Building costs

In addition to ACT Government fees, there are costs associated with your build, purchase or renovation.

Be sure you understand which costs are and are not included in your contract.

Getting quotes

For building and construction services, before requesting a quote from someone you are thinking of hiring:

It’s a good idea to get a least three written quotes before you decide who to hire.

Note, there is a difference between a quote and an estimate.


An estimate is a reasonable assumption of the costs involved without knowledge of the exact extent of the work to be done or the exact costs of materials. An estimate, even if written, will not bind the person providing it to you and you can end up paying more or paying for work you didn't specifically authorise.


A quote is a legally enforceable document detailing all the work to be done and parts or materials to be used. It should have a time limit for which the quote is valid. The quote should always be fixed and state how long it is fixed for. Quotes that are based on an hourly rate plus costs do not guarantee a set price.

If you change your mind on what you want, write a list of the changes or have the plans re-drawn and ask for a re-quote.

Prime cost and provisional sum items

Prime cost items

Prime cost items are those items that you may not have selected at the time of the contract. The contract sum includes an amount of money estimated for the purchase of the items. This allowance should be a reasonable estimate for a standard or average item. If you choose a more expensive item, you will have to pay the difference in price.

Prime cost items can include:

Prime cost items should be specified in the contract or listed in an attachment to the contract.

To avoid disputes and additional costs at the end of your contract, it is a good idea to keep the number of prime cost items small and select other items upfront so you know the actual cost before the work starts.

Provisional sum

A provisional sum is an amount of money included in the contract sum to cover work or materials where the extent needed cannot be specifically detailed when entering a contract. Typically, this may include sitework costs, which may cover unforeseen circumstances such as rocks and materials in the earth that could not be reasonably detected before work starts.

More information

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