The Cost of Building a House in South Africa: Comparing Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban

Johannesburg
  1. The cost of building a house in South Africa varies significantly by location, with Kwa-Zulu Natal being the most expensive province and North West and Limpopo being the most affordable.
  2. Construction costs in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, the country’s most popular residential markets, are analyzed, with the total cost of building a standard 3-bedroom house ranging from R1.45 million in Johannesburg to R1.56 million in Durban.
  3. Factors such as location, size, level of finish, construction materials, and professional services significantly impact the overall cost of construction, with several “hidden costs” associated with professional services like architects, engineers, and lawyers.

Building a house in South Africa can be an exciting and rewarding process, but it’s essential to understand the associated costs before embarking on your project. This in-depth article examines the average cost of constructing a typical 3-bedroom house in South Africa, with a focus on the country’s most popular residential markets – Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. The data provided in this article is based on historical project costs acquired from hundreds of building contractors in each area, which are updated regularly by Procompare, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with over 3,000 professional contractors for home projects, including construction and renovations.

The cost of building a house in South Africa varies depending on the location, with the most expensive province being Kwa-Zulu Natal, where the average cost per square meter (m2) is R14,860. This translates to approximately R2.17 million for a standard 3-bedroom (146 m2) house and R1.34 million for a 2-bedroom (90 m2) house. Gauteng and the Western Cape follow in second and third, with average costs of R13,330 and R13,150 per m2, equating to R1.94 million and R1.92 million for a 3-bedroom house, respectively.

Building a house in the North West and Limpopo provinces offers the most affordable options, with average costs per m2 of R7,980 in the North West and R8,450 in Limpopo. A detailed breakdown of the average cost per m2, along with the approximate total cost for standard 3-bedroom and 2-bedroom houses in each province, can be found in the table below:

ProvinceAverage cost per m2Standard 146 sqm house90 sqm house
Kwa-Zulu NatalR14,860R2,170,000R1,340,000
GautengR13,330R1,945,000R1,200,000
Western CapeR13,150R1,920,000R1,180,000
Free StateR11,290R1,650,000R1,015,000
Eastern CapeR10,890R1,590,000R980,000
Northern CapeR10,370R1,515,000R935,000
MpumalangaR9,190R1,350,000R830,000
LimpopoR8,450R1,235,000R760,000
North WestR7,980R1,165,000R720,000

It’s important to note that the cost per m2 increases when building a sectional title, such as one in a complex or an estate. The location, size, and level of finish of the house significantly impact the overall cost of construction, with construction rates varying greatly from province to province. Costs also vary based on whether the home is basic, mid-level, or high-end, as well as the construction materials used – such as steel, bricks, and roofing tiles – and professional services required.

Several professional services are necessary when building a house, and their fees are typically calculated as a percentage of the total construction cost. These services are often referred to as “hidden costs” and can vary depending on the province, town, and size of the company providing them. The average fees for some of these professional services, as outlined by Procompare, are listed below:

  • Land surveyor: up to 5% of the construction cost.
  • Architect: up to 8% of the construction cost.
  • Structural engineer: 2% of the construction cost.
  • Quantity surveyor: up to 4% of the construction cost.
  • Lawyer: average of R900 per hour.

Considering Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban are the most popular residential markets in South Africa, it’s essential to look at the cost of building a standard 146 square meter 3-bedroom house in these cities, including all professional services and fees. These costs are listed below:

Johannesburg:

  • Building/Construction: R1,400,000
  • Architectural fees: R24,000 – R32,000
  • Engineer’s fees: R22,000 – R30,000
  • Municipal submission fee: R2,500 – R3,400
  • Total cost: R1,450,000

Cape Town:

  • Building/Construction: R1,320,000
  • Architectural fees: R21,000 – R30,000
  • Engineer’s fees: R21,000 – R30,000
  • Council fees: LUM (land use management) R600 – R800 | BDM (Building Development management) R3,100 – R5,600
  • Total cost: R1,380,000

Durban:

  • Building/Construction: R1,500,000
  • Architectural fees: R35,000 – R44,000
  • Engineer’s fees: Reports and forms R4,500 | Structural plans R11,000 | Stormwater management plan if required R11,000
  • Council fee: R1,500 – R2,000
  • Total cost: R1,560,000

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