B.C. homeowners have renovating on their
B.C. homeowners have renovating on their minds
OK, readers, raise high your hands if you have ever spent money fixin' up your home - anything from a minor spruce-up to a major makeover.
Wow, millions of hands. I'm impressed! (Notice how I used my columnist's exaggeration superpowers to achieve the result I wanted.)
Challenging economy be damned, B.C. homeowners are expected to spend $7.6 billion this year on renovation, improvement and repair. And, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), that number is expected to increase to $7.8 billion in 2013. About half of that cash will be spent on home renovation projects throughout Metro Vancouver.
Every year, zillions (again, exaggeration for imagery) of new and improved products and services for the home are introduced to the marketplace. It truly is difficult keeping up with the advances. I'm often like a kid in a candy shop when I visit a building-supply outlet or home-improvement retailer.
Whether you are a homeowner or tenant, don't miss the Vancouver Home and Design Show, to be presented Oct. 11 to 14 at BC Place Stadium. Headliners are celebrity contractor Bryan Baeumler and affable designer Jillian Harris. (Visit www.vancouverhomeanddesignshow.com for details. I will also have much more in my next column on Western Canada's most-popular fall home show.)
If extravagant, decadent luxuries are your pleasure, you might want to pamper yourself by spending $60,000 for a hand-forged nickel bathtub made by Oregon artisans - installation extra.
How about a non-porous quartz sink that includes anti-microbial elements that fight the growth of odour-causing bacteria, mould and mildew? It's yours for $1,000, plus tax. Choose from six colours.
There are, of course, many items that don't cost nearly as much and can be a very attractive and cost-effective part of your home-improvement project. Some of them you can likely tackle yourself.
For example, my wife, Carolyn, and I wanted to add a square island to our rather spartan 1980s kitchen, but we didn't relish spending a lot of money on just one item, because we had also budgeted for a professional carpenter to add pantry cupboards, crown moulding around the room, new doors on the original cabinets, and decorative casings on the one window and sliding patio door.
Our solution was to purchase two ready-to-assemble tea trolleys, bolt them back to back, remove the wheels, add adjust-able legs, and attach a stainless-steel top, which we had a fabricator form over a two-inch plywood base that Carolyn and I fashioned with screws, glue and surprisingly, no tantrums.
Placing rattan containers in the open shelves, and utilizing the two doored and shelved cupboards, and two pullout drawers, we now have extra storage and an attractive centrepiece for the kitchen.
The cost was a tad under $500. We kept the two stainless-steel tops and eight industrial wheels that came with the trolleys to use on future projects. Two half-priced padded stools complete the picture.
But enough about the Missus and me. As evidenced by the potful of renovation dollars at play, British Columbian homeowners are in a make-over state of mind, despite the fact a brand new home, which comes tricked out with all the latest technology and features, is considered by many to be the ultimate renovation.
And if homeowners have neither the skills nor time to do the work themselves, it's crucial they do their homework and trust the work to a professional play-by-the-rules con-tractor and his or her team.
At a recent home renovation seminar presented by the Renovation Council of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association (GVHBA) and sponsored by BC Hydro, CMHC and FortisBC, the 300 homeowners who attended were asked to complete a questionnaire, providing us with valuable information regarding their renovation intentions, including the impact of the HST.
Actually, to prevent my pants from bursting into flames, full disclosure - only 180 forms were handed in as couples in attendance understandably worked together to complete one questionnaire.
Following are the responses to key questions:
56 per cent of respondents indicated they plan to renovate within 12 months; 26 per cent said 12 to 18 months and 11 per cent said 18 to 24 months. Seven per cent plan to start a renovation in two years.
65 per cent of respondents indicated they are not placing their renovation plans on hold until the HST transitions back to the PST/GST. However, more than a third - 35 per cent - are going to wait.
71 per cent of respondents revealed contractors had not offered them a discount for an under-the-table cash deal. Disturbingly, 29 per cent said a cash deal was offered to them. Perhaps its time for the B.C. government to consider a time-limited provincial tax credit to neutralize the impact of PST.
83 per cent of the respondents believe the federal government should reinstate the popular Home Renovation Tax Credit. This response speaks for itself. The feds and province should find ways to mitigate the burgeoning underground cash economy, which places home-owners at significant risk.
Most respondents are planning kitchen (22 per cent) and bathroom (18 per cent) renovations. Ten per cent want their basements renovated, while nine per cent have plans for the entire house.
Eight per cent plan to spend less than $10,000 on their home renovations; 32 per cent, $10,000 to $50,000; 30 per cent, $50,000 to $100,000; 12 per cent, $100,000 to $150,000; seven per cent, $150,000 to $200,000; 11 per cent, more than $200,000.
59 per cent of the respondents revealed they will not require financing to pay for their renovations.
79 per cent of the homeowners admitted they are not aware of the LiveSmart BC program, which provides incentives for a multitude of energy upgrades, is available until March 31, 2013, while 91 per cent said they will now participate in the program or encourage someone else to participate. Visit www.livesmartbc.ca/rebates for details.
When asked if they were considering new gas appliances in their renovation plans, 24 per cent indicated range/cook-top; 23 per cent, fireplace; 19 per cent, furnace; 18 per cent, water heater.
48 per cent of the respondents plan to include energy-efficient or green features; 46 per cent are unsure, and only seven per cent said they do not.
70 per cent of the respondents will definitely hire a contractor to do the work, and will consider a GVHBA RenoMark contractor. Twenty-five per cent are undecided.
100 per cent of the respondents believe it is important to have a signed contract that clearly spells out the roles and responsibilities of both the contractor and homeowner. Outstanding!
The next free seminar will be held on Nov. 20 at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver. If you are considering renovating, this - along with the home show - is a must-attend event. Visit www.gvhba.org for details. Incidentally, 100 per cent of the respondents consider GVHBA to be a credible source of housing information.