Design issues that affect costs – Part 2

Last week we wrote about some design considerations to factor in early in your project. This week, we continue on with the design issues that affect costs and how these early decisions influence and impact the building costs.

Pillar and Post


Design and its impact on material costs

  • Bricks are heavy.  And the higher a brick wall is, the more expensive it becomes.  This is because of the cost of scaffolding and getting the bricks and materials up to the working height.  Upper level brickwork, if the building is anything other than a double height rectangle, also generally requires significant structural steel to carry the brickwork.
  • Proximity of services.  It’s a small issue, but ensuring the services are close to the source (like the kitchen and bathroom being close to the hot water service) diminishes the amount of materials required.
  • Consider the “ready dimensions” of the materials you will be using.  This eliminates much waste, and encourages economy.  For example timber comes in 300mm increments; most board products are 1200mm wide and 2400mm long – this is the old 8’ x 4’.  A good example of the way this might affect a design is wall heights.  Plasterboard is available in sheet widths of 1200mm and 1350mm, so when nominating wall heights, the designer should keep this in mind.
    2 x 1200 sheets =            2400 ceiling (8’)
    2 x 1350 sheets =            2700 ceiling (9’)
    3 x 1200 sheets =            3600 ceiling (12’)
    1 x 1200 + 1 x 1350 =     2650 ceiling (8 ½ ‘)

In designing a room, dimensions of 2400 x 3600 x 2700 will be a lot cheaper than an almost identical room of 2450 x 3500 x 2800.

  • Specifications.  This can turn a $200,000 structure into a $600,000 project.  Everything that can be specified in the building will affect the cost of the building.  A $250 toilet or a $1,500 toilet? A $15,000 kitchen or a $95,000 kitchen.  Understand your expectations and how they affect the project budget.  Specify early, so as not to rush decisions.

We have discussed just a few design factors that can influence the cost of building your dwelling.

It is important to communicate your budget to your designer at the beginning of the process so they can design within your constraints.


The decisions that are made in the early stages of your project can have a direct impact on the building cost – positive and negative.

It is important that your designer takes these and many more factors into consideration when they are designing your dwelling.  Be sure to communicate your budget to your designer early in the process.