How expensive is building a house?

- - Category Constructing or renovating

Those who think about building a house, almost immediately ask themselves the question: how expensive is building a house? No matter how simple the question may sound, the answer is not that easy at all. The prices of new homes vary enormously, and are also dependent on external factors: region, degree of finish, surface area, building style, etc. So a clear and simple answer to that question is not that simple, but of course you can get an idea of the total price, if you take certain factors into account.

1. The building land

The price of a piece of building land is already a first factor that varies enormously, depending on location and of course size. According to figures released by the Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries in 2017, an average piece of building land in Flanders costs 160,960 euros. That in itself is an enormous amount, but don't let that scare you. As already mentioned, this is very region-specific, and of course depends on the size.

In the province of Flemish Brabant, and certainly in the Brussels region, you pay a bit more than that average for a piece of building land. In the province of Limburg or West Flanders, for example, those prices are a lot lower. In the Walloon region you even pay half for the same piece of land. So it is certainly advisable to check in your region, what the exact prices are for a piece of building land.

So for those who cannot inherit land, this first part is certainly a serious bite out of the total budget for the new home.

2. The architect

The architect is of course a necessity for those who want to build a house, but that necessity also comes with a price tag. This usually depends on the agreements that are made among themselves. If the architect makes the ground plans, he can only follow up the project until the carcass is ready, for example. Often, however, the architect follows up the entire project, from beginning to end. Of course, there are serious differences in price.

Here, too, there is a general rule about an architect's fees when building a new building. Between 7 to 15% of the cost of building the house, it is best to keep aside for the architect. We usually use around 10% as a standard, to follow up the project from start to finish. Once again, if he/she only follows the structural phase, this can be obviously a lot less.

3. The notary fees

Whoever buys land has to pass through the notary. And of course there are costs involved. In itself, we can actually divide the costs when the deed is executed into 5 different types:

  • Registration tax (10% of the value of the building land in the Flanders region, 12,5% in the Walloon region)

  • Honorary notary
  • Administrative costs
  • Transfer costs
  • VAT

On the website www.notaris.be, you will find a very nice module to simulate the extra costs for the execution of the deed. We could only find it in Dutch (or French), so that's where the link is heading. We did the simulation as well. In our example, we assume a cost price of €100,000 for our piece of building land, located in Flanders. With that, we go to the notary. 

In our example, we get a total additional cost between €13,126.33 and €13,489.33. We hope this doesn't scare you too much. The biggest bite, of course, is the 10% registration fee, which in our case will cost €10,000. If you subsequently build a modest house on that land, you have a chance of 'small description', in which case you only have to pay 5% registration fee. In that case you can reclaim half of the registration fees from the notary, in our example that would be €5,000.

The notary's fee is in principle a fixed amount, the administrative costs may fluctuate between €800 and €1,100 as indicated.

4. The construction budget for your project

You often hear people say that building is becoming more and more expensive. That in itself is not the case, but increasingly stricter standards must be met, so the costs are often slightly higher during the construction process. By 2021, the energy requirements for a new building will once again be tightened to the BEN standard. BEN stands for 'almost energy neutral'. In order to meet the current energy requirements, an E40 level must be achieved, or even less naturally. The E-level indicates how energy efficient a home is.

From 2021 the standard will be E30. Some five years ago, the standard was still E50, for example. Anyone who submitted their building application between 2016 and the end of 2020 has a chance of obtaining a reduction in property tax. To put it simply: anyone who achieves an energy level between E20 and E30 will receive a 50% discount on property tax for 5 years. Anyone who falls below E20 even receives a 100% discount, and does not have to pay property tax for the first 5 years.

With those energy standards in mind, we looked up recent figures on the prices to build a house. According to De Bouwunie, building a house within the current energy standards costs between €1,660 and €1,785 per square metre. So if you build a house with about 200 square metres of living space, you end up with a total price between €332,000 and €357,000. In this price the VAT (21% in this case, for newly build houses) is already included.

5. The (unavoidable) additional costs

In the end, there are a lot of, inevitable, extra costs involved in building a new home. Think mainly about this:

  • Soil testing

  • EPB study
  • Ventilation report
  • Airtightness measurement
  • Safety coordination of the work site
  • Utility connection
  • Sewerage connection
  • Electricity, plumbing and sewerage inspection

For all these costs, it is best to charge a total of around 5,000 to 10,000 euros. Often you can negotiate a bit with the general contractor about certain costs, but the inspections and studies are unavoidable costs that you have to take into account as a builder.

So take your building files at hand, and go through the costs listed here step by step, so that you ultimately get a realistic picture of the total cost of your building project. Calculate everything well in advance, so that you don't end up with high (unexpected) costs afterwards.

Looking for tips and advice about your renovation or refurbishment?

Feel free to take a look at our other blogs in the category Constructing and renovating. You'll discover 5 ways to renovate cheaply or why it's so important to renovate sustainably.