Ren­o­va­tion in­dus­try con­tin­ues to be strong

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - Iy 5ike 5oore

IN the past two months, both Sco­tia­bank and TD Eco­nom­ics have pub­lished re­ports on the state of the ren­o­va­tion in­dus­try in Canada. Why? Ren­o­va­tion is good busi­ness and a ma­jor eco­nomic driver.

Thanks in part to HGTV and nu­mer­ous shows, col­umns and pub­li­ca­tions, Cana­di­ans have be­come much more aware of home im­prove­ment. In fact, we have in­creased ren­o­va­tion spend­ing by seven per cent a year ev­ery year since 2003, to over $5 bil­lion.

In Win­nipeg, we lead the na­tion in ren­o­va­tion think­ing. A re­cent sur­vey found that 58 per cent of our cit­i­zens have a ren­o­va­tion project planned for the com­ing year. We’re tied with St. John’s, New­found­land, for tops in the coun­try. This is no sur­prise since we have the third-old­est hous­ing stock in Canada, trail­ing only Hal­i­fax and Mon­treal. Lo­cally, ris­ing home sales over the past four years have also en­cour­aged ren­o­va­tion spend­ing. It’s quite com­mon for peo­ple to pre­pare their homes for the mar­ket­place by up­grad­ing cer­tain ba­sic as­pects. Sim­i­larly, when buy­ing a re­sale home, most home­buy­ers have a num­ber of im­prove­ments they plan to do, many be­fore they even oc­cupy the home. Through nor­mal ap­pre­ci­a­tion of value in the hous­ing mar­ket, home­own­ers have in­creased the ca­pac­ity of their home-eq­uity lines of credit, which have been used ex­ten­sively for ren­o­va­tion projects.

The ren­o­va­tion in­dus­try sur­vives in good times and bad. Dur­ing the fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2008-09, it was the only ma­jor com­po­nent of GDP that man­aged to grow in 2009. Of course, much of that was due to the Home Ren­o­va­tion Tax Credit stim­u­lus, but it’s im­pres­sive. Low in­ter­est rates have con­tin­ued to en­cour­age ren­o­va­tion spend­ing or, as I pre­fer to call it, ren­o­va­tion in­vest­ment.

Since 2003, the three prairie prov­inces have seen the most growth in ren­o­va­tion spend­ing, com­men­su­rate with the fact they have also seen the most growth in new home con­struc­tion. Restora­tion ef­forts in Cal­gary and Toronto have sup­ported re­build­ing ef­forts.

We’re also see­ing changes to ex­ist­ing homes based on de­mo­graph­ics. As we all age, se­niors are look­ing to ren­o­va­tions that will im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity, en­abling them to stay in their homes longer.

All fore­casts call for the ren­o­va­tion sec­tor to re­main a vi­brant part of the Cana­dian econ­omy.

Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Man­i­toba Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

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