Home Renovations A Key Component of Canada’s Housing for the Future

As the housing stock in Canada ages and the needs of Canadians change, existing homes need to be updated. Renovation is a main focus for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) and its national committee and council volunteers who are meeting virtually this week as part of Home Building Week in Canada.

The residential construction industry is a key driver of the economy, and an important source of direct and indirect jobs in every community across the country. Even with the impacts of the pandemic that slowed activity initially, residential renovation ended last year in a boom of activity, and is expected to continue to be strong throughout 2021 as Canadians continue to renovate their homes in changing times. CHBA renovator members, including those that carry the Association’s RenoMark™ brand, look forward to meeting the evolving needs of Canadians.

This week CHBA members from across the country continue their work to provide solutions to address the rapidly growing need to help more Canadians adapt their homes for aging in place, and to continue innovating to find pathways to improve energy efficiency in older homes in ways homeowners can afford. CHBA has been engaged with government to help find ways to help more Canadians get the assistance they need.

“Half of homes that exist today were built before 1985, and that housing stock is responsible for two times the GHG emissions of everything built since, so retrofitting the existing housing stock is critical to make an impact on emissions from housing. CHBA has been active in advocating for federal government incentives to support Canadians in their retrofit activities, to both accelerate the improved performance through existing housing stock, and using the EnerGuide Rating System (ERS) to improve the energy literacy of homeowners and home buyers. Recently announced federal government initiatives, like the Greener Homes Initiative that will provide $5,000 grants for energy retrofits using the ERS, are therefore very welcome by the Association,” says CHBA CEO Kevin Lee.

Energy retrofits to existing homes can be partial measures, but there is also a great opportunity at this point to do deep energy retrofits, and even get existing homes renovated to or at least on the path to net zero. CHBA has been leading the voluntary pursuit of net zero through its Net Zero Energy Housing Council which is meeting this week, and through it members have also been participating in CHBA’s Net Zero Home Labelling Program Renovation Pilot. Participants are sharing what they’ve learned and are advancing the industry together by exploring pathways to achieving net zero energy over time with staged renovations.    

Housing supply continues to be a challenge in many locations across Canada, and updating existing homes to meet the needs of Canadians is one way to help lessen the strain. That includes renovating homes for those whose needs have changed due to age, mobility, injury, and other factors, but want to stay in their homes for years to come. CHBA’s Home Modification Council works to provide a much-needed coordination point of expertise, resources and services for those who need to adapt their home.

“CHBA is developing training for professional renovators on how to adapt homes and work with related industry professionals to help Canadians live comfortably in their homes through any of life’s challenges. The association has been engaged with the federal government on this topic, and was pleased to see the Home Accessibility Tax Credit introduced years ago to help Canadians not only make changes to their homes, but, by requiring receipts, help to fight the underground economy and protect people from substandard work and unscrupulous cash operators. Given the demand by more and more Canadians to be able to stay in their homes as long as possible, and the importance of hiring trustworthy contractors, expanding that tax credit would make a lot of sense,” says Lee.

To that end, the association’s priorities include continuing to provide Canadians with resources and information about the importance of hiring a reliable contractor and making sure they always get a written contract for work. The Association’s RenoMark™ program provides homeowners with a list of local professionals who abide by the RenoMark™ Code of Conduct, including offering a minimum two-year warranty, workers’ compensation coverage and liability coverage, and a detailed, written contract.


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ABOUT THE CANADIAN HOME BUILDERS' ASSOCIATION
Since 1943, the Canadian Home Builders' Association has been "the voice of Canada's residential construction industry"—one of the most vital and enterprising industries in Canada. Representing some 9,000 member firms across Canada, CHBA members represent every part of Canada's housing industry - home builders, renovators, land developers, trade contractors, product and material manufacturers, building product suppliers, lending institutions, insurance providers, service professionals and others.