Trends in Renovations: How Canadians are Spending on Their Homes

Wednesday Apr 07th, 2021



Having spent more than a year indoors as a result of lockdowns, the desire among Canadians to make changes to their living spaces has never been more palpable. Homeowners have been reworking their properties to accommodate more of their needs, creating home offices out of guest bedrooms, and finishing basements to make room for spin studios. 

In its 2020 Special Edition COVID-19 Reno Report, home service review site HomeStars found that 80% of survey respondents were still planning to take on home projects despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tania Richardson, co-founder and CEO of the Toronto-based Tomas Pearce Interior Design, predicts the momentum from 2020’s home renovation boom will continue throughout 2021.

unfinished room during renovations
Image via Pexels

“The obvious [things] that people are adding to their home are home officeshomework spacesgyms,” said Richardson. “We are seeing a rise of extra bathroom and kitchen renovations, and people are really spending a lot of time in their backyards, and we’re hearing the word ‘backyard oasis’ often.”

Richardson walks us through some of the most notable home renovations and improvements that have surged in popularity during the pandemic. 

Backyard updates—for both the parents and the kids

With international travel and tourism off the agenda for now, families are finding new ways to vacation at home. Richardson explains homeowners are investing more time and money into their backyards these days. 

“We’re seeing everything from decks to gazebos to hot tubs to pools to treehouses—really enjoying and embracing our backyards year-round, whether it’s a fire pit or exterior heaters,” she said.

Outdoor patio lit with fairy lights
Image via Unsplash

Nearly half of the respondents in HomeStars’ 2020 report said they took advantage of their extra time at home to make outdoor updates, like adding landscaping or installing pools and playgrounds. Creating livable spaces and privacy with the use of fencing, Richardson says, is common as homeowners continue to spend a lot more time in their backyards. Demographically speaking, the backyard features homeowners want to add vary, she explains—families with children look into adding elaborate playsets and elements their little ones can interact with. 

“In adult settings, we’re seeing big pizza ovens and barbecue stations and outdoor kitchen and living rooms, and things like that where people can really marry their interior and exterior and find a little more extended living space,” Richardson said.  

Making room for a home office

In March 2020, tens of thousands of Canadians suddenly found themselves trading the office cubicle for the dining room table. Many remote workers have had to find ways to carve out a workspace in their home, whether it be a dedicated room or a simple desk setup. 

For urban dwellers and those living with limited square footage specifically, Richardson explains the task isn’t just about putting together a home office, but also exploring ways to create multi-purpose spaces that can provide flexibility outside of working hours.

Top angle view of a living room with hardwood floors
Image via Unsplash

Finding creative ways to conceal workstations or introducing light fixtures with dimmer switches can aid in building a distinguishable work or living environment. Converting your office into an all-digital space can also help to cut down on the need for filing cabinets and printers.

“I think we’re really embracing how we can minimize our home offices so that they don’t consume our lives, and really having that physiological division of, ‘This is my workspace, versus, this is my living space,’” explained Richardson.

Newly renovated clean white kitchen
Image via James Bombales

If you’re looking to recoup some of the expenses of setting up your home office, Canadians who transitioned to working from home because of the pandemic are eligible to claim a new $400 tax credit to cover at-home office expenses.

Expanding the home’s footprint

Aside from the more obvious home office renovations, Richardson says upgrades and additions to kitchens and bathrooms have been surging too, along with the finishing or renovation of basements.

She points to the rise of cohabitation and the urban exodus trend, in which urbanites move to rural or suburban areas in search of more space and privacy, as potential driving factors behind the desire to add more interior space.

“I think that the pandemic is definitely facilitating a change in the way we structure our homes and the ways that we live in our homes,” she said.

Newly renovated clean white kitchen
Image via James Bombales

According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, renovating your bathroom or kitchen is one of the top five projects you can take on that will improve your home’s value and yield the highest return on investment (ROI). According to HomeStars, you can gain a 75 to 100% ROI for either one of these renovations.  

In their 2020 Reno Report, HomeStars noted big-ticket items like bathroom and basement renovations were popular among Canadians, with 16 and 10% of homeowners, respectively, undergoing a renovation of those spaces. When it comes to spending money on home renovations, 21% of survey respondents said they reallocated vacation funds or commuting costs to home improvement projects. 

Adding a bunkie to your backyard

If you don’t fancy knocking down any walls to make room for an office, you could try putting one at the foot of your garden. 

Richardson says that the popularity of backyard bunkies has been on the rise among homeowners. These little self-contained mini-houses can be added on your lot as an addition to the main residence, providing enough space for a cozy office unit, workout studio, or an extra living room. Their cost-effectiveness makes them a favourable option among those needing extra space. 

Bunkie in a backyard
Image via Pixabay

“People are putting in bunkies because there are prefab units available that are cost-efficient, and it’s essentially creating a little home office space outside of the home on the property,” said Richardson.

What to know before you renovate your home

If you’re considering making changes to your home this year, Richardson explains it’s important to research your local municipality’s building permits and local bylaws. 

“If you’re thinking about putting up a massive tree fort in your backyard [for example], you should understand what the local bylaws are,” she said.

Floor plans and drill on wood table
Image via Pexels

It’s also important to keep in mind that some building materials may be in shorter supply or take longer to acquire. Pressure-treated lumber, for instance, increased in price during 2020, HomeStars reported. Meanwhile, the pandemic also interrupted vital construction supply chains, which could delay timelines for future projects. 

If you’re looking for insight on how much value home renovations can add to your property, consult with your local Coldwell Banker Real Estate Agent today.

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