Why Square Metre Rates Can Be Misleading

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Aug 02, 2016
Best square metre rates for new homes in Christchurch

Here at Fraemohs Homes, people looking at our house plans often ask us to provide a square metre rate for building a home. They can be surprised when we tell them that we work to individual house prices, rather than a general square metre rate. As a house building company with 50 years in the business, we can say in full confidence that the true cost of building a home is not related to floor area alone, and will vary significantly depending on aspects of the home’s design.

Often house building companies use a square metre rate to attract customers. But this can be quite misleading and clients often find that the final cost is much greater once all of the “extras” are revealed. Our house prices are based on the actual cost of building a specific house design and not on an arbitrary average, so you can be sure that you are getting good value for money and a better picture of the real cost of building your home.

For example, one of the key things that determines how much a home costs to build is the length of its external walls. If you take two homes with a floor area of 100 m2, the length of the external walls will vary depending on the shape of the home. For example, if your 100m2 house is perfectly square (10m by 10m) it will have 40 lineal metres of external walls, whereas a rectangular house (say 20m by 5m) will have 50 lineal metres of external walls. More wall means more framing, cladding, flashings, windows, painting/staining, etc, and a higher cost per square metre on the ground. So if you chose to build an H shaped home of 100m2 , the external wall length would be around 82 lineal metres! This house would cost you more to build but it may be money well spent as it may perfectly suit the shape of your section, or give you that sheltered barbecue area you’ve always wanted.


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Some other things that can affect the cost per square metre are:

  • The number of external corners. If we have more of these we have more wall junctions to build, with more flashings and so on.
  • The internal fit out – you might choose to have a stone benchtop and cathedral ceilings. These don’t change the size of the house but they do affect the cost.
  • The number of internal walls. Small, complex spaces cost more for us to build than large open plan areas.
  • The overall size of the house – larger houses are less expensive per square metre to build as the fixed costs (consent fees, site costs, delivery costs, etc) are spread over a larger area.
  • The type of room – garages don’t cost much to build, but kitchens and bathrooms do. If your 200m2 house included a three car garage the square metre rate would be very different than if you had a standard sized garage but added a scullery and a bathroom.

When assessing different house building companies you need to compare value, but do be careful that you’re not just using square metre rates for this. They don’t give the full picture, and you want to avoid surprises later on!

If you’re wanting reliable information on some very important questions with regards to getting started on your new home, we’d recommend reading our House Plans Guide. Take a look!