If you type self-build costs or self-build calculator into google, you will get pages of build cost tools to help. Some ask you for only 3 or 4 values or input criteria before it spits back out a figure. But can you count on this?
Yes, there are other calculators that may go into more detail and ask more in-depth questions and a lot more of them. The thing to remember is that all of these tools are free. There was that age old saying we were told growing up that ‘if something sounded too good to be true, then it usually was!’ Free online costing tools can be enticing in helping a first-time self-builder to get a grasp of budgets.
There are some tools that will ask you 20 plus or more questions about the design of the house, the square footage, internal finishes, plumbing systems and even if there are tiles or slates on the roof. However, the main thing many of these tools forget to ask, is location of the project.
Prices vary so drastically for trades; machinery hire and materials from county to county. One calculator that I have found online that would be the most accurate in terms of location pricing is the Self Build Ireland website. It is the first question they ask. One important thing to remember is that the estimate they produce will be ‘rough’. Tolerances can be up to 30-40k either side of the true cost, depending on the square footage of the house.
More recently we have seen that mortgage lenders are asking for more accurate costings and comprehensive breakdowns of each phase. Online calculators cannot provide that information and it must be obtained through a QS, architect or estimating company. Basically, take the values from these free online calculators with a pinch of salt. To stay on the safe side, and within budget, get a complete report done!