How much does it cost to refurbish an aged care interior?

by zhoosh_admin | Apr 13, 2020

A question often asked by property and procurement managers in the healthcare and aged care sectors is — how much does it cost to refurb a typical room, wing or ward? There is no simple one-size-fits-all answer. However, we can provide pricing guides and cost indications for some of the variables that are encountered in a healthcare refurbishment project.

NOTE: All costs listed below are possible examples and are exclusive of GST.

Basic Refurbishment Design Costs:

Typically for a basic healthcare refurbishment, there is no alteration to the specified systems of the building. This means that the need to obtain a building consent is unlikely. However, there are occasions when a landlord may require a building consent exemption, and that typically costs around $500 in council fees.

In addition to the cost of the consent exemption, a fire engineers report must be factored into your budget, a fee that typically ranges from $1800 – $2500. Further, the cost for the ventilation report can vary from $700 – $3000 depending on the scale and scope of the refurbishment.

Additional design time will be required to compile the consent documentation, and this typically costs $2000 – $3000. This particular design time is over and above the concept designs and construction drawings that are detailed below.

Almost all refurbishments except for a one-off room or apartment type refurbishment will require some level of planning and design. These may include selections of interior finishes and design schemes, colour coordination, construction drawings, and detailing plans. As a standard rule of thumb, a basic refurbishment would require a floor plan, finishes plan, electrical plan, elevations, and construction details. The design cost for an average project would range from $2,000 – $7,000, depending on the complexity of the individual project.

Major Refurbishment Project Design Costs:

A new building consent will be required for the following circumstances:

  1. A more complex refurbishment.
  2. A more extensive project that contains proposals to change, alter or modify specified systems such as new or modified fire protection, ventilation, sanitary works, or structural changes.

Below are the indicative design costs associated with a new or major refurbishment project:

  • Architectural and interior design $80/m2
  • Ceiling design and engineering $13/m2 (If suspended ceilings which is unlikely)
  • Ventilation design & engineering $6/m2
  • Fire design & engineering $12/m2
  • Furniture layout design $4/m2
  • Council consent fees $18/m2

Construction Costs:

In this section, we will look at the typical building costs for a refurbishment project. As with the design component, any indicative costs listed in this section are to be regarded as a rough guide, and they exclude GST, project management fees, preliminary expenses, and general costs.

In a typical refurbishment, the general scope allows for new or altered walls and ceilings, generally with new timber trims/skirtings. Further, the refurbishment typically includes upgrades to electrical and lighting, plumbing fittings, repaint of the internal walls, ceiling, trims and floor coverings. This results in an average refurbishment cost of around $300-$640/m2.

Additional costs to update or modify the following:

  • Fire protection upgrade $80/m2
  • Ventilation modification and upgrades $50/m2

Project Management & Preliminary & General:

Several items are frequently included under the title P & G or contractors’ margin. However, to simplify things, we have bundled those items together as one item in this guide.

Project management costs are the main contractor’s fee for managing the project. These costs include the coordination of the sub-contractors. Further, the project manager is responsible for maintaining health and safety and ensuring quality, project budget, and timeline.

P & G or Preliminary and General are costs such as waste bins, temporary power supplies, cleaning of buildings, temporary hoarding, protection of fencing, access, or any other project-related expenses that are not directly related to any one trade in particular. The main contractor usually allows for these costs to save each trade from the need to charge individually for their own items.

As a rule of thumb, the P & G project management cost for a simple refurbishment project is between $15-$20 /m2


To summarise, there are usually one of two scenarios:

  1. A basic room or apartment refurbishment with an ensuite bathroom including, repaint, new floor coverings, upgrade to electrical and plumbing fittings. No consent required.
  2. A major refurbishment where consent would be necessary, involving structure or specified system modifications including wall alterations, flooring upgrades, electrical and plumbing upgrades, painting.

Scenario 1 – A basic refurbishment would typically cost $350 – $450/m2

Scenario 2 – A major refurbishment could cost between $650 – $1000/m2

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