Pricing- Site Costs Revealed

Granny Flat Pricing- Site Costs Revealed & What it really means for you.

Granny Flat Pricing Site Costs


Does this term sound familiar to you? It probably does, because a lot of granny flat builders are advertising granny flat pricing BUT there’s usually a notation underneath all of that (usually in small text) ‘Plus Site Costs’.

What Are ‘Site Costs’

Site costs refer to the following work:

  1. The Foundations and Excavation

  2. Connection to Main’s Water

  3. Connection to Sewer

  4. Connection to Electricity

  5. Connection to the Gas Mains

  6. Connection of  Phone

  7. Concrete form-work and/or Piers

So these are essential works and are a part of every granny flat build. So why aren’t many granny flat builders listing them on their websites? This is a question we’ve asked ourselves many times and we feel you should ask it as well. It’s actually astounding to us that so many granny flat builders aren’t advertising the real price, which includes the site costs. These costs account for around 25% of the entire project yet many builders don’t divulge these costs in their advertised pricing. Instead, they usually write a disclaimer under the advertised price- “plus site costs“. Below we show you what to look for in the written quote .


Carefully read the Building Quote. It’s not so much what the quote says, but what the quote doesn’t say. You need to look for the following in a Building Quote:


This can actually be very hard to discern for most people. I mean, how can you know what’s missing in the quote if you don’t know what’s supposed to be listed, right? It’s a catch-22. To give you an example, what if there’s no mention of a Rainwater Tank on the quote, yet the building plans and BASIX  Certificate do indeed require one. You then go ahead with the quote, sign up the builder and three weeks later you find out the 2,000 Litre Slimline Rainwater Tank WAS NOT included in his quote! Generally, a short quote without a detailed list of ALL WORKS and ALL INCLUSIONS is a red flag.


I mentioned BASIX because, unless the Builder specifically mentions ‘BASIX’ in his quote, and that he’s going to install everything prescribed in the BASIX (Energy Efficiency) Certificate, we recommend that you demand that he does, otherwise just walk away. Why? Because BASIX commitments cost around $10,000 to implement. BASIX is required for all granny flats. It’s a requirement of approval. This includes installing a rainwater tank with a tap, Gas, Solar or Heat Pump Hot Water, specific Glazing requirements, specific star-ratings on taps & fixtures, specific minimum insulation, ducting, fans and so on. If the quote doesn’t specifically include the BASIX requirements, you have no recourse. These become extras. This is a potential disaster. Sure there are ways to fight this type of thing but do you wan to spend months in arbitration or do you want your granny flat built quickly, honestly, efficiently and professionally?


Our granny flat builders are required to list the following extras:

(a) If the existing Mains Wiring (to your meter) is old or inadequately shielded, we’ll need to upgrade it at this cost> and they’ll list the cost.

(b) If your site is extremely steep and we have to excavate and tip more than 10 cubic metres of soil, we will charge for tipping costs at this rate> and they’ll list the cost per cubic meter.

(c) If in preparing for the slab we hit rock or contaminated fill, we need to dispose of the contaminated fill and buy new, compacted fill at this cost> and the’ll list the cost per cubic metre. As you can see, there are quotes and there are TRUE QUOTES. If you get 3 quotes and they vary by more than 10%, you need to look closely at the contract. See below.

Read the Contract!

This means double checking that ALL of the items listed in the quote are repeated and in particular notations about:

1. Constructing the granny flat “in accordance with the architectural plans, the stamped Engineering, the BASIX Certificate and the Specifications”. if they don’t mention these- Don’t Sign the contract.

2. Look at he ‘Exclusions” or “Extras” so you understand what the builder won’t be doing. This might include demolition of old garages, carports, sheds and the like. It might list exclusions like tree removal or concrete removal and certain changes made by the client. This is important so that there’s no confusion about what’s been verbally promised versus what’s in writing.

3. Removal of Rubbish during the job. You want a clean organised and professional builder who won’t leave your site looking like a rubbish tip. Our builders (we have three) are strictly required to have skip-bins and to tidy up the site every day before they finish work.This is written into the contract.


1. The contract should list the expected finishing date with a notation about inclement weather and possible deliver delays etc. 2. The contract should have a payment schedule with specific key stages for completion of each construction phase.


The old adage, “If it looks too good, don’t believe it” holds true, especially in building. The thing is we need to factor in site costs, materials, approvals and the labour costs:

Materials: $20,000

Approvals: $6,000

Site Costs: $25,000

Labour: $45,000

TOTAL: $96,000

Granny Flat Pricing- site costs

Granny Flat Pricing



It takes particular skill to design and approve a granny flat that will remain within your budget. This means producing plans, specifications, drainage, BASIX and engineering documents that wont cost you (or your builder) a fortune to implement. The author is Sydney’s recognised expert in granny flat design, approval and building. We approve and build over 100 granny flats every year and we know how and where to save you time and money. In considering a granny flat builder, we encourage you to go with a company that not only saves money (with their knowledge and experience), but whom pass on those savings directly to you. We are able to provide extremely high quality inclusions because the saving made during the planing, design and approval stages afford us ways to include high-quality fittings within the building budget – at no extra cost to you. There are scores of articles on this site revealing ways to save money (and time) for the benefit of builders, Owner-Builders and people wanting the insider info on granny flats. This is freely available to anyone thinking of building a granny flat in Sydney or rural NSW. Fee free to browse through these news articles– there’s a wealth of guides, tips and free information for granny flat buyers.


If you read most granny flat websites, you’ll see (usually at the bottom in much smaller font) that site costs are not included. We advise you to beware here, simply because site costs are, in fact around 25% of the total building project. Our clients report that when they ask why these prices are not listed, they are told “It’s because it varies from site to site”. We just don’t use these tactics. We take the approach that in the long run it all averages out. Some jobs are tougher and some projects are easier. This is true in design and approval too. People need to know an ‘average’ cost at least, so they can asses the overall cost with some accuracy and confidence.

We always encourage people to go away and compare prices before they come back to us. We often look at a site from our office and discourage the potential client from going ahead at all. Why? Because it may do more harm to the property’s privacy, separation and value, than good. This is true especially for investors looking to attract tenants. We simply want you to be profitable.

I hope this summary helps you to become more aware of what to avoid when looking for an honest, transparent granny flat price. This article is not meant to deter you, but simply help you become more aware. It certainly pays to get educated. Here at Granny Flats Sydney (NSW) Pty. Ltd, we openly advertise TURN-KEY PRICING, INCLUDING SITE COSTS. If your site needs additional works, we will definitely make you aware of it at the onset- before you spend thousands on an approval you can never afford to carry out.

We believe it’s more important to have integrity, especially in building. Again, we believe it pays to do the research and to beware of great looking prices, which are advertised all over the internet. Warm regards,   Serge Panayi – Granny Flats Sydney (NSW) Pty. Ltd.   Note: The author, Serge Panayi, regularly contributes on online investor and builder Forums by providing free advice and guidance with regard to granny flats. Look for posts by BRAZEN.

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