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Thread: House construction -cost per square foot

  1. #1
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    Bill

    Default House construction -cost per square foot

    Hi,
    We are meeting with our insurance agent and based on other people who have done the same, the purpose is likely to say that we need more insurance because of the increased cost of rebuilding the house should it be destroyed.

    I recall that there is a ball park figure used to estimate the cost of building a house such as $X per square foot excluding land costs. I imagine there is likely a range depending on whether the house is basic or luxurious or something in between.

    Anybody know what the going number(s) are in Ontario? I assume this does not count contents other than fixtures.

    Thanks,
    billh

  2. #2
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    I'm starting a project I priced for a client at 1.165m for 4400 sq ft plus finished basement, 3 car garage, no landscaping. That's about $265 sq ft. but a pretty complicated design and a reasonable spec quality but not completely nuts.

    Built one last year about the same size but an easier build with more higher end spec for about 1.06m or around $240 sq ft. Again no landscaping but with finished basement, 3 car garage etc.

    I usually tell people to budget a basic 10-13% for landscaping on top of construction costs. This can be a bit of a wild card since there are so many variables. Pools, hot tubs, stone work etc.

    Minimum costs probably around $180 sq ft for a basic box...although i've never actually built one of those...maybe others can help.

    Also largely dependant on the city and area...Ottawa is pricey. Bigger markets tend to have more competetive supply costs.
    Last edited by OttawaP; 06-14-2010 at 11:39 PM.
    Paul

  3. #3
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    As Paul said, costs are going to vary hugely depending on location. I think it's near impossible to come up with an average value nationwide or even province wide.

    Same as avg cost of maple in Ontario is $4/bdft while here it's $7/bdft.

    I'd say your best bet would be to call up some home builders in your area and talk with them.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    The sf cost varies not only by location and quality and type of construction and finishes but on the style of house it is. A single story ranch style house costs more to build than the same size 2 storey because the ratio of exterior walls, foundation wall and roof structure to living space is higher in a one storey than a two storey.

    I'm surprised your insurance agent doesn't have access to this data. You would think keeping track of the costs of rebuilding houses would be a core requirement of insuring them.

    To find out local costs I would first try the local Home builders Association.

    There are a number of cost consultants with cross Canada data on homebuilding. Here's a few of them
    http://www.hanscomb.com/
    http://www.marshallmurray.com/
    http://rsmeans.reedconstructiondata.com/

    Typically SF costs are quoted measured from the outside of the foundation or exterior wall (footprint area) of the livable space with an unfinished basement, no garage and no hard or soft landscaping. A quick look at the SF costs section of the RS Means costbook has the range from $90 SF to $150 SF with mostly slab on grade construction. There is no way in the world I would use their numbers to enter a contract.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    We custom built 4 years ago.

    Cost was around $120/sqft for a 2 story around 2,900 sqft plus unfinished basement and a big 2 car garage.

    But I did a LOT of the work myself...

    This was just outside Sarnia.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_handy View Post
    We custom built 4 years ago.

    Cost was around $120/sqft for a 2 story around 2,900 sqft plus unfinished basement and a big 2 car garage.

    But I did a LOT of the work myself...

    This was just outside Sarnia.
    One of the most difficult aspects of discussing $/SF construction cost is determining what's included and what's excluded in the costs. Does the cost include development and permit fees, builders OH&P, site development and landscaping, architectural and engineering fees, attached garage? Also how is the building being measured? Footprint area, gross livable area? Does it include undeveloped space?

    If you are measuring and comparing profesionally you also have to look at the quality and efficiency of the design. Partition density, ratio of livable space to ancillary space (hallways, storage etc.), ratio of exterior walls and roof area to livable space in order to get an apples to apples comparison.

    There are also site considerations, are you building on a ravine or a site that requires special construction like pilings or engineered fill. Is the site narrow and tight to work in where material has to be craned in or carried to the rear of the property, is it an urban infill where there is no place to store materials and you have to respect the peace of the neighborhood or in a subdivision where machinery can operate at will and storage and site access isn't a problem.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    I agree completely....

    I was just throwing a number out there for comparison...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Thanks for the replies. My intent was to get a ball park idea independent of what the insurance agent says. Based on the numbers above it appears that we should be increasing the limits. Ran into my neighbour and the numbers his (not the same as mine) agent used supports it as well.

    Thanks again.

    billh

  9. #9
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    While this isn't an Ontario price, the three houses I just completed, middle of the road homes, 2900 sq ft cost me $111 per sq foot plus land each, that is total cost, and that here on the coast is a normal cost of construction. Add in the land, and the price shoots up to $201 per sq foot. If you go absolutely bare-bones minimum, you can drop the price to $95, but that is cutting a lot of corners. Of course, you can go up too. My own home if I were to rebuild it now would cost me on the order of $225 per sq foot excluding land.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Having an interest in the Ins Industry, wife being an agent, they have really changed their outlook on the value's that they are placing on residences. They have gone from taking the square footage and coming up with a values to days situation. Today they want to know how it is finished inside, type of countertops,cabinets, tub surrounds, flooring, windows, and etc etc etc. It wasn't that long ago you could get a kitchen for $8,000. Today is is quite common to spend that on a counter top This has come about due to the high cost of replacing todays home and they discovered their system was not adaptable to todays housing market. They also have the added cost of clean up and removal of anything that has to be torn down. This has occured over the last 3 years.

    Brian
    " It is nice to be important but more important to be nice"

  11. #11
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Thanks for the additional insight. It'll be interesting and perhaps painful to see what the recommendation is on updating the policy.

    billh

  12. #12
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    Todd Robert

    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    I believe that up here in Sault Ste Marie the average cost is approximately $200 sqft but then like anywhere else alot will depend on finishes and so on.

    We rebuilt our sunroom a couple of years ago and we averaged about $500 a square foot so depending on what you want the price will vary.
    If you want me to make it i need this new tool first

  13. #13
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    Jim

    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Square foot pricing is tough to put an all encompassing label on, for sure. When I use pricing for the custom homes I build, I generally use $200/sf as a starting point. It is extra for garage and basement finishing, as well as any landscape work too. It can go up from there dependent upon other details built in too. We primarily do infill housing which has costs of about $30k more than a comparative home built on a newly developed lot.

    Most production builders are well below the $200/sf mark.
    JIM
    Calgary, AB

  14. #14
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    The cost will also depend ALOT on the interior finishes that you prefer (and use). For example, there is a huge cost difference between painted MDF baseboards and stained oak baseboards.

    That's just one example, but you see the point. Now figure the cost differences for kitchen cabinets, flooring material, windows, etc. etc. and you can see the cost per sqft will vary dramatically.

    As mentioned earlier, talk to a few builders (even pay them for an hour to come and consult with you) to get an accurate number.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    I used to worry that the value the insurance company placed on the house and contents where either too high or not enough. Drove me crazy as I had no idea how they come up with the numbers.

    My insurance company then came up with an all inclusive plan ($2 million) for building and contents. The cost is quite reasonable (I think) and seems to cover everthing. I pay extra for water damage and for weight of snow damage.

    For the $2 million coverage and $1 million personal liability the cost is less than $800 per year.

    It may pay to shop around.


    Don

  16. #16
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_handy View Post
    We custom built 4 years ago.

    Cost was around $120/sqft for a 2 story around 2,900 sqft plus unfinished basement and a big 2 car garage.

    But I did a LOT of the work myself...

    This was just outside Sarnia.
    I am planing to buy a "house" which was built in 1999 (~ 3000sf) and just burned down. However, the 3 car garage and the foundation are still good. I am wandering how much money I can save if I use the existing foundation to build a house?
    Thanks

  17. #17
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Quote Originally Posted by cylu3553 View Post
    I am planing to buy a "house" which was built in 1999 (~ 3000sf) and just burned down. However, the 3 car garage and the foundation are still good. I am wandering how much money I can save if I use the existing foundation to build a house?
    Thanks
    This thread is 3 years old.

    Who told you the foundation is good?
    "Do it Right!"

  18. #18
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Thanks for your remind, Rusty.
    I'll have it checked before I make an offer.
    Right now, I want to know how much money I can save if the foundation and garage are good?

    Thanks again for your reply!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    The foundation is valued at anywhere from 7% to 15% of the cost of the house. The ratio of LF of foundation to SF is important. The foundation on a 2 story house is a larger percentage of the cost than a ranch because you are supporting twice the length of exterior walls for ever LF of foundation.

    You aren't going to save that much though. You are going to be paying the builders OH&P regardless and you are going to have to gave the foundation inspected by engineers and any remedial work or cleanup done. You will probably pay a premium for custom design to fit on that foundation.

    I would just demolish the foundation and start from scratch.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: House construction -cost per square foot

    Quote Originally Posted by dave_k View Post
    The foundation is valued at anywhere from 7% to 15% of the cost of the house. The ratio of LF of foundation to SF is important. The foundation on a 2 story house is a larger percentage of the cost than a ranch because you are supporting twice the length of exterior walls for ever LF of foundation.

    You aren't going to save that much though. You are going to be paying the builders OH&P regardless and you are going to have to gave the foundation inspected by engineers and any remedial work or cleanup done. You will probably pay a premium for custom design to fit on that foundation.

    I would just demolish the foundation and start from scratch.
    Dave I think you have that backwards. Possible typo huh?
    "Do it Right!"

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