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Here is the most recent survey from Houzz on Canadian renovation activity and intentions. What is interesting is that the survey revealed that discretionary projects drove most home renovation activity in 2014, rather than essential upgrades. A key motivation for renovation projects among homeowners was enhancing the design and functionality of their homes, as reported by nearly nine in ten of renovating homeowners.

Those homeowners on Houzz who participated in the survey are actively improving their homes, with three quarters renovating in 2014 and/or planning a project in 2015. Additionally, similar to other countries, kitchen renovations were more common than roofing updates in Canada (27 percent versus 18 percent, respectively). Homeowners were also as likely to build an addition to their homes as those in the U.S. (14 percent versus 11 percent, respectively). What I found interesting is that one in 20 built a custom home, and a sizable one, in 2014. Of those custom homes, nine in ten custom homes are multi-level, and two-thirds are over 400 square meters in size.

It certainly looks like Canadians are investing in their homes, but not just with any old renovation project. Their priority seems to be getting the design and function right for their families.

And as you could imagine kitchens, living/family rooms and guest bathrooms are the most popular interior renovation projects, with a quarter of renovating homeowners in Canada tackling each of these rooms in 2014. Kitchens largely because of their complexity and the number of fixtures and finishes command the greatest spend, however. Homeowners spent an average of $34,500 on major reno’s of a large kitchen (more than 15 square meters), and $22,700 for major remodels of a small kitchen (less than 15 square meters).

Other findings from the survey include:

Financing: The vast majority of homeowners leverage savings or personal finances to pay for their home upgrades (86 percent). However, Canadian homeowners are among the most likely to use a credit card to pay for home upgrades (26 percent), along with homeowners in the U.S. (26 percent). Loans to finance home renovations are used by only 12 percent of Canadian homeowners.

Challenges: Staying on budget tops the list of challenges homeowners face (35 percent), followed by finding products (34 percent) and professionals (29 percent). These are similar to the challenges we hear from our clients and some of the top reasons that cause them to feel unsure of taking on a project.

Smart Technology: Twenty-six percent of homeowners rate smart home tech as a very-to-extremely important consideration for recent renovations. A quarter installed home automation systems as part of a renovation in 2014, which I found very interesting!

Green Homes: Homeowners are divided on the importance of integrating green and sustainable materials into their homes. While 37 percent rate this consideration as very-to-extremely important in recent renovations, 13 percent rate it as entirely unimportant. We have found that although clients are interested, they are concerned about the complexity and potential upfront costs when compared to conventional materials and technologies.

Professional Help: Eight in ten homeowners chose professional design services to help with their renovation, decoration and/or custom build project in 2014. Among these homeowners, positive reviews or recommendations continue to be the most important factor when choosing a service provider (81 percent), followed by experience with projects of similar scope (55 percent) and good communication/organization skills (46 percent).

Let us know about your thoughts on a potential project even if it is just a dream at this point. It always helps to get information early in the process so you can do the most to make it a reality in the future.

So, what do you think ?