Nfld. & Labrador

Billion dollar baby: New builds down but home renovation industry thriving in N.L.

While people are hesitant to build a new house, they are quite content to fix up what they already own.

It's all because of the 'HGTV effect'

The 36th annual Home Show takes over the Glacier in Mount Pearl. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

It's no secret the once red hot economy, which saw trucks fly off car lots and new homes rise faster than Nan's homemade bread, has cooled considerably in recent years in Newfoundland and Labrador.

But while people are hesitant to build a new house, they are quite content to fix up what they already own.

"New home starts are down but the renovation and repair sector is thriving — it's still a billion dollar industry," the Canadian Home Builders' Association of N.L.'s CEO Victoria Belbin said.

While folks in this province aren't rushing out to get a new mortgage, they are looking at renovating the bathroom and kitchen, or adding new windows or sprucing up the outside of their house.

Canadian Home Builders' Association's Victoria Belbin said home renos are on the rise. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

It's hard to flip through the channels on TV without coming across a home renovation show and it's started to affect how people in Newfoundland and Labrador look at their house and what they want to add to it.

"We call it the HGTV effect," Belbin said, named for the Home & Garden Television network.

"Expectations today are different from what they were before."

Belbin said that's changed the way her organization thinks as well. At this weekend's 36th Annual Home Show the CHBA N.L. is educating people on how to fix up your property properly.

"How to plan the renovation, how to work with a professional, how to get it in writing and how to communicate with the renovator," Belbin said.

"Also to make sure that you're hiring a credible contractor. That's the most important thing."

This image at Sexton Lumber's booth shows what the finger joint looks like. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

While it has been 36 years for what Belbin says is the largest residential trade show in the province, it's just the first year Sexton's Lumber has made an appearance.

The Bloomfield-based business is offering contractors up a new product from their lumber yard.

"We're promoting the finger joint," said Mike Stevenson, a Brunswick Valley Lumber employee who represents Sexton Lumber.

"It's been around for a while but we are coming really hard into the market."

Finger jointing takes two short pieces of wood and connects them making longer pieces — like connecting two combs together.

Mike Stevenson, representing Sexton Lumber, is pushing the locally made finger joint. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

That minimizes the warping and twisting of the wood, making it popular with contractors.

"The home builders want something that won't twist," Stevenson said.

Stevenson believes Sexton Lumber is only place in the province making this product. Finger jointing required specialized equipment shipped in from Europe to make it.

The other upside is that it is eco-friendly.

"There is less cutting of trees so it's better for the environment," he said.

Renovations on the rise in N.L.

3 years ago
Duration 2:20
36th Annual Home Show at the Glacier