So, you’ve been through countless display homes, grabbed a couple of quotes to build potential dream homes on your site, had a chat to your bank, now you are ready to jump in a put down a deposit. But, before you dive in, be sure to factor in the pre-construction hidden costs. 

Most home builders will let you know that there’s post construction costs which are not usually covered by the quote to build. Essential items such as fencing, curtains and concrete driveways will need to be funded by you. 

Less well known are the hidden costs to you that need to be met long before your builder arrives on site to begin construction.  

The demo

If, like me, you’re doing a knowckdown-rebuild (KDR), the largest pre-construction hidden cost is the demolition of your old home. For me this one was $20K, including asbestos removal.  

Gravity Demolition completed the demolition at my place. They were not the cheapest company out there but I chose them because they were able to get onto my job weeks before any other company. You can read about my demolition experiences here. 

Prior to my demolition I needed to apply for an Asset Protection Permit from Maroondah City Council. This one involves a fee of around $500 plus a $2000 bond, which is kept until the job is complete.  

Assuming the demo company doesn’t damage council assets such as footpaths or gutters, I should get the bond back at some point. 

Another unexpected cost prior to demolition was NBNco charging me $450 to abolish the NBN from my property. If they expect to charge me to reconnect it I’ll switch to 5G in my new home.  

Too many trees

The next largest cost to me was removal of unwanted/dangerous trees. I spent $9500 removing these and if not for many hours shopping around on price, this cost could have been $6-7K higher. If you are looking to buy a run-down house with the intention to KDR, searching for houses with no trees near the footprint of your proposed new home could save you plenty.  

Post demolition
This is a post demolition photo of my block.

Power problems

Powering your site is no longer as simple at organizing an overhead line from the nearest pole to your home. These days, in Melbourne at least, you need to pay for the installation of an underground power pit to be installed at the front of your property 

This service is not cheap and will involve contacting your energy distributor. Just to let you know, nobody has ever uttered the words “I enjoyed dealing with my energy distributor.” My final bill has not come in yet, but I’m expecting to pay between $3-6K 

Securing your site

Both the demolition company, and Henley will ask you to provide temporary fencing before they’ll come on site. They will separately offer to rent the fencing for you but you will then pay for it twice. Once for the demo, once for the build.

Through a bit of shopping around I managed to purchase temporary fencing several hundred dollars cheaper than renting it. Though you’ll need to put it up yourself, you can also sell it when construction finishes. 

If you want to do the same, search the internet for the cheap temporary fencing companies, then walk into Bunnings and have them price match. I managed to get the lot delivered to site for a paltry $40. The total cost of the delivered fencing was $930 

Post demolition

Post demolition, if you have any trees left on your block, or if your neighbor has any trees near your boundary fence, Henley will expect you to pay for an arborist report to determine any future impact on your concrete slab. 

My tender appointment called for $1600 as an arborist fee, plus a provisional sum of $20K in concrete re-enforcing. To be clear, the $1600 must be paid but the $20K is dependent on the content of the report. That cost would be a paid in the construction phase.

Learn from my mistakes

One final cost required post-demolition was cutting and capping the stormwater plus the sewer line to the tie point, of Legal Point of Discharge (LPOD). This will require the services of a licensed plumber. 

Some demolition companies will offer to do the cut/cap for an extra fee above your demo price. Take this option! I didn’t and I regretted it. 

Getting this job done necessitated obtaining a map from Yarra Valley Water which showed the precise location of the sewer tie in point. The cost is $38 and you can apply for it online and have it emailed to you minutes later. 

Next step is finding a plumber willing to do the job. It appears some plumbers these days don’t want to dig ditches so I made plenty of phone calls in my search. Eventually I found Daniel at DJM Plumbing in Heathmont, just around the corner from my block 

 

After forwarding Daniel the map I purchased from YVW he managed to get to site the next day and he had no trouble at all finding the pipes and completing the task. Total cost $1254. I’d have no hesitation in recommending DJM and you can find their website here 

Next steps

Aside from the costs noted above, Henley has received 3 deposits so far with a total amount paid of $4150. That is to the post demolition, pre-contract stage of the process. 

The next step of the journey for me is for Henley to organize the arborist, the secondary soil testing and survey. Then, hopefully, I should have a final contract, and price, in front of me by late March 2022. 

All going well I hope to be in my new home by Christmas 2022. 

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