Building a dual occupancy duplex



From: David Hepburn

Hi all,

I have questions to anyone who has built a duplex before. We are in partnership with a friend (I know this is a no no but we're giving it a go anyway). We have just bought the land which is zoned for dual occupancy and now are in the process of finding a builder. I intend to rent out our side, they are not sure what they intend to do. It is located in Sydney's Northern Beaches suburb of Warriewood.

The questions are:-
1. What did you build (2 storey, 3bed + ensuite, single garage, etc.)?

2. How much did the building cost you (not including site costs, landscaping, fencing)?

3. How much were the site costs?

4. Any info you can pass on to help?

5. Any websites you know of which can help?

Thanks in advance.
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Reply: 1
From: Michael Yardney

I've built quite a few duplexes in Melbourne, none in Sydney, but I hope this info helps.
Firstly to ensure long term capital growth, you need to build the type of property that will be in continuous strong demand by both tenants and owners.
What you can build will depend a lot on local building regulations. It is considerably cheaper to build 2 adjoining properties side by side, both with a street frontage, and these are very popular as there is no body corporate and no shared land.
Try and fit a double garage in if you can, people pay a premium for these.
Double story costs more to build, and cuts out some of the elderly market (don't like stairs)
Definitely need an ensuite, think about how people like to live - the ensuite is more important than the bathroom.
I hope this points you in the right direction.
Michael Yardney Metropole Properties
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Reply: 2
From: Michael G


If you plan to rent it out, consider the features and how you can maximise the depreciation.

Think about the kitchen area and bathroom/s.

Learn what is deemed "building" and what is a "fixture", for example kitchen cupboards are classed as building because they are fixed to the walls (cannot be removed), but if you had your kitchen designed with features made by a furniture manufacture, then this may changed the whole picture.

If you're property is upmarket northern beaches, consider what a "spa/entertainment area" could do for value.

Think about "lifestyle" what do people want, pergolas/bbq/etc those things may not add much more to the cost of material, but made have a huge "added value" impact. You want people to "love" your property. Think about what will make them "love" your property over others (ie the competition), be it renters or buyers.

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Reply: 3
From: Michelle Riley

Hi David,I'm sure many others could you give
more useful info on duplex construction.

I've done it once and would gladly go again
except the shire I live in has had a building moratorium for over 3 yrs.
My brother is a small time developer who
only builds duplexes.

The first thing I would focus on is my target market.
I built close to the beach,slightly funky,
Young and the middle age in consideration.
Not a suburban family area nor retirement.
3 bedroom,2 bath,single garage.I don't think
I would have got any more money for a double garage in that area because most people will compromise for location.I did add extra space in the garage for storage as surfboards.
I put the main bedroom upstairs with en suite
and walk in.This way had more yard left over.
Kept colors neutral but did use better quality Italian tiles.
Outside shower was a winner.
Built one in front of the other.I made sure they had separate drive ways.
Block was flat,a big preference when building for resale.
I sold the front one in a couple of months even though the market was slow.
I lived in the back one for over 12 months it sold in a couple of weeks for the advertised price.
The land content and how much you pay is very important.
I don't know about building costs in Sydney.
I finished building my house this year.Local
builders are asking about $6000-$6,500 per square on the flat for something not too complicated.You pay more when you leave the ground.
Timber floors are selling feature here,also
higher ceilings and ceiling fans help.
I feel I'm not really the best person to respond but FWIW that's my story.
My brother builds for the retirement market.
All on one level,brick and tile.A fishing town so always double garage for the boat.
I think it's about knowing your market.
All the best,
Cheers Michelle
PS Do you really need a partner?
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Reply: 3.1
From: David Hepburn

Thanks all for your input...I intend to build 4 bedroom with ensuite. It will be 2 storey because of land space.

I still need somebody to answer the costings questions though.
How much was the building itself. I've been quoted $200k from Wincrest homes for a project 2 storey, 4 bedroom, ensuite, single garage, attached duplex. But another $100k to put it there. Call me stupid but that sounds like a hell of a lot of fat for the builder.
Our block is not difficult to build on, fairly flat, good access. Our council (Pittwater) is notoriously difficult to deal with. But come on, $100k???

Still waiting on quotes from other builders. Anybody got anything to add.
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Reply: 3.1.1
From: Michael G

Masterton Homes make duplexes and last I inquired (about a year ago) was about $180k +GST. I thought this was all up.

What on earth is the extra $100k for? is the block flat?, if its slopes or requires cutting in or excavation through rock then this can add heaps to costs.

I'd ask for a break down in costs (labour/materials, etc), make them justify it.

Here's an idea: advertise in you local paper or something. Create a tender like ad

"Wanted - Builder/Developer
Require cost estimate for
duplex project. Request
project management. Must
be fully licensed and past
experience. Please submit
list of past projects to
[enter address here]
Please phone [your name] for more
details [phone number"

Or something like that, the construction industry has slowed, people are looking for work, let them compete for yours.

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Reply: 3.1.2
From: Michelle Riley

Hi David,as said earlier,I'm probably not the best to answer your questions.
The price your mob quoted seems very high!
The process I've used for building is to find an architect/draftsman recommended by friends or others.Ask how much?
I know a guy here who could
work by phone and fax.
I work with them to get the style I want and
the cost I want.They should be aware of building costs at todays prices not last years!
Ring local builders,recommended
by friends,family etc.Get an idea of price based on size.When you have the plans give them to no less then three builders,compare quotes.
Costs depends on size.Average size for a 3 bedroom,2 bathroom duplex could be between
18-23 squares.
Materials?brick and tile or weathertex and
Forget timber windows,use aluminium.
I built recently,started just before GST,saved a little on the slab.
Size 24 squares,two stories,3 bedroom,office,
2 baths,extra loo,single garage.
Materials,bagged brick and weathertex,tiled
Quote including GST was $146,000.This is approx because I can't recall the pre GST
The cost of this house came out at $6,083 per square.
Don't forget all extra costs,floor coverings,
landscaping,architect,council,loans etc etc!
My friend is about to start building.His quote came out at $6,250 per square.
You have to decide what size you can afford to build and work from there.
Remember building on the flat is cheaper.Maybe your land is not the right shape and it's better to go up.
I'd keep them unattached if possible.
Design them yourself.I found the project companies have standard plans but often don't fit your land.You always want to utilize any views and the north aspect.
David have you built before?
I believe the key is to find a good and honest builder.
Apparently,the Sydney building industry is slow
at present so you should be able to negotiate
and get a reasonable deal.
Cheers Michelle
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