10 Items you need in your plans

Do you want to make sure your contract price is what it actually costs you to build?

We are passionate about making sure that all the building costs required to build your home are included in your contract.  Not just a smattering of things with gaps that later get filled by variations you pay for, that’s not fair on you or us.

So how do we make sure that when we give you a price for a project, it has everything included?  We use a checklist (which you can access below).

So if you are having a house designed at the moment, you want to make sure that your designer includes these things in the building design and documentation.  

The list might seem a bit obscure, but these are some items which can easily be “priced low” to win the job and then be turned into variations later.

Wall Tiles

They are an item that is commonly referred to in building contracts as a PC Sum per square meter (PC Sum stands for Prime Cost which means the number is representative of what the expected cost will be at construction).

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, except that it should also include detail of exactly how many square meters have been allowed for and where those square meters are going.  Below is an example of how we detail our wall tile allowance;

10 Items you need in your home plans

So you can see in our example the client knows exactly what quantity has been allowed and the retail price that has been allowed.  This makes it easy, and clear for them to make a tile choice without having to guess how their budget will be affected.

Internal Doors

The cost of an internal door can range from $23 – $500…or more!  So it’s important that your building designer specifies a door type or an allowance for internal doors (As an aside the same thing applies to door hardware).

This helps you not only think about how your doors will fit in with things like your flooring, architraves, skirting and cornice but will ensure you don’t get a nasty surprise after you sign the contract and ask for a particular type of door.


Joinery or cabinetry as it’s often referred to is about way more than just the kitchen these days.  Normally you would be wanting to include the following types of joinery in your building contract;

  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms and Ensuites
  • Laundry
  • Built in Robes
  • Walk in Robes
  • Entertainment
  • Utility

This can be a tricky one at the design stage, so we recommend you do the following to make sure cabinetry is adequately covered in your quote;

  1. Make sure it’s drawn on your plans in all the spots you want it, and labelled as such
  2. Talk to your builder up front about cabinetry.  They should ask you some basic questions about finish of cabinetry and be able to assist you in putting in an appropriate estimate figure.
  3. Once you are happy with the estimate for the whole project, get detail drawings done of your cabinetry and have your builder quote it in detail before you sign a contract.


It’s not uncommon for a basic building design to include only 1 light fitting per bedroom and maybe two in larger common rooms.

We’re guessing you probably would rather have lots of LED downlights, maybe some wall lights and perhaps a few pendants?

What about two way switching? (that’s when you can turn a light on and off from two different locations)

To prevent this insist your building designer carries out a full lighting and electrical plan so that you can review and check that everything you want is catered for, otherwise you are setting yourself up for a budget blowout!


Flooring can range from honing the concrete slab and sealing it through to solid timber direct stuck.  The means a price range from around $20 – $200 or more.

The great thing about flooring is its easy to mark on the floor plan (insist your building designer does).  You can then either specify a square meter rate, or specify the exact type of flooring.

One way we do this when the client comes to us without having done the above is send them to our flooring suppliers show room.  They can pick all of their flooring and get a “supply and lay” square meter rate that we then use in the quote.

Here is an example of how we visually detail the flooring allowances in our quotes;

10 Items you need in your home plans

Outdoor Taps

This is an often overlooked item that either gets missed, or decided in a terrible rush before claddings and linings go in.  Neither outcome is great.

Make sure you building designer includes these either on a dedicated plumbing plan or at the very least as a notation on the floor plan to prevent headaches and wallet aches later on.

Hot Water

What builders wouldn’t include hot water in their quote!  Well the truth is, most do, but usually the most economical system, which is gas.  However, if you are planning on having solar panels then you might be better off with a heat pump or even a dedicated solar hot water service.

These cost more up front but are generally more economical to run in the long term. So make sure that your designer marks not only the location, but the type of service you want installed.  If they can’t help you with information about what is best to you, talk to your builder as they will have a wealth of information to help.

Retaining Walls

How many times have you heard someone lament “and I spent truck loads of cash on retaining walls I didnt know I had to do!”.

These can be tricky to accurately when they haven’t been engineered yet (this would be the case if you are getting budget estimates from Planning Approval drawings).  

That said, we use a square meter rate for retaining walls which is generally very accurate up to 1200mm high.  

If the project progresses to Building Rules Consent you would then have full engineering and be able to convert this estimate into a fixed price component of your contract prior to signing on the dotted line.


The ever present Australian Deck.  Despite their popularity the detail of how they will be finished off is often lacking.  The most critical area from your point of view (as it affects both looks and price) is the decking board choice, which boils down to one of three broad categories (listed from lowest to highest price points);

  1. Softwood
  2. Hardwood
  3. Composite

While each category has a high and low end product within it, you would want your plans to detail, at a minimum, the category you are after.

10 Items you need in your home plans
Softwood decking such as pine, cyprus or oregon
10 Items you need in your home plans
Hardwood Decking such as – Kwila, Merbau, Spotted Gum or Blackbutt
10 Items you need in your home plans
Composite Decking comes in an ever growing range of styles, colors and finishes


We can think of nothing worse than moving into a home….that’s not surrounded by stunning landscaping.  Even with a very minimal budget you can include a lot of landscaping in your project cost and save yourself thousands of dollars and hours of your time by having it done as part of the build.

Items you want your designer to detail in your landscaping plan are;

  • Letterbox – type and location
  • Ground cover – and the different areas it will go
  • Planting
  • Driveways and perimeter paving
  • Fencing
  • Garden beds and edging
  • Reticulation


The above list represents some of the common areas we highlight with our clients as being spots where they could get a budget surprise later if they don’t detail them now (at our estimating stage).

So if you’re in the middle of designing your new home, make sure your designer is thinking about these things, and, if you want to really be on top of your budget early, check our video about how to do it!

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