Building your dream home: Understanding what may not be included

What's not in a building contract
Building a new home is a huge investment and a massive project, and it's essential to know exactly what you're paying for. Here's what you need to know.

We all love wandering through display homes and imagining ourselves living in them, but when it comes to building that gorgeous home on your block of land, are all those inclusions and building requirements really included in the building contract price?

Building a new home is a huge investment and a massive project, and it’s essential to know exactly what you’re paying for. While the building tender outlines the cost and scope of your build, it’s not always a comprehensive list of everything that’s included.

Do you know the common items that may not be included in a building tender?

With advice from Kerri-Ann Hooper, Director of Carnelian Property, we will explore some of the common items that may not be included in a building tender and how to avoid surprises and a budget blowout, during the construction process.


The Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) is a sustainable planning scheme that was introduced to regulate the energy efficiency of residential buildings in NSW and aims to reduce water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Do you know if your home has been priced correctly for BASIX requirements? If, when the builder goes to obtain the BASIX certificate, there are items that need to be added to pass the assessment (for example, more insulation or more ceiling fans), your builder may charge additional costs. If however you are with a genuine fixed priced builder, any extras like this are covered.

Bushfire requirements

Are there any bushfire requirements that need to be included in the price?

Most land has a BAL rating and a home needs certain requirements to meet this rating such as gutter guards and thicker fly screens.

Site prep and excavation

Don’t forget about the site preparation and excavation costs. This includes site levelling, retaining walls, and excavation. These costs can add up quickly.

  • Is the removal of trees or mulch included?
    Nowadays a lot of estates may not have trees on them but the trees that were once there may have been mulched, leaving a thick layer that the builder needs to remove.
  • If the builder strikes rock, who pays for its removal?
    It’s not only the rock breaker machinery that costs money but the removal of the rock in trucks, that costs extra.
  • Is the slab quoted for the correct soil type?
    All soil has a rating and refers to the contraction and expansion of the soil, so knowing whether the slab fits the soil rating, is important.


Landscaping, including lawns, gardens, and trees, is usually not included in the building tender. If you want a specific outdoor space, be sure to budget for landscaping costs separately.

Driveways and sidewalks

Driveways, sidewalks, and any other exterior concrete work aren’t typically included in the building tender. Make sure to check with your builder about these costs and factor them into your budget. Fencing may also need to be completed before you can move into your new home, but if not considered may become an expensive after cost.

Fixtures, finishes and decorative elements

While some builders might include standard fixtures and finishes, items like light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets, and flooring might not be included in the building tender. Whilst the 60 x 60 shiny porcelain tiles in the display home look stunning, you will probably find that the price only includes standard matt tiles in 30 x 30.

Double-check the contract to know what you’re getting. If you have specific design elements in mind, make sure to talk to your builder and include them in your budget.

Electrical and plumbing upgrades

Electrical and plumbing upgrades, like extra outlets or fixtures, might not be included in the building tender. Make sure you chat with your builder about your needs and include any upgrades in your budget.

Planning and consideration

Building a new home requires careful planning and consideration. Make sure you know what’s included in your building tender. By being informed and proactive, you can make sure your dream home is built just the way you want it.

Although the checklist items above are not as exciting as the display home inclusions, some of them are essential for Council to approve your house plans, so be sure you ask the right questions before you sign on the dotted line. If any of these items are not included, you could find yourself with a build budget in excess of $10,000 – $60,000 above your anticipated outlay.

Carnelian Projects suggest that the best way to avoid all the extra costs, is to pick a genuine Turnkey Builder. Turnkey means that the house will be completely finished inside and out, so all you need to do when you ‘turn the key’, is move your furniture in!

Carnelian Projects also offer a Tender Health Check service, whereby Kerri-Ann will forensically check through your build quote/tender/contract and plans, to explain what is or isn’t included in your build price.

So if you are wondering whether or not those luxury upgrades or ‘cash back’ deals are really free, then consider reaching out to Kerri-Ann at Carnelian Projects and start your new build with confidence.

To purchase your new block of land, or off-the-plan property, speak to one of our team.

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