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The Cost of Building a House





As some of you readers may consider building in the future, this may help in planning a building budget.  Note that the costs below are based upon building a home in Newfoundland (in 2007), but it should give you an approximate cost for other areas in Canada.

  • $90-$95/sq ft of living space based on 2 story homes (ranch bungalows cost more/sq ft) – includes 10×10 patio, paved double driveway, and landscaping in front only ($150-$200/sq ft in 2013).
  • $15,000 for single garage
  • $30,000 for double garage
  • Add the cost of land
  • Above price includes approximate allowances:  $5000 for kitchen, $5000 for flooring, and $1000 for lighting.

As you can see, even though it costs a bundle to build a house, most builders only give you a skimpy allowance that will most likely NOT cover the expenses.

Also note that the prices given below are “contractor” prices which you will also mostly likely get if you are building through a reputable builder.

For kitchens, after getting many quotes, I found the general rule of thumb of $230 per linear foot of kitchen.  My future kitchen is approximately 30 linear feet of kitchen cabinets/counter tops which would cost approximately $230 x 30 = ~ $7,000.  Note that this estimate is based on a standard laminate counter top, not the fancy granite/marble stuff and no island.

The floors, we’re looking at getting mostly hardwood/ceramics and carpet in the bedrooms.  The budget killer is if you want to get hardwood stairs which cost around $200/stair; extra if you have a landing, and super extra if you have a winding stair case.  For us, we have around 12 steps + landing (thank goodness for no curve), quoted as $3000.  For us, flooring worked out to be around $6.50/sq ft, so in total around $11,500 (1800 sq ft developed).

Onto the lighting, we’re hoping to get some pot lights installed, but man, these little buggers are expensive!  We were quoted approximately $100/pot light.  We’re going to get a few pot lights for the main floor, other than that, we’re just getting cost effective (aka cheap), interior fixtures from the local hardware store.  There’s not doubt that we’ll be exceeding the $1000 electrical/lighting allowance.

Something that most people neglect to consider are the exterior doors.  Most builders give you a very low allowance for your front door, and you’re bound to go over the given amount.  We did anyways.  Both our front/patio doors combined will cost us an extra $600.





88 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. I never had my house built so far but $90-95/ sq ft seems very cheap! For example, I paid my 2002 house $157/sq ft of living (I live about 20 minutes away from Montreal).

    Do you know how much does it cost to build another room in top of the garage? I think it is a great addition for a 2 floors house.

    Another thing, I would strongly recommend to have hardwood floor in the bedrooms as well. While it is much more expensive than carpet, it adds a lot to the property value at resell. People with cats or dogs and those with allergies are getting more and more reluctant to carpets.

  2. Hey FB, the $95/sq ft doesn’t include the cost of land or garage. Around here, a single plot of land costs at least $60k, and a single garage around $15k.

  3. 3. Pauls

    Interesting article…thanks…

    Around the Toronto area the cost to build is double that per sq ft. Getting a decent kitchen for under $20,000 is unheard of. My inlaws did their kitchen (very small galley style) for under $20K. It was cheap and it showed. The cupboards faded after 4 years and they started to come loose.

    My kitchen was $40k. Granite, maple, custom. Well worth it IMO. Spend the $$ on kitchens and bathrooms. Every time I’ve gone cheap I’ve regretted it. Wait a couple years and do it right.

  4. Hey Pauls, I think it really depends on which area of Toronto your building in. One friend of mine build a 2 story with double garage in North Toronto for $375k for 2500 sq ft.

    So 2500 sq ft x $95 = $237,500
    Double garage = $30,000
    Over allowances on lighting/kitchen = $15,000
    Sum: $282,500
    And it’s probably accurate to say that a plot of land in Toronto is around $375000-282500 = $92,500.

    However, I also have another friend who has a 1300 sq ft townhouse in Richmond Hill for $300k. :)

    All in all though, I think the biggest difference in housing cost across the country is the land cost.

  5. I’ll echo Pauls and say that there is no way you can get something built for that cheap.

    FT – I originally thought the article was for a custom home ie you buy a wreck, knock it down and then get someone to build a new home. That would be about $200/ft. If you’re talking about someone who buys a home in a new subdivision then it’s probably cheaper.

    $92k is one of the cheaper plots of land in the GTA. However like anywhere, different areas cost different amounts – basically the further away from the city the cheaper it is (with a lot of exceptions of course!).

    Mike

  6. 6. icedragon

    Well, seeing the price to build your house quits all the fun of doing it

  7. 7. nobleea

    Building a new house is always an emotional time. I would have a tough time keeping my wallet in check. I agree that kitchen and lighting are some of the more important places to spend extra. Keep in mind that classy, raised panel cabinets will look better 10 yrs down the road than something that looks ‘modern’ now. This is even more the case if the cabinets are cheap to begin with.

    If you’re on a budget, splurge on the things that are harder to upgrade in the future (kitchen). It’s relatively easy to upgrade appliances, lights, bathroom fixtures, and even flooring later when you have the money. Upgrading tub tile surrounds, adding multiple shower heads, skylights, low-e windows, etc AFTER the house has been built is much more expensive and inconvenient.
    Also keep in mind that there will be a limit for how much upgrades your neighbourhood can handle. If no one else in the neighbourhood has hardwood, slate, and granite, you’ll have a hard time passing all the costs on at resale.

    $95/sq ft is very cheap! Here in Edmonton, it’s closer to 200-250$ a sq ft I think. 3-4 years ago, it was about $90/sq ft. $100/pot light is nothing – some of my friends building now are getting charged $300/pot light for new construction.

  8. 8. Telly

    I would agree with nobleea, concentrate your dollars on the items that would be harder to upgrade in the future.

    Potlights are incredibly easy to install (I watched my husband do it ;)) as long as the electrical is in place. If you really want potlights, I would definitely do that on your own after the fact and just go with cheap fixtures for now. Potlights are also quite cheap at Home Depot. You dont need to spend much money on them because the important factor is the light emitted since the entire fixture is sunk in anyway.

  9. I’ve done quite a few potlights in two of my houses, 38 to be exact. As far as doing them yourself, they aren’t any more difficult than installing an outlet or a light fixture and they are definitely easier than a ceiling fan. That said they are still quite a bit of work. Telly mentioned that they are easy “if the electrical is in place” – yup that’s true. If you are adding pots and there is no ceiling (that’s what I did) then it’s a relatively easy project but if the ceiling is in place then it’s quite difficult to run the wires.

    I buy fairly cheap ones from Rona – expensive pots are a waste of money – when they are on, all you can see is the light anyways.

    Electricians typically charge per outlet (an outlet is a light, outlet etc so potlights add up pretty quick.

    That said – one of the mistakes I made on the first house was that I took an existing light fixture and attached 6 pots to it. I didn’t realize at the time there is a limit to how many “items” you can have on one circuit (12 I think) so this is something to keep in mind.

    Another tip is avoid putting lights in insulated ceilings – you need to put a special metal box around the light and you should also put a special vapour barrier shroud around it – a lot of extra work!

    Mike

  10. 10. Rod Payne

    I’ve said it here before, and I’ll say it again. Being able to do your own labour makes you worth your weight in gold (or, if you prefer, gas!). Here in Cranbrook my plot of land, at 60X100 feet, goes for $140,000 or more. New construction is on smaller lots for the same price – a new subdivision opened with 37 lots between $140,000 and $200,000 and sold out in 60 minutes with people on a waiting list. Rule of thumb here is $150/sq ft not counting land, and that’s for a house with no fancies (slate/skylight/etc.)

  11. I agree with you there Rod. I’m planning on developing my own basement when I get the chance. May take a few years, but i’ll learn a lot in the process. :)

  12. 12. Rod Payne

    Here’s an example. We redid the kitchen this summer, taking out everything back to the walls. We did:

    Cabinets
    Electrical
    Plumbing
    Range Hood
    Painting
    Finish work

    Trades did:

    Countertop
    Stone backsplash (African Slate @$7.00 per tile)

    My wife now insists that after watching the guy install the tile, that she can do as good a job herself (I believe her). At $3.75 per square foot, that is not a cheap boast. I immediately tore the 1978-era linoleum off the stairs and said “Have at it.”

    The house also has 1978-era windows. I’ll be replacing those myself, too. I asked how much people charge here to replace windows. At $150-$250 (depending on size), and with 11 windows in the house, I’ll handle that myself, thank you very much.

    Speaking of which, for cost comparison sake, any idea what your local costs for an Energy rated 3 foot high X 4 foot wide casement window runs? I bought one for my kitchen for just under $300, which was 50% off the sticker price.

  13. 13. Pauls

    FT – I like your attitude. Look at these projects as a chance to learn something new, and they can be fun if you are patient.

    But know when you are in too deep and call a pro in!

  14. 14. Gates VP

    Hey FT, my uncle just a build a place in Winnipeg 2 years ago at $120/sq ft. $90-95 is really cheap and may actually border on “cheap”.

    The subject of a house is a big issue with my fiancé and I. We eventually want a home of our home, but we want a top-quality one. After a recent trip to Vegas and one to Geneva, I’ve come to a whole new appreciation of the concept of quality.

    Around the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg, there are several banks that have been standing for 100 years. A bus ride through Geneva showed evidence of this same commitment to quality. As did my room at the New York New York hotel in Vegas. The cabinets were real wood, the bathroom was tiled floor and marble.

    There are a lot of ways to build a house, but the general North American battle plan doesn’t build a house to last 100 years. In fact I’d go as far to say that most houses are built to be completely renovated inside every 20 years or less. Paint, roofing, wallpaper & linoleum don’t even last 20 years. In a land of 20 and 40-year mortgages, I’d urge all homeowners to take this into account.

    As to the “where to go expensive” and “where to cheap out” comments, I think it all depends on the nature of your home. Nobleaa makes a generally good point about tackling the tough stuff first. Of course, someone is going to talk about building houses equivalent to your neighbours so that you don’t bring down the “value” of your house.

    When you build a place it’s important to decide the purpose of the house. Are you planning to sell the place in 5-10 years or live in the place for a long time? Putting marble that no one else can afford is no good if you plan to sell but it’s great if you plan to live there for 40 years.

    (OH Yeah, is there an allowance for wiring the place? If you’re building a new place, please make sure that you have at least one Cat5e or Cat6 Network connection in every room (right alongside the phone jack and maybe the cable jack). People are already re-wiring their existing places for this very purpose. In 15 years, you’ll have computers in every room and wish that they had high-speed network/internet access and wireless doesn’t scale very well).

  15. 15. Rod Payne

    http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2007/05/29/realestate.html

    I haven’t taken the time to analyze the relative prices deeply (my employer does expect some productivity, you know). However, if average resale prices across Canada are comparable to $/sqft prices, then $90-95 in NL may not be out of line with the higher prices per square foot that we are quoting for points west of Atlantic Canada.

  16. Guys, as I mentioned before, the $/sq ft does not include the cost of land.

    Gates, yes, the plan is to pre-wire every room with ethernet … maybe even the bathrooms. ;)

  17. 17. Telly

    Gates, I’m not sure I understand your point. You mention that “homes are built to be completely renovated inside every 20 years” but you also say that you want a “top-quality” home. 100 year old homes still need to be renovated (paint, roofing, etc.) So why go with really expensive, top quality stuff when it’s all going to be pulled out and renovated anyway? Generally people don’t renovate because the materials are in rough shape, they usually renovate because 70′s style wallpaper looks…well, like 70′s style wallpaper.

    While it’s true that the fireplace and trim in our 80+ year old house is great, the real wood cabinets from the 60′s are not. Neither is the floor to ceiling (including ceiling!) tile in our bathroom! But that’s just because beige/pink tile is not in but hardwood and original trim is. Remember, not long ago, hardwood was out and most people carpeted over it. Things change. As expensive and classy as marble is now, remember that it wasn’t thought of that way not that long ago.

  18. FT – I think an unfinished basement is a perfect project for a part timer DIYer, mainly because there won’t be any time pressure to get it done.

    Rod – kudos for tackling a kitchen – that’s one of the areas I would say a DIYer shouldn’t do for the simple reason that it’s too hard to go without a kitchen for an extended period of time. Another area is the bathroom if you only have one :)

    Gates – are you planning to build your house out of stone? Don’t worry about top quality, the odds of you staying in one house long enough to see a brand new roof wear out is not very high. And who cares about paint quality, wallpaper and linoleum? That’s just minor cosmetic stuff.

    Mike

  19. 19. nobleea

    Exterior finishes can make a big difference in how long before it has to be redone. Oddly enough, the longer lasting finishes tend to be associated with higher quality. Brick, stone, metal all last long. Stucco, aluminum/vinyl siding do not and end up looking dated quite fast.

    The same goes for windows. Nice, all wood Anderson windows will age better than vinyl specials from home depot.

    But let’s be realistic here…subdivision/tract homes are not designed to last 100 years. A custom built, architecturally designed home can though.

  20. 20. Gates VP

    Hey guys, you’ve caught me in my own little circular loop. I have indeed pondered the costs of building a house in stone :)

    I think that my point was muddled here between two parts:

    1. What are you planning for the house?

    This is pretty fundamental to how you pick your components and cost things out.

    2. What quality do you want?: I’ve heard of 100+-year old marble staircases. They become so worn that the stone actually dips a little in the middle. When was the last time you walked on a marble staircase :) Build a wooden staircase and it won’t last that long, of course, if you don’t actually expect the home to be around in 100 years, then it probably won’t matter.

    So why go with really expensive, top quality stuff when it’s all going to be pulled out and renovated anyway?

    B/c the point of top quality stuff is simply that you don’t intend to renovate it very often. Build me a kitchen that’s made to last 50 years and then I won’t need to renovate, just upkeep. Marble counters, tiled floors, hardwood cabinets… There are homes in Europe that have been standing for hundreds of years, but we don’t think that way when we build houses.

    Hey maybe it’s just a pipe dream, but I’d like to build a house that lives longer than I do and hopefully longer than my kids too.

  21. Gates, are you married? If your wife is anything like mine, then she’ll definitely want to renovate when the styles start to fade out.
    Also, who says that you’re going to live in the same house forever? Things change, life happens.

  22. 22. nobleea

    I have friends who are building houses at the moment. Their dream homes. But they are under 30, with no kids. Right now, they say these are the houses they’re going to retire in. I think it’s impossible to see 30-35 years in the future and make that claim.

    Granted, they are large, very nice houses, but circumstances and needs change. Perhaps my experience is influencing me. Being from a military family, moving every 3 years was the norm. In fact, the longest I ever lived in one home was 5 years, and that was in a rental ending last year.

  23. 23. telly

    Gates, I can tell you that wooden stairways will last 100 yrs (our hous is at ~90 now). I can also tell you that hardwood floors will last 100 years. Have a look at my kitchen and bathroom and you’ll see they’ve both lasted 50 years (some days I wish they hadn’t ;)). Like FT said, you will want to renovate at some point regardless of the materials used. Lots of homes that weren’t constructed of marble are still around after 200 years, they’re just not the homes of former Kings and Queens.

  24. 24. Craig

    For a point of reference, Vancouver costs about $130-$150/sq. ft. These prices are about a year old now, but they have been continuously climbing in recent years due to the labour shortage in the construction industry. If you can find someone, you are lucky if you can get them to reliably show up or even finish the job. Sometimes these contractors are floating between jobs and they service the highest paying jobs first.

    It sounds like we should all sell our houses in the big cities and move to the east coast :)

  25. 27. Gwaine

    The pot light makes me laugh. Our builder wanted $250 per light. The 9 lights would have cost us $2,250. We bought a kit from Home Depot and did them ourselves for around $600 all up.

  26. 28. Jacquie Galea

    I am totally confused, why would anybody build their own house if the price per square foot is what other people ($200 – 250 sq ft)are saying. It would be far cheaper to buy a resale or from a subdivision builder. We just bought a lot to build on in Ontario in the GTA and now I am wondering why. We were looking to downsize and save money, but it looks like it will cost as much or more to build a 1500 sq ft home as what we will get when we sell our 2300+ sq ft. home which is beautifully appointed and professionally landscaped with a finished basement and six car driveway. Anybody want to buy a lot in Newcastle?

  27. when building a house a good rule of thumb is to multiply by 1.5 anything that you expect to spend in the “budget” session..

  28. Wow DGI, that’s a bit high for me. We ended up spending 10% more than what was quoted by the builder.

  29. 31. Jacquie

    Now that we have actually started nailing down numbers with our project manager, I think $110 -120 sq ft will get you a moderately appointed home (we are building 1717 sq ft bungalow with 2 car garage). I think some of the sq. ft. prices quoted ($200-$250) are way out of line. Land price of course, is not included in the number, and DGI , 1.5 is high. That would mean your original budgeting was way out of wack. I believe rule of thumb is allow 10 percent more then your budget. When our house is finished, I will come back with exact numbers. We are fortunate in that we are building when there is a downturn in the economy which will get us better prices from the trades.

  30. Jacquie, what part of Canada are you from? As well, are the “allowances” included in the $110-$120/sq ft?

  31. 33. Jacquie Galea

    Better late then never, here is how our project is playing out. After much debate we decided to proceed with building our 1717 sq ft bungalow. It is still cheaper then buying something built with the layout we want in our area. We are one hour outside of Toronto Ontario, in a desirable village that lots of city people are relocating to. Our project will be start in about 2 weeks when the building permits are in. Our project manager has alot of great connections as he frames homes for a local builder. He is charging us a flat fee (very reasonable) for overseeing the project up to paint, including trim and doors. We are looking at just under $125 sq. ft. We are taking care of everything after that point, but these prices (flooring, paint, porch rails etc) have been included in the per square foot price. The economy is working in our favour as well. We have done all our estimates on the high side, and have allowed extra for incidentals that we have not anticipated. I am certainly learning alot as we go along. My husband is not able to help alot with the project and I have overseen an addition to another home, so I am it!
    I am a good negotiator and demand that I only pay what I was quoted. Keeping an eye on your costs, and not hiring a contractor can save alot of money. Sorry contractors, no offense intended….I’d use one if I had money to burn. I will get back with final numbers at the end of the project. We are not in a hurry and have an 8 month timeline.

  32. With the significant appreciation in the St. John’s real estate market, builders have increased their prices significantly. Today, builders are charging around $120 – $125 per sq ft of developed space (not including extras).

  33. 35. Joe

    Hi everybody. We’re going to start building a 3200 sq ft, 1 1/2 story vacation home in Wasaga Beach, Ontario this spring. I have the design plans now and I have to go get a price from a builder.

    We already have the lot, on the river, and we are building a custom grade home, with a 3 car garage. We want granite counter tops, real hardwood floors, ect.

    I’m hoping to get it built by a quality custom home builder for 150.00/sq ft or less.

    Am I dreaming?

    Thanks, Joe

  34. 36. Joe

    Yup, I was dreaming alright.

    605,000 = 190.00 sq ft + the pool.

  35. 37. Jacquie

    Joe, you can build it for less if you are your own contractor….we did. We came in at about $160 sf. It is not a “builders” house. We have lots of upgrades, stone, higher end tiles and hardwood, granite, better quality everything essentially, we just really looked for the best deals. We caught some breaks on some of our trades (electrician for $6000…and we had lots of custom stuff done). We just moved into our home and it did cost us more then we figured it would (always does). Good luck!

  36. 38. Joe

    I hear you, Jacquie. My brother-in-law just told me the same thing, along with some friends of mine.

    I just don’t have enough contacts up there and I especially don’t have the patience needed to do the job. I’d fire everybody in a heartbeat, lol.

    The contacts we DO have are all here in Vaughan, Ontario, not up there, and none of them are crazy about working up there.

    I know the builder is going to make at least 100,000 on this house, but he’s going to deal with the conservation authority, thank the lord, and the City of Wasaga Beach.

    The real shame of it all though is that I definitely have the time on my hands to do it, I’ll be there everyday while it’s being built.

    I appreciate the info though, Jacquie, and thanks so much for the luck, God knows I’ll need it.

    Joe

  37. 39. Newfie in Alberta

    Does anyone know approx. cost per sq/ft for the Edmonton area. Looking at building a 1700 sq/ft bungalow with walkout basement in the very near future.

  38. 40. Joe

    The link to a Pasadena someone built is working again, great pics.

    Here it is…

    http://www.carterjacobshomes.com/cjhomes/index.php/sections/view/21

  39. 41. leea

    So how much are you saying it would cost to build a very good quality new house in the City of Toronto (specifically, Bloor West Village)? When I say good quality I mean hardwood floors throughout, central air, central vac, solid wood cabinets, etc. I am seeing prices that range from $125 – $200 / sq ft (does that include any finished living space, i.e. finished basement?). What are the costs for architects drawings, permit, demo of existing structure, landfill and general contractor? Are these costs all included in the building costs referenced above or extra? Understood that the cost of the land (in this case we have been looking for something in the $400K range) plus legal fees are additional. We are thinking of a 2000 sq ft, 3 storey house on a lot that is 25′ x 100′, brick construction, full finished basement, 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms. Thanks!!

  40. 42. Jacquie

    Leea, I made some bold statements earlier saying it looked like we would pay about $125 a square foot…..in our dreams!! I just did the calculations… all in, including our land which we got for an excellent price, we paid about $220 sq/ft. We didn’t have an architect, we found plans online and had a good draftsman tweek them for us. We had a lot of upgrades…stone front, granite counters, hardwood, upgraded tiling, air conditioning, good lighting, rounded corners, 9 ft. ceilings, upgraded windows and doors. We still have about $25,000 of landscaping to in a couple of weeks. We did our own contracting and got some good deals on trades as I mentioned before. Leea, you are looking at HUGE dollars to do what you are contemplating. Most prices quoted here don’t include demolition and removal. My price per sq/ft included a $70,000 lot (60 ft x 120 ft) with no demo required (lots are usually $110,000 in our area). In our area (Clarington) it is $34,000 that is paid in levies to the municipality to break ground and get permits. I know our framers do some work in Toronto because framers generally are less expensive in our area, so Toronto people hire them to save $$$. If your property is $400G then right off the bat you are at $160 feet per sq foot before you start to build. I am familiar with Bloor West Village, great area to build… I would venture that you would be closer to $300 (or more) per sq ft. without land cost and demo costs being factored in, so as long as your house’s value is more than $1million plus it would be worth it (or if you just want a house built “your way”, and don’t care what it costs). I can’t stress enough, no matter how much you calculate, or how much you “add” to your budget for unanticipated costs… it will cost you more then you imagined, that I can guarantee you.

  41. 43. Alanna

    Hi Jacquie :)

    When you say $220 sq/ft, is that includng the basement as being completed? And your garage?

    EX. 1717 sq feet X $220 sq/ft = cost of your house/garage/basement as completed?

    Also, did you find it stressful & time consuming being your own contractor?

    Thanks for all your input, very helpful!

  42. 44. Jacquie

    Hi Alanna :)

    Our basement is unfinished…that is a “for someday in the future job” since only my husband and I live here. It did include a large double car garage that is drywalled with a $4,000 door and garage opener . It can be stressful, we hit a snag right in the beginning when a sewer connection that was shown on the grading plans was not there so that slowed things down, but really other then that it went pretty smoothly. We did have some help from our framer who pulled some other trades together for us. There is a LOT of preplanning, somehow we managed to do it all and keep our jobs. If you are doing a demo too you will have your work cut out for you. We were just building on an empty lot. Good luck if you decide to go ahead….wish there was a way of getting my email address to you without being public.

  43. 45. dd lee

    this is a good thread!

    My uncle is on the verge of buying a small house in the willowdale area for roughly 700k, he wants to tear it down and rebuild a 3,200 sq. ft house over it, with 2 garages and all the luxuries, (hardwood floor, oak staircase etc). anyone know roughly how much the rebuild cost will be?

  44. 46. Joe

    I need to update our situation with our house. We managed to get the price down to 550,000 by not finishing the space above the garages and the basement.

    Having said that, it’s hard and not really accurate figuring out the price per sq ft. Here’s a copy and paste from an email I sent to someone from this site just now….

    To even try to figure out the price per square foot, you have to consider allot of things. It’s 2100 sq ft on the main floor + 1100 sq ft upstairs in the bedroom loft + 850 in the garage loft for a total of 4050 plus the walkout basement, which is 2100 sq ft. There are 3 garages, a very high great room and an over sized kitchen, about 30,000 for kitchen cabinets. The composite deck runs across the whole width of the house.

    There’s going to be stone across the bottom of the house and the garages, with vinyl siding and vinyl shakes that look like cedar.

    The cost of the pool and landscaping are over and above the 550,000 plus the cost of the land, 220,000

    I hope this helps somebody.

  45. 47. Jacquie

    Joe, sounds like a lovely place!

  46. 48. Joe

    Thanks, Jacquie.

  47. 49. Joe

    dd lee says:

    this is a good thread!

    My uncle is on the verge of buying a small house in the willowdale area for roughly 700k, he wants to tear it down and rebuild a 3,200 sq. ft house over it, with 2 garages and all the luxuries, (hardwood floor, oak staircase etc). anyone know roughly how much the rebuild cost will be?
    ==========================================
    Like I posted above, there are so many factors involved that it’s really hard to even guess what it will cost, dd.

    If you could describe the layout of the house, including levels, garages, outside finishes, ect, I might be able to give you a ballpark number.

    Hey, any relation to a certain famous “Lee” from Willowdale?

  48. 50. G

    Hi Joe, thanks for the details your provided. So, big picture, $550k gets you 4000 sqft of living space? does that incl. demo and permits? I know there’s alot of moving parts, like you said, but just want to get a rough estimate.

    And did you hire a general contractor? or are you one yourself?

    I still have a couple of yrs to pay off my house (in south Richmond Hill area), which I bought mostly for land value, lot size is 85 by 145. My wife and I are deciding to whether 1) build our own house, have all the customized feature we want or 2) look for a another house, spending more or less the same $.
    Thanks.

  49. 51. Joe

    G: Yes, that price includes everything from permits to demolition and grading to dealing with idiots, like the Conservation Authority. These jokers just put a wrench into our plans.

    We have a builder and his costs are also included.

    We have a large cliff in the back, right around the 200′ mark, from the front of the property (opposite the river) it’s very steep and it’s about 50′ long, with another 50′ from the bottom of the cliff to the river.

    They’ve told us the cliff is “environmentally protected”, meaning we can’t touch it. So now we’re submitting a whole new plan for the outside, without levels or “terraces”.

    Because of this, we can’t have a walkout basement either. Instead, we’re going to have 3′ windows in the basement.

    I was hoping to start digging in the spring but here we are at the end of June and we’re still waiting for the OK from them.

    G: I’ve come to learn that 550,000 is actually a very good price for the house we’re building, the builder is being more than fair with us.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do. :)

  50. 52. G

    Joe, Thanks for the info, hope you get your approvals soon. Quick follow-up: your design is actually 4000 + 2100 of basement space. What would you say a 3000 + basement might cost? I know it’s not linear.

    We still have a couple of years out to decide. How along beforehand would you suggest to start the planning process? Start looking at the contractors, design plans, etc? Any tips/suggestions on this front for readers …

  51. 53. Joe

    G: All I can tell you for sure is that the bigger the foundation, the higher the cost, generally speaking. That’s why ranch style bungalows cost more to build than 2 story homes.

    Maybe a builder can chime in on this.

    It’s never too early to start planning, in my opinion, G. I’d start now if I were you.

    We ended up going back to the home designer 6 or 7 times, even though we started out with the Viceroy “Pasadena” plan. If your starting from scratch with your plan, it’ll take you many more revisions. A home designer or architect will think of things you never dreamed of, some of what they come up with will completely derail your ideas and some will enhance them.

    To me, the most important decision you’ll make will be which builder to go with, assuming your not doing it yourself.

    Sorry I couldn’t be of more help but I’m still pretty new to all this.

    Joe

  52. 54. Jacquie

    I noted Joe quoted a price from a builder, which does sound fair for all that he is doing….we got a quote from our framer who arranged the other trades for us….we switced a couple of those because we found guys we knew for less money (electrician and stone mason), and we ended up paying alot more than quoted. I hope that isn’t the case for you Joe. Our house is finished so we do have concrete numbers. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that it will cost you more to build a house than you think. It is definitely more expensive then buying a house from a builder or resale. The upside is you will get exactly what you want. There are tons on plans online that you can look at and bring to a good draftsman (mine did a etc)fantastic job) who can tweek them to your needs. I spend hundreds of hour going over plans online, printed the basic information (floor layout and exterior appearance) and took it to our guy. The result was wonderful.
    Architects are expensive but necessary for some jobs (waterfront properties, complicated properties). However if you just have a lot, and an idea of what you want, this is a great money saver.

  53. 55. G

    Joe, I was just re-reading this thread (picks up new things every time). I noticed you said that you have contacts in the Vaughan area, actually, there’s really close to where I am (Richmond Hill). From your discussions with them, would you say your quote of 550,000 is comparable to homes built in the Vaughan area or less?

  54. 56. Joe

    I’m sorry for not getting back to you sooner, G.

    If I tried to build this home in Vaughan, I’d say the price would be somewhere around 750,000

    Then there’s the cost difference of the land, well, you couldn’t even FIND a lot like this in Vaughan, lol.

    Anyway, I was very excited when about 10 days ago, when the Conservation Authority finally approved our 2nd plan.

    I shut off the utilities to the cottage and when the builder’s secretary applied for the permits, she was told that my next door neighbour submitted paperwork with the town, trying to block construction of the house.

    I couldn’t friggin believe it. This mofo shook my hand months earlier, in front of two witnesses of mine, and gave me his word he wouldn’t try to stop us from building, even wished me good luck.

    I’m in the process of trying to jump through this legal loop now.

    Urgh.

  55. 57. G

    Wow, $200,000 price difference eh (just the house, land value extra). That’s a pretty steep GTA premium.

    Thats good news you got the permit approval. Hope everything goes well from here on. I’d imagine it needs more than one disapproval to throw off your permit approval process, no?

    In my situation, there’s 2 big/old trees in my property, if/when I decide to rebuild, for sure these would unfortunately have to be removed, I’m afraid the permitting process for the tree removals could be tricky, any thoughts?

  56. 58. Joe

    G: The city issued a demo permit but won’t release building permits because they’ve “been made aware of a legal issue” between me and my neighbour.

    Anyway, removing trees ranges from no tree removal at all, to remove all the trees you want, like up here in Wasaga Beach. Down there, they won’t be so flexible, lets hope for the best when you find out.

    Good luck.

  57. 59. Rebecca

    Does anybody know how it much costs to get hire a decent architect in Toronto?
    I’m looking for someone that would be able to design in a modern/international style but doesn’t have to be a brand name architect.

    I’m looking forward to building a home in 10 years and trying to figure out how much I would have to save in order to do so.

    Has anybody else have a similar experience?

    Thanks!

  58. 60. SkinnyGee

    Something I can’t figure out (maybe I’m stupid??) — Is the price / sqrt foot based on the square footage of the house “for a 2 story home” (as in, how much square-feet of land the house occupies), or is it based on floor space? (Ie. a two story home where each floor is X square feet would cost 2*X* ?

  59. 61. Spankie

    Joe..thanks for all the info…we too are in Wasaga and want to add a small addition (600 sq ft) and possibly lift our present home from the crawl space block foundation and make it a full useable basement. Do you recommend
    any great contractors in the area that work for a fair price?

  60. 62. Joe

    Spankie: Absolutely, I highly recommend Advantage Homes first and foremost. Super quality at a fair price.

    Brent: Cell Phone 705 623-4877
    http://www.advantage-homes.ca/

    Another good builder up here is Father & Son.

    Pat: Cell Phone 705 444-4306
    http://www.fatherandsonconstruction.com/home.php

  61. 63. Spankie

    Thanks Joe for your speedy response! :)

  62. With rising real estate appreciation around here (NL), some friends of ours just closed a house last week for $175 per sq ft of livable space (ie. not including basement/garage).

  63. 65. Tony

    Big question I have is do these prices included labour and what is the labour being charged in some places like Ontario, Calgary and B.C.?

    I just priced a cost to frame out a 2000 square foot home. Price for materials was $78,000. Includes windows, trims, roofing, siding and drywall, etc. Also includeds tax. Don’t care what you say, but drywall comes in one colou and it’s all the same price folks. Now you can also get siding at $500 a square, but I am being realitsitc here.

    You can then add to all that labour (30-50K), price of land, foundation ($20K here or less for knee wall), electrical $10K, plumbing $10K, floors 5-20 per foot, lanscapring 5-20K, paint and plaster $10K driveway $1-15K.

    With basic light and plumbing fixtures (not necessarily cheap, but not idioticcaly overpriced either), shopping around for good flooring prices, then no reason my finisdhed price here would be as follows.

    $78000 (tax in)
    $30000 labour
    $15000 knee wall
    $16000 flooring
    $10000 electrical
    $10000 plumbing
    $10000 paint and plaster
    $5000 landscsaping
    $5000 Driveway

    $179,000 Total. Now I know I have missed a few things (land price – miens cheap here), but that’s about $90 per square foot in Newfoundland. I know I can do better on labour and flooring prices at some good dealers and by finding my own crew.

    Surely, you would think materials would be more competitive in Ontario. Can’t imagine what guys make to frame and plaster a home. I suggest that is where the Delat lies, as well as the land. $100K for a postage stamp lot in Ontario adds $55 per sq ft to build an 1800 square foot home.

  64. 66. gta builder

    Being a Builder in the GTA, I can not hold myself back from posting on this page.
    Everyones rule of thumb should and needs to be:
    “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR” – for the most part.
    If you want a fly by night contractor with no insurance, no Tarion warranty, cash deal type…may God bless you on your journey.
    Labour prices have climbed through the roof in recent years, not because the trades are on an early retirement plan, but because insurance, fuel, WSIB, supplys and most of all TAXES have climbed through the roof.
    As for a $/sq.ft, this is the question of questions.
    Here are a few items that will increase your cost per square foot:

    - roof plan, pitch of roof, height of roof, complexity of roof design
    - Foundation size (as joe mentioned)
    - ceiling heights
    - amount of steel used in the structural design of your home
    - exterior finished (stucco, brick, stone, wood, aluminum etc)
    - overall size of your home, once you exceed a certain size you will require an additional furnace, a/c unit, larger water lines etc.

    the above items have nothing to do with the finishing of your home, where you will be faced with the difficult choice of better vs. keeping your budget in check.

    with all this said, in the GTA not including your land, with a finished basement, 2 car garage, solid maple or cherry cabinets, built-ins, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, plaster crown mouldings, 9-10 ft ceilings, brick and stone exterior etcetc…..a builder with a reputation (has built more then 1 house before) will not build your house for under $200/sq.ft PLUS your 13% HST

    hope this helps

  65. 67. Lee

    If you do not know what you are doing do not install pot lights or any other electrical systems. 12 per circuit? It depends what is on the circuit, do not follow that advice. An electrician should be consulted when installing electrical unless you enjoy seeing your hosue go up in smoke :)

  66. 68. Kim

    Does anyone know what the current cost per sq ft is to build a high end custom home in edmonton alberta currently?

  67. 69. G

    Joe, it’s been a while since your last update. Any tips you’d share with us??

    I take it that you went with Advantage homes at the end?

  68. 70. Joe

    Good morning, “G”. It’s been so long that I can’t remember where I left off, lol.

    Anyway, the end result was that we couldn’t build our house on our property because of our SOB next door neighbour.

    Back in the day, there was a walkway that went through our property and across a number of other properties that provided access to the river for neighbours who didn’t have their own.

    Everybody has had their own access for many years now and everyone signed off on this “easement” back then except for our next door SOB.

    To make a long story short, he’s stopping us from building our house, the way we wanted to build it, anyway. Part of our house and the 3 garages, would have been built on the easement.

    We dropped over $10,000 on our house plans alone, plus building and demolition permits, the Conservation Authority permit and more, all lost money, due to the jealousy of this “man”.

    We now have the property up for sale.

  69. 71. G

    Joe, extrememly sorry to hear that. I guess its important to have all the neighbours on board.

    I heard that building permits cost ~$25 in the city, $10k seems pretty low. I guess that’s a good thing.

    This past weekend, I visited a custom built home in Oakville, just to check out the finishes and talk to the company. The cost to build this ~3200 sq ft home is $600k (excl. land), it quoted $165/sq ft but the buyer also pays for building permits ($25k), demolition ($12-15k), landscaping, HST, etc.

    That said, the cost to build is going up in a couple of months, I guess that’s the trend across all GTA.

    Hopefully check out a few more over the coming months.

  70. 72. Paul in Uxbridge

    @Jacquie if you’re still out there. I’m contemplating a build north east of Newcastle and would like to talk to your framer and home designer, given you’ve had good experiences with both.

    gta builder is bang on, by the way. You can add over $50/s.f. to your price simply by blowing the budget on kitchens and baths!

  71. 73. Jacquie

    Hi Paul, if you would like to see our house google 111 Emily St. W. Newcastle, we recently listed it, I can answer you questions, we were really happy with our framer, our building inspector said if he was building a house, he would use our guys…he knew of them and said they are some of the best in the area

  72. 74. Sinzi

    Jacquie, could you send me, by email, the name and the contact details of your framer, please?
    My email is: sinziandre@yahoo.com
    Thanks a lot!
    Sinzi

  73. 75. MM

    Hi everyone, here is a question I was hoping we could debate.
    I am looking to be my own general and pick and choose trades and look for the best materials price around Barrie Ontario.
    Recently I started to seriously looking at having Viceroy do the build up to close in and raw framing inside. They currently have 28.5% off their packages.
    My question is two fold:
    1. Has anyone dealt with Viceroy and what are the experiences ?
    2. Would anyone have ever done the comparison of Viceroy materials cost vs just designing a comparible and ordering the materials yourself ?

    Thanks. Please help :) This is a big undertaking

  74. 76. AreWeDoneYet

    Guys, these prices you are paying seem to be way too high. Also, one thing I am noticing in this thread is that you are running into cost overruns.

    The only way around this issue is to try and get as much of your stuff prefabricated and know exactly whats being delivered. By this I mean you gotta know up to a dot how much things are going to cost. I am planning on building this coming spring or summer of 2012. I have decided to go with a prefabricated modular type home.

    This type of home is exactly like the site framed ones except all the framing is done in a factory and panels delivered to site, where they are then assembled in a just a few days. For me the major advantage is that I know exactly how much the shell of my house will cost me and there will be no materials wasted and no issues with framers not showing up e.t.c . I am leaning towards the packages from Cameron Manors: http://www.cameronmanors.com/View-Plans-Pricing.page
    At least they let me know the upfront price of my home. Their package is up to lock up stage. Also, I will have zero architect fees – just drafting to match my lot, since the y supply me with plans.

    I will have to do the interior finishes myself. Again, in keeping in line with my predictable and controllable costs principle, I am going with Ikea for my kitchen. Their kitchens are real bang for the buck and can offer a sophisticated champagne look on a beer budget. Their website has 3 dimensional software for planning your kitchen. They can also come to your house to do the actual measurements. When you buy kitchen cabinetry and appliances from them you also get 20% back in Ikea gift cards. Trust me this comes in handy when purchasing stuff like bathroom sinks, organization and lighting. All I will do is pay for installation labour as a factor of total material costs, if I do not get the time to install the Ikea kitchen myself. A caveat. My new home will just be middle class McMansion and more expensive finishing will not marginally increase the resale. If you are building in an upmarket area it could be a different game.

    As for flooring and tiling. I will hire an uncle who does that for a living. He will still charge me but at least he will not try to gouge me.

    As for landscaping, I will just hire some muscle off craigslist and supervise them.

    I will be acting as my own general contractor. A lot of my subs will be moonlighting for me on weekends and to make sure they do a good job most payments will be made upon passing city inspections. I gotta cut as many corners as I can. Since I will be working, a lot of work will be done on weekends. That is why I would rather have the house built in a factory and just put together on site like a bunch of legos. Also, I would advise any prospective owner-GC to take up a weekend job as a construction labourer. You will be amazed at how much you can learn in just one month. Been doing it for almost 3 months know. Have seen concrete being poured, have seen floor joists put in place, know the difference between a 2×4 and a 2×6, have applied a membrane to a foundation e.t.c

  75. After all fees, how much per sq ft will your modular house cost?

  76. 78. AreWeDoneYet

    Well, I am picking up this 2352Sqf house + 420Sqf attached garage:
    http://www.cameronmanors.com/_mndata/came/uploaded_files/garibaldi_doc.pdf
    This comes in at a maximum price of $80,000k (delivery inc). The package includes doors, windows, siding, roofing. However, it does not include insulation, drywall, foundation, cabinets, hardwood/carpet. Below are my estimated costs:
    House shell: $80,000
    Assembly: $5,000
    Insulation : $10,000
    Ikea Kitchen: $10,000
    Hardwood Fl: $15,000
    Dry Wall: $20,000
    Plumbing: $10,000
    Electrical: $10,000
    Permits: $10,000
    Bathrooms: $8,000
    Lights: $2,000
    Painting: $3,500
    TOTAL: $183,500

    PerSqf: $66/sqf

    *The cost includes labour as well. Also, I have an idea of the construction process and will therefore be more confident supervising trades and labour.

  77. 79. AreWeDoneYet

    BTW, I am still pricing out foundation. I will definitely be going with slab and not basement. However, I still want to do more number crunching and also visit open houses in my prospective neighbourhood to get a feel of whether the lack of a basement is a dealbreaker when it comes to resale. If I were to put in a bonus that would just be a bonus (as the 2 story house has ample room for my 4 member family) and will therefore be used as a man cave.

    Unfortunately, the exact cost of the foundation will only be known after I purchase a lot and the soil/topography are taken into consideration. However, I will definitely know before pouring in the concrete.

  78. 80. Madge

    To Mike, don’t mess with electrical code, buy the code book, it’s worth it, the most plugs or switches on 1 circuit is 8, as long as they aren’t for a fridge or other dedicated appliances, split plugs are a different thing altogether.

  79. 81. Madge

    to AreWeDoneYet, that is a beautiful house plan you are considering, congrats.

  80. 82. Jan

    Hi,

    Looking at building in Edmonton with a builder and have a hold on a gorgeous partial walkout lot right now. Does anyone know what the extra costs of the walk-out generally consist of? Is it the extra windows, doors and patio?

    In addition, this particular lot will require the construction of a retaining wall in the landscaping process. Any idea here of the costs involved with building retaining walls?

    I am a little nervous in venturing down this road. At present, I am looking at a minimum of a million dollars. It’s scary to think that there could be extensive cost overruns! Does this happen with a builder? Are there many hidden costs?

  81. 83. Gates VP

    @Jan: At present, I am looking at a minimum of a million dollars. It’s scary to think that there could be extensive cost overruns!

    The general rule is that the larger the scope of the project, the more likely there are to be overruns. This isn’t specific to your builder, but just human nature in general. As a project gets larger in size and scope the variability goes up.

    So here’s the short answer, just work through the checklist:
    1. If the place ends up costing 1.1M instead of 1.0M will you still be able to pay for it?
    2. If you or your partner lose your job will you still be able to make the mortgage?
    3. Are you willing to live in this house forever if the value tanks? Can you afford to take a loss if you need to move? (million dollar home is still a big deal in Edmonton and well out of range for most buyers).
    4. What’s the opportunity cost of not being able to move? Are you and your partner earning top dollar for your jobs? Could you be making 50% more elsewhere?

    Instead of focusing on the likelihood of cost overruns, I would focus on your ability to deal with inevitable crises. Let’s just take at the list and the chances of this becoming a problem:

    1. When you build a million dollar home with a retaining wall, odds are high for cost overruns. Just think about the possible problems: change in material costs over the next year, change in labour costs, problems setting up the wall (bad soil samples), problems running the lines (someone at city hall screwed up, developer screwed up), government compliance issues, higher than expected property taxes, legal fees when something goes wrong and you have to sue the developer for overruns, extra high insurance premiums, corner-cutting on build quality that won’t show up for 7 more years but costs you a bundle then…

    You will not have all of these problems, but it seems unlikely that you can build your million dollar home without at least having some of these problems.

    2. Two incomes? If you are planning to get a mortgage for the house, then you need a buffer to pay for the mortgage. If you are dependent on two incomes to pay the mortgage, then recognize that the day will come when you do not have two incomes.

    And it’s not a matter of being “good” at your jobs. It’s just a matter of the numbers game. At some point everybody loses a job. You just need to have cash sitting around to deal with it. Of course, homes tend to be giant cash sinks.

    3. Your house is expensive, even by Edmonton standards. The average household income in Edmonton is about $100,000. So your million dollar home is way beyond what the average person can afford. A family needs to be able to make $250k+ to afford a million dollar home (I would personally say $350k+). That’s two high-end professional salaries.

    So there are a limited number of people who can buy your house from you. This makes your house very illiquid. If you need to move or sell the home for some reason, it could spend months on the market.

    4. How settled are you in Edmonton? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing Edmonton, I lived there for a year and really enjoyed it. But I also no longer live there. I’ve moved a few more times and am making double what I was making there. For my career (computer programmer), the Edmonton market was simply “not there” relative to other places.

    If you’re considering a million dollar place, you are (both?) making very good money, but it’s worth considering how volatile you expect that money to be. You don’t mention your career, but you have to consider the very real cost of being locked in Edmonton if the market shifts in 7-10 years and the good money has moved to somewhere else. Jobs at the top end of the jobs market can be very location and time dependent.

    Either way, I’m not saying you should not make the purchase. All of my questions are pointed the other direction: “do you have the means to overcome this inevitable hurdle?” And if you do, then by all means, go ahead and buy the place of your dreams :)

  82. 84. JustAThought

    @GatesVP

    Nowadays in Edmonton, there are million dollar homes being constructed in the suburbs by the hundreds, million dollar homes are really not as uncommon as they used to be when maybe during the time you lived here. Closer to the city, I have seen houses around 800-900k getting multiple offers with people just wanting the lot. What you’ve posted are very valid questions, but they don’t just apply to Edmonton. In my social circle, we are all very settled in Edmonton, with very established businesses and careers, our living and earning situations are not as volatile as you may have suggested.

  83. 85. Gates VP

    @JustAThought

    Just to put this into perspective. I live in the Bay Area in California and work in the red hot tech startup industry. I make over twice the median family income for the region + healthcare and + stock options. Based on my salary I’m in the top 10% of income-earning families.

    I could not reasonably afford a million dollar home. If I cashed out my stock options and continued to earn my salary or better, I could still not reasonably afford a million dollar home. My father’s an engineering manager in Edmonton, he can’t afford a million dollar home.

    You’re talking about buying a home that like 2-8% of the population can even consider affording. That is not small potatoes.

    Nowadays in Edmonton, there are million dollar homes being constructed in the suburbs by the hundreds,…

    Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    What you’ve posted are very valid questions, but they don’t just apply to Edmonton.

    Hold on, did you just end that sentence with Edmonton? Edmonton has no demonstrated resilience to booms and it’s not an international city like SF, NY, TO, LA or London. It’s not the center of some key universe like finance or tech or entertainment.

    Do you not remember what happened in the 80′s? (no I’m not talking about the Oilers :)

    You have just pulled out the single most dangerous mindset in all of finance. “This time will be different”

    Look at your sentence again: “those are good questions, but this Edmonton thing is really special and those questions don’t apply”

    There’s a book for that… spoiler alert, it usually doesn’t end well… enjoy your million dollar home.

  84. 86. Janice

    We’re in Winnipeg, and the prices of building a home is crazy! 2 yrs ago we built with Randall homes, it was not too bad, but they’re not custom builders. Our home is 1800 sq ft and costed us about $360K…. But hardly anything was upgraded, only our granite countertop and a fireplace… Now we’re trying to upgrade to a slightly bigger size of 2200, and we’re told by many builders that we’re looking at at least $450K! And for a custom builder, at least $520K! And with a much smaller lot! Just the lot alone has gone up for $5000 at least, for standard lots! Is anyone else wanting to build in Winnipeg? We’re considering Gino homes… Any advice??????

  85. 87. carrie capon

    I am just looking into the cost of building a custom home in Winnipeg. I am even wiling to live on the out skirts of the city. I was thinking of a 1500 sq ft home. Probably a bungalow. No basement. I was wondering what a safe guess might be on the price. Just to give myself an idea for the future.

  86. 88. Mat

    I am in process of negotiating the purchase of a 1660 sq ft building near Carbonear, NL that was recently built about 3 years ago as a business with own septic system and artesian well. I want to convert it into a home. I got one contractor’s quote. He stated about 40 grand to do all the renos, stripping all dry wall, reconfiguring walls, plumbing, electrical wiring, installing kitchen, bathrooms,ceilings, floorings everything except the paint. I think the quote is about 20 grand short and most likely would cost 50 to 60 grand for a complete make over.. Any one think 40 grand is average for such a renovation project?

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