With travel plans cancelled, Atlantic Canadians turn to home renos

·3 min read

When the pandemic closed borders and put a temporary stop to travelling, many Atlantic Canadians took their holiday funds and poured them into home renovations instead.

“We were saving up for a trip to Las Vegas, and with COVID we had a small window to cancel," said Lada Phillips of Moncton. "I did, so I got my full refund. Between that, our savings, and knowing that we would not travel for a while after COVID, we did a lot” to the house.

Phillips said they took on no less than 12 different renovation projects, large and small, during the pandemic. Among them, they renovated their kitchen and bathrooms, replaced an outdoor set of stairs to the deck and dug out the driveway and had it paved. They hired professionals to take on the jobs she said, noting she's no handyma'am.

Their household consciously decided to go into debt to do more and pay it off over time by not travelling, she said. “Now I’m giving myself four years to pay it off.”

A recent poll from Abacus Data found that 41 per cent of Atlantic Canadians have done renovations during the pandemic or are considering doing home renovations, similar to the Canadian average of 44 per cent.

Eighty-five per cent of Atlantic Canadians said the possibility of staying at home for prolonged periods of time was a major driver for choosing to undertake home renovations.

Becky Babineau, a licensed realtor and home stager with Keller Williams Capital Realty and One Stop Home Pros, in Moncton, said “the demand for renovations and real estate needs is up.”

Babineau and her mother, Devon Babineau, “have both completed renovation projects in 2020 and sold the properties for profit,” she said.

Some people are using time and money diverted from vacation plans or other savings to update or customize their home, while some are looking to sell, she said.

In either case, having the time to renovate was a clear motivator.

Three in five Atlantic Canadians poll respondents said having more time on their hands to plan home renovations was a driver in their decisions around home renovations right now.

But the hot real estate market also encouraged homeowners to fix up their properties to sell for profit right, said Babineau.

Phillips moved into her Moncton house seven years ago from Saint John. She said she thought about selling but really loved the area and house and decide the pandemic was time to create the home she wanted.

No one room is winning out in a landslide when it comes to renovations. Canadians are renovating bedrooms, washrooms, offices space, living rooms, garages and outdoor spaces, according to the poll.

Almost half of Atlantic Canadian respondents said they wanted a multifunctional space.

The survey, conducted and paid for by Abacus Data, was conducted online with 1,500 Canadians aged 18 and over from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22. A random sample of panellists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal