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Growing home renovation industry helps boost economy

Martin Slofstra

You can get a good deal on a rental property if you are not afraid of renovation.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit

I recently read an Altus Group Housing Report and I was impressed to learn that Canadians spent nearly $77.7 billion last year on residential renovations across the country. In 2017, the value of upgrades to Canadian homes totalled $59.1 billion, virtually matching spending on new home construction.

When the $18.6 billion in home repairs are added on the renovation side, total renovation spending in 2017 accounted for 57 per cent of all residential construction.The 2016 Census identified about 920,5000 existing housing units that were in need of major work. The list included such things as defective plumbing or electrical wiring, structural repairs to walls, floors and ceilings.

This should not come as a surprise as the need for major work increases with the age of the home. More than half the homes requiring substatial renovations were built between 1946 and 1980, when home construction dramatically increased to accomodate returning World War II veterans and as the first half of the baby boomers entered the housing market.

The renovation industry is expected to continue to grow at a record pace, meaning that there will be an influx of entrepreneurs looking to take advantage in the growth of the industry. Furthermore, there will be more pressure on municipalities to process building applications.

I’ve talked about the RenoMark program in past opinion peieces and discussed how all RenoMark renovators must abide by the RenoMark Code of Conduct. It requires renovators to offer a minimum two-year warranty on all work, carry a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance and provide a detailed written contract. I encourage you to visit and educate yourself on the RenoMark Code of Conduct.

To expedite the increase of new building applications, BILD is working with municipal governments to find innovative ways to make it easier for home owners toobtain building permits and reduce the lengthy approval processes. That is why we wrote our own Renovation Service Standard of Excellence that was presented to the City of Toronto, outlining a practical system that would streamline building permits and inspections.

By adopting a Standard of Service Excellence municipalities would speed up new building and homeowner renovations. Under this standard municipalities would:

Commit to reasonable turnaround time and a specific timeframe for building permit applications measured in weeks, not months.Implement a web-based, one-window permitting portal that makes the application process smoother and provides transparency and accountability for the stage a permit is at.Improve service by building inspectors. Inspectors should be accessible to renovators via mobile phone, providing reliable timeframes (two-hour windows) for inspections.

We can do better if we all work together. As the municipal elections approach, BILD encourages all municipalites to adopt a Standard of Service Excellence. Visit and send a message to your local council or mayoral candidate.

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