For Generation Rent, the dream of home ownership may seem like a distant hope, especially when in the UK at the moment the average house costs over five times the average wage (up from three times in 1997, source). Government stats show that last year the shovels came out on over 100,000 new building projects, but for all those that did, there were plenty others that didn’t start at all.
A large number of people live in rented homes these days, and yet according to a survey conducted by housing charity Shelter recently, many private renters feel that the house they live in doesn’t feel like “home”. But how much does it cost to build a house? It’s crucial to have a precise breakdown, not only to calculate costs, but also so you can save for a down payment on a mortgage.
Luckily there are online calculators available that can do this to within around five per cent accuracy, so that you can a start working towards home financing. Before you go calculating sums though, you’ll need to know the following things:
1. Floor space The industry standard for calculating building costs is according to the area of the project in metres squared (m2) of floor space. Obviously what you need here is a detailed plan, whether drawn up by yourself or a professional architect. For the purposes of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) cost calculator, floor space is from one internal wall to another, including any other internal walls in the way. For loft space, factor in about 30 per cent less than standard ceilings.
2. Your location The cost of building varies depending on where you are in the country. Costs of a new building in Greater London can be as much as 25 per cent more than in the North of England or Scotland and Wales.
3. Your materials Naturally, the final cost of your house will depend on the quality of materials you intend to use. A standard build cost calculator based on RICS figures will specify different categories. As a rough guide, if you are happy with simple facing bricks and insulation, basic sanitary ware and standard softwood joinery, you’ll come in within the lowest bracket. If you want a bespoke kitchen, hardwood fittings, and underfloor heating, the increase per m2 is about 30 to 40 per cent.
4. Build route Your build route basically means the level of personal involvement you are prepared to have in your new building project. There’s no such thing as a one-man job, but by cutting out the middle man, buying your own supplies, doing a significant amount of DIY, and hiring workers only for what you can’t do alone, you can save up to 25 per cent. If you leave everything to a main contractor, who will then bring in subcontractors, then naturally the cost will increase.
5. Extras Don’t forget to factor in extras such as legal fees, planning permission, stamp duty and an extra £10 per m2 to factor in if your build is on a sloping site. Once you’ve done that, you should have a pretty decent cost breakdown, and be a lot nearer to seeing your dream home getting off the ground.