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Custom Home Building Cost

How Much Does a Custom Home Build Really Cost

January 27, 2021

Whether it’s an investment or you are looking for a forever home in which to raise your family, a custom home build offers buyers something that a pre-built home simply can’t – the ability to get exactly what you want, with no compromise.

If you are considering building a custom home, you probably have a lot of questions, and many of them probably concern the cost. And it’s no wonder. The cost of a custom home build in and around Vancouver can vary significantly, anywhere from $250 to $500+ per square foot, so figuring out where your build would land can be challenging.

Custom home builders do their best to provide accurate estimates, and fixed costs are generally just that – fixed, barring some unforeseen extenuating circumstance. However, where it becomes really tricky to nail down a price point is with potential variability in material selection and soft building costs, which can fluctuate as construction progresses.

To get a better understanding of what a custom home build really costs, let’s cover these expenses in more detail.

Soft Costs

Depending on where you are choosing to build, land prices can vary significantly. The land surrounding Vancouver is typically purchased at a premium. For example, land in North Vancouver can run you upwards of $300 per square foot, where a lot further out in Maple Ridge can be purchased for under $100 a square foot.

Once you have chosen where to build, a custom home builder can begin working with you to iron out the construction costs. Most soft costs are incurred before building even starts and include:

  • Land costs, including realtor commission and legal fee
  • Home design fees, including architectural drawings, engineering, and legal costs
  • Site servicing
  • Necessary permits
  • Construction insurance
  • Utilities, construction trailer, and equipment
  • Inspections and appraisal fees

These are examples of the types of fees not covered in the contract you sign with your custom home builder, which will cover all the fixed costs associated with your build.

Hard Costs

Hard costs are easier to estimate; when you select a custom home builder and sign a contract, these costs will be included in the final number. Where the variability in price per square foot will come is largely dependent on the size of the home and the materials selected. A 2,500 square foot builder-grade home will cost significantly less per square foot than a 3,500 square foot luxury build. This is due to a combination of material costs – high-end countertops, premium cabinetry, and designer paint are obviously more expensive than lower-end comparables – and build costs, like foundation and walls, which can be more complex and more costly the larger the home becomes. Other hard costs include:

  • Construction and labour costs
  • Equipment
  • Material costs
  • Contingency allowance
  • Permits

In addition to the costs mentioned above, there are a number of other material and finish selections that can drive up the price of your custom home build. If your home is filled with custom features and extensive landscaping, patios, decks, etc., the costs will quickly add up.

Soft costs can add unexpected surprises to the final cost of your new home, but ultimately, the difference between a $500 and $250 per square foot build comes down to the choices you make. The size of the home, the complexity of the build, and the materials all affect the price of your custom home build. $250 a square foot may not seem like a big difference, however, the final costs add up quickly; a 3,500 square foot luxury home can cost you $1,750,000 where a similar sized builder-grade home can be built for under a million.

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