Spending by Albertans on home renovations hit a record high of $1.8 billion in the first quarter of this year after dipping during the worst of the recession, Statistics Canada says.

That's almost twice as much as a decade ago.

Some of the increase is due to people rebuilding after the Fort McMurray wildfire, according to ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch.

"[But the] biggest factor is the idea that people want to stick with their home. They might have had some extra money from their severance package, they had some time on their hands," he said.

"All of that combined, they decided now is the right time to do some home renovations."

Walter Rodriguez, who owns Better Home Design in Calgary, says business started booming in February.

home reno chart

ATB Financial chief economist Todd Hirsch says the spike in home renovation spending could be partly due to unemployed Albertans spending their severance money. (ATB Financial)

"House pricing is not coming down as much as people were going to think. And if you look at renovating, people are looking into spending their money a little bit more wisely. They want more bang for their buck."

Danny Ritchie, president of Ultimate Renovations, says he's not quite sure what to make of the sudden flurry of activity.

"It was quiet for two years and since Christmas, some tap is turned on, don't know which one it is. I don't think it's the oil tap," he said.

"But people were holding back for a couple of years doing anything, and everybody's decided now to do something."