Is it cheaper to buy or build a house in Ottawa

Is it cheaper to buy or build a house in Ottawa? We’ve got the answer + some crucial insights!

As I wandered through the streets of Ottawa, daydreaming about finding my own slice of heaven, I found myself stuck in a classic dilemma: should I buy a ready-made home or build from scratch? 

It’s a question that’s been nagging at me for a while, and I figured I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way. And if you’re here, then you’ve found your people!

In this article, I included the cost of building a house compared to buying one in Ottawa, the pros and cons of each option, and a lot more. 

The Cost of Building a House VS. Buying a House in Ottawa 

The Cost of Building a House VS. Buying a House in Ottawa

Buying a single-family home in Ottawa as of 2024 costs $719,000 according to the Realtor. On the other hand, building one would cost $1,009,000, making it more expensive. 

The average cost of building single-family houses in Ottawa is $515 to 1,085 per square foot. This is based on data from the 2024 Canadian Cost Guide by the Altus Group, which states the cost of real estate development and construction in Canada. 

So, if the size of a home is, let’s say, 3,599.52 square feet like a listing at Findlay Creek, it would cost around $1,009,000 to purchase it. 

Based on this analysis, it’s possible that building a home in Ottawa is more expensive.

That said, the final cost ultimately depends on a lot of factors (which we’ll discuss later), so it’s challenging to provide a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s essential to recognize that the overall cost comparison between buying and building a home is multifaceted and influenced by various variables.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a House in Ottawa

The Pros and Cons of Buying a House in Ottawa

Thinking of buying a house in Ottawa? Before you move forward, make sure to read the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. 

The Pros

1. Immediate Availability

Unlike building a home, purchasing an existing one means you can move in sooner. You don’t have to think of other factors like figuring out where to stay while you wait to finish the construction of your home. 

2. Less Stress in Decision Making

When buying a home, you don’t have to think about every little detail. Most decisions are already made by the previous owners or the home builder, so there’s less stress in decision-making. 

However, when building a house with a builder, you’ll need to be involved in numerous decisions, from layout and design to materials and finishes.

3. Cost Predictability

The costs of buying a home are predictable since a real estate agent can inform you about them upfront. Meanwhile, building your own home comes with variable expenses.

The Cons 

1. Limited Customization

When you buy an existing home, the customization of design and layout is quite limited. Major changes are costly and not always possible. 

However, if you find a perfect existing home for you, then this obviously won’t be an issue. 

2. Possibility of Hidden Issues

It’s possible that an existing home might have hidden issues, either undisclosed or unknown to the previous owners.  We’ve all heard scary stories of someone buying a home only to discover major damage like faulty wiring or structural damage!

There could also be serious problems, like asbestos and mold, which require immediate action. 

3. Cost of Maintenance

Existing homes usually require more maintenance than newer ones. Features like the roof might need replacement sooner than you realize. 

The Pros and Cons of Building a House in Ottawa

The Pros and Cons of Building a House in Ottawa

If you’re dreaming of building a house in Ottawa, you have to consider if it will work best for you. Take a look at our pros and cons to help you with your decision.

The Pros 

1. Customization 

I find that the most exciting part of building a house is the opportunity to customize every part of it. You can create a space that truly reflects your personal style and meets your unique needs, making it feel like a true dream home.

Want a sleek marble countertop for your kitchen? As long as the budget allows it, you got it!

You’re free to choose the finishes, materials, and features of your home to match your taste, preferences, and lifestyle. 

2. No Bidding Wars

Sometimes, you’ll browse realtor websites and find a great deal on a lovely home. It’s affordable and in a perfect location, but its appealing features make it highly desirable to many people.

You can avoid this when building your own house, eliminating the stress of losing out on great properties due to high demand. 

3. Huge Potential for Investment

Building a house in Ottawa can also be a good investment, especially if you select an up-and-coming neighborhood, as property values may increase over time as the area develops. 

4. No Need for Renovations

Since you’re customizing every feature in your new home in Ottawa, there’s no need for renovations. This might even save you money!

The Cons 

1. Time-Consuming

Amidst all the exciting perks of building your own home in Ottawa, it also comes with unwarranted disadvantages. 

Building a home can be a lengthy process. The timeline can even be extended because of weather delays and other unforeseen issues!

2. Permits and Other Legal Forms 

Navigating the legal forms when it comes to building a home in Ottawa can be a grueling process. Delays in obtaining papers like permits can certainly slow down the construction timeline. 

3. Decision Fatigue 

When building your own home, there are a lot of decisions to consider. From floor plans to finishes, you have to be able to come up with a clear vision and make numerous choices in bringing your dream home to life. 

Oh, and let’s not forget about the stress of the possibility of making the wrong decision!

Factors to Consider When Buying a House 

Factors to Consider When Buying a House

Nearby Amenities

Identify the amenities you’re seeking that are important to the residents of your potential home. 

If you have kids, consider if there are any nearby schools. 

If you’re always on the go, it might be better to be near train and bus stations. 


Considering your finances when buying a house ensures that you can afford the purchase and other things that come with it, such as qualifying for a mortgage and managing ongoing homeownership expenses. 

Additionally, you need to maintain financial stability to ensure you have enough money left in your bank account after buying a home.

Property’s Condition

Understanding a home’s condition allows you to anticipate any necessary repairs that come from buying it. 

A rundown home is going to cost a lot to renovate. Not only are the issues going to cost you a hefty price, but it might also be unsafe. 


Buying a home in Downtown Ottawa might be ideal for those who prioritize convenience and seek proximity to the vibrant destinations in the city. 

Meanwhile, you might enjoy Kanata more if you’re seeking verdant spaces and nature delights. 

Consider your preferences and budget when choosing the ideal location for you. 

Size and Layout

Consider the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and overall square footage to accommodate your needs and the potential residents in your new home. 

Additionally, thinking about the layout is important because it determines the functionality of the space, ensuring you purchase a liveable home.

Long-term Value and Investment Potential

Considering the long-term value and investment potential is important before buying a house because it helps ensure that the property will appreciate over time, providing a solid return on investment if you decide to sell in the future.

Time Frame

When buying a house, you should also consider the time frame to make sure it’s aligned with your circumstances. 

Coordinating a move, especially if it involves selling your current home, relocating for a job, or moving children to a new school, requires careful planning. 

I highly suggest making sure to sketch out a clear time frame to ensure a smooth transition. Make a shared calendar if you have to and coordinate tasks and deadlines with all involved parties to streamline the process further.

This also helps everyone involved in the process stay updated and make their own adjustments in their personal life. 

Another reason why you should consider the time frame is saving for a downpayment and getting your finances in order can take time. 

The longer your time frame, the better prepared you can be financially, potentially leading to better purchasing power.

Additionally, having a longer time frame allows for more flexibility in exploring different financing options and securing favorable loan terms. 

Based on this, it’s best not to rush your move, unless there’s an emergency. 

Environment and Energy Considerations

Energy-efficient homes can significantly reduce utility bills. Although these features sometimes come with a higher upfront cost, you’ll save more in the long run and help the environment in the process. 

Features such as proper insulation, energy-efficient windows, and such can lower heating, cooling, and electricity costs.

By investing in an energy-efficient home, you not only benefit financially but also play a part in promoting environmental sustainability. 

This approach is a win-win, providing both economic and environmental benefits over the life of your home.

Personal Preferences

This is one of the most important factors to consider. 

If you have the privilege of being able to follow your preferences when buying a home, I highly suggest it. 

After all, how can you be happy with your move if you don’t like the space you’re moving into? 

Buying a home is often a long-term commitment. Ensuring the house fits your preferences helps ensure long-term happiness and reduces the likelihood of wanting to move again soon.

With that in mind, consider your future plans and how the house will fit into them. This includes family planning, career changes, and such. 

A home that aligns with your future needs will provide lasting value and comfort.

Property Types 

Decide what type of property is perfect for you based on your lifestyle and preferences. To help you out with that, below are the types of properties commonly found in Ottawa, as found on the Ottawa Real Estate Board. 

1. Detached

A detached property is a singular housing unit that stands independently on its own plot of land. It comes with individual ownership rights documented by a separate title deed.

2. Row Unit

A row unit refers to one of several attached homes, usually three or more. While they share almost identical design and size, each home has its own separate title, indicating individual ownership.

3. Semi-detached

A semi-detached house is one of two separate homes, usually with similar layouts. While it’s joined by a shared wall, it’s not connected to other buildings.

Like row units, each semi-detached property has its own title. 

4. Apartment 

This one’s a pretty common term, so you most likely know what it already is. Apartments are living spaces within a building that usually have several floors with a few shared spaces like parking lots, elevators, and sometimes, even a rooftop.  

5. Stacked

A stacked property is a single home within a building, with each home positioned on top of the other. 

While they share similarities with apartments, stacked homes are part of a structure that resembles rows of houses, often spanning multiple floors. Each home has its own entrance and title of ownership.