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Home renovation numbers on the rise in Saskatoon and surrounding area during COVID-19 pandemic

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WATCH: Saskatoon is seeing a 13.5 per cent increase in renovations compared to 2019. That doesn't include renos not requiring a permit – Oct 25, 2020

If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t had a negative effect on, it is home renovation projects.

That is certainly the case for Saskatoon residents.

Read more: Coronavirus: USask residence housing a fraction of students compared to previous years

Saskatoon and Region Home Builders’ Association (SRHBA) director of business and development Jennifer Lamontagne says the number of projects requiring a permit is up 13.5 per cent in Saskatoon compared to 2019.

Over that same time span, renovations are up 10 per cent for other areas served by the SRHBA including Warman, Martensville, Osler, Corman Park and Prince Albert.

The numbers don’t include projects where permits are not required.

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Lamontagne says with homeowners being at home more, people are spending the time and money to upgrade their residences, especially those with new working arrangements.

She says many people turned funds from cancelled travel plans into their renovations.

Read more: Calgarians turning to home renos to relieve stress during COVID-19 pandemic: ‘It helps a lot’

“What do they need in their homes?” ask Lamontagne. “Part of that is additional sound barriers with multiple people working from home. From our perspective, they are assessing their livability and moving up or down that housing continuum.”

The front yard of Ryan Epp's family house after renos.
The front yard of Ryan Epp's family house after renos. Submitted by Ryan Epp
The back yard of Ryan Epp's family house after renos.
The back yard of Ryan Epp's family house after renos. Submitted by Ryan Epp

Ryan Epp’s home in the Mayfair neighbourhood received a full-scale renovation, everything from the back and front yard and the roof, along with a fence.

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Epp says after a loss in the family, he decided to use heightened support from loved ones as a chance for the family to come together and help with the construction projects.

He says the pandemic didn’t affect or delay the project; it allowed for the family to come together in building something beautiful.

“(It) turned into a really sweet project of love for my wife, but also a way to enjoy our property more.”

Epp also works as a landscaper and said he has noticed dozens of renovations, particularly to backyards. He says because of the high amount of yard work, this year has been referred to as the “year of the yard” by landscapers.

Joshua Olson, the owner of Dunamai Construction, says he has worked on a range of renovations since the pandemic began — from full-scale home redos to kitchens and bathrooms. He says there has not been a shortage of work for him, in fact, his schedule is full for the foreseeable future.

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“People are always asking me to do something or if I know anybody that I could recommend,” Olson said. “They are all super busy too.”

Read more: Contractors busy with home renos during COVID-19 pandemic

High lumber prices have added to the overall costs of renovations and caused some delays for recent projects, especially towards the end of the summer.

Western Retail Lumber Association president Liz Kovach says lumber prices peaked at around US$900 per 100 board feet. That number has since dropped to below US$600. The average price was between US$300-$400 before the pandemic started.

“(Prices) are coming down, because we are getting caught up, the industry is catching up with the demand,” Kovach said. “But, it has for sure put some delays on projects.”

Read more: Saskatchewan home builders, buyers paying cost of record-high lumber prices

Kovach says COVID-19 greatly affected and slowed lumber production and transportation of products across the country. Additionally, the sudden rise in lumber demand for building homes and renovations also played a role.

Epp said any added cost for lumber didn’t affect plans and completion dates for renovations that he noticed, but he may have started the project just before the increase.

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