This is a very real and honest discussion about the myth that a Queenstown builder can offer an accurate square meter rate without spending hours looking at and pricing your plans.

You have purchased a section in Queenstown, you are feeling all the excitement that we all feel when we have made that commitment to starting a new build and you want to know how much it is going to cost you to build the dream architectural home that you want on it. But you have no plans and no drawings yet….

So many people come to builders at this stage asking “What is your square meter rate” and unfortunately, asking this question for an architectural build in Queenstown is like asking a car dealer what is the price of a car in New Zealand.

A bit of back tracking is required for some further information right? For example, are you looking for:
-a performance vehicle like a Subaru for the way it handles the conditions
-a little run around Suzuki swift that is cheap and cheerful but ‘does the job’
-or a Ferrarri that looks the part and comes with all the bells and whistles?

Although all cars in NZ generally have 4 wheels and are made for driving, there is a huge range of prices between these vehicles, the same way that although all houses generally have walls and a roof and are made to live in, there is a many variables between a small home, a high performance home and a 600 square meter mansion with all the bells and whistles.

Unfortunately, this question “What is your square meter rate” can only attract an incredibly flawed answer for so many reasons – and while people wanting to build might think it provides a good indicative price, it in fact gives a total false sense of actual costs and is a really bad place to start your home building journey.

Let’s try to look at this another way- a building firm we collaborate with in the North Island put it this way to their customers:   

You have two houses being built, both are exactly 100m2 footprint. House 1 is a square measuring 10mx10m, house 2 is a rectangle home measuring 25x4m. House 1 however has 40m long walls, and house 2 has 58m long walls, resulting in an extra 18m of walling – almost 50% difference. This simple inaccuracy alone would cost the client tens of thousands of dollars.

This is why we at Ferguson Builders are not in the habit of providing our clients with an indicative square meter rate, but instead will only provide costings based on accurate information from both consented plans and client requests.

We do understand where clients are coming from trying to get an understanding of costs involved in a build SO we are happy to discuss a few things with our clients to help you see where expenses are going to creep up and can promise you that is a much better plan for moving ahead with your build.


Here are a few that put your build price up, right from the beginning: 

-Any classic upgrades such as kitchen benchtops, designer tapware, added wall decoration such as paneling or wallpaper, carpet upgrades such as wool rather than solution dyed nylon, specialty high grade timber floors and higher grind concrete floor polishes. These are often extra expenses that add considerable value to your home though, so it’s worth figuring out which are your priority and non negotiables and which you are happy to leave as originally specified.

-Expensive cladding. We’ve seen all over the news how expensive cedar is just now and generally speaking, cladding a house in timber is an expensive option anyway, both at the time and for upkeep. Of course schist and stonework is also expensive, but, utilising these in small areas as a feature, rather than trying to clad you whole home in it will instantly make a difference to both the appeal and likely the value of your home too, so if this is important to you it’s worth it.

-Cantilevered decks, roofs and floors are very cool to look at, but are an extra expense because of the engineering costs involved.

-Steep sites. These will incur extra land removal costs, can require extra retaining costs and engineering costs, plus will often involve more expense in the building process due to waterproofing and code requirements.

-Large in size or large amounts of glass. This usually results in the need for extra steel portals. 

-Similarly, large open plan spaces. These also require extra engineering for support.

-Difficult site access. There are so many areas of care that builders need to take when it comes to servicing a site that can instantly drive the cost up if the access is difficult. Time involved, extra machinery required or any extra health and safety precautions that need to be taken are just some of the areas that can drive the price up in this area.

-Any areas of the home where extra labour is required to achieve something- for example with tiling, feature walls using small tiles cost a lot more to lay than standard sized tiles. Small areas can instantly cost thousands of dollars more. Equally, anything custom designed where it involves time at both the design and install stage are always going to drive the price up comparative to an off the shelf, mass produced option. 

Now we are certainly not telling you to take these items out of your build, and in fact we regularly build homes with all of the above included in the build. We are passionate about building homes with such features, however we are equally as passionate about our clients realising the cost involved from the beginning so there are no surprises along the way.

There are a few things to consider that will change your building costs right from the outset that are really elements you can’t escape, like considering the cost of employing an architect, engineer, land surveyors, all of which can range in cost hugely depending on the demands of your site and build plan. Many people forget to factor these costs into their build, which then becomes a difficult pill to swallow when the cost before even starting your build is already high, so it is good to be conscious of these costs from the get-go. There is nothing worse for us than seeing how much stress a client is carrying before they have even started the build process- this should be a fun and exciting journey for you, and with the right preparation and awareness it can be.

Talk to Ferguson Builders as early in the build process as you can so we can help you be prepared for the costs involved in your dream home, we promise transparency, accurate information and no cowboy builder square metre rate guessing. We are here to look after you and your build.


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