COLUMN: Funding is available
If the weather or economy is getting you down, perhaps it is time to rethink your vacation time and complete some home repairs. Not only could you be enjoying your living space more, but there are financial incentives to help make it happen.
Recently I launched into massive renovations including taking down two walls, refinishing hardwood floors, and completely redoing the bathroom, among others. Like pulling on a thread on clothing, this project started out as a much smaller endeavour and has grown exponentially.
Originally I set out to carve a hole out of the kitchen wall to open up the living space. From there, my love of the sledgehammer grew.
Suddenly two walls had to go. I decided that a crowbar makes an excellent accessory for a woman, and that it is highly therapeutic to get covered in plaster dust in the process of tearing down walls. (At one point I was laughing giddily as I tore a huge chunk of plaster board off the studs).
My projects were made easier by mediocre weather and good help, including those toiling alongside me and the staff at our local renovation stores, whom I now know by name.
Given the sheer number of trips to buy supplies (and to use the bathrooms when I didn’t have a toilet for a week), it became a running joke as to how long it would be before my next visit.
I had plenty of time at the register, as my purchases were being tallied, to talk to the cashier and look at the display information. This is how I learned about a couple of government programs to ease the burden on my taxed visa card.
Specifically, on one of my first dozen trips to Rona, Soo Mill and Home Depot, I learned about the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) program and the Energy Retrofit Programs from the provincial and federal governments. Combining both programs, a homeowner can receive up to $11,350 back in grants and tax credits.
So, if you are thinking of renovating, this may be the year to do it.
The HRTC is a tax credit of up to $1,350 that can be claimed for renovations of “an enduring nature made to a principal residence” (which can include cottages). Kitchen and bathroom renovations, including paint, which cannot be moved with you, may qualify, but not my new oven or refrigerator purchases.
More information on the HRTC can be found at HYPERLINK “http://www.craarc. gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/ sgmnts/h mwnr/hrtc/menu-eng. html” cra. gc.ca/hrtc or call 1?877?959?1?CRA
You must keep your receipts to support claims, so smart retailers like Home Depot are making the process slightly easier for us. They handed me an envelope/folder to keep all my receipts and related documents in to help me claim the credit come tax time. I now carry it to all the stores, organizing all my receipts for the project, even though I am taunted by the other stores when I carry the orange folder with me.
Insulation upgrades, another item on my to do list, is likely eligible for more than one program, therefore allowing me to double dip.
The Energy Retrofit Program is a little more time-consuming than saving receipts, and the order of operations is important, but the payoff is much better. Especially for older homes, federal and provincial rebates are available to the tune of up to $10,000.
You book a $315 energy audit, get reimbursed half the cost, have 18 months to upgrade your home –making it more energy efficient (which in and of itself will save you money). Then you get a second audit, and based on your improvements can reap major rewards.
Since my attic has under R12 insulation, I should be eligible for $1000 in grant money once I upgrade to R40 insulation. If I go to R50, the benefit increases to $1500!
If you are a do-it-yourself-er like me, it is possible to buy the blow-in insulation cubes, get a rental of the machine free, and in my case do the job for around $600, netting me $400 for my time and labour and to buy beer and pizza for helpers to load the machine while I stand in the attic.
This program also rewards homeowners for updating windows and doors and for upgrading heating, cooling and hot water systems. A popular program already, the earliest I could get my appointment booked for was September 1. Luckily I will then still have time to get the job done before the heating season starts. More information is available at HYPERLINK ” http://www.homeenergyontario.ca/”
Grab a sledgehammer and stimulate the economy, get exercise and frustration relief, get money back for doing it, and then enjoy the fruits of your labour (or just call a contractor and have them do it for you -and you can still reap the benefits of the programs).