Thomas & Co. - Home Renovation Contractors

October is Renovation Month
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Kingston Whig-Standard, October 4th 1997

By John  Thomas

Renovations in Kingston are booming. It surprises many people to learn that “since 1991, renovations spending has consistently exceeded expenditures in the new home construction sector,” according to the Canadian Home Builder’s Association. “According to industry experts, this trend show no signs of letting down in the near future.”  In recognition of this fact, and in order to promote greater professionalism within the industry, the CHBA has designated October, Renovation Month.

Ontario, particularly, is a hotbed of reno work. Renovations spending in Ontario is expected to top 8 billion this year, compared to new homes at under 6 billion. The only region in Canada to come even close in reno spending is Quebec at under 5 billion.

Most people who renovate are looking for more information, and more professionalism, as they realize that their major source of equity, their home, is the issue.  In the ‘90’s, the CHBA and the CMHC has responded with many pamphlets and videos on renovations, many of them free or nearly free. There are excellent brochures on the Renovation Process, special needs renos (disabled, elderly), and How to Find & Work with a Contractor, available from the HomeBuilders Association.

Despite fledgling attempts at certification of contractors, however, the reno industry in Ontario remains unregulated, and it is an unfortunate fact of life that it attracts the underground economy. With its pamphlets and guidelines, the government has tried to encourage professionalism and discourage the cash economy and its lost tax revenue. Ironically, the government itself is largely to blame for this state of affairs.   Nothing has done more to create an underground economy than the GST, a shortsighted tax that virtually invites honest citizens to break the law.

Being a renovator in Kingston often provides something of an insight into local history. As you work on an older building, its secrets are gradually (and sometimes unpleasantly) revealed and you get to know the character of the people who built it. For if you look, character is revealed in every aspect of construction, and the seamless finish presented by good building is the synthesis of hundreds of cuts and joints made by a builder who insisted it be done right. Building techniques and styles are constantly changing. In renovating, we try to marry the best of the past with the best of the new construction techniques, to keep the faith, in a sense, with those who went before us.
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