City of Ottawa development fees

All this good news and excitement came with a side of serious boooooooooooo. In order to receive our permit, we had to pay a hefty city development fee. I don’t want to be a Debbie downer here (no offence to my mother-in-law, Debbie), but I need to vent.

Building is not for the faint of heart. Mark and I are determined to build our house, and I hope this blog will inspire others to do the same. But make no mistake: it ain’t cheap and unless you’ve got money to burn, you’ve got to be incredibly resourceful. No matter how resourceful we are and how many strings we pull, however, we won’t have any control over the fees or taxes — those effing soft costs.

Here’s an interesting/depressing infographic from gohba. It shows that 23% of the cost to build a house in Ottawa goes to fees and taxes. These stats are for a developer home, where the assembly-line style of building keeps actual construction costs considerably lower then a custom home. You can easily double those construction costs for a custom house build. Then you’ll get a sense of what project costs are like. Rather discouraging isn’t it? 

Image courtesy of GOHBA

When we submitted our permit last fall, our development fees were tallied up at just over $16,000. Over the course of 10 months, our development fees have skyrocketed to over $22,000 (not to mention the school-board fees which have brought our total to $25,275). That’s a jump of 37.5% in less than a year. The only thought I can muster is WTF? They claim to have raised them to help cover the costs of light rail expansion (an Ottawa project that has suffered a couple decades of viability studies and false starts). Fine. But how is a jump of this magnitude justifiable? It’s terribly prohibitive. And isn’t/shouldn’t a city be trying to encourage development and growth? Especially good development? For crying out loud, our house is going to require a mere fraction of the resources a typical house would need, and depend far much less on the city’s infrastructure. We spoke with our ward councillor Jeff Leiper briefly about this months ago. He seemed to sympathize, but acknowledged there’s nothing we can do in the short term. If we wanted to build our home, we would have to suck it up and pay, in so many words.

And so we paid. Zing.

Enough complaining. Let’s build a home.

 Nasty numbers

Nasty numbers