What Does It Really Cost To Build an Infill Home in Edmonton?
Most people’s first question for us is, “How much does a house cost to build in Edmonton?” The homebuilding industry tends to use cost per square foot as the primary measurement. But the truth is it depends on many factors; what you are building, where are you building, and how does your asset operate? Let’s look at some of the factors that determine how much it really costs to build in Edmonton.
Custom vs Spec
First things first, let's clarify some descriptions around custom vs spec home building. Currently, there is a lot of misrepresentation in the custom home building market. A ready-made home that you can look at today and move into tomorrow is a spec (short for speculative), home. Let's look at the pros and cons of this mode
Timing - For a prospective buyer who does not want to wait, spec homes are typically completed and ready for immediate occupancy.
Finishes - There are typically mid to high-quality finishes for countertops, flooring, lighting, and a detail or two to attract the eye of buyers. So, what you see is what you get.
The Bones - What you don’t see is what you don’t get. The spec-model of home building does not incentivize high-quality internal structure or mechanical systems. The structure of a house just isn’t as appealing as granite countertops. Typically, the main structure of a spec home is just to code, meaning just the minimum. The structure is the most expensive part of your house and determines energy usage, technical performance, and long-term costs.
Compromise - Most spec homes are iterations of a home built many times over. So it is unlikely to be optimized for your lot or lifestyle. You may end up paying for a formal dining room just because the rest of the house (sort of) suits your needs.
On the flipside, a custom home is built with your ideas and works with the way you live now and hope to live in the future. A good designer can help ensure that your new home not only suits your lifestyle, but improves it.
Build with your input - A huge pro to the custom home building market is the collaboration between you and design, and almost more importantly, a builder who knows how to work well with a design team. This partnership between a client and a designer makes sure you get a house that suits your present and future needs and works for you financially.
Futureproofing - Since a house is such a big investment, it should be adaptable to the inevitable life changes you will experience. Again, a good designer should discuss this with you in order to build in adaptability for lifestyle change.
Quality - From the bones to the finishes, you’re in the loop.
When you discuss the options for energy efficiency and quality beforehand, you can be sure you’re getting a house that matches your priorities and lasts you a lifetime.
Time - It often takes about one year to plan and build a custom home.
It’s An Undertaking - It takes work to get the ball rolling. That’s work on the client's side to research what they might like for their home, meetings to discuss options, and time put in with a design-builder to make these dreams a reality. However, if you find the right builder, they can help you through this process and even make it fun and exciting.
Cost - Obviously, there are cost differences in having input from the beginning. The decisions you make can also impact the cost.
Location (Location, Location)
Everyone understands the power of an awesome location! But it is reasonable to mention that the price of the dirt that your house will sit on has a significant factor in the overall price and ongoing expenses. This is especially true when you start thinking about making your home into an asset, not an expense. (We’ll talk about that next.)
High land value is usually an indicator of a walkable, liveable neighbourhood. As a custom home builder that only works in core neighbourhoods, we are a big advocate for walkability and accessibility. That’s why every partner in ArtHouse Residential lives in a core neighbourhood.
Make your home an asset, not an expense.
A mortgage payment will likely be the largest monthly expense that a homeowner will have. There are two ways of looking at this large monthly expense, is it an expense or an asset? An expense would require a constant stream of input with the eventual return once it’s sold. An asset generates income throughout its lifetime. One way you can do that is with a secondary suite, which can be built on most lots in the City of Edmonton. Our clients average 48.6% offset of their mortgage, meaning they are paying about half their mortgage through rental income alone.
Check out our case studies to see how we have worked with our customers to achieve this balance.
Efficiency: Design and Materials
Efficient design is an important part of any sustainability equation. Most people know the phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, but fewer people know that those actions are in order of importance. Careful consideration of the actual ‘needs’ in the program of the house the and creative use of space can be a very effective tool in reducing a house’s impact. Efficient design can reduce the cost to build, the amount of materials used, and the long term operating costs. Generating energy with solar panels is definitely sexier, but it’s a lot cheaper not to use that energy in the first place.
The total volume of the house can be reduced by designing to maximize usable space and reducing ‘dead space’ such as hallways. Many rooms can be used as ‘flex’ rooms, such as office/spare bedrooms, or bedrooms that can easily be converted to bonus living rooms. Materials should be chosen for their durability or their lowered production footprint.
It is also very important to consider the lifetime of the building when considering overall efficiency. A house that is designed for a family of 5 may end up being used by only 2 people, the ‘empty nest’ that causes many people to want to move houses. Efficient design can make a house useable for the same family for decades rather than 20 years, using basements that can be converted to rental or ‘mother in-law’ suites, or plans to use rooms for various purposes depending on life stages.
Energy and space efficiency can seem like a sacrifice, but an insulated, airtight home with a good layout is a cozier, more comfortable home as well.
While we didn’t end up with a dollar value, we hope this page has given some context to evaluate what you’re paying for in the Edmonton home building market.
And, if you just want a dollar value, we’d love to talk about your needs, and what it would cost to build your dream home. Feel free to reach out to us.