Understanding the Cost per Square Foot to Build a House in BC in 2023

Building a house is a significant investment that requires careful planning and a comprehensive understanding of the costs involved. One common metric used to estimate these costs is the cost per square foot. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the cost per square foot to build a house in British Columbia (BC) in 2023.

The Basics

In 2023, the cost per square foot to build a house in BC ranges between $200 and $350 CAD. This broad range is due to a variety of factors that can influence the cost, including the location of the property, the design of the house, the materials used, and the current market conditions.

Location, Location, Location

Location significantly impacts the cost per square foot. Urban areas like Vancouver and Victoria often have higher construction costs due to higher land values, permit fees, and labour costs. In contrast, rural areas or smaller towns may offer lower construction costs.

Design and Materials

The design of your house is another critical factor. A simple, single-story design will cost less per square foot than a multi-story house with a complex layout. Similarly, the choice of materials can greatly influence the cost. High-end finishes and materials, such as granite countertops, hardwood floors, or custom cabinetry, can increase the cost per square foot.

Labour and Market Conditions

Labour costs also contribute to the overall cost per square foot. In BC, a skilled construction labour shortage has been driving up wages, and hence, the cost of building a house. Furthermore, market conditions and the cost of building materials can fluctuate. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, led to increased lumber prices, which had a knock-on effect on the cost of construction.

Additional Costs

The cost per square foot typically includes design, materials, and labour. However, it’s essential to remember that building a house involves additional costs. These include land acquisition, site preparation, permits and fees, landscaping, and utility hookups. These costs can add a significant amount to your overall budget but are not usually factored into the cost per square foot.

Cost Efficiency

Efficiency can help manage costs. For example, building up (adding more stories) instead of out (increasing the footprint) can reduce foundation and roofing costs, resulting in a lower cost per square foot. Similarly, an open floor plan can reduce construction costs, as it requires fewer walls and doors.

The Value of Professional Advice

Given the complexity of estimating the cost to build a house, professional advice can be invaluable. Architects, builders, and quantity surveyors have the expertise to provide accurate estimates and can help you design a home that fits your budget.


In conclusion, understanding the cost per square foot is a useful starting point when planning to build a house. However, it’s important to remember that this figure is an average and that actual costs can vary based on a multitude of factors. In BC in 2023, you can expect to pay between $200 and $350 CAD per square foot to build a house, but it’s essential to budget for additional costs. By considering all these factors, you can make informed decisions and plan a project that meets your needs and financial capabilities. Building a house is a significant undertaking, but with careful planning and budgeting, it can be a rewarding investment.

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