Condo Life Is Now a Reality for Many Canadians

With the dwindling of land available for construction of detached and semi-detached single-family homes, Canadians are accepting the need for vertical living and high-density communities. Even naysayers are contemplating life in a “box.”

The reality is – as Canada’s most recent census numbers indicates – condo living is here to stay.

The 2016 census revealed that 13.3% of all Canadian households (approximately 1.9 million households) live in condominiums – an increase of 1.2 percentage points over the previous census conducted in 2011.

Of course, that differs across the country and from urban areas to suburbs and rural locations. In Vancouver, for example, some 30% of the population call a condo home. In Toronto, that number sits at 20.9%. But in both Halifax and Moncton, the number of condo dwellers drops to below 5%.

Notes a recent CBC article published after census results were released: “In other cities, meanwhile, condos barely rate as a living option. In Greater Sudbury, Ont., Saint John and St. John’s … less than one out of every 20 people live in a condo.”

The numbers, of course, correlate to population: Both Vancouver and Toronto boast larger populations, and wildly different real estate markets, than their smaller counterparts. The census reported that, by homeowner estimates, the cost of an average home in Vancouver totalled $1,005,920 compared to $734,924 in Toronto. And across Canada, the average value of a home was $443,058, up from $345,182 in 2011. And, interestingly, two-thirds of households owned their condos, while renters accounted for the remainder. Perhaps something to watch for in future?

‘Curb Appeal’ Renos a Growing Trend

As the winter thaw begins, and spring buying and selling fever heats up, there are certain renovations you can make on your home to ensure you get an optimal return on investment (ROI).

Whether you’ve been waiting for that perfect time to list, or are looking to flip fast, being strategic with your home renovations can make the difference between losing money and having extra cash in your pocket.

As a Houzz article points out, when it comes to home renovations, the “size of your space, the scope of work involved, your DIY abilities, the quality of materials you choose and even your geographic location all play a part.”

Invest in curb appeal

However, your renovations don’t have to be earth-shattering. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, the trend of making “curb appeal” renovations to your home scored a higher ROI than larger renovations.

Boost energy efficiency

Surprisingly, installing loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic came in as number one on the report. Although it doesn’t seem as exciting as other home remodels, it makes your home more energy efficient, and it can be accomplished yourself, inexpensively. Plus, it returns an estimated 107.1% on your investment.

Interestingly, something as subtle as replacing your garage door could yield you as much as an 85% ROI. Landscaping is another tried, tested and true improvement that can return as much as 650% to 900%, according to Global National, on your investment. Installing new windows, adding high-efficiency appliances and repainting the exterior and interior of your home can make a huge impact for little cost.

Key to success

Bryan Baeumler, host of a variety of reno shows on HGTV Canada, tells Global National the keys to a successful home reno is: Fitting your plan into a budget and not your budget into a plan; cost vs. impact; and what makes the most sense for you.

‘Is It Done Yet?’ How to Renovate With Kids

Spring home improvements can be stressful, especially when you’re living in the middle of it. Add children to the mix, and the tension increases.

But you don’t need to take a vacation while your home is being remodeled – even if walls are coming down. Here are some tips on how to continue to live as a family during a major renovation.

Your children’s space – and their routines – will be disrupted. To avoid comments like “When can we use the kitchen again?” share the construction schedule with them.

Prepare for disruptions: Kitchens and bathrooms are often the rooms being remodeled; unfortunately, they’re also the most used. If possible, consider completing one room at a time.

Set up a temporary kitchen in another room and prepare meals in advance that can be quickly reheated. Get the kids to help you devise a bathroom schedule; they may be more inclined to follow it if they’re involved.

Make safety a priority: Know where your kids are during work hours. Make sure they understand the safety risks, and put lots of space between them and the work. Also ensure your contractor stores tools away safely at the end of the day.

Dust can be hazardous for anyone with allergies. Plastic sheeting should be used to seal off the area under construction from your temporary living space, but you also may want to consider closing the heating and cooling vents. As well, your contractor should use nontoxic paints and stains.

Choose your contractor wisely. Make sure the company has a reputation for completing jobs safely, and be prepared to pay more for contractors who are properly insured and follow regulations. Ask them how comfortable they are with children on site and make sure everyone agrees to and obeys the safety rules.

Finally, when it’s finished, have fun together in the new space. After all, you – and the kids – deserve it.

Why Canadians Are Embracing the Trend of Smaller Homes

The small house movement may be coming to a neighbourhood near you, proving that “bigger is better” is not necessarily true.

Having a bigger space to fill, a bigger mortgage to pay, and a smaller disposable income make having a large home unrealistic for many young professionals and families.

In an article in homify.ca, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association suggests that Canadian homes have long been among the world’s largest, at 2,300 sq. feet (213.68 sq. meter) on average. And this hasn’t changed. In the same article, a 2017 report from consultant PwC suggests homes in Canada are the third largest in the world.

However, rising prices, dwindling space and an influx of immigration may make room for the small housing movement to gain a foothold in Canada. As the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) states: ” Home prices have risen ahead of economic fundamentals such as personal disposable income and population growth, resulting in overvaluation in many Canadian housing markets.”

In fact, cities such as Toronto and Vancouver have already witnessed the small housing phenomenon as limited space and affordability have forced developers to think small.

Paul Kealey, co-owner of EkoBuilt, near Ottawa, told The Ottawa Citizen that there are many positives to the small housing movement, as the houses are “cheaper to build and operate, less expensive to maintain and repair.” That also may mean lower taxes.

Sounds like the small housing movement is on the verge of packing a big punch in housing markets across Canada.