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What is the realistic cost to build a house from scratch in the GTA?

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  • Jun 8th, 2022 1:37 am
[OP]
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Oct 9, 2018
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What is the realistic cost to build a house from scratch in the GTA?

I’ve seen statistics saying about $200-$300/sqft, or $400/sqft for ultra fancy and high end luxe houses.
If you were to do better than builder grade, but nothing crazy overkill.
Specific points to the house:

Cost to Demolish existing house. Could do a second storey top up but it’s an 80 year old house so may as well start from scratch and do it right.

2200 square feet above grade
- 4 bedrooms 4.5 baths
- 8 ft+ ceilings in basement, walk up basement, legal secondary suite
-10 ft ceilings on main floor (not a necessity)
- decent LVT on all floors, tile in bathrooms
- fanciest part of the house would be the kitchen, but I’d still be fine with Ikea cabinets

So not crazy fancy, but still nice. So would the $300/sf +tax be reasonable ($660K plus demo and drawings and permits), or $300/sf+ 10% contingency fee? ($725K plus demo and drawings and permits)
Anyone whose done it have recommendations on must haves and regrets?
Last edited by dflamez on Aug 23rd, 2021 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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10' ceilings are super creepy if not done properly. The wrong aspect ratios can make you feel like you are a rat in a maze. Don't do it.
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Keep in mind older homes are actually built better and strong then a lot of the new ones. So dont totally write off building a second addition on an 80 year old home. As long as everything checks out good & is solid you should be fine. & if you really wanted to you could add a bit more support in the basement if you are concerned. Might save you a good amount of money.
dflamez wrote: I’ve seen statistics saying about $200-$300/sqft, or $400/sqft for ultra fancy and high end luxe houses.
If you were to do better than builder grade, but nothing crazy overkill.
Specific points to the house:

Cost to Demolish existing house. Could do a second storey top up but it’s an 80 year old house so may as well start from scratch and do it right.

2200 square feet above grade
- 4 bedrooms 4.5 baths
- 8 ft+ ceilings in basement, walk up basement, legal secondary suite
-10 ft ceilings on main floor (not a necessity)
- decent LVT on all floors, tile in bathrooms
- fanciest part of the house would be the kitchen, but I’d still be fine with Ikea cabinets

So not crazy fancy, but still nice. So would the $300/sf +tax be reasonable ($660K plus demo and drawings and permits), or $300/sf+ 10% contingency fee? ($725K plus demo and drawings and permits)
Anyone whose done it have recommendations on must haves and regrets?
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Oct 14, 2004
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It used to be $350/sq ft in 2016. I would say with all of the COVID cost increases...plan at a high level for $400/sq ft and if you come in less...then good job.
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sickcars wrote: Keep in mind older homes are actually built better and strong then a lot of the new ones. So dont totally write off building a second addition on an 80 year old home. As long as everything checks out good & is solid you should be fine. & if you really wanted to you could add a bit more support in the basement if you are concerned. Might save you a good amount of money.
I am generalization here but most houses built during the Second World War or immediately after the war are usually not that great. That was when we were short on everything including copper and proper building code due to the housing boom. If I could afford it. I would start from scratch.
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KevinM56081 wrote: Sorry...had to....
Lol, I would guess you're actually not that far off!
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
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4 baths... are you planning on ensuites for each bedroom.. with 2200sqft your bedroom might be small of you can even fit it at all.
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James_TheVirus wrote: It used to be $350/sq ft in 2016. I would say with all of the COVID cost increases...plan at a high level for $400/sq ft and if you come in less...then good job.
What luxury finishes are you using?

2016 should be more like $200-220/sqft for average finishes...
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I don't work in construction but I know a lot of people who do any pretty much everybody agrees that older homes are built much better. As for shortage of copper and other stuff that does not matter as I'm talking about the structure/support of the home, so the basement walls/bricks/concrete etc. The interior stuff like electrical/water pipes finishes etc all of that would be getting replaced regardless with a full renovation.

The stuff today is built like crap, cheap materials, things are crooked not done properly because everybody rushes to make their money and get out.
PCShutters wrote: I am generalization here but most houses built during the Second World War or immediately after the war are usually not that great. That was when we were short on everything including copper and proper building code due to the housing boom. If I could afford it. I would start from scratch.
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dflamez wrote: Cost to Demolish existing house. Could do a second storey top up but it’s an 80 year old house so may as well start from scratch and do it right.

2200 square feet above grade
- 4 bedrooms 4.5 baths
- 8 ft+ ceilings in basement, walk up basement, legal secondary suite
-10 ft ceilings on main floor (not a necessity)
- decent LVT on all floors, tile in bathrooms
- fanciest part of the house would be the kitchen, but I’d still be fine with Ikea cabinets
Where in the GTA are you building? Based on what you said, you could have done it for $250/sqft pre-covid, and $300/sqft during covid. Now its probably somewhere in between.

One thing to keep in mind is that at 2200sqft you're on the smaller side for custom build. Making it a bit bigger if you have extra lot area for it, probably wouldn't cost you all that much if its just non kicthen/bathroom square footage.

Design fees will cost you some, but will differ depending on where you are and who you go with. Is your lot regulated in any way? Conservation, Heritage, etc? Do you need zoning? Service connections could be $20k, etc etc.

Really your best bet right now is to assume $300/sqft plus demo and carry 20% contingency above your cost of drawings and permit. Then once you have the drawings in hand you can actually get quotes from some builders. If a builder wants to lure you in they will say $250, if they are quoting covid rates they will say $300, but really none of this means anything until they see and drawing and hand you a quote.

Also, in a lot of cases, you can go cheaper if you're ok with it taking a lot longer, or pay more for it to be finished in a timely manner with full attention.
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sickcars wrote: I don't work in construction but I know a lot of people who do any pretty much everybody agrees that older homes are built much better. As for shortage of copper and other stuff that does not matter as I'm talking about the structure/support of the home, so the basement walls/bricks/concrete etc. The interior stuff like electrical/water pipes finishes etc all of that would be getting replaced regardless with a full renovation.

The stuff today is built like crap, cheap materials, things are crooked not done properly because everybody rushes to make their money and get out.
This is a better reason to go with a good custom builder. You have the option of picking a better one and using better materials, as opposed to the $110/sqft subdivision towns which are built at closer to the standard you mention.

Also, this "older homes are built much better" doesn't really hold much water. Yes, a triple brick wall can take a beating and asbestos laden materials last a lot longer compared to certain things we use now a days, but the construction/engineering has advanced a lot since then. The building envelopes, foundations, etc on these buildings is crap. Modern foundations are better and you're much less likely to have issues with them compared to the older ones. If you're stripping everything off internally, you're just paying a lot more money to have three layers of brick instead of one, if you even have that. For a modern home layout you're likely going to replacing most of the structure/support anyways. You could make an argument that old growth wood is stronger, and sure thats true, but thats why we have engineers, so houses dont collapse on you. The older house is just over engineered because of lack of knowledge back then, and while it may be stronger in some regards, it may not be all that great for wind, snow, earthquake, whatever loading, and could be more susceptible to shear failure. So its possible it may be worse in some regards.

All things considered, I would choose to build new in most cases with the exception of nice century homes or the like that you want to preserve.
[OP]
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SubjectivelyObjective wrote:
Where in the GTA are you building? Based on what you said, you could have done it for $250/sqft pre-covid, and $300/sqft during covid. Now its probably somewhere in between.

One thing to keep in mind is that at 2200sqft you're on the smaller side for custom build. Making it a bit bigger if you have extra lot area for it, probably wouldn't cost you all that much if its just non kicthen/bathroom square footage.

Design fees will cost you some, but will differ depending on where you are and who you go with. Is your lot regulated in any way? Conservation, Heritage, etc? Do you need zoning? Service connections could be $20k, etc etc.

Really your best bet right now is to assume $300/sqft plus demo and carry 20% contingency above your cost of drawings and permit. Then once you have the drawings in hand you can actually get quotes from some builders. If a builder wants to lure you in they will say $250, if they are quoting covid rates they will say $300, but really none of this means anything until they see and drawing and hand you a quote.

Also, in a lot of cases, you can go cheaper if you're ok with it taking a lot longer, or pay more for it to be finished in a timely manner with full attention.
Smack dab in Toronto in East York area. So it’s your typical post war bungalow. Don’t have a super big lot to work with. (~33x100ft)
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TLSRULZ wrote: 4 baths... are you planning on ensuites for each bedroom.. with 2200sqft your bedroom might be small of you can even fit it at all.
I was envisioning 2 ensuites, 1 jack and Jill on second floor, and one full bath in basement. Building in core Toronto so the property footprint is already small (33ft frontage). Realistically not expecting massive room sizes
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Jon Lai wrote: What luxury finishes are you using?

2016 should be more like $200-220/sqft for average finishes...
Where are you building for 2016 prices of $200-220? MAYBE if you did a lot of the work yourself and were buying materials on Craigslist/Kijiji. If you are going to custom home route...$350 was very normal for average finishes in the 2200 sq ft range.

I can assure you...I did a reno in the $220/sq ft range in 2016 where I acted as the GC in Scarborough. Yes, I had some premium finishes - but maybe only $20/sq ft range and I did a ton of the work myself. My framing bill alone was $70k to take off the roof, build an extension and do a new handcut roof. That was the cheapest quote of about 5 quotes I got. Foundation and slab - $30k. Right there would be almost quarter of the budget...
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James_TheVirus wrote: Where are you building for 2016 prices of $200-220? MAYBE if you did a lot of the work yourself and were buying materials on Craigslist/Kijiji. If you are going to custom home route...$350 was very normal for average finishes in the 2200 sq ft range.

I can assure you...I did a reno in the $220/sq ft range in 2016 where I acted as the GC in Scarborough. Yes, I had some premium finishes - but maybe only $20/sq ft range and I did a ton of the work myself. My framing bill alone was $70k to take off the roof, build an extension and do a new handcut roof. That was the cheapest quote of about 5 quotes I got. Foundation and slab - $30k. Right there would be almost quarter of the budget...
Well, you can't really compare rebuild and build from scratch. Depending on the condition of the existing house, you may have to spend a lot of money fixing it up versus a brand new piece of land where you don't have to fit new material into old holes.

See this thread for some more anecdotes: custom-home-builders-toronto-2265751/
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Jon Lai wrote: Well, you can't really compare rebuild and build from scratch. Depending on the condition of the existing house, you may have to spend a lot of money fixing it up versus a brand new piece of land where you don't have to fit new material into old holes.

See this thread for some more anecdotes: custom-home-builders-toronto-2265751/
All but one in that thread suggested estimates in the 300's. One had a quote from a neighbour who was a contractor in the $220 range. What did the numbers come out at at the end of the build? My guess is somewhere in the 300's after all of the change requests of items that they forgot to include/couldn't have known.

Maybe you can't compare rebuild vs. build from scrath...but a new build also means new utility connections, brand new foundations, significant demolition/disposal costs, and/or development charges. All of which are very costly.
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sickcars wrote: I don't work in construction but I know a lot of people who do any pretty much everybody agrees that older homes are built much better. As for shortage of copper and other stuff that does not matter as I'm talking about the structure/support of the home, so the basement walls/bricks/concrete etc. The interior stuff like electrical/water pipes finishes etc all of that would be getting replaced regardless with a full renovation.

The stuff today is built like crap, cheap materials, things are crooked not done properly because everybody rushes to make their money and get out.
Ahhh, you have one of those "They don't made them like they used to" mindset. I have a 50 years old circular saw from the 70s and it still work like new and I am sure it will last another 50 years but that does not mean I would choose it over my new all plastic saw. The old saw is heavy and dangerous to use. It would take about 30 seconds for the blade to spin down. My new plastic saw only weight less than 10lbs, it has a riving knife, electronic brake, automatic speed control, etc...It is a far superior saw.

The same thing with the house that was built during the 40s to 70s. We are not talking about a Victorian/Century built home here. The house that the OP have is one of those starter bungalow home on the east side of Toronto. They built those house as cheap as possible. Renovating it is more trouble than it is worth due to asbestos, aluminum wires, clay drain that most like has tree roots inside, sinking foundation, oil tank, low basement, air leak, etc...

I will take my "cardboard" air-tight well insulated home over those asbestos laced home any day of the week.
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I have a short term goal of doing this (maybe within 3 yrs). Looking at the Milton/Burlington area

I also know someone who did this in the Orillia area. I believe the sq footage is 1800 max and cost was between 6-700k (with a 10 acre land). Finishes were better than builder grade, ceiling height adjusted to 9ft in the basement (was unfinished)

Im wondering if you can ask the builder to build up the drywalls only (including provisions for electricity/baths) then I'll finish the rest. I have control issues and have a contractor in mind that I can direct to do the finishing.
Last edited by Biscayne05 on Aug 24th, 2021 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Biscayne05 wrote: Im wondering if you can ask the builder to build up the drywalls only (including provisions for electricity/baths) then I'll finish the rest. I have control issues and have a contractor in mind that I can direct to do the finishing.
Anything is possible, but its going to be hard to find a builder that's interested in only doing the shell and walking away. Most builders want to do the whole thing, but I'm sure if you paid extra they would be willing to just put up the shell.

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