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Nov. 09, 2020 | Barb Livingstone

COVID-19 continues to shift renovation priorities for Calgary homeowners

Space for an office and private Zoom calls, a workout room, a more spacious kitchen – these are all growing renovation demands Calgary companies are fielding from customers working through the pandemic.

Whether that means developing or redeveloping the basement, constructing an addition, or making existing space more efficient, Calgarians have been looking at all options as they spend more time in their homes, says Michelle Lytle, co-founder of Crafted Edge Homes.

"A lot of our clients are couples both working from home," she said. "They're reassessing their quality of life, how they use their home, and instead of focusing on resale, they are focused on how they enjoy it now."

Moe Saghir, founder of Kay2 Contracting, says the pandemic has given Calgarians more time to ask, 'Does this home work for our family?' Often, the answer has been 'no,' which Saghir says has led to a lot of home additions.

"No one wants to move right now," he said. "They are not taking vacations and instead are investing in their homes."
"Before, clients would call with a specific scope of what they want done. Now it's more fluid. Everything in the home is on the table." - Michelle Lytle, Crafted Edge Homes

According to Saghir, that has led many to search for additional space to create an office, extra bedroom, gym or spa within the home, which often means re-imagining a basement – the least expensive way to add square footage.

However, the costs mount if you need to call a professional renovator to correct a botched DIY job – something Saghir has seen.

"I've given quotes, but it is expensive when you know the person has already spent money putting stuff in that you are going to have to remove," he said.

The demand for additions is usually to larger-lot bungalows in older neighbourhoods, he adds.

Lytle's company has seen consistent demand for kitchen renovations, as homeowners make three meals – and take coffee breaks – there each day. Kitchen renos generally involve creation of more efficient storage (taking out corner pantries and maximizing wall space), as well as relocation of islands.

Saghir says kitchen renovations have replaced the demand for ensuite bathrooms renos, which had previously been much more common.

"People are eating at home every day and are realizing their kitchens are just not functional," he said.

Both Lytle and Saghir expect increased demand for renovations to carry into next year, as the pandemic drags on and people continue to work from home at least part of the time.

"This really has changed the whole dynamic of the market," said Saghir. "We are already gearing up for spring and all our increased safety programs are the new norm."

Lytle says the recent shift in preferences is a first for her after two decades in the business.

"Before, clients would call with a specific scope of what they want done. Now it's more fluid," she said. "Everything in the home is on the table."

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