Be Honest With Yourself & Do Your Homework

When considering building a new home or renovating your existing home, it is important to be honest with yourself and do your homework.

There are many builders and renovators out there, but not all are created equal.  They offer different products and services, just like any industry, and knowing what product and service you are looking for is very important.  Most of us know it is not possible to get the best quality for the lowest price, but in practice, that is what we all try to achieve, or at least most of us do.  We should not kid ourselves, this is not going to happen.  If we are looking for the best quality or the best service, that comes at a price.  The challenge is to realize that you are not going to get a premium product or service for the lowest price.  This is no different than expecting to pay the same price for a “Ford Focus” as a “BMW 5 Series”.  That is not to say that the Ford Focus is not a good product or will not fit some people’s needs, but if a consumer is looking for high performance, German engineering, they are likely going to be disappointed with the Focus.

The important thing to keep in mind here is to be honest with yourself and figure out what your real needs and wants are.  Once you have done this, find a Builder/Renovator who is going to be able to deliver on that.  Find one that offers whatever level of product and service you want, who also provides good value.  Do your homework and pick two or three to interview. Speak with their previous customers and ask them pointed questions.  Explore how those companies operate, and make sure they are going to be a good fit for you.  Most of all, make sure that what they are telling you for product vs. price is realistic and reasonable.  If they are telling you they can provide the BMW 5 Series for the Ford Focus price, there is something wrong.

See our related blog on “Setting Expectations

Residential Construction & Renovation Costs in Calgary

Calgary construction costsFor our first post, we thought we would tackle the question of residential construction & renovation costs in the Calgary area.  Go big or go home right?

After having countless conversations with potential customers regarding the cost of building a custom home or renovating in Calgary, we have decided it’s time to put something in writing to help the interested populous navigate this topic. So, what does it cost to build or renovate an infill home in the Calgary area?  I’m glad you asked.

We are aware that there are many shady and shifty sales tactics going on in the residential construction industry, both for new homes and renovations.  Because of this, it is important that the purchaser educate themselves on what to be on the lookout for.  Of course prices fluctuate over time and are dependent on current market conditions, but the basics of what needs to be considered really doesn’t change.

We find it easiest to look at any project as two, intertwined parts.  One of those parts being the general budget and the other being the construction budget.  The entire project cost is of course an amalgamation of these two parts.  To better quantify costs, let us break down these two pieces of the pie.

General Budget

  • Architectural / Design Fees (project dependent)
  • Design Consultants (surveyors, geotechnical consultants, engineers, energy consultants) $2k-$10
  • Permitting (all regulatory and approval fees for the project, including Development permits, Building Permits etc.) $2k-$7k
  • Utilities (services such as water, sewer, gas, electric, wells, septic etc. are often required by the municipality, especially for infill homes and are at the cost of the customer) $20k-$30k
  • Site Preparation (remediation, demolition, clearing etc.) $10k-$30k
  • Hardscaping (drainage, grading, retaining, fencing etc.) site dependent
  • Landscaping (loam, sod, plantings) site dependent
  • Interior Decorating (window coverings, furniture, artwork etc.)

Construction Budget

  • Construction Costs (all parts and labour required to construct the home – excavation, foundation/ flatwork, framing, roof, flashing & gutters, windows, doors & skylights, siding & exterior trim, decks, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, insulation, drywall, millwork, paint, tile,
    cabinets & closets & counters, flooring, bath hardware, mirrors, fireplace, handrails, decorative metal, appliances, specialty items like elevators, lifts etc.)
  • General Conditions (site security & fencing, portable toilet, temporary utilities and heat, rentals, waste removal & recycling, specialty items & tools, final clean, miscellaneous)
  • Special Conditions (site access, severe grades, slope stability, unusual soil conditions etc.)
  • Builder`s Management Fee (15-25% of project – project dependent)
  • Taxes

Total Project Budget (Typical)

Several factors influence the overall project cost, including site conditions (building costs for infills are different than those in new developments), finish level and customer expectations.  The numbers used assume a typical or median approach to a project.

Whole home renovation (down to the studs): $200/sqft ± $50/sqft

New construction $250/sqft ± $50/sqft

Integrating sustainability, high performance or energy efficiencies into a project don’t necessarily need to add to the cost.  Some of these items are simply a different or better way of doing those things which are already done.  For this reason the numbers presented here already include many high performance and energy efficient features.  What would you do with that extra $250 per month you save on your energy bills?

While the current market conditions in Alberta are having an effect on construction prices, it is not as great as one might think.  A strengthening US construction market is actually causing a rise in material costs which are already becoming more expensive thanks to a weakening Canadian dollar.  The cost of living hasn’t lessened in Calgary, so our labour costs remain virtually unchanged.  The silver lining in the market conditions is that subcontractors and suppliers are more responsive because they are less busy, and they are trimming the fat to keep prices down in an effort to stay busy.

This information is intended as a benchmark or starting point.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss things further, don’t hesitate to give us a call or post here.

Have a look at our Website to get a better idea of the product and process we are describing in this blog.