The month in review: Sydney
By Herron Todd White
The Sydney property market is going from strength to strength and with established dwellings in some locations hotly contested, one option for those looking to improve their portfolio or even to enter for the first time is to build their dream home. This month we have looked at some trigger points of what is available; what the range of costs and fit-out include; the locations and the appeal.
Originally project homes represented entry level dwellings, however more and more the term is catering to those that are onto their third or fourth ‘project’. With products ranging from modest 3-bedroom single level dwellings to double storey 4-bedroom homes complete with media rooms and alfresco areas, the number of builders willing to complete your dream and the options available are near endless. Multiple sites exist within the Sydney region as purpose built ‘exhibition villages’ with a variety of styles, budgets and floor plans to suit most price points.
Entry level project homes
Typically found in the newer estates on the fringes of the metropolitan area, entry level project homes generally range in size from 140 square metres to 200 square metres. These homes are generally typical of the estate with the price point ensuring neighbouring properties are completed to a similar standard.
Common basic designs typical of new estates such as Edmondson Park, Gregory Hills, Oran Park and Leppington in the south west and Caddens Ridge, Jordan Springs and Mardsen Park in the west include a single level, 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom face brick/ rendered dwelling with tile/colourbond roof and double garage.
Cost per square metre will dictate the standard of fit out. At the lower end of $1,400 per square metre, the potential owner will receive a modest standard with a laminated kitchen, part wall tiling to wet areas, generic appliances and split level AC. A higher standard is at $1,700 per sqaure metre and at this level we would expect to see a Polyurethane kitchen with casearstone benchtops, bamboo flooring, higher quality wool blend carpet, ducted air conditioning, full wall tiling to bathroom, and known appliances such as Westinghouse or Bosch.
Regardless of fit out these products are designed to offer a ‘turn key’ dwelling and generally are completed to a set floor plan with minimal modifications. Prospective purchasers are able to select colour schemes and product finishes from a set range
Custom built homes
Marketed to those that are looking to create a dream family property and more likely to be building their second or third property in a new estate, a custom built dwelling enables the purchaser to have some level of say in the design, colour scheme and choice of fit out including window/door sizes, PC items and ceiling height. Many of the new exhibition villages will include say a street dedicated to the higher end build which are specifically marketed to those people that want a say in the overall package but at the same time only wish for a single builder to manage the entire process.
Typical alterations would include changing floor plans either by internal wall movements; extending the width or length of the entire dwelling or adding additional rooms such as an alfresco living room or theatre room. Any alteration to the ‘standard’ floor plan is a cost and would be dependent on the offers available at the time. General rates would be in the range of $1,600 to $2,000 per square metres and be dependent on overall agreement at the time of consultation.
Knock down rebuilds
With the prominence of reality programs on building and renovating and the realisation that a premium will be paid for the finished product, home owners are willing to spend more on their construction within established suburbs where the opportunity to buy a new dwelling is limited. Typically the costs will range from $2,500 to $4,000 per square metre as site design restrictions, personal design requirements and council requirements can restrict the options and lengthen the overall construction period. We have found that home builders within the southern and inner west suburbs of Sydney have become well educated; sourcing a high level of finish with imported and locally produced products becoming the norm including the use of stone, hardwood, commercial grade fittings, integrated living areas, external kitchens and extensive landscaping.
You can find dwellings in this range in suburbs like Five Dock, Russell Lea, Drummoyne, Strathfield, Monterey, Sans Souci, Blakehurst, Sylvania, Cronulla and Burraneer. On completion, the floor areas for these dwellings range from 300 to 500 per square metres.
With councils relaxing their policies on densities/ multiple dwelling developments we are seeing a large increase in duplexes and dual occupancy developments within many areas of the metropolitan area but particularly within 20 kilometres of the CBD with the original 1960s fibro home on a regular shaped parcel having prime redevelopment potential.
Within Sydney the construction of a cavity brick duplex pair can range from $1,800 to $2,500 per square metre and brick veneer duplex pairs will range from $1,600 to $2,000 per square metre. Typically the floor plan will offer two levels with 3- to 4-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms plus ground floor powder room open plan living room and tandem garage. The market is responding well to this product and we are generally seeing the duplex being sold ‘off plan’ prior to completion.
Another form of dual occupancy is the ‘granny flat’ which is constructed in the rear yard of an existing property. A cost effective form of capitalising on larger parcels, this form of development sees both properties remain on a single title. We have found that the typical 60 square metre granny flat will range from $2,000 to $2,500 per square metre comprising 2-bedrooms, 1-bathroom, ceasarstone kitchen bench and lounge/dining area. Specialist firms now cater for this market and quote a typical construction time frame of 12 weeks.
Prestige homes (generally considered to be those properties in excess of $3 million Sydney metro wide, located either within the eastern suburbs and eastern beaches, lower and upper North Shore, northern beaches, and some waterfront localities in the southern suburbs) are generally considered to provide accommodation of at least 4-bedroom plus 2- or more bathrooms with a minimum of 1-car onsite parking (preferably garage style) and may be single level in design or set over multiple levels depending on the location in question.
Quality of finishes is generally considered to be a good to high standard, with construction rates per square metre generally ranging from around $3,000 per square metre up to around $5,500 per square metre. Construction rates generally remain in line with our 2009 outline rates, with some small increases.
Super Prestige homes (generally considered to be those properties in excess of $10 million, and located mainly within the eastern suburbs and eastern beaches, lower and upper North Shore, and northern beaches) are generally considered to provide accommodation of at least 4- to 5-bedrooms plus 3- or more bathrooms and often with multiple ensuites, multiple formal and informal living areas, with a minimum of 2- car garage accommodation, and in some instances with basement style parking for five cars or more. These homes are generally multiple levels in design, and often with internal passenger lift access.
Quality of finishes is generally considered to be high, with extensive custom finishes the norm. Construction rates per square metre generally range from $5,500 per square metre up to around $9,000 per square metre and higher, reflecting the difficulty of the site topography, quality and scope of the construction and finishes, and imagination of the owner and architect.
Prestige and superior prestige construction includes a mixture of both knock-down and rebuild and renovation/reconfiguration. Renovation/ reconfiguration however is more prevalent simply due to the nature nature of the prestige housing markets in the Sydney area.
Post GFC, construction of new homes and renovation/reconfiguration slowed due primarily to the fact that market conditions had weakened, and it was no longer possible to achieve premium prices and higher margins for this new or renovated stock. With recent recovery in the Ppstige and super prestige market, this is no longer the case, with increased transaction numbers, and strengthening value levels, leading to a return to favour of rebuild and renovation.