This year, renovation spending in Canada is forecast to hit an unprecedented $74 billion. Yes, that’s billion.
The real estate consultancy group Altus Group, which came up with that number, says we will see a slowdown in reno spending over the next few years. But for now, it’s full speed ahead, and Ottawa, at least anecdotally, is no exception to the rule.
So where are we going to be spending all those reno dollars this year and beyond?
Kitchens & bathrooms
Whether it’s a new home or a reno, we all seem to want the same thing: kitchens with bright, open layouts where family and friends can gather.
Interestingly, a recent report from houzz.com found that one-third of U.S. homeowners say they are leading healthier lifestyles after their kitchen renovation. It’s a safe bet that trend applies to Canada as well.
Survey respondents say that after a renovation they’re cooking more meals at home, ordering less takeout, and eating more fruits and vegetables.
Spending on those kitchen renos is still increasing – one in 10 of those surveyed by Houzz in the same report spent more than $100,000 on their kitchen reno – and contemporary styling continues to outpace more traditional looks.
Some of these trends underpinned entries in the 2017 Housing Design Awards in Ottawa.
Kitchen trends that have been gathering steam in recent years will likely prove popular again in 2018. That means countertops, backsplashes, pantry cabinets, islands, white cabinetry, and grey flooring and walls will top homeowners’ renovation lists.
Bathrooms, especially ensuites, are Canadians’ second favourite reno, according to another Houzz report. In 2018, we can expect ever-more attention focused on bathrooms as busy homeowners seek out serenity in their most private space.
People are increasingly willing to invest in their basements, according to Norm Lecuyer of Ottawa’s Just Basements and Artium Design Build. “They’re becoming the go-to destination place in the home,” says Lecuyer. “They often start as a big empty space that can be completely customized for a family’s use.”
Cosy family home theatres are big on the trending basement reno list. And while the man cave is still popular, there’s also a growing number of saunas, music rooms and art studios. When it comes to fitness, look for fewer big spaces that look like gyms and, instead, smaller areas for yoga and compact workout equipment.
Energy efficiency is getting a boost in Ontario thanks to the Climate Change Action Plan introduced by the provincial government last year. Its provisions include mandatory labelling of home energy efficiency whenever a home is put on the market. That means an energy audit and it includes resale homes.
It’s unclear exactly when the labelling program for resale homes will kick in, but it looks as though 2019 or 2020 might be the date.
All this means that a wise homeowner will insist that energy-efficient strategies be built into a renovation whenever that’s possible, and that should mean more green-oriented renos this year.
While the daily news calls into question whether we humans are getting smarter, our homes sure are. We can already monitor and control our heating and air conditioning through our smartphones when we’re on the other side of the world and do the same with our home security systems.
For next year and beyond, we can also expect more and more interconnected appliances in our homes that use voice-activation technology.
For example, Amazon’s Alexa wireless digital assistant lets you use voice commands to get stuff done – “Alexa, please get me the weather forecast,” for example.
Now Alexa works with Geneva, a digital assistant that’s part of some GE appliances. That means you can say things like, “Alexa, tell Geneva to preheat the oven to 350 degrees, please.”
OakWood CEO John Liptak says that here in Ottawa interconnectivity is increasingly expected not just in new homes but also as part of renovations.
“This is requiring us to address security concerns with proper router security at the front end so that ports are (not) left open to hacking,” he adds.
Return on investment
A final note on reno trends. A report on the realtor.com website summarizes the return on investment for 19 different types of renovations when you sell your home.
The report is American, but the results seem applicable here. The best payback, by the way, is adding insulation to your attic.