It’s fitting that a fifth anniversary is celebrated with wood, considering it is one of the most traditional and popular renovation materials. Since 2019, our annual Reno Reports have examined the behaviour, attitudes, trends and intentions of Canadian homeowners who have renovated in the last 12 months. It also looks ahead – to renovation plans in the next 12 months. Our comprehensive report has become a trusted resource for media, researchers and homeowners, alike, and we are thrilled to share our latest findings with you.
Sadly, Canadian economic conditions have worsened compared to last year. With homeowners experiencing intense household financial pressure. This is mostly due to inflation, which is somewhat lower but still persistent after two years of cost of living increases. In turn, the Bank of Canada has increased interest rates, which puts pressure on consumer borrowing for mortgages and other large loans, previously some of the go-to’s for home renovation financing.
Despite this, our research shows that Canadians are still optimistic about renovations in general. Only one in three homeowners we surveyed were putting renovation plans on hold this year due to the increase in interest rates. On average, the Canadian homeowners we surveyed spent $12,300 on renovations in the past 12 months. Anticipated spending in the next 12 months will likely be down however, at $10,264 on average, not surprising considering the economic environment.
While the future of the Canadian economy is difficult to predict and somewhat uncertain, we did find that 73% of homeowners surveyed do plan to do at least one renovation in the next 12 months. This speaks to Canadians’ overall continued desire to improve their living aesthetic and functionality.
Aside from the economy, there is another possible reason we are anticipating less spending and smaller projects. Weather-related emergency repairs and renovations have been a priority so far this year. In the first half of this year alone, we have witnessed out of control wildfires burning across the country, in addition to catastrophic flooding on the East coast. Our survey found that 32% of Canadians, almost a third, were forced to do renovations as a result of severe weather, surely impacting where they had anticipated spending on their homes. We expect to see this trend grow over the next several years, unfortunately.
Another trend that is receiving attention is sustainable or “green” products. While Canadians seem to love the idea, they aren’t putting it into practice in a meaningful way. Read on for more interesting insights, including where Canadians would live if they could drop their home anywhere in the country, neighbour disputes over renovations, as well as their favourite house style - hint hint, it’s not mid-century modern.
From our home to yours,
CEO of HomeStars
|Average spend on renovations in the past 12 months was $12,300 - this is anticipated to fall slightly to $10,264 in the coming 12 months ahead.|
|One third of homeowners (32%) had completed emergency repairs due to weather-related events, peaking in Atlantic Canada at 41% due to catastrophic flooding.|
|Almost a quarter of homeowners prefer the Modern Farmhouse as their number one home aesthetic, followed closely by Ranch/Bungalow style homes.|
|The majority of respondents (79%) stated that sustainability was “important” when choosing building materials for renovations, but only 59% who renovated in the past 12 months have used green products.|
|While 15% of homeowners bought or sold a primary property in the last 12 months, only 28% bought a fixer-upper vs 44% in 2022, indicating they are buying newer or previously renovated homes.|
|79% of Canadian homeowners surveyed had the cash on hand to pay for renovations.|
|Just over one in three (34%) plan to postpone planned renovations due to rising interest rates.|
|Nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) plan to do at least one home renovation in the next 12 months.|
Canadians continue to show their love of renovating, with 96% of those surveyed having undertaken indoor renovations in the last year and 73% planning to do so in the next 12 months. By far the most important motivator for renovating was to refresh the look and feel and improve the aesthetic and function at 59%, followed by improving outdoor space for better enjoyment at 32%.
Painting the interior, installing new appliances and renovating bathrooms were the nation’s top jobs overall. In an emerging trend, exterior painting was up to 11% from 8% in 2022.
Outdoors, there is an upward trend in patios and decks, water features and pools since 2022. One-in-five homeowners in British Columbia have painted the exterior of their houses in the past year, nearly double compared to other regions. In the Atlantic provinces, homeowners installed new roofs and new HVAC systems about twice as often in the last year as in other regions, likely due to weather-related issues.
In terms of anticipated renovation spending, it is predictably down. Last year, Canadian homeowners had planned to spend $25,222 on average over the following 12 months (close to double the amount in 2021), likely due to the renovation frenzy experienced during the pandemic. In reality our data shows that they ended up spending just under half this amount ($12,300). This year, the anticipated household spend figure is significantly less at $10,264 on average for the next 12 months, almost certainly due to inflationary and interest rate pressure. However, Canadians are still intent on spending; only just over one-third (34%) of the surveyed homeowners are planning to postpone renovations in the next 12 months due to rising interest rates.
The first half of 2023 will likely go down in history as one of the most tumultuous when it comes to weather in the country. According to Accuweather, 2023 is Canada’s worst wildfire season by far, with over 34 million hectares burned. British Columbia had the highest number of individual fires while Quebec had the highest acreage destroyed by fire.
In July, excessive rainfall in the East coast caused the worst flooding in 50 years and contributed to “unimaginable damage to homes” according to Reuters. Over 151 homes in the Halifax area alone have been lost, according to Global national news.
One-third (32%) of surveyed homeowners, including two-in-five (41%) in Atlantic Canada, completed at least one emergency repair in the past year due to weather emergencies. Roofing repairs were the most common emergency, at 11% nationally and 17% among homeowners in Atlantic Canada.
Over half (55%) of homeowners are contemplating making changes in response to the rise in weather-related events, the most popular being tree-trimming to protect their property followed by putting aside an emergency contingency fund for such events.
Moving to interior air quality, according to a recent news article, gas stoves burning natural gas can result in high levels of nitrogen oxides in the home. The article cited that 42% of children in homes with gas ranges can experience increased risk of asthma. When asked about this, surprisingly 55% of homeowner respondents classified the risk of poor air quality due to gas ranges as “negligible or non-existent”.
In a similar vein, only one in five homeowners classified the risk to air quality from wood burning fireplaces to be “severe or moderate”. One can only assume that interior air quality is simply not a top concern for Canadian homeowners, given that only one third of respondents (36%) use air purifiers in their homes. This is despite related stories becoming more frequent in the media. From a regional perspective, British Columbia leads the use of air purifiers with 41%, no doubt due to poor air quality because of wildfires.
With rising financial pressure in the country, how are Canadians financing their renovations? It turns out we are great savers as upwards of 79% of Canadians surveyed had the cash on hand to finance their renovations. The province with the biggest warchest was Alberta, with the vast majority (85%) of Albertans having the cash on hand, outpacing the national average.
Of the 21% of homeowners we surveyed looking for outside financing for at least part of their project, by far the most popular was a line of credit at 59%, followed closely by credit cards at 38%. Traditional bank loans ranked very low at only 4%.
Turns out Canadians share a lot more with their American neighbours than a border - they love the same home design too! When asked to choose their favourite house style, the Modern Farmhouse aesthetic reigned supreme at 23%! The style was most popular among the younger respondents (those aged 23-39) at 28% and least popular among the 60+ group at 16%.
A popular choice on home design shows, with its white board and batten siding, large black framed windows and covered porch, the updated classic was recently featured in the New York Times as the “house of the moment” and shows no sign of slowing down.
Coming in at a close second was Ranch/Bungalow style (22%), followed by Contemporary Design/Modern at 15%.
The least popular choice was a glass condo penthouse with just 3% of votes. Turns out skyhigh panoramic views and the prestige of the top floor weren’t enough to entice people. Of course while there are many benefits to condo living, even the swankiest of suites come with some complexity, due to the bureaucratic nature of condo boards. Or perhaps, after years of living with COVID-19, the idea of residing in close quarters with shared amenities is less appealing and has shaped how we want to live.
If you could pull a real life “Up” and move your house to the geographical location of your dreams (without being tethered to a bunch of balloons, of course), where would you go? We asked Canadian homeowners just that and it turns out we love the water. Whether it’s the calming sound of waves or the close proximity to water activities, lakeside living took the top spot at 30%, followed by oceanside living at 23%. Coming in a not-so-close third was living in a mountainous region at 11%.
When looking at the choices regionally, lakeside was most popular among respondents from Ontario, followed by Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Oceanside was the top pick for Atlantic Canada and British Columbia and the mountainous region was overwhelmingly chosen by residents of Alberta.
We may love the idea of sustainability, but are we putting our money where our mouths are? Sort of.
An impressive four in five Canadians, 79%, stated that sustainability was “important” when choosing building materials for renovating and making renovation decisions. However, only 59% who renovated in the past 12 months have used green products, the most popular being energy efficient appliances (30%), followed by low VOC paint (22%).
In addition, Canadians homeowners we surveyed indicated they were willing to slightly increase their budgets to ensure their renovations were “green” and/or sustainable with 55% saying they would pay at least 5% extra. But that’s not all, 39% of homeowner respondents stated that they’d be influenced to hire a service professional if they had green credentials or experience with sustainable renovations. Does gender play a part? It seems that it does, with females far more influenced to hire a service provider with green credentials or experience at 45% compared to their male counterparts at 33%.
Regionally, Albertans were both least willing to spend extra on green/sustainable renovations and also significantly less influenced to hire service professionals with “green” credentials (28%, compared to the national average of 39%).
Ontarians lead the pack when it comes to smart home technology with 72% owning at least one smart home product (a significant increase from the national average of 66%). Three-quarters of households with kids had smart home products.
Smart thermostats led the charge with 33% of national respondents having one installed in their homes, followed closely by Internet-based home assistant (i.e. Alexa, Google Nest) at 32% and Video doorbell/Security camera at 30%.
Last year, we witnessed a record-hot real estate market, but it has since cooled and according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, listings had fallen to a 20-year low from April to June. It is expected that buyers will wait on large purchases until there is a clear indication from the Bank of Canada on interest rates.
We have noted that for two years running now, only a small percentage of homeowners were planning to move within the next year. In 2022, 76% of homeowners did not intend to move and this year, we found that only 15% of Canadians had bought or sold a primary property in the last 12 months.
Regionally, British Columbians were most active on the real estate front, almost doubling Atlantic Canada (20% vs 10%).
There was also a significant shift in the types of homes purchased, with only 28% choosing a fixer-upper/property that needed renovations. This is a drastic decrease from the 2022 Reno Report findings which had 44% of respondents purchasing a home that needs work. New or renovated homes were most likely to be purchased by the highest income households (those over $100k) where affordability was naturally less of a barrier.
In addition, among respondents who had purchased a property, around one-third (39%) sacrificed the area they wanted in order to get a larger home or one in better condition.
If given the choice, close to one-third (31%) of respondents would consider sacrificing some square footage if a smaller home or condo had higher-end, luxury finishes.
It seems that, for now, major renovations are out and move-in-ready is in.
Of the respondents across Canada, 16% own an income property with homeowners in British Columbia leading the way as landlords at 21%. British Columbians were also the most interested in laneway housing with 50% open to building a laneway home for personal use or extra income if space and money were not a concern. This is considerably higher than the national average at 36%.
Currently, the majority (82%) of homeowner respondents across the country live with their immediate family only, however, in the next 10 years one-quarter (25%) say they are likely to live in a multigenerational household. As these living scenarios are expected to rise in popularity, updates to the home are almost certain. Perhaps anticipating a demand, the federal government introduced a tax credit for multi-generational renovations last year, which provides a one-time 15% tax refund for renovation costs up to $50,000.
The results also showed that in the next decade, families with older children are also aware and perhaps preparing for their brood to return, with 25% indicating they may have adult children move home due to financial pressure.
These findings are indicative of the ongoing affordable housing crisis we are experiencing where the cost of living has skyrocketed and both aging-in-place, as well as home ownership for the younger generation, is looking more out of reach than ever before.
Undergoing a renovation can sometimes be a stressful experience, between navigating unexpected costs, delays, or even unreliable service professionals. However, there is one more wild card that can sometimes come up when living in close quarters to others - and that is your neighbours.
Approximately one tenth (12%) of surveyed homeowners have been in a dispute or disagreement with a neighbour over a home project or renovation. Regionally, British Columbians and Ontarians were most likely to find themselves in this scenario at 16% and 13%, respectively. The numbers are surprisingly low considering it seems like we all know someone who has taken issue with their neighbours, but maybe Canadians keep their gripes to themselves?
The most common issue for those who experienced disputes or disagreements was over property lines with respect to a proposed deck or fence at 46%. Coming in second was a lack of respect shown to neighbours property (27%) followed by mess and debris at 25%.
Of course, in an ideal world you avoid disputes entirely. The best way to do this is to communicate with your neighbours: Be clear, respectful and give significant notice so they can plan and prepare for any potential inconvenience.
Trust in professionals doing renovation work is essential to homeowners, as three-quarters (67%) are willing to pay more for services from a professional they trust. A reassuring 69% of homeowners say they are confident that they were charged a fair price by a professional they hired.
We found that over half (52%) of surveyed homeowners, including two-thirds (64%) under the age of 40, say they tend to put off completing home projects when there’s uncertainty about the cost. Cash aside, sometimes contractors are hard to find. For example, over half of respondents in Atlantic Canada had trouble hiring a contractor, mostly due to long backlogs, which makes sense considering the high number of roof installations and HVAC system replacements that were required due to wet weather.
With over 830,000 reviews from coast to coast, HomeStars is Canada’s largest network of verified and community-reviewed home service professionals. Each review is verified by a team to ensure accuracy, allowing homeowners to confidently hire right the first time, for every home renovation or repair project. HomeStars includes a Star Score rating on each business that takes into account the overall rating, recency, reputation and responsiveness. Another differentiator is the Verification badge, which means that the service professional has undergone criminal background and financial checks. With these safeguards in place, HomeStars helps Canadian homeowners with a free resource that allows them to hire confidently.
These are the findings of a survey conducted by HomeStars from July 20 to July 27, 2023, with a sample of n=1,105 Canadian homeowners aged 23 years or older (excluding Quebec) who completed at least one home renovation or repair in the past year. All respondents were members of the online Angus Reid Forum, and the survey was conducted in English. Regional boosts were added to reach a minimum of 200 completions each in Alberta and British Columbia, and 100 completes in Atlantic Canada.
The additional re-contact findings of the survey conducted by HomeStars from June 3 to June 8, 2022, with a sample of n= 985 Canadian homeowners (excluding Quebec) who completed at least one home renovation or repair in the past year. All respondents were customers of HomeStars, and the survey was conducted in English.
HomeStars is Canada’s largest online marketplace connecting homeowners with trusted home service professionals. In 2022, 7 million homeowners visited HomeStars looking for a pro for their next home improvement project. HomeStars was created in 2006 to help homeowners make better hiring decisions. HomeStars is based in Toronto, Ontario, and is an operating business of Angi, Inc. (NASDAQ: ANGI). To learn more, visit @HomeStars on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
‘Many, many destroyed homes’: The devastation left by the wildfire near Halifax” - June 6, 2023
“Canadian wildfires have burned 34 million acres, new data shows” - August 17, 2023
“Nova Scotia floods cause 'unimaginable' damage; four people missing”- July 24, 2023
“Testing New York Apartments: How Dirty Is That Gas Stove, Really?” - May 30, 2023
“The Modern Farmhouse Is Today’s McMansion. And It’s Here to Stay.” - July 7, 2023
“Condo residents need stronger consumer protections” - February 27, 2023
“Federal tax credit for multi-generational home renovations good start but not enough, experts say” - January 10, 2023
“Riskiest scams in Canada come from home renovations, cryptocurrency: BBB” - March 6, 2023