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It’s Time to Support Home Renovations

Renovation is a critical part of the residential construction industry that often doesn’t get talked about in terms of policy.


It won’t shock anyone who’s heard of lumber and other building material supply shortages that demand for renovations has gone up during the pandemic.


This is partly due to all of us being home more and not spending our discretionary funds on vacations and the like.


But demand for renovations was also going up before the pandemic – partially because of increasing home prices. Many who couldn’t afford to move to a more desirable home instead chose or are choosing to invest in renovating their current home.


So how much are we spending on renovations? The numbers are telling:


  • In 2019, Ottawans spent an average of $76 million a month on renovating their homes.


  • In 2020, Ottawans spent an average of $116 million a month – and that includes the initial period of the pandemic where the industry was in partial shutdown.


  • In the seven months since full renovation activities have been allowed, Ottawans have been spending an average of $135 million a month on renos.


Approximately 230,000 of the 400,000 existing homes across the City were built before 1990, so it’s all the more critical that policy discussions around renovations get it right.


In November the provincial government announced a Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit. According to the 2016 census, 40% of households in Ottawa are headed by someone 55 or over. We hope to see a similar credit introduced at the federal level.


We also want to see homeowner incentives from both levels of government for retrofits that improve the energy-efficiency of a home.


Last year the first Net Zero Energy renovation home was certified in Calgary. The home, originally built in 1985, can produce at least as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis, which will become the National Building Code standard for new homes in 2030. This is a critical to seeing if there’s viability in deeply retrofitting older homes.


Finally, the City of Ottawa is considering ways making it easier and more affordable for homeowners to pay for energy efficiency improvements. One of the more popular programs out there would allow the cost of the renovation to be amortized over a number of years on your property tax (which could also carry over to the next owner), as opposed to being completely paid for upfront by the existing homeowner. This would significantly improve the return on investment for energy-efficiency renovations.


Are you looking for a bit of inspiration before making a call to a professional renovator? Visit and you can virtually walk through 8 different renovation projects from across Ottawa.

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