Regional QLD

The Smartline Report – August Edition

The month in review: Regional QLD

By Herron Todd White
August 2015


The construction of dwellings in Toowoomba continues at a strong pace after a period of rapid unit development and new small lot housing in the western suburbs and continued development of freestanding dwellings in modern residential estates. Standard products include onground dwellings with brick veneer walls, Colorbond roof, 4-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms and 2-car built in garages. These dwellings are typically located in new estates in localities such as Kearneys Spring, Middle Ridge, Glenvale, Westbrook, Highfields and Kleinton and are finished to an average to high standard which includes ceiling fans, split system or ducted air conditioning and even in some instances media rooms and studies. The cost to build this type of dwelling ranges from $1,000 to $1,300 per square metre and is dependent on the quality of finish and soil type. The dwelling below is an example of a conventional dwelling in Kleinton which was constructed in 2015.

In the western suburbs, small lot and unit development intensified in 2014 and 2015. Units in areas such as Glenvale, which are predominantly duplex pairs and triplexes, are constructed to an average standard and are predicted to deteriorate and as such depreciate, at a faster than average rate due to the influence of tenants, as opposed to owner occupiers. These units are onground, single level or occasionally two levels and are constructed of a combination of brick and imitation weatherboard with Colorbond roof. Such units usually comprise 2- or 3-bedrooms, 1- or 2-bathrooms and single car built in garage. Standard finishes include laminate or stone benchtops and in some cases ceiling fans or split system air conditioning. The cost to build per unit is usually between $1,100 and $1,350 per square metre. These units have typically been developed for the investor market, have compact floor areas and appeal to a narrow sector of the Toowoomba residential market. An example of a typical duplex pair is depicted below.


Overall, newly constructed dwellings in Toowoomba vary in quality and size. While the unit market is dominated by investors, we are noting a clear preference from owner occupiers for quality built dwellings.


The average cost of building a new house in Bundaberg has remained steady since 2009 when we last looked at construction costs.

A medium quality 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom dwelling with double lock up garage including good quality laminate kitchen is around $1,100 to $1,150 per square metre. These dwellings usually have a total floor area of 180 to 220 square metres and represent the majority of dwellings built across Bundaberg and the Coral Coast. A number of good quality residential estates have been established in Bundaberg and the coastal town of Bargara in the past few years. Dwellings in these estates comprise larger executive style dwellings, with granite/Caesarstone benchtop type finishes, ducted air conditioning, high ceilings and quality appliances.

Construction costs for these dwellings range between $1,250 and $1,350 per square metre and are generally well in excess of 200 square metres of total floor area.

The top end building costs in the Bundaberg region are reserved for the coastal townships of Agnes Waters and Town of 1770. Here, eco style, architecturally designed, multi level homes in gated residential oceanfront estates are being constructed at a cost of over $3,500 per square metre. In a recent example at the Town of 1770, costs were $4,000 per square metre.

Hervey Bay

Construction activity has increased steadily over the past six to twelve months, with local builders reporting continuous demand. New estates are scattered throughout Hervey Bay offering a mix of dwelling sizes and quality. For the base level construction price of around $1,050 per square metre of main living area, the owner would expect a full turn key package for an onground brick home ranging between 120 and 140 square metres of living area and providing 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom living accommodation with double lock up garage or 3-bedrooms plus study. These properties generally have an average quality internal fitout including laminate cabinets and benchtops, middle range quality appliances, insect screens, basic window dressings, part air conditioning, average quality floor coverings (carpet and tiles), fencing, driveway and turf.

Stepping up to mid level quality, new home owners can anticipate a cost around $1,100 to $1,200 per square metre depending on the size of the home with some up to 180 square metres of living area. Additional features above the base level are likely to include stone benchtops, security screens, air conditioning and superior quality appliances. These homes typically provide 4-bedroom accommodation with separate living areas and media room.

The construction of prestige properties is few and far between for this area, however at the present time there is a large Esplanade dwelling under construction offering a very high quality finish. Rates per square metre sit at approximately $1,650 for main living, with $800 per square metre for balconies and patios. Some of the fixtures and fittings include wood features to entry, frameless glass balustrading, steel mesh security screens and ducted air conditioning.

Some estates located in growth corridors are eligible for incentives such as the Great Start Grant or the Hervey Bay Housing Affordability Incentive Project. Effectively, if these two grants apply within certain conditions, a first home buyer could secure enough funds for a deposit.

Looking back on 2009, costs haven’t varied significantly however what has changed is the size of the allotment on which homes are being constructed. Typically 2009 saw estates developed with 600 to 800 square metre lots. Now new estates are being developed with 450 to 600 square metre lots, with higher density living appearing to be a favourable trend going forward.


In the current market, building costs start with the typical project style on ground home on a near level lot with brick walls, Colorbond roof, 3- or 4-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms, driveway and turf. This home would have a living area of about 130 to 150 square metres plus a double garage and a typical building cost of around $1,250 to $1,400 per square metre exclusive of outdoor areas.

Outdoor areas range from basic spanline covered patios with plain concrete floor ($300 per square metre) through to sealed verandahs under the main roofline with patterned concrete or tiled floors ($600 to $800 per square metre).

With land prices for a standard residential lot ranging from $170,000 to $220,000 depending on location, new entry level housing in Gladstone typically comes in around the $420,000 to $460,000 mark.

This is causing multiple issues in Gladstone at present as the added value of the building works are not being recouped by the market. There are multiple sales of near new (less that one year old and never lived in) similar quality homes in Gladstone which are selling for less than the cost of a brand new dwelling.

A mid-level house in Gladstone would be larger and generally between 170 to 220 square metres plus outdoor areas and garage. The quality of these homes is generally above average and features high ceilings, ducted air conditioning and stone bench tops. An on ground brick home on a near level lot would typically cost between $1,400 and $1,500 per square metre exclusive of outdoor areas. Many of these mid level dwellings however are built on sloping allotments with construction of a split level or two storey nature in order to capture views of the harbour or district. This type of home would generally cost up to about $1,800 per square metre excluding outdoor areas.

High end, architectural style houses can take many forms and can cost from $1,500 to $2,500 per square metre to build. Such houses generally have high quality finishes throughout. Floor areas would generally range from 200 square metres (living areas) upwards.

Throughout 2011 and 2013 Gladstone was inundated with out of town builders who came in to make a quick buck from the extreme housing shortage that enveloped the city during the most recent resources boom. These builders undercut local builders by as much as 20% in some cases and also guaranteed a completed product in a much shorter time frame. Many of these builders no longer exist and owners are now starting to see the effects of what a quick and cheap build buys. Many well known local builders struggled through this boom due to their reasonable costings and more than one has since departed Gladstone.

Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that building prices in the Gladstone region have been fairly steady for the past 12 months with only minor fluctuations in some costs. The volume of building has slowed significantly and may lead to reduced building costs in the future. This will of course depend on how quickly the current oversupply in the region is absorbed.


In the Rockhampton region, the areas where examples of basic construction styles are seen is generally in fringe residential areas such as Parkhurst and Gracemere as well as on infill sites or small lots subdivided off larger land parcels in older established areas such as Park Avenue, Berserker and Koongal. On the Capricorn Coast, this construction style is more widespread to most of the beachside suburbs where close proximity to the beach is the feature of the area, rather than ocean views.

These properties generally have average quality internal fitout including laminate cabinets and benchtops, average quality appliances, insect screens (some local builders will include security screens), basic window dressings, part air conditioning, average quality floor coverings (carpet and tiles), fencing, driveway and turf.

Stepping up a level in quality to above average quality fitout, new home owners can anticipate a cost of around $1,400 to $1,500 per square metre depending on the size of the home. At this rate, you would typically be dealing with a smaller, owner operated, local builder and would end up with again, an onground brick or rendered masonry block home, with Colorbond or tile roof providing 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom living accommodation, sometimes with a study, second living room and double lock up garage. These properties generally have above average quality fitout such as high gloss laminate or two pack cabinetry with laminate or stone benchtops, better quality appliances, security screens and doors, full air conditioning, high ceilings, full height wall tiling to bathrooms and a more generous allowance for light fittings and floor coverings. Driveways are often included in this price, however turf and fencing is often not included in the building contract price. This style of home is more likely to be located in the newer estates within popular suburbs of Frenchville and Norman Gardens, as well as our park residential areas on the northern fringe of Rockhampton (Rockyview and Parkhurst in particular). There has been little development of this style of home in other areas of the region in recent months.

In the prestige market sector, construction costs start to vary widely, anywhere from say $1,500 to over $2,000 per square metre depending on the style of the home and the slope of the allotment. Recent examples include:

• A home on The Range of split level design, providing over 300 square metres of living area plus patio and garage areas reflecting a construction cost of $1,850 per square metre which includes driveway, paving, timber decking, floor coverings, air conditioning, security screens, and an eight metre inground concrete pool with glass fencing.

• A home in an elevated North Rockhampton locality of two storey design, providing over 200 square metres of living area plus outdoor and garage areas reflecting $2,400 per square metre on a steeply sloping allotment. Specifications include a PC allowance for all cabinetry of $55,000, painting, floor coverings, part security screens, light fittings, ceiling fans, central vacuum system, solar power system and heaters to outdoor area.

• A home in a popular beachside suburb on the Capricorn Coast, constructed of three level design to maximise available ocean views and providing over 250 square metres of living area plus patio and car areas, reflecting $1,900 per square metre which includes painting, floor coverings and ceiling fans. This building contract had a number of excluded items including kitchen appliances, air conditioning, blinds and curtains, turf, landscaping, fencing, driveway and paths.

In the Rockhampton region, properties with building costs in the average and above average categories are generally well received in the market. In the prestige market sector, building costs are often not fully realised by the market and added value of the improvements are often significantly less than the construction costs.

Haven’t times changed since 2009 when we last covered construction costs? In 2009 basic construction costs were analysing out to a mere $1,000 to $1,100 per square metre. The obvious cause of this increase over the past six years is the increased cost of materials. This cost increase is also relative to the above average and prestige home building costs.

The Master Builders Association reports building approvals for Rockhampton have been lower to date in 2015 compared to the end of 2014. We consider this to be reflective of the current market conditions where confidence levels are lower than usual despite the record low interest rates and relative affordability in our region.


In Mackay, a standard new dwelling generally consists of rendered masonry block construction with either Colorbond or tile roof. Some other construction materials, such as light weight composite clad or rendered blueboard are used, however with the added cyclone ratings required, the majority are rendered block. Standard costs for these dwellings range between $1,300 and $1,400 per square metre. These can be found in numerous estates both north and south of the river.

Back in 2009 we reflected how building costs for an average quality rendered block construction dwelling would set you back about $1,300 per square metre. Not too much different than today. The big difference is the market conditions. Building costs rose from 2009 on the back of the mining boom, building grants and the like to be sitting somewhere between $1,400 and $1,550 per square metre by 2012. Building approvals in 2012 were sky high. Building approvals for the 2012-13 financial year were 1,806 (or 151 approvals per month) which was a 31% increase from the previous year’s figure. 76% of all approvals were for new houses. Building approvals for the 2013-14 financial year equated to 1,257 (105 per month) which demonstrates a reduction in approvals of 30% from the previous financial year. Building approvals for the 2014-15 financial year to date (April 2015) are 407 (41 per month) and clearly demonstrate that building activity has declined sharply.

For the first time in a long time, builders are now offering incentives with building contracts. It is common place to see upgrades such as stone benchtops, air conditioning, and upgraded floor coverings included in standard building contracts. One local builder is even including a free 36 square metre Colorbond shed with every home built. The slow down and falling values in the general Mackay market have had an effect on builders and this is considered to continue to affect builders and prices for the short term future at least.


In the Whitsundays, there are two main types of construction being slab on ground and pole or highset dwellings.

Slab on ground dwellings are mainly rendered masonry and or Hardiplank, Hardiflex or Colorbond walls with Colorbond or tile roof which are usually constructed on level lots or lots that have had a building pad cut and filled.

This type of dwelling is found in suburbs such as Cannonvale, Jubilee Pocket, Cannon Valley and also on rural residential lifestyle lots.

The rate for this type of dwelling is between $1,400 and $1,600 per square metre depending on the quality of inclusions and finishes to the dwelling.

Pole or highset dwellings are usually constructed on sloping lots to take advantage of views, with the footings being steel and the walls being Hardiplank, Hardiflex or Colorbond with Colorbond roof.

This type of dwelling is found in all suburbs in the Whitsundays. The rate for this type of dwelling is between $1,700 and $2,600 per square metre depending on the quality of inclusions and finishes to the dwelling and of course the site and the slope rating.

The building market in the Whitsundays is steady at the moment with most builders advising that they have work ahead of them for the next six months.

There is a good mix of these types of dwelling located in and around the Whitsundays.

Please note that information in this publication is subject to change without notice. Smartline assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions or mistakes in this document. © Smartline Home Loans P/L 1999 – 2015. Australian Credit Licence Number 385325


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DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is correct at the time of publishing and is subject to change. It is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, Smartline recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Smartline recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.