A New Kitchen is Top of the List for a Third of Home Owners in B.C.
BY MARIO CANSECO
Summer is usually a great time to launch home renovation projects. The weather is generally not an inconvenience, the days are longer, and contractors and the average do-it-yourselfer are usually happier working in warmer conditions, particularly for projects such as roofs and patios.
Insights West spoke recently to a representative sample of home owners across the province, and found one in four (26 per cent) were planning a major renovation of their home, such as a new roof or a new kitchen, in 2014. Since the last time I asked about this in 2011, this number has doubled (from 13 per cent three years ago).
A few years ago, some British Columbians were unwilling to spend a lot of money to renovate their homes, because of the existence of the harmonized sales tax. In early 2012, as people waited for the tax to be phased out, 40 per cent of British Columbians said they would hold off on major purchases — including work with a contractor — until the HST was gone. Now, one in-four home owners are ready to hit the hardware store, or call someone to help them, twice as many as three years ago.
Research in 2012 showed nearly two-thirds of Canadian home owners (about 63 per cent) who renovated their homes did the work themselves. But for those who live in households earning more than $100,000 a year, the proportion that tackles renovations themselves drops to 39 per cent.
The data shows we tend to be a nation of do-it-yourselfers. However, for those of us who may not have the skills, there is a clear tendency to call in professionals, especially if the budget allows it.
Bringing in a contractor does not mean the stress associated with a renovation is over. Depending on the scope and size of the project, some permits may be necessary. The project may also disturb neighbours, and cause some pain if noise and construction guidelines are not followed properly.
If an outside contractor is coming to your home, make sure you do three things: obtain quotes from three different contractors, ask for references and, when the time comes, sign a contract. Too many times, contractors rely on inadequately written quotes instead of a binding document. In 2012, only 35 per cent of Canadian home owners who were renovating had signed a contract. This means practically two-thirds of those who had work done in their homes did not have a proper dispute mechanism in case something went wrong. The absence of a contract makes it very difficult for home owners to protect themselves in the event of a discrepancy.
A final question for British Columbians focused on the dream renovation. If money were not a problem, one-third of home owners (34 per cent) would do away with their old kitchens, while one in five (19 per cent) would fix the bathroom. Patios and yards are also among the most desirable projects in our province (17 per cent), while considerably fewer residents would tackle their basements, living rooms or bedrooms.
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