Should Calgarians Delay Their Renos?


should Calgarians delay their reno

Hi everyone. I received a great question the other day from a user. She asked…

“With oil at $50 a barrel, should Calgarians delay their renovation project or new build? Will labour costs plunge as the city housing starts shrink and the Calgary economy slows?”

Good question! After a lengthy discussion with one of the most respected custom homebuilders and renovation contractors in Calgary, I came away with some insights to share.

First, there is really no one right answer to this question and it is, as one would expect, highly dependent on everyone’s personal situations…but if you are holding off on your project because you think labour costs associated with quality tradespeople will go down, you are wrong to do so.

If you have already set aside the funds to tackle your big project and plans are in place, then the advice is-Full Speed Ahead!

On the other side, if you are about to embark on the planning and approvals stage-no need to pause. It still takes a long time to finalize plans, get approvals from the city of Calgary and to hire the right contractor for the job. Delaying this stage will not result in saving you money. In fact, it may end up costing more or mistakenly be spent on a fancy-dancy trip to the Bahamas (eek! But it does sound nice.).

Housing starts in Calgary are down 43.8% in January from a year ago. Many companies in this industry see this as a positive as it reduces huge stress on their labour force. Having demand settle to a more reasonable level is a good thing and will not result in any cost saving for the consumer. Commercial projects underway will also easily pick up any labour excess resulting from a slowdown on the residential side. Quality trades are not about to slash their prices anytime soon. Your project might end up taking less time though and that, in the end, saves you money – yahoo! I have often wondered why some office buildings in Calgary get built faster than some homes.

Cost awareness is always a positive thing. Looking for ways to simply manage or cut costs can make sense as we all kick into austerity mode (even if by osmosis), but avoid the temptations to cut back on the important components of a project….those will end up costing you more money in the long run to fix. Problems are guaranteed to arise from this type of scale back.

If you have a good home builder or contractor (take the time to find one) they will be able to guide you on this. There are areas that you should not scrimp on and areas where you might be able to save a few dollars. Adjusting items like floor covering or light fixtures (items that can be upgraded later) make total sense. Cutting back on water proofing your foundation, quality windows, or heating systems does not. It all seems like common sense but builders are often surprised where they get push back from customers.

Adjusting the scale of your project is another way to keep the ball rolling and justify doing so. Maybe put those plans in a “shrinker” and shave off a few hundred square feet or finish the basement differently. Again, having a quality contractor to work with can make a huge difference when making these decisions.

Good and realistic budgets are incredibly helpful and offer a solid way to manage your costs, no matter where the economy sits. Don’t go in with blinders on. Have a full understanding of what you can get for your money. Work with suppliers and trades to get the best value. Being unrealistic about costs results in frustration or sticker shock….one of the two! If something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is!

Helpful? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Alana Kitchen is Founder of – a website dedicated to helping Calgarians connect with quality, trustworthy and peer-vetted home service providers. If you have a question for Alana, you can ask us on Twitter, Facebook or call 403-819-6097. It could be featured in our next post!



Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen, founder of Who To Call Inc. Taking care of a house with three boys I always needed a good drywaller on speed dial. When I moved to Calgary I quickly discovered it was an Olympic sport to find home service businesses that provided the quality service and advice I was looking for. This experience inspired Who To Call – a website dedicated to helping Calgarians find quality home service repair companies. Sign up to post your project and find quality companies today!
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