PLANNING COSTS: Costs involved in the home design and planning process

Welcome to part three of our series on building costs. Throughout the series we are looking at all the different costs you may encounter when building a home.
Now that you have your property, it’s time to start designing and planning!



Whether you are building on a rural property, residential block, renovating or extending there are ‘planning’ costs involved. We have put together an overview of the possible reports and costs you may encounter. Every property is different, so these costs will vary depending on council and land zoning.

Life Home Builders coordinate and obtain reports and approvals required on your behalf. We communicate with our consultants and contractors to get the best outcome for you, so you don’t have to worry about liaising with a multitude of people.

We will then provide you with a fee proposal which will include professional services required specifically for your property and proposed works.



A contour survey of your block will be required. This is generally for locating the house and ancillary facilities, however you may want to have your entire property surveyed to master plan, incorporate farm design, landscape design and so on. This can be completed via drones.

Once received we model this in 3D and position your house on the contours – helping you understand how and where it will sit on the block, along with earthworks and any retaining that might be required.

Wastewater Management & Geotechnical Report
A geotechnical report is a study of the soil of your block of land and is usually required for 2 reasons:
1. For structural engineering – to assist in foundation design
2. For onsite wastewater management – if the land is not serviced by council sewer.

This report indicates how, and where these services will be best located.

Flood Study
A flood study may be required by council if your block of land lies in a low lying area.

Council DA Fees
In NSW there are two processes through which a project passes before it is approved for building work to commence. The first of these is called a Development Application (DA) and is an approval process carried out by your local council. Fees vary from council to council and are related to project cost.

Alternatively, if your development meets specific regulations, this could be approved via a Complying Development Certificate (CDC). This process eliminates the Construction Certificate. This is usually a quicker and more cost effective process.

CC Fees
The second approval process is a Construction Certificate (CC) and may be carried out by council or an approved certifier once your DA has been approved. Your DA consent may outline specific requirements which need to be completed prior to your Construction Certificate and/or Occupation Certificate being issued. Once this is obtained, building works can begin.

Bushfire Protection Assessment
If your block falls in a bushfire affected zone, you will need a “Bushfire Protection Assessment”. This report will be submitted with your DA/CDC and will recommend a ‘BAL Rating’. These ratings go up in increments and have different consequences and special construction and Asset Protection Zone requirements placed on your building project. The higher BAL ratings will increase the cost of building your house and require specific requirements around traffic and water access.

Basix Report
A BASIX report is a report that assesses both the energy and water consumption of your proposed building project. A minimum requirement must be achieved in both areas. Even though this may appear to introduce some restrictions on design and materials it is a direct reflection of your ongoing “running costs”. This report will also be submitted with your DA.

Landscape Plan
A landscape plan may be required to accompany your DA drawings depending on council’s regulations for your block. You may wish to have a landscape plan or farm design drawn for the master plan of your property

Long Service Levy
The long service levy is a fee payable to the Building Services Corporation and is 0.35% of project value and must be paid before the CC can be released.

Design Fees
Depending on which way you choose to have your house design completed, you will also have design fees to consider. This could be through an architect, independent building designer or draftsperson or design and construction service.



The above list features the most common reports and fees required. However, depending on your property there may be additional planning costs such as Heritage, Flora & Fauna, Aboriginal Heritage, Civil, Stormwater, Arborist report… the list goes on.

It may seem a bit daunting, but when working with us, we make sure that everything is coordinated and covered for you so that you don’t miss anything or get lost in the process.

And in case you missed posts one and two of our building costs series, you can check them out here:
Things to consider when buying land for your dream home
Insight into the site costs you may encounter when building a home

Ready to build your dream home? Get in touch today to chat with our team about your plans for your home!

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