Building Costs Per Square Foot in Canada – StatCan Statistics
According to StatCan, the building construction price index in Canada increased from 117.5 to 143 in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 2021 respectively. This was an annual percentage change of 21.7% in the national composite index. Increases were also registered in the regional construction index. The city of Calgary in the Alberta region had the highest increase at 33%, followed by Toronto at 25.6%. In third place was Edmonton at 24.5% followed by the Ottawa-Gatineau region at 24.4%. In fifth place were the three metropolitan areas of St Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador at 20.3%. In sixth place was Saskatoon in the Saskatechewan region at 18.5%. The city of Montreal in Quebec came seventh at 18.2%, followed by Winnipeg in Manitoba at 16.6%. In 9th position was Halifax in Nova Scotia at 16.2%. The city of Vancouver in the British Columbia had a 13.5% increase in the local construction index, and the city of Moncton in New Brunswick had the lowest rise in the local building index at 9%.
CHBA Housing Market Index
For the uninitiated, a rise in the local construction index indicates a rise in the price of building materials and labour which in turn affects the cost of building. Another indicator of changes in costs that can guide you is the CHBA index. CHBA is an acronym for Canadian Home Builders Association. Results of the CHBA HMI released in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Prices of building materials such as timber have surged since the last month of 2020, a year which saw a decline in the building/housing market from the beginning of March to June, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, from September to December, there was a rise in the demand of housing which led to an increase in prices. This demand prevailed through the first half of 2021, with detached single-family homes registering the highest increase in price. Montreal detached homes had the highest increase across Canada at 40.92% according to Century-21, and the city of St John had the lowest increase at only 8.63%. This translates to a PPSF (Price Per Square Foot) of $1,350 and $134 respectively in these cities. Semi-detached townhouses in Montreal soared to $937/ft2, a 22.01% increase. In Vancouver, detached homes across six suburbs had a price in the range $794 to $1208 per SF respectively, while Condominiums rose to $1,310 per SF.
In Toronto, the PPSF of condos dropped from $1,033 to $956/ft2, which represents a 7.45% decrease from the previous year (2020). Detached housing in Toronto soared to $312/ft2 in the Owen Sound location, $357/ft2 in Grey Bruce and $362/ft2 in London. This was an extremely high price increase of 86.77%, 82.87% and 44.80% from the previous year (2020).
In Ontario, detached homes increased to $613/ft2 in Vaughan and $557/ft2 in Markham, representing a percentage increase of 11.75% and 14.96% respectively.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, the CHBA indices (HMI) for single-family homes and multi-family homes were at their peak value at 84.9 and 87.1 respectively. The beginning of the year was characterised by declines in the quarterly HMI as the market faced an uncertainty caused by soaring material costs, breakdown of the supply chain and Covid-19 lockdowns. The end of 2021 was the beginning of recovery as challenges eased in the industry eased.
Both the CHBA and Global Construction Survey predict a return of buyer/contractor confidence in the residential market. At the same, a significant increase in housing starts and building permits was observed in the last quarter of 2021, signalling a return of customer/builder confidence in the market. It must be noted that the number of monthly housing starts and building approvals was on a declining curve just like the HMI throughout 2021. However, the annual numbers have been exhibiting an opposite trend, increasing by significant percentages each year. The month of November 2021 recorded the first increase of the year, registering a 26% increase in housing starts from the previous month, and accumulating a 17% increase in building permits. There was a 21% increase in permits issued for multi-family units and 12% for single-family homes.
Despite the increased confidence and growth in the market going into 2022, the impediments of the yesteryear are still prevailing. This includes the shortages of lumber, plywood and veneer which have increased the costs of building in the residential sector by 12% as of July 2021.
In places like the British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, availability of skilled labour as at 22 February 2022 is still a problem since the job losses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Projects are taking longer to complete, being delayed by several months. In October 2021, experts attending the CanaData conference agreed that labour is in short supply in the construction industry, with Bill Ferreira CEO of BuildForce suggesting the number of workers retiring is more than the number of new entrants, causing a shortfall of -31,000 which needs to be increased by 258% to get at least 111,000 workers.
A shortage of workers is a demand for workers, so this doesn’t affect employment statistics whereby unemployment is the inability to find a job.
As evidenced by the increase in the number of job vacancies between Q1-2020 and Q1-2021, there were 46,370 people employed in the construction industry in 2021, compared to 39,425 people in 2020. There was a large demand for bricklayers, plasterers, construction labourers and woodworkers in cabinet-making and carpentry. Employment increased by 20.4% in this period. According to the StatCan Report released on 20/12/2021, the construction sector had the second highest increase in job vacancies in Canada between Q3-2019 and Q3-2021, at +83.7% (+34,300 vacancies). The hospitality industry had the highest number of job vacancies in the country at +112.8% (+86,400 vacancies).
In the same period, construction spending also increased in most metropolitan areas around the country, behind a backdrop of labour shortages. Labour shortages were more pronounced in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The StatCan Report released in 10 February 2022 shows that investment in the residential and non-residential construction industry rose by 1.9% in December 2021, totalling $18.4 billion. Single-family homes were the main driver of investment in the residential sector, which was boosted by 2.2% in December 2021, totalling $13.4 billion. The province of Ontario contributed over 50% of the percentage increase. Single-family homes accounted for 55.2% of the monthly spending in December, driving up investment by 3.5% and totalling up to $7.4 billion in building expenditure. Eight provinces contributed to the statistics
In the same period, there was a 0.7% rise in multi-family home investment, amounting to $6.1 billion. Once again, the province of Ontario exhibited significant gains, boosting spending by 1%. Nova Scotia and Brunswick also exhibited gains, while investment in Quebec and Saskatchewan declined by -1% and -5.5% respectively.
Property Valuation Housing Price Per Square Foot in Canada – StatCan
The property valuation house price per square foot given below indicates the value of a house as determined by a municipal inspector or valuation agent for the purpose of determining local authority property taxes and comparing different types of properties. Statistics were taken in three provinces – Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia. The figures, last released on 03 March 2019 show the following square foot rates and average house prices:
Nova Scotia Square Foot Rates and Average House Price
All residential property types – $115/ft2 (average $148,000)
Single detached houses – $113/ft2 (average $142,000)
Semi-detached houses – $124/ft2 (average $170,000)
Row houses – $143/ft2 (average $268,000)
Condos – average $213,000
In Nova Scotia, detached single-family homes are the cheapest, followed by semi-detached houses. Terraced/row houses are the most expensive.
Ontario Square Foot Rates and Average House Price
All residential property types – $222/ft2 (average $361,000)
Single detached houses – $205/ft2 (average $371,000)
Semi-detached houses – $278/ft2 (average $473,000)
Row houses – $229/ft2 (average $339,000)
Condos – $375/ft2 (average $310,000)
In Ontario, detached single-family homes are cheapest, followed by terraced row houses. Condos are the most expensive type of property, followed by semi-detached houses.
British Columbia Square Foot Rates and Average House Price
All residential property types – $371/ft2 (average $552,000)
Single detached houses – $317/ft2 (average $647,000)
Semi-detached houses – $305/ft2 (average $531,000)
Row houses – $360/ft2 (average $538,000)
Condos – $547/ft2 (average $456,000)
In British Combia, semi-detached homes are the cheapest, followed by single-family detached homes. Condos are the most expensive type of property followed by row houses.
British Columbia is has the most expensive residential dwellings at $371 per square foot, followed by Ontario at $222 per square foot. Nova Scotia has the lowest rates at $115 per square foot.
Market House Price Per Square Foot in Canada – StatCan
Unlike the property valuation price, the market house price is based on the value of dwellings sold in a region. Statistics were taken in three provinces – Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia. The figures, last released in 2018 show the following square foot rates and average house prices from 1 January to 31 December:
Nova Scotia – $125/ft2
Halifax – $151/ft2
Outside the CMA – $102/ft2
New Brunswick – $106/ft2
Moncton – $103/ft2
Saint John – $107/ft2
Outside the CMAs – $103/ft2
Nova Scotia Average House Price
All residential property types – median value $167,000
Single detached houses – median value $192,000
Condos – median value $215,000
Vacant land – median value $25,000
Other type of property – median value $187,000
New Brunswick Average House Price
All residential property types – median value $134,000
Single detached houses – median value $160,000
Condos – median value $147,000
Vacant land – median value $15,000
Other type of property – median value $130,000
British Columbia Average House Price
All residential property types – median value $535,000
Single detached houses – median value $600,000
Condos – median value $455,000
Vacant land – median value $220,000
Other type of property – median value $615,000
More comprehensive building costs in the private sector broken down into several types of dwellings and building categories are published by Altus Group Canada The report covers regional costs in 9 provinces.