How much does a FORM Home™ cost?
It’s a question we’re often asked, and the best answer is in the form of another question; ‘how long is a piece of string’? To begin with, an architecturally designed Passive House sits at the far end of a spectrum of building options. It represents a set of standards being met that ensure the home is built well above the expected efficiencies of an average house. It especially stands out when we compare it to how the average Australian home is built.
So where does a FORM Home™ fit on that spectrum? We build high performance, energy efficient homes that do cost more than a typical builder’s custom home (which is ~$2,000/sqm) but will cost LESS than a house designed by an independent architect (minimum $3,300/sqm). It’s important to know that just because an architect has designed a house, it won’t necessarily feature the energy efficiency and sustainability that a FORM Home™ can offer. This is because they are largely built in the same way as a mainstream builder’s home – double brick. The price increases come from high-end finishes, custom details and additional administration. Of course you should expect a beautiful home from an architect, but the higher price is why less than 3% of homes are designed by one. If you were to further compare the price of a FORM Home™ to an architecturally-designed Passive House, the difference in cost would be even greater.
Let’s break down what you can expect to pay in WA for the following building envelope structures, from a standard double brick home, all the way up to a certified architecturally-designed Passive House.
1. Standard double brick home
This is the bread and butter of most builders in WA:
Single-glazed windows, ducted air-conditioning and low quality materials that provide poor insulation. To offset the costs of running the air-conditioner, you can consider adding solar panels and a battery, but this is a band-aid solution to the shortcomings of this construction type.
2. Timber-framed home
Double-glazed windows, ducted air-conditioning but using R2.4 insulation in the walls and R5.1 in the roof. This is far more thermally efficient (and simply a better home) than structure #1, but without an Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system, homeowners will need to open the windows regularly to avoid condensation and mould. This leads to higher heating and cooling costs to maintain a steady temperature.
3. A FORM Home™
Replaces timber framing with SipForm™ fully insulated, energy efficient walls plus an airtight membrane. Double-glazed aluminium windows, 2.7m-high ceilings, and ERV to ensure constant supply of fresh air whilst maintaining a steady internal temperature.
4. Certified Passive House (architecturally-designed)
Uses similar construction and energy details as a FORM Home™, but is certified by The Passivehous Institute in Germany. The higher costs are generally as a result of a higher airtight standard (<0.6 ACH50), thermal bridge and certifier costs, as well as the extra time it takes to complete the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) report and documentation. These costs will be approximately $20k to $30k.
So what do you choose?
The cost differential between each of the build structures above is approximately 5%. We strongly encourage you to consider opting for the higher performance, energy efficient building envelope upfront, because you can’t change the walls and windows later on. You can always upgrade finishes later, so save the money where you can to ensure you get the most comfortable home. Importantly, the money you’ll spend on improving the energy efficiency of the envelope will be saved over time from the significant reduction in energy consumption.
Do I need to get Passive House certification?
At its core, Passive House gives you full confidence and proof that your home is built to the highest efficiency standard. Certification puts your home on a global registry alongside some of the best performing and highest efficiency homes in the world.
But is it worth it? There may be only a marginal difference between a certified Passive House and a FORM Home™, so unless you have the most expensive taste – and the budget to satisfy it – you’ll most likely find that the answer is no.
In summary, we think you should focus on building the best possible building envelope for your budget, so that you can experience the most comfortable home.
If you have questions, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on 08 9468 0023 to discuss further.