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Calgary housing market does not show signs of slowing

Year-over-year sales growth remains in double digit territory

The monthly statistics package is available here.

Calgary, Nov. 1, 2012 – City of Calgary sales activity marked a 23-per-cent increase over levels recorded in October 2011. The continued improvement in sales has pushed year-to-date sales activity to nearly 16-per-cent above levels recorded in 2011. Click Here


Table of Content:

Calgary's economy has strong, positive outlook for next three years (with video)

What Canadians Are Spending on Home Renovations

Keep Your Stuff Safe at an Open House

Why Canadians have record-high debt


VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 19, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A special report by Canada Real Estate Wealth Magazine has uncovered the top 100 investment neighbourhoods in this country -- communities most likely to swerve a coming correction.


Ten neighbourhoods in Alberta have outshone recent housing trend predications and ranked in the Top 100 list including Bowness in Calgary, Ambleside in Edmonton, Desert Blume Estates in Medicine Hat and West Lethbridge in Lethbridge.


"Calgary's positive consumer confidence makes the city an excellent market for real estate investors," says Wayne Kainu, Vice President of VERICO Boomerang Financial Inc.


"The city has been focused on increasing its inner city density, attempting to reduce Calgary's urban sprawl. Neighborhoods like Bowness, is considered a hot inner city neighborhood and 'in transition', meaning that many investors are buying older single family bungalows, then tearing them down, and replacing them with a modern duplex, also referred to as an 'Infill'," Kainu adds.


Cory McLean, Broker/ Owner of VERICO Axis Mortgages based in Lethbridge, says that he does not believe that the Bank of Canada will announce changes to the overnight rate and corresponding prime rate on Tuesday.


However, McLean says that true investors, those who are educated and understand the patterns of investing in real estate will always invest, regardless of interest rate.


"Any announcement that confirms rates will either remain at historical lows or drop further will only help to entrench future stability via lower cost of borrowing and that can only contribute to positive thoughts by investors. It could mean those on the fence ultimately decide that now is the right time to invest," says McLean.


McLean also says that although the rule changes in July made it harder to qualify for financing, the tightening affect actually created more opportunities for investors.


"Tougher qualifications, primarily due to the shorter amortizations and bench mark qualification rate, mean fewer home purchasers who end up staying in the rental pool. A larger rental pool, with better quality renters can only mean good things for those investing in real estate for the purposes of landlording."


VERICO iMortgage Solution Owner, Sandra Fisher, says that Edmonton remains a city of opportunity.

"Affordable, low unemployment, and globally recognized as the gateway to the north, Edmonton is definitely deserving of its place on the Top 100 list. The beauty of the river valley is second to none and has over 160km of biking and walking trails to enjoy along with world class facilities in education and research," says Fisher.


Medicine Hat was also recognized as a great community for real estate investors.


"Vacancy rates in Medicine Hat are traditionally low and rents provide a good return on investment," says Cathy Sehn, mortgage broker with VERICO Brokers For Life. "Our overall real estate market has also been stable, making investment in this city a safe bet."


To navigate the new mortgage rules, Fisher adds that investors should seek the advice of mortgage professionals. "The rule changes in July have definitely affected the availability of financing, but opportunities are out there with the right mortgage product."


Other AB neighbourhoods that ranked in the Top 100 list include:

          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
                                                  home    Capital  Average  Vacancy
             City/Town         Neighbourhood     price*   Growth*   Rent*    Rate*
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          Calgary           Bowness             $449,260    9.00%      n/a    1.90%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          Chestermere       Downtown area       $435,000    3.57%   $1,200      n/a
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          Edmonton          Ambleside           $528,152   -4.70%   $1,036    2.70%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          Grand Prairie     Royal Oaks          $330,705   -2.70%     $894    1.10%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          Lethbridge        West Lethbridge     $250,123   -0.60%      n/a    0.30%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
                            Desert Blume
          Medicine Hat       Estates            $350,000    9.90%     $661    7.00%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          Red Deer          Sunnybrook          $332,000    6.30%     $843    2.50%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          St. Albert        North Ridge         $525,800   10.00%   $1,035    0.50%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
           County           Ardrossan           $399,472    3.00%   $1,067    4.70%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
          Wood Buffalo      Fort McMurray       $484,850   16.30%   $2,049   10.80%
          ----------------  ------------------  --------  -------  -------  -------
*source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine Top 100 Report

Extensive industry analysis and statistics were used in this report including population, average home price, capital growth and vacancy rate.


The most comprehensive list of its kind, the Top 100 Neighbourhoods to Invest report was compiled by Canada's leading real estate magazine, Canadian Real Estate Wealth with the support of Verico Financial Group, Canada's #1 Mortgage Broker Network and Re/Max Real Estate.


The results -- set to hit newsstands on Oct. 22 -- identify the exact locations investors should focus on as a hedge against short- or long-term corrections.


Thank you to all my Clients and Supporters for making last month an Amazing Month!!! Looking ahead to completing a Strong Month of October and continuing the energy for the rest of the year!!!



There are few places in the world where workers are sought after more than in Alberta, but, even here, there
is sought after, and then there is sought after. Because, when it comes to good work finding you, it’s
also a question of how old you are, where in the province you work, and what skills you bring.


Unemployment in youth (that is, those between ages 15 and 24) typically rises faster than in the rest of the
population during a slowdown, and also takes longer to come down. Why? It’s the age-old story we’re seeing
again in the current business cycle: older workers, with their experience, tend to be more productive. As of
September, youth unemployment stood at 10 per cent, more than double the 4.6 per cent provincial average.


Geography plays a role, too. Alberta is roughly split up into six economic regions. Currently, the lowest three-month moving average unemployment rate, at 2.8 per cent, belongs to Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House. Surprisingly, the region with the highest unemployment rate is Calgary, at 5.1 per cent.


And industry matters. Over the year, the oil and gas sector has led the way, adding nearly 25,000 workers. At the other end of the equation, the wholesale and retail trades have shed 12,000 workers. If you’re in the first group, that’s good news, given how much oil and gas wages ($1,986/week) are above the provincial average


Alberta Employment Change by Industry, Sept 2012 over Sept 2011





Mortgage choices - what's best for you

With a current range of approximately 2.5 percent to 4+ percent, mortgage rates for residential real estate are still at or near historic lows across Canada. “Hmm” you think, “maybe it’s time to purchase my first home or trade up to a larger home”. Those can be big steps with long term financial implications, and you could end up paying a lot more for that new home than you bargained for by making a less than optimal mortgage choice. So, let’s get you going in the right, and most cost effective, direction with this basic mortgage info: Click Here


Table of Content:

Calgary area sales and price growth continue, despite national trends

Alberta's solid financial foundation



The Canadian Real Estate Association suggests Calgary's housing market has shifted from a position of balanced to a seller's market.

CREA's Chief Economist says while most regions in the country reported sales and prices declines last month compared to May, Calgary enjoyed gains. Gregory Klump says house sales in Calgary rose by half a percent in June compared to May and are running at their best level since June 2009.

Year over year, Calgary house prices are up almost six per cent, second only to greater Toronto.

Klump says they will need a few months of statistical data before passing judgement on the impact recent mortgage rule changes are having on the market.




By Michael Babad, Globe and Mail

Flaherty moves on mortgages

The Canadian government continues to move aggressively to cool down the housing market amid fears in some quarters of a bubble in the making.


As The Globe and Mail's Bill Curry, Grant Robertson and Tara Perkins report today, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is acting for the fourth time, reducing the maximum amortization for a government-insured mortgage to 25 years from 30 years. He's also reducing the amount of equity homeowners can take out of their homes in a refinancing to 80 per cent from 85 per cent. The changes take effect July 9.


Canada's bank regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, has also acted already, and unveiled the final guidelines today.


This comes amid concerns that the market is overheated, notably in major cities like Vancouver and Toronto, and as Canadian consumers carry ever higher debt burdens, even though loan growth is slowing.


Mr. Flaherty is "prudently taking out some insurance" with today's move, said chief economist Craig Alexander of Toronto-Dominion Bank, by gently tapping the brakes.


Debt growth in Canada has slowed, but is still eclipsing income growth, a threat to the economy should it continue. The ratio of debt to personal disposable income among Canadian households has climbed to a startling 152 per cent. Had steps not already been taken, TD believes, that would have climbed already to 160 per cent, the level that sparked troubles in the United States and Britain.


Mr. Alexander says the cumulative impact of both  of today's moves by Mr. Flaherty and OSFI should be to reduce house prices by five percentage points from where they otherwise would have been, and sales by 10 percentage points. That takes more than a year to filter through, Mr. Alexander said, and is based on all else being equal. What he means is that the move could, for example, lead to lower sale listings, in turn tempering a price decline.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has warned repeatedly of the threat to consumers should there be another financial shock and rising unemployment. Some observers had believed that the run-up in debt could force him to hike rates, but, with Mr. Flaherty's action today, the central bank chief now has more wiggle room to hold rates as he sees fit amid the mounting global uncertainty.


"These latest steps to tighten mortgage rules are part of efforts to avoid one of the negative side effects of having very low interest rates for a long time," said chief economist Avery Shenfeld of CIBC World Markets, which believes Mr. Carney won't hike his benchmark lending rate until 2014.


"With the economy not strong enough overall to deal with a significant ramp-up in rates, it make sense to use alternative targetted measures to address one of those issues, the risks of a bubble in home prices and associated mortgage debt," Mr. Shenfeld said. "These latest moves are just some further fine tuning, but we are already seeing a cooling in house price inflation, and a slower pace to consumer debt. If these measures add to the cooling in housing, it will take the pressure off Carney to use the blunter instrument of interest rate hikes to meet that objective, leaving other parts of the economy, including business capital spending, still getting a much needed boost."


In Halifax, Mr. Carney said the move will support the "long-term stability" of real estate and help guard against the risks associated with swollen debt levels.


Robert Kavcic of BMO Nesbitt Burns says the reduction in the maximum amortization period is equivalent to an increase in mortgage rates of about 0.9 of a percentage point. (That assumes a five-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.3 per cent on a $290,000 mortgage, after a 20-per-cent down payment on an average home.)


"Notably, the impact is bigger than the switch from 35- to 30-year mortgages, which at current mortgage rates, would be equivalent to about 0.6 percentage points of tightening," Mr. Kavcic said.


"It’s also important to keep in mind that the amortization change won’t impact affordability across the entire market, but rather those that would be taking a 30-year amortization," he added.


"As we’ve observed around prior mortgage rule changes, some housing market activity will likely be pulled forward ahead of the implementation date ... with a subsequent payback thereafter. After the 35-year amortization was eliminated last March, for example, existing home sales fell by more than 3 per cent over the subsequent two months."


Mr. Alexander described Mr. Flaherty's action as a "very constructive step." It shows, he added, that the Canadian government agrees with the Bank of Canada that real estate valuations and debt loads are out of hand.


The combined moves, equivalent to hiking mortgage rates by between 1.5 and 2 percentage points, should cut between one-third and one-half of the overvaluation in the Canadian real estate market, Mr. Alexander said.

"With respect to recent indicators and the need for such measures, resale house sales activity through the first five months of the year is 7.5 per cent higher than over the same period last year," said Mark Chandler, chief of fixed income and currency research at RBC Dominion Securities.


"However, price pressures have abated considerably, with weighted residential prices up just 1.1 per cent on a year-ago basis ... Mortgage credit growth has slowed somewhat as well, though still remains above the pace of personal disposable income (BoC estimates growth at 6.9 per cent on a year-ago basis as of April, the annualized three-month trend is at 6.3 per cent)."


Today's move, said Adrienne Warren of Bank of Nova Scotia, could spark an initial burst of activity.


"I see it as another move by Ottawa to reinforce cautious lending practices in response to high household debt levels and high home valuations," she said. "The change is significant enough to dampen housing demand and credit growth, though we could see a rush to lock in a 30-year amortization while they are still available."


On Friday June 15th, 2012 the Canadian Real Estate Association released a lot of figures that gave a lot of insight into the direction of the real estate market in Canada. One focus on this round of figures was around the Toronto housing market and how it was staying quite strong.


“Activity in Greater Toronto is stronger this spring than it was last year, and higher-priced homes are still selling quickly. As Canada’s most active housing market, and one of the priciest, it is still the biggest factor boosting the national average price but its support was less of a factor in May,” said Gregory Klump, CREA Chief Economist.

The Bank of Canada doesn’t seem to be exactly thrilled about the pace of borrowing on buying houses and price increases however. In the Montreal Gazette the federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was noted as warning Canadians against moderate borrowing saying that household debt was the number one enemy for the domestic economy.


The sales activity in houses was raised from previous announcements after more than expected rises this spring in home sales activity. The first announcements said that sales would increase about .3 percent but readjusted estimates put sales of homes at 475,800 homes in 2012 up 3.8 percent from the figures in 2011.

Concern and talk about a housing bubble is still on the mind of many economists for the Canadian Real Estate Market. While CREA hasn’t come out and said they fear that, many others have been discussing it. Looking at the Canada home prices in the graph below clearly shows a rising average price of Canadian houses that could spell out a bubble if financial markets get any kind of shocks. Banking analysts are on edge this weekend as Greek elections in Greece could spell an exit from the Euro wreaking havoc on markets.


Canada House Prices




High oil prices, oilsands activity to boost economy


CALGARY — Alberta is booming and poised to regain its role as Canada's growth engine over the next two years.

Western provinces will continue to set the economic pace in Canada with Alberta leading the way, says a new report published Wednesday by the Conference Board of Canada.


The board's Provincial Outlook - Spring 2012 said elevated oil prices and expanded activity at numerous oilsands projects will help drive Alberta to the fastest economic growth in the country in both 2012 and 2013.


"While other provinces continue to struggle on the road to recovery, Alberta is booming and poised to regain its role as Canada's growth engine over the next two years," the report said.


"Bolstered by strong income gains and population growth twice the national pace, Alberta's economy is forecast to grow in the next two years by 3.8 per cent and 3.7 per cent, respectively."


Marie-Christine Bernard, the board's associate director for Provincial Outlook, said it is no surprise that Western Canada continues to perform well, thanks to major projects in the mining and energy sector.


The board's report said real gross domestic product is forecast to grow by 2.9 per cent in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan this year and by 2.4 per cent in British Columbia.


At the national level, economic growth is forecast for 2.3 per cent in 2012 and 2.8 per cent in 2013.


"If the debt crisis in Europe continues to fester, economic growth in Western Canada would slow modestly this year. Europe's financial crisis could have a dampening effect on growth in the United States, although, at this time, the U.S. economy appears to gaining momentum," the report said.


The conference board said Alberta will have an "incredibly strong construction profile over the next two years, particularly in the energy sector where oilsands development continues to be a driving force behind Alberta's growth."


The province is forecast to lead the country in employment growth in each of the next two years at 2.7 per cent in 2012 and 2.8 per cent in 2013. Nationally, employment growth is forecast for 1.2 per cent this year and 2.3 per cent next year.


BMO Bank of Montreal's Hiring Intentions Survey said 46 per cent of Canadian businesses plan to hire new employees this year, while 51 per cent do not have plans to add additional staff this calendar year.

In Alberta, 44 per cent plan to hire and 50 per cent do not plan to hire this year.


For those Canadian companies who indicated that they are looking to hire this year, 43 per cent plan to hire the same, and 51 per cent hire more than they did last year. Only six per cent say they will hire but do so to a lesser degree.


Seventy-three per cent of Alberta employers plan to hire more employees this year.


According to the survey, mining, oil and gas, construction and manufacturing have strong hiring plans, with 57 per cent of employers planning to hire in 2012.

Read more:

The Canadian Bankers Association announced on Monday what amounts to the next step in the evolution of how Canadians buy stuff.


Sometime soon — details are not provided — we will be able to buy stuff in stores with a mobile phone thanks to a new set of common guidelines over how electronic information is exchanged agreed to by the country’s big banks and credit unions.


It is hoped that the guidelines will pave the way for a transformation in the way Canadians interact with retailers, an acknowledgement of the growing importance of smartphones in the way we live our lives.

All good news, but you have to wonder who’s behind this initiative?


Most of us know pretty much zero about the Canadian payments system but it’s the back-office infrastructure that allows consumers and businesses to write cheques, withdraw money from bank machines and buy stuff with by debit card every day. Last year, about $45-trillion passed across the system.  Unlike many other countries including the U.S. where there are numerous competing bank payment systems, in Canada there is just one. (Credit card companies such as VISA and MasterCard run their own operations.)


Critics say the lack of competition puts a damper on innovation and provides little incentive to keep user costs down. A federal task force report released in the spring warned that the Canadian payment system is falling behind and that could leave the country at a competitive disadvantage.


“[U]nless Canada develops a modern digital payments system, Canadians will be unable to fully engage in the digital economy of the 21st Century, leading to a lower standard of living across the country and a loss in international competitiveness,” said the report, entitled “Moving Canada into the Digital Age.”


Indeed, this latest initiative from the banks is an “outcome” of the task force report, according to the CBA press release.


Mobile banking already exists in Canada but usage is limited and the technology fairly limited, but other countries such as the United States, Japan, South Korea and some European countries have taken things further.


“There’s all kinds of ways this technology can come together,” said Stephen Gardiner, a consultant at Accenture in Toronto.


The CBA guidelines provide “all the things you would need for widespread adoption,” Mr. Gardiner said. “It’s a way for financial institutions, merchants, telecoms and others to come together to provide a safe and [robust] pament experience that will drive user choice and usability.”




It’s only one week into May but Calgary’s housing market is showing signs of being on a positive trend.

Sales and prices in all categories are up compared with the first week in May a year ago.


According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, total MLS residential sales in the city of 515 from May 1-7 are a 20.61 per cent hike from the same period last year while the average sale price has risen by 3.60 per cent to $464,824.


In the single-family category, month-to-date has seen 370 MLS sales, up 22.52 per cent from last year and the average sale price has increased by 3.14 per cent to $526,119.


The condo apartment sector has experienced 74 sales for an average price of $287,722. Sales are up 2.78 per cent from a year ago while average sale prices have increased 0.43 per cent.


And the condo townhouse market has seen 71 sales in the first week of May for an average price of $329,989. Sales have increased by 33.96 per cent from the same period a year ago while prices have risen by 3.38 per cent.




The amount of real estate development within Calgary and just north of the city limits is quite amazing - particularly in the area east of CrossIron Mills shopping centre.


The shopping centre has done well since it opened in 2009, now boasting 200 stores made much more accessible since the opening of Stoney Trail.


Since then, more shopping opportunities are available at Costco and Lowe's to the north of the original centre up to the intersection of the north/ south major corridor and Highway 566 at Balzac.


I hear that the adjacent lands planned as a thoroughbred racetrack and entertainment centre may still be developed with a less-grand vision, but still to include a hotel and casino.


Immediately to the east along 566 is the new Coptic Church and Wagon Wheel Industrial Park and across the road, Rocky View County is planning to build its new administrative offices.


The next large property under development is High Plains Industrial Park where the massive Target distribution centre is under construction. Exterior walls are up for the facility, which will contain 1.3 million square feet under one roof. The centre will serve Western Canada and is scheduled to be fully operational within the next six months.


It sits on a 32-hectare parcel on the south portion of the 388 hectares that make up High Plains, which offers parcels of land from 1.6 to 32 hectares.


The development area was assembled to design a unique, master-planned medium-to high-density industrial park by an investment partnership that includes Highland Stock Farm and CLT Contracting.


It is a fully serviced, architecturally controlled development being marketed by Wayne Hill, associate broker of Target Realty, who has specialized for the past 20 years in land development for industrial and commercial uses including car dealerships, hotels and design-build projects.


He tells me that interest is high in Phase 2 of High Plains and two parcels are conditionally sold. Major attractions, according to Hill, are the opportunities to purchase fully serviced lots much cheaper than within Calgary, in the municipality where there are lower property taxes and no business tax.


Another plus is that the High Plains community will have access to fully reusable water. A jointventure partnership has been established with Olds College to reclaim and upgrade storm water for use within the park - an industry first.


High Plains is attracting lots of attention and the whole area is buzzing with activity. Besides the racetrack possibility, WalMart's 500,000-square-foot freezer facility is complete; Hopewell, Bentall, WAM, Oxford and Melton have developable lands nearby and we can expect residential to be built on the west side of the highway north of 566 all the way to Airdrie.

Read more:

Edmonton Economic Performance Gets "A-Minus" Grade


EDMONTON, ALBERTA, Apr 17, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Edmonton's economy was awarded an overall "A-minus" grade by Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) president and CEO Ron Gilbertson today.


In his economic update at EEDC's annual lunch today, Gilbertson highlighted the diverse initiatives, underway and planned, to attract people and investment to Alberta's capital city. "Edmonton has a remarkable economic story. In 2011, our economy grew and showed momentum, and we are poised for a bright future," says Gilbertson. "Combine that with our quality of life, we are well on our way to becoming recognized as one of the world's top mid-sized cities."


Aside from Gilbertson's state-of-the-economy address, EEDC recognized Edmonton-area organizations with its annual achievement awards: Quantiam Technologies in the innovation category, Homeward Trust Edmonton for community leadership, and Donovan Creative Communications for recognition category.


Based in the Edmonton Research Park, Quantiam recently built one of Canada's largest private nanotechnology-based manufacturing facilities to provide its proprietary surface coating technology to a global client list, in partnership with the world's largest chemical company. The innovation award recognizes those which have created or changed a product, process or business practice creating the broadest impact.


The business or community leadership award recognizes organizations that best engage our community or industry to actually achieve impactful positive change. Homeward Trust was singled out for leading our community to help the homeless in a caring, holistic and effective manner.


Donovan Creative's work in award-winning campaigns for Edmonton International Airports and Edmonton Public Library increases Edmonton's visibility worldwide. The recognition award celebrates organizations that bring extensive positive awareness and sustained name recognition of Edmonton.


"Shortlisting the submissions was not an easy task," notes Richard Brommeland, EEDC board member and chair of the award selection committee. "The award winners do amazing work, and we are the better for them calling Edmonton home."


Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) provides leadership in economic development, markets Edmonton as a must-see destination, manages the Shaw Conference Centre and Edmonton Research Park, and acts as a stakeholder in TEC Edmonton, a joint venture with the University of Alberta. For more information, visit Learn more about Edmonton through the stories of people who've experienced it at




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Over the years, we’ve developed a good understanding of how buildings perform. Construction techniques for new homes have changed rapidly. Most of these improved techniques also apply to renovations.

If you plan carefully, you can renovate your home to make it look better, work better, last longer and be more comfortable. Before renovating, it’s important to assess the condition of your home to determine if there are any significant underlying problems that must be addressed before or during your planned renovation project.

Figure 1: Problems that should be addressed

Figure 1: Problems that should be addressed

Common Situations

In Canada, we need affordable houses to provide shelter from the elements. We also want our homes to be pleasant, comfortable and attractive.

Homeowners have higher expectations than in the past, particularly about comfort and interior design. Renovations are an opportunity to address some of these expectations.

Some of the reasons people decide to renovate are to:

  • Upgrade or improve outdated or deteriorated systems — replacing an outdated furnace, old siding or windows are common upgrades.
  • Maintain and repair various elements of their house — reshingling a roof or fixing foundation cracks are typical renovations.
  • Address lifestyle needs — converting unused attic space to living quarters, add a sunroom or build a home office.

Healthy Housing™

Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. When assessing your renovation project, be sure to consider the five essentials of Healthy Housing™.

House as a System

A house is much more than just four walls and a roof — it’s an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants. Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.

As you assess your renovation project, ask yourself how changing particular components will affect the performance of the whole house. For example, as part of a bathroom renovation you may want to add a hot tub that will generate large amounts of humidity during operation.Your existing ventilation may be inadequate to handle the increased moisture levels. It will be important to provide proper ventilation to avoid mold growth, indoor air quality (IAQ) problems and damage to the structure or finishes. You may need to consult with a qualified home inspector or a professional renovator.

Avoid Surprises

A systematic and thorough inspection will help you to assess the condition of your home. Look for any signs of deterioration and the possible causes. Start your inspection in the basement. Many problems in other parts of the house originate there. Depending upon the size of your project, you may want to ask a qualified home inspector or a professional renovator to help you assess your building and develop a plan. Here are some of the likely questions that you’ll want to think about.

  • Are there any cracks or is there damage to concrete walls or floors?
  • Are there any damp spots, stains, efflorescence (white, chalky stains) or blistered paint on the concrete, finished walls or floors?
  • Does anyone notice bad smells or experience nausea or headaches when in the basement?
  • Is there high humidity, any condensation or visible mold?
consider your options
  • Repair minor cracks if they leak. Seek an engineer’s opinion on serious structural problems such as major or expanding cracks, bowed walls or uneven floors.
  • Clean up mold; discard moldy or rotting materials.
  • Ensure that the floor drain has a trap or install a retrofit backflow preventer. Make sure that all plumbing fixtures (including washer) are vented and have traps. Install a sealed cover on the sump pit.
  • Direct outside surface water away from the foundation. Improve underground drainage.
  • Repair or replace damaged interior finishes.
  • Keep the relative humidity between 30 and 55%. Ventilate and circulate air. Dehumidify or air condition in summer. Clean up mold according to CMHC guidelines.
and if you dont
  • Serious structural problems could cause further damage or collapse.
  • Water pressure on the outside of the foundation can contribute to leaks and structural problems.
  • Odours will continue to be annoying and can pose health problems, depending on the source.
  • Unresolved water sources will cause renovations to deteriorate quickly, whether the water comes from building leaks, plumbing leaks or high humidity.
  • Mold can grow on almost anything and be a source of serious indoor air quality (IAQ) problems.

Basement ceiling or main floor structure
  • Are there any headroom problems?
  • Are there signs of rot, sagging floor joists or twisted beams?
  • Are there water stains on the main floor structure or basement finished ceiling?
consider your options
  • Assess structural problems carefully. Expert help may be required. Repair or replace structural elements so they will accommodate renovation plans and expected loads.
  • Fix any water leaks.
and if you dont
  • Unresolved structural problems, poorly planned structural changes or new loads may cause future settling or collapse.

Mechanical and electrical systems
  • Are there unusually high heating or cooling bills?
  • Are mechanical systems capable of supplying current and future needs?
  • Is the house too dry or too humid? Is the heat uneven?
  • Is there ever a noticeable smoky or fuel smell?
  • Is the electrical service and wiring capable of supplying current and future needs?
  • Do fuses keep blowing or circuit breakers keep shutting off?
  • Are there any exposed electrical wires or crumbled wire insulation?
  • Do any lights dim or outlets spark?
  • Are there leaks from pipes, taps, toilets or the water heater?
consider your options
  • Have a qualified service company inspect your heating system to ensure that equipment is up-to-date, functioning properly and sized to handle current and future needs.
  • Air seal the house to keep it from becoming too dry. Use a humidifier (that has a humidistat) as required. Provide ventilation using exhaust fans or a heat recovery ventilator to reduce humidity in winter. Dehumidify or air condition to reduce the humidity in summer. Check for heat flow to each room.
  • Repair any sources of smoky or fuel smells immediately. The smells could indicate serious fire or health hazards.
  • Have an electrician assess the electrical systems and any problems such as fuses blowing repeatedly, sparking outlets, exposed wires or connections.
  • Repair any water leaks. Repair or replace leaky fixtures.
and if you dont
  • Without regular service, heating systems may gradually deteriorate unnoticed, leading to serious health and safety concerns.
  • Problems can arise if HVAC needs cannot be met by the capacity of the services available. The heating supply must be enough for comfort. Proper ventilation is needed to control excess humidity.
  • Electrical service, wiring and outlets may be unsafe or inadequate for increased loads.
  • Plumbing leaks will continue to damage the finishes and the house structure. The leaks may also contribute to mold growth and IAQ problems.

General living areas, floors and stairs
  • Are floors or stairs springy, sagging, warped or squeaky?
  • Are floor surfaces damaged or carpets musty?
  • Are handrails or guardrails loose?
consider your options
  • Assess the supports underneath the floor. Contact a carpenter for help. Repair as needed.
  • Refasten or shim squeaking floors or stairs.
  • Repair serious safety hazards immediately such as damaged floors or stair boards and loose coverings.
  • Replace damaged flooring. Eliminate moisture sources.
  • Repair loose handrails or guardrails.
and if you dont
  • Damaged or uneven floors and stairs may be unsafe.
  • Musty carpets are usually a source of mold.
  • Loose handrails or guardrails are a safety hazard.

Kitchens and bathrooms
  • Is there any water seepage around fixtures or condensation on windows or toilets?
  • Are floors damaged around bathtubs or showers?
consider your options
  • Repair or replace leaky fixtures.
  • Repair or replace damaged flooring.
  • Provide proper ventilation to reduce humidity, indoor pollutants and stale air.
and if you dont
  • Leaks will continue to cause damage.
  • Excess humidity will continue to cause damage, may cause mold growth and affect the IAQ.

Walls and ceilings
  • Do walls and ceilings have any cracks, holes, bulges, water stains or peeling finishes?
  • Do any doors or windows bind or stick?
  • Are any windows drafty, broken, operating poorly or is there moisture between panes?
  • Are there water stains or rot on windows or walls?
consider your options
  • Repair any holes. Eliminate moisture sources that cause bulges, water stains or peeling finishes.
  • Assess cracks, binding doors or stuck windows for changes in moisture levels or structural movement. Repair or replace as required.
  • Replace broken windowpanes and poorly operating hardware. Replace sealed unit windows that have broken seals or rot.
  • Replace rotted wall materials. Eliminate moisture sources.
and if you dont
  • If the problem sources are not fixed, the bulges, cracks or binding will re-occur.
  • Hiding moisture damage behind new finishes will cause continuing deterioration and mold growth.
  • Faulty windows will eventually result in damage to surrounding wall areas.

  • Are there water stains or excessive dampness?
  • Is there black mold on any of the roof framing or sheathing?
  • Is the attic adequately ventilated?
  • Are there air leaks in the ceiling of the rooms below the attic? Is the attic hatch sealed?
consider your options
  • Find moisture sources. Repair roof leaks. Air-seal the ceiling using polyethylene sheeting, sealed over octagonal boxes for lights, caulk holes for wires through sheeting or wall top plates and weatherstrip attic hatches.
  • Ventilate the attic at the soffits and roof peak.
  • Seal any air leaks in the ceiling of the rooms below the attic. Install a sealed attic hatch.
and if you dont
  • Moisture damage will continue to deteriorate the house. Unventilated attics will allow moisture to build up.
  • Air leaks in ceilings below the attic will reduce heating efficiency and can be sources of odours and pollutants.

  • Does the roof have any curled or cracked shingles, bare patches, leaks, moss, or damaged flashing?
  • Do eavestroughs and downspouts direct water away from the foundation?
consider your options
  • Repair or replace damaged roofing.
  • Clean leaves and debris from eavestroughs every spring and fall. Extend downspouts to direct rainwater away from the foundation.
and if you dont
  • Roofing will continue to deteriorate.
  • Surface water near the house can put undue stress on the foundation and is a primary cause of water entry problems.

Exterior walls
  • Is there any blistered paint, rotted wood, buckled siding, stained or crumbled brick or damaged stucco on exterior walls?
consider your options
  • Find and eliminate the source of water penetration. Repair or replace damaged exterior finishes.
and if you dont
  • Water penetration may lead to more serious siding, structural and interior finish problems.


  • Undertaking maintenance and repair projects such as correcting structural flaws, fixing leaks and making sure that all services are safe and adequate will make your home safer, more efficient and more durable.
  • After you have ensured safety, efficiency and durability, other renovations can be done to make your home more pleasant, attractive and suited to your lifestyle.

Skills to Do the Job

You can assess most of your house with the help of one of CMHC’s inspection checklists. Professional home inspectors are also available to do a thorough inspection for you.

Repairing serious structural, mechanical or electrical problems will require the help of an expert.

Use the House Assessment Worksheet to record the present condition, any problems in your home and to help set priorities for your renovation.

House Assessment Worksheet
  Present Condition / Problems Renovation Priority
Basement Ceiling or Main Floor Structure    
Heating, Cooling and Ventilation System    
Electrical Service and House Wiring    
Plumbing and Fixtures    
Floors and Stairs Structure/Finishes    
Wall and Ceiling Structure/Finishes    
Roof Structure/Finishes    
Exterior Wall Finishes    
Windows and Doors    

Costing Your Project

The cost of your assessment will depend almost entirely on how many professionals you need. They might include an engineer, architect, electrician, plumber, carpenter or professional home inspector.

Additional Resources

Developed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the ecoENERGY initiative provides a residential energy assessment service delivered by local organizations across Canada for a fee. Retrofits may be eligible for grants. To find a local service organization or grant information, visit or call 1-800-387-2000.
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