Four Calgary-based renovation companies nailed down some significant hardware at the 2020 Building Industry and Land Development (BILD) Alberta Awards online gala.
The Calgary winners include: Allenbrook Homes for Best Kitchen Renovation over $100,000 for a project in Marda Loop; Crafted Edge Homes won Best Bathroom/Ensuite Renovation for a makeover in Lake Bonavista, and; Creek Stone Fine Homes snagged Best Home Renovation under $500,000 for the remodel of a Century home in Okotoks.
In addition, the Calgary division of Ultimate Renovations captured two categories and a grand aggregate award. Ultimate won for Best Kitchen Renovation under $100,000, Renovator’s Choice for an outdoor living space and the Renovator Pinnacle Award for overall achievement.
Ultimate president, Danny Ritchie, watched the 35-minute online ceremony with staff and family members and says that if he would have been able to get up to a podium, he would have thanked his team for putting everything together.
“This is quite an achievement, to win this award for all of Alberta. It’s exciting to get such major recognition at the provincial level,” he says, adding that Ultimate is a 10-time Renovator of the Year winner in Calgary.
Home renovations are a $2.7-billion industry in Calgary and area, creating more than 19,000 jobs annually. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, home renovations are deemed an essential industry and business is brisker than ever.
Ritchie believes it’s because people are stuck at home, looking around at how it looks or functions, and feeling dissatisfied.
“Some have decided they’re not going to pay rent for outside office space, so they’ve decided to just stay home and put money into their house. They also can’t travel, so they’re allocating money into something like an outdoor living space that they can enjoy year-round, without going to Mexico,” he says.
Michelle Lytle, co-founder of Crafted Edge, says spring and summer are usually their busiest construction seasons and following a usually slower fall season, the phones start ringing every year on January 2.
“We are very busy right now. We’ve seen a major uptick and I’ve been running to different projects,” she says.
Virus-related scenarios aside, fall is a good time to start a home renovation project. Not necessarily the demolition or commencement of construction, but project planning.
Scott Lawrie, owner of Creek Stone, says September is not the time to go shopping for a renovation you want by November or by Christmas. He stresses pre-planning for a renovation, especially if a homeowner is looking for more than just lipstick on their home.
“There can be a lot of structural tie-ins — a lot of engineering that needs to be done. And it’s important to find a contractor you’ll be best suited with, who shares your beliefs. It’s a team effort between client and builder,” he says.
The planning and design department at Ultimate is preparing for work scheduled to begin the first week of January. Ritchie says he’s getting calls right now from people who want a kitchen done by Christmas, but he stresses the importance of doing the homework.
“People who accept our advice are happier in the end,” he says, with a grin.
Cold weather renos can be challenging, but Garth McDaniel of Allenbrook says that as long as things are reasonably warm, there’s no specific time to start.
“It’s whenever people are ready to engage,” he says.
Lytle has seen another shift since the double whammy of Calgary’s poor economy and COVID-19. Up until now, many clients were looking to fix up their homes so they could list it for sale once the economy turns around. Now, she says, people are renovating so they can love it.
“In the last six or seven months, I haven’t had a single person asking about renovations so they can sell. It’s all about maximizing the space in their homes,” she says.
For customers considering selling down the road, Lytle suggests putting their budget in one basket.
“You’re better off to leave something like a dated ensuite and spend everything on an amazing kitchen. You’ll have an easier time selling your home if people come in and say, ‘oh my gosh, the kitchen is brand new and I love it.’ That ensuite is super-dated but we’ll get to it,” she explains. “You don’t want them to say, I don’t know where they put that $70,000. It’s a little bit everywhere.”
Renovating the whole house at once can be cost effective and the least disruptive, Ritchie says. Room-by-room renovations are an affordable option, but create and follow a master plan, breaking the job into phases.
“You’ve got to find the line in the sand. Where do you start and where do you stop?” he says.