How Much Will My One-off Bespoke House Cost?


We are finding that more and more clients are contacting us because they can’t seem to get a straight answer about how much their project is going to cost. Andy Parker, Project Consultant at The Complete Oak Home, talks below about why this might be, and provides some advice about how you can find the answer.

“One of the first things we get asked is “How much will my oak frame house cost?” But as we all know, nobody can give you a final price for a house that hasn’t been designed yet. However, in my experience most clients understand that, and aren’t looking for a finished cost. What they actually want to know is whether their project is feasible. Are they likely to be able to build the house they want, on the plot they have, within a budget they can afford?

The final cost of a house is dependent on a huge number of variables, from site and planning considerations, to size and style, to detailed specification and finishes. For that reason most companies will tell you that at the very least you will have to wait until first concept design is done before they can give you any idea of cost. And that’s because they have to rely on external expertise (a builder or a quantity surveyor) to give them advice.

Most companies only take responsibility for part of the process, the architect the design, the builder the building and then there are numerous other parties such as engineers and surveyors.

Of course as a scheme develops i.e. the design evolves, planning permission is granted, the working drawings are detailed, and then a cost can be established very accurately, but it’s far too late in the game if you discover that your scheme is beyond your reach, and to compound matters you will have already invested some of your hard earned money.

So the only fool proof way to get a realistic evaluation of the feasibility of your project is from a team who take responsibility for the whole of the planning, design and build process. At Complete Oak Home we have a multi-disciplinary team working together under one roof, to ensure a joined up approach to your project.


We start by getting an idea of the size of house you want to build. This could be in area or simply in terms of the number of bedrooms. We’ll also discuss the style of house you want and some of the things that are particularly important to you. For example you might want a particularly high specification kitchen and bathrooms. Also things we might consider are big ticket items such as renewable energy sources. At the early stage it’s important to understand the general level of specification of the house to make an accurate assessment of a realistic budget for the project. Once we have this information we can discuss some high level budgeting costs based on an estimated price per square metre for the construction of the house. We typically have 20-25 active projects at any one time so we have a very good understanding of current construction costs around the country.

In addition there are a raft of other costs that need to be taken into account for the overall project budget. People do tend to focus on the cost of the build and not pay enough attention to other significant costs associated with the construction of a one-off bespoke house, for example engineering work. As well as the need to design the house, every building has to be ‘proved’ by an engineer and the calculations submitted with the buildings regulation package. Then there are numerous surveys that normally have to be conducted such as a topographical survey, and the habitat survey which then spill into specific surveys for things such as bats and reptiles. It’s also possible that the planners will require an arboricultural survey. It may also be necessary to have a ground condition survey and sometimes but not often an archaeological survey and full geotechnical survey. In addition to these costs the scheme will require an accredited SAP consultant to calculate the energy performance of the building and then you’ve got planning application fees and building regulation fees and so on.

So it’s no wonder that when clients call us they really don’t know where to start. If you are self-building or self-managing your project, but you don’t know anything about building a home, what started as an exciting project can soon become stressful and overwhelming.

What we suggest, when looking at the high level budget at the very early stages, is that people allow between 8% and 10% of the anticipated construction cost for all the other costs. It’s also important to understand that whilst a house won’t attract VAT these other costs will. So in reality you need to allow between about 9.5% and 12% for other costs including VAT. And that VAT can’t be recovered.

Something else that can be confusing for clients is the cost per square metre that is quoted by a lot of self-build publications and TV programmes, which are often inaccurate and I’d even go as far as to say they are misleading. This is often because people give the magazine figures they were quoted at the start of their project and not what was actually spent. Secondly people often overlook some of the project expenditure, perhaps because they decided to pay for some of it out of income and not from their project budget. Thirdly nobody likes to admit they’ve gone over budget and more often than not self-built, self-managed projects do.

So, in order to set a realistic budget for your project you must consider everything. House construction, associated professional and regulatory fees, and other work you must do to construct the house such as demolition, and then work out other work you want to include in your project. Start with what you know and make informed assumptions about what you don’t. As the scheme evolves, replace your assumptions with certainties and ensure you have a fixed price before construction starts. Talk to someone in the industry who knows what current construction costs are. Throughout the entire process of design, planning, technical drawings and specification and construction, continually evaluate the scheme to ensure it stays within budget.

Alternatively work with a complete turnkey company who will give you advice, support and guidance throughout your project.

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Upside down oak frame house in rural Cornwall


Contemporary oak frame home designed for clients overseas



The Complete Oak Home offer something rather different, not oak frame manufacturers but oak frame experts who design & build oak frame homes. 


The one thing that has enabled us to progress is I believe finding a company that is prepared to partner with us from the very beginning and take us through planning, design/costing, tendering and build through to completion (or to any stage along the way). The Complete Oak Home offers us a way of achieving our dream by undertaking those tasks for us. 


We have both had a good look at the designs and we absolutely love them. It hugely exceeds our expectations and for this we are truly thankful of your superbly impressive work! We are so excited to think that this could be ours - you are very talented indeed.