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It's a renovation rebound for 2012

Paul Golini Jr.
The Toronto Star
May 19, 2012

While most of my previous columns focus on residential new home construction and its impact on the economy, I think it's time to take a look at some of the recent accomplishments of a very prominent industry affecting homeowners: home renovation.

It may surprise some of you, but the home-renovation industry is worth about $66 billion and accounts for 56 per cent of all residential construction investment across Canada, a fact that's been overshadowed by the success of the new home construction market here in the GTA.

Much like new homes, though, the renovation industry is changing. Following the success of the highrise market in 2007, not to mention last year, homeowners and buyers in the GTA are shifting gears and embracing condominium living. But while the talk of the town focuses on new condo construction, condominium renovation has become a popular choice for people looking to upgrade their homes while remaining in their favourite neighbourhoods.

In fact, BILD has recently introduced a new category-- Best Condominium Renovation-- to its Renovation and Custom Home Awards as a way of recognizing the growing number of RenoMark renovators embracing the increasing demand for condo renos. Winners from our latest Awards presentation can be found by visiting the GTA secion of renomark.ca.

So what's the renovation industry's success story?

About three million people used the 2009 reno tax credit.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the success of the eco Energy Retrofit program, which provided homeowners with with an incentive of up to $5,000 to upgrade the existing housing stock across Canada with things like energy-efficient windows, furnaces and more. The number of homeowners that took advantage of the incentive hit 250,000 nationwide, despite the harsh economic conditions of 2008-09.

In a recent analysis of the Homeowner Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC), which was introduced in the 2009 federal budget and expired in January 2010, about three million homeowners took advantage of that incentive. It resulted in an 18 per cent increase in renovation spending for the duration of the program, eventually carrying over into the following year.

While home renovation dipped following the end of the HRTC, I think it can be credited with the 2011 resurgence of the renovation industry, which experts believe is now back on track with an expected growth rate of about 4 per cent over the next few years.

A contributing factor would, of course, be a permanent renovation tax credit. The province seems to be working on something of the sort.

In Ontario, a Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit was proposed earlier this year. The program, a permanent, refundable tax credit, would be worth up to $1,500 each year, calculated as 15 per cent of up to $10,000 in eligible home renovation expenses that would improve the lifestyle of senior homeowners in Canada.

In any case, with a government incentive or not, my advice is to seek out the help of a professional contractor. That's where the national RenoMark program comes in.

Originally launched by BILD in the GTA in 2001, RenoMark has rapidly grown to 32 markets across seven provinces, becoming a highly respected brand of professional renovators who abide by a national code of ethics, as well as a renovation-specific code of conduct. The latter specifies that the contractor will provide the homeowner with a detailed, written contract, offer a minimum two-year warranty, carry a minimum $2 million in liability insurance, and hold all applicable licences and certificates.

Simply visit renomark.ca to see if a RenoMark program is administered in area, then use the "Find a Renovator" tool. GTA residents can even customize their search to find the trade contractor specific to their needs.

With the way the renovation industry is going, professional renovators are in high demand, so be sure to give yourself some time. Don't expect to find the right contractor a mere month before you start your project.

Much like buying a home, a renovation is one of the biggest investments you'll ever make. Take your time to make sure the person you hire for the job is one that's right for you.

Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 02:00PM by Registered CommenterElaine in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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