What Building and Renovating Homes Means to Ottawa in 2019

Valentine’s Day means different things to different people. For me, Valentine’s is an opportunity to take a moment to reflect on what others mean to us.

Here’s what the residential construction and renovation industry means to the City and people of Ottawa: jobs, economic growth across the city, and, most importantly, homes for our families.

Building and renovating homes is a significant engine of Ottawa’s economy – it means over 41,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in wages.

It also means $5 billion worth of economic activity across the capital.

2018 was the strongest year for new housing activity since 2002. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Ottawa saw 7,539 new home starts in 2018, a 1% increase over 2017.

The strength in housing over 2017, 2018 and going into 2019 is largely coming from pent-up demand. Between 2002 and 2016 the average number new home starts was 6,164 units, and over 2014, 2015 and 2016, construction activity was well below that.

The number of new homes added each year is important because it’s a significant factor in keeping prices reasonable.

The other big factor in keeping homes more affordable is the mix of housing types that builders offer across the city.

Ottawans can still choose from a good mix of new homes – across the city approximately one-third of new homes are singles, one-third rows and semis, and one-third apartments/condos (both of the low- and high-rise variety).

Ensuring sufficient supply and having a mix of housing available to Ottawa residents is crucial to protecting affordability.

The other half of the equation is renovations.

Of that $5 billion being invested in homes, just over half of it is spent on renovations, upgrades, repairs, and maintenance.

But renovations do so much more than just enhance a home’s value.

They also:

  • increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs;
  • improve accessibility and visitability;
  • enhance safety and allow people to stay in their homes longer as they age;
  • expand the livable space of a home; and
  • contribute to affordable housing by creating accessory and secondary suites.

All of these are objectives that the City wants to pursue in its housing stock. Considering that there are over 400,000 existing homes across Ottawa, there will need to be significant collaboration between the City and professional renovators as we create a vision for housing moving forward.

Jason Burggraaf, Executive Director

Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association

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