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  • Michael McCarthy

Build Costs – How Much Does It Cost to Build a House per m2 /ft2

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

One of the most common questions I’m asked in by people is how much does it cost to build a house per square foot or square meter. The answer is always the same – It depends.

House building costs depend on a lot of factors, from building regulations, to local material costs, labour costs, ground conditions, access and a whole slew of other factors. 

Then you have the design – the building shape and height, client’s preferences like finishes and fittings, mechanical and electrical systems, how many rooms, size of rooms, extent and type of glazing and site-works. It’s a constantly moving picture of costs. 

Houses can vary anywhere from €70/ft2 to €800/ft2 or more (€750 – €8,600/m2 approx). It all depends on how they are designed and what’s put into them.

When a client approaches a new home for themselves, it’s a liberating blank canvas of dreams and aspirations. The best kitchens, the cosiest living rooms, the most luxurious materials are all envisaged. Often there is a rude awakening when the dream hits the wall of financial reality. 

If there is too much momentum and the process is allowed to continue too long without proper cost planning, the results can be fatal, financially speaking. 

That is why it is best to undertake cost planning and budgeting exercises at the earliest stage possible, preferably at sketch design stage. Better still if the client engages the services of suitably experienced quantity surveyor. 

Employing the right QS can save clients not just considerable amount of money, but time and stress too by getting the right balance between a client’s aspirations, needs and budget.

For example, with one happy client, we went through seven detailed cost plans before we got to the right balance of size, quality and cost. We also managed the tender process to ensure the clients requirements were reflected in the tender price. The project was finished within budget and everyone is happy.

We’re seeing a lot of instances lately where clients are working from uninformed and unrealistic budgets. Often property is purchased on the basis of these assumptions, planning is obtained followed by tenders from contractors.

Only after it has gone to tender has reality been hit with far higher tender prices than the clients budget. Sometimes up to 100% over budget. At this stage, there is little that can be done by the way of material selection that will make much difference. Radical re-design is required resulting in extra design cost and lost time, as well as very annoyed clients.


The process is important too. We always work from the basis of estimating from first principles. For example, if you want to know how much is allowed for the material or labour cost of skirting boards, or any component, we can tell you. Because of our experience working with contactors as well as clients, we have our finger on the pulse of what things cost. 

To protect your financial as well as your physical and mental health. Get your budget right early in the process, have your tender process managed correctly and ensure you have the right contractor at the right price and that you’re contractually protected. 

In other words, get a good QS on your side.

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