|The bathroom remains the No. 1 area for renovation among Canadians. (photo: Shutterstock)
We Canadians love to spruce up our homes. But when it comes to staying within our budgets ... not so much.
Those are the findings of the seventh annual RBC Renovation Poll.
The survey found that two-thirds of Canadian homeowners (66%) completed a renovation in the past two years but only half (49%) of them managed to stay within the budget they’d established.
Many respondents expressed some regret in the way their home improvements were completed: 28% cited going over-budget as their biggest mistake; 15% said using the wrong contractor or trades people; 13% regretted going the DIY route
“Canadians continue to consider any home improvement a very good investment, but the challenge with renovating is that it’s easy to keep adding on projects,” says RBC’s director of personal lending, Patricia Everingham. “Costs can mount up easily, and the next thing you know you’re over budget and behind schedule.”
Cash or credit?
More than half (55%) of Canadian renovators used cash or savings to pay for their renovation, and a third of them paid off the debt they incurred in under a month. Of those who are still paying for their renovation, 41% expect it will take more than a year to pay off.
About a third paid for their renovations using credit cards because they wanted to earn reward points (42%), make it easier to track expenses (30%) and because they needed the available credit (28%).
“Smaller makeover projects usually mean fewer expenses, and a credit card offers a convenient way to pay as you go,” says Everingham. “If you are planning a major reno, borrowing a larger amount upfront often makes sense and helps you establish a budget you can stick with.”
Bathrooms and exteriors are the top priorities for those intending to renovate in the next two years (38% and 32%, respectively). Basement remodels are becoming popular, with 21% planning to do so, up from 13% in 2009.
Keeping up with the Joneses seems to be the motivation for some Canadians, as the top two influences cited by respondents are friends, family and neighbours’ homes (36%), followed by TV home improvement shows (34%).
Canada vs. U.S.
Over the past two years, Canada was a “renovation nation” in comparison to the U.S., with 66% of Canadian homeowners having completed a renovation in that time, compared to 51% of their U.S. counterparts.
However, the poll also found that Canadian plans to renovate over the next two years have slipped: down four percentage points to 62% – likely due in part to the end of the Home Renovation Tax Credit. South of the border, 67% of American homeowners intend to renovate, but they plan to spend less ($9,800) than their Canadian counterparts ($10,796).
Renovating trumps relocating
Most of those polled (74%) say they would rather improve than move, and half of those (52%) who are planning to renovate would still continue with their plans if house prices were to level off or decline.
The majority of Canadians (92%) view renovations as a means to increase the value of their home.
More than 3,500 Canadian and 3,200 American homeowners took part in the survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for RBC.