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Is it cheaper to buy land and build a house?

Forging a home in your own image is an attractive prospect, but is it cheaper to buy land and build a house? We evaluate.

is it cheaper to buy land and build a house

Article summary

  • The costs of building a home include the land costs, building materials, professional fees and connecting utilities.
  • Building a house reduces or eliminates certain costs, saving you in the long run.
  • The gap between the cost of buying vs building is shrinking every year.

It’s an attractive prospect; being able to forge a home in your own image. But what about the expense versus simply buying an existing home? We evaluate.

Note: Our Bond Calculator can help you compare the cost of building vs buying by determining what you will pay per month on your home loan.

The costs of buying land and building a house:

  • The cost of the land. The location will affect the price ie. whether you want to build in a remote area or an area closer to the city centre (obviously land in urban areas will be harder to find).
  • The cost of construction (calculated according to the number of square meters).
  • The cost of materials utilised in construction (ie. bricks, cement).
  • The cost of professionals, such as the quantity surveyor, architect, various engineers and geologists.
  • The cost of connecting services such as water, electricity, and plumbing.

Cost per square meter

According to briefly.co.za, the average cost, as of 2022, is R10 000 to R20 000 per square meter.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown by area (taken from procompare.co.za)

Province Cost per square meter Standard (146 meters) home 90 meter home
KwaZulu Natal R19 230 R2 800 000 R1 730 000
Gauteng R15 730 R2 296 000 R1 410 000
Western Cape R14 050 R2 050 000 R1 260 000
Mpumalanga R11 390 R1 662 000 R1 020 000
Limpopo R10 550 R1 540 000 R950 000
North West R10 130 R1 478 000 R911 000

Comparing the cost of building to the cost of buying

According to procompare, the average prices for purchasing a home versus building a home in South Africa are as follows:

Province Buying Building
Cape Town R1 755 317 R2 016 806
Durban R1 102 022 R1 994 670
Pretoria R1 556 558 R1 993 525
Johannesburg R1 270 915 R1 774 808
Kimberley R1 182 000 R1 536 964
Bloemfontein R1 150 000 R1 496 825
Port Elizabeth R1 100 000 R1 397 159
Polokwane R1 050 000 R1 323 375

Buying a home is cheaper but not for long

So the table shows that buying a home is still cheaper, but not by a significant amount, and the gap is shrinking every year.

Furthermore, building a home can save money by reducing or eliminating costs in the following ways:

  • You don’t have to pay transfer duty.
  • You have fewer maintenance issues.
  • You don’t have to pay administrative fees for the legal process of transferring a home from one owner to another.
  • Building a new home provides tax benefits, such as the ability to claim depreciation over the next few years.

When you add all these expenses together, building a house probably amounts to less than buying a house in the long run.

The other benefits of building a house

Plus building a house provides other advantages, such as:

  • You can build a modern home that is more tech-friendly.
  • The feeling of knowing you and your family will be the first to live in the home.
  • There’s less competition for buying a plot of land and building a home on it than there is for buying established homes.
  • Designing and building the home yourself will strengthen your feeling of ownership over it. The stories you’ll share with your friends while you’re enjoying a cold one around the braai become more real, and you’re passionate about them because you were involved in the process.

Applying for a home loan

Should you choose to purchase a home instead of buying one, ooba Home Loans can help by submitting your home loan application to multiple banks.

This allows you to compare deals and choose the one with the lowest interest rates.

So when you’re ready, apply for a home loan with ooba Home Loans.

Get a free home loan comparison

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