Why Canadians are renovating their homes during the pandemic

Jessy Bains
·3-min read
Kitchen upgrades are among the most popular renovations (Getty)
Kitchen upgrades are among the most popular renovations (Getty)

More than a year into a pandemic that forced millions to work remotely, Canadians with nowhere to go are increasingly fixing up their homes.

A new poll by Scotiabank found over half of respondents said they plan to renovate their homes. It found homeowners are more likely to renovate their current home than to sell and buy a new one. The poll also found six in 10 homeowners plan to renovate within the next two years.

Of the homeowners planning renovations, one in four plans to start within the next six months. Most intend to use personal savings, swollen from curtailed spending on other things due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The poll found the top three renovation plans are for backyards (33 per cent), bathrooms (30 per cent) and kitchens (28 per cent).

Renovating to improve homes, not to sell

The findings are in line with a separate poll conducted by RE/MAX, which found a similar trend playing out in 2020. More than half of respondents said they renovated their homes last year and planned to live in them.

Demand for materials like lumber has been so high, it has led to supply shortages and soaring prices.

Only 16 per cent said they renovated to increase the value of their home with a view to selling it within 1-3 years, while 29 per cent upgraded to enhance aesthetic or recreational appeal. Another 29 per cent said renovations were for safety and maintenance reasons.

With that said, 59 per cent said they consider the return on investment when planning renovations.

"The notion of the home as an investment continues to be an important consideration for Canadian homeowners; however, they clearly value the home for what it is meant to be: a place to live and enjoy spending time," said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, RE/MAX of Western Canada, in a release.

"The pandemic has influenced virtually every aspect of our lives, including what Canadians want and need in a home. The uncertainty also compelled many sellers to move to the sidelines or renovate their home to accommodate current quality-of-life needs, which has further tightened market conditions."

Most respondents (70 per cent) said redesigning larger spaces such as kitchens or washrooms gives the best return on investment.

Upgrading to age at home

Another poll from HomeStars found similarly high portions of respondents planning to renovate their homes.

It also found that only 6 per cent of respondents planned renovations to upgrade their work-from-home or home school setups.

Another finding, which could contribute to an already tight housing market, is that 50 per cent said renovations are meant to allow them to age more comfortably in their homes. This isn’t surprising, considering 79 per cent of respondents said they plan to age at home.

The most popular age-related upgrades are installing smart home technology (32 per cent), followed by a tie between curbless shower and walk-in bathtub (12 per cent), and the installation of grab bars (10 per cent).

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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