The Playoust Churcher guide to managing the costs of your dream home build


Dream home on budget… you’re dreaming, right? The reality is that for most people your chances of building your dream home within budget are slim to none…

…that is unless you are working with an architect who takes a measured and realistic approach to costs from the very beginning.

Can home building budgets blow out significantly? You bet they can. Is there anything you can do to prevent cost blowouts? Yes, there is. Buckle up, because we are about to reveal all of our best budget management secrets straight from the Playoust Churcher team.

Manage the costs of their builds

Talk numbers from the beginning


Everyone has a number. Whether you want to admit it to your architect or not, you know how much you want to spend on designing and building your dream home.

And the more upfront about that number you can be, the better the result you will get.

Brett Churcher is not just our Managing Director at Playoust Churcher… he is our numbers guy. And it’s his job to help our clients understand and manage the costs of their builds.

A total picture of the costs

“There are two types of costs for a home build. Most of our clients are aware of the construction costs for demolition, build, fit-out etc… but what most of our clients aren’t aware of is the professional fees that can add up to as much as 20% of the total project cost.

Depending on the size and complexity of the build, there can be professional fees for anything from consultants to council application fees. The costs aren’t insignificant but most of our clients have not factored them into their budgets.

When you are upfront about your budget, we can help to give you a total picture of the costs you are facing and whether that is realistic for what you want to achieve.

Every site is different

Know that every site is different


If we tried to build the exact same house in two different locations – for example in Palm Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and Pymble on the Upper North Shore – the costs would vary significantly. Why? Because every site presents its own challenges that affect the final cost.

There are so many factors that play into the construction cost… and that’s why you should start with a site analysis before you start designing your home.

You need to evaluate access for the builder, the slope of the site, soil type, rock etc, so you can build cost projections relevant to the actual state of the site rather than a figure based on assumptions.

That’s exactly what we do… and it’s one of the ways we help our clients manage their budgets so closely.

Stick to the concept

Stick to the concept


We talk a lot about concept at Playoust Churcher… and that’s because it is critical to building a home that works for your lifestyle. And whether we are designing for the laid back Northern Beaches or the leafy North Shore, that lifestyle element is a major factor in the concept and design.

The concept ties your whole home together and informs every decision you make about your build. Get it right and your home will flow… but there is more to it than that.

Clear direction on costs

Developing a strong concept and sticking to it can save you money. Brett explains,

“We work with our clients to lock down a strong concept which is attached to a robust cost plan. Once we have that, everything falls into place and we have a solid plan to move forward with.

The concept also helps us to challenge the brief around costs. A contemporary style home will have a different cost model to a beach home. And it all comes back to the concept.”

By holding strong to your concept, we can not only give you a clear direction on costs… you can also save money in potential design changes when you try to piece together a design that isn’t tethered to a concept.

The devil is in the detail

The devil is in the detail


The risk of cost blowouts is greatest during your build. An extra power point here… moving a light there… a completely different window system. All of those changes – no matter how minor they are – can very quickly add up.

For many home builds there is a crucial step missing… and that is the detailed construction drawings that your architect creates to guide every minute detail of your build.

Smaller margin in your final cost

When we create detailed construction drawings for your build, we are doing two things:

1. ensuring the builder can provide a robust price for the project at tender

2. resolving any doubts or concerns you have about elements of your home

And the result is a smaller cost overrun on your final construction cost. It’s something Brett is passionate about because of the huge impact it can have on achieving a superb final product for our clients… that doesn’t end up costing them the earth.

“This is where we can limit so many of the budget excesses that plague home builds. The level of detail we provide to the builder allows them to streamline their build program to create greater efficiency.

We also use 3D modelling and virtual reality to take a lot of the guesswork out of the final design for the clients. This minimises changes to the design mid-build, so we avoid construction delays and associated costs.”

Be realistic

Be realistic


You have a budget for your dream home and you have a vision for what you want it to look like… if the two don’t match up, you have a problem.

“When we have a clear picture of both what our clients what to achieve and the budget they have to spend on it, we can help them to marry their expectations to reality. A glass staircase can be a showstopping feature in a home… but only if you are willing to spend $100k to build it.

Finding design alternatives

Setting realistic expectations very early on is important. We want to take our clients on a journey and excite them about what we are designing… and we want to get it right from the very beginning.”

Also remember that even if you are dreaming big on a small budget, all is not lost.

When you are upfront and realistic, we can find ways to make it work – whether that is a master planning solution that outlines a path to your big dream or finding design alternatives that can equally bring your brief to life.

You can’t afford to get it wrong


Playoust Churcher has decades of experience as North Shore and Northern Beaches architects, helping our clients achieve the home of their dreams. We know the trigger points where costs can explode… and we work with each of our clients to stop that from happening.

Contact us to learn more about how we can deliver you a dream home you will love without the cost blowouts you expect.

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