INDUSTRY EXPERT: Smart & Selective
by David Wilkes
Partner with a Pro for your Reno
I am a proud Torontonian who is fiercely connected to my neighbourhood. I’ve lived in this great region my entire life and, for the last 25 years, raised my family in the east-end of Toronto. We’ve done more than one renovation to our house, which added value and made it our home. Like many Torontonians, my neighbourhood is a part of my identity.
In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), we celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of our neighbourhoods. They are what make our region great. We value them and recognize the importance of creating livable communities through their development and revitalization.
Increasingly, GTA homeowners are choosing to stay in their neighbourhoods because, like me, they love them. They are renovating rather than selling and creating the home they want in the area they want to live.
There are more than 200 RenoMark renovators in the GTA. All of them agree to abide by the BILD Code of Ethics and a renovation-specific RenoMark Code of Conduct. They understand the value of customer service, provide warranties and continually educate themselves on trends, materials and new regulations.
UNDERGROUND ECONOMY SPIKE
Unfortunately, the introduction of the HST in 2010 accelerated the growth of an underground economy in the renovation industry. A report released by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) in November 2017, shows the amount of residential renovation spending through contractors that leaked underground fluctuated between 38 and 40 percent between 2010 and 2016.
The underground “cash” economy in home renovation and repair poses significant risks, including worker safety liability risks for the homeowner if workers are not covered by the WSIB, no warranties, unfair competition with reputable contractors and loss of tax revenues.
This underground industry also undermines the integrity of the HST system. The report suggested that provincial and federal governments lost $16 billion in potential tax revenues through residential renovations undertaken by illicit contractors in Ontario during the same period.
FINDING CONSUMER-FAVOURED SOLUTIONS
Instead of fostering an underground economy, which encourages the avoidance of paying taxes, the OHBA has recommended the Ontario government consider introducing a tax rebate that would incent homeowners to document properly, and report their contractor renovation projects as well as a Home Renovation Tax Credit for energy-efficient upgrades.
Our colleagues at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association are also active partners with the Minister’s Underground Economy Advisory Committee, sharing industry information and recommendations with the Canada Revenue Agency on how to best address the impact of working around the system.
BILD has written its own renovation Service Standard of Excellence that was presented to the City of Toronto, outlining a practical system that would put the consumer first. The Service Standard of Excellence would speed up approvals and make Toronto City Hall more efficient. This would ease consumer frustrations and steer them away from using the underground economy.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? If you’re considering a renovation, your first step is to go to renomark.ca. There you will find the RenoGuide (Five Steps to a Worry-Free Renovation), the RenoMark Code of Conduct and you can use the Find a Renovator tool to find a participating renovator near you. If you’re a renovator in the GTA looking to get involved with the RenoMark program, email us at email@example.com.
|David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.|