Beautiful, bespoke, energy saving homes

Build Costs

Manage your expectations

Establishing a realistic budget to realise your dreams

Establishing a realistic budget at an early stage is one of the keys to successfully building your own home. In this section we cover the cost of building but excludes the cost of land. There are a number of factors that ultimately determine what it will cost to build a new home.

Location: Labour rates vary around the country. For example the south of England and Greater London are well known as areas where labour rates are high.

Size of dwelling: It may seem an obvious point but the larger the dwelling, the more labour, materials and plant you will need. Small properties are proportionately more expensive to build as they have little or no economies of scale. Bungalows are usually more expensive to build because they have proportionately more high cost elements such as roofs and foundations.

Complexity of design: The more complex the design, the more expensive it will be to build. Architectural/design features and ‘wow’ factors add to cost. Also external features such as porches, balconies and covered walkways are not generally classed as habitable space but can add significantly to the cost to your project.

Design genre: Architectural features associated with period designs such as Georgian can add to build costs.

Build quality: Those of you seeking to build to the highest of standards will not be surprised to learn that higher build quality will increase your build costs.

Specification: This is closely linked to the point above. The higher the specification, especially for key items like windows, external walling material, roof covering and level of internal finishes, the more it will cost you to build.

Site conditions: Ground levels, drainage, availability of services, presence of trees, special foundations, forming a new access or special circumstances such as drain diversions or if your plot is contaminated, will all influence your build costs.

Level of involvement/Build route: The more you can contribute to the building process the less it will cost to build your home. However you need to balance that with the time you have available. The most popular build route is where a single builder constructs the house in conjunction with the Design & Materials service and is referred to as the ‘hands-off’ or ‘design & build’ option.

Market conditions / availability of labour

Market conditions and availability of labour impact on build costs, sometimes significantly. If the market is buoyant and builders have plenty of work on then you can’t reasonably expect a cheap quote and vice versa.

Supplementary costs: There is a range of other costs you need to allow for; such as architect fees, engineers fees, energy consultant, external works, structural warranty, site insurance, essential services (water and electricity) and Local Authority charges, being some common examples.

Establishing your budget

At Design & Materials our approach is to break down costs into 3 distinct and separate areas. We then use analysis of clients’ projects to assist you in establishing a budget for your project. All figures exclude vat.

The dwelling: This includes the cost of building from foundations through to and including decoration ready for the final finishes. Due to the many factors that influence the cost of building this varies significantly between £1,000 per m² (for modest self-managed / DIY projects in the north) to £2,000 per m² or more (for high end ‘design & build’ projects in the south).

This is the part of your project Design & Materials can help you most with. By careful selection of the builders who are to tender and skilful negotiating on materials, we can directly influence that part of the project. We work hard on behalf of all our clients to minimise build costs. Also our design team always seek to create as cost effective a design as practicable whilst staying faithful to the client’s brief.

Final finishes: The amounts you spend on kitchen, bathrooms, fireplaces and appliances, floor coverings, wall tiling and built-in wardrobes. As a guide and depending on the level of quality, our past clients have on average spent £100 to £150 per m² of floor area. So for a house measuring say 200m² our clients typically spend between £20,000 and £30,000. Please note this part of a project is down to each individual client. As a self-builder you are free to spend as much or as little as you choose.

Supplementary / unusual costs: These vary from project to project. Below is a list of items you may need to allow for with an indication of typical costs based on our analysis of clients’ projects. Please note the figures below exclude vat which is not reclaimable on professional fees/third parties under current legislation.

Architectural work

(If you intend to employ an architect then typically allow around 10% of your budget)

incl. in our service

Demolition: Replacement projects

Hard landscaping: Drive, paths and patio

Soft landscaping: Planting

Garden walls / boundary treatments

Structural Warranty and Site Insurance

Energy Consultant (SAP assessment)

Structural Engineer

Local Authority fees

Service connections

Forming new access

New drop kerbs / footpath crossing

Site security / hoardings

Airtightness test

Soil survey and foundation design

Additional cost of special foundations

Topographical survey

Survey of existing dwelling: Replacement

Tree survey

Phase 1 habitat survey (protected species)

Additional species surveys (if required)

On-site drainage systems

Air source / ground source heat pump

Solar collectors for hot water

Photovoltaic roof tiles

Heat Recovery and Ventilation System

Rainwater harvesting

Passive House Principles

Bio-mass boiler


£5,000 to £20,000

from £6,000

from £500

requires individual costing

from £2,500


from £500

£1,000 to £1,500

£3,000 to £5,000

from £1,000

from £1,000

from £1,000

£300 to £500

from £1,500

from £5,000

from £600

from £1,000

from £500

from £400

from £1,500

£3,000 to £5,000

£5,000 to £10,000

from £5,000

from £5,000

£5,000 to £10,000

£500 to £5,000

8% to 10% of build costs

£7,500 to £10,000

Determined by clients

N.B. Supplementary Costs are unique to each individual project. They are largely outside your control as most items are payable regardless of who you choose to help you or which building system you opt for. Yes it is an extensive list but don’t be daunted, you have to bear in mind that not all of the above apply to every project and some of the items are optional. The figures can vary significantly for example demolition which is influenced by the size and structure of the existing dwelling or rainwater harvesting which can be simple water butts or a fully integrated system.

We are here to help    

If you are in the early stage and need help to establish your budget please contact us. One of our experienced team will be happy to discuss budget costs without obligation as they relate to your situation. Either complete our enquiry form or call us on Freephone 0333 001 5128.


Under current Government legislation Vat is reclaimable by individuals building their own home.  Many Councils apply a local levy on developers building new homes but if you are building for your own occupation then you are exempt.

 Other cost factors you may have to consider

If any of the following items apply to your project the cost can be assessed as part of a Project Appraisal by one of our experienced team.

  • Detached garages and outbuildings
  • Swimming pools
  • Wine cellar
  • Basements / partial basements
  • Unusual costs: e.g. moving a street light or diverting a drain

Guide to Building Your Individual Home

If you are in the early stages our ‘Guide to Building Your Individual Home’ includes advice on how to find land, obtaining planning permission, eco issues and lots of ideas to fire your imagination.  Click below to receive your complimentary copy.