What Are Site Costs?

In this article, we are going to discuss site costs. What they are, how much they are and why they need to be paid when you are building your new home. Some of the things discussed in this article won’t apply for everyone so just keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different.

What Are Site Costs?

Site costs are the amount you must pay your builder in order for them to prepare to start building your home. It covers the costs of excavating/digging your block to bring it up or down to the proper level. It also means doing whatever needs to be done to the site to allow them to pour the concrete slab or footings safely and so that everything is structurally sound.

What needs to be done to your block of land will be different to everybody else, you may have a poor soil type and require deeper concrete footings to be poured before your slab is poured or you may have a lot of rock or hard clay that requires heavy machinery to break up the rock or dig the hard clay. On the other hand, you could have very soft, sandy soil which would mean the block would need to be fixed to make it safe to build on.

There are different soil types that determine the quality of the soil. The better the grade of soil usually means the site costs would be cheaper.

Different Soil Types

There are different soil types that can affect your site costs. These different soil types are:

  • Class A: Most sand and rock sites with little or no ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class S: Slightly reactive clay sites, which may experience only slight ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class M: Moderately reactive clay or silt sites, which may experience moderate ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class H1: Highly reactive clay sites, which may experience high ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class H2: Highly reactive clay sites, which may experience very high ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class E: Extremely reactive sites, which may experience extreme ground movement from moisture changes
  • Class P: Sites which include filled sites (refer to AS 28702.4.6), soft soils, such as soft clay or silt or loose sands; landslip; mine subsidence; collapsing soils; soils subject to erosion; reactive sites subject to abnormal moisture conditionsor sites which cannot be classified otherwise.

Cheap Land Lots

Be careful if you come across cheap land lots, especially when they seem much cheaper than other blocks around that area. They could have a very poor soil type and require a lot of site works to be carried out before the build can commence. If possible, speak to the developer about the soil type of the block or have your own test carried out by a soil tester.

How Much Are Site Costs?

This is the hard part to discuss as everyone will have different site costs. Different builders charge different amounts for site costs and as discussed above, depending on your soil type this will affect the site costs on your block.

I have personally seen site costs from around $5000 all the way up to $80,000+

Other things that can affect site costs are:

  • The difficulty in getting utilities to your property
  • Building permits
  • Soil test reports
  • Builders construction and warranty insurance
  • Temporary fencing
  • Type of block (sloping, etc)

Putting an exact dollar value in site costs is impossible for me to write in this article as every single builder and block are different.

How To Get a Good Deal on Site Costs?

In order to save as much money as you can on site costs, I always advise people to find a builder that will include site costs in as part of the build or a builder who can offer capped or fixed site costs. Capped or fixed site costs means that you may just pay them a straight out figure ($10,000) and it won’t cost you anymore even if it costs the builder more. Some builders will even give you money back from your site costs if they weren’t as high as they initially thought.

The other way to get a good deal on site costs is to find a block of land that doesn’t require a lot of work in terms of site preparation.

If you speak to a land developer / land sales agent, they should be able to tell you the soil type and they may possibly even know roughly what the site costs have been for that area.

If you speak to a builder, they may be able to recommend you a block of land in an estate they may be building in where they know the site costs have been low.

When we built our home, we went directly to the builder and asked them what estates in the area they were currently building in. From here they were able to tell us roughly what the site costs were in the area. That didn’t matter too much to us though because our agreement with the builder was that they would be wearing the site costs, no doubt it was hidden somewhere in the cost of the home but it was good to know we would have no nasty surprises in terms of site costs.

Another great way to make sure you aren’t being ripped off on site costs is to join a Facebook group for the land estate you are building in (if applicable) and compare your site costs with others in the same estate. Although, even blocks in the same estate can have large variances in site costs because every block and home is different but it will give you some idea of what you should be paying.

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