Demand for home renovations soar in Toronto and contractors say they've never been busier
Home renovations in Toronto are going to continue at an unbridled pace this summer. Lockdowns combined with soaring real estate prices have people looking inward for a bit of change, and that has meant business is booming for contractors and suppliers in Toronto.
Across Canada, contractors have seen work increase after the initial dip and shut down in March 2020. While many types of businesses have seen decreases in sales, the Retail Council of Canada found building materials and garden equipment sales saw a 26 per cent increase from January 2019 to January 2021.
Toronto contractors and suppliers say they are busier than ever.
"Since the start of the pandemic we've seen a dramatic rise in demand for home renovation and construction," Cindy Wise, principal co-founder of cabinetlab tells blogTO.
From 2019 to 2021 sales are up roughly 75 per cent, Wise says.
"We've seen our business grow significantly."
Men at Work Design Build owner and founder Paul Gallop said for about six weeks last spring there was a slow-down because people couldn't get building permits. But business quickly returned to normal levels, and then it started growing.
In the first quarter of 2019, there were 120 inquiries for projects, last year at the same time it dipped to 60 inquiries. In the same period for 2021 there were 160.
"There is no question the market is alive and well and thriving," says Gallop.
Gallop believes the big drivers for the increase in renovations is low rates to get a loan, and increases in home equity.
James Boyd, the owner of Carter Fox Design Build, feels the same.
"People are watching their house prices go up and up and up and they think, 'I could take some equity out of my house and build a new addition'," Boyd says.
Boyd said he does larger renovations but he is also seeing tons of interest in smaller projects.
"Everybody wants to do stuff — that's why there is no wood at Home Depot — everyone wants to build their deck," says Boyd.
Boyd said he is getting 100 per cent more calls this year compared to 2019. Back then, he would get a couple calls a week, and for a while this year he was getting a call a day for big projects.
While some people see this as a time to increase the value of their home, others just want to make changes to make their house fit the new work-at-home reality.
My Le Nguyen, co-owner of 1925 Workbench, said she is seeing an increase in calls for custom doors because people want to create a closed home office in their home or condo.
She has noticed the increase in business overall recently. Usually, there is a break in January and February, but this year they remained busy.
"I couldn't keep up with the incoming emails," Nguyen says.
There are also calls for custom furniture pieces, maybe because people are bored.
"People are working on their homes because they have nothing else to do," she says.
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