The Cost of an RTM

We are here to answer the good old question of, “Is a RTM house cheaper than a site built home?”

I would like to just say before I get into this, that if you already have an RTM, you may be extremely happy with it. We are not here to try to disagree with you. There are many people who have had very positive experiences with purchasing an RTM. We know a few families that have chosen an RTM and and had us do the basements for them. Over all, they have been very happy with the results.

This blog is to point out the advantages of the Custom Home Build over an RTM house. I have put together the following 5 advantages of a site built home:

Value for Investment:

What people aren’t always aware of, is that the RTM company doesn’t provide all the items needed to complete your home. These include:

  • Basement (Wood, Cement or ICF).
  • Bathroom in the basement (Plumbing, Electrical, Tub, Shower, Vanity, Flooring and a Fan).
  • Stairs from main-floor to basement.
  • Required insulation of floor joists around the perimeter of the outside wall (usually spray foamed).
  • Garage (Doors, Overhead Doors, Drywall, Insulation, Concrete Slab),
  • Back Deck, Front Deck, Front Entry, Back Entry.
  • Mechanical – Furnace, A/C, Air Exchanger, Water Heater, Outdoor Faucet, Heat to your garage, Gas outlet on your deck for BBQ.
  • Completion of Exterior – Eavestrough, Windows in Basement, Finishing on Foundation.
  • Driveway, Sidewalks.
  • Electrical plugs and lights by code in basement.
  • Sewer Hook Up, Gas Hook Up, Power Hook Up.
  • Landscaping.

I’m probably missing something, but you get the idea..

People think buying an RTM should be half the cost of the actual house. Right? After all, you are getting the main floor all finished. NO… From our experience with other home owners, its just above 40% of what home owners pay in the very end.

A Custom RTM?

Hip Roof is the in the red box. Gable Roof is the blue box.

How “custom” can an RTM be? We drove through a small town on the weekend and we saw 3 different RTM company’s. To be honest, the houses all looked very similar to each other. How many floor plans can be designed that are LIMITED to its width/depth and height because of the need of transportation? Even the majority of roof’s on RTM’s are gable style, which are a more economical way of doing a roof. While most custom homes will have more of a hip style roof mixed in with a gable style roof. However, you are NOT limited to these styles in a custom home. The words “custom home” means a home that is designed for a specific client, at a specific location. When building custom homes, having 2 stories is always a plus, especially when you have a larger family. Thats the beauty of doing a custom site built home… Its not only 80% customized to you, its the best of the best, it’s 100% customized to your needs, lifestyle and budget!


A custom built house can be built at anytime of the year. One of the HUGEST myths, is that you shouldn’t build a custom site house in the winter. Most of these RTM company’s are building on yards that are outside. Very few have the capital and functionality to build an RTM in a 300′ x 200′ heated building. We have built countless homes in the winter and it has not been a disadvantage.

Usually an RTM company will build a home in 3-4 months. That’s a 1500 square foot home without garage or basement, just finished on main floor with exterior finishing on the main floor. It can take 5-6 months from the time construction begins, to completion of foundation, to having the house moved on to the foundation. That is 5-6 months to move in. A custom built home is completed, on average, within 6-7 months .

Disengaged Design Stage?

So you decide you are going to purchase an RTM, and right before you sign the contract, they ask you in for one more final meeting to pick out all your finishings. For example, You will be given 3 options of coloured taps; chrome, satin or oil rub bronze. This goes on for each item throughout your house.

After that overwhelming meeting, you sign the contract and it is a high chance that it will be more expensive than what you thought it would be, because they never communicated budget through the design process. If they did, they would never come in lower than what they would have communicated during designing your home. But you sign the contract anyway, and away they go and start building your house. Probably the next time you come to the yard site will be at the rough-in stage. It would be a visit to decide where you want your plugs, switch’s and how high your shower heads will be etc.. In my opinion, this should be decided before the contract is signed, but it is another chance for a “change order“. Also, that is a long time to wait for a walk-through. When site homes are built, we are constantly communicating with our client, from the concept design to the completion. We communicate through our online system and offer weekly walk-throughs with our clients. I find that when we do site walk-throughs, people get excited and really enjoy seeing the process of how things are built and put together. We can really explain to them why we built it this way or why this was done that way. It ultimately builds trust with our client, and time and time again, proves to be a rewarding experience.

The move?

You have to understand that an RTM means READY TO MOVE, meaning that it has to be built on a yard site, loaded on a truck, and squeezed down the highway to its destination. And yes, you are paying for that in addition to SaskPower to disconnect the power lines that your house will cross.

Another myth, is that the cost for a contractor and trades to come out to rural countryside will be more than having an RTM moved to the home site. The moving cost and all the necessary permits to bring a 1500 square foot house down the highway will be just as much as a contractor coming to your site to build your 100% customized home.

In conclusion, with having experience in building both custom homes and building basements for an RTM’s, we would say the custom home is a better option. We also understand that each person looking for a home has different styles, wants and desires. At the end of the day, we want each home owner to be satisfied and proud of the home they purchased, either with an RTM or a custom site built home.

If you would like to discuss this further and are deciding between an RTM and a custom built home, give us a call, or even fill out our contact form here. We will reach out to you! We appreciate you reading this and look forward to hearing from you.