More than 106,000 Ontario homeowners obtained residential building permits in 2020 – a 9% increase from the year before, with permits for home improvements jumping by 15%. The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which tracks property data across the province, noted that the number of residential building permits had dropped in 2018 (by 18% from the year before), increased slightly in 2019 (up 0.3%), then surged in 2020.
“The COVID-19 pandemic likely put more of a focus on the home,” says Carmelo Lipsi, MPAC Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Whether it was because people were spending so much more time at home, or maybe had extra disposable income because of cancelled travel, there was a significant increase in demand for building permits to upgrade residential properties.”
In 2020, during a time of pandemic restrictions that included stay-at-home orders, residential home improvement building permits increased by more than 7,500 (to 59,529, up 15% from the year before) and nearly 10,000 above 2018 totals. These permits were for additions, renovations, garages, swimming pools, sheds and finished basements.
The City of Brampton was Ontario’s home improvement capital in 2020, issuing 5,716 residential home improvement permits – up 70% from 2019. On a percentage basis, it was the Township of Laurentian Valley topping the list, with 122 permits representing a 149% increase. Suburban municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area experienced large increases in both numbers and percentages, led by Mississauga (1,114 permits, up 93%), Milton (863 permits, up 83%) and Caledon (377 permits, up 86%).
Brampton was also tops in renovations/additions, issuing 5,549 such permits – also the highest per-capita rate, amounting to 3.78% of all residential properties in the municipality. Overall, permits for renovations/additions increased by 11% across the province.
In other categories Ottawa was the provincial leader, issuing 936 permits for pools (part of a province-wide increase of 53%), 122 permits for residential sheds (which were up by 22% across the province) and 202 residential garage permits (the only category that saw an overall drop, -2%).
Locally, Sault Ste. Marie has shown data in line with these trends, as seen in the comparisons below;
NORTHEASTERN ONTARIO Residential Building Permits in 2020: 6,597(+17%)
Top 5 municipalities –total residential building permits:
Greater Sudbury 1,391 (+13%)
Sault Ste. Marie 1,076 (+95%)
Timmins 267 (+29%)
Seguin 265 (+6%)
North Bay 219 (+14%)
“We’ll see if building permits continue to increase through 2021, and even beyond once the pandemic restrictions ease,” Lipsi say. “These trends tell us about property owners’ priorities and how the marketplace is evolving.”