Driving assessment

Cambridge home renovation wave continues

New swimming pools among top projects in Cambridge, with permits up 62% last year, according to Municipal Property Assessment Corporation

Anyone who struggled to find a contractor for a home improvement project in Cambridge last year wasn’t the only one.

The pandemic rush on home improvement stores and swimming pool companies has placed the city in the top five for residential building permits for the Greater Golden Horseshoe in 2021.

In total, the City of Cambridge issued 1,067 permits last year, representing a 26% increase from 2020, according to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

The property assessment agency, which tracks property data across the province, reported earlier this week that home improvements rose 18 per cent in Ontario with nearly 70,000 permits issued.

Major renovation projects included additions, swimming pools, sheds, garages and decks.

Increased savings to homeowners from foregoing travel, leisure and dining out, all of which continued to be impacted by government-imposed public health restrictions in 2021, helped fuel the frenzy of home improvement projects.

The other thing driving the surge in home renovations over the past two years has been the change the pandemic has brought to many people’s working lives, said the vice president and chief operating officer of MPAC, Carmelo Lipsi, in an interview with CambridgeToday.

“Individuals are spending more time at home and while there seem to be signs of returning to the office to varying degrees, there is also a lot of talk about hybrid working, which continues to suggest that we will be spending more time working from home,” he said.

“People are just trying to find ways to make their house work for them.”

Lipsi said the other statistic to note at Cambridge last year was the increase in swimming pool permits, up 62% and another 30% this year.

What all of these upgrades will mean in terms of updated home value assessments remains to be seen.

Lipsi said MPAC still doesn’t know when the next assessment update will come after the province suspended the program during the pandemic.

The last province-wide assessment dates back to 2016.

These assessments provide municipalities with the numbers they need to determine property taxes.

Municipalities like the City of Cambridge set the annual tax rate based on their budgetary needs and apply MPAC assessments to determine how much homeowners must pay.

While waiting for the province’s green light on the update, MPAC is working to ensure that all of the information it has on the properties is up-to-date and up-to-date, Lipsi said.

“We are ready for when that decision might come,” he said.

Lipsi said it’s safe to say that home values ​​are up across the province and homeowners can expect to see assessed values ​​rise accordingly.

“But the thing to keep in mind is that if everyone’s value increases by 50%, there would be no tax increase as a result of a reassessment,” he said. Explain. “The areas that would be affected would be properties that would see an above average or below average increase.

MPAC operates the largest appraisal jurisdiction in North America, appraising and classifying more than five million properties with an estimated total value of $2.96 trillion.

For the second year in a row, Ontario has seen a significant increase in the total number of residential building permits, with more than 122,000 building permits issued across Ontario in 2021 for new developments as well as home improvements.

This represents a 15% increase over the previous year, continuing a trend that saw a 9% increase over the previous year.

Brampton led the way with 7,382, up 29% from 2020, while Severn Township near Barrie again led the percentage increase, issuing 545% more home improvement permits (129 vs. 20 the previous year).

A total of 9,059 pool permits were issued in 2021, up 33% and continuing a trend that saw a 53% increase from 2019 to 2020.

Ottawa remained the pool capital of Ontario, with 1,372 pool permits in 2021, a 47% increase.

Sheds were the biggest renovation project in Hamilton, while London topped the list for residential garage renovations.

Hamilton also led the pack for new bridge permits.

“It’s an interesting trend to watch, to see if it continues once pandemic restrictions are lifted for good,” Lipsi says.

“Many indicators suggest that working from home will be more prevalent than it was before the pandemic, and we’ll see if that continues to translate into increased spending from home.”