Are you planning a home renovation? Chances are your neighbor is, according to a recent survey by In the next two years, 72 per cent of Canadian homeowners surveyed are planning to decorate or redecorate, 40 per cent are building an addition or remodeling, and another 11 per cent are planning to have a custom home built.


What Do Kitchen & Bath Renovations Cost?

What are Canadian homeowners spending to improve their kitchens and bathrooms? Nationally, Canadians are spending an average of $23,300 Canadian to upgrade their kitchen cabinets, appliances and workspace. Bathrooms are smaller investments, with Canadians investing an average of $9,100 to remodel everything from plumbing fixtures to tile and lighting. Americans are spending an average of $27,000 U.S. on kitchens, and $11,300 on bathrooms.


These averages however don't reflect the regional diversity when it comes to these projects. Calgary residents are investing the most in their kitchens, spending an average of $32,200, while Vancouver homeowners are spending $22,200, almost $10,000 less and slightly below average. Spending outside of major metropolitan areas average $19,500. Montreal homeowners are the biggest spenders on bathrooms, investing $11,500 on average, and Toronto is close behind at $10,500. While big spenders on kitchens, Calgary homeowners are spending the least on their bathrooms, averaging $7,500.


The survey also found that remodeling kitchens and bathrooms are top priority for Canadian homeowners, and also for their American counterparts. In the next two years, 50 per cent of Canadian homeowners on Houzz are planning to remodel their bathrooms, and 48 per cent are renovating a kitchen. This compares favorably to the 33 per cent of homeowners surveyed who remodeled their kitchen in the last five years, and the 40 per cent who remodeled a bathroom.


But Canadian homeowners are approaching their projects differently than homeowners in the U.S.; not just what they spend but also how they get it done.


Popular Projects

While kitchen remodeling and bathroom remodeling are #1 and #2 on Canadian project lists, what other priorities are Canadians planning? In the next two years, Canadians are also planning to take on flooring (44 per cent), replacing windows and doors (32 per cent), living room/family room additions or remodels (31 per cent), and patios and landscapes (31 per cent). These priorities are similar to those in the U.S., though Americans are focusing significantly more on their patio and landscape projects than on living room/family room renovations.

Regionally, Calgary residents surveyed are planning more custom homes and additions, as compared to other Canadians surveyed. 17 per cent built a custom home in the last five years, vs. 12 per cent for all Canadian homeowners on Houzz, and 49 per cent built an addition. 59 per cent of Calgary residents are planning a custom home build or remodel/addition in the next two years, as compared with 46 per cent of homeowners surveyed in Montreal and Toronto

Hands-on or Hiring Help?

Canadian homeowners on Houzz like to take a hands-on approach to their projects, and at a significantly higher rate than their U.S. counterparts. In fact, 76 per cent of Canadian respondents report doing some or all of the work themselves. They do however recognize when they need professional help. In the last five years, 61 per cent of respondents report hiring a general contractor, 50 per cent a carpet or flooring professional, 30 per cent a kitchen and bath professional, 24 percent an interior designer, 21 per cent a landscape professional, and 18 per cent and architect.


Regionally, Montreal residents surveyed are more likely than other Canadians to hire help for their projects, and to go over budget. They are also more likely to hire an architect than other Canadians. Edmonton residents by contrast are the least likely to hire an architect. Fifty-seven per cent of Montreal residents reported going over budget on their most recent remodeling project, a significantly larger group than the 44 per cent average for all Canadian respondents.


New Motivations & Financing Approaches

Most surprising among the survey findings are the motivations behind these projects. Even in the current economy, Canadians are remodeling to please themselves, not the next owner. When asked what is important to them when taking on their next project, 83 per cent of Canadian Houzz users cited improving the look, feel, flow and layout of their home, while only 56 per cent cited home value. Increasing home value, while second priority, is still more important to Canadians than Americans surveyed, only 47 per cent of who cited return on investment as important.


Canadians are still taking a conservative fiscal approach to projects; when it comes to financing, Canadians as a whole are saying "no" to loans -- only 14 per cent are planning to take out a line of credit. But they aren't willing to wait to renovate; 60 per cent say they will cut back on vacations, car purchases or other big-ticket items rather than delay a remodeling project.


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The province of Ontario has gone from criticizing the oilsands to increasing its efforts to capture their economic benefits.


Brad Duguid, Ontario's minister for economic development, says he plans to increase his department's attention to Alberta by adding more staff to deal with trade issues.


"I think we have a recognition that our relationship could be stronger. I think that we want to now move forward with the knowledge that the oilsands are important to Ontario's economy," Duguid told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.


He said he understands the value of the oilsands to Ontario business and estimated that value at $63 billion over the next 25 years.


"It may be a time for Ontario to increase our presence in the province of Alberta in terms of our business supports here," he said from Calgary. "We may want to look at having some more presence here in terms of staffing."


The Ontario government doesn't currently have an office in Alberta. A bureaucrat at the Ontario legislature spends part of his time dealing with Alberta files.


"The intent is move that to a full-time contact so that we've got more of a personal contact here — a good liaison between the business community in Ontario and Alberta."


A spokeswoman for Duguid's office later clarified the Ontario government is looking at many ways to boost its profile in Alberta, which may or may not include opening an actual office in the province.


Duguid said it's time to help businesses in his province that are looking for oilpatch opportunities and Alberta companies that are looking for skilled labour.


"There's a recognition that that's important to Ontario's economy and it makes sense to look at ways we can work closer together, both in providing opportunities for our respective businesses and at the same to work together as governments," Duguid said.


Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said earlier this year that the booming energy sector was driving up the Canadian dollar and hurting the manufacturing and export sectors in Central Canada.


Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has made similar comments. He has said the oilsands are artificially inflating the Canadian dollar and hollowing out the country's manufacturing sector. He calls it the definition of Dutch disease — a reference to the Netherlands and how a natural gas find in that country led to declines in manufacturing in the 1960s.


Duguid said his government wants to move past that debate.


"We're aware that there was a lot said about those comments. We just want to move forward."


Stronger links between Canada's largest provincial economy and its fastest-growing one would be good for the whole country, said Duguid.



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