Spring Reno Fever

It’s no surprise home renovations are on the minds of many Canadians in spring. It is after all, a time of renewal.

But this year it appears more Canadians are in the reno mood according to findings in the Scotiabank Mortgage Landscape Study. It says 44 per cent of Canadian homeowners are planning significant renovations to their homes in the next two years.

The survey found Canadian homeowners would most like to renovate their kitchen (33 per cent) followed by the bathroom (16 per cent) and the basement (16 per cent). One of those homeowners is Robert Heidmiller of Airdrie. Heidmiller recently completed a kitchen renovation in the home he shares with his fiancée Jody Paterson.

“Our old cabinets were made of MDF, they were ugly, terrible,” he said.

Since they purchased their home three years ago, Heidmiller and Paterson have been continually renovating and adding to the space. They make time during evenings and weekends while working fulltime during the day. The kitchen reno involved replacing the flooring and cabinets as well as painting, and the couple has also installed new flooring throughout the main floor, added new light fixtures, rebuilt the basement bathroom and constructed a new deck and fence.

While ambitious do-it-yourselfers like Heidmiller and Paterson are wielding hammers and paint rollers, professionals in Calgary’s renovation industry are also fully deployed helping other homeowners.

Painter Scott Appleby of Appleby Painting in Calgary said his company has been “very busy” lately.

“The easiest way to put it is we deliver a pretty high-quality product I think and I think customers demand that (high-quality) more so we’re getting more people who are interested in our services,” he said.

Appleby said six months of his year is comprised primarily of exterior projects but the most common interior requests are people having their main floor walls painted.

“The kitchen, living area, entry areas — just to spiff things up — those are the areas that get the most wear too,” he said.

For the do-ityourselfer, Appleby recommended www.paintingadvice.ca, a forum where would-be painters can get tips from the pros like the Calgary painter on everything from staining exterior decks to painting over oak.

In the Scotiabank study, 93 per cent of homeowners planning to renovate said they knew how they’d finance their project. Of those, 62 per cent cited cash savings and 29 per cent planned to draw on a line of credit.

“From painting a room to replacing your kitchen, financing a renovation should be based on your goals with budget and timeline being key to the whole process,” said David Strafford, managing director of Real Estate Secured Lending at Scotiabank. “The top three things to remember are understand what you can afford, have a budget and stick to your plan.”

Scotiabank also recommends eco-friendly renovations in order to add value to homes as well as saving homeowners money over the long term. The bank has an EcoLiving Home Energy Savings Calculator to help Canadians calculate home energy costs and see savings that can be achieved through specific energy efficient projects and practices (CREB®’s HomeSmarts is also worth a visit for energy efficient practices at www.creb.com/homesmarts).

“Renovations can add great value to your home and when you choose environmentally friendly renovation options, you can save energy, water and money,” said Kaz Flinn, vice-president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Scotiabank. “Making your home energy efficient will be a benefit that will continue to pay off over the years.”

In a 2012 report released by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadians spent $20.9 billion in 10 major markets across the country in 2011. The report found 95 per cent of renovations were room remodels followed by painting or wallpapering (54 per cent) and renovations involving plumbing fixtures (38 per cent). The least popular renovation project in 2011 was installing built-in appliances (12 per cent).

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