Negotiating on a Building a house - General Guidelines?

Hi Guys,

I'm looking at building a house in South East Queensland (Brisbane) . If I go through the regular builders such as Metricon, Clarendon, Plantation etc …

What is the best way for me go about with my negotiation to ensure I've got the best price.

Do people generally begin the negotiation of the price at the start or do they wait till it is fully priced up (after the tiling appointments, carpet appointments, bathroom fitting appointments etc…)?

My next question - What sort of Margin is available ?
With a car for example; In the past I have bought a brand new $51000 Audi for $39000 driveaway. With a Corolla you'll get a $26000 corolla for $23500 with a bit of negotiating.. I completely understand different cars have different room for negotiation. Again, looking for general advice - is approximately 10% discount on final price pretty standard?

Thanks in advance for your time.


  • +4

    I don't believe those builders negotiate on price. Best to do business with them when they are throwing in freebies and upgrades. It is different with cars. Dealers have finance/cash locked up in a car sitting on their lot taking up realestate. The longer they keep the car the more it costs them in interest. So they are keen to negotiate.

  • +1

    We compared price per square metre (after you take out about $60k, which are the minimum costs for house building). However, you need to remember to check all the standard inclusions. A good price is about $900/sq. metre.

    That being said, we went with a custom plan that was drawn up by the builders we wanted to use so we were somewhat locked in, but we chose a local builder we had used before so we knew their prices were very competitive. I haven't dealt with the bigger players.

    • Thanks for this! This was scarily accurate… $10k off the total price I had for the house I had priced up.

  • +2

    When I looked at getting a house built none of the big builders would budge on prices. Sometimes they offer free or discounted upgrades but that is usually it.

  • +2

    Price is one thing but choose one that will attend to your issues after handing over the house to you

    • Agreed - A large factor is a company that has been around for years with good online reviews.

  • +1

    We built 3 new homes over 10 years, had builders quote on our plan with cost of cooktop, stove, aircons ec, bought our own had them fit and got thousands of FF points as well. If you can draw up a plan to scale with measurements - when getting quotes your in the box seat.

    • Thanks for this! So, your advice.. Save on appliances and aircon. Thank you.

  • +2

    I am getting my own floors installed after handover. More selection and better quality.

    Be aware that builders will install skirting then floorboards and the a quad. It will cheapen the look.

    Ask the builder to install skirting on top of the floor boards with no quad, or if you are doing your own floors. ask them to not install skirting. You will have to install it yourself. Maybe even supply your own skirting as well as there is a good chance the skirting supplied by the builder will not be painted.

    If you have your own electrician ask them to get a quote on how much they charge to install a downlight (supply and fit) & power points compare that cost with the builder. Some people say put as many power points as you can, at every corner of the room.

    When building there are things that can't be changed later without a big cost.

    1. Height of the ceilings. Do you want 2.4, 2.54, 2.7, 3 meters? I like 2.7m as a minimum.

    2. Eaves on the house. Drive around and look at houses been built, do you like the look of eaves or no eaves on houses. Single story 450mm Eaves, Double story up to 700mm eaves.

    3. Windows, do you want small or big / tall windows in the house. Should they align with the height of the doors?

    4. Taller doors, 2.4 vs 2m .

    5. Pitch of the roof, do you want 22.5‚ or 25° (25° with eaves will make the house look like it has more street appeal)

    6. Windows facing West & North will get very hot during summer if they have direct sunlight. Nice and warm in winter, This is another reason why eaves may help with northern windows.

    7. When the land slopes down the house will look sunk into ground. It may be a good investment to pay extra and raise the base of the house for the house to look taller and better street appeal

    8. If the house is in a noisy area, busy road, put double glazed windows and also sound proof insulation around the walls, to help reduce noise.

    Bonus tip. Building a garage to the boundary fence may cause a dispute with the neighbour. To avoid headaches I usually build 15cm from the fence.

    • You're an absolute legend. Thank you so much for taking the time out to write this.

      I'll take all of these points into consideration.

  • +1

    Another tip if you have HI Fi system run speaker cable in walls before gyprock goes on. Ditto if wall mounting a TV.

  • +1

    Why not go owner builder? I did it. It's a tough process but you can control everything and make sure tradies don't cut corners

    • I think this is a good suggestion, but does that mean I will have to come up with my own design? At the same time it is a big risk if I hire a site manager who I may potentially have quarrels with.

      I also understand there are a lot of structural elements to building a house. If I may make some changes to a 'standard plan' and add some glass sliding doors here and there, I'm not sure the house will meet the structural requirements.

      There are a lot of safety aspects covered by your big project management type builders. Aspects such as termite protection etc, do not get overlooked.

      For people with a bit of civil engineering experience/people who work on sites - definitely this is a good way to go. For a person(like me) who is a bit inexperienced, I would probably pay the extra money just to reduce the overall risk of the project and go through a company.

      • I got my plans drawn up by an architect and lodged through council. Once the planning permit was approved, I went through a building surveyor to lodge my building permit and applied through building authority for owner builder permit.

        I organised for termite treatment to be done. Got quotes to do slab and organised this. They dealt directly with the building surveyor to com do inspections of footings etc. Used a carpenter to do framing, subfloor, timber floors, architraves etc. Got quotes for plumber, sparky, tiler, roofing, etc etc.

        You just need to make sure you get your compliance certificates for plumbing, electrical, waterproofing, roofing, glazing etc so you can then give them to the building surveyor for occupancy certificate sign off.

        The big plus of being owner builder is you can change internal things along the way. Eg we decided to change the bathroom and ensuite layout and just made the change on the go before plumbing went in etc.

        The negative is trying to organise tradies and getting quotes. Some trades don't like working while others are there as they get in the way.

        • Thanks mate,

          What it comes down to for me is : Did you save a significant amount of money from doing it yourself?

          Or was it more related to: having the control to have exactly what you want?

        • I reckon I saved about 25% to 30%.

          I paid the tradies in cash if they gave a better price which most did. I even supplied timber to the chippy's and got this at trade price (most timber places have different levels of trade discounts so I got them to quote me on what I needed and went with best price one). Sometimes I needed timber urgently so got it from Bunnings but was approved for a trade card by completing application form and attaching owner builder consent.

          I bought tiles when they were on special in January sales. I had a few delays with council approving plans so kept having to change the delivery date of tiles. All up they held it for nearly 12 months for me. They didn't care as they are in stock at the warehouse and they just pack your order day before delivery.

          I got my doors from Corinthian and showed them my owner builder certificate and they gave me trade price which saved me lots as I ordered solid & semi solid doors and a few custom sized doors which they have to reset the machine for to make sure the door pattern is even all around.