When it comes to paying for any service, it is always best to have a choice of supplier. DSB has long term associations with a network of Melbourne based builders, whom specialise in dual occupancy, duplex and multi unit projects.

If you engage a volume builder to complete your plans and permits, they will most likely will lock you in to building with their company. In doing this, you deny yourself the opportunity to minimise your construction cost. DSB clients have the advantage of being able to obtain quotes from a multitude of Melbourne builders, which means a more competitive price for construction.

The other shortfall of engaging a volume builder for design and planning permit is that the resultant design is not likely to be architecturally sophisticated. An architect or building designer whom specialises in townhouse niche is naturally going to produce a better result.

The working link between designer/architect and builder is important. A smooth project requires a solid relationship between these two. At DSB, we work with our selected builders on a weekly basis to ensure our clients dual occupancy, duplex or multi unit development come together in the way the DSB designer and our client intended. This translates into a realisation of the sites maximum potential.

If there is ever a need for DSB to adjust the architectural plans or working drawings due to client request once construction has started, then it is easy for us to co-operate with the builder to get this done promptly and accurately, given this ongoing working relationship.

Our constant communication with the selected builder means that our clients spend much less time administering their dual occupancy, duplex or multi unit development, freeing them up to enjoy their spare time. If the designer / architect already has a working relationship with the builder before a clients project starts, then the construction phase of that project is already off to a good start.

The builders on our panel have completed many of their own personal townhouse projects across Melbourne, and beyond. This experience has taught them (and by future association you) many strategies to economise on cost during the construction process. All this experience adds up to a healthier profit / equity for you at the completion of the project.

Part of DSB’s architectural service offering is the option for a DSB consultant to attend meetings with selected Melbourne builders to go through construction quotes line by line. This helps to identify areas where savings on build cost can be made. These changes are then incorporated into the building contract, which means a lower cost to build your duplex, dual occupancy or multi unit development.

In construction, some major items which increase the cost of a building are as follow:


Steel beams and columns are many times more expensive than timber one, so our designers are constantly working with our builders to minimise the amount of steel required in the building.


Every time the shape of a building articulates (changes direction/has a “corner”) its adds structural complexity, which adds cost. The planning departments at councils across Melbourne are often wanting “more articulation in duplex buildings, but at DSB we know how to incorporate just the right amount of architectural articulation (but not more) which will satisfy council, but done for the minimum building cost.

Site Works & Excavation

The initial part of the building process involves site works and excavation. It is here that the initial levels for the building are set. The more the design can follow the natural contours of the land, and minimise cut and fill (excavation/earthworks) the smaller the site cost component of the building contract will be.

A recent DSB duplex in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton, lies on a block which slopes downwards from front to back. In this case, DSB converted this slope into an architecturally positive aspect of the townhouses. The DSB designer set the ceiling heights to the front entry, study and bedroom or study area at the front half of the house at 9 feet. The ceiling heights for the back sections of the duplex units, where the kitchen, dining and main living areas were to be located, was dropped down to a height of 10 feet. This increase in ceiling height not only added a sense of vertical space and volume to the main section of the dwellings, but it also allowed the foundations and concrete slab to follow the natural slope of the land, hence minimising excavation, site costs and overall building cost for our client.

Not many blocks are perfectly flat, so this type of custom, architectural design and building ability is important if building costs are to be minimised. This ability is beyond the abilities of most volume builders. A volume builder faced with a sloping site is likely to insist on a huge amount of excavation in order to use a “cookie cutter” design which does not adapt to the sloping ground. This will end in large, ugly and expensive retaining walls, which is a bad outcome architecturally, financially and aesthetically.

Because DSB has been involved with dual occupancy, duplex and multi unit projects of all budgets, and in a variety of markets across Melbourne, we have a significant database of building costs for all types of project. If you have general questions on building, or would like specific advice on the cost of building a dual occupancy, duplex or multi unit project in Melbourne then please feel free to contact us.

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