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  • Writer's pictureMariki Terblanche

The Cost of Luxury: An Update


Budism Couture - Refurbishment of 88 Bree Street, Cape Town


Internal / covered area: 435m2

Completed: March 2022

Time to complete: 16 months

Final building cost: R37 000/m2 (incl. VAT)


This new studio for Budism Couture involved refurbishing a heritage building, at 88 Bree Street in Cape Town.


Traditionally we would expect a refurbishment to save R5 000/m2 on the ultimate building price.


The studio is over three floors and was given an initial fit-out budget of R39 000/m2 inclusive of VAT. The clients were experienced and realistic; the building was completed under budget at

R37 000/m2.


The professional fees included a full team and came to 25% of the building cost resulting in a final development cost of R46 000/m2.


The project was tendered during Covid in a very competitive market. Therefore the saving was made at the tender stage and not spent during construction.




Gondwana Game Reserve - New private home


Designed by: Ferdinand Holm Architects

Built by: WF Construction

Internal / covered area: 235m2

Completed: March 2023

Time to complete: 12 months

Final building cost: R35 000/m2 (incl. VAT)



This cosy lodge-style cottage on Gondwana Game Reserve in Mossel Bay was completed in March 2023.


The owners of the property bought the plot based on a quoted building rate in the estate of

R20 000/m2. Unfortunately, as is the case with most informal estimates received from architects, friends or well-meaning family members, this rate excluded a lot of important aspects of the design. In this case, the rate excluded all external works, patios and VAT.


The current building cost (2023) for a luxury house in South Africa is around R40 000/m2. You may be able to build a large ranch-style house for R25 000/m2 (incl. VAT), but this would not include the cost of the garden, driveway, boundary fences, or pool.


The density of planning of the design is an important concept to understand when considering per-square-metre rates in general. For example, a house with a large footprint, which includes a lot of open space, will generally have a lower per-square-metre rate than a home with the same accommodation (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens) but with a smaller footprint. The latter of the two is said to have a higher 'density of planning' and since the total cost is divided by a smaller square metre area, the rate per square metre is often higher.


This relatively small house in Gondwana ended up costing R35 000/m2 inclusive of VAT. The professional fees added another 20%, bringing the finall development cost to R42 000/m2, including VAT.



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