Tip # 5

Be aware that there are many wonderful items available online for your home, they may be wonderful, but do they fit your budget

Tip # 6

Allow at least 10% of your total budget for overruns, unforeseen costs or changes to the plan – you are likely to need it.

Tips For Saving Money

If your wants are more than your means, there are things you can do to save money.

  • Work out what you can do yourself and what you will have to pay a tradesman to do. Unless you are good at DIY, it can be cheaper to get an expert. Some work must, by law, be done by a qualified tradesman.
  • Reduce the size of your project – instead of a 200 m2 house, perhaps you can live with a 180m2 project. You are likely to save on engineering costs, too, if building smaller.
  • Use cheaper materials – different cladding systems, window joinery, different flooring, fewer bathroom/ kitchen tiles can all help bring down the cost.
  • Decide which features or changes are “must haves” and which can be dropped or deferred to stay within budget.
  • Find out what your designer will charge. It is usually between 6 to 15% of the total cost of the job, depending on its size and value and what services the designer provides.
  • Talk to a local real estate agent to see what houses like your design sell for – No point in spending more money than you will make from selling later (unless you plan to stay there for the long term).
  • Engage a quantity surveyor, they will be able to give you an accurate estimate of your project and help you with strategies to stay within your budget..


Costs Estimators - are they worth it

There are online tools available, that give you an estimate of building your own home. But the single most accurate way to estimate a price is to take your design to a quantity surveyor and pay them to cost your build. On line tools are only as accurate as the detail and time you put in. A quantity surveyor can also help with the quote process to give you a much more accurate price.
Architects are more expensive but the value of what you get back is usually well worth the additional investment. An architectural draughtsperson will generally give you what you ask for, an architect will give you a lot more.

builders quotation

Builders' Quotes - avoid the hidden costs

Be aware when you get quotes to make sure that you’re comparing the same things, you know the saying “compare apples with apples not apples with oranges”. Often cheaper quotes will leave out items you have to put in later or under-quote on items your contractor expects you to change and then charge you for.

By providing a detailed list of inclusions to the builders that you are going to ask to quote will enable them to price on the same things.

kit building blocks

The Kit Home Option

Pacific Property Solutions have already taken a lot of the hard work out of estimating and design with the range of kit homes offered through our partnerships with Fraemohs and TRENZ Homes. By selecting a design by one of our partners the bulk of your material supply costs will be known and the cost fixed. This requires only the labour component to be quoted for the build. Furthermore, our kit home suppliers can offer a wider range of building material choices through their supply chains in New Zealand and Australia.

All kit homes are supplied with a complete set of working drawings ready for building consent which removes the need for an architectural draughtsperson. Up to date construction systems and innovate design technologies are employed in the production of the homes.

Should you choose to design your own home, Pacific Property Solutions through their network of construction professionals can help you through the design process, establish a realistic project estimate and stay on budget.

pps director

This post was written by Gareth Williams. Gareth is a Director of Pacific Property Solutions Pte Ltd and is also a Professional Quantity Surveyor and Member of the New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors