Soft costs hit hard

As we’re getting costs and quotes in, I’m putting together a spreadsheet. There are some numbers I really dislike: the soft costs. The fees. And the HST. Oh the evil that is HST.

We initially thought we ‘did good’ by buying empty land. By doing so, we wouldn’t have the headache or the costs associated with a demolition or renovation, which could easily amount to 50K or more. HST, however, negates any potential savings. We had to pay HST on our land. If you buy a used house (even if you’re just going to demo it), you’re off the hook.

Building is expensive. The soft costs are a major culprit. Half the build cost is for services. Services which we now pay 13% on. Argh. The City of Ottawa has an $18,000 development fee they’re going to zing us with if the permit goes through. That’s on top of our $1,800 permit application. We are building a house on an urban lot. Why? What for? The $18k doesn’t even include road closures or bringing services (hydro and water) to the lot. 

The numbers are frustrating. What to do? We’re working hard on bringing our build costs down, but no matter how well we do on that end, the land purchase doesn’t change, the fees don’t change, and HST will be added. Death and taxes: what're you gonna do?

So here’s a little tip: buy land for as little money as you possibly can. Duh, right? If we wanted to build outside the downtown core, we would likely not be feeling the financial squeeze we are by buying an expensive city lot. If we took our exact house and built it in Saskatchewan, we’d immediately cut costs in half. Maybe a move is in the cards? Just jokes.