Home Improvement Movement: Residential building permits jumped again in 2021 in all categories  

By Staff

March 28th, 2022



For the second straight year Ontario saw a significant increase in total residential building permits, with more than 122,000 building permits issued across Ontario in 2021 for new development as well as home improvement. This represents a 15% increase from the previous year – continuing a trend that saw a 9% increase from the year before.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which tracks property data across Ontario,  reports residential home improvement permits were up by 18%, to nearly 70,000. These permits were for home improvements including renovations/additions, swimming pools, sheds, garages and decks.

“COVID-19 restrictions were likely a major factor again, with people focused on their home because they were spending so much more time there,” explains Carmelo Lipsi, MPAC Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “In every category of home improvement – additions, renovations, swimming pools, garages, decks and sheds – the numbers were up, in many cases by double digit percentages.”

Notably, the increases in 2020 and 2021 represent a marked shift from previous years – reinforcing the notion that pandemic restrictions were a driver of home improvement decisions. By comparison, in 2019 home improvement permits were up by just 5% (with overall building permits increasing marginally by 0.3%), while in 2018 they decreased by 15% (overall permits down by 18%) year over year.

Analyzed by category:

  • Total Building Permits – 122,334 across Ontario, up by 15%.  Toronto led the province with 9,478 permits in 2021, an increase of 28% from 2020.  The Township of Severn saw the largest percentage increase of any municipality, jumping 467% (272 building permits in 2021, compared to 48 in 2020).
  • Residential Home Improvement – 69,488 province-wide in 2021, an increase of 18% from 2020.  Brampton was tops with 7,382, up by 29% from 2020.  Severn Township again led in percentage increase, issuing 545% more home improvement permits (129 versus 20 the year before).
    • Residential Renovations/Additions – 38,399, up 19% in 2021. Brampton was the provincial leader with 7,133 renovation/addition permits, an increase of 29% from the previous year.
    • Residential Swimming Pools – 9,059 total in 2021, up 33% (continuing a trend that saw a 53% increase from 2019 to 2020).  As in 2020, Ottawa was Ontario’s swimming pool capital, with 1,372 pool permits in 2021, a 47% jump.
    • Residential Sheds – 4,223, up 18%.  To require a permit, a shed must be a minimum size, so this category includes large, stylish sheds that have become increasingly popular as separate living/work space or backyard getaway. Hamilton, with 137 shed permits (a 19% increase), was provincial leader.
    • Residential Garages – 6,579 across the province, up 9%.  Toronto had the most, with 234 permits. But it was London, among larger cities, that saw the biggest jump, from 90 in 2020 to 207 in 2021, a 130% increase.
    • Residential Decks – 9,502, up 2%.  Hamilton also led in this category, with 884 deck permits, an increase of 29% from 2020.

“This is an interesting trend to watch, to see if it continues once pandemic restrictions have been lifted for good,” Lipsi says. “Many indicators suggest that working from home will be more prevalent than it was pre-pandemic, and we’ll see if that continues to translate to more spending on the home.”

About MPAC

MPAC is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by all Ontario municipalities, accountable to the Province, municipalities and property taxpayers through its 13-member Board of Directors.

Their role is to accurately assess and classify all properties in Ontario in compliance with the Assessment Act and regulations set by the Government of Ontario. We are the largest assessment jurisdiction in North America, assessing and classifying more than five million properties with an estimated total value of $2.96 trillion.

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