Frequently we get asked, How much does it cost to build a house in Victoria? At the time of this blog, it’s a moving target at an all time high due to inflation, labour/material shortages and demand, but there’s still a range we can usually work within. This range can be useful in acting as a guide and will vary based on location, complexity of site, design style, quality of finishings and so forth. As a designer, it’s quite important to be aware of a clients budget at the outset to help achieve a design that not only meets the clients wants/needs and complies with regulations, but, also can be built within the allotted budget. While the designer isn’t solely responsible for ensuring cost compliance, it should be factored into the design.
Whether it be for a lavish custom new home, large scale addition or modest renovation, there is always a cost. In fact, housing contributes 40% of Canada’s GDP which is about twice that of our neighbours to the South. In Victoria for part 9 Residential Buildings, contracts between client and builder are typically done as ‘cost-plus’. What this means is that, the project ultimately costs, what it costs. While not perfect, it does have several positive aspects. For example, from a builders perspective, they are generally protected from a loss and vice versa, the owner has more flexibility over the budget and can often come in at a lower cost than other types of contracts due to eliminating contingencies that could exist in other types of contracts. The downside of this type of contract is that cost over runs can occur but having a good estimate can often help. There are many other types of contracts such as stipulated price contract, design build, Construction Management, etc but for now we will focus on the cost plus as it’s the most widely used.
Generally most builders will already have a template contract that they use for their contracts. It’s important to spend the time going over the details of this contract (preferably with your lawyer) to ensure the contract is not only legal but it should also be mutually exclusive in that both parties stand to benefit from the arrangement. If you or your contractor don’t have a template yet, we suggest the Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC) contracts. These are the most widely used in the industry and are designed to be fair and balanced for all parties involved in a construction project.
Putting a price tag on and addition or renovation is difficult to say as there are too many variables to cover in this blog so we will instead focus on new construction. As of June 2022, we are most frequently seeing construction costs starting at around $275/square foot. This rate is generally for a medium quality home. The reason we don’t start at low quality is that the minimum standard of housing and design in Victoria is closer to medium quality. Pricing is most commonly represented by the square footage as it’s a common metric that most sub-trades use for their billing, however, we all know that some rooms, ie kitchens and bathrooms are much more costly than say a garage, but, these figures are meant to be rounded out to cover a traditional single family style home. After medium quality homes we have ‘good quality’ which generally is coming in around $400 per square foot to excellent quality which is $600+ per square foot. We generally recommend a client have a 15-30% contingency to cover cost over runs so it’s important not to design a home which is at or exceeds the budget.
As with everything, costs are only likely to increase as time moves on, additional regulations are adopted, and the minimum standard for housing design grows.