What’s That $53 Billion in Reno Spending About?

Canadians can’t really complain about the cost of renovating 24 Sussex Dr., the official residence of the prime minister. We’re spending plenty on home projects ourselves. According to Scotiabank, we spent $53 billion on renovations in 2015. That’s the same amount of money we spent building new houses.

Maybe we really are like our national symbol, the beaver – industrious, and like to build and renovate. But is the drive to renovate always a good thing?

As Heather Mallick points out in a column for the Toronto Star, a lot of renovations have no real purpose or lasting value.

And if you’re going with the latest trend, you may be sorry. (Remember when wallpapering inside kitchen cupboards was in fashion?)

But for those of us who just want what’s in NOW (you know who we are), we should at least be conscious of how we spend our renovation dollar.

Renovate wisely

As stats indicate, most people renovate their homes when they’re planning on selling them, or shortly after they purchase a new home. Many concentrate on cosmetics – that white kitchen or the big master ensuite. But DIYers, in particular, may not be focusing on the basics or doing the best job. Unlike with dated decor, buyers may be stuck with some of these hacks forever. Unless of course they’re prepared to rerenovate.

Reality check: You will renovate your home. It will cost money. That’s not bad. But keep your priorities aligned. Don’t become so focused on improving the appearance of your home – installing new countertops or flooring – that you neglect the basics, ignoring structural problems, outdated wiring and leaky basements.

As Mallick puts it, “Homes are living spaces that deteriorate as much as their owners do.” Just as we need to maintain our bodies, and not just our clothes, we need to focus on walls and wiring, not paint and light fixtures.