Design/Build Expert: Show Me The Money
by Brendan Charters
Where to find financial aid for your next renovation
We get told daily that our projects are expensive. It’s the single biggest complaint we receive from our clients—and they are shocked to discover I agree with them. The reason for it lies in the quality of the workers, materials and systems we employ. In this red-hot real estate environment, the best carpenters and tradespeople can command a very high wage, and if we are going to deliver on the promises we make to clients, we must be willing to pay their price. This ensures that clients get real value out of the money they pay us. There is help available, however. Most people who undertake projects and struggle to pay for them either don’t know about the rebates, or don’t bother to take advantage of them. Below I will break out some of the low-hanging fruit to help keep some of those schillings in your jeans—after all, who doesn’t like some help paying the bills?
Most of us think the Federal tax man only has a one-way valve, designed to accept our hard-earned money, but there are some leaky two-way conduits that can send some of our cash back. First, and most rewarding, is the Substantial Renovation and the GST/HST New Housing Rebate from the Canada Revenue Agency that came out in 2005. The key here is the 90 per cent renovation rule, and filing within two years from Substantial Completion. The Ontario new housing rebate is limited to a maximum of $24,000 if you paid the HST on the purchase of the land, and $16,080 if you did not. If you are not great at accounting, look for firms that can help you with record keeping and filing this application, as you don’t want to miss this.
MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAX
Did you move out of your house during the renovation project? If so, you can apply to your Municipality for a cancellation or reduction in the property taxes paid during the project. In Toronto, do a Google search for the Section323 application. The deadline to file an application is February 28 of the year following the year in which you moved out to renovate. Remember, if your project spans across two calendar years, you need to apply for each year you are out of the home to maximize savings.
Our friends that supply us with the juice we need to manage the temperature of our homes and keep our electronics powered also have some great tools when updating your abode (heating and cooling your home can account for up to 60 per cent of your energy use). Not only do the improvements you make help to reduce your overall consumption, but with rebates for Energy Audits to help educate you about the best places to invest, as well as rebates and discounts for high-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners, smart thermostats, bulbs and lighting controls, visiting your local utility website and searching “rebates” will yield a treasure trove of savings.
Every municipality has rebates and incentives for homeowners to help them reach their municipal targets. In Toronto, some of the key ones are Flood protection subsidies, which offer 80 per cent of the cost (up to a combined maximum of $3,400) for installing a backwater valve and a sump pump in your home, as well as drain severance and capping. Hidden bonus—your basement is less likely to become an in-ground pool. Live Green Toronto also has other grants and loan programs available and are worth a look. HELP is another option— where a low-interest loan of up to five per cent of the home’s value is attached to the property for the purpose of improving energy and water efficiency in the home. If you sell, the loan stays tied to the property (on the tax bill), and not to the original homeowner—now that’s a neat option.
SENIORS, DISABLED AND LOW INCOME HELP
Used less frequently, but often needed the most, there are programs such as the Ontario Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit, which rebates up to $1,500 for $10,000 of eligible expenses to help aging in place updates to the home. There are also various programs in Toronto locally, where grants of up to $3,500 are available for home modifications to accommodate a disability or to make a home more accessible. Forgivable loans of up to $10,000 are available for essential home repairs and/or accessibility modifications. Know of any programs I excluded? Tweet us @Eurodale Homes with the hashtag #renovationrebate so we can help our readership. Be sure to consider these great money-saving options when planning your renovation and remember in the construction industry…cheapest is most often not an indication of best value. One recent client said it best, “We aren’t rich enough to be cheap.” Look for real, lasting value in your investment. It is your home after all!
|Brendan Charters is co-owner of Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments – 2016 BILD Renovator of the Year.
Visit eurodale.ca or follow Brendan on Twitter @EurodaleHomes